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

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA AND UNIVERSAL RELIGION
EQUALITY OF ALL RELIGIONS

 
Swami Vivekananda quotes Udayana (Vol. VII. P. 454)
“He who is Brahman of the Vedanti, Iswara of the Naiyayika, Purusha of the Samkhya, Cause of the Mimamsakas, Law of the Buddhists, Absolute Zero of the Nihilists and Love infinite of those who love May (He) take all under His Merciful Protection.”
In the analysis of the nature of the Universal Religion following Swami Vivekananda, it was stressed that the Goal of Religion is spirituality and all religions have taken their rise from the supra-cosmic spirit that is one only. This spirit has manifested itself in nature and in individuals, and is therefore being sought by the individuals – this search constitutes the ascent of the individuals to that primary source of their being. All religions are therefore derivable from the one spirituality as partial manifestations of ascent, and as expression at different levels. The most dominant note of spirituality is its craving for freedom from all bonds, and in another sense, mastery of all the ways of Nature and souls or psychologies so as to be freed from their binding nature.
The inductive approach emphasized the hierarchical or evolutionary ascent observed in the worship of stones, plants, animals, men and heroes, natural powers, and the dead who are somehow held to survive their death. Nature-worship and ancestor worship are but ways of adoring the supreme which is manifest in Nature and in souls. The experience of God as creator of the world and souls had shown the higher nature of religion that had tended towards rationalistic consideration of the relation between God and nature, and God and man, and nature and man. The concepts of God as Father, Mother, and Guru and so on have their relational apotheosis in respect of one’s own earthly relationships. The Godhead as Sovereign is also one such apotheosis of the ruler and law-giver. God as Law, or Cosmic Law, is also known. The development of monotheism in the west is for world-theism or cosmo-theism, parallel to the worldly ambition for domination, to be chakravartin, or emperor. One spiritual ambition has been to emphasize the One Sovereign principle as bringing about world harmony, or one government of God, who is both the spiritual and temporal soverign. The Fraternity of the diverse religious aspirations was emphasized by the Vedic utterance : Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudavadanti – Agnim Varunam Matarisvan etc.
The concept of the brotherhood of man through the concept of one God is implicit in the hierarchical conception which does not exalt any one of the Gods over the others. All religions thus become, in a sense, helpful in leading to the One supreme spirit transcendent to the levels of matter, life, mind, vinjnana and Ananda. The oneness is the nisus of the diverse and the diverse are necessarily to lead upto it. Advaita, or the emphasis of the oneness of the Diversity, is essential for the individual who is seeking to go beyond his bondage to the lower forms. This is the conscious or unconscious aspiration.
The third spiritual concept is that of Equality between the several religions as means to the attainment of the one universal spirit that confers freedom from all bondage and the cycle of births and deaths entailed by the birth into lower levels of consciousness and experience. Harmonising of all is the goal, and it has to be based on the principle of quality of all.
The three mottos of the French Revolution Liberty, Equality and Fraternity have had a quite dynamic part to play during the past two centuries, and even today they are supreme expressions the spiritual aspirations of man.
“All the social upheavals, at least the leaders of them, are trying to find that all their communities or equalising theories must have a spiritual basis, and that spiritual basis is in the Vedanta only.”
(Vol. V p. 213)
God’s impartiality is the basis of the concept of justice. The spirit is same to all, and is fully related to each; each individual has only to liberate this inward self slowly by realizing its withinness or immanence in his heart. This raising of the stature of each individual, in fact even every atom, to the level of universal power, personality or divine fullness is one of the greatest aspirations pushing man towards the spiritual or the ultimate spirit. The triune aspirations in the materialistic sphere, encouraged or roused to white-heat of aspiration through revolutions and reformations, have brought out the existence of universal upsurge.
Equality or samatva or justice is a great ethical concept. Where religions are concerned, the question is whether all religions can be said to lead to the ultimate spirituality. We can see that the ultimate spirit accepted by the Vedanta as the ultimate is not accepted by everybody as such. These contentions have unfortunately been subjects of religious controversy and fanaticism. In most cases it was not clear what these great scholars or religious teachers were trying to emphasize, for the ultimate must be the ultimate in the sense that no one could go beyond that experience. It is clear that only one who had this ultimate experience, and could definitely say that there is nothing beyond that, is competent to affirm the ultimate.
