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Religion

Religion is one

There is a beautiful legend which says that, in the olden days, God spoke from Mount Sinai. And when he spoke, the voice was heard by the people, as they listened from east and west, from north and south, from earth and heaven. But each man—we read—heard the voice in his own tongue. That story is suggestive of a great truth. The one voice of God has spoken to all but has, in its utterance, become many. The one religion has become the many religions of the world. And this truth has been intuited by the great religious geniuses of the race.

So, one great Sufi writer says: “The ways of God are as many as the breaths of man.” And a text in the Gita expresses the same idea wonderfully well: “On whatsoever path men approach me, on that I go to meet them. For all the paths are mine!”

Prophets of the race, in east and west, have glimpsed this great truth. And yet there is conflict in the religious world.

Rivalry in religion, as it seems to me, is due to two things—want of knowledge, and lack of sympathy. Sometimes, there is lack of knowledge: sometimes, there is lack of sympathy: and often, I think, there is lack of both.

There are some who believe that there is but one and full and final revelation of the spirit; so that those who stand outside the circle of their own faith must necessarily be in error. Again, there are some who approach the religious problem in no spirit of sympathy. They fix their attention on certain aberrations and extravagancies of a particular religion, and say, “Look here, this religion is a monstrosity!”

So, it is that quarrels, discord and hatred, have entered the religious world. Religion, which was meant to be a bond of union, has become a source of sectarian strife.

Religion is love! The highest force in life is love! Love is in truth the profoundest philosophy of life! For love is expansion of the self. The lord of love is the inspirer of all religions. And the paths of all converge to a common centre.


I remember many years ago, while in Europe, I received an invitation to speak at a church. The minister of the congregation took the chair. I spoke on “The Wisdom of Higher Life”. The reverend gentleman was very kind. At the close of the lecture, he said that evening they had “listened to a non-Christian but to words of inspiration.”

Then a friend came to me and said: “There is one little thing I wish to communicate to you. The question of your being invited to speak here was brought before the committee of the congregation, and one member of the committee objected to your being invited at all on one ground: ‘So and so is an Indian and a heathen!’”

What a wonderful teaching comes to us from Sri Krishna in the ancient words: “I am in all religions!”

Greece and Rome, Carthage and Assyria, Egypt and Babylonia have vanished and are, today, a memory of the past. They are gone, but India lives on. And if the history of man be not an aimless pursuit of shadow-shapes that come and go, but a sacred scripture showing a purpose of the world-will, is there not some great meaning in this survival of India?

India has survived the many shocks and changes of time, because I believe India is meant to be the standard-bearer of a great message. I believe that India is meant, under the grace of God, to be an interpreter to the nations of a religion of reconciliation, a religion of harmony. But India may not enter upon her world-mission, if you and I will not strive to verify in every-day life the vision of harmony and love.

Religion is love! The highest force in life is love! Love is in truth the profoundest philosophy of life! For love is expansion of the self. The lord of love is the inspirer of all religions. And the paths of all converge to a common centre.

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