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In India ignorance and brutality have been the prime tools in the hands of fanatics for effecting religious conversions; brutality was mainly resorted to by Muslim aggressors of both foreign and indigenous origins. Conversion was an integral part of their political agenda fuelled by religious zeal; it was mostly done at sword’s point, with unflagging commitment.
Apart from forced conversions, they destroyed thousands of temples wherever they had a sway. Hindus contributed to this conversion spree by utter ignorance of their own religious philosophy. The powerful minority sections of the Hindu community discriminated against and isolated the weak majority of their own fellow believers; this resulted in large scale voluntary conversions occasionally. Even in the case of forced conversions, people belonging to this downtrodden majority unresistingly surrendered to the forced conversion initiatives, perceiving it as a relief from the minority discrimination. Not stopping at this, their retributive mind harboured hatred towards the past persecutors; to them the fraternity in the new fold was most relieving and relishing. This in due course essentially bred unquenchable hostility between the two religious groups. Those who practise discrimination in Hindu community, on the basis of caste, are still serving other religions as passive recruiting agents. The ignorance of these people about the fundamentals of Hindu spiritual philosophy is more dreadful and dangerous to the Hindu religion than the fanatic jihadis. Had they known the basics of their religion properly they would have accommodated their fellow believers in their fold as equals. In that case, they could have mustered indomitable strength from the majority sections to resist the conversion expeditions by foreigners. Now, because of their ignorance they weakened themselves and become vulnerable to prowling fanatics. The discriminated sections, on the other hand, are still more ignorant about the religion they presently owe allegiance to and therefore suffer the highhandedness of the oppressors, considering it as their fate and think that it is part of their religion; as a result, they are naturally driven to other religions where they think they would be more comfortable. This situation is exploited by the conversion teams through propaganda of superiority of their religious philosophy.
In this backdrop we intend to make a brief comparative study of the important teachings of Upaniṣads and the Quran. We have selected Quran because Muslims are more aggressive than others in furthering conversion drives. This review is intended to examine the sustainability of superiority claims of Quran’s religious philosophy over Hinduism. Many instances of comparisons made by proponents of other religious philosophies to assert their superiority over Hinduism are already there; it can be seen that all of them are invariably made between their basic religious texts and Hindu mythology propagated by Purāṇa(s), Itihāsa(s) and other such fictional texts. Of course, these texts contain spiritual messages in a concealed form; but, the real spiritual philosophy of Hindus in its pure form is contained in the Upaniṣads, of which the principal ones are considered the most authentic. The said comparison-mongers do not care to study the Upaniṣads; they might not have even heard of such texts. This is applicable to Hindus also. While other religions have well-established systems for compulsory imparting of religious education to their followers, Hindus have no such obligation or facility. Moreover, one is presumed to be a Hindu by his very birth; he does not become one by conscious belief or by passing through some ‘purification’ regime. In the name of piety he blindly sticks to the age-old customs and rituals, without exercising even a semblance of rational thinking. As such he is totally overtaken by blind beliefs and does continue to follow the primitive system of worshipping, with all the accompaniments of meaningless rituals and observances. He thus happens to believe that his religion is all about such primitive practices. When he himself thinks so, what will others do? They pound him with aspersions on this assumed ‘religion’, to which he has no convincing explanation. He simply strives to adduce curious meanings to his ritualistic procedures. In such an ignorant Hindu, Hinduism shines not in its true glory.
In our present endeavour of comparison, we are therefore not to be concerned with the contents of Purāṇas, Itihāsas and the like, but with the eleven most famous and authentic Upaniṣads on the Hindu part. In the case of Islamic teachings, we rely on the English translations of Quran (i) by Dr. Muhammad Taqiuddin Al Hilali, Former Professor of Islamic faith and teachings, Islamic University, Al Madinah and other, and (ii) by Talal Itani. We have also consulted a translation of the commentary on Quran by Maududi. However, original Arabic verses are not consulted.
The method we follow here is to identify the important teachings in Quran and compare it with matching expositions in Upaniṣad and occasionally in Gīta. We hope this will serve our purpose.
2. What is Quran?:
Muslims believe that Quran is a text of God’s revelations to Prophet Muhammad, made in Mecca and Medina, during a period of 23 years from 609 CE to 632 CE. Actually, it was not Muhammad who recorded it. He conveyed the revealed text to his followers, some of whom memorised it. The memorised texts were later committed to writing on tablets, bones, etc. At the time of demise of Muhammad, Quran existed in such scattered writings which were later compiled into a single consolidated standard form, now being available to us as the Holy Book of Quran. Total number of verses in Quran is 6236 in 114 chapters; of these, a total of 4613 verses contained in 86 chapters were revealed in Mecca in the first 13 years of Muhammad’s spiritual life. The remaining 1623 verses in 28 chapters were revealed in Medina during a period of 10 years. (Internet sources).
Since it is Muhammad’s words that his followers recorded and compiled as Quran, Muhammad alone is the witness to the divinity of the verses; his is the only testimony. Incidentally, therefore, faith in Quran involves and presupposes faith in Muhammad. Many a verse in Quran (24.62, 47.33, 48.9, 48.10, 48.13, 48.19, 49.15, etc.) calls upon believers to believe in Messenger as well as in God. Further, the veracity of Quran that is now available to us depends on the trustworthiness of those who first recorded the revealed text and those who compiled them after Muhammad passed away. The present compiled form of Quran was never seen or heard as such by Muhammad and therefore did not get the favour of his scrutiny or editing. This may be the reason why some verses in Quran appear as spoken to Muhammad by God while others are presented as spoken by Muhammad to the believers (see verses 2.159, 2.160, 3.2, 3.18, etc.); but we are told that these are revelations from God to Muhammad.
Further, it is not sure whether Muhammad intended all that is available in the present compilation to be conveyed as such to later generations. There are verses, especially relating to revelations in Medina, which have relevance exclusively to the specific period wherein Muhammad lived and to the specific contexts which he had to face. Some verses even regulate the conduct of Prophet’s wives (33.28 to 33.33), deal with right conduct in Prophet’s residences (33.53, 33.57, 33.58), grant exclusive privilege to him in keeping wives (33.50, 33.51) and prescribe etiquettes to be followed while speaking to Prophet (49. 1 to 3), etc. which have relevance only during his life time. Similarly, Muhammad had to face many armed rebellions and therefore some verses deal with stringent approach to rebels; see, for example, verses 89, 90, 91, 100, 101, etc. of chapter 4 and verses 5, 9, 29 of chapter 9. All these verses are obviously relevant to the specific situations existing at that time and faced by Muhammad. Their inclusion in Quran with the intention of passing down to later generations is surprising, considering the fact that Quran is claimed to be a collection of revelations which aim at leading ignorant people to the right path of life through spiritual enlightenment. Notwithstanding such verses of limited relevance, Quran contains other verses with theological expositions of universal importance for all time.
In Quran we can see conspicuous distinctions between revelations in Mecca and in Medina. As soon as Muhammad moved from Mecca to Medina, the tone and tenor of his preaching changed drastically. In Mecca he preached pure theology and peace while in Medina his speech assumed a belligerent tone (verses 4.89, 4.90, 4.91, etc. mentioned above). This must obviously be due to the necessity of crushing the enemy forces that attacked him for the simple reason of preaching a refined way of faith. Unfortunately, the inclusion of these verses in Quran, especially towards the beginning, misled some of the fundamentalist followers of Islam to radicalisation, terrorism and brutality in later years, even when the old situation did not exist.
3. What are Upaniṣads?:
In contrast to Quran, Upaniṣads are very ancient. Though the total number of Upaniṣads comes to 108, we concentrate here on eleven most important ones, namely, Aitareya, Bṛhadāraṇyaka, Chāndogya, Īśa, Kaṭha, Kena, Māṇḍūkya, Muṇḍaka, Praśna, Taittirīya and Śvetāśvatara. Of these the first ten are renowned as Principal Upaniṣads.
Upaniṣads are believed to be expositions of ancient Sages (Ṛsi) on the ultimate principle of the universe; they are estimated by scholars to have been revealed over a period between 1500 BC and 600 BC. That means, they are at least 1000 years older than Quran. From 600 BC onwards, western scholars in Greek territory of Ionia were aware of the teachings of the Upaniṣads, through the Persian Achaemenid Empire which included parts of western India together with the Greek settlements of Ionia. But, curiously, no mention on Indian scriptures is seen in Quran, though it contains many references to the Gospel (Christianity) and Torah (Judaism).
Thus, the attempted comparison here is evidently between two philosophies chronologically separated by a minimum of one thousand years. But, time factor is immaterial in deciding the merit of philosophical postulations. The only advantage is that it will facilitate deciding who knew the truth first and how redundant the other under comparison is.
1. Charateristics of God:
(i) Concept of God: Concept of God is the foundation of all religious philosophies. It is on this foundation that the whole edifice of religion is built up. Though many characteristics of God are mentioned in Quran, no indication is given regarding who or what He is. Going by the nature of descriptions like creation of ‘heavens without pillars’ (31.10 and 31.11) and ascent to the throne (10.3, 32.4 and 57.4), it is to be presumed that God is conceived in Quran as a super-human being who owns and administers everything. But at the same time Quran says in verse 6.103 that God is subtle and therefore beyond the grasp of senses. The concept of God in Quran is therefore to be presumed as an invisible, super-human power.
Now see what Upaniṣads say about what God is. Śvetāśvatara says in verse 6.11 that God is the Ātmā within all. That means God is not a person or super-human being. According to Upaniṣads, Ātmā is only a principle ‘SAT-CHIT-ĀNANDA’ by name which consists of three components SAT, CHIT and ĀNANDA merged into one, like various colours in sunlight. Of these, SAT is pure existence (that which has no state of non-existence), CHIT is pure consciousness and ĀNANDA is bliss. SAT causes the urge to exist, CHIT to know and express and ĀNANDA to derive happiness. These three, any one or a combination, are the urge behind all movements in this universe, all the time. Verses 2.23.2 and 2.23.3 of Chāndogya clarify that Ātmā is really a philosophical abstraction of all the phenomena in the entire universe. This fact is an indication to the fact that the entire universe is an appearance of Ātmā. That is why Ātmā is considered the Ruler of the universe. Super-human concept is only a mythological outfit of the principle of Ātmā.
(ii) Unity of God: In respect of Islamic religious philosophy, unity of God is the cornerstone; uniqueness and superiority of Islamic faith are mainly claimed on account of this concept of oneness of God. Polytheism was one of the important factors of religious practices which Muhammad detested bitterly. We can see repeated declarations in Quran asserting the unity of God (2.22, 2.163, 2.255, 3.2, 3.18, etc.). Verse 2.255 says thus: ‘God! There is no god except He, the Living, the Everlasting. Neither slumber overtakes Him, nor sleep. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His permission? He knows what is before them, and what is behind them; and they cannot grasp any of His knowledge, except as He wills. His Throne extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation does not burden Him. He is the Most High, the Great’. This verse wonderfully summarises almost all the characteristics of God conceived in Quran.
Now see what Upaniṣads say about unity of God. Śvetāśvatara says in verse 6.11 thus: ‘There is only one Deva (God); He is the Ātmā within all; He is hidden in all beings, pervading them, impelling and witnessing all their Karma; He is the abode of all beings, pure consciousness and the absolute; He is also devoid of Guṇas’. (Guṇas are three fundamental constituents of physical existence. All the three are present in every being in a unique proportion which determines the individuality of the particular being).
Verse 6.8 of Śvetāśvatara declares that none is equal or superior to Him. Kaṭha 2.18 says: ‘This omniscient Ātmā is neither born, nor does he die; he has not originated from anywhere or anything. He is unborn, eternal, everlasting and ancient; he is not destroyed even when the body is destroyed’.
Verse 3.7.23 of Bṛhadāraṇyaka declares: ‘Ātmā is not seen, heard, thought or known; but he is the seer, hearer, thinker and knower; there is no other seer, hearer, thinker or knower. He is the immortal inner controller’.
Upaniṣads further say that Ātmā alone existed in the beginning and that He is One without a second (Aitareya 1.1.1, Bṛhadāraṇyaka 1.4.17, Māṇḍūkya 7 and 12); He is beyond all dualities and diversities (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 1.4.7, 2.4.6, 2.4.14, 2.5.1 to 2.5.14, 3.8.8, Chāndogya 6.8.7, Kaṭha 5.9 & 5.10). Above all, verses 4.4.19 of Bṛhadāraṇyaka and 4.10 of Kaṭha declare that there do not exist many, here or hereafter; those who wrongly see many would go from death to death. The implication is that such people remain bonded always.
Gīta verse 7.26 says thus: ‘I know all the past, the present and the future beings; but nobody knows Me’.
From the above, the similarity of declarations regarding unity and other characteristics of God in Quran and in the Hindu philosophy is too conspicuous to demand any further explanation.
(iii) Partners to God: Quran declares that assigning partners to God is a grave error (3.151, 4.36, 4.116, 6.100, etc.) and that none has the right to be worshipped other than God (13.14). Verse 6.100 states that the jinns who are thus attributed as partners to God are actually creations of God.
It is an ancient practice of Hinduism to worship various kinds of divinities called devas. Just as what we see in Quran regarding jinns, we can see in Upaniṣads that devas are creations of Ātmā, the God (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 2.1.20, 2.4.6, Muṇḍaka 2.1.7 Śvetāśvatara 3.4, 4.12). Verse 1.4.10 of Bṛhadāraṇyaka specifically declares that those ignorant ones who worship deities (devas) are like their (of devas) animals.
Knowing and attaining to Ātmā, rather than worshipping Him, is what Upaniṣads advise.
(iv) God as creator and He is omniscient, etc.: In further unfolding its concept of God, Quran asserts in various verses that God is the creator (verses 2.21, 2.28, 2.117, 6.1, 6.2, 40.67, 46.3, etc.) and to Him everything returns at the end; He is all-knowing, all-powerful and eternal (verses 2.115, 2.117, 2.255, 2.284, 3.2, 4.1, 6.1, 6.13, 7.54, 10.4, 10.55, 19.40, 24.32, 31.10, 32.4, etc).