Secondly, such a person alone become competent also to say whether any other way exists or not to that Ultimate. For we know that the path taken by one is usually onsidered to be the only, one till others point out that they came there by different routes. The claim of some religions to exclusive pathways is rather unacceptable to the Hindu rational mind. It is said that all roads lead to Rome, which is built in such a way that it has many roads leading upto it. Could we say that all of them are easy roads, equally well-made and macdamised without pits and so on? These questions have pestered the seeker everywhere. Only adventurers and mountain climbers who are anxious to conquer peaks ask for hard work and challenging routes. Others are content to go by the well-worn and well-made roads, easy of access and ensuring smooth travel to the destination.
Hinduism has made many roads to the Ultimate. The number of sadhanas or means of connecting oneself with the Divine and realising the Ultimate are many. The way of Karma-yoga and the path of Jnana yoga as well as Bhakti yoga are three paths all said to lead to the One supreme and Ultimate Liberation, and to God-union. They are considered by some to be independent paths. But it is also agreed that they may also form a chain of paths all helping to lead us to the Ultimate. The analogy of paths leading to the One centre would not work, for here is integration, mutual development. Thus karma, performed with detachment and dedication, would give rise to jnana or knowledge of the essential and permanent, as contrasted with the impermanent, and make one devote oneself to the permanent, rejecting or renouncing the Impermanent. This devotion to the permanent would then be called bhakti. It is also possible to start with bhakti, or devotion to the goal, and then that entails jnana and karma suffused with devotion to the Ultimate; or one may start with jnana and then pass on to action that is almost equivalent to non-action, for there is no desire for fruits or their enjoyment, and devotion is so pure and perfect that it has sublimated devotion. So we find that the three yogas interpenetrate each other, so thoroughly as to become Ultimately one integral path.
But all this discussion of the independent paths to the One becomes mere analytical discussion. The practical course seems to be the integrative triunity of the yogas. So too may many extreme practicants claim each yoga to be supreme over the others. Bhakti is said to be the most easy, for it means praising the Lord and worshipping Him only, whereas the performance of works or yajnas and yagas is said to be arduous; and jnana demands power of ratiocination which is perhaps not needed for an emotional, devotional approach. All these are conditions of fitness (adikara), and progress in each case is determined by factors of intensity of aspiration, strength of belief and faith. Lack of these is of course the only sinfulness, so to speak. We have the possibility of slowly helping every one to rise up to the highest levels of jnana and supreme devotion by training oneself to perform small acts whthin one’s capacity. God, in His infinite love, has provided means for approaching Him, a method by which he could be reached through even blind love, a love based on mere trust in the loving nature of God Himself. The Akincana – one who has nothing – has got that particular quality that attracts God to him, and he gets the Divine Help that makes him fitted for greater work and is shown the paths of karma, jnana and illumined bhakti. As is well known, Religions have these steps to reach God. However it is still an important question whether any one religion is better than the other for leading one quickly to the ultimate Godhead.
Approaching the question of equality of all paths in another form, we have, in the modern world, religions which proselytize men from the primitive religions, claiming that they grant freedom from sinfulness, and that they offer equality of opportunity and social treatment to all those who have accepted the method of their religion. Thus Christianity offers the Saviour-Redeemer as the principle or person who is supreme among the saviours of the world, if not the only saviour of all mankind. His is the only path, and the way of salvation. Love of God for His creatures was its sign.
Islam offers the message of the Prophet, who is the last among the prophets of God, who gave the world the message through his divine revelational writing – the Al’koran. The following of the teachings of the book, and the abiding by the five-times prayer etc would provide a safe conduct to God and His angels. He is the Best among the prophets and has to be followed. But as this Religion of devotion to God developed exclusiveness and arbitrariness, it also developed fanaticism about its exclusiveness. It denied all other paths. Idols fell, all other superstitions were swept away. Yet its devotion to the deity it had chosen was deeply asustere and sincere.
Zoroastrian thinking had shown that the God Ahura Mazda was the power ultimate for the Good, always combating the Ahriman - the power of evil. Man must choose to worship the Ahura Mazda in order to triumph over the evil. This is ethically valuable in so far it reveals that man must choose the good - the godside and fight on the side of God against the evil forces. The Path is the path of devotion to the Good, the Ultimate Good, which is indeed the fire that burns away all the dross; it is the God.
