Theology of Religion

Unitive Pluralism: An Answer to Religious Extremism

Unitive Pluralism: An Answer to Religious Extremism

Dr Vincent Kundukulam

Dr Vincent Kundukulam

Vincent Kundukulam

The greater danger in the religious world today is that the believers, in fear or pride, cling to their own religion and refuse to learn from the stranger. A world of strangers is a world of enemies. In a world of so many differing opinions some of the more unsecured take refuge in their own religions as the sole source of Truth and that leads them to hold extreme positions towards others. Religious extremism takes various shapes, mainly that of fundamentalism, fanaticism, and communalism, according to the different cultural political and economic contexts. This paper tries to analyse these phenomenon, to determine the role of religion in their formation, to expose anti-extremist potential inherent in religions, and to propose unitive pluralism as the efficient means to counter the religious extremisms.

1. Religious extremist ideologies

1.1 Religious fundamentalism

The origin of the term fundamentalism dates back to the last phase of the 19th century in USA. It was mainly a deliberate reaction to the liberal interpretation of the Bible made in with the new exegetical methods. The traditionalists perceived it as an attempt to water down the essentials of revelation. The term fundamentalist seems to have been used for the first time by Cutis Lee Laws, a Baptist from North America in the editorial of a New York weekly The Watchman Examiner (on 1st July 1920).  It designated those who were blindly attached to the great fundamentals of Christian faith and vehemently opposed to modern interpretations of the Bible[1]. It was characterized by the aggressive efforts to impose its creed upon the public and on denominational schools of the country. It insisted upon the obligatory prayer before classes, the reading of the Bible and divine service in colleges and universities. It removed from the churches and educational institutions those who did not share the conservative faith. It induced state legislatures to pass laws prohibiting the theory of evolution[2]

Fundamentalism has cut across Christian world and has become one of the most obvious characteristics of almost all the institutionalized religions of the world. The fundamentalists are always certain of what they say. Their value system is non-negotiable. To argue that there could be a plurality of ideas which could be equally valid is for them sacrilege. Another feature is the moral fervor with which they speak. They are convinced of having God’s authority to do what they will. They supply literalist interpretations of the Scriptures, which legitimate the exclusion of the other. They consider the progressive thinkers as creatures of devil and they don’t mind in using violence against them[3]

1.2 Religious fanaticism

Fanaticism is the anglicized form of a word, which in ancient times was used of priests supposed to be inspired by divinity. By the sixteenth century this original meaning expanded to include forms of noisy madness having no religious basis. In the seventeenth century immoderate adherents of the sects in England were called fanatics. Gradually this term denoted blind zeal in any cause whether religious social or political.

A thorough study of the various forms of fanaticism shows that it has three important components. The most obvious among them is extreme narrowness and rigidity of temper. It is impossible for the fanatics to learn anything that would dislodge their fixed idea. The end which they select as supreme and the path they follow to arrive at that end are never open to question. Another character of fanatics is their unyielding determination to make the fixed idea of triumph over others. They are men of fiction and fiery missionaries. A fanatic may intertwine himself with political parties and social forces in the destiny of the religious struggle. Another trait no less characteristic to fanaticism is callousness to pain. The fanatics become insensitive to human suffering to the point of cruelty. Its extreme narrowness of sin, inflexibility and brutal disregard of other values make fanaticism a deeply disruptive force in the society. Whether it arises out of religion, politics or class struggle, the fanatic regards himself as specially chosen for the purpose. According to analysts, neurological abnormality, unhappy environmental conditions and strong ambition contribute to the growth of fanatic culture in an individual[4].

