In response to one of my posts, a friend writes: "All religions are the same. It is the belief which counts. Believe in Him and you can never fail".

I could respond with material to fill a book, but I'll confine myself to the following:

Dear A

Your sort of comment is often heard nowadays, but it doesn't bear examination.

First, not all "religions" accept that there is a "Him" (or "Her" or "Her/Him"). Buddhism, Jainism and Vedanta (if you consider them "religions") believe either in an "It" or finally in nothing, depending on which version of these you accept.

Then, it is not merely a matter of belief. In Judaism and Islam, e.g., what is expected is that you commit yourself to quite specific actions too - e.g. Ramadan or Shabbat or eating or not eating certain kinds of food or….

Finally, "believe in Him and you can never fail" is a modern corruption of traditional religions, most of which hold that you will reap the reward of your good deeds in the NEXT life though in this life you may and probably will have HUGE problems.

"So what?", you may retort, "The average person lives on the basis I have indicated and scholars may go hang".

Well, belief systems have consequences not only at the individual level but also at the social, economic and political level. That's why India is still so corrupt and backward while Northern Europe was cleaned up by the Protestant Reformation, with an impact slowly in other parts of the world due to the social, economic and political progress that resulted there being copied by other parts of the world - including our own country.

The attempt to produce the shoots without the roots is interesting and can even be encouraging, but roots have to be put down sometime if you want growth to be sustained.

Professor Prabhu Guptara