Proselytizing (conversion) is not admitted by Sri Sri Thakur. This aspect of Sri Sri Thakur’s view is worth elucidating, in the backdrop of huge disturbances currently erupting in different parts of the world on this issue. This view of Sri Sri Thakur that there will not be a proselyte (convert) in his disciples is a radical departure from the practices observed in other established religions.
In Sri Sri Thakur’s view, one believer will accept Sri Sri Thakur as Guru and follow Sri Sri Thakur’s principles. But that is not a reason for him to forsake his ‘religion’, whichever he or she is born into. That means, a Muslim by birth can accept Sri Sri Thakur and practice his principles, still he / she will remain a Muslim. Similarly, a Christian can follow Sri Sri Thakur’s principles and yet he / she will remain a Christian.
Sri Sri Thakur never wanted a change of natural identity, biological, cultural or religious affiliation.
At a basic level, Sri Sri Thakur did not admit multiplicity of religions. He says: religion is a way of ‘life and growth’. All the so called major religions in the world are actually different views of the way of ‘life and growth’. At different points in the history of humanity, prophets have come and after each prophet his ideological viewpoints have been consolidated in the form of a religious identity and that is how successive prophets’ followers have maintained their independent group identities.
In a sense, the formation of a religion (or independent cult) after the successive prophets is perhaps an aberration of the prophets’ ideology. I am not sure, if prophets wanted to separate their identity from their past prophets. Though ideologically it was not required to maintain separate groups, perhaps it became a necessity of the time. By the time successor prophet comes, the previous prophet’s ideology would already have been distorted to an extent that it must have been felt necessary to maintain a distinct identify for the successor prophet for the purpose of maintaining purity, clarity and novelty. That is how, though it is a clear ideological aberration, the practice of formation of new religion has become a historical necessity, repeated after demise of every prophet. That is how we have so many major religions and each one is sort of born of one prophet of the contemporary time.
History of all the religions of the world is a long and complicated story. There have been innumerable vicissitudes, ups and downs, conflict between religions and power centers of the day etc. It is not possible for us to get into those details and say what is right and what is wrong. Purpose of this write up is to understand Sri Sri Thakur Anukul Chandra’s ideology and for that purpose, we are only setting a context and highlighting a contrast.
A new era began with Sri Sri Thakur Anukul Chandra; a new ideology was born. The ideology had continuity with the past, what is called eternal. And at the same time, it also had elements which are of contemporary relevance, socio political, economic and scientific, and therefore those were new. The ideology overall definitely had a new look, new spirit, new temper, new attraction; altogether a renovated package. Some such features of Sri Sri Thakur’s ideology are: a) clarity of concept; b) scientific temper, c) universal applicability, d) above the prevailing parochial considerations like bias, superstitions etc. Everything put together, the ideology was radical; out to bring about a transformation in person, family and society.
Striking feature of Sri Sri Thakur’s ideology is that it attempted to bring out and highlight the similarity amongst all religions in essence and in philosophy. This is something a revolutionary step. Sri Sri Thakur attempted to bring out commonality and similarity in scriptures like Gita, Bible and Quran. His attempt was to bring out the essence of all religions and to show to the world that it is the same eternal principle of ‘life and growth’.
Secondly, Sri Sri Thakur attempted to bring out a fact that all the prophets are same; expression and manifestation of one God, appeared in different time; mission is same and for the whole humanity. No prophet takes care of one segment of humanity and excludes some other sections. No prophet said to raise a wall between and amongst religions. This aspect of oneness of all past prophets has been a truism that Sri Sri Thakur wanted hard to bring home. He even said and demonstrated in his life that each successive prophet fulfills all the past prophets; each successive prophet is an updated version of the previous prophet and therefore there is absolutely no scope for differences. And the possibility of dispute is the least.
These two threads of his ideological edifice is sharp contrast to the prevailing thoughts and practices in the society. I do not think mainstream religious leaders have given a hearing to this, let alone applying their mind to this. It is an irony of our time.
Having accepted the fact that Sri Sri Thakur Anukul Chandra’s ideology presents a radically new paradigm in this era, question is: should we give an identify to it; how to maintain the identify and then how to prevent that this identity does not develop such a rigidity that it becomes another religion (a cult or a communal group) by itself?
These are hard questions, which are not attempted to be answered here. Only indication that I would like to provide here is that Sri Sri Thakur himself has provided clue to these answers. We need to research into his literature and find answers to these, exactly the way he wanted.
To come back to the original theme of this article that people from all so called religious groups can follow Sri Sri Thakur Anukul Chandra and yet maintain their religious affiliation by birth. In other words, the religious affiliations by birth are no barriers for a progressive living, by following Sri Sri Thakur’s ideology. Following Sri Sri Thakur does not amount to getting into any new religious cult or into a regimented order. Following Sri Sri Thakur means to adopt an ideological framework that invites and spurs all-round wellbeing of a person along with family and society. Advances in Sri Sri Thakur’s path may breakdown the religions barriers and the prevailing barriers will not come in the way of progress. In that sense, Sri Sri Thakur’s ideology is liberal and may be called secular. This is a way, perhaps the only way, to come out of the vicious circle of competitive communalism and religious fundamentalism, which is hitting the world badly.