God exists in every particle of creation within you and not in any godman, said social activist Swami Agnivesh. He was speaking on the topic ‘Human gods and dogmatism' at a lecture session organised by the Mammen Mathai Vicharvedi here on Thursday.

People should not encourage any concept of godman, as they are “mere superstitions”. People should have the courage to say no to a religion if it advises its followers to follow certain rituals that are aimed at dividing and discriminating against people. Religion should not be by birth, but by freedom of choice. He added there would be many interpretations of religious scriptures. One has to embrace the view that is more rational and inclusive in nature.

Speaking at the function, he shared his childhood experiences on spirituality and his own confusion about the various rituals followed in the Hindu religion. He stressed the fact that he was a Hindu only by birth, but the choice of accepting a religion rested with him. Social and political structures were such that there was no social security for the people. Hence, they fall back on their caste and political groups and on religious leaders. He said he was against the caste system and was of the view that a person should not be judged by his caste or religion. He quoted Swami Dayanadh's interpretations of the Vedas that a man should be judged by his “action, talent and aptitude”.

Swami Agnivesh questioned the belief of many who did not have concern for nature and mother earth. “If god is everywhere, why did people not come out in thousands in protest against the current model of development that is polluting nature?”, he asked. He condemned animal sacrifices made in various parts of the country in the name of religion.

Today women are still face discrimination. We need to empower them so that we can translate the preamble of the Constitution, which says equality to all, into a reality.

Children should be informed about the various religions and beliefs in the world. When they reach the age of 18 or 20, they should be given the choice to embrace a religion of their choice. Talking to The Hindu, he raised concern about the “superficial spirituality” among the youth.