Have been speaking on ‘Gems of Faiths’ at various clubs and organizations…
Earlier I used to suggest that topic and the clubs would show reluctance as they said it is a ‘sensitive subject’ but if we have to survive and this planet has to live on we have to understand each religion in its pure form…One must not eulogize ones faith by bringing down another…
One must remove misconceptions like those of ‘Idol worship’, ‘Jihaad’, ‘caste syste’,or/and ‘talaaq’…
The time has come for ‘not to take an eye for an eye’ as that will make the whole world blind! The time has to come, for the older ones to die with their prejudices if they must…but not to pass the prejudice to their children…Allow the children to learn to appreciate the best in each faith so that they may survive in this beautiful planet of ours…
Anyway, the beauty of yesterday’s talk, is that I was asked to specially speak on Gems of faiths…and that was a breakthrough…We had a wonderful turnout and all agreed with what I had to say…
Points discussed and worth thinking about:
- Conflict is part of human nature. Communication is important. In dialogues of this kind a lot of misconceptions are cleared and a lot of gems discovered.
- We cannot ‘leave our religion at home’, but we should learn to appreciate the gems of the Other’s Faiths.
- As per the Quran, we all are brothers and sisters.
- Hindus say ‘Vasudhaika Kutumbakam. (The world is one family)
- Guru Nanak says ‘Ek Onkar’ and “Sabna jian ka ek data…” God, the Giver is the father of all…
- The previous generations have messed up the planet. It is the citizens of the future, that needs to be educated, in the fact that all religions impart the same message.
The problem: Who will educate the teachers, and make sure that they also have ‘compassion?’
- The media needs to report facts not sensationalize them. For that, concerned citizens need to speak up.
- Success rate of such meetings, is that a candle lights another candle.
- Hindus chant the Gayatri Mantra. The Mantra is similar to a verse in the Quran.
I have been reading ‘Angels and Demons’ by Dan Brown.
I agree with the author when he states that:
‘Very little in any organized faith is truly original. Religions are not born from scratch. They grow from one another. Modern religion is a collage. An assimilated historical record of man’s quest to understand the divine.’
Humanity is born from one set of parents. We are a family and we live in one home. It is in our interest try and put our differences aside and preserve this beautiful planet of ours.
Gems of Faiths
Last week, (year: 2004) I was invited to speak at a Rotary meeting (Rotary Club of Bombay Pier). We, at the Times of India Bldg, have been having various discussions, as to how best Peace can be propagated to the people in this riot torn planet. As we discussed the various Faiths…2 things happened. A lot of misconceptions cleared, and a lot of Gems were discovered. I decided, this is a good a time as any to give my speech. My young Muslim friend joined me. I was happy to discover that it was well received. I thought that I would share a few of the points with you:
ALL RELIGIONS SPEAK OF LOVE, FAITH, BROTHERHOOD IN ITS PURE FORM
Religion is a step inwards. Religion should mean more about ‘belonging’ to Humanity rather than belonging to this sect or another. I believe that one has to commit to become more peaceful oneself first. The next step is to create a practicing society of living in peace.
CASTE SYSTEMS STARTED OUT AS VARIOUS PROFESSIONS.
A teacher could become a soldier and a businessman could become a teacher or a menial worker, if circumstances willed it, or if he so desired. Please read about Shabri at this page.
IDOL WORSHIP IS A FORM TO FOCUS ON. Just like a flag stands for the nation and a father’s photograph represents the father.
ONE HAS TO GO BEYOND THE FORM, WHEN ONE PRAYS…
ALSO GOD BEING OMNI-PRESENT RESIDES IN THE FORM TOO.
Divyaa Kummar writes:
Some one asked me whether the highest worship is worshipping the Divine without form? Should they stop adoring and communicating with their beloved deities? Should they throw out all the symbols of personalized gods from within …and the outside …be it mantra’s or their altars or visiting of temples?
