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Pujya Dr. K.C. Varadachari - Volume -2
From the dawn of history man has been seeking to achieve uniformity in his dealings with Nature and society, into both of which he has bee born. That this uniformity should be immanent in both these it is needless to emphasize, for it is almost axiomatic that the laws of nature and social existence are those, which are inherent in both. They are not imposed from without or from above, but from within.
The naturalistic religion should exemplify this inherent law-abidingness in all Nature, and the discovery of these laws of nature would be amply helpful in making man’s life in Nature both useful and happy. The earliest thinkers therefore sought to know Nature and her Laws so that they could live in accordance with the laws of nature. This also is a rational mode of adaptation or adjustment, and since the laws are universal, or rather must be considered to be universal, it follows that natural reverence for laws of nature would be the basic background of a naturalistic religion – a religion of science so to speak. This could be called universal, but not religion because religion has the unique quality of sublimity and holiness, and is the connection with or experience of the Spirit behind all nature as a whole and as self.
As a rational method of discerning the Uiversal behind all Nature, science is capable of producing a sense of wholeness of the Abstract One law behind all the phenomena of external nature. But it gives only the form of Nature, and not the Spirit behind and underlying all Nature. We have seen that Swami Vivekananda speaks of the Experience of the Abstract Oneness underlying all the varied manifestations or our phenomenal existence. He speaks about the impersonal as supremely exciting, much more than that of the personal, and the many, which are but the surface natures of the Impersonal and the One. However, Reality in being reduced to this abstract Experience loses much of the supreme Values which are demands of the religious consciousness, which are to be had fully in a deeper personal relation than the impersonal or the superficial personal.
The Scientific Universal or the rational universal is external and abstract, though the abstract itself cannot be realised apart from the many which it governs as law or being.
Religion of Science, therefore, cannot be truly religious except that one beholds in the laws a thing that provokes admiration and delight. But it therefore also follows that attempts to arrive at a Universal usually end up in conceiving an abstraction rather than a reality. However the abstraction can be the greatest common measure of all that exists, though it is distinguished by being called the essence rather than existence. Professor A.N. Whitehead in his work has spoken of the greatest generality that mathematics arrives at, and reveals that this greatest generality is capable of helping us to unravel the inmost secrets of the most concrete. Indeed it is even possible to conjecture that the more general a concept is, the more dynamic it is in the understanding of the functions of the particular. Mathematics becomes most capable of revealing the microcosmic levels of knowedge just as well as it does those of the macrocosmic. All knowledge is being, reduced to the level of general formulae. Philosophy may rejoice over this discovery of the potentialities of mathematical knowing, and it has also used it for the furtherance of its own exactness. But there are limits to this truth of the generality. And therefore it may not help the experience of the concrete as the manifestation of the Abstrct; of existence as the expression of the essence. Whilst philosophy may afford to arrive at the general and the impersonal, and this is its goal, religion is practically dedicated to an understanding and union with the individual and the particular in its relation to the whole or the All. The Universal becomes the All.
Thus, a rational religion may arrive at the General form of Reality without realizing the significance of the concrete, or rather by denying it. It is usually stated that Vedanta of Advaita is the most rational religion because it is the religion of the greatest generality, the most common features being present in it. That, by itself, would not make for religion though it would be a very important feature about it, its most philosophic or scientific feature about it. Critics there are who do not see how religion, which is a matter of emotion or unitedness or union with the Ultimate (which may be the most General or Universal), could go with it. So much so there are thinkers who feel that religion and rationality are impossible. They would say a rational religion would be neither rational nor a religion, Religion has to deal with the supra-rational reality and with perhaps a supra-rational existence. Therefore in a sense it appears to be beyond the natural. It is therefore called the experience of the supra-natural, of course within the bounds of Nature.
