Dottor of Philosophy




Under the Supervision of





The present research work entitled “The Idea of Universal Religion in Modern Indian Thought (with special reference to Swami Vivekananda and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad) is divided into five chapters including Introduction and Conclusion

The first chapter is Introduction in whieh an attempt has first been made to clear the meaning of iaivepsal religion: Universal religion as against particular religions is conceived as a kind of religion that may be universally acceptable. It is apart from political barriers and cuts across the racial, national, geographical boundaries. It seeks to constrtuct man’s faith upon his true human identity and it promotes such higher values as truth, beauty, justice, love, peace, progress etc. It gives attention to the basic spiritual identity of man. It provides common platform to all religious faiths. Different religions get together with the spirit of co-operation.

The essence of universal religion can be summarized in the form of following ten imperatives. These are the ten commandments of higher spiritual fulfillment of the individual even as they derive from the most basic structure’ of life the central truth of which is that the individual is an integral part of the whole world.

1. Oneness of God : that Supreme Being who is one without a second and whom different religions call by different names. 2. Equality of founders : Respect the founders of all great religions as

messengers of one common message.

3. Love of humanity as the visible manifestation of the Supreme.


Tolerance : Tolerate and try to understand different view-points, even the viewpoints of enemies, heretics, atheists and agnostics.

Know thyself, realize the full potential of your existence, and offer your best in the service of society.

Follow the middle path, practice moderation, and steer clear of opposite extremes.

Love nature as the visible language of the Supreme, and intelligently follow her guidance.

Recognize truth wherever you find it, drawing spiritual nourishment from all available sources.

Cultivate devotion to higher values and function as a creative channel thereof.

Participate in the evolutionary being of the world in conscious union

with the eternal.

The idea of universal religion found Indian soil to be very germane for

its nourishment and growth. In medieval India its chief exponents were

Ramananda, Kabir and Dara Shukoh. Kabir compares the relation of man with

God as the relation of sea-waves with sea itself. He uses the same example to

present the relation between oneness of universe and the Absolute.

The mission of Kabir was to preach a religion of love which unites all

people. He rejects those features of Hinduism and Islam which are against this

true spirit. He rejected those religions which gave no importance to the real

spiritual welfare of the mankind. He selected from both religions their common

elements, and the similarities between them.

Dara Shukoh’s is the second greatest name in the history of Indian syncratic thought. He was of the firm belief that the Absolute in the final analysis was one and merely expressed in different forms in different religions. Each religion has its own language. There is only the difference of languages

not of absolute.

Dara Shukoh identified Allah with Sanskrit ‘Om’, Huwa (He) with Sah, firishta (angles) with divata, and the Mazhar-i Atam (Perfect Manifestation) with Avatara. Through avatara, according to Dara Shukoh, Qudra (power of God) was manifested in such a way as would not have been manifested


Ramakrishna Paramhansa was the pioneer of the modern universalist spirit in Hinduism. He was a true Hindu, and was ready at any moment to defend the whole of Hinduism. The system of philosophy he followed was the monistic Vedanta as taught by Shankaracharya. But he also said that the doctrines of dualism, qualified monism and monism are stages of spiritual

progress. They were not contradictory to each other.

He further said that religion is a matter of realization. It concerns with realizing the unity that exists between God and man. He desired to attain the Vaishnava ideal of love for God. After that he desired to know and understand about other religions like Islam and Christianity. After much study and

reflection he came to conclusion that all religions were true. All religions are

simply various paths leading to the same goal.

The second chapter deals with the idea of Universal Religion as it found its expression in modern modern Indian thought. The first and greatest name in this context is of Rabindranath Tagore. He was a monotheist and humanist. He says that for the realization of true religion it is not important that we perform rituals like going to mosque, temple or churches, or follow priests. He said that to be religious meant to cultivate the feelings of universal love for mankind. Tagore believed in the religion of man. The conflict takes place in religion because man takes up particular forms of religion. He does not see the holistic aspects although that alone is the essence of true religion. According to Tagore, the true religion of man is free from all such types of particular forms

and should never be confused with the “institutional religion”.