Connecting to the Divine- be it through prayer, or thoughts about, or falling in love with – can be through the personal or impersonal approach.
Neither is higher or lower if you trulyknow that the seemingly opposite approaches are actually one and the same!
If you truly knowConsciousness as ‘One without another’…then your prayer, worship, devotion, homage and adoration can be towards its impersonal aspect or personalized forms …indeed in whatever way your current beingness beckons you! Some day’s an impersonal homage to the One Consciousness’ ‘works’ best… sometimes a more personal veneration of a deity (symbolizing an aspect of the same One Consciousness) is what draws you!..
…Prayer even to its different aspects-deities- is always to the Absolute that permeates them!..
You then move away from this question
about which worship is higher or more correct!
You respect and appreciate both the Absolute/ One Consciousness
and Its many expressions, aspects, facets, qualities!
You adore the One and fall in love with its many roles!
You communicate and share self with your deities and yet know this is communing with the Whole!
You are drawn to the beauteous forms and images in temples and altars within and around! Yet you know you revel in the One Beauty!
Yes at some point one moves from solely worshipping personalized gods; one can’t help but make this inner shift!
One sees the Whole behind every aspect being revered;
One is in touch with That which permeates the various forms rather than only the forms themselves;
And in Knowing this
One doesn’t need to stop visiting temples!
One need not shun the variety of an altar!
Or the adornment of your deities!
Love from my heart to yours
Believe in too many Gods? HINDUS DIVINISE EVERY ASPECT OF LIFE. YOU WOULD LIKE YOUR OBSTACLES TO BE REMOVED? PRAY TO LORD GANPATI. Looking for Wealth? Pray to Goddess Laxmi.
The essence of our culture is ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’. Satyam, the truth, which is Shivam or universally benevolent is presented in Sundaram or a beautiful manner. The attractive presentation ensures attention and appreciation from everyone. So whether it be Shankarji or Shri Krishna, both embody the highest truth, Satyam, are universally beneficial, Shivam, and are extremely attractive, Sundaram!
Our temples, and the ritual of Deity-worship are symbolic, and one should try to understand the hidden symbolism behind the Gods and Goddesses and then worship them in order to imbibe their attributes and make our lives divine and meaningful.
– Pujya Bhaishri
‘Darshan’ is different from ‘mere seeing’, as it is imbued with a sacred attitude of reverence and faith. So it has spiritual consequences. Devotees testify to experiencing a sense of ineffable peace in the act of darshan of a holy being as also to a sense of being spiritually rejuvenated.
CHRISTIANITY stands for LOVE SERVICE AND BROTHERHOOD. CHRIST DIED for the TRUTH. HE BELIEVED THAT GOD DID NOT REQUIRE AN INTERMEDIARY BUT COULD BE APPROACHED THROUGH LOVE AND SERVICE.
GURU NANAK GOT RID OF SUPERSTITIONS AND SO DID BUDDHA
Hindu Scriptures, The Bible and the Quran speak of God, prophets, Liberation, Heaven and Hell. Early Quranic verses speak of the word ‘Jihaad’ as an internal struggle to get over the darkness within oneself and allow the light to flow.
These are the early revelations that speak of this.
The root of the word ‘Jihad’ is JAHAD from which the word I JTEHAD also springs. I JTEHAD also means ‘struggle’ to make a legal decision in the point of law. When the Muslim community was settling in Medina, they were attacked. Innocent people were killed, but the Muslim did not fight back. Later when this continued, they stood up in self-defense and the word ‘Jihad’ is then used in the Koran as this war was for survival against persecution and NOT expansionism.
The word ‘Jihad’ does not mean HOLY WAR against infidels. I have heard scholars state that Islam does not propagate bloodshed in any form. Then why do people commit violence? I think that it is because they do not understand the real pure meaning that was intended by God who communicated through the Great Prophet.
There is no such thing as a triple talaq mentioned in the Koran. This was a pre-islamic custom which crept back into Islam Jurisprudence after the Prophet passed ON.
