Not everyone follows the same religion, nor is religion a common factor in human society. Rather, the opposite is the case, and very often it divides human society. The Arabic word for religion is majhab whereas dharma in the etymological sense means “characteristic” or “property”. In fact, if dharma is understood in the true sense of the term, it is one and indivisible for the entire human race. Dharma is a psycho-spiritual faculty. It gradually brings out the latent divine qualities of the human heart, and helps human beings attain oneness with the Supreme Entity. It has nothing to do with material objects. On the other hand, religion is a psycho-sentimental factor. It is a collection of physical and ritualistic observances. There may be many religions, but dharma is one.
Religions always prescribe various ritualistic observances like lighting lamps in a particular way, holding candles in a specified manner, sitting one way or standing another way, counting beads a certain number of times, etc. Only approved people are supposed to worship particular deities, fixed sacerdotal fees are to be charged, prescribed animals are to be sacrificed to the deities, alters are to be built in a particular way, and so on. While following such rituals, the mind is engrossed in religious rites and material objects, so how can it move in an ideational flow to a devotional goal? Those who follow a particular religion are supposed to kneel down and stand up a specific number of times, so naturally they are always counting their movements, consequently their minds cannot be withdrawn from physical movements and external activities.
There are some people who vehemently believe that only temples are holy places, and that mosques, churches and synagogues are not. The followers of other religions look upon themselves as the chosen disciples of God, and regard others as heathens or infidels. But how can the bricks, stones, mortar, etc. be holy or unholy? They are only material objects. Most of the masons and carpenters who were employed to build temples belonged to other religions, yet once a temple was constructed, it was declared holy, regardless of who built it. Is this not ludicrous?
Religions are based on external ritualistic observances, so they are preoccupied with physical objects. In the course of time, these physical objects become the objects of ideation. Take the example of cows. Cows are considered sacred by Hindus because they provide milk. Now, if cows are considered sacred for this reason, then what about buffaloes which provide more milk? They should be considered more sacred than cows. The followers of religious dogma do not like to discuss such issues. As a result of ideating on religion, the human mind becomes inert. No amount of discussion or intellectual persuasion can shake that psychic inertia. From childhood, human beings are taught irrational ideas, so when they grow up it is extremely difficult to remove preconceived notions. For example, students conversant with science know that a solar or lunar eclipse is caused by scientific factors and has nothing to do with the mythological demons Ráhu and Ketu. But even then, due to their inherent reactive momenta, they go to the Ganges and take a holy bath. Is this not due to ingrained religious beliefs?
When people’s ideas are so fixed that they will not entertain any discussion or argument it is called “fanaticism”. It is said that religion is a question of faith, not logic. In India, there are many religious fanatics. Due to religious fanaticism and bigotry, there have been innumerable violent clashes in the past. How repugnant that thousands of people were killed on the pretext of a single strand of hair! These fanatics never bothered to listen to the beliefs of others, and moreover, for them it is a sin to listen to others. In one sense they are worse than animals, because animals do not harbour any communal feeling. Physical sentiments are predominant in such religious expressions. People should keep aloof from the bondages of religion. Behind all religious dogma, physical considerations are dominant. One community considers it a sin to eat beef but not goats or deer. The custom of wearing a vermilion mark on the head and forehead by Indian women is an expression of religious sentiment. The women of other countries do not follow this practice. It does not matter at all if Indian women stop using vermilion. All religions exploit people by appealing to religious sentiments.
There are many people who worship particular scriptures. These scriptures were most likely composed, printed and bound by the followers of other religions. As soon as a book of scripture has been published, Hindus regard it as the goddess Saraswati. There are many people who spend money extravagantly to build idols, then after a day or two, a long procession and a lot of fanfare, the idol is immersed in a river. If a member of another religion accidentally damages any part of the idol, an undesirable incident of unprecedented magnitude may occur.
Fanaticism occurs when physical considerations outweigh rationality. Religious fanaticism occurs when fanaticism centres on a particular religion. A powerful intellectual appeal rather than the application of force is required to bring religious fanatics onto the right path, because force will only create a reaction which will intensify religious fanaticism.
Certain practices were not originally religious rituals, but traditions or customs. Long ago the Jews started practising circumcision. When Moses converted some of his contemporaries to Judaism, and later when Mohammed converted some local people to Islam, neither prophet dared to instruct their new followers to discard the old customs they followed, consequently the old customs continued after their conversion. In ancient times, the Austrics used to worship the sun god because they believed that if it was propitiated it would send abundant rays and produce rich harvests; In Austric society, women have a very important role, consequently the role of the priests is not so important. The Austrics believed that the sun was a female god and that the moon was a male god, so they addressed the sun as mother. They introduced Chat Puja, the worship of the sun goddess. In olden times, people used to worship the sun goddess only once a year, but in Magadh it is worshipped twice, during the two major harvests. The tradition of Chat Puja became so strong among the inhabitants of Magadh that despite the enormous influence of the Aryans, Buddhists and Muslims, the custom of Chat Puja continued unchanged. Even today, the Muslims in some areas of Magadh worship the sun goddess. In some places they perform the worship themselves, and in other places they get it done with the Hindus. Similarly, in Bengal the Muslims worship the deities Satya Narayana and Olabibi. These are expressions of traditional beliefs which have been passed down from one generation to another.
The only way to combat religious fanaticism is to strengthen the logical wave. Through the study of science, we know that an eclipse is a physical phenomenon. The deities Ráhu and Ketu have nothing to do with it. Although this sort of superstitious belief is no doubt diminishing, there are some people who still worship mythological deities because they believe that the deities can be propitiated to release the sun and the moon from an eclipse. The reason is that the fear psychosis in human beings is stronger than logic. When human rationality is strengthened, irrational ideas will vanish from society.
Many people today advocate the formation of theocratic states (dharmarasta). But when they use the term theocratic states, they mean religious states, not states which uphold the cause of righteousness. We should strive to establish states which uphold righteousness (dharma), and for this the physical sentiments that are the basis of religion should be ignored. People must remain aloof from dogmatic religious ideas. Some people perform religious observances which relate to the moon – after sighting the moon, they start their religious penance. But what will happen to those who will live on the moon itself. Rational thinking will remove the fear psychosis from the human mind – rationality will defeat fanaticism.
In India, the Aryans tried to establish the Vedic religion by destroying the Austric religion. In the Buddhist period, particularly during the reign of King Binbisai of Magadh, Buddhism was imposed upon non-Buddhists. Later, the Hindus forcibly converted Buddhists and Jains to Hinduism. During the Muslim period, the Islamic rulers forcibly imposed Islam in India, Iran and Egypt. In false contemporary Egypt is a mixture of Arabian civilization and Islamic religion. Countless Jews were forcibly converted to Christianity. During the British rule of India, the Christians propagated Christianity in a very psychological way, consequently thousands of Hindus became Christians. Before the British came to India, there were hardly any Christians in the country. In the Muslim period, many Hindus were converted to Islam by both psychological pressure and physical force. Besides this, many Hindus embraced Islam because they were disgusted with the defects in Hinduism. At that time, along with severe religious upheaval, there was also extreme social disparity, and as a result many people turned to Islam. Even today, some missionaries are converting people into their respective religions by taking advantage of the peoples educational backwardness, superstition and poverty. The medieval crusades are also burning examples or the suppression of one religion by another.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, January 1970 RU, Patna, Prout in a Nutshell Part 21, How to Unite Human Society
2. “There are three cardinal socio-political principles which should never be violated. First, people should not be retrenched from their occupations unless alternative employment has been arranged for them. Secondly, people should not be forcibly converted from one religion to another. Thirdly, no mother tongue should be suppressed. Occupation, spiritual practice and mother tongue are very important to human beings. If the sentiments associated with them are hurt, human beings will be deeply affected. So, you should never violate these cardinal socio-political principles.“…
…”The second inviolable principle is that people should not be forcibly converted from one religion to another. People will not leave a religion if it is able to guide them properly on the path of Dharma. However, if a religion has a narrow outlook or contains some defective teachings, such as supporting the caste system or oppressing the poor, then people will naturally become disillusioned with it. The followers of other religions will take advantage of these defects and forcibly convert them.
In the past there were many instances when large numbers of Hindus were forcibly converted to another religion. Hindus were fed onions or beef without their knowledge and women were abducted, compelling them to transgress their religious beliefs. As a result, they were excommunicated by the Hindu priests. They were declared outcastes. When those who had instigated the transgressions observed this development, they escalate their campaign of forcible conversion.
There is a well-known story about a Zamindar from Bengal called Kalachand Roy, later Kalapahar, who was a follower of Kálii. He worshipped a stone image of Kálii with great devotion. At that time some invaders, belonging to another religion, started a campaign to destroy all Hindu temples and deities. When Kalachand’s temple was about to be destroyed, he prayed to Kálii saying, “Mother, I do not have the power to protect you, so please protect yourself.” But how can a stone idol protect itself? In due course his temple and idol were destroyed, and Kalachand lost faith in Kálii. He was converted to the religion of the invaders, and became known as Sheik Kaluddin Khan. He launched his own campaign of terror throughout Bengal and Orissa and forcibly converted people to his new religion. He disfigured deities, destroyed temples and threatened people with physical violence to convert them. Once he travelled to Kashi and set about converting a widow who also happened to be his elder sister. She refused to succumb to his threats, and scolded him mercilessly for his bad behaviour.
