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Books and Documents (25 Feb 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)


How Seekers from Different Faith Traditions Can Live in Harmony—Some Insights from Vedanta


By Swami Satprakashananda

25 February 2017

(Excerpts from “Vedanta for All” by Swami Satprakashananda (published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India)

“Vedanta views different religions as so many ways to the same goal. Vedanta does not antagonize any religion. Vedanta takes the position that the same God can be viewed by individual minds in different ways. There are sure to be various conceptions of God. The human mind can conceive of God according to its capacity. The Hindus may conceive of God in one way. Mohammedans in another way, the Christians in another way, the Jews another way. Each of these conceptions can lead the spiritual aspirant to the ultimate goal.

As the aspirant advances in spiritual life his understanding of spiritual truth also develops. His conceptions change until the Supreme is realized. Until then he is bound to be in the realm of ideas and conceptions. But each and every view of God helps him to reach God, if he is sincere. He cannot have a complete idea of God as long as his mind is not ready for this. For example: You can have many photographs of this house from different angles, but none of these photographs will be a complete picture of the house. Still, each picture will stand for the whole house. Similarly, your view of God may be very partial, but even that view of God stands for the entire God.

Whatever conception you may form of God according to your mental capacity, that very conception will help you to move towards God if you are sincere. But if you want to reach God quarrelling about the conceptions, then it will take you a long time to reach the Goal. So, Vedanta doe not quarrel about the conceptions. Vedanta wants to see if you are anxious and eager to reach the Goal, instead of quarrelling about the way. The way is not a safe place to live forever.

Vedanta does not make any converts in the ordinary sense. To Vedanta, real conversion is the transformation of the inner nature, lifting a person from a lower to a higher plane. You cannot be converted in the true sense simply by a kind of external purification, changing of name or dress. Vedanta says whatever you may have, if it is worthy of the name ‘religion’—and in these days the word ‘religion’ is used very loosely—it is something that will lead to the Supreme Goal, otherwise it is not worthy of the name of religion.

By its very definition religion is a particular way to the Supreme Goal. It is the search for the eternal. So, Vedanta says that whatever religion you may profess, you will not have to change that course. But you should not think that your course is the only course and all other courses are wrong. You follow your own course without quarrelling with others about the course. If you are sincere, you will reach the Goal.

One and the same God is being worshipped by the Christians in the churches, by the Jews in the synagogues, by the Mohammedans in the mosques, and by the Hindus in the temples. The main thing is knowing how to reach Him.

Until you reach Him you are sure to be in the domain of suffering and darkness. There may be occasional glimpses of a little joy, but mainly it is a state of bondage because your knowledge is limited, and any limitation is bondage. This is the view that Vedanta has towards all other religions of the world.

Any follower of any religion can be a Vedantist if he accepts these basic principles: that the Supreme Goal can be reached not just in one way but in different ways if you are sincere, if you cultivate devotion to the Ideal and inner purity. Whatever external form of worship you may adopt, you cannot reach the Goal unless you fulfil these basic conditions. All the great spiritual leaders, if you analyze their teachings, want you to fulfil these two conditions of spiritual life. Whatever you may do, if you do not fulfil these two conditions you are not on the spiritual path. Dogmas, doctrines and practices will not be adequate unless they help you to develop your inner purity and also your spiritual eagerness for devotion to God.”

“Vedanta is actually a foundation of all religions, but is seldom recognized as such. They are so buried under doctrine and dogma they fail to recognize two truths—that human nature is essentially divine, and that there is one Supreme Being. No religion can deviate from these truths. But in Vedanta these two truths find the clearest expression, so much so that all doctrine, dogmas, and practices that Vedanta suggests are based on these. Vedanta never loses sight of these two truths. These truths are more or less implicit in all religions, but they find the clearest expression in Vedanta.

Vedantic teachers have kept these truths in the forefront of the mind. This is why they have cosmic vision to see all religions as so many paths leading to the same goal. Vedanta is above all fanaticism and dogmatism and intolerance.

[…] According to Vedanta, the direct perception of Reality is the goal of life. Then the entire human life must be keyed to that Supreme Goal. Vedanta also suggests that there are different courses to reach the goal. The courses differ and the spiritual aspirant can follow the course according to his or her development […]

[…] Vedanta views all religions as the expression of one eternal religion, as so many paths or ways to reach the goal.”

 (Swami Satpurushananda [1888-1979] was a disciple of Swami Brahmananda, a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Author of numerous books, he established the Vedanta Centre in St. Louis, USA, in 1938, where he remained till his passing at the age of 91.)

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/books-and-documents/swami-satprakashananda/how-seekers-from-different-faith-traditions-can-live-in-harmony—some-insights-from-vedanta/d/110202




TOTAL COMMENTS:-   6


  • Koran never advocates plurality in religion.It strongly condemns it.
    By c.sugumar - 2/28/2017 6:29:20 AM



  • Hats Off's narrow reading of the Quran has remarkable resemblance to what our less sophisticated mullahs preach.


