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Faith: Unity and Division

By , Plainsboro, NJ
The overwhelming search for the perfect faith has baffled science since the beginning of time. Have faiths been left to be proved, or just to be believed? As the brilliant, young Jain philosopher Shrimad Rajchandraji writes in his book Moksha Mala, “If one philosophical or religious system is not perfect and true, other philosophical or religious systems cannot be proved or said to be false or imperfect by any standard. Therefore let us examine the imperfection and one-sidedness of other religions from the point of view of one religion which we call or know as perfect and wholly true.” No faith can ever be marked faulty, where as such behavior intimidates the faith of one's own.
Is it the need to confirm that one’s religion is supreme or just the ways of mankind? Of course the ways of Mahatma Gandhi were truly remarkable, which formed a new way of revolution. Surprisingly the credit for this mighty feat can not all be given to Gandhiji. Gandhi’s spiritual guides, namely Shrimad Rajchandraji and Virchand Raghavji Gandhi, taught these ideas of anekantvad (multiplicity of views); which is very useful in today’s diverse world. Although, having lived a short life, both spiritual guides had made extraordinary achievements at young age, in this rapidly changing, diverse world.

The year was 1893, the year of the first Parliament of World Religions. Virchand Raghavji Gandhi, along with Swami Vivekananda, were the first to represent Indian culture and faith to the Western world. On September 25th, 1893, Virchand Gandhi expressed his love for Indian culture and equality of religions by fighting back harsh criticism on Hinduism by Dr. George F. Pentecost. One great line of his defending address was, “It is an astonishing fact that foreigners have been constantly attacking India and in the face of all this aggression the soul of India has stood vital and watchful. Her conduct and religion are safe and the whole world looks at India with a steady gaze.” He added “Cultural distinctions, agriculture, art, artistic skill, literature, good conduct, means of knowledge, science, hospitality, feminism, love, and respect – all these are found in India in quite a different form. If that culture was purchasable, England would have purchased it, adopted it. But it has not happened, it cannot happen.” Moreover, culture is not to be criticized, it is to be learned from.

To diversify this brilliant argument, great philosophers from around the world have resolved equality through there words. An Irish playwright named George Bernard Shaw quoted, “There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.” Also, Shaw insisted that he must not be known to be a follower for any one religious culture. Shaw attempted the aspect of the diffusion of different cultures and principles. Another well known acceptor of diversity, Dr. Hans Kung, states a relationship between peace and religion in the following excerpt. “There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions.” Whether it’s the Hindu/Muslim riots in India, or the Holocaust in Germany; peace will not prevail until cultures do not intermingle well with other cultures.

As of now, we must reason that all of humanity thinks alike; after all each is of humanity. One example includes the halo encircling the head of a great person such as Jesus, Buddha, or Mahavira. In both eastern and western culture, the halo signifies the Sahasar chakra (crown chakra) illuminating around the head. The halo seems to be a forgotten aspect in western culture, but this still remains in eastern culture. One must contemplate that all of humanity thinks alike, and some things are not different, no matter where someone is from. Hence, the criticism of another faith just proves one's own as guilty.

Consequently, there is much diverse faith in the world which appears inevitable, but the decision remains in world's views of equality. If equality was given by such great souls since eternity, how many more times will it take to instill this great idea of acceptance of belief and faith? Just like the world changes for humankind, can humankind change for the world once? “There is no faith that promotes violence. . .no faith that says that it is a good thing to steal. . .no faith that says it is a good thing to kill. All of our faiths in different ways tell us how we can be truly human, that we are interdependent, that we are made for interdependence.” - Archbishop Desmond Tutu





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