For Dr Karan Singh, philosopher, environmentalist, statesman, orator, author and politician, life is a continuous effort to realize the eternal Brahman and work for the greatest common good. He is the chairman of Temple of Understanding, an international inter-faith organization, president of the International Center for Science, Culture and Consciousness, chairman of the Auroville Foundation and member of the UNESCO Project on Universal Ethics. He has extensively lectured on Indian culture and philosophy and has set up 'India Forum', a think-tank on contemporary issues. Dr. Singh has also authored several widely acclaimed books, including Essays on Hinduism, In Defense of Religion and One Man's World.
MAN DIVINEExcerpt from Dr Karan Singh's Essays on Hinduism
There are some basic concepts we must accept if religion is to develop into a dynamic force. The first is the unity of the human race. The Rig Vedic vasudhaiva kutumbakam (the world as a family) is increasingly becoming a reality. With supersonic travel and global telecommunications, the world is steadily shrinking, and a concept that came to our rishis in a flash of inspiration has now assumed tremendous relevance.
The growing gap between man's destructive ability and his capacity for constructive co-operation poses a serious threat to our existence, and unless we can look upon mankind as a single family, it will not be possible for man to survive much longer. The second concept is the divinity of man. The Upanishads have a marvelous phrase for the human race, amrtasya putrah (children of immortality). Every human being in this world, regardless of where he lives or what beliefs he professes, enshrines a spark of the divine.
Thirdly, we come to the essential unity of all religions, 'unity' rather than 'tolerance', because tolerance implies a somewhat grudging agreement to let other religions continue to exist. What is required is an active acceptance of the doctrine put forward in the Rig Vedic dictum: ekam sad viprah bahudha vadanti (Truth is one, the wise call it by various names). An unequivocal acceptance of the fact that all religions are different paths leading to the same goal forms the true foundation for an enlightened secularism.
Finally, there is the reconstruction of society. It is our duty to work for the betterment of society, bahujana sukhaya bahujana hitaya ca (for the happiness and welfare of the many) as the Upanishad has it.
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