Originally posted on 18th Oct 2011 :

A few months ago, I heard about a person who got into a heated argument with the persons who came to his house for recording the census data. When asked about his religious affiliation, he maintained that he pracised more than one faith, and he wanted it to be recorded in the proforma. The census officials said that there was no provision for such an assertion in their scheme of things.

I did not give much thought to this maverick eccentric until I met a few people who all practise Vipassana (which is a Buddhist style of meditation) and continue to be a part of their original sect. The question acquired a serious dimension. And I asked myself,

If we can allow dual citizenship to our peoples, why don’t we permit them to assert their affiliation with more than one format of relationship with God?”

Yesterday, a friend sent me a link to a clip entitled, “Jesus and the Buddha, can a person follow both?” I am dutifully forwarding the captioned link below. I seek your views and comments on this fundamental question.

“Is it not appropriate to permit our citizens to assert that they follow more than one religion?  In fact, if they choose to say that they are atheists or agnostics, we must accept and respect their right to say so”

  1. [...] square one.Far better to dredge and de-silt the existing river. For more details see my article at [...]

  2. yoginder sharma says:

    Am excited by, another one, of your ‘penetrating’ posers.

    Have listened carefully to the Video. My perception is that ,notwithstanding the laboured logic of much common ground between Budhism and Christianity, the Missionary is NOT conceding theological inclusiveness/identity. Exclusivity is a fundamental core value of the latter faith- in fact of all the faiths of the Book. You can reach the Heavenly FATHER only through Jesus. Contrary is the case with the Eastern faiths, which are inclusive -one universe-one God- especially the Santanis.

    In this context you can have spiritual unity but Not religious multiplicity of the kind you suggest.

    Ponder and revert- I am sending this in a hurry.

  3. Narinder Sapra says:

    I think it is the most beautiful idea you have generated and needs to be taken up and pursued.

    In fact, I never realised that though I am a Hindu and strongly believe that it is the most progressive, tolerant and modern religion in practice, I religiously attend all functions in Gurudwaras, visit Golden temple, also visit mosques, churches, buddhist stupas with equal devotion and respect.

    After I read your mail, I strongly feel that I too am multi religionist. In fact most of us Indians, are brought up that way and for greater unity this awareness needs to be spread.

  4. Gurdayal Singh says:

    I admire your philosophical bend of mind. One way or the other all religions are evolved from older beliefs and practices and at the roots are connected. so no one is 100% believer only in one religion. We have respect for other religions too and some case are multi- religious in practice.

  5. Surinder Singh says:

    I agree with you in toto.

    In fact put any thing into compartments is seldom a good idea.
    Nature does not like it that way

  6. kulbir singh says:

    Why not?

  7. kamal khanna says:


  8. karumbaya says:

    Very interesting question. I too had an argument with census officials about three months back. When they asked me about my religion. I explained that I belong to a small Kodava Tribe ( about couple of lakhs in the whole World) without the Scheduled Tribe status as comparatively, we are better educated providing two Army Chiefs viz Fd Marshal K M Cariappa and Gen KS Thimmaya. We consider Nature as our God of which we are a part ( More in the line of Darwins Theory of Evolution). Our salvation depends on understanding God than offering prayers. We do not use priests in any of our festivals and rituals. We do not have Religious books. We do not need them as Nature itself is our Book. We consider our elders as our Gurus who teach us more by personal example. All they taught us was to be hard working, honest, humane and enjoy our lives within the bounds of social norms. These teachings are good enough to lead a meaningful life. There are some teachings in other religions, which reinforces our simple faith. After hearing my sermon, the census officials marked my religion as Hindu( Kodava Tribe) as they explained that in India all small faiths like mine other than Muslims, Sikhs, Budhists, Jains, Parsies etc are broadly classified as Hindus. I told them that thanks to the ethos followed in the Defence Services, I have learnt to be an Indian and a responsible world citizen. They left with broad grins in their faces making laudatory comments about the Armed Forces.