1.3 Religious communalism

What is communalism? To commune means feel as one with somebody or some group. Communal in the positive sense is commitment for the well being of the community. It becomes communal in the negative sense when one discriminates others on account of immoderate attachment to one’s own community. As Rasheedhudin Khan has rightly observed, in India, religious communalism has taken the shape of narrow and blind devotion to one’s own religious community for acquiring political and economic benefits. In that sense communalism is opposed to secularism and nationalism.[5]

Though communalists play with religion, in fact, religion is not the fundamental cause of communal conflicts. As Louis Dumont remarks, religion becomes here a mere appearance. People are not really concerned about the substance of religion. Religious communalism is the affirmation of the religious community as a political group. What appears to be clash of religions is really clash of interests of a small group. It neither represents religion nor patriotism; it represents vested interests of the communal leaders.[6] There are various stages in the growth of religious communalism. First a feeling is promoted that the people of the same religion have not only common religious beliefs but also common economic political and cultural interests. In the second stage it emphasizes that the political, economic and social interests of one religious community are different from those of other religious communities. In the third stage people are made to believe that not only their differences are different but also antagonistic to those of other communities[7].

The above explanation shows that all forms of extremism contain some sort of exclusive attitude, which provokes violent attitude in the adepts towards their opponents. If for the fundamentalists the enemy is progressive thinkers of their own religion, believers of other religions are the targets of religious fanatics. The religious communalists are not, in fact, serious about the religion. Their interest is only economic and political. However, whatever be the form of religious extremism all of them manipulate directly or indirectly the sentiments of believers to achieve their vested interests. This leads us to ask a very prominent question regarding the nature of religion: is extremism innate to religion?

2. Are religions prone to extremist ideologies?

When we study the history of religions we come across several incidents where the religious leaders made pejorative remarks despising other religions as enemies. Crusades are best examples in the history of Christianity. When Islam conquered much of Christian territories and holy places in Europe, Popes instigated the Christians to fight against Muslims. Pope Urban II’s appeal for war is very famous: “I beseech and exhort you – and it is not I but God who beseeches and exhorts you as heralds of Christ – both poor and rich, to make haste to drive that vile breed from the regions inhabited by our brethren, and to bring timely aid to the worshippers of Christ. I speak to those here present, I will proclaim it to the absent, but it is Christ who commands …If those who go thither lose their lives on land or sea during the journey, or in battle against the pagans, their sins will at once be forgiven[8].”

The destruction of Babri Masjid at Ayodhya on 6th December 1992 brought into light the fanatic potential of the Hindutva forces in India. The worldwide dismay and outrange caused by Taliban’s edict of 26th February 2001 ordering the demolition of the Bamiyan Buddhas raised a host of questions of fanatic nature. The supreme Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was quoted as saying: ‘I ask Afghans and the worlds Muslims to use their sound wisdom… Do you prefer to be a breaker of idols or a seller of idols? Is it appropriate to be influenced by the propaganda of the infidels?’[9]. September 11th attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001 reiterated the religious grounds of terrorism on universal level.

In the light of the above-mentioned inglorious stories allied to religions some opine that violence is native to religions. As evidence, they point out the martial metaphors in the Scriptures. The Hebrew Bible contains military exploits of great kings. The great epics Ramayana and the Mahabharata are tales of unending conflict and military intrigue. The ideas of Salvation Army in Christianity, Dal Khalsa in Sikhism, notion of Jihad in Islam, etc. denote images of warfare. According to them, religion is an order restoring institution and therefore it would allow struggle for the order to be restored.  Whenever the religious activists feel commissioned to protect the good from the satanic forces they may draw on violent means. In the Sri Lankan conflict the militant bhikkhus state that the people there live in dukkha, in an immoral world. The conflict is between dhamma and adhamma: order and disorder, religion and irreligion. That means, religions may give moral sanction to violence for the cause of bringing order in the world[10].

