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Pujya Dr. K.C. Varadachari - Volume -2


The goal of universal religion or world religion is entertained by almost all thinkers as eminently desirable. However it is not easily established. The competitive spirit between all religions to become the world religion is not likely to promote this consummation. Christianity, Islam had tried to spread the doctrines of Christ all over the world and thus tried to civilize the people of the world. Owing to very many factors not Christian in themselves it is well-known that Cristianity has spread to all continents. The spirit of proselytization has promoted, incidentally, the study of the various religions for the purpose of comparing and contrasting the religions of the prospective converts with the religion of Christ. In all cases it has been in favour of the latter.
When, however, the vast literature of the Hindus got interpreted and translated it became clear to most scholars that it is not so easy to establish the superiority of the Christian religion over the Hindu. Eminent scholars like the leaders of India, whom we have expounded during these lectures, had shown that Hinduism is a serious rival to the Christian; but it was also shown that Christian Way of Religion is but one of many ways which Hinduism itself had trodden. It was asserted by some historians that possibly some latter cults of Vedanta like the Vaisnava owed much to Christian influences; But it is well-known that thebasic doctrines of the vedants were far earlier than theChristian.This has been shown by Dr. Radhakrishnan in his works.
The doctrines of the Trinity of Christinaity have been anticipated in a different form in Hinduism, and the transcendence of God, his immanence and mediating nature have all been anticipated. Shades of difference would always remain but the identity of conceptions is not to be dismissed.
The ideas of God in the several religions could be syncretised or synthesised. So too the ideas regarding the individual soul could be shown to be capable of being synthesised. Even the Nature of the world according to the several religions could be unified. Such unifications would give philosophical satisfaction. The religions have major concern with the way of relationship between the Transcendental Reality of power of God and the human individual. Though this is simple enough thesis, yet it is known that a religion as an institution gathers certain other features, such as Mythology, Ritual or Worship, in addition to the revelations which had brought the consciousness of God into the lives of men. The historical evidences in the lives of a line of men of such incidences of experienceability of God.
Thus almost every religion has built up an institution for its preservation and continuance, firstly to be of help on the path of human aspiration to meet God. This yearning for God is clearly discernible at every level of human existence and all that every human individual had been doing is to seek ways and means of fulfilling this aspiration. But not all religions realized, as Hinduism did, that in whatever way one sought to meet the maker of God,in that way reaches him or helps the seeker to realise Him.
In most religions the manner of reaching God is prescribed to be only in one way, and that way alone could lead upto God. This idea of an exclusive path, so to speak, on the one hand denies that there are other paths, and on the other encourages fanaticism. Whilst it is true that, broadly speaking, the way to Union or Realisation of God as the Supreme Creator and Father is most efficacious, yet it is not to be denied that there are other ways of reaching upto Him. But it is to be emphasized that there are good ways of love of God which would promote union whereas the wrong way of hatred and belief cannot promote this union. This divergence of paths must be recognized in religion. But it is true that even a contrary approach is said ultimately, to help attainment of God. For example enmity is said to promote constant remembrance of God; and thus produce concentration of meditation; and the hate itself would be transformed into love of God. Though one starts with hatred or unbelief in religion later on one begins to feel love for god.
This however would not explain the case of the mythical stories of Hiranayakasipu and Ravana and Sisupala, who had, till the last, followed the path of virodha to God.
No world religion, however comprehensive, would subscribe to this attitude, nor even be prepared to call it religious, except Hinduism.
Religion cannot be equated with the aesthetic approaches to reality which subscribe to manifold ways of devotion of sentiments.
The omni-inclusive description of god which Hinduism hold is capable of being accepted by all religions; but here again the several forms of names of God are not equally capable of leading us to liberation or freedom. In fact the philosophical terminology that names God as Existence (Sat) is not said to be capable of appealing to one who would like to call God as Father, or Creator or Ruler or Inner Conscience of Timeless or Immortal and so on using a thousand other names. Individual approaches by different religions have given satisfaction to devotees who find that connotation helpful. The lover speaks of God as the Beloved or Love; the humble servant of God calls Him his Master; he who feels naturalness as son calls Him Father, and so on.
