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all is worshipped under different names and by different forms, if such a people could form themselves into a single nation, and find in the many faiths a
a deeper unity, and in the variations of religions the identity of true religion. If such there could be, as there never yet has been in the world's long history, then it seems to me, indeed, religion would have achieved its noblest triumph, and in the many-chorded harmony of various faiths blended into one melodious whole, the Divine Wisdom would have gained its mightiest triumph, and the Brotherhood of man its grandest and noblest exemplar.
Religion without God, or God without religion, is as empty and devoid of essence as the play of Hamlet without Hamlet, the prince.
Religion may be described as a link between man and God, a feeling for something above us, something that sustains us, something without which man feels a spiritual gap within him; a marching out of the internal human spirit to meet the grand external Divine Spirit.
Religion is not an accident of human life, not a cloak to be put on and taken off as occasion requires. It is the life and breath of man's existence. Carry religion into your daily life, breathe it, live on it.
Religion is not only for the old, nor any particular class or stage of life, but it is a thing for all, for all ages, the
young, the old, and of person ; more for the young, if at all, than for the old; for it is the young that most need the power to resist temptation, and this power can only come from religion. Picture to yourself the life that is in prospect before the youthful person, young
maiden, stepping with relactant feet, where the brook and the river meet ”; you can imagine the fair and lovely prospect of hill-side forest and bright meadow land that stand smiling before them ; it is all smiles and roses to their youthful eyes. Little do they dream what thorns lie in their onward path, what unknown beasts of prey lie in wait for them under the lovely forests on the hills. When the thorns prick and their feet are bleeding and sore, what balm is there to soothe their pain ? It is religion. What
can they best depend on when they fall in the claws of the beastss of prey ? None but religion. Take another picture,—the young widow, cast adrift all of a sudden in the middle of a happy voyage, darkness around her, and the desert sea with its howling wave below her. What guiding star can steer her solitary ship ? Religion. And yet another picture,—the orphan, the friendless, the sick, the poor ; what power is it that can soothe and sing to them heavenly songs of comfort and hope which they never heard before,--an eternal harmony? The theist answers—Religion. And for the aged what a combination of countless hues does a glance of retrospect raise up before their failing eye-sight |--Difficult rivers crossed, hills climbed up and down, bright fields left far behind, and perchance, nay, too often scenes, which, revisited in imagination, raise up old memories of duty neglected or wrong deeds done, so that old scars throb with new agony beneath them! In the fast falling shades, or the mellow light of their eventide, what steady light is there to cheer their short future here and long one hereafter ? The light of Religion.
It should not be understood from the dark side of the pictures just now placed before you that Religion is a gloomy spirit. The healing power claimed for it in
these very pictures should, on the contrary, justify us in viewing Religion as a bright star, an undying rose without a thorn.*
-N. B. DIVATIÅ.
THE PLACE OF RELIGION IN THE
LIFE OF A STUDENT.
A boy's life at School and College is so mapped out into necessary tasks and necessary play, that the question sometimes arises in his mind: “What time is there in my life for Religion; had I not better leave it alone until I am older?"
Let us ask what is meant by the word Religion. Religion is the expression of the seeking of God by man, of the One Self by the apparently separated self. This is its essence. This expression has three divisions; one intellectual, doctrines, dealing with God and man and their relations; one emotional, worship, which has many divers forms and rites and ceremonies; one practical, living the life of love. Looking at religion under these three heads, it will be easier te see its place in the student's life, than if we take it more vaguely and generally.
Doctrines of Religion: the broad outlines of these resemble each other in all religions, and a boy should be taught them according to the faith of his parents. There is no knowledge more necessary for a boy than the knowledge of the fundamental doctrines of his religion. This knowledge should therefore be imparted to him in a simple elementary form in School, and in fuller detail in College. No controversial points should be raised,
From an address delivered in the Ahmedabad Prarthana
no philosophical disquisitions should be imposed; clear definite statement of the main doctrines is all that is needed. Half an hour a day throughout School life would be time sufficient to equip the lad with this knowledge, and to enable him to answer intelligently any questions addressed to him about his religion.
Worship : every boy should worship, recognising with gratitude the Source of life and strength and joy. The Hindu boy should daily perform his Sandhyâ, after bathing, according to the custom of his caste and family; and if he does this, with concentrated attention and devotional feeling, he has fulfilled the duty of worship suitable to his state. He may also, if he likes, read and think over a Shloka of the Bhagavad-Gîtâ. The duty of meditation belongs to later life, and he will gain such training of the mind in steadiness as is fitted for his youth by the careful and attentive performance of his Sandhyâ.
The Life of Love : this is the religious duty which the boy must discharge all day long, and it is this which makes a life a truly religious life, whatever may be its occupations. Let us see how a boy should lead the life of love in School and College, the Dharma of the Student.
He must show his love to his parents and his teachers by diligent study and by prompt obedience. Youth is the time for study, and a youth wasted in idleness cannot later be made good. A man's usefulness to others depends largely on his education; the ignorant man cannot be a good and wise husband, father, or citizen. A diligent industrious boy is showing a religious spirit by his diligence and industry; if he practises these qualities from love, and from a sense of duty, he is performing the Dharma of his state. And he must be obedient, with the obedience of love, which is as complete out of sight as under the eyes of authority, which is prompt, cheerful and ungrudging, not slothful, carping and unwilling.
He must show his love to those around him by helping them in every way he can; if he is clever, he should help the dull boys with their lessons; if he is strong, he should protect the little lads, and never tyrannise over them. He should be brave, gentle, truthful, courteous; these qualities are all fruits of the fair tree of love. He must be chaste and must always be clean in his own speech and actions; and he must strongly protest against any coarseness of speech or actions in his fellow-students, and should especially be careful to protect the younger boys from bad talk and bad ways.
A boy who lives in this way during his School and College life will, when he goes out into the wider world of men, practise there the virtues that in his School and College days he learned as part of his Religion. For there is no division between true Religion and noble living; a religion that does not express itself in nobility of living is an empty shell ; a noble life without religion is shorn of its fairest grace.*
FOUR BLIND MEN AND AN ELEPHANT.
Four blind men went to an elephant. One touched the leg of the elephant, and said, “ The elephant is like a pillar,” The second touched the trunk, and said, “ The elephant is like a thick stick or club." The third touched the belly, and said, “ The elephant is like a big jar." The fourth touched the ears, and said,
• From The Central Hindu College Magazine, February 1903.