I think that when the humans progressed on evolution, man recognized that there are some things that are not in his grasp, as they defied understanding through the five senses of the body. This quest for knowledge was born somewhere in him.
The mind was understood as an aspect that was apart from the five senses he had. With this new found tool called mind, he learnt that there is a brain though within his body which controlled his physical activity and his health.
The early man’s fear about the natural forces created an unending narrative. Survival was an instinctive goal that naturally came with his body. Equipped with brain and using the five senses, he studied the nature around him, the earth, the sky, the other species, flora and fauna. Stock of knowledge with the human world increased in size and diversity. New branches of knowledge were grouped and named.
Quest for knowledge is the one undying element of the human population that has not changed since his evolution. He won a tremendous victory against the natural forces to a considerable extent, by taming the forces and utilizing the energy to improve the standards of living.
But the mind was not tamed at all. It grew more and more ambitious with wants never satiated in full. Material affluence enabled him to have a comfortable life, reducing the need for hard labour.
Thought progressed from individual survival to the survival and welfare of the community. The discourse took on a new narrative. Rules were prescribed to be conformed by all. But most of these rules confined to how to avoid risks of living and lead a healthy life.
Healthy life was achieved, affluent life was achieved, strength of body was achieved, enjoyment through the senses reached higher and higher levels of satisfaction. But happiness and peace were still elusive.
But humanity has traveled a long long distance since mind was discovered. But study of the mind did not proceed with any considerable progress. The mind found that possession of material riches or possession of strong faculties of the brain could not by themselves guarantee happiness.
One or two among the community who were sincerely interested in the welfare of the community spent longer and longer times in the world of thought. Lingering in that world brought new light to their knowledge about life and living. Sufferings of the community were analyzed and long thought resulted in finding out possible causes that created these problems.
Then the system of values came and occupied the thought of the community. Thoughts, actions and things were classified as good and bad. The community was admonished not to do certain actions, not to think in certain fashion, not to act in a certain manner and advised to follow certain ideals in the individual man’s life and in the community’s life. It was soon found that by following certain things and avoiding certain things, harmony and peace was born and sufferings reduced.
This must be the origin of thoughts which later were dubbed religious. Every religion has stood for the welfare of the communities in which it was born. Every religion is only a pathway to find peace and ultimate happiness. It is a personal and social system of values and practices that were meant for the welfare of everyone.
Sometimes the elders in the community still had reasons to be resentful about the community and in their sojourns in the thought world came face to face with certain truths. The truths indicated that that there is a higher entity which controlled everything from creation or birth, living and nourishment, till destruction or death, beside the five senses, brain and the mind of man.
No one could explain it fully to anyone else. This is a concept the five senses cannot even start to describe. The community put faith on the elders and started believing their system of values and practices. Deeper thought by meditation led to higher perceptions.
But the idea of God cannot be expressed in full by words spoken or written but can only be understood internally by thinking process and deep analysis and has to be understood but cannot be proved for others. People with conviction found that obeying the elders and following their lessons took them to a more and more peaceful levels of living. Some select few had reached various levels of ecstasy in reaching the unreachable and in meeting the Invincible.
This sort of a theological development has marked all the religions. Though the practices and scriptures may differ in teachings, the core aim of reaching the ultimate is the common feature of all religions.
After all, the body and the mind are all the same irrespective of religions. Our blood is still red whatever be the colour of the skin. If we dissect the body of a man, we cannot find any idea about his faith. At the most such dissection would allow the doctor to know about the eating habits or the mating habits.
Great are the thinkers from all the places of the earth who have advised the humanity to respect religion, our own and of others equally, as religion is only an external dressing of spirituality which is basically a relationship with the Almighty. They have said that the goal of all such ways are achieving nearness with the Almighty and the tenets are just laying the path towards that goal. It is foolish to value only the externalities as the most important and leave the content as unimportant. It is like standing outside a building and trying to explain what is inside it. Those who dared enough to enter found that what is inside is essentially the same.
Though great thinkers and philosophers and religious leaders have written eloquently on the universality of religions, I as on ordinary average human being, thought it fit to record my thoughts today as a post.
To emphasise the goal of accepting all religions as true pathways of reaching God, I borrow from the eminent Hindu scholar Swami Nikhilananda, founder and leader of the Ramakrishna Vivekananda Center in new York till his death in 1973.
“Saints and mystics have flourished in all religions; some such men have not belonged to any organized church. It is absurd to imagine that God is solely or even chiefly concerned with religion. Let us discard the idea of toleration, which carries with it a sense of superiority. Let us think of other religions in terms of respect and positive acceptance.
“A believer in the universal religion feels equally at home in a mosque, a church, a synagogue, or a temple. He sees his brother’s face in a Moslem, a Christian, a Bhuddhist, a Jew, or a Hindu.
“He salutes all the prophets of the past, bows down before all godlike persons who are working today for the uplift of humanity and keeps himself in readiness to show reverence to all the prophets of the future.
“Let us encourage every man to dive deep into the mysteries of his own religion, and, provided he is sincere and earnest, he will one day discover for himself the universal religion.”
Swami Nikhilananda, HINDUISM – Its Meaning for the Liberation of the Spirit
It is my fervent prayer that we should not divide humanity on the basis of faith or religion. We are true sons and daughters of God. Let us sow love all around and make this world a wonderful place to live for our children, a beautiful garden of happiness, peace and joy.