It is all about how man tried to perceive the universe. It is more about his quest about his own roots, the origin, cause and purpose of his own existence, the final destination and the ultimate goal (if such a thing exists) of this very thing called life.
This quest, a direct resultant of man’s curiosity and intellectual thirst has persisted in him right from the time civilization was born. Thus as he was learning to make wheel, he was also laying down the fundamental principles of philosophy. This is where, da praveen, I am seeing the first grains of what is called Religion- A term, as I see it, unalloyed, free from the dust and debris, the modern definition of the term carries with it- here let us see Man’s genuine quest for the ultimate truth of being.
Thus happened, in Indus valley, where the oldest civilization sprang up, made social set up, way of life, transformed through ages, made temples, buildings, pottery and wheel, developed mathematics, science, arts and medicine whereas reflecting underneath of all these were strong currents of his inward quest. (we dont have to discuss the historical validity of the Aryan invasion theory. As such these labels and their historical chronology are immaterial. Here let us just see man as man, for it was the development of human race. Man in the absolute sense has no claims to make regarding his original abode).
A research into the life and thoughts of earlier Indian society will reveal a lot of facts. First and foremost is the Freedom of thought that existed in its absolute sense .The very motto of the Rig Veda – one of the earliest and majestic hymns produced in the Vedic age is, “Let come noble thoughts from any direction what so ever”!!
Several schools of thoughts existed at that time. Contemplation, argumentation and discussions were tools of establishing the principles. Every fact and every new theory was put to test, experimentation and reasoning. Even the process of thinking and reasoning has been researched upon and systems of yoga and meditation were developed.
Sanscrit language with all its grammatical superiority & structural strength was a great contribution of this age. This became the medium of sankhyam, tharkam, meemamsa – all these well-structured and scientific tools of logic and reasoning and logistics towards the ultimate human goal. All these thoughts and deductions were put to experimentation and the ardent followers had come up with their results followed by detailed analysis and validations.
Any development in sciences will always lay down newer and newer building bricks in the social construction. The Vedas as divided into four systems by sage Vyasa and those became the constitution of the civilization that henceforth florished in this land. The concept of God was strongly argued for and against, and the Upanishads came up. Yes, The Upanishads… The greatest work of human intelligence and the most brilliant pieces of logical thoughts. It was an all-time triumph of humanity in the field of philosophy and in his search for truth.
The puranas later developed, the three wonderful epics in this era are the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavata. Dramas in sanscrit and prakrit brought these down to the masses. The concept of bhakti and dharma-artha-kama-and-moksha got established through these works with strong philosophical backing. The concept of values in life, higher meaning of life, the principles like “mata pitha guru daivam…” and “janani janma bhoomishcha…” all reached the common man in the form of living embodiments.
Common man ‘saw’ God, philosophers discussed God, Vedantis pursued God and the ones like Buddha perceived God… All were free… to go the way they like. And they did go. Their experiences did make their marks in the building bricks of the society. Some or most in the form of cults. Yet the wheels did run and the pursuit went on and on.
Down the masses many-where, values were getting degenerated. This always happens in the society. Many practices became mere rituals and distorted concepts crept in when arrogance and base instincts in man took the upper hand. The caste atrocities as such are the best examples. Yet there was a force… a force in the works of the ancient Man that bound them together into a common civilization which, seen in total is simply glorious.
And this life… it is this life of freedom, honest and sincere pursuit towards truth, the readiness to put one’s own thoughts to test before facts, readiness to accept the new, on being convinced, and the strength to pursue what you are convinced about, against all odds, this life of strength. This is, for me, the essence of religion. This is my religion. This is the one that existed in India and remains still eternal. They call it Hindu religion. The word could remain or not, it is just a label. Still, if you choose it, by name, then this what I have described above is my definition of Hinduism.
Da, here each man lives his own religion. He thinks. He experiments, he proceeds. Religion for one lies in ones own instincts… in one’s own heart. When he surrenders this to the one self who he considers the higher self, The Guru, who shall instruct him further, he becomes the sishya. Some walk their own way, still they walk, and that is the point. That is the strength. That is religion.
This force is natural. It is there in every man. It knows no geographic or cultural boundaries. In fact it is an act of going beyond boundaries. And this force, this is the only common bond in all these pursuits. And this goes by definition of the term… Religion. Eda… that is it. The very word religion can be given only this one meaning. And thus it exists in its core in every man, and is beyond all labels. And it is this force that comes out as religion of every man.
Thus in truth Religion is universally one, da. This is the concept of secularism. And this is the concept of religion too. Both are exactly one and the same. Though both are in today’s language misnomers.