Interfaith Now
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Interfaith Now

What is Religion?

What is Religion?

In his book, Divine Mystic Reflections on Gurmat ( Teachings of the Guru) Book 1,

Saint Scholar Giani Naranjan Singh Ji says that “the word religion is a western term.” Saint Scholar goes on to say that on the Indian sub-continent, the word used is Dharam which “simply means duty.”

While this book is written with the Sikh audience in mind, this book is secular, meaning everyone will be able to relate to its contents.

From the book -

What is Religion?

The word religion is a western term. Dharam simply means duty.

In Sukhmani Sahib, Sri Guru Arjan Sahib Ji says:

ਸਰਬ ਧਰਮ ਮਹਿ ਸ੍ਰੇਸਟ ਧਰਮੁ ।।

ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਿ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਕਰਮੁ ।।

Of all religions, the best one is to utter sincerely

The Name of God: this is the most pious work.

(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 266)

i.e. the foremost of all religions is the religion of remembering the Lord and having pure thought and action.

Religion abides in every soul; it is the innermost nature of everything that exists. It is the yearning of man to be perfect. Even without knowing it, we are all moving towards that perfection.

There is only one religion: of the droplet of water merging to become the ocean; of an incomplete man to become complete, of a flame to merge with the fire.

( Note — A Muslim lady asked, Saint Scholar Giani Niranjan Singh Ji, Shiromani Kathar, of Guru Nanak Ashram, Patiala -

“What is the difference between Islam and the Sikh religion?”

The Master replied, “There is no difference.”

The lady was astounded at this reply and asked, “ Master, how can you say this”

The Master replied, “My daughter, I say this, simply because the Truth is One. It is only our form of worship which is different.”

There is no difference between Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, the Sikh religion and other mainstream religions.)

All existence is His Name; there is none without His Name. So, naturally, Naam (From SikhiWiki — ‘Naam’ is a common word used in Gurbani, text in the Sikh Scriptures, and represents an entity which is unlimited; the word is an instrument to helps us perceive and realise the un-perceivable Lord in a limited and personal way; to the extent of our limited human faculties.) is imbibed within all matter and in all spirit.

Religion abides in every soul; it is the innermost nature of everything that exists. It is the yearning of man to be perfect. Even without knowing it, we are all moving towards that perfection.

There is only one religion: of the droplet of water merging to become the ocean; of an incomplete man to become complete, of a flame to merge with the fire.

Religion is: to realize that we are nothing but His Naam. Religion is: to realize that we are nothing but He. The many different religions teach us the same thing; the same message.

But, to most of us, religion has become more of a social symbol, an egotistical issue, wherewith we have a name to identify ourselves.

Is it right to hang a picture on the wall, call it our religion and leave it at that?

Religion is with us always — within and without. To identify it and realize it is our duty, and the only duty.

ਭਈ ਪਰਾਪਤਿ ਮਾਨੁਖ ਦੇਹੁਰੀਆ ।।

You have got the precious human birth.

ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਮਿਲਣ ਕੀ ਇਹ ਤੇਰੀ ਬਰੀਆ ।।

This is your only chance of meeting the Almighty Lord.

ਅਵਰਿ ਕਾਜ ਤੇਰੈ ਕਿਤੈ ਨ ਕਾਮ ।।

Doing anything else will be of no avail.

ਮਿਲੁ ਸਾਧਸੰਗਤਿ ਭਜੁ ਕੇਵਲ ਨਾਮ ।। 1 ।।

Join the congregation of Saints and sing only the Glory of the Name.

(Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 12)

Religion is not just a habit; it is never stale and is ever new, made afresh every moment. Religion is an ocean unbound, free and perfection complete.

What do we do to it? How do we pollute it?

It is akin to thinking of the ocean as it is for a moment, then creating our own version of the ocean instead of merging our true mind with the Infinite. We allow our adverse thoughts and fears to guide us and to divide us. The result of this, we become a small stagnating and dirty water pond harbouring disease and foul odour. Next, we carry a sample of this polluted content of the pond everywhere and expound it as the ‘truth’ from the ocean.

We first convince ourselves that we have found it, fool ourselves, waste a lot of energy and effort to convince ourselves, and then find someone to preach it in order to convince ourselves further.

Religion is to remove our complexes: the good-bad, high- low, holy and unholy and right and wrong attitude of thoughts. These and many other social complexes are to be condemned and removed from our social system in order that we may attain a pure and perfect society.

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Kuldip Singh

Kuldip Singh

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I serve in Guru Nanak Ashram in Patiala, Punjab, India. This Ashram is a centre for Spiritual retreat and learning.