This made him realize the error of his ways, and he abandoned his campaign. If Hinduism had not practiced idol worship, Kalachand would not have been converted. Because of his forcible conversion, Kalachand became extremely hostile towards Hinduism and launched his own campaign of terror against it. A religion should be so strong that no one can be converted from it.
Such incidents made the priests in eastern India realize that soon all the Brahmans would be converted to Islam. One priest called Devi Bar Ghatak from Mallálpur in the Birbhum district of Bengal, devised a strategy to prevent people being excommunicated. He argued that instead of excommunicating people who had been compelled to violate the tenets of Hinduism, they should be given the status of a special community within the Hindu religion. For example, families from which a girl had been abducted became one community, those who had been forced to take onions or beef became another community, etc. The members of these communities were permitted to marry amongst themselves and engage in normal social relations. This system was called the Melbandhan system, and it saved the Brahmin community of Bengal from conversion to Islam. Although the Kayastha community of Bengal did not accept the Melbandhan system, they accepted its inner spirit, and there after they did not excommunicate any of their members.
A different system was followed in Bihar. Members of the Brahman community who had been forcibly converted to Islam formed a group and adopted the title Syed. The Kayasthas took the title Mallik, the Rajputs became Mián Mussalmen or Pathan Mussalmen, and the Bhuminars became Sheik Mussalmen.
Hinduism will degenerate and people will convert to other religions as long as the caste system exists in the Hindu religion. If Hinduism continues to degenerate, the progress of Indian society will be retarded because Hindus are the majority community in India. Moreover, if there are continued conversions to Islam, women will become second grade citizens, because they are not given equal status with men in Islam. Consequently, there will be further degeneration. Thus, nobody should be forcibly converted from one religion to another.
All religions should be established on a strong foundation of logic and reason, then such things will not occur. If people are forced to violate the teachings of their religion, they should not be excommunicated. Even if people knowingly contravene a religious code without compulsion, they should have ample scope to rectify their behaviour. A religion should not be like a glass container which breaks with a light tap.
In the future you should be careful not to hurt the religious sentiments of others, even if most people become Ánanda Márgiis. Deities should be preserved in museums, and temples should be restored to maintain the cultural and historical heritage of the country.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 14 November 1988, Calcutta, Prout in a Nutshell Part 16, Three Cardinal Socio-Political Principles
3. “The first type is nityánitya viveka (discrimination between permanent and impermanent). Whenever an intelligent person ponders over something, he or she discerns its two aspects – the permanent and the impermanent. The attempt to accept the permanent aspect after due deliberation is called nityánitya viveka. The permanent is not dependent on the relative factors of time, space and person, whereas the impermanent is the collectivity of the relative factors. The best way to recognize the impermanent is that if one of the three relative factors is changed it will undergo an immediate transformation. Nityánitya viveka enables human beings to realize the necessity of observing dharma. It helps them to understand the fundamental differences between dharma and religion, or doctrine. Religion is something entirely relative whereas dharma is a permanent truth.
The first characteristic of religion is that it gives excessive importance to a single individual. Different regions claim that such-and-such great personality (mahápuruśa) is a son of God, a prophet, or even God himself. However wise these great persons might be, they are nevertheless mortal. Some also claim that the propounders of other religions could not come as close to God as their own propounder did. These words are not only irrational, but contain a concealed attempt to make the impermanent permanent. Dharma is an eternal truth credible and does not depend on any individual, prophet or avatára (direct descent of God) for its substantiation. The goal of dharma is the attainment of Brahma; its base and its movement are Brahma-centered. Brahma is the Absolute Entity independent of time, space and person; He is permanent. Brahma sádhaná, therefore, is the sádhaná for the attainment of the permanent entity.
Through nityánitya viveka, human beings become aware of the fleeting nature of transient objects. They observe that with change in time, place and person, corresponding changes occur in social, political, economic, and all other spheres of life take to which they have to adapt themselves. Those who are reluctant to adapt themselves to the changed circumstances are doomed to destruction. A religion or an “ism” is created in a certain age which itself is a product of the three factors of time, place and person. However, the religion does not recognize the necessity of adjustment with the change in social life. It refuses to realize that the old rules and regulations of the previous age are now only mere historical records, having lost their relevance in the present dynamic society.
To stifle the progress of humanity, the followers of these religions play on human sentiments and other weaknesses. They want to perpetuate the hold of the vested interests by infusing an inferiority complex into the human mind. While preaching their religious ideas, some claim that the social, economic and political systems were direct creations of God and hence destined to be observed in all ages and all times with equal veneration. They pronounce that those who refuse to follow this divine decree will be doomed to burn in the scorching heat of God’s wrath, or dammed to suffer eternal hell-fire. To deny people the scope of verifying the rationality of different scriptures they declare that such-and-such scriptures are infallible and so nobody has the right to question their veracity. If the philosophical texts contradict the scriptures, then their propounders will be declared as atheists.
So it is seen that in the absence of nityánitya viveka the propounders of religion want to thwart the intellectual progress of human society at large. They knowingly refuse to understand that any observation regarding the spatial, temporal and personal factors, from whatever person it might come, is bound to lose its relevance in a transformed situation.
Through nityánitya viveka try to understand what is permanent and what is impermanent. You will certainly realize that no scripture is a revelation of God; that everything in this world created by time, space and individuality is transient phenomenon. For the transient body and the transient mind one cannot deny the necessity of transient mundane objects. Though these things are necessary, they are still transient.
In the introversive phase of the cosmic imagination, intellectual progress of human beings is bound to take place and consequently their control over matter will gradually increase. In the process of further intellectual development, the old ideas and values of the undeveloped life will become outdated. You must have noticed that people with old, outdated ideas very often lament that the present younger generation has no spiritual inclination whatsoever. “Everything is lost,” they lament. Perhaps they do not understand, or maybe knowingly refuse to believe that scientific knowledge is increasing, dramatically. Modern youth is becoming acquainted with newer inventions and discoveries. They are learning about many new things and accepting them from the core of their hearts. As a result, the intellectual backwardness of the past seems to be totally absurd to them. The more scientific knowledge they acquire (in the Pratisaiṋcara movement of the Cosmic cycle they will certainly advance) the more they will try to liberate themselves from the noose of religion and “isms”, and the further they will advance along the path of dharma directly, scientifically and supported by rational judgment. Are the proponents of isms not aware of this fact? They are well aware and that is why they deliberately criticize material science at every opportunity. But this sort of criticism does not impress intellectual people.
It is not enough to equate the so-called religious scriptures with transient philosophy. Rather, these scriptures are [even inferior to the] material science. Although the material sciences are still imperfect from the ideological and practical point of view, they do not stifle the scientific progress of humanity; though they do stifle subtle intellectual and spiritual progress. But the conniving religious theologies seek to shackle peoples’ feet, making them as static as static as birds sitting on a perch in a cage. Too often they are satisfied with the amount of scientific progress they inherit and do not care for further development. To them molasses is sacred whereas sugar made at the mill is unholy because it is a product of science. To them bullock carts and rowing boats are sacred whereas trains and steamers are unholy because they, too, are the products of science. And yet, if these proponents of religion think a little deeper, they will realize that both molasses and sugar are products of science. The age of molasses was an age of undeveloped science. Sugar was a product of a comparatively developed age.
We cannot advise today’s human beings to go back to the age of candles and oil lamps neglecting the electric light. But some religions impart such teachings. Human beings will have to understand the proper spirit of nityánitya viveka and adjust themselves with the prevailing age. They will have to accept without reservation the situation of the particular age they are born into. It would not do to waste one’s time in unnecessarily gloating over the past.
Nityánitya viveka is an inseparable part of the practice of dharma. Dharma lays down clear guidelines for moving ahead in perfect adjustment with the prevalent situation. Dharma is the throbbing vital faculty of living beings. In dharma there is no scope for the accumulated inertness of staticity.
Brahma alone is an Eternal Entity, and the sádhaná of Brahma is the real practice of dharma. The ritualistic observances centred around the spatial and temporal factors cannot help in attaining the Eternal Entity, Parama Brahma. The sustained effort for psychic purification is the only means to become one with Him. People who observe ostentatious rituals after indulging in various antisocial activities may be seen as righteous people from the religious point of view, but if they are tested in the touchstone of dharma their sinful nature will be revealed.
As religions are dependent upon various changing factors, they differ widely from one another. They criticize and mock each other, exaggerating the other’s defects and refusing to acknowledge the other’s positive qualities. As they have no Eternal Entity as their goal, they are influenced more by allegiance to their own sect than by any love for humanity. But real dharma teaches that all living beings of the universe belong to one family; all are bound by the common touch of fraternity. The entire universe is everyone’s homeland, and all the animate and inanimate entities are the various expressions of one and the same Supreme being.
[[Hararme Pitá Gaorii Mátá svadesha bhuvanatrayam.]]
[Parama Puruśa is my Father, Parama Prakrti is my Mother, and the entire universe is my home.]
