The more I study history, the more I see that religion has been the source and the cause for most of the conflicts in the world; most of the wars and atrocities In the world were in the name of religion. That makes one wonder what is the real purpose of religion. Religion creates so much hatred and fanaticism, causing people to lose all sense of humanity, where instead, the real purpose of religion is to make people more loving, tolerant and kind.

For instance, Christianity; it is based on the teachings of Jesus, who taught absolute compassion, forgiveness, tolerance and love. He was the most non-violent person, but still for 2,000 years all the wars have been fought in his name, where fanatical Christians wanted to impose their religion on other people. Jesus never owned anything, he renounced all material wealth, but yet they want to win back land and property for him! Isn’t that absurd?!

You can see the same thing with Islam and other religions too. If you look at Hinduism you see so much division. In one temple there are people worshipping the different Gods; some worship Shiva, some Krishna, Ganesha, Rama and so on… If you go to a Hindu temple, you wouldn’t find any quiet place to sit and meditate; there is so much noise all the time. Nobody would teach you meditation there. All they teach you there is that the priest gives blessings according to how much money you pay! All of that just is just propagating fanaticism, stupidity and superstition. That is the level that most people’s religious practices are at.

What is the real purpose of religion? It is supposed to help people curb their lower nature; man transiting from the animal to the human specie, has so much of the lower nature ingrained in him. As a human being, you have the technology of mind, senses, intellect, and self awareness; all this equipment is supposed to help you to accelerate your evolution. Being steeped in lower nature, humans just create more problems and degradation in the world; they create imbalance, destroying the rest of humanity. Religion was formulated to help man rise above and subdue the lower nature through fear and superstition. The great masters, the enlightened beings, have been saying for thousands of years that we need to adopt and develop higher qualities of love, mercy, generosity and so on. In this way, society will be of higher quality and we will be better human beings. This will help to create a better world. That should be the purpose of religion.

In every culture, you see people who are learnt and have knowledge, exploiting this situation of religion, using fear to enslave people instead of helping them to better themselves. They do that for their own purpose, because of their selfishness. Instead of doing their duty and using their knowledge to enlighten and free people, some of these so called religious people use their knowledge to enslave people, keeping them in bondage and superstition.

In some cultures like the Mayan culture, they used human sacrifice to control people through the fear and superstition. In the time of Buddha, such superstitious practices were common also to Hinduism; that is why Buddhism talks so much against all these rituals and practices. They don’t even mention the word God; because in the name of God so much stupidity and problems are perpetrated.

Though out history some people which we call “reformers” saw through all the stupidity and superstition and brought about more clarity and understanding. But sometimes these people also go into another extreme direction, substituting one superstitious belief with another form of stupidity and confusion. Some people consider the devotees who repeat the name of Rama and Krishna etc. to be ignorant and superstitious; they think themselves to be enlightened and become fanatical because they worship God as OM. It could be that the original reformers really saw beyond all forms of fanaticism and stupidity, they were truly enlightened people; but the nature of people is to gravitate towards superstition and confusion. In this way, the original teachings were diluted and degenerated and some people use that knowledge and power to create their own cults. This is the tragedy and the dilemma of humanity.

This woman called me from New York the other day. She was telling me that she is from Guayana and how she is going to teach Bhagavad Gita over there. She didn’t take any course or anything like that, but yet she proclaims and considers herself to be enlightened. So now she is going to that country to lead the “blind” people. It is said that in a blind country a one eyed man is king…. Instead of her studying with somebody who is enlightened and trying to improve herself, she wants to go on and boast her ego. Some people’s “cup” becomes full very quickly, they cannot learn too much. It is O.K to want to share your inspiration and knowledge with other people; but one should know that it is an ocean of knowledge, and one should try to learn more and improve oneself. That is what happens in the world; the blind leading the blind.

