One Universal Truth, One Universal God – Virtues Of Indian Dharma – I

The Ruug-Ved (also written as RigVed, or RigVeda) is widely recognized as the oldest text of Sanskrut, which makes it the oldest text of any Indo-European language. The Ruug-Ved is one of the four Ved (“body of knowledge”), the earliest expositions of Indian Thought. Based on various disciplines of astronomy, linguistics among others, the Ruug-Ved was compiled anywhere between 4500-1500 BCE.

The Great “Rushi”s or Sages of India lived on the banks of great rivers such as the “Sindhu” and freely contemplated the creation of the Universe, the existence of a Universal Entity and the meaning of life.  The land was prosperous and vast with resources infinite in relation to the needs of the population. The Sages were unencumbered by the intellectual rigidities or boundaries of prior religious thought.

The Great Sages created invocations which are amazingly universal in scope, noble in their aspirations and benevolent in nature. Many of these invocations are used daily in India today including the following two:

  • “Aa No Bhadra Rutavo Yantu Vishwa Tah:” – “Let noble and benevolent thoughts to come to us from all over the Universe.”
  • “Sarve Api Sukhinah: Santu, Sarve Santu Niramayah:, Sarve Bhadrani Pashyantu, Ma Kashtit Dukham Apnu Yat” – “Let all Beings be happy, Let all Beings be free of illness. Let all Beings look for the noble and benevolent, Let no one suffer any sorrow.”

These invocations are truly universal in nature. They are independent of and transcend any one Religious Icon, Prophet or Text. This universality is the true heritage of Indian Religion and Culture.

The concept of One Universal Entity, One Universal God, One Universal Truth and One Universal Soul pervades Indian Religion and all sacred Indian Religious Texts, from the Ruug-Ved, the earliest to the most recent, The “Bhagwat-Geeta” (The Poem or Words of God). 

This assertion may come as a surprise to many, because the common Christian and Muslim descriptions of Indian Religion call it a religion with many Gods. 

Consider how clearly The Ruug-Ved, the earliest Indian sacred text (that precedes every other religious text known today) states the concept of One Universal Entity or God:

            “Indram Mitram Varunam Agnihi Ahur Yoho Divuah: Sa Suparno Garutman,
             Ekam Sat Vipraha: Bahudha Vadanti; Agnim, Yamam Matrishvan”  – Ruug-Ved – I.164.46

           “They call him Indra, Mitra, Varun, Agni and he is called the heavenly noble Garutman, 
            Yam, Matrishvan – There is one Truth (God) to which Sages give different names.”

This is the essential truth behind Indian Religionthat there is One Universal Truth (Entity, God) to which scholars address by different chosen names.”

This was the earliest exposition of Indian Belief and this continued through the millenia. It was simply and categorically repeated in that ultimate religious text of the Vedic period, the text that can be found in the hearts, minds and houses of every Indian, the “Bhagwat-Geeta” (The Poem or Words of God).

The Bhagwat-Geeta was told by Shri Krishna (considered as the final Avatar of God on earth) to Arjun at the start of the Maha-Bharat* War, the Great War of the Bharats.  In the Bhagwat-Geeta, Bhagwan Krishna says to Arjun:

    “Ye Api Anya Devata Bhakta Yajante Shradhya Anvitah: 
    Te Api Mam Ev Kaunteya Yajante Vidhi Purvakam”     – Bhagwat-Geeta IX, 23

    “O, Son of Kunti, Whoever worships their God With True Devotion, according to their own religious tenets, they In Truth Worship Me.” 

      This is the clearest enunciation of the One Universal God concept and shows the consistency of the One Universal God philosophy from the earliest religious text, The Ruug-Ved, to the most modern religious text, the Bhagwat-Geeta. 

      This philosophy has enormous significance and reach. It states that True Devotion is the Key to reaching God and NOT the specific name of the God, Icon or Prophet people choose. So, it is immaterial which God, Icon or Prophet you pray to, it reaches the same Universal God with equal effect.

      It is this deep belief that has permeates Indian Society to this day and it is this belief that has allowed India to welcome people of any faith and religion into its midst. Eventually, all these faiths became a part of the Indian mosaic.

      This is what makes Indian Religion as far more than a religion. It makes it Indian Dharma.

      The Uniqueness of Indian Dharma

      The Bhagwat-Geeta is the first book in history to be called the Words of God. Every religion that followed Indian Dharma embraced this context and selected one Book as its Words of God.

      Even though Indian Dharma calls it The Words of God and every follower of Indian religion worships it, The Bhagwat-Geeta is Neither Required reading Nor Required obedience for any Indian Dharma follower. This is because the Universality of One God supersedes the obedience to even any Words of God. In other words, following other words of God with True Devotion is in essence worshiping the same God who told the Bhagwat-Geeta to Arjun.

      This is not true of any other religion that followed Indian Dharma. Without exception, all other religions were by design and by practice, unipolar and centered around one Icon, One Book, One Way to reach God. This unipolarity defined each such religion and does so to this day.

      Let us ask whether it is possible to be a:

      • Buddhist without believing the Buddha is the True Enlightened One and without stating “Buddham Sharanam Gashami” or “To Buddha I surrender”;
      • Christian without believing in the centrality of Jesus as a Son of God or perhaps without accepting the Bible as the word of God;
      • Muslim without believing Mohammad as the Prophet of God and the Koran as the word of God.
      Based on our knowledge and reading, we think not.

      But, it is entirely possible to be a devout follower of any branch of Indian Dharma without believing in the centrality of the Bhagwat-Geeta as The Word of God or without believing in Shri Krishna as the Avatar of God. 

      It is also possible for a believer in Abraham, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mohammad to be a part of Indian Dharma, provided they practice their religion with True Devotion (which excludes hatred and malice) and provided they believe that their’s is one of the many paths to the same Universal God.

      This great enduring virtue is practiced today in India just as it has been through 5,000 odd years of Indian Dharma.

      The Original and True name for Indian Dharma

      Other religions that have one centrality are easy to name. For example, Buddhism is the name of the religion that believes in Buddha as a path to Nirvana, Christianity is the name of the religion that believes in Jesus Christ as a Son of God, and so on.

      But it is impossible to name the above Universal Dharma by the name of any one icon. This is why Persians called it Hindu Dharma after the river “Sindhu” on whose banks the Dharma was developed. (Persians converted Sindhu to Hindu because they had trouble with the S in Sindhu). 

      The Great Sages called their universal set of thoughts and beliefs as Sanaatan Dharma, or the Eternal Dharma. This is probably the most appropriate name for the Religion because its beliefs are the most Universal and therefore eternal in nature. It is also the oldest living Dharma today.

      It is a true Dharma and far more than a religion. Dharma is a set of beliefs and principles that include religious beliefs. It is so universal in nature that any true devout follower of Buddhism, Christianity or Islam can easily be a follower of the Sanaatan Dharma without renouncing Buddha, Christ or Mohammad.

      So far, we have called this Dharma as Indian Dharma or Indian Religion because of its colloquial name. But nothing in its nature or teachings restricts it to the boundaries of India.  

      So, from here on, we shall call it by its given and fitting name, Sanaatan Dharma.

      * Editor’s Note: Our three prior articles on the Maha-Bharat War are listed below:

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