The recent article in The Hindu ‘Pray, what wrong did I do, asks Nashik teacher’ http://communalism.blogspot.com/2013/09/india-school-teacher-salve-says.html is a grim reminder of the growing intolerance levels in our country. A country known for its diversity of religions, cultures, beliefs and languages is it fast grappling in the storm of secular-communal divide? If so who is responsible for it? Is it an over doze of the pseudo secular/communal debates that we watch every day. When the country is already burning with so many issues of corruption, inflation, failing economy and many foreign intrusions all across our borders when we are mired in the midst of demands for separate states as if these divisions were not enough how justified and how responsible are our media fraternity who roar about divisive politics but do not hesitate to publish an article that out rightly outrages and divides the society in the name of freedom.
This article talks about a person called ‘Sanjay Salve’ a teacher who has approached the courts to protest praying at his school assembly as he was a follower of Buddhism. The epicenter of his thoughts seem to be based on some ego clashes between him and his seniors which has sadly taken a communal turn his hatred for Hinduism looms large than his love for Buddhism.
How is it wrong to simply fold your hands and stand in the prayer hall thereby abiding by the school discipline? Whether Mr.Salve prays or does not pray is his personal choice but isn’t the media communalizing this issue by putting it on the front page. The fact remains that India is a Hindu dominant country where every nook and corner has a history revolving around Hinduism and no one can deny that. Most societal practices like meeting and greeting people, conducting ourselves in a gathering are bound to be influenced by the traditions and cultures of the prevailing beliefs. The main idea of starting the day with a prayer is to inculcate discipline and societal sanctity which every teacher and student should comply with.
In many middle-east countries people of all religions are expected to kneel down where ever they are during namaz times would Mr.Salve file a complaint there? It is only in India that people have all the liberty to rebuke and ridicule the beliefs of the majority.
Even today in many hotels when guests arrive they are greeted with a tilak and a garland which is symbolic to our traditions. One cannot be called communal if they greeted someone saying Namaskar.
There are many Christian schools and convents where carols and many Christian prayers are taught and children from different communities simply learn them and sing along. Any religious binding is just a way of achieving concentration on cleansing the soul. It is just a way of disciplining oneself. I have sung carols during Christmas, went to church with my Christian friends, attended many Sai bhajans, wear a headgear when I visit gurdwaras and dargahs, have even attended many Bhajans of the Jain community whenever I visit jain temples because I respect all religions and at the same time know my roots and I am well connected to my faith with a firm foundation. Nobody can baptize me what so ever having said that I am proud of my country’s cultural history and believe that every other faith and sect of people in this country have emerged and branched out of our history of Hinduism. If there have been invasions and ingression of newer religions that is again our history which one should respect and live with it but by despising one’s own roots and origin are we not running away from the truth and creating false boundaries for ourselves separating one another. Just by folding hands or kneeling down in prayer is only a sign of showing reverence and by no means can it shake one’s foundation of faith.
The Hindu majority has weaved a strong bond with people of various other religions and faiths but the many attempts to bring down the communal harmony by some vested interests by way of falsely instigating people in the name of pseudo-secularism and trying to bring about a drastic divide within Hinduism and its branches in the name of freedom are really alarming and concerning. It’s time both the print and the broadcasting media worked on some positive news that could bind us all together.