Buddhism follows the path of discrimination or jnana, finding out the causes of sorrow and exterminating them by means of dharma (dhamma) - the practice of right thought, right speech, right work and right meditation, the Buddha who has shown the path of transcendence of sorrow - the tathagatha - had become the Path he himself has shown by his supreme example of the renunciation of the causes of sorrow - trsna - tannha. He, like Jesus and Mohammed after him, showed the way by his personal example as to how to attain the state of Nirvana.
Leaving aside the question as to whether all these religions have the same goal for the present, it is enough firstly to ask whether each one of them leads to the goal of others, or whether the goals of each one of these leads up to the further higher or Ultimate Goal propounded by the Vedanta - the Brahman.
Sri Rama Krishna Paramahamsa has shown how he attained the Absolute Godhead through the worship of the Idol of Kali, the Mother, in such devotion as to have her pratyaksa darsana. He undertook the spiritual discipline of dhyana and rose to such an extent as to have attained the Vision in Samadhi -samprajnanata at the beginning - but later on, thanks to his getting an illumined logic Teacher Tota puri, he achieved the asamprajnanata and nirvikalpaka samadhi. This made him go beyond to the Nirugana - Transcendent Impersonal Experience of the Divine. He also knew that these two statuses are of the Same Ultimate Reality or Brahman. His tantra-sadhana integrated with the mantra and the archa or iconic worship did take him to the Ultimate Experience. His yogic trance also led him to that Experience. He was a bhakta, he was a karmayogi doing his work in the temple, and serving God and his devotees, He was a jnani who knew that the Ultimate was all and in all, and as being present in all. His realisations had opened up a great chapter in the history of Hindu religion. He was above all sectarianisms; the paths of Siva, of Visnu, of Kali, all led to the transcendent experience.
Among the Christian the way of devotion or Bhakti to the Saviour led to his having the vision of Jesus Christ, and the way of love. Christianity was not contrary to the spirit of Religion; on the other hand it was one of the special ways by which the Divine is experienced in the heart as yogins do, and prayer and surrender to the will of God in all things showed an extra-ordinary trust in the Divine Love. Further, the verifiability of the Christ-experience revealed indubitably that the path of Christ is right. It is therefore necessary not to seek to convert the Christian to Hinduism, but to help the Christian to lead a real Christian life and attain the Vision not only of Christ but what Christ stood for - the experience of the Divine Godly trinity, the Father, son, holy Ghost. Sri Ramakrishna had the vision of Christ and the attainment which He promised to the seeker by that Way of Christ.
Similarly Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa followed the path of Islam, and attained that divine state promised by the Prophet of Allah. The sufis of Islam had reached the Ultimate Experiences and in consonance with their expeČriences, the experiences of the Yoga were verified by them. Swami Vivekananda, who had trodden the path of Rajayoga, has illuminated this chapter of inner illumination and trance wonderfully and at first hand.
The Buddhist jnanas, similar indeed to the dhyana but with the specific purpose of having the bodhisattva state through the path of Nirvana, led to the Nirvana not only of the thoughts but also of the ego, and to that Sunya, which was not nothing but the Absolute as transcendent to all phenomenal being. So much so all experiences devoted to the realisation of the highest of each one of these religions led to something beyond them, culminating in the Ultimate Advaita experience of that One Spirit.
Regarding the equality of religions Swami Vivekananda also insists upon the freedom to choose whatever object of worship an individual admires or likes. This object of worship may be just a symbol, a salagrama, or linga, or Cross, or Circle or Tantrika Chakra; anything which has meaning for him.
Or he may choose to worship his Ideal man - the Avatars or Prophet or Gurus who appear to him as worthy of imitation or attainment. Or he may choose to worship the Pure Sky or the inner light, or a God without form or quality, or having qualities and forms which are adorable and auspicious.
This freedom to worship whatever object one adores or admires also means that whatever one worships, he becomes like that because one’s thought takes the shape and dynamism of that object. The lover of Brahman becomes Brahman.
The Ishta devata is sacred, not a secret God. It is the choice that one freely makes as to what he would like to become. This shows that whilst in India or Hinduism one can worship whatever one wants to become or grow into, this is not permitted in the Other religions. Regimentation of thought in this direction is a great impediment to spiritual progress. The choice of the Ishta devata is sought to be held secret in the West. As Swami Vivekananda said
“Secret societies are western inventions where there is no freedom to openly worship what one cherishes to be best.” (Vol.IV.p.57)
It is of course difficult to conceive of God without name and form. Thought, name and form are one series. Thought is the subtlest; name is more gross than thought; whereas form is the grossest. They are three stages of one development. (Vol. IV.p.5l) The samkhyan view seems to be accepted in a way as to the manner of the grossening of the categories. However these form a trinity. In worship then one can stop with unuttered thought or proceed to name, and from name to the form.
