As I child I would often see my grandmother praying three times a day, before going to bed, early morning, and before eating food. While she would recite a few verses of Mantra, I would just close my eyes and fold my hands. The mantra was beyond my understanding but it was very soothing. This was her daily ritual. My Grand Ma would say “It is a way to say thanks to God for giving us food and to make our day beautiful. The mantra makes our mind peaceful and blessed. 

When I touched 14, my grandmother died, that time my parents held prayers, shraad (a ceremony in which Pandits are offered meals). My elders told me this ritual is performed in every religion but in different ways, you are too young to understand. Any how days passed by and I got busy with studies. Though I would remember my Grand Ma’s words and I would pray quite often but unwillingly. Our elders say, the prayer should reach the heart and then only it would impact, but how it is possible in wandering mind which would go sometimes to the friends in School and sometimes with Brijen with whom I had a fight.

Religious rituals are very difficult to follow, but my dad and mom would never forget to perform pooja early morning and fulfill all the ritual formalities. 

 As a teen I would often wonder, are these rituals so necessary? What we are getting by performing Aarti or lighting candle in the church or tying bands given by Maulvi or a Pandit? 

 Religion is deeply entrenched in our soul that it is now dictating our lives, how we should live, eat, wear clothes, where to go and where not to go, marry religiously and within the community, and what to do when we have a child. There are broadly two schools of thoughts, whose explanations juxtapose the reason behind our proclivity towards religion, though differently. Psychologists say Fear psychosis is a reason we allow religion to dictate our lives while religious leaders explain that religious rituals give us mental peace and salvation. 

And now science has also proved that simple prayers cures us of dreaded illnesses and make even the dead alive. 

Religion had always been our narrative on the path of which we move and now science has also proved that religious rituals spread positive energy around us and motivates us to lead our lives to the maximum. 

Here are two perspectives, first why should religion dictate us? And second, is why religion should not dictate us?

First, let’s see why religion should dictate us?

Religion helps us in establishing community bonding and love

Religion unites, it gives us a chance to share, love and understand. All religions teach love and show us the way to live in harmony with nature and around us. For him sacred means a unified system of believes and practices that inspires and connect to the divine and nature around us. For me to love someone is a religion and that love is insinuated in my soul. It makes our life stable and deepens our connection towards the divine.

Religion elevates us from suffering

In India, there is only one psychiatrist for every 400, 000 people. This is one of the lowest across the globe. This means people just don’t visit the doctor for mental illnesses, instead they adopt spiritual ways and turn to gods to get cured. There are many temples in India where it is believed miracle happens when people pray and pay their obeisance to their God. In fact, even Science has proved that Meditation, Yoga and chanting of Mantra and Hymns have miracle powers. If you sit quietly cross-legged in a meditation pose and recite “OM!” for a few minutes, you will feel great difference and mental relief. Chanting OM has magical powers; it is a sound, though originated from Hinduism yet has scientific connotations. 

OM chanting purifies the environment around and generates positive vibes

  • It increases concentration 
  • Gives us a better understanding
  • Generating a vibration which is felt through vocal cords
  • It makes us have better control over emotions
  • It improves voice by giving strength to the vocal cords.

Whenever there is an illness, the first thing we remember is God. Yes, that divine power which we believe cures and it does.

Religion and Spirituality in Medicine

Now need is also felt to integrate clinical practice with spirituality teaching to develop trust, empathy, and understand behavior. Both religion and spirituality influence health care at both patient and community level. These values can increase the faith-based health initiatives and improve policies and medical legislation. Religious doctrines helps in coping skills and improve quality of life. It also helps in reduced depression, suicide rate and many other ailments that deter you from your goals. 

Religion gives us knowledge

Religion is a mixed behavior of ancestors prescribed rituals, customs, sacred texts, holy and spiritual practices, moral and social ethics and many more. When we follow religion we come out of the darkness of ignorance and attain knowledge of many things and are enlightened towards truth. We become the learner and seeker of truth who also bestows this knowledge to others. 

Why Religion Should Not Dictate Us:

We get blinded folded to follow unnecessary religious rituals

We become blinded with religious dogmas, cults, myths, and unnecessary rituals. In many tribes across the world, people perform dangerous rituals like throwing small children from the height and the people standing below catching him or running over the fire.   

Religion drives us towards irrational fear and false hope

Religion tells us there is a hell in which we could get burn after death. In many religious sects, people perform certain acts like sacrificing the innocent animals to get rid of evil and to prevent going to hell, 

Religion begets hatred and gives rise to communal wars

We are sometimes so dictated by the religious leaders that we blindly start hating other religions and communities and even go to the extent of a killing spree, killing people of other religion. History is replete with instances of religious warfares and holocausts in which people never hesitate to wipe out other religious communities.

Religion makes us lose control over our lives

We get so blinded in our religious doctrines and statements that we even lose control over our self and life, and then it become a cult. We do what the society tells us to without thinking of its repercussions or effect on life. It distorts our vision and will to think and understand or ask questions. Whatever our religious head or elders we must do it.

Our life is curtailed in this dilemma, “To be or Not To Be” in the religious and moral duties. But, one thing is clear religion is beautiful and it is to us how we use it in our lives, for good of oneself, our society, nature and our surroundings.