In the few sections I intend to write about my experience in India, you can rest assured that it won’t be a play-by-play account of my movements. It will be more a case of a couple of things that have made me think and a comparison of these to what I have experienced previously. Considering it was my first time outside of Europe, it was like nothing I had ever experienced before.
Having contemplated life with all its mystery recently, religion in India was a big thing that continuously popped into my mind. Anyone could tell you this plays a huge part in the lives of the locals, more so than anything else. When mincing round a city in Europe, flicking through the pages of your guidebook, the main attractions are usually art galleries, museums, or great and lavish buildings. Whilst it is true that such great and lavish buildings are too found in india, these are more often than not temples or holy structures. Religion is something you just can’t escape, and although we find a huge range of faiths here in England, a Christian dominated country is what I’m familiar with.
Essentially, the main thing that occurred to me was the bearing location has on your religious views. If you grow up in India, and are born into a Hindu family, the likelihood is that you yourself will be Hindu. It’s the religion you are most in contact with; your family, friends and community around you will most likely hold the same beliefs (roughly 80% of the population in India are Hindu). You could argue a similar case of being born into a Christian family here in England, but we have much more freedom to digress from the pathways our family may have had influence over.
I was once a Christian. I wouldn’t say I’m 100% against it now, I also wouldn’t say I’m completely convinced; I still find myself praying for example. Whether that is an old habit that dies hard or a human reaction in times of trouble I don’t know. But this question of the country you are born into really makes me doubt the concept of it all, even though I have held Christian beliefs very strongly in the past.
For example, imagine being born into a very remote small village in rural India, everyone around being of the Hindu faith, with no access to a television or any kind of media (I realise I’m nitpicking here but these places do exist!) and no concept of the Christian faith. How would you ever be able to know Christ and accept him into your life, therefore being saved by him? I realise that a person who takes Christianity as truth would take any other religion as a human act against God, but these people wouldn’t have an opportunity to know Christ. Is that just tough-luck for them?
I realise that I’m being a bit tough on Christianity here but it could be applied to other religions, Christianity is just the one I’ve had most contact with being English (of course!!). When reading up a little around the subject, it is estimated that around 2.3% of the India population are Christian, mostly becoming popular during the European colonisation. Even Mother Teresa, one of the biggest advocates for Christianity in India, was from the Republic of Macedonia, the main religion being Orthodox Christianity, and was raised by her mother as Roman Catholic.
I’d have to read up a lot more on the subject to come to any kind of conclusion, and I’m more than sure there are many factors that I have not considered but these are just some thoughts that occurred to me whilst sitting on a train somewhere.