As a photographer I don’t find easy to write about my work or what makes me take pictures.
I usually prefer to speak about the people who come in front of my camera.
However I found in the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna a few words that explain in a way why I am doing all this, why I am trying to show that we are all brothers and sisters in this world.
Gadadhar Chattopadhyay was born in a poor Brahmin Vaishnava family in rural Bengal and became a famous Indian mystic of 19th-century known as Sri Ramakrishna (February 18, 1836 – August 16, 1886).
Ramakrishna practised several religions, including Islam and Christianity, and recognized that in spite of the differences, all religions are valid and true and they lead to the same ultimate goal—God.
“Many are the names of God and infinite are the forms through which He may be approached.
In whatever name and form you worship Him, through that you will realize Him.
God has made different religions to suit different aspirants, times and countries.
All doctrines are so many paths; but a path is by no means God Himself.
Indeed, one can reach God if one follows any of the paths with whole hearted devotion.
One may eat pastry with icing either straight or sidewise.
It will taste sweet either way.
A truly religious man should think that other religions are also so many paths leading to the Truth.
One should always maintain an attitude of respect towards other religions.
Different creeds are but different paths to reach the same God.
Various types of jewelry are made of gold.
Although they are made of the same substance they have different forms, and they are given different names.
So also the one and the same God is worshiped in different countries under different names and forms.
Every man should follow his own religion.
A Christian should follow Christianity, a Muslim should follow Islam, and so on.
For a Hindu, the ancient path, the path of the Aryan sages, is the best.
As you rest firmly on your own faith and opinion, allow others also the equal liberty to stand by their own faiths and opinions.
By mere disputation you will never succeed in convincing another of his error.
When the grace of God descends, each one will understand his own mistakes.
God Himself has provided different forms of worship.
He who is the Lord of the Universe has arranged all these forms to suit different men in different stages of knowledge.
The mother cooks different dishes to suit the stomachs of her children.
Suppose she has five children.
If there is a fish to cook, she prepares various dishes from it – pilau, pickled fish, friend fish, and so on – to suit their different tastes and powers of digestion.
God is formless and yet He can assume forms.
One monk went to visit the temple of Lord Jagannath in the holy city of Puri.
While inside the temple, doubts came to his mind.
He started wondering if God had form, or He was formless.
As he was a wandering monk, he was carrying a staff in his hand.
With his staff he wanted to touch the image of Lord Jagannath.
He put one end of his staff to the left of the image and moved it to the right.
The staff passed unobstructed through the image, as if it was not there.
But when he tried to move the staff from right to left, the image obstructed it.
Thus, he realized that God is formless and yet He can have form.
A man went to a forest.
There, for the first time in his life, he saw a chameleon sitting on a tree.
Later he said to someone, “Brother, in that forest I saw a strange creature on a tree.
It’s red in color.”
The other man said, “I’ve also seen that creature, it certainly isn’t red. It’s green.”
Another person said, “Why should it be green? I’ve seen it too, it’s yellow.”
Someone else claimed that it was violet, while others insisted that it was either blue or black.
Thus they started quarreling.
Then they decided to go back to that tree and found a man sitting under it.
That man said, “I live under this tree; I know this creature very well.
What you all have been saying is quite true.
It is sometimes red, sometimes green, sometimes yellow and sometimes blue.”
One who contemplates God all the time – he alone knows what God is really like.
He alone knows that God reveals Himself in so many different ways.
God sometimes assumes different forms.
Sometimes He has attributes, sometimes none.
One who lives under the tree alone knows that the chameleon has many colors.
He also knows that sometimes it doesn’t have any color at all.
Others who don’t know, quarrel and suffer unnecessarily.
God has form, then again He is formless.
He is like the infinite ocean.
The cooling influence of the spiritual aspirant’s devotion for God causes the water to freeze and become ice.
But when the sun of true knowledge rises, the ice melts and becomes formless water again.”