Yesterday I said that there is a lot of violence in religious scriptures and I wrote that I don’t approve of this. It is true, it may have been a time of violence when the scriptures were written but we should teach people the opposite. Unfortunately however I see that there are not only criminals in the scriptures but the scriptures have supported and created a lot of criminals. I don’t say that every religious person is a criminal, absolutely not. But I have always seen, heard and experienced that criminal people are religious.
In my childhood we had people living not far away from us and we knew that they had been to prison and again and again they were having problems with the police. Nevertheless you would meet them in the temple every day, they would do rituals, pilgrimages and all good deeds that you could think of. You would stand close to them and hear them say the most holy words and most humble prayers about God’s creation but you would know that they were suspected in different crimes.
I knew a man who enjoyed telling stories of his grandfather’s grandfather. He told that this man, his forefather, had been a robber. But he was a religious robber. He was a devotee of Kali, the Goddess I mentioned yesterday, the one with the mala of demon heads around her neck. It was his business to rob people and, if they resisted, they would also be killed. He did however lots of religious work, too – and so he helped people with his ‘earnings’. So he was a Robin Hood-like robber. So obviously a good person, religious, pious, just from time to time killing someone.
There is an area called ‘Chambal’, not very far from here, from where we always heard that there a lot of robbers live. People prefer to drive through that area in daytime, not in night, when the risk of being robbed is higher. In all stories about the robbers of that area, they are depicted as very religious.
I have seen many movies with that theme, too. Still today you can see movies in which the bad guys are very religious. One day they steal, rob and murder and the next day they sit in their temple, doing their poojas. I once mentioned some old stories about temples in Vrindavan and the criminals that belong to them. How come? Because movies, just like books and stories, are a reflection of society and religion does give room for criminals.
Again I want to say that not every religious person is criminal. I can also not claim to know about western countries and how it is there. I don’t know about the Italian or Russian mafia for example and if they are generally religious people or not. In my culture, in our country however, I grew up with theater plays, movies and real people showing exactly this connection of crime and religion.
I believe, as I wrote once before, too, that religion supports, if not even increases crime, by giving the possibility that you can be freed of any sin. In Hinduism you can do the biggest sin, for example kill a cow or a high caste person, and after that you just have to go to the temple with the required devotion, tell it to a priest if you like, pay him some money for him to do a ritual or do it yourself and then you are free of sin again. Your conscience can be wonderfully cleared by that and you can go and commit another crime. You never have to feel bad about what you did – just do some ritual, spend some money and you are fine again.
Apart from those people who are professional criminals and additionally religious, there are also those who are professionally religious and additionally criminals. I am speaking of all those fake gurus like Nithyananda, Nirmal Baba, Kumar Swami, Kripalu, Prakashananda and so many more to whom religion gave not only a profession and an income but the possibility to use their status for exploiting, cheating and abusing people. They, too, could only become criminal because of religion.
Another reason why I believe religion has brought lots of negative to this world.