Universality in Diversities of Religions-Dr. Ravindra Kumar*
“अयं निज: परो वेति गणना लघुचेतसाम् । उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् ॥”
AYAM NIJAH PAROVETI GANANAA LAGHU-CHETSAAM, UDAARA CHARITAANAAM TU VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBAKAM [‘this is my own and that a stranger’, is the calculation of the narrow-mindedness; for the magnanimous–hearts, however, the entire earth is but one family.]-Hitopadesha: 1: 3: 71
Despite apparent diversities in the fundamentals or the teachings within the world religions, human-unity and dedication to universality is in fact the foremost and principal feature of each and every religion.
Diversity, if defined or analyzed on the basis of underlying the philosophies of religions, appears as a process of teaching the varied followers in different ways. In the prevailing circumstances of space, for the sole purpose of the safety of existence, development and achievement of goal, conduction of action-process on the basis of high human-value, is the gist of manifesting diversities of all religions.
Diversity is a typical characteristic of humanity, a common attribute. The development of several different traditions, practices, beliefs and methods of worship originated within the various cultures in different parts of the globe from time-to-time. Therefore, it is almost impossible to discard the reality of diversity. It is usual and necessary.
However, despite manifesting diversities, the main purpose of all religions is to impart the knowledge of human-unity among their followers. The essence of all teachings of each and every religion is to lead its respective followers toward the truth and light on the one hand and with the purpose of making life meaningful, to inspire them to act constantly on the other. This reality can be well understood from a keen human-desire which appears in the following Shloka of the Brhadaranyak Upanishad:
“असतो मा सद्गमय । तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।। मृत्योर्मामृतं गमय ।”1
ASATO MA SADGAMAYA; TAMASO MA JYOTIRGAMAYA; MRTYORMAAMRTAM GAMAYA
[Meaning thereby: Lead me from the Asat to the Sat; Lead me from darkness to light; Lead me from death to immortality]
This reality can be more or less observed in the foremost messages of all religions in general and from the various teaching of the Qur’an and the Japuji, Mul Mantra, [the origin of the Adi Granth] of Sikhism in particular.
Not only this, the basis of unity, according to the fundamentals of all religions, is the only one source of the creation2, uniformity in accepting the goal of life as Mukti, Moksha, Nirvana or the stage of Parmananda. Hence making the life purposeful by noble deeds. The fundamentals of every single religion are within the domain of this reality. The basics of Jainism and Buddhism are also not exempted from this reality.
The concept of human-unity in all religions is eventually dedicated to universality. This concept of universality is not confined to the earth only, or to the planets where there may be a possibility of life. Rather, the entire universe is within the scope of the concept of universality. It is fully dedicated to all-pervading [God], supernatural power or the Order, which itself is symbolic of equality of all. Thus, equality of all is in the centre of universality. Furthermore, the root of it is in the concept relating to the Satva-Tatva, which equally exists in all human beings [as also in all living beings]. Saint Kabir’s saying in the Guru Granth Saheb that “all have been created by the one light” and a part of one of the Ayats of the Qur’an that “this community [of human beings] is really one…” well clarify this fact.
Particularly, in context of inhabitants of the earth this can be studied and analyzed from the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, the essence and meaning of which has been quoted at the commencement of this short essay. We categorically find a broad and all-welfaristic idea in the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which with an extraordinary call of sacrifice for fellow-beings lays stress on human practices. Undoubtedly, along with understanding the true meaning, importance and significance of human-unity, the reality of universality, even in philosophical perspectives [which essentially include its concerned branches such as ethics, argumentation, metaphysics etc.] can also be analyzed on the basis of this concept.
* Indologist Dr. Ravindra Kumar is former vice chancellor of CCS University, Meerut, India.
1. I: III: 28
2. God, Supreme Power, or the Order.