Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion – several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbour as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path to happiness and heaven” – Mark Twain
Man, Mark Twain affirms, is the only animal in the world that is religious. To be more precise, religious to a fault and the only animal that believes in a God Almighty. A God, or set of Gods, with the power of creation, preservation and destruction in this world and reward or retribution in the world to come later.
The other animals, from the tiny ants and insects to the mighty pachyderms, from the mauling street dogs to the ferocious beasts of the wilderness, do not at all seem to have any God to worship, any place of worship or any religion to follow. Our scientists and naturalists have studied them all in-depth, classified them and know absolutely everything about them, from birth to adulthood to procreation to death and beyond. But none of them say there is a God these animals fear or love, a God they worship or have any festivities in celebration of any God. In the cycle of their birth, living and death they follow the evolutionary pattern of growth of living organisms that does not at all envisage a creator, preserver or destroyer of our Godly kind.
Why don’t we sensibly follow the precept of these lesser but obviously wiser animals? Because we mistakenly think we are better than them, we call ourselves Homo Sapiens (Wise Men), we vaunt our unlimited intelligence and a lot more unlimited commonsense, we write histories, we have charted geography of the globe and beyond, we travel the ultimate expanse of space, we can see the past and foresee the future. With vehemence we say Our God created it all and He wanted it this way, that is Our Way.
And along with Our God came Our Religion, two concepts that remained as the bedrock of much religious strife and bloodshed and human suffering in different parts of the world during the past several, several centuries.
Just think of what a wonderful and peaceful and Eden-like world our world would turn to be without any such religious strife, or bellum sacrum, or Holy War, as the Italians called it. But a pre-condition for this is that the people of the world should rise above religion and rise above God, both their own creations.
It is indeed a difficult proposition in the scheme of things of the present world order, but something that is bound to come in the future, near or far. A time is bound to come when the people would realise the futility of following religious and devotional practices that separated humanity and set one sect against another, instead of seeking to unify them to enjoy the common inheritance of this world’s wonder. It is only when they do it would they be entitled to the self-fastened tag of Homo Sapiens, Wise Men.
In keeping with the general characteristic of human nature, Gods, invented of course by men, are cultivated and promoted by men as much on a commercial scale as on spiritual scale the world over. There are billionaires and millionaires among the divinities as among the people. Once such filthy riches are around, God’s human minions, who are in fact Mammons in disguise, seek to ensure continuance of God, the Almighty, and people’s single-minded adherence to Him and devotion to Him.
But would the Gods last for ever? Somewhat unlikely as history shows that many Gods of the distant past, like Odin, Jove, Frigg, Baldr or Sun god Ra, and many, many more, who reigned supreme once upon a time, have all vanished from the face of the earth in the relentless passage of Time. And Time does not distinguish between Gods and Men. When the Time comes they all have to go.
But there is one God who does not go away. From time immemorial that God has been reigning supreme, having a constant connection with the humans and other living beings, every day, every hour, every minute. And He wields the power of life and death over the humans. He is all around us and within us every minute, every second of our life : The Air we breathe. From the first breath of the newborn to the last breath of the dying man, that God of Air is in constant, second by second, interaction with us. With its Oxygen content so vital for life, that Air assumes the role of the Trinity as the Creator and Preserver of life and ultimately as the Destroyer.
We may call it by any name, as God, the Almighty, Paramatma or whatever, or even simply as Air. Without that Air enveloping the earth, which contains life sustaining elements, there would be no life anywhere. It envelops the world as a massive reservoir of life energy to which every individual on earth, irrespective of religion, caste or creed or nationality, gets connected.
The moment that supply is withdrawn the human is deprived of life energy and becomes a thing of the past.
When we have such a powerful God all around us and within us, do we need to go anywhere else to pray and plead?