Is China against Hinduism

Faith: Deeply religious Indians, flexible Chinese


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China's temples are well visited, but less by believers - mainly tourists. Cameras and sun hats shape the picture more than the traditional clothing of the monks. Many a visitor lights incense sticks, kneels down in front of the altar or throws a coin at the temple bell, which then promises wealth or luck. Many Chinese believe there is a need, because it can't do any harm.

Very few describe themselves as really religious. China's temples are following the trend. They sell themselves and run the risk of degenerating into a kitsch program. All sorts of junk is for sale and the visit often costs high admission. A temple that does not make it among the local attractions remains empty. Even the famous Confucius Temple in Beijing looks deserted on many days.

An empty temple? Unthinkable in India. Every church, no matter how small, is well attended. In Indian temples, regardless of their style, there is a lot of hustle and bustle and sometimes confused confusion. There is singing, dancing, seldom quiet meditation. As diverse as the gods and the colors of the temples, so vividly most Indians practice their religion to this day. Hardly any other country is home to as many different faiths as India. The overwhelming majority of Indians belong to Hinduism, one of the oldest religions in the world.

Gandhi and Mao shaped India and China

In India as in China, the constitution guarantees freedom of religion. But the interpretations of this freedom could hardly be more different. In India, for example, the Sikkhs, a religious minority, are exempted from the theoretically prevailing helmet requirement when riding a motorcycle. A devout Sikkh may not take off his turban, a Sikkh woman may not cover her head. Legislation takes this into account. Lots of legal exemptions guarantee the different faiths of India an unhindered practice of their religion.

In China, on the other hand, religions must by no means get in the way of state processes. If they do it anyway, see the Falungong sect, they will be banned and persecuted. In any case, China only recognizes a selection of the religions. There is great distrust of the new religions and proselytizing is prohibited. India is shaped by Gandhi's peaceful resistance and his teaching of tolerance, China by Mao Zedong, the critic of all religions, who sought to completely destroy the past in order to create something completely new. This is still having an impact today, in both countries.

India's religious tolerance is widely praised, sometimes even highlighted as exemplary. While Germany today is faced with the challenge of dealing properly with the new religious diversity - for example the circumcision debate - India has been conflict-tested on this point for several thousand years. Hindus, Muslims, Sikkhs and Buddhists, they live together peacefully in India. Mostly at least: In the state of Gujarat in northwest India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is currently being re-elected by a large majority, a man who is guilty of persecuting Muslims, who has allowed their murder, perhaps even ordered them. In India, too, every religious community is closest to itself and the limits of tolerance are quickly reached. If a Muslim slaughters a cow, he runs the risk of turning the Hindu mob against him. In the Indian multi-ethnic state, deeply religious worlds inevitably collide.