Recently I stumbled across a website called Religion Facts that tries to summarize quite a number of the world’s religions in one place. They present this information under the premise that religion is interesting and knowledge is good, and that throughout all of history everybody asks themselves the same basic questions about the meaning of life, how to make the best of it, what happens after you die, etc. The goal of their website is:
… to provide free, reliable information — “just the facts” — on the various answers that have been given to these questions, as well as the rituals and customs that go along with them. This very broad definition means that we have articles on a wide variety of world religions, both ancient and modern, as well as “ways of life,” philosophies, mind-body teachings, and even some anti-religion systems like ancient Epicureanism and modern atheism.
There is a quick reference comparison chart, call the Big Religion Chart where you can compare and contrast the similarities and differences between all the religions with some useful links. It is a difficult challenge to try to condense the nuances of a whole religion into boxes on a page, but I think they do a pretty good job with it.
Like they teach us in yoga, in the end it seems there are more similarities than real differences, and the true essence of all religion is the same.
Swami Atma posted this on his blog a few days ago. I thought it was hilarious:
There were 3 good arguments that Jesus could have been Black:
- He called everyone “brother”
- He liked Gospel
- He couldn’t get a fair trial.
But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Jewish:
- He went into His Fathers business.
- He lived at home until he was 33.
- He was sure his Mother was a virgin and his mother was sure he was God.
But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus could have been Italian:
- He talked with his hands.
- He had wine with every meal.
- He used olive oil.
But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus could have been a Californian:
- He never cut his hair.
- He walked around barefoot all the time.
- He started a new religion.
But then again there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus could have been Irish:
- He never got married.
- He was always telling stories.
- He loved green pastures.
It happens very often that people think yoga is part of the Hindu religion, or that because I practice traditional Sivananda yoga which is based somewhat on the Hindu religious deities and other philosophies, that I am a Hindu.
While traditional yoga practices are spiritual (not religious) in nature, they are often associated with the Hindu religious deities because yoga originated in India where Hinduism is prevalent. Yoga practitioners can practice any religion, or none at all.
The quote above is from the AYA (Advaita Yoga Ashrama) website. They recently started a section on the Hindu deities which explains all this, and puts to rest some of the misguided notions about all the deities. If you want to know more about this, I recommend checking it out.
Pictured here is the Hindu God Ganesha, remover of obstacles.