But strangely enough, many religions teach the opposite. They proclaim the exclusive greatness of a particular country, race, mountain or river. But in dharma there is no scope for intolerance, for Dharma is based on the solid foundation of vigour derived from universal love. The goal of religion is a non-integral entity and as such there remains a narrow outlook. The goal of dharma, however, is infinite Brahma. So the pursuit of dharma increasingly expands one’s vision. Sometimes a kind of alliance is noticed between religions but that is entirely an external alliance. The talk of synthesis of religions is totally absurd; it is merely an apparent show of honesty and grandiloquence to hoodwink the common people. Dharma is always singular in number, and never plural. So there is no question of religious synthesis in dharma. Religion is always plural in number – never singular. The synthesis of religions means their annihilation. Where impermanent entities are worshipped as the goal through various ritualistic paraphernalia, there is no scope for synthesis.
Religion is practiced for the fulfilment of mundane aspirations. This is the reason why a class of clergymen emerged centring around the religion. Ultimately the adherents of these religions become mere tools in the hands of vested interests. With the awakening of nityánitya viveka in human minds and the opening of the door of scientific knowledge, it will not be possible to deceive the people in the name of religion or by holding out the lure of happiness in the next world. The vested interests are quite aware of this fact and hence strive to keep the masses lost in the darkness of ignorance. Like parasites, they manoeuvre themselves to misappropriate, by injecting fear and inferiority complexes, a lion’s share of what the ignorant masses earn with their sweat and blood.
Religious exploiters maintain an unholy alliance with the capitalistic exploiters. With hands upraised, a religious preceptor blesses the wealthy merchants for their future prosperity but refuses to see the faces of his poor disciples who fail to provide handsome prańámii (a fee for the priest’s blessing). You will notice that in many religions mythological stories and fables are given more importance than science and rational ideas because they contain ample scope for exploitation of human weaknesses.
But in scientific and rational analyses, there is no scope for exploitation. If you consider yourself a Bráhmin by caste, then you will have to admit indirectly that the Bráhmins had their origin from the mouth of a god named Brahma. But will your scientific intellect agree to this sort of irrational interpretation? Likewise, if you consider your self as a warrior (kśatriya) or a merchant (vaeshya) or a labourer (shúdra), then you will have to accept that you were born of Brahma’s hands, thighs or legs. Anthropology, archaeology and human history can not accept these absurd notions. But the adherents of so many religions have to conform, more or less, to some mythological stories, which are totally contrary to science. By developing nityánitya viveka you will be able to clean your mind of the garbage caused by such superstitions with little effort. Nityánitya viveka teaches that the entities which are dependent on time, place and person are all transient. The only entity beyond the scope of time, place and person, is Paramátma, so He is the Eternal one, Nityaḿ Vastrekaḿ Brahma.“…
…”Átmánátman viveka will teach you that the Singular Eternal Entity in the form of Consciousness should be your only object of ideation. You will see the colours of religion fade before your eyes as the pure white effulgence of dharma shines with ever-increasing brilliance.
All the “isms” prevalent in today’s world can easily be included in the category of religions. All the defects of religions exist in the “isms” too. None of the political, social or economic “isms” are free from superstition none are straightforward; all are full of rampant hypocrisy. In all “isms”, doctrines and religions, the scriptural authority is supreme. There is no scope for the functioning of the five types of conscience, no place for service, love or devotion. With the help of falsehood and immorality, these “isms,” doctrines and religions slander and make accusations against each other. They make attractive promises to the people while hiding their own internal sins. In fact, false piety is not the path of dharma, leading to welfare, but the opposite of dharma, the negation of welfare. They can be likened to asses wearing lion skins: take away the lion skins and their their true form will be revealed. They have no other purpose than to grab votes and usurp power. The mentality to grab the votes first and then serve the people is not the true spirit of selfless social service; rather, it is the mentality of power craving materialists.
You will have to advance with the true spirit of genuine social service, because the very characteristic of dharma is to promote the cause of welfare. Dharma and welfare are inseparable. Religion and intolerance have created enormous harm in the world, have caused torrents of blood to stain the rivers red. In the present twentieth century, religions have assumed the form of “isms”.
The people of medieval times fought among the clans and communities, and the people of today are fighting over their “isms”. Just as religions did in the past, the “isms” are criticizing each other today, betraying their spirit of intolerance as they try to gag each other’s voices. It seems that they have no other goal than carping, criticizing, and slandering each other. They are befooling the ignorant masses by painting rosy pictures of service, peace and happiness. On the other hand they themselves are going far away from the path of selfless service and welfare. To emancipate the masses from the unhealthy influence of “isms” there is no other way than universalism. Only universalism is free from the defects of any narrowisms because every thing of this entire universe comes within its vast periphery.
It is only with the help of átmánátma viveka that the human beings can emerge from the mire of the present century and move towards universalism with firm steps. By virtue of átmánátma viveka people can realize that Brahma is the Eternal Singular Entity, pure Consciousness.” – Srii Srii Anandamrti, 16 December 1957 DMC, Begusarai, Subháśita Saḿgraha Part 6, The Five Kinds of Conscience (Viveka)
“There are a variety of religions in the world formulated by different propounders. But instead of enhancing the spirit of unity in the human society, these religions have actually increased disunity and mutual conflict. How many wars have been fought in the name of religion? So, far from being a unifying force, religion should be seen as a cause of disharmony.
One thing should be remembered: Dharma and religion – or “Imán” and “majhab” in Arabic – are not synonymous. Throughout the ages, Dharma or Imán has been propagating teachings to unite humanity. Religions are many, but Dharma is one, and that Dharma is Manava [[Human]] Dharma – a system for the attainment of the Supreme. Based on practical wisdom and logical faith, Dharma is a rational approach for the realization of Absolute Truth. External paraphernalia are not required for the practice of Dharma: the only prerequisite is a unit mind. Within Dharma there is no room for exploiting people entrapped in the snare of blind faith, and no scope for self-aggrandisement or the pursuit of group interests. Love, freedom and equality are its foundation stones. As Dharma is beyond time, space and person, there is no scope for Svajátiiya [[differences within a species]], Vijátiiya [[differences between species]] or Svagata [[differences within the same unit being]]. Dharma is inchangeable.
Eka eva suhrd dharma nidhane’pyanuyáti yah.
[Dharma is the only real friend; it follows one even after death]
Religion is the exact opposite. It is based on the following three factors:
(2) Physico-ritualistic observance
Behind the origin of a religion lies the inborn fear psychology of human beings. Human beings started religious practice to appease the different natural phenomena – the hills and mountains, the rivers and oceans, the forests, thunder and lightening, the morning and evening, and so on. Such religious practice was based on the instinct for self-preservation: the only intention being to propitiate the gods and goddesses of diverse moods. Some kind of imaginary faith worked in the back of people’s minds. Such psycho-sentiments arose after human beings came in contact with the different natural phenomena. The roots of most religions lie in the worship of a particular natural phenomenon. Some religions centered around the moon, some the sun, and others a stone image. Later on people created an improvised philosophy to support the worship of that physical phenomenon. They advanced the philosophical argument that it was possible to attain the unlimited by worshipping its limited form. They declared their temples, mosques and churches made of bricks as sacred places. A strong sentiment developed for the worship of different deities. So blind were their sentiments that they refused to listen to rationality. Take the case of cows: Hindus worship cows as something holy, apparently because they give us milk. But if cows are revered as mothers for giving us milk, shouldn’t buffaloes be given a similar status? Actually, buffaloes give more milk than cows. Unfortunately, the blind religious followers refuse to listed to logic as their religious sentiment for cows has taken root deep in their minds. People are fed these ideas since childhood, so later on it becomes impossible for them to discard them. Science students understand the reason for a lunar or solar eclipse. They know that the eclipse does not occur because the sun or moon has been devoured by the mythological demons Ráhu and Ketu (Umbra and Penumbra). Yet due to the deep rooted Saḿskaras in the mind, they rush to take a holy bath in the Ganges during the eclipse. This is the result of blind faith.
When the wave of physical sentiment becomes stronger than the wave of logic, we call it blind faith or religious bigotry. This leads to the view:
[[Vishváse miláy vastu tarke bahu dúr.
[In faith you get something substantial, but in logical arguments it is far away.]]]
Majhabme ákkál ká dakhal nehi hyey.
[In religion there is no room for logical argument.]
India did not see the frenzied expression of religious bigotry evident in other religions, which was the cause of intense religious feuding. How many lives were sacrificed over a single strand of hair? It is very difficult to persuade religious bigots to follow the path of logic because according to them even to listen to others is a sinful act. This is nothing but mere sentiment. According to some religions beef eating is forbidden but the killing of deer and goats is permissible. This is totally irrational.
Out of sentiment arose different ritualistic observances such as the way a lamp should be lit and held and the way one should kneel down in prayer. No logical arguments can be found to substantiate these rituals. Moreover, during the rituals, the mind always remains preoccupied with diverse objects. If it remains obsessively associated with such objects, how can it move towards Parama Puruśa?
