Indian philosophy

How to kill a 5000 year old religion

Gujarat HC is planning to decide if virtual eggs (sometimes) appearing in places of worship in Pokemon Go game are hurting religious sentiments or not.

When I invited my young daughter to apply her mind to the subject; in her learned opinion, egg is a symbol of new life and thus should be part of every religious place.

Actually what she said is neither iconoclastic nor radical, as she is just reiterating a beautiful ancient idea of Hinduism that links God with creation, and has inspired our ancestors to place sexual organs on the altar and compare the sanctum sanctorum with womb. she could add Pokemon to it naturally because she was able to accommodate the new with old as a young mind would, could and should.

When I delve deeper into this, it provides me with a great insight into life and death of belief systems.

Two of the largest belief systems we know of are science and religion. Science backs its beliefs by logic and empirical evidences. Religion also does the same, but often uses empirical evidences that only few claim to have seen. Yet, on the whole, both depend a lot on making logical sense to people.

The difference is, when encountering a change that doesn’t fit with existing beliefs, science is ready to revise its belief system, but religion often insists on keeping its beliefs fixed and demands change in the reality or creates its own imaginary version of reality. This flexibility allows science to seamlessly exist across time by constantly rejuvenating itself, while religion often ends up dead when its rigidity reaches a level that it can’t co-exist with reality.

A similar phenomenon plays out in human brain’s journey of life; as, when young, it believes in accepting changes, but when it ages, it becomes intolerant to change. This is akin to a shift from scientific mindset to religious one, making it useful to predict the effect of flexibility versus rigidity on the fate of systems at large.

If we look at the prognosis of brain after losing ability to change; death is the next and inevitable stage. This is because we live in a universe where change is the only constant. Once brain stops modifying to keep up with change in the reality, its days are numbered. Rigidity is a certain harbinger of death, be it brain or belief system.

If we generate a corollary of the above logic, it is most likely that anything that has survived for long must have ability to accommodate changes. The fact that Hinduism remains one of the oldest living religions of the world could be a great indicator of the above phenomenon, as it has been around through many cultural and technological upheavals. It could not have survived without evolving to respond to changes.

Religions are like rivers. When moving they remain fresh and clean, but once stagnated they turn dirty and breed blood-sucking pests. A sure-shot way of destroying a religion is to prevent it from evolving to changes around it. Hinduism has survived over many millennia because it is like a river that gets wider when new thoughts and ideas are encountered because assimilation is its core strength.

From the perspective of those who want to exploit the power of this mighty river, damming it would be a very tempting idea, so there is no doubt that Hinduism would have faced many attempts of confining it in past. My only hope is that, looking at its long history, there is no doubt that it has vitality to move on, with or without Pokemons or PILs.

DNA: 11/9/16

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

2 comments on “How to kill a 5000 year old religion

  1. Viswanath Pingali

    I must say, I really appreciate your daughter for such a thought! If she continues like this, I am sure she will do great things in future…


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