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My Religion Alone Is True – A Hindu Will Never Make This Statement

Monolithic or Semitic religions always spread ‘My Religion Alone Is True’. But a follower of Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma will never make this statement. A Hindu believes ‘As many faiths, so many paths.’ All religions lead to the same goal.

Swami Vivekananda himself said that religion had entered the cooking pot. That is, what remained of religion were only ceremonials and non-essentials. Considering these to be everything, people quarreled, and there was disunity, discord and pogroms. Even today this goes on. The Catholic Church pro claimed: ‘Extra ecclesiam nulla salus – Outside the church, no salvation.’ There are those who believe that they are God’s chosen people. Then there is the militant appeal of religion. All these are aberrations of reality.

Vivekananda remarked in his famous lecture titled ‘The Way to the Realization of a Universal Religion’, delivered in 1900: ‘Each religious sect has claimed the exclusive right to live. And thus we find that though there is nothing that has brought to man more blessings than religion, yet at the same time, there is nothing that has brought more horror than religion.’ Nothing has built more charitable institutions, more hospitals for men, and even for animals, than religion; nothing has deluged the world with more blood than religion.

And he said elsewhere: There has been more bloodshed in the name of God than for any other cause, because people never went to the fountainhead; they were content only to give a mental assent to the customs of their forefathers, and wanted others to do the same.

Vivekananda repeatedly said that instead of quibbling over inessentials, if only there was an ounce of practice, much could have been done. He observed with sadness: Even at the present time we find many sects and societies, with almost the same ideas, fighting each other, because one does not want to set forth those ideas in precisely the same way as another.

What was his panacea for this fundamental and eternal problem of religion? He said that religions will have to broaden: Religious ideas will have to become universal, vast, and infinite; and then alone we shall have the fullest play of religion, for the power of religion has only just begun to manifest in the world. It is sometimes said that religions are dying out, that spiritual ideas are dying out of the world. To me it seems that they have just begun to grow.

Individualism and exclusivism - my religion alone is true - will have to leave. In today’s society, pluralism is the ideal, since it says that all religions have some truth in them. Vivekananda suggested this: The religious ideals of the future must embrace all that exists in the world and is good and great, and, at the same time, have infinite scope for future development. Religions must also be inclusive, and not look down with contempt upon one another, because their particular ideals of God are different.

Of course there should be nishtha towards our own, but we should be broad enough to assimilate good ideas from every religion.

Holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any religion in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written, in spite of resistance: ‘Help and not Fight,’ ‘Assimilation and not Destruction,’ ‘Harmony and Peace and not Dissension.’ (Swami Vivekananda at Chicago Parliament of Religions)

SourceNotes take from Prabuddha Bharata November 20025 Issue.