Many people consider their temple to be the only sacred place of worship. But the funny thing is that the builders who construct temples are unholy people or untouchables, and are thus barred from entering their premises. Each religion has its own scriptures. Some scriptures are worshipped with such reverence that they are treated as deities. But the paper on which the scripture was written, and the printing and binding of the book were perhaps done by people of other religions. But once the book is complete it is transformed into a holy scripture and those who made it will not have the right to even touch it. In fact, not only the holy scriptures, but all books are considered as a symbol of the goddess of learning. To pay obeisance to the book by repeatedly touching the forehead with it is apart of religious observance. Many people spend huge sums of money to make an idol of clay only to immerse it in a river with pomp and ceremony to conclude the religious festival. But if the people of other religions happen to break even a finger of that idol terrible bloodshed will ensue. Thus, those who advocate the formation of countries on the basis of religious faith will cause irreparable damage by fragmenting human society.
Human beings readily accept traditions without seeking the reasons behind them. Since ancient days the semitic people have been observing the practice of circumcision. Moses and Mohammed accepted this system which today has become tradition. The ancient Austrics used to worship the Sun. Their purpose was to please the Sun God and be blessed with heavy rainfall and bumper harvests. In the social system of the Austrics, women had a predominant role. Thus, in the system of worship and other religious ceremonies, the priest had no significant role. Even the Sun God was looked upon as a female deity and the Moon was a male God. The Sun God was addressed as “mother” and the worship done in her honour was called “Chat Puja”. Even today in Magadh Chat Puja is held twice a year during the harvest time. The sentiment of Chat Puja was so deeply rooted in Magadh that their system of worship is in vogue even today even after such tremendous Aryan, Buddhist and Moslem influence. Of course, in the external rituals of worship some changes have taken place, but the system of worship has not yet become extinct. Even the Moslems participate in the Chat Puja. In some areas they themselves organize the ritual and in other places they get the puja performed through the Hindus. This Chat Puja has now become a tradition. There was a time in Bengal when the Moslems used to worship Satyanáráyańa or the Oláicánd.
From the above discussion it is apparent that religions engender hatred for others, blind faith, etc. in the minds of their followers. Through such religions it is next to impossible to establish unity in the society. Religious differences should be minimized as much as possible, but it should be remembered that blind faith in a religion cannot be forcibly eliminated. To strike at any type of sentiment will only cause that sentiment to grow stronger. Psychological methods will have to be employed to make people realize the irrational nature of blind religious faith. This requires a rational interpretation of philosophy through enlightened intellect. When the human mind is gripped by the fear psychology it gives indulgence to blind faith rather than logic and reason. If human fear is removed through logic and reason, the very basis for blind faith will be weakened. That is why human beings will have to be taught philosophical doctrines in a rational way. Furthermore, to remove the psycho-sentiment for a particular physical object, either the object itself should be removed or, by changing the very outlook through scientific and humanitarian reasoning, the person concerned should be separated from that sentimental object. For example, those who perform religious ceremonies in worship of the moon will find it difficult to continue their practice once, due to scientific advancement, they actually get the opportunity to walk on the moon. Blind faith must be removed through the application of science and humanistic appeals. People will have to be united under the common banner of one religion.
In the absence of knowledge of common psychology, people of different religions try to destroy other religions. This has resulted in the spilling of rivers of blood. In ancient India the Aryans tried to impose their own Vedic religion on the Austric community. In the Buddhist era, particularly during the reign of King Bimbisára, Buddhism was imposed on other religions. Later, the followers of the Sanátana Hindus forcibly converted the Buddhist and Jains into Hinduism. During Moslem rule Islam was imposed on India, Persia and Egypt. Similarly, countless Jews were converted into Christianity. During the British period attempts were made by Christian missionaries to subvert Hinduism and impose Christianity on the indigenous population. All this led to mutual animosity in the world of religion.
Those who indulged in vain criticism and slandering instead of trying to remove the factors diving the human race, created even more problems for society. That’s why there is more disunity than unity in the human society today.
It is the Sadvipras who must take most of the responsibility to remove the disunity. Sadvipras will not give any importance to the points of difference, but will continuously inspire and encourage the common bonds of unity and thus strengthen humanity. Only then will the human society become one and indivisible. Only then will it be worthy of being called a “human society”.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, date not known, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 7, Human Society Is One and Indivisible – 2
4. “Social life must take morality as its starting point – it must take inspiration from morality. Only then will society be able to put an end to the erosion caused by divisive internal conflicts and to advance towards victory. But before we can start work, we also have to understand the difference between morality and religion, or so-called dharma.
Dharma means the attainment of bliss or the endeavour to attain bliss through regular sádhaná [spiritual practices] in the subtler spheres of one’s nature. This blissful state is considered by wise people to be Brahma [the Supreme Entity], and by devotees to be one’s very soul.
The word dharma is often loosely used for so-called religion. The reason for this is that the founders of almost all the world’s religions propagated their respective doctrines among the common people, claiming them to be the messages of God [i.e., to be dharma]. These founders never followed the path of logic. Whatever their intention might have been, the result was that humanity lost its supreme treasure, its rationality.
In the Middle Ages some selfish people proclaimed to the backward masses, “I am the messenger of God. Whatever I say is a revelation from God,” just to inject fear and terror into people’s minds. Was it beneficial for humanity to have such doctrines imposed on them in this way?
Almost every religion has claimed that only its followers are God’s chosen people and that the rest of humanity is cursed and bound by the chains of Satan. One religion has declared, “Our prophet is the only saviour. There is no escape from mundane sufferings except by taking refuge in him.” Another religion has declared, “I am the last prophet. Prayers must be said before God a specific number of times in a certain manner each day. Special animals must be sacrificed on particular days. These are the wishes of merciful God. Those who follow these injunctions will attain heaven on the Day of Judgement.” Yet another religion says, “Know ye, my son, thy God is the only God. All other gods are false gods.” Just imagine, all these religions preach universal fraternity, and yet this universal fraternity is kept within the confines of their own community.(2) Humanity gasps for breath at such preposterous claims of universal fraternity.
Carried away by the grandiose slogans of their respective religions, the followers of these religions have at different times whipped up a frenzy of communal(3) hatred and indulged in orgies of genocide. Had their founders seen such sights, they would have hidden their faces in utter shame. Of all the bloodshed that took place in the Middle Ages, a major part was a natural consequence of this communal “universal fraternity”.
Directly or indirectly, religion encourages communalism. “Communalism” means a group [groupist] psychology based on religion.
In the distant past, long before the Middle Ages, so-called religions repeatedly tried to “show the light” to the simple, ignorant masses, and are still doing so today; and in the process they have in most cases created disasters. In fact, they do not feel any genuine love for humanity. The standard-bearers of these religions have never hesitated to use force of arms, wily intellect or financial power to gain some petty mundane advantage.
That is why I maintain that throughout history religions have proved to be flagrantly unworthy institutions, incapable of providing even the physical necessities of life, let alone spiritual salvation. By preaching disharmony, they have systematically prevented people from understanding that they are part of one integrated human society. And in support of their interdictions, they have cited many irrational precedents – a load of mouldy, rotten, worm-eaten papyrus.
Religion tries to transform the human mind into a state of staticity, because anything static is easily exploited. However, inertia is the exact opposite of the nature of the mind. A knotty problem! The founders of religion wanted human beings to give up their dynamic nature, and out of fear or delusion, unquestioningly accept certain ideas as the infallible truth. To prevent their shallow knowledge from being exposed, some so-called religious teachers avoided answering people’s questions by pretending to observe silence. This got around all the fuss of answering queries, and even gave the person the opportunity to appear sagacious. In order to stifle the inquisitiveness of the human mind, some of these charlatans even used to claim that an inquisitive nature is extremely bad.
Read any so-called religious book: one will seldom find anything resembling tolerance of the religious beliefs of others. I am not saying that one should accept whatever people say, but surely non-acceptance and intolerance are not the same. Why is there a mania for refuting the views of others anyway? If necessary, different views can be compared and presented in philosophical books. The philosophical and psychological loopholes in an argument may be pointed out without being disrespectful. But is the attempt to insult others indicative of magnanimity? In so-called religious books there is a greater tendency to refute the religious doctrines of others than to propagate one’s own ideas. Observing all these machinations, genuine theologists cannot hold religion in high esteem.
Wise people say:
Yuktiyuktamupádeyaḿ vacanaḿ bálakádapi;
Anyaḿ trńamiva tyájyamapyuktaḿ Padmajanmanáh.
* * *
Kevalaḿ shástramáshrityaḿ na karttavyo vinirńayah;
Yuktihiina vicáre tu dharmahánih prajáyate.
“If a child says something rational, it should be accepted, and if the Supreme Creator says something irrational, it should be totally rejected.”
* * *
“It is undesirable to accept something just because it is written in the scriptures, because if irrational sayings are accepted and implemented, the decline of dharma will be the result.” ” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 1959, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 1, Moralism
5. “On the basis of religion human beings group together and indulge in internecine feuds. Such religions are responsible for spilling the blood of innocent men and women. I don’t want to single out any religion as most do not follow the path of logic. Instead they prefer to inject a certain type of cheap sentiment into the human mind to cripple the intellect and impair rational judgement.
Majhabme akkalká dakhl nehi hae.
[In religion there is no room for logical argument.]
