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Religion and Society

The Sanskrit word for religion is profoundly suggestive. It comes from a root which means to hold, to keep. Religion is that which holds. The Rishi who coined this word must have been one of deep insight. He saw that there is something in the world—some Power, Principle, Person, or whatever one may choose to call it, which holds the universe together. In the material world the work of this power is obvious. Here there is something which brings and keeps together the separate atoms. Science calls it the cohesive principle, but cannot explain What it ultimately is. Remove that thing and this beautiful universe will be reduced to chaos. If we think deeply We will find the operation of a similar power in human society. There are so many things in human nature,—jealousy, hatred, selfishness, passions,—which tend at every moment to destroy society, and which lead to constant dissensions and wars between man and man, nation and nation. In this respect man is not much above the lower animals. The spectacle of two nations at war with each other for a strip of land is not much more edifying than that of two foxes or dogs quarrelling over a piece of bone. The fact is that man is equally subject to furious passions with the lower animals. Nay we may go further and say that man with his superior intelligence and cunning can descend to a depth of degradation, and exhibit machinations of villiany, which have no parallel among the lower animals.

But at the same time there is in human nature an innate regard for goodness. Man, even when he is immersed in villiany and wickedness instinctively acknowledges the supremacy of righteousness, because there is this natural innate regard for truth in preference to falsehood, for justice in preference to injustice, for goodness in preference to wickedness. A wonderful thing has ever happened in human society, namely, that though the number of unrighteous men is greater in every society they suffer to be ruled by the handful of righteous men. Why do not they unite and form a. society according to their own practice and keep the righteous in subjection? The fact is that wickedness is weak in itself; the wicked instinctively feel, if they do not consciously know, that they are wrong; they are in antagonism with the Principle governing the universe. There is a regard for goodness ingrained in human nature, and it is this which keeps the human society together. It is this innate natural religion of the human heart which has manifested and embodied itself in religious teachers and in churches. It is not Christ who has made religion, but religion has made Christ. The Vedas or the Bible are not the foundations on which religion rests, but they rest on the foundation of the inherent religious instinct of the human soul. Religion in its essence is the perception, the recognition of the Unseen Reality. Without the recognition of the existence and working of this natural religious spirit in human nature the affairs of human society are not explicable. This religious sentiment like other natural capacities of man has found its highest expression in men of religious genius; in a Christ, a Buddha, a Confucius. They are the concentrated outward embodiments of the spirituality which lurks in every human heart.
From The Indian Messenger

Innocence is an armed heel
To trample accusation.

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