Unity of religions: certainly no confusion

Executive Director of the Planetary Development Institute


Единство религий или путаницаAll religions are equally valid ways of knowing God or truth. External differences between religions are only accidental, while their inner core lies in one thing - in the knowledge of the Divine or the Higher Reality. The share of truth is present in art, science and non-religious components of human culture.The general principle of Hinduism is Sarva Dharma Sambhava, which literally means that all Dharmas (religions) are equal and can harmoniously blend with each other. Recently, this provision is interpreted in the sense that all religions are essentially the same, they all are different ways to God, having the same spiritual purpose. Based on this logic, one can imagine the religious path that a person chooses as a matter of personal preference, such as the choice of food to sustain life. The choice of religion is situational and has no real meaning in the spiritual direction of life. From this point of view, whether it be a Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim or other religious faith, its concreteness does not matter. Whether anyone goes to temple , church or mosque, all the same. Whether to pray to Jesus or Allah, meditate on Buddha or Atman, the results will be similar. Therefore, adherents of all religious trends should live happily together, recognizing that there is no real conflict in what they believe in, because the differences lie only at the level of surface variations in name and form.

This view of Sarva Dharma Sambhava has become the political principle of modern India. However, other countries, in particular Pakistan and Bangladesh, did not accept it. Religions that support an exclusive or final revelation, such as Christianity and Islam, almost unanimously opposed it. The idea of ??Sarva Dharma Sambhava did not create equality of views even in Hinduism, where different sects still compete with each other. .Unity of religions or confusion Is the equality of all religions a spiritual principle that has become a fundamentally correct position designed to ensure harmony between believers of different faiths, despite the actual differences between them? And is this really the real meaning of Sarva Dharma Sambhava? Let's first consider what actually means Sarva Dharma Sambhava. This is the statement that all Dharmas are equal. But what is Dharma? Dharmas are universal, true principles and natural laws that are always true. For example, Dharma or the property of fire is its burning. Indeed, in fact, it is impossible to imagine a fire that does not burn. Similarly, there are ethical and spiritual principles or Dharmas. Such ethical Dharmas are yogic principles such as non-harm (ahiMsã- non-violence), truthfulness (satya), control over sexuality (brahmacharya), prohibition of theft (asteya), and nonproliferation (aparigraha), yama and niyama from yogic thoughts. For example, no being wants to hurt, cause suffering to others, because violence and suffering are a violation of the Dharma, while the desire to alleviate the suffering of others contributes to the Dharma. These are the principles of a righteous life, working for people and all societies. Another such dharmic principle is the law of karma, which tells us that what we do has consequences both in this and in the future life, for ourselves and for the whole world.

Does Sarva Dharma Sambhava require this level? We must be careful in associating the Dharma with religion and insisting that different religions are inherently harmonious, like different Dharmas. In fact, different religions have inherent disharmonies that will take a long time to study in attempts to identify them and to understand them. This caused many misunderstandings that exist in the world in which prayers to God were regularly accompanied by calls for war and aggression. Unity of religions or confusion The induistic supporters of Sarva Dharma Sambhava often say to a Christian and a Muslim how to be a better Christian or a Muslim, but they will not encourage them to become Hindus, as if Christianity and Islam contained the same teachings and had the same value as Hinduism . The choice of religion they consider a free will and will help everyone in their quest for God. The principle of Sarva Dharma Sambhava only reveals possible conditions and limitations for the professing of religious beliefs. Religion, which does not recognize the self-realization and realization of God, like most Western religions, can not lead people to Moksha in the Hindu sense. If someone wants to help a person find Moksha, which should be a true dharmic concern, they should better follow what is true, look for Dharma, even if it may require to go against their religion.

Единство религий или путаницаUnderstanding the law of karma, we act in such a way as to contribute to the increase of the good for all, regardless of our external beliefs or the appearance of name and form. Usually traditions that call themselves dharmic, like Hinduism and Buddhism, view religion as a way of meditation, designed to lead us to union with God or to enlightenment and liberation from the cycle of rebirth. This could be called the Dharmic path of spiritual development. Therefore, the question should arise: does everything that the different religions of the world teach all the Dharma principle correspond to?