From childhood onwards we are taught that religions are effective instruments to establish peace and harmony among people. If this is true how can they employ violence even for a just cause? In this regard it is worth to mention the distinction made by the sociologists and anthropologists about religion. The social scientists make a difference between religion as faith and religion as an identity. Religion as faith has largely a spiritual function and religion as identity acquires political overtones[11]. As social institution religion is mot merely a set of revelations. It includes also dogmas and laws, which are the results of the interpretations made on the revealed texts in view of adapting them to the particular context of the believers. Consequently, due to the influence of believers having extremist tendencies, some scriptural interpretations may have extremist slant. In brief, religion as faith is not pro-violent whereas religion as identity, which includes the doctrines and the practices of the believers, is vulnerable to violence.

If religions, as social institutions, are exposed to the danger of extremism, building up a peaceful society will ever remain utopist unless creative measures are taken to curb the excessive interpretations of Scriptures. How to protect the revealed texts from disruptive interpretations? The best remedy is religions themselves. Religions as faith possess by nature anti-extremist elements. The inner dynamism of religions consists in generating universal and pluralistic values, which will create solidarity and equality in the society. This is possible because religions, by their origin, are liberative. All the major religions extol the value of self-sacrificing love, non-violence, solidarity of mankind, justice, reverence for life, truthfulness, etc. In order that religions become creative forces in building up the world their social engagements must be subdued to these ethical values. The social involvement of religions has to be modeled in accordance with the principle of unitive pluralism, the crux religions stands for.

To maintain religions as catalyst forces in nurturing diversity and justice in the human culture is not a over ambitious project because religions, as M. Juergensmeyer has rightly observed, provide images capable of conquering violence. In rituals, violence is symbolically transformed. Christ’s crucified image induces Christians to sabotage violence. In the Sikh tradition the two edged sword is an example of domestication of violence. Islamic mystics have come out to speak of the true jihad as the one to take place within each person[12]. The following reflections on unitive pluralism will show how extremism can be checked by the faith content in the religions.

3. Unitive Pluralism

Pluralism follows the logic that one is manifested in the many. The universe of meaning has no center. Truth is relative and mutable according to the different human experiences. Pluralism refers to a situation in which a variety of thought patterns, world-views or explanations of reality coexist with out any one of these having gained hegemony over others[13]. It invites us to believe that I do not exhaust the truth nor am I its center but only one of its poles. There are others. Reality is essentially pluriform. Without others we cannot exist and function in the world.

Religious pluralism is the view that different, or even contradictory, forms of religious beliefs and behavior could or even should co-exist[14]. Surprisingly we observe that our friends following a totally different path from our own, and sometimes apparently contradictory one, lead a happy and virtuous life. The fact of religious pluralism pushes us toward the profound insight that there is no one and only way to salvation. But does it mean that the diverse religions have to put off their specificities? Never. Religious pluralism is empowered with a potential for greater unity.

The world religions can move towards a more pervasive unity through better relationships with each other. They can become one precisely by remaining the many. This movement towards interconnectedness of religions is called unitive pluralism[15]. It does not aim at absolute or monistic oneness. It is not to be confused with the old rationalistic idea of “one world religion”. It is not also syncretism, which boils away all the historical differences; nor is it imperialism where one religion absorbs all others. Nor is it a lazy tolerance that let religions go in their own self-satisfied ways. Rather unitive pluralism is a unity in which each religion although loosing some of its individualism will intensify its personality. Each religion will retain its own distinctiveness but this will develop and take on new depths by relating to other religions in mutual dependence. To have a better grasp of unitive pluralism we will see its theoretical underpinnings, which are developed by Ernst Troeltsch (1865-1923), Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975), and Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961).

4. Pioneers of unitive pluralism[16]

4.1 Ernst Troeltsch, professor of philosophy and theology at the Universities of Bonn, Heidelberg and Berlin, was among the first to recognize the reality of religious and historical pluralism. Troeltsch was dissatisfied with the concept of revelation according to which God had been swooping down from heaven and intervening into history at particular spots. Such a vision gave God the image of a father who dispenses more parental love to some children than to others. In place of such an intervening God Troeltsch argued for metaphysics of immanent transcendence. God is coterminous with history. History is the march of God through the world.

