One day while going through an English daily, I came across a news item that was headlined ‘Man Made Barriers.’ I readily presumed it might mention some heroic deed of men in constructing barriers against floods. Out of curiosity, I went through the news item minutely.
The news said that a 45-year-old Maharashtrian tourist stopped outside the Jaganath Temple in Puri, Odisha. The sign in bold letters read, ‘For Hindus only’. He was a Muslim. The flickering flames inside the temple beckoned him to the house of God but the priest refused him entry. The tourist engaged the holy man in a discussion and stated, "Do not consider me a Muslim but a yatri who has come for Darshan.” The plea was not well received. At Mathura too, he was turned out from a temple on the grounds of religion. There was a flood of tears in the tourist's eyes when he narrated these incidents and added frankly that the same was the case with Muslims. At one police station in Uttar Pradesh, the same tourist was well received because of his faith by a Muslim police officer. His stay was made quite comfortable.
Barriers against humanity
The article was not on barriers built by men to stop floods but on barriers between men. Every blind adherent of a religion believes that the worst man in that religion is better than the best man in another religion. This poses a threat to humanity and is more devastating than sporadic floods.
Right from childhood, suspicion and apprehension of other religions get drilled into our heads. It seems almost as though you would betray the religion you are born into if you entered places of worship of other faiths. In God's eyes, all humans are equal. Differences and conflicts are entirely man-made. The essence of each religion of the world is to co-exist in harmony. The same divine spirit permeates all, whether man or woman, rich or poor. When the same God dwells in all, then who is bad who is good? Shedding vanity, all human beings are to be treated alike.
Man’s first duty
Admittedly, the apostles laboured hard, the martyrs died in torments, the scholars and the scientists proclaimed the beauties of higher life, the sociologists untiringly inculcated the sense of duties of a good citizen, the philosophers pioneered sublime thoughts and all agreed that God is one and that man's first duty is to realise Him. If man loses faith in God, he loses faith in himself. It spells crisis of character resulting in a shocking crash of human values followed by chaos and wide spread violence.
Etymologically, the world ‘religion’ derives its root from the Latin word ‘re’ and ‘ligare’ meaning to 'bind back'. The Sanskrit word ‘dharma’ has exactly the same significance with root in the word ‘dhr’ which means to sustain and bind together. Islam having its root in ‘Salam’ means peace. But somehow religion, which was meant to be a binding force has lost its gravity and has in itself started working as a major dividing force, disturbing social harmony and peace.
All great religions in their pristine pronouncements emphasised the spiritual rather than the ritual aspects of living. If one can easily acknowledge the concept of one God for all, it should not be difficult to accept the idea of one religion for all. This can only be achieved through a living revelation of the all-pervading God, the same for all religions and veiling over the chapter of non-essential rites and rituals which are different for different religions. The religion, like the white light of heaven, stands broken into many coloured fragments by the prisms of men. In the absence of actual knowledge, God is different for different persons and for the same person on different occasions. Endorsing the mainstream of spirituality, Sant Nirankari Mission asserts that God-realisation is the only force, which is the mortar, binding together the many-shaped bricks of human society into a coherent structure. It marks unity in diversity and resolves the very purpose of interfaith harmony. Votary of ‘Peace not Pieces’, Sant Nirankari Mission founded the Mission's moto, “Religion unites, never divides" and stresses on the key words, "Know One, Believe in One and Become One”. This divine relationship gives habitual inclination to love and help others. The singular objective of every prophet has been to impart direct knowledge of the Almighty Singular God. For such spiritually enlightened persons, there is a zero per cent chance to convert to any other faith. In fact, they know no conversion.
Unity of God
Dara Shikoh, an Islamic scholar, could not reconcile to segregating or hating Hindus. He specially learnt Sanskrit to study the Vedas and Upanishads. Today, Sant Nirankari Mission preaches the same dictum, “Sara Sansar, Ek Parivar”. The world is one family. That is the essence of spiritual awakening and enlightened living.
The spiritual teachings of different faiths are totally congruent with each other. This is in corroboration of the fact that no scripture holds supremacy. All the messengers of truth who appeared on this earth had carried their mission of propagating the teachings of unity of God. All of them had reposed their confidence and faith in one God only. Thus we find that the foundation of every religion is based on the unity of God.
The authentic religion stands for spiritual enlightenment, moral consciousness and cultural values which are best suited to address the problems of life. Religion and peace go together. We must rediscover and reestablish the true religion which stands for union with the God resulting in spontaneous brotherhood of mankind.
— The author is the Secretary, Sant Nirankari Mission, Delhi
[The view expressed here are personal and don’t reflect those of the government]