World Peace: we all hanker for it. Even with the sincere
attempts of our most stalwart planning commissions and religious leaders, the
world's problems seem unfathomable. As long as crime, disease, racial and
religious prejudice, and especially our determined drive for materialism plague
us, peace will remain merely an unrealized utopia. Adherents to the
Judeo-Christian tradition would like to have the kingdom of God manifest on
earth. The Hindu tradition also aspires for Rama-raja, or the kingdom of God on
earth. Our mistake is to want the kingdom of God to enjoy, without the presence
An error of modern society and religion is to identify the
body as the self. The Bhagavad-gita clearly explains that we should see and
accept the spiritual essence (the soul) of each living being as spiritually
equal. There it is said, "The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge,
sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog
and a dog-eater [outcast].
[B.g. 5.18] How does the learned sage see every living
entity with equal vision? He sees the spirit soul within the heart of each of
God's creations. He understands that although living forms may appear
different, those appearances are only the external coverings for the soul, and
that spiritually we are all equal. A careful analysis shows that all problems
result from our first mistake of identifying the body as the self. If we
identify ourselves by race, religion and ethnic group we will then suffer or
enjoy the results of that identity, but the fact is we are spiritually equal
and the bodily identity that we accept is both temporary and insignificant
compared to our eternal spiritual identity. We suffer due to birth, disease,
old age and death; we need not identify with the body, which is being afflicted
by these difficulties. If everyone understood and acted on the level of the
soul rather than the body, the world's problems would practically cease.
Understanding the difference between matter and spirit, and that God is the
controller of all things, is the essence of knowledge.
It is natural that when we become overwhelmed by
difficulties, we become aware of our dependence on God. Unfortunately, due to
our deep attachment to materialism, we are drawn to perceive religion in much
the same manner, as we perceive ordinary social activities. That is, we become
attached to identifying with the external or social side of religion, while we
forget its essence - loving service to God.
Our modern use of the word religion, expresses an external alterable
faith, while the Sanskrit world dharma, implies an internal or essential
eternal relationship with God. Our religion or faith can change but the soul's
relationship with God is eternal. For example, I may claim that I am a
Christian today, but I may adopt the practices of a Hindu or of a Jew tomorrow.
However, whatever faith you my follow, the essence of that faith is loving
service to God. That eternal essence of our faith is what the Vedas refer to as
sanatana-dharma. Dharma is a Sanskrit term that refers to the essence of
something; that essence that cannot be separated from the object. For example,
the dharma of fire is heat and light. Without heat and light fire cannot exist.
The dharma of water is liquidity. Similarly, the dharma of every living entity
is service. Every living entity serves another. The employee serves the
employer. The parents serve the young children. Even the trees and plants serve
others by providing shade, fruits, flowers or firewood. Voluntary service is
the symptom of love, and the perfection of the serving propensity is to serve
the Supreme Lord fully. Therefore, sanatana-dharma, the eternal occupational
activity of the soul, or the eternal religion is service to God, or love of
sanatana-dharma is the real focus of Equality Based on the
Soul. The inquisitive reader of Equality Based on the Soul should not under
estimate this book as simply another treatise on comparative religion, a
standard comparison of religious customs, names of God, rituals, philosophical
likeness and differences, religious histories and so on. Of course, the reader
will find that those comparisons are here in plenty, but their special
significance is that each and every point of comparison expands and strongly
establishes the truth, that the essence of every religious faith is loving
service to God.
sanatana-dharma, the essence of the Vedic culture, predates
all of our present religious faiths. As shown in this book, the reader will see
the many similarities between Judaism and Hinduism. They are both by-products
of the Vedic culture, which was neither Hindu, Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. No
doubt, an in depth study of other religious faiths would bring to surface many
other similarities. The essence of Vedic culture, the eternal nonsectarian
godly society, has permeated all religious faiths for thousands of years.
Unfortunately, with the passing of time, the trend of society's religious
concerns has moved from internal to external or from the essence to the
superficial. This has led to discord and conflict within society. As will be
explained in Equality Based on the Soul, a society, which is not in the true
sense God-centered will always remain in difficulty.
