When Roman prefect (akin to today’s district collector) Pontius Pilate demanded from Jesus Christ “What is Truth?” Jesus refused to answer. It was not a rhetorical question. It was much profound. Like one man’s food another man’s poison truth too differs from man to man. What is truth for a Jihadi is not the same say to a Hindu or a Christian or a Jain.
It is indeed a metaphysical question which Pilate asked which no science can answer. Jesus could have told Pilate that there are many relative truths in abundance depending on the way one likes to look at it. But there is only ONE Absolute Truth and it remains the same for all time to come. Only ignorance makes us oblivious to it while we merrily quarrel over the superiority of our God and Religion.
Man comes into this world not knowing where he came from, not understanding why he is here, and completely mystified as to the origin and purpose of Creation. He will NEVER KNOW why this Universe bothers to exist. Strangely he claims to know enough of God in whose name he kills and maims others. This is the tragedy of Man.
Many Indians know about Kabir but a few may remember Sant Ravidas who was from cobbler caste. He was part of 15th century bhakti movement and one of the direct disciples of Ramananda. His devotional songs made an impact in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh as well as Maharashtra. Most importantly he was a humanist and a socio-religious reformer whose influence spread far and wide and even Meerabai coming to hear of him.
Ravidas like Kabir was against caste. Kabir questioned the learned Brahmin to “look in your heart for knowledge. Tell me where untouchability came from, since you believe in it” while Ravidas told people “ask not about caste,.…What is there in clan or caste? Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra all belong to the same caste.” And he said, “A family that has a true follower of the Lord is neither high caste nor low caste, lordly or poor.”
When Meera accepted Ravidas as her guru he gave her the “Ram mantra.” Meera had so far only Lord Krishna as ishta-devata. When Guru Ravidas made her understand the significance of Ram mantra she EXPLODED with joy singing the now famous bhajan “Paayoji Maine Ram Ratan Dhan Paayo” (I have found the wealth (precious jewel) of chanting Rama’s name).
One may wonder if it caused Meera any conflict as Ram and Krishna seem opposite if we really take the flippant differences seriously. One was born in palace, the other in prison; one obeyed his father to such an extent that he sacrificed everything to go to forest with his wife and brother while Krishna, if ever he listened to his father, I do not know. Ram was committed to one wife but Krishna was different. Instead of confusing ourselves what we need to understand is that both were DIVINE Purushas. We therefore must follow Lord Krishna’s teachings while following Lord Rama’s obedience to his parents.
Meera never viewed the ‘Ram mantra’ as cause of conflict. There is a lesson for modern man. As human beings we don’t see any value in us unless of course we are called Christian, Sikh, Muslim, Budhist, Jain or Hindu. We have lost our rationality and sense of fair play. Religion has ghettoised enough to make us live in the mental prison and we dare not escape from it. Nor do our priests and moulvis will allow us to escape fear of losing their stranglehold over us. It is like any politician dividing us in the name of religion and caste to reap bloody votes. So any honest attempt to escape brings a pack of religious wolves baying for our blood.
Be that as it may the Kali Yug is only getting worse with Man ready to eat Man. The only way to escape from these hideous sufferings is taking recourse to Rama mantra which is unique. It is the ONLY mantra, believe it or not, consistently preached by all saints from time immemorial. Whether it is Kabir, Ravidas, Purandaradas, Tyagaraja, Bhakta Ramdas …..you name it …all wanted man to recite Ram mantra for emancipation.
It is said in Kali Yuga “nama” recital is the only way to liberation and nothing can be simpler than reciting the Rama nama. Why is this mantra so important? Every other mantra in our scriptures has to begin with OM except Rama mantra because it is ‘Taraka Mantra’ directly derived from the root of Na”RA”yana (Narayana or Mahavishnu, the ultimate God) and Na”MA”shivaya. This mantra is often confused with the Ayodhya King Lord Rama. It is more than that being a liberator of miseries.
Religious discord is man made. God would not insult Himself asking us to fight over Him. If only we had the understanding or the knowledge all religious discords would have vanished. But for this understanding to come mere ritualistic praying is not enough. One needs sadhana which comes only through spiritual practice and devotion both of which is lacking in modern Man.
Today funnily if a Muslim gets hurt at the drop of a hat the Hindu too is getting hurt equally fast. “hum kissi se kam nahin.”
Once Hindu was a staid animal. Nothing perturbed him even if one abused his God trillion times. He would simply laugh and go away unconcerned as he knew God is blemishless. But there has been an unwelcome radical change. This disease too has spread to sober Sikhs who too are screaming “of feeling hurt” and some even claiming they have no Hindu roots.
Madness has a way of spreading with emotions latching onto emotions. You get hurt? Well I will show you I too can get hurt. You want to kill in name of religion? I too can do that. Does man need a religion for behaving thus?
Yet we see Hindu pandits busy studying Vedas, Puranas. Sanyasis behaving egoistically though wearing the ochre robe. Someone who claims to be a tapasvi wants a palace to live in with his followers without being disturbed. As Kabir said none is true to himself or to the reality.
Then we see Muslims praying “Five” times at five appointed hours without shedding their anger or hatred. Isn’t a true prayer the one which connects us to the ONE God who created us all? Can there be different Creators who made us differently with the lethal venom in us to kill ourselves all in His name? Why are we dividing God when he is indivisible using caste and religion?
We are none the wiser after meticulously reading our HOLY books and the commentaries to boot. Passionate commitment, verging on madness, to our God makes us move farther away from Him. Sufferings of others never matters to us or makes us uncomfortable because we are praying to our “God” which is more than enough. The real God must be wondering and hanging His head in shame how could he make a Man so selfish that His intentions should be distorted!
Guru Arjan Dev rightly said: “The stone he calls his god, in the end, drowns him with itself… Know that a boat of stone carries no one across.”
Short-sighted Man has only been building a boat of stone thus far. He just floats in an ocean of ignorance without knowing where the seashore lies.