Religion, Faith and Coronavirus
- Bhavya Srivastava & Subhi Dhupar
Will the world become more atheist after this coronavirus pandemic ? Will the supreme divine forces have to reinvent themselves by establishing a new order ? Does the Churches, Mosques, Temples have to face a tough time to attract followers ? Or we will be seeing people thronging to faith places, as they are going to be fed up with human errors. The world will change after this pandemic. World has seen a lot of disruptions in past, but all have a cause. World Wars fought to establish hegemony but natural disasters are not in human control.
Faith always challenged by scientific and rational minds. And as we are passing through a new experience of social alienation and other outside forces during lockdown, world has understood more about priorities. Is God a priority or need when the almighty has no solution for a pandemic.
Indian gurus are still preaching and they are telling that this is the time to go deep, reinvent yourself, make a new routine, adapt a natural lifestyle, do yoga, eat vegetarian and do mediation to forget all realities. Daily we can see a lot of Indian born foreign travelled gurus coming live on their social media platform to examine the phenomena and tagged it as stress, anxiety and depression. Corona is a new ball game, which challenged social norms and orders. Faith and Religion runs on these two parameters. Even godmen are known to make parameters so their followers are differentiated and make a cult like structure. The real reason of any worldly misadventure never lies on books of occult and religions. If we become a threat to earth, there are new challenges for us. We should be prepared, and religious teachings never prepare us for the doomsday. Today religious preachers are in the business of hope creating and spearheading masses to hallucinating experiences. The whole meditation, yoga, preaching session somehow lead to fan following mechanism.
We know that Yoga is now an international phenomena. In India, we can categorically say Yoga has lot of divisions. Rajyoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Ashtang Yoga are known by people. The sage Patanajali wrote Yogsutra and give a direction to Ashtang Yoga, which later yoga guru like Swami Ramdev popularised. But Paramhans Yogananda, Swami Shivanand, Swami Rama and many other yoga leaders have taught many forms of yoga to Westerners. They all have put some magical realm into their demonstration and impress a bunch of people. This work well and today USA has bigger business model of Yoga than India. After 2014, when International Yoga Day has become an UN initiative, India mostly do yoga by TV and DVD. Now as Corona challenged our immunity, a new surge is seen. People again doing this for one reason, save our life.
Religions prospers on participation, and as Covid-19 pandemic guidelines adheres to social distancing, the majority of engagement around religious places are effected. This also create a bigger question, do we need places to pray god, do we have to follow masses, gathering to appease god? Are we okay with this state of lockdown and remember him in house prayers? Surely, after this pandemic, religious organisation has lot to do. But there is a counter argument by religious argument that after this, people become more religious and spiritual. Why ?
Fear and Introspection are the two reason. We are a fear guided humans. We follow lot of things in our social life due to the fear, we developed by social behaviours. Our good and bad, our moral and immoral, our action and reaction, all guided by fear. So when we repent this pandemic as a human error, we feel more sorry and fearful. God is kind and benevolent, we are taught. Being Spiritual is new fad. Our growing and younger generation tend to flash this spirituality. They mostly say we are spiritual and not religious. In simple terms, spiritual means who follow all good things, respect nature and humanity, love everyone and be kind to everything. An open mind to all knowledge comes from outside. This Corona lockdown gives us ample time to retrospect and introspect about our life. We come to know that we were doing a lot of things unnecessarily. Our outer world is full of repeated acts. We tend to be more insightful and our thoughts become crystal clear.
Religion is always behind big changes in society. I doubt it change the political structure in future as this has overpowered by different notion, but religion surely change human behaviour. It gives a moment of recall and reconciliation to every human. Covid pandemic is a reality of our fast life and many disturbances we created. Now the time has come to think more deep and connect ourselves with more positivity.
Subhi Dhupar is a peace educator and trainer who works to promote interfaith harmony and religious inclusion among people of diverse cultures. Ms. Dhupar has pursued her honors degree from Lady Shri Ram College and South Asian University specializing in History and International Relations respectively. At present she is currently the Regional Director at United Religions Initiative (URI) – one of the world’s largest grassroots interfaith communities with a presence in 105 countries. At URI, Ms. Dhupar works on building sustainable peace by encouraging cooperation that bridges religious and cultural differences. She has also conducted several welfare programs for women and children for the civilians with the help of the Indian Army in Kashmir; advocated for inclusivity at the African Union as the Madam Chair at the World Interfaith Harmony Week and single handedly organized an international interfaith conference in 2019 November with the UNESCO Chair at Banaras Hindu University involving over 40+ faith leaders, 600+students and 230+ grassroots civil society groups.
Bhavya Srivastava is a veteran journalist specializing in religion reporting. He is also a founding member of the International Association of Religion Journalists. He is fellow of KAICIID. Over 15 year career, Bhavya has had a diverse experiences of different sectors, cultures and areas and had a wide network in religion. Religion and Spirituality always engaged him to create best results. He produced thousand hours of religious-spiritual content for TV, print and digital. As a student of sociology, social development and role of religion, he has developed strong relations with interfaith leaders and covered issues addressed by Inter-religious programmes and seminars. He manages a website of all religions (www.religionworld.in) and has been awarded by many social organizations for his dedication.