For further clarification on what I have just stated, you may read ‘The Empowerment of Women in Islam’ by Dr. Zeenat Shaukat Ali She is a Rotarian of Bombay Mid-Town and an Islamic scholar. She lectures at St Xaviers College.
I have been told, by my friend, Ms Raahat Jaafrey, that it is stated in the Holy books of Islam, that on the Day of Qayaamat (Judgement) Jesus, who is called Isa-alaish-Salaam will come on the roof of the Kaaba, and there, He will meet the Future Prophet.
One of the Gems that Raahat shared with me, that belongs to the Quran, goes something like this: Half the road (one travels in Spirituality), is covered, by prayers, good deeds, fasting, but the entrance to Heaven is opened, when one performs charity.
I WOULD LIKE TO STATE THAT PRAYERS, GOOD DEEDS, CHARITY AND DISCIPLINE IN THE FORM OF FASTING IS COMMON TO ALL FAITHS.
CHRISTIANS OFFER MASS AND TAKE FLOWERS ON DEATH ANNIVERSARIES, HINDUS PERFORM SHRAADH
CUSTOMS MAY DIFFER BUT THE CREEDS UNDERLYING THE MOTIVE IS THE SAME.
SAME JOYS AND SORROWS THE WORLD IS ONE FAMILY. VASUDEKA KUTUMBAKAM
I BELIEVE THAT: FOLLOWERS INTERPRET THE SAME TRUTH IN DIFFERENT WAYS AND COME OUT WITH DIFFERENT CONCLUSIONS.
DIFFERENCES ARE DUE TO CULTURAL AND GEOGRAPHIC ENVIRONMENT FROM WHERE THEY SPROUTED.
The Upanishads claim that the Atman (God within us) cannot be reached through much learning or much use of the intellect. Jesus Christ proclaims: “Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” The Katha Upanishad proclaims “The path is narrow as the edge of a razor.” Jesus said : “Narrow Is the way which leads unto life.” Hindus believe that we are a small part (atman ) of the whole (Paramatma). In other words we are the same children of God and enjoy the same inherent qualities. Christians also believe that man is made in the likeness of God, and the Kingdom of God is within each one of us. Jesus Christ claimed; “I and my Father are one”.
We Hindus believe In a Trinity: Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Preserver), Mahesh (Destroyer).
Christians believe in Father, Son and Holy Spirit
The occultists believe in Light, Love and Power
Humanity at large believes in Mind, Body and Soul.
Speaking on ‘Gems of Faiths’ at Rotary Meetings
Hindus urge its followers to recite the attributes of the Lord (Vishnu Sahasranaama)
The Quran lists various names of Allah. (attributes)
One marvels at the similarities, and yet what is the surprise about, when the Lord God is ONE?
Allah is “AL-AHAD” or ‘THE ONE”
Lord Vishnu is called ‘EKA” or “THE ONE”
AL’ALIM–SARVAGYA–THE ALL KNOWING
AL’AZIZ–MAHAVEERA-THE MIGHTY ONE
ALHAKIM–MAHABUDDHI–THE WISE ONE
AL’LATIF–SOOKSHMA–THE SUBTLE ONE
AL’MATIN–STHIR–THE FIRM ONE
AL’MUSAWWIR–VISHWAKARMA–ONE WHO FASHIONS ALL THINGS.
ANNUR–PRAKAASH–THE LUMINOUS ONE
AL-QUDDUS -THE HOLY ONE –PAVITRAM-THE PURE ONE
The Quran states that: Allah hath created seven heavens in harmony
Vishnu Sahasranama states: All songs are part of Him, who wears a form of sound.
The Quran (49.13) states: O mankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that you might know each other (not that you might despise each other)…
The Uttaradhyayana (Sutra 25.3) states: By deeds, not by birth, is one a Brahmin. By deeds one is a kshatriya, by deeds is one a Vaishya and by deeds is one a Sudra.
All religions recommend chanting the name of God.
