[Advaita-l] "Spades" and "All religions are [not] one"

Sanjay Verma sanjay1297 at yahoo.com
Mon Feb 23 19:48:29 CST 2004

Pranam to all,

Last week, two comments were made on this list (don't have the original email so the comments are paraphrased below):

1) All religions are not one, and Adi Shankaracharya would criticize even Hindus whose practices are against Vedic injunction.

2) We should dispense with pseudo-secularism and call a spade a spade.

If my paraphrased comments are not consistent with the original intent, please do clarify. In any case, I think the following comments are worth contemplating.


Please consider the following:


A) Excerpts from: The Problems of Spiritual Life by Swami Krishnananda, The Divine Life Society (available as a free download online):


“The whole point about the religions is that they are like many roads leading to one peak of a mountaintop, where they will all merge into one single spot. If this is accepted, there will be fraternity and brotherly feeling among the religions in the world. But there is an isolated tendency to assert each religion as a complete presentation of reality in itself, which has also the tendency to reject other approaches. Then comes clash and communal skirmish leading to social and political catastrophe. Like many rays of the sun are the many religions in the world. If one ray of the sun were competing with another ray, what would it be like? You have not only to tolerate the validity of another person's approach, but also accept the justifiability of that effort. Merely tolerating in a condescending manner is no good. You are not reluctantly tolerating the viewpoint of some person. That would make you place yourself in a position of superiority. There is validity in the approach 
 of all.
 You cannot say that a child is just blabbering nonsense. Rather, it is asking for something that is absolutely necessary for it in the condition in which it is placed at that time. It does not mean that a child is inferior to a genius; comparison is always odious. Never compare anything and contrast anything. Take everything for what it is.”


“You cannot love God by hating someone else. The whole point in religion is misconstrued. Love God and hate the world. Then, why not love the world and hate God? Even that is good enough for some. There are people who feel that way. There are stages of approach in religion: the transcendental approach, the mystical approach, and the universal approach, to which everything has to tend one day or the other. The study of comparative religions is very good and necessary.”


B) Lest one think that such neo-Advaita ideology is not consistent with Advaita as taught by Adi Shankaracharya:


BGB 9:23 - 24 


"Those also who are the devotes of other divinities, who worship them with faith, are worshipping Me only, Arjuna! but not according to Vedic injunctions."


"I indeed am the enjoyer and mater of all sacrifices; but they do not recognize Me in truth. Therefore they lapse"


The Acharya himself clarifies verse 24 with the following commentary:


"Inevitably the fruit of sacrifices accrues even to them, who, prompted by devotion to other divinities, offer sacrifices, violating injunctions."


So, whether or not Adi Shankaracharya would accept that "all religions are one" or be in favor of pseudo-secularism seems to be missing the mark (i.e., the higher objective in one’s spiritual practice). Yes, the Acharya was very critical of other paths and outright rejected the validity of many of their presuppositions (the entire 2nd section of chapter 2 of the BS is devoted to refutation of other viewpoints). However, refutation of such views from the point of Advaita is different than saying such paths will not lead to the Absolute (completely or incompletely). No less an authority than Sri Krishna Himself asserts that all paths (if practiced with devotion) lead to Him.




Hari Om Narayana!




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