Beauty of religious diversity

Beauty of religious diversity

Religious-Diversity4For a spiritual novice as myself, reading the heart-touching struggle of Dalai Lama and his amazing story of exile and escape has given me determination to struggle in seeking God. After the attack by Chinese military, Dalai Lama had to flee from his beloved homeland. At Mcleod Ganja, he and his followers made their residence. ‘The Journey Home’ describes in great detail the fascinating culture of the Tibetan Buddhists. Whether it is their noodle soup called thupka or their chanting of ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ or their traditional attire or their magnificent deity of the Buddha, the whole description filled my heart with the appreciation for God’s splendor in revealing Himself in such a variegated way to people all over the world.

Radhanath Swami has also often emphasized the need for us to appreciate the beauty and diversity in God’s revelations. Unfortunately people in this world get affected by externals negatively rather than see the differing externals as an opportunity to increase our appreciation for the Lord. Since most scriptures report vastly different divine revelations and reveal different names of God like jahweh, Allah, Jesus, Buddha and so on, many followers of one sect condemn the others as infidels or heretics. In the ensuing bickering and fights, the naturally secular minded and intelligent people get disillusioned with religion itself. Religion and spirituality per se acquires a bad name and one wonders, “If there is one God, why He should manifest Himself in different ways and give different instructions?”

Radhanath Swami reveals that there is an answer to this question in yet another scripture, the Bhagavad-gita. This song (gita) was sung by God (bhagavan) during His descent on earth five millennia ago. The Lord—known as Krishna, “the all-attractive”—addresses His friend and disciple Arjuna: “As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pritha” (Bg. 4.11).

Considered as an answer to the problem of religious diversity, this statement judiciously directs us between extremes. It avoids, on the one hand, those forms of sectarianism which grant some particular religious tradition exclusive franchise on God: “Everyone follows My path in all respects.” On the other hand, it rejects that sentimentality which uncritically endorses any and all forms of spirituality. Rather, Krishna offers a principle by which we can discriminate among them: “As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly.”

The Sanskrit word translated here as “I reward”—bhajami—is pregnant with meaning. It is formed from a word which fundamentally means “to distribute” or “to share with.” Most frequently, however, it means “to serve in love,” or, loosely, “to worship.” Thus we see that Krishna is stating a principle of reciprocation. God reciprocates with us justly by distributing Himself—revealing Himself—to us exactly in proportion to the degree that we have surrendered ourselves to Him.

Radhanath Swami has repeatedly appealed that no time and no place has a monopoly on God’s self- revelation. God comes as He is needed, with always the same mission: to repair and restore the time-ravaged path of religion, overgrown and eroded by neglect and abuse. Thus the Lord not only establishes religion on earth, but return again and again as its ceaseless maintainer.

So we need not be alarmed by the number and variety of God’s appearances as recounted in the world’s revealed scriptures. Responding gratefully to the divine bounty, we should aspire to an inclusive, broadminded perspective, understanding each particular descent of God according to the principle by which revelation is reciprocated for surrender.


Live a Reply

Live Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *