Man witnessed natural disasters and terrifying incidents threatening the very survival of his existence. When natural forces were not in his favor, he had to suffer. He started probing ways and means to prevent these unfavorable occurrences that created fear, insecurity, pain and suffering.
It was difficult for the prehistoric man to understand the cause and effect of natural phenomena’s. He assumed there are some supernatural forces or a superior person, behind all these happenings. He termed it, as the work of Gods.
To calm down the destructive rage of natural forces, man began to worship them. He laced his prayers with praises seeking protection from the Gods of rain, the gods of fire and the sun god etc etc. When things went in favor or against man, he saw the laws of nature, as the act of the Gods. His ultimate aim was to gain protection from Gods to face a hostile world, which constantly threatened his survival by natural calamities and ferocious animals.
Along with these concepts, certain other practices developed. They were rites, rituals and ceremonies or festivals, religion became an intrinsic part of every civilization. The foundation of religion was laid by man at the beginning for self-preservation because of fear, insecurity, misapprehension of life and natural phenomena, After that man embellished religion by introducing faith, offerings, prayers, vows, penalties, morals and ethics in the name of god in order to manage mankind.
Primitive humans lived in an unsafe and unfriendly world. The fear of wild animals, insufficient food, injury, disease, death and natural calamities constantly troubled them. With no real security at hand, they created the idea of make-believe Gods in order to give them the fortitude to face danger, which served as a psychological placate when things went wrong. God idea a byproduct of human anxiety and fear and faith in it gave man the strength to deal with the ordeal of life. God idea was actually conceptualized out of human fear and frustration.
Man thought that God concept was necessary to explain the origin of the universe. Even if science has revealed the cause of universe with no God it has certainly relied on mental constructs and theoretical models. For that reason, we should recognize the fact that cosmic processes are surely without a beginning or an end and are set in motion by natural causes. Our inability to explain the unknowable does not prove the existence or extinction of God. It only shows that our knowledge of the universe is incomplete. When our knowledge becomes more inclusive we may of course find out what causes this unexplained phenomenon.
Though the basic content of religion consists of a God, soul, prayers, worship, sacrifices, rituals and ceremonies but in nutshell God, universe, man and truth were the foundation stone of religious philosophy. The wisdom of religion was to know THAT, which was beyond the comprehension of our limited human faculties. Unconcerned whether THAT actually existed or not the ancient sages pursued to know THAT by contemplating on how the unheard can be heard, the unthought-of is thought, the unknown is known and the unseen is seen? This was a unique philosophical attempt that went beyond human limitations.
Every religion has three components (1) philosophy and ethics (2) mythology and rituals (3) and ceremonies. Every religion has core concepts but they do not match with the mythology and ritualistic part of religions, they are different and divergent to each other. Today the followers of religion have shifted from the core values which are similar in all religions and dwell on mythology, rituals and ceremonies which are different in each religion mistaking it as their religion. This is the root cause of conflict between religions.
Religion has passed through many phases, the concept and meaning of religion has changed from time to time according to human understanding. In the beginning, the primitive man could not explain the incidents of lightening, storms, rain, floods, earthquakes and volcanoes and other natural occurrences so he performed peculiar practices to control natural calamities to protect his life, this was termed as magic.
Thus religion in prehistoric time was recognized with magic. Soon after the idea of magic vanished it was veneered by the idea that there existed a supreme power which causes these phenomena. This power was assumed as frightful and wonderful. To propitiate the generous and pacify a hurtful power, methods of appeasement were deployed. Religion at this juncture was associated with beliefs, rituals, ceremonies, prayers and sacrifices. Later that power was called God, who created this world and man. This was followed by the belief that a man has a soul; this soul is eternal and is answerable to god for mans action in this world. This is what religion has come to be, this is what it connotes – belief in god, belief in soul, worship of god, propitiating god by prayers, rituals, ceremonies, sacrifices etc. faith was easily accepted by the uneducated people in the medieval age but the modern educated man understands through rationale explanation thus religion is now out of place for the educated modern man.