After Tagore, Gandhi too sought to present a universalistic version of Hindu religion. Religion, he said, is a way to purify the nature of man’s character. It means religion has the capacity to develop the sense of spirituality in man. When the sense of spirituality had developed in man, man achieves power which helps him to understand the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, moral and nonmoral, ethical and unethical, true and false etc. It develops the feeling of love and search for truth. Religion is the way to develop

morality in man, because morality is the essence of true religion.

Gandhi says that every man is born in a family and each family has its own culture and traditions. That tradition is important for him. I am born in a Hindu family and therefore Hindu tradition and culture suit me. So I adopt

Hinduism. In that sense birth is an accident. It is not a matter of human choice.


But in case of the choice of tradition, culture, way of life and religion, everyone

is free to choose his way which gives him satisfaction and suits him.

Gandhi was also impressed by Christianity and Judaism. He says that Christianity is one of great religions, which gives emphasis on absolute love. Love is the most important virtue in Christianity. No other religion gives attention to such pure love with God and universal love for whole humanity. Similarly, he also praised Islam for laying great emphasis on purity, morality

and equality.

Like Tagore and Gandhi, for Radhakrishnan also Hinduism has universalistic approach. It is not bound up with a creed or a book, a prophet or a founder. Hinduism always searches for truth. In Hinduism there is no end of prophecy and no limits of religious scripture. It always welcomes new experiences and new expressions of truth. “Hinduism has no common creed and its system of worship has no fixed form. It has bound together

multitudinous sects and devotion into a common scheme”.

Hinduism has rationalistic approach. It studies the facts of human life in scientific spirit. But Hinduism is not only to study the facts but also try to obtain victory over facts. In Hinduism experience is self-certifying. Hinduism is the religion of spiritual progress. According to Hinduism, religious progress is possible through tradition, logic and enrichment of life. There has been a continuous development of new forms and ideas through racial and religious

interactions that happened in the course of India’s chequered history. It started

in most ancient times and continues up to modern era.

Sir Syed’s religious outlook was liberal and free from all types of sectarian conflict. He defined religion as that valid principle which decides all intentional deeds, emotional impulse and spiritual sensivities of man. True religion is based on absolute truth so true religion should be free from any fault. Religion conforms to law of nature. Nature is the best teacher to guide us for true conduct. Nature itself is the creation of creator who is ultimate truth or reality.

Coming to Islamic religion itself, Islam was not a new religion started by Muhammad in Arabia. Islam had laid emphasis on the singleness of God but multiplicity of prophets and scriptures. Sir Syed tried to demonstrate the truth of Islam, because Islam has had universal guidance, appeal to peace and universal brotherhood for whole humanity. Concept of God is the common idea of all religions, since God is the creator and the sustainer of whole world

or whole humanity. All people had equal rights to salvation.

The aim of Igbal’s life was the renaissance of Islam and to achieve the salvation of whole mankind. He gave message for Muslim community in particular and to all mankind in general. He tried to make man conscious of his power, improve his personality and make a peaceful living in this world. He tried to transform the life of people of his own nation and mankind when he perceived that whole mankind has gone on wrong path. Iqbal has laid greatest

emphasis on the realization of one’s self

The third chapter is titled as “Vivekananda’s Concept of Universal

Religion”. Religion, according to Vivekananda, is in essence man’s way of

living in the name of truth. Religions promote peace, love, humanity, tolerance, blessing and brotherhood in the whole world. But, at the same time, it is also a fact that the religions breed hatred, bloodshed, enmity between man and man. Religions become a cause of conflict when someone claims that only his religion is true and God has given certain truths only to him. If all the truths are given in one book, why would there be so many sects? And why will they be quarrelling with each other? What is the main cause of this difference? Answer is very clear that we have failed to understand the essence of religion. One may continue to believe in one’s own religion but only under the realization that it is a part of universal religion. Universal religion is all-pervasive. It gives the essential unity of all great religions of the world. Vivekananda uses the one watchword for universal religion, that is ‘acceptance’. Acceptance does not

mean tolerance. He recommended positive acceptance.

Vivekananda recognized that Hinduism is a progressive spiritualistic religion. But he used the term Hinduism in a very wide sense. He did not mean by it the creed or rituals but the fundamentals of Hinduism. He says that Hinduism as religion is neither creed nor doctrine. It is only realization and its perfect manifestation is in Advaita Vedanta.

