The confrontation between two east Asian countries, the unresolved conflict between two gulf countries and the communal or religious disharmony in various other parts of the world remind us that there has been a vast discrepancy between what religions have preached and what most of their followers have actually practised. The gulf between preaching and practice has steadily deepened and widened. However lofty their ideals and their injunctions regarding the norms of conduct, the religions of the world have been unable to mitigate wars and other forms of conflict.
Therefore, the question that arises is, are religions of any real benefit to mankind? Have they not caused confusion and conflicts? When we give an impartial thought to this charge against religions in general, we find that, to a great extent, it is true. Of course, there is no denying the fact that, in the first stage of their growth, followers of every religion had good understanding of real religious spirit in the form of observance of their cardinal principles but that was only short-lived because successive generations of followers learnt mainly the rituals and ceremonies, they said their prayers and they also made some donations and felt elated to see their numbers increase but dissensions, rifts, sectarianism and quarrels among themselves and with others increased.
Hence, today no one can deny, with his hand on his heart, that to a great extent if not totally, religions have failed in making their followers conform to their prescribed ethical norms and to the golden rule of love towards fellow beings. It was not so long back when Swami Vivekananda reflected on the necessity of the concept of universal religion for the society. He realised the nature of man, according to which mankind in the whole world has been trying to look beyond in the quest of his ultimate destiny or search for God.
Therefore, the whole of the world community is today expecting a religion, which is acceptable to all, is universal in its scope and teachings and which works as a unifying force. Moreover, people now don't want a religion that offers them imaginary heaven or gives them the fear of an imaginary hell. Instead, they want a religion that gives them uprightness and happiness in this very life and enlightens them on how to transform this very world of sufferings i.e., the hell into paradise. It is this religion, which is universal, altruistic and practicable.
(The writer is a spiritual educator and popular columnist for publications across India, Nepal and UK. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org)