Adi-Shankeracharya described all the ‘Jivas’ to be His ‘Advait’ (non-duality) took in its fold the entire universe and its inhabitants. The universal outlook of Indian society made it forward looking and helped it maintain high standards of public behaviours and social justice. Democratic norms have their roots in India since ancient times.
The central pillar of Indian culture is its unity and respect for view point of others. Religions have not divided us. This is because Vedas and Qur’ans sing the lore of that almighty one who lords over the whole universe. Christianity infused the spirit of service of mankind and love of God in this culture. Lord Buddha built his ‘Sangha’ on the same principle. Bhagwan Mahavir gave the eternal message of Non-violence to our society.
Akbar, the great Moghul (1555-1605) consolidated his empire in India by tolerance and compassion. His advisors and and courtiers included Muslims and Hindus who were treated with equality in the Royal court. The debates were free and frank without prejudice of religion. Epics of all major religions were got translated for the Royal library which were read to the emperor when in conference with his advisors. He introduced the ‘Din-e-Ilahi’, a secular concept much against the wishes of Mullahas of that time. Hindu epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vedas, and several other religious books attracted the attention of the emperor. Abdul Rahim Khankana wrote a commentary on ‘Ramcharit Manas’ and later, Dara Shikoh translated Upanishads in Persian which helped the philosophy of vedanta to travel to West.
Suffism since my youth. I first became acquainted with it through reading works of Arthur Schopenhauer, From the very beginning I was convinced that all thought is really concerned with the great problem of how men can attain to spiritual union with infinite Being. My attention was drawn to Indian thought because it is busied with this problem and by its nature it is mysticism. What I liked about it also was that Indian ethics are concerned with the behaviour of man to all living beings and not merely with his attitude to his fellowmen and to human society.
“Swami Vivekananda speaking to the historic Parliament of World Religions in Chicago said,
“To the Hindu, then, the whole world of religion is only traveling, 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. Why are there as many contradictions? They are only apparent, says the Hindu.The contradictions come from the same truth adapting itself to the varying circumstances of different natures. It is the same light coming through the glasses of different colours. And these little variations are necessary for purposes of adaptation, but in the heart of everything the same truth reigns. The Lord declared to the Hindu in his incarnation as Krishna: “I am in every religion as the thread through string of pearls. Wherever thou seest extraordinary holiness and extraordinary power raising and unifying humanity, know thou that I am there”
He exhorted the Parliament of Religions of the World and said: “that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possession of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character.
The above is an authorised extract from the book Soul of India, authored by Karnataka Governor H R Bhardwaj