The one supreme being is the substratum of all religions. God is the common source of inspiration. It is ultimate reality in so far as it is known and comprehended by the human mind. But since being is multidimentional and

multifaceted, truth may be described as one infinite light that shines in various

forms and colours.

Vivekananda tried to present the practical aspects and implications of Vedanta philosophy. He gave emphasis on the fact that a man can seek salvation not only in the traditional way or in forest. A man can attain salvation without renouncing the world and taking to the life of a hermit. Every human

being can attain salvation by service to humanity and serving God in man.

Vivekananda recognizes three stages in spiritual growth: Dvaita (dualism), Visistadvaita (qualified non-dualism) and Advaita (non-dualism). The spiritual growth of a man consists of a movement from lower to higher religious ideas. These stages of spiritual growth are progressive and depend upon one’s subjective abilities. Each individual is not having same power. The religious progress of different individuals is not equal. They are at different

stages of growth and they are all ultimately to reach the same goal of Advaita.

Vivekananda said that Hinduism and Buddhism are not separate with each other because Hinduism cannot live without Buddhism, nor Buddhism live without Hinduism. Contradiction of thought exists in only the Buddhists and Brahmins. Buddha understood the harmony of religions. He himself did not introduce the sectarianism. Modern Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism have

branched off at the same time.

Vivekananda said that, like Christ, Buddha too taught the universal brotherhood of man but while Buddhists practice this principle, the Christians only preach it but do not practice it. He respected the teaching of Lord Jesus,

but complained that Christians do not know about Hindus and do not

appreciate the teachings of Hinduism.

Like in the case of Christianity, Vivekananda’s attitude towards Islam was also that of appreciation of many of its good points. He was especially

attracted by the message of equality and brotherhood in Islam.

In the fourth chapter “Azad’s Theory of Religious Universalism” Azad’s views on how Islam agrees with the idea of religious pluralism is extensively discussed. Maulana Azad tried to demonstrate that Islam which was presented to Arabs was, in essence, a rational and universal religion acceptable to all

communities of the world.

With his scientific and historical outlook, Azad wrote his famous commentary on the Qur’an known as Tarjuman-ul-Qur’an. One of the distinctive features of this commentary was to show that Islam emphasized not so much on dogma and [aw but on the spiritual elevation of whole humanity. All religions teach the same universal truth for the welfare of mankind. Eternal truth of all religions is something common to all. The object of religion is well being of mankind, but the condition of mankind varies from age to age and country to country. Essence of religion lies in the worship of one God and right conduct. All religions teach brotherhood of people so do not divide yourself,

worship Him only.

According to Azad, it is clear that the racial and religious distinctions are man-made. In the eyes of God all human beings are one. Regardless of their community or nation, if all human beings resolve their internal differences and serve to the God, all differences will be banished. We will all feel that entire world is our home and entire humanity is same. Once the hearts are united the

existence of differences will completely vanish from this world.


Azad says that “all religions as originally delivered are true” but this point has been forgotten by the followers of all religions. Each one claims that religions of others are false. This element of falsehood in religion comes from the human mind because humanity divided itself into separate groups in the

name of language, nation and community.

Azad says that Qur’an does not negate the faith of others but removes the superiority over others’ faiths. Qur’an emphasizes the unity of human being and brotherhood which is based on the unity of God. Qur’an believes in the unity of religion. That means it rejects every form of groupism which gives emphasis on one’s own religion as the only true one.

The most controversial issue in any discussion of Islam is its conception of jihad. It is generally interpreted as holy war. In Islamic tradition jihad does not mean holy war. It is wrongly associated with the idea of holy war against the unbelievers.

The word jihad in Arabic is used with a wider meaning in Qur’an and Hadith. It is derived from the root ‘jhd’ which means ‘to strive’ or ‘to exert

oneself’. Jihad is then to exert in the way of doing what is good and avoiding what is evil.

Azad gave the wider ethical meaning of jihad to make a forceful case for fighting injustice. According to Azad, an ethical concept of life entailed love,

service and respect for humanity, irrespective of any religion or racial


For Azad, the spirit of nationalism implied the unity of religion as based on the unity of God and the unity of whole humanity. It means that in the multifarious diversity of mankind is hidden its unity. His ideas of the unity of

religion was the basis of national integration.

