Religion, the Oxford dictionary defines as “belief in a superhuman controlling power especially in a personal God or gods entitled to obedience and worship”. In Hinduism, the oldest religion of the world, it is said that ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam‘ means the whole world is one single family. The concept has clearly been depicted as “ayam bandhurayam neti ganana laghuchetasam udaracharitanam tu vasudhaiva kutumbakam” in the Maha Upanishad (Chapter 6, Verse 72) that means Only small men discriminate saying: One is a relative; the other is a stranger. For those who live magnanimously the entire world constitutes but a family and is considered an integral part of the Hindu Philosophy. So, the question is today how many of us have the same ideology about the world? The recent unethical violence over the Islam movie ‘Innocence of Muslims’ has tormented several anguished questions that how can we bring a balance among different faiths in today’s hyper techno-science world? Should we take the help of science to bring peace among the divinities?or, Can the technology be of help to contribute to the balance of religious differences? And how can we ultimately assemble a path of harmonious arrangement and a legitimate secular mechanism in this diverse unsecularize world? These are definitely debatable questions on religions and conflicts that needs to be resolved in order to sustain spiritual peace and morality.
Religion is as old as the human existence. Both Christianity and Hinduism teach that man and woman are made in God’s image. It is quite true that God is the most interesting idea of human beings and man is the only animal who worships, believes and spiritualizes God the way he believes. Man has been worshiping God in different ways, following his superiors, and this faith concept has been transformed with time and age. If we take a look at the different religions on the concept of God, every religion claims “God is one and he is great”, whether it is Allah in Islam or Vishnu in Hinduism or Jesus in Christianity, all regions give a message to man to follow the right path and righteousness. Dr. Zakir Abdul Karim Naik has compared various religions about God in ‘the concept of God in the major religions’. There is much similarity in the concept of God in both Hinduism and Islam: In Hinduism “Ekam evaditiyam” means “he is only one without a second” (Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1), and in Islam “And there is none like unto him” (Holy Quran, 112:4). Furthermore, Hinduism says “Dev maha osi”, means “God is verily great” (Atharvaveda 20 58:3) and in Islam, “he is the great, the most high” (The Holy Quran 13:9). Similarly, Sikhism describes God as “There exists but one God, who is called the true the creator, free from fear and hate, immortal not begotten, self-existant, Great and compassionate” (Sri Guru Sahib Volume1, Verse I), whereas Judaism says, “Hear, O Israel: The lord our God is one God” (The Bible, Deut 6:4). In the whole Bible, Jesus never proclaimed himself God but as the son of God “My father is greater than I” (John 14:28), and “My father is greater than all” (John 10:29), and Islam gives a clear concise concept of God in four verses of Surah Ikhlas, chapter 112 of the Holy Quran: “Say: He is Allah, the one and only. Allah, the Eternal, Absolute. He begets not, nor is he begotten. And there is none like unto him” (The Holy Quran 112:1-4). And Hinduism says “He is One and only One, Sustains entire universe, Omnipresent, Formless (Omnivorous), All-Powerful (Almighty, Omnipotent), Perfect, Omniscient, Unborn, Eternal and supports us always. He alone should be worshiped”(Yajurveda 40.8). Whereas, in Rigveda, one of the four canonical sacred texts of Hinduism, says “Ishwar alone provides true knowledge to truth seekers. He alone is promoter of knowledge and motivates virtuous people into noble actions to seek bliss. He alone is the creator and manager of the world. Hence never worship anyone else except one and only Ishwar” (Rigveda 10.49.1). Edwin H. Bryant (2003) in his book Krishna: the beautiful legend of God; Śrīmad Bhāgavata Purāṇa describes Ishwar, the Sanskrit word for God, as “a being with extraordinary powers”, and the ISKCON in ‘in the heart of Hinduism‘ defines the meaning of Ishwar as ‘controller’. Also, we should not be confused that Allah is an Arabic word which means God, Muslim prefers to call Allah instead of God. So, all religious faiths are ideologically important to their respective followers.
