Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who lived a short luminous life of fifty years was born a Hindu Brahmin. Once he was enlightened, he lived a year as a Muslim and had visions of Prophet Mohammed and then lived a year or so as a Christian. His Maa Kali helped him realise that all religions lead to the same God.
I am sure, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa would laugh his child like laughter if he heard the news doing the rounds in the last few days – conversion of Muslims into Hindus. Or the news that has bothered many people over the years on Hindus converting to Islam or Christianity.
Why can’t we try all the religions ? Nature doesn’t have any religion – it’s a man made social construct and like everything made by man, it’s deeply flawed. Nature did not bestow a Hindu with extra arms or a Muslim with extra eyes or a Christian with extra legs and so on. Just as you like the color red, I like the color black and someone else likes the color Orange. Tomorrow I may like the color Orange or Pink, and that won’t bother anyone, but tomorrow if I like what Prophet Mohammed says, everyone will have a problem. Why ?
Religion is a personal choice. By rituals we cannot “convert” because just as the tags of Hindu or Muslim are external, the rituals are external. What you truly believe in or like is in your heart – no one can change that. Reach God any which way, or if you don’t want to, that’s fine too, if you believe there is a God that’s fine, if you believe there is none, that’s fine too. Hey, your thoughts are your reality, the Universe fashions itself after your thoughts, so each of us experiences life in our own unique way. That’s the miracle and splendour of this human life… The ability to have a personal unique view of the world.
Let the conversions happen, let people live with whatever religion they choose to. Make religion irrelevant in the social context. Replace with another social construct of a common civil code or something else that helps people interact with each other without bringing religion into it. Watch all conversions going out of fashion the minute you make religion irrelevant socially. The conversions that are happening because of economic reasons require an economic solution, not a religious solution.
India has the opportunity to set the example for this, and we should. I don’t like the word “secular” maybe because it has been misused so much, it almost sounds like a swear word. Also the way our political masters have used it… You are secular if you are a non-Hindu and not secular if you are a Hindu. Let’s say, we create an egalitarian society – our country through the ages has given birth to several Mystics and if some scholars are to be believed even Jesus came and spent time in a Buddhist monastery and is buried in Kashmir. Let’s create an egalitarian society where religion is a private affair and if it’s brought into the public domain, it’s legally not tenable.
Let people convert to any religion, all religions speak of love, respect and God. What’s in a name like the famous bard said ?