The human spirit gives imposing testimony to the immanence of God within our very being. The religions of the world are the concrete manifestations of the universal revelation at work within all humankind. Although the Absolute is manifest in all of history, no historical manifestation of the Absolute can be absolute. That would contradict the nature of the Absolute and nature of the historical. That means all religions, as bearers of the divine are relative and limited. There can be no absolute religion. No religion can claim to be the full and final realization of the Divine.

4.2 Arnold Toynbee began his analysis of the nature of religion by urging a distinction between the essential counsels and nonessential propositions. From the study of seven major religions he evinced the following common characteristics. a) The universe is ultimately mysterious. b) The meaning of the universe is to be found in an Absolute Reality, which is not to be identified with it. c) Humanity seeks to experience and be in harmony with this truth. d) The way to live this harmony is to get rid of innate self-centeredness.

According to Toynbee, Since God wills to draw all people to salvation, naturally God has to realize this project according to the different contexts, time and cultures and this accounts for differences among religions. Since the same God of love is behind all religions, deep down they are same. Differences are accidental, cultural and time-conditioned. They are different paths leading to the same goal. Behind these accidentals there is common essence. A religion has constantly to be on guard against identifying the nonessentials with the essentials. He compares it with peeling an onion. You might go on peeling an onion till you find that you had peeled away the heart as well as the skin. If however because of this risk you refrain from trying to peel your onion you will never have an onion to eat.

4.3 Carl Gustav Jung came to see the image of God as an ingredient necessary for psychological health. According to Jung we humans are animated by something more than what we are expressly aware of. Below and in vital connection with our consciousness there is what has come to be called the unconscious and subconscious. This unknown part contains our true selves. According to Jung the reality of the unconscious represents the mysterious, the supernatural element in us. One of the most reliable pathways into the supra-rational darkness of the unconscious is the archetype. The archetypes could be decoded by symbols and myths. The archetypes are common to all religions but symbols and myths will be different, dependent on the varying cultural historical contexts.

From the discoveries of the unconscious and the presence of God within it Jung drew conclusions concerning the nature of the established religions, their differences and similarities. For Jung revelation is an unveiling of the depths of the individual and collective unconscious. It is the experience of God speaking from within, essentially the same within for all human beings. The differing dogmas and doctrines are attempts to give symbolic expression to this essentially ineffable experience. For him it is altogether inconceivable that there could be any definite figure capable of expressing archetypal indefiniteness.

The above discussion on pluralism from historical, phenomenological and psychological angles leads us to the following conclusions: a) in all religions there is an experience of a reality that transcends human conception b) that reality is conceived in a plurality of ways both within and outside the religion c) due to our limitations and our need to commit ourselves to a particular experience of transcendence, our concrete experience will function as in an absolute way d) unless we penetrate ever further into our own particular experience of transcendence through self-critical dialogue we may fall into the danger of extremism.

5. Scriptural basis for the unitive pluralism

A careful analysis of the scriptures from the perspective of pluralism and universalism reveal to us the interconnectedness of religions, the thrust for unitive pluralism.

5.1 Hinduism: Hinduism, as understood through Brahmanic tradition and Upanishads, focuses on knowledge of the inner spirit and its realization. This inward search has brought Hindus to the belief that there is one divine reality and that it can manifest in different forms. In the Rig Veda there is evidence of conflict between many groups – Aryan, Dravidian and Aboriginal – but there is also a resolution that absorbs the good aspects of each. This resolution is “ekam Sat vipra bhahudha vadanti : The real is one, the learned call it by various names, Agni, Yama, Matarisvan. (Rig Veda 1, 164, 46) The Upanishads gave further development to the same view stating that Brahman is one and that the different deities are His manifestations. Consequently the Hindu sees the different sects within and outside Hinduism as manifestations of the same divine reality. Denominations like Vaishnavism and Saivism, and various darsanas including conceptions from atheistic to pantheistic, to deistic, to monistic, and to mystical are incorporated in it.