If it is claimed that we could arrive at a really religious experience only for and by the human individual, it would be a psychological problem rather than a natural one. It is to use the word natural in a different sense, natural for man to have religious experience rather than experience of Nature. The Study of psychology of religious experience has been most fully taken up by modern pshychologists. No doubt Freud has claimed that religion is an illusion, and of course illusion have no future, what with the growing world and the wealth of scientific knowledge. Religion might be abolished by dialectical materialism and economism but it clings on to the individual however much scientised to might be. That religion of the society could be universal religion is a modern myth. Society cannot be a supernatural concern but a natural concern, and external to the individual in so far it does what one has to do with other fellow human beings. The world has been too much with us, as the poet wordsworth said, and no doubt however much social welfare programmes or dharmas or duties to the other individuals loom large for the proper upkeep of the harmony of social existence, it would not suffice to exhaust the religious concern of the individual. Modern group psychologies and social Psychologies and Philosophies, along with political theories, have stressed the need for the creation of dedicated uniformities of social organizatin which could stimulate universal social patterns of organization. Indian thought on this matter expressed itself very early in the country’s history. She formulated the four patterns of social grouping based on functions within society: The wise man who knows the Ultimate Reality, the disciplined dedicated person wishing the true welfare of each individual perse and of all both here and beyond the mortal existence; the king who has to protect and preserve functional uniqueness and social purpose of each and every individual courageously, dispassionately, and detachedly; the citizen who has to continue to be dutiful to the business of commerce and production, and who has to give charities and partake in social improvements and endowments; and the general servant of all. Thus the brahmana-purohita, kshatriya-rajayan, vaisya-janah, and sudra-dasabhutas were shown to be universal patterns of behavioural and functional groupings everywhere. Plato’s scheme reflects this, and may be an adoption from India.
All the criticisms of the above system are against its being rigid and hereditary, and also because of the alleged previlegedness of vocation. The broad division of men into contemplatives and workers had somehow helped to produce the conception of previlegedness and superiority of the former over the latter. This is not of course intrinsic or inherent to the vocation. But this is a universal phenomenon and the modern reaction against it is but a natural dialectic. Similarly the rigid and hereditary concepts are undergoing scientific verification in the areas of biology and social dynamics, together with a study of the necessity for conservatism in certain areas of human conduct and tradition.
The other concept of Ashrama, or the four stages of human life, is a unique feature of Hinduism, and is a realistic appraisal of the stages or ages of man and their educational and vocational relevance and values. The Brahmacarya is the stage of studentship, grhastha-carya is of the householder; Vanaprastha is of the retired and aged and matured person who lives for dharma alone and is courageous in his dedication to spiritual life; and the last is that of the Sannyasi who has opted out of ordinary duties of the social life and dedicated himself fully to the attainment of the release and liberation. Modifications and amplifications of these functions have taken place through the history of India and elsewhere, and yet it is in India alone that the dharma-sastras have codified these duties riidly. Tradition, thus preserved, has made for a normal life of continuity and guidance.
Similarly the goals of individuals in society have been laid down from the psychological angle, such as search for wealth, for pleasure, for dharma and for liberation. The four goals of man include all man’s goals and aspirations, and well may one man seek all the four at once, or simulataneously, or successively, according to his caste-function or age-function. But as all people everywhere tend to become rigid owing to habit or custom, we have quite a dharma-sankara, functional mixture or inter-crossing that makes decisions on ethical-cum-social behaviour difficult.
A universal religion based on socio-ethical basis seems, therefore, both a necessity and yet impossible, for religion exceeds this social-ethical rationality and/or sub-rationality of instinctive drives.
However, from a spiritual point of view, even a socialistic pattern of thics which takes full consideration of the exigencies and realities of cultural organization would have to seek goals beyond the human life, for obviously all things change; “the old order changeth yielding place to the new lest one good custom should corrupt the world.” True enough, the patterns of behaviour that stood the test of centuries of invasion by all types of races and cultures is being today declared to be a bar to the future progress of man in a technological age. It is because the socio-ethical structure and form of Indian organization was rooted in the spiritual and the eternal and not on the humanistic goals of economic welfare.
The four freedoms profoundly declared during the last years of the Second world war hold out more hope for man here on this planet, and have made for the global concern that human institutions as universal had to face. The ethical concern of these United Nations Organisations is profoundly dynamic. But no one would say that they could do duty for the religious aspirations of mankind. For the aspirations of man for pure spirituality are different in kind from the natural, the rational, and the ethical.
