Journeying Together In Faith

Aug 1, 2009 

When civilization began, our forefathers were worshippers of nature. Nature was everything to them. They saw the Sun and Moon as their guide and protector. Others accepted a particular animal or bird as their saviour and hope. Later generations had different experiences of the sacred, giving rise to varied beliefs and practices. People began to call the sacred by different names. Yet all ascribed it to a reality called God. Was religion a problem then?

Today we have a number of religions in the world. India is noted as the birth place of the majority of religions. Our founding fathers dreamt of a nation where every religion would flourish and every voice be heard. They rightly adopted secularism as the credo. But today India has become a battle field of fundamentalists, who resort to create communal tensions under the pretext of safeguarding the precious heritage of their religion. Educated people too are today easily influenced by these forces of division because of the lack of knowledge and appreciation of other faiths. Very few Indians know about religions other than theirs. Such ignorance leads to suspicion and mistrust.
I was brought up in a mixed enevironment where I attended school with friends belonging to different cultures and faiths. I enjoyed visiting their homes for festivals. I was groomed to pick up many languages other than my own in the coastal district of Mangalore. Isn't it a rare and worthwhile feeling to continue to live in such harmony as Indains?

Hindu chauvinist want to swallow all religions into one: India is a country of Hindus, Hindu Christians, Hindu Muslims and Hindu Sikhs. The need of the hour is to respect each other and grant liberty and freedom of religion to all. Those who don’t show respect and compassion for minorities cannot be called truly religious people. Then only Kandhamal and Manglaore attacks will not repeat.

Religion – an instrument to seek God

Religion plays a major role in the lives of the peoples of India. It is an integral part of our history and culture. It has been a strong force in the hearts and minds of Indians. Ours is a land of sadhus and sanyasis, Sufis and sages, mystics and gurus, a land where mountains and hills stand high in exuberant joy, manifesting our religiosity. Swami Agnivesh said, “Religions can play a creative role in society, because what unites religion is stronger than what divides it.” All religions have as their essence - truth, love, compassion and justice. They may stress one aspect more than the other.

But can India still live its glorious “Unity in Diversity”? All through my childhood I learnt that there is Unity in diversity. Foreigners who came to India always admired India’s great diversity. But nowadays I feel sad to admit that Indians have failed to recognize the rich diversity in our unity. We need to understand and appreciate this. The strength of our diversity has yet to be discovered. Such strength comes from respect for and tolerance of other faiths. 

Religion – a pointer:

All religions try to speak of the divine reality through bhajans, mantras, sat-sanghas, Namaz, Scripture reading, Art and sculpture. Every religion tries to understand the concepts of GOD- WORLD-SOUL. Only by immersing ourselves in the deep waters of another faith will we understand the hidden wisdom and beauty.

Fr. V.S Painadath says, “Religion can be symbolized by a tree. There is rich diversity – no one leaf is the same, not one branch grows in the same direction. Yet the entire tree is one, and one vital sap flows through the entire tree and nourishes it.”

Every religion teaches one to be good, be it through the quest for knowledge in Hinduism, tolerance in Sikhism, loving service as embodied by Christ in Christianity, the brotherhood of Islam or the compassion of Buddhism. The Adi Granth(Guru Granth Sahib) says, “He who looks on all alike and he who considers all to be equal is truly religious.” 

Mother Teresa, who served people irrespective of religion, always said, “I love all religions, but I am a lover of my own. The love of others must be one that opens my eyes wider to the beauty and depth of other religious tradition and culture.” Religion is just an instrument, not a goal as Victor Edwin says in his book on dialogue.

Swami Chidananda once said, “How blind are we to the way others from outside our religion view us. Even as we attempt to understand in order to be understood, we rarely respect another religion as equal to ours.”

Bernard Shaw rightly said that the worst sin towards our fellowmen is not creating hate, but to be indifferent to them. It is the essence of inhumanity. Learning about other religions will help us to widen our horizon, celebrate differences for better collaboration and will indirectly guide us to live our own religion and faith better. At the educational level institutions must educate students about all religions and their scriptures in addition to conducting inter-faith prayer meetings and organizing celebrations of major festivals of different religions. Exposure of students to practical experiences such as visiting places of worship of different religions will help them imbibe opportunities to see the goodness of other faiths. In this way, the true spirit of peaceful co-existence and religious harmony will motivate the future generation to uproot the seeds of fundamentalism, religious ‘terrorism’ and cultural hatred. In how many homes do parents encourage discussion to dispel preconceived notions about another religion? This will be the beginning of our journey together in faith.

A truly religious person is opposed to all injustice wherever it may be. We are first Human beings then we are Indians. Then only we are Hindus, Christians or Muslims. We need to realize that ultimately, all of us are eager to see the Kingdom of God, Vasudaivakutumbakam, Umma or Sanghat. We need to be multi-dimensional and multi-religious. We need to accommodate and learn from people of other faiths. Compassion must the virtue of a truly religious person. If religion can help one to be fully human and fully alive then the purpose of religion will be fulfilled.

