Journey through Religions
Mere utterance of this word creates a stir in the innermost depth of one’s being. At the mention of dharma, a long queue of questions is form in our mental field. In the intellect’s clash between ‘yes’ and ‘no’, consciousness becomes the judge and all the inhabitants of the world become the witnesses of this crusade.
Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity, and Judaism—are they all religions?
No. They are only names; and in these names lie countless invaluable offerings of the Unknown One.
What are these temples, mosques, gurdwaras, churches?”
Deep resources to understand religion.
Today, I am engaged in arguing with my own-self, when ‘why’, the judge of the supreme court of my life, drops in, and after listening to my questions and answers, orders me to answer all questions within two minutes.
‘Why’: “What is religion?”
Rose: “Self-knowledge, that is, understating one’s own nature and temperament.”
‘Why’: “What is Nature?”
Rose: “The visible aspect of the Unknown.”
‘Why’: “What is this world?”
Rose: “The manifestation of the Unknown.” ‘
Why’: “What are humans?”
Rose: “A link between the world and the Unknown.” ‘
Why’: “What is mind?”
Rose: “An ‘awareness’, which is a network of intuitions and reflections.”
‘Why’: “What is intellect?”
Rose: “That which confirms our thoughts and reflections with logical arguments.”
‘Why’: “What is consciousness?”
Rose: “That which distinguishes between the refined and the unrefined thoughts and makes our intellect conversant with knowledge.”
‘Why’: “What is soul?”
Rose: “The awareness of one’s own ‘self’.”
‘Why’: “What is God?”
Rose: “The consciousness and experience of the Creation.”
‘Why’: “Are you a theist or an agnostic?”
Rose: “Perhaps, for today my being is not making friends with any situation or stage of life.”
I feel that from a great distance some shade has come and taken its seat beside my ‘why’ and with its arrival my ears have become paralysed, my breath grown dim. My ‘existence’ has been converted into ‘non-existence’.
On all-sides, there appears the dwelling place of feeling of Peace and Quietness, as though some special meeting is going to be held and a charming wave is taking all within its fold.
Today, in this dwelling place, my life looks like no Life. A few words of religion have deprived me of myself. Perhaps this is the most exalted state of my ‘why’, in which my life is becoming a Life of renunciation and this ‘why’ is sitting on a throne. Even at a young age, I felt pleased when visiting a gurdwara, but as I went to the house of my preceptor, I always dreamed of Lord Krishna. When I was about eight or nine, my respected mother sent me to the Guru’s house to learn the recital of ‘five words’. Then all of a sudden, one day, came the words:
That house is very fortunate where five words echo
It made me almost breathless and I rose to my feet. I enquired about the significance of ‘five words’, but I received no answer. At once, I gave up this shabad recital. During the forty years of my life, I kept hovering around these ‘five words’. This was my first question to the religious sphere:
Do we all read mere words?
These words and letters contain the secret of Life: what is its sense? What is its true significance in the deeper sense?
By consequence, the gurdwara now remains only the place where I can take a largess of food. However, my ‘why’ keeps bringing before me my views on different aspects of religion.
The discriminations seen at holy places, the beggarly paupers who have become their heads, have not only kept people away from those places, but have also thrown them generations away from the glorious aspects of Life, from the divine Life. I always desire that only the deserving people like us, who have rose above the mental level should have lodging there. Then their colour will touch our lives, and start religion in our Life.
But wherever I go, I get the billboard of ‘no entry’ stuck to myself and must proceed in another direction. My query always rides on the back of ‘why’ and carry on its search for those who were theists in the true sense of the word, whose true devotion might stir up the sense of true devotion in the human world.
I have come across the custodians of religion at these holy places, but cannot find true illustrations or true votaries of religion.
After a long passage of time, I came across a Beautiful woman who guided her life in the light of Gurbani. I found her to be quite an expert at getting reformative guidance from Gurbani. Gurbani attracted me. Gurbani and I became infatuated with each other. At this time there was a traffic of religious people in the journey of my life.
The delicate parts of many pilgrims betrayed them. Some were very firm in their convictions in favouring Sikhism, while some were so zealously Islamic. But none had any self-constancy. Such firmness, or dogged persistence, made me allergic to such religiosity.
For they all preached only names, but none preached religion.
When Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh families declare their respective faiths to be the only true and most excellent faiths, my inner ‘self’ takes wings of denial and flies away.
Sikh children say, “We are so lucky because we were born in Nanak’s family. Nanak is truly God-like. Others, Christians, Hindus, or Muslims, will go to Hell, for they were not born in a Sikh family!”
