Where there's one god


There is no one god for a soldier because he treats all religions, castes, classes as one. Having served for 35 years with various ‘class’-compositions and religions, I can vouch for it. I recently read in a blog: “Army genuinely believes in two central truths: ‘One god and victory in operations’.”

For every 150 troops and more of a particular religion, there is a religious teacher of that faith with qualifications and training, who conducts functions and delivers sermons. You may find a Sikh granthi, Hindu panditji or Muslim moulvi in the same unit. Nor would it be surprising to see a common ‘Dharma-sthal.’

Training centres invariably have mandir, masjid, gurudwara and a church. You will find non-Hindu drivers stopping their vehicle on the Sunderbani Road, to pray to ‘Mata’ and offer coins into the ‘hundi.’ Likewise, you will see non-Muslim soldiers praying to a Peer Baba in Ambala. On Tuesdays or Thursdays, depending on location, it is total no-meat-no-drink in J&K and Himachal.

There once was a Kayamkhani Muslim unit of Grenadiers which replaced a company of Dogras in LoC. Enemy started shelling the posts. The company subedar approached the company commander with a request to re-open the mandir, remaining closed, which may have attracted the wrath of Gods. The Hindu-officer did not know the full wordings; but the Muslim-JCO overnight learnt the ‘aarti’ and thereafter, evenings reverberated with Muslims singing it! As 2Lt, I have been witness to our Christian subedar major organising all Hindu functions and praying with us. Thirty years later, as a brigadier, my Goan catholic general always joined me in prayer in my brigade. I have the Gitas and kirpans religiously presented to me in mandirs, gurudwaras even today, 14 years after retirement.

Having learnt Sanskrit as a Brahmin, I have given sermons in units; as a kshatriya, I have served Indian Army; I have done a vaishya’s role by maintaining accounts of messes, institutes and canteens; as a ‘shudra,’ I have dug/filled shallow trench latrines or smoked out deep trench latrines as YO. So you see, we have no one religion or caste.

Let me quote another incident from that blog: On finding  December 25 a holiday, a raw Sikh recruit asks his senior: “Why holiday for Christmas?” The senior says, with his eyes half-shut in reverence and hands in spontaneous prayer-clasp: “It is the Guruparb of the Christians!”

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