Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah has said religion is for the betterment of human beings and not the other way round, adding it does not require complicated science to understand this fact of life and ensure love prevails instead of hatred.
“Religion exists for human beings, human beings do not exist for religion. Religion exists for society and it’s a way of life. Religion exists for human beings to love each other and not to hate each other,” the Congress veteran told a state-sponsored celebration of Sree Krishna Jayanti in Bangalore late on Wednesday.
His statement on the importance of religion and its purpose comes against the backdrop of the ongoing controversy about Sanatana Dharma triggered by Tamil Nadu minister Udhayanidhi Stalin's observation that it should be eradicated.
Karnataka IT minister Priyank Kharge also joined the chorus against inherent caste-based discrimination in Sanatana Dharma by saying it is “as good as a disease”.
Chief minister Siddaramaiah exhorted the people to understand the essence of what a religion should stand for. “We need to understand this very clearly. One doesn’t need to read complicated science to understand this,” he said, alluding to why religions should help people love and not hate each other.
He pointed out how Basava, the 12th-century reformer-saint who founded the Lingayat Dharma and was fondly known as Basavanna, had described compassion as the cornerstone of every religion. “There is no religion if there is no compassion. He said this over 850 years ago,” the chief minister noted.
Siddaramaiah drew from ancient scriptures and stories that speak about the appearance of "avatars" each time humanity was on the brink of collapse due to injustice, and urged the people to electorally defeat such leaders now.
“Gods appeared in various avatars when there was injustice. But what should we do now whenever there is injustice? Injustices in the society can be eradicated only when we attain a high level of alertness (to expose and defeat unjust leaders),” Siddaramaiah said, without directly referring to the ongoing debate over Sanatana Dharma.
A torchbearer of Ahinda (Kannada acronym for minorities, backward classes, Dalits and Adivasis) politics that work for the downtrodden and oppressed classes, Siddaramaiah said caste differences must be eradicated to fulfil the dream of social reformers such as Basavanna and freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi and B.R. Ambedkar.
“The caste system must be eradicated. But for that we need to bridge the social and economic divide among the people, which can be achieved only by following the principles of our Constitution,” he said.
“The dream of our freedom fighters was that everyone should enjoy the fruits of freedom, everyone should be equal and everyone should live as human beings. Only if we follow the principles of our Constitution can we ever create equality in the society,” he said, adding that only leaders who work according to the Constitution can deliver social justice.