Philosophy and religion are not one and the same. But, of what use is philosophy if it doesn’t touch religion? and of what use is religion if it has nothing to do with philosophy? Well, that is at least how my thinking works.
My favorite philosopher of the modern age is Bertrand Russell. I don’t understand or follow the philosophers of the past be it Aristotle, Plato or even for that matter the relatively modern greats like Nietzsche. What philosophers say sometimes seems to make sense only during their times and their personal perception of the past as seen during their lifetime. They don’t make much sense anymore. Bertrand Russell on the other hand stays on topic and doesn’t veer off into prose that betrays yours senses. To him and others that I will come across, I do feel inspired by what they have to say about the human mind and our social behaviors.
It is my personal belief that philosophers created God and politicians (kings) created religion. It can also be assumed that only kings listened to philosophers. Hence, who patronized whom and when God and religion became one is difficult to comprehend.
I was deeply religious as a kid. Everything was about God. My success was because of God. My failure was because of God. Luckily, in the Hindu religion, I could chose from thousands of Gods. So, it wasn’t as depressing as locking yourself to one person and that too a man! Women are more comforting and better as Gods. Of course, who my favorite God was kept changing with time. One day, I wondered why so? It didn’t seem to make sense. Something was flawed. I also realized that each one of us have a certain interpretation of God and religion that doesn’t match with any other person’s belief. Even if it was the same God, the same religion or even if it was your parents and siblings. That didn’t make sense either! Something seemed tricky about this entire God business. Since then, I have been reading the works of strong anti-theists like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. Great and refreshing perspectives came from this side of the Godly business. However, I haven’t turned anti-God although I have been losing respect for religion of any kind as such.
Religion has a lot of good teachings and stories of the good life. For me, they are all philosophers and their works are of philosophy. Not religion. It cannot be stolen by any particular religion as its own. Sankaracharya to me was an Advaita philosopher. The religious identity comes from the fact that he was in Hindu India at that time. Of course, political patronage meant that this was eventually carried forward as a religious belief.
Inspired by one such thought was my interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu epic, as an actual work of religious philosophy. I stretched that thought further to write a book and self-publish it. I called it AHAM, the sanskrit word for “I”.
So much to enjoy learning from the greatest thinkers the world has produced. A never ending journey…A beautiful ride in the mind-bending realm of human existence in this universe….