Thursday, August 14, 2008

We find from Sri Aurobindo’s observations that the age of institutionalised religions is over

The human passage to God Tuesday August 12 2008 23:48 IST BANGALORE Aug 14, 2008 Manoj Das

ONCE upon a time,there was a king who believed that God being infinite can never be presented through any finite image. He desired all his subjects to follow his philosophy and direct their prayers to the infinite and the indescribable. All went well till one day he was informed that in a certain frontier village of his territory, a sage had been preaching the ideal that although God was infinite, He had the capacity to manifest as finite. There was nothing wrong in forwarding one’s prayers to an image as long as a devotee believed that image to represent the Omnipotent, Omniscient and the Omnipresent.

The report displeased the king. He summoned the sage to his court. “How dare you preach a different approach to God? Do you mean to say that my approach was wrong?” “My lord, before I answer your question, may I request you and your three wise minister to answer a small question by me?” appealed the sage. The king agreed. The sage wrote out his question in four slips of paper and gave them to the king and his ministers.

They wrote down their individual answers under the question. The sage read out the question and the answers aloud. The question was, “What is earth?” “Earth is that to which we all will be reduced after death,” was the king’s answer. “The earth is what gives us the crops,” was the first minister’s answer. “The earth is the base on which we walk,” had been the second minister’s answer. According to the third, “The earth was the stuff with which this world is made.”

“My lord, if to a most simple question the answers given by you and your three ministers could be so different and yet all the answers could be correct, why should we expect that the answer to the most profound of all possible questions, namely what is God, should be only one?” The king appreciated the truth in the sage’s observation.

For centuries, men have fought amongst themselves because of their variant concepts of God. Sri Aurobindo explains how the Supreme Divine, though One, has manifested at different planes of existence as emanations reflecting His different aspects and His different powers.

We find from Sri Aurobindo’s observations that the age of institutionalised religions is over and it was high time, man transcended all sectarian affiliations and pursued the Divine directly, for the Divine knows how to respond to each individual’s need according to the stage of evolution in consciousness the individual had achieved through vicissitudes of life, both present and past.

In Sri Aurobindo’s words, “The Divine is that from which all comes, in which all lives, and to return to the truth of the Divine now clouded over by ignorance is the soul’s aim in life. In its supreme Truth, the Divine is absolute and infinite peace, consciousness, existence, power and Ananda.” (Letters on Yoga) (The author is recipient of a Padma Award, the prestigious Saraswati Samman, Hon Doctorates from three universities and the highest honour of the Sahitya Akademi, its Fellowship)

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