What is behind India’s open-mindedness and tolerance, and its celebration of diversity that gives rise to such unregulated unleashing of creative energy and a multitude of everything? A number of years ago I had certain business friends visiting from Brazil. They were intrigued and could not fathom the contradiction that Indians pray to many Gods in many forms and yet when asked affirm that there is one formless God.

Religion in India is inherently monotheist. It does not maintain that there is but one God who resides in heaven and he is the God that I believe in and that people of other faiths have got it wrong. Rather it says – God Alone Is. Everything comes from him and he is in everything. That there is no one here but God and he is in all: human-beings and creatures alike; hence we must be compassionate and do no injury and wish no harm. Ahimsa Paramo Dharma – there is no higher dharma than non-violence.

Then again, for those who are not as yet spiritually advanced the scriptures prescribe, a personal God of distinct qualities, by which an individual can approach God and embrace with every part of his being. In the Indian tradition – Vishnu, Shiva, Kali, Durga, and others are these forms and aspects of God. All such aspects are not a limitation of God to that form, but are quite like windows opening to the infinite spirit.

It is idiocy to suggest that there is one creator or God for one people and a different God (and so on) for others. The Rigveda emphasizes – “Truth is one, men call it by various names”. “By whatever path human beings follow,” Sri Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita “they are working their way to me. Those who worship other Gods also worship me even if they do not observe the usual forms. I am the object of all worship, its enjoyer and Lord”.

As a final point, Hinduism and yoga is not an ideology or dogma, but a matter of experience. Its experience is of union with God. The emphasis in the scriptures is not to accept as true but rather to inquire and explore; and through spiritual practice and under the guidance of an illumined teacher, to experience directly and to realize the truths therein yourself.

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