The Hindustan Times published an article (written by me) on 15 October 2001.
The heading was "MEDITATIONS" -- Mukunda Goswami
Love of God Is the Basic Essence of All Religions
SO MANY times one has heard people attributing the reason for an action for God. In the name of Him, so many poor innocents killed, so much terrorism perpetrated. But such people seldom realise that mixing terrorism with God makes a sickening brew. Let's know this for a fact: terrorists don't believe in God, unless there is a God who encourages the sudden and unexpected killing of civilians, workers, and children.
God and the soul are correlative terms: atma and paramatma in classical parlance. Terrorists can garner fame and recognition from their peers, but the most dangerous sorts are those who are live to die heroically by killing an unsuspecting "enemy." Such persons, we learn, think that salvation means more sex, more drugs, and more fame -- all in an afterworld and all for the pleasure of God. But we shouldn't be surprised, for nonsensical notions of God are nothing new to human beings, especially in a secular world where God and the Devil can change positions at the drop of a sabre.
But along with theology, all religions profess common decency. The Bhagavat Purana, for example, explains the original human nature is to be sattvic, and that only later during the initial process of creation do the modes of passion (rajas) and ignorance (tamas) pollute this seminal nature.That same Purana says that ideal human nature includes knowledge and renunciation.
Although God is invoked as the ultimate sanctioning agent in many conflicts, wars are fought over land, economic power, and political or tribal supremacy. At least, holy wars like those in the Mahabharata history didn't embrace kooky concepts of God. But that was five thousand years ago, when civilians were spared the untimely death at the hands of cowards.
Today's wars increasingly involve private citizens, and are often fought in the name of God. And when it comes to terrorism, non-military personnel are almost exclusively targeted. Sadly, an extreme form of nationalism has given rise to popular usage concepts of `heathen,' and kafir. This being so, gratuitous violence against those who are `different' is the next step.
But religion - of any stripe, in any country - espouses love of God as its ultimate teaching and this is meant to transcend all confessions. In Bhagavad Gita, God specifically advises us to develop qualities of "peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, and wisdom" and that we should "give up all varieties of religion (sarva-dharman) and surrender unto Me."