Hindu concept of God is like looking at a piece of sculpture from different angles. The whole form can be grasped only when the sculpture has been looked at from different perspectives: front, the back, and the sides. Although each of these views is different from the others and although some aspects of what is seen and described from different angles may seem incompatible, these reports can together give us a reliable overall view of the sculpture. More aspects of the divine we can perceive the more complete our understanding of God will be[17]. The expressions in Hindu prayers and hymns like Vasudaiva kudumbakam, Atmavat Sarva Bhoodhani, Sarve Bhavandu Sukina, Loka Samasta Sukino Bhavandhu, also point to the spirit of universalism inherent in Hindu religion.

5. 2 Islam: The Muslim attitude towards other religions is derived from Muhammad’s teachings, from the Quran, and from its approved commentaries. Though the Quran is the complete and full revelation of the one divine Book for Muslims, they recognize a foundational unity underlying all religions. The earlier part of Quran mentions different prophets speaking to different people. “Say: We believe in God and that which is revealed to us; in what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes; to Moses and Jesus and the other prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them, and to God we have surrendered ourselves” (2, 136). The messages spoken to them come from a single source called as the “Mother of the Book” (43, 4; 13, 39) and the “Hidden Book” (56, 78). There is no nation wherein a messenger has not come (35, 24). Therefore a Muslim has to respect the sacred works of all religions.

The inclusive Islamic attitude towards others is seen in their concept of creation too. According to Koran all are God’s creatures and all are children of the same parents: “Men, We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you might get to know one another. The noblest of you in God’s sight is he who is most righteous” (49,13). Islam is often criticized of making conversions by force. But the Koran teachings are against compelling people to embrace the faith. “Say: This is the truth from your Lord. Let him who will, believe in it, and him who will, deny it (18, 29). “Your duty is only to give warning: you are not their keeper” (88, 21-22). The Muhammad’s concept of Jihad has often been misunderstood. The primary definition of Jihad is struggling or striving. Islamic scholars identify four kinds of jihad a) jihad of heart: spiritual striving b) jihad of the hand: work c) jihad of the tongue: preaching d) jihad of the sword. The recourse to holy war developed as a response to idolatry[18].

It seems that Muhammad advocated the love of other religions not only in words but also in deeds. Once, a few Christians from Najran came to meet him in Medina. During the conversation there arrived the time for Christians to recite prayers. Then prophet arranged the space for the Christians to pray in the same mosque. The respect for other religions is also seen in the counsel of Babar to Humayun: ‘India is a land of different religions. You must be grateful for that. If Allah gives you power you should not show any favoritism. Don’t kill the cows, which may hurt the feelings of the Hindus. Don’t destroy the temples and places of worship’[19]

5. 3 Christianity: The Jewish self-consciousness of being the chosen people of God (Deut 7, 6) and Jesus’ statements about his relationship to God (Jn 17, 22) certainly seem to have influenced Christians to assert a unique status for the Christianity.  But the Bible contains elements that encourage an open attitude towards the other religions. The book of Genesis tells that God created man in His own image and likeness (Gen 1, 26-27). According to this vision, not only Jews Christians and Muslims but also the whole humanity possess God’s image. Whoever lives according to the voice of his conscience is doing the will of the Creator.

Jesus turned against the exclusive attitudes of Jews. He transgressed the purity laws with quite astonishing freedom. He broke the Sabbath (Mk 2, 23-28) touched lepers (Mk 1, 41) and dined with religious outcasts (Mk 2, 15-17). He said that nothing outside a man could defile him but the things, which come out of men, are what defile him (Mk 7, 15). Jesus not only fought against the exclusivism in Jewish religion but also he inculcated inclusive outlook among his disciples.  He invited men to love God by loving neighbors and even the enemies (Lk 6, 35-36). His experience of God as Abbha allowed him to see all human beings as brothers and sisters. Thus Jesus gave us common platform of love where all religions can meet and work together for the growth of God’s reign in this world.