Hindus chant Mantras which are are empowered sound vibrations be they from the Vedas, Puranas, Shrimad Bhaagvad, Vishnu Sahasranaam, Hanuman Chalisa…
Islam exhorts the chanting of the 99 names of Allah
The Bible says: “Let the Lord always be on your lips”
I was listening to a taped discourse of Shri Morari Bapu who states that we could live in a perfect world if we were to imbibe the following salient qualities from the various religious Giants:
The wisdom of Shri Krishna.
The service and love of Christ.
The brotherhood of Islam.
The compassion of Buddha
The non-violence quality of Mahavira…
If one looks close enough, each religion embraces all the above qualities…
THE SECOND COMING
Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism believe in the 2nd coming of prophets/Avataars who will re-establish justice and righteousness on earth.
Hindus believe that Kalki will be the 10th Avtaar who will appear towards the end of Kali Yuga.
Christians believe in the second coming of Christ.
Islam believes that Mahdi will be from the progeny of the Holy Prophet Mohammed.
Zoroastrians believe that Saoshyant will usher in a world which will end suffering.
Although the re-coming of the Saviour in different religions have diverse names, the conditions of the world at the time of their coming is akin.
The restoration of Truth Justice and ‘end of suffering’ is also strikingly similar.
DO NOT FORCE THE UNWILLING
In the Bhagavad Geeta, Krishna says to Arjuna: “This secret gospel of the Geeta should never be imparted to a man who lacks penance nor to him who is wanting in devotion, nor even to him who lends not a willing ear…
The Holy Quran says: Lakum Deenokum Walia Deen”_ Your religion and belief is for you and my religion and belief is for me.
One must accept all religions as one does our own. Peace is possible through communication. Most religions proclaim that the world is one family. When, as individuals, one develops a higher consciousness, the ego disappears and along with it, the concept of you and me, yours and mine…
Though in India (why only in India, in the world would be more appropriate) we live midst many cultures, one must acquire the capacity to assimilate differences and that can only happen if we become truly spiritual, note I did not say religious.
‘Dwija’ in Sanskrit means ‘Twice born’ It is a term used when a person is said to be born to His Spiritual Self!
I love what Osho says about conversion:
“When the ego dies godliness comes alive in you. Only when the seed dies it becomes a tree, only when the river disappears into the ocean it becomes one with the ocean. ‘Conversion is a beautiful word that is misused. It is thought that if a Hindu becomes a Christian, this is conversion. This isn’t true. He has simply changed one prison for another, as there has been no real change, no transformation.
Conversion happens only when the ego dies and godliness is born in you. Conversion is when the human becomes divine, not when a Hindu becomes a Christian or a Christian becomes a Hindu.“
Dalai Lama says:
All religions belong to humanity. What’s important is that once we make a decision to follow another religion we should keep in our minds that we must avoid criticizing our own previous tradition. We must show respect for it.
While I have been trying to bring to the notice of my readers the similarities between the message of the religions of the world, I must quote what Osho said:
“Read the Quran, the Vedas, the Bible, the Dhammapada, find similarities but the Quran is beautiful only because of those things which are not in the Gita (and vice-versa) Beauty is in uniqueness…Go into your innermost being, if you go beyond the object, you have gone beyond the west; if you go beyond the subject you have gone beyond the East…
Then the transcendental arises; the synthesis is there…“
I would like to state that the sentiment of this verse from the Quran is common to a lot of faiths that I am familiar with:
“Truly, my prayer, my sacrifice, my life and my death all belong to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds”.
Read: Creation according to the Shrimad Bhaagvad and Quran
The Lord’s Prayer
Having studied in a Christian school, one of the lesson’s taught to us was the Lord’s prayer. We were made to say it everyday, so it became ingrained in my memory. Today, while thinking on the same, I find it to be a general, all encompassing prayer, crossing the boundaries of all religions, and it can be used by all.
