Religion stands for spiritual unfoldment and not for mere creeds and rituals. The primary function of religious discipline is saint-making. Religion has fostered the development of high virtues. Dogma, ritual, philosophy all has their importance only to the extent that they lead the spiritual aspirant to direct experience of truth. Science is the search for truth in the external world whereas religion is the search for truth in the internal world. Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa in 19th century, the Guru of Sri Vivekananda, experienced the oneness of all religions by practicing the respective paths and realized their Ishtas (God).
All religions have its own ideal or Ishta. But core of all religion is same. Ethics is common denominator in so many religions. From oneness flow all the moral and ethical values. Once one has realized the indwelling divinity of his own nature, he automatically sees the same divinity dwelling equally within all beings and all things.
Religion has inspired people to great spiritual heights, but it has also been the source of much strife in the world. In order to develop yearning and passionate love of God (anuraga) one also had to cultivate dispassion (viraga) and the renunciation of lust and greed. Passion for God-realization should be the highest goal.
What is Religion:
As per Oxford Dictionary, Religion is the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. Every religion has got four aspects viz. philosophy, rituals, mythology and scriptures. Besides this, religions have got pilgrimages, fasting and charity. Most of the religions have a book also. All religions which originated later have a book for their propagation.
What is Religion in Hinduism:
Hinduism being the most ancient religion has multitude of philosophy, rituals, scriptures, mythology, cosmology, festivals, pilgrimage sites, spiritual practices, worship systems etc. to feed the varied temperamental people. It accommodates all types of people rather than people to adjust into prescriptions of religion. This shows that Hinduism is more progressive and dynamic.
Hinduism is referred as Sanatana Dharma, the eternal way". It is primarily revealed in the Vedas. Sanatana Dharma is time-tested and has its foundation on science and spirituality. Sanatana Dharma provides solutions for every problem of life and facilitates immortality.
People require faith for sustenance and inspiration. Philosophy is the core of religion. The body of rituals helps to retain the ideas. Rituals have been described as concretized philosophy. Philosophy when put into practice, and in a more complex form that will be ritual. Rituals of the religion perform the role to bind people. The body of mythology, with tales of saints and sages, and the deities and others, provide a sort of support for the spiritual ideas that we uphold. There is a body of conduct – how to behave in life, a body of moral principles.
Religion is useful for the individual to help in his weaker moments, to give them strength to conduct his life, and to inculcate certain virtues for the good society, and then religion must also take him stage by stage from this to the trans-social level of finding out the ultimate truth. Truth is nothing but God.
Religion ideals inspire higher motives and endeavors in people. Religion instills the qualities necessary for peace and unity by inspiring people to be virtuous, loving, sympathetic, altruistic, and non-violent. Religion is the only direct agency to teach people these higher virtues.
Hinduism is not only most ancient religion, but also inculcates discipline in every sphere of life including environment, society and entire world. Hinduism has developed on sound footing of science and spirituality. It is practically not possible to highlight every aspect of Hinduism in this article but a few points are mentioned as under:
As per modern science, the almighty that has created this world has made division of work in the basic structural, functional, and biological unit i.e. cell. The cell membrane acts for protection (Kshatriya), DNA for long-term storage of knowledge (Brahmin), RNA for information transport (Shudra) and Mitochondria for producing energy (Vaishya).
Reference: Vedanta & Vivekananda by Swami Swahananda