Gandhiji felt that all human beings are imperfect. We cannot know the
fully. But we can strive to reach the Truth. All religions are efforts
in this direction. They are different revelations of the same Truth. But
they are conditioned by their times. Moreover, they are expressed through
men, who are imperfect. Howsoever great they may be, they are bound to
be imperfect while they are in the mortal body. All the religions are
therefore open to evolution and reinterpretation in keeping with the time.
Basic moral principles are common to all the religions. They help their
adherents. All the religions are different paths leading to the Supreme
Truth. The words may differ, the emphasis may differ, but there is a basic
unity. The spiritual experiences and teachings of the prophets and the
sages are the common heritage of mankind. Different religions may prescribe
different modes of worship but God is one. The religions have a temporal
part too. That can and should be changed from time to time.
In view of this, we should have equal respect for all to the religions.
This is also dictated by the principle of non-violence. Considering Truth
as our monopoly, is a breach of non-violence. This leads to conflicts.
We should not have blind faith in our religion, which we have got by accident.
Blind faith leads to fanaticism. A fanatic man cannot be religious in
the true sense of the term. We should therefore be humble and have open
mind. We should learn good things from other religions and discard wrong
and irrelevant things from our own religion. Others should be helped to
do the same. This process would lead all to the Truth. It will also result
in social harmony.
Gandhiji did not like the word ?Tolerance?. It implies superiority
of our faith. One should not just tolerate other religions. He should
respect them equally, not as a temporary expedient or a political gimmick.
It should be out of deep conviction. Spiritual experience confirms this
conviction. It may also be said that such a respect also leads to spiritual
Religion is not a divisive factor. But communal politics is divisive.
The vow ?Equal respect for all religions? is against communal
politics. Gandhiji had equal respect for all religions since his childhood.
His study of different religions and contact with persons of different
faiths reinforced such a respect. He fought against communalism throughout
his life and became a martyr for this cause. His ashram prayers included
songs and hymns from different religions. This had good impact.
Equimindedness solves many difficulties and leads to humility. This vow
is immensely useful in a society where people belong to different faiths.