Now, let us first consider the question of creation. In contrast to the version of Quran, creation as such is not recognised by Upaniṣads, since it is not a rational conception. Creation is the process of making something that does not previously exist. This is impossible since that which does not exist previously can never come into existence and that which exists can never cease to exist. This is a well-accepted axiom in rational thinking. Coming into being from that which already exists is not creation, but only transformation or change in appearance. Upaniṣads hold that Ātmā alone existed in the beginning; the whole universe emerges from Him and is withdrawn to Him at the end (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 1.4.7, 1.4.10, 2.1.20, 2.4.12, Muṇḍaka 1.1.7, 1.1.8, 2.1.1 to 2.1.10, Chāndogya 6.9.3, 6.10.1, 6.10.2, Śvetāśvatara 4.1). This implies that universe is only an appearance of Ātmā, as already mentioned. The appearance is effected by unleashing of opposites, like projection of zero into opposite pairs of numerals infinitely (for example, +1, -1; +2, -2; +3, -3; etc.); we find this explained in Bṛhadāraṇyaka 1.4.3 & 1.4.4 and in Praśna 2.2 & 2.3. The universe exists in opposites; for every physical feature there exists an opposite feature also. Worldly experiences are also dual in nature; good is distinguished since there exists bad and this is the case with every other thing too. Physical science also recognises this fact; an atom is a ‘drop’ of energy split into opposite charges of positive and negative.
This science of origin of beings is presented in popular spiritual literature like Itihāsas and Purāṇas, as God creating the world and all. Quran also does so since it addresses the spiritually illiterate people of the Arabia of his time.
Omniscience, omnipotence and eternality of God (Ātmā) find repeated assertion in Upaniṣads. Māṇḍūkya (verse 6) says that Ātmā is omniscient (sarvajña). Muṇḍaka 1.1.9 endorses this. Bṛhadāraṇyaka 1.4.7 and 2.4.5 state that through Ātmā alone everything is known. Again Bṛhadāraṇyaka 2.4.14 indicates that Ātmā knows everything. There is no other knower than Ātmā (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 3.7.23 and 3.8.11).
Regarding the omnipotence of Ātmā (the only God) Upaniṣads say that every movement in this universe occurs on account of Him; He is the impeller of all actions and the Lord of all (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 3.7.1 to 3.7.23, 3.8.9, 4.4.22, Chāndogya 8.4.1, Kaṭha 6.3, Taittirīya 2.8.1, Śvetāśvatara 6.11). He is the only light and everything shines because of Him (Kaṭha 5.15, Muṇḍaka 2.2.10, Śvetāśvatara 6.14).
Similarly, the assertion regarding eternality of God also is already there in Upaniṣads. Verses 2.18 and 3.15 of Kaṭha say that Ātmā exists all time. Verse 2.18 says that Ātmā has no birth and no death; He is eternal and indestructible. Verse 3.15 declares that Ātmā is eternal. Muṇḍaka 1.1.6 says that Ātmā is eternal and all-pervading. According to Chāndogya 8.1.5 and 8.4.1 and also Īśa 8, He is beyond ageing and death.
(v) Subtlety of God: Quran further declares in verse 6.103 that God is subtle and therefore no vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision. On this topic Upaniṣads give elaborate expositions. Verse 3.14.3 of Chāndogya, 2.20 of Kaṭha, 3.1.7 of Muṇḍaka and verses 3.9 and 3.20 of Śvetāśvatara declare that Ātmā is the subtlest of all. Verse 3.19 of Śvetāśvatara further says that Ātmā is without eyes and ears, but He sees and hears. Kena declares in verse 1.3 that Ātmā is beyond eyes, speech and mind. According to Īśa 4, Kaṭha 6.9 and 6.12 and Śvetāśvatara 4.20 Ātmā is not grasped by senses. Bṛhadāraṇyaka 1.4.7 says that Ātmā is not seen as He exists beyond the reach of eyes. Ātmā is the seer, but He is not seen; He is the hearer, but not seen; He is the knower, but not known; there is no other seer, hearer and knower than He (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 3.7.23 and 3.8.11).
(vi) God is all-pervading: Quran reveals that God is all-pervading (verses 4.126, 17.60, 24.32, 65.12, etc.). This concurs with what Upaniṣads have expounded already. Verse 3.14.2 of Chāndogya says that Ātmā encompasses all that is here. According to verses 3.7.1 to 3.7.23 of Bṛhadāraṇyaka, Ātmā is immanent in all and pervades all. Chāndogya further clarifies that everything here is encompassed in Ātmā (verses 8.1.1 to 8.1.5). Muṇḍaka 1.1.6 says that Ātmā is eternal, all-pervading and omnipresent. Upaniṣads repeatedly assert that Ātmā is immanent in all (Kaṭha 2.20, Muṇḍaka 2.2.6, 3.1.7, Praśna 3.6, Śvetāśvatara 3.7, 3.13, 4.17, 6.11). Verses 1.16 and 3.11 of Śvetāśvatara as well as verses 5 and 8 of Īśa assert that Ātmā is all-pervading.
(vii) God is the lord and leader: Quran verses 1.2, 2.272, 13.2, 13.3, 13.4, etc. declare that God is the lord and leader of all. In this respect Upaniṣads say that all celestial entities hold their positions, all beings conduct themselves and all activities go on under the rule of Ātmā (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 3.8.9, Taittirīya 2.8.1 and Kaṭha 6.3). Bṛhadāraṇyaka declares in verses 3.7.3 to 3.7.23 that Ātmā is the inner controller of all beings.
(viii) God revives: In many verses Quran says that God revives earth after it was dead (verses 2.56, 2.164, 16.65, 22.66, 30.19, 30.24, 30.50, etc.). See what verse 30.19 says: ‘He brings the living out of the dead, and He brings the dead out of the living and He revives the land after it had died. Likewise you will be resurrected’. To the Upaniṣads creation or destruction per se is not acceptable, as already mentioned. They say that the universe is the phenomenal expression of Ātmā. This expression as well as its withdrawal is made periodically. Upaniṣads say that Ātmā effects the expression of the universe like a spider emits its web or like fire emits sparks (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 2.1.20, Muṇḍaka 1.1.7); the expressed universe finally returns to Ātmā (Muṇḍaka 2.1.1). All the expositions in the Upaniṣads concerning the topic are consolidated and explained in Gīta verses 8.18, 8.19, 9.6, 9.7and 9.8. It is clarified in these verses that Ātmā projects and withdraws the universe periodically using His manifesting power, the Prakṛti. Incidentally, this view is congruent with the Bing Bang theory of modern science. Resurrection of beings is only a mythological expression of this fact.
(ix) God is quick and severe in retribution: Quran asserts in verses 2.196, 2.211, 3.11, 5.98, 6.165, 7.167, 8.13, 8.25, etc. that God is quick and severe in retribution.
Upaniṣads proclaim the science behind this assertion. According to Upaniṣads the universe is a physical expression of Ātmā and the principle of Ātmā is SAT-CHIT-ĀNANDA. This implies that the controlling principle of the universe is SAT-CHIT-ĀNANDA. Since this principle is imperishable and indestructible (Kaṭha 2.18, 3.15, Muṇḍaka 1.1.6, Īśa 8, Chāndogya 8.4.1) nobody can surpass it. As already mentioned, this principle works in the physical world as the urges (i) to exist (SAT), (ii) to know and express (CHIT), and (iii) to enjoy (ĀNANDA). Since this principle is all-pervading, each and every person or thing is controlled by it. If, in furtherance of these urges, any being fails to provide for the same urges of other beings, it will upset peaceful co-existence. Left to itself, the entire universe manages the system ensuring the continued existence and wellbeing of the whole, through timely repairing and remodelling in case of aberrations. This knowledge leads the wise to formulate certain ethical rules for the humans with regard to regulating one’s deeds in such a way as not to breach the existence and wellbeing of the whole. Such regulated deeds are often referred to in spiritual literature as virtuous (puṇya) and the opposite as vicious (pāpa). These are also known as Dharma and Adharma respectively, in Hindu spiritual texts. Dharma may thus be understood as that deed which is in conformity with the principle of Ātmā.
Gīta elaborates this concept further in verses 4.7 and 4.8 wherein it is declared that, when Adharma mounts up threatening to upset the whole system, the power of the ruling principle of Ātmā (Kṛṣṇa represents Ātmā in Gīta vide verse 10.20) retaliates to ward off the evil forces with whatever means deemed fit (saṃbhavāmi yuge yuge). The cited verses of Quran give vent to this principle in a format that is graspable by the Arabians of those times.
Gīta, however, elucidates in another verse (5.14) that every action (Karma) culminates in appropriate results in accordance with the already existing nature of the manifested Ātmā. However, no individual intervention is attempted in the case of each and every action, either by assigning it or its results to a particular individual; everything occurs as per the already existing natural disposition.
(x) God demands faith and obedience: Quran declares that God demands faith and obedience (2.91, 2.107, 2.186, etc.) and that those who do not have faith and obedience will be sent astray (16.37, 16.93, 30.5, etc.).
From the Upaniṣadic expositions given above, it is evident that conformity with the principle of Ātmā is insisted as a pre-requisite for unhindered co-existence; therefore, any refutation thereof will attract a set-back. This truth, when transformed into mythical language, appears in the form of the verses of Quran mentioned above. Verse 4.40 of Gīta puts the relevant message of Upaniṣads in these words, “The ignorant, the unbelieving and the doubting people will perish; to them there is no happiness now or hereafter”. Further, Kṛṣṇa explains in Gīta verses 3.31 and 3.32 that those, who carry out his teaching, are not bonded by their actions; those fools who do not follow such teaching out of indignation get ruined. Gīta says again in verse 16.19 thus: “These cruel haters, worst of men, the perpetual evil-doers in the world – I hurl them into the wombs of the demons only”.
(xi) God begets not; nor was He begotten: Verse 102.3 of Quran reads thus, “God begets not; nor was He begotten”. This idea can be seen in many other verses too, such as 17.111, 18.4, 19.35, 19.92, etc.
This is the very same idea that can be seen in Kaṭha 2.18, Īśa 8, Bṛhadāraṇyaka 1.4.1, etc. wherein it is unequivocally stated that God (Ātmā) is without birth and death and also that He is eternal and self-existent. Gīta 2.20 which is almost the same as Kaṭha 2.18, says thus: ‘He is not born, nor does He ever die; having once existed He does not cease to exist thereafter. Neither does He come into existence, having not existed before. Unborn, eternal, unchangeable and primeval, He is not slain when the body is slain’.
We have already seen that beings originate from Him by way of physical manifestation of His principle.
(xii) God is witness: In its concept of God, Quran asserts that God is witness to all and everything (3.18, 4.33, 4.79, 6.19, 10.29. etc. etc.).
Verse 6.11 of Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad states that the God who is only One is witness to, and presides over, all and everything. Even otherwise, the persistent vision of Upaniṣads is that Ātmā is the only God and He is immanent in all (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 3.7.1 to 3.7.23, Chāndogya 3.14.2, Īśa 5 & 8, etc.). Immanency obviously implies witnessing.
(i) End of the world: Regarding the end of the world, Quran says that everything will return to the God at the end (verses 2.28, 3.158, 10.4, 19.40, 29.57 etc.). Verse 10.4 declares thus: ‘To Him is your return, altogether. The promise of God is true. He originates creation, and then He repeats it, to reward those who believe and do good deeds with equity. As for those who disbelieve, for them is a drink of boiling water, and agonizing torment, on account of their disbelief’.
Since Upaniṣads hold that universe is only an appearance of the ultimate principle Ātmā, the entire universe is obviously withdrawn into Him at the end. This fact is specifically declared in Chāndogya 6.8.6, 6.91 to 6.9.3, 6.10.1 and 6.10.2, Bṛhadāraṇyaka 2.4.12, Muṇḍaka 2.1.1 and Śvetāśvatara 4.1. Verse 4.1 of Śvetāśvatara describes the process thus: ‘Though Himself being colourless, God gives rise to different colours with the help of His own power and dissolves the whole world in Himself at the end’. Here, the reference to colours indicates various physical manifestations similar to refraction of sunlight into various colours.
Further, Gīta verses 8.18 and 9.7 assert that Ātmā projects and withdraws all beings periodically.
Quran states the same ideas, but adds that at the end God will punish or reward humans in accordance with the quality of deeds of each individual. This addition may be for disciplining an otherwise reckless, illiterate people. In this connection please refer to B. 1. (ix) above.
(ii) Belief in Life hereafter: The concept of Life Hereafter is integral to Islamic faith (9.038, 29.064, etc.). Quran says that God will judge everyone on the Day of Resurrection and assign reward or punishment according to the merits of each (2.113, 2.114, 3.195, 4.141, 10.93, etc.). Quran warns disbelievers with harsh punishments and assures believers with rewards. Disbelievers are depicted as enemies of God; they earn the curse of God and will be consigned to hell (verses 3.12, 4.47, 4.52, 4.56, 4.140, 5.36, 18.102, 22.19, etc). On the other hand, believers are promised paradise beneath which rivers flow and also eternal life therein with purified spouses and other attractive comforts and possessions (4.57, 4.122, 4.124, 9.100, 22.23, 29.58, etc.).
In contrast to this, Upaniṣads assert that on being withdrawn into Ātmā, beings lose their individuality and continue to exist by being one with Ātmā (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 2.4.12, Chāndogya 6.10.1 and 6.10.2, etc.). For a philosophy that declares that, at the end, all beings merge into and become one with Ātmā, the question of resurrection and further living does not arise at all. In it, the concepts of Day of Resurrection and Life Hereafter have only mythological importance, not philosophical. Such concepts are rather irrational; they belong to mythological domain only.
Of course, in Upaniṣads too, there are teachings on experiences of pleasure and pain on account of good and bad deeds respectively. Bṛhadāraṇyaka 3.2.13 says that good occurs from good deeds and bad from bad deeds. Muṇḍaka 1.2.10 explains that those who do such good deeds believing them as the best pursuit of life, enjoys pleasures in heaven and returns to this world or even to worse ones. These good and bad experiences (pleasures and pains) and also return to the world of experiences are not awarded by any entity on judging the Karma (actions) of the individual; they happen as part of the inherent natural laws of the manifested world. This fact is best explained in Gīta 5.14 wherein it is explicated that the Ruler does not adjudicate on the results of Karma and that they occur in accordance with His already expressed nature. This further implies that the results of Karma are to be enjoyed within the confines of the manifested world. Even otherwise, according to Upaniṣads, every being merges with Ātmā upon shedding the physical body. Therefore, rewards and retributions are matters confined to the domains of the material world only. So are heaven and hell. In contrast, Quran describes in umpteen verses about the comforts in heaven and sufferings in hell. The ultimate intention of such verses must be to distract credulous minds from doing bad deeds and encourage doing good deeds. In Hindu spiritual literature also such descriptions can be found, but having only fictional value.
These fictional presentations about heaven, hell, judgment day and afterlife in Hindu spiritual literature as well as in Quran, however, possess some ethical undertones. To know the science behind all these, we have to turn to Upaniṣads. As mentioned already, the ruling principle of this universe, according to Upaniṣads is Ātmā which is SAT-CHIT-ĀNANDA. Every action of every being in this world is either to exist (SAT) or to know and express (CHIT) or to get happiness (ĀNANDA). Every being has the natural right, ingrained in its very constitution, to exist, to know and express and to get happiness. When in exercise of this right someone infringes the same right of others he commits a violation of the ruling principle. Such violations are called Adharma in Hindu spiritual parlance, as already mentioned; the opposite is Dharma. So, Dharma is an action that is in conformity with the ruling principle of Ātmā and Adharma is that which bears no such conformity. When an act of Adharma is done, it upsets the system since it is against the natural constitution of the system. Just as the body tends to reject a foreign object or poison infused into it, the system tends to liquidate the upsetting. This causes unrest in proportion to the gravity of the wrong done. An act of Adharma is like an obstruction caused to natural flow of water in a water course. When the obstruction exceeds the tolerable limit the water current tends to breach the obstruction by strong force. This will cause damage to the obstructing object and others too. This is how Adharma is dealt with naturally in the domain of physical existence. The purpose of the entire story about heaven, hell, etc. is to inculcate a restraint against committing Adharma. The construction of the story and the choice of the language depend upon the knowledge level of the anticipated audience. The warnings to disbelievers and the encouragements to believers in Quran are to be viewed in this background. Historical factors also contributed to their conception.
(iii) Life hereafter is better: Quran declares that life hereafter is better than the life here (6.32, 9.38, 29.64, etc.). Life hereafter is an important concept in Quran. Belief in heaven and hell can also be found in Hindu epics, itihāsas and purāṇas which are literary compositions of fictional nature, aimed at propagating the spiritual philosophy. Upaniṣads explain the science behind this belief. According to them immortality and bliss are gained by attaining to the ultimate principle of Ātmā (Kaṭha 3.15, 6.9, 6.14, 6.15, Muṇḍaka 3.2.9, etc.). This is heaven in mythological parlance. Identification with Ātmā implies complete detachment from worldly desires. In such a state, one is unaffected by the vagaries of physical world; he remains in complete bliss always, which is, in reality, his natural state. In contrast to this, a person who is irresistibly attached to the worldly pleasures, become subjected to constant worries. This is because the limitations of physical world restrain the experiences that can be derived therefrom; the material world gives diverse experiences of pleasure and pain in different times. Moreover, out of overzealousness in securing pleasure, if one embarks on committing undue acts, he will be pushed into further sufferings. All these constitute what is portrayed as hell in spiritual literature. When one is totally wedded to worldly life, no notion regarding existence of the transcendental principle of Ātmā occurs in him. To him the physical world of appearance is the ultimate. Such people are destined to perpetual devastation; Kaṭha 2.6 says that they go from death to death. Gīta depicts in verses 2.62 and 2.63 the process of decline these persons undergo which culminates in his total devastation.
In this connection, it is interesting to see what Quran says about the worldly life. It is said that worldly life is only a play (6.32, 57.20). This is only the reflection of a constant refrain in Hindu spiritual literature which describes the worldly life as a līlā (play) of the Almighty. Bṛhadāraṇyaka 1.4.3 says that the beings were created by Ātmā for enjoyment.
See what Quran verses 11.15 & 11.16 say. Verse 15: ‘As for those who desire worldly life and its glitter, We will fully recompense them for their deeds therein; they will not be defrauded therein’. Verse 16: ‘But, they will have nothing but Fire in the Hereafter. Their deeds are in vain and all their works are null’. In these verses, it is stated that God bestows worldly pleasures on those who desire them; but they will not get eternal happiness of heaven.
This very same idea can be seen in Gīta verses 7.21 to 7.23. Verse 7.21 says thus: ‘When a devotee seeks to worship a deity with faith, I make that faith unflinching, whatever be that deity’. Verse 7.22: ‘Possessed of that faith he worships that deity; thence he obtains his desires which are actually enjoined by Me’. Verse 7.23 concludes thus: ‘That result is indeed finite; it occurs to men of inferior understanding. Worshippers of devas attain to devas; My devotees come unto Me’. Remember that ‘I’ here refers to Kṛṣṇa who represents Ātmā in Gīta vide verse 10.20. Those who are devoted to Ātmā will attain to Him; Ātmā is the abode of eternal bliss (verse 14.27).
It can be seen that Quran verses 11.15 and 11.16 represent the idea expressed in these three verses of Gīta.
(iv) Resurrection of the dead: Resurrection of the dead is an important concept in Quran (verses 16.38, 37.16 to 37.18). Mention of God resurrecting the dead on the Day of Judgment and awarding punishment or reward can be seen in a large number of verses (for example see verses 2.85, 2.113, 2.174, 2.212, 3.161, 3.180, 3.185, 4.87, 4.141, 6.12, 10.93, 11.98, 11.99, etc.). The resurrection story is definitely a good tool for mustering compliance to ethical discipline from a totally illiterate and gullible population. But it is an irrational concept.
The Hindu spiritual philosophy enshrined in the Principal Upanishads does not envisage anything like resurrection of the dead or life hereafter in the sense Quran deals with it. It is true that death meant by decay of physical body is not the end. The physical body is decomposed into its constituent elements and is recycled; the energy that sustained the body remains with its source as such. So, personal identity is lost for ever with what we mean by ‘death’ (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 2.4.12). It is the physical body that assigns individuality; once it is lost, the individuality is irrecoverably lost. It is particularly so since individual identity is a product of many factors like time, social circumstances in which it existed, heredity, climate, etc. A resurrection of it is therefore an impossible option; moreover, there is no use in resurrecting one and rewarding or punishing in a changed setting, since he would not be able to appreciate the reasons thereof.
