Humanity has lost more lives in religious discords than in battlefields and sadly enough, continues to suffer from communal disharmony. How can we overcome this malady, asks BATURAM NAYAK. Read on to know the answer

Even as the unity of man is the essence of the highest spiritual realisation of great seers and prophets, their greatest challenge has been to make this experience universal in an endeavour to transform this earth into a heavenly place.

As Psychologist Abraham Maslow sums it up in his book, Religions, Values and Peak-experiences: “The very beginning, the intrinsic core, the essence, the universal nucleus of every known high religion … has been the private, lonely, personal illumination, revelation, or ecstasy of some acutely sensitive prophet or seer.”

He adds: “The high religions call themselves revealed religions and each of them tends to rest its validity, its function, and its right to exist on the codification and the communication of this original mystic experience or revelation from the lonely prophet to the mass of human beings in general.”

Baturam Nayak

However, it is an undeniable fact that a common thread runs through all these mystical experiences, across all religions, and as such the core religious experiences are ‘basically’ one and the same, for it belongs to and ensues from the existential reality of the one and only universal human realm.

Expressions of ‘IT’ may differ in narratives, but across all demographic differences, the core religious experiences of all human beings are one and the same.

एकम् सत् विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति

“Truth is One. Learned ones but say it in many a ways” ― so declares the Upanishads to validate the Unity of these mystical experiences, which transcend all demographic differences.

By peeling away the peripherals of religions such as rituals and practices, which are adornments attributable to subsequent developments in every religion, we can reach into the heart of the core spiritual experience.

Communicating these peak experiences to the general mass, though it is next to impossible, has as such become the sole goal of organised religions and paradoxically enough, overtime, this effort has degenerated into blind following of mere rituals and practices in the name of religion.

In this very process, religion gets cut off from its original source and is reduced to a dreary code of ethics like rote learning of a curriculum. This as such has become the plight with almost all great religions.

Capitalising on this situation, vested interest groups, as we are witnessing today, are not only creating religious bigotry, but also fanning the fire of fanaticism, which has peaked into delirium.

Kabir so gently reminds us about this fateful truth in these words:

सब आया एक ही घाट से, उतरा एक ही बाट ।

बीच में दुविधा पड़ गयी, हो गए बारह बाट ॥

Sant Kabir (Image Courtesy: Free Press Journal)

We all have descended from one common source carrying our original blessing, but midway we got confused and dispersed in many paths, forgetting and forfeiting the unity inherent in our original blessing.

What has caused this confusion, even chaos? What created divisions within us like Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Caste, Creed, Colours, Male, Female and so on? What is the root cause of the pathology in us, which blinds us from not only witnessing the vivid Truth, but perpetuates itself by inhibiting us from regaining the lost heaven, which lies within each one of us?

As the Advaita school of spirituality declares, too, seeing dichotomies around is the root cause of the pathology in us, and transcending it with a sense of ‘Oneness’ of everything and everyone is the only way to fusion in our basic Oneness.

Celebrating this ultimate realisation, Kabir ecstatically sings the verse of fusion in these words:

हिन्दू कहूँ तो हूँ नहीं, मुसलमान भी नाही ।

गैबी दोनों बीच में, खेलूं दोनों माही ॥

Neither I am a Hindu nor a Muslim, being in between I interplay in both of them and enjoy my playful time!

However, even as we inherit the timeless legacy of realised souls like him, who have succeeded in forging the ultimate fusion of religions not merely by realising it, but upholding the Truth of Oneness in thought and deed, as a progressive civilisation, we have failed to reach those heights.

Searching for harmony

Philosopher Paul Tillich has very succinctly defined religion as “a concern with ultimate concern.” Perhaps, humanity as an evolving entity is yet to understand this ultimate concern, both in letter and spirit.

Actualising it at the individual level is “Self-Realisation”, as seers like Adi Shankaracharya have experienced it. But, at the level of the collective, we are as yet not evolved enough to give it a concrete shape and therein lies the sadness of it.

Humanity has lost more lives in religious discords than in battlefields and sadly enough, continues to suffer from communal disharmony ― this is a great malady of our times.

Can we overcome this malady? Can’t we overcome this malady?

Although, it seems that no one can answer this in concrete terms, as yet, we must not abdicate our responsibility to work upon restoring communal harmony.

If we give up or throw up our hands in despair, it would be the negation of the most precious original blessing each of us are endowed with by Providence. Be it for God’s sake, or for humanity’s sake, let us not give it a religious name, discolour it and defile it. If we do so, it would be a disservice to God, to our very own pristine pure self, and, of course, to entire humanity.

Baturam Nayak, a postgraduate in economics, joined the banking sector in 1983 and retired in June 2020. He is a firm believer in simplicity and minimalism. “My faith is Oneness, एकत्वम्; that’s the way I would express myself and live in harmony with everything,” he says.

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Featured Image (Adi Shankaracharya) Courtesy: Free Press Journal