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   Kashmiri Writers

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What is Religion ? 

by Manmohan Ambardar 

Primarily, a religion is a path to liberation and a path which leads to this goal can not be wrong. A wrong path can not lead to the right goal.

Religion is not Philosophy or Theology. It is not something that can be learned stage by stage as students learn at college. It is a harmonious ordering of life, individual and social, leased on direct intuitional certitude.

This certitude has nothing to do with social or educational background or intellectual brilliance. It is not a system of ideas worked out by philosophers, not anything that could progress or be added to. Even among civilised communities, there are examples to show that it is not an intellectual achievement. Some of the outstanding religious leaders have not been intellectual. Ignatius Loyola was not an intellectual but an ecstatic and was middle-aged before he could obtain the university degree without which Church would not allow him to teach. Both Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Ramana Maharishi had little education and were anything but intellectuals, and yet intellectuals became their disciples.

In one of the many similes given by Sri Ramakrishna, the religions are compared to the Ghats that lead to the Ganges. The unique mission which he came to fulfill was to show to a skeptical world that the various faiths were but ways to realise the same truth. Truth does not become different when you change the name. Water is water whether you call it Paani or Jal. All the books declare that God is omnipresent, that He is the source of the world and its goal as well. What matters the, if He be named Ishvara or Allah? Sri Ramana Maharishi says that under whatever name and form the omnipresent nameless and formless Reality is worshipped, that is a door to realisation.

I feel the function of religion is twofold, horizontal and vertical.

Horizontally, it is to establish a harmonious way of life for a community, regulating personal relations, social conditions, education, law etc.

Vertically, it is to provide pathways to Beautitude. Each facilitates the other, the harmonious way of life facilitates the quest of Beautitude for those who undertake it, while the perennial flow of grace through those who attain Beautitude maintain the Divine spirit in the way of life and counteracts the

natural tendency of all institutions to petrify. The horizontal modality of spirituality is almost defunct in all religions today.

Incidentally, it may be noted that the religious man is rarely at ease, because he sees so many people believing differently from himself. He ardently looks forward to a time when all men shall be of one religion, but he can not bear to think that religion shall be in the least different from his own; he would rather wish that other people should be without any religion than that they should cherish a religion not his own. Hence it happens that the more intensely religious a man is, the more unpleasant he is likely to be to those who differ from him in religion. If he obtains political power, he will persecute all that profess other religions. That is because religious belief is not inimical to egoism.

The religious man always thinks that his zeal for making converts is a virtue.

It is not a virtue at all, but a vice because this zeal is due to egoism.

The real aim of all religions is to lead up to the awakening to the Truth of the Self. It is also no use telling people that all religions are the same, because they are so obviously not the same, they differ in so many points of doctrine and ethics.

Source: Milchar



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