What is the definition of religion?

by January 11, 2014


A Sanskrit word that roughly corresponds with religion is dharma which comes from the root dhr which means to sustain. So, dharma refers to that which sustains our existence, that which is our essence, that without which we would not be we.

That essence is love.

Love is our innermost longing, our deepest need, our greatest thirst. Movies, novels and songs constantly glorify love. And we all dream about it. Without love, life wouldn’t be worth living.

Sadly however, our longing for love is rarely fulfilled. We often don’t find a person whom we feel inspired to love wholeheartedly. Even if we do, that love ends heartbreakingly with unavoidable death. And to the extent that we have rejoiced in love, to that extent we lament in bereavement.

Is our longing for love meant to be doomed?

A love affair is sure to be doomed if either of the lovers ceases to exist or ceases to love the other. But the same love affair can go on perpetually if neither of the lovers cease to exist or cease to love. Is this really possible? Yes, declare the scriptures. They explain that we are at our core eternal spiritual beings, souls. So our longing for love is meant to be directed towards an eternal object: God. God is not just an abstract all-pervading principle but the supreme all-attractive person who has all lovable qualities in their highest perfection. That’s why he is supremely lovable. When we learn to love him, our longing for love becomes eternally and perfectly fulfilled, and we attain everlasting happiness.

So, to be more specific, our dharma is not just love, but eternal love for God.

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