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Dr M D Thomas
National Director, CBCI, New Delhi

The whole Earth is one indivisible geographical unit. The celestial power or the cosmic order cannot be geographically bound. The supernatural being is in the spiritual form and is at the core of all beings, living and even non-living. It cannot be prerogative of a particular time, a group or a cultural convention. The human-made ‘earthly setup’ that is intended to make the invisible visible on earth in a symbolic manner cannot, in a way, be mistaken for the ‘real’ and the ‘beyond’.

The ‘mysterium tremendum’ cannot be limited or conditioned by a certain geological or ethnic entity. It is like a breeze. One wouldn’t know where does it come from and where does it go to. One wouldn’t succeed deciding the destinies of its direction or boundless aura. Though it may be seemingly insignificant, yet not even a particle or a corner of the creation can afford to be out of the impression of the Creator. There is no more important or less important in the massive and bountiful arena of the divine. No being, human or other, living or non-living, can attempt to live without that essential and unattainable power above. Yes, ‘God is present everywhere’, in an equal degree and in its totality.

Different communities erected shrines for the divine, according to their perceptions and in tune with their ethnic and cultural notions. Temples, Churches, Synagogues, Mosques, Gurudwaras, Viharas, Ashrams and other temples or devalayas were constructed as places of worship to their respective deities. In intention, they are only provisional symbols of divine presence. They attempt to meet the same God, though they are distinctive in architectural form and ritual forms. They cannot be divided into ‘mine and yours’; all of them are ‘ours’. ‘One is mine in special; others are mine in general’ – that is the relational balance among them.

They are the common cultural and religious heritage of human society. There is no contradiction between any one of them. As Kenneth Leech reminds, ‘God is always beyond’. Therefore, all of them are mere make-shift abodes of the same Creator of the entire universe. Saint Kabir puts us in the right track when he says, ‘Jit dekhoon, tit tu’ (Wherever I look, I see the same God). All these ‘divine images’ are places of saadhna of divine socialization.

A place of worship should be a powerhouse of unity, harmony and peace across all man-made boundaries. Any kind of discrimination and conflict among religions would be a sheer mockery of the same divine spirit, they cherish.

Awakening cosmic consciousness of the Divine and making a world that is more humane and harmonious is the sublime lesson they jointly have to teach. Could the life journey of the human mortals be geared towards such a spiritual altitude? Thus, oneness of God and brotherhood of mankind should form the basis of interfaith paradigm for living together. This is the quintessence of all faiths, mankind has ever known.

 
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