Common features of all religions
Common features of all Religions
Religions may seem to be diverse and as even antagonistic to one
another, looked at superficially and taking into account only the
external ceremonies and the ritualistic practices etc. But a deeper
study will unfailingly reveal that the undercurrent of all the
religions, the inner spring that fertilises them all , is one and the
The basic teaching of all the religions is about the fatherhood
of God and the brotherhood of all humanity, and, therefore, that love
should permeate one's being, for god and one's fellow beings. As per
the geographical conditions and in the context of the particular times,
conditions and traditions of the people, the founder of one religion
might have laid emphasis in his preaching on particular aspect/aspects
and the founder of another religion on altogether different
But the core of the teachings of all of them will be
found to be one and the same viz., the supremacy of God and man's duty
to Him and his fellow beings. All the religions nevertheless, have
also many externally common features and unity.
I. EXTERNAL UNITY :
1) All the religions were founded between 7th century B.C. and 7th
Century A.D. with the exception of Hinduism and Sikhism. The origin of
Hinduism is lost in antiquity, while Sikhism was founded late in the
2) All the religions were born in Asia. Asia thus can be said to be the
cradle of all religions.
3) All the religions had one particular founder (prophet) except
Hinduism. Judaism was founded by Moses, Christianity by Jesus Christ,
Buddhism by Buddha, Taoism by Tao, etc. The founders of all the
religions were born in Asia only. Hinduism has no founder as such, and
it is believed the religion had emanated from God Himself through the
4) All the religions have one particular Holy Book, with the exception
of Hinduism. The text of the Books is believed to have been revealed by
God; e.g., Bible of Christianity, Koran of Islam etc. For Hinduism, it
is not a single text book but all the Vedas are considered to be the
sacred texts; however, the Upnishads, Brahma Sutras and Bhagvad Gita,
the three together known as 'Prastana Traya', as considered as the main
scriptures for the Hindus.
5) All religions have their holy places of pilgrimage, e.g., Kasi for
Hindus and Mecca for Muslims etc.
6) All the religions have certain holy and sacred days to be celebrated
by way of fasting, to be spent in spiritual practices, e.g., Maha
Sivaratri for Hindus, Ramzan for Muslims etc.
7) Religions are divided into sects in the course of history, e.g,
Catholics and Protestants in Christianity, Shias and Sunnis in Islam
Saivite and Vashnavite in Hinduism etc.
8) Prayer and worship is basic to all religions, although the methods
may be different.
II. INTERNAL UNITY :
1) All religions are theistic. All believe in God. The Buddhist and
Jains may not directly refer to God, yet they speak of the divine
principle of perfection. When this principle is embodied in a being, he
is called 'Arhat'. The highest state which man to achieve is the state
of Nirvana or Moksha in which all earthly passions, desires and needs
are sublimated. The individual attains eternal bliss according to
Janism. The Buddhists, who, like Jains, do not postulate the existence
of God in a direct manner, believe that the highest state which man can
reach is the state of Buddha. He is divine, the 'Kevalin' or 'Mukta' or
the embodiment of love and 'Prajna'. All other religions believe in the
existence of God and that God is one. Hindus call Him Brahman
Iswara/Paramatama, Christians call Him 'Father in Heaven', Jews call
Him Jehova, Zoroastrians call Him Ahura Mazda and Muslims call Him
Allah. This is what the Hindu seers postulated - 'Ekam Sat, Vipra
i) Hinduism -- Iswara/Paramatma/Brahman. ( Iswara is the concept of God
in religion but in Vedantic philosophy, it is conceived as Brahman -
ii) Zoroastrianism -- Ahura Mazda ( The Wise One ) - The God of Truth,
Wisdom and Illumination.
iii) Janism -- Arhat ; Kevalin
iv) Buddhism -- State of Buddha - Nirvana ( Abhoot, Akshar, Dhruva and
Satya) - The embodiment of love and Prajna.
v) Judaism -- Jehova
vi) Taoism -- Tao, meaning ultimate reality and Truth.
vii) Islam -- Allah - The merciful, the compassionate and the sole Lord
of creation. (There is only one God and Mohammed is his Messenger)
viii) Sikhism -- Sat or Akal ( There is but one God whose name is Truth
and who is Eternal).
ix) Chirstianity -- Father in Heaven.
