Advocacy for unity among religions

Sudesh Raina
Name of Book : “Balidaan “-
Author: M K Raina Ratnakar
Publisher: Blue Rose Publishers,
Language: Hindi
Price: Rs. 350
The novel “Balidaan” opens with the “Preface” and “The Author Speaks” making the readers to re-understand what British had done to India. Though M K RAINA RATNAKAR, the author of the novel has only given a glimpse of “Divide and Rule” policy of the British which probably was partially understood or not understood by Indians at that time and India’s challenges were galore.
After that we come to the main novel BALIDAAN. One of the best novels which I have come across is Balidan which deals with brotherhood of religions in India. Prior to saying anything about Balidaan, I sum up the courage to say that historically, religions have been opposing each other for a long time. Many wars have been fought in the past in the name of religion, and millions have died or suffered due to religious wars, persecutions, communal clashes, and religious prejudice.
Reverting to BALIDAAN, most of the Indians feel that a new phenomenon is emerging in India today which is based on political parties of religion and caste. This is the harsh reality we are facing today. That is why one has no other option, but to look to the problems of nation building afresh. Undoubtedly, India is a vast country where people belonging to different religions, castes and creeds live together usually in harmony, but sometimes this harmony is disturbed and this disturbance creates many social problems in addition to losing some valuable human lives. Not only does India need to bring people belonging to different religions together once again, but the whole world needs to follow the suit. BALIDAAN, is based on the theme of unity of religions. Shankar, the main character of the novel fortunately or unfortunately adopts a Muslim girl, Salma and brings her up as a Muslim girl only, and not as a Hindu girl which he could easily do. He educates her academically and takes care of her in every way as if she was born to her wife Parvati. Shankar gives her the knowledge about the religious scriptures of most of the religions to make her understand what different religions speak about humanity and human bonding. Unfortunately, all this is not absorbed by both Hindu politicians as well as Muslim politicians. Hindu politicians want that the girl should be abandoned and should not be brought up in a Hindu family and the Muslim politicians desire that the girl should be handed over to Muslims and they know how to take care of a Muslim girl. None of the politicians makes a dent on the psyche of Shankar and he brings her up as a Muslim girl. Meanwhile, in the story, a villain finds entry whose main aim is to marry the girl -Salma. He makes every effort by his nefarious designs to make Salma as his wife, but the hero of the novel Suhail takes care of everything and does not allow the villain to be successful in his nefarious designs. Parvati, after a period passes away and hands over Salma to the best care of Shankar. Shankar goes from pillar to post in search of a groom for his daughter Salma, but in vain. After totally being fed up of the society and tired also, Suhail who is the teacher of the village high school and the hero of the novel shows his desire to marry Salma. Shankar thereafter marries her happily to this well-read Muslim boy, Suhail though after a great struggle. This is not easily absorbed by the political scholars and religious savants of the society. In his struggle and sacrifice, he stands like a rock to all sorts of criticism from the religious leaders, so-called intellectuals, and all other political thinkers of our society. Finally, they also understand the simplicity, straightforwardness, and honesty of purpose of Shankar and the story ends on a well-conceived note of brotherhood of religions. Salma and Suhail thereafter tell all the villagers that it is only the brotherhood which should prevail in humanity for the betterment of humanity. All religions teach us like that. If any religion does not teach us that, then that religion is not worth following. Finally, both Salma and Suhail come to live with Shankar happily. The crux of the story is that religious unity is the need of present-day India. In this critical hour when the world is on the brink of any and every kind of disease like Covid and of course third world war as well, India must remain firmly seated on her eternal foundations of religious harmony.
If there was any religious conflict in most parts of Europe, it was mainly between the Protestants and Catholics or between different sects of Christianity. On the other hand, in the Middle East and parts of Asia, where Islam reigned, the conflict was mainly between the Shias and Sunnis or between different warring tribes of Muslims who wanted to enforce their culture or their dominance. Present day Afghanistan is the living example of such dominance.
The situation is different today. Religious plurality is the norm in most countries, except those that are officially Islamic. In the religiously diverse nations, religions face pressure not only from their rival faiths, but also from non-religious, radical groups which do not practice any religion but follow certain ideologies and ideals which are either areligious or secular and which disregard the role of religions in matters of governance or public policy.
Collectively, these groups pose a bigger threat to major world religions today than any other belief or faith system.
As part of their strategy, they target the most dominant religion in the area of their operations and launch an organized and systematic campaign to undermine it. At the same time, they lend support to the minority religions to garner their support and keep the people of faith divided and distrustful. For example, in India they attack Hinduism and support the minorities, while in the USA and Europe, they target Christianity and speak for the minorities.
Radical ideologies are sugar coated poison pills. People must recognize the threat they pose to the world, to their faith, rights, and freedom. Historically, radical ideologies ended upon creating the dictatorship of individuals or power groups rather than delivering what they usually promise.
All of us must be aware of the changing world scenario. All Indians must be Indians first and Indians last. That is how we can make India great.
All of us must make the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Slogan,” SAB KA SAATH, SAB KA VIKAAS, SAB KA VISHWAAS and SAB KA PRAYAAS,” a reality to save humanity, India, and the world.
The book is available with Blue Rose Publishers, Amazon, Flipkart & other online platforms and can be had from the author as well.