Jesus expressed his openness towards other religions by respecting believers of other religions. Seeing the faith of the Roman centurion Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 8, 10-11). Jesus praised the Canaanite woman’s faith (Mt 15, 28) and projected a Samaritan as model to practice the love of neighbor (Lk 10, 25-37). He did not hesitate to drink water from the Samarian woman, which was forbidden at that time (Jn 4, 7). He encouraged an exorcist who casts out demons in his name even though he did not join his company (Mk 9, 38-40). He said that all those who help the needy would be saved at the final day without enquiring into their religious affiliations (Mt, 25, 31-46)[20]

Our search into the pluralistic trends in great religious traditions has exposed the ant-extremist potential in religions. Now in the next and the concluding part of this paper we will propose certain measures to counteract the immoderate radicalism and to strengthen the culture of pluralism and unity among the believers.

6. Some concrete steps to strengthen the unitive pluralism

Learn about the noble values of all religions: Ignorance about other religions is a great hurdle in the path of communal harmony. The UNESCO Constitution begins by saying. “As wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that defense for peace must be constructed.” If this remains true the culture of unity and diversity must be instilled in the people educating in them the noble values of all religions. Monolithic religious education becomes a divisive factor in the already divided world. We have to pursue a methodology of education, which helps the people so to understand their own religious traditions as to affirm and celebrate the significance of other religions. Religions, in and through all their academic and cultural institutions, can cultivate human and religious values in the minds of pupils. Initiation to inter-religious prayer gatherings and readings from different Scriptures is to be multiplied all over the country.

Promotion of Inter-religious fellowships: Some movements in India have taken up inter-religious friendship as their special task. The Dharma Bharati National Institute, began on 16th July 1993 at Indore, is such a NGO. The goal of Dharma Bharati is to educate the youth in values of love, fraternity, justice, peace, sharing, tolerance and respect against the ethnic quarrels and communal tensions. For the personal transformation of the individuals are given the five paths. a) Say a prayer a day for peace according to one’s own religious tradition b) Skip a meal a week to express solidarity with the hungry and contribute the savings to the needy c) Do a good deed a day without any selfish motive to develop loving concern for the nation d) Honour parents, teachers and all human beings 5) Respect earth and save its resources[21]. Collaborating with such organizations the believers could be trained to work at the grass-root level for the cause of unitive pluralism.

Readiness to relativize the possessed truth: Every religion has something unique to contribute for the welfare of the world. But at the same time we must accept with all humility that each religion has only a limited and partial understanding of the Truth. Those who believe that their religion possesses the full truth are like the blinds that went to see an elephant. Hereby we do not question the specificity of any religion. We simply acknowledge the historical contingence of revealed truths. Hence no religion can make exclusive claim over the grace of God. All are like beggars standing with their begging bowls in front of God.

Avoid the false universalism: The efforts to strengthen unitive pluralism run the risk of a false universalism, which would obliterate the identities of different faiths. Any contact begins in the appreciation of difference. Ignoring differences invariably leads to the domination of the weak by the stronger. It is not leveling out of differences that we will achieve the new wholeness. We need an existential encounter among different traditions and the mutual transformation that occurs as a result. Pluralistic spirituality presupposes the attitude of letting the opposites co-exist. Thus the particular experience of truth may be enlarged and deepened so as to open new experiences of religious truth. Therefore let us not keep silence over the disjunctions, disunities, distances and dissonances that pervade human society at the religio-socio-economic-political levels in the name of interfaith bonhomie.

