World Religions and the Spirit of Tolerance

In its declaration the United Nations held the year 1995 as the year of tolerance. Tolerance however, is a permanent human requirement.

All the great religions of the world can be broadly divided into two categories: Aryan religions and Semitic religions. So far as I have studied I have found that tolerance has been given equal importance in both these types of religions. Religion makes a man a spiritually developed human being. One who has elevated his spirituality cannot afford intolerance. The behaviour of a truly religious person is always one of tolerance.

So far as I have studied the difference between the two types of religions is that of rationale of tolerance instead of tolerance itself. The philosophic ground of tolerance in the Aryan religions is derived from their belief that truth is an all-pervading reality. According to this concept, the psychology of a religious person is that ‘If I am in the right, you too, according to your own tradition are in the right.” That is to say, tolerance in Aryan religions is based on the concept of manyness of reality.

The philosophic base of tolerance in Semitic religions is different from this, as these religions believe in the principle of oneness of reality. However, so far as the question of human respect is concerned, Semitic religions lay equal emphasis on this value. That is to say, the difference in this respect in both the branches of religions is one of philosophy not of practice.

To put it differently the basis of tolerance in Aryan religions is on mutual recognition, while its basis in semitic religions is on mutual respect. This difference is only one of philosophic explanation. So far as practical behaviour is concerned, there is no difference in either religion in this respect.

To sum it up, the spirit of tolerance is the essence of all religions. The man produced by religion can never be divested of the spirit of tolerance. Intolerance appears to be directed at others, but it is akin to killing man’s own religious personality. Then how can a sincere person be willing to kill himself by his own hands.