Dolly Ashok Dwivedi –  B.A Psychology , Perusing MBA at Thakur Institute of Management Studies & Research , Mumbai

What is religion? George Bernard Shaw says „Religion is a great force – the only real motive force in the world..

“Religion is also a manifestation of a collective human behavior in the form of religious and sacred practices” – Emile Durkheim

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, and it stands for an integral development of the personality, a comprehensive view of life.

“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.” -Mahatma Gandhi

With the above quote by our Bapu, we see how beautifully he has tried to ask the masses to cleanse their thoughts and their mind by aiming at complete harmony and peace, and if we think about it seriously it was this harmony and peace that Bapu had within him and which contributed majorly to the freedom movement of our country. One should be psychologically strong to practice non-violence, calmness and harmony.

“Unless we know the value of other religious traditions, it is difficult to develop respect for them. Mutual respect is the foundation of genuine harmony. We should strive for a spirit of harmony, not for political or economic reasons, but rather simply because we realize the value of other traditions. I always make an effort to promote religious harmony.” – His Holiness Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama believes that he has a very simple religion and that is kindness, and the more one cares about others happiness the greater is their sense of well being.

An individual should believe in happiness and kindness as these are the two things one desires in the two most important stages that is childhood and the old age. We are now in the twenty first century. The quality of research on both the inner and physical world has reached quite high levels, thanks to the tremendous stride in technological advancement and human intelligence. However, the world is also facing a lot of new problems, most of which are man-made. The root cause of these man-made problems is the inability of human beings to control their agitated minds. How to control such a state of mind is taught by the various religions of this world. More than a thousand years have passed since the great religions of the world flourished, including Buddhism. During those years, the world had witnessed a lot of conflicts, in which followers of different religions of different countries were also involved.

Talking about the Indian history, for the sake of maintaining communal harmony, Akbar the King, started a new religion Din-e-Iiahi. He made a Rajput lady his wife gave equal respect to Hindu religion. During the time of Bahadur Zafar, the last king of Mugal dynasty, a function, Foolwalon-ki-Sai: used to be organized regularly in Delhi, were people of both the religion worshipped in temples and mosques together.

As a religious practitioner, one can acknowledge the fact that different religions of the world have provided many solutions about how to control an agitated mind. In spite of this we have not been able to realize our full potential.Every person on this earth has the freedom to practice or not practice religion. It is all right to do either. But once the4 religion is accepted, it is extremely important to be able to focus the mind on it and sincerely practice the teachings in daily life. All of us can see that we tend to indulge in religious favoritism 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.

According to Buddhist philosophy, happiness is the result of an enlightened mind whereas suffering is caused by a distorted mind. This is very important. A distorted mind, in contrast to an enlightened mind, is one that is not in tune with reality.

Any issue, including political, economic and religious activities human beings pursue in this world, should be fully understood before we pass our judgement. Therefore, it is very important to know the causes. Whatever the issue, we should be able to see the complete picture. This will enable us to comprehend the whole story. The teachings offered in Buddhism are based on rationality, and I think are very fruitful.

Today, a lot of people from different religious backgrounds are present here. In every religion, there are transcendent things that are beyond the grasp of our mind and speech. For example, the concept of God in Christianity and Islam and that of wisdom truth body in Buddhism are metaphysical, which is not possible for an ordinary person like us to realize. This is a common difficulty faced by every religion. It is taught in every religion, including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, that the ultimate truth is driven by is extremely important for practitioners to sincerely believe in their respective religions.

In the past it was not a major problem because nations remained aloof from each other with their own distinct religion. However, in today’s close and inter-connected world there are so many differences amongst various religions. We must obviously resolve these problems. For example, there have been a lot of religions in India for the past thousand years. Some of them were imported from outside whereas some have grown in India itself. Despite this, the fact is that these religions have been able to coexist with each other, and the principle of Ahimsa has really flourished in this country. Even today, this principle has a strong bearing on every religion. This is very precious and India should really take pride in it. For e.g.: Ladakh has been a predominantly Buddhist area ‘for so many centuries. But other religions such as Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism have also flourished here. Although it is natural for the people of Ladakh to have attachment to and love for their own religions, yet this place has a very peaceful environment with no major problems of religious intolerance. During my maiden visit to Ladakh, I heard elderly Muslims using the phrase “community of sangha” in their speeches. Although such phrases are not found in Islam, yet a reference of this kind invokes a lot of trust amongst the Buddhists. Therefore, people from different religious background in Ladakh are very close to each other and live in harmony.

It is very important to live in harmony and analyse where the opinion of the other lies. If a harmonious relationship is established amongst societies and religious beliefs in today’s multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural world, then it will surely set a very good example for others.

 “Harmony makes small things grow; lack of it makes great things decay. Sallust.