Published in: The Pioneer
    Category: Religion
    Dated: 12/23/2002
Almost everyone accepts that there is one God. Nonetheless, what everyone does not seem to know is that religion is a set of instructions given by God for the welfare of human beings. We can understand it this way. A car manufacturer supplies a set of instructions along with the car for its proper operation and maintenance. Similarly, our creator has provided us with scriptures which are supposed to guide us through our journey towards divinity. This is the true meaning of religion and it is the same for all human beings. God is impartial since all are His children. Lord Krishna states in the Bhagavad-Geeta, " I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all"(14.4). God has not given contradictory instructions to different groups, as is being claimed. In fact, that would make God fallible, which is not possible.

However, problems arise when different groups claim their interpretation of religion as superior. As stated, there cannot be many religions ; there is only one religion. Still, many groups are claiming that their religion is the best. There appear two main reasons for such uninformed claims. One, as stated earlier, true religion is misinterpreted. Then, there is a surfeit of man-made, spurious literature in the name of genuine scriptures. Anything that is made by man cannot be described as scripture especially if it is in conflict with Lord's instructions. The third problem is in giving more emphasis to externals like rituals than to the essence of the instructions. Come to think, all bonafide scriptures have the same basic message of cooperation between human beings, being merciful to all, being truthful, and so on. This is the essence of religion and any bonafide scripture shall have these basic principles.

Differences in various bonafide scriptures ( spurious literature do not count) arise in the matter of externals or the rituals since God instructed or gave instructions to different groups in different era according to the time, place and circumstances. It can be understood in this way. An agronomist, who is an expert in the science of growing crops, shall explain the best way to grow rice to the farmers of a rice-producing area. The same agro-scientist shall explain the best techniques of growing wheat to farmers who want to grow wheat. The agronomist does not become different when he speaks about growing wheat or rice. He is mainly concerned with maximising growth, which would be beneficial to the farmers. Likewise, the farmers too are not really different since they are mainly concerned with growing something which is suitable for their eating. This is like finding differences between two brothers, just because one prefers to eat papaya while the other loves to eat apples. There are bound to be differences in the details since the scriptures are meant for everyone. The scriptures have several levels of instructions, just as in a school there are many classes. Some scriptures would have more instructions applicable to a particular group while others may have one or the other detail. Differences in the details do not make them different since the essence of the instructions remains the same.

Problems arise when a section of people raise unnecessary controversy under the garb of religion. These people have no idea about religion or intentionally misinterpret God's instructions by claiming one scripture to be superior to another. And the purpose is to gain some political or other advantage.

Needless to say, such people should be, shunned. We need to be very broad-minded about scriptures of various religions ; good individuals will make use of useful information wherever they can find it, instead of comparing one scriputre with another.

To conclude, it is essential that we realize that no scripture advocates hate and violence. And more importantly, anyone who spreads or condones violence under the garb of religion is indeed a non-believer and more importantly, a false person.

Thus, to qualify to become a spokesperson for religion, one must practice the principles as laid down and anyone who sincerely practices the injunctions of the true scriptures shall only speak the language of love. There is, thus, no need whatsoever for unnecessary controversy in the name of religion.
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