The majority and minority communities, by example, should lead each other in promoting peace and communal harmony, says OSWALD PEREIRA
Who is responsible for maintaining religious and communal harmony ― the majority community or the minority community? Who should take the lead in maintaining harmony ― the majority or the minority community? The obvious answer would be ― ‘both’. But quite often, the obvious isn’t that simple.
In fact, the reason for disharmony is that the majority and minority communities don’t seem to see eye-to-eye or understand each other’s viewpoints. The majority community expects the minorities to be ever so grateful for the so-called privileges it receives in a democracy, including the right to follow their own religion freely.
On the other hand, the minorities feeling overwhelmed by numbers, expect the majority community to be ever so giving, forgetting that there is lesser joy in receiving and more joy in giving.
A serious cause for friction between the majority and minority communities is religious fanaticism. There are hardcore fanatics on both sides.
Among Christians, I have come across people who are so very intolerant about the mere mention of a God from another religion. They believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to save them from sin and evil ― he died a painful death with nails pierced into his hands.
Therefore, they believe, He is their saviour and the only God that exists. Heaven is the gift that they see and hope to live in after they die for being good Christians and faithful to Christ. Non-Christians who don’t believe in Christ have no place in Heaven, they believe. Their place is hell.
“There is no hell,” Pope Francis, the current Holy Father of the Catholics, one among the 40,000 Christian denominations worldwide, is reported to have said in an interview with a well-known Italian journalist. This statement was subsequently denied by officials in the Vatican, the city state in Rome, ruled by the Pope, which is the centre of the Roman Catholic Church.
Significantly, Pope Francis is a strong advocate of communal harmony. He has often appealed for harmony among the world’s religions. “God is merciful and the greatest blasphemy is to profane his name by hating our brothers and sisters,” Pope Francis has said.
Considering that Christ is so kind, compassionate and merciful, I doubt if he would deny heaven for non-Christians and wish hell for those who don’t happen to be Christians, which, incidentally, he himself wasn’t. In the lifetime of Christ, there is no mention of Christianity.
The fanatics among Christians seem to have thrown logic and good sense to the winds. Does it mean that, when Christ returned to Heaven from where he came, he, himself was denied entry because he was not Christian?
Another favourite weapon among fanatical Christians is to turn judge of all those who don’t believe in Christ. In their blindness, they forget that Christ said: “Do not judge, or you will be judged. For with the same judgement you pronounce, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to notice the beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while there is still a beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
When the fanatics among Christians preach Jesus’ teachings out of context, they create disharmony with not only the majority community, but with other minorities as well. The fanatics among the majority community, too, are equally guilty of fanning discord by their misrepresentation of teachings. These fanatics try to run down all other religions with some of them openly saying that it is because of their good karma that they were born Hindus. India has great scriptures, which can promote communal harmony, when propagated wisely.
So, let us hope that the majority and the minority communities, by example, lead each other in promoting peace and harmony. It isn’t that simple. But it isn’t really so difficult. God is willing.
[Featured Image: Pope Francis (third from right front row) at an interfaith meeting. Fourth from right is Mata Amritanandamayi]
Oswald Pereira, a senior journalist, has also written eight books, including The Newsroom Mafia, Chaddi Buddies, The Krishna-Christ Connexion, How to Create Miracles in Our Daily Life and Crime Patrol: The Most Thrilling Stories. Oswald is a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, and practises Kriya Yoga.