The identification of a form is by a name, and all communication from one individual to another is with the help of sounds which refer to things or objects. Thus name and form are one aggregate and are inseparable. No doubt the diversity of languages means different sounds apply to the same object. But a careful study of the formation of sounds in relation to objects would reveal the functional or root forms which the objects mean for an indiviČdual, and it may mean very many different things to different individuals, and as such the same object gets many names each denoting its different purpose for several individuals. Therefore the thought or meaning determines the name of an object for the individual. If the object means the same function for some individuals all of them apply the same word or name to that object.
The supreme need to have an object for worship in religion is well-understood but the names may vary and so too the forms. What secures mutual understanding is not only freedom to have one’s own object for worship but also to understand that others may have different meanings for that same object which would equally suffice for spiritual meditation and self-realisation.
So long as religion is held to be
“the realisation in the heart of hearts, it is possible for all religions to come together in fraternity of seeking. Religion is the touching of God. It is feeling, realising that I am a spirit in relation with the Universal Spirit and all its manifestation.” (Vol.IV,p.l26)
“Whilst each one of us is a believer in a personal religion, that is we can grasp an idea only when it comes to us through a mateČrialised ideal person,’”’we can understand the precept only through an example.” (Ibid.p.121)
Yet it is possible to transcend and receive a personal experience of the Transcendent Reality when we touch it through the heart, through love, and total self-giving.
Further each religion has to be considered in its integrality or wholeness. As pointed out, each has a book of revelations, and rite or ritual or work, and a philosophy, or myth or both. The institutions for the preservation of these is undoubtedly different from all the above, for though it is necessary it is really non-essential, for whenever the basic experiences are not to be had through these above paths of revelation, kriya, yoga, and incapable of being rationally communicated, or where even a transcendental communication through poetic myth is unavailable, the institutions tend to wither. Most religions confuse the institution with its work and try to preserve the former at the expense of the latter.
But as we are concerned with the spiritual nature of religions at their highest, each religion aims at the highest experience that it has laid before itself, and when it reaches this goal it is satisfied. The one test of each religion is whether it leads to that which it promises. Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa showed or revealed that they do. This is their truth. All reliČgions are true - they lead to the goals they have placed before their followers. And they are, to that extent, satisfying.
The methods or means also are about the same. Prayer and meditation, devotional service and righteousness in conduct are all equally promoted by each religion. But where they are all rather wrong is that they do not recognize that each religion is equally capable of leading to the goal. The synthesis of Goals could be shown to be necessary, for the goal is the one Reality that liberates and unites all religions, and in granting this synthesis we provide for an intelligent solution to the problems of world conflict as well as for the fanatical espousal of one path for all mankind. This runs counter to the very nature of man who has a fourfold nature, even as his society has a fourfold division.
Karma refers to the will, bhakti to the emotional nature and jnana to his cognitive or thought nature, and they are inseparable and their unity is perhaps best in Raja yoga. In fact Jnana of the transcendental order is the culmination - the turiya is the result. This quarternary nature of the society of Brahmana, Ksatriya, Vaisya and Sudra; the Brahmacari, Grhastha, Vanaprastha and Sannyasi, helps us to realise the intricate Oneness/that is realised through these diverse levels and diverse methods or means.
Thus equality of all religions is a realisation, not merely a slogan for the sake of seeking the hectic evangelical attempts of religions. Persuasiveness even demands the presentation of the superiority of one’s own standpoint over the other’s. The need today, as it was at the time of Swami Vivekananda, is to show that no one should attempt to persuade without having been convinced wholly about the Ultimate Truth of one’s own Religion. Most persuation stops on the surface, and comes out of men who are not truly persuaded about their Ultimate Knowledge. Relative Ultimates are unfortunately satisfying to minds, and those minds have to be by the Grace of God lifted beyond their relative limits. No one seems fitted to do this except the men of real spiritual power like
Swami Vivekananda and other spiritual souls of his calibre.
