Unity of faiths – Further readings
- Related stories & Suggested class activities
- Divine guidance
- Divine discourse (For guru’s reference)
STORIES ON UNIVERSAL VALUES BY VARIOUS RELIGIOUS PROPHET
While handling the topic of Unity of Faiths in classes, the Balvikas Gurus can take up incidents from the “Life of Young Sai” and stories such as “Universal Love” [(Incident from Prophet Mohammed’s life illustrating the value of Love and Patience] , “The Good Samaritan” [One of the Parables of Jesus Christ illustrating the value of Love and Compassion] and “Contentment and Peace” [Incident from Lord Buddha’s life illustrating the value of Patience and Contentment]. These stories form part of our Balvikas syllabus. Apart from these stories, the Gurus can also take up similar stories from various religions exemplifying the Human values and thereby driving the point that the basic human values form the bedrock of the teachings of all religions and faiths.
SUGGESTED CLASS ACTIVITIES
- Singing Sarva dharma bhajans Chanting Sarva dharma prayer (Om Tat Sat)
- Picture match:
- Identification of the places of worship
- Show the children pictures of places of worship of different religions [eg: temple / church / mosque etc]
- Ask the children to identify the religion to which these pictures are associated with.
- Identification of the sacred scriptures
- Show the children pictures of holy books of different religions [eg; Bhagawad Gita, Bible, Quaran etc]
- Ask the children to identify the religion to which these pictures are associated with.
- Role play on the fingers of the hand story
NOTE TO GURUS:
Gurus may refer to the topic: Broad details of major religions for reference materials on the topic of religions
We can teach the special and distinctive features of other religions also in our junior balvikas classes, for the purpose of the children of other faiths, without creating any confusion in the minds of the children. The ritual practices and customs of different religions, from the external aspect, may seem to be conflicting with each other, although the basic and fundamental principles of all the religions are one and the same. As the ability to understand and to harmoniously reconcile apparent differences and discrepancies between their religion and other religions may not be there in the young mind, we are not to go into the details of the other religions, except discreetly explaining the broad features, emphasizing the basic fundamental character and principles common to all the religions.
In all the religions, the importance of prayers, the need for worship, the principle of brotherhood of man and the father hood of God, cultivation of love for all beings, are common features. These are indeed universal values upheld by each of the religions. All the religions are but different paths leading to a common goal or destination. These are analogies given to illustrate the points like,’ The ornaments may have different names and forms but the metal out of which they are made is the same i.e. gold. The cows may be of different colour’s but the milk they all yield is the same. Similarly, dresses worn by people may have different names and forms but the fact remains that all these different types of dresses are made from cloth only.
The dresses may be in different shapes and designs, say it could be a pant, shirt, bush coat, gown or a sari as worn by different people, but basically all are made from the same type of cloth. Likewise, Hindus have their own way of worship as per their traditions and injunctions based on the Vedas: Muslims pray in their own manner following the injunctions of Koran and Christians have their own mode of prayer as per the injunction of the Bible, but all these are prayers only. Ultimately, what we are all seeking is the Grace of God, only the modes of worship differ in their external form, in the different religions.
What all religions preach are fundamentally the same-like love, compassion, equally (brotherhood of man and fatherhood of God).They reach that man should have equal mindedness towards all and love all alike. They all emphasize the virtue of forbearance. This is the teaching common to Vedas, Bible, Koran etc., Zoroaster also taught that prayer is essential for life and that it purifies and rids our minds of all evil tendencies. All our bad qualities are to be burnt in the fire and that is the true sacrificial offering. He emphasizes that good thoughts, good words and good deeds are the three cardinal codes of a true religious life. Buddha has said, as in the Upanishads, that this world and life are full of sorrow. ’SarvamDukham’ and he taught the way to peace through the eight – fold path.
Thus, all the religions teach the same basic truths, though the external aspects, customs, rituals, etc., may differ. Only because our mental attitudes differ widely, we view them differently and as diverse. With the basic understanding of the equality and oneness of all religions, we must teach the children and enrich their hearts with deeper love for their own faith, and respect for other religions.
