The Delhi High Court has requested responses from the Centre and the Delhi government regarding a plea that aims to differentiate between "dharma" and "religion" and to incorporate "Dharma and Religion" into the primary and secondary school syllabi.
The objective is to educate the masses and address religion-based hatred and hate speeches.
The respondents have been asked to provide their responses by a division bench consisting of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Tushar Rao Gedela.
The matter has been scheduled for 16 January 2024.
The plea requests that the Centre and the Delhi government use the term "panth/sampradaya" instead of "dharma" in official documents such as birth certificates, Aadhaar cards, school certificates, ration cards, driving licences, domicile certificates, death certificates, and bank accounts.
The plea argues that "dharma is not religion" but rather a guiding principle that is separate from one's religious beliefs or practices.
It emphasises that dharma allows for complete freedom in choosing one's path and ethical norms, as it encompasses an ongoing journey of personal growth and transformation.
The plea argues that the term dharma is characterised by its non-divisiveness, non-exclusivity, and non-conclusiveness.
Tolerance is a fundamental aspect of dharma, and it inherently embraces plurality. This concept of tolerance and plurality is not encompassed within the concept of religion, according to the plea.
According to the petition, religion is referred to as a sampradaya, which is a cult or spiritual lineage that operates based on an ideology.
The petition also states that religions are man-made creations consisting of a set of codified beliefs followed by a significant number of people, regardless of whether we personally believe in them or not.
The plea argued that the term 'religion' implies that only one religion can be true — the one to which an individual belongs — due to the exclusive nature of religions. This implies that other religions are considered false.
Religion has often been seen as a powerful force that divides people throughout history.
However, dharma is distinct in that it brings people together and does not allow for divisions.
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