Do we really have time to go back to the scriptures today? And not just to the scriptures of the faiths to which
we belong, but to all scriptures of all faiths? The grave mistake we have all made in our generation is turning
away from the sacred texts, Rev. Dada J.P. Vaswani tells us. To them we must return, so that our lives may be
meaningful, worthwhile and beneficial, both to us and others. They make us feel that nothing is impossible, for
the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.
This is not another compendium or anthology. Rev. Dada J.P. Vaswani has always rejected the titles of
teacher or scholar, and chosen to refer to himself as a pilgrim on the path of life. As a friend and fellow-pilgrim,
as one who places the highest worth on brotherhood, mutual understanding, loving tolerance and respect for
all, he has selected sacred texts from world faiths which have influenced his life, and shares his insights on
these scriptures with us.
Not for scholars, neither for the uninitiated; not for the initiated, nor the argumentative; this is a book for men
and women who wish to make God's presence real in their lives. We may call Him by many names and
worship Him in many ways. But He is One; and He is the Goal of our lives!
Dada J.P. Vaswani is one of India's greatly beloved and revered spiritual leaders. He is the life-force at the
helm of the renowned Sadhu Vaswani Mission, an international, non-profit, social welfare and service
organization with its headquarters in Pune, and active centres all over the world. A fluent, powerful and witty
speaker and an inspired writer, Dada has authored over a hundred books and booklets. Spiritual leader,
educationist, philosopher and mystic, Dada represents the very quintessence of India's wisdom and universal
There is a story told to us of a temple built atop a mountain. Everyday, hundreds of devout people came to
worship at the temple. Some climbed up the steep steps on the eastern slope of the mountain; a few walked
up the gradient on the western face of the mountain; some people took the long winding road across the
northern slopes; yet others climbed up the wooded slopes on the southern side. Ultimately, they all came to
pray at the same temple.
Different religions, different faiths, different margas are all different paths that lead us to God. Let us follow the
path that we are drawn to - for we are sure to arrive at the same destination. Each religion offers its own
guiding wisdom to its followers in the form of sacred texts, the revealed scriptures of the faith. These books
contain the essence, the distilled wisdom of the faith, either uttered by their illustrious founders or given to
evolved souls as divine revelations. These sacred texts are thus the greatest spiritual treasures that have
been carefully preserved for us, thanks to the selfless efforts of our forefathers.
Today, most of us are placed in a system of education, where God is conspicuous by His absence. We are
proud of a 'liberal', modern, progressive, comprehensive, all-round education that is provided in our schools
and colleges. We want to walk and talk and work as global citizens.
I have nothing against global citizens! My only desire is that in the emerging fascination for globalism, we
should not lose our sense of basic identity and faith. Unless we are firmly 'rooted' in our own identity, how can
we aspire to become whole beings? Professions and business and money making alone will not suffice; we
need to know our true selves; we need to drink deep in the eternal springs of the faith that nourished the
spirits of our forefathers.
I do not wish to disparage the youth: but it is a fact that many young men and women today are not really
conversant with the very source of their faiths - their sacred scriptures. They feel that they don't need such
knowledge. They think that it does not 'add value' to their resumes; it has no practical utility or relevance.
I beg to differ! We live in a world where moral ambivalence is fast slipping into moral turpitude. Parents are
becoming aggrieved by offspring who do not have a sense of right and wrong, good and evil. And who will
teach us the right, the good and the morally and ethically acceptable norms by which we can live?
I humbly submit that it is our great scriptures alone that can teach us the right way to live. Even our
consciences may trick us! Vested interests and bigoted 'scholars' may mislead and misinterpret doctrines of
faith to achieve their own narrow objectives. As the Bible points out to us, even the devil can cite scriptures
for its own purposes. Therefore, we return to the sources; we become acquainted with our scriptures first
hand; we reflect on the truths they enshrine; we reflect and inquire; we ask questions and we arrive at the
Swadhyaya (study for self-improvement) is a sacred duty enjoined on all Hindus. Not a day in our lives should
pass without our having read and reflected on at least one verse, one line from our scriptures. How many of
us fulfill this sacred duty?
And if we are not reading our own scriptures, what am I doing by offering you a collection of multiple sacred
Let me explain. So many religions are so many ways to the One Reality which is God! God is One; we don't
have separate Gods
a Hindu God, a Muslim God, a Christian God and so on. God is One and all the religions are ways that lead
to the One. Let each of us follow the path that suits us best. But let us learn to respect others and the paths
they follow to reach the One God. If some of my readers are encouraged by this collection to reach out and
make an effort to read their own scriptures and the scriptures of at least one or two other faiths, I would
indeed be happy with such a modest beginning! For as the Sage of China tells us, 'Even the journey of a
thousand miles must begin with the first step!'