No religion says to engage in wrong paths, violence, unethical means and conflicts. But, It is sober that a few anti-religious people may create havoc among different faiths which causes conflicts, riots and religious contamination following the denigration of their religious idealism. When we come to the stage of divinity and religious faith, we have to consider all religions equally and there should not be a place of hatredness whether it is Islam, Chrstianity, Jewish, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Bahai Faith etc. Respecting other religious faiths, Jesus said “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold…” (John 10:16). Furthermore, S. Radhakrishnan in the ‘Conflicts of Religions: the Hindu attitude (1926)’ mentioned that the edicts of Ashoka’s rocks respects all religious harmony - “The King, beloved of the Gods, honors every form of religious faith, but considers no gift or honor so much as the increase of the substance of religion; whereof this is the root, to reverence one’s own faith and never to revile that of others.Whoever acts differently injures his own religion whi1e he wrongs another’s”. The ongoing religious battle between Islam and Christianity, the two largest religions of the world which accounted 54% followers of the total population, is a critical concerned for the world.
The modern monotheism has profoundly been contributing and developing interfaith fear and hostility and is emphasizing on the negative side of religion; what Eric Brahm (2005) mentioned about the serious of religious conflicts in ‘Religion and Conflict’ that the Human society has been witnessing, whether it is Myanmar and Burma: Budhhists vs Christians 1948, or Israel and Palestine: jews vs Arabs, Muslisms vs Christians 1968, or Northen Ireland 1969 Catholic vs Protestants, or Iraq 1991 Sunnittes vs Shiites, and Egypt 1977 Muslims vs. Central government (Muslim) Muslims vs. Coptic Christians, and India (Uthar- Pradesh) 1992 Hindus vs. Muslims, these religious conflicts have caused various violences, chaos and humongous societal devastation – structural, cultural, high intensity and low intensity . The religious extremism that contributes to conflict escalation often forms illiberal nationalism which leads to intolerance and discrimination and these conflicts are often of asymmetric order.
The Human history has been witnessing the series of conflicts among polytheism, monotheism and agnosticism. With the multi-spiritualism, man is becoming a victim of superstitions developing personal Gods. To realize God, Man has created Gods of religions and even ‘personal God’ what Karen Armstrong says “dangerous”. Man likes to see God everywhere, at home or in the church, mosque, temple or gurudwar, his curiosity to know God has never been exhausting. Whether it is home God, temple God, man is still confused that God is one and he likes to call him in different names. Karen Armstrong in her book “A History of God” mentioned “Yet a personal God can become a grave liability. He can be a mere idol carved in our own image, a projection of our limited needs, fears and desires” and she further added that “strange as it may seem, the idea of ‘God’, like the other great religious insights of the period, developed in a market economy in a spirit of aggressive capitalism”. What is the reality of God when a Hindu believes everything as God – sky, air, tree, water, book, rice etc. The God of things has become a complex ambiance.
Religious dogmatism creates belligerent righteousness which marginalizes God and becomes the roots of organized religion and conflict. The concept of freedom of expression is being misused and both religious fundamentalists and atheists come into clashes. There is an ongoing debate on the existence of God between theists and atheists. Be it the Darwin or Einstein or the British physicist Hawkins, they never let God as a power and creator of the universe but has developed their own theories of the origins of the universe which are yet to be proved. Atheist author Christopher Hitchens’s ‘God is not great’ contends that organized religion is violent, irrational, intolerant, and bigotry, and in The God Delusion, Dawkins contends that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that belief in a personal god qualifies as a delusion. Religion is not what a person or a group of persons thinking about, because a cult is often based ecstasy and moral exemplars. So, hipsters always get a flak from devout and religion needs freedom the science. Above all, free expression should not act as blasphemy and heresy.
The Modern monotheism lacks the respect of other faiths which is exacerbating polarization. Whether it is Rushdie’s ‘The Satanic Verses’ or Sam Bacile’s movie ‘Innocence of Muslims’, they come along as an intense attack on religious bigotry. The modern world that is bestowed with different history and culture urges for the Ecumenism. Religious peace is very essential for the development of this world, be it science or technology, religion or philosophy, religious harmonization becomes inevitable. Today, man has created many Gods and becomes the protector of the Gods. Science that often conflicts with religion may not be helpful in religious harmonization but people, government and religious leaders have to unify against all the demigods. Today the world needs spiritual awakeness and religious consciousness among different faiths. And we still need to realize Dr. Radhakrisnan’s lecture that “To despise the other people’s gods is to despise them, for they and their gods are adapted to each other” which can definitely bring spiritual peace and prosperity in the world.