In actual fact it makes the clear thinking of the human mind turbid. Religion has always commanded its followers to abide by its tenets. Those who dared show any logic were injected with a kind of fear complex. Moreover, the followers of the religions declared that their teachings were the revelations of God and had to be dutifully followed. Out of fear people submitted to this mandate. This is the basic defect of religion. On the basis of this hundreds of so-called scriptures were written in ambiguous language. Anything that destroys free thinking should not be called a scripture at all. Only that which develops the spontaneous development of human beings deserves to be called a scripture.
Shásanát tárayet yastu sah shástra parikiirtitah.
“That which disciplines human beings, that which inspires human beings to follow the path of spirituality, the path of supreme benevolence, that is scripture.”
Anything else is not scripture at all. Religions create undue fear complex in the human mind. Utilizing the lure of heaven and the dread of hell they destroy nationality and humanity. Motivated by their own petty interests they create artificial divisions in the human society. Should intelligent people be bound by the serpentine nooses of such religions? No, they should not; they must not. If at all people allow themselves to be bound by nooses, it should be understood that they are intellectually bankrupt. In all countries of the world such people form separate communities. Perhaps religion has done the most damage to humanity. After all, it is in the name of religion that most human conflicts have occurred. Now the time has come to put an end to the conflict over religion forever.”…
…”And as I hae already said, religion is almost a non-entity. It rests on quicksand. Spirituality and religion are not synonymous; rather they are totally separate entities. Spirituality is an endless endeavour to link the microcosm with the Macrocosm, and this endeavour in individual life will stop when individuals come in closest proximity to Parama Puruśa. Human society will never attain Samadhi collectively. It is never possible to attain liberation or salvation collectively. So in individual spiritual life what is important is the feeling that human beings move collectively and help one another. In religion the feeling is that everything of mine is good and everything of yours is bad. While fighting over this people lose their natural judgement. Humanity should never be divided on the basis of such things.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 17 June 1979, Calcutta, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 7, Human Society Is One and Indivisible – 3
6. “The philosophies that human beings follow can be divided into four categories: (1) dogma-centred philosophy, (2) matter-centred philosophy, (3) self-centred philosophy and (4) God-centred philosophy.
People who follow dogma-centred philosophy believe in dogma, wrong sentiments and foolish ideas. In the past I said that many religions are dogma-centred, but in fact all religions are dogmacentred. That is why no religion can tolerate any other religion. People who follow dogma-centred philosophy exploit others in the name of providence for their own self-interest. For example, the proponents of dogma often claim that they have been blessed with divine revelation. They say that they had a dream in which God appeared before them and commanded them to do particular work, and on this pretext they exploit others to the full.“…
What is religion? Religion is based on dogma-centred philosophy. Dogma-centred philosophy is a blending of matter-centred and self-centred philosophies. So religions are a blending of partly matter-centred philosophies and partly self-centred philosophies. Matter-centred philosophies are mostly pure dogma, while selfcentred philosophies are a blending of dogma and sentiment.
Religions sometimes survive for a long time, even though they are full of dogma. This is because they know how to twist their teachings to deny the truth and adapt to different circumstances. Their purpose is to secure the interests of a special, privileged class. Some religions have also survived because they have associated themselves with God-centred ideas, although they are not God-centred. They make some dogmatic propositions about God an important part of their teaching, and on this basis they sentimentalize the minds of the people. These sentiments penetrate deeply into the human psyche.
The main weapons of dogma-centred philosophies are:
1) The propagation of stories, myths and parables to create superiority complexes;
2) The propagation of stories, myths and parables to create inferiority complexes;
3) The propagation of fear complex and inferiority complex amongst the people, especially the Shúdras.
All religions use these three types of complexes to inject superiority complexes, inferiority complexes and fear complexes into the minds of the people. They propagates parables, myths and stories to inject complexes into people’s minds. Is it not a fact? All religions are based on dogma – they are not based on logic – and they propagate their dogma through stories, myths and parables. All religions propagate that “My God is the only true God. Other Gods are false gods.” When some religions claim that their god is the only true God, it is an example of a dogma-centred proposition. All world religions are based on such dogma-centred theories.
Take the case of Hindu myths. The authors of Hindu mythologies say that the Brahmans are born from the mouth of Parama Puruśa, the Kśatriyas from the arms, the Vaeshyas from the trunk and the Shúdras from the feet.
Bráhmańo’sya mukhamásiit váhurájanyo’bhavat
Madhya tadasya yadvaeshyah padbhyám shúdra ajáyata
[Brahmans came out of the mouth, Kśatriyas were born out of the arms, Vaeshyas came out of the trunk of the body, and Shúdras were born out of the feet.]
Some people say this sloka came from the Puranas, not the Rg Vedas. Teachings like this create an inferiority complex and fear complex amongst the Shúdras. What does the word “Shúdra” mean? It means “slaves of black complexion”.
There are innumerable examples of religious dogma. Communism left behind a deep negative impression in the material world, and never followed the path of shánti or peace. Materialism or matter-centred theory is more developed in communism than in Cárvaka. Cárvaka did not make any wrong interpretation against God, but communism did.
To counteract the malevolent effect of dogma-centred philosophies, the two most important factors are the development of rationality and the spread of education. Merely attending school and university classes will not necessarily have the desired effect. Stress should be placed on education which produces a high degree of rationality in the human mind, and this type of education should be spread amongst the people.
So, to counteract religious dogma we have to adopt a two-fold approach. First, the path of logic and reason must be adopted, and for this we have PROUT and Neohumanism. Simultaneously, the spiritual sentiment must be inculcated in human minds as this is more powerful than the religious sentiment. For this people should be properly educated in the way of spirituality. So what should be our proper strategy? First, we should work to oppose matter-centred philosophies, which are already on the verge of extinction. Once matter-centred philosophies have been vanquished, the strength of religious dogma will be naturally weakened and finally eliminated. This will be the proper step-wise approach.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 15 January 1990, Calcutta, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 18, The Excellence of God-Centred Philosophy
7. “Q. 46. What is the difference between ritualistic religion and spiritual sádhaná?
Ans.: – In almost all cases ritualistic religion ultimately encourages the fulfilment of materialistic desires. Generally, human beings want to acquire physical objects as well as name and fame. Sometimes, even after fulfilling their desires, they want to accumulate more. With that goal in mind they follow a ritualistic religion.
The practice of ritualistic religion is nothing but pursuance of the path of preya. Ignorant men even fail to realize that by following such a path they do not always gain the material objects they desire. Only the sinful religious and social exploiters gain from such efforts.
Spiritual sádhaná is an individual and collective process that leads toward all-round progress. This path of sádhaná may certainly be termed as nivritti. Liberation does not imply escapism from the world, but rather observing the world with spiritual ideation. There is no scope whatsoever for the desire for name and fame, for pomp and show, for religious exploitation. Rather, the co-existence of such desires with spiritual sádhaná is contradictory.
The ritualistic differences in various religions are quite marked. By accentuating these differences, medieval and even contemporary people did not and do not hesitate to cause heavy bloodshed. However, in spiritual sádhaná there is no place for the differences in nationality, race, language or religion. Everyone has a singular dharma named spirituality, and only this is worth calling dharma. Religions are not dharma; they are mere collections of rituals.“…
…”Q. 49. How far is the unification of all religions possible?
Ans.: – To seek infinite bliss is the only dharma of humanity. Humanity has but one dharma. Thus, the question of the unification of religions does not arise. The apparent dissimilarity between various religions arising due to differences in their ritualistic practices is not a spiritual difference. Whenever rituals dominate and efforts to attain bliss are feeble, whatever that may be, it is not spirituality.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 1958, ElEdit 7, Ananda Marga Philosophy in a Nutshell Part 3, Some Questions and Answers on Ananda Marga Philosophy – Section B
8. “While dharma in the true sense of the term is based on logic and the realizations of great sádhakas [spiritual aspirants], religion, or dharmamata, is based entirely on irrational blind faith. So religions are always sheltered within dogma. While the propagation of dharma goes on spontaneously, for the propagation and establishment of dogma-based religions, the financial power of the vaeshyas [capitalists] and the intellectual prowess of the vipras [intellectuals] is inevitably needed. What we observe from the history of humankind is that the religions which have come so far have, without exception, taken shelter under the wings of capitalism. While money has been spent lavishly for the construction of beautiful places of worship, money has never been arranged for food, clothing, housing, education and medical care for the welfare of the poor. While for four full years all the state revenues of Orissa were spent for the construction of the Konark temple, during that period not a penny was spent for human welfare. Needless to say, the history of all countries is replete with such examples.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 1981, Kolkata, ElEdit 7, Ráŕh: The Cradle of Civilization, Ráŕh – 6
9. “Vipras use all their abilities for intellectual exploitation. They try to gain prestige in society and maintain that prestige by composing mythological stories which play on the weaknesses of the human mind; by preaching the divine power of certain gods and goddesses under certain circumstances; by convincing people of the vipras’ social superiority; and by injecting the confusion of religion even into spirituality.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 1967, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 5, The Vipra Age, Intellectual Exploitation
10. “The way in which the kśatriyas rose to power varied from country to country, but the way in which the vipras rose to power was almost the same everywhere. In order to achieve their aims the vipras composed fanciful stories to suit their purpose in the name of religion, but without regard for dharma or spirituality.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 1967, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 5, The Vipra Age, The Exploitation of Women
11. “The vipras’ culture included music, dance, arts and crafts. It emphasized the sharpness of the vipra intellect rather than the sentiments of the human mind, so the down-to-earth sentiments of kśatriya culture were substantially lost.
