According to the Vedic calendar, now is the era of Kali Yuga – the era of spiritual degradation. At this time, religion practically loses its essence and ceases to act as an applied spiritual technology or science. In most cases, it turns into a sentimental faith, a religious confession, a ritual or a national tradition.

Most people no longer perceive religion as something useful. It is simply being tolerated as a relic of the past or as a human sentimentality. And sometimes religion even becomes a cause of conflicts.

So why has that which should direct people to the common Father and be a way to solve many problems, become a problem itself?

It happened because the clergy mostly has lost the spiritual knowledge, and traditional religious institutions have become materialistic, resembling more of social and political organizations. And that in itself gives rise to unlimited and different kinds of pseudo-spiritual teachings.

So surely every reasonable person has asked the question: “Why is there one God but many religions?”

Really, isn’t that strange for God to allow such a pluralism, which often generates animosity between people? After all, we live in a world where there are common physical laws. It would be logical to assume that in the spiritual realm there must also be the unified common laws. So why are there so many differences and contradictions?

Well, it has two reasons: external and internal.


The external factors include ethnic, cultural, linguistic and geographical differences, which were the underlying conditions for the development of the world’s major religions. Just as a beam of light passing through the lens is split into a spectrum, similarly one religion, refracted through the various circumstances of this world, acquires different forms.

It is therefore quite natural that people of different spiritual traditions use different terms, different dress, rituals, etc.


Besides that, the principle of ” Chinese whispers” works flawlessly when the message is being distorted while being passed down from generation to generation. And the further into the history more changes have taken place, which are then reflected in the external form.

Even within the major religions, the splitting begins to occur over time, and new directions are being explored. And that happens due to the internal reasons. They include different levels of internal culture of the adherents and different personal motivation.

Within one tradition, different people may have different motives that causes them to make changes in the philosophy and practice, and later it develops into various separate organizations. This process is inevitable.

Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Jesus Christ, and Muhammad at different times and in different places appealed to different people with different levels of education. And it’s quite natural that they had to adapt the same truths according to the place, time and circumstances.

For example, if your appliance operates on 110 volts, and you plug it into the outlet at 220 volts without any adapter, it will overheat and break down.

The same principle is applied in education, the first-graders are given the most basic information, and the high school students study more complex things. But the textbooks for different grades are not fundamentally different. They are different stages of a unified education system.

In the spiritual realm, to avoid “indigestion” there is the same principle of knowledge adaptation in accordance with people’s level of understanding. Moreover, the spiritual needs of people are also different.

Inder am Goethe-Institut Neu Delhi

For example, one person, learning a foreign language, uses a little phrasebook to meet his simple needs, while another requires a multi-volume dictionary that allows him to understand the details and the subtleties of the language. Similarly, some religions are meant to cover the basics of morality whereas others dive into the most subtle details of spirituality.

So, let’s try to explore the phenomena of religion from inside and outside, using the table below. The table reveals the phenomena of religion in three main ways: as a religious confession, as an appeal to God and as a requirement of the soul. These three types of religion are reflected in the three columns of the table.

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The first column regards religion as confession, which is often associated with a national identity. Since different nations are different in appearance, the result of such a superficial approach to religion is often conflicts.

Fanatical followers are outraged by the fact that other traditions are “all wrong”.
Here are a few examples of conflicts caused by such superficial approach to religion: in Northern Ireland there is a constant conflict between the Protestants and the Catholics, in Serbia – the Orthodox and the Muslims, in northern India – the Muslims and the Hindus. At this level, people see only the differences in hairstyles, clothing, symbols, terminology and ritual.

A nationalistic approach to religion also creates unexpected problems. For example, if a father is an Italian and a mother is a Japanese (or vice versa), whose religion should their children follow? A father – an Italian – is supposed to be a Catholic and a Japanese mother – a Buddhist. Who should their children betray – Christ or Buddha? Both ways the children are “traitors”.

Seeing such misunderstandings in the religious environment, many intelligent people turn away from religion altogether or try to practice a spiritual life without belonging to the external forms. But it is almost impossible.

To practice a spiritual life outside the tradition is as uncomfortable as drinking water without a glass. A form or a glass is not so important but it helps to perceive the content – the essence.

Now let’s consider the second column – a religion as an appeal to God. If the first column emphasizes the external designations and ethnicity, the second column deals with the inner world or the human subtle body. For example, in the first column you are a Christian. The second column reveals your motives – why are you a Christian? The answer may be quite ambiguous.

