There's wish in most religions to wipe out old-fashioned practices: Dalrymple

There is a universal wish in most religions and in most parts of the world to wipe out old-fashioned practices when literacy becomes widespread, feels noted historian William Dalrymple.

A liberal outlook, he says, is the essence of religious diversity but that's not specific to regimes.

"There is a lot of popular activity which threatens the diversity, too. Specifically, in India the centralising forces within Hinduism have been attacking what they see as fringe superstition such as tantra, animal sacrifice and heterodoxic expressions of religious faith," he says.

Dalrymple, however, hastens to add that such atrocities are not necessarily done by the regimes of the right as attacks were also made on Tantric practices in West Bengal under the Communist regime.

"So I think there is a universal wish in most religions and in most parts of the world when literacy becomes widespread, to wipe out old-fashioned practices. Practices which are seen as old-fashioned, superstitions come under threat," he says in the latest issue of The Equator Line magazine.

"Now we have that in Europe in Reformation. And you have many urban dwellers, well-educated people who tried to wipe out what they regarded as local superstitious practices such as counter-faith and religious festivals that did not conform to their taste and understanding of religion," he adds.

Dalrymple is also of the view that there may or may not be any organic link between the political establishment and institutionalised religion.

" Wahhabi Islam destroying Sufi shrines before it became a state religion, attacks on Tantric sadhus and so on by both Communists and right wingers in rural Bengal. So, it can happen with political support but it can also happen quite independently," he argues in a chapter titled "The Geopolitics of Religious Control".


(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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