It is amazing to me that as winter approaches major religions have their own versions of festive activities in the name of God. Christmas, Halloween, Hannukah, Diwali, Dussera, Id, Muhharam, Kwanzaa and I am sure many more that I am not aware of. The common theme for each of these celebrations seems to be of good cheer, spreading love, brotherhood in mankind, and being with loved ones. The details may be distinctly different however the message is the same.
The message to spread the light…..light of God by wishing everyone good health and prosperity along with God’s blessings is common to all traditions. There is also a common theme to spread goodness, and love to all. It is so surprising however that we are not able to embrace each other’s traditions. We get so caught up with the differences that we cannot see the common basis of all these traditions.
Holidays around the world seem to be around the same time all through the year. Is this just a coincidence or have the various traditions influenced each other. The irony is that when we study world languages we are so proud to figure out word origins. We feel so proud to say that the word ‘catamaran’ originated from India from the words Kata (log) and Maran (tree). Or ‘Pantalones’ in Spanish is similar to the word ‘Pathloon’ in Urdu. Or the word ‘Camise’ in English and ‘Kameez’ in Urdu have the same origin. There are many words that have influenced and enriched world languages and we are not threatened to talk about it openly. We are not intimidated to learn the common basis. However when it comes to world religions we are so hesitant to find common roots although the basis and foundation is just one simple idea…spreading the ‘Love of God’. Is it a coincidence that Krishna the Hindu God and Christ from Christianity sound similar? Is it a coincidence that so many characters in Greek mythological stories are similar to those in the mythological stories in Hinduism? The Greek God of thunder and lightning is ‘Thor’, and the Hindu God of thunder and lightning is ‘Indra’.The story of the seas parting by Moses is similar to the story of the river parting when Krishna was born.
God’s revelation of spiritual knowledge through Mohammed and the message imparted by Krishna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra to Arjuna are exactly the same that God is one, and complete and total surrender to God is the only way to know him and find him. This is again the exact same message imparted by Christ. Why then do we divide our souls, our body, and mind in pursuit for the truth? Why do we disrespect other religions to the point of hatred and dismissal? If God is one, if God is love, if complete surrender is the only way…it seems contraindicative to conclude that this God we all are talking and revering is only Jesus, or is only Allah, or is only Krishna. So the question is did world religions influence each other or did God actually impart his message to different regions in different forms that suited each region and culture of the times? In either case it seems very obvious that there is only one God and that God’s message of Love is the same in all corners of the world.
The development of the concept of God is similar to the development of word knowledge. In the beginning a child may just call the round object in the toy box a ‘ball’, later it may be overgeneralized to everything else that is a toy, with maturity it is understood that a ball is an object that is round, that can be rolled, which can not only be used as a thing to play with but also in other contexts such as in machines, of the part of our bones, etc. Ultimately a ball can be used in figurative language such as “or he was on the ball”. In any case there is always a connection to the original word “ball”. Similarly God in any context, at any level of maturity and development is always connected to the original message… God is One, God is Love, Surrender completely in whatever form you choose to perceive him.
The rituals may feel strange sometimes because our experiences are different but beyond our own perceptions of the details the basis of the activities are the same. Just like a snake in India may be perceived to have the characteristics of a Cobra, where as a snake in South America may be perceived to look like an Anaconda. Regardless they both are snakes.The devil is always in the details. So let us go past our differences and embrace the similarities and the common message. Spread the spirit of Christmas with good cheer knowing that we are spreading the same spirit to all other traditions regardless of the religion or faith.