Equality between religions also entails an important question as to whether all religions, whilst being equally efficacious in leading to God-Union, are also equally easy for all to practise or follow. Here comes the most important factor of differentiation between the several paths. What is easy for one individual need not be equally easy for another, that is, what is sauce for the goose need not be sauce for the gander as they put it. This easiness is a question of one’s ability and capacity. However, the choice of the means whether it is through the method of karma, service to God, bhakti or love of God, Jnana or knowledge of God, will be decided by the initial ease with which one is able to follow it. Aptitude and ability determine choices. We know that young men try to take up fashionable choices of subjects but are latter found to feel their deficiences and regret them. This is because their own fashionable choices, or their parent’s wishes, determine their choice of vocation and only long afterwards they return to their real vocation, if at all they could. A life full of regrets -is otherwise the result.
The Ease of a path is determined by aptitude and ability, and so long as the several seekers find their paths easy, they are satisfied with it. Else wrong choices lead to struggle with one’s own nature. Svadharma and svabhava are psychological determinants. In so far as each individual claims his religion to be easy for him, it is best to follow it, for it too leads him ultimately to the highest provided his own ideal is the Highest and the Ultimate - the highest which the mystics and saints of personal realization had discovered whether it be in Christianity or Islam or Buddhism or Jainism or Taoism etc.
Though the Hindu seers have held that each one of these paths (religions) have emphasised certain basic dogmas for acceptance as preliminary to their practices, and no one would profit by them unless these preliminaries have been learnt, yet certain cases have been provided where these preliminaries are also suspended.
Similarly the religions also insist upon certain realisations or experiences of sinfulness and confession of them; the helpless state of man before the omnipotent world-God-power; the existence of misery as the most crucial factor of the world-existence; the impotence of man; and the belief in the Saviour, the Buddha, the Prophet, and so on. This adhikara niyama or rule of fitness is such that it can be attained, either by carya (conduct), or heredity, or samgha (environment).
However, the agamas have insisted on other than heredity and dogmatic acceptances for the path of salvation or liberation or self-realisation, and that seems to be the condition of unfittedness either by intellect or devotion or action to pursue the divine path. This path of akincanata - being nothing and no-body - has been itself a profound fact in Hindu Agama which claim to be supplementing the Vedic revelations, Swami Vivekananda has vehemently protested about the Tantrika practices of the Vamacara or hedonistic materialistic path, but has clearly accepted that there are tantras which could be accepted in so far as they lead to the Ultimate Godhead experience.
The ‘open-door’ theory of all religions is in respect of permitting any one to enter a path without qualification, but most such admission had led to the watering down of the efficacy of the path. The Veda-marga was not closed to any one. In fact on the plane of divine experience even of the Vedas, the avaidiki or tantrika who had access to the Divine Experience also had access to the Vedic tradition and sruti. The writings of the Alvars and the Nayanmars in the South, as well as the rich mystical experiences of the Northern Saints not of the Vedic fold, bear witness to this phenomenon. It is only private dogmatism, or clinging to a set of dogmas whilst refusing to consider others and experimenting upon them, that leads to intellectucal and emotional isolationisms that breed conflict and misunderstanding of the real purposes and ideal of Religion.
There is a factor of great significance when each religion, for the sake of keeping up its artificial individuality, develops walls or barriers. The pluralistic tendency has always been to insist upon the ‘uniqueness’ of each individual to the Whole, but really it is to prevent it from losing itself. Most individualisms are attempts to keep up one’s privateness. Religion, if it is true to its definition which is to link up itself with the Ultimate One or God, may entail not merely a samipya (nearness), but also salokya and sarupya, and finally sayujya when one merges into God so as to lose oneself utterly in Him, even losing name and form. Advaita looks forward to this identity which exceeds union, whereas others have different distances (psychical or spiritual) and seek to resist the last step. This struggle for individuality apart from that of God is visible and evident in all pluralistic formulas of uniqueness and individual worth and value and so on. Modern thought, more and more, is individualistic, and all concessions are made to this idea of individual liberty and worth. But what is most often lost sight of is that by merging in God one regains the infinite freedom to be individual in a cosmic sense and in cosmic consciousness. All that is said to be lost is one’s materialistic separateness which is pseudo-individuality. However this is terrain which is beyond our normal materialistic and secularistic concepts of individuality.