We need to establish the “religion of righteousness”, which means right relations between man and man in all the activities of life. The foundation of this religion will be right understanding and compassion. Society can neither live nor grow without love. This religion will lead to oneness of earth and oneness of mankind and open a new chapter of civilization to prosper in its glory.
Society cannot do without a religion. But still the society must have an alternative to choose from: A religion less society. A religion enforced by an indisputable authority, and a religion as a self-governing body, using the law of the state sparingly, if people fail to observe its tenets. Religion less society can lead to anarchy. Religion forced on people can sap the human liberty. Only the third option remains to be experimented. The concept of Swadharma is to highlight the third option.
Until 3000 years ago, all religions were pantheistic and polytheistic as Hinduism, Taoism and Shinto still are. Then the movement of monotheistic religions started in the Middle East 3000 years ago and spread in their Christian form throughout Europe and then on to the European colonized territories during the last 1500 years. These monotheistic religions fought fiercely to eradicate nature worship in the lands they controlled.
God is an idea. Religion is the vehicle to promote that idea thus all religions start with an assumption of God. Religions consist of stories, symbols and rituals to make God appear real. All religious stories have plots that defy imagination. The unrealistic content is meant to draw attention to the idea that God is present. With gross exaggerations the search for ‘God’ in the framework of religion is a futile search. God may have created man but man has created religion. Even if all religions say that their God is the only God and their particular holy book contains the ultimate truth revealed to man through God or that they contain the best solution to man’s problems. Those who claim this forget that all this has come out from the mind and nowhere else. Is there anything beyond the human mind in religious text or in the idea of God?
It is also interesting to note that the concept of God in every religion is the same but on the contrary, Buddha did not use the concept of god or the soul theory, hell or heaven to formulate a religion nor did he exploit fear and distorted views regarding the natural phenomena to support his religion, neither did he demand blind faith or rites and rituals. He also did not seek the authority of any external divine agency to strengthen his arguments. He just used the right understanding of life, the world and the natural phenomena or the cosmic order and the real characteristic of mind and matter, elements and energies, moral and spiritual development, discipline and mental training, purification, knowledge, wisdom and enlightenment to build his religion.
The traditional position is that the universe is governed by fixed set of laws in the form of infinitely precise mathematical relationships imprinted on the universe from its birth. In this orthodox picture, the physical world is affected by laws but the laws are completely impervious to what happens in the universe, as if a deity (god) ordered the universe with a set of perfect laws, unexplained god or unexplained laws, time has come to seek a theory to bring the law of physics within the scope of scientific inquiry, the vast endless pure and knowledgeable, engulfing everything including ourselves, like consciousness. This is god a vast ocean of consciousness, he is here and everywhere, he is the element of the universe he is time he is space he is knowledge incarnate
Major religions based on a book are Christianity, Islam and Jainism. Diverse paths were laid by different religions to reach the destination of truth. Hinduism through the evolution of thought, Buddhism through reason, Jainism through relativity, Zoroastrianism through worship, Christianity through love, Muslims through the book of revelation and Sikhism through devotion. India was the place where major religions were born. Many scholars therefore believe that civilization had come from the East.
Religions were the expressions of their founders. Even after taking up arms against pantheism to get rid of and swap it with monotheism, without knowing they introduced symbols of forms and promoted pantheism inadvertently under their monotheistic religion. This reveals how weak the foundation of pantheistic and monolithic models is.
Some religions are described as disclosure that reveals a message of God to man to worship him and save his soul. God’s message is sent through a chosen person a prophet who reveals it to the people. This abstraction and the unexplained continue to be the pivotal position of religion. The duty of the prophet is to take the followers towards salvation and save their souls from being sent to hell thus it is compulsory for them to obey God’s commands and recognize the prophet as the messenger.
A Holy Scripture should serve as a map to arrive at a destination. But there is utter confusion with multiple versions of the Holy Scriptures, translated or rendered by several commentators. In this incomprehensible variety of interpretations the validity is certainly lost. A single holy book has a supermarket of its interpretations, if a follower doesn’t like one he can take another. Confusing, irrelevant and unreadable is the text of religious books.