2) All religions believe in the three-fold functions of God, viz.,
creation, protection and destruction. Hindus attribute these functions
to Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara - the triple aspect of Brahman.
Christians refer to the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. Old Testament
refers to God as the Creator, Preserver and Maker of Laws. Sikhs refer
to God as the Creator, Supporter and the Judge. Muslims refer to God as
the Creator, the Caretaker and unto whom all things ultimately revert.
3) Man's relationship with God : "Man is part and parcel (an aspect) of
God", says Hinduism, "As eye is near to the nose, so God is near me",
says Zoroastrianism. "God created man from dust and blew the spirit in
him", says Judaism, Christianity and Islam. "Atma is the master of man"
says Buddhism. "God is within you" says Sikhism. "God is the ground of
all existence" says Judaism
4) All religions believe in secondary gods or angels. This is not to be
confused with polytheism.
5) All religions believe in three worlds (Lokas) -- Earth, Heaven and
Hell. The philosophical explanation of these is that they represent
different stages of consciousness. Hell means 'sub-human', Earth means
'human' and Heaven means 'divine'.
6) All religions believe in the principle of soul or the spirit. "Body
dies but not the soul", says Gita. "Dust thou art and unto dust thou
returneth -- that cannot be said of the soul", says Bible.
7) All religions emphasize on the necessity and value of sacrifice.
"Surrender unto God's will", says the Koran. "Sacrifice self unto
self", says the Gita.
8) All religions believe in the equality of men. All are children of
God. All are equal. "At the subtle levels of our personality, there is
no difference between you, He (God) and me".
9) All religions lay the same emphasis and stress on the necessity of
ethical life. Morality is the indispensable pre-requisite for a
10) All religions emphasise on the supreme value and efficacy of prayer.
Prayer is the golden link between man and God. It is a means of
intimate communion and rapport with the Almighty. It promotes
concentration, purifies the heart and brings peace within and without.
11) The Ultimate Goal : The aim and goal of all religions is to make
man perfect. Man is incomplete without religion. Religion unites man
with God and even transforms him to become 'god-like'. In this, one's
spiritual effort is firstly necessary, then God's Grace will fulfil it.
THE GOSPELS - UNIVERSAL :
Lord Krishna says , "Having an eye to the welfare of the world also,
thou should perform action. As the ignorant are motivated by attachment
to action, oh Partha, so shouldst the wise act without attachment,
desiring the welfare of the world."
Zarathustra (Zoroaster) says, "Whoso with their good deeds and purity -
whoso with their good words on their tongue and with the prayer
conceived in purest thought and purpose and uttered in all faith - who
so acknowledge Thee as Master and of whom Thou Art first guide, those
with their good Name will truly in the end become as one with Thee."
Lord Buddha says "Go ye, Oh Bhikshus, and wander forth for the peace of
the many, for the welfare of the many, for the benefit of the people,
for their gain, for their good and their happiness, teach Dharma to
mankind, Oh Bhikshus!
Lord Jesus says "Do you think you get credit for merely loving those
who love you? Even the godless do that! And if you do good to those who
do you good, is that so wonderful? Even sinners do that much. Love your
enemy, do good to them. Then reward from the Heaven will be very great,
you will be truly acting as sons of God."
Profet Mohammed says, "The Best of men is he from whom good accrueth to
humanity. All God's creatures are His family, and he is most beloved to
God who tries to do most to God's creatures."
All religions are equally great and true. They are all but different
pathways leading to the same goal. They all emphasize the brotherhood
of man and fatherhood of God. All religions preach that man should love
his fellowbeings and all the creation. All religions exhort their
people, "be good, see good, do good".
Note : compiled from notes of a lecture given by Prof V. S. Kayal at
Bombay published in Sri Satya Sai Pre Seva Dal course material