As Mahatma Gandhi put it, it is difficult to make every one call God by the same name or grant to Him the same meaningful relationship as every other. We must recognize this individual difference and submit to poly-vocality or multiple-names for the same, or recognise that God is poly-faceted, though one only. This is a significant gain in higher religions but it is not always that every religion recognises this identity of the Godhead behind the multiplicity of names. On the other hand we have strenuous quarrels about the names of God, or the names signify different personalities and powers which are, in mythology, set up one against the other. Conflicts among religious people belonging to different sects have not been rare, and a syncretism seems to be strictly possible within certain limits. We may all agree to suspend our devotions or we may agree to suspend opposition and objection to others calling their God and our God by the names they like.
Religions also depend on the different myths, and mythologies have grown either as biographical data in the case of historical personalities or as symbolic data coming through ages. The puranas contain many stories which may all be considered to be historical records in spiritual history or real history. The five-fold nature of the puranas (purana panca Laksana) giving creation – accounts of the universe, the philosophy and dharma, the dysastic histories of historical personalities, the avatar- or incarnational episodes of the Supreme Being have guided the general cultural formation of the entire people of this vast continent. They, in one sense, have been philosophically explained by the schools. Every religion starting with revelational knowledge of one individual and his history had produced universal symbol of him, so that it might be adopted by all individuals and for all time. However this symbol and constantly to be renewed or rejuvenated by the followers of that religion, or by seers and saints devoted to exploring and experiencing the inner reality veiled or revealed by the symbol. Thus we find that every religion in addition to a mantra develops tantra, and these become ideals at the beginning and idols at the end of an age.
In one sense a religion that has lost its ancient force has to renew itself by means of other symbols. Symbols in one area do not graft themselves on to other symbols, nor wholly replaces them. This persistence of symbols is a fact of great concern to people who would like to abolish all symbols and have a religion without any symbols. In doing so one either substitutes other symbols of greater merit, or as it happens, one removes one of the most important props of belief and uproots the religious attitude itself. This uprooting of religious attitude in modern times by decrying tantra or symbols is a phenomenon of universal concern today. Since the symbols themselves have begun to lose interest for the modern man, a collection of symbols or even a fervent resuscitation of the symbol to its originsal meaning cannot rouse men. Just as sacrifices in gorgeous scales have ceased to have interest for almost every body, from the most ordinary man who may be expected to be struck by gorgeousness to the most intellectual whose imagination may be expected to be fired by them , symbols have begun to lose their fascination. Sophistication has begun to be applied to things of the earth and industry rather than sculpture and dance and sacrifices and Art. The great art of religious symbolism had come to its nadir of existence. Religions of the past no longer enthuse any one much. A syncretist attempt to bring them all together may be a noveltly, but after a brief spell will lose its attractiveness or evocativeness of the spiritual.
The rituals of religion comprise prayers and worships of the Godhead. These may be in respect of the idols of symbols of the Unseen Godhead who is pervading everywhere. The rituals in Temples follow the path of anthropomorphic service; and it is no less significant of the rituals of the Churches or of those who reject the worship of any human form of representative of the divine in any form. The ritual of prayer or worship is in incantation, or repetition, or counting the beads, or falling prostrate in a particular way or performing the prayers at certain specific hours. There are disciplines or the manner of doing worship or reciting the prayer which are said to have magical efficacy in bringing the individual in closest contact or union with God or His intermediary. No religion seems to be exempt from the ritual which starts from supreme simplicity and ends up in inexplicable complexity.
The integration of rituals again poses problems which are difficult to overcome or solve, and we would only be again establishing religions which are new and which have a few adherents. Thus sects have multiplied in all religions which accept the minimum, or greatest common measure, of agreement but actually vie sequestered lives of their own but no one remains thus isolated or insulated from otherssects of the same religion.
Religions had perpetually identified themselves with the works of social amelioration and social reorganization, as extension programmes of spiritual realization. This service attitude whilst most welcome, also had led to turning these social institutions into political centers of power, at first very innocuous and ethical determinants, but later as forces of either revolution or reactionary conservatism. In most cases religions tended to become institutions of conservatism of tradition, ritual or power and so on. This grants stability to the institutionand to religion itself. In universal religion these institutions of conservatism become mutually exclusive and refuse to integrate and thus make religion impossible.