Everything in a scripture cannot be taken as a truth. Many statements in these ancient texts are contextual. Today things have changed from the time of the original founders. We need to explain the meaning of scriptures in the modern perspective with the knowledge of life and living.
To bond their follower’s religions have created their own unique identities and on the whole represent a group of people as a community nevertheless religion and community serve different functions. It is a paradox that the followers of religion move with the time and use modern technology while remaining rigid to their age old worn out traditions. What is the essence religion? Do people really need to follow any code of conduct to become religious?
It is baffling why religious scriptures, prayers and mindless rituals can trigger so much emotion in inhuman beings. We’ve enough of that, when is it likely to become uninteresting. We should rather look forward and put our fears aside and step into the fold of Swadharma.
Several religions were created differing with the irrational customs and rituals prevalent at that time but later they went on to become what it opposed leaving behind an unchanged, if not a more confused state of affairs. Scriptures merely contain material of truth perceived and relevant to that time when they were written.
The studies of religious scriptures make clear that MAN alone has created the idea of God and religion. Religious leaders simply structured the doubts and desires of people into principles to establish a social order but people still continue to believe that religions were created by a divine being other than a human being, which is incorrect.
Some people form their views on religion randomly and fabricate it falsely, they move forward complex conjectures and visualize that Mans deliverance is attainable only by the acceptance of their assumptions but Truth is not based on belief. To proceed with such theories is improper.
When the authors of religious books did not see God than how can the followers know him. It is not possible for the religious leaders to show the way that which they neither know nor have seen. Their talk is vain and consists of empty and deceptive words.
Rationality does not lead to truth nor can truth be known without reason. The world in reality exists. Imaginary beliefs do not tell the truth they bring out errors. Faults can be fashioned but truth cannot be altered. Strike at truth and not its interpretation. There is a way in which one, who describes a thing, is telling the truth and there is a way in which one expresses the opposite is also speaking of truth. Truth is one but its expressions are relative to reality and said differently by different people about the same thing. It is better to comprehend one standpoint than different point of views.
Besides the bigoted try to prove that even the inaccuracies in their holy books are true. With this mindset followers fail to know the correct character of their creed. That’s why it is our duty to disconnect truth from error and than leave it to the people to judge themselves what promotes their welfare and what is against their interest. People should accept what is true and reject what is false and lift the human race from ignorance.
In a money-oriented world religious imposters exploit the poor people who are willing to believe in anything by foretelling that religion is the sole rescuer of their poverty. By lending hope to the poor they induce them to follow meaningless rituals so that they may forget their troubles. By this manipulative procedure religious establishment have become richer and the poor poorer. People and the state must cease to support them.
Swadharma does not adopt any of those age old beliefs. It uses right understanding of life, the world, the cosmic order, the real characteristics of mind and matter, elements and energies, the acquisition of moral and spiritual development, discipline, mental training and purification, knowledge, wisdom and enlightenment.
No supernatural being, no system of belief and no religion. The proclamation of Swadharma is based on natural and spiritual thoughtfulness, a spiritual sense that arises from the union of natural and spiritual human experience.
Faith was developed to overcome man’s fear. Down the ages, faith has been a fundamental feature of human life. Faith is like “dropping in the dark not knowing where to land”.or“Jump from a mountain believing to fall in somebody lap is”. Or lay down life to enter heaven.
People repose faith in something that serves as an anchor to accomplish their pursuit. Lack of faith tends to question everything. Faith helps to move forward and gives a meaning to life. Faith is not based on reason. Different people have different faith. Faiths even incite mass destruction some of the most heinous crimes in the history of mankind has been committed in the name of faith.
Faith is not always futile. It gives hope that truth can be found and the strength to seek it. Without reason faith tends to become false whereas reason with no faith weakens the curiosity to know. Reason seeks to know truth and faith the will to overcome disbelief. While reason is contented with what is known, even as faith aspires to explore the unknown. To know the unknown is far-fetched and involves unending endeavor, faith surely serves as a stepping stone to open out. Faith does not diminish doubt during the period of exploration. Doubt is a process of mental clarification. Faith can impel men to search the unknown. Without faith nothing great can be accomplished by man. Faith in oneself alone can carry man to know the final truth.