The prayer is as follows :
Who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
On Earth, as it is Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us of our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil,
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
For ever and ever,
If one were to read the prayer more deeply, one would find the similarity and broadness of this prayer. (For the sake of convenience, I refer to God as a masculine figure. God can be a feminine figure, or even a neutral figure. That choice is yours)
|Our Father||By this, we acknowledge that God is one, and he is above us all. We also understand that we spring from him, hence we address him as Father. This also brings us closer to him, as we now look to him as our parent, and we can have our inner dialogues with him for our answers. Even Guru Nanak, in the Japji prayer, refers to Ek Onkar, which means one God.|
|Who art in heaven||We understand he is in a realm which is currently beyond us, but for which we all strive to be in. Heaven is always referred to a place of joy , tranquility and bliss|
|Hallowed be thy name||By hallowed, we state that his name is sacred. His name is special. As Guru Nanak says in the Japji, Satnam, which means the true name. Here, we can even say that the name can be Om. What is important to understand is that God’s name is sacred.|
|Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done,|
On Earth, as it is Heaven.
|We acknowledge that all is His, in expressing that it is His kingdom, and that all happens as per His wishes (will), both here and in Heaven. This is similar to our Hindu beliefs that all is God’s doing.|
|Give us this day our daily bread||Here, we ask God for his blessings and grace.|
|And forgive us of our trespasses,|
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
|Here we ask God for forgiveness for all the wrong that we do. In this, we see that law of giving and receiving, for if we cannot learn how to forgive others, how can we get the forgiveness from God. As God forgives us, we must also forgive all those who have hurt us, in any way, irrespective of what we feel for them. In the Quran, the prophet says “Forgive your servant 70 times a day”. Only by forgiveness, can we let the love of the Lord flow through us.|
|And lead us not into temptation,||This tells us that God is testing us, making us face challenges, so as to make us better people. We ask him to help us succeed in our challenges, and not “fall into temptation” (to fail in the test). But the paradox here is that God also is the creator of temptations, so what does one do? The ultimate answer is to surrender all actions to the Lord, and he will do best for us.|
|But deliver us from evil||We acknowledge God to be the Protector and Defender of all that is good. We know he can, with his grace, put us on the right path to him.|
|For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory||We acknowledge that God is the universe, the energy (prana) and the beauty. By doing so, we realise that all is God, everything stems from him, and all ends with him. In Hinduism, we learn that all starts from God, and one day, all will end with Him.|
|For ever and ever||God is eternal, with no beginning and no end. This is the basic Hindu concept of the timelessness of God.|
|Amen.||We end the prayer by saying a word symbolising God, be it Amen, Om, Allah, Krishna, etc. Here, it is the final acknowledgement that it is God, and only God.|
This prayer can be applied to all, and does not necessarily have to be only a Christian prayer. God is one, and for all of us. In whatever form we call him or believe in him, as long as we follow his principles of love, compassion, devotion, service above self and forgiveness, we will always be in his Grace.
Written by – Suneel Utamchandani
There are many paths to God. Yours is no more correct or less correct
than another’s, my friend.
In fact, each one’s path may be just the right one for that certain individual.
God knows what He is doing. Do you doubt that?
Only when one truly comprehends and lives by this statement, can Love
break free from the shackles of judgement thus allowing one to finally
experience the Stillness, the wonderful feeling of inner peace, harmony,
and oneness amidst the same storms that used to “make” one feel the
spectrum of negative emotions such as fear, hate, anger, anxiety, and
the pain, suffering, and angst of that monster illusion called Separation.
Five times a day Muslims repeat the Sura which states:
“They have their belief and we have ours and there is no conflict between us”
The second Sura Verse 257 states:
“There must be no coercion in matters of faith”
The following quote (and quotes above) are an an excerpt from an article by Nazli Habibullah Siddiqi
…’There is no order in the Quran that directs the use of the sword in the service of the Faith’…
M.G. Kapahy writes:
…Altaf Hussein’s poetry is all about bhakti rasa akin to that of Hindi poets of Bhaktiwaad…
Ghalib says: “You and He whom you are searching for are in fact the same person. I wonder for what this search is going on”
This is the Vedantic concept Aham twam asmi-I and You are same.