    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 2/25/2017 11:21:34 PM



  • "...And whoever seeks other than islam it never will be accepted and he in the hereafter will be from the losers."
    -
    And the meaning of Islam is submission to God and obedience to His laws.
    Which religion preaches rebellion against God and disobedience of His laws? 
    The fact of the matter is that the Quran clearly states that there are many different ways of practicing "Islam" and treats all those who strive on the path of righteousness as Muslim.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 2/25/2017 10:47:27 PM



  • "Vedanta takes the position that the same God can be viewed by individual minds in different ways. There are sure to be various conceptions of God. The human mind can conceive of God according to its capacity."

    It would be a serious blunder to consider the above to be violative of the shahadah.


    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 2/25/2017 12:50:42 PM



  • al-imran 3:85

    "...And whoever seeks other than islam it never will be accepted and he in the hereafter will be from the losers."

    there is no basis in the Holy Qur'an to believe that allah will accept any other religion than islam - forget vedanta or vedadi.

    diplomacy demands that we lie to the unbelievers that allah accepts vedanta or zoroastrianism or wiccanism or buddhism or mormonism or whatever - depending on whom we are speaking to.

    especially when in everyday prayer victory over the unbelievers is sought while condemning those who have gone astray.

    allah is very clear that he will not accept anything other than islam.

    to pretend that he will is just a form of speaking on behalf of allah. and allah does not allow anyone to speak on his behalf.

    except perhaps for his last prophet.

    By hats off! - 2/25/2017 8:29:16 AM



  • Dear Swamiji,

     I am delighted to read your article and in a restricted way I do subscribe to the notion of Vedanta – that my poet puts in these words in Urdu:

     

    Wohi ek husn hae lekin – nazar aata hae har shai me [He is the only Beauty that manifests itself in all forms]. I have some further comments:

     

    As a Muslim with basic exegetic knowledge I see no fundamental contradiction between the doctrine of Vedanata and the Qur’anic vision on plurality of faith. This can be illustrated by quoting the following from the article and then quoting parallel theme from the Qur’an (in blue colour):  

     Quoting from the article:

     

    “But you should not think that your course is the only course and all other courses are wrong. You follow your own course without quarrelling with others about the course. If you are sincere, you will reach the Goal.”

    “One and the same God is being worshipped by the Christians in the churches, by the Jews in the synagogues, by the Mohammedans in the mosques, and by the Hindus in the temples. The main thing is knowing how to reach Him.”

    Quoting parallel message from the Qur’an:

    “…For each of you We have made a (different) code (shir‘ah), and an open way (of action) (minhaj). If God so pleased, He would have made you (all) into one community. Therefore vie (with each other) in goodness (so that) He may test you by what He has given you. (Remember, you) all will (eventually) return to God, and He will tell you in what you differed” (5:48)

    “O People! We have created you as male and female, and made you into races and communities* for you to get to know each other. The noblest among you near God are those of you who are the most heedful (atqakum). Indeed God is All-Knowing and Informed” (49:13).

    “…..Had God not driven people, some (communities) by others monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques in which God's name is regularly proclaimed, would have been demolished. (Remember,) God helps those who help His (cause). Indeed God is Powerful, Almighty” (22:40)

    The major difference between the Qur’anic notion of spirituality and the doctrine of Vedanta is the Qur’an’s supreme emphasis on deeds and taqwa (heedfulness of divine moral imperatives): 

    “Those who believe and do good deeds shall not be blamed for what they may eat (or drink) (fima ta‘imu,) so long as they heed (attaqu), and believe, and do good deeds; so long as they heed (attaqu), and believe; so long as they heed (attaqu), and do good (Remember,) God loves the compassionate ” (5:93)

     

    “You can never acquire purity of soul (birr)* unless you spend (in charity) what you care for. (Remember,) whatever you spend – surely God remains Cognizant of it” (3:92). *[Lit., ‘moral excellence’] (3:92)

     

     

    “Purity of soul (birr)* does not mean that you turn your faces towards the East or West; but (imbued with) virtue (birr) is one who believes in God, the Last Day, the angels, the revelation (kitab)** and the prophets; and gives away his wealth - out of love for Him - to relatives, orphans, the needy (masakin),6 the traveler (ibn al-sabil),7 and the beggar, and for (the freeing of) slaves; and (virtuous are those who) keep up prayer and give charity; and (virtuous are also those) who fulfill their commitments, once they have pledged (to them), and show endurance in suffering and adversity, and during times of peril – it is these people who confirm (the truth), and it is they who are heedful (muttaqun)” (2:177). *[Lit., ‘moral excellence’] **[Lit., the Book, the divine edict.]

     

    In one word, in Qur’anic epistemology, religiosity has a moral cum functional dimension – rights and duties of man to fellowmen, doing of good deeds, empowerment of women etc. The very notion of meditation or zikr in the Qur’an is connected with awareness of God in all day to day transaction of life and not just counting the beads and remaining oblivion to the need of others. Thus the Qur’an declares:

     

    “Do you see the one who belies the din (religion) (107:1)?. It is he who rebuffs the orphan (2), and does not encourage feeding the poor (3). So, woe to those prayerful (4), who are heedless of their prayer (5), who aim to be seen (in public) (6), but hold back from helping (others)” (107:7).

     


    By muhammd yunus - 2/25/2017 5:40:33 AM



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