Faith so often is viewed as a controversial matter. It means different things to different people, a conviction without any logic or simply put a blind belief. Some view it as a positive force capable to move mountains and others as a false notion. Faith and reason certainly oppose each other. Reason appeals to thoughts and faith to emotions. Arriving at truth is a tricky process therefore the best of human minds have judiciously used both faith and reason to move forward in their search for truth.
The unexplained is like a blank paper. Faith acts as a stimulus to discover the apparent. The power of faith goes beyond the longing of the inaccessible. Faith restricts the mind and thoughts weave a cobweb of assumptions. Reason decides to agree or deny it. Faith is earnest in its pursuit and can submit to the will of the unseen forces. Faith with reason tells the truth. Religion and rituals only blur the vision of truth. Nothing seems unattainable to those who rely on faith but those who view the act of faith through the parameters of reason term it as sightless and silly.
Life is a sequence of perceptions and reactions. We perceive things, beings, events, circumstances continuously and respond to our perceptions. Human life in a nutshell consists of knowledge and karma. To obtain knowledge faith is required but blind faith lacks proof. Facts need verification and open to experience and experimentation. Every person has faith in something or the other that guides his vision and understanding of life. Drawn into right and wrong, money and morals, it is difficult to distinguish between reality and the make-believe world.
When faith passes through personal experience its rationality and foolishness is discerned. Mere knowledge is not the ultimate aim of human life. The process of knowing reality is unending. No one arrives at an end we just take a route to reflect. Since abstract simultaneously exists we are surrounded by various systems of belief. Faith makes easier to absorb knowledge, knowledge without faith produce scholars. But knowledge with faith is vital to progress on the spiritual path. Ironically the same faith that takes us forward can turn out to be a hindrance to development.
Correct understanding comes not without seeing but faith can believe in things not so far seen but anticipate seeing Faith can go beyond human limitations and reason Faith gives the power to do anything. In the state of faith we grow.
Religions have turned techno-savvy with websites facilitating to offer special prayers in temples and sites carry spiritual discourses, TV serials too beam serials, yesterdays sex bombs are now TV-baptized by these religious serials, showcasing latest God man/cult
Religion is a set of redundant beliefs. And all mystical traditions are looked upon as acts of deception. Human beings spiritual inclination and the existence of natural forces are universally accepted as facts. How can anything be a reality about which no one knows anything? The idea of God invented by religion is indeed based on human imagination and does not come from any extraterrestrial sources.
Devotion is linked to emotion and emotion to blind faith. Devotion was made an essential part of a religion because the founders saw that their calls could easily connect with human emotions and it did not bond as easily with reasonable minds. Religions therefore preferred to nurture faith and devotion without rationality, resulting in religious fanaticism. The sad outcome of their failed experiment is before the world to judge.
Magical stories were juggled to set up the supernatural being as real persona. Like in one case an angel appears before a chosen person to reveal the divine dictates for the people to follow. In another case an individual is possessed by a mystical being that makes revelations to him and in other case a person in trance connects himself with a divine being, such stories move on and goes forth to convey that the supernatural being is inaccessible by ordinary people. The situations in these cases match the morbid state caused by drugs or mental abnormality or through fear or emotional strain.
Drinking custom was a part of religious practices. To stimulate religious feeling Vedic priests used to intoxicate themselves with the juice of soma and utter prophecies. Drinking of wine continues to be a part of communion service of the Christians.
Early religion was simply ritualistic and known for its magic and miracles. The worship of Fire, Lightning, Rivers, Storms, Winds and Trees, the Sun and Animals was the order of Gods. Later Rituals were meant for mans well-being. Then on the repetition of meaningless words, mantras and the scared text was the magic potion for salvation besides flattering the Gods through prayers was held to grant boons and remove all sins.
Dogmas are meaningless and cannot define what they exactly mean. They are vague perceptions of faith, which religion has forced upon their followers as indisputable facts. Religion can never stand the test to prove the ideas it spreads. To survive religion acquired an unquestionable authority to impose beliefs. It compelled people to follow holding the scepter of hell and heaven to reprimand and reward. How long can religion compel people to believe in what they cannot understand? Such justifications have led to the decline of religion.
