Indian Secularism: a Theological Response Essay

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1. Introduction
For many old ages faith has been a dominant force in all human societies. encompassing all facets of human life. The universe was sought to be understood and explained in footings of faith. It was with the way interrupting discovers in the universe of physical scientific disciplines and every bit good as the societal motions like the reformation and the Renaissance that broke away the domination of faith in the in-between Ages. Therefore there was a gradual procedure by which the church and province began to be separated in the West. The first foundation of secularism began to be laid with this separation. Secularism appeared as an opposition to Christianity but in class of clip. it was identified as a manner of life and an reading of life that did non acknowledge any sort of communal bias. But by and by. the secular attitudes became necessary for a modern rational society.
Secularism has been a critically of import development in the modern universe. In India. secularism attains an added significance because of the fact that Indians have been profoundly wedded to spiritual consideration in the past and is barely barren 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 fundamental law of India. But the incorporation of secularism in India and particularly into the fundamental law was itself the apogee of a historical procedure. which is the key to understand our present twenty-four hours secularism. Therefore one must happen out the foundations on which the whole construction of Indian secularism has been raised. My seminar paper is attempt to analyze the historical back land of the beginning Indian secularism. its developments. menaces that Indian secularism faces and a theological response to Indian secularism.
The term secularism was created in 1846 by George Jacob Holyoake in order to depict a signifier of sentiment which concerns itself merely with inquiries. the issues of which can be tested by the experience of this life” . Holyoake was a leader of the English secularist and free idea motions. Harmonizing to Holyoake authorities should work for the benefit of the working categories and hapless based upon their demands in the here and now instead than any demands they might hold for a future life or for their psyches. For him secularism would intend that which seeks the development of the physical. moral. and rational nature of adult male to the highest possible point. The construct of secularism was originally developed as a non-religious doctrine focused upon the demands and concerns of humanity in this life. non the possible demands and concerns associated with any possible hereafter. . The word layman means of this world” in Latin and is the antonym of spiritual.
As a philosophy. secularism is normally used to depict any doctrine which forms its moralss without mention to spiritual tenet and which promotes the development of human art and scientific discipline. Secularism was besides designed as a mercenary doctrine. both in footings of the agencies by which human life was to be improved and in its apprehension of the nature of the existence. The first and possibly most common apprehension of secular” today stand in resistance to religious. ” Harmonizing to this use. something is secular when it can be categorized with the worldly. civil. non-religious domain of human life. A secondary apprehension of secular” is contrasted with anything that is regarded as sanctum. sacred. and inviolable. Harmonizing to this usage something is secular when it is non worshipped. when it is non venerated. and when it is unfastened for review. judgement. and replacing.
‘In political footings. secularism is a motion towards the separation of faith and authorities. This can mention to cut downing ties between a authorities and a province faith. replacing Torahs based on Bible with civil Torahs. and extinguishing favoritism on the footing of faith. This is said to add to democracy by protecting the rights of spiritual minorities’ . The society which patterns secularism is known as secular society or province. The outstanding characteristics of secular society or province are the undermentioned. Secular society is non homogeneous. but is pluralistic. It is tolerant. There is a deep regard for persons and the little groups of which they are a portion and equality for all people. Each individual should be helped by society to recognize their peculiar excellence. It breaks off the barriers of category and caste. India by its fundamental law is considered as a secular province. It is in this context I am seeking to happen the historical back land of Indian secularism.
Secularism in India has really different significance and deductions. The word secularism has ne’er been used in Indian context in the sense in which it has been used in Western states. India is a state where faith is really cardinal to the life of people. India’s antique doctrine as expounded in Hindu Bibles called Upanishad is ‘sarvadharma samabhava’ . which means equal regard for all faiths. The ground behind this attack is the fact that India has ne’er been a mono-religious state. Even before the Aryan invasion India was non a mono-religious state. There existed legion tribal cults in Indian even before Aryan invasion and most of whom happened to be Dravidians. The coming of Christianity and Islam besides added more spiritual traditions to bing Indian traditions. Thus it would be right to state that India is confusingly diverse state in every facet of spiritual. cultural and caste. Though the thought of secularism in the West was the separation of faith from the State. in India it acquired a different significance and form.
