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  Eleven Vows

Equality of religions


Gandhiji felt that all human beings are imperfect. We cannot know the Truth fully. But we can strive to reach the Truth. All religions are efforts in this direction. They are different revelations of the same Truth. But they are conditioned by their times. Moreover, they are expressed through men, who are imperfect. Howsoever great they may be, they are bound to be imperfect while they are in the mortal body. All the religions are therefore open to evolution and reinterpretation in keeping with the time.

Basic moral principles are common to all the religions. They help their adherents. All the religions are different paths leading to the Supreme Truth. The words may differ, the emphasis may differ, but there is a basic unity. The spiritual experiences and teachings of the prophets and the sages are the common heritage of mankind. Different religions may prescribe different modes of worship but God is one. The religions have a temporal part too. That can and should be changed from time to time.

In view of this, we should have equal respect for all to the religions. This is also dictated by the principle of non-violence. Considering Truth as our monopoly, is a breach of non-violence. This leads to conflicts. We should not have blind faith in our religion, which we have got by accident.

Blind faith leads to fanaticism. A fanatic man cannot be religious in the true sense of the term. We should therefore be humble and have open mind. We should learn good things from other religions and discard wrong and irrelevant things from our own religion. Others should be helped to do the same. This process would lead all to the Truth. It will also result in social harmony.

Gandhiji did not like the word ?Tolerance?. It implies superiority of our faith. One should not just tolerate other religions. He should respect them equally, not as a temporary expedient or a political gimmick. It should be out of deep conviction. Spiritual experience confirms this conviction. It may also be said that such a respect also leads to spiritual insight.

Religion is not a divisive factor. But communal politics is divisive. The vow ?Equal respect for all religions? is against communal politics. Gandhiji had equal respect for all religions since his childhood. His study of different religions and contact with persons of different faiths reinforced such a respect. He fought against communalism throughout his life and became a martyr for this cause. His ashram prayers included songs and hymns from different religions. This had good impact.

Equimindedness solves many difficulties and leads to humility. This vow is immensely useful in a society where people belong to different faiths.

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