Thus it comes to this that neither on the basis of a single philosophy for all religions, nor symbolism nor ritual nor tradition could there be a common world religion for all individuals. Whether the religions are of the East or the west it appears that we have to be satisfied either with having each his own religion, the religion into which he is born, or have no real religion at all. For all that we get from the study of the history of conversions and proselytizations is the simple fact that no one altogether escapes the unconscious and subconscious scaffolding of the religion of his birth. Even upbringing in an altogether new surrounding does not remove this religious unconscious from operating subtly all through one’s life. This would be an interesting psychological study in itself, and important for the future of religious unifications, but it would not even then help the formation of a Universal or world Religion.
As pointed out, a religion that permits all faiths, all dogmas, all rituals, symbols and myths has a chance of helping mutual instruction on these different dimensions or levels of religion. That is stated to be Hinduism by swami Vivekananda. Dr Radhakrishnan has stated this in more intellectual and philosophical terminology. Mahatma Gandhi has said that since no one likes to think another’s religion is better than one’s own, no one religion can become the world religion. But obviously we know that there is also the other tendency to like other’s wares over one’s own and hence conversions become possible. Perhaps the disillusionment that follows after the conversions should make one pause in this respect.
A free flow of individuals from one religion to another, and vice versa, could be useful as a training ground for bringing into being a world religion. This has been attempted in many ways by inter-fellowship of faiths, and of course those who have profited by this intercourses of minds in matters of personal religious experiences have more and more tended to become world-religion conscious. But the whole problem of today is that our concern for world government, world welfare, world peace and world religion are all operating simultaneously and forcing us to become world-conscious. Enforced neighbourliness has, in all levels, produced an explosive situation, and the urgency for a common understanding and a working arrangement in all levels seems to be a world imperative, and immediately to be acted upon.
Therefore every religion has striven to this goal and has failed to satisfy the religious craving for God-vision of liberation of all people. Will Hinduism lift itself up to this stature, or what next, is the question. One’s hope seems to be to develop the techniques by which religious experiences have happened in the past, and by which some of the most leading religious people had shaken off the restricting myths, rituals, customs, and differences and arrived at the mystical experiences of divine Union, transcendent love and perfection.
Therefore today the tendency has been for almost all religious people to set aside the dogmas of religion and accept the methods of union. Exercises of religion or spiritual awakening have become things of deepest concern everywhere. Though each religious institution, or philosophical system, has provided certain kinds of exercises suitable for experiencing the divine through form or symbol, the modern eclecticism or syncretism seeks to go to the root of the matter in seeking Divine Comunion within the circle of religion or sect if possible, but without it if necessary! This shows the urgency of the spiritual yearning or hunger in almost all the intellectuals of today.
As pointed out, what men yearn for is spirituality rather than religiosity. Not so much the love of God as the experience of the Ultimate Reality, or God himself. Not beliefs in rituals, nor myths, nor even philosophies, but verifications of whatever is possible in experience. Experience of the temples, churches and Mosques and other places of worship had been stimulating to some individuals at all times, and have also been places that have been avoided by some of spiritual mystics, who had arraigned them in their teachings. The revolt against rituals and the caste system, combined with the revolt against all types of hierarchical social arrangements and had produced reactions everywhere. Men have challenged the beliefs and customs in religion and religious organizations as not in consonance with the best deliverances of mystic visions.
Mysticism, rather than religion, has become the modern approach. The question would be whether mysticism could be the basis of universal religion; or are we to seek a universal mysticism to be substituted in the place of universal religion?
The tendency of mysticism to be open to experience of the higher order of reality is well known. Every religion has a nucleus of mystical vision, which gives on the sense of freedom or liberty and love and certitude of reality or truth. Mysticism is the experience of the transcendent reality, which is seen to support the entire world of immanence is religious experience; transcendence is mystical experience. Religion demands devotion and service to the Ultimate, whereas mystical experience or spirituality is the enjoyment of liberty and fulfillment in oneself and in all. The transfiguration of the seen world happens in mystical experiences, which are the basis of mythology. The liberating nature of the experience is such hat even the ego seems to melt away in the One Divine Nature. The fading away of the self is an experience of mystical unity or dissolution of the knower, the known and the knowing. It is that Tan-maya state which is difficult to describe, but capable of being experienced at gifted moments.
