On 14th. Sep’08, Delhi was hit by a serial blast killing 30 people and injuring 90 others. On 26th. July’08, Ahmedabad was hit by a similar kind of serial blasts, taking lives of 60 people and leaving more than 200 people injured.

Before that it was Bangalore, before Bangalore it was Jaipur – the list is endless.

Planting of these low intensity bombs in different places has become repulsively regular in India. It is believed that the Indian Mujahedeen group is responsible for all these blasts, they demonstrate their “jihad” by all these.

I understand the need of a protest but not by killing people in the name of religion – that’s just atrocious.

I remember reading this essay by Bertrand Russell where he said …”Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear.” Somehow, I found this idea of religion stemming from fear being true. It’s the fear that causes insecurity, resistance and suspicion.

I have no problem believing in “god” as some “inexplicable” concept – who/ what might have some grand power over us, but I really abhor the idea of our life being guided by some unknown influence or enacting everything in the “name” of it.

I can’t think of killing someone in the name of god. I would prefer to take the onus myself, if I have to. The idea of “blind faith” that exists in every religion seems to be a way of fulfilling one’s own agenda while avoiding the ownership of it.

Inflexibility breeds intolerance and so is anything unquestionable. I can’t act rationally if I stop asking questions.

Christopher Hitchens steps a little further answering “Why Religion Poisons Everything…” in his controversial book “God is not Great.” I agree this book borders on being extreme but somehow this shock value should work as a wake-up call.

I agree more with Richard Dawkins who, in “God Delusion” argues….

….that the religious fundamentalism is dividing people around the world….

There should be no reason for us to allow this – unless we have our own agenda behind.

I was born in a regular middle class Hindu family where the concept of religion was ingrained in daily life. The female members of my family performed the rituals regularly where as the male members were quiet indifferent about it. That was the “in thing” at that time — I guess, they only took part when they wanted to.

I was somewhere in between — initially was dragged to the prayer room but stopped joining when I found my own reasoning. The expectation of others towards me was very clear, which I didn’t adhere to. I used to stay in a residential school away from home which probably made it easier. No one was disappointed or thought that the world would come to an end because of my disinterest in religion.

In fact, we were quite busy with “Calcutta Film Festival”, “Book Fair” and Cricket — talking about religion among ourselves felt like wasting time. I don’t remember discussing “religion” per se in my teens or even in my twenties. I don’t do it now either. I was very much aware about the other parts of India being fanatically religious, even some of my friends followed some customs faithfully — that didn’t make much of a difference to me. Nor I felt obliged to follow it.

It was not that I was oblivious to my own religion or others. I read all the significant religious texts those were available, enjoyed the ideologies but never forgot to reason those with logic.

My core values were always very strong without being religiously influenced.

I was also aware of the undercurrent between the two major religions that prevailed in India. A sense of a hidden disgust was very much felt but never pronounced until in 1992, some Hindu extremists demolished a Mosque in Ayodhya.

My being secular didn’t work. It won’t work unless all of us agree to accommodate our neighbors in our lives.

India has witnessed lots of communal riots since its independence which still continues, pointlessly. In fact, that might be very significant to those parties involved – as they thought they were fighting for their own cause — but at the end of the day, it was nothing but brutal homicide – no matter how important the cause was.

I remember reading “Riot” — a novel by Shashi Tharoor where a Hindu extremist says very angrily :

“Muslims say they are proud to be Muslim, Christians says they are proud to be Christian, Sikhs says they are proud to be Sikh and Hindus say they are proud to be secular…”

In my experience, not all Hindus are proud to say they are secular. Some are proud to announce they are Hindu and Brahmin to let others know their religion and other details.

I wonder if the world being secular helps, at least that will guarantee our loved one’s safety at the end of the day when we will be sure of them coming back home, alive.

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