A Hindu Call for Religious Pluralism
Hinduism is the largest pluralistic religion in the world. It teaches that there are many paths, many sages and many holy books, and that no religion can claim any exclusive or final representation of truth. This does not mean that Hinduism does not recognize a unity to truth. On the contrary, Hinduism recognizes a total and profound unity but one that is broad enough to allow for diversity and to integrate multiplicity, like the many leaves on a great banyan tree.
Hinduism is built upon diversity and holds within itself an amazing, even bewildering, variety of teachers and teachings from what appear to be the most primitive forms to the most abstract spiritual philosophies and yogic practices. One could say that there are more religions inside of Hinduism than outside of it. Hinduism has more Gods and Goddesses, more scriptures, more saints, sages and avatars, than any other religion in the world, perhaps more than all the other major religions put together. This is because Hinduism has sought to preserve all the main spiritual practices that developed in India over the past five thousand years. It has never sought to reduce itself to any one teacher, book, faith or revelation. It has always remained open to new teachings and revelations on one hand, and yet has not cut itself off from older traditions on the other. It would be as if in the Western world today along with the dominant religions of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, that the old Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Babylonian and Persian religions had been preserved, as well as an acceptance of newer teachings and religions.
Hinduism has never tried to create any one centre, one church, one pope, or one doctrine or to impose its views through any army or group of missionaries. It has sought to preserve diversity and emphasizes local application of the teachings.
In the dawning global age we can no longer claim that any one religion is the only truth for all humanity any more than we can claim that one language, culture or way of life is the best for all.
We must have a broad enough view to recognize what is of value in the different peoples and cultures of the globe from socalled aborigines, who have a much deeper understanding of nature than modern people, to the great civilizations not only of Europe and the Middle East but of America, Africa and Asia.