It is because Indian secularism was a response to a different and alone historical state of affairs. Religious acceptance was a portion of Indian historical tradition. It existed before the thought of secularism was introduced to India. It got coupled with Indian secularism and became its base and foundation. Secularism in India was conceived as a system that sustained spiritual and cultural pluralism. Some research workers believe that the history of Indian secularism Begin with the protest motions in the fifth century B. C. The three chief protest motions were by the Charvakas ( a secularistic and mercenary philosophical motion ) . Buddhism. and Jainism. All three of them rejected the authorization of the Vedas and any importance of belief in a divinity. Here I am traveling to analysis the historical beginning of Indian secularism through different phases of Indian history.
3. 1 Secularism in the Pre- Colonial Period or in feudal India
Under feudal system there was no competition between different spiritual traditions as authorization resided in male monarchs and by and large there were no inter-religious tensenesss among the people of different faiths. They co-existed in peace and harmoniousness though at times inter-religious contentions did arise. There was besides tradition of tolerance between faiths due to province policies of assorted male monarchs since clip immemorial from Gupta Kings to Ashoka and Akbar. Many spiritual religious orders and patterns kept off from stiff intolerant signifiers. The part of king Ashoka to the development of secularism or we may state the tolerant being of all faith is admirable.
His attack was more humanistic. He was really tolerant towards all faith. Ashoka gave great importance to the ideal of tolerance towards different political orientations and faiths. Harmonizing to Romila Thapar. Ashoka’s definition of societal moralss is based on a regard for all spiritual instructors. and on a harmonious relationship between parents and kids. instructors and students. and employers and employees. Contributions of male monarchs like Ashoka and Akbar gave a solid foundation to Indian secularism. Thus Indian had a really different face of secularism. which based on the tolerance and common regard. But by the coming of British regulation there was drastic alteration in understanding secularism.
3. 2 Secularism in British India
By the eighteenth century. British East India Company easy began to derive entire control over India along with it the thoughts of secularism began to hold impact on the Indian head. Until so. faith was considered to be inseparable from political and societal life. British codified Torahs refering to patterns of each faith individually as portion of their divide and regulation policy. In making so they laid the foundation for a non-uniform civil codification which remains mostly unchanged to day of the month. During the British regulation. the chief challenge was non between spiritual and secular but it was between secular and communal. In the western universe chief battle was between church and sate and church and civil society but in India neither Hinduism nor Islam had any church-like construction. hence at that place ne’er was any such battle between secular and spiritual power construction. The chief battle was between secularism and communalism.
The communal forces from Hindus and Muslims chiefly fought for portion in power though they used their several faiths for their battle for power. The part of Christian missionaries to Indian society and particularly to the growing of secularism is admirable. Evangelism that they followed was based on well-thought-of freedom of pick and promoted the thoughts of spiritual freedom. They could develop morality based on humanitarianism which publicity of the thoughts of human self-respect. worth. and freedom. One of the greatest accomplishments of British regulation was modernisation of instruction by publicity of secular cognition. Missionary’s societal work was the application of the thoughts of human self-respect. equality. and deserving. This gave rise to the outgrowth of Indian freedom combatants. Their apprehension of secularism was different. They intertwined secularism with patriotism.
3. 3 Secularism in modern India
After independency and separation a big figure of Muslims were left in India and for this ground the leaders like Gandhi and Nehru favored to maintain India layman in the sense that Indian province will hold no faith nevertheless people of India will be free both in single and corporate sense to follow any faith of their birth or acceptance. Therefore India remained politically secular but otherwise its people continued to be profoundly spiritual. Jawaharlal Nehru. the first Prime Minister of India was great title-holder of secularism and secular political relations. Theoretically talking the Congress Party was besides committed to secularism. However the Congress Party consisted of several members and leaders whose secularism was in uncertainty. Dadabhai Naoroji. Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade. and Surendranath Banerjee were the outstanding Indian national Congress leaders whose apprehension of secularism was moderate. One of the most outstanding moderate leaders was Dadabhai Naoroji who was considered as the laminitis of secular patriotism in India. His thought of secularism was that faith and political relations must be separated.
