My day this morning started rather strangely when I read an article through a link posted on Facebook. It was a letter to Pope Francis written by Maria Wirth, who is originally a German residing in India. I am posting the link to this letter on her blog, “Open letter to Pope Francis”. In the letter she questions his statement “The future is in respectful coexistence of diversity and not in muting the different voices of religion.” She points out and questions him about how this can be achieved with missionaries and religious campaigns spread across trying to eliminate other religions. She also shows her support for Hinduism and defends all the myths about the religion. A well written letter indeed.
The point according to me is not about the superiority of any religion, but the mutual respect of each other’s beliefs. To be proud of your beliefs and have the depth to understand others’ respect of their belief. I was raised in a Hindu family in a not necessarily religious but a very culturally aware way. I was educated at a Christian school and learnt hymns and verses before any Sanskrit Slokas. So much so that if there is a Christmas carol playing I can’t help but sing along even when clad in a Madisar (A traditional 9 yards sari). At that age it seemed like a non-issue to live in coexistence with two religions, as I followed without giving it a second thought, what I was told at both places.
The time when everything changed was when I moved to Utah and was surrounded by staunch believers of the Church of Latter Day Saints. There were encounters with many missionaries who reached out as friendly students, neighbors and moved on to first discreetly and then passionately talk about their religion in the hopes of influencing my thoughts. These are the times I told them I was a Hindu and am happy to be what I am. That coupled with the fears of being in a new place and new situations led me to want to believe in something Superior. That feeling of being watched and protected made me feel secure and get a goodnight’s sleep. For me an encounter with the missionaries back fired for them. I went back deeper into my roots.
So am I a staunch Hindu, believing and practicing every word gurus and saints say? Not at all. I am one of those who look at Hinduism as a scientific religion and follow that aspect of it. I look at it as a way of life, tried and proven. If we are criticizing the missionaries who try to convert and the extremists who spread it through violence and threats, what different are the Hindu fanatics in the form of Gurus and Politicians? Aren’t they taking away the rights of the people of their own religion by forcing them to practice it in a certain way? Or if there are people living happily being atheists, why create ripples in their still waters? Or what about some sadistic people who like to poke fun at people’s beliefs just to prove their superiority or savor the consequences?
The point here is not about the superiority of any religion, it is about just letting people be happy in the zone they have created for themselves, even if the zone cannot be categorized into any formal beliefs accepted by mankind!