It has been depicted in the Vedic Hindu philosophy that Dharma is to ‘Adopt’, i.e. “Darmo Dharyate Praja.” I am in total agreement with this. But the question still remains as to what ought to be adopted? The straightforward answer is adopting ‘Goodness’ and ‘Righteousness’. Clearly, it means that to adopt goodness is Dharma, which is generally known as religion. Goodness is connected with the welfare of all, hence it is not limited in its scope.
This being an essential condition of humankind, embracing it becomes the foremost duty of human being. That is the reason why duty also becomes connected to Dharma [religion]. Dharma thus in brief is the adoption of goodness and an essential condition of humankind, and dedicated to the welfare of all. Furthermore, religion is the supreme necessity of human life. It is the best and chief source of transforming inevitable actions into righteous deeds.
Therefore, those who try to minimize the importance of religion in human life or have doubts about its relevance, or question its adaptability, they are in fact not familiar with the meaning and purpose of religion.
Currently, along with Vedic-Sanatana, [popularly known as Hinduism], Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam, Shintoism, and Sikhism are generally known as the chief religions of the world. All of them have developed from time-to-time in various places of the world with the sole purpose of guiding human beings to carryout their routine in the best possible and welfaristic manner under any prevailing circumstances.
The founders and propounders, besides having the purpose of securing human existence, development and achievement of goal in life as a nucleus stepped forward to guide and direct people. Among the various values that the propounders adopted for this purpose, one of them emerged as the principal or the basis of their established faith.
For example: Forbearance along with tolerance [both complimentary to non-violence] in Hinduism, Ahimsa in Jainism, Compassion [Karuna] in Buddhism, Unity in Zoroastrianism, Equality [with morality] in Confucianism, Service [with love] in Christianity, Justice in Judaism, Fraternity in Islam and Valour in Sikhism emerged as their principal values respectively. Undoubtedly besides being excellent, all of them are complimentary to each other.
Therefore, having based on these values Hinduism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam, Shitoism or Sikhism, all of them despite their dedication and welfare to their respective followers on priority, fall within the scope of religion becoming an indivisible part of Dharma. If for this reason they are known and/or called religions, there is nothing wrong in it.
Except a few, religions more or less are in agreement about following the three basic principles or fundamentals on one hand and similar teachings to their followers on the other:
Existence of a Supreme Authority
The first among the three fundamentals is the existence of a Supreme Authority. That authority is called by countless names: Ishwara, God, Elohim, Ahura Mazda, and Allah etc. He is all pervading; is Almighty, and beyond the Law of Change. Moreover, He is the Creator, the Father of all and as states the holy Bible, and ‘Ruler of creation’. Hence, God is the symbol of unity and therefore having harmony with fellow beings, His search through righteous deeds, or just actions as depicted in Judaism, and union with Him is the foremost duty of every human being.
Superiority of Human Being
The second fundamental communicates the agreement of all religions about equal supremacy of human beings among all creatures. Therefore, all religions convey to their followers the message to realize this strength and make equality the basis of their practices to prosper. They equally exhort that all have been created equally and discriminations are artificial. Hence, without equality the achievement of goal is not possible. It is desirable that all discriminations, which, in fact, are the root causes of injustice, malpractices and evils, must be given up in practice. To quote a Shloka from the Atharvaveda, in which God Himself urges:
“Oh human beings! I create you in the same category; I accord you single mindedness and make you completely free of envy and malice. Oh people! Have such dedicated attraction towards one another as the cow has towards her newly born calf.” [Sahridaya Sanmanasyamavidvesha Krinomi Vah, Anyom Anyamabhi Haryata Vatsam Jatmivaghnya].
And also the holy Qur’an:
“This community [of humans] is really one. But they divided themselves on their own.”
Coordination between Action and Knowledge
The third noteworthy similarity is the call in religions for coordination between action and knowledge. Among all creatures human being has been accorded a matchless brain and intellect to acquire unlimited knowledge. In other words, human beings can distinguish right from wrong, or discern false and truth. Therefore, religions lay great stress on harmony, coordination and unity between knowledge and actions so that the later lead human beings towards achieving their goal.
Hence, in brief, all major religions of the world today have the above three principal similarities, which reveal their fundamental unity on the one hand and pave the way for human-unity, common development and universal welfare on the other. These similarities are in fact their common message to the people in which remains embedded and an all-round development of each and everyone at all times.
Particularly in the process of globalization, due to unprecedented progress at all levels and in all walks of life the world is shrinking, the tempo of contact, cooperation and interdependence is increasing day-by-day, and the significance of similarities of religions is becoming more important than the past. With the level of awakening among the lowest of the low and the poorest of the poor on the increase, the spread and escalation of such kind of similarly-based teachings become very vital. Moreover, while moving forward in union has become inevitable for all, without giving much consideration to one’s own choice, the relevance of these similarities multiplies many folds.
When this state of affairs brings good fruit, connects all through heart and broad understanding, similarity of teachings of religions can prove to be effective. Hence, this cannot be undermined in current perspectives, and shall retain its importance in future as well. Particularly, those who believe in marching together for the common welfare, they can benefit a lot from the similarity in teachings of various religions.