Can We Look Up to a Religion
from as Backward Country as India?
Many religions, including
Judaism, Christianity and Islam, originated in cultures which were
not materially affluent. Most of the great founders of important
religious movements were poor or gave up their wealth. Note the
examples in this regard of Buddha, Christ, and Gandhi.
Hinduism has been criticized
as a religion because of the poverty of modern India. Such thinking
equates the truth of religion with wealth, which is not a matter of
religion at all. It also judges human spiritual aspiration and its
social expression according to a particular period of human history.
There were periods when Hindus were wealthier than Christians, as
during the Middle Ages. Does this mean that Hinduism was then the
true religion and then ceased to be so when Hindus lost their
wealth? What kind of religion would that be?
No religion teaches that
wealth and spirituality are the same, or that the spiritual
development of a person is indicated by how much money or property
he or she may possess. Yet this is what we do on a social level when
we judge the religions of countries by their current economic
status. Just as wealth in an individual is no necessary guarantee or
indication of spirituality, so it is with countries. Such concepts
only show how deeply we are attached to the outer world and its
possessions. It is not surprising that our religions are more
economic interests than spiritual paths. True religion is based upon
renunciation, which is renunciation of attachment to name, fame and