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Conflict resolution in religion

india Updated: Aug 11, 2006 21:17 IST

The Hindu belief that the Truth is one but that the wise interpret it differently is explained by Mahatma Gandhi in Hindu Dharma thus: “All of us with one voice call one God differently as Parmatma, Ishwara, Shiva, Vishnu, Rama, Allah, Khuda, Ahura Mazda, Jehovah, God. He is the one and yet many; He is smaller than an atom, and bigger than the Himalayas. He is contained even in a drop of the ocean, and yet not even the seven seas can encompass Him.” But that does not mean that the Hindu sages dismissed the possibility of religious plurality and conflict.

Saint Nammalvar in Tiruviruttam admits, “The Lord has created diverse ways of worship. He has created faiths that differ among themselves, according to the differences in the understanding of their fol lowers. He has created various gods of these faiths. He has filled the gods with His form”.

Since the gods of all faiths are but different forms of the same Supreme Being, he says in Tiruvaimoli, 1.1.5, “The followers of different faiths attain to the feet of the gods they worship, according to their lights. The gods they worship are not deficient. The Supreme Lord pervading everyone has ordained that everyone should follow his destined course.”

According to Arulnandi Shivacharya, a thirteenth century Shaivite saint, accepting that “religions and religious texts are many; they conflict and are at variance with one another” suggests that “if the question is which is the religion and which is the text among these, the answer is that is the religion and that the text which, without rancour and without rejecting one and accepting another, find a place for all in a spirit of fairness.”

This method of judgement rejects condescension as it admits that all religions and all texts are valuable in their own right. It is based on the fact that the theology of a land is the product of its environment and its specific modes of cognitive, intellectual, aesthetic, moral and religious experience. This method takes man from dogmatic theology to true spiritualism.

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