Karl Marx famously said “Religion is the opium of the people”. He was really not very off the mark.
To a large section of the people religion is an escape route from the trials and tribulations of life. It is an avenue where one hopes for a solution to their worldly problems. People secretly wish that their problems are solved. Moreover people hope that this divine power also showers on them objects of desire.
Others spend time singing hymns, bhajans, performing rituals or attending mass. To many doing this creates a “nice, peaceful and easy” feeling. There is a temporary sense of well being.
There is nothing wrong in singing hymns, bhajans or performing rituals by itself. The issue is that this is done as chore. Once the mild sense of peace wears off, people are back to their mean and nasty ways.
So you will find people who will pray fervently. With equal fervor they will be rude or nasty, the moment they are back to the real world. Jealousy, envy or anger plays an equal part to their religious fervor.
Does this kind of religiosity make sense?
The real meaning and import of religion and all that it stands for is generally missed. All major religions teach key values of tolerance, compassion, kindness or forgiveness. But none of these are given a thought. Most of the times, the prayers, bhajans or hymns are performed without much reflection, even if it is done with great zeal.
It is more important to reflect on the principles that great religions lay before us. It is absolutely essential that we practice them.
That to me is more important, than all the other customs or rituals of any religion.
So what does religion mean to you?
Is it a panacea for your day to day problems?
Is it a force of habit?
Or is it a blueprint for making you a better person?
Think about it.