Ideas of distinction, dislike, intolerance, etc., should not be allowed to enter the children’s minds and if they be there, they should be weeded out for the upliftment of man and to teach the moral and spiritual truths, prophets and God-men have taken birth in this world time and again. While each of them had emphasis on different aspects depending on the needs of the time, the geographical conditions, the conditions of the people and other contingencies, the fundamental teachings are all common. All the religions are but the different facets of the same Truths. If these basic truths are inculcated in the tender minds of the young and fostered and nurtured during their balvikas years, the children will grow with a catholic vision and have a deep conviction in the unity of all faiths.
It is, of course, not in all places and in all the Balvikas classes that you have children belonging to different religions. But wherever there are such centers, the in-charge guru should herself study, understand correctly the particular religion and teach them properly.
Source: Divine Guidelines to Balvikas (Balvikas gurus’ Conference-1978)
DIVINE DISCOURSE : SAI SRUTHI, KODAIKANAL ON 29 APRIL 2009
Everyone desires peace and happiness. Nobody wants sorrows and difficulties. In his speech, Popat has said that all are the embodiments of God. God is one. There is no second entity. When you think there is a second entity, then it is untruth. Therefore, there is nothing like a second entity.All are One
Right from small ants, mosquitoes, and birds to mighty elephants, every being is the manifestation of God. Even the trees, hills, and mountains are manifestations of God. Such being the case, how can there be a second entity? A second entity is just your imagination and illusion. It is of your own making. Just think where your body has come from. You say that it has come from your parents. No, no. You have not come from your parents. You have come from yourself.There is only one entity. Where is the existence of the second? But people today put their faith in diversity and not in unity. What does unity mean? It is not the combination of many; it is the realisation of oneness. When you have mirrors all around you,you see your many forms. These are all your different forms. But this is not the truth. The one who asks the question and the one who gives the reply, both are one and the same. All are one. Daivammanusharupena (God is in the form of a human being). The same person appears in many forms. To consider these forms as different from each other is a mistake.When I am speaking in the microphone, you are listening to My voice. The speaker is only one but the same voice is heard by many ears. Ekohamsarvabhutanam (I am the only Reality in all beings), Ekamsathviprahbahudhavadanti (truth is one, but the wise refer to it by various names). There is only one sun in the sky. But we see its reflection in many rivers, tanks, and vessels.Sun is only one. But wherever there is water, you see its reflection. Pour water in a pl ate,and you can see the reflection of the sun even in that water. Does it mean that the sun is there in this water? No, no. It is only the reflection of the sun. In the same way, Atma is only one. The mind, the intellect, the subconscious mind, and the ego sense are like different vessels. Therefore,divinity is one.God can be seen in pure heart
Every thing is God. If you think otherwise, it is only your delusion, i.e. maya. When the sun is shining above, you can see its reflections in all tanks. Even where the water is dirty, you can see its reflection. But when the water is totally dirty, then, of course, you cannot see its reflection. In the same way, when your heart is pure and clear, you can see the direct manifestation of God in it. But your heart is impure. When you thoroughly clean your heart, you can very well see God. God is immanent in everyone. Right from a newborn baby to a grown-up and old person, He is present in everyone. A small baby grows up and ultimately becomes old. The baby, the woman, and the old lady are the same person. Because of their thinking, people see many different forms. But God does not have different forms. In fact, He has no form. However, he has many names. Even though He has many names, they all correspond to the many reflections of the same divinity. You can see the reflection of the sun in flowing water and also in stagnant water. In the flowing water, the reflection appears to be wavering, but in steady water, the reflection is also steady. Your mind develops attachment to the world because of your delusion. Everything in this world is just a projection of maya. Hiranyakasipu asked his son Prahlada, “Where is God? You are always chanting Narayana, Narayana. Who is Narayana? Prahlada replied, “Man himself is Narayana. Wherever you see, you see only Narayana. He is in me, He is in you, He is in all others.” Hiranyakasipu asked, “Is He there in this pillar?”“Surely, He is there in it”, replied Prahlada. Hiranyakasipu took a mace and hit the pillar with it. At once he saw the manifestation of Lord Vishnu. Therefore, wherever you see, God is there. But people like Hiranyakasipu have no faith in God.Develop the vision to see unity
Though there is total unity in creation, we look at it from the angle of diversity. We say, “He is my father, he is my mother, she is my elder sister, she is my younger sister.” We develop relationships on the basis of forms. Where have these relationships come from? Nothing can exist without the principle of unity. Here is an example. A dog entered a room fitted with mirrors and saw many dogs in the mirrors. It was afraid to see so many dogs in the room, considering them as danger to its life. In order to escape from the situation, it jumped upon one of the mirrors, considering its own reflection in it to be another dog. As it did that, it saw that the dog in the mirror also jumped upon it. In the process, the mirror broke. Then, it felt that there was no other dog at the pl ace and escaped from the room. It felt greatly relieved that it could save itself from so many other dogs. But where were so many dogs? It saw its own reflection in so many mirrors. The same is the case with people today. If one sees all other forms as his own reflection in the mirror of the world, one will realise the principle of unity. So, there are no such separate entities like father, mother, brothers, and sisters. But one develops worldly relationships due to one’s delusion and says, “She is my sister, he is my brother, he is my father, she is my mother.” These are all only physical relationships and not the relationships based on your divine reality. Try to understand that the same Atma is present in all. But you develop worldly relationships, forgetting the principle of the Atma. You say, “She is my wife” but prior to the marriage, she is separate and you are separate. Only after the marriage do you say, “My wife, my wife.” How you have developed this relationship of husband and wife? It is due only to your delusion. It is because of delusion that one makes many mistakes and indulges in many undesirable activities.