Ghalib says: “A restless drop of water gets solace when it merges with the river water” Vedanta says that a person gets solace only when he becomes one with Brahmn, The Supreme.
P K Bandyopadhyaya states:
…We offer prayers to God for cure from diseases, success in business, examination and election. Only forms of prayer differ. Christians bow their heads and fold their hands, native Americans dance, Sufis whirl. Hindus chant, Muslims do namaz facing Kaba in Mecca, Buddhists offer prayer as a supportive practice to meditation, in the belief that God answers their prayers.
Gautama Buddha says: Holding on to anger is like holding on to a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
The Quran urges Muslims: “Be foremost in seeking forgiveness” (51:1)
Jesus spoke from the Cross: “Father, forgive them (executioners) for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)
Dalai Lama says: I hope that you at this moment will think of yourself as a human being rather than as an American, Asian, European, African, , or member of any particular country. These loyalties are secondary. If you and I find common ground as human beings, we will communicate on a basic level…The one common thing to everyone…all have the right to exist without disturbances…to grow, to sustain, and to die peacefully.
Prophet Mohammed once said
that on the Day of Judgment, a man’s foot will not move unless he has answered four questions:
Where he earned his money from
Where he spent it
How he spent his youth
How he used his knowledge
“People are asleep, they will wake up only when they die”
When a man dies, everything connected with him is cut off except three things:
knowledge from which benefit is derived and
Virtuous children who pray for him.
As quoted by Saniyasnain Khan
…Writer Philip Hensher expressed unhappiness with the word ‘terrorism’ because it was such a ‘free-floating’ one; he was equally unhappy about the term ‘freedom fighter’- “an ugly euphemism for people exerting power without any democratic force” “Instead of terrorism I prefer ‘crimes against humanity’…he said…
Saints and mystics describe the soul as a drop of God.
By bringing the soul to the point of the body called the seat of the soul, it contacts the streams of light and sound, the creative vibration that emanated from the Creator, and brought creation into being.
It created the physical universe, earth, human beings and all forms of life. The Sikhs call it Naam, the Muslims refer to it as kalma, the Sufis call it bang-e-Aasmani, the Greeks call it Logos, the hindus call it nad, bani, Jyoti or Sruti.
The process by which the soul is brought into contact with the current of light and sound reverberating within is called meditation.
Common Ideas in Vedanta and Sufi Philosophy
Dara Shikoh, (eldest son of The Mughal Emperor of India, Shah Jehan) would spend long hours in the library…striving to understand a consciousness which dreamt of universal brotherhood…Dara Shikoh draws remarkable parallels between concepts elucidated in the Holy Quran and the Upanishads…
…The Hindu Panchbhutas or five elements are shown corresponding to the five great elements of Islamic thought: first the Great Element-Unsur-I-Azam, the akasa or ether; second the wind or vayu; third agni or atish; fourth water; jala or ab; and fifth earth prithvi or khak. These are the constituents of all mundane creation.
Similarly the five senses of shamma or smell, dhaiqa or taste, basira or perception, sami or hearing and lamisa or touch correspond to the panch indriyas of Hindu Philosophy. Bikrama Jit Hasrat writes of”…how the young Moghul Price struck an original line of investigation” in his comparison of mystic terminology in two apparently different cultures. “If knowledge is attributed to Him, the India Divines designate Him as Chetana, while Muslims call Him Alim. For al-Haq the have the word Ananta, Allah they call Om …Wahi or Divine revelation is known as Akasvani, Mazhar-I-Atman is called Avatara…Ruyat or vision of God is called Sakshatkara…”
POOR IN POSSESSIONS BUT RICH IN SPIRIT BY
Lord Krishna embraced his poor friend Sudama and ate with extreme relish the dry beaten rice offered by him and left him (Sudama) richly endowed.
