Essays On Cultural Pluralism
Explore The Oneness Of The Human Family
Ours are times when religion is systematically being
used: unconsciously by some and deliberately by others, in the service of
politics and personal gain, rather then spirituality. However, perceptive and
honest minds among all religious communities view different religions as diverse
“languages of the spirit”, each valid and nourishing in its own way.
An impartial study of different religions shows the
underlying unity in the diversity of religions. All religions are attempts to
satisfy the human sense of wonder and awe at the inscrutable mystery of the
universe. This common function produces the unity while the diverse conditions
in which different religions arise and grow produce the diversity.
This approach to religious pluralism is likely to
spread among the masses and eventually displace the old tradition of religious
exclusivity: the belief that there is only one road to salvation.
Faith in the oneness of God does not necessarily
imply ‘one God, one church’, that is, cultural monism. Faith in one God implies
man’s unity in diversity and diversity in unity. This plural approach to
religion and culture is common to Western Liberal Humanism, Vedanta, and
contemporary liberal Christianity, among others. Pluralism also characterizes
pure Quranic Islam without the gloss of theology and jurisprudence. Sufi poetry
consistently extols cultural pluralism.
History teaches us that despite the diversity of
race, religion, and culture mankind is one indivisible family. There are no
chosen peoples. History is not shaped by our hopes, pious wishes or prayers to
an omnipotent God Who is partisan to His chosen people. Rather history is a
movement governed by sociological laws that provide ample scope for human
creativity along with freedom of choice and action.
Each essay in this collection covers a separate
theme, yet reflects the Author’s sincere efforts to appreciate and critically
evaluate the knowledge and wisdom of an enduring scripture, or some intellectual
or cultural tradition of the greater human family. In doing so, he shows how
authentic and fruitful interfaith dialog can be and should be conducted.