Chhaya Shukla  –  Perusing MBA at Thakur Institute of Management Studies & Research , Mumbai

Religious harmony is brought about through realizing that ‘Truth is One but the Paths are Many.’ Harmony is when you feel happy. Harmony is when people are all getting along together. Harmony is when people are nice to one another. Harmony is the flow of life. It is an evident fact that society today is multi-religious. Religion is one major concept which answers many question of the man relating to his life and life after death. It is a set of beliefs and practices. The many religions which are followed are the different paths which lead to the same goal.

What is religion? ‘Religion is a great force – the only real motive force in the world’. There is a common misconception that religion means ritualistic religion and nothing else. The word religion actually means laws, both natural and moral, that ensure right living .Religion stands for an integral development of the personality, a comprehensive view of life.

Only human species has the ability to transmit information and knowledge from one generation to the next. This ability has given man his cherished civilization and culture. An enquiring mind naturally seeks for an order, for a unifying principal behind the apparent diversity. It is well known that faith infuses energy and grit, without which no worthwhile progress in any field of activity is possible. Today we all are at the verge of atomic destruction and when everybody is busy in the mad rat race of materialistic pursuit, religious harmony will be a relief .We should make an effort to peep into the prominent religions of the world and find out a secular message for the mankind .Our aim should be to enlighten and educate the masses about all the religions, so that the message of universal brotherhood is spread throughout the world. This is where schools can play an important role.

Incarnations, Saints, Prophets and Sages have appeared in different parts of the world from time to time in order to teach men how to live in harmony. These great souls, on the basis of personal experience explained the essential ideals and values in life and taught how they can be achieved. In addition to their moral and spiritual teachings, almost all the religious teachers and reformers of the world gave out a plan and a system of their own on which human society would best be organized .It was thus that every faith helped to establish customs and conventions, with rites and rituals, amongst the communities of mankind and gave birth to a particular type of civilization and culture which naturally differed from others. This is how different religions came into existence.

Since there are many religions and many people following the different religions one should have a proper understanding and basic knowledge of the different religions to acknowledge, appreciate and respect other religions and traditions which is very important for social justice and peaceful coexistence.

The religions are best studied from the Holy books of various religions. Across the world in general there are many different kinds of religions including subdivisions of various kinds. In Indonesia, for instance, there are five official religions: Islam, Protestant Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism and Buddhism, not to mention various others such as Confucianism and beliefs which have no formal attachment to these. On the one hand, this diversity may benefit the followers of different religions by enriching their knowledge of various religions and cultures. On the other hand, the same diversity may also become the source of conflicts. Among the potential sources of conflict are: aggressiveness on the part of religious believers; religious organizations which tend to stress the quantitative growth of membership rather than qualitative improvement; political involvement in the religious domain; and economic disparity between the believers of different religions. Indeed, the conflicts created by this diversity outweigh the benefits.

There is nothing wrong though, with sincere personal belief that one’s faith is the best. That would be “making peace” with oneself. However, when one insists others to agree likewise, that would be “making war” with others. It is a common and idealistically beautiful notion, that all the religions of the world essentially practise and preach the same teachings for the betterment of the world. In fact, this forms part of the spirit that makes harmonious inter-religious dialogue possible – when we choose to focus on the similarities of compassion and wisdom. If we are to harp on the differences to one another instead, there would be inter-religious conflict.

But are all religions exactly the same upon closer look? Realistically, of course not – this is why there are different religions in the first place, even though there might be certain teachings which overlap in between. If we truly wish to deeply comprehend various religions, we need to not only look at the similarities, which many tend to prefer to stop at, but to look at the differences too. However, this should be done for greater understanding and acceptance, not for debate. In India there are lots of religions especially Hindus,Muslims,Christians,Buddhists,Sikhs etc.The one thing i noticed is that even though there are lots of religions they live in peace and unity.When a festival arrives for a religion for example Christians all the people in India whether they are in different religions or languages they celebrate in unity.Instead of calling them in their religious names they call themselves proudly INDIAN.

“Do enter all in peace, and do not follow the steps of Satan”, “Be kind and courteous, and you will soon find that those with whom you have enmity become very close friends… Only those who show patience (perseverance) will enjoy this; only those with great luck shall do”. “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ “But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.

If there is religious harmony – feeling irrespective of religion, all people are children of God and they have to work together for peace, progress and productivity to sustain mother earth and the population – then earth will become like heaven. In the present context of pollution, scarcity, corruption, depletion of resources etc. religious harmony can overcome or reduce them considerably making the distance to heaven shorter. Jai Hind.