Each religion gives a unique identity to a group of people. It also offers a code of conduct. Founders of religions never urged their followers to build Temples, Churches, Mosque or a Monastery or appoint a Pundit, a Pontiff, a Mullah or a Lama as custodians, authorizing them to yield unbridled license, to enforce their simple message of human well-being. All this was created into a spoil system of misuse, many centuries after the death of the founders, at the behest of the power hungry and greedy religious leaders, who wanted to create an institution to serve their personal agendas at the cost of the mass majority of poor and the uneducated blind followers.
The founders were not concerned about religious rituals, their demands and their social criticism were moral, indeed and the concern about ritual was one of the things they persistently denounced in the name of the overriding importance of social justice. What they wanted was not any ritual but justice, mercy and humility.
A religion that promotes miracles and mystical powers and promises material gain is simply exploiting those fears which arise from lack of knowledge and the need of material resources of the uneducated and the poor class of the society. Besides playing God it gains confidence in the face of fear syndrome created by uncertainty of human life and destiny.
The place of worship has made miracles a condition to confer Sainthood as they know well that the main miracle of all is faith itself. If we see that miracles are once again back it should not be a shocker. Miracles have to to be manufactured constantly by the priest to avoid disbelief in religion. There is no difficulty with the faithful because they can be led to believe miracle in anything.
The house of worship does not recognize service to humanity as worthy to grant sainthood but approves miracles seeing them as act of God. Verifying evidence on the fiction of divine powers is a ploy. The issue is no more to ascertain the fake or real saints. Religions have always used miraculous powers to promote their religion by misleading the ignorant and the gullible. Miracles give theological flavor, the characters and situations in the religious stories become bigger than life to stir the emotions of the followers, which produce awe, astonishment, surprise and admiration. This is how religions flourish and survive.
Holy saints are for every occasion. Every year the saints get more company. Even in this disbelieving age the house of worship continues to create new saints and everybody from airhostesses to diplomats, cabbies to aids workers are granted as special protectors. Saints who help those falsely accused of cannibalism, who aid twitters others worthy functions like protecting against caterpillars and in law problems or maybe a saint for the internet.
In modern era nobody will accept a miracle because miracles belong to an unscientific age of ignorance and superstition. It is said that natural processes appeared miraculous to the simpletons of the bygone age but now in our scientific age finding a logical explanation for anything out of the ordinary has become necessary.
Some coincidences are perceived to be miracles. Even if miracles are unforeseen events produced by supernatural acts and not by natural means, considering that laws of nature cannot be violated then it is not possible for any event to be a miracle. However it is observed that natural laws claimed scientifically by physicists are often superseded, leaving behind a feeling of incomprehension that gives reason to doubt that many aspects of natural laws which govern us are still beyond the human grasp. What appears to be a miracle maybe the reflection of some natural laws at work, unknown to us?
Religious rituals reflect the tradition of people and the place where they dwell. Rituals are ornaments made by religion to attract the attention of the people. Even when performed under ceremonial glitterati, the efficacy of rituals has failed to promote spiritual development but as a balm it calms the psychological disorder as claimed by the devotees in distress.
Religion is dull and dead without festivals. Religious festivals are held with the intention to catch the attention of the followers to participate in religious festivals intentionally so as to keep the association of their inherited religion alive. The pomp and show of these festivals is painstakingly matched with the current ceremonial style and modern-day entertainment but no effort is made to update the outdated religious content. However to others, the manner in which the processions are taken out and the ceremonies are conducted all religious festivals have become a nuisance.
Morality refers to ethical issues concerning the principles of right and wrong conduct to regulate right human behavior that builds good character, society and continued existence of humanity. Moral code is a shared common definition based on particular cultural, religious and philosophical concepts and beliefs that distinguish between right and wrong to ensure harmony between individuals in order to have a good human society. Morality is all about relationship. Ethics is known as moral philosophy and is commonly used with morality. Despite some commonality morality is often distinguished from etiquette, law and religion.