Of course, all religions teach us somehow to be kind, to tell the truth, to control the feelings and, somehow, profess other principles that are Dharmic. At the same time, the Dharmic principles can be shared by people without any religious beliefs. They are universal ethical principles and are largely obvious if we deeply understand the nature of the interdependence of everything. So, it turns out that apart from the Dharmic principles, religions do not have much in common. Some religions (Christianity, Islam) have a God-creator, while others (Buddhism and Taoism) do not allow such a concept. While the Dharmic traditions look at enlightenment or Moksha as a goal, for some religions the goal is salvation from sin and hell. Some religions estimate the age of the world only in five or six thousand years, others - in billions of years. Some allow images to be used in religious worship, others strongly oppose them. Some religions are tolerant and accept other beliefs, others are of extremist views . Religion is as diverse as any other cultural phenomenon, such as fashion, language or art. This is manifested at the highest level. In fact, religion is often a source of destructive superstitions and discriminatory practices that interfere in various aspects of human life. Many religions contain beliefs and dogmas that are not universally true. If we carefully consider the teachings of the religious mainstream, then we will find very different approaches. Sacred books, such as the Koran and the Bhagavad-gita, are almost not alike in either tonality or content. If the religions of the world are so different, there is no reason to believe that their founders must have been taught the same thing. The criterion for assessing the significance of religion today is the number of its true adherents, and not any mystical evidence of its truth and mission in the world. Even if we do not believe that all religions are the same, this does not mean that there is no value in different religions. We can respect religion for their historical, cultural and intellectual role, not necessarily considering them the product of divine revelation and the ultimate truth. The Bible, for example, is an unusual book with a great history, poetry and wisdom. But hardly is the Word of God, true in all respects, for all times and for all people. In this respect, all religions are part of the common heritage of humanity, so they must be explored to understand history. The presence of any aspects of truth in all religions does not mean that all religions are true or that all religions are essentially the same.Although we must be open to the truth, wherever we find it, this does not mean that we must accept all religions as true ones to reach the truth.

Единство религий или путаницаThe principle of Sarva Dharma Sambhava also contains the idea that the Truth is one, but there are many ways to achieve it. In reality, there is one Truth and many paths to it. However, this does not mean that all paths must lead to truth. There are ways that lead to false goals, or lead only to partial truths. Religion, which does not teach any empirical way to Self-realization, can not lead to truth. It can only lead to the idea of ??heaven or salvation, which is its declared goal. The idea of ??the unity of Truth can not be limited to any specific monotheism, but it must take into account all spiritual aspirations, whatever forms they acquire. The unity of Truth is not identical with the essence of monotheism, as faith in one single God and the only doctrine of it are unequal. Monotheism often manifests itself so categorically and radically that it divides mankind into believers and unbelievers and refuses to accept the truth that transcends his dogma.The correct term for a common Western idea of ??religion, which is a special belief, in Hindu thought is not Dharma, but Mata, which means opinion. There is no such possible statement as Sarva Mata Sambhava or equality and unity of all opinions. Opinions are as diverse as the minds of beings. We also do not want all opinions to be the same. A variety of opinions is necessary as part of freedom in the search for truth. Opinions are different and even contradictory. Some may be right, others may be wrong. These are speculative views that must be proven in practice. If someone has an opinion that the fire does not burn, we should not respect this idea in order to preserve the universality of all Dharmas. We must allow everyone to have their own opinion about religion, because the minds of human beings are unique and move in different ways and directions, but we do not need to sanction all religious views as true ones to do it.

Единство религий или путаницаThe religions that we see in the Western world say that the truth belongs to a certain person, group, holy book or God's name, and that those who do not share this faith are mistaken, sinning or possessing malicious intent to distort the truth. If all religions follow the same Dharma, let all religious leaders understand that they accept the law of karma as real and self-fulfilling, as the real goal of life.

