By Periyava
Translated from Tamil By Krishnaraj

மதங்களின் ஒற்றுமை : தெய்வத்தின் குரல் (முதல் பகுதி)
Amity among Religions: Deivathin Kural (Part 1)

Photo By Krishnaraj of Ganesh Temple Queens, NY

All religions came into the fore for worship of God. All religions declare God is One. That Monistic God, worshipped by the followers of a religion, accepts their worship. Therefore, no one need not leave his or her natal religion and embrace another religion.
The buildings housing Koil, Church, Masūdi, Vihāram…may differ from one another. The sign inside the place of worship may be different. Each religion has its own disparate ceremonies. But the Monistic God offering grace and blessings does not change and is the same by different names. A multitude of religions came into being depending on the attitude and conduct of the people and the dictates of their sacred texts. All these people engage in the worship according to the inclination of their mind and intention to merge with God. Therefore, no one must abandon one’s own natal religion and convert to another religion. The converts not only debase their erstwhile religion but also debase their new religion. They debase God Himself.
These thoughts may occur to you. ‘Because of deficiency in your religion, the covert abandoned it. Why does Swāmigaḷ says that the convert has debased the new religion? I say, “By failure to think that God is common to all religions, and belittling his own God, does he not covert to another religion?” Do they think the God of the new religion embraces them? No. The converts debase and belittle the God of the new religion. The converts bring dishonor to the new religion.
Hindu religion does not claim exclusive path to liberation. Hinduism does not proselytize. Our elders have impressed on us that to attain the Supreme Soul, there are many paths and religions. Everyone born in Hindu religion should be proud of the fact Hinduism does not convert others into its fold. This broad-mindedness is a point of honor and pride. Veda states, “There is one Satyam, Jñāṉis say, with many names.” Bhagavan* says in Gita, “Anyone offering worship to any form and pursuing any path, I help grow his faith and make him steady in his mode of worship.” Nammāzvār says in Divya Prabhandam (V2903), ‘Each one of people according to one’s intellect and known path worship one’s own God.’ Hindus never indulged in proselytization, persecution, religious wars, forced conversions… Our long history is the witness for this noble behavior. Many researchers accept this. Though there were Hindu kingdoms in the far east, there was never a forced conversion. The foreigners happy observing our culture adopted it as their own, as said by the historians. They further state overseas commerce introduced Hinduism among the foreigners and the sword of conversion was never an issue in conversion.
Bhagavan* = Bhagavadgita 7:21. Whatever form any devotee with faith wishes to worship, I make that faith of his steady. – Dr. Radhakrishnan
My opinion is Vedic religion only was widespread in the whole world. Later, different religions dawned in different places. The Vedic religion’s many precepts remain as relics in these latter-day religions. The religious researchers accept that the other nations favored and adopted Bharat Civilization with no pressure.
There must be a ritual for converts. There is Jñāsnāṉam (ஞானஸ்நானம் = Baptism). Hindu Sastras have scores of rites but not one rite is there for a Hindu convert. That is the witness we are not proselytizers.
When rail passengers disembark, there is a herd of Jatkawallah, Rikshawallah and Taxiwallah surround the passenger. The destination is the same no matter which transport (rental vehicle) the passenger climbs on. We can’t blame the Wallahs for competing. It is their livelihood. It is a meaningless deed for the religionists compete in proselytization.
There is a bridge over the river. There are many bends (in the bridege). The nearby bend looks more acute that the remote bend. Likewise, a religionist thinks his religion is bigger and more appealing than the next one and invites others into the fold. But all bends are equal and no one must abandon one’s natal religion.
Nothing is wrong to have differences in precepts and observances among religions. There is no need to enforce uniformity among religions. Instead of enforcing uniformity, it is important all religionists have amity (unity) among them.