He went farther than this and asserted that faith must be subordinated to political relations. He believed in Swaraj. harmonizing to him it can be achieved merely through the political brotherhood of all Indian people belonging to assorted credos and categories. For him secular patriotism was a manner to mobilise and unite whole people of India belonging to different credos and categories to contend against British whose regulation created black effects on Indian economic system. Since he belonged to a minority community of India. promoted and believed in the thought of spiritual acceptance. His thought of secularisation implied and represented patriotism. anti-imperialism and anti-communalism. He urged Indians to subordinate their trueness to their faith at the alter of their devotedness to their state. Nationalist leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilk. Lala Lajpat Rai were of the place that Indian patriotism was spiritual patriotism non secular patriotism.
They were known as extremists in Indian national Congress. The radical school assorted faith and political relations. They used faith in eliciting sentiments of patriotism among the Indian multitudes. They consciously and intentionally used faith as the footing of their patriotism. For them patriotism was the premier consideration and highest value which should be achieved by all agencies. They believed that every bit shortly as patriotism gets profoundly rooted in India. secularism would necessarily acquire promoted because patriotism itself is an agent of secularism. They were non in favour of a theocratic province. but they accepted the construct of India staying a multi-religious community and steadfastly believed in Hindu-Muslim cooperation. They used spiritual symbols and nomenclature to spread out and strength devotedness to the female parent land. Their scheme was to utilize spiritual feeling and sentiments to make great love for mother land among Indians irrespective of faiths.
For that they revived the memories of the Vedic yesteryear of Hindus and used the neo-vedantic motions and the cult of female parent worship. The negative side of this spiritual patriotism was that it caused for communal force among Hindus and Muslims. Gandhi viewed secularism from a spiritual position. He believed that faith and the State are inseparable. that ir-religiosity encouraged by the State leads to demoralisation of the people and that. hence. the State’s spiritual policy should be pluralistic with equal regard to all faiths. Mahatma Gandhi believed that all divinities were manifestations of the One and all faiths led to the same end. It was this sort of a pluralistic attack to faith that made him to oppose spiritual transitions. Gandhi said that his resistance to transitions. particularly of Christian transitions. originated from his ain place that all faiths were basically equal and that equal regard. ( Sarva-dharma-samabhava ) non common tolerance. was the demand of the hr. He besides accused Christian Missions of utilizing societal services to sack in converts.
He argued that the Harijans had ‘no head. no intelligence. no sense of difference between God and no-God’ and that they could no more distinguish between the comparative virtues than could a cow. Therefore. the Gandhian pluralistic position of secularism disfavours transitions. particularly among the Harijans for at least two grounds. foremost since no faith can claim absolute truth and since all faiths are basically equal. transitions are out of inquiry and secondly secularism provides freedom of faith to all people likewise without sing their rational ability and it is unfair. Thus the existent spirit of Gandhian apprehension of secularism is all inclusiveness. spiritual pluralism and peaceable co-existence. Jawaharlal Nehru interpreted secularism from an agnostic point of position.
For him faith stands for base for unsighted belief and reaction. tenet and dogmatism. superstitious notion and development. and saving and development of vested interests’ . During the Independence Struggle. it was Nehru. Jinnah. and Subhash Chandra Bose who upheld that it was incorrect for faith to interfere in political relations. Harmonizing to him ‘all human endeavor should be delivered from spiritual laterality and should go more apparent’ . As an agnostic. he believed in reason. secularism. and a scientific attack as the true agencies of advancement in India. He understood that the devastation of spiritual superstitious notion by secularism was the lone means to a peaceable India. He viewed secularism as a great cementing force of the diverse people of India whose head is divided on the footing of faith.
