[Q/A] Religion, Identities & The Constitution – A Talk By R Venkataramani

Main Talk: – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJJm3…

The poet in Rabindranath Tagore is said to have exclaimed that, existence is a perpetual surprise. Astronomy, Archaeology, History and other contemporary Sciences of determination of civilizational periods continue to add to this perpetual surprise – individual and collective. What has this surprise got to do with Religion viz the impulse to look beyond existence? The dissections of the human brain – medical, philosophical, logical and intuitive have added to the contests touching upon, or explaining the eternal leap of the mind, the desire to achieve consummation with the infinite and the endeavors of Religion and faith towards a general transformation of our being as individuals and societies. This is different from socially ordered tools of transformation of our beings with the faith on law, contracts, economics and coercion.

The Indian thought process has travelled all these domains and the foundations of individual peace and consummation and their connections to civilization and fellowship. If as William James tried to argue, Religion can be seen as man’s total reaction upon life, the history of all religions has however given us reasons to be skeptical. The fallacy lies in “analyzing actions and appetites of human beings as if they were questions of lines, planes and solids” (Spinoza) and thus staying away from exploring the alliance between the Religious and the Secular. All human actions are projections of the Gunas of individuals and their aspirations. The fourfold division of human mind into intellect, identity, memory and Budhhi viz transcendence, capture them.

The speaker attempts to show that the constitution premised on the Rights dialogue, while now treated both as a space for flourishing and the domain of restrictions, deserves rather to be conceived as an aid to the total engagement of all human beings upon life, providing a space for identity exploration and dissolution and not a narrow domain of identity perpetuations. If identities remain as prison houses, the constitution may not be friendly neighbor. The constitution deserves to be treated as a document not concerned only with the narrow identities which are limited products of history. This may mean, that what is understood as coveted spheres of religious practice viz the “wars of all crusades” namely colonizing of human minds must be courageously extinguished.

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