INTRODUCTION

 

World Peace: we all hanker for it. Even with the sincere attempts of our most stalwart planning commissions and religious leaders, the world's problems seem unfathomable. As long as crime, disease, racial and religious prejudice, and especially our determined drive for materialism plague us, peace will remain merely an unrealized utopia. Adherents to the Jewish and Christian traditions would like to have the kingdom of God manifest on earth. The Hindu tradition also aspires for Räma-raja, or the kingdom of God on earth. Our mistake is to want the kingdom of God to enjoy, without the presence of God.
An error of modern society and religion is to identify the body as the self. The Bhagavad-gitä clearly explains that we should see and accept the spiritual essence (the soul) of each living being as spiritually equal. There it is said, "The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brähmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcast].
[B.g. 5.18] How does the learned sage see every living entity with equal vision? He sees the spirit soul within the heart of each of God's creations. He understands that although living forms may appear different, those appearances are only the external coverings for the soul, and that spiritually we are all equal. A careful analysis shows that all problems result from our first mistake of identifying the body as the self. If we identify ourselves by race, religion and ethnic group we will then suffer or enjoy the results of that identity, but the fact is we are spiritually equal and the bodily identity that we accept is both temporary and insignificant compared to our eternal spiritual identity. We suffer due to birth, disease, old age and death, we need not identify with the body, which is being afflicted by these difficulties. If everyone understood and acted on the level of the soul rather than the body, the world's problems would practically cease. Understanding the difference between matter and spirit, and that God is the controller of all things, is the essence of knowledge.
It is natural that when we become overwhelmed by difficulties, we become aware of our dependence on God. Unfortunately, due to our deep attachment to materialism, we are drawn to perceive religion in much the same manner, as we perceive ordinary social activities. That is, we become attached to identifying with the external or social side of religion, while we forget its essence - loving service to God.
Our modern use of the word religion, expresses an external alterable faith, while the Sanskrit world dharma, implies an internal or essential eternal relationship with God. Our religion or faith can change but the soul's relationship with God is eternal. For example, I may claim that I am a Christian today, but I may adopt the practices of a Hindu or of a Jew tomorrow. However, whatever faith you my follow, the essence of that faith is loving service to God. That eternal essence of our faith is what the Vedas refer to as sanätana-dharma. Dharma is a Sanskrit term that refers to the essence of something; that essence that cannot be separated from the object. For example, the dharma of fire is heat and light. Without heat and light fire cannot exist. The dharma of water is liquidity. Similarly, the dharma of every living entity is service. Every living entity serves another. The employee serves the employer. The parents serve the young children. Even the trees and plants serve others by providing shade, fruits, flowers or firewood. Voluntary service is the symptom of love, and the perfection of the serving propensity is to serve the Supreme Lord fully. Therefore, sanätana-dharma, the eternal occupational activity of the soul, or the eternal religion is service to God, or love of God.
Sanätana-dharma is the real focus of Equality Based on the Soul. The inquisitive reader of Equality Based on the Soul should not under estimate this book as simply another treatise on comparative religion, a standard comparison of religious customs, names of God, rituals, philosophical likeness and differences, religious histories and so on. Of course, the reader will find that those comparisons are here in plenty, but their special significance is that each and every point of comparison expands and strongly establishes the truth, that the essence of every religious faith is loving service to God.
Sanätana-dharma, the essence of the Vedic culture, predates all of our present religious faiths. As shown in this book, the reader will see the many similarities between Judaism and Hinduism. They are both by-products of the Vedic culture which was neither Hindu, Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. No doubt, an in depth study of other religious faiths would bring to surface many other similarities. The essence of Vedic culture, the eternal nonsectarian godly society, has permeated all religious faiths for thousands of years. Unfortunately, with the passing of time, the trend of society's religious concerns has moved from internal to external or from the essence to the superficial. This has led to discord and conflict within society. As will be explained in Equality Based on the Soul, a society, which is not in the true sense God-centered will always remain in difficulty.
