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Universality of Religions-Part II

World

All- religions except Buddhism and Jainism believe that the world is the creation of God and it is all dependent upon him. They differ in the details regarding the actual process of creation and the exact nature and status of the world.

Hinduism believes in a cyclic process of creation and destruction of the world and this cycle is going on alternatively and that the world has been created out of the materials constituting God's being whereas according to all other religions creation means creation out of nothing accomplished by God. Moreover creation and destruction don't go on in a cyclic order, rather the world has once been created by God and is subjected to destruction by him at anytime in the future. (Zoroastrianism and Islam don't have mythical stories regarding the exact process of creation which all other religions seem to have. Islam regards the fact of world's creation a mystery and points out that it is difficult to say how exactly or through what exact process the world was created).

All religions consider excessive attachment to the world as undesirable. The law of Karma holds good, that is, our actions in the world determine our future.

Man

Man is given a very high status in all religions; since Buddhism and Jainism don't believe in God, naturally man becomes the highest being in them. He (man) is potentially capable of attaining Godhood by himself. It is only due to the cloud of ignorance that his real great nature is temporarily hidden. The soul within man is really the divine spark and thus of all the creatures he is specially privileged. Ignorance fails man to recognise the greatness of his being and therefore he suffers within various limitations.

In Judaism and Christianity man has been made to act as the fellow partners of God in his scheme of establishing the complete reign of good on earth by eradicating evil. It is only in Islam that man is considered very small and insignificant in relation to God, man seems to have no status and appears to be more or less a slave whose only job is to serve God with a sense of unqualified submission to him.

Of all the religions, Zoroastrianism seems to give man the greatest amount of dignity and grants maximum responsibility to him. Man is free to do what he likes, "Ahura Mazda" has made him such that he is free to choose between the good and evil and act accordingly. According to Christianity man comes to earth being stained by original sins. Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism believes he takes birth with a cloud of ignorance and the burden of past karmas. Islam believes man is an insignificant plaything in God's hands and is thus denied of all kinds of freedom.

As to the nature of man all religions are clear that he is essentially spiritual in nature. The soul within man constitutes his essential nature. As this soul is immortal so is man in his essential nature immortal.

About the author

This article is written by Annapurna Narayan for the 'Vedanta Vani' magazine of Chinmaya Mission.

To be continued

Story first published: Monday, April 19, 2010, 15:12 [IST]
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