Sins of the clergy: Priests tend to cling to the past

| July 26, 2015 | 0 Comments

IT is a cliché that man has today all the means to destroy all of his species through weapons of mass destruction possessed by many countries led by the US. There is no country that can be trusted not to use them; in fact, the larger the stock of the WMDs, the greater is the illusory arrogance of power and, therefore, greater the chances of the country using them.

The only insurance against something like this happening would be an effort towards one world and one government that would safeguard the interests of all its constituents: a real coming together of peoples of the world, with cooperation and not confrontation being the buzzword. Why is it, then, that this is not happening? One of the main reasons is the baggage we carry today of some deadly sins of clergy that control religion, be they Hindu, Muslim, Christian or any other. Indeed, the clergy are the second multinationals around the world whose primary concern is to safeguard their interests as against the interests of the people.

The priests survive on misinterpretation of the teachings of the founders of their religion or other respected leaders. An example would be the emergence of Wahabi-Salafism in the Islamic world. Today’s Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism are a direct consequence of the ideology of Wahabi-Salafism. The way in which the Wahabis and Salafis have misinterpreted the Quran is well-documented in the book, Terrors’ Source: the Ideology of Wahabi-Salafism and its Consequences, authored by Vincenzo Oliveti (a pseudonym of one of the most illustrious 43rd generation living descendants of Prophet Mohammed).

The way the Christian clergy has done the same thing with Christianity is clear from the bestseller, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. The only people who have gained by misinterpretation of the teachings of the founders of the great religions or the real writers of the ancient scriptures are the clergy.

It is the clergy who have invented miracles and attributed them to the founders of the great religions. Miracles have been the single greatest weapon in the armour of the clergy. Would Satya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi ever have the following if he was not perceived to be capable of performing miracles? It is another matter that everything that he can do which people perceive as miracles can be done by scores of others who are honest and call it a sleight of hand.

An outstanding example of deceit implicit in the phenomena of miracles is that of Mother Teresa. I had the privilege of meeting her and was extremely impressed by her humility and humanity, which alone should have been enough in any civilized world to confer on her the status of a saint. However, for her to be canonised, Vatican required that it be shown that she had performed at least two miracles; therefore, these miracles had to be invented, with (almost) everyone knowing that they were actually never performed! It is to her credit that she never ever in her life claimed that she had performed any miracle.

The clergy invented the concept of “divinity” which implies that one’s life is totally controlled according to what has been ordained by the “divine” power (whatever that may be), and since the clergy represent this divine power, they and they alone can help you change the course of your so-called “destiny”. Most gods are “bribable” and the clergy will tell you how and what to give as a bribe. The processed link with the divine power makes them a closed community. Can you think of a Shankaracharya being a Shudra?

The Hindu clergy tell you that your caste is a divine dispensation and defines your duties and obligations. It is a different matter that no religious leader (past or present) could tell the caste or religion of a newborn child! If you are designated entirely on the basis of your parentage, as belong to the lowest caste or being casteless, you must accept that you have no more right than an (unwanted) animal and that you must do without complaining, all the dirty work of the higher castes, with the only compensation being abuse and insult.

One of the paramount duties of the clergy everywhere has been to distort history and to first invent and then present legend as history. For example, common sense tells you that Rama and Krishna, and the stories associated with them, are legends — in fact, fairy tales like those of Hans Christian Anderson or Grimm. Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code brings out, with courage and elegance, the attempt to distort history in the Christian world. There is no codified religion the clergy of which have not attempted to “sanitise” history to suit their interests.

Science has been the biggest enemy of the clergy — perhaps all through history but certainly from the beginning of Renaissance in Europe from which time organised science began to evolve. Thus Bruno was burnt at stake and Galileo incarcerated for stating a truth arrived at by using the method of science. Opposition to abortion and renewed efforts in the US to give equal status in school teaching to creation and evolution to explain the origin of man, are other contemporary examples.

A major attempt of the clergy all over the world, in every religion, has been to replace evidence and truth by belief and myth. Their preachings have, therefore, been the greatest single impediment to the development of a knowledge-based society in the world, which alone can lead to universal peace.

The clergy and their followers have been, in fact, the single promoters of war and other conflicts around the world in the last many centuries. Examples would be the Wars of Crusades, the religious conflicts in Ireland and Central Europe, and the problem between India and Pakistan. The clergy mislead people all the time by giving them a feeling of greatness by simply belonging to their religion or sect. They then subtly convert this feeling into the right to govern others who are not so “great”. There are lessons in this process for our management and ad gurus.

The clergy have, all through history, kept their followers bound to laws that often have no basis in reason, humanism or basic human rights. Not only that, they interpret the so-called “religious laws” to suit their convenience. Indeed, one of the best things that has happened to the Hindu community in India in the above context was the codification of the Hindu law. Unfortunately, this has not happened with the one billion-strong Islamic community around the world. The Islamic clergy have tied this community down by various — sometimes conflicting — provisions of Islamic personal law, the Sharia.

My personal commitment is to reason, to basic human rights, and to evidence-based truth, and not to any religious dogma. Nevertheless, in a democratic world, everyone must have a right to believe whatever one wishes to as an individual. However, no one should have the right to preach to others, using falsehood and deceit, their own beliefs, including belief in religious dogma.

One of the biggest challenges we, therefore, have today is to eventually decimate the hold of clergy on the people so that they may think freely and on their own. Unless that happens, we cannot dream of a conflict-free world. The time has come when we must start thinking seriously about how to achieve the above objective: that is, to punish the clergy of all religions for their deadly sins.

The writer is the Vice-Chairman of the Knowledge Commission.

Reference: Sins of the clergy: Priests tend to cling to the past. P.M. Bhargava. The Tribune, 2 Jan. 2006.

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