Whilst religion calls upon the individual to unite himself with the Ultimate Godhead or God as a person, and in all ways in which a person is to be met and worshipped, mystical experience calls upon the individual to lose himself in the Divine. The impatience of the mystic almost makes him deny all regulations of religion or its institutions, and improvise other alternative rites and symbols also which in the mystic’s view are elevating and highly evolutionary. All this is not quite clear. However we can say that the religious man develops a mystic awareness or cosmic awareness, whereas such an awareness seems to be absolutely the qualification for being a mystic.
Therefore the emphasis of mystic experiences is laid for the sake of the continuous growth of the individual towards cosmic consciousness or the One-Consciousness, whereas all emphasis on religious experience is for experiencing the particular way of union provided by the Divine whole for the individual. The inter relation, or mutual support, of these two tendencies is capable of fulfilling the important role of integration of religion and mysticism.
If we consider that Spirituality is the nature of the spirit or self as a self-conscious being hungering after an all-inclusive experience of reality, including itself, by which the individual lives and moves and has its being, then the mystic utterances of the Upanisads asserting the identity between the World Self or Universal Self and the individual’s Self are mystical. The experience itself is not only liberating but also supremely blissful.
When Swami Vivekananda said that Spirituality is the goal of religion, he was showing that religion, if it has to serve any purpose, should lead one, or help in the process of leading one, to the spiritual experiences of oneself; religion is in one sense just a means to the Ultimate End. In fact Advaita Vedanta in exalting the Transcendent Experience of Oneness had relegated the godhead to the realm of religion, the realm of one’s personal relationships. It was, in a sense, sacrilegious to reduce God to the secod place in the existential hierarchy. But it was sought to be rectified by saying that the Mystic absolute and the religious God are but two faces of the same Reality. This reconciliation made by Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekananda has been a welcome modification of the extreme position taken by religion and mysticism.
Regarding World Religions Prof Archie Bahm writes that most religions are world religions, or at least they regard themselves as succh.
But mankind yet lacks a world religion in the sense that it is the only one or only true one and in the sense that it is superior to others because it embodies within itself the virtues of all other religions. However the latter is the claim made by Hinduism, for in a sense it embodies all the virtues of the other religions. The Hindu concept of the Deity as enunciated by the Bhagavad Gita and the Pancaratra Agama reveals the Divine as having five statuses, as Para-Transcedent, as Vyuha, omnipervading cosmic creator, sustainer and destroyer ,fourfold in nature; Vibhava as Avatar or historical descent significant for biological evolution and establishment of the planes of conscious and unconscious and supraconscious evolution, Hardra (inner ruler Immortal, or antaryamin), and lastly the Archa the Image or Icon consecrated and worshipped in the temples and other places like the home. The trinity is clearly visualized as even the acceptance of the visible and the transcendental invisible indescribable. Further, Hinduism has provided modes of apprehension of these five statuses of the Deity, through Supreme Grace of the transcendent, through revelation and scripture, through itihasa and purana, through inference and analogy and through perception. The supreme purpose and goal of man is stated to be liberation in respect of the Highest or Para; dharma in respect of the second and third i.e. Vyuha and kama or supreme divine desire in terms of the fourth is Hardra; and wealth or artha in terms of the last or Arca. The all-inclusiveness of the Divine is experienced in mystical and religious vision which is echoed by the Upanisadic “Sarvam Khalvidam Brahna” and “Vasudeva sarvam iti”, or “Isavasyam idam sarvam”, God is everything and All, and He is the existence, Consciousness – and Delight or bliss.
The all inclusiveness or the comprehensiveness of the above religio-mystical synthesis should be experienced in order to be appreciated. The five statuses are the one ultimate itself, which has descended for its own purposes of self-expression or lila which is creation.
