There are many studies and opinions out there. Some studies suggest that religions were introduced, when primitive humans started moving out of caveman lives to more agrarian lives, so that they could form loyal cohesive groups. There are other theories, which suggest that religions were evolved in order to take care of our insecurities, so that we can reason things like death, natural disasters or pandemics, which we can not otherwise explain. Some other theories point towards, rulers introducing their religion as a way to create loyal subjects, which they can easily control.
While there are many theories, all these theories need people to accept a concept like religion, which otherwise they can not feel using their senses. Interestingly, people seems to accept that. So, why do people accept such concepts? Well, we humans are intelligent being, and we try to explain things around us which we don’t understand. Things like “Why we are here?”, “What is death?”, “What happens after death?”, “Why there are various natural disasters”, “Why I have so many problems in life, while others seem to have easy one” and many more. Having explanations for these questions makes us feel logically satisfied and also give us a feeling that, we have understood and can control things around us. It also helps us in managing our fears and insecurities.
This ‘human need’ of having a feeling of ‘I know it, I can deal with it’, has been a source of development of various metaphysical philosophies around the world for millenniums. We call this a ‘Spiritual Needs’ of humans, where we are trying to know things that we can not otherwise understand using our senses. Even today’s scientific advances are also a step towards that, where we are trying to use ‘super-senses’ of machines to know, which we wouldn’t have known earlier with our senses. We want to know how universe works and how to control it, and how to live better in it.
But, everyone of us is different and have different needs and levels of curiosity. Some people get satisfied with just dumping everything on a third party (which they call God), so they can live worry free. These people accept everything as God’s wish and pray God to give them better life. There are other category of people who need to reason things out to feel satisfied. For example, they would say, this year the summer was milder that’s why got less rain. There is a third category of people who want to prove things using modern scientific explanation. These people need scientific explanation and associated data for them to feel satisfied. There is fourth category of people, who think just following the path of “doing good to this world” or “helping poor and needy” is the best way. This way there are many categories of people. Additionally, there are people having various levels of mix of traits from each these categories.
Even for the people who want to dump their worries and fears onto third party, like God, see this God in many different things. Some people like father figure as god, some like mother as god, some like a animal as god, some like child as god, some like trees as god, some like celestial bodies/planets as god, some like living people as god and so on.
This way, we are seven billion people with seven billion ways to satisfy our spiritual needs. It’s illogical and impractical to expect each of us to get satisfied with one solution. Further, it would be a crime to force one philosophy on all or even a group of people, asking them to blindly follow it. What we need is to let people create their own explanation, or at least allow them to choose or mix-and-match predefined options, as per their needs. But, there are many cultures in the world which try to force one particular approach on everyone. No wonder, we see so many people getting disillusioned with this very concept of religion. Ones who can’t get away, are turning into fundamentalists, as they don’t know what is right or wrong, in the process killing others who don’t believe in their “blind-belief”. This is a dangerous thing, making the world dangerous place to live.
Ancient Indians handled this situation much better, giving us a philosophy like no other in the world. Even today, we all follow that without evening knowing completely about it. The is the same philosophy due to which Indians, don’t find any issues in visiting temples, masjid/dargahs, churches or Gurudwaras, and feel same peace of mind everywhere. This philosophy is so much rooted in our minds that, it’s not only limited to Hindus, but everyone born here. We erroneously identify it as Hinduism, a name given by foreigners. We would rather call it Sanatana Dharma, or just Vedanta.
Vedanta is the reason, India, barring few religious friction for political reasons, have been living peacefully with the mix of so many religions. This is unthinkable in the western countries, where people get agitated with small change in their demographies.
How Does Vedanta Work?
Philosophy of Vedanta works at individual level supporting multiple views, separating it from state or society. In order to follow vedanta, a person has to first choose a philosophy which suites him/her best. The philosophy could be one from various Upanishads or even anything else which is derived or customized.
- Believe in a philosophy, that suites your spiritual quest. Don’t try to copy others, choose what suites you best.
- Question everything of your beliefs, and evolve it as you find answers. Don’t fear to change course or move onto a different philosophy as you evolve. Again, don’t try to copy others, choose what suites you best.
- Follow your beliefs, it takes lot of practice to do it. We may need to iterate on Question -> Evolve -> Follow -> Question, so on.
- Know that everyone is on their own journey at various stages
- Respect others beliefs and paths
- Understand that there is no better/worse, wrong/right, belief; there are just different beliefs, which are all equal. We don’t need to interfere in others progress until asked for help.