Ashvita Shriyan –  Perusing MBA at Thakur Institute of Management Studies & Research , Mumbai

“I have never found a problem with people from different religions praying together. What I have found is that people are just hungry for God, and be they Christian or Muslim we invite them to pray with us” – Mother Theresa

Religion means collection of belief system, cultural system and world views that relate humanity to spirituality and sometimes even to moral values. Harmony means a feeling of togetherness. Religious harmony means staying together with each individual irrespective of the religion that they belong to by understanding or rather respecting each individuals cultural and traditional norms, values and ethics. And when we fail to do the same there exist religious differences. Every person on this earth has the freedom to practice or not practice religion. It is all right to do either. But once you accept religion, it is extremely important to be able to focus your mind on it and sincerely practice the teachings in your daily life. All of us can see that we tend to indulge in religious favouritism by saying, “I belong to this or that religion”, rather than making effort to control our agitated minds. This misuse of religion, due to our disturbed minds, also sometimes creates problems.

The core differences between any genuine religion is the time in history it appeared, the place where it originated, and the people who were involved. According to the people who were taught and their ability to comprehend spiritual topics, they were given different levels of understanding God. These are the reasons for the cultural differences and varying levels of spiritual knowledge between them. However, from a spiritual perspective these differences are not very deep. They all point in the same direction and are for the same purpose. So every path shares a greater common ground than most people are aware of until they begin to understand each other better. As I’ve said, take any religion and you will see that the customs may be somewhat different, yet the essential purpose is the same, if we can get past the variations to recognize that essential purpose. That’s what we must focus on. When we do that, we will see that we are all children of the same God, and, thus, we are all spiritual brothers and sisters of the same Supreme Father. In essence, everyone is a spiritual being. We are all the same. And any religion is meant to reawaken that realization and perception. When we actually see that, then we should be able to reconnect ourselves to God, or express our devotion, no matter whether we go to a Christian church, Hindu temple, Muslim mosque, or Sikh gurudwara. We will see that they all offer the same opportunity, in essence, and that is, as I’ve said, to pray to God, sing His praises, discuss His pastimes and instructions, study the guidance of the prophets or messengers of God, and to think of God or meditate on Him in any number of ways.

Religious differences have led to nothing other wars between two countries. A religious war is a war caused by, or justified by, religious differences. The best example would be the world war I which was a global war centered in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. It was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until the start of World War II in 1939. It involved all the world’s great powers, which were assembled in two opposing alliances: the Allies (based on the Triple Entente of the United Kingdom, France and Russia) and the Central Powers (originally the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy; but, as Austria–Hungary had taken the offensive against the agreement, Italy did not enter into the war). Ultimately, more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, were mobilised in one of the largest wars in history. More than 9 million combatants were killed, largely because of technological advancements that led to enormous increases in the lethality of weapons without corresponding improvements in protection or mobility. It was the sixth-deadliest conflict in world history, subsequently paving the way for various political changes, such as revolutions in many of the nations involved.

Dalai lama, Tibetan spiritual leader in 2012 said India, where different religious traditions “live harmoniously”, is a model to other parts of world, and should continue to keep this tradition. “India is a model where different religious traditions live peacefully and harmoniously. Please keep this tradition,” at the valedictory of the year-long celebration of the 1,960 year-old Malankara Orthodox Syrian church here. In the last 2000-3000 years, different religious traditions, including Buddhism, Jainism, flourished here.” He said.

Religious harmony is the need of the hour because if we live harmoniously without any differences there will be good trade relations which would be an advantage to both the countries involved, avoid wars, bring world peace, etc. For example, USA is technologically advanced and India is advanced in the agricultural sector, so by bringing harmonious religious values the USa and India can join hands together and have a better and efficient trade relations. Similarly, other countries can also go for binding together.

The event which has brought in religious harmony is the very famous IPL (Indian Premier League) matches played between players of different countries belonging to the same team. These matches are played merely for the purpose of entertainment. Its enjoyed by each and every individual of any religion.

“Hatred and conflict are often rooted in differences between people of different races and religions. We all need to respect people of different races as well as people of different faiths and religions. We need to unite by recognizing our common desire and need for a harmonious society — a society in which we and our children and families and friends and communities can all live our lives in peace and harmony. Regardless of our race or religion, we all want and need such social harmony.”

“Without respect for people of different races or ethnicities or religions, how can we have a peaceful and harmonious society or world? And without a harmonious society, how can there be the necessary economic development and atmosphere conducive to spiritual happiness and self-realization?” in the words of JAGAD GURU. Atlast we all must not forget that “HUMANITY IS OUR FIRST RELIGION