During the course of the Mahabharat war when Krishna visited Hastinapur, instead of staying in the palace of Duryodhana, he accepted the hospitality of Vidur (It is believed that Vidur and his wife were so overwhelmed by Lord Krishna’s visit that they offered him banana peel while throwing the bananas, Shakun)
Sri Ram, during his vanvas, visited poor Shabri. He addressed her as mother (mata) and he ate with relish what she served him. (It is believed that she tasted the fruit (ber) to check if they were sweet enough before offering them to Sri Ram, Shakun)
Jesus loved the poor: The Bible contains more than 300 verses on the poor, social justice, and God’s deep concern for both the poor and those who help them. “Blessed is he that considereth the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble”.
It is said that Guru Nanak demonstrated purity of poor people’s faith by squeezing a poor man’s bread (milk trickled from the bread as it was earned by honest work) and a rich man’s cake (drops of blood trickled from the cake as it was earned by cheating the poor).
According to Prophet Mohammed: ” Riches are not from and abundance of worldly goods but from a content mind”.
Kabir has reflected similar thoughts as ” Jab awe santosh dhan sab dhan dhuri samaan”.(All wordly riches are mere dust compared to contentment of the mind)
Who or what is a Fundamentalist? According to M J Akbar, the word might even be a tautology, for a believer can only be true to his faith if he believes in its fundamentals…I fast during Ramadan one of the five fundamental tenets of Islam. I hope this does not make me a fundamentalist. The slide begins when one faith begins to encroach upon a separate conviction…Is an Islamic State ipso facto fundamentalist? No. The Quran repeatedly commands co-existence: Lakum deen-kum wal ya deen (your religion for you and my religion for me and “La iqra fi al deen (Let there be no compulsion in religion)...This hardly means that Muslims today cannot be fundamentalists, but it is illogical to blame Islam for sins of Muslims…The great contradiction of fundamentalist politics is that it cannot deliver on the basic problem that provoked its rise, economic deprivation…Rage can succeed at moments of high social stress or public rage, but that is a short term placebo for blood pressure. Ordinary Indians hunger for more bread, not more guns. This is what keeps the overwhelming majority away from fundamentalism.
The bad news is that it takes only one percent to wreak havoc.
I, Shakun believe that all religions give the message of Love and Brotherhood…Yet the world is in a mess…Sometimes I feel that the Interfaith Dialogue in which I take part to bring Peace into the world is a waste of time…and my contribution is but a bubble in the Ocean…and then my God in His inimitable way sends me the following message in an excerpt from Live outside the Box which appeared in the Sunday Times Bombay Sept, 28, 2008
…To you I say, meet me in the eye of the storm and together we will steer this mess in another direction. Jump into the storm. Do not stand on the sidelines too lazy and scared to do anything about all of the ugliness going on around you… People say that the signs are all here and Armageddon has begun. Why save the planet if the savior is coming to take the good and holy people away to a better place? ..If you had to pick and choose who were truly worthy of burning in hell or going to heaven, would you pick the folks who were killing and raging war in the name of God or would you pick the people who were crying out for love, equality, and to save the planet?
I stand here in the eye of the storm, turmoil and war all around me, my heart quiet and strong. The vision is very clear here. I will do my part to save the planet for the sake of those left behind. It is not for me to say who should or should not prevail. Someone will be left standing here on this planet, with this atmosphere, with this water, with this soil. For them, i say let’s create a plan so that they have the best possible chance of rebuilding a new world. For love of this place with its beaches, mountains, and forests that I love so much, i will hold the love of Mother Nature in my heart. You know, if the savior comes to haul all the good guys off to a better place, i think i will volunteer to stay behind to help make this battered planet a place of beauty once more. When you are done with your religious wars and your ascensions into heaven, give the planet back to those of us who care for her… (Skye Thomas is a spiritual writer, entrepreneur, astrologer and philosopher based in the US
Any belief system that segregates cannot be a spiritual path. If we are unanimous in the belief that the Creator is One, He cannot be partial to any one clan or sect. Because that automatically disqualifies all other belief systems from reaching the ultimate truth. So science should help us redefine religion and metamorphose it from the ritualistic domain into a more all inclusive and all-embracing state of mind, not cleaved by differences. Then we might realize that we are all just drops of water in this vast ocean of Creation.
