Religious Co-Existence

MT 60 Yrs – 2nd Year No 50 – Friday 22nd July 1955

Peaceful co-existence has become the watchword of politicians and statesmen who desire to bring about an understanding between East and West. The Geneva Conference, for example, is a bold attempt to establish that co-existence in the political sphere. But co-existence in the spiritual sphere is no less desirable.

Religious co-existence is becoming a crying necessity in our small island. We have to learn to do away with spiritual domination by adopting for motto: Live and let live.

When Hon Bissoondoyal presented his motion in Council on the subvention of all professed religions some time ago something unexpected happened: there was a general agreement that all religions should receive equal consideration. The harmony that prevailed in Council while the motion was being discussed will make history. Why is it that the same harmony is not fostered outside the Council?

Some people would have others believe that Hindus are born with the seven deadly sins plus the sin of nationalism. It has been thought fit to point out atrocities committed by Hindus at the time India was partitioned. We have seen how a Hindu schoolboy was converted. The outcry following the marriage of Christian girl to a Hindu has not died down. We have been acquainted with the duties of priests and we have been told that Absolute Truth is to be found in one particular religion. And today everybody is toying with Reincarnation.

Isn’t it time we lifted our eyes from the quagmire of selfishness in which we are wading or wallowing? Isn’t it really high time we increased the breadth of our vision by casting a glance on history in the making and written history with the object of establishing a peaceful religious co-existence?

* * *

‘Life of America’ in its International Edition has started a series of interesting articles on the World’s Great Religious in its issue of the 4th of April. The first article deals with Hinduism.

In an introduction the series is described as “five picture essays.” And the purpose of the series is outlined in this way: “The series will bring another kind of understanding. Returning more and more to the devout practice of their own faiths, Americans can re-examine and enrich their own spiritual life through the insights and intuitions of others.”

The series has been planned to contain essays on the following religions: 1. Hinduism, 2. Buddhism 3. The basic beliefs of the Chinese, the ethics of Confucianism and the religion of Taoism. 4. Islam 5. Judaism, from which both Christianity and Islam have borrowed.

Here is an outline of religious studies whereby any Christian may enrich his spiritual life by learning something about the main spiritual currents flowing across the world.

* * *

It took about twenty-five centuries for the world to know the great religions. In this respect, let us consider for a moment the religions we have in Mauritius.

Hinduism has no particular prophet as Buddhism, Christianity or Islam. ‘LIFE’ has the following about it: “Its followers believe that Hinduism, whose origins go back 4,000 years, is the oldest religion in the world and the fountainhead of all others.”

Buddha was born five and a half centuries before Christ. He was a prince who saw light at a place to the north of Benares, the Holy City of India. At the age of nineteen he renounced the pleasures of his aristocratic life and became a monk. Illumination came upon him as he sat meditating under a fig tree.

When Christ came a new era was to begin – the Christian era. The child who was born on the 25th of December in a stable in Bethlehem was to revolutionize the Western world. Still in his early thirties he had to pay the supreme sacrifice of his life on a cross.

The last of the prophets was Mohammed. He came on the scene in Arabia more than six centuries after Christ. Like other prophets he had truth revealed to him by God and he preached Islam or submission to God.

* * *

In Mauritius at least three of the great religions of the world, viz, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam, have taken firm root in the course of our short history. Jerusalem, India and Arabia have converged on a pinpoint of the planet. But do we care for that confluence?

The time has come for us to overhaul our religious outlook.

Churches and temples and mosques have to exist over here. Spires and domes and minarets have to stand side by side and adorn the Mauritian landscape. We believe that a peaceful religious co-existence is not impossible.

 

  • Published in print edition on 6 November 2015

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