Religious Cultures and Dharmic Culture

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Social, Ethics & Morality,Public Arena


Ignorance may be bliss, but little knowledge is definitely dangerous. What is even worse is little knowledge of what you think you know and ignorance of what you oppose. An understanding of the Golden Rule and a willingness to learn to live in harmony with those you see as ‘others’ is what makes a Civilization Great!

Quotations for Consideration

  • “A people are as healthy and confident as the stories they tell themselves…Stories can conquer … They can make the heart larger.” – Ben Okri
  • “Meekness  … Induced prejudices, have no place in the society of thinking humans” – Abhijit Naskar
  • “Make sure that your religion is a matter between you and God only.”– Ludwig Wetherstein
  • “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.” –Plato
  • “Religion is the last refuge of human savagery” – Alfred North Whitehead
  • “People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.” – Dave Berry
  • In the ‘Mahabharata’, the ceremony of oath taking for a King called upon him to –‘Be like a garland maker, and not like a charcoal burner’. The garland maker symbolizes social cohesiveness: it is a metaphor for dharmic diversity in which flowers of many colours and forms are strung harmoniously for the most pleasing effect. In contrast the charcoal burner is a metaphor for the brute force reduction of diversity into homogeneity, where diverse living substances sre transformed into lifeless ashes.” – Rajiv Malhotra
  • “Civilization is about how you behave. How much respect and dignity you give to those around you.” – Rachel Vincent
  • “Empathy is most essential quality of civilization” – Roger Elbert
  • “No civilization can prosper or even exist, after having lost this pride and connection with its own past.” – Anon
  • Every formula of every religion has in this age of reason, to submit to the acid test of reason and universal justice if it is to ask for universal assent’. – M.K.Gandhi

Key Concepts:

The concept of ‘Religion ‘is foreign to the culture of ancient India. In fact, the word, ‘Religion’ is derived from a Latin root meaning –‘to bind’ and does not exist in any Indian language.

Cultures arising from Religions are authoritative, centralized and rigid, while the culture arising from Dharma is diverse, flexible and decentralized. One is like a well manicured and rigidly laid out garden of selected plants, flowers and sculpted topiary that cannot be changed, compared to the other which is more like the profuse wild, and seemingly chaotic, growth in a forest of many varieties of flowers, fruits and foliage and which yet has a discernable structure in its very complexity.

The Differences:

A Religion has a Founder / Prophet who, we are told, received ‘Revelation’ from  a God or his Angel, that was then written down and compiled into ‘ THE BOOK’, supposedly by his Companions, mostly well after the death  of the Founder, in times when few were really literate. Also most religions of today have borrowed many of the philosophical ideas from the earlier cultures without attribution, mainly from the oldest, the Dharmic culture and then claim that as such ideas are common, hence all religions are just different paths to the same destination even as they deny the validity of the other paths.

Religious cultures are declarative – ‘This is what is’ and most times even imperative – ‘Thou Shall, or Thou Shall Not’. The ‘Book’ lays down the ‘ Commandments ‘ and the ‘Rules’ that must be strictly adhered to and followed , as duly interpreted by those claiming to be the representatives of the Founder and hence the rightful leaders of  his followers . The followers are bound to the Religion by fear of punishment, even of ‘Eternal Damnation’. The conflict in the concept of an all loving, all forgiving/merciful God decreeing eternal punishment is not to be raised.

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