While on the Kolkata trip during this summer, I came across a very shocking thing which blasted any notions I had about communal harmony in India.
While we were traversing through a very crowded market in the Esplanade and going towards Chandni Chowk, we crossed the road to enter a Muslim populated area. There was a mosque there, and in a wide area in front of it, there was a market for mutton and chicken. There, by the side of the road, in the full view of the whole market across the street, was hanging a wide pamphlet a few meters up in the air, which read:
Insult to Koran is intolerable. The American Pastor and his family should be burnt eternally in hell.
Another vista of the hatred, intolerance simmering in the heart of Muslims. After that, we went through the dense gullies of Muslim-inhabited area, where the stench of meat, shoddy houses, poverty was everywhere. There walking through all that, I was thinking. It’s all the same everywhere. Everywhere, in most of the ordinary or the big cities of India, it’s the same scene everywhere. Every city has an area predominantly inhabited by Muslims. And all such areas are the same. Poverty, poor sanitation, illiteracy, congestion, poor living condition and most of all, the rotten odor of religion lurking in the air.
I have seen such areas in Kanpur, Gwalior, Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Ujjain, Bharatpur and Agra. I talked to my friends about it, and I got to know that all of them have seen such areas in their respective cities and all of them have got the same feeling while passing through them. Moreover, while passing through such areas, I always get a feeling that these are the dark pits where riots are fomented. The air itself is in such a explosive, dynamite-like state that a single misguided or misplaces sentence alluding to religion will explode the entire surrounding.
Why? Why is that so? Whenever I think of such things my head swarms with a multitude of questions. Questions which I know the answers to, but it’s of no use as they have turned a blind eye to the answers. Why this poverty? Why this illiteracy? Why this intolerance? It’s all the curse of religion. Why are madarasas even allowed to exist? Why do they have to think only and solely about the religion, the concept of religion whose perception differs as widely as the depth of human thoughts across the dimensions of space and time? Why don’t they think about removing poverty, getting educated, living comfortably, enjoying life? Money, education, comfort, their children, their parents, that’s what they should think about. Instead, religion stands atop as the prime-most concern of living beings. Is getting all worked up upon an insult of your holy book by some inconsequential Christian fanatic thousands of miles away justified, when your children are hungry, illiterate and resorting to illegal means to get money?
Phew…I would just like to add few last things.
My head is so full of antipathy towards the very concept of religion that I have loads and loads to say about it. I meant this post to be short and pithy, but it has stretched out to such a bloat :(. It’s by no means covers the whole of my ideas about religion, just the thoughts and feelings I had when I saw that banner and passed through that area.
Secondly, this whole impassioned blabbering is not complete. It was written with lot of anger over the issue. Obviously it’s just one side of the coin. There is the other, and equally dark side with it’s sinister forces, other than the forces of religion. The role of the Hindus, US and the Christians’ hateful attitude (all over the world, that is), vote-bank communal politics of India. This is just one piece of a huge jigsaw puzzle which is yet to be solved. But still, at the center of all of this is religion. The banner flew in the face of the secular nation…
Karl Marx stated one of the darkest and truest sentences of this world:
Religion is the opium of the masses.
No less true is what Robert M. Pirsig said:
When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a Religion.