Wherever you see, there is God and God is one. People say, “He is Rama, He is Krishna, He is Shiva, He is Vishnu.” What does it mean? Does it mean that Vishnu, Shiva, Rama, and Krishna are separate entities? These are the different names of the same God. God appears before you in a particular form based on your own imagination. When you contemplate on the form of Krishna as portrayed by artists like Ravi Varma, God will manifest before you in the form of Krishna. In the same way, God will appear before you in the form of Rama. But God is neither Rama nor Krishna. Both Rama and Krishna are you only. The forms of Rama and Krishna are nothing but your own reflections. When you say, “I want Rama”, God manifests before you in the form of Rama. Similarly, when you say, “I want Krishna”, He appears before you in the form of Krishna. All these forms are nothing but your own reflections.Reduce the burden of your desires
Both sorrow and happiness are in the world. When you are in difficulty, you say, “Alas! Why has God given me this difficulty? What sin have I committed?” On the other hand, when you earn weal and are happy, you say, “It is my good fortune.” Neither this is your good fortune nor that is bad. When you have good thoughts, you will have good results. On the other hand, if you have bad thoughts, you will have bad results. Good and bad do not come from outside.
Every thing is God. When people see a scorpion, they are afraid that it might bite them. But, in fact, there is God even in that scorpion. There is no being in whom God is not immanent. However, you have to get rid of your delusion. People have too many desires. These too many desires are the cause of delusion. Therefore, people should reduce their desires. How should one do so? All desires are the creation of the mind, which behaves in an arbitrary way. Manaeva manushyanam karanam bandha mokshanam (mind is the cause of bondage and liberation of man).
You should make efforts to follow the path of liberation. Then, there will be no scope for delusion. But people are full of desires, and the cause of all desires is the mind. Therefore, first and foremost, control the mind. If you do so, you will not have even a single desire. Therefore, it is said, Less luggage more comfort makes travel a pleasure. God will be pleased with you only when you reduce the luggage of your desires. More desires become great burden for life. With less luggage, you will be more happy. When one is unmarried, one thinks, “Whatever I have, I can manage with it. I am not bothered even if I have to starve sometimes.” But when one is married and has children, one is burdened with so many worries.
Where have the wife and children come from? They have come from the same source as you have come.You think someone is your wife because you develop attachment to her. Can you call every woman your wife? No, no. When you say so, you will be beaten. You cannot talk like this. The relationship of wife and husband is only a ‘body to body’ relationship. This physical relationship is the cause of many troubles. A person with money is called a rich man. But the same person will be called a beggar when they lose his money. When you are wealthy, you are considered bigger; when you are poor, you are treated like a beggar. Therefore, the same person is bigger as well as beggar. Develop equal-mindedness, and everything will become good for you. Even if somebody beats you, you should think, “The person who is beating me is none other than God. God has beaten me because there is some defect in me. This body has committed a mistake. Therefore, it has to receive punishment.”
Whatever we do, it will come back to us as reaction, reflection, and resound. All that we experience is the result of our own actions. It is not given by God. God does not give anything to people except ananda (bliss). Having experienced ananda, do not criticise the One who has provided it to you. Both happiness and sorrow are the reflection of your own actions. When God loves you, it means that God loves Himself.
