And it is time we learned our lesson. India’s historical poverty and defeat, and the downtrodden state of all the Eastern countries are not without a reason, and the reason is religious extremism. And the fact that Western countries have become poor from within is also not without a reason: the reason is scientific extremism. The future will be beautiful if science and religion are integrated. This much is clear: in the integration of religion and science, religion will be the center and science the circumference. It is clear that with the integration of science and religion, religion will necessarily be the intelligence and science its follower. The body cannot be the master; science also cannot be the master. Religion will be the master. And then we will be able to create a better world.
So don’t ask about the use of religion in the scientific age. Religion is of genuine use in the scientific age because science is an extreme, and it is a dangerous extreme. Religion will give it a balance, and it will be able to save man from the danger of that extreme.
This is why the moment of the resurrection of religion all over the world is very close at hand. It is very natural – and it is absolutely certain. It is needed for there to be a resurrection of religion, otherwise science will only lead to death. So it is pointless to ask what need there is for religion in the scientific age: religion is most needed in this age of science.
Related to this, it has also been asked of what use is religion in national and social life.
I think that what I have just said might have answered this question as well, because something which is useful to the individual is most definitely going to be useful to the nation and society as a whole. After all, what is a nation and a society except a collection of individuals? So don’t be under the illusion that a nation can live without religion.
This misfortune has happened in India. We misunderstood certain words; we started talking about a religionless state. We should have said a “non-sectarian” state but we started talking about a religionless state. It is one thing to be a nonsectarian state, and a totally different thing to be a religionless state. Any intelligent person will be in favor of a non-sectarian state, but only a fool can be in favor of a religionless state.
To be non-sectarian means that we are not concerned with Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism or with Mohammedanism. This is what it means to be non-sectarian. But to be a religionless state means that we are not concerned with truth, with non-violence, with love or with compassion. No nation can be religionless in that sense. And if it is, then that is its misfortune. The nation must make religion its very life-energy, and not be religionless. But yes, it is absolutely necessary to be non-sectarian.
The atheists in the world have not harmed religion very much; the scientists in the world have not harmed religion very much. The people who have harmed religion most are the religious leaders. They are the people whose emphasis is less on religion than on being a Jaina, whose emphasis is less on religion than on being a Hindu, whose emphasis is less on religion than on being a Mohammedan. These are the people who have deprived the world of religion. Sects which should have been the body of religion have proved to be its murderers. Religion has great value, but sects have no value. The fewer sects and sectarians there are, the better.