The vipras’ culture was not for the common mass. No doubt it stimulated the nerves of a small handful of people, but it could not move in step with the general mass. Vipra artists wished, through their intellectual brilliance, to conquer the world. Through their poems, dramas, writings and drawings they induced common people to pay homage to the superiority of the intellectuals. But the ignorant people could not understand these big things. The common people thought, “What we cannot understand must be something great,” and with this mentality fell obediently at the vipras’ feet.
At times when the intellectual art and literature of the vipras failed to convince the common people of their greatness, the vipras composed countless fanciful puráńas [mythological tales], stories about gods and goddesses that satisfied their own standards, and colourful mythological tales, all designed to dazzle people’s eyes and confound their intellects. They also warned the masses that if they failed to follow the teachings of these stories, or doubted their veracity, they would most certainly go to the deepest level of hell.
Everything in the practical world has some value as well as some defects. The kśatriyas, as an expression of their svabháva dharma [natural characteristics], had thought deeply about how to increase their numerical strength, and as a result – quickening the pace of human beings’ struggle against nature – had not only laid the foundation of the vast edifice of human civilization, but had also flung themselves into the task of constructing the walls. Similarly, the vipras’ expression of their natural characteristics induced them as well to increase their numbers, and for that reason increasing the number of their followers became one criterion of their vipra-hood. Of course in order to succeed in swelling the ranks of their followers, the vipras had to develop a due amount of proficiency; and their efforts to develop it served to build the roof on the edifice of human civilization.
Phallus worship had been invented by the primitive, uncultured kśatriyas as a symbol of increasing their population. The cultured vipras now interpreted it in a new way. They contended that the linga was a symbol for Parama Puruśa [Supreme Consciousness] and the piit́ha [vulva] a symbol for Prakrti [Supreme Operative Principle]. The interpretation the vipras gave was, Liuṋgate gamyate yasmád talliuṋgam [“The entity from which everything originates [[and towards which everything is moving]] is called liuṋga”] or Yasmin sarváńi liiyante talliuṋgam ["The entity in which everything merges is called liuṋga"]. When examining the history of phallus worship one should not only consider the mentality of the kśatriyas, but also give due consideration to the mentality of the vipras. However, the vipra interpretation has no relation to reality. Phallus worship belonged to primitive kśatriya society.
And not only phallus worship; most of the gods and goddesses described in the mythologies of different countries were representations of actual kśatriya leaders. People in the Kśatriya Age worshipped these gods and goddesses out of fear and devotion. Indra, Agni, Varuna, etc., of the Vedas had been mighty kśatriya leaders. In the Vipra Age they came to function as gods after winning the support of various scriptures.
The undeveloped kśatriyas would worship all those leaders, or “gods”, by offering them their (the kśatriyas’) favourite foods in order to propitiate them. After those leaders’ deaths, all such food would be burnt in a fire, thereby going to waste, for the supposed satisfaction of their souls in heaven. Even in the Vipra Age good-quality food and drink was destroyed by offering it to an imaginary god in a sacrificial fire. Moreover, the vipras received a commission for doing this.
Later, after the vipras had fully established their dominance in society, they began to receive more than a mere commission. A sizeable part of the offerings intended for the sacrificial fires was not burnt, but found its way into their storerooms. That is, the shúdras and kśatriyas had become totally subservient to the vipras. Taking advantage of their tyrannical power and superior intellect, the vipras used every means to consolidate their system of exploitation. Regardless of whether a ceremony was concerned with religious practices, charitable activities, the first step in a child’s pursuit of knowledge, harvesting crops, marriage, a baby’s first solid food, commemoration of the dead, or anything else, a share in the [anticipated] benefits had to be offered to the vipras, otherwise the ceremony would not conclude in karmasiddhi [attainment]. And the vipras had to be feasted and paid, otherwise the ceremony would not produce any result.
The vipra priests also adopted the different gods and goddesses that had been born out of the fear complex of the masses in the Shúdra and Kśatriyas Ages. (For example, they adopted Dakśińaráya, the crocodile-god or tiger-god of South Bengal; Viśahari or Manasá, the snake goddess of snake-infested areas; Shiitalá, the goddess of smallpox; and Olái Cańd́ii, the goddess of cholera.) They also composed various types of dhyána mantra(11) for such gods and goddesses; prescribed according to their own needs the specific materials that should be used for different kinds of worship of those deities; and, conveying strange commands from the deities at odd times, took to fleecing people out of donations, dakśińá [sacerdotal fees], sidhá [uncooked food given in exchange for a priest’s services] and various types of materials to be used for worship.
Another interesting thing about this is that in referring to the gods and goddesses created out of their fear complex, the shúdras and kśatriyas used colloquial language, while the vipras, in order to establish their supremacy and prove their intelligence, erudition and close relationship with God, used ancient languages. They always tried to make the masses believe that they, the masses, did not have the right of access to God, but had to go through the vipras. In other words, the vipras had a monopoly as agents in such matters.
The vipras have invented and are still inventing new ways of exploiting different communities of people in different parts of the world. In some places they have lured people with the prospect of eternal heaven, injecting into them at the same time the fear of eternal hell. By claiming the doctrine of some particular vipra leader to be the word of God, they have blocked the natural expression of the human intellect and made people intellectually bankrupt. With the intention of permanently securing for themselves an exalted position in the eyes of the ordinary people, some vipra leaders have declared themselves to be the incarnation or the appointed prophet of God. Through their own so-called scriptures, they have indirectly let the common people know that no one can achieve the same proximity to God as they – so that an inferiority complex will remain forever in the minds of the masses, and due to this inferiority complex the masses will always follow their teachings, either out of fear or out of devotion. That is why even intellectual people have fallen into their trap and have been compelled to say, Vishváse miláy vastu, tarke vahu dúr ["The goal is achieved not by reason but by faith"] or Majhab men ákl ká dakhl nahii haen [“There is no room for reason in religion“].
Even today there is a group of vipras who keep shouting about “religious education”, or rend the air with their calls for a “religious state”,(12) but what they really want is to entangle the minds of children, which are naturally inclined towards rationality, in a net of religious superstition, so that later they will become puppets in the exploitative hands of the vipras.
If God is considered to be the perfect ideal, it will have to be accepted that God is always just. Even though God loves everyone, He punishes sinners. But it can be said that when He punishes sinners, His aim is not to give them pain but to rectify their behaviour. In my opinion this concept of God is the highest concept. If God is considered to be the Universal Father, He should not have any racial, national or communal feeling, or any other type of limited feeling. If this is true, how can the vipras contract that the soul of a certain dead person will reach heaven?
I have heard that in some communities vipras claim to have the key to heaven. People even say that for the donation of a sum of money, vipras will sing akhańd́a kiirtana [constant chanting of the name of God] on behalf of the donor to ensure his or her passage to heaven. It is said that if others sing spiritual songs and kiirtana in the donor’s name, the donor will receive the benefit and go to heaven. What a wonderful philosophy for condoning sin!” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 1967, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 5, The Vipra Age, Cultural and Religious Exploitation
12. “All those who, undaunted by either political pressure or threats of violence from their opponents, have tried or try now, or who have died or are prepared to die, to save their religion, should be regarded as vipras from a psychological standpoint, regardless of whether they are intellectually developed or not. Those people are also to be regarded as vipras who have the desire to resist, protest or retaliate against the forcible imposition of certain doctrines on any person or group. These doctrines include not only religious doctrines, but also social, economic or political doctrines which may not strike at the powerful personality of any particular individual (i.e., may not affect kśatriyas).” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 1967, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 5, The Vipra Age, Ideology
13. “Since vipras are fundamentally intellectuals, it is natural for them to follow religious observances based on intellectuality. (I am not referring here to an ostentatious religiosity designed to exploit others. Although an ostentatious religiosity is indeed part of the vipra’s system of exploitation, I am referring here to the religious ideas which they follow in their personal lives.)
When intellectuals cannot find ways to solve complex problems through their intellect, they ask God for spiritual liberation. This is a type of defeatism or escapism. The vipras’ religious thinking is somewhat like this.
The fear-ridden religious thinking that is clearly evident in shúdras and to some extent evident in kśatriyas and vaeshyas, is not completely lacking in the vipras. This type of thinking has created in the vipras the tendency to live a mechanical kind of religious life regardless of whether they have any reverence for God or not. This is called Yajet yaśt́avyamiti ["One should worship an entity simply because it ought to be worshipped"]. That is, regular worship, telling the beads, or prayer ought to be done so many times a day, at such-and-such time – and therefore we do it – this mentality is very much in evidence in a vipra. And whether they admit it or not, the propensity at work behind this mentality is a fear complex.