The Hindus say, “Hinduism is the oldest and original religion, therefore, the sole true religion. Sikhism is only a branch of Hinduism, and as for Nanak, he was a Hindu, hailing from a Kshatriya family. How can he be called God? He was thrashed from his father and was not inclined at all towards his studies.”
The Christians say, “Heaven is reserved only for the Christians, because Jesus alone was the Son of God. Jesus has himself kissed the gallows; he did not let any other member of his family make this sacrifice. Meanwhile the Sikh guru first gets his children killed, then tells his father to go and get his head cut off. When his own turn came, he ran away into the forest!”
The Muslims say, “With the exception of Islam, no religion can be perfect. The perfection of religion lies with Muslims. This is the reason that the Sikhs needed the foundation stone of their Amritsar to be lain by a Muslims. After all, the Granths will be incomplete without Farid’s sermons in it.”
The Sikhs say, “The words of Krishna, found in Gurbani, are not the names of Krishna but of some other person.”
I then look at their faces and pat their backs with mock-admiration. All these are great people, with great brains! They all can make distinctions among Buddha, Nanak, Krishna, Mohammed and Jesus, because they are so great themselves; however, they are dragging on their ‘existence’. Their voices may have the thundering sound of religion, but their beings want the nectarous drops of religion.
My ‘why’ tells me that:
Whatever has a binding effect on us, is no religion at all.
These Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians etc., constitute only the threshold of religion and give us the address of the House of the Unknown. Dharma ensures expansion of Life. What sort of religiosity is it which leads the being to contraction?
Religion gives vastness to one’s heart, and then what sort of religiosity is it that puts a human in restraints? Religion makes us sensitive, tenderhearted, and responsive, not rigid, frigid, callous, or stone-hearted.
Today, I would like to ask you some questions, only ponder over these questions:
In the Gita, Krishna has talked of Karam Yoga, the philosophy of action. Don’t we see the practice of this concept in the life of Mohammed?
Do not we see in a concrete shape in Guru Nanak’s life the Buddha’s meek and gentle nature and concept of Ahimsa?
Doesn’t Jesus Christ’s life illustrates practically Karma Yoga and Gyan Yoga through the path he adopted?
Doesn’t Taoism hold the same concepts of Guna Dharma (three states of temperament) pointed out by the Shastras and the Upanishad?
Is there any difference between Krishna’s Gyan Yoga and Shabad Guru mentioned in Gurbani?
What do Nanak’s Bij Mantra and Krishna’s Swai Dharma mean?
Is not love the main message of all faiths?
Great people observe:
Warrior is one who pins one’s faith on one and follows one’s path.
Maha Bali (puissant) is one who can comprehend or take more than ten persons within its fold.
Sura (Intelligently brave) is one who can accommodate or comprehend countless persons.
Great people also remark:
A human of sympathetic temperament is better than a human of knowledge.
In addition, the boundaries never allow freedom to anybody and religious restrains are no exception.
Thus, while studying the sphere of every religion, and assessing its worth, my being cannot do what everyone else does.
Internally, of course, I feel:
The Peace of mind, which the greenery of trees bestows upon me, no gurdwara can bestow.
The message, which the colours of Sunrise and the Sunset convey, no temple can convey.
The secret or mystery, which lies at the depth of the eyes of a bird or beast, no human eye can suggest.
The vast span of an Ocean or the Sky, no religion can exhibit.
So all these Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, and others are, for me, only many names—which relate Nanak, Vedic Sages, Buddha, and Mohammed’s religious travels or spiritual quests; while the latter, engaged in their respective religious fields, are many fragrant flowers that spread their sweet fragrance across the world before they leave.
We have shut their fragrance in the names of our respective choices and consider ourselves greater than them. My sceptical nature rejects all religions and my ‘why’ keeps aiming at various targets.
Like the Nanak, we are to apprehend the true significance of the Bij Mantra and not to become a Sikh.
Like the Buddha, we are to be our own light and not to become the Buddhists.
My swai dharma must have wakened, but I am not to step into the religious domain, so the Vedas, the Shastras, the Granths—all, become the means for the recognition of my spiritual journey.
For it is always the bullet and not the gun that reaches and hits the target.
Thus, by virtue of this ‘why’—the singing birds, flowing streams and rivulets, floating clouds, the wide-spread sky, the deep sea, lofty mountains—all together, make me read the pages of a unique religion and leave me to myself. Silently and invisibly this ‘why’ becomes my comrade in my spiritual quest—kindled for me a taper of the firmness of swai dharma.