Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Different Faiths

I'm very glad to blog on our young adult study circles again. I missed several good study circles while I was away from Tempe. This time I am leading the study circle and the topic is about the coexistence of different faiths. Its a wonder that several faiths coexist together in this world, but the question is that how can we make use of this wealth of information to improve ourselves. The discussion on this topic has been postponed a couple of times, so I thought I'll post the questions first because they are themselves interesting. I'll soon post a discussion on these questions.

1. We all agree that there is only one God. But why do several people across the world follow different faiths? Can’t one faith be sufficient to reach the Supreme One?
2. When do you think a new faith is born? Christianity was born from Judaism. Islam was born from Christianity. Bahai faith was born from Islam. Sikhism and Jainism were born from Hinduism. Is there an end to this? Why aren’t people satisfied with one faith and move to another one?
3. If all of us from different faiths are referring to the same God, why aren’t some of us able to appreciate other faiths? Is it because of lack of understanding of other faiths or rather one’s own faith?
4. We all agree that the primary goal of every faith is to reach/become the Supreme God. Is it important for us to be aware of all of these faiths? Now that we have so much information and so many spiritual scriptures from each of these faiths, how can we make best use of this wealth of information to achieve our goal faster?

Some Relevant Quotes:

Swami (Sri Sathya Sai Baba):
"Let the different faiths exist, let them flourish, let the glory of God be sung in all the languages, in a variety of tunes that should be the ideal. Respect the differences between the faiths and recognize them as valid as far as they do not extinguish the flame of Unity."

"The motive behind the formation and propagation of all these different faiths is the same. The founders and propagators were all persons filled with Love and Wisdom. Their goal, their target, their purpose and their aim were all the same. No one had a design to divide, disturb or destroy. They attempted to do good, see good and be good."

"All faiths are inter-related and mutually indebted to each other for the principles they teach, and the disciplines they recommended. The Vedic Religion was the first in time; Buddhism which appeared about 2,500 years ago, was its son; Christianity, which was influenced much by the Orient was its grandson. And Islam, which has the Prophets of Christianity as its base was like the great-grandson. All have Love as the fundamental discipline of the mind, in order to chasten it and merge man with the Divine". SSS VOL VII B Chap 15 p 113.

"All are one, my dear children. God is one. He manifests in different forms and man worships the form to which he is most attached. All faiths are paths leading to the same goal. Why then do you see the difference?
I have come not to disturb any faith but to confirm everyone in his own faith. I respond to everyone with whatever name you call me. You wanted to see the Lord in form of Balaji and so here I am to fulfill your wish."

Sufi Saint Rumi:
"I died a mineral and became a plant;
I died a plant and rose an animal;
I died an animal and I was a man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as a man, to soar
With blessed angels; even from angelhood I must pass on ...
When I have sacrificed my angel soul,
I shall become that which no mind conceived."

Bahá'u'lláh: "… that all the great religions of the world are divine in origin, that their basic principles are in complete harmony, that their aims and purposes are one and the same, that their teachings are but facets of one truth, that their functions are complementary...."

Guru Nanak: "God is one, but He has innumerable forms. He is the Creator of all and He Himself takes the human form."

Meher Baba: "There is no difference in the realization of the Truth either by a Muslim, Hindu, Zoroastrian, or a Christian. The difference is only in words and terms. Truth is not the monopoly of a particular race or religion."

Dalai Lama: "This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."

Buddha: "Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."

Mahatma Gandhi: "I believe in the fundamental truth of all great religions of the world. I believe that they are all God— given and I believe that they were necessary for the people to whom these religions were revealed. And I believe that if only we could all of us read the scriptures of the different faiths from the standpoints of the followers of these faiths, we should find that they were at bottom all one and were all helpful to one another."


segovius said...

^^^^^ Spammers been visiting. Guess you know.

Re the different religions, times change so maybe the religions need to change also. That's why ones that don't seem to be mired in the past and 'static'.

If you take a dynamic view then individual religions don't matter - it is the concept of religion as a whole in an evolutionary development that is the revelation. Just my 2c anyway.

Anonymous said...

"We all agree that the primary goal of every faith is to reach/become the Supreme God."

Nope dont think that is the case for any religion east of Indo-china

Rams said...

interesting study circle topic. May have to steal the idea and use it with the tucson group:) hope things are well after the retreat. I was looking at an old link to 'humko tumse pyar kitna' this morning and stumbled across your blog

Anonymous said...

could you pl post the link to humko tumse pyar kitna. i would be grateful if anyone could do that.

Srinivas Vadrevu said...

dear anonymous,

you can download the 'humko tumse pyar kitna' song from my web page here. Meaning is here.


Anonymous said...

God has qualities but for him no need to take any form..
The Rigveda gives several different attributes to Almighty God. Many of these are mentioned in Rigveda Book 2 hymn 1.

Among the various attributes of God, one of the beautiful attributes mentioned in the Rigveda Book II hymn 1 verse 3, is Brahma. Brahma means ‘The Creator’. Translated into Arabic it means Khaaliq. Muslims can have no objection if Almighty God is referred to as Khaaliq or ‘Creator’ or Brahma. However if it is said that Brahma is Almighty God who has four heads with each head having a crown, an intellectual person take strong exception to it.

Describing Almighty God in anthropomorphic terms also goes against the following verse of Yajurveda:

"Na tasya Pratima asti"
"There is no image of Him."
[Yajurveda 32:3]

Another beautiful attribute of God mentioned in the Rigveda Book II hymn 1 verse 3 is Vishnu. Vishnu means ‘The Sustainer’. Translated into Arabic it means Rabb. Again, Muslims can have no objection if Almighty God is referred to as Rabb or 'Sustainer' or Vishnu. But the popular image of Vishnu among Hindus, is that of a God who has four arms, with one of the right arms holding the Chakra, i.e. a discus and one of the left arms holding a ‘conch shell’, or riding a bird or reclining on a snake couch. Muslims can never accept any image of God. As mentioned earlier this also goes against Svetasvatara Upanishad Chapter 4 verse 19.

"Na tasya pratima asti"
"There is no likeness of Him"

The following verse from the Rigveda Book 8, hymn 1, verse 1 refer to the Unity and Glory of the Supreme Being:

"Ma cid anyad vi sansata sakhayo ma rishanyata"
"O friends, do not worship anybody but Him, the Divine One. Praise Him alone."
[Rigveda 8:1:1]

"Devasya samituk parishtutih"
"Verily, great is the glory of the Divine Creator."
[Rigveda 5:1:81]

Brahma Sutra of Hinduism:

The Brahma Sutra of Hinduism is:

"Ekam Brahm, dvitiya naste neh na naste kinchan"

"There is only one God, not the second; not at all, not at all, not in the least bit."

Thus only a dispassionate study of the Hindu scriptures can help one understand the concept of God in Hinduism.

Anonymous said...

srinivas garu meeru puttaparthi satya sai baba devotee aa? mee blog chala bagundi. naku chala nachindi. all the best.

- teluginti ammai

Anonymous said...

It is quite clear that the author of this post has little knowledge about Hindu (Indian Rishis') concept of Ultimate Reality. Brahmam is not God. Also, while reading "Ekam Brahmam" one should also remember "Sarvam khalu idam Brahmam." Rigveda does not say that "God" is one, but it says that "There is only one Reality, that is Brahmam, there is nothing other than Brahmam" which means there is no "God" distinct from the world and its living beings.