Although the genuinely spiritual side of the vipras’ religious practices is indistinct, it is not totally absent. However, their desires for intellectual dominance, exploitation and prestige completely overshadow whatever spirituality they possess. Whereas in logical analysis the religious thinking of the kśatriyas is a direct expression of their worldly desires and therefore rájasikii [mutative], the religious thinking of the vipras is not of the sáttvikii [sentient] category; it is actually a mixture of the támasikii [static] elements of the shúdras and the mutative elements of the kśatriyas. The vipras understand the need for self-restraint in religious life and make some effort to become established in it. But the mixture of elements in their religious thinking causes them to use the religiously-inclined intellect that they have developed through self-restraint to establish themselves in the intellectual field.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 1967, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 5, The Vipra Age, Religion Based on Intellectuality
14. “In any society or governmental system where vipra rule lasted for a long time, different kinds of religion or moral philosophy came into being under their aegis. Initially the vipras had introduced religion for the purpose of exploitation and had tried to mislead people through their grandiloquence. However, the new philosophies that emerged in the course of time as a result of clash among vipras propagating different doctrines, came to be somewhat spiritual in appearance, though the tendency to exploit remained beneath the surface. This form of religion, like the form socialism adopted, was in fact a great hoax. With this approach, intellectual satans, instead of exploiting the faithful directly, expanded their sphere of exploitation behind a psychologically-designed mask of detachment from or indifference to worldly things.
Vipras with a simple type of philosophy used to say, “Your father deserves to go to heaven, so make sure that we perform his funeral service,” or “The soul of your father needs subtle food. Give us ordinary food and we will send it to him in a subtle form.”
But later on the cunning vipras, whom I call intellectual satans, tried to turn the minds of the people from practical reality towards an imaginary void by preaching contrived philosophies. The essence of their voluminous treatises and verbose annotations to lengthy aphorisms was: the world is an illusion; therefore renounce the world and do not be attracted to its illusions. Become desireless, detached and self-abnegating by offering all your wealth at the feet of the vipras. Of course such philosophies did not preach that the world was also illusory for the vipras who received the offerings – clearly because it was through such ploys that they were able to achieve their objectives.
In places where, for whatever reason, intellectual clashes among the vipras were not very intense, their philosophy was very simple. They would say to the people directly, “I am the angel or incarnation of God. The things I have said are not the words of a human being but the words of God,” or “I have received the divine revelation that you will eat this and not that, worship in this way and not that, and offer this to God. If you obey my commandments God will bless you and you will go to heaven; otherwise you will be burnt to death in the fire of hell.” The people were fooled this easily.
The vipras used to tempt people with an imaginary heaven and inject in them the fear of an imaginary hell. In this way they would accomplish their objectives; their exploitation would proceed smoothly; and moreover the fear they aroused in people’s minds would turn those people into fanatics.
It is noticeable that in the fanatical religious communities that we see in the world today, there is very little intellectual clash among the vipras. However, whenever fanatical religious communities made systems of social rules and regulations – in other words, whenever they made some effort to build a social structure – their social systems would be stronger than those of societies which followed a subtle philosophical theory or those of kśatriya societies. Where there were intellectual clashes among the vipras, each vipra would have his own supporters, and their different supporters would never think of themselves as belonging to the same group. As a result those vipras were unable to build a strong social structure. Though their philosophies may or may not have had some good in them, the Buddhists and Hindus were unable to build strong societies because of their subtle mentality.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 1967, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 5, The Vipra Age, Simple Philosophies and Contrived Philosophies
15. “In vipra society there is more scope for benevolence than in kśatriya society; that is to say, vipra leaders are not oblivious to the pleasure and pain of others. Vipras support those who pay respect to them and try to enhance the social status of such people with quotations from the scriptures. Of course vipras will not harm themselves for the sake of supporting others, no matter how great the logic in those people’s favour or how great the religious obligation of the vipras to do so. Needless to say, vipras will never support anybody if, in the event of that person being made great or being fully accepted by society, their own chariot of exploitation would be brought to a halt; rather they will ignore all humanitarian considerations and harm such people much more than would the kśatriyas.
In the Middle Ages fanatic Catholics, who regarded non-Catholics as unbelievers, burnt them alive; and many orthodox mullahs decreed that killing an infidel was not a sin. Orthodox Sanátaniis tried to murder Lord Buddha. During the reign of Bimbisar, power-mad Buddhist monks oppressed the Hindus. Hindu Brahmans and Muslim mullahs were equally vindictive towards Mahatma Kabir. Similarly, orthodox vipras oppressed Chandidasa, Ramamohana and Ishvarchandra Vidyasagara.
Although kśatriyas acted meanly at times for the sake of their prestige, their meanness had some limit; but when vipras became mean-minded, they became totally blind. Of course out of personal interest they would support those kśatriyas who had sold their own personal force to the vipras’ glib oratory, surrendered at the vipras’ feet, and become their slaves.
As regards the intellectual exploitation of others, nearly all vipras think alike, so when they operate their machinery of exploitation, quite a remarkable unity can be discerned among them. When Mahatma Buddha, Kabir, Chaitanya, Guru Nanaka and Hazrat Mohammed tried to make people aware of religious exploitation, the vipras of those times, irrespective of their religious affiliations or beliefs, united against them. Hindu priests and Muslim mullahs united to fight against Mahatma Kabir. The same thing occurred at the time of Mahaprabhu Chaitanyadeva.
The theory propounded by Karl Marx which was intended to save people from exploitation was opposed by the vaeshyas. Many poor vipras opposed it as well, because although Marxist doctrine makes some provision for vipras who perform social service, it gives no scope to social parasites. (The intellectuality of the vipras recoiled on them.)
Vipras generally behave like bossy, elderly uncles; they are not prepared to behave like young, obedient nephews. Consequently vipra society was divided into many groups and sub-groups, each with differing opinions. No one was able to tolerate anyone else, and each group was busy refuting the ideas of the others. These internal clashes have been responsible for a certain amount of intellectual progress in society, but they contributed little to the development of magnanimity of mind.
Generally the vipras’ logicians’ philosophies encouraged people to find fault with others. As a result people became degraded. Even today the leaders of some so-called religious organizations spend far more time in their meetings and institutes slandering and vilifying others, using diplomatic language to conceal their exploitative intentions, than they do talking about spiritual philosophy, the nature of God or spiritual sádhaná (that is, talking about real spiritual matters). But no matter how much they criticize each other, they are all believers in one doctrine, which is that it is not wrong to exploit people. Of course they put the seal of religion on their exploitation in order to further their own interests.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 1967, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 5, The Vipra Age, Religious Conflicts
16. “Many people blindly follow the dogma of so-called religions. A religion is a collection of “isms”, and an “ism” is a collection of dogma. (In common language “religion” is equilavant to the Sanskrit word dharma, but in philosophical language “religion” and dharma are not the same thing.) A religion which deals in abstract ideas related to unit consciousness, Supreme Consciousness and the manifest world is not the only type of religion. There are some “isms”, based upon various types of dogma, which sound and function as religions in the socio-economic sphere. And just as religions often impart defective teachings to human beings and incite them to communal conflict, likewise these particular “isms” cause human beings to degenerate to the level of animality in the name of class struggle.
The people belonging to the same religion are divided into various groups and sub-groups. For example, Jainism has Shvetámbar, Digambar and Therápanthii sects. Among the Buddhists there are Maháyánii, Hiinayánii, Lámávádii, Sthavirváda, Sammitiiya, etc., sects. Likewise, in socio-economic religion you must have seen how a particular political or economic party fragments into many branches due to minor differences of opinion.
This has happened, is happening and will continue to happen. It should be clearly understood. Just as the present world suffers from intense oppression due to religion, so does it face disintegration due to the intimidating threats of socio-economic religion.
Peace-loving, civilized human beings will have to find a way to protect themselves from these problems. They will have to act. Following the path of morality, human beings will have to move towards liberation with perseverance and rationality. There is no other way.” Sarkar, Prabhat, 10 April 1988, Calcutta, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 15, Defects of Communism – Section A
17. “When people leave their religion for no significant reason and accept another religion which suffers from ideological vacuum or is even inferior to the religion which they previously followed, they develop hysterical behaviour. They start excessively doing those things which were once prohibited to them by their previous religion. So we find that the person who has converted to another religion takes more beef than a normal member of that religion. This type of behaviour cannot be found in those who had ideologically accepted that religion.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 14 August 1988, Calcutta, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 15, The Existential Value of Ideology
18. “The second thing, you see, people may say there are so many religions. No, there is only one religion, not so many religions. And that religion is sanátana dharma, mánava dharma, Bhágavata dharma. That is, what is religion? The goal is attainment of Godhood, to be one with the Supreme Father, to come near the Supreme Father, to enjoy the supreme bliss. That is the goal.
So can there be more than one religion? No. Those who say like this are not religious people. They are agents of religious ism. Can there be more than one religion? There is only one human religion, and that religion teaches us to move towards the Supreme Father.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 9 August 1979 morning, Bangkok, ElEdit 7, Ánanda Vacanámrtam Part 30, Parama Puruśa within Everyone
19. “Some intellectuals are in favour of respecting all religions. I say that such people cannot do anything to promote the solidarity of the human race, for most religions demand blind faith rather than rationality from their followers. “Don’t argue,” they proclaim. “Accept the teachings of the scriptures for they are the direct word of God.” The cunning intellectuals of the past imposed the importance of blind faith on the minds of their gullible followers. They told them to obey the teachings, rational or irrational, otherwise there would be no respite from the endless suffering of human life, no other path to take them to the eternal bliss of heaven.
