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Dynamics of religion and philosophy in society

The society and the individual are not two separate entities. They are interrelated. The society in which we live is a replica and is the outward expression of what we are inwardly. Despite all the outward dissimilarity, there is a strong inward resemblance. Whatever may be the superficial differences of race, colour, creed, caste and sex, inwardly we are shaped more or less on the same lines. We are conditioned by fear, beliefs, ideas, hopes despair, pain and pleasure which we project out into our relationship. It is a circular movement like the tide that moves in and moves out. The force that is sent out returns.

Effects of social environment

From the very beginning the environmental influences play on the mind of man. But as we grown up our mind becomes dull and loses its sensitivity to respond directly to the environmental forces. It is due to the fact that the moment we are born we are labelled as Indians, Brahmins, Christians, Hindus, Muslims etc., and as such some ideology – values, ideas, beliefs etc, – is imposed upon us. Our whole upbringing, training and education is in accordance with this ideology. The society makes us conform and fit into its established patterns of life, social, ethical, religious, moral and so on. If we had been transplanted at a very young age to some other parts of the world, our social morality, social ethics and behaviour patterns would have been completely different. So, it is the environmental factors that condition us to think, act and behave as Hindus, Muslims, Catholics, Russians etc. It is a habitual response to a habitual pattern. The whole process of life, all our thoughts, feelings and actions become mechanical and repetitive.  

Role of caste, religion and philosophy

However, the position of the individual in this caste-ridden social order was far from satisfactory. An individual was only considered as a member of a group; he could do anything he liked so long as he did not interfere with the functioning of the group. It was not conducive to any development of individual initiative, adventure or striking out of new paths. He had no right to upset that functioning, it was open to him to form another group. In general, the villager considered the caste system as divinely ordained, docilely submitted to all its bans and taboos and passively accepted whatever status and function the ‘God created’ caste system assigned to him in the social and economic structure of the village life. In fact, his isolated social existence in the village, the frequent frustration of his efforts by forces of nature such as floods and droughts, reinforced by the grip of the caste system and of the authoritarian joint-family and by the religion–mystical philosophy drummed into his mind from the childhood, smothered the mental initiative, the experimenting impulse, the investigating urge and the rebellious mood of the villager for ages. Notwithstanding its merits and demerits, the caste system stood on certain social formalities. It was a ladder from the highest to the lowest. While the highest caste contained God’s men and claimed the utmost reverence, the members of the lowest groups were so inferior as to remain secluded. Between the highest and the lowest, there existed numberous grades depending on the nature of caste profession. In such a system, the individual’s life and occupation were determined at his birth irrespective of his inborn qualities.

Significance of socio- political system

Political systems and social organisations often do try to reform and regulate the outer form. Everyone of us wants to bring about change, a new way of life, a new approach that can give life a new meaning because the old culture has failed to respond to the challenges of the new. But treatment of peripheral issues and surface solutions hardly make any difference and are not able to bring about a fundamental change. While remaining a Brahmin, a Christian, a Hindu, or a Russian within, revolt has very little meaning as the society continues to be static. The cultures of various countries are apparently very different, but underneath, the movement is the same. Systems and formulas have failed us because the root cause of the problem lies in man’s mental construction which has to be understood and dealt with religion, nationality, caste etc. are specialised influences which create divisions and separations. It is the mind that gives importance to race, caste, and colour. Conflicts and frictions can be solved only when an attempt is made to see all the factors which go to compose the situation. It is the spirit of enquiry that can take the individual beyond the mandate of traditions and patterns.

None but the development of individual’s capacity, who is capable of attaining a different level of perception, free of accumulation, should be evolved. It gives the mind a creative quality of seeing with absolute objectivity things as they are in the right perspective. It can change life’s relationship between man and environment. An education that will not confine itself to the development of intellect alone can awaken the right perception of right values which would bring about the spirit of concern and commitment to the well being of humanity as a whole. It would, apart from enabling man to earn his livelihood, help them to develop a universal outlook that will enhance the quality of life, taking larger interests of the community in view.

The writer is Dr.Rajkumar Singh Professor and Head P.G.Department of Political Science BNMU, West Campus P.G.Centre, Saharsa-852201. Bihar,India. [email protected]

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