Religion has always been the defining element of our life. It is laden with strange contradictions. It on the one hand is uniting and on the other divisive. It liberates the humanity of restrains but is still a tool in the hands of the tyrants to subvert others. At one edge it is peace seeking but on the other has embroiled the humanity into immeasurable bloodshed at the other. Politics and religion are a deadly connotation and money is the fluid that broths it into an almost fatal one. The spillover is seen everywhere in different societies and the people feed on it.
Golden Temple, India
Golden temple or Harmandir Sahib, was the scene of an almost theatric mini-war in Amritsar city of India orchestrated by an unholy mix of politics and religion. The involvement of the then Prime minister of India into political affairs of Sikhism-dominated power politics of Punjab proved deadly.
The result was the rise of Jarnail Singh Bhindrewala, a self-professed Sikh leader who championed the creation of a separate State for the Sikhs. As he retreated into the inner prescient of the holy shrine, with his armed brigand, fearing arrest and turning it into a fort like formation, the Prime minister sent in troops.
The outer walls of the Shrine were bombed to force out the fugitives. This event took place in June 1984. Bhindrewala along with most of his comrades was killed. The high-end affair of this whole drama was the assassination of Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984.
Yasukuni Shrine, Japan
This Shinto Shrine originally built in Tokyo in 1869 to venerate the souls of the people who had died in Shogun Wars, sits red on the radar list of the human rights activist. The reason? The previously reserved honor for the victims and warriors of this war now goes to all the war dead including the soldiers of World War II. This includes the more than 1000 people wanted for war crimes. No doubt, the international community scorns at veneration of many of these ‘human rights violators’ in the shrine.
Buddha Statues of Bamiyan, Afghanistan
No other religious place has recently caught so much media hype as the Bamiyan Statues of Lord Buddha. Dating back to sixth A.D, these colossal images of Buddha were cut into standing cliff and belong to the time Buddhism was high in Afghanistan. Come 1996, and the Taliban took over control of the affairs of Afghanistan. Determined on turning it into an Islamic State and the highest manifestation of its grandiose plans was the dynamiting of these standing symbols of iconoclasm.
So even as the world cried foul over the destruction of these precious remnants of ancient civilization in the country, the Taliban went their way in 2001 and the Statues were lost to the world forever.
The Potala palace, Tibet
The latest to join the list of these controversial sites is Potala, the erstwhile seat of the Dalai Lama. Following the unsuspected invasion of Tibet by China in1950 and the unceremonious flight of the Dalai Lama to India, all the Buddhist establishments of Tibet were in the throes of the Communist Chinese Army.
The Potala palace somehow escaped the ravage. It is today a living symbol of Chinese occupation of Tibet. The Chinese have today developed it into a tourist spectacle with hordes and hordes of Chinese and foreign tourists coming in to have a peep inside the beleaguered palace.
The Western Wall, Jerusalem
The reason why the place finds listing here is partly due to its large claims to be the original home of the top three religions of the world. Also called the ‘Wailing wall’ and located at the foot of the Temple mount in Jerusalem, the Jews consider it to be the remnant of a wall of a purportedly ancient Jewish temple. The Jews retire here for prayer and reflection. As the wall finds itself close by to Al- Aqsa mosque, tension is brimming between the Jews and the Muslims over their respective claims over the area around the wall.
Hence, the religion continues to create distance and inspire disaffection among communities to satisfy the political- economic affairs of those who control or want to control the destiny of the people, masquerading under sanctimonious claims of defending peace but surely destroying it.]]>