The Misdeeds of Creeds

With the Original Sin, Good came into the world. It was also the beginning of Creeds and Misdeeds. Prior to that, in a sinless universe (God had not yet quite figured out Creation, much less its consequences), we just had “In the beginning was the Word”, neither good nor evil. Furthermore, in those early days nobody had an idea of EIA (no! it’s Evolutionary Impact Awareness). Neither Jibreel, nor Iblis aka Shaitan nor God Almighty! Charles Darwin was many millennia away.

The poet Jigar Moradabadi has put it so brilliantly:

Takhleeq-e-kayanaat* ke dischasp jurum par,

Hansta to hogo aap bhi Yazdaan** kabhi, kabhi!

(* Creation, ** God)

While evolutionary process and speciation carried on unhindered in much of the then uninhabited world, human history began to grow around, ironically, the misdeeds of Creeds. Wherever, religions struck root, people were suddenly burdened with a conscience full of sins and the concept of “guilt” became pervasive. The clergy and later the Church seized the opportunity and have been making a killing ever since. It is only recently that rational human beings have started taking “sin/ conscience/ guilt” less seriously and many are now full time into making money  (black or white, doesn’t matter); the only sensible thing to do according to the World Bank.

Curiously, Creeds and Misdeeds created opportunities for Good and continue to do so. For example, Florence Nightingale and Nursing resulted from tending to the war wounded which itself was the outcome of some Creed. Or was it Greed? Again, the Crusades and the Jihads continue till today though in more subtle forms and sometimes under UN auspices promising fat salaries and unbelievable insurance to mercenary warriors in far off lands, routinely winning battles and losing wars. Wars also begot the idea of Peace and recent examples are of the Nobel Peace Prize going to Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat and Menachem Begin, both representing irreconcilable rivalry of creed.

Conversely, as Creeds multiply (at least in India) and claim membership in millions, the growth of violence appears to keep pace. Violence continues to grow: against women, the poor, the disabled, the dispossessed & disenfranchised tribal, forests & wildlife, ponies, buffaloes and stray dogs and more recently against those fighting for Change and freedom of the internet and of course pedestrians. That, perpetrators of such violence are firm believers in one creed or the other (or are they?) is puzzling. Maybe creeds and deeds are two unconnected delusions?

Claims that the world has moved on are abruptly challenged by a medieval fatwa against writers of literature or the banishment of a painter of passion or even the showing of movies not in conformity with the tenets (often misinterpreted) of a particular creed. In all such instances, the pronouncements of the clergy are above the Rule of Law or constitutional authority and violently supported by the believers. How much faster do we need to run to get out of the Dark Ages?

While most such themes persist from ancient to contemporary history, perhaps the most unforgiveable misdeed of Creed is the indoctrination of children into blind, unquestioning faith. Quite at variance with the Buddha’s last preach, “Believe Nothing”!

It is quite surprising that while many highly educated people including so called scientists wax eloquent about the glory of god(s), there is virtually nothing brought out or even mentioned about something called evolutionary biology? I am informed that the teaching of Darwin’s Evolution is proscribed in schools in many countries. Is it because Faith (and the keeping of it) is the only form of identity we understand and are otherwise under threat that we would become human, indistinguishable from the other? And religions and nationalisms would become redundant?

The political economy of a Creed lies in its following. All religions seek greater numbers. Remember how that myth about Muslims out-breeding Hindus in India continues to haunt those with a majority complex? Conversions by force, fear or inducement have therefore been the hallmark of creeds. I remember when once our class teacher, an Irish Catholic priest, asked the class what their religions were: Sikhs? Several hands went up; Muslims? No hands; Catholics? a few. He put the rest as Hindus, saying so. I raised my hand hesitantly. He said “Yes”? “I am a Protestant” I said. He was flabbergasted and exclaimed, “But you have a Hindu name”? Though the other kids did not understand what was happening, I could see that secretly he was pleased.

How much Creeds bind people is debatable, but that Creeds divide people is what a lot of history is about.  Prime examples: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Palestine, Ireland, Bosnia etc. etc. Within countries and societies too, the reason for the perpetual anxiety of minorities lies in the different Creeds they follow much to the annoyance of the Majority, even where constitutional freedom of religion is supposedly guaranteed.

In India, including the converted nations of the sub-continent, the quicksand of its vying and sub-dividing creeds is further bogged down by the ancient miasma of caste that constitutes an invisible but invincible barrier across and between people; all pretence to modernity notwithstanding.

Yet the faithful yearn to be reborn to a better afterlife or endure an unending purgatorial wait to enter the Pearly Gates (No, no. This has nothing to do with Bill & M Gates!); even as Man continues to make a Big Mess in the here and now.

Jigar Moradabadi again:  “Qayyamat ke vaade pe kush hone wale, Tere sabr ka imtihan ho raha hai.”

The present need for the other (Environmental Impact Assessment) EIA is to partly neutralize intergenerational inequity emanating from the creed of Greed.

Nodnat - is a pen name that the writer with deep knowledge of Himalayan flora and fauna and a keen environmentalist has adopted. He hails from Kotgarh, in Shimla Hills and retired as Principal Chief Conservator of Forests from Himachal Pradesh forest department.

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