For him it was the necessity of the clip to replace faith with secular values to turn together in integrity and fraternity. Nehru represented the Western signifier of secularism really good. While Gandhi stressed on the equality of all faiths and spiritual pluralism. Nehru was more inclined towards the modernness of the Enlightenment. It was the able leading of a secular visionary such as Nehru that held India together through out the early unstable old ages of the state. Nehru’s agnosticism and rationalism had no topographic point for spiritual dictates in political affairs. Therefore. he was able to see faith with a scientific oculus and maintain spiritual fundamentalism off from interfering in Indian political relations.
The construct of secularism as embodied in the Constitution of India can non be viewed in the sense in which it is viewed in the West. but in the context of the undermentioned commissariats of the Fundamental law: the Constitution warrants freedom of scruples. freedom to profess. pattern and propagate faith and besides freedom to set up spiritual establishments and manage or administrate their personal businesss. It prohibits favoritism on evidences of faith and warrants legal and societal equality to all by supplying equality before jurisprudence and equal protection of Torahs. forbiding favoritism with respect to topographic points of public importance and supplying for equal chance in affairs of public employment. The Constitution besides guarantees spiritual minorities the right to set up and administrate educational establishments of their pick and to conserve their book. linguistic communication and civilization. This proviso of the Constitution of course indicates that the Indian secularism is being built upon the freedom. equality and tolerance in the field of faith. The kernel of secularism is that the province is impersonal in its relationship with faiths.
Therefore. the separating characteristics of a secular democracy as reflected by our fundamental law are. foremost that the province will non place itself with or be controlled by any faith. Second while the province warrants to everyone the right to profess whatever faith one chooses to follow. it will non harmonize any particular intervention to any of them. Third no favoritism will be shown by the province against any individual on history of his faith and religion. Fourthly the right of every citizen. capable to any general status to come in any office under the province will be equal to that of his fellow citizens. The basic lineations of the secularism are enshrined in the different Articles of the Constitution. they are ; Preamble says India is democratic. democracy. socialist. secular state.
Second no State Religion: There shall be no ‘state religion’ in India. The province will neither set up a faith of its ain nor confer any particular backing upon any peculiar faith. So the Indian fundamental law gives of import to no faith but all treated every bit. The distinguished characters of this secular facet of our state can be drown from this. They are ; the province will non oblige any citizen to pay any revenue enhancement for the publicity or care of any peculiar faith or spiritual establishment ( Article 27 ) . No spiritual direction shall be provided in any educational establishment entirely run by province financess. Even though spiritual direction is imparted in educational establishments recognized by province or having assistance from the province. no individual at loaning such establishment shall be compelled to have that spiritual direction without the consent of himself or of his defender. In short. while spiritual direction is wholly banned in state-owned educational establishments. in other denominational establishments it is non wholly prohibited but it must non be imposed upon people of other faiths without their consent ( Article 28 ) .
Third the freedom of Conscience: every individual is guaranteed the freedom of scruples and the freedom to profess. pattern and propagate his ain faith. capable merely. Fourthly. equality before jurisprudence Article 14 grants equality jurisprudence and equal protection by the Torahs to all. Article 15 enlarges the construct of secularism to the widest possible extent forbiding favoritism on evidences of faiths. race. caste. sex or topographic point of birth. Article 16 ( 1 ) warrants equality of chance to all citizens in affairs of public employment and reiterates that there would be no favoritism on the footing of caste. credo. sex. colour. topographic point etc. Fifthly and eventually the cultural and educational right Under Article 29 and 30 certain cultural and educational rights are guaranteed.
Article 29 warrants the right of any subdivision of the citizens shacking in any portion of the state holding a distinguishable linguistic communication. book or civilization of its ain and to conserve the same Article 30 provides that all minorities. whether based on faith or linguistic communication. shall hold the right to set up and administrate educational establishments of their pick. Therefore our fundamental law can be considered as pronunciamento of Indian secularism. This is sum and substance of Indian apprehension of secularism. The chief push of Indian secularism is non aversion towards faith but spiritual tolerance and equal regard to all. This is really different from the western apprehension of secularism. But communalism. spiritual fundamentalism or favouritism of politicians towards peculiar faith create large challenge to Indian secularism. Now I am traveling to cover with the major menaces of Indian secularism.
