Tolerance comes from, ‘many symbols for God’.

6. Tolerance comes from, ‘many symbols for God’.

The absence of religious intolerance in Hinduism is not accidental. It has grown out of the way in which Hinduism has viewed the world and looked at fellow-men and intuited the divine.

What is this view which may be called the theological base of Hindu tolerance, if I may use this expression in this context ? Expressed simply, it means that to Hinduism different symbols signify the same Reality. This is an insight which the Hindus have stressed again and again from ancient times. The Vedas, the most ancient scriptures of the Aryan race, declare that it is the “same Reality which the wise call by many names.” The Atharva Veda says: “He is Aryama; He is Yaruna; He is Rudra; He is the Great God; He is Agni; He is Surya; He is the great Yama.”

This approach means that the world is a symbol, an image, a manifestation of a hidden Godhead. By worship­ping any chosen symbol, we worship the same divinity. In its more practical aspect, the approach stands for religious tolarance. It says that the difference of symbols is unreal; that they do not call for all the slaughter and persecution that have been perpetrated in their name by certain narrow- based religions.