God has no attributes. God has no such evil qualities like anger, hatred, jealousy, and hypocrisy, nor are these evil qualities given to you by God. These are all of your own making. Therefore, get rid of your delusion. If you develop unnecessary worries, thinking, “I don’t have this, I don’t have that”, you will deceive yourself. Reduce your desires. Then you will have not to carry too much luggage. Only then can you be happy.Know the Atmic Principle
If you have real love for God, always contemplate on Him. If you have liking for Rama, contemplate on Rama. Similarly, if Krishna is your chosen deity, contemplate on Him. But always remember that Rama and Krishna are not outside; Rama is in your heart, Krishna is in your heart. Whatever form you consider as Rama, contemplate on that form with your eyes closed. You will certainly visualise that form. Ultimately, you will realise, “It is out of my delusion that I considered Rama and Krishna separate from Me. In fact, I am Rama, I am Krishna.” When you contemplate on Rama, you see that form as a reflection of your thoughts. Similarly, when you think of Krishna, you see Krishna’s form. You think Rama and Krishna are different from you because of your delusion. Who has seen Rama? Who has seen Krishna? Artists like Ravi Varma painted the pictures of Rama and Krishna on the basis of the descriptions given in the sacred texts. These are mere pictures; they do not reveal the truth.
Everyone can call God by any name of their choice, like Rama, Krishna, Govinda, etc., and contemplate on a particular name and form. There is no mistake in that. I don’t ask you to give up this practice. But you should have firm conviction, “I am God. My Atma is God.” The Atma has no form. It has only a name. The Atma shines in everyone like the sun. It can be seen only in a heart that is pure. In the heart that is impure, you cannot see it.Many Avatars came to propagate this truth. Divine incarnations come not for their own sake but to impart the knowledge of truth to everyone. Follow their teachings and understand the principle of the Atma. The Vedanta proclaims that the Atma is the only reality.
Waves are formed out of water.There can be no waves when there is no water. I n the same way, there can be no form without the Atma. You should contemplate on the Atma and chant the mantra “Om Namo Narayanaya,Om Namo Narayanaya, Om Namo Narayanaya”. If you are unable to chant the entire mantra, it is enough to recite “Om”, because everything is immanent in Om. The word Om denotes pranava (primordial sound). The Upanishads describe it as the Atma. The Taittiriyopanishaddeals extensively with the principle of the Atma. The Ramayana, the Bhagavata, and the Mahabharata reveal the same truth through the stories of the Avatars. Everything is within you. Nothing is outside. The entire creation is one. Get rid of your delusion and try to understand the truth behind names and forms.
Name and form are inseparable. You chant, “Sai Ram, Sai Ram, Sai Ram …” The name “Sai Ram” has been given to Me. I am not born with this name. Similarly, the names Rama and Krishna were given to them by their parents. They were not born with these names. Did Rama come and say, “I am Rama”? No, no. He was the son of Dasaratha and was given the name Rama.
What does the word Dasaratha mean? It means the chariot of human body with its ten senses.Have control over your senses. When you have total control over your senses, there is no need for anything else. You even forget yourself. You forget even your physical body. It is the mind that controls the body and the senses. The body and the senses are temporary. Even the mind is also subject to annihilation. We say, “mind, mind, mind.” Where is the mind? What is the form of the mind? It has no form. Mind itself is an illusion. Enquire on these lines and realise that God is one. This is the only truth. Everything else is delusion. In a cinema, you see many scenes on the screen. You see Sita getting married to Rama, Ravana abducting Sita, Rama waging a war against Ravana, and many friends of Rama taking part in the war. But all these are mere pictures. They are not happening in reality.
Here are not many people. All are one. Ekamsath … When you follow sathya (truth), dharma (right action) will emerge from it. When sathya and dharma come together, santhi (peace) will manifest. Where there is peace, there is bliss. Light is produced when negative and positive charges come together.
Love emerges from peace. One who lacks peace cannot have love. When love manifests in us,we consider everyone as our own. All are our own forms. All are one. Be alike to everyone.Make efforts to realise this truth.
When the wind blows, the dry leaves are blown away, but not the green leaves. They remain with the branches. Your humanness should not be like a dry leaf, which is blown away by the wind. Everything is a divine mystery.
