Rulers of the World

Today morning IHM pointed me to a tweet of the famous author Taslima Nasreen, she tweeted, ‘When religion ruled the world, it was called ‘The Dark Ages’. A very profound thought, quite apt and significant too, indeed religion did some glaring mistakes that took humanity backward in leaps. When I say this I am talking about all the religions which have had the fair share of ill practices.

However, I had some basic disagreements with the statement. Though the statement stands in what we would call as matter of fact, but the intent was to provide a satirical contrast, on how the world was referred being in a dark age when it was ruled by religion. I have doubts has the world we live in today been a better world, than it was in dark ages? The humans or homo-sapiens as the science would call them have become more humane when the world moved towards from the aforementioned darkness to light?

Secondly, if religion was not a perfect ruler of the world and has been replaced now then who or what is the new ruler of the world? The probable list of answer includes Corporations like BP, Enron, Satyam, Goldman Sachs or Politicians of the new order like George Bush, Mubarak, A Raja, and Suresh Kalmadi or the human greed or the zillion other things which appear to be wrong in our faces but still lead the way we lead our lives.

I am not a supporter of religious sycophancy but then I am a believer of religion, I do not believe in the perfection of religion but I do believe that the religion can be reformed by addressing the outdated & the evil. My problem with the current world order is we ourselves don’t know what we are being ruled by. There are no tenets for the human behavior in the current order, but each to its own. So when the CEO of the multinational corporations guzzling billions of dollars worth of money from tax payers indulges in  million dollar Persian rugs for his office or when one of the highest ranking police official rapes a minor who plays tennis in the association grounds where he is the chairman are remorseless and absolved of their own guilt. The mind sometimes questions if actually the dark as it seemed in the past may be wasn’t that dark. The religion & the tenets of the religious life which kept the barbarian in the common man in check may be were not entirely flawed as the world order.

I don’t have answers to these questions, and I really don’t believe that anyone else has these answers as of now. It’s only for time to tell that this abyss is the darkness just before dawn or the closed tunnel of no hope. It’s only for the future to tell that the human race would evolve for a new world order or would stick to the old world order.

24 comments on “Rulers of the World”

  1. Ruchira Reply

    I really don’t agree with this statement. It’s simply the matter of how we perceive religion as ruling us. If we talk about Religion teaching us humanity, compassion, honesty – and how to live full enriching lives – which most of our religions actually teach us, then what is the harm in letting our lives being ruled by religion? I honestly think that the sycophancy and the rigidness and narrow-mindedness that we see in the various religions now has been actually created by us by distorting and twisting the teachings.

    • Prats Reply

      @Ruchira: I agree and I also believe that religion is a known entity at least which we can hope to reform 🙂

      • Indian Homemaker Reply

        Prats when religion is open to reform, it is a healthy way of living. It should also not be enforced upon a follower, always, always there should be choice.

        • Prats Reply

          @IndianHomeMaker: Its not about enforcing but then religion cannot be a comfort only basis you agree to what comforts you at the moment and you leave off what doesn’t. Its been an age old wisdom that has created tenets whose relevance in today’s world can be debated and decided but cannot be followed on a comfort basis, this would actually defeat the purpose of having guiding principles. It is indeed the religion that propagates the idea of equality, otherwise the life form otherwise has been barbaric the slower/weaker link gets eliminated thats how the races evolve. So when a person is religious when he is the weaker link and pursues the tenets of equality and forgets the moment faced by someone weaker than him simply defeats the idea of the tenets being in place.

    • Swaram Reply

      I agree with Ruch! From its roots, which dates ages ago and probably is not known too, religion had things which did bind and hold people together. All that metamorphosis it went through when it was subjected to different elements in the society, that’s when it took a bad shape!

      • Prats Reply

        @Swaram: Totally true, religion was the glue which binded the society. The issues started arising when the societies started intermingling but I have a firm belief that a liberal reform across religions would help more than any legal bindings.

  2. Indian Homemaker Reply

    Prateek in the past the powerful could do what Rathore did and nobody dared to question them. Every little Jagirdar or Raja had his own big or small harem, a girl once abducted was not accepted in the society. Her life was seen as ruined. This is changing but unfortunately very slowly. Today we are looking down upon the offender, not the victim. We light candles, provide support (I agree it’s not enough) but these are steps in the right direction.

    Earlier it was normal for those in power to live in comfort and the poor had to pay taxes even if there was no rain and no harvest. Today we can question the authorities. Not enough, but once again better than earlier.

    Democracy – even when it is suffocated by scams and abuse of power, still sees us as equals and each of us, from the victim in Banda to Jessica Lal do have the tools required to fight. This was not there earlier.

    The Dark Ages Taslima Nasreen refers to are the times when Europe saw witch hunting, where any woman could be declared a witch and burnt at stakes – basically anyone who was difficult to control or who dared to question the Church’s authority. One could not even express an opinion without risking a violent death – Galileo was burnt for saying the Earth was round.