Virtue of interdependence: The virtues of interdependence transcend the barrier of caste, creed, race, colour, language and nationality. It can be built up through mutual trust. An atmosphere of understanding one another, not in religious or caste terms but as human beings with same needs, aspirations and obligations is to be created. Ways of worship and objects of worship may be differed, style of life may be varied, language may be different, but these are only the outward manifestations, which need not erode the basic trust in one another as human beings. Peace which is result of trust among the people can prosper only when social interdependence becomes a way of life of the people.[22]

Counter-cultural and political formation: Compared to the activities of communal forces, the resistance put up by the religions is very less now. Today the religious and cultural leaders don’t come forward exposing the failure of police and the bureaucracy during communal violence. Using art forms – painting, music, street plays – have been a method successfully experimented in this sphere.  The cultural forums at the village levers can employ these methods to disaffiliate society from the logic of communalism. The counter cultural formation has to be done also through mass media. Disseminating teachings, stories, legends and myths from different religious traditions would instill in the people universal love and respect for the other. Mere cultural response will not be sufficient if not followed up with more substantive moves on the political front to check the wave of communalism.  Solution would be an extensive campaign sponsored by all those sections of civil society, who believe in non-communal politics.

Conclusion

Mankind is today in the midst of one of the greatest cries in history. Despite the fact that the great scientific inventions liberated us from servitude to nature, we seem to suffer from a type of religious neurosis. We need a moral and spiritual therapy, which would heal the human mind.

From the genes of our animal ancestors, we humans have inherited aggression toward outsiders and loyalties toward our own kin. This was essential for the survival and development of the most viable genotypes. Today however as biological evolution has given rise to cultural evolution and as cultural evolution has advanced from kinship to interdependence of nations, the conditions for survival have changed. Now cultures and nations will survive not by aggression and dominance but by cooperation. Therefore if we wish to survive as a human species on this planet the best way is to understand ourselves first as world citizens and then only in terms of our religious, ethnic and linguistic identities. Humanity desperately requires that the world religions work to realize this objective[23].

The best medicine that the religions can apply in this situation is to develop a spirituality of religions that are cured of provincialism and advocating values of unitive pluralism. The religious leaders must turn their energies to fashioning new ways of understanding their own religions. There should be cultural forums in every village to isolate those who mix religion with political and economic interests. Common defense of human rights, joint endeavors for development, sharing of spiritual exercises, etc., will increase mutual confidence and cooperation among the followers of various religions.

Let us conclude recalling a small anecdote. Once a group of pilgrims went to ascend the mountain. They could not see its summit because they were making their way up through clouds, but after a long time they climbed to heights above the clouds and stood on the upper reaches of their mountain under a clear sky. Then they could see to their surprise that there were other mountains and that there were pilgrims on them concealed beneath the clouds. Then the pilgrims tried to communicate saying halloo! halloo!


[1] P. Lathuiliere, Le fondamentalisme catholique, Cerf, Paris, 1995, pp. 15-19.

[2] H.R. Niebuhr, Encyclopedia of Social Sciences, vol. 6, p. 526.

[3] GPD, Economic Political Weekly, September 29, 2001, p. 3668.

[4] M. C. Otto, Fanaticism, Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, vol. 5, pp. 90-91.

[5] R. Khan, South Asian Portents, India Nation-State and Communalism, G. S. Balla (ed.), 1989, pp. 40-42.

[6] L. Dumont, Nationalism and Communalism, Contribution to Indian Sociology, VII, 1964, pp. 45-47.

[7] B. Chandra, Communalism in Modern India, New Delhi, Vani Educational Books, 1984, pp. 1-4.

[8] P. Regine, The Crusades, London, 1962, pp. 23-24.

[9] R. Hensman, Economic and Political Weekly, June 9 2001, p. 2031.

[10] M. Juergensmeyer, Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State, Delhi, 1993, pp. 157-164.

[11] A. A. Engineer, Economic and Political Weekly, October 20, 2001.

[12] M. Juergensmeyer, Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State, p. 159.

[13] H. W. Pluralism, Theological Dictionary of Fundamental Theology, Latourelle R and Fisichella R., New York: Cross Roads, 1994, p. 783.

