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Shvoong Home>Books>Secular State Review

Secular State

Book Review   by:churchil     Original Author: Dushyant Kaul
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From the history of India, China, Rome, or Greece an unambiguous conclusion can be drawn that politics and religion were closely allied and the earliest known kings were priest kings. In early India, sometimes priests were more powerful than ruler. In that era states without priests was not even imaginable. The reason for this close alliance was given by many historians. The most prominent explanation is based on a premise that we fear what we do not know or understand. It was not an easy job in those precarious and problematic times to obtain political obedience by mere physical power of the state. Without instilling a fear of unknown in him, it was hard to subdue a common person. Natural phenomenon like lightening, storms, droughts etc. become mediums to do so. This tendency to worship natural forces is found all over the world. Therefore, the ideas of God become illustrious gradually. Priest tried to promote this idea as much as they can.As a result of gradual rise of democracy and rationalism, a new outlook began to develop which we may term as the secular outlook. First premise of this outlook is complete impartiality towards all religions and it considers religious practice as a private affair of individual rather than a public concern of the whole community. Enlightened mind considers religion as a private issue of the individual. It is the relationship of an individual and his God, whatever the God may be. On the other hand there are countless exceptions of this rule.Secular outlook by its very nature is not anti-religious or indifferenence towards religion, but a complete evenhandedness between all religions and most importantly a religious laissez-faire.
A secular state is not anti-religious state. It will neither ban religion nor will interfere with their practices. It should not be called a secular stance that, state is proliferating or inducing the people by its own, anti-religious or atheist outlook. That is why, a communist state can not be categorized as secular state. Secularism in Indian terms can be defined as “Ekam Sada Vipra Bahuda Vadanti”. It means, truth is one but there are different ways to attain it. This liberalism of our Aryan ancestors is truly phenomenal. Needless to say, religion is always a formation of two elements, the ethical, and the customary. The ethical part is rudimentary and modest basis of religion. On the other hand ceremonial part changes with time, place and circumstances. This part consists of superstitions and mythology. It can sometimes be amoral and even anti-social. If state intervenes in this part, it cannot be labeled as anti secular. For example, the abolition of the practice of Sati in 1828 by Lord Bantik was not a retrogressive step. Again, our own constitution has abolished untouchability. It is a duty of state to prohibit these ceremonial activities of religion in public interest so that it may not become citadel of fanaticism and a hurdle in social progress.
Published: January 23, 2007   
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