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Some others, that man created God”, said his father to Upasak. Upasak was a brilliant boy in his teens. His thirst for knowledge was deep and his enthusiasm in extra-curricular activities was boundless. Every night after dinner, he would walk with his father along the tree-lined footpaths in his colony, and they would discuss what he had learnt in school that day. His father would then explain those topics in greater detail, making them all the more interesting. He would sometimes draw Upasak into a debate. Once the discussion veered round to the Religions of the world and during that discussion, Upasak‟s father made the above statement. Many ideas of many religions were discussed during that night walk. Ideas such as what the various religions say about God, about Truth, about the goal of human life, how the history of the world is related to religion, etc. By and by they reached home. When they went inside, his father showed Upasak a beautiful painting by the famous Bengali Artist Nandalal Bose, which he had bought that day. Showing him the painting his father said, “This painting depicts that all Religions are harmonious with one another. Some other day, I‟ll explain its meaning.” Upasak went to bed thinking deeply on questions like: Why are there so many Religions? If one religion was true, what need was there of so many religions, apart from that one religion? Can it be that all religions are true? Wouldn’t that be self-contradictory? There seems to be more diversity than unity among religions. In this situation, if we try to establish a unity among religions, will it not be an artificial unity, without any life in it? Having thought quite deeply on these questions, he was totally exhausted. Slipping gently into sleep, he had a strange dream. Later he tried to recall what he saw in his dream… A man, who I felt within my heart, was my dear friend, accosted me. He had a luminous body, and deep blue eyes, that gave him the look as if he was always gazing into the infinite horizon. He clasped my hand and said, “Upasak, come. I shall take you to some places which will interest you.” I felt this would be interesting. Even as I was wondering where he would take me, I found I was running with him on a meadow, a meadow of lush green grass. There were no trees and the ground was as flat as a football field. As we ran, we gathered speed, and began to rise in the same way as an aeroplane rises when it takes-off. We flew straight into the blue sky. I saw white clouds above me and I rose towards them. It was a great feeling when I hit the clouds and passed right through them.
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When we had rise above the clouds, we entered into a city, which had a very jolly atmosphere, where people were all engaged in various kinds of discussions on God and man and world and cause-effect relationships, Karma and rebirth, etc, etc. I sort of felt that most of those arguments were what my father and I used to have in our night walks. But, while our postdinner discussions generally were inconclusive, here I found that everywhere conclusive answers came up. Yet, newer topics were again raised and the discussions went on. My Friend told me, “Upasak, can you guess what this place is?” No, I couldn‟t. “Well, this is the Free-Thinkers‟ Paradise. As long as you stick to certain minimum rules of thought, you are free to think about anything in here. They don‟t have any taboos here. No topic is anathema here. Would you like to stay here?” Not a bad place to stay, I felt. The people all had fresh healthy looks on their faces, perhaps an indication of their state of mind. I had almost blurted a „Yes‟, but I held back my breath and asked him if there were other places he would take me to. No sooner had I asked him this, than we were entering an old impregnable fort built on an island, with heavily armed guards on the ramparts. Inside was a glorious Temple, which I strongly felt was Grecian. On the steps of the Temple sat an ugly looking old man, surrounded by brilliant youths. There seemed to be some kind of discussion going on amongst them. One of them seemed to be taking down notes. Ah! This was Socrates! And in the Sanctum stood a god, who seemed to be showering his grace on the old man. He was Prometheus. “You could be one of these youths, you know. What do you say?” Yes, why not? Who wouldn‟t want to be in the hallowed company of Socrates? But… In the background of the Temple was an incredibly large stadium in which all kinds of sports and games were being played. There was a board on the stadium wall which said „Olympia‟. Further beyond I saw majestic kings ruling their kingdoms with uncommon fairness, leading their small but formidable armies to grand military excursions and after conquering foreign lands, successfully spreading their culture to all the four corners of the world. There was an expansive campus on one side with a board „Academia‟, inside which all faculties of learning – science, arts, mathematics, and astronomy – were being researched, taught and learned. “Upasak, what do you say? Will you stay here or shall we go yonder?” I was truly flabbergasted with the glory of Ancient Greece to think that something grander than this could exist. But if there was something beyond this, I must surely see… No sooner had I felt this in my mind than I found we were zooming through the corridors of the Parthenon and soon were entering a long empty corridor which gave me the Page 2 of 8