Islam’s destination was humanism and its goal was perfection of humanity in its evolutionary progression. Islam did not recognize the artificial affiliations of race, country, nation, colour and language. It called man to the

one and only relationship of the natural bonds of brotherhood among humans.

In Conclusion it is seen that both Vivekananda and Azad emphasized the essential unity of all religions. As a corollary to it they also laid emphasis on the unity of mankind. If we go beyond the ritual and legal aspects of the religions, all of them will be seen to propagate the message of peace and love and brotherhood among the different communities. Belief in one God is the common core of all religions even though the conceptualization of this idea and the modes of reaching the goal may be different. The difference between Vivekananda and Azad is on the point that while for the former there was nothing like heresy and deviation from the one straight path, Azad, following Islam, admitted the possibility of deviation in the form of worship of multiple

gods and advised return to religion in its pristine purity.




Bortor of Philosophy




Under the Supervision of





27 SEP 2014





Certt ate

This is to certify shat the work presented in this thesis entitled “THE IDEA OF UNIVERSAL RELIGION IN MODERN INDIAN THOUGHT (WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO SWAMI VIVEKANANDA AND MAULANA ABUL KALAM AZAD)” is the original piece of research work carried out by Ms. Saba Iqbal under my supervision and guidance and has not

been submitted elsewhere for the award of any other degree.


(Prof. Jalalul Haq)

Dedicated to My Beloved Parents

(Mrs. Atiya Iqbal and Mr. Mohammad Iqbal)

who gave their today for my better tomorrow


First of afl, I would like to thank, my supervisor, Prof. Jalalul Hag, Department of Philosophy, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, for his guidance, encouragement and generous help through the entire period of my research study.

I thank Mr. Mohammad Mugeem, Chairman, Department of Philosophy, A.M.U, Aligarh, for his encouragement and kind help.

I would like to thank the teachers of my Department for their support during my research work, They all encouraged and helped me in various ways throughout the present study.

I would like to thank all the non-teaching staff of my department for their help and cooperation, particularly Aapa Mrs. Mukhtar Fatima (Seminar Librarian) and Dr. Anwar Saleem (Section officer) I thank, Kafeel Bhai and Aarif Bhai for being helpful to me in different kinds of work,

I also wish to thank, concerned officers of ICPR, Library (Butler Palace, Lucknow), Maulana Azad Library (AMU, Aligarh), Rabindranath Tagore Library (Lucknow), Zakir Hussain Library, Jamia Millia Islamia (New Delhi) Indian Council of Cultural Research (Azad Bhawan, New Delhi) and other institutions

and libraries for providing me materials for my research work,

No words of gratitude can be expressed for the constant support, encouragement and words of wisdom which I received from my teachers, Mr. Masood Husain and Mr. Akhtar Husain.

I would like to thank, my grandparents, Mr. Iqbal Ahmad Kfan and Rugaiyya Khatoon and uncles Shabbir A. Khan, Mr. Zameer Afmad Khan, Mr. D.K, Shrivastava, Mr. Ziauddin Khan, who deserve a special word of thanks for

their keen interest, co-operation and unflinching support during my research work,

I would ike to acknowledge the support of my sister Sana Iqbal, brothers Asif Iqbal, Pervez Akhtar, Shamshad Alam, Rehan Ahmad, Anees and Dr. Naseer for their support.

Alongwith this, I would like to acknowledge my deepest sense of gratitude and fondness for my loving Ammi and Papa, who always lovingly supported me, emotionally and psychologically, all through my life, and even in this research study. I really cannot thank them enough ever.

Not least of all, I would like to thank my friends Tabassum Sayeed, Tazyeen Fatima, Tabassum Sabir, Shama Afroz, Rabia, Sheeba Perveen, Shayaga Jamal and Sidoo for their support and encouragement at every stage for making my dreams

come true.

Also, in the end, I would like to express my thanks to my typist Mr. H.K,

Sharma who has been instrumental in the production of this manuscript.



It is my moral duty to admit and express my most sincere thanks to Indian Council of Philosophical Research for awarding JRF for the academic years 2004-2006. Without this valuable assistance, I would not have been able to complete the present thesis with any peace of mind. It solved my critical

financial problems and thereby sustained me in the work.

