In the Vedas, the earliest scriptures of India, we find this truth: "Truth is one, though sages call it by various names." Later in the Upanishads, we come across a similar statement: "As different streams coming from various sources ultimately flow into one ocean, so do the many religions of the world, emerging from innumerable sources, at long last mingle in the great ocean of love." In this present age, we have again been taught: As many religions, so many paths. All reach one and the same goal. Thus, from the earliest Vedic times up to our modern age this ideal of harmony and universality has been taught to every Hindu.
The skies are clearing after a major storm, and the future of religion looks bright—even assured. From another weather station, however, we hear a different report. A tornado is approaching that could level religion forever.
Nowadays every mother's son and daughter is the bemused intimate of the amoeba and the crab-nebula. With uncanny mechanical eyes we now peer outward at the wheeled forms of untold billions of galaxies, and inward at the dizzying choreography of subatomic particles hurtling through the void. In a matter of decades we have decoded the coiled DNA templates of ourselves, and we have caught fugitive glimpses of that place east of Hercules where space curves in upon itself and time collapses.
"In order to promote the kingdom," writes Paul Knitter—former Divine Word missionary and current professor of theology at an American Catholic university—"Christians must witness to Christ. All peoples, all religions, must know of him in order to grasp the full content of God's presence in history.…But in the new ecclesiology and in the new model for truth, one admits also that all peoples should know of Buddha, of Muhammad, of Krishna."