feeling that we were in a Laboratory. We entered a huge room full of gadgetry where a dozen persons with thick glass spectacles were talking of a hundred thousand things including cyclotrons and genomes and clones and ecology and black holes and I knew these were modern scientists. “Upasak, do you get the picture now? This is a place where the Free-Thinkers Paradise and Greece meet. This is called „The World of Science‟. Would you like to be here?” Should be interesting, I felt. But… The scene shifted to a sprawling town, bustling streets, brisk business everywhere, fun and gaiety and music and colors in every house. Gold and silver were strewn everywhere and children all had rosy cheeks. Men discussed about Senates and the Army and expeditions, while women talked about fashion and gladiators and sculptures. The houses were all very artistic and architecture was suggestive. There was music in the air. “Upasak, how about this place? This is Ancient Rome, the soul of modern Europe.” Yes. But I would rather like to see the other places too… Deep blue waters everywhere. Is it the ocean? No, for the water seems to be flowing. It‟s a river, but it is so huge. A grand city comes up into our view on the banks of this river. People are strangely clad with colorful headgears. Some people are lashing some others – seems like slave-culture is prevalent here. Suddenly we saw huge boulders being cut into the shape of large oversized bricks which were being carried to the top of huge structures that later became giant Pyramids. There were strange places for worship of the Sun-God and the Moon-God and other Nature-Gods. “Well, how about staying here? This is the Great Ancient Egyptian World. That is the River Nile. These are the great Pyramids of Giza.” I was not sure if I would fit in here… The scene morphed itself into an old town, and we were outside a grand, old Temple. I felt I was in the Temple of David in Jerusalem. A Grand Old man with long, white flowing beard stood on top of a mountain nearby with two stone tablets in his hand and was talking to people with fire in his eyes and authority in his voice; behind him stood a large burning bush. In the Temple precincts, there were doomsday soothsayers, predicting that the world should soon come to an end. Elsewhere, mothers were getting their newborns circumcised by old men. On various platforms in the Temple, there were wise prophets advising people on the moral ways of life. Continuous animal sacrifices were going on in front of the Tabernacle in the Sanctum of the Temple. Elsewhere, people were celebrating joyous festivals. Man was happy here and families were closely knit. “Well, Upasak?” It would be great to live with such simple folks, but… Page 3 of 8
There came a Monk with a heavenly face into my view, a Monk who breathed of love and peace and non-violence. I saw him carve an ornate wheel out of sandalwood and then he set that wheel rolling, which rolled to the nooks and corners of the world. Wherever the Monk went, people followed him, becoming monks and nuns themselves. Wherever he went, listening to his magical words, people became lost in deep meditation. Wherever he went, large monasteries sprang up on barren lands. All caves and forests were occupied by these monks and nuns. Dotted all over the land came up the grandest universities, in which learning was taken to great heights. And what was really interesting was that these monks and nuns went globe-trotting, peacefully proselytizing, filling up the various countries of the world, preaching Dharma and Sangha, peace and love, Service and ahimsa, to all and sundry. I saw a very ferocious king who had ruthlessly massacred millions, came in contact with one of these monks and gave up war altogether! The whole world was filled with the fragrance of Dharma, Ahimsa, Arya Satya and Nirvana. Statues of that Monk came up everywhere and everyone worshipped them. Art and architecture developed around this Monk and his teachings. “Upasak, this is Buddha‟s World.” I must be really fortunate to belong to this Divine Monk‟s fold. But is there more… There is a tall, lanky person, of divine luster, with his back to us, sitting on a small rock on a hill-top and talking to some village people, who listen in rapt attention. He is speaking of God the Father, of the Kingdom of Heaven, of loving God and loving man, of service and renunciation. Elsewhere, we find the same lanky person, in flowing robes, curing all kinds of sick and diseased persons and making them whole again. Soon, I found this lanky God man being nailed to a huge Cross. Compassion flowed out from the wounds like gargantuan rivers flooding the whole world. The Egyptian deserts were filled with stern monks, practicing the most rigorous austerities. Soon, the desert became dotted with mammoth monasteries. These monasteries then got transplanted to all parts of the world. When I looked into the horizon, I found two young men, who were with the lanky God man previously, vigorously preaching religion to two different cultures. One was among the Jews and the other was among the Romans. Gradually, the scene on the Roman front changed drastically and I saw huge churches coming up everywhere, huge, massive cathedrals and with large beautiful colored glasses and tall spires touching the sky and huge bells hanging from their belfries. Beneath the ground, I saw a strange book. The first part of the book was spread into the Judaic World and into another world we hadn‟t yet visited. The second part of the Book formed the foundation of the cathedrals. People everywhere were talking animatedly about the Trinity, the Holy Ghost, Immaculate Conception, the only-begotten Son of God, Baptism, Sacrament and Salvation. I found huge rivers of people being swept into the Grand St. Peter‟s Cathedral and all the four Page 4 of 8
