Unity of Religions Part-II: Diversity in Religions


Religion is said to be a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that relate humanity to spirituality and sometimes, to moral values. Religion is the royal highway that leads us to God. All great Masters and Prophets established several pathways to enable human beings to make a connection with and eventually realize their true Divine Self.
Though the essence of all religions is the same, it is the practice of these religions that brought in immense diversity; which unfortunately became the cause for confusion and misunderstanding. Diversity was truly meant for relating to the context; to the place, time and circumstances; and to provide a customized approach to suit to man’s mindsets. Religions prescribed a number of rituals and practices to enable man to make this journey from his empirical reality to his eternal reality. Unfortunately, we get so enamoured by these rites and rituals that we mistake the trees for the forest. We lose sight of the content and get lost in the form. It is very rightly said that Ritual + Spirit = Spiritual; whereas Spiritual – Spirit = Mere Ritual.
Today, thanks to our narrow minded approach, distorted viewpoints and polluted thinking; all that is left of religions are these mechanical rituals, performed with no understanding of the true meaning or significance. One of the most common examples given by Bhagawan is of sacrifices prescribed in the Hindu religion. These religious sacrifices had as their true purpose, not the killing of animals or humans for that matter, but the sacrifice of one’s vices and animal qualities. Only by killing the vices and evil qualities in us can we overcome and transcend the ego, so as to realize our Cosmic Oneness. This is what Bhagawan says, is the true meaning of the Cross in Christianity. The Cross consists of a long vertical ‘i’ which represents the human ego and the horizontal line indicates the “crossing of the ‘i’ or the vanquishing of the ego. Similarly, Jihad” in Islam means waging a war against enemies and killing them. But it does not refer to war against external enemies or a Crusade, as it is often unfortunately misinterpreted. Jihad refers to fighting and over­coming one’s own carnal desires and evil inclinations. It is a war against one’s inner enemies. Jihad is an Arabic word from the root Jee Ha Da. It literally means to struggle or strive. Jihadis struggling or striving in the way of Allah, for seeking Allah. Bharathiya philosophy refers to this process as spiritual Sadhana. Sadhanais a spiritual exercise aimed at fighting and putting a check on our inner enemies known as the Arishad VargaasKama (Desire), Krodha(Anger), Lobha (Greed), Moha (Attachment), Mada (Pride) and Matsarya (Jealousy). Thus, truly all religions are the doorways to spirituality. Paths are many but the goal is one. All religious practices have as their purpose the vanquishing of the animal qualities in man, nurturing of the human qualities and eventually manifestation of the Divine qualities from within. Therefore, the need of the hour is to have a correct understanding of religion and an appreciation of the underlying unity in all religions.
This posting on “Unity of Religions” is presented in 5 parts. Part-I is an introduction to Religion. In Part-II Bhagawan explains the reason for diversity in religions. Part-III deliberates on the principle of Oneness that is common to all religions. In Part-IV, Bhagawan expounds on the unique statement made by Him, ‘There is only one Religion; the Religion of Love”. In Part-V, Bhagawan appeals to all people not to criticize any religion and to respect all religions.
Part-II of this theme focuses on Diversity in Religions. The three audio extracts in this posting are taken from the Discourses delivered by Bhagawan in the years 1975, 1990 and 1991.
Clip-1 explains how different religions propagated different forms of the Divine Principle to suit to different tastes. In Clip-2 Bhagawan uses the analogy of the rain water that passes through different terrains taking up different forms and names, to drive home the reason for diversity in religions. Clip-3 highlights the truth that religions are like many paths that lead to the same goal.
Each audio clip has a name that adopts the following code: Serial number, Title appropriate to the key content, Duration of the clip, Year-Month-Date of the Clip. Below the title is the translation in English of the select excerpt of the Discourse, followed by the audio player. The post ends with a short quiz that would help you evaluate your assimilation of Bhagawan’s Message from these extracts.  
Note: Those receiving this blog by email may see words bunched together due to a technical glitch. That is beyond my control. Please click on link at the top of the email to read the blog directly. Sorry about this. If anyone has a solution to this please help me out.
01-Different religions propagated different forms of God-2.29-1975 November 21
Different religions propagated different forms of God

The sacred Vedas propagated the Truth in many ways such as “Satyannaasti Paro Dharmah” – there is no higher Dharma than Truth itself; “Satyasya Satyam” – The Truth of Truths. Such a Divine entity which is the very form of Truth, has been propagated by the religious founders, to various nations, in many different ways and with many different feelings. The Chaarvaakaas (people following a system of Indian philosophy that is characterized as a materialistic and atheistic school of thought), without paying any heed to the Truth, decided that such a God who is the embodiment of Truth does not exist at all. The Jains and the Buddhists also do not believe in the existence of such a God. However, it was Adi Shankara who preached that this (Truth) is an eternal, pure, formless and supreme principle. Such a whole and powerfully manifest principle of Brahma is known as the Atma by many. Others called it Rama, Krishna, Christ, Allah. The one God with different forms was worshipped by people with different feelings. However, we must give primary importance to the attributes in these various forms.     

02-Reason for Diversity in Religious Practices-Context-Needs- Circumstances-2.15-1990 December 25
Never consider any one religion to be
superior or inferior to the other

When there is a downpour, the water that comes down is pure. The rain falls on mountains, hillocks, plains, rivers, oceans and so on. According to the situation and impact of the region through which the rain water passes, its name and form undergoes change. Because of these variations, it should not be thought that the water itself is different.

Based on the impressions of the founders of different faiths, with regard to the requirements of the place, time and circumstances of particular countries, and keeping in view the welfare of the people concerned, certain rules and regulations were laid down. On this account, one faith should not be considered superior and another inferior. The nature of religion is that it does not entertain any such differences. Man’s primary duty is to collectively experience these sacred religious traditions and preach and propagate this Divine Godhood.

03-Paths are Many but the Goal is One-3.50-1991 December 25
Paths are Many but the Goal is One!

When rain pours down from the sky, pure water falls on the rivers, seas, mountains and different regions of the earth. The pure water acquires the colour and taste based on the nature of the region or spot where it falls. Likewise, Prophets and Messiahs imparted their message in terms appropriate to the time, the place, the conditions and the feelings of the people concerned. Religions cannot be considered different from each other for this reason.

All religions have taught
only what is good for humanity.
Religion should be practised
with this awareness.
If the minds are pure,
how can religion be bad?
Listen to this
O heroic children of Bharath! (Telugu poem)
It is a mark of ignorance to consider one religion as superior and another as inferior and develop religious differences on this basis. The teachings of all religions are sacred. The basic doctrines are founded on truth. Atma Tatva, the very form of Truth, is the essence of all religions, the message of all the scriptures and the basis of all Dharma. The primary duty of human beings is to recognise that the paths indicated by different religions may vary but the goal is one.

A Short Quiz
01-What is the belief system of the Chaarvaakaas?
02-What is the belief system of the Jains and the Buddhists?
03- How did Adi Sankara describe the Divine Principle?
04-What is the analogy that Bhagawan uses to explain the reason for diversity in religions?
05- How can we explain the statement, “Paths are many but the Goal is one”, with respect to religion?
Part-II of this posting gave us an understanding of why there is diversity in religious practices and how the diversity is only on the surface whereas, underlying all this Diversity is Unity, a commonness and uniformity. In Part-III of this posting Bhagawan elaborates on the underlying Principle of Oneness that is common to all religions. To read Part-III please click here: 

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