In the formative state of human society only the fittest survived. To establish a just and fair social order the need to protect the have and have-nots in the struggle of existence became imperative. To protect the weak some restraints on the fittest were imposed. With this the foundation of morality was laid. The code of morality was initially imposed on the strongest to protect the weakest. Infringement was regulated by fear psychosis of hell and observance was rewarded by complimentary stay in heaven.
Religion includes stories about supernatural beings used to explain or justify the behavior it prohibits or requires. Whereas morality is only a guide to conduct, religion is always more than this. Even though every religion preaches morality but morality is not the root cause of any religion. Morality is simply an add-on of religions. Religions have dealt morality casually and occasionally to suit their requirements. Had it been otherwise no man would have killed another man in the name of religion.
The views on absolute and relative morality differs therefore the ordinary man is unable to specify exactly what is good, right, moral and ethical. Religious people justify morality from religious books, while non-religious people justify morality on logic. The definition of morality is not stagnant. It is therefore necessary to adapt morality to a changing humanity in the age of globalization where new ideas are always evolving.
Morality should now take the place of God. The new religion will have no place for prayers, pilgrimages, rituals or sacrifices. Morality will be the essence of Swadharma. It is for mans own well that man has to love man. Morality will be made sacred and to transgress it would be sacrilege thus people will not violate it.
But the religious zealots and the fundamentalist are the most disruptive elements who continue to destabilize the fabric of the society in the name of religious morality to serve their vested interest. If society continues to consist of such anti-social religious groups, society will remain disorganized. If the society tolerates groups with irrational agenda it will collapse. The only way to put a stop is to ignore religions and uproot them from the society. To safeguard the growth of each individual and the society the only remedy is to embrace universal Brotherhood and peaceful co-existence.
Types of Religions
Religion started with worshiping many gods, 3000 years ago, religions were conceived in revolt against polytheism. Buddha protested against polytheism but his followers began to worship his statue much as the Christians began worshiping the idols of Christ and Mary, Muslims the stones of their holy places and Sikhs their holy book.
Hinduism is neither a religion nor a community. It consists of a number of communities having different Gods worshiped in different ways. Even the worship of god wasn’t essential for a person who has adopted Hindu way of life.
The question that tormented the Indian seers was how to free man from suffering; life’s travails and find happiness the ultimate reality. Through the Vedas a Vedic Culture evolved in India, which contributed towards the evolution of Dharma. The Vedanta was not initiators of any religion. Their teachings were simply known as Dharma, which meant a sense of value, duty and law. It was only Dharma that was once prevalent throughout the world. To begin with religion had no name. Hinduism was the name given by foreigners, when they reached this country through Sind. Hinduism is an assortment of traditions with no clear center. Vedanta or now the so called Hinduism is an evolved religion unlike other religions that imposed holy books like the Bible and the Koran on their followers. Hinduism has no specific religious book to follow.
Hinduism means the Vedic faith. Even Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism are just as Vedic. The founders of these sects as well as their and subscribers were followers of Vedas. Hinduism as the philosophy of life has held itself open-ended so as to integrate all forms of belief and worship without selecting or rejecting them, Hindus can venerate God in any form, doesn’t matter what it maybe from male and female genital to animals. A Hindu can follow any religion and still be a Hindu. He has faith that all godly powers bless mankind irrespective of his religion.
Conflict between Hinduism and its sects are recent phenomena otherwise they have common characteristics and are reciprocally inclusive throughout. The Jain and the Sikhs consider themselves as siblings of Hindus. Many Hindus worship Buddha as a re-incarnation of Lord Vishnu. They also visit Jain, Buddhist and Sikh places of worship. India has always remained secular and plural society throughout its history. The state had no declared faith, except for Ashoka and the Muslim rulers who made Buddhism and later Islam the state religion of India.