- The stories of Lord Rama are amazing,
- It purifies the lives of the people in all the three worlds,
- It is like the sickle that cuts the creepers of worldly bondage,
- It is like a good friend who helps you in ti mes of need,
- It is like a shelter for the sages and seers doing penance in the forest.(Telugu Poem)
Do not allow your mind to become like a dog, which is deluded by its own reflection. The dog is deluded thinking its reflections in many mirrors as many dogs. There are not many dogs. You may consider a dog a dog, but God is in it also. Without vibration, even a dog cannot live. What is that vibration? It is the vibration of life. Due to this life principle, the dog eats and moves around. Do not observe any differences such as “He is an outsider, he is a rich person, he is a beggar.”
All are one. See unity in all. Only then will you have steady and true devotion. Otherwise, you will have bumps and jumps. Your devotion will waver from moment to moment.Many people consider themselves as devotees. As long as they have faith in God, their devotion remains steady. When their devotion wavers, their mind also wavers. Real faith does not waver under any circumstances. Come what may, your devotion should not waver, even if you are cut to pieces. That is steady, unwavering, and unsullied devotion. Develop such steady and selfless devotion.
The same is the teaching of Jesus also. God is one. You have to cut your individual ego to attain Him. This is what the cross symbolises. Never give up your faith. Hold on to it firmly. Then you will certainly realise your true identity.Man is born to establish humanness and not to destroy it. Develop human qualities of sathya, dharma, santhi, prema (love), and ahimsa (nonviolence). When sathya combines with dharma, santhi and prema are born there. It is love that unites all. Will you kill your son in a fit of anger? No, no. You will scold him, but you will not harm him. Likewise, when you have love, you will treat everyone as your own. Treat all woman as your mothers and sisters.
Forbearance is the real beauty in this sacred land of Bharat.
Of all the rituals, adherence to truth is the greatest penance.
The nectarine feeling in this country is the feeling of love toward one’s mother. (Telugu Poem) Develop such sacred feelings toward all women. When you marry a woman, only then do you call her your wife. Otherwise, all women are like your mothers and sisters. Similarly, all men are like your brothers. God is one. He is the only purusha (male). There is no other male except Him. Once the gopikas (cowherd maidens) came to Krishna’s house to meet Him. When they tried to enter the house, the watchman prevented them, saying women cannot enter the house. The gopikas questioned him, “How come you are there?” He replied, “I am a male.” The gopikas said, “You cannot call yourself a male merely because you are wearing a male dress. The five elements and the five life principles are the same in you and us. Merely because you are wearing a male dress and we are wearing a female dress, we can be different from each other. The same divinity is present in you and us. In fact, Krishna alone is the Purusha, all others are females.”To Love God is the Main Goal of Life
Today this equality and unity have become extinct in this world. Due to lack of unity, we are unable to see divinity. Consequently, hatred is on the rise. Today the world is in the grip of difference sand fighting due to lack of love. Man today has forgotten even his humanness.First of all, understand that you are essentially divine. When you say, “I am person and He is God”, you observe duality. When there are two entities, the third will also find place there, and that is the mind. That will bring about your total ruination.Husband should be treated as husband and wife should be treated as wife. Each one should discharge their duty. In English, duty refers to a particular work. The duty of a human being is not merely doing some work. Duty connotes nishkama karma (selfless work).A selfish person is worse than a fish. Fish is better than selfish. Therefore, never give room to selfishness. You can realise the Self only when you give up selfishness. When you become a slave to your senses, you will always remain selfish.Therefore, give up selfishness. Help everyone.As I said on the day of Rama Navami, God is one. There is apparent diversity in the world. In fact, man is God Himself. Develop faith in this truth. Let your faith not waver even a bit. When you lose faith, you lose God. Whatever may happen to you, never become selfish. When you conduct yourself in this manner, you will realise your divinity. Then you will have no delusion that Rama, Krishna, Easwara, and Vishnu are different from each other.The names like Rama and Krishna are given by us. In fact, all names are given by us. Everybody is born from God. God is one, not two. Right from today, make efforts to do away with all differences. When you love God, worship and follow Him. This is the main goal and true purpose of your life.
—From Bhagawan’s Divine Discourse in Sai Sruthi, Kodaikanal on 29 April 2009.