Friday, August 5, 2022

Don't Encumber Poor Kids With Kalma Or Gayatri Mantra

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 5 August 2022 Why Do Humans Pray? We Pray Because We're Genetically Programmed To Pray And We All Have A Misguided Belief That There's Someone Up There, Listening To Our Cheap Entreaties, Masqueraded As Prayers. ------- A school (Florets International School) in Kanpur, UP, is in the news for the recitation of Kalma by the students as part of its morning prayer culture for years. Whether it's Kalma, Gayatri Mantra, Hymns and Psalms from the Bible, Gurbani, passages and Gathas from Avesta and Zendavesta, among others, why envenoming the impressionable minds with religious studies and overtures? A school's cardinal objective is to impart egalitarian education, not this theological bunkum whichever religion it may belong to. Religious studies or theology is for those grown ups who consciously opt for it like yours truly without any allegiance to any man-made bogus faiths and their equally spurious gods and scriptures. When I was growing up, I was fortunate to have no religious atmosphere at home and school. My parents rejected god and religion and my school also exempted me from joining the useless prayer assembly every morning. I'm thankful to them for not bringing me up in a religious or spiritual ( just a euphemism for religiosity) way. This helped me form my independent thinking sans god or religion. Why can't the same be applied to Indian schools? When a few years ago, a 14-yr-old Tamil boy refused to pray at his school in Sri Lanka, the school management eventually dispensed with the whole shebang of morning prayers in the school.This is modern and revolutionary thinking. If a child can understand the futility of prayers, why can't the adults? The answer is: That 14-yr-old Sri Lankan Tamil boy was unencumbered by any religion and unnecessary fear of god, hell, heaven, devil, and all that jazz. So, he could protest and get the rules changed. But all adults are slavishly burdened with faith, god and their rigmarole. So, they cannot do away with these religious inanities and turbidities. Now the question is: Why do humans pray? We pray because we're genetically programmed to pray and we all have a misguided belief that there's someone up there, listening to our cheap entreaties, masqueraded as prayers. That's why, there's a very wise and attic joke: The trouble with being a god is that you've no one to pray to ( Terry Pratchett). We've found an object ( call it god or some supernatural power) to direct our entreaties to. Buddha and Mahavir ( the so-called 'founders' of Buddhism and Jainism, both faiths being predominantly atheistic) knew the unevolved humans' inherent need and weakness for prayers and groveling submission. So, Buddhism formulated chanting in Chaitya Griha ( from ' Chat' in Pali, refer to Dharmanand Koshambi's 'Dictionary of Classical Pali and Buddhist References,' published in 1949; this could also be the etymological root of the English word, 'Chatting') as a substitute for prayers. Now, chanting is praying in Buddhism and also in Jainism. Humans need to grow up and divest themselves of all sorts of submission to a fictitious god they've never seen and will never see. But, the million-dollar question is, will that be possible? --- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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