Hinduism has no founder, neither a single holy book nor any distinct school of thought. Its essence is mystic and amazingly chaotic, Hindus begin their religious journey on the path of confusion on which all relevant and irrelevant thoughts and practices of religion are laid for the seeker to appreciate the logical and the illogical so as to reach a correct understanding. But on the contrary holy books create a conditioned understanding because they are forced upon the followers as the ultimate point of view. Later the confusion of emerging out of a conditioned state of mind is indeed unbearable for the followers of such rigid religions. Hindu can worship the sun; the trees, snakes, monkey or he can pray thousands of gods and goddesses or invent a god or goddess exclusively for himself.
Live and let live philosophy has given Hinduism strength, it has no rigidities and no dos or don’ts, it follows no fixed pattern and it is free-for-all. Everything according to them depends on their karma. A Hindus religious involvement is his personal business. Hinduism needs no fanatics to save nor do the Hindus see their religion in danger. Hinduism is a way of life. Hindus do not believe in conversion of faiths, they willingly accept the good of other religions in their fold.
India is a diverse heritage, the people living here were known as Indus to the Greeks and Hindus to the invaders because the country was on the banks of the Indus became India. There was no caste, no temple, only prayers in oral tradition of the Vedas. Religion was Dharma, was a way to realize peace and harmony through the practice of values.
In India, all religious communities are similar in their religious culture practices and share the nation’s social ethos, yet they want to appear different rather then be similar. People worship the same God but view him through their own thinking. Some protagonists of monotheism have their symbols of worship but denounce others for idolatry.
Hinduism states that we all are determined by our karma, according to them an eternal soul or atman passes from one life to the next. Other religions deny it but some believe that there is a constantly changing stream of mental energy that appears again and again and not as a separate entity.
Buddha’s whole work was carried on by oral communication writing was known in his day but certainly book writing was not unheard of. Books were not written but learned by rote and taught from memory. It is probably too much to believe that the very words in which Buddha spoke have come down to us. But there is no reason to disbelief either because these words were spoken by Buddha hundred and thousand times throughout his long life of teaching.
Most religious scriptures took shape long after the founders were gone, when their philosophies assumed the proportions of mass movements. It was Ashoka 200 years after Buddha, who expanded the reach of Buddhism from a local faith to became an international belief. It was St. Peter and St. Paul who, after Christ’s crucifixion gave shape to Christianity. But for the efforts of the first four Caliphs the message of Prophet Mohammad may have remained a desert philosophy.
Buddhism is not a concoction of religions or diverse religious ideas. The Buddha did not collect materials from other religions or philosophical ideas here and there. Buddhism has its own characteristics and identity. No religious teacher had found the absolute truth and a lasting formula for the final salvation of man; they had merely attained certain stages of spiritual development without complete freedom from beliefs, illusions, imagination, hallucination and ignorance.
Buddhism, which is, in fact, an offshoot of Hinduism, categorically devices the existence of God and soul, moreover, it goes on to question the validity of the Vedas. One takes refuge in the Buddha’s path because it allows the freedom to modulate it to one’s self-awareness. Buddhism view of dependent origination and the inherent emptiness of all phenomena is a profound and radical one. It dispenses with the existence of creator God.
One day, the confused people of Kalama, a state in North Western India, asked the Buddha, “Sir, so many preachers, philosophers, teachers, come to us with their beliefs. Each of them says, what they teach is truth, whom are we to believe.” The Buddha smiled, his answers scholars say, is one of the most extraordinary in the history of religion, “Believe not anything, just because it is said by your elders, the wise, the enlightened ones or the Buddha, accept as the truth only what you find, your direct experience that which is beneficial and good for all, harmful to none”. The concept of Swadharma is based on the idea of this unique philosophy.
Atheism is a system of views rejecting faith in the spirits, god, life beyond death etc. Atheism criticizes religious dogmas from the standpoint of scientific study of the universe. It expresses the social role of religion and shows how religion has created misery from time immemorial. The philosophic basis of atheism is materialism and to certain extends material spirituality. They consider the arguments about existence of god as being fallacious.
It is difficult to recognize the idea of an unidentified atheist power regulating. When the Taliban in Afghanistan destroyed the ancient Buddhists statues at bamiyan, many westerners were outraged but how many of them actually believed in the divinity of the Buddha? Rather they were angered because the Taliban did not show appropriate respect for the cultural heritage of their country.
