26. Exclusive Brotherhood.
The emphasis on a privileged revelation leading to the concept of a privileged brotherhood or of a chosen church has affected Islam and Christianity in more than one way. It made their morals tribal and their social organization power-oriented. Their organization is eminently suited for outward, political expansion, though a religious dimension of a sort is not altogether lacking; a dimension which has the power to bring emotional and even spiritual satisfaction to those who are so minded. But the political thrust of their social organization has been clear throughout history. The Muslim kalma is more of a battle-cry than a statement of a spiritual truth. Allah-u-Akbar has been heard as often in the battle-fields as in the mosques.
These religions grew with political power and their religious functionaries were more than priests. They were officials of the state, and even when they followed a separate discipline, they were part of the same power establishment. These religions represented great theocracies. The common men were governed by mullahs and priests. Church functionaries administered laws claiming a divine origin. They took care of the morals of the people and interpreted the will of God for them. Even today in Europe where traditional religion has ceased to be a serious thing, the vestiges of the old tie-up between the state and the church still continue. In England, the priests of the Anglican Church, the national religion, are paid employees of the state. In Germany, the revenue for the country’s religious denominations is collected along with taxes by the state and made over to them.
In Hinduism, there was no such analogous phenomenon. There was a highly respected Brahmin class but its functions were priestly and scholarly. They taught; they advised; they presided on such occasions as birth, wedding and funeral. But the deeper ethos of the Hindus was shaped by monks and religious mendicants and even by such householders who had, rightly or wrongly, the reputation of having ‘seen’ God. But Hinduism has known no Pope, no Khalifa, no ex-Cathedra pronouncements, no fatwas, no official credo or list of beliefs formulated by official theologians meeting under the aegis of kings and feudal war-lords.