Richard (now Radhanath Swami) was shocked at Ayodhya, the birth place of Lord Rama, the incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Richard saw that the actual birth site of the Lord wasan abandoned mosque; a Moghul conqueror had built a mosque in the place where Lord Rama’s magnificent palace stood. Hindus and Muslims have ever since battled over the ownership of the land.
Here Richard saw military guards all over the site. Richard recalled the disputed Dome of the Rock, a sacred place for Muslims, Jews and Christians. Radhanath Swami writes in his memoir his realization of the hateful aggression in the name of religion also being a sad reality of this world. Richard ponderedover the essence of all religions being one; unconditional love and surrender to God. When people get blinded by the externals of religion, they have wars over religious designations
Radhanath Swami reveals that religion has both form and substance. The form is revealed by the way the members of the religious faith put on the robes, pray in a particular manner and perform certain rituals that are unique to their sect. However the substance is what determines the quality of the religion. The substance is the goal of the religious system. The form is useful to the extent it helps a practitioner achieve the substance. Radhanath Swami appeals to men and women of all religious faith to focus on the essence, rather than brood over the differences in the form of religion. As a practitioner of Vaishnava religion, Radhanath Swami says the substance of his religious system is not simply to know God but to develop love for God. If as spiritual students we forget this essence and focus only on the externals, we will eventually consider one religion to be superior or inferior to others. The fight over the external symbols of religion has led to riots, wars and more recently suicide bombings
Radhanath Swami points out that one of the common points in all religions is the call to chant the names of God with great love and affection for the Lord. If one sincerely chants the names of God, he or she would blossom to be become a wonderful person with all saintly qualities. Radhanath Swami gives the example from Vedic scriptures of one hunter named Mrigari who was so cruel that he derived sadistic pleasure in half killing animals. He was aggressive and violent and loved to see animals die in pain. A great devotee of the Lord, Narada felt pity on him and instructed him and guided him to chant the names of God. Mrgari’s heart and ways changed; he soon became an embodiment of compassion and was one of the most gentle and peaceful men. The holy names had dissolved all his hatred and anger. Radhanath Swami reveals how later when the saint Narada came to visit Mrgari, he was shocked to see the former hunter clear the path to make way for ants to crawl smoothly on the pathway. This is the transformational potency of one who sincerely chants the names of God.
Radhanath Swami therefore appeals that instead of bickering over the externals of various religious systems, let us all focus on chanting the holy names of God and serving each other in the mood of being the servant of servant. This way we can transform hatred to love.