By Vijay Darda | 20-07-2015
All of us eagerly look forward to festivals. We want to forget our regular concerns and get into celebratory moods whether it’s Diwali, Eid, Holi or Christmas. Every festival has a legend and irrespective of everything else we wish to enjoy that moment. Of course there are religious connotations and associations with each of these festivals. Each one of us abides by his religious diktats but then humanity the world over celebrates these festivals in the same spirit. Depending upon every religion the Lord who is worshipped may be different but the human act is the same – prayer or ibadat. The head always bows in reverence – sajda.
Like festivals religion also is an integral part of our lives. We actually live by it and of course die by it. Theoretically all faiths tell us that there is only one God the supreme master and we may pray through any route the ultimate destination is the same. But then we all know the vast gap between theory and reality. Whatever may be in role in our individual lives, as a collective people have gone haywire in the name of religion. In the process of jihad or Hindutva all get a bad name. There are too many events in our collective history for anyone to single out any particular incident to establish the thesis that the religious sentiment has been misused to wreak havoc on humanity. There has been so much mayhem, murder, violence and hatred in the guise of religion, that at times you are left to wonder if this is something that ibadat – the core of any religion – teaches us. There is no point in singling out any one religion or claiming that one is better than the other in this respect. All of us are equally guilty.
The holy month of Ramzan is not pure just because the devout fast from dusk to dawn. It is also the month of abstinence and its end marks the revelation of the holy Quran – the way of life. All that happened centuries ago, but its purity keeps rubbing off. Or else, two disparate events would not have taken place during this Ramzan month. The signing of the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 countries that brings back Teheran from the isolationism it was facing on account its nuclear weapons programme. Then there was the meeting between prime ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif at Ufa marking the end of a 14-month long period of no talks between the two neighbours. Both these separate developments have cloud of suspicion hanging over them, and there are critics on every side. Be that as it may, the major consolation is that both these developments are talking the language of peace and forgiveness which is the key to holy Ramzan. It is the sentiment that keeps chasing one’s mind and the question asks itself: Why can’t we have Ramzan for all the year? Yes, the longing is for year-long fasting and abstinence from all the vices. Or else the alternative is pain, death, destruction and more pain?
The time is fast approaching when cynicism about religion and festivals shall envelop our mindset, and there would be a counter question: If we cannot have peace, and the killings are going to continue by Islamic States or counter-attacks through bombs, and there has to be some way in which we have to be in a permanent state of war, then we celebrate any of these festivals? Why take a break only to get back to being senseless killers? The ray of hope shown by American president Barack Obama cannot remain just that for an endless period. It has to convert in a full-fledged dawn for peace. The same holds true for the Modi-Sharif meeting. The Indo-Pak exchanges cannot be zero sum games for all their life. All this fighting cannot be an endless affair. When are we going to start living as normal neighbours not waiting to get at each other’s throat at every opportunity? Asking these questions is not a sign of impatience, but a call for realism in the backdrop of the futility of the old ways.
The personal religiosity of the individual and his/her faith has to stretch beyond the narrow confines of one’s persona and magnify itself into the collective behaviour of the nations and societies. The collective will has to be driven by the wider human interest and not shackled by the constraints of politics and geography. Above all, we must learn to live as human beings despite differences. We should have the maturity and sagacity to realise that differences big or small between nations and societies can never be resolved through violent means. Diplomacy is often defined as the art of war sans the guns, and this should always remain the only course of action between nations. Anything else is futile.
It is in this sense that we need a year long Ramzan, every year. At the level of nations, we do not need abstinence from food or a dawn to dusk fast. We need a much stricter regimen of abstinence from violence, and a vow of not to use the gun for solving our disputes. We do need to wage a jihad, but then that has to be God’s war against poverty, hunger, ill health and starvation. Any other war is actually a war against ourselves. Those are wars in which it is difficult to distinguish between the victors and vanquished. For instance who has won the war between Al Qaeda and America? Are there any clear winners? Or who has been winning the war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir? There are losers on all sides, and no winners. The worst losers being the people for whom such wars are fought.
Before I conclude…
The IPL muck has been confirmed by the Lodha Committee appointed by the Supreme Court. But the reluctance of the BCCI to come clean is writ large in the demeanour of the bosses who run the game. As yet, they have neither shown the alacrity nor the intention to come clean. They are still looking for ways and means to continue their sleazy games. For them it is the BCCI that needs to be protected, and not the purity of the game. They forget that their future depends on the purity of the game. Keep diluting this and the game itself loses.