Friday, August 21, 2009

Relationship between State and Religion

State and religion both are very old and in fact the origin of both in hidden in mystery. It is however, very clear that a single factor did not contribute in the origin, growth and evolution of either state or religion. Gradually and steadily, one by one both of them began to get roots in society. Both state and religion play a vital role in the development of individual’s personality.
State and Religion:
What is relationship of state and religion is a problem which has been passed on to each generation. History is a witness that both the church and state tried to subordinate each other. Who does not know that throughout the Middle Ages both in the East and the West religion tried to dominate the state. In Europe, for St. Angustine, Church was supreme as compared with State and the lead given by him was followed by many others including Gregory VII, John of Salisbury and Thomas Aquinas. All these thinkers were of the view that state was subordinate to church and as such must obey the commands of religious authorities. On the other hand were secularists like Dante, John of Paris, Marsilio of Padua, William of Ockam who believed that the church had no superiority over the state.
As medieval period comes to an end and in European history we enter modern era, with the coming Machiavelli on the scene, we find that church began to be subordinated under the authority of the state. According to Machiavelli church need not interfere in state affairs. Gradually we find that under the Tudors the State took upon itself the authority and responsibility of reforming the church. The result was Reformation Movement. In spite of the fact that the church resisted the powerful Tudors but task proved very hard for the church fathers and state began to establish its supremacy over the church. We find thereafter that after the Stuarts, the church had to satisfy itself with the theory that let temporal authority vest in the state and let church concern itself with the spiritual part of an individual’s life.
The situation is not peculiar to Europe. More or less similar situation prevailed in India also. We find that in ancient India religion prevailed over state. The priest or prohita or our rishis were far more powerful than the kings. No king could afford to displease them. No king, however, powerful he might be, could afford to go against established principles of religion or saints and risihs. Same was the situation during the Muslim India when the king represented Islam and he could not go against what was written in Holy Quran. We find that usually in the courts of the Muslim rulers Ulamas and Qazis. After independence an effort was made to separate religion from Politics and it began to be believed that both had different functions to perform.
Thus we find that there is close relationship between the church and the State. It is in their harmonious working and close cooperation that the society can rise and prosper. When both struggle with each other, human values come down and progress is retarded.
Religion in Indian Politics:
A very interesting study is that of the part played by religion in Indian Politics. During Hindu period religion considerably played a healthy role in our politics. It helped in establishing basic principles of society. What should be the qualities of heard and heart of a ruler, what should be code of morality for him as a ruler and as an individual, what type of coronation oath he should take, how the Council of Ministers should be formed, what should be the relation of king with his Ministers on the one hand and officers on the other or the subjects as a whole, how the justice should be administrated and guilty punished, what should be the code of morality during war which the fighting parties should observe etc. were all problems, solution of which was found in our religious books and also by our religious leaders and priests.
But as the curtain rises again after few centuries we find that religion began to play some unhealthy role. In the name of religion, Muslim invaders looted and plundered the temples. There were murders and monuments of ancient culture and civilisation were razed to the ground. There we find that thousands and thousands of the people were put to sword for their having faith in a particular religion. In the name of religion there were even forcible conversions. The state, which was represented by the ruler, became theocracy rather than a welfare state.
This ugly trend continued till India stood on the threshold of freedom. Who does not know that the period which succeeded and preceded partition of the country, was dark in Indian history. In the name of religion all cruelties and brutalities were committed. Every thing on which humanity laughed and which was a curse on the fair name of civilization was done. All this was done in Indian politics in the name of religion.
It is unfortunate that in Indian politics religion did not play a very positive role. Instead of making positive contribution to our political life, religion has done more harm than good to our political set up.


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