Indian Secularism: a Theological Response

Topics: Secularism, India, Religion Pages: 13 (4883 words) Published: February 15, 2013
For many years religion has been a dominant force in all human societies, embracing all aspects of human life. The world was sought to be understood and explained in terms of religion. It was with the path breaking discovers in the world of physical sciences and as well as the social movements like the reformation and the renaissance that broke away the domination of religion in the middle Ages. Thus there was a gradual process by which the church and state began to be separated in the west. The first foundation of secularism began to be laid with this separation. Secularism appeared as an opponent to Christianity but in course of time, it was identified as a way of life and an interpretation of life that did not admit any kind of communal prejudice. But by and by, the secular attitudes became necessary for a modern rational society. Secularism has been a critically important development in the modern world. In India, secularism attains an added significance because of the fact that Indians have been deeply wedded to religious consideration in the past and is hardly devoid of such consideration even today. It is because of the fact that the India represents a multiplicity of socio-communal groups. Secularism is the spirit which enlightens the constitution of India. But the incorporation of secularism in India and especially into the constitution was itself the culmination of a historical process, which is the key to understand our present day secularism. Therefore one must find out the foundations on which the whole structure of Indian secularism has been raised. My seminar paper is attempt to analyse the historical back ground of the origin Indian secularism, its developments, threats that Indian secularism faces and a theological response to Indian secularism. 2. SECULARISM; DEFINITION AND ITS MEANING

The term secularism was created in 1846 by George Jacob Holyoake in order to describe "a form of opinion which concerns itself only with questions, the issues of which can be tested by the experience of this life" . Holyoake was a leader of the English secularist and free thought movements. According to Holyoake government should work for the benefit of the working classes and poor based upon their needs in the here and now rather than any needs they might have for a future life or for their souls. For him secularism would mean that which seeks the development of the physical, moral, and intellectual nature of man to the highest possible point. The concept of secularism was originally developed as a non-religious philosophy focused upon the needs and concerns of humanity in this life, not the possible needs and concerns associated with any possible afterlife. . The word secular means "of this world" in Latin and is the opposite of religious . As a doctrine, secularism is usually used to describe any philosophy which forms its ethics without reference to religious dogmas and which promotes the development of human art and science. Secularism was also designed as a materialistic philosophy, both in terms of the means by which human life was to be improved and in its understanding of the nature of the universe. The first and perhaps most common understanding of "secular" today stand in opposition to "religious." According to this usage, something is secular when it can be categorized with the worldly, civil, non-religious sphere of human life. A secondary understanding of "secular" is contrasted with anything that is regarded as holy, sacred, and inviolable. According to this usage something is secular when it is not worshipped, when it is not venerated, and when it is open for critique, judgment, and replacement .

‘In political terms, secularism is a movement towards the separation of religion and government. This can refer to reducing ties between a government and a state religion, replacing laws based on scripture with civil laws, and eliminating discrimination on the basis of religion. This is said...
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