Diversity of Religions in India!
The communal franchise introduced by the British in the early years of the twentieth century was advocated on the grounds of religious disharmony. It was further argued that the constant immigration from the different regions of Asia and Africa and Europe had brought about a social diversification. There was, no doubt, diversity. But that diversity had a sense of unity.
It was provided by the religious toleration extended by the Hindu philosophy. Hinduism itself was a band of many religious branches. In fact as Professor K.S. Lal says there was perfect freedom of worship in the Hindu philosophy. It was possible only in India that believers of different gods could live under one roof.
It was this toleration and freedom of worship which had sustained the power of assimilation of different religions in India. Other religions had the opportunity to exist and flourish. It was this social philosophy which had the greatest force of assimilation, and also maintained the continuity in the society.
Therefore, Prosanto Kumar Sen maintains that “In manners and customs and in the daily routine of religious duties, the bulk of the Muslims in the villages followed pretty much the same lines as Hindus with only this difference that certain other customary religious duties…were supposed to justify their existence as followers of the Prophet. The Hindus., followed their ordinary routine of social and religious duties, more or less mechanically including in forms and rituals that…had long ceased to convey any meaning except that they had come to be regarded as the hallmark of Hinduism. They would never scruple to pay semi-divine honours to Muslim saints, thereby adding some more quasi-deities to the already overcrowded pantheon of the ignorant and the unlettered.”
The Muhammdens’ rise to power though brought about conversion but it spread mainly due to political reasons and majority of the people continued to be non-Muslims only again because of the political reasons. It is not the place to go into its history but it is suffice to mention that the conversion of Hindus had already become a political threat to the ruling Turks even in the thirteenth century.
We find that Ziauddin Barani, both religious and political leader of the Muslims, condemned the converted Muslims as worst than Hindus. The disgraceful treatment of the converted Muslims might have discouraged a large-scale conversion.
Secondly, the ruthless conversion encouraged by Firuz Tughlaq or Aurangzeb made it clear that such fanaticism was bound to bring doom to the royal dynasties. It was the harmonious existence of different faiths which brought laurels to Alauddin or Akbar. Excepting few circumstances, all the rulers had to accept this bare fact.
This is the reason that in spite of prolonged inning of Mohammedan rule, majority of the people remained Hindus. Once this religion was allowed to exist, the capacity to influence Islam and maintain a continuity in the social life of the people.
“The main principles of government” observed Rapson, “have remained unchanged throughout the ages…All governments have been obliged to recognize an infinite variety among the governed of social customs and religious beliefs, too firmly grounded to admit of interference.” it was the past experience which led the missionary Abbe Dubois to warn that “the day when the Government attempts to interfere with any of the more important religious and civil usages of the Hindus will be the last its existence as a political power”.
Therefore, the century opened with the compulsion of making India “Sulah-i-Kul”, but by the close of the century the British had started putting one religion against the other. It was also the social division in our social structure which helped them to “divide and rule”.