[14] K. Koyama, A Theological Reflection on Religious Pluralism, The Ecumenical Review 51, 1999, p. 165.

[15] P. F. Knitter, No Other Name? New York: Orbis Books, 1995, p. 9.

[16]  P. F. Knitter, No Other Name?,  pp. 23-26; 37-40; 55-61.

[17] H. Coward, Pluralism: Challenge to World Religions, New York, Orbis Books, pp. 64-65.

[18] H. Coward, Pluralism: Challenge to World Religions, p. 46.

[19] T. V. Muhammadali, Bahumatha Sauhredam Islamil, Matyhavum Chintayum, vol. 82, no. 2, 2002, pp. 41-43.

[20] Soares-Prabhu, Biblical Themes for a Contextual Theology Today, pp. 178-179.

[21] V. Alengaden (ed.), Education for the Third Millennium, 2000, pp. 210-213.

[22] S. K. Parmar, Inter-religious Co-operation for Peace and Value Education: Response to Consumerism and Communalism, Peace and Values Education, K. P. Joseph [ed.], 30-33.

[23] P. Gyger, The religions and the birth of a new humanity, Pluralism and the Religions, J. D’Arcy May (ed.), Cassell, 1988, pp. 90- 93.

Notes

[1] P. Lathuiliere, Le fondamentalisme catholique, Cerf, Paris, 1995, pp. 15-19.

[2] H.R. Niebuhr, Encyclopedia of Social Sciences, vol. 6, p. 526.

[3] GPD, Economic Political Weekly, September 29, 2001, p. 3668.

[4] M. C. Otto, Fanaticism, Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, vol. 5, pp. 90-91.

[5] R. Khan, South Asian Portents, India Nation-State and Communalism, G. S. Balla (ed.), 1989, pp. 40-42.

[6] L. Dumont, Nationalism and Communalism, Contribution to Indian Sociology, VII, 1964, pp. 45-47.

[7] B. Chandra, Communalism in Modern India, New Delhi, Vani Educational Books, 1984, pp. 1-4.

[8] P. Regine, The Crusades, London, 1962, pp. 23-24.

[9] R. Hensman, Economic and Political Weekly, June 9 2001, p. 2031.

[10] M. Juergensmeyer, Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State, Delhi, 1993, pp. 157-164.

[11] A. A. Engineer, Economic and Political Weekly, October 20, 2001.

[12] M. Juergensmeyer, Religious Nationalism Confronts the Secular State, p. 159.

[13] H. W. Pluralism, Theological Dictionary of Fundamental Theology, Latourelle R and Fisichella R., New York: Cross Roads, 1994, p. 783.

[14] K. Koyama, A Theological Reflection on Religious Pluralism, The Ecumenical Review 51, 1999, p. 165.

[15] P. F. Knitter, No Other Name? New York: Orbis Books, 1995, p. 9.

[16]  P. F. Knitter, No Other Name?,  pp. 23-26; 37-40; 55-61.

[17] H. Coward, Pluralism: Challenge to World Religions, New York, Orbis Books, pp. 64-65.

[18] H. Coward, Pluralism: Challenge to World Religions, p. 46.

[19] T. V. Muhammadali, Bahumatha Sauhredam Islamil, Matyhavum Chintayum, vol. 82, no. 2, 2002, pp. 41-43.

[20] Soares-Prabhu, Biblical Themes for a Contextual Theology Today, pp. 178-179.

[21] V. Alengaden (ed.), Education for the Third Millennium, 2000, pp. 210-213.

[22] S. K. Parmar, Inter-religious Co-operation for Peace and Value Education: Response to Consumerism and Communalism, Peace and Values Education, K. P. Joseph [ed.], 30-33.

[23] P. Gyger, The religions and the birth of a new humanity, Pluralism and the Religions, J. D’Arcy May (ed.), Cassell, 1988, pp. 90- 93.

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