Religious and cultural freedom in India


One of the interesting points in the history of the Jewish diaspora is the fact that unlike the most Jewish communities in the world who suffered religious persecutions and anti-semitism, the Indian Jews never encountered religious, cultural or ethnical hostility in India. The Western investigators including those in Israel, explain this historical fact by saying that in India there was inherently a large variety of religious and ethnical groups. Thus, as being one of those groups, the Jews like other groups in India were observed to be a part of the Indian cultural spectrum and their religion-worship distinction was not perceived as unusual in the Indian society.

Even though the argument above describes a true fact, it does not give the reason for the absence of anti-semitism in India. It just gives the result after the event, describing the cultural wealth of India in which the Jews took part and enjoyed its tolerance.

In order to reach the real reason for the absense of anti-semitism in India, one should ask how for such a prolonged period of thousands of years, the various religions and beliefs co-existed without fighting each other. How the cultural variety which developed along many generations, was possible ? Undoubtedly, this variety could not exist without the tolerance and mutual respect being important corner stones in the local thought and philosophy.

In India, the religion has always been the supreme authority which determined the way of life and the manner of behaviour for the majority of the Indian population. So, it is plausible to assume that the answers to the questions above will be found in the religious principals and philosophy of the most ancient and the most wide-spread religion in India - the Hinduism. Tolerance and absence of religious jealousy are solid principals underlying the Hinduism. These principals emerge following the profound and comprehensive understanding about the meaning of our existence as humans and our place in the surrounding nature. The ideals of harmony and tolerance which are the guidelines of Hinduism, are not merely a wishful thinking or hallucinations by the Indian spiritualists. These ideals are a direct outcome from the conclusions reached by the Indian philosophers and spiritualists all along the Indian history, after constant study of the nature of the reality and our existence in it. This study led towards the understanding that all the faiths are different paths toward the same direction and that none of them should be disqualified. This understanding infiltrated, directly or indirectly, down to the leaders and to the laymen in the society, thus enabling to build social relationships within which the different religions and beliefs co-exist one beside the another, without the one being threatened by the another.

Yubal Masalker

Raze Gaheleth Organization