Consequently, religious exclusivity is a real serious obstacle to establishing harmony between different religious groups. Fortunately, not all religions insist on their exclusivity, which allows them to co-exist in peace with others. They combine some notions of exclusivity with more tolerant traditions. Although there is much adharma in the social evil that has arisen in the context of Hindu religion, there is no adharma in its basic formulation that surpasses time, place and man and emphasizes eternity over the historical property of religion. They do not require an exclusive formulation of the truth, but are open to diversity and multiplicity, in fact welcoming it. The social effect of Sarva Dharma Sambhava led to the fact that this spiritual principle became a political principle in India: in order to create social harmony, we should honor all religions as equivalent, so that religious differences do not stir up social conflicts. Unfortunately, religious conflicts continued because the agreement to treat religions as equivalent was only superficial, formal, which did not remove the problem of real differences and misunderstandings between their adherents. Hence we can urge Christian or Islamic spiritual leaders to resist this statement and agree that Hinduism, Buddhism or other dharmic traditions are as good as their religions, and therefore all attempts to disprove the teachings of the Dharmic religions are erroneous. Sarva Dharma Sambhava was used to protect the favor of various religious groups and defend votes based on religious beliefs. Often the effect of a one-way street was obtained. The Hindus were urged to accept Sarva Dharma Sambhava, which means that they should not object if Hindus convert to Christianity and Islam, and to avoid criticizing these religions, even if some of their elements are a violation of what the Hindus believe is true. On the other hand, by the same principle, Muslims and Christians should not reciprocate, stop their conversion efforts or become Hindus. As a result, Sarva Dharma Sambhava only undermined the Hindu idea of ??truth and urged the Hindus to abandon their critical abilities in matters of religion. This contradicts the spirit of yogis and spiritual Gurus , in which all sorts of disputes were encouraged to reach the truth. Please pay attention to Shad Darshana, six systems of Hindu philosophy, to such a tradition of free, lively and friendly discussion. Although we should all strive to be kind and respectful people and not interfere in the religious views of others, this does not mean that we should stop thinking about how to do this. To create social harmony, people should not refuse to defend their religion or critically examine religions that oppose them. The logical result of the consistent implementation of the principle of Sarva Dharma Sambhava may mean that Hindus should completely abandon their religion. However, whenever the Hindus try to protect their religion, which is still under siege even in India, they are accused of violating Sarva's principle of Dharma Sambhava. On the other hand, when other religious groups violate this principle - and this is, in fact, the practice of all missionary transformations - they are little criticized for it.

Единство религий или путаницаWhen Christians or Muslims in India were criticized for violating Sarva Dharma Sambhava? Does this mean that they never violated it? If the principle of Sarva Dharma Sambhava is not applicable to them, then why should we interpret this in the spirit that all religions are the same? Under the guise of religious tolerance, this idea of ??equality of religions is used to prevent the study of religious dogmas of Hinduism. Hindus are encouraged to accept the Bible or the Koran as true scriptures, even without looking at what these books actually say. If Hindus look at other religions in a critical light, however sensible, courteous or objective they are, they are called communal. It turns out that the principle of religious equality, instead of uniting all religious groups, serves as a sanction for their separation. Expansive religions can remain expansive, and passive religions should not try to defend themselves. Each religion is sanctified for what it historically has done, and religions are given the freedom to act without questions under the veil of faith. What is the alternative? How can we reach an understanding of the level of influence of religion and social harmony among religious groups that often have completely different, if not hostile, beliefs? Unity of religions or confusion.

Единство религий или путаницаLet the pope, patriarch, mufti or mullah proclaim that one can find God without Jesus or Muhammad, the Bible or the Koran. If they do not say such things, how can anyone state that all religions are the same? Monotheistic world religions, based on time, place and man, contain much that is not universal on a global scale, that is, for all people. The peculiarity of their beliefs historically led them to force measures to influence other religions, and these measures can be called adharmic.

Actually, this requires tolerance among religions, which implies respect for diversity in the religious sphere. Members of different religious communities must recognize that other religions can preach something very different from their understanding of God, truth, salvation or liberation. Instead of pretending that these differences do not exist, we must recognize them and give people the freedom to study them. Equality of religions should not be confused with tolerance. We must endure all people, even if they do not agree with us. Tolerance to differences ensures harmony, and does not create the illusion that there is no difference between religions. In fact, if we tolerate only people, but try to make them the same as we are, we are not altogether tolerant. Similarly, the adherents of other religions must learn to tolerate Hindus and respect the fact that Hindus do not always agree with them on religion, that Hindus have their own spiritual and ethical views that other religious groups should also take into account. If Indians seek to eliminate the consequences of historical atrocities, referring to aggressive attempts to convert them to other religions, then representatives of other religious faiths should be ready to hear the Hindu viewpoint on these events and respect it, no matter how hard it is to accept it and admit its possible guilt . In a free society, religious beliefs must be a personal matter. The state should not impose any religious beliefs or dogmas. There should be political tolerance for all religious views, if they are not connected with violent or anti-popular activities. At the political level, it does not matter whether someone professes a religion, or not.