Man’s supreme religious and mystical experience would be to behold all the fivefold statuses in one all-embraching Vision, or at least to experience them in succession which does not interrupt their oneness. This vision was vouchsafed to the Alvars, to the Vedic Seers, and in the Bhagavad Gita. It is not eclectic stringing of these statuses but an organic inter-relatedness of the statuses from the highest subtlest to the grossest solid descent that makes for the supreme integrality of the mystico-religious experience. A mystical experience alone could give as only the Transcendent in Vision; a religious would grant only the creator-immanent in the creation or the avatar. The integration of both is the achievement of the Vedantas.
This synthetical view of the nature of the Deity or God is also integral and should prove a basis for a universal conception or religion. It is also something that satisfies both religious and the spiritual: it is rationally satisfying and may form the basis of a system. It provides for the different levels of aspiration and evolution. Though there has always happened the phenomenon of being satisfied with the lowest or visible form of God-presence or some such symbolic presence of the highest recognized and worshipped and served as such, yet in this scheme the individual usually passes from the external to the inner heart-experience of God. These two may be sufficient, for all practical purposes, for some of the religious people. However the inner self eggs the individual on towards the transcendent mystical experience, or towards the conception and vision of the creator. The search for a cosmic creator or an explanation of the phenomenon of the world process is a rational one, and philosophical search for cause or ground of the world process satisfies the reason in man.
The historical is the most human aspect of the Deity, for it is in this form or descent that the individual begins to see the manifestation of perfections within the context of the human mould or type, and within the conditions of space and time and process. Most religions would very much strive to call this the truly religious experience – experience the infinite in terms of, and in relations with, the finite beings; of perfection in the context of the imperfect; and the universal in terms of particular. In fact the glory of the Deity is experienced by these thinkers, humanists only in terms of the human situation, human relationships. The Deity is the Leader, Saviour, the Guru, statesman, if not merely a Conqueror and Emperor. He may also be the father of the Nation, light of the world, Universal Redeemer. His existence would easily lend itself to a symbol and legend or a Myth. As some theologians would have it, the Advent of God would be unique, irrepeatable, and inimitable. It is said that the Advent of Jesus, marked by the culmination on the Cross, has a unique quality not found in other advents; and we have no need to deny this because the other advents also are unique, and there cannot be another Krishna or Rama or Bhargava or Vamana or for the matter another Gandhi or Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. The significance of the Advent is such that it reveals divine properties or qualities which the Hindu thinker calls the six perfections, aisvarya, virya, jnana, bala, sakti and tejas. These are the radiating perfections, bha-ga-van of the Divine nature which are pure, (amala), untarnishable (vimala) pellucid (nirmala) and infinite and un-diminished whatever the kind of body the Divine takes in the Advent. We could reveal the immense quality of the Divine Nature which no human association or birth in any caste or race could reduce (acyuta). Above all the Advent descends to uplift the world to a greter and vaster dharma and not merely to re-establish the old order by restoring the old foundations. The eternal order is that to which all creation is moving, and it is in terms of the eternal order (sanatana dharma) that at each age the new order is being adopted by the omniscient vision of the Advent, or his associates, the sages, whose vision undimmed always gazes on the eternal. It is this experience of the divine man in person that makes sense of the created world.
Historical religions stress this aspect of the religious and the personalistic. It is the immanence, or inherence, or possibility of the perfect person in the Transcendent and the Creator statuses that makes even mystical thinking personalistic, as in the hymns of the great devotees – alwars, nayanmars and the Gnostics. It is true that there are some Hindu sects like the Saiva Siddhantins, who do not think that God takes a human or mortal birth (and that he has no need to do so because of his omnipotence). Such sects think of His intercession on behalf of the devotees (as for the granting of supreme vision) as being usually direct. However the humanity of God is fully brought out in the advents which reveals more purposes than one.
A synthetic religion, which any universal religion would have to be, would have to accept this version of the Divine Advent which enriches the entire earth-processes or evolution.