The Vedic culture was a God-centered religious social
system. Every aspect of society was designed to help people advance in
spiritual life. In the strict sense of the word, religion is meant to be a way
of life, which comprises all other activities. With the passing of time,
society's trend has been to change from spiritual orientation to the material.
Of course, the world has suffered greatly for this deviation. As you read
through Equality Based on the Soul, we urge that while appreciating the many
comparisons made between these two major religious paths, you take special note
to understand how each of those comparisons points toward the principles of
equality based on the soul and its natural conclusion, loving service to God.
Although this first writing of Equality Based on the Soul is
presented as a comparison between Hinduism and Judaism, this is only the
beginning. In future writings we will expand this book to include the other
religions. The religions of the world are all related to one another. Judaism
and Christianity are so closely related that they are frequently referred to in
unison as the Judeo-Christian tradition. Judaism existed long before the
appearance of Jesus Christ, and in fact Christianity arose as a sect within
Judaism. Later, in the seventh century, the prophet Mohammed founded Islam, the
religion of the Muslims. He was preaching the same faith as the founders of
Judaism and Christianity. He felt that although the original teachings were
pure, some followers became corrupt resulting in adulterated scriptures. He did
not hesitate to differ with them when he felt their teachings were wrong.
Muslims believe that Mohammed is the final Prophet and his religion is the
final instruction for all mankind. This book is in complete agreement with the
Holy Koran; we will show that the Sanskrit A is the A in Allah. Thus, these three
traditions are closely related.
Hinduism seems at first to stand a little separate from this
group, it is most closely related to the original Vedic culture. Historically,
the Vedic culture predates all religions, so it is not surprising that we have
found many similarities between Judaism and Hinduism. The real essence of the
Vedic culture, uninterrupted loving service to God without material motivation,
shines through the external manifestations of all religious paths.
Equality Based on the Soul is presented as a fictional
conversation, but it is strongly supported by scriptural reference from both
the Hindu and Jewish scriptures. The information presented in this book came
from a variety of written sources listed in the bibliography, as well as actual
conversations between representatives of the two traditions. Many topics will
be discussed in this book, but the most important message transmitted herein is
that the concepts of the soul and God are very similar, far too similar to
ignore the probability of their having common roots. The English word Jewish,
which expresses the idea of a religious society, is not found in the Old
Testament. Similarly, Hinduism also alludes to a religious society, but is
found nowhere in the Vedas, the scriptures followed by the Hindus. Both sincere
Hindus and Jews believe that being devoted to the Lord's service will
spiritually elevate them.
In conclusion, we urge our readers to keep in mind that we
are not attempting to create a new religion. God is the source of religious
inspiration. Nor are we suggesting that the spiritual truth given in this book
is applicable to only Hinduism or Judaism. Rather, we have presented these
conversations between two religious faiths as a medium to pass on an eternal
truth, that can and should be applied to every aspect of our lives.
We show that a non-sectarian religious culture exists
eternally, it's supporting philosophy having been established by God and
transmitted to us from the beginning of creation. That non-sectarian philosophy
is based on the souls' eternal loving and serving relationship with God. It is
not based on an impractical attempt to synthesize the external rituals, customs
and traditions of the world religions. There is only one God and we are all
children of God. We are not proposing that anyone give up his religion, but
that by truly understanding the spiritual essence of religion one can become a
more perfect Jew, Hindu, Christian or Muslim. Effective religious practice will
help us give up the desire for material enjoyment and simultaneously become
attached to the service of God.
As long as religious teachers and spiritual guides emphasize
the external symptoms of their affiliations and neglect their real essence,
unmotivated and uninterrupted service to God, society's spiritual void will
continue. Whatever a great person does common people follow. We are naturally
inclined to follow, especially in religious matters. If world leaders do not
realize and act upon the spiritual essence of their religion, they will not be
able to help their followers and citizens. Understanding the spiritual essence
assures spiritual potency.
Being God-centered does not remove our difficulties or
anxieties. Rather, it will help us see things in proper perspective. We will
see the difference between temporary material activities and eternal spiritual
activities. We will be able to tolerate all kinds of temporary inconveniences
and difficulties as we strive for the ultimate goal, developing love of God and
returning to His eternal abode.