quarters were filled with chants of „Ave Maria‟, „Hallelujah‟ and „Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.‟ In one corner, I found a young man, with a name badge „Martin Luther‟ gathering many people behind him, and trying to push the Great St. Peter Cathedral to the place where the lanky God man hung his Cross. I understood he was trying to protest against the Mother Church and reform the Christians. “Upasak?” I should love to belong to this place, where so much keeps on happening, but… The whole scene soon became dark with the dust of the deserts, the ground started to tremble with the hoof steps of millions of huge horses and the air became filled with the cries of „Din, din…Jihad, jihad…‟ They were armed men, with a divine fervor in their eyes and an uncommon zeal in their hearts that sought to bring the „Din‟ or the redeeming message to all and sundry. I saw a black stone in a place, on which stood a beautiful book with a deep blue cover and these armed hordes were springing out of this stone. The first part of this book was extended from the World of Christ that I had already seen. By the side of the black stone, stood a divine personage, in dark green, gilded robes, with a heavenly smile on his lips and divine light playing around his face. He was supported by the Angel Gabriel. Those hordes were bringing millions of people to this divine person, who was teaching them about obedience to God, equality of man and the glory of activity. Behind him were stranage people who were whirling round and round to music that was hypnotic. “Upasak, this Mohammed the Prophet.” Yes. Here the very air was filled with strength; no weakness here; the simple faith of these rustic people in this divine person was transforming them into supermen, as it were. This could certainly be a great place to belong, where one could find great fulfillment. But… “Everything secular is sacred. Learn to be human. Later you may learn to be a god. Be a gentleman first…”I heard these words ringing out of empty space and the voice seemed to have the music of flowing waters. The vision slowly cleared up and I saw the glorious face that was uttering these words. It was a Mongolian face. “Upasak, this Confucius” said my friend. Elsewhere, in the world that now congealed in my view now, I saw that the common man was extremely moral, fair in his dealings, kind in his words and purposive in his actions. Mothers took special care of grooming their kids and everywhere there was a sense of Duty, and none claimed any rights and privileges. There were neon signboards in the street corners which loudly proclaimed that society rested on five relationships- love between father and son, duty between the Ruler and the subjects, harmony between husband and wife, precedence of old over the young, and faith among friends.
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“Well, Upasak? How about here?” Who wouldn‟t want to live among such moral souls? But… We slowly drifted into a beautiful land, full of rivers and lakes and mountains and plains. The air was full of the fragrance of lotus and musk and sandal. Everywhere, there were huge elaborate fire-sacrifices. The land thrilled with the vigorous Vedic chants of the Brahmins. On this land, I was able to get a flavor of all the other worlds I had visited till now. As I was wondering what this could mean, my Friend abruptly pointed to the horizon and I saw that this land was transformed into a giant living creature, throbbing with life, which gave out its lifeforce to all the other worlds at regular intervals. All the living ideas of all other worlds originated from here. All the gold and silver, growth and glory, of all the other worlds were supplied from here. This land seemed to be the Mother of all worlds. The forests were dotted with seraphic sages. From among them I could discern the Monk with a heavenly face I had seen previously. He was sitting under a Bodhi tree and got up with a light that made his face glow like a second sun. Slowly, I saw that he and his teachings got cut off from this land and vanished into the skies and I understood that it had formed a separate world elsewhere, which I had already visited. This world seemed to be a conglomeration of many worlds, to be sure. At one place, there was a glorious Cowherd with a peacock feather on his diadem, singing a hypnotic song while driving a chariot in a massive war in which millions fought. Endless streams of people came to him, some riding on a Song, some others riding on Work, yet others riding on Reason; but all merged into him. Elsewhere, there was a young monk with eyes like stars in a dark moonless sky, travelling all over the land, defeating thousands in philosophical arguments. Wherever his foot touched the four quarters, grand monasteries sprung up there. On this corner there was a golden person, walking on the streets, singing lilting tunes, dancing in gay abandon, with the swaying millions surging behind him. The horizons were time and again rent with the shrill cries of „Din, din…‟ And magnificent mosques and ornate palaces and massive forts sprang up in its wake. There landed thousands of ships and vessels and men-of-war on its shores and thousands of fair skinned men and women, in leather shoes and pressed clothes walked all over the land, and millions were in shackles. This was immediately followed by an intense struggle of the millions to break free from those chains. Rapidly thereafter, the land was filled with cars and computers, dams and industries, mobiles and laptops. “Well, Upasak? This is the world of Sanatana Dharma. It is a sort of a medley of all the worlds you have seen till now.” A new train of thought arose in my mind now.
