Article on Secularism in India
Secularism in India
Secularism refers means complete and absolute freedom to practice any religious. After Independence, our Constitution declared India to be a Secular State, guaranteeing full respect to all the religions prevailing in the country.
India is a secular state. The state is committed to communal harmony. Here people of diverse religions and beliefs have been living peacefully for a long time.
There is peaceful co-existence of various religions such as Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, etc. By declaring herself a secular state, India has exhibited to the world the finest gifts of her traditional culture.
‘The days of Theocracy have gone, and today our out-look is to be purely secular, especially towards the religions, followed by the minority communities. Protection and respect of their religions is our sacred trust’, declared the late Dr. Ambedkar, one of the architects of our new Constitution.
The Vedantic philosophy does not call for any religious particularity. The Kathopanishad speaks of the inadequacy of the mere intellect for the true enlightenment of the soul.
Buddha was perhaps the first Indian prophet who gave the concept of secularism. Ashoka, his illustrious follower ordained equal treatment of the men of all religions.
During the Muslim rule, there had been certain rulers, like Akbar and Sher Shah Suri, who maintained an absolute form of secularism in the country. Akbar’s religious policy of toleration was a noble specimen of secularism.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, by preaching his cult of Bhakti and Love, preached equality of all the religions of the world. Nanak, Kabir, Chishti and many other sages of India advocated the cause of religious toleration. Guru Nanak and Baba Farid, the two apostles of love and piety, worked for the unification of the finest and sublimest essences of all religions and creeds.
The religion, which is preached in our scriptures, is quite compatible with the idea of Secularism. ‘To every man belonging to any religious faith, let thy prayer float’, says the Bhagwad Gita. It has always been the main stress in our theological commands to extend toleration to the followers of all other religions. In Europe when the worst acts of inhumanity and barbarism were done in the name of religion, in India there reigned supreme an order of religious toleration India, indeed, must feel proud of her religious toleration in the past.
India, throughout her glorious past (with the exception of the rule of certain orthodox monarchs), had maintained the sacred name of her secular character. Akbar’s ‘Golden Age’ is an evidence of this fact. Sher shah’s meteoric rule is yet another illustration of India’s faith in secularism. Although Shivaji was constantly at war with the Mughals, yet under his sway Hindus and Muslims lived like brothers.
There are many advantages of secularism in the present age of Globalization. Ours is an age of internationalism and cosmopolitanism. We are marching fairly rapidly to the goal of universal brotherhood. Time is not very far when the entire world will be one single unit – an international state – in which we all are to live as members of the same one family. In this age of universal fraternity the narrow concept of theocracy has absolutely no place.