India has been declared a secular province by its written fundamental law and it is every Indians responsibility to stand by and believe in this declaration. And yet recent political and societal events have questioned the secular nature of India. Is India a secular state merely on paper or does secularism really exist in India ; or is in the signifier of pseudo- secularism. a term the BJP and its Alliess seem to repeatedly dwell on. One of the salient characteristics of Indian secularism is its spiritual tolerance or peaceable co-existence of all faith. This is violated due to communalism or fundamentalism. The B. J. P. and its foreigners knock the present twenty-four hours secularism as pseudo-secularism” . which spoiled the minorities at the disbursal of the bulk and demanded that particular rights for minorities be taken off. Communalism among these parties created batch of force in our state. The onslaught on the Mosque at Ayodhya led to a roseola of force across the state. The events taking to the destruction of Babri Masjid and their wake of communal slaughter grade a watershed in the history of free India.
The traumatic events clearly exposed the chasm that had been created between the two communities by communal forces. Today. the biggest challenge to the Indian secularism is Hindutuva. The communal forces are actively propagating the myth that Secularism is a new mask of fundamentalism. They denigrate the secular policies. which are a hinderance to Hindu Right’s unobstructed March to repress the oppressed in general and minorities in peculiar. They are comparing fundamentalism with Islam ; and the policies of Indian swayers with secularism. and the calming of Mullah as being synonymous with secular policies.
Further. Hindutva forces accuse that secularism pampers the Muslims as a ballot bank. The Muslims are accused of extra-territorial trueness because they allegedly cheer for Pakistan whenever India and Pakistan drama cricket. Since Muslims are being thought synonymous to fundamentalism ; therefore the averment that the Indian province is pacifying fundamentalists in the name of secularism. It is exactly on this charge that the Father of Indian Nationalism. Mahatma Gandhi. was assassinated by one of the votaries of Hindutva.
The Christians. who are much lesser in figure. are accused of being more loyal to the Vatican. Christians are being accused of transition. which is in manner a great menace to Indian secularism. Christians are seeking to change over hapless Hindus with incentives of instruction and nutrient. It is against the gospel values of freedom and self-respect. Conversion should take topographic point within the bosom. which means with right cognition and freedom. But the force against Christian on the land of transition is non right. Who can bury the barbarous combustion of Graham Staines and his two minor boies by a member of the Bajrang Dal in the name of faith? Or even the colza of some sisters in Gujarat. their mistake being the spreading of the word of their God.
Another of import jeopardy to Indian secularism is the deficiency of unvarying Torahs for all faiths. In Indian each faith has peculiar Torahs apart from the common jurisprudence. It creates batch of jobs sing matrimony. acceptance etc. Though it is granted by our fundamental law which was made by British and it was the portion of their divide and regulation policy. This has to be changed for conveying integrity among the Indians. This will assist the minority sometimes to take advantage over bulk. Some of these peculiar Torahs are dehumanising and against equality that our fundamental law grantees to all.
Our male parent of state. Gandhi one time said that I do non anticipate India of my dreams to develop one faith. i. e. . to be entirely Hindu or entirely Christian or entirely Mussalman. but I want it to be entirely tolerant. with its faiths working side by side with one another. ” This is the dream of every citizen of India. But what we see in our present twenty-four hours is the large menaces to our secularism. particularly envisaged by our great leaders and besides carved in our fundamental law. For Indians the construct of secularism means the peaceful. respectful co-existence of all the people in malice of differences. The clip has come for each one of us as Indian theologists to discourse and happen out the ways for work outing or confronting the major menaces to our secularist being. We need a state where all people are considered every bit. treated with just chances for his or her ain personal development. We need a state where all are respected non on the footing of societal position but on the footing on self-respect or human value that we all possess. We all are created in the image and similitude of God.