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I had seen a lot of places indeed. Everywhere, I felt drawn to certain features of the place. These features made me want to stay in every one of those places. But every place also had some aspects that I wished would not be present in those worlds, and it was the presence of these aspects which made me want to seek newer worlds. Now I felt I could settle down if only I could find a world that had the best aspects of all these places minus the aspects which jarred with my nature. I asked my Friend if such a place… All of a sudden I found that both of us were being catapulted higher and higher and yet higher until we reached a place which was a unique vantage point. Millions of worlds were visible from here, all at once. And an entirely new world came into existence around us, which indeed had all the excellent features of all the worlds! And it all happened in the twinkling of an eye! I was surprised that till now, when I was in a particular world, I was unable to see any other world. Yet another revelation was that every one of the millions of worlds was connected to this new world by a luminous road. It looked as if this new world was a lobby, from which one could enter any other world. Likewise, one could enter this world from anywhere else. This new world was like the hub of a wheel, with millions of worlds lying distributed along the spokes and the circumference. All of a sudden, I realized that I had no idea who exactly this strange being was with whom I was travelling for so long. He was so kind, so understanding. He seemed to know my innermost feelings. Who was he? When I looked at his face, Good Lord! A thrill passed through me to the very core of my being. All the wonderful persons I had seen in all the worlds – Krishna, Socrates, Moses, Jesus, the Desert Fathers, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, Martin Luther, the Rishis, etc, and all the gods and goddesses of all the millions of worlds, all of them were simultaneously present in him! He was a kaleidoscope of men and gods! I asked him, “Dear Friend, who are you?” He laughed mischievously and said, “Guess who?” Saying this, he grew enormously in size and filled up all the worlds and the horizons. He who had been with me all along had now become infinite and I could no longer pinpoint him at one place so that I could touch him and talk with him. But wherever I turned my eyes, there he was! By now, more and more details of the new world became clearer and clearer to me. I saw people from all the different worlds pouring in along the innumerable roads into this world. Each one spoke his/her own language, but somehow everybody understood perfectly what the other person was saying. There was a constant drone of the primordial OM resonating in the air, and this facilitated the smooth translation of the ideas and feelings among the people across cultures. I went near a group of people who seemed to be carrying out some kind of research and I saw there people from various worlds in that motley crew. They were trying to find out what the building blocks of this world were. I felt what else can it be but electrons, protons, neutrons and quarks? But after sometime, they finally discovered that the building materials of this unique world were certain ideas of incredible power. These ideas were, „Help and not fight; Assimilation and not destruction; harmony and peace and not dissention; as many faiths, so many paths; each soul is potentially divine; as long as I live, so long do I learn‟. Deep within me, I felt a need to talk to my Friend and lo! I saw him beside me. Page 7 of 8
“Can I stay here?” I asked him. He graciously agreed. I asked him the name of this world. He said, “It‟s called the „World of Universality‟. “What a strange name! Does it mean anything?” “Oh, broadly speaking, it means all things to all men.” “I still don‟t know who you are. Why are you so enigmatic? Why don‟t you tell me who you are?” And I said this so loudly that my sleep broke and my surreal dream was over…and I woke up on my bed in my room, feeling exaltation in my heart, the exaltation of having reached home after travelling for ages. ************************
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