Chairman ICPR, Prof. Ramakrishna Rao has been a great source of inspiration for me and for all of us. Prof. G. Mishra, Member Secretary, ICPR also deserves my heartfelt gratitude. I am also no less thankful to Dr. Mercy Helen, Director (P&R), Dr. Arun Mishra Director (Academic) and all other

staff of ICPR, New Delhi and Lucknow.



Page Nos.

Acknowledgement i-ii Chapter I Introduction 1-34

1. Defining Universal Religion

2. Imperatives of Universal Religion

3. Ramananda and Kabir

4. Dara Shukoh

5. Ramakrishna Paramhansa Chapter II ‘Universal Religion’ in Modern Indian Thought 35-69

1. Tagore as a Monotheist and Humanist

2. Gandhi’s Views on Religious Tolerance

3. Radhakrishnan’s Emphasis on Hinduism

as an All-inclusive and All-embracing Tradition

4, Sir Syed’s Views on Religious Tolerance

5. Iqbal on Islam as a Universal Religion Chapter III Vivekananda’s Concept of ‘Universal Religion’ 70-133

1. Nature of Universal Religion

2. Vedanta as the Basis of Religious


3. ‘God’ as the Common Basis for the Unity

4, Views on Hinduism

5. Practical Vedanta

6. Views on Visisthadvaita and Dvaita

7. Views on Buddhism and Jainism

8. Views on Christianity and Islam ChapterIV Azad’s Theory of Religious Universalism 134-184

1. Religion and Islam

2. Monotheism and Universalism

Chapter V References


3. Deviation, Distortion and Return

4. Unity and Plurality of Religions

5. Concept of God in Different Religions 6. Concept of Jihad





Chapter - I


Defining ‘Universal Religion’

Religion is the faith by which man lives. It reflects his inward vision of the light that can descend upon him. Universal religion is constructing one’s faith and vision upon man’s true identity as man or to present a true human identity regardless of colour, caste, nationality, creeds etc. It is apart from political barriers and cuts across the racial, national, geographical boundaries. It is based upon such higher values as truth, beauty, justice, love, peace, progress etc. It gives attention to the basic spiritual identity of man. It provides common platform to all religious faiths. Different

religions get together with the spirit of co-operation.

In his celebrated work The Essential Unity of All Religions, Bhagvan Das has defined Universal Religion as that religion “in which there may be Universal Agreement”.' But the question is how can we find the element of agreement when there is so much difference among religions?

The answer to this question is that in religion we must make the effort to determine what is the most certain and good and what may be most approved and agreed in any circumstance by all humanity. Religion should promote good will, sympathy and brotherhood among all human

beings. This is the only way to repress conflict, prejudice, misconception,

disagreement and narrow minded zeal.

According to Bhagvan Das, the new declaration of Universal Religion must be based on the principle of majority rule. This means there should be first of all an agreement between the great religions that all of

them teach the same truth.

“Those truths and practices which receive not only the greatest number of, but unanimous, votes from the living religions, those beliefs and observances on which all are agreed should obviously be regarded as constituting

Universal Religion”.

This kind of religious universalism is not a new idea but is already

present in many ancient texts. The Upanishads, for example, say :

“Cows are of many different colours, but The milk of all is of one colour, white;

So the proclaimers who proclaim the Truth Use many varying forms to put it in,

But yet the Truth enclosed in all is One”?

This sentiment is echoed in Rumi in the following verse :

“Jesus put many cloths of many hues

Into one jar, and out of it they came

With all their hues washed off, all clean and white, As seven-coloured rays merge in white light”.*

Krishna, too, says in Gita and not once but twice :

“To but One Goal are marching everywhere,

All human beings, though they may seem to walk On paths divergent; and that Goal is I,

The Universal Self, Self-Consciousness”.°

Krishna says that the teaching he is giving to Arjuna was given by Vivasvan to Manu, by Manu to Ikshvaku, and then by many Rshis, age

after age. All is always present in the Memory of God, the Omniscient,

Omnipotent, Omnipresent Universal Self, the One principle of all Life and


Similarly, in Islam Muhammad (the Paigham-bar, the Rasul, i.e., the

‘message-bearer’, sent by the Spirit) says :

“This that I am now uttering unto you,

The Holy Qur’an it is to be found

Within the ancient Seers’ writings too;

For Teachers have been sent to every race.