The Vedic culture was a God-centered religious social system. Every aspect of society was designed to help people advance in spiritual life. In the strict sense of the word, religion is meant to be a way of life which comprises all other activities. With the passing of time, society's trend has been to change from spiritual orientation to the material. Of course, the world has suffered greatly for this deviation. As you read through Equality Based on the Soul, we urge that while appreciating the many comparisons made between these two major religious paths, you take special note to understand how each of those comparisons points toward the principles of equality based on the soul and its natural conclusion, loving service to God.
Although this first writing of Equality Based on the Soul is presented as a comparison between Hinduism and Judaism, this is only the beginning. In future writings we will expand this book to include the other religions. The religions of the world are all related to one another. Judaism and Christianity are so closely related that they are frequently referred to in unison as the Judeo-Christian tradition. Judaism existed long before the appearance of Jesus Christ, and in fact Christianity arose as a sect within Judaism. Later, in the seventh century, the prophet Mohammed founded Islam, the religion of the Muslims. He was preaching the same faith as the founders of Judaism and Christianity. He felt that although the original teachings were pure, some followers became corrupt resulting in adulterated scriptures. He did not hesitate to differ with them when he felt their teachings were wrong. Muslims believe that Mohammed is the final Prophet and his religion is the final instruction for all mankind. This book is in complete agreement with the Holy Koran, we will show that the Sanskrit A is the A in Allah. Thus, these three traditions are closely related.
Hinduism seems at first to stand a little separate from this group, it is most closely related to the original Vedic culture. Historically, the Vedic culture predates all religions, so it is not surprising that we have found many similarities between Judaism and Hinduism. The real essence of the Vedic culture, uninterrupted loving service to God without material motivation, shines through the external manifestations of all religious paths.
Equality Based on the Soul is presented as a fictional conversation, but it is strongly supported by scriptural reference from both the Hindu and Jewish scriptures. The information presented in this book came from a variety of written sources listed in the bibliography, as well as actual conversations between representatives of the two traditions. Many topics will be discussed in this book, but the most important message transmitted herein is that the concepts of the soul and God are very similar, far too similar to ignore the probability of their having common roots. The English word Jewish, which expresses the idea of a religious society, is not found in the Old Testament. Similarly, Hinduism also alludes to a religious society, but is found nowhere in the Vedas, the scriptures followed by the Hindus. Both sincere Hindus and Jews believe that being devoted to the Lord's service will spiritually elevate them.
In conclusion, we urge our readers to keep in mind that we are not attempting to create a new religion. God is the source of religious inspiration. Nor are we suggesting that the spiritual truth given in this book is applicable to only Hinduism or Judaism. Rather, we have presented these conversations between two religious faiths as a medium to pass on an eternal truth, that can and should be applied to every aspect of our lives.
We show that a non-sectarian religious culture exists eternally, it's supporting philosophy having been established by God and transmitted to us from the beginning of creation. That non-sectarian philosophy is based on the souls' eternal loving and serving relationship with God. It is not based on an impractical attempt to synthesize the external rituals, customs and traditions of the world religions. There is only one God and we are all children of God. We are not proposing that anyone give up his religion, but that by truly understanding the spiritual essence of religion one can become a more perfect Jew, Hindu, Christian or Muslim. Effective religious practice will help us give up the desire for material enjoyment and simultaneously become attached to the service of God.
As long as religious teachers and spiritual guides emphasize the external symptoms of their affiliations and neglect their real essence, unmotivated and uninterrupted service to God, society's spiritual void will continue. Whatever a great person does common people follow. We are naturally inclined to follow, especially in religious matters. If world leaders do not realize and act upon the spiritual essence of their religion, they will not be able to help their followers and citizens. Understanding the spiritual essence assures spiritual potency.
Being God-centered does not remove our difficulties or anxieties. Rather, it will help us see things in proper perspective. We will see the difference between temporary material activities and eternal spiritual activities. We will be able to tolerate all kinds of temporary inconveniences and difficulties as we strive for the ultimate goal, developing love of God and returning to His eternal abode.

 

 

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