A MOB OF FANATICAL Hindu extremists demolished an ancient mosque in the north Indian town of Ayodhya. Or so we read in the newspapers.

Well, it's not so simple. To begin with, the mosque was only a few hundred years old, hardly meriting the term "ancient." It had gone unused for the past fifty or so years. And Ayodhya holds no special significance for Islam. The Moghul emperor Babar built his mosque in Ayodhya precisely because Ayodhya was revered by Hindus as the birthplace of Visnu's incarnation as Lord Sri Rama.

More than a religious edifice, the mosque was erected as a monument of conquest, a brick reminder to the Hindu natives that they, their land, and their culture were now subjugated. And the fanatical extremists we read about in some newspapers turn up as devout religious workers in others.

Yet the dismantling of the mosque was not a purely religious act. Mixing in with the devotion, strong political forces were at work, parties scheming and struggling, personal fortunes to be made or lost, governments to be kept or toppled. When political and social forces are on the move, it's easy for spirituality to slide into sectarianism. So the noble urge to restore the birthplace of Rama was mingled with ugly rhetoric casting Muslims in the role of ruthless and wicked demons.

Here at Back to Godhead, our intention is not to stand for or against any sectarian side but to stand for Lord Krsna and Lord Rama. Again despite the newspapers, neither Krsna nor Rama is "a Hindu deity." In Bhagavad-gita we find that Krsna is the father of all living beings, in all species, so He is certainly the father of all human beings, whether Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or whatever. And Krsna is the same as Rama.

Or for that matter the same as Allah.

People raised in different families and different cultures have different names for God. But God is one. So when genuine God consciousness prevails, so too does a spirit of universal harmony and friendship.

When material consciousness adulterates the spiritual, then friendship gives way to sectarianism, and people hurl rocks at one another and fight over temples, churches, and mosques.

The solution to such disputes is not to descend to a sterile secularism but to rise to a higher spiritual understanding.

In material consciousness, we think of ourselves in terms of our bodily designations Indian or American, white or black, Hindu or Muslim. But the first lesson of the Gita is that we are not our bodies we are all eternal spiritual living beings.

On the purely spiritual platform there are no Christians, Hindus, or Muslims. Everyone is an eternal spark of consciousness and an eternal servant of God.

To bring forth this spiritual understanding, the Vedic scriptures call for us to chant the holy name of God. God's name is as good as God Himself. So by chanting God's name the Hindu, the Christian, the Muslim can purify the heart, wiping away all the dust of material consciousness.

We find names of God in the scriptures of all civilized cultures. So one may chant any of these names. One can rise above sectarian spirit by purely chanting names of God found in the Bible or the Koran or by purely chanting the Vedic maha-mantra Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna KrsnaHare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

The age we live in is the Age of Quarrel, say the Vedic scriptures. And the only way to peace and amity is the chanting of God's holy name. There is no other way.

-Jayadvaita Swami