Sanjeeva Narayan
6 min readSep 5, 2023



Quite sometime back, in one of my earliest blogs, I had written about the unifying effect of religion and its role, in spite of all its diverse manifestations, in fostering unity amongst all humankind endowed, as all religions are by underlying similarities and a universal undercurrent predisposed to the well-being and inherent prosperity of all mankind. A couple of my recent readings and experiences only, undoubtedly, cement this thought further, underlying the deeply embedded universality of all religions.

For starters I recently happened to read American Journalist and Author Elizabeth Gilbert’s Memoir — “Eat Pray Love” which chronicles her quest for self-discovery across the diversities of Italy, India and Indonesia. Almost in the beginning of the book, as she embarks on her voyage she remarks God is an experience of Supreme Love”. Going on, while seemingly casually, but definingly commenting that she has come to believe that God is simple, she comes up with the classic.

“It’s like this — I used to have this really great dog. She came from the pound. She was a mixture of about ten different breeds but seemed to have inherited the finest features of them all. She was brown. When people asked me, “What kind of dog is that?” I would always give the same answer: “She’s a brown dog.”

Similarly, when the question is raised, “What kind of God do you believe in?” my answer is easy: “I believe in a magnificent God.”

The undercurrent, perceptively strong at that, being that supreme, love compassion, understanding et al are values which are the preserve of the entire, pantheon of religions. Of course, all religions, without exception, promote, foster and propagate such values and, of course, have innate similarities and commonalities of approach — the differences, to my mind, being only marginal and basically rooted in methodology and professed approach.

To take another example, often (not too infrequent at that) do you not see diverse religious places such as Mosques, Temples, Gurudwaras in close proximity. We might be tempted to brush away such instances as merely coincidental, to my mind they represent a manifestation of the Ultimate God, in its overarching and all-pervading magnificence to compound and complement the positive vibes of all religious streams to generate bonhomie and equanimity for all people. Not only that, all places of worship again, irrespective of religion manifest deep solemnity, sobriety with the ultimate and sole aim of providing peace and restoring a sense of balance to the physical body and inanimate soul.

The above logic/argument can also be extended to cover certain areas of our daily lives where our inter-personal dealings do and invariably reflect, if I may say, an indifference to the religion of the person whom we are engaging with. Almost all greetings, blessings, expressions of love and well-being are religion neutral but based on the universal hope of the well-being of everyone that you come into contact with. All of them, without exception, wish for the well-being of the person to whom they are given with reference to a Universal Almighty — an omnipresent and omniscient God. To take an example, do not people across all religions, most commonly use the words “May God Bless you” while conveying God wishes referring to God in his universal form with almost rarely any reference to particular God which he/she might relate to, follow or worship in their individual capacity.

Other most common greetings are “May Peace be Upon You” or even “May God Bless you with Health, Happiness, Success/Prosperity” or any suitable variation thereof. All these greetings seek the benediction of an omniscient God and not any specific deity. Even in greetings which are commonly spoken in certain religions, while the dialect/language may be specific, they invoke God in its omnipresent manifestation. For instance, the common Sikh Greeting “Sat Sri Akal” when translated comes out as “the eternal timeless being i.e. God is the ultimate truth”. The most common Islamic greeting — “Assalaam Alaikum” means “Peace be upon you”, with the gracious response “Wa-Alaikum — Assalaam” meaning “And upon you too”. All these greetings convey the desire and wish for God’s mercy and blessings to be showered on the entire spectrum of humanity, regardless of whatever religion they may profess or the caste, community, region, custom to which they might belong to.

Here I am also reminded of the ultimate and spontaneous words that my late father Principal Shanti Narayan ( a Saint, albeit, in ordinary robes) used to say — “He Ishwar Sabka Bhala Karo” (Oh God, let your benevolent blessings keep shining on everyone perpetually). That would again exemplify the ultimate commonality of all religions to feelings of well-ness, goodwill and blessing for all our fellow being. Nowhere is this more self-evident than in the manner in which we greet and bless fellow human beings wherein our expression and, of course, feelings are not related to the religion or community of the person to whom we are addressing them.

Discussing the essential commonalities and universality of religions from another angle, I recently happened to go through an article about the essential similarities between Jesus Christ and Lord Krishna. While both, individually, have fascinating life stories, both manifested themselves as saviors of mankind and appeared as reincarnation of God during specially critical times for its people. To take the issue of similarities further, among other things, both were born to one set of parents but raised by another and in unusual places (Krishna in a prison cell, Jesus in a manger), both were divinely saved from death pronouncements, evil forces pursued both Jesus and Krishna, of course, in vain. Krishna is personified as a cowherd and Jesus as a shepherd etc. And, of course, both represent the divine forces who manifested themselves to ingratiate humanity with the good and noble way of life.

Cementing the above thought process further and fortuitously at that is the following quote from the Holy Quran displayed outside the Jamia Masjid in Pahalgam (Jammu and Kashmir) which I happened to see during my recent visit there.

“Help one another in acts of piety and righteousness.

And do not assist each other in acts of sinfulness and transgression.

And be aware of Allah;

Verily Allah is severe in punishment “

(Quran 5:2)

Of course, the same is true of all religions and the teachings espoused by their spiritual Gurus and founding fathers. In my limited, perhaps biased search for an amiable word view, one could not find any religious teachings, discourses or scriptures of the contrary. And I have no reason to believe that any such exists. For religion is a means of unifying humanity, fostering goodwill and equanimity and not to promote, strife and plant divisive tendencies.

My this belief in the ultimate magnificence and universality of God was further cemented when I read the following quote attributed to the “Greatest” Muhammad Ali who in an attempt to guide people to the heavenly summit of fearless humanity said:-

“We all have the same God only serve him differently.

Religion contains Faith.

Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams — they all have different names, but they all contain water.

Just as religions do — they all contain truth expressed in different way, forms and lives.

When you believe in God you should believe that all people are part of one family.

If you love God you cannot love only some of his children

Spirituality is recognizing the divine light that is within us all.

It does not belong to any particular religion.

It belongs to everyone.”

While putting my above thoughts to paper, I do not in the least claim to have done a deep research into all religions or to any theological knowledge but just attempted to propagate and foster the thought of God being essentially universal and all Gods, without exception, whatsoever promoting congeniality and well-being. If my research/examples seem to be drawn from selected faiths, the same is purely accidental and per chance — an outcome of some particular reading/experience/interaction. The belief in the essential universality of all religions remains deeply embedded and should be the touchstone for all out interpersonal interactions and dealing.

While all Gods subjects are entitled equally and rightfully to his beautiful benedictions, the corresponding duty to love God is no less significant as the following quote of the sage Swami Vivekanand emphasizes:-

“There is a proverb in our language –

If I want to be a hunter, I’ll hunt rhinoceros;

If I want to be a robber, I’ll rob the king’s treasury.

What is the use of robbing beggars or hunting ants?

So, if you want to love, love God.”

Love and worship whichever God your faith or thought process ordains, but at the end of the day God, to again quote Elizabeth Gilbert, is “magnificent” and bountiful in his benedictions.