All parents are anxious to teach their children religion right from childhood, because once a child grows up he will start to think and to cause trouble. He will raise all sorts of questions – and not finding any satisfactory answers, will do things difficult for the parents to face. This is why parents are keen to teach their children religion right from infancy – when the child is unaware of many things, when he is vulnerable to learning any kind of stupidity. This is how people become Mohammedans, Hindus, Jainas, Buddhists, Christians – whatsoever you teach them to become.
And so, those we call religious people are often found to be unintelligent. They lack intelligence, because what we call religion is something which has poisoned us before intelligence could arise in us – and even afterward it continues its inner hold. No wonder Hindus and Mohammedans fight with each other in the name of God, in the name of their temples and their mosques.
Does God come in many varieties? Is the God Hindus worship of one kind, and the God the Mohammedans worship of another? Is that why Hindus feel their God is desecrated if an idol is destroyed? Or Mohammedans feel their God is dishonored if a mosque is destroyed or burned?
Actually, God is “that which is.” It exists as much in a mosque as it does in a temple. It exists as much in a slaughterhouse as it does in a place of worship. It exists as much in a tavern as it does in a mosque. It is as present in a thief as in a holy man – not one iota less; that can never be. Who else is dwelling in a thief if not the divine? It is as present in Rama as in Ravana – it is not one iota less in Ravana. It exists as much within a Hindu as it does within a Mohammedan.
But the problem is: if we come to believe that the same divinity exists in everyone, our God-manufacturing industry will suffer heavily. So in order to prevent this from happening, we keep on imposing our respective Gods. If a Hindu looks at a flower he will project his own God on it, see his God in it, whereas a Mohammedan will project, visualize his God. They can even pick a fight over this, although perhaps such a Hindu-Mohammedan conflict is a little far-fetched.
Their establishments are at a little distance from each other – but there are even quarrels between the closely related “divinity shops.” For example, there is quite a distance between Kashi and Mecca, but there is not much distance in Kashi between the temples of Rama and Krishna. And yet the same degree of trouble can erupt between them.
I have heard about a great saint…I am calling him great because people used to call him great, and I am calling him a saint only because people used to call him a saint.
He was a devotee of Rama. Once he was taken to the temple of Krishna. When he saw the idol of Krishna holding a flute in his hands, he refused to bow down to the image. Standing before the image, he said, “If you would take up the bow and arrow, only then could I bow down to you, for then you would be my Lord Rama.” How strange! We place conditions on God also – how and in which manner or position he should present himself. We prescribe the setting; we make our requirements – only then are we prepared to worship.