  9. Ram Gulrajani says:

    We all follow more than one faith … the good values from each and / or the convenient ones that suit the occasion. But for the sake of classifying ourselves, we need to stick to one that pervades our thinking the most.

    My first exposure to religion was from my mother who was from a Sikh family. The influence of my paternal grandmother and her saturating me with Hindu mythology was equally overwhelming. My first teacher who taught me Arabic script, was a Mullah, and most classmates who were Muslims, had profound influence on my belief. My later school education after partition from Nuns exposed me to Christianity to a very great extent. All in all, I found goodness in every faith and imbibed all values that were laid in my formative years. But for the sake of classifying myself into a particular denomination, I chose Sikhism because it was simple to follow and easy to understand … while all my siblings have classified themselves as Hindus. As a Sikh or Hindu I should not be eating beef. But I have eaten beef many times and I justify it with an argument that if a Muslim, a Christian and a Buddhist is still assured a place in Heaven after eating beef, why will God punish me for doing that? I did not come across another girl in my life worth marrying again or I might have converted to Islam to justify such adventure. These are all convenient argument and we all indulge in this kind of justifications to cover up our digressions. Therefore, as I said above:

    We all follow more than one faith … the good values from each and / or the convenient ones that suit the occasion. But for the sake of classifying ourselves, we need to stick to one that pervades our thinking the most.

  10. Pushpendra Singh says:

    i’m not at all alearned type. but i did come accross a sayingg from the Rig Veda, “Truth is One but the sages call it by many names”. however, census-thing is quite a bureacratic muddle and one cannot argue with people whose minds are closed and all they know is the limited set of rules they have been given. in my case i insisted on recording ‘Caste’ as Indian.

  11. Sarabjeet Grewal says:

    You do not need to say you are practicing two religions as Vipassana does not represent Buddhism, it is a technique for self purification with rules to follow. Buddhaji never preached Buddhism but taught only this technique. If you listen to his analysis first thing he says that Buddhaji wanted Human misery to stop which is what Jesus wanted. Our saying is taht anyone who showed the true path to an human being his soul had done Vipassana but some how he did not know how to share it with others it was only Buddhaji who taught this and we are very lucky that the pure form hjas been brought back to India by Goenaka ji.

  12. MAHAVIR JAGDEV says:

    Every one in this world is religious …. atleast he knows to which Church he is not going. Religion, like parents is not by choice …… you are born into one set. The rest are like friends and one must be discerning in choosing.

  13. J Thomas says:

    This basically happens with Hinduism. Most religions insist that their followers renounce their beliefs in any other religion. Hinduism, which is more a way of life than a religion, embraces many paths to God.

    Incidentally, Muslims have much in common with Christianity & Judaism. They accept Abraham, Moses & Jesus as prophets.

  14. Surindar Singh says:

    Hardly a matter to make a issue out of . Mere mention of one religion does not stop anyone from respecting or practicing any number of religions > Just as mere mention of gender does not stop a person from being a gay or lesbian .
    As educated citizen , we should know the purpose of Census and loose temper on the person who is doing his duty of carrying out census

  15. Om Sikka says:

    also feel the same—as a matter of fact my family believes in teaching of Theosophy. In that lady Annie Besant says respect and honour all religions. Their meetings start with recital from holy books of different religions by participants.

    Dont we have Mandir Masid, Gurudwara, Church in our Regiments ?

  16. Vijay Talwar says:

    Let me first of all thank you .


    us in school though at that time it was only for passing an exam.Sadhu

    stands for a gentleman.

    However ,now one understands the meenings .Those in power may be under

    political compulsions to incorporate such qustions in .

    literally it has no SIGNIFICANCE in todays modern world as to which religion one follows. It is rather very personal as to what way /ways one chooses to be ONE with HIM .

    Well those who are still fighting Jihad ,good luck to them ,eventually they will be left way behind in History soon, INSHA ALLAH !

    Keep smiling as ever.

  17. Gurmeet Kanwal says:

    I agree with you completely. This is the age of liberalism…

Leave a Reply to kamal khanna