3. Dealing with disbelievers:
(i) Disbelievers identified: Disbelievers are defined in various ways in Quran. Verse 6.1 says that disbelievers ascribe equals to God. In verses 4.150 and 4.151 it is clarified that true disbelievers are those who want to make a distinction between God and the Messengers. Those who do not judge by what God has revealed are disbelievers (5.44). Disbelievers are filled with pride and haughtiness of the times of ignorance (48.26). Those who oppose God and His Messenger are the lowliest (58.20, 8.22). Disbelievers are disliked by God (30.45, 39.7). In verses 109.1 to 109.6 God instructs Muhammad to tell disbelievers thus, “O disbelievers. I do not worship what you worship. Nor do you worship what I worship. Nor do I serve what you serve. Nor do you serve what I serve. You have your way, and I have my way.”
Upaniṣads are not concerned with the belief or disbelief of persons; they simply state the truth and place it before the people to abide by, if they feel so; no compulsion or threatening is contemplated. Hinduism upholds personal liberty to the utmost level. We may look at verse 18.63 of Gīta in this regard. After giving all the advice and guidance to Arjuna on the intricacies of life and on the right way of coming out of his presumed dilemma in the battle field, Kṛṣṇa simply tells him to think about them all and do whatever he deems fit. Again, it is stated in Gīta 5.14 that rewards and punishments to one’s deeds are issued in accordance with the ruling laws of the manifested world.
(ii) Disbelievers as enemies: Quran also says that disbelievers are manifest enemies of believers (4.101) and exhorts believers to not befriend them (3.28, 4.144, 60.1) and to not ally with them even if they are their parents or siblings (9.23). Verse 4.89 calls upon the believers to kill the disbelievers if they turn away from accepting the faith; but, it is quickly added that such killing should not be resorted to if the disbelievers don’t fight against the believers (4.90).
Verse 9.5 is harsh to the core; it says thus, “When the sacred months have passed, kill the polytheists wherever you find them. And capture them and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush. But if they repent and perform the prayers and pay the alms, then let them go their way. God is most forgiving and most merciful”.
Verse 9.123 says thus: ‘O, believers, fight against those disbelievers who are close to you. Let them find harshness in you and know that Allah is with those who are righteous’.
Verse 47.4 exhorts the believers thus: ‘When you encounter disbelievers, strike at their necks. Then, when you have routed them, bind them firmly. Then either release them by grace or by ransom until war lays down its burdens. God could have defeated them Himself, but He thus tests some of you by means of others. Those who are killed in the way of God, He will not let their deeds go waste’.
Verse 4.100 motivates believers to leave their homes and join the fight for the cause of Allah. It says, “He who emigrates in the cause of Allah will find on earth many dwelling places and plenty to live by. And whosoever leaves his home as an emigrant unto Allah and his Messenger and death overtakes him, his reward is then surely incumbent upon Allah. Allah is ever oft-forgiving and most merciful”.
These are the types of verses in Quran that fuel the killing spirit of fanatic elements to let loose atrocities on innocent people in the name of propagating religion and serving the God. Verse 4.100 particularly encourages fanatics to leave their home land and to fight for the religion.
The fanatics who constitute only a minority in the religion of Islam fail to understand these verses in the proper historic perspective. As mentioned already, Quran was not written by Muhammad; it is a record of his preaching made in a span of 23 years. Daily preaching must, in all probability, be reflections made by Muhammad, on the basis of the core teachings in response to current situations. A faithful must look for the core teaching, rather than being concerned about its situation-specific reflections and responses. It would be all right if the same situation prevails now too.
The social life in Arabia at the time of Muhammad was basically barbaric in nature; literally might was right. “Arabs never acknowledged any authority other than the authority of the chiefs of their tribes. The authority of the tribal chiefs, however, rested, in most cases, on their character and personality, and was moral rather than political”. “The only law of the land was lawlessness. In the event a crime was committed, the injured party took law in its own hands, and tried to administer ‘justice’ to the offender. This system led very frequently to acts of horrendous cruelty. If the Arab ever exercised any modicum of restraint, it was not because of any susceptibility he had to questions of right or wrong but because of the fear of provoking reprisals and vendetta. Vendetta consumed whole generations of Arabs. Since there were no such things as police, courts or judges, the only protection a man could find from his enemies, was in his own tribe. The tribe had an obligation to protect its members even if they had committed crimes. Tribalism or ‘asabiyya (the clan spirit) took precedence over ethics”. (Internet sources)
In such a society any attempt to establish some kind of law and order would attract severe opposition from the tribal barbarians. They had to be served in the same sauce; this must be the background of the type of preaching by Muhammad that we have seen above (verses 9.5, etc.). Such verses suited well with the social situation which Muhammad then faced; but, it had no relevance to other refined societies existing elsewhere at that time and also to the current age. It must be noted that all such verses of fighting the enemies belong to revelations in Medina after Muhammad’s migration from Mecca, on his having been tired of the tortures by disbelievers there. The fanatics of today don’t care about this historical background in understanding Quran verses; they are blind followers of Islam, attempting to unsettle peace all over the world. The wise counsels of Quran have had no refining impact on them. They presume that all except them are the same barbarians of Muhammad’s Arabia who fight against Islam; these fanatics are therefore obsessed with retribution. While Muhammad worked to restore peace, order and stability in Arabia of his time, these assumed followers of Muhammad work to create instability, disorder and discord. Islam took to sword in its early days due to circumstantial compulsions; but, a section of its followers carried it all through history as a solemn religious tradition. Such savage people still blindly follow the dreadful brutalities of the Arabians of yore, foolishly thinking it as an integral part of their duty to Allah.
Muhammad wanted the polytheists to be killed, not simply because they were polytheists, but they were brutal oppressors of his followers. It must be the grave threat to life that prompted Muhammad to choose the way of the sword. It may be noted that while he preached in Mecca he did not plead for violent retorts; even in Medina he permitted killing in the case of those who fought against his followers. The Islamic fundamentalists do not take note of these facts; spiritual enlightenment is nowhere in their religious pursuit. Such people are deeply wedded to cold-blooded murders, awfully yearning to secure a place in the mythical heaven, the divine ‘garden beneath which rivers flow’.
As against this, the Upaniṣads are exclusively concerned with the science of spirituality. The Ṛsis (Sages) of Upaniṣads lived their lives detached from worldly involvements. Protection and administration of the land were under other specialised people exclusively designated for the purpose. The Ṛsis pursued their studies and teachings independent of external interference and provided guidance to all sections of people for welfare and enlightenment. But, in Gīta which to a certain extent contains the practical application of the revelations of Upaniṣads, there is an exhortation to kill the opponents. Kṛṣṇa wanted Arjuna to kill his close relatives, the Kauravas, because of their oppression, treachery and conspiracy; Kauravas were perpetrators of Adharma and Kṛṣṇa, after exhausting all other possible means, realised that to restore Dharma their elimination was essential. But, it is very important to note that nobody understands or preach this as a sanction for killing close relatives wherever and whenever they are found.