The incarnational conception of God bridges the gulf between the Absolute Transcendence and the total Immanence in Nature of God. Any attempt to conceive the former as the only Real makes religion impossible, though it may be mystical experience. The conception of God as Love does envisage this advent or avatarana fully. That does not mean that love is superior to Truth, but only that Truth and Love are essential features of the Divine Manifestation, However, some religions emphasize the aspect of Truth whereas others emphasize the aspect of Love. As it has been said the six perfections of the Divine nature, Bhagavan, might each be considered to be the ideal of God or Human personality, and a classification of the religions could be made accordingly.
The impersonal ethical religion of Taoism is exalting. The impersonal meditation of the Zen is equally devoted to the experience of the transcendence over all process. In fact the “Satori” is said to be suddenly reached. Satori means enlightment. Originally it is stated to have been taught in India and carried to China by Boddhadharma of Kanchipura (South India) about 552 A.D. Known as Dhyan (Chan, Zen) it was one of sudden englightment.
“A special transmission outside the scripture
No dependence upon words and letters
Direct pointing to the soul of man
Seeing into one’s nature” *
Satori is beyond the intellect; it is seeing one’s own nature and know that Nature is not one’s own. The vision may come suddenly or arise slowly. In any case, applied in the context of Buddhism, it meant the arising of the void, the sunya, which is all-embracing.
One attains the condition
“Imperturbable and serene the ideal man practices no virtue
self-possessed and dispassionate he commits no sin
Calm and silent he gives up seeing and hearing
Even and upright his mind abides nowhere”.**
The ideal of the impersonal trans-mental state has been perfected by Buddhism, and in Zen it has found variations.
A theistic version of this Satori may be ventured. Satari is the Sanskrt name of a great saint of Sri Vaisnavism, in fact its founder, who is said to have lived about the 8th century A.D. by historians of today, but placed somewhere in 5000 B.C. by traditionalists. It means the enemy of Sata or the breath that leads to the next birth. This breath (jiva) movement to next life is cut away once for all by means of supreme devotion to the Ultimate Godhead-Narayana Krsna. One does not know when and how this word came to mean also total surrender to God alone, and to none other, for the sake of deliverance.
In any case the aim of religion has been to be in tune with God and through him with the entire world. Spirituality has meant the complete transformation of one’s very being and nature into Inifinity, and it has even been considered to be anti-thetical to religious experience. The denial of the efficacy of all organization or institutions and rites, rituals and so on by some of the mystics is evidence of the mystical anti-religious tendency. It is also affirmed that mysticism can even deny religion and the authority of religion. But an integral scheme of life would demand the recognition that once mysticism establishes the freedom from religion then prevailing, it in its turn produces its own pattern of ritualism and cultism. Thus we know that Islam was a protest against the increasing tendency to worship Jesus Christ and His Virgin Mother. The recognition that God is not to be stepped down to the level of his son or his emanation or descent is very important, as important as the recognition in India of the difference between Isvara and Brahman as in the mystical idea of Sankara. The absoluteness or transcendence over creation of Brahman has been hailed as the metaphysical mystic status, whereas the Isvara has been recognized as the creational power along with the universe or in relation to the universe. We see then that religion is relational, mysticism is supra-relational if not transcendental. But every effort to transcend the level is a mystical effort, whereas every recognition of the transcendent in relation to oneself or the creation is religious. In the twofold Vedanta we have the recognition of the two statuses of Brahman and the Isvara. In the Pancaratra Agama we have the recognition of the five-fold Divine nature which integrates organically the mystical with the religious Godhood.
The mystical aim has one more goal. It aims at taking the whole life for its province, on the one hand, and on the other the total denial or renunciation of life and the world. Though the God of religion is claimed to be the sovereign creator etc of the universal, and as such satisfies the mystic halfway, the dynamic nature of the mystic is such tht he is actively engaged in breaking all bonds of freedom.