In general, there are three groups of motives:

• Some people want material benefits (health, wealth, luck, etc.)
• Other people want liberation from matter or salvation
• Others want personal relationships with God – the highest form of love.

All three types of motives can be found in any religious tradition.

For the first category, God is not the goal but the means to achieve their material plans.

A majority of adherents of any religion are on this level. Because of their insufficient spiritual maturity they are prone to conflicts with other religious traditions. Their motivations are the lowest, however they gradually get purified and become aware of the frailty of matter and eventually can progress to a higher category.

The second category is the people that are tired of the material life. They aspire for peace and eternity. Their goal is salvation or nirvana. They are attracted to a simpler life; they love philosophy and tend to austerities. These people are more spiritually mature and therefore more tolerant of others.

They don’t claim any material possessions to be their property, because this world is no longer attractive to them. Such people are fewer. Those who perceive religion as a path to God, have no problems with other religious confessions. Therefore, they see more diversity than the differences, which reduce the risk of conflicts.

The third category are those who do not aspire for the material (like the first), and do not try to renounce it (like the second), but try to utilize everything in the service of God in order to develop the relationships with Him. And since these people perceive everything in relation to God, they are friendly to all, as God’s creation. By loving God, they love everyone. Such people are very rare.

Elementary Students

As a schoolboy goes from grade to grade, learning the higher knowledge, in the same way the adherents of any denomination must make an internal progress by shifting the motivation from a low to a higher. Otherwise, one will remain an eternal newbie.

The motive of turning to God for the sake of development of love is naturally coherent with the third column of the table – religion as a requirement of the soul.

Absolutely everyone naturally feels a need for God, because we are all His parts and parcels and always dependent on Him.

But the difference is that some people feel a dependence on a higher power indirectly, by depending on the material energy, while others clearly understand that material nature is controlled by God, and therefore want to have the direct relationships with Him.

These people feel the need for God as strongly as ordinary people feel the need for food, water and air. As the Vedas say, “we can’t want that which does not exist.” For example, our physical body may require only those elements that exist in nature, because the body itself is made of this nature. Similarly, the soul, being a part of God, directly or indirectly needs Him.

If the first two columns reflect the need of God in connection with matter (give me matter or free me from matter), the third column reflects the need of God Himself, and not His energies. Now God becomes the goal and not a means to achieving personal plans. Those who perceive religion at this level, regardless of the denomination, have the deepest understanding of religion. They see the unity of all spiritual traditions.

So now we can connect all the dots – all three columns together, beginning from the end.
The very need for God emanates from the soul (column 3), then it gets tainted by certain motivations in the mind (column 2) and comes to the surface in the form of a particular faith (column 1).

Having examined the phenomena of religion in the table, we can see some of the external and internal causes of differences in spiritual traditions. But this applies only to true religions coming from God and leading to Him.


Unfortunately, they do not limit the religious palette. There is an entire “bouquet” of human creations in this area, which is also often considered a religion, although, in fact, are not.

It is just as the clandestine manufacturers forge the biggest world brands and sell the products at a very cheap price. Oddly enough, there are a lot of buyers. At the end of the day, where do you find more people – in the expensive retail store or on the Chinese market?

Similarly, the market of spiritual services offers a lot of dilute and castrated teachings that attract the audience avid for the cheaper products.

While on the one hand, it is bad, on the other hand – it’s a natural separator that separates the sincere people that are willing to “pay full price” from those who want to get the same, but for nothing, not even realizing that it is a self-deception.

Many inexperienced people take religion for various forms of magic, systems for development of inner capabilities, different ethical and health systems, which in fact are not even close to spiritual paths. To be called a religion the system must contain a clear understanding of God, the soul and their relationship. Otherwise it is anything but a religion.

Besides that the Vedas also point out several reasons for the differences of religions.

First off, it is the three modes of nature. People under the influence of goodness tend to worship the Supreme (regardless of religion). Those who are under the influence of passion worship “the mighty of this world”, and those who are influenced by the mode of ignorance worship ghosts and spirits.

Secondly, the Vedas say that God has many guises, and His various forms have different fans, and this fact also adds to a variety of external forms of religion.

There’s no need to try to artificially unite all religions into one, because they are already united by the common goal and are like different steps in one ladder.

All that is needed is to learn to distinguish the true spiritual message of cheap fakes on the basis of knowledge and common sense. As for diversity, if it is inherent in the material life, why can’t it be present in the spiritual life?

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