Da'wah, Discipline vs Dharma

The essence behind their teachings makes Abrahamic religions resort to violence leaving no room for contextuality or sensitivity.

Da'wah, Discipline vs Dharma

The essence of violence is in its ‘imposition’. The need to impose one’s will, one’s anger, one’s vision, one’s need, one’s frustration, one’s arrogance, one’s love, one’s happiness etc., upon another person when it is not welcomed or accepted results in violence of some sort — mild or horrible, in some sphere — emotional, cultural, physical, psychological, economic, political, martial etc.

But not all imposition and associated violence are unwelcome, there are some cases where such would be required and beneficial. For example, parents imposing values upon their children, teachers imposing discipline upon the students, governments imposing laws upon the citizens etc.

So the contextuality of the imposition is very important and how it is applied is critical. The parent, the teacher or the government want to impose things which are beneficial, but still must be respectful of the agency and careful not to break the spirit of the child, the student or the citizen respectively. If they cross that fine line, a dysfunctional relationship is the result.

But there are two ideologies in the world, which seek to impose themselves with neither such contextuality nor sensitivity. And they justify such behaviour on the basis of their dogma. The Da’wah of Islam and the Great Commission to make disciples of Christianity.

Dawah – The term da’wah has other senses in the Qur’an. In (chapter) 30:25, for example, it denotes the call to the dead to…

Great Commission – In Christianity, the Great Commission is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples to spread his…

Reading the text of both, they seem to be gentle and noble pursuits which are required from the adherents of Islam and Christianity, so nothing related to imposition or violence. But let us look back at the 2 attributes which are missing — Context and Application.

Context: Both these religions are not ‘contextual’, the exclusivity of Jesus or of Allah and Muhammad, are not contextual to the Jewish community of Levant in 1 CE or of Arab tribes of Mecca/Medina in 600 CE, they are considered universal, set in stone for all time, one size fits all etc., by their adherents. And they actively deny the validity of other faiths and worldview, evolved by other cultures and people. This is like a parent insisting the exact same parenting methods on all children, irrespective of age or nature, even when they are the neighbour’s children; A teacher insisting upon the same discipline irrespective of the activity, the age, or even at home; A government insisting its laws, even upon another country.

Application: The exclusivity of the dogmas, would not have been an issue if the methods used to apply it were indeed simple ‘invitation’ and ‘preaching’. But allied with the political power, they became weaponized and the reason for extremely violent history — genocides, slavery, colonisation, inquisition, racism, terrorism.

Even at its gentlest, be it the palliative care of Theresa or Education of Loyola, they are impositions of obligation via charity which is perfectly depicted by this meme.

It could very well be argued that these horrendous methods of application were not intended by Jesus, his disciples in the Bible or Muhammad in the Quran but have only been misinterpreted and misapplied by their followers.

Then the question is, if a scripture is so prone to misinterpretation that for thousands of years it has been the cause of violence all over the world, destroying cultures and killing millions, is it worth following by all or to be even considered holy? Would not spreading the Bible or the Quran’s message be like handing out radioactive material to be kept in every home, instead of being studied and used only by a trained scientist in a controlled environment?

So, no the suggestion that this was not intended is not acceptable, given the history of these two religions.

Contrast this inflexible and harsh doctrine with that of Dharma, which is ever contextual to Kala — the time period, Desha — the location, the society, Varna — the attitude, the profession, Ashrama — the age, the stage in life, the intent.

And applied again contextually via many methods, but rarely via violence and always respectful of the receiver’s agency. Even Krishna after revealing himself as the Vishwaroopa, his divine vibhuti permeating all the existence, explaining the various yogas, still leaves the choice to Arjuna to act as he pleases.

इति ते ज्ञानमाख्यातं गुह्याद्गुह्यतरं मया।

विमृश्यैतदशेषेण यथेच्छसि तथा कुरु।।18.63।।

Thus the [path of] wisdom, a better secret than all the secrets has been expounded to you by Me; Comprehend it fully and then act as you please.


About Author: Raghu Bhaskaran

Raghunandhan (Raghu) Bhaskaran is a Bharathi and like many today, he for long, ignored his heritage and was focused towards Artha, to the exclusion of the other Purusharthas and is yet another IT consultant. But now he is increasingly a seeker of what it means to be a Hindu, a follower of Dharma in every sphere of life - personal, social, cultural and political. Towards this, he uses writing as a sadhana, to attain clarity and shares his learning with others, learns from others. He considers himself as the 'Mongoose of Mahabharatha', from the Ashwamedha Parva. Serendipity has led him to some yagna-salas, the works/company of some wonderful people - from heritage, family, friends, teachers and even on social media. He rolls around in the crumbs of their wisdom and some stick to him. And he shines in parts, from those borrowed crumbs of knowledge.

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