Ashtottaram 53) OM PARAMATASAHANABHŨMYAI NAMAH:
Ashtottaram 53: OṀ (AUM) –PA-RA-MA-TA-SA-HA-NA-BHOO- MYAI—NA-MA-HA
ॐ परमतसहनभूम्यै नमः
(Paramata: Other religions; Sahana: Tolerance, Patience)
The great virtue of India is, truly displaying an accommodating and generous disposition toward other religions and continuous onslaughts of major religions like Christianity and Islam.
India has a long history of the culture of tolerance. India is a multi–religious society. Almost all the major religions live in India in total harmony.
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To tolerate is ‘to bear with patience the existence of others’. It is to put up with the views and actions of other people. It consists of permitting other persons to express their views freely and implement them into activity. Tolerance is essentially a state of mind. For these is the positive action of non-interference inactivity of other persons. Toleration is not in that sense possible among birds and animals. Tolerance can be between one person and another person, as between husband and wife, mother and child, among friends.
It may be between one individual and group, group and another group, community and community, race and race, class and class. There can be toleration in religion-oriented culture; at the same time, it is possible for toleration to prevail in an entirely secular culture. This shows that religion and culture are quite distinct. Spirituality is the hall-mark of Indian culture. Since the beginning of the Vedas, the seers and rishis have innovated experiential and reflective methods of gaining knowledge and establishment of the way of life. Nature bestowed upon them the qualities of inward development requisite for free-thinking and righteous life. Samhita of which Rigveda is the foremost abounds is propounding the concept of infinity, self, and vastness of the universe.
At the same time, the method and cultivation of inner states of being were exercised and explored by them, which open the potentialities of intrinsic nature. It is the inward exploration and aspiration to materialize to the human power and ability reflecting the endeavor of seers which has been largely responsible for the foundation and unbroken continuity of Indian culture. Spirituality has played a vital role in directing and diffusing the goals of Indian culture. There have been often testing and crucial periods of Indian culture and there were times when her vital force was almost exhausted and the foreign rule had almost threatened the survival. It was at such a critical period that her spirituality has bridged the gap and saved the perennial values cherished in Indian culture (adopted from the Ph.D. thesis of R. Ambhazaghan, Tamil university, 2007)
One of the niyamās in Vedic scriptures is kṣhama (tolerance, forbearance) towards any person, religion, or situation. Since childhood, we are taught to show tolerance. It’s not wise and safe to get into fights for every little thing or difference of opinions, especially when it comes to religion, are our teachings. Religion is faith and there is no proof for everything they claim in. Therefore it comes naturally to us to have an open mind to different faiths. If every religion teaches sahanam (tolerance) towards other faiths no matter how many disagreements they have, there would not be any wars or killings, barbaric invasions and forceful conversions by the religious zealots.
Our Vedas and Upanishads teach us to be tolerant and proclaim verses like ‘ahimsa paramo dharmah’ meaning- ‘the utmost duty is non-violence’. Our Vedas taught us that there is ‘Only God’ and you can worship Him in whatever way or form you desire. All kinds of worship ultimately lead to mokṣha (liberation). If we did not show tolerance to other religious aggression, there would have been much more blood spilled on our Bhārat land. There is nothing surprising about showing tolerance to other religions when we were taught to see God in every being.
The land which shows tolerance to other religions is our motherland ‘Paramaṫa sahana Bhūmi’.