Most of us who are believers swear by the sanctity of the tenets of our faith. We firmly believe that ours is the
right way, ours are the right beliefs and values. Justice, love, compassion, goodness - we think these are our
own prerogatives. Christians swear by the concepts of love and charity; Muslims assert the values of
compassion and justice; Hindus claim the virtues of tolerance and mutual respect.
I ask you in all humility: are we living in a state of mutual respect, love, tolerance, understanding and
We proclaim loudly of our 'progress', 'development' and 'advancement: But all around us, civilization seems to
be regressing towards the dark ages! Man's inhumanity to man has exceeded all conceivable limits today. In
my generation, people spoke of the atrocities of the Holocaust, the inhumane treatment of Prisoners of War
and the ultimate horror of the H-Bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for the Second World War
revealed the depths to which our wounded civilization could sink.
But the post-war, postmodern era has seen the horrors continue unabated. Mass-murderers and aggressors
call themselves freedom-fighters; violence and bloodshed are justified in the name of religion; and
governments stoop so low as to indulge in the genocide of their own people.
We talk of the world shrinking and becoming a global village; indeed, all of us are only too eager to buy and
sell, do business with all corners of the world, but underneath, deep distrust and prejudice prevails. Modern
scholars call it fear of 'the other; prejudice against, even hatred of people who are not like us - people with a
different colour of skin, people speaking a different language, people professing a different faith are not to be
trusted; worse, they are actively targeted and vilified.
Today, man is losing faith in religion, because religion has been separated from life. Quarrels, discord, hatred
and strife have entered the sphere of religion. Sad to say, religion, which was meant to be a bond of union,
has become a source of sectarian strife and violence.
In the name of secularism, we are making the tragic mistake of discarding religion from our lives. We have
'sanitized' our schools and colleges by keeping God out of education. How can such education work?
Today, religion is discredited by 'liberals' and 'intellectuals'. I would like to say to them: It is not religion that
has failed us; it is we who have failed religion. We talk of religion a great deal; but we do not bear witness to
religion in deeds of daily living. We pay no heed to the teachings of the great saints and prophets of
Live and let live! This is peaceful coexistence at its best. Why should I expect my neighbour to think and work
and speak and worship as I do? Let me accept that all of us are different and let me respect the difference.
For all our differences, for all our diversity in language, culture and religion, we share but one world.
Therefore, let us accept differences nay, celebrate all differences, and take delight in them!
In my view, politics sweeps only on the surface; it is only religion that goes to the very root, and transforms
the lives of individuals, their thinking, their morals, their conduct and character. Politics is the product of the
mind and the intellect and these are often instruments of division. True religion is born of intuition and higher
understanding and these are essentially unitive. This is why I affirm that we need a new unitive vision of the
spirit. We must turn our attention from the machines and money to the soul of humanity. And where is the
soul of humanity but in those sacred texts that shaped and ordered human civilization?
The great historian Arnold J. Toynbee, surveying the situation of civilization in the twentieth century, pointed
out that the world's hope is not in money and power, but in the spiritual qualities of justice, tolerance,
sympathy and self-offering to the Eternal. Are not these the very same qualities emphasized by the scriptures
of all faiths?
Truth is not the monopoly of anyone religion! Truth is a complex whole, and every religion has one or other
aspect of truth to teach us. By all means let us be true to the religion in which we were born, but let us
cultivate respect for every religion!
It is only because we are not acquainted with the wisdom that is to be found in scriptures of other religions
that we become intolerant and lacking in respect for others. This little book attempts to provide basic
understanding about various religious scriptures in the hope that men and women of diverse faiths might be
brought closer together in a common bond of understanding and friendship.
I was blessed and privileged to grow up in the nurturing shadow of a great saint who saw the vision of the
One in the many. Gurudev Sadhu Vaswani taught me that the various creeds and
religions of humanity are but different ways of attaining one goal. Different religions are but branches of one
religion the Religion of the Spirit. No matter how widely they may differ in their externals, they are all born out
of one common and universal spiritual need -the need to unite the entire world in a spiritual brotherhood of
man. For this is the vision that should inspire us; the vision that will move us onward, forward, Godward!
He said to us repeatedly (and, may I say to you, his life bore witness to his words), 'There are so many who
can believe only one thing at a time. I am so made as to rejoice in the many and behold the beauty of the One
in the many. Hence my natural affinity to many religions. In them all I see is revelations of the One Spirit. And
deep in my heart is the conviction that I am a servant of all Prophets'.
Brahma Sutras (81)
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