In most cases religions took advantage of human weaknesses, crippled the people’s rationality, and sapped their strength, thus facilitating their exploitation by the religious traders. When the vitality and strength of the masses remains unexpressed, the exploiters will be able to exploit them in the economic and other spheres of life for along time with relative ease. In the annals of human history it can be seen in all ages that the various exploiters were the patrons and the preachers of religion.
Dharma is altogether different from religion for it teaches human beings to advance while mercilessly smashing all obstacles that thwart human progress. Its inherent qualities are subtle analysis, ideological strength and the brilliance of valour. That’s why the vested interests cannot tolerate it and use all their strength and machinery to oppose it. They claim they are protecting religion. The greater the conflict between person and person, between community and community, between state and state, the greater is their advantage. But when many people form a collective mind through sincere sacrifice and ardent practice while advancing towards the realization of oneness with the Supreme, it will be difficult to continue exploiting people on any pretext.” – Srii Srii Anandamurti, Caetra Púrńimá 1957 DMC, Nathnagar, Bhagalpur, ElEdit 7, Subháśita Saḿgraha Part 5, Form and Formless
20. “The vipras exploit the masses in the Vipra Age under the pretence of religion, which cannot be challenged. The same thing occurs in the Vaeshya Age, but vaeshya exploitation is more dangerous. In the Vipra Age the vipras exploit others through religion in order to promote their personal interests, but in the Vaeshya Age the vipras exploit others through religion in order to promote both their own and the vaeshyas’ interests.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 1967, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 5, The Vaeshya Age, Breaking the Vaeshya Structure
21. “What is that geo-sentiment which inflicts the first blow on the inner asset of humans? It is to let one’s sentiment flow towards a particular territory. One does not consider whether what one is doing is right or wrong, logical or illogical. In this situation, sentiment is substituted for logic; and in the next phase, superstition is substituted for logic. All those religious, economic, political or social theories which are based on geo-sentiment, yield to superstition from their very inception. The so-called religions which have mouthed high-sounding ideals but are essentially motivated by geo-sentiment, become converted into reservoirs of superstition, into oceans of blind faith. They submerge humanity in a quagmire of superstitions, and people struggle in that filth for ages. Their progress is checked forever.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 7 March 1982, Calcutta, ElEdit 7, The Liberation of Intellect: Neohumanism, Geo-Sentiment (Discourse 3), Geo-Sentiment and Superstition
22. “Now let us come to the main point. I have already said that this geo-economic sentiment is causing enormous harm in social life. Here, there is not the least concern for rationality. Rationality is a human quality only; no animal possesses it. The same applies to geo-religion. There is a place of pilgrimage in a certain country where if even a crow dies during that pilgrimage, it is sure to go to heaven, what to speak of a human being!
There are some people who want to make a show of their devotion, saying, “I am a slave of Vrindavana.”(1) This is an extreme geo-sentiment. Vrindavana is a place – how can you be its slave? Have you lost your reason? Another says, “No, no, not slave! I am the dust of Vrindavana.” What are you saying? You are a human being; you are made of the five fundamental factors; why should you become dust? Still another goes a step further and says, “No, no, not dust, I am the excrement of a crow of Vrindavana.” This is the height of devotional display. They have lost all sense of rational judgement, and have not the least vestige of logic. This is an expression of geo-religion. Some people say, “Since I must die, I will die only in Kashi [Benares].” How strange! All countries have been created by the Supreme Consciousness, so all countries are equal. The universal concept of dharma that God is all-pervasive – Vistarah sarvabhútasya Viśńorvishvamidaḿ jagat [“This universe is the expression of Viśńu, the latent All-Pervading Entity”] – this essence of dharma has been forgotten. Ultimately dharma has been reduced to a geo-sentiment centring around Benares.
“At least once in your life you should visit such-and-such place of pilgrimage – then a cottage in heaven will be reserved for you!” What sort of mentality is this? All countries are equal; why worship with your face turned only towards the east, or the south, or the west. All countries, all directions, are equal.
Eso ha devah pradisho’nu sarváh;
Púrvo ha játa sa u garbhe antah.
“East, west, north, south, northeast, southeast, northwest, southwest, upwards, downwards – my Parama Puruśa encompasses all the directions.” Then why should I give undue importance to any particular direction? To do that means geo-religion; not dharma, but simply a religion.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 7 March 1982, Calcutta, ElEdit 7, The Liberation of Intellect: Neohumanism, Geo-Sentiment (Discourse 3), Geo-Religious Sentiment
23. “Besides this, there is the domineering influence of religion on the human mind. You know that religions are based on dogmas. The propagators of religion never cared to preach Bhágavata dharma – the universally applicable human dharma free from all narrowness – rather they always feared and avoided it. What have they preached instead? They have always declared, “I am not speaking with my own voice, I am speaking with the voice of heaven. I am the messenger of God. Don’t take these words to be mine – they are the message of God, and so you will have to accept them. You must not question whether they are right or wrong; to question is a sin. If you question, your tongue will fall off!” They have tightened the noose of dogma around the people, so that they fear to take a single step over the line, thinking, “How terrible! If I do so I will be burnt in hellfire for eternity!”
Thus those who sought to confine different groups within the bondage of dogma in the aforesaid ways are the so-called religious leaders or gurus; they have done enormous harm to the human society. The various religious groups have fought many bloody battles, because their dogmas were totally contradictory; if one group turned to pray towards the north, the other turned towards the south. Their leaders, meanwhile, fulfilled their own petty, selfish interests, saying, “These are God’s commands.”
In this way one group has tried to capture another group to be its arena of exploitation. As in the socio-economico-political field, so in the religious field. They have tried to create satellite groups. For instance, an affluent group tries to utilize a less-developed group as its satellite group. That is, they want to obtain their raw materials and force them to buy the finished products, which they produce in their own factories. It occurs just this way in the religious field also. And, being supported by the money of those who want to create satellites, the propagators of religious faiths idle away their days. Most of these propagators of religion are not even aware of the fact that they are helping the exploiters create satellite groups; but some are doing it consciously.
You must awaken those religious people who are not aware of what they are doing, and make them aware. Let the ideals of Neohumanism reach their ears and be implanted in the core of their hearts. With their liberated intellects they will throw all their illusions into the dustbin.
But those who are deliberately propagating dogmas as the agents of injustice, will become furious and violent when they hear the propagation of truth. Let them so become – let them fill their cup of sins to the brim. Their destruction is inevitable – their annihilation is the inexorable decree of fate.
So in the sphere of religion also, if you look carefully, you will see that behind those who have been knowingly or unknowingly operating the machinery of exploitation, there are certain wealthy parties. Those parties want to create their satellites. In every sphere of life you will find such wealthy people in the background.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 21 March 1982, Calcutta, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 8, Exploitation and Pseudo-Culture (Discourse 7), Religious Exploitation
24. “All human beings want to lead a secure, harmonious life, and have the opportunity to express themselves and progress. However, religious dogma goes against these fundamental human aspirations. Some priests, for example, say that if women dance their feet will become useless, therefore they should not dance. This is dogma. Other priests force people to worship particular deities out of fear. People are told that if they do not worship the prescribed deity, then a calamity will befall their families, and the deity will even take revenge on them. But can a deity really take revenge, just like bad people do? If it can, how can it be a deity? This is all dogma.
Women are considered second class citizens in each and every religion. If equal status is given to women, it will be very difficult to exploit them. So to avoid this happening, women are kept oppressed. The exploitation of women has been continuing for centuries. Some religions say that if the husband is virtuous the wife is benefited, so the wife does not have to do anything herself. Other religions say that men can go to heaven, but women have to remain standing at heavens gate. All this is dogma. Intelligent people know that nobody can share the virtues or vices of others. Everybody has to move with their own saḿskaras or reactions to past actions.” – Sarkar, Prabhat, 13 April 1988, Calcutta, ElEdit 7, Prout in a Nutshell Part 16, Religious Dogma – Section B, The Rudimental Cause of Religious Dogma
25. “Spiritual practice means practice for expansion, and this expansion is nothing but a liberation from the bondage of all sorts of dullness [or staticity]. A person who, irrespective of caste, creed or religion, aspires for spiritual expansion or does something concrete, is a Tantric. Tantra in itself is neither a religion nor an ism. Tantra is a fundamental spiritual science. So wherever there is any spiritual practice it should be taken for granted that it stands on the Tantric cult. Where there is no spiritual practice, where people pray to God for the fulfilment of narrow worldly desires, where people’s only slogan is “Give us this and give us that” – only there do we find that Tantra is discouraged. So only those who do not understand Tantra, or even after understanding Tantra do not want to do any spiritual practice, oppose the cult of Tantra.” – Srii Srii Anandamurti, Shrávańii Púrńimá 1959 RU, Bhagalpur, ElEdit 7, The Great Universe: Discourses on Society, Tantra and Its Effect on Society