Contemplation and Religion

In Contemplation are contained all the formalities of religion. Religion is a unique thing which is helpful in both the worlds. Without adopting it, man cannot be happy. Where religion is held as nought, spirituality fails to grow. Religion is the true fountain-head of life in this world and the next. Without religion one cannot travel a step on the Path of Spirituality (Parmarth). The Scriptures lay emphasis on first strengthening the foundation of religion and thereafter devoting oneself to Naam or Shabd; for without the former, the latter is devoid of benefits. Religion keeps everything in its proper place, in balance and in unison. It opens the inner vision, with the result that one learns the correct value of things. Thus, truth appears as truth, and untruth as untruth. All prophets and Saints have stressed the need for religion.

Lord Krishna mentions in the Gita:

Whenever evil predominates over virtue and religion is on the decline, I incarnate in every age to protect the righteous, to destroy the wicked, and to re-establish religion.

Guru Gobind Singh says similarly:

Akal (the Timeless) has sent me into this world to lead the people onto the right path and to wean them away from evil.

The word dharam – religion – is derived from the root Dhri which means ‚to imbibe‘, ‚to be supported by‘. It is a Power which, affording support to the entire universe, keeps it stable. Some say that the world rests on the horns of a bullock. Others, that it is balanced on the forehead of Shesh Nag, the mythical snake.

Guru Nanak in the Jap Ji settles the issue by saying:

The world is sustained by religion.

What kind of Dharam sustains the world? One that is born of mercy, and one that keeps the entire universe in a state of equilibrium and free from chaos by means of the tender cord of contentment. The people who believe in God have their religion in Naam, which sustains everything. As conscious co-workers of Naam, they follow its principles and surrender to His Will. They become attached to religion. They live by religion. They are religion incarnate.

According to the Vishnu Puran, religion has four main tenets:

  1. Sat, which means unchangable permanence.

  2. Yag, which literally means sacrifice, but esoterically refers to the practice of charity.

  3. Puja, which means worship, good conduct, cleanliness.

  4. Simran, or the repetition of the Holy Names.

Ravi Das and Bhai Gurdas also say the same thing.

Bhai Mani Singh – an humble disciple of Guru Gobind Singh; he remained a celibate and devoted his life to the Guru´s service –, however, has described the four tenets of religion as follows:

  1. Naam, Shabd or Sound Current.

  2. Charity, which comprises mercy and sacrifice, to think of the good of others, to forgive, to consider everything as belonging to God, and to give it away to God’s children.

  3. Snan, which means a bath. Esoterically, it comprises worship, good conduct and cleanliness; to withdraw the mind from wrong ways such as falsehood, violence and cheating; and to withdraw the intellect from evil thoughts and collect it at the Third Eye.

  4. Gyan or knowledge, which is the achievement of Truth.

Guru Ram Das says:

On Contemplation being successfully completed, all the four essentials of religion easily become part of the disciple.