In India food has received the status of ‘Brahman’. A Rishi of Upnishada has introduced food as medicine. Taking food is a pleasant phenomenon, almost as good as a festival. In the process of taking food a lively contact with life is established. In breakfast or dinner on a dinning table, if in the food stuff a scream, a struggle or a shiver of fear of a dumb animal is felt, that foodstuff will not give health and comfort. When a hunter follows a deer, the deer in order to save life runs very fast and finally gets tired. If the hunter has a jeep car, the car does not get tired. At this stage the deer comes in the range of hunter’s gun. When the deer finds death just a moment away a final scream erupts from the deer’s mouth. Meat-eater in the fashionable darkness of a grand hotel, or on the shinning dinning table at home, ever listens to the death –scream of the killed animal, while relishing his dish? Perhaps not. A living cow simply becomes ‘beef’ for him and a living hen a ‘chicken’. A living pig becomes ‘pork’. If only, just once, let man put himself in the place of that helpless animal.
A lecture by Dr. Gunvant B. Shah at Paryushan Vyakhyan Mala organized by Shri Mumbai Jain Yuvak Sangh
I am by nature, very communal. Whenever I get the chance, I blindly set forth about my community. Since I was born in the community of humans, I raise my voice passionately when the human community’s welfare is threatened. I am not interested in any truth above humanity. I do not believe in any other religion except that of humanity. I am a fanatic humanitarian. This is my secularism.
I can take an oath that my respect for Mohammed is not any less than that of a devout Muslim. My respect for Mahavir is no less than that of a devout Jain. I have as much respect for Christ as does a devout Christian. My respect for Guru Nanak is not a wee bit less than that of a Sikh.In the same way, Ram, Krishna, Buddha are my idols. After saying this, I add that the great men of every religion have the most injustice done to them by the fanatic followers of their own religion.
Ram’s followers break the most promises. Krishna’s followers have no shame in taking dowry. Terrorists kill innocent people in the name of Mohammed and Allah. The followers of Christ bombed Hiroshima. Mahavir’s followers do not flinch at the dishonesty prevalent on the counters of their shops. Buddha did not believe in God, but Buddhists have made so many statues of Buddha that the word ‘Buddha’ (Bu-ut) came to mean ‘statue’!
Krishna was troubled most by his Yadav kin. The members of his own Qureshi clan did their utmost to harass Mohammed. They went to the extent of throwing the intestines and waste of dead animals on him.
Revolutionary great men have to bear the harassment of believers. No great man has been born on this earth who has not borne this harassment.
Now let me say something that may not please you. In India today, the minorities have to bear much. Our politicians have made jam out of the word ‘minorities’. But after all, what are the ‘minorities’? Which is the minority that is truly unhappy in India?
In this country, fake Hindus are in militant majority, and tolerant Hindus are in a minority. Fake Muslims are in a heavy majority and Muslims who understand Mohammed are in a minority. This can be said of tolerant people of all religions. Extending this thought, I would like to say that in our country fake secularists are in a majority and genuine ones in a minority. Fake secularists are very talkative and are able to project their untruth in aggressive, strident tones through the media.
Those who are genuine, have no conflict. A true Hindu does not fight with a true Muslim. A true Christian does not fight with a true Hindu. I am willing to bear responsibility for this statement. Conflict is between the fake ones, and is even that conflict genuine?
Let me finish with this. Mohammed’s mosque was made of mud and clay, with a thatch of palm leaves. Today mosques have become grand, but faith has fallen low. Temples are made of marble, but worship has become less gracious. Churches are beautiful, but the prayers less beautiful. Our worship places have become huge but our religions have become narrow. The noise of religion has become loud, but the spirit has become invisible. ‘Religionism’ has increased, but spiritualism has taken a beating.
Can the true ‘minorities’ not come together even to face terrorism? Can we not evade fake secularism to bring to life Gandhi’s ideal of ‘sarva-dharma-samabhava‘?
( from Dr. Gunvant B. Shah’s lecture at the Darul Koran Madrasa in Jambusar, near Vadodara, Gujarat, 16th November 2008.
Also published in Divya Bhaskar Sunday, 30 November 2008)
– Translated by Batul Mukhtiar, 6 December 2008