After reading my previous article, My Spiritual Side, there were a few questions raised on the meaning of salvation. People who do not believe in the cycle of death and re-birth wanted to understand the difference between death and salvation. Is death not equal to salvation? From what are we seeking salvation? What is the importance of achieving God or salvation? Is it better to follow science instead of God? Is there a correlation between God and science? Can there be a correlation?
I am as ignorant as most people and cannot profess to be a philosopher or a guide to anyone. All I can do is look inwards, and try to address these doubts with the help of my steadfast faith in God, and a little knowledge that I have acquired after listening endlessly to scholars. I am not even sure if I have any or all the answers, or if my opinion will be adequate, understood, and/or accepted.
First, we should understand the meaning of salvation in the context of most of the religions of the world, and essentially from the Hindu perspective. Here, I wish to introduce another term, ‘Moksha’. I found some good definitions in an article by Rajiv Malhotra in his post, “Haindavakeralam”. Rajiv defines Moksha, and I quote, “…Moksha really refers to living in a state of freedom from ignorance, pre-conditioning and karmic ‘baggage’. According to the Bhagavad Gita, the state where one is desire-less, ego-less and beyond the drives of human nature is the first major milestone; it opens the door to further evolution and eventual liberation in the fullest sense….” In Hinduism, moksha, as the highest goal of a soul, has two outcomes. The first is the liberation from the cycle of birth and death. The liberation is from the bondage of this samsāra, the material world. The second aspect is the union of the soul with God.
Salvation, in the Christian context, is saving the soul from sin. All beings in this world are born sinners, as a consequence of the Original Sin. Each being should seek deliverance or redemption from their respective sins and its effects, through repentance and asceticism. However, salvation in other religions does not have the same connotations as Hinduism, and does not entail the development of higher consciousness, gaining esoteric knowledge, or becoming one with the creator. For more details on the words salvation and moksha, I recommend wiki – Salvation and Moksha.
Why would one want salvation or moksha at all? For believers, there are two types of beliefs. Those who believe in life after death, there are two paths to aim for. Either better the next material life with good karma, or better ones chances of attaining moksha. For those who believe in only one life and resurrection of the dead in a glorified physical form on the judgment day, the ultimate goal is to be resurrected. This can be achieved by saving their souls by surrendering to Jesus/God. Then there are atheists, who believe in only one life and no God, no salvation, and no deliverance. They believe in science and only things that science can prove. I wonder at their reason for doing good karma when they do not believe in karma and after-life consequences.
Let us talk a little about atheists. So, according to them all life is a mere accident. There was a sudden big bang and then life began. All complexities of life are by mutations and evolution. Everything is explainable by science, and whatever cannot be explained through science does not exist. All perfections in nature and in creation are by evolution through million and billions of years. Hmm, indeed interesting!
Let me post an excerpt from Mitch Albom’s ‘Have a Little Faith’ – “Look, if you say that science will eventually prove there is no God, on that I must differ. No matter how small they take it back, to a tadpole, to an atom, there is always something they can’t explain, something that created it all at the end of the search.
“And no matter how far they try to go the other way – to extend life, play around with the genes, clone this, clone that, live to one hundred and fifty – at some point, life is over. And then what happens? When the life comes to an end?”
“When you come to the end, that’s where God begins.”
Science is not apart from spirituality or God consciousness. Everything is science, except, we have not yet unraveled the entire science of existence. If it took millions of years to evolve, then it would need some more decades or centuries to come closer to finding some semblance of truth via scientific discoveries. The other, and may be a faster way, is through spiritual awakening, which is very personal. All we have is the documented testimonials by the people who have experienced it. The only way to test it is to experience it personally.
Being a Hindu, most of my research is from that perspective. If you are raised with a certain belief system, you are more knowledgeable about that system and can base your research on it. However, I try to present my point of view in generic context, without intending it only for a particular group of readers. The article may have more shades from my faith due to the obvious reasons. Having said that, I would like to present a statement by the India’s first Vice President, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. He said, “Hinduism is not just a faith. It is the union of reason and intuition that cannot be defined but is only to be experienced. Evil and error are not ultimate. There is no Hell, for that means there is a place where God is not, and there are sins which exceed his love.”
Continuing in the same vein, I wonder why people feel threatened by other faiths or why they threaten others’ faith. Shouldn’t the right to choose one’s faith rest with an individual? Religious activism is not bringing us closer to Him. Wasn’t the intent of all religions to find Him? Who can decide the right path? Even if you feel for a person and his chosen path, should you not be concerned with your personal enlightenment first? Leave others to their fate. You are not anyone’s saviour. Who gave you that role? Did God grant that role to you? Who made you the religious police? Do you think that God’s existence is dependent on a religion? Is God because of a religion or is religion because of Him? If God is because of a religion then both are not worth it. Furthermore, if religion is for God, then do you think God cannot find an avenue to address His devotees in some form or other, irrespective of the religion? Is religion not for personal identity? Does losing this identity is what threatens people? Is religion not becoming a matter of ego rather than faith? Did God, in all His manifestations and through His prophets, not warn humans against ego, attachment, and hurting fellow beings? God has professed war against personal sins, personal attachments, lust, anger, and desires. Fight for ‘dharma’ means ‘righteousness’ and not ‘religion’. When will the so-called ‘keepers of the religion’ start guiding people in the right direction, leading to spirituality and God? People who are really connected to God are above religions, though you may identify them with one of many. Still, these enlightened people are revered by all, irrespective. Also, I believe that God is in complete control and the free will is given to test us for our deservedness to be with Him. When a soul meets with the three primary qualities (gunas) of nature, it creates the material nature of a human, including human consciousness. People, who are able to transcend these gunas, move beyond the bondage of nature (prakriti) and attain moksha. Not every soul born has the same goal. Only one in thousands endeavours. Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7, verse 3 ‘Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth’.
My conclusion: whether you believe in God or science or religions, neither gives anyone the right to dictate other’s existence. To each its own, and there should not be any encroachment ever into other people’s lives or beliefs. Humans are individuals, independent souls, each responsible for self. No personal spiritual gains can be had by trying to master else’s soul. The only gains are material and are power play. Humans excel in power games and hence so shallow on spiritual realm. Same religions may or may not exist a few decades or a couple of centuries hence, but for believers, God is the controller and this is a fact that cannot be altered. The question remains, Who? The answer is a personal quest and cannot be achieved through any religion, only through personal spiritual journey.
||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||