( Based on one of the Speeches of Swami Vivekanand delivered in London)
Religion is something that unite people and divide people. It is one single force out of so many other forces which tend to carve the destiny of human race. It is this bond which at times is so stronger of all other forces that it supersedes the bonds of race or even nation. People with same religion tend to stood by each other, with a much greater strength. But at the same time people from same nation could not bear each other because of the same bond of religion.
With all its ups and downs , positives and negatives, we therefore should introspect, do humans really need a religion. What is the origination of these religions, why we should follow it, and what should we seek from it while following it. What it was supposed to teach us at the very first place. To understand all this we need to go back in time and do some analysis why a religion would have come into the picture at all.
Theories of Origin of Religion
It is said that every religion in the world more or less is based on the foundation of two basic theories- one is Spirit Theory of religion– ie worshipping supernatural or ancestors, The other theory is the idea of Infinite Cosmos/Nature.
The first theory is based on the assumption that ancestor worship is the beginning of all the religious ideas. Man wants to satisfy his ancestors – out of love or fear, and therefore various concepts of giving food for souls after death, worshiping the ancestors, making huge pyramids and placing the valuables for the dead- all comes into picture. There is a concept of ‘another being’ inside our body exactly same and which lives even after the death. But this life of ‘another being’ inside the body is supposed to be safe as long as the dead physical body is intact. It is because of this reason that Egyptians keep the dead bodies in solitude to keep it uninjured in big Pyramids. Similar concept is with ancient Babylonians, but here the difference is that -things are done out of fear of the dead.
We see traces of ancestor worship in India as well, but if we go back in time in Ancient India and its oldest scriptures, we do not find any such thing but the second theory prevails here. The theory of the worship of nature. Human seems to be curious enough to explore the mysteries of the nature, its infinite expanse, and manifestations in the form of River, Forests, Ocean, Mountains. At times these manifestations were given the name of gods as well. The Greeks, Germans, Scandinavians and all other Aryan races believe in a religion based on abstracted nature worship.
Swami Vivekanand says both the above theories/views further leads us to a third and real basis of religion – ie Human struggle to transcend the limitations of the senses. Refer quotes:-
“Either, man goes to seek for the spirits of his ancestors, the spirits of the dead, that is, he wants to get a glimpse of what there is after the body is dissolved, or, he desires to understand the power working behind the stupendous phenomena of nature. Whichever of these is the case, one thing is certain, that he tries to transcend the limitations of the senses”
The idea of immortality to seek the truth of Life and Death
Consider an analogy – Analogy of sleep, when we sleep our body is almost dead, but still our mind keeps working, and we see dreams not aware of the fact that these are dreams. And we take the same for reality. Once Raja Janak saw in a dream that he is a beggar struggling to feed himself and his family members. And he spent his entire life in the dream. When he woke up in the morning to find out the truth in his waking state. He said that he was wondering whether the life he spent in his dream is reality or the life now is reality.
It is to be noted that both the states of mind – sleep or waking state gives the impression at that particular time that it is reality. But only after we wake up with all our five senses, we realise that it was a dream. We sleep, but our mind still works. Similarly after our death what if some part of us still lives and work. What if even in our waking state, we are in some kind of dream, which we are not realising due to our limited senses.
It is at this point that concept of immortality comes into picture and to realise that there has to be a tool which enhances our senses. There has to be a way out to let us know the reality of our waking state. To know if we are immortals.
We need more than our five senses to perceive the vast expanse of this Cosmos. We with our finite senses can not see the infinite. We need to enhance our skills, senses to be able to realise the infinite. And our Mind, with its infinite powers play an important role in it. The human Mind at certain moments, transcends not only the limitations of the senses, but also the power of the reasoning. It then gives a direct experience of the TRUTH. The experience which we call final communion with the Divine. Of course we have the right to challenge this fact, as in any religion logic and questions should be encouraged, And instead of forcing to believe what is written in the scriptures, self realisation and exploration should be encouraged.
Almost every religion in the world agrees to the fact that our Mind has got the powers of transcending the limits of the senses and limits of the reason. As the human Mind expands, its spiritual steps broadens too. A whole new industry is out there known as “Law of Attraction” which depends solely on the fact that Mind has got infinite powers. Mind not only attracts but also creates. It also helps in understanding the infinite. Something which should be the sole purpose of every religion. And then only there will come a point where religion and science will meet for the good of the mankind.
The Path Ahead
What is required now to discover that infinite, to find out the truth of life and death, and to realize the Cosmos is that all religion should go hand in hand. There is need of a religion for the entire human race, but that religion should be Universal in nature. All good things of one another should be embraced, and further good things to be added which may help in the quest for the Truth. Then only a religion will be there which is not only all inclusive, but also act as as stream of research & studies to discover and explore things which are not possible in so called materialistic sciences.