The image or self-respect that we all have is the footing of our peaceful or common respectful co-existence. which is threatened by the communalism. spiritual fundamentalism etc. India being a traditional society which contains non one. but many traditions owing their beginning. in portion to the different faiths that exist here. has retained the secular character. Ours is a society where Sufis and Bhakti saints have brought in a cultural credence for each other. But due to the otiose involvement of some people who have concern for their callings as politicians or leaders instead than public assistance of people mess our secular nature of our state. There were successful to make hateredness in the bosom of Indian people. There should non be any feeling of distinctness as we all have a shared history. What we have to develop is humanistic secularism where all are respected on the footing of each one’s self-respect. Our rights and duties are grounded in the self-respect of people and which helps us live in Communion with God and in solidarity with others.
The pastoral fundamental law of 2nd Vatican Council. GS 24 says. ‘God. who has fatherly concern for everyone. has willed that all work forces should represent one household and dainty on another in a spirit of brotherhood. For holding been created in the image of God…all work forces are called to one and the same end. viz. . God himself… for this ground. love of God and neighbour is the first and greatest commandment…indeed. the Godhead Jesus. when he prayer to the male parent. that all may be one… as we are one”… opened up views closed to human ground. For he implied a certain similitude between the brotherhood of the Godhead individuals. and in the brotherhood of god’s boies in truth and charity. This similitude reveals that adult male. who is the lone animal on the Earth which God willed for it. can non to the full happen himself except through sincere gift of himself’ . Therefore. as we are holding non one history but many history of different spiritual beginning. we need to develop feeling of members of same household with equal self-respect and right.
Today what we need is community based on love. acceptance. common credence. For this we need new metaphors of love which will authorise us in our endeavor for making solidarity with societal group. edifice Bridgess between communities. Jesus gave us the jurisprudence of love. to love one’s neighbour as oneself. He preached against revenge. and showed the manner of forgiving. We need to make common regard for all accepting each other as peers. and members of same household which is premier spirit of Indian secularism.
Bing Christian we are accused on transition. which in fact one of the causes for persecutions against us. But the original divinity of church does non state us that we have to distribute the Gospel by any agencies. Harmonizing to Jesus transition is from the bosom. Real transition takes topographic point in the bosom. It pulls us off from the forceful transition. By forceful transition I mean is that transition without full cognition and freedom. We make people as members of church by offering nutrient. instruction but existent transition should go on by agencies of our altruistic service. Peoples of other faiths of India esteem our selfless service to the humanity. There is truth in every faith. All faith gives the manner to god. Therefore transition doses non look nice in our present twenty-four hours society.
India’s secularism and its fundamental law articulate the basic premise of India’s people. viz. . that faiths are non contradictorily opposed but complementarily related. non defying their serious differences. This premise is in maintaining with the ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. The wisdom of secularism India is that it promotes true religionism. as envisaged in Indian fundamental law. and as enunciated in the preamble to the fundamental law: justness. autonomy. equality and fraternity. Therefore what we need is that pattern of Indian religionism which is based on justness. autonomy. equality and fraternity.
1. Goyal. Raju. Secularism and Indian idea. Ritu Publishers. Delhi. 2000. 2. Kalliath. Antony and Irudaya. Raj. . erectile dysfunction. Indian Secularism: A Theological Response. Indian Theological Association. 2010. 3. Khan. Kamaluddin. Secularism in India: A Brief Study. Patna University imperativeness. 2006. 4. Marbaniang. Domenic. Secularism in India: A Historical Outline. 2005. 5. Tejani. Shabnum. Indian secularism ; A Social and Intellectual History. Permanent Black Press. Ranikhet. 2007. 6. Secularism in India accessed on 9 January 2012 ; available from World Wide Web. civilserviceindia. com. 7. Secularism accessed on 10 December 2012 ; available from w. w. w. Wikipedia. com.

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