The attempts to make man endeavour to devote himself to a total concern with the natural, the rational, and the ethical are bound to fail. It is usually stated that politics demands a total dedication of man to it: so have scientists demanded of their novitiates. Modern politics whishes to absorb all of man to its pruposes, leaving hardly and time for any other thing. No other loyalties are permitted. So too for a very long time have total dedication and loyalty been demanded of every wife, and so aspirant to spiritual life. This is the concentration, the loyalty of a one-pointed mind, devotion or bhakti, but despite all the admonitions and persuasiveness of devotees of social life, man has after a time left these goals to search for the incomprehensible.
So the Universal Religion based on ethico-social loyalties and goals does not seem to be truly universal or religious. These are necessary for the maintenance of the frame of society, and the place of the individual in it, but whilst psychologically harmonizing, it does not exhaust his higher aspirations. Religion seems to be something to which all things move, as if attracted to it by a power not capable of being generated from outside it.
Great stress has been laid on the ethical disciplines of ahimsa, aparigraha, asteya, brahmacharya and satya for true social living by almost all thinkers of the world. It is true that these virtues are both individual, as well as social and national necessities for a harmonious society of humanity. A religion of humanity is best realised when these cardinal virtues are practiced and no exceptions are made. Undoubtedly the present state of evolution of man does not permit the practice of these virtues by all groups, but it seems to be absolutely necessary for all those who have gone to a stage and age when the yonder shore is calling. The preparation for a good death seems to be a great concern for all those who are going out of the social and natural field. To some the concept of rebirth or immortality, of a continuous return, is an exhilarating immortality of hope, but to those whose experiences of this world have been none too happy a non-return seems to be favourbale. Immortality is not clearly visualized as identical with non-return; rather it seems, as the Buddhists hold an extinguishments of the ego that yearns for escape and abjures all desire for return. Therefore the task of life seems to be to do acts which would extinguish the personal immortality or the return to earth consciousness.
Sri Aurobindo asserts the existence of two kinds of immortality, the one of constant return to innumerable bodies and experiences, the immortality of non-death to the soul that constantly is reborn, and the other the immortality of non-return and of advance into the highest experiences of the Ultimate. It means the assumption of the two realms, the eternal and non-temporal and the temporal, and in both one experiences immortality as the necessary datum. But the renunciation of immortality of the individual soul or ego is the view of the nihilistic ethics and quasi-religion. This however is not a universal dogma of all religions, though there are all the divergences of points of view as to what happens after one dies, or after one attains the Ultimate or the Immortal. The seer of the Kathopanisad has fully illustrated the magnitude of this difficulty, though clearly the region from which and in which this question was put (neglected by all scholars) is the sphere to which the dead go – the region of Yama. This makes all the difference to the ordinary explanations about life after death, which is really the region of religious problems and of religious concern. However the quest for universal religion cannot be restricted to the ethical and sociological area of being; Nor to the political.
Turning to another area wherein religion is said to prevail, namely mythological, it is found that this has been the most difficult thing to define. Myths have governed man’s history even more than his reason has done. Irrational as they may sound and colouring the whole of life, they bring into man’s terrestrial life ideas and images, forces and powers, from a level of mind which is other than that of perception or reasoning, but not yet of the transcendent as such. It is of the intermediate region so to speak. The study of comparitive mythology is most rewarding as well as revealing in so far as it shows, as Professor Carl G. Jung has shown, a world Unconscious common to all humanity which operates in different ways but produces about the same mythos. Similarly, the researches of Anand K. Coomaraswamy has elucidated the basic shape and recurrent occurance of the same and analogous myths of creation, deluge, spiritual ascent and descent; the struggles of the forces of light and of darkness; the exchange of roles of these powers determined by the ages or time or evolution. Many others have since done some provocative work. There have been of course very or over-imaginative works on comparitive mythology, especially of Sri Narayana Aiyangar, which almost keep us dazed by the application of one kind of mythos to interpret all the myths of the world. Nor could we accept the view that all mythology is capable of interpreting to our intellect or imagination the deepest religious forces. As Bergson pointed out in his work, there is always a fact to be reckoned with, namely the tendency of every myth to start with an opening illumination and a closing tendency to limit the sphere and power of illuminative evolution.