Muhammad Ibn Abdullah became a prophet at the age of 40 years, according to Islamic belief in 610 AD, when he recovered his first visitation from angel Gabriel in a cave and recited the first verses of Koran, for next 25 years of Muhammad’s life the Koran was revealed in its entirety, stating guidelines of human conduct in accordance with gods will. He preached a new religion that condemned idolatry and paganism, he declared that the Jewish torah and Christian bible were corrupted forms of god’s words and therefore Allah had given the Koran to him.
The open denunciation of the religion of idolatry posed a threat to his followers few listened to Muhammad’s message and animosity against him grew. Muhammad and his follower migrated to medina, in medina the Arab tribe’s submitted and the prophet became the ruler backed by political power assuming the title as the commander of the believers. Prophet was set upon a course of expansion, the prophet through military action jihad and diplomatic initiatives soon vanquished Mecca and other cities of Arabia, which submitted to his authority and embraced Islam, Muhammad, entered Kaba, destroyed the idols and declared it an abode of Allah, here naked brutal force was used to demolish old religion and establish a new religion through jihad.
Mohammad, the prophet of Islam, claimed that he was a prophet sent by god. He further claimed that no one could get salvation unless he accepted certain conditions. A seeker of salvation in Islam must accept that Mohammad is the prophet of god. A seeker after salvation in Islam must further accept that he is the last prophet. Salvation in Islam is ensured only to those who accept these two conditions. Mohammad thus secured a place for himself by making the salvation of the Muslims depend upon the acknowledgement of Mohammad as the prophet of god.
Followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are more alike than different in their religious beliefs and practices, yet they are intolerant to each other. For Muslims, the favorite way to alienate other communities is to regard them as kafir, in total disregard of the historical context in which Islam had used these Arabic expression 1500 years ago.
Islam is being seen as synonymous with terrorism, though most of the terrorists are Muslim but all Muslims are not a terrorist. Jihad is due to the mullahs who mislead their followers, to enjoy the benefits of power and the majestic style of modern living, under the cover of preaching medieval age sermons to suit their personal interest and not for the benefit of their followers. In fact the Koran says, whosoever kills a single human being, it is as if he has killed all mankind. It is wrong to stigmatize the teaching of the Koran or the prophet or the Muslims, the blame lies directly on the mullahs who mislead the innocent followers of their faith.
In the Muslim world liberal reformers are accused of being kafirs, liberals who genuinely endeavor in order to guide Muslims to an enlightened existence are looked upon with suspicion. The moderate face of Muslims, reforms and reconstruction must for all practical and moral reasons come from within the community, as long as modern educational opportunities are not available, the Muslim masses will perforce gravitate towards the religious rigidities of mullahs. Influential imams, mullahs and ayatollahs have hijacked Islam holding the entire community to ransom. The proposal of modernism has been engulfed by the acts of the fanatics so much so that every effort to interpreting and rejuvenating the right Islam is seen with suspicion.
The most disturbing phenomenon is the widening divide between the Islamic and the non-Islamic world. The divide is not because any particular religion is growing. In fact the divide is over the emergent attitude of the people worldwide against the institution of religion as a whole and is not directed against Islam, which is erroneously being understood. People want fast forward and not a replay of religions anymore.
Christ claimed to be the prophet of Christianity. He further claimed that he was the son of god. Christ also laid down the condition that there was no salvation for a person unless he accepted that Christ secured a place for himself by making the salvation of the Christian depend upon his acceptance of Christ as the prophet and son of god.
None of the founders of organized religions have said that when they am gone, let the order, if it should so wish, abolish all the lesser and minor percepts. Truth existed before the founders of religions were born and exist even after they passed away not as they interpreted it. Truth is eternal, above all human nature. The truth envisaged in the religious books are temporary, they were prescribed because they suited the occasion and were needed for some transient emergency. The truth is however not temporary. Truth is the ultimate standard by which we can discern false and true doctrines. Let us then, revere the truth, let us inquire into truth and state it, and let us obey the truth. For truth is our guide, our God.