Once I was travelling to New Delhi from Nagpur. In my company there were a Buddhist Monk (Bhikkhu) and a young Christian man. I am a Hindu. The discussion kicked off with general topic of introduction. Of course the monk didn’t need any introduction. He was wearing a reddish-yellow robe. The other guy was young, fat and talkative. Most people think that it’s never a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t really know. I don’t think so. A conversation gets dirty only when we speak without listening or we don’t understand the fact that other person thinks differently and can have different views.
It was a time of election in Delhi. Aam Aadmi Party and Arvind Kejriwal were common among people’s chit chats. The Monk had a good understanding of politics. His Maithili accent told that he is from Bihar. I never mind listening to what people say. I hear them. If I find someone wrong I don’t interrupt. I let them speak. I convey my views after listening to them. At times it happen that people don’t let you speak; it’s the time when my diplomatic side works perfectly. Talk about the person and he will hear you for hours. Monk was a good orator and a good listener. Wilson, the young guy was equally polite. Usually I don’t comment on political issues. Of course, my ears were open while Wilson and the Monk were talking about politics.
After having guy’s discussion with Wilson our topic of discussion shifted to Religion. He told me about his encounter with a qazi (a Muslim judge). I got to know much about Islam from Wilson, who in fact had heard it from the qazi. The Monk was listening to our conversation. A preacher is meant to preach his/her religion. We people tend to have a negative connotation to all the things a preacher says. Of course, it’s wrong if a preacher preaches his religion by dominating other religions. The Monk participated in our conversation and he expressed his views on Islam. He gave respect to the religion. He told about Bhikkhu’s and Buddhism.
I don’t mind talking about religion with unknown people. I didn’t know the Monk as well as Wilson. Neither had they known me. But the conversation was informative. I gained a lot out of it. We are not abusing anyone on the grounds of religion or caste. If a Hindu says that he is vegetarian and he hates meat it doesn’t mean he hates a person who eats meat. Stereotypes exist who can’t even tolerate the company, touch or presence of people belonging to certain religion or who practice certain things which are not in their own religion. Society is the reflection of you. I think secular and I see everyone secular. Words control everything. Words can stop a war and words can start a war. The future of this world lies in hands of Diplomatic abilities of nations. The concept of soft power is on rise. Talking and knowing about each other’s religion is a small example of the big picture called Diplomacy can save us. So next time you get to talk about religion go ahead and explore. There is lot to learn than you can expect. Be polite and a good listener.