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One God, One Truth, One World
[Sri Sri Ravi Shankar]
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by Ashish Mishra Review posted on Saturday 23 June, 2012
Name of Article Reviewer: Ashish Mishra Title of Article: One God, One Truth, One World Author of Article: By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ravi Shankar’s article reiterates the ecumenical song of humanity’s search for one’s identity with the divine and the formulation of religious traditions and systems as the consequence. He presents the “failure” of religious systems to bring unity among humankind and claims that the real answer lies in recognition of one “human family”. According to him, there are “larger truths” of “common values” that can be relied upon to solve the monumental problems of social order, justice and progress. These values, he says, was the original plan of the “one supreme and caring intelligence”. He also discards the claims to exclusivity made by Jesus, Krishna and Buddha and provides his own interpretation of the exclusive statements made by them. The idea of co-existence of multiple worldviews through mutual respect has been offered as the ultimate solution for the oneness of humankind. He admits that there are conflicting spiritual statements between religious claims and says there are contradictory scriptures in each religion that “need to be looked into” but does not present any explanation to the ‘contradictions’. On the whole, the article navigates through the rivers of many faiths which ultimately meet in a confluence at the surreal sea of harmony where the mermaids of peace and harmony live happily ever after. Identification of the Self with the Divine- The article identifies religion as the root cause of the problems in the world today. According to Ravi Shankar, the identification of the self with the divine is the highest form of identification and all other inferior forms like race, gender, nationality and religion result in conflict. He brings in his religious concept (pantheism, New Age) of ultimate reality by saying “we are part of the divine” while at the same time contradicts himself by saying that “putting religious concepts before humans cause havoc”. He assumes that his pantheistic view of identification with the divine to be the ultimate, forgetting the distinction that Christianity and Islam make between the creator and the creation. He arrives at his faulty conclusions about the evolution of religious symbols in a simplistic manner. Values over Traditions-Apparently, Ravi Shankar considers religious traditions outdated. He takes some extreme examples and abuse of traditions to debunk all religious traditions. He gives a list of “common timeless values” which, according to him, can solve the problems of social order, justice and progress. He does not explain why these problems have grown worse although these values have existed for centuries. Also, he assumes that all these values are common to all cultures and societies and seems to forget that it was not the ignorance of these values that caused the World Wars and the Holocaust but a deliberate denial and sheer apathy towards them. The value of non-violence has been mentioned as a timeless value common to all religions. A cursory reading of the History of Semitic religions can disprove this faulty assumption. He vociferously debunks religious systems and accuses them of exerting control over people through guilt and fear. He, however, does not explain the genocide and destruction done by irreligion. Oneness over Uniqueness-The article reaches its comic crescendo when Ravi Shankar uses similarity in religious practices and forms of worship, e.g. the use of beads and incense in Hinduism and Christianity to establish his opinion of oneness of all religions. He completely ignores the exclusive claims of Christ and interprets every scripture on his own terms. He raises the questions of contradictions within religions and uses these same religions to get his “timeless values”. He fails to recognize that every religion is unique and has diversely different answers to life’s questions. He tries to homogenize all religions without any logically acceptable basis and builds his utopia on the splinters of his ecumenical and pantheistic presuppositions. Social Harmony over Truth-Ravi Shankar concludes that finding commonality among religions will lead to peace and harmony in the society. However, he doesn’t see any need to verify the truthfulness of his own assumptions or that of the worldviews. He tries to build his argument on the weak foundation of changing values and not absolute truth. Unless values are the outworking of the truthfulness of a worldview, peaceful co-existence will only be wishful thinking. In an event when vested interests emerge, values will be made redundant and relative. Overall, the arguments are loosely knit and can only light up false hope but not bring true harmony. Ravi Shankar’s attempt to build a common ground on the crumbling foundations and inconsistent arguments fails miserably. I do agree with him smilingly when he says, “These things need to be looked into”.

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