Interestingly, a verse in Quran in this regard particularly resembles a message in Gīta. Quran verse 8.17 says to the believers thus: ‘It was not you who killed them, but it was God who killed them. And it was not you who threw when you did throw, but it was God who threw’. Chapter 8 deals with the spoils of war; it was revealed in Medina.
Now see what Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna in the battlefield; note that Kṛṣṇa is depicted in Gīta as Ātmā, the only God (Gīta 10.20). Verse 11.33 of Gīta says thus: ‘Rise up Arjuna and gain glory; defeat the enemies and enjoy the prosperous kingdom. I Myself have killed these enemies already; you can be but an instrument’.
4. Principles of ethics:
(i) Code of Conduct: Quran presents in various chapters a long list of rights and wrongs as code of conduct for believers. This cannot be otherwise since Muhammad was addressing a mostly illiterate and ignorant people. He would have, therefore, felt the essentiality for definite instructions to regulate the deeds of his followers to maintain order in their society with which he lived and which he was leading; these instructions might have been mostly issued in daily congregations in response to doubts or questions raised. Surrender to the authority of the lone God is the main theme concerned with code of conduct. Charity, commerce, usury, marriage, divorce, adultery, corruption, sins, food, fasting, intercourse during fasting, share of wealth, right and wrong deeds, friends, etc. etc. are subjects on which Quran gives advice to its followers. Obviously, there cannot be any advice on issues which did not exist at that time. That means, there is a temporal limitation to those advices.
In contrast, Upaniṣads unfold the science behind all such ethical advices and all the actions in the phenomenal world; this science is beyond all kinds of limitations. They do not give any advice on ethics, but simply point out the ultimate ruling principle of the universe which is one without a second; they declare that this principle is irrefutable and insurmountable (Chāndogya 8.4.1, Bṛhadāraṇyaka 4.4.22). According to Upaniṣads, on being in union with this principle one is endowed with bliss; he is freed from all inflictions and miseries (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 4.4.7, Īśa 7). Realising the unity of existence proclaimed by this principle, one hates no more (Īśa 6) and gets devoid of lust and miseries (Īśa 7). Therefore, living in conformity with it ensures continued peaceful existence of the world. This is, as we have already seen, what is called Dharma. Since Dharma constitutes the guiding principle of ideal life in all places, all time, it is called eternal virtue or Sanātana Dharma. The only advice in Upaniṣad is to follow Dharma (Taittirīya 1.11.1). The core principle of all ethical advices and prescriptions all over the world, during all ages is Dharma envisioned in the Upaniṣads. The Quran verses on ethical principles mentioned above are no exception. Those are Quran’s interpretations of Dharma relative to the people, place and time of its age.
In Hindu literature ethics is the department of Smṛti(s). Rules of conduct in specific contexts are prescribed in them in accordance with the spiritual teachings in the Upaniṣads that are known as Śruti(s). The Śruti- Smṛti relationship is defined by the general rule that anything in Smṛti which is inconsistent with Śruti would be null and void. This rule erases many a provision in Manu Smṛti which is the most ancient Smṛti. Manu Smṛti as it is now available is partly ultra vires, owing to its discordance with the Śrutis; it might have been altered from its original form by vested interests through unauthorised insertions, which yielded the present polluted version. The celebrated Bhagavad Gīta is also regarded as a Smṛti by great personalities like Adi Śankara, since its corpus consists of the advice given by Kṛṣṇa to Arjuna on surmounting a dilemma. Explications of spiritual philosophy of Upaniṣads found in Gīta are only ancillary in nature.
(ii) Dying in the cause of God: Gīta says in verse 3.35 that doing one’s duty in furtherance of Dharma (viguṇa karma = deeds devoid of influence of Triguṇas) is auspicious. The verse further says that death faced in discharge of such a duty is also auspicious. This is because any deed done without the influence of Triguṇas must be for the welfare of the world at large, not for one’s own benefit. Such are the best deeds for anyone to do, since individual existence and well-being are dependent on those of the whole and, therefore, utmost dedication to the cause of the whole is the best pursuit. That is why Gīta eulogises them saying that sacrifice of one’s life for the purpose is auspicious. This idea is reflected in Quran saying that death in the path of God is good (2.154, 3.195, 4.100); the path of God indicates Dharma. Fanatics do not understand this inner meaning and therefore they wish to get killed by fighting against non-believers of Islam. In the Arabia during the period of Muhammad, a non-believer necessarily meant a barbarian; such was the social condition prevailing there at that time.
It is this social background that elicited verses declaring that believers will go to paradise (9.100, 22.23, 29.58, 47.6, 48.5). Interestingly, paradise is described in Quran as ‘garden beneath which rivers flow’ (3.195, 5.85, 5.86, etc) which is obviously an attraction for people who inhabit deserts; wine, beautiful women and honey are some other attractions of the paradise of Quran (37.42 to 37.48, 47.15, etc).
(iii) Righteousness: Regarding righteousness Quran says thus: ‘Righteousness does not consist of turning your faces towards the East and the West. But righteous is he who believes in God, and the Last Day, and the angels, and the Scripture, and the prophets. Who gives money, though dear, to near relatives, and orphans, and the needy, and the homeless, and the beggars, and for the freeing of slaves; those who perform the prayers, and pay the obligatory charity, and fulfill their promise when they promise, and patiently persevere in the face of persecution, hardship, and in the time of conflict. These are the sincere; these are the pious’ (verse 2.177). Evidently, this verse recognises some actions as righteous and at the same time negatives some other actions.
Upaniṣads do not attempt to make such a separation, but instead go for the all-inclusive concept of Dharma; this is because enumerating good or bad acts can never be exhaustive. Moreover, an absolute classification is impossible; for, an act under a particular context may be good, but, in some other context bad. We may take killing as an example; ordinarily, killing anybody is bad, but, killing of an enemy by a soldier in the battlefield is good. Thus an act becomes good or bad depending not merely upon its nature, but on the contexts and the ways of doing it.
(iv) Sacrifice is virtue: Verse 3.92 of Quran says thus: ‘You will not attain virtuous conduct until you give off what you cherish. Whatever you give away, God is aware of it’.
The persistent message of Gīta is to perform the deeds incumbent upon us without attachment and without desire for the results; the results of Karma must be surrendered for the enjoyment of the whole. Gīta exhorts to submit the results to Ātmā, the God (2.47, 2.48, 3.30, 4.19, 4.20, 4.24, 5.10, 5.11, etc). See what verse 5.12 says in this regard: ‘A man who is committed to the right way of doing Karma, sacrifices the fruits of his actions and thereby attains everlasting peace. Others get attached to fruits of actions because of burning desires and therefore remain bound for ever’.
5. Other contents of Quran:
(i) Supersession of Quran over others: Quran claims that Islam prevails over all religions (61.9); it also claims that Quran confirms and supersedes all previous scriptures (5.48, 6.92, 10.37). In spite of this, the Hindu scriptures which contain the most ancient and rational spiritual philosophy proclaiming unity of God do not find a mention in Quran, though the scriptures of Jews and Christians are mentioned several times. This omission is meaningful; it may be seen that Hindu scriptures are the oldest, more than thousand years older than Quran. Either Muhammad was unaware of the Upaniṣads and Gīta or he did not find anything in them that can be superseded by the revelations he received.
