RELIGIONS ARE BUT MEANS TO FINDING GOD. WHY QUARREL?

Posted by & filed under Hinduism, interfaith, Ramakrishna, religious tolerance.

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Today’s post is an Excerpt from
Sri Ramakrishna: The Face of Silence,
by Swami Nikhilananda and Dham Gopal Mukerji.

Sri Ramakrishna was born in 1836 and passed away in 1886. His life was an uninterrupted contemplation of God. He delved deeply into the ideas and principles of all traditions, and seekers of God from all religions have been drawn to his life and teachings which have influenced much of the spiritual thought of our time. Ramakrishna demonstrated in his own God-intoxicated life that the revelation and experience of God takes place at all times and is not the monopoly of any particular age, country, faith, or people. 
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“Now that Ramakrishna had become a master, like bees to the flower many earnest religious souls came to receive instructions from him. They came from all walks of life. Social reformers, university students, brahmins, rajahs, artisans, peasants, Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims all flocked to Dakshineswar….
 
“We have already noted that among the visitors to Dakshineswar there were Christians and Muslims. They came to see what ‘the heathen Ramakrishna’ was like. Of course, many of them saw in him nothing but a religious man. But there was a Christian who perceived in him a great teacher. He went further than that; he said to Ramakrishna, ‘You verify to me the teachings of my own religion.’
” ‘What is your religion, my son?’ asked the Master.
” ‘Christianity, my Lord,’ answered the gentleman.
“Ramakrishna explained, ‘Yes, Yata mat tato path — as many souls, so many pathways to God. But I have never studied your particular religion. Now I will do so.’
“From that day on, for two years Ramakrishna studied Christianity. Since he did not know English, he had the New Testament read to him in translation many times over. Gradually it had such an effect on him that he began to meditate on the Christos. He lived like a Christian anchorite, all alone in the famous woods of Panchavati. Then one day, after many months, he came out and proclaimed, ‘I found God at the end of the road of Christianity. So if anyone follows Christ he will reach God. I have verified it.’
“Another time a Muslim visitor said to him, ‘You are the most devout Muslim I know!’
“That roused the Master. He decided to spend some time studying Islam. Forthwith he had himself converted to that religion. Again he retired into Panchavati to meditate on what had been taught him from the Qur’an by his Muslim teacher. Months passed. Then he came out of his seclusion and proclaimed, ‘That road too leads to the palace of the same King. Religions differ in their appearance, but not in their essence. No matter which path you take it will usher you in the end into his presence: the end of it all! As the many-colored rivers tear and claw their way to the ocean and are lost in its steady emerald level, so all the religions, turgid with dogmatism, lose themselves in the serenity of God. Since religions are but means to finding God, why quarrel about their respective merits and defects? That will take you nowhere.”

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