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Which Religion is True?

Swami Vivekananda

#. As so many rivers, having their source in different mountains, roll down, crooked or straight, and at last come into the ocean --- so, all these various creeds and religions, taking their start from different standpoints and running through crooked or straight courses, at last come unto Thee.

#. The proof of one religion depends on the proof of all the rest. For instance, if I have six fingers, and no one else has, you may well say that is abnormal. The same reasoning may be applied to the argument that only one religion is true and all others false. One religion only, like one set of six fingers in the world, would be unnatural. We see therefore, that if one religion is true, all others must be true. There are differences in non-essentials, but in essentials they are all one. If my five fingers are true, they prove that your five fingers are true too.

#. Religion must be studied on a broader basis than formerly. All narrow, limited, fighting ideas of religion have to go. All sect ideas and tribal or national ideas of religion must be given up. That each tribe or nation should have its own particular God, and think that every other is wrong, is a superstition that should belong to the past. All such ideas must be abandoned.

#. Man has an idea that there can be only one religion, that there can be only one Prophet, and that there can be only one Incarnation, but that idea is not true. By studying the lives of all these great messengers, we find that each, as it were, was destined to play a part, and a part only; that the harmony consists in the sum total, and not in one note.

#. Then arises the question, how can all these varieties be true? If one thing is true, its negation is false. How can contradictory opinions be true at the same time? This is the question I intend to answer. But I will first ask you: Are all the religions in the world really contradictory? I do not mean the external forms in which great thoughts are clad. I do not mean the different buildings, languages, rituals, books, etc., employed in various religions, but I mean the internal soul of every religion. Every religion has a soul behind it, and that soul may differ from the soul of another religion; but are they contradictory? Do they contradict or supplement each other---that is the question. I took up the question when I was quite a boy, and have been studying it all my life. Thinking that my conclusion may be of some help to you, I place it before you. I believe that they are not contradictory; they are supplementary. Each religion, as it were, takes up one part of the great universal truth, and spends its whole force in embodying and typifying that part of the great truth. It is therefore addition, not exclusion. That is the idea. Systems after system arises, each one embodying a great idea, and ideals must be added to ideals. And this is the march of humanity. Man never progresses from error to truth, but from truth to truth, from lesser truth to higher truth---but it is never from error to truth.

#. Religion is one, but its application must be various.

#. No man is born to any religion; he has a religion in his own soul.

#. True religion is entirely transcendental. Every being that is in the universe has the potentiality of transcending the senses; even the little worm will one day transcend the senses and reach God. No life will be a failure; there is no such thing as failure in the universe.

#. There never was my religion or yours, my national religion or your national religion; there never existed many religions, there is only the one. One Infinite Religion existed all through eternity and will ever exist, and this Religion is expressing itself in various countries, in various ways.

#. I do not understand how people declare themselves to be believers in God, and at the same time think that God has handed over to a little body of men all truth, and they are the guardians of the rest of humanity.

#. The whole world of religions is only a travelling, a coming up, of different men and women, through various conditions and circumstances, to the same goal. Every religion is only evolving a God out of the material man, and the same God is the inspirer of all of them.

#. Religious quarrels are always over the husks. When purity, when spirituality goes, leaving the soul dry, quarrels begin, and not before.

#. Hindus accept every religion, praying in the mosque of the Mohammedans, worshipping before the fire of the Zoroastrians, and kneeling before the cross of the Christians, knowing that all the religions, from the lowest fetishism to the highest absolutism, means so many attempts of the human soul to grasp and realise the infinite, each determined by the conditions of its birth and association, and each of them marking a stage of progress. We gather all these flowers and bind them with the twine of love, making a wonderful bouquet of worship.

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Om, May there be Peace in Heaven,
May there be Peace in the Sky,
May there be Peace in the Earth,
May there be Peace in the Water,
May there be Peace in the Plants,
May there be Peace in the Trees,
May there be Peace in the Gods in the various Worlds,
May there be Peace in Brahman,
May there be Peace in All,
May there be Peace Indeed within Peace,
Giving Me the Peace which Grows within Me,
Om, Peace, Peace, Peace.

(Shanti Mantra of Upanishad)

Preserve Nature,
And Nature will preserve Us,
Simplify Life,
And make the Nature thrive,
Plant Trees,
And make our planet Green.

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Last updated on Feb-2017

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