The writer is a consultant neurosurgeon. E-mail: email@example.com.
Lord Krishna urged Brij Vasis to worship Mount Govardhan over Lord Indra. According to me the Lord urged the Brij Vasis to worship (take care) of Nature. Krishna loved and nurtured cows, wore a peacock feather which was considered inauspicious…
Islamic, Christian and Jewish traditions say that God made Adam in His own image…
…Planting a tree is considered a sadqa-e-jariyah, act of continuous charity, a desirable deed for which the planter is rewarded for as long as the tree benefits any form of creation.
… It is not by coincidence, but by Divine Design that all the prophets of Islam have been shepherds at some point in their lives. As shepherds, they tended to the plant, animal and human world, both nurturing and multiplying physical and spiritual resources.
…Religions are concerned with activity and not just faith. The climate dialogue presents a wonderful opportunity for people of different religions to work together. Faith leaders could play positive roles in facilitating change. Irrespective of creed, we are all created and sustained by the same source.
……Muslim faith is incomplete without believing in the 124,000 Ambiya, prophets who have been sent to earth. The Quran informs that there has never been a time when God did not send Messengers who did not speak the language of the people. If followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are at odds, it is not because of the teachings of their founders, but despite these teachings.
Swami Vivekananda said: “Bring all forces of good together. Do not care under what banner you march. Do not care what be your colour – green, blue or red – but mix all the colours and produce that intense glow of white, the colour of love. Ours is to work. The results will take care of themselves.”
The scriptures do not support violence and hatred; they clearly advocate non-violence, peace and love.
For example, the Mahabharata is often cited as one that advocates war and killing, even killing of cousins! In fact, more than one-third of the Mahabharata deals with conflicts, preparation for war and violent war in gory detail. Yet it is the Mahabharata which says: “Ahimsa paramo dharmah” – non-violence is the supreme virtue and is the foremost duty.
Sri Paramhansa Yogananda explains the essential message of the Mahabharata, in his commentary of the Bhagavad Gita. The hundred sons of Dhritarashtra – symbolising the blind irrational mind – have characteristics of meanness, ill will, hardness, destruction, racial pride, temper, quarrelsome attitude, revengefulness, lack of vision and stupidity. These are the enemies and they must be defeated with all effort on a war footing. This is the real Mahabharata war, both at an individual and societal level.
The word Jainism is from the root ‘Jin’ meaning the conqueror or the one who has overcome. Jains are followers of Bhagavan Mahavir – whose main teaching is non-violence. Interestingly the foremost invocation of Jains is ‘Namo Arihantanam’ – salutation to those who destroyed their enemies.
Patanjali says that enmity is absent where ahimsa is the basis. What is ahimsa? Swami Vivekananda says that the test of ahimsa is the absence of (unhealthy) competition or jealousy. This can be made possible by following the dictum of Matthew 7:12, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Thus Aman Ki Asha and peaceful coexistence are possible through non-violence only since ahimsa is non-violence in thought, word and deed.
C V S K Rao
“All religions, all this singing, one song. The differences are just illusion and vanity. Sunlight looks slightly different on this wall than it does on that wall and a lot different on this other one, but it is still one light.” – Rumi
“Each one prays to God according to his own light… I believe in the fundamental truth of all great religions of the world. I believe that they are all God-given and I believe that they were necessary for the people to whom these religions were revealed. And I believe that if only we could all of us read the scriptures of the different faiths from the standpoints of the followers of these faiths, we should find that they were at bottom all one and were all helpful to one another.” – Gandhi