In any case even though religions are seeking individualistic ends even as wen in a democratic pluralistic set up, the Oneness that they finally arrive at will reveal a-new dimension to that many ness which is integrated with oneness, unlike the present manyness disintegrating the Oneness. However, with the fear that is inherent somehow in each individual at his losing himself in something else however big or noble, it looks like one’s death. True Spiritual attainment lies in the manifestation of the Infinite (vibhutva) in the finite (anutva), the individual, and this realisation of the Infinite self in the individual as its very self. True individuality is that personality of the infinite in the finite, and even-in the discrete which has been brought into spiritual organic relationship with the rest and all:
As the Gita (VI.32) puts it Atmaupamyena sarvatra samam pasyti on the analogy of the self he who perceives me equally in all everywhere - one realises the unique manyness of the One in all, Swami Vivekananda is not tired of emphasizing the Unity of the Diversity and the diversity in Unity. As he put it he would like a religion for each individual - that is to say a direct access to that Ultimate ultimately. (Vol.VI.p.l7 &p.l3)
It is difficult to get direct access to the Ultimate or God without a long process of ascent through several individuals or teachers who have known the path and who are capable of leading one to the same. But all teachers are mediators with differing capacities — and the teacher of teachers is God alone - the Absolute who has come down in the hierarchical ladder so to speak. But no one can presume to be the Teacher except the Ultimate Spirit. The position this poses is whether every religion ultimately.directly links up an individual with the Divine without any intermediaries? This is a modern Question as well; though there have been some at all times who aspired for a direct union.
It appears that in Hinduism, ultimately the guru withdraws and leaves one in direct relationship or union with God. But this is not so in some other religions which insist, on the presence of the mediator or prophet or guru. In Buddhism the bodhisattva remains, whereas in earlier Buddhism, which is so much a religion of liberation and reason and anti-God and anti-self, the intermediary is not retained. However the Guru occupies a significant and necessary place as the delegate of the Ultimate, and the getting of a Guru is itself deemed to be the gaining of the divine path and light and the way.
Simplicity is one of the claims put forward as characterising the Higher religions. What with the heavy dogmas, practices, rites, and worships, religions have become overlaid with formalism. Hinduism recognizes that there are many ways - the formalised as well as the simplified process - all depending on the type of Yoga or union that one utilises. The simplest path is self-surrender prapatti - prapadana, counselled by the Lord Sri Krsna which makes one swiftly, or in the shortest possible time, a dharmatma, a righteous soul which has shed all its cravings and desires, and one is hawklike or like the Rishi Suka taken to the Absolute. The other ways are like that of Vamadeva, the gradual path rich with experiences of the route of God but steadily leading one to it, each step lighted by a brilliant vision and wisdom. All religions therefore are not equally simple except in their highest levels seeking direct experience of God. There seems to be in each religion an attempt at direct simple experience or anubhava which is complete union, that is, granting one a sense of being, a sense of illumination, and a sense of bliss (satisfyingness) of fullness (filledness), and above all of transcendence of the transitory empirical world and a sense of Immortality and Infinity. This however is at the highest reaches.
Whilst equality pervades at the highest, hierarchical relations exist at the lower; and institutions of religion mainly prosper on this differential rather than on the goal of Union with Infinity and eternity, or immortality (anantatya and amrtatva).
Thus, what we find is that all religions ultimately cannot but aim at God Union, Immortality and Liberation. They cannot but seek fraternity among all beings which gives a sense of brotherhood and mutuality of love -the true samgha or church or Alaya or Temple, where each lover of the Ultimate would instruct spiritually one another - bodhayanti parasparam. Lastly, the goal of all religions is direct experience that verifies all traditions of scriptures - or sruti, smrti, itihasas, puranas - revelation, tradition, history, and myth and rite and philosophy.
There is thus also the equality of all paths in so far as they have all the opportunities to develop uniquely towards the ultimate realisation. No path seems to be better than the other in one sense, but in another sense since some paths seem to halt at a lower formulation of the Nature of God, they are sought to be criticised, but if the seeker on that path urges himself further, seeking God union directly, then such a one reaches verily the goal which has been reached by other sincere loftily aspiring seekers. In one sense the heights of attainment in one path must urge others to follow their own paths to that Goal or Centre of all Unity or Oneness. All religions are strung like beads in the string of God that passes through all of them, even like the Divine who is the thread passing through all souls and things. Such is the realisation of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa - a realisation that he transmitted to his disciple Swami Vivekananda. It made for discovery of the ultimate goal for religions which got arrested on the way to the Ultimate Godhead. Whilst it stimulated their endeavours it also enabled them to pay heed to those mystics among them who had been sought to be excluded from their orthodoxies of church and system and so on. This has been a liberating influence on all the religions that had drawn their shutters down.
This is the beginning of Open Spirituality as against closed religiosity.