A couple of days ago while reading the newspaper a small piece of news captured my eye and then my heart. A 15 year old girl had decided not to fill the column of religion in the re-admission forms for her school.
This got me thinking. How important is religion to our identity? I have considered myself areligious for quite some time now, and yet I have never thought anything about filling the non-mandatory column for religion. I don’t think any of us spend more than a second on that column.
I consider myself lucky for having being born to liberal parents. When I was around 13 I told my dad that I wanted to convert to Christianity, and he asked me why. I told him I liked the story of Jesus. He said, “There are many more interesting stories, why don’t you read some more?”
A few days later he got me the Bible, he said I should know more about the place where I wanted to go. Then followed the Koran, the Guru Grant Sahib, the Gita, and more. I read about Ahura Mazda, Gautam Buddha, Mahavira and so on. I won’t say I understood everything I read but from what little I understood, I felt that religion and the stories of God were two different things.
When I was 15, I told my dad that I didn’t want to change my religion anymore as it really didn’t matter to me which religion I belonged to.
What I had realized was that religion was nothing but a set of rules created to keep mankind on a straight path. And the stories of God were just that – stories through which the instructions were presented, like the fables for kids.
Years later, while doing my post graduation I read Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and that strengthened my idea of religion being just a set of instructions. Without a set of instructions to follow, most of us will probably plunge into a heart of darkness.
Every religion teaches us the same things about love, peace, truth, and so on. No religion teaches us about violence. The teachings of every religion are essentially the same. Then does it really matter what colour the book cover is of the set of instructions I follow or you follow?
Coming back to from where I started, this little girl has opened my eyes. Which religion I belong to is an unnecessary detail that the world can do without. The religion column in forms I fill will go empty from now onwards.
Image via Pixabay, for representational purposes only.
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