(ii) Contents of Quran questioned: It is interesting to note at this juncture that the contents of Quran were under fire from disbelievers from the very beginning; the allegations in this regard are discussed in Quran itself. Important among them were that Quran was forged (10.38, 25.4, 37.36, 38.7), not a revelation from God as claimed by Muhammad (11.13), but something he was taught by some other person morning and evening (16.103, 25.5). Disbelievers questioned Muhammad’s words of resurrection of the dead and wanted him to bring back their ancestors (44.34, 44. 35, 44.36, 45.24, 45.25; they called him a mad poet (37.36). Muhammad only replied that they would definitely be brought back by God on the Day of Resurrection (45.26).
Verse 16.103 reads thus: ‘We are well aware that they say, “It is a human being who is teaching him.” But the tongue of him they allude to is foreign, while this is a clear Arabic tongue’. The term ‘We’ here refers to God. Which is that foreign language that is mentioned in this verse? No idea. But it gives room for much speculation. Difference in language is not a sufficient reason for asserting the originality of any text, since it cannot rule out the role of simple translation. In the next verse (16.104) there is warning for those who made the allegation. The verse says, “Those who do not believe in God’s revelations—God will not guide them, and for them is a painful punishment”. No more explanation is seen given in refutation of the allegation.
See verse 25.5 for another allegation: And they say, “Tales of the ancients; he wrote them down; they are dictated to him morning and evening.”
To this the reply is in verse 25. 6 is thus: Say, “It was revealed by He who knows the Secret in the heavens and the earth. He is always Forgiving and Merciful.”
Thus, it can be seen that there is no convincing, rational explanation to disprove the allegations raised.
(iii) One attains what he strives for: Verses 42.20 says, “Whoever desires the harvest of the Hereafter, We increase for him his harvest; and whoever desires the harvest of this world, We give him thereof, he has no share of the Hereafter”. The same idea is reflected in verses 17.18 and 53.39 also. In verses 3.145, 3.148, 3.179, 4.195, etc. it is stated that God gives the reward for this world and the hereafter.
In this connection please see verse 4.11 of Gīta which declares thus: ‘Howsoever men approach Me, even so do I reward them; men follow My path in all respects’. In other words, ‘as you seek, so you get’. This Gīta verse is only an explication of Bṛhadāraṇyaka 3.2.13 wherein it is stated that virtue produces virtue and vice produces vice.
Quran only reflects the idea of the said Gīta verse in its verses mentioned above.
(iv) Truth and falsehood: In verse 34.49 of Quran, God asks Muhammad to tell the disbelievers thus: “Al-Haqq (the truth) has come; and Al-Batil (falsehood) can neither originate nor regenerate”.
This is only a contextual paraphrasing of Gīta verse 2.16 which explains a fundamental concept of Upaniṣadic postulations. It says thus: ‘ASAT has no state of existence and SAT has no state of non-existence’. We have already seen what SAT is.
(v) Duality of physical existence: Please see what verse 3.14 of Quran says: ‘Adorned for the people is the love of desires, such as women, and children, and piles upon piles of gold and silver, and branded horses, and livestock, and fields. These are the conveniences of the worldly life, but with God lies the finest resort’. Further, verses 17.61 to 17.65 maintain that within every person, along with Angels, Satan also is residing, persuading the individual to do evil things and those who come under the sway of Satan will go to Hell.
The contention of Quran in the cited verses reflects the concept of duality of physical existence presented in Upaniṣads. According to Upaniṣads physical expression of Ātmā is of dual nature. It consists of two forms namely the perishable and imperishable (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 2.3.1). Perishable part relates to Prakṛti and imperishable belongs to Puruṣa (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 1.4.3). Puruṣa is Ātmā Himself when He invokes Prakṛti which is His power to manifest physically in various names and forms. Gīta says in verse 16.6 that two are the characteristics of beings, namely divine and devilish (Deva and Asura). Those who are carried away by the devilish traits are ruined. Bṛhadāraṇyaka verses 1.3.1 to 1.3.7 say about the fight between Devas and Asuras. Upaniṣads also say that those who attain to Ātmā become immortal which is the state of supreme bliss (Kaṭha 3.15, 6.9, 6.12, Kena 1.2, Muṇḍaka 3.2.9, etc.). Attachment to perishable part (Prakṛti) leads to entanglements which cause misery; therefore, when all such entanglements are eliminated, attainment to Ātmā becomes possible (Kaṭha 6.14, 6.15, Muṇḍaka 2.2.8). In the instant verses Quran presents the powers of Puruṣa as angels and the enticing nature of Prakṛti as Satan; attainment to Ātmā is mentioned as ‘the finest resort with God’.
In the foregoing discussion we have seen that for every theological declaration or exhortation in Quran, a corresponding philosophical exposition exists in Upaniṣads providing a rational explanation. It can be rightly said that the philosophical basis for the revelations in Quran is available in Upaniṣads. This has to be so in the case of other religious philosophies also, since Upaniṣads had already deduced the science of spirituality through simple reasoning and intuitive contemplation. The truth that the Ṛsis of the ancient age thus discovered is inviolable and unsurpassable for the simple reason of its impeccable rationality. That is why the Saint Philosopher Sree Narayana Guru who lived in Kerala State of India during 1856-1928 CE proclaimed that the essence of all religions is the same and therefore there is no room for any religious rivalry or conflict.
All the spiritual postulations subsequent to Upaniṣads could only subsist as mere elucidations or ratifications of the Upaniṣadic philosophy. No such postulation was able to go beyond being itself a mere renaissance initiative which actually consisted in re-assertion of the philosophic doctrines of Upaniṣads and were necessitated by the state of awareness prevailing in their respective ages and places. A shining example is Buddhism which struck its first root in the very same soil of the Upaniṣads as a revolt against the blind practices in Hinduism which actually consisted in a total neglect of the divine revelations in Upaniṣads.
In the case of Quran also we witness the same sight. Islam fought against polytheism and idol worship which, as we have seen above, were already disallowed by the Upaniṣads. The strict structural discipline of the religion of Islam vigilantly keeps the two evils away from their religious beliefs and practices. But, Hindus do not understand the real implications of the teachings of the Upaniṣads which they rightly claim to be theirs. As a result, they still continue to follow the primitive religious practices which were later discounted by the rational philosophy enshrined in the very same Upaniṣads. This reflects their weakness and ignorance which make them vulnerable to religious adventurism from outside.
All this shows that conversion from Hinduism to other faiths cannot happen on account of philosophical superiority of those faiths. We have to look elsewhere for the real reason; it is really ignorance and coercion. What is required of the Hindus is to anchor themselves firmly to their roots which are the strongest, the oldest, the most ancient and also eternal. They should also liberate themselves from the superficial rituals of antiquity and identify with the core principles which they claim to be behind such rituals. What is the use in having accumulations of gems and gold worth trillions of Rupees, if you are simply lying over them without ever being aware of it?