Religious harmony can exist only when we understand
the common thread that binds all religions.
I was attending a function in my college. Students were presenting a musical show named Fusion. Two students playing Indian classical instruments, and two others were playing western instruments. They were nicely fusing the sounds of these two different set of musical instruments. After the show I spoke with he student playing the Indian classical instrument. I said, “I thought as a follower of Indian classical instruments you may not be having any taste for western music. So how did you manage this fusion?” The student told me, “Sir, this fusion is only possible when you respect the other person’s music along with loving your own music. Only then a sound pleasing to the audience can be produced.”
That sentence really struck me very hard. I started applying this principle while dealing with people of different religious faiths. Although you love your own religion, you should respect other religions, and only then the Holy sound which pleases God can be produced.
Last year I got a chance of attending a spiritual discourse on devotion given by a senior leader of ISKCON. After the talk a person asked, “You claim that God is one. But then why did he create so many religions? How should one deal with other faiths?” The speaker replied, “A dog always recognizes his master irrespective of his clothes. Sometimes the master wears Indian clothes, sometimes he wears suit and tie, and sometimes he wears casual clothes. But that does not make any difference to the dog. Similarly a sincere devotee of the Lord always recognizes even when He comes in different forms for various religious faiths.”
I also distinctly remember another incident that happened during my secondary school. I had to appear for my science exam, but I had some doubts with certain subjects. I couldn’t find my science teacher, but I saw my science teacher who taught me in my primary school. Unsure whether she could clear my doubts, I approached her. But amazingly all my doubts were nicely cleared. Before leaving I asked her, “Can you clear one more doubt that I have? You teach science in the primary school. But I see that you know the concepts of science taught in the secondary school too. How is that possible?” She said, “Actually your secondary school teacher and I belong to the same parent institute. We did our M.Sc. in science together. Together we joined this school. The principal sometimes posts us for secondary school and sometimes for primary school. My posting at the primary school does not mean that I do not know the science taught in the higher classes.”
Coming to Krsna consciousness I learned about various representatives of God who come to preach the message of Godhead. Although they know the whole science, they preached according to the level of their followers just like a science teacher teaches as per the level of the students. Even in Vedic religion, some represen-tatives preached about difficult methods like meditation, fire sacrifice and Deity worship in the previous yugas. Now as per time they preach to chant the holy name of God. Every preacher belongs to the same paarent institute of God. That is why precisely we see so many similarities between all religions. All religions describe about two worlds: heaven and hell in Christianity, Jannat and Jahannum in Islam, and VaikunTha-loka and Bhava-loka in Vedic religions. All these religions describe that chanting of God’s name is the only way to escape form this material world and reach the spiritual world. When we see this common thread binding all the religions of this world, we enjoy this musical fusion of the holy name. But if we miss the link then there is no fusion but only confusion and hatred.
Yugavatara Dasa is an Associate Professor in Anatomy in a medical college in Mumbai, and a regular contributor to BTG.