Of human beings no community

Is left without a warner and a guide.

And aught of difference we do not make

For disagreement there is none ‘twixt them Between these Prophets. All that have been sent, Have been so sent but One Truth to proclaim I, verify the I Al(1) One, am God,

There is no other God than, I [the Self,

The Universal all-pervading Self],

And I alone should be adored by all”.°

The Qur’an makes this further clear in the following verse :

“Teachers are sent to each race that they may Teach it in its own tongue, so there may be

No doubt as to meaning in its mind.

An Arabic Qur’an is thus revealed,

That Mecca and the cities round may learn

With ease the Truth put in the words they know. For had we made them in a foreign tongue

They surely would have made objection thus “Why have not these revealings been made clear?”

The obvious significance of these remarkable texts is that the essentials are common to all religions: that Truth is universal and not the monopoly of any race or teacher; that non-essentials vary with time, place, and circumstance; that the same fundamental truths have been revealed by

God in different scriptures, in different languages, through different

persons born in different nations.

The Prophet of Islam adds the positive counsel :

“Let all of us ascend towards and meet together on the common ground of those high truths and principles which we all hold”.

“Verily, all who faithfully believe in God, and Day of Judgement, and do good, whoever they be, Jews, Christians, Sabians, they shall have their reward from the Lord God. There is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve”.

“Cling, all, to the strong rope of Love Divine Love for each other, and of the One God

And do not think of separation ever”.!°

The word ‘religion’ which is derived from Latin religare means ‘to bind back’. It means that bonds of love and sympathy should bind

human beings with each other and with God. According to Bhagwan Das,

it means

“The power to bind together the hearts of men to one another, by the common bond of God, the All-pervading Self. It is the power to give birth to, and to nourish and maintain, a high civilization. It is noteworthy that every historic civilization has had, and has today, its specific religion, its worshipped ideal. Indeed the birth of a new religion, i.e., a fresh revival of the spirit of religion, whence united co-operation has invariably proceeded and given again birth to a new civilization”.

In same manner, the Vedic word ‘Dharma’ is from the root Dhr which means ‘hold and bind together’. It also has same significance.

“The ‘holding together’ of human being in a ‘society’ is not possible without perpetual ‘give and-take’, ‘right- and- duty’, incessant little or great acts of self-sacrifice, yajana, qurbani. The self-assertion of any one individual is not possible without corresponding self-denial on the


part of some other or others”.

There are three main aspects in all religions. In the Vaidika Dharma they are expressly mentioned as Janana-marga, Bhakti-marga and the Karma marga. In Islam it is called Haqiqat, Tariqat and Shariyat. Buddhist, Jaina and Christian theology also have words with same significance. In the words of same author,

“We may distinguish three main parts or aspects in all the great religions. In the Vaidika Dharma they are expressly mentioned: the Jnana-Marga, the Bhakti- marga, the Karma-marga. Generally corresponding to these are, the Haqiqat or Aqayad, the Tariqat or Ibadat, and the Shariyat or Ma’milat of Islam. Gnosis, Pietas, and Energeia; the (a) Way of Knowledge, Illumination, Gnosticism, (b) the Way of Devotion, Pietism, Mysticism, (c) the Way of Rites and Ceremonies and Works of self-denying Charity. Activism, Energism, Practicalism these seem to be similarly distinguished in Christian theology, and to have the same significance. In the Buddhist Eightfold Path, the three most important rules under which the other five may be classified, are Right Knowledge, Right Desire and Right Action Samyakdrshti, Samyak sankalpa and Samyak vyayama; which are the same things as the three Vaidika Margas.


The Jaina teaching is the same”.

Universal religion laid stress upon the essential unity of all the great religions of the world. It teaches respect for all. It teaches that different spiritual paths lead to the same goal. The growth of human personality and

the growth of human society depend upon the higher values.

Universal religion does not teach man’s isolation from the society or the annihilation of the individual in the depth of the universal. The universal is unproductive without the individual. The individual can discover its true center of gravity only in the heart of universal. The

boundless creativity of the universal can find its expression only in and

through the individual.

Universal religion therefore helps the individual rise form its ego

shell of dogmatism, casteism, and cultural differences.

