In our country, especially in its Southern parts, one comes across many people who profess to be very religious. But an intelligent observer can find a few distinct classes amongst such of them. First of all, there are those who consider their own religion to be the truest without knowing what it really is, and feel themselves an inch taller than others. Their religiosity just ends with this. Occasionally, they join big religious congregations and congratulate themselves for having done a favour to their gods or goddesses by worshipping them. They do not hesitate to proclaim that they are the real custodians of their ancient religions, cultures and gods. The moment they step out of their temples they leave their gods behind and look out for the good things of the world, which are the only things worth craving for.
There are other classes who are very proud of their castes and prouder of their own particular sub-caste. Their hatred of other sects is more intense and severe than their love for their own sect. Their internal condition is that any person who does not belong to their own sect is their deadliest enemy. Their god also belongs to their particular sect and he is not allowed to do any favor to others. Then there are the so-called intelligent classes who have studied their holy books and proclaim that all of their mythical books are very scientific; and do not hesitate to quote Darwin and Einstein in support of their scriptures. The whole theory of evolution regarding man being born out of monkeys and mosquitoes, according to them is contained in and supported by their holy books. Even the atomic bomb and the world being relativistic (whatever it may mean) can be found in their expositions.
One comes across many followers of the so-called saints, mahatmas and spiritual societies also. Such people are charmed by their gurus or masters and feel that they (gurus) possess extraordinary powers. But at the same time they are so firmly and even rudely bound that they shudder at the slightest suggestion of free thinking. No doubt, they believe that their gurus may ultimately show the way for liberation, but most probably their idea of liberation is the loss of freedom and even free thinking. The only use of the miraculous powers of their masters is probably to increase the number of followers and to tighten their grip upon the existing ones.
And there are also crudest believers who believe that before committing any act (irrespective of the moral and social laws of the land) they should get the sanction from their gods or goddesses by promising them a part of their booty as sacred offerings. So they even sin very religiously.
Selfishness, bigotry and fanaticism coupled with halfknowledge and wrong guides have spoiled the religious outlook of the people of our great country. A thorough overhaul of this crude mentality and a revolutionary approach towards the essence of religion are the urgent needs of the day. How to proceed is the problem. We suggest a few methods, which may catch the fancy of those interested in this problem.
Of course, the problem has not been stated in its entirety in this short essay; nevertheless, one can feel the existence of one and proceed to investigate its subtler causes and its remedies. If we take a broader view, we can even appreciate that this problem is not confined to the Southern parts of our country alone but to the entire world as well. It is no less a problem for an individual than for the whole of mankind. But the methods for its solution must necessarily start with the individual only. To ask the other fellows to become good is as good or as bad as to allow oneself to remain bad.
First of all, let us examine some basic facts regarding the origin of religion and its influence upon the minds of men. Religion originally springs forth from the purified mind of some great personality who is pure at heart, and who has had the experience of the Light of the Ultimate Cause of this Delightful Existence, in the form of his sayings and teachings. Its source is superconsciousness, hence it effects the deeper layers of man’s consciousness and leaves its impressions thereon. The impure mind is quickly hypnotized by the charming reflections of the activities going on its deeper layers. If the receiving mind is not pure, the power gained by the religion will strengthen its impurities and consequently the religion itself gets degenerated when it is transmitted through such impure minds. Finally, the outer shell remains in view and the inner spirit is completely lost. Then religion becomes a bundle of prejudices with a shell of complex rites and rituals.
Religion, instead of being a source of peace of mind and natural brotherhood, becomes a source of strifes and animosities. Universal love and mutual sympathy give place to hatred and jealousy. Instead of catering to the noble internal aspirations of a soul, it begins to cater to the cravings of the sensuous gratifications; and at the other end the very same degenerated religion caters to the inner selfish desires of self-aggrandizement, name and fame by resorting to bodily and mental tortures and repressions.
A very useful method would be to reorient man’s thinking itself. To do this on a world scale would appear to be a great task. However, individuals can make efforts in this direction by thinking that all men and women of this world are their own brothers and sisters and that they are being attracted towards their Original Source. But the best method would be for every individual to purify his own heart and bring himself up to that level from which he can transmit to others. Prayer, the help of a worthy and capable guide, and constant alertness to attain the Goal shall be very effective.
Of course, there are purely spiritual methods also, but I don’t want to mention, because if they are taken up by impure hearts and unworthy persons, they are likely to be misused and abused. Those interested may contact some worthy guide in this matter, who can instruct on the right lines and who has got the power of yogic Transmission at his command to help aspirants on the path of Spirituality. A real guide purifies and illumines the heart. If the guide is really capable he will transmit the power to proceed onwards. One feels calmness and peace of mind, and also feels that his heart has become light in the presence of such a worthy guide. Such a one will be quite unassuming, entirely selfless and devoid of all pomp and show. His methods also will be similarly easy, simple and just for the purpose.
In short, the methods must be such that they should purify and lighten the heart, illumine and enlighten the mind and elevate and liberate the soul. Only then can true religion spring forth and save mankind.