Religion in India is basically governed by the two major epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. These two are considered to be real historical occurances by Hindus. Some have seen in history the myth, also the allegory and the intermediating philosophy, the concrete exemplification of the roles of ethics, sociology and politics as well as liberation. It could be said that Hinduism lives in and through these two epics, and the popular bases of all religious activity are to be found in them. The Bhagavad Gita, inset in the Mahabharata, is seen to be a deep mythology of spiritual activity, of incarnation, of evolution of social ideals and individual emancipation. The Open Mythos of Hinduism obviously has relevance to all mankind more than the myths of Greece and other countries such as Norse and Yiddish and so on. Biblical myths have also been greatly influential but it is clear that they cannot be made universal, or even parts of universal religion. T.S. Elliot and others had tried to integrate the myths of the world into one poetic imagery but with very little success. This does not mean that the study of comparitive mythology will not be rewarding or mutually corrective; and it may yet produce a science of universal mythology.
Poets have always reveled in mythology both of the closed and the open variety. Some of the dogmas of religion have been reflected from mythology, and indeed constitute the core of superstitious beliefs in most religions. Popular religions draw their sustenance and security from these myths, and they prevented most persons from moving towards higher mystical life. We can discern that the great poets have tried to emanicipate the spirit from the form-and-story structure of myths everywhere. Milton and Dante have done profound work for Christianity. The Sufis of Islam have done much to spiritualise the myths. Similarly the Puranas have provided abundant opportunity for the poets of Hinduism to infuse the spirituality of the highest realization into the consciousness of the people – the ordinary humanity. Religion of the people or the mass has been nourished only by the poets of the true myths, the liberating myths rather than the closed myths which provide titillating satisfactions of the lower appetites – such as the Homeric myths, as Plato pointed out in his “Republic”.
Religion of Mythology cannot be universalised until the human being has been universalised in his spiritual consciouness. Until the open mythology’ of the Ramayana and Mahabharata is fully understood as representing the liberating nature of the human spirit from his terrestrial bondage, it would be difficult to have a religion or universal religion based on mythological integration. The attempt of Sri Aurobindo to provide a mythology of liberation and supermentalisation of humanity in his “Savitri” – which is called a Symbol and a Legend – is a profound revelation of the great poetry of the Mahabharata an the Veda and the Ramayana and all the puranas as contrasted with poems of mere folklore and fantasy. The real mythology has to proceed from above rather than strike its roots below. Therefore religion requires an anchorage at a higher level of poetry rather than at a lower.
Cosmic mythologies have been helpful in postulating the creator and sustainer and destroyer of the universe. All races and cultures have these legends. But the other functions of the Divine are of the nature of personal religion helping the individual to reach up to that revelation and vision of the Cosmic Being. These are the myths of advents or avatars, God-personalities in human or other form, who lead the souls to the higher vistas and statuses. Hinduism has a continuous history of these advents again and again descending to save, to punish and to establish the dharma or order of the world or its laws suited to the world, and to its different beings or peoples. To save the good, to punish the wicked or evil, are primary concerns of individual relationship of God with his people or the souls. Hinduism accepts these fully, and other religion either accept only one such advent or none at all. But the incarnating diety is of love, personal, yet not exclusively for any one person. The mythology of Hinduism, unlike those of other religions, is rich with God-descent and provides a sure ground of God-fellowship and realization on Earth of the Kingdom of Heaven, or of God here itself. The whole thing is however not just a myth – for the descent is historical and recognized as such when it occurs.
But comparitive mythology is yet in its infancy. Nor could we build the universal religion on the basis of a composite mythology.
Therefore universal religion can neither be based on a common or general natural philosophy, nor on mythology, nor on psychology and ethics.
Religion has its real base in spiritual experience of the Transcendent which has meaning for man beyond his mere terrestrial life. That it is based on the spiritual aspirations for freedom is real; but it is also the search and hankering after the ultimate sense of Reality that one does not get from the world and its wealth and pleasures, or even the securities of its laws in science, in ethics, society and mythology. In a spiritual sense the human individual seeks sense of existence, significance and meaning for his own transitory existence, for his growth or birth in this scheme of space-time, in and amidst social environment that gives him a varied fate.
In terms of a higher consciousness, beyond all the several avenues of knowing, seing, willing and so on, one perhaps might be able to arrive at one’s own meaning and existence. Our studies of the religious attitudes has brought us to that differentiating experience of religion – namely its mystic experience, usually had by some seers and communicated by them in an objective way that has meaning for the inner man.
