The politically religious cocktail


Over the course of all the years that I have tried discussing religion and politics with people that I have studied with, worked with and traveled with in public transport, I noticed a few things, these topics hold a special place in the hearts of almost all Indians. While that by itself is not an issue, the fact remains that for various reasons, most of us are not open enough to accept that people might have contrarian views and leave it at that. They tend to take these discussions personally and it ends up having unintended consequences.

003My personal opinion (and history probably backs this theory up) is that man invented religion to keep his fellow men disciplined and united by giving them something in common to look up to, to be afraid of, to keep his animal instincts in check. Religion also gave him an excuse for all that he didn’t understand back in the day. Unexplained natural phenomena such as the sun rising in the east every day without fail, the changing cycles of the moon, tides, natural disasters such as typhoons, floods, hurricanes, these were conveniently blamed on a higher power, God, who in some cases was given a ‘superhuman form’ and was used to keep humans in check.

And as if this weren’t enough, the smarter rulers in history realized that organized religion could also be used to justify the superiority of their claims to the throne and the kingdom. It is well documented that most of the South American Incan and Mayan kings used religion as a medium by which they controlled the people and stayed in power despite the fact that they didn’t necessarily serve their subjects well. And that probably was when religion and politics began intermingling in a deadly cocktail.

004If one looks at the etymology of the word Politics, it has been derived from the Greek term – of, for or relating to citizens. It is understood as the practice and theory of influencing other people at a civic or individual level. Practically in the modern world it refers to achieving and exercising organized control over large sections of humans, particularly states and countries. It is clear from the definition that politics as a concept and discipline has been devised to exercise and influence control over large groups of humans, and it is quite clear therefore that it is similar to religion in this respect. No two ways about that.

Now that we have established the basic nature of religion and politics, let us move to the Indian context. When we were younger we have been told that only in India can we see and experience unity in diversity. However, as years went by and as life taught us lessons, all of us clearly realize that while there is lot of diversity in our country, rather than promoting unity, people seem to be misusing the diversity to harbor more and more animosity against each other for purely selfish reasons. In my opinion, the primary culprits guilty of this crime are Indian politicians. For purely self serving purposes, the kind of hatred and animosity that they encourage between the various religious group, castes and creeds of people is unbelievable and has had rather serious implications as well.

Given all of the above, my personal opinion is that it is not at all a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people I know, let alone strangers. As it is these topics seem to stir passions in people and I would be better off not rubbing them the wrong way inadvertently.


This post is written for WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts where the idea is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided.

Today’s prompt was ““It’s never a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t really know.” Agree or disagree?”

16 thoughts on “The politically religious cocktail

  1. Totally agree with you. Once I made a remark about godmen and sex scandals, and one of my friends (I would never have guessed it) happened to believe in that particular godman. OMG, I will never make that same mistake again. LOL

  2. Amen to that thought brother. Oops, did I use a politically incorrect statement? 😉 Great post as usual. We could take a leaf out of the British book and talk about the weather 😛 but even that may rub people the wrong way

  3. Jairam , I have observed that politics and religions are the two powerful themes that the common man is ready to discuss , at any time and any place , be it public transport , parks or offices. But the issue is they cannot broad-mindedly accept or even try to make an effort to understand other’s POV . And the views and discussions are taken personally and often lead to ugly incidents.

    • @Kalpana, yes, politics and religion can only be discussed with people who you know for a fact will be objective with their thoughts and words and also have a mind open enough to accept arguments both for and against their points of view

  4. Agree with you 100 per cent and it’s sad how religion is used as a tool to divide. I tried a healthy discussion with people but it led to unwanted passion as they take offence on hearing a different view.

  5. I refuse to discuss religion and politics. It leads to high BP, and often, broken cutlery. 😛
    Now, how’s the weather today. 😀
    Love the post, by the way!

  6. Amen to that Jairam. And often when people tangentially also begin discussing it in office I try my level best to refrain. But yes at times when I am among friends I do discuss and pay the price of it too. But hell yeah they are friends na so who cares!!


  7. I never discuss religion and/or politics with strangers or business contacts..
    With friends and relatives, I initiate discussions on religion and/or politics only with people who I know to be objective and broadminded.
    If anybody initiates a discussion on religion and/or politics, I politely tell them I am ignorant about the subject.
    If anybody makes sweeping statements against politicians or parties, I don’t particularly care.
    However, if anybody makes a sweeping statement against a particular religious group, I oppose it politely but firmly.

  8. What a mature post to come out of the prompt! I can totally understand your reasons for not discussing political views with all and sundry.
    I agree with most of what you said about religion and politics and the convergence of the two. The only thing that I have a contrarian thought on is the role of politicians in the way politics is conducted in our country. Our politicians play with our religious emotions for their insidious games only because WE allow them to. Emotionally, the average Indian still sits on a tinderbox of unresolved religious issues…it takes practically nothing to ignite this fuse.

    • @Rickie, so true, we have allowed our politicians to exploit our religious preferences so far and it has ended up with this highly inflammable situation in the country right now.

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