Единство религий или путаницаIn polyconfessional dialogs around the world, there is recognition of the common moral principle and the values ??of kindness, mercy, mutual assistance, but there is also recognition of a multitude of differences, especially regarding the metaphysical principles of different faiths and spiritual systems. Therefore, it is worth proclaiming non-equality of religions, and freedom of religion. A truly free and tolerant social order should be based on respect for all people and respect for all life. This means respect for the individual and refusal to impose on her the idea of ??the correctness of a particular religion. We must recognize the equality of people in the unity of the human species, despite the fact that the religions of the world can have as many differences as there are similarities. The correct principle of a truly free society is not equality of religions, but freedom from religious monopoly. This means that everyone can be free to follow any religion or put her dogmas into question at his own discretion. Religion is no more than any other aspect of human life. The task of the state is not to criticize religion, but to provide an unhindered opportunity for their critical reflection in society.

Единство религий или путаницаHowever, political tolerance to all religious views does not mean that people should take all religious views as true or encouraged. In a free society, you can be an atheist or an agnostic or profess any religion. Does this mean that we should respect atheism, as well as religion, in order to truly practice Sarva Dharma Sambhava? In Western democracies, the recognition of a multi-confessional and multicultural society is growing. But there is no idea that all religions or all cultures are the same, as if, for example, there was no difference between Christianity and Hinduism.

Unity of religions or confusion In the modern world, no one people can already consider their language or culture to be exceptional, the highest. Therefore, any religion in search of truth can only go deep into its own depths, like science, and not assert itself, displacing other points of view and systems of outlook. Such a position requires that, in observing the boundaries of religion and belief, we consider all religions as a worthy subject of in-depth study. In this regard, a new Hindu critique of religion is necessary for the expansion of religious views represented in the modern world. This is the real Sarva-Dharma, the monopoly possession of which no group can claim. Probably, only those religions that will be ready to undergo radical transformation will survive. They are waiting for a change in the direction of empirical spirituality, in which people independently acquire the experience of God or truth, what becomes for them the most important thing, and religious dogma and institutionalism, at best, will be in the background. A respectable but honest study of other religions by Hindus or any other believers is important for establishing a balance of views today. It is necessary to return to the Dharma or the principles of universal truth, and not just to respect all the religions that exist today, and often abuse their dogmas in order to manipulate the mass consciousness. It is necessary to strive to maintain the Dharma, even if all historically held religious constructions run the risk of being broken. It's time for religions to bow to the Dharma, and not try to fit Dharma into the narrow confines of individual religious institutions. Hinduism as a religion of Dharma, not dogma, should lead this spiritual revolution, which also means clarifying the adharma that can be found among Hindus today. Unfortunately, the superficial universalism of the new Sarva-Dharma Sambhava serves only to create a smokescreen for the religious beliefs and dogmas to perpetuate themselves. You can draw an analogy. This justice does not mean that all governments are good regardless of whether they are democratic, fascist or communist.

Единство религий или путаницаThis does not mean that one should not challenge the oppression of any existing government. Similarly, this spiritual truth does not mean that all religions are necessarily good and right. Spiritual truth surpasses the organized religion, which basically serves different political and social purposes. Sarva Dharma Sambhava means the harmony of the Dharma or the principles of truth, and not the equality of religious beliefs, dogmas or institutions. Those who use this term differently abuse it. Today we are entering a new era of civilization, in which religion must be radically reformed, or completely abandoned. Probably, only those religions that will be ready to undergo radical transformation will survive. Still the question about unity amongst religion is the correct idea and concept for the humanity and is expressed in form of Sarv Dharma Sambhava ,and let there be “No Confusion “about this.