Comparitive Mysticism is a new field again and this has been taken up for the study of the universality of mystic experience all over the world. World’s religions to have a core of mystic insight, direct unmediated awareness of the cosmic Oneness or Spirit. Mysticism is the experience of spirit as the Ultimate ground of all existence, an experience that is supra-rational and supra-relational. Such experiences are rare, but they are nonetheless basic to spiritual life. Mystics are spread all over humanity, and are born in all levels of hierarchy of mankind – such as the varnas, asramas and religions. Mysticism can be the experience of the Ultimate Supra-personal, and its certitude flows into cosmic or universal activity of a different order than all other types of activity. Mystics are souls of light, children of freedom, who could tolerate no bondage nor accept any. They are in a sense opting themselves out of society in order to give society a new sense of values. They are the eternal and continuous witnesses to the need for transvaluation of all values. Hindu mystics are in fact the great RISHIS who speak with a direct light and acquaintance of the Ultimate Reality – the Saccidananda. They have no fear of the transitory, or of death, for they belong to the Immortal and the Eternal and the Infinite realms of light. The Upanisad speak of the regions of light, of the immortal and the unchanging, open to the seer of the one in the many, of the many in the One, and the One who is All. The worlds of the Spirit are beyond the Sun, the Moon and the Fire, and these latter derive their light from That. That is the Reality “Om Tat Sat” – the existence. That is delight, Ananda, beyond all vijnana and mind and senses. Such Mysticism is surely the goal of all souls yearning for infinity. It is the creative source of all imagination and beauty. This Spirit interpenetrates all that is.
The Mystic experiences of Jacob Boehme, Jallaluddin Rumi, Walt Whitman and others like Bruno, give the higher metaphysical note of the Spirit. Much lesser mysticism informs the purely Christian and Bhakti experiences of the later medieval mystics. In every case they are not usually ‘within the fold’ of the organized society and religions.
Mystics express themselves in poetry, and in poetry their deepest aspirations and visions are found. Though we would extract philosophy from it, yet it is transcendental to human existence and valuations. Yet they have a greater humanity about them, a deeper note of love, a finer sense of reality than any. Truly enough they have a missionary zeal to transform the world around them; they speak of the coming of the Golden Age, of the passing away of the present one of darkness if not of its doom. They are the prophets of he future. Their social consciousness is trans-human for it seeks to bring to society he sense of infinite spirituality and compassion for all life. Perfect individuals themselves, they lack the essential egoism that mars the individual and bedevils the socialists. Paradoxical as they appear, a heavenly light and peace abounds in everything that they do. In a sense they are mahatmas, universal souls, of universal consciousness, unlimited by space and time. However it appears that mystics are born like poets, not made, though one could venture to suggest that Hinduism tried again and again to provide the institute where they could be made and born. However, natural mysticism has taken roots all over the world, and it is in a sense from these mystics that the religions have had to draw their spiritual sustenance and vitality. Religions without seers but with books alone for guidance, religions which cannot produce further prophets or mystics but only reciters of the hymns of the past and of mystic-world, cannot but find themselves drawn away from spirituality and may end lastly in becoming secular in unbecoming ways.
The foundation of a universal religion based on mystic philosophy may at once appear to be the most legitimate expression of a world-need.
The satisfaction of the individual’s real nature, svarupa or svabhava, as a spiritual being, lies in his fullest realization of his divine possibility. Man has to transcend his rational soul and attain to the divine selfhood, or in some way become related inseparably with that divine essence. Mysticism reveals the highest that man has so far attained on this terrestrial plane. But it has not become the differentiating attribute. This would require a further evolution of man himself of which the fore-runners are the mystics of the world.
A religion which would be acceptable to all spiritual seekers may be the mystic one, but whether it could ever be the common religion of all humanity is a difficult question to answer. The ideal of humanity has been the realization of harmony of all peoples. This was envisaged by ancient seers of India, of Hinduism clearly at the dawn of human evolution; for man had betrayed the tortuous nature of human co-existence, its inevitable frictions and fights, and mutual thirst for slaughter and sinning. A transcendence over the human nature was a necessity which could be made by the practice of virtues backed by the yearning for love of all beings. Love seem to be the discovery of the human being as a necessity for living in family, in community, in the world itself. It was a relation or drive that brought God and man, man and man, and man and nature, all into one organic interdependent family.
