India is a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic which gives equal treatment and tolerance of all religions, which enshrines the right to practice, preach and propagate any religion and which says right to freedom of religion is a fundamental right. Why still religious fundamentalism based on ‘Hindutva’ ideology?
HISTORY OF RELIGIOUS TRADITION IN INDIA
In India, religion becomes part and parcel of every common man. Religion forms part of the very culture of India. Large number of its citizens associates themselves with a religion. India has a culture which goes back to the 5000 years back. And if we analyze this tradition we find a lot of diversity which resulted in unity. And this cultural tradition had some kind of religious significance or rather a kind of influence of religion in the lives of Indians. The ‘Harappan’ people of the Indus Valley Civilization, which lasted from 3300–1700 BCE and was centered on the Indus and Ghaggar-Hakra river valleys, may have worshiped an important mother goddess symbolizing fertility. Excavations of Indus Valley Civilization sites show seals with animals and "fire altars", indicating rituals associated with fire. So some kind of worships either because of the fear of nature or truly religious could be found in these traditions. The worship of trees, rock, animals, fire etc had been associated with the cultural tradition of India. So religion is not a new phenomenon which India realized with the advent of this new era.
India is the birth place of four of the world's major religious traditions; namely Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Hinduism is considered as the oldest religion which has its roots tracing back to prehistoric times, or 5000 years. Hinduism's origins include cultural elements of the Indus Valley Civilization, the Vedic religion of the Indo-Aryans, and other Indian civilizations. The oldest surviving text of Hinduism is the Rigveda, produced during the Vedic period and dated to 1700–1100 BCE. During the Epic and Puranic periods, the earliest versions of the epic poems Ramayana and Mahabharata were written roughly from 500–100 BCE, although these were orally transmitted for centuries prior to this period.
Then other religions like Jainism started in 599–527 BCE, Buddhism started in 546–324 BCE by Buddha and Sikhism started by Guru Nanak between1469–1539 added color to religious diversity in India. So India has given birth to four religions. And she also welcomed other religions like Christianity (in the first centaury) and Islam (in the seventh centaury).
Communalism has also played a key role in shaping the religious history of India. As an adverse result of the British Raj's divide and rule policy, British India was partitioned along religious lines into two states—the Muslim-majority Dominion of Pakistan (comprising what is now the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the People's Republic of Bangladesh) and the Hindu-majority Union of India (later the Republic of India). Since its independence, India has periodically witnessed large-scale violence sparked by underlying tensions between sections of its majority Hindu and minority Muslim communities. The Republic of India is secular; its government recognizes no official religion. In recent decades, communal tensions and religion-based politics have become more prominent.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM GUARANTEED BY THE CONSTITUTION
Constitution provides right to freedom of religion in the articles 25-28. Right to freedom of religion ensures the positive aspect of secularism as it gives to the people the right to freely adopt and propagate any religion. This right has been describes under four articles of the Indian Constitution.
The Article No. 25 guarantees to all persons, the freedom of conscience and the right to profess practice and propagate any religion. Forcible conversions stand prohibited in India. There is no state religion in India. All religions are equal. People enjoy...
Bibliography: Desrochers, John. The India we Want to Build. Bangalore: Centre for Social Action, 1995.
Esteves, Sarto. Freedom to Build, Not Destroy. Delhi: Media House, 2002.
Gore, M.S. Unity in Diversity: The Indian Experience in Nation Building. Jaipur: rawat Publications, 2002.
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