The history or religions reveals the tendency of all of them to become close societies. The loss of effective power to make for strenuous ascent to Godhood is uniformly present. Even as in the case of philosophy, where old philosophies required reformulations for being living, so too religios require periodic re-filling in order to be vital expressions of the consciousness of the individual embracing it. Modern religious life is described as comprising only the regularity of doing certain practices such as temple-going, or Sunday or Friday or Thursday church or mosque-going, and hearing or seeing the rituals. Even the dutiful incantations and repetitions do not lead one to the experience of God in any one of the five statuses. Externality and formalism, however gorgeous and imposing, do not cut much ground or rouse the heart to a great endeavour. The attempts to interest man in social work or service of God in man have equally begun to prove barren of spiritual, mystical, or religious results. This state or religion seems to be not exceptional but rather the law of all institutions proper to man.
All efforts are being made to urge man towards religion. To rouse man from his slumber seems possible only when he is given a really worthwhile goal or target. The great disaster ahead of him seems to be the total ruin of man in the world of shadows, of pleasures that bring unhappiness, disease and disgrace. The old doctrine of illusoriness of the world seems to have lost all threat-provoking capacity. The Buddhist counsel that all life is suffering has not made man turn away from it. The call to save himself from the hell-fire and doom awaiting man, the sinner, around the corner, hasnot been taken seriously by any one. The wrath of God even when experienced through the constant evidences of earth quakes, fires, typhoons, air-crashes, wars, pestilences and draughts, have not provoked much response. Men continue to go on. Only a few men are prodded to think within themselves and seek a godly guidance. We have become morbid and melancholy because religious do not seem to solve any of the real human problems. Death seems to have lost its sting and seems to be vastly more preferable to the life that we live. Though man’s triumphs in knowledge of Nature and conquest of it have been sometimes stimulating the yearning for doing the same, yet it has been clearly disheartening to see that no one really thinks that religion has a future.
The materialistic attitude can be described as one of either a life hitched to ephemeral values and pleasures evanescent, or of unrelieved gloom. Human welfare has been more prominently in the front and humanism seems to be a living faith for many who feel that man’s primary concern is not with God but with man. Even our prophets are interpreted to teach us the faith in humanity, human values and human destiny, and the concern of the incarnations themselves has been shown to be man. Even his evolution to a higher level of consciousness, or his liberation from the round of deaths and births have been given up. Humanism is the religion of worship of human values and human welfare. Secularism is the non-religious concern with human activities, and materialism regards all processes even of life and values as flowing from Nature and motion, without any spirit. Consciousness, too, is shown to be material product. Between these secularisms and materialisms all our human activities are centered. God is fifth wheel to the coach.
This situation has been common to most man tired of the eulogies paid to religion and higher mental activities to solve the problem of human misery. Human misery could be solved by human reason, however fumbling it might be, however muddled its operation. Man has been learning through trial and error. Religion without reason has been of no use, and reason without religion has had great success. Thus all the great truths said to belong to Religion and Mysticism have been rediscovered in the context of our life by reason. These arguments are once again to the fore. Except for the traditional respect that men bear to religion and religious experiences, no one really thinks that religion adds to the weight of our reason in human conduct. In such a condition it has become imperative to show that reason itself requires, for its greater acivity, the life of spirit or religion which gives a faith that outlasts life. Strange as it may seem, there are men who claim that their prophets are ‘living’ though dead a two thousand years ago, whilst the ideas of today are stated to be dead and meaningless. The living Gods of the ancient past yet lay heavy hands on the present, and religion becomes an enchanting relic of the past re-enacted today.
Modern attempts to synthesise religion and spirituality in terms of humanism or secularism are too rational and limited in their scope to be of lasting importance. Nor can there be any reconciliation between religions which insist on dogmas and myths without opening themselves to spiritual awakening. The old spirituality had become religious dogma and formalistic and materialistic too. A new spirituality needs a re-opening of the mind to things which are beyond the old mind and its rationalities. As it was pointedout, the new dimensions of our present age demand new extensions of our logic and reason. It is possible only by going beyond our present humanity and its rationality and by diving below matter on the one hand, and soaring above reason on the other, so as to have glimpses of the axioms of the Infinite Spirit from which alone all the great prophets received their illuminations. May be in an age of democracy when each individual has come to a sense of personal existence and commitment, each individual has to open up to the flashes of insight from above, and from within, and from below. Then alone will a real synthesis of religions and Mysticisms take place, and men may be aware of the birth of a new universality with a different logic and language.