Many in our country are afraid of being called secular. Does it mean anti Hindu, anti Muslim, does it mean pro minority? Strangely a similar situation exists in America. The USA like ours, and unlike the UK, is a secular country, but for nearly three centuries, Christian thought in all forms prevailed in all walks of life, which is okay till it was also slammed on the face of citizens of other faiths. Suddenly in the last decade or two, through courts and judgements passed, prayers which were part of school functions, ten commandments which were part of any inscription on legislature hall walls, and even reference to ‘Merry Christmas’ was intentionally, forcedly removed, and frowned on. Merry Christmas became Happy Holidays.
Hundreds of protest letters asking people to sign them went around, some of them I have seen.
What actually happened? America woke up and found that the meaning of secular was to keep their faith and beliefs in private thought and not publicly. They reacted, they are still reacting and for a country that is 87% Christian, they are angry. But since this thinking is based on the Constitution, and since citizens there hold that constitution more precious then their religious beliefs, the protesting Christians, or shall we say practicing Christians, are being looked at as radicals, and that too in their own country and where they are supposedly a majority.
I think the same situation exists here: The Hindu who professes his or her faith finds he or she is being branded as un-secular, and feels isolated and alone living in a majority.
In the process of separating state from religion this is bound to happen, but really should not. The Christian in America, the Hindu in India, the Muslim in Bangladesh and Pakistan need to work out that their religious faith is a personal thing. How I worship and how somebody else worships, should not even be mentioned outside the confines of ones own walls.
I have spent decades visiting the homes of my Hindu friends and have never felt any unease with pujas or religious rituals followed, though they are different for me, and so have those friends in attending a religious function in my church.
Being secular is looking at each other as ‘people’. Recognizing the humanness in each other, but more than anything else learning to respect each other without bringing religious beliefs into the picture.
This is important not just for our country but for the world to be at peace, for an India, a Pakistan, a Bangladesh or an America existing together..!
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4 thoughts on “How To Be Secular..!”
Towards this end , the decision of Maharashtra government to make it compulsory for schools to read the preamble of the constitution during assembly is a positive move. Children from their school days will know that every citizen has liberty of thought and faith guaranteed by the constitution.
The Armed Forces are the only group which are secular in our country, apart from a few others. The politicos & their respective supporters have unfortunately lost out & exhibit secularism. Our religious heads are responsible for this state of affairs. Till these worthies start preaching the correct path to secularism THINGS will not change nor improve.
Indian constitution did not originally define the country as secular. During the emergency(1975-77) when most opposition members were jailed, Indira Gandhi got the words secular and socialist inserted in the preamble and got it passed by a puppet parliament. Maharashtra govt now asking children to read the preamble in school, is yet another attempt by Shiv Sena to show their layalty to Congress.
The Indian Constitution till 1975 or so, did not have the word ‘secular’ written because it would have been stating the obvious, as the constitution by it’s very nature was secular. Indira Gandhi did just that, stated what was most apparent especially for those who couldn’t see it then, and can’t still see it today!