    Today Blasphemy Law has created a similar situation in Pakistan. In many parts of the Middle Eastern world women can be stoned to death at literally the whim of some misogynist – all in the name of religion – open to interpretation by those in power.
    We saw similar times in India when widows were burnt and baby girls were routinely killed. In many remote parts of India, a woman can be declared a ‘dayan’ (a witch) and she can be stoned to death or killed, even today. That was and is all Barbarism.

    I feel if religion remains a way of life or of connecting with god, but if it is under no circumstances forced upon a person – like today I blogged about this woman who was flogged for ‘indecent dressing’ – she should have the right to say, she does not wish to follow a religion that allows her to be humiliated and tortured like this and that does not allow her basic civil liberties. But we know she dare not. So in a way she is being forced to follow that religion? That is exactly like the Dark Ages in Europe.

    • Prats Reply

      @IndianHomeMaker: Very true, But you know Individuality is necessary but then it needs to be kept in a set of permissible limits. I have read your posts and the cases you have taken up. But you know in the contrasts there are instances and places in our country itself where women are coming to the forefront and may be crossing the line which was centuries ago crossed by the men and created an unbalanced society. I firmly believe that there should be a minimal level of tenets by religion (legality is not the answer in all the cases) which needs to maintain a balance in the society. I agree they should be minimum with exceptions but then a governing laws needs to be present.

  3. Indian Homemaker Reply

    Prateek
    1. Give me some examples… like how have women crossed limits and how has it harmed them?

    2. “I firmly believe that there should be a minimal level of tenets by religion” – but how should these be imposed? Should there be a punishment for not accepting these rules? What kind of rules do you have in mind? Like not lying, not being cruel or violent etc?

    • Prats Reply

      @IndianHomeMaker: 1- One of the Example coming in next blogpost.
      2- Yes, those kind of tenets. Elaborated in the other reply on what I meant.

    • Prats Reply

      @IndianHomeMaker: One example comes to my mind is some ladies who refuse to feed their children as that would effect the way they look. Now if you really look democratically this is their choice and their right to do so or not doing it. But then is this correct? Do you think a law would help to ensure this? I feel that the religious tenet and a social pressure for accepting the tenets is a better way in situations like these.

      • Indian Homemaker Reply

        Prateek most women prefer to feed their babies. In the past in China, India and Europe women were provided with nurse maids to make sure they looked young and beautiful and their husbands were not displeased with them. They were treated like objects whose only job was to be good wives. And the risk of straying husbands was so real that it was felt better to have a nurse maid and have the security of a father for the children.

        If a woman does not want to feed the baby, I would never recommend use of coercion, I would rather one found out what the issue was (because the natural instinct is to feed the baby). It could be a medical reason, some insecurity, maybe she plans to go back to work and wants to wean the baby well in time? This would mean we need to make sure no mother has to make this choice. Enough maternity and paternity leave, paid leave, creches at work place and support from family should be provided. The child is a joy to the entire family and needed by the whole society, it should not be seen as only the mother’s responsibility. If we don’t change this, if we don’t give due respect to mothers and their rights, women will be forced to give up the joys of motherhood for financial security etc and in the end we will be making these changes (like in Australia) but it’s better to act now then later.

        • Prats Reply

          @IndianHomeMaker: Exactly my point, most women do but not all. Why the question is debatable and case specific and whatever you said might work for a lot of cases but then there are some cases where they are not applicable. The fact of the matter is that for successful running of a group of people living together (call it a family if you like) the sacrifices of individuality or personal preferences need to be made for the collective good. I am not saying the sacrifices always need to be made by the women and the men have an uninterrupted say (as it used to be in past which you would site as an example) but the fact remains that those sacrifices need to be made by all units of group and that cannot be discounted.

          • momofrs

            “for successful running of a group of people living together (call it a family if you like) the sacrifices of individuality or personal preferences need to be made for the collective good.”
            Excellent point here Prats, but who can specify what exactly is the collective good??
            For as long as we go back in history, its the women who have to sacrifise and very rarely (if ever), men.
            By those standards, aren’t today’s women far better off, with their choice of husbands, careers, homes and having children?
            And I guess religion has a very little role to play in this change of tide.

          • Prats

            @MomofRS: It has been so I agree, and I agree the women are better off. But then are the family at units better off. If we take your own case you live in a joint family and you make compromises which are necessary for the smooth functioning of the family, they might not be your best preference as in individual. The point I am trying to make here is not everyone is mature like you are or IHM is, there are people who are impulsive, who are rash with decision making of their life. The social or religious pressure tries to flatten the impulse the decisions are taken a bit more evenly. Religion defines a lot of things like the positions of our parents in the house, the social pressure enforces it. But then too there are cases when they are mistreated, and I would argue that there would be cases where the mistreatment is limited because of the religious and social factors.

  4. Vipul Reply

    What a lovely discussion is going on!! 🙂 Love it <3

    I would agree more with IHM.
    Everything is created with a sole aim to rule over others more correctly over a group of people. Same is the case with a religion. They (ancestors) have created it to rule over the people by making them feel there is someone who is running this world. And whatever they couldn't explain they named it as "Superstition" or "Devil".

    You are questioning the leaders or politicians of our age. Yeah they are not that good, I agree. But what you think the people like them wouldn't exist at that time! This thing I think IHM has illustrated this thing more nicely.