When someone is sincerely seeking liberation and enlightenment, there is always restlessness and desire for freedom, they will not be satisfied. That is what I observe in my life, from childhood, I always had that restlessness within me. As I continued in my life, I always pursued that path of freedom. If you live your life with that kind of awareness and you extricate yourself from the clutches of religion, then you experience so much freedom. When you hear Vedanta philosophy from a person who really has that awakening within him, then it helps to expand your mind and your awareness. Because of the conditioning of fear and superstition in religion, people are afraid to ask questions like “Who is God?” “What is God?” Etc. The moment you dare to ask questions like that, a whole new dimension opens up to you and you start to see though the strangle-hold that religion has on people. How many so called religious people and leaders, preachers and priests, really have that awakening within them? Most of them are fanatical people who want to keep their followers in that state of fanaticsm and superstition for their own power, glory and benefit. The more followers they have, the bigger the following becomes. It is only when you remove yourself from that strangle-hold and associate with people who’s mind is expansive, that you start to see things differently. Otherwise, it is impossible to see anything better; because you are within that cocoon, that veil of superstition and fear.

All the wars in the world stem from religion. Then it goes on to race and so on… you have the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, the Jews and Muslims in the middle-east; even though the roots are the same, they still fight. It is all about power and politics now. What is the difference between Catholics and Protestants? It all started from the teachings of Jesus; but yet they find so much difference that they kill each other for it. Even here in the Hindu Temple, even though they are all from the same religion, they still find something to fight and bicker about; they fight over what color marble they should use for the statues! It comes down to the most ridiculous things; there is no limit to the stupidity of people! One person built a statue of Hanuman that is 80 Ft. high; what happens then to my 2 inch statue of Hanuman? Is God more present in the 80 Ft. statue then in my statue?! How often can you do Puja on that big statue? It takes so much milk and so on… whereas I can worship my little statue any time I want. It shows that there is no limit to people’s confusion.

Throughout the world people are being exploited in the name of God. Religious leaders use that fear of God and their power to control people, keeping them in bondage and superstition. When you control people’s mind and keep them in ignorance and darkness that is the greatest violence. When people are enslaved physically, they still have freedom of mind. If they work hard they can develop good health, strong will and if they act properly, they can be very content and happy. But when you take away the freedom of mind and instill fear and superstition in people’s minds, then they would be degrading their consciousness. A person who is enslaved physically can even reach liberation. People are enslaved anyhow all the time in the pursuit of wealth and pleasure, trying to satisfy their greed.
Everything that we do here, Sampoorna yoga, is what religion truly is. All my teachings are meant to help people free themselves and liberate them from all levels of bondage and superstition. If you read about Sampoorna Yoga and practice it, you will see how much freedom you will experience.

Author's Bio: 

Shri Yogi Hari is a master of Hatha, Raja and Nada Yoga. He is well known and respected around the world as an exeptionaly inspiring teacher. Yogi Hari comes from the Sivananda lineage. When he met his Gurus, Swami Vishnudevananda and Swami Nadabrahmananda in 1975 he retired from the wordly life and spent 7 years in the Sivananda Ashram where he immeresed himself fully in yoga sahdana.
Sampoorna Yoga is the fruit of Yogi Hari's tireless striving for perfection in his practice and teaching. It is the yoga of fullness that intelligently integrates Hatha, Raja, Karama, Bhakti, Jnana and Nada Yoga to purify and harmonize all aspects of the human personality so that the light of the soul shines forth in its divine splendour. His approach is deep, simple and practical and helps people from every background to live a richer, happier life based on lasting yogic values. The basic teaching is that health, peace and joy are already within you. They are your birthright. Sampoorna Yoga can help you to uncover them.
Shri Yogi Hari is the author of 3 books and has recorded over 30 CD's. Regular classes, seminars, sadhana weeks, yoga teacher certification courses and satsangs are given by Shri Yogi Hari at his Ashram in Miramar, Florida.
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