Universal Religion, even if it is not to be transcendental and mystical in its scope and function, would survive if love could be made the means of association, of function, of structure and mutual assistance of all, without differentiations of caste, creed, age and sex. Love was made to be the nature of God as well as the essence of the soul. Both need each other because of love. Love as attraction to the other or another is a basic quality. But within the limits of humanity, love always has its polar opposite hate, and all plays of love are interspersed with the hate-motive also. Though love has been exalted by mystics as positive, and hate denounced as negative, it has been held that love is the only Good whereas hate is the evil. But when one is taught also to love one’s enemies there is shown to be a transcendence over this duality in a way, though it is by no means a full transcendence. Even when such a love of enemies was shown by the Apostle or Avatar of this creed, it produced a more historic hate than ever witnessed. History has only made the Apostles of this enemy-love the breeders of hate of all those who are not of their dogma. Religions of love, of prema or priti, of man have been sustained by the spirit of divine nature of the quality of love itself. Love seems to have been the one force that links one with another whether temporarily or permanently. But here again we are confronted with the spiritual problem of universal love and how it expresses itself.
Love has been acclaimed as the purest form of religion, but it has been difficult to define or describe it, what with its variety of relational conditions. Absolute love without an object of love or non-dual love is very much of an impossibility. However it can be monotheistic. If religion belongs to the super-sensuous, love must also be of the super-sensuous; to reduce it to the love of man is to seek not God but something very different.
Love involves duality, but it also involves loving of others as one loves oneself. Love, Swami Vivekananda points out, never asks but always gives itself up wholly. Love knows no fear and conquers it, and love is itself its own end, and an end in itself. Swami Vivekananda holds that it can never be a means. (Vol. VI. p.70). One loves sugar they say, but one does not wish to become sugar. But this example, utilized to refute non-duality, does not truly represent the nature of love. Love is not a taste nor a matter of taste. Love is a seeking for union – not of course mere copulation or sexual union. It is not at all the lust or libido or the essence of lila or play. It is prema or priti with the Ultimate Divine; it is the spiritual dynamics by which even the most contradictory force is made to come to terms with it and unite itself with it. It is not a question of enjoyment but a melting of oneself in the transcendently perfect object of one’s evolution or life. Life is even treated as a kind of means towards the fulfillment of love.
Could we base a universal religion on this foundation of love alone? This is a question of great importance. If religion is the linking up of oneself with Reality as it is in Itself and for itself, then love, as the individual’s total consummation of union, is capable of being the expression of religious attitude. The Divine Reality then might, conceivably, be the reciprocal mergence of itself in the individual, and treat the individual as an end in itself and for itself. This is an experience of the highest spiritual quality. Love becomes the unifying principle of union or unity, or even inter-mergence.
It may be that compassion or sympathy for the other souls, and a means by which one goes to the rescue of others and uplifts them is good as a social religion, but obviously this is not what is meant by love, unless it is also an urge to lose oneself in the others.
The above will reveal how very difficult it is to arrive at a comprehensive or differentiating conception of Universal Religion.
Any universal religion has to satisfy the philosophical, psychological and spiritual needs of the individual called upon to undertake that path towards the highest perfection of his nature. A religion is not merely a matter of dogma or creed but an experimental methodology towards achieving one’s perfection or fulfillment or realization of freedom from all bondage; such as those of the cycle of births and deaths, ignorance and delusion, that the impermanent is permanent or that one’s physical existence is all.
But any universal religion based on naturalistic conceptions or sociological and mythological conceptions cannot truly become universal, or religion, for they are but partial fulfillments. Religion does need a philosophy of nature, a philosophy of self and a philosophy about God, but these do not exhaust it. Though universal harmony between souls is a dominant goal, and man’s evolution in this world has to be made easy, yet religion when it aims at the realization of union with the Ultimate reality of oneself and all is of transcendental importance.