    And women are always been tested by the religion.And still it is going on in most of the countries including our country too. And I think you must be aware of the condition of women in Arab or Islamic countries too.

    And rape by a higher authority was in practice since long. All the higher authorities in the kingdom used to of it. And sometimes at the name of "religion".

    It's an open end discussion.. 🙂

  5. Indian Homemaker Reply

    I totally agree with momofrs, “..but who can specify what exactly is the collective good??
    For as long as we go back in history, its the women who have to sacrifice …religion has a very little role to play in this change of tide.”

    Those who made rules for ‘common good’ were (still are) also a part of the group, and they were (are) as human as the rest of the group, and in the name of common good, they made sure they benefited from the sacrifices made for the common good.

  6. Indian Homemaker Reply

    “there are people who are impulsive, who are rash with decision making of their life.

    me – So do you think some other people should be trusted to make less-rash decisions for them? Like what kind of decisions? Who they marry? What careers they choose? Whether or not they work or what kind of friends they make? And who decides who is more suited to make these decisions – which are not pleasant for the rash or the impulsive member? Obviously somebody who knows better than them? What are the chances that this person will have no personal prejudices and interests in taking these (powerful) decisions?

    The social or religious pressure tries to flatten the impulse the decisions are taken a bit more evenly.

    Me – Like women staying in abusive marriages, aborting female fetuses, not sending girls for higher studies, not being allowed to interact with their birth families and friends often even if their parents have no male children … we know all these are social and religious pressures.

    Religion defines a lot of things like the positions of our parents in the house, the social pressure enforces it.

    Me – Religion and social pressures have decided that parents chose spouse for their sons based on dowry and ‘docility’ of the girl, not compatibility. Parents also choose to not have any, or if they have, then neglect, nutrition, emotional growth, medical care etc of female children. Parents teach their daughters to go back and live in unhappiness instead of walking out of abusive , even dangerous, violent marriages. Religion gave parents almost unlimited powers.

    But then too there are cases when they are mistreated, and I would argue that there would be cases where the mistreatment is limited because of the religious and social factors.

    I feel a large number of parents are mistreated because of religion/society, simply because they do not have any male children. Although they spend their entire lives raising their children, they are expected to fend for themselves, because they never had any sons – and then we wonder why we have female foeticide.

    • Prats Reply

      @IHM: You know well the Rash decisions are not whom to marry or what careers to choose. I totally disagree with My life, I will do what I like philosophy. I mean if you really look at it we as the nation shouldn’t be aghast at 85 yr old ND Tewari being in bed with women quarter of his age or Swami Nithyanand enjoying the actress after all these are all willful acts and should not be looked down upon. You have lived in Pune and I am sure you would have seen the young students escorting the middle aged mens for affording all the partying and expenses, now again both of them are mature adults and you cannot expect law to keep a check on these kind of acts and even if you do it going to do nothing but ruin lives. There needs to be a guidance of what is general good or bad and a sense of obedience towards these laws.
      Religion and social pressures have decided that parents chose spouse for their sons based on dowry What about the cases when they know that the boy is marrying a girl just for the money earned by their parents, should they stop her now this is something you would oppose. When the parents disown the girl for not obeying her and her selected husband tortures her for his plans getting failed you would call it foul on dowry. Trust me these kind of cases happen and happen in the very society we live in.

  7. Pratibha Reply

    Prateek, even I disagree with your stand.Firstly,who can avoid making mistakes, taking wrong decisions, how would religious coercion protect sound individual from rash decision making? I believe what works is good upbringing/social conditioning and strong value system.
    Also, for example,if we were to follow preset religious tenets do you think women would have been able to come out of their homes and have had an independent life? Centuries ago,wasn’t HOME their only preset domain and domestic work, reproduction& child rearing being the centre of their universe?
    We live in an evolving society, how can preset norms work today and who defines them? The religious leaders or the politicos?
    I totally agree with IHM, to each his own. A close analysis of various such rules will only reveal how religion has been exploited for gains by communities and groups.

    • Prats Reply

      @Pratibha: I believe what works is good upbringing/social conditioning and strong value system. I totally agree with you on this but my question is how does one determine what is good upbringing/social conditioning and strong value system.

  8. Pratibha Reply

    I think what I meant can be encompassed in ‘respect for all’.We need to be non judgemental and sensitive about people,their way of life and choices.If instead of going to the temple I prefer to visit an orpanage, one cannot say that my faith in God is any lesser than someone who is a regular in the temple circuit. I believe, just choose to express differently.
    Kids who are brought up in a loving environment tend to be happier. Who see their parents treating everyone,the household help to seniors in the family, with respect tend to be respectful. Those who see their family members being compassionate and helpful to the old,disabled or needy, inculcate these traits.
    To sum it all, we cannot define exact perimeter to these value or traitss, all that is required is trying to be a good person each day.

    • Prats Reply

      @Pratibha: I am not talking about personal faith here, its the tenets of life we are talking about. The tenets that would define the good and the bad. Provide a guideline when the person is in a grey area.

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