Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

A Comparative Look at Religions

Lavanya Dinesh

By DR. Maulik Trivedi, MD

Have you wondered what religions are really for? Are they truly a way to seek 'God'? Or, are they a way to have peace amongst humanity? Or, from another perspective, are they just 'branded franchises?'

We can argue and justify all of these views from different perspectives. However, the real questions remain; what is the essence of any religion? Did Buddha, Christ, Mohammad or Krishna ever even want a religion established in their legacy? Ultimately, at the personal level, what significance does religion hold to the individual mindbody of a person, if any?

In modern times, all too often we hear about religion through its media context. Typical media attention focuses on how the new Pope is reshaping Christianity or what is the latest political stance of the Islamic leadership in the Middle East. It seems common news that the 'so-called' religion is chasing power and popularity. Additionally, our understanding about each religion stems from what we recognize as the practices and rituals that a group of people perform. Each group of religious practitioners appears to be following a different method. Consequently, religions are often recognized in their popular version as being in contrast to one another. When we contrast, we differentiate. When we differentiate, we divide. Division cannot lead to the essence of religion. Division cannot lead us to God. Only unity can!

To understand the essence of religion, however, one must give a comparative look at religions. Comparative scrutiny of religion can lead to unity and peace. Mahatma Gandhi wrote about this in his autobiography. He encouraged each person to have a comparative awareness of all religions, not just a feverish and blind commitment to their own. He encouraged people to seek 'God' in 'Truth.' To accomplish this, he preached fearless search for truth. Through his actions, he became the change that he wanted to see in the world. He is recognized the single most influential beacon for peace in modern times.

The famous jazz musician Wynton Marsalis recently said on the role of music in religion, "All musics are One ... There's a place for everyone in the house of God." He emphasized that no matter what era or what genre a musical composition comes from, it is universally one! Likewise, in the eyes of God, we are all one!

If you start by thinking about music from a comparative perspective, you can easily understand the notes and scales parallel each other from culture to culture and even from one time period to another throughout history. When seen in their simplest form, there are 7 notes that make up the scale in all types of music. There is an essential truth to music contained in the same 7 notes. Music from any era, written for any instrument or sung by any one, always follows the same 7 note format. Doesn't it make you wonder if there an eighth note somewhere? Why is it that there are only 7 notes?

Well, the answer is actually contained in another group of 7s, the rainbow. As you know the rainbow is composed of exactly 7 colors. Have you ever wonder why there are exactly and only 7 colors in the rainbow?

The answer lies in the basic structure of our mindbody. The mind's ability to perceive colors and recognize different musical notes is contained in the neurological plexus (network) of the human body. You see, at various locations in the midline of the body are the major intersecting routes of our nervous system. Each intersection is called a 'Chakra' in yogic language. The word 'chakra' in Sanskrit refers to a flat round object spinning around its axis at great speed. And, guess what? There are exactly and only 7 chakras in each person's body. What is even more phenomenal is that each of the seven chakras is associated with a specific color and a specific sound. In fact, the colors of the rainbow correlate with the colors associated with each chakra in the exact order. This is the beauty and wonder of how our inner mind and body determine the awareness we have about the world outside.

It is because of the seven chakras that you will be able to divide everything that you contrast into seven different core qualities. The more you dwell on the differences, the more you will cause disturbances in your peaceful awareness. However, if you unify your awareness on the oneness of everything, you will create natural and self-sustaining peace.

The minbody practice of meditation helps us unify this essential wonder and beauty outside and within. When we meditate, we essentially focus all of our attention on a specific midline location, namely one of the chakras. We can know which chakra we are at by recognizing the color that we visualize. Using music as a method for inviting our awareness to any of the chakras is a common method of meditation.

Music is a tool for helping us experience our essential nature as a spiritual being. Likewise, when we are able to employ any religious practice to experience the oneness of everything, we are at our spiritual core. It does not matter what 'brand' of religion you follow. Given a comparative look, all religions advise us to do the same things. Essentially, all religions are one.

When you follow the essential teachings of a religion, you can only become more peaceful within. This, in turn, leads to being more peaceful outside. That is how world peace can eventually happen through practice of essential teachings of any religion. Peace happens one person at a time and spread to others they encounter in their daily life. Are you ready to commit your mindbody to such a path?

Maulik Trivedi, MD, is a practicing psychiatrist and a MindBody physician. For details, visit You can also follow him on Twitter @MindBodyYogaMD

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