A study of the different religions spread over the world grants a picture. As Professor Archie Bahm says, if Hinduism is spiritualistic, Europeanism is dualistic and pluralistic though God-centered theistic, Chinese is naturalistic and so on. Humanistic religions make man the goal of one’s works or service, and through man or the creature, they seek to reach at God in all creatures. The spiritual religions on the other hand seek to reach the creatures through the Creator or God. Whilst the Upanisad says that one loves all because of the love of the Self, the modern version is its inversion, one loves God because he loves all. The Universal Religion of service of all others seeks to move to the creator through the creatures even as one displays one’s emotions or sentiments to any parent by affecting love of their children. This might be a kind of vatsalya – love shown to the mother by showing it to her child. This is the movement from below even like an inference from effect to cause. The Upanisadic mode has been to move from the Creator or cause to the effect, the creatures. Which is more natural is a question which each individual has to decide for himself: success is the ultimate criterion – that is, by whatever method one can attain the Divine Knowledge that is the best, the universal method.
The difficulty of speaking intelligibly about the possibility of Universal Religion lies precisely in the whole concept of religion as being supra-rational, and all attempts to make religious experience intelligible become attempts at rationalization. The experience of the transcendent cause cannot be on the plane of ordinary physical causality. The super-sensuous is super-sensuous, and cannot be represented in terms of sense-images or symbols. So also one cannot speak of the Divine attributes or think about the object of religious experience in terms of our sensory experiences. The universal method of describing the transcendent has always been through negatives. As the Upanisads say by a series of negations – neti neti, not this, not this. The Western Eckhart also described God as neither this nor that. This is the wisdom about the transcendent that man could distil from all experiences. A universal Religion based on this experience of Negation would hardly be satisfactory. As for the positive descriptions that have been attempted to be given they are all ‘of holiness’ of wonder, of luminous, not personal and so on. These are not emotive terms but they do convey what Hinduism had always accepted, that man is not restricted to the limits of reason but has other ways of knowing God open to him provided he dedicates himself to it.
The elements of any universal religion have been expounded, but they have all been shown to be individually incapable of being religious in so far as they do not give the force and power to lead man to the experience of his creator, or the Ground of being and immortality of bliss, or harmony with all reality.
The modern world is seeking the establishment of one World, one Government, and even perhaps the thoughtful people consider that sooner or later we must have one religion for all mankind. As swami Vivekananda pointed out, the ideal of having One religion and One Church however ecumenical, cannot be, for the goal seems to be a religion for each individual, and this constitutes universality. When every individual discovers for himself a religion, that is the direct experience of his Ground or Creator or God, then that religion would be really universal. Though Reality is One, and is to be experienced as Religion or Spirit, it is for each individual to be directly experienced within himself that would constitute its universality.There are therefore no signs of attaining One Religion for all humanity. However it seems that rational man utopianises and strives for it.
Hinduism appears such a one because of its spiritual formulations, all-inclusive aspiration for the transcendental which is the ground of all manifestations, whether of Itself or of the individuals who are always in transcendental contact with that ground. This transcendental contact or oneness is what all types of Vedanta assert in their religious or spiritual concern. This transcendental contact is described as oneness ,advaita or ekibhava; as organic inseparability – aprathaksiddha ekibhava; as indissoluble relationship in essence between the Divine transcendent and the individual souls of dependence absolute. The souls never utterly lose their essential nature, and it is this relational absoluteness that is forgotten in the adventures with independence of the souls from the One Divine. Regarding the Divine Transcendent itself which is absolute and ground, all are utterly of It, in It; but when it does take statuses of the creator etc, of advent and of being the inner ruler immortal of all beings, there are the theistic and other fellowship and selfship formulations which cover the entire gamut of Divine-Human relationships. In the supreme comprehensiveness of its theism as well as its supra-theism, Hinduism reeals its realistic and empiricistic acceptance of the several ways of Union with the Divine in manifestation as it is in essence always.
It is this all-comprehensiveness of its definitions and their transcendent unity available to the mystic vision and experience as well as our own ordinary experience that makes Hinduism acceptable to the best minds all over the world, and encourages the experience on the part of other religions of the other statuses of the One Divine Reality offered to them by Hinduism.
It is in this sense that Hinduism was offered to the world by Swami Vivekananda, and it is in this spirit that the Mahatma embraced it as his most satisfactory dharma. It is this dynamic supremental nature that made Sri Aurobindo expound it with all his serious yogic attainment. It is this again that had given satisfaction to the philosophic mind of Dr.Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.