Universal religion helps man to discover wide open world every part

of which creates unique relationship to the infinite.

“The more the individual becomes his own true self, the more he gains the ability to fruitfully assimilate the limitless riches of the universe. And the more he broadens out to embrace the vastness of the universe, the richer and profounder his individuality” .'*

Universal religion embraces the progress of the man. It helps individual to know his own self. It also helps those individuals who seek

complete self- destruction in the eternal.

That is why Universal religion enables the individual to make the transition from the ego-centric to the genuinely cosmos centric outlook. Aware of his rootedness in the eternal, he firmly dedicates himself to cosmic welfare. Alive to the creative urges of his own being, he freely fulfils the creative urges of his own being, he freely functions as a creative center of the Supreme Being.

Ten Imperatives of Universal Religion

The essence of universal religion can be summarized in the form of ten imperatives. These are the ten commandments of higher spiritual fulfillment of the individual.

These ten imperatives derive from the most basic structure of life. Because the central truth about life is that the individual is an integral part of the whole world. The fundamental truth about life is “Be true to yourself

as an integral part of the cosmic whole”."°

Ist Imperative : Oneness of God : The first imperative of universal religion is the concept of the oneness of God. It is to take God as a common basis for unity. God is the unifying principle of all living religions of the world. The One Supreme Being is the substructure of all religions. God is common source of inspiration.

“Truth is Being as unveiled, as revealed to human consciousness. It is ultimate reality insofar as it is known and comprehended by the human mind. But since Being is multi-dimensional and multi-faceted, truth may be described as one infinite light that shines in various forms and colours”.'®

Different conceptions of God found in different religions are the different forms of expression of the same Supreme Being. They are appropriate in different circumstances, and useful for all human societies at different stages of evolution.

All religions of the world are like different ways leading to the same goal. They are like different boats carrying human beings across the river of life. An enlightened person keeps away with all sectarian quarrels, conflicts, prejudices and conceptual disputes. He emphasizes the universal spiritual values of existence. He should concentrate upon basic spiritual doctrines common to the all living religions of the world.

“Among such common and essential principles are: devotion to truth, spirit of love and compassion, commitment to justice, concerted action for a noble cause, aspiration for liberation and immortality, etc. But the most important thing in religion is to apply such principles in daily living with a view to the fruitation of

the infinite in one’s life”.' We can say that God is the centre point of man’s religious emotions.

God is defined as that which is capable to satisfy the hunger of all souls.

God is One Supreme Being that serves as the light, life and love. God is one and same for whole humanity. But it is true that each religion emerged in different circumstances and different socio-cultural backgrounds. Different peoples express their religion in different theological terms and because of this they represent different aspects of the same reality.

For instance, in Judaism the Supreme was revealed as Jehovah; in Zoroastrianism as Ahura Mazda; in Christianity as the Heavenly Father; in Islam as Allah; in Hinduism as Iswara; in Buddhism as Sunyata; in Taoism as Tao. “There is one Being that sages call by different names”.'® Jehovah, Ahura, Mazda, Heavenly, Father, Iswara, Sunyata, Allah etc. are different names given to the same ocean of creative energy. Different names are a matter of different languages, used by different people but the eternal essence are same that is one supreme Being or God.

IInd Imperative : Equality of Prophets : The second imperative of world religion is the concept of equality of all prophets. The founders of the world’s religions are all divine personalities. God sent those divine persons

for the welfare of the whole mankind. They fulfill the purpose in the

province of man’s religious evolution.

“Whenever there is a crisis in history, an eclipse of higher values, an upsurge of the forces of ignorance and evil, the evolutionary world spirit is manifested in finite form for the good of humanity. In different countries and in different ages, in response to the crises of faith in human life, the divine will, i.e., the cosmic plan of the evolutionary world spirit, or its will-to-manifest, is revealed to suitable individuals in order to subdue the forces of darkness and discord and to ensure the reign of

love, truth and righteousness”.

The founders of great religions like Buddha, Moses, Krishna, Christ, Mohammed etc. have equally enlightened the world. Each one has importance in respect to his own specific spiritual mission. If we said that one is superior to another it will be unwise and unjust with them. The aim of prophets was unity of mankind rather than creating discord amongst people. It is only because of ignorance that people divide one from the other prophet.

