pic by mark ulyseas

In this fourth and concluding part one shall celebrate all the wonderful, beautiful and meaningful aspects of organized religion.

Note: The author comes from mixed parentage (father Indian/Irish, mother Spanish/English). He is a Hindu and Catholic with relations scattered across the globe. They include Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. He studied English Literature at a well known Jesuit college and worked with Mother Theresa (in the 70s), Hindu, Muslim and Jewish Charities.

Organized religion may be accused of heinous crimes by self appointed guardians of rationality who question the very essence of its origin, ridicule its dogma and mock its followers. Anyone has the right to voice their opinion or even cast aspersions for this is, apparently, a free world. But is organized religion so insidious and evil as it is made out to be, or, has selective memory been the cause of rancid rumination and recrimination? It is without doubt the later.

One cannot dispute the fact that violence and propaganda continue to be used, sometimes destructively, to upset the tranquility of religiosity. But this is not originating from organized religion per se but from usurpers that have adorned the mask of the faithful to preach hatred for narrow political ends. These warped aficionados of the absurd prance in front of the media extolling the virtues of their own self importance…announcing the dispatching of death squads to senselessly killed unarmed innocent people. And this is just one example of how one organized religion is being misused by people with morals that are elastic.

History is strewn with instances of murderous religious activity which is the result of hunger for power – to subjugate people and fool them into believing that the fight is about Faith. During these upheavals there have been many followers from organized religion that have contributed their time, money and lives to help the defenseless and disenfranchised even though the later may be of another faith. So who remembers these devoted emissaries of peace and love?

The Middle East gave the world three great religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. And yet we face the insurmountable task of bringing peace to the region. Mohammad and Ashkenazi, my friends from the region believe that they are brothers in alms, begging for peaceful coexistence without the stench of putrefying political ambitions of ‘religious gendarmes’ who claim they represent the faith, an untruth and an embarrassment to organized religion.

Art, poetry, music, education, health care, agriculture, infrastructure and business are some areas that have benefited from organized religion’s involvement in a country. The poor marginalized people continue to be provided succor through development programs that seek to uplift their wretched lives to an acceptable standard of living – clean drinking water, wholesome food and hygienic living conditions. All this is best reflected in areas where natural calamities have occurred. The presence of committed workers of organized religion providing aid in often dangerous situations is now a common daily occurrence.  Some are killed, others kidnapped but still more volunteers continue to come forward because their ‘faith’ is stronger then the frightening reality awaiting them in some war ravaged zone.

India, home to a bouquet of organized religions, has thousands of charities run by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Christians, Muslims and others : Free health camps (family planning, eye operations, immunization, pre and post natal care, creches for migrant workers etc.),  midday meals, human and animal shelters, clothing, adoption centers and even micro interest free finance to assist women in setting up small businesses.

Some organized religions like Jainism have built hospitals with donations from people of many religious denominations to treat injured animals, tame and wild, without any charge; these also include board and lodging for our feathered friends with broken wings etc.  This is ‘Insaanyat’ (humanity) and most followers of a faith practice this. It is when some renegades discard the concept of humanity, of having humanity for the defenseless/under privileged, that desecration of others beliefs begin. And, at this flash point  power hungry politicians jump on the bandwagon to squeeze the most out of a horrid situation disregarding the blood that is spilled.

Amidst the mayhem of a modern world organized religion is like an anchor for the faithful. It soothes the soul, maintains a balance between the sublime and the ridicule.

The image of mother and child that appears in many organized religions is reflective of the sanctity with which woman is held. A respect for the mother. A genuflection that transcends the trivial words of those that seek to denigrate a belief that is beautiful and soul sustaining.

Organized religion is all this, and much more.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om