- As many as three rationalists; Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Phansare and M M Kalburgi, have been shot dead by alleged right-wing activists in the previous few months. This is a disturbing trend, and does not augur well for the secular status of India, or indeed, for the egalitarian outlook of Hinduism. As Amartya Sen states in his The Argumentative Indian, there has always been a place for dissent and debate in Hindu dharma and in the larger context of an inclusive society. Whatever the motivations behind these acts, Sanatana Dharma does not sanction killing to silence dissent, and thus deny the victim the chance to work out his or her karma in his or her lifetime. Therefore these killings have to be denounced by all. The perpetrators should realize that wantonly silencing anybody who speaks against their thoughts and actions is a surefire sign of emasculation. 'If you are unable to come up with a suitable riposte, get rid of the source of the problem itself', is one of the symptoms of this condition. Instead, why not try your hand at coming up with your own counter-opinion, or engaging in an open debate with the opinionist? Do not malign the sanctity of Sanatana Dharma, and relegate it to a fundamentalist minimalist status.
- Our heart goes out to the victims of the stampede at the Hajj pilgrimage. To see the lifeless bodies of hundreds of pilgrims dressed in white, and heaped upon each other, fills one with a sense of foreboding. Apparently this has happened several times in the past, and a few days before the stampede, a crane crashed in to the sanctum killing several people. While our condolences should go out to the families of the victims, one also has to wonder as to why such a thing has to happen at all. This is exactly the kind of thing that rationalists would spring upon; why did the followers of a religion that steadfastly holds that it is the only true path, die such an ignominious death; and that at the holiest of its sanctums? These sort of incidents also occur at mass gatherings of followers of other faiths as well. Therefore it can be assumed with some conviction that there is no such thing as a perfect religion, which provides immunity to its adherents against such untimely disasters. Therefore, one can also conclude, that conversion from one religion to another is a redundant exercise.
- The Pope is visiting the US. Yesterday, it was heartening to see a multi-faith prayer meet at the site of the 9/11 attacks. The priests of Islam, Jewism, Sikhism, and Hinduism, were all seen together with the head of the Roman Catholic Church on the same stage. There must be some hope for humanity after all. It seems that this Pope has brought about a different approach to his role, and is not averse to speaking the truth. Certainly, praying with the followers of other faiths, some that are often considered to be heretical by evangelists, is a step in the right direction. Now, if we can somehow get him to acknowledge that proselytization and conversion do not belong in today's world...I'll dream on.
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