How should we read religious texts?

An introduction to factions among the Muslims – that was the title of Savarkar’s article published in the 1935 July / August issue of Kirloskar magazine. At the outset he clarifies his outlook for studying religious texts.

“If we have to study religions, we must set aside our prejudices and search for the truth. I say that ALL religious texts, from the conventions of tribal people as seen on the Andaman Islands, to Vedas and others, are our common heritage. They contain principles for welfare of the respective people. As such we respect them.”

“In every religion, whatever is the eternal truth, that much should be accepted and the mankind will benefit by such acceptance. But, what appeared to be the truth at the time of the propagation of a religion may be found to be false or lacking in later day life or due to advances in science. We should also be honest to accept that. There is no shame or guilt if some principles are later found to be not adequate and it is our duty to acknowledge that. After all the definition of religion is ‘Dharanatdharmah itiyahu’ Dharma is for the good of the people.”

“It is therefore wrong to say that because such and such statement is found in a particular text, it must always be true. That would be bigotry and such a person cannot truly make a relative study of all religions.”

“On the other hand, an open minded person accepts that various religious texts, be they Vedas, Puranas or Koran, have done immense good to the groups of people whom they belonged in the related times and have led to their progress. However, he is also free to see if the principles in those texts are valid today. The thoughts of Aristotle, Plato, Chanakya, Hume, Huxley or Marx are studied even today without however becoming too attached or getting carried away by them. We regard their treatises as common property of the mankind and respect them as such. In a similar manner, we should carry out a historical study of various religious texts. And this should not lead to any acrimony or bloodshed as religious fanaticism had done in the past. There are no fights when reading and studying Scientific Works. No one says, “This is my Electricity and Radium and your Electricity and Radium are different.”

“We have poems by Milton, Homer, Valmiki and Omar, treatises on philosophy by Kant, Spencer, Kapil, Spinosa, histories by various scholars,
scientific works on electricity, heat and other powers of nature, books on mechanics, art, novels. All such works are regarded as common property of all mankind. And their study does not lead to duels or fist fights. So, why can’t we read the few religious texts that there are, in a similar manner?”


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