-Principal R.N. Sawardekar
(In response to the questions raised
in the present Monograph, one of our subscribers Principal R.N. Sawardekar, M.A., of Dempo Trust Junior College, Panaji, Goa
has sent in his answers. Hope they make interesting reading - eds.)
Q.1. Gandhi would want us to be critical
of our own religion but reverential towards others’ religion. Most often the attitude is the exact opposite. How do
we change our attitude in the manner Gandhi suggests?
Ans : When Gandhi holds the view that all religions are equally true, where is the question of criticizing one
and revering the other? Basically all religions preach the same gospel truth. But in course of time, some personalities (Pundits
or priests) have incorporated some customs or traditions which suited them. For example, there is no scope for untouchability
in Hinduism (if the word Hinduism is to be used). But unfortunately some people consider Hinduism preaches untouchability,
which is totally wrong.
Q.2 . What is that religion which transcends
Ans: The above definitions of Dharma permit a man to follow his religion using his reason. All religions transcend into
spirituality which knows no bonds of either Vedas, Bible or the Koran. It is a domain of nonduality.
Q.3. What is the correct attitude to have
about religion in general and one’s own religion is particular?
Ans : Not only all religions are equally
true but we should allow them to grow and develop in our pluralistic society. One should nurture and fortify one’s own
faith (religion) by adding all that is good in other religions. Fortunately this liberal approach is available for Hindus.
Therefore people of different religious faiths , persecuted in their countries, found a shelter in India.
Q.4. How does one handle the critics of one’s
religion, especially if they belong to another religion?
Ans : If there are critics who find some fault with our religion their constructive criticism should be accepted
without we finding faults in their religion. Whenever it is possible, one should try to eliminate rituals, practices, customs
and traditions which have no value in the system.
Q.5. How does one handle an atheist ? What
is the justification in the viewpoint that the atheist presents?
Ans : An atheist is preferable to a
hypocrite. The former says that he does not believe in God because he does not have the vision. What right has a person to
give sermons, discourses on religion, God, Spirituality, when he does not have any Sadhana?
Today there is more danger from the latter than the former. Carvakas (atheists) lived in India but slowly perished a natural
death and the genuine systems continued. Satyameva Jayate.
Q.6. Gandhi said, “proselytization
will mean no peace is the world”. Will proselytizing religious leaders pay any heed to such pleas? What is their argument?
Ans : Proselytization will work only in those countries which are educationally backward. Once efforts are made
to educate the masses in India and if people adopt the right view, neither proselytization nor conversion will work. Stray
cases may be there. In our educational system there should be provision for information on different religions of the world.
Q.7. If all religions are equal can conversion
as an organised activity ever be justified?
Ans : No. Conversion not only harms a person who gets converted but also it does greater harm to society and
its fabric of which he is a part. It is like uprooting a fiber from a cloth and using it for some other cloth. The strength
of the cloth will diminish.
Q.8. A friendly study of the world’s
religions is a sacred duty, according to Gandhi. And one’s religion should not debar one from assimilating all that
is good anywhere else. What is the foundation one should lay so that it does not shake one’s conviction in one’s
Ans : All religions basically has a similar foundation. Therefore there should be no difficulty in assimilating
whatever is good of other religions in one’s own. Sri Ramakrishna proclaimed that all religions preach the same truths.
And he said it after practicing them all.
Q.9. “It was impossible for me to regard
Christianity as a perfect religion or the greatest of all religions”, he said. But that is equally applicable to Hinduism,
Islam or any other. Is this an acceptable proposition to the committed believers of a particular faith, especially of the
Ans: It is my conviction that Hinduism believes in an inclusive approach whereas a large number of people of
different faiths believe in an exclusive approach and therefore the problem.
Q.10. Religion should appeal to reason and
not be in conflict with morality, and religion should take account of practical affairs and help solve them as well. If temporal
matters get regulated by religion, should politics also be so regulated? Then do we not run the risk of unscrupulous elements
using religion as a handle to manipulate politics, garner votes and grab power?
Ans : By and large it is true that religion should appeal to reason. But it is true that human beings are also
governed by the affective domain. We also require emotional culturing. However politicians should not be allowed to use religion
as a tool for their ulterior motives.
Q.11. Was Gandhi an appeaser of minorities
in the garb of being understanding and reverential to other religions?
Ans : I am inclined to believe this because he had exerted a lot of political power in doing so. If he had totally
confined himself to the social sphere without influencing politics then possibly I would not have called him an appeaser of
Q12. Are Gandhi’s thoughts relevant
for a multi - religious society like India? And for the world, torn as it is by conflicts wherever ethnic and religious sentiments
Ans : Gandhiji’s thoughts are not totally his original thoughts. There have been a number of thinkers
and social reformers in our country who have contributed to such thoughts. Gandhiji was immensely influenced by them, as he
himself confesses. However, large number of his thoughts are quite relevant not only for India but also for the whole world.