“We have just enough religion to make us hate one another; we do not have quite enough religion to help us love one another.”- Jonathan Swift (17th century). This is very true even today.
Sarva Jeeva Sukham. Sarva Dharmam Sakhyam

by Lancy Fernandes - Mangalore
Lancy Fernandes is hailing from Jeppu, Mangalore, a Jesuit brother doing his philosophy studies in Pune. He contributes articles to various magazines, prominently in Indian currents, Sakaal Times and the like.
To submit your article / poem / short story to Daijiworld, please email it to mentioning 'Article/poem submission for daijiworld' in the subject line. Please note the following:

  • The article / poem / short story should be original and previously unpublished in other websites except in the personal blog of the author. We will cross-check the originality of the article, and if found to be copied from another source in whole or in parts without appropriate acknowledgment, the submission will be rejected.
  • The author of the poem / article / short story should include a brief self-introduction limited to 500 characters and his/her recent picture (optional). Pictures relevant to the article may also be sent (optional), provided they are not bound by copyright. Travelogues should be sent along with relevant pictures not sourced from the Internet. Travelogues without relevant pictures will be rejected.
  • In case of a short story / article, the write-up should be at least one-and-a-half pages in word document in Times New Roman font 12 (or, about 700-800 words). Contributors are requested to keep their write-ups limited to a maximum of four pages. Longer write-ups may be sent in parts to publish in installments. Each installment should be sent within a week of the previous installment. A single poem sent for publication should be at least 3/4th of a page in length. Multiple short poems may be submitted for single publication.
  • All submissions should be in Microsoft Word format or text file. Pictures should not be larger than 1000 pixels in width, and of good resolution. Pictures should be attached separately in the mail and may be numbered if the author wants them to be placed in order.
  • Submission of the article / poem / short story does not automatically entail that it would be published. Daijiworld editors will examine each submission and decide on its acceptance/rejection purely based on merit.
  • Daijiworld reserves the right to edit the submission if necessary for grammar and spelling, without compromising on the author's tone and message.
  • Daijiworld reserves the right to reject submissions without prior notice. Mails/calls on the status of the submission will not be entertained. Contributors are requested to be patient.
  • The article / poem / short story should not be targeted directly or indirectly at any individual/group/community. Daijiworld will not assume responsibility for factual errors in the submission.
  • Once accepted, the article / poem / short story will be published as and when we have space. Publication may take up to four weeks from the date of submission of the write-up, depending on the number of submissions we receive. No author will be published twice in succession or twice within a fortnight.
  • Time-bound articles (example, on Mother's Day) should be sent at least a week in advance. Please specify the occasion as well as the date on which you would like it published while sending the write-up.

Comment on this article

  • Prabu, pune

    Thu, Aug 06 2009

    Dear lancy, Your article is quite simple but deep in meaning. i enjoyed reading it.And I am inspired to write articles. Continue to inspire people through your are really pointer to people

  • Ronny., Udyavara.

    Wed, Aug 05 2009

    Brother Lancy excellent Article. God''s Devine Wisdom Follow you wherever you go what ever you do. God Bless You. Pray for your Vocation.

  • robin seelan, pune

    Wed, Aug 05 2009

    Dear Lancy, your article is simple yet thought provoking. Appreciations for your insights. you have rightly pointed out that religion is a pointer. It is a pointer towards a greater reality - transcending our pettiness. Write more and become a pointer too on several other issues.

  • Rohan, mangalore

    Mon, Aug 03 2009

    Hey Lancy...gud article...well reflected thoughts.

  • Eugene D'Souza, Mumbai

    Sun, Aug 02 2009

    Noble thoughts and ideals expressed sincerely.

  • Donald Roche, Mangalore/Rosario Parish

    Sat, Aug 01 2009

    All  great religions of today preach Brotherhood of man., it can be attained not through hatred, but love., not through strife, but co-operation not through war, but peace. So that in our own time in a world full of pain and confusion and bitterness, the world''s religions find themselves faced with one great common mission: The Mission of Peace. Regardless of the differences between religion and religion, or creed and creed, to fulfill their promise to their followers, they must all gather under the banner bearing the inscriptio: THE MISSION OF MANKIND IS PEACE.

  • Jossie D''Mello SJ, Mangalore

    Sat, Aug 01 2009

    Lancy, glad to read your maiden article in Daiji. Congratulations. You have chosen a theme which is very relevant to our context. Respect for other religions is the need of the hour and here instead of pointing finger towards others, each one needs to introspect. Hope to see many more such articles in future.

  • George Cruz, Managalore/USA

    Sat, Aug 01 2009

    Very nice peice by Br.Lancy Fenandes. Thanks for enlightning us.

  • rasixa, germany

    Sat, Aug 01 2009

    Dear brother, excellent article, may communal harmony prosper again all over Asia.I am writing this from a land, where 35 000 years ago the first of Krishnas flutes were invented, to bring harmony through music to the world..

  • Fr. Stany Pereira , Fajir

    Sat, Aug 01 2009

    Good Article. Good attempt to help the reader to undestand the religion(s). You have an ability to get into the depth of the matter.Knowledge does dispel darkness of the mind especially about religions. "You shall know the truth , and the truth will set you free" said Jesus(Jn.8:32) Please continue enlightening the readers on matters affecting people deeply. Congratulations. "sarve jana sukhino bhavanthu"

Leave a Comment

Title: Journeying Together In Faith

You have 2000 characters left.


Please write your correct name and email address. Kindly do not post any personal, abusive, defamatory, infringing, obscene, indecent, discriminatory or unlawful or similar comments. will not be responsible for any defamatory message posted under this article.

Please note that sending false messages to insult, defame, intimidate, mislead or deceive people or to intentionally cause public disorder is punishable under law. It is obligatory on Daijiworld to provide the IP address and other details of senders of such comments, to the authority concerned upon request.

Hence, sending offensive comments using daijiworld will be purely at your own risk, and in no way will be held responsible.