Maulana Azad says that Qur’an is the message of God to prophets who came time to time and taught the mankind right path. So no one is superior over others.

“Tt is unworthy of modern man to allow his religious devotion to degenerate into emotional fixation upon any particular religious leader. Devotion to a particular prophet becomes self-defeating, if it fails to blossom into

a realization of the Supreme and appreciation of the

universal truth”.”°

All prophets become prophets by virtue of their elevation of the universal truth above their individuality. That is why, their histortic importance lies in the fact that they served as symbols of the Supreme. But whereas the Supreme is one without a second, symbols are by their very nature many without number. Whereas the supreme is absolute, symbols, in order to be effective, are necessarily relative. Whereas the Supreme is complete and perfect, symbols by reason of being relative, cannot help being incomplete and imperfect. So religious devotion withers on the

wayside when it fails to reach out beyond the symbol to the supreme



It is the sign of religious immaturity of people to say: “our master uttered the last word of truth. His teaching is absolute and final” or to say: “Our Messiah alone is the Son of God. Other religious leaders are at best perfect men or illumined teachers”. Or to say: “Our Prophet is the last and therefore the most perfect of all messengers of God”. Or to say: “Our

Saviour is the complete incarnation of God, other Saviours being only

incomplete incarnations”.”!

The basic task of world religion is to expand man’s mental horizon and to lift man out of the marshes of sectarianism. No dogmatism stands in the way of the man as he begins to have a sense of participation in the

world civilization.

IiIrd Imperative : Love of Humanity : The third imperative is the concept of universal love and compassion. It depends upon the assertion that God inhabits in the heart of all men without distinction of class,

colour, creed and race and nationality.

“Love of man is a spontaneous outflow from the vision of the Supreme. The Supreme is the One and dwells in all. To know the Supreme is to perceive the spiritual unity of all mankind and of all existence. It involves the understanding that all creatures live, move and have their being in the creative medium of the one. Humanity is indeed indivisible. The world cannot live half free and half slave. Nor can it live half full and half starved. Nor it can live half in peace and half in war. Different segments of humanity are inseparably interconnected and interdependent. The deeper one’s spiritual insight, the broader one’s human sympathies and compassionate regard for fellow beings. Spiritual understanding kindles the flame of compassion in the heart and clears away the blinding mists of ignorance, selfishness and greed”.


The Supreme is inhabited equally in all human beings because God is basically partless and indivisible. Just as the moon is reflected in different waves, the entire universe is present in all human beings in its undivided essence. Every human being has essential value and purity of his own - that is to develop his potential and make its own contribution to civilization.

“The equality of all men is a logical sequel to the equal presence of the One in all. But that does not imply a denial of the important differences of equality and capability characteristic of different individuals and peoples. While some individuals show early signs of extraordinary genius, some are born idiots or morons while some are saintly or godlike, some are hardened criminals”.

The doctrine of human equality implies that each individual has an essential value and dignity of his own. Each one has a right to live and fulfill the best within him. All people should be given equal chance for the fulfillment of their basic potentiality. Every individual is indeed great in his own position.

So the relation between the love of man and the love of Supreme is one of mutuality. The vision of Supreme opens the gates of pure universal love. On the other hand, the practice of universal love and service of man leads to the realization of the Supreme.

“Wisdom gives breadth to love; love gives depth to

wisdom. Wisdom serenizes love; love expresses

4 wisdom”.”

The spirit of universal love flows from the vision of Supreme. This vision of Supreme is not confined in the limits of the caste, creed, nation,

culture and human species. It embraces the entire living creation.


“Illuminated by the vision of the One, it perceives the sacredness of all life. It is moved by the suffering of all, and seeks to share with all the blessings of life. It has been rightly said that the wise man feels himself within the heart of all living creatures, and feels their joys and sorrows within his own heart. It is such experience of boundless love which lays the foundation for cosmic

ethics”. IVth Imperative : The Spirit of Toleration : The fourth imperative is the

conception of toleration as a spiritual attitude.

“In the spiritual sense toleration is an act of love and understanding. If we love our fellow beings, we are naturally interested in listening to what they have to say. Interested to understand their ways of thinking and believing and acting. Love opens the door to the appreciation