Monday, July 28, 2014

God is Beyond All Religions!

God is beyond all religions and no religion can claim to possess absolute truth or make the claim of being the norm for all the others. It is rational to believe that a truly religious person cannot be exclusive. They can recognize the presence of God in every religion. At the same time, God has no "chosen people" for all are God's people. A person who has experienced 'God' deeply within the roots of his own faith will not be threatened by other religions, instead he would rejoice in the diversity of religious experiences. It will be prudent to mention Sri Satya Sai Baba of Shirdi and Ramakrishna who did not find any contradiction in practising different religions. They exemplify the ideal of finding God in all religions and respecting the faith, symbols and practices of other religions. It is untenable to hold on to a position that God's revelation occurs only in a particular country or culture.

Sufi Muslim saint Sarafudddin Maneri had once acknowledged that, "A hundred thousand intellects cannot comprehend Thee, O, You who lie hidden from the gaze of eye and soul". Khwaja Abu Sa'id, another Sufi saint, declares: "No one knows the full story, hold your tongue, hold your tongue". Similarly, the Bible affirms that the ineffable mystery of God eludes understanding - "Can you penetrate the designs of God? It is higher than the heavens; what can you know?" (Book of Job 11:78).St Augustine, an early Christian thinker, warned those who hold absolutist claims: "If you know God,it is not God". For St Thomas Aquinas, Christian theologian of all times, the greatest of all knowledge about God is: "To know that one does not know God".   

Even upanishadic sages were aware of the incomprehensibility of the divine mystery. The mystery of God is so ineffable that, "The eye does not reach it, or speech, or the mind. It is not understood by those who understand it; it is understood by those who do not understand it," says the Kena Upanishad (1.3.4).The Absolute is anirvachaniyam or indescribable. Hence, after every description of God, the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (3.9.26) adds "neti, neti" - "not so, not so".

Harmonious relationship between religions is possible when followers of all religions realise that the infinite mystery of God cannot be exhaustively grasped. The truth present in one's own religion is part of the infinite horizon of divine truth in which people of various cultures and religions are equal participants. 

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