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Stagnant pool or running river?

Stagnation breeds irrelevance, insecurity and intolerance, writes Swami Agnivesh.
None | By INNER VOICE | Swami Agnivesh
UPDATED ON JUL 28, 2006 03:47 PM IST

No form of life in nature remains stagnant; not even the placid lake. Unseen by us, water springs gush at the bottom, ensuring that the water of the lake remain fresh and life friendly.

Our body is renewed minute by minute. It is unnatural for anything to remain stagnant. Stagnation breeds irrelevance, insecurity and intolerance.

Seen in this light, it becomes a spiritual duty to stir the stagnant waters of contemporary religiosity. There are two possible approaches to religion. The first is to preserve it. The second is to fulfill it. In the first approach we become the defenders and, in the second, the practitioners of religion. To be a true practitioner, one has to be a seeker. We cannot practise a religion merely in terms of what people made of it hundreds of years ago.

To seek religion is to root it relevantly in the context of today. We revere our rivers as a symbol of connectivity. They connect the moun tains of meditation and purity with the burning plains of day-to-day realities. Our forefathers associated holiness with rivers because they understood the spiritual symbolism involved. It is on the plains, and not on the mountains that rivers fulfill their purpose. The time has come for us to re-appropriate the symbolism of religion as a river of life.

Fortunately, the awareness that religion needs to be understood and practised in a proactive manner is gaining ground.

I am hugely satisfied that the idea of doing a discussion series on “Spirituality, Society and Science” found favour with the officers of Prasar Bharati. Titled Manthan or churning, a series of thirteen 30-minute modules are currently under production, involving leaders from the fields of religion, social activism and science.

The programme aims at bringing the light of reason into the sanctuary of religion and to encourage a culture of responsible questioning and seeking, rather than unthinking conformity with religiosity.

Religion has awesome potential for nation-building. Initiating a national debate on what religion is, and what it is not, could well be one of the programme’s happy by-products.

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