NO. There is none. There can be none. Why? Because any such idea breaks down at the very outset, for all religious thinkers see unity in terms of other people being converted to the religion they themselves profess.
What is more, to claim the existence of an universal religion is a lie. Gandhiji used to say that of all the untruths propagated by men, the greatest untruths are to be found in theology. And one such untruth is: that the semitic religions are universal, that their gods are universal.
Good reader, there is no universal religion or universal god in the world. The Greeks and the Hindus came very close to a definition. Thus, Plutarch says: there is one sun and one sky over all nations and one god under many names. This is what Monism of the Hindus also says. The God of Monism is impersonal, without form and without a habitat. He is omnipresent. Monism believes that the universal self or Atman is not different from Brahman-“Aham Brahmasmi”.
If there is no universal religion, there can be no universal God, either. What we have got are tribal religions and tribal gods. The concept of a universal god was beyond the ken of the people of that age.
There are four stages in the development of religions: Pantheism, Polytheism, Monotheism and Monism. No religion reached the stage of Monism except Hinduism. But Hinduism never went through Monotheism. The Rig Veda speaks of one God, but also of hundreds of gods. “That which is one, sages call it in various names”, says the Vedas. The Hindus always had more that one god.
The entire Middle East was known for its spirits. Spirits protected the homes, villages, towns and countries. Over time, they became gods. Each tribe had a god to itself. Moses, the Jewish leader, chose one god-Yahweh-from among the gods of the Middle East to protect the Jews. He was a warrior god. In return the Jews accepted Yahweh as the Jewish god. But Yahweh warned them: “Thou shall have no other gods before me.” From this one can infer:
1) Yahweh acknowledges the existence of other gods; 2) Yahweh was not aware of a universal religion or God and 3) that Yahweh was a tribal god. By giving up all gods except Yahweh, the Jews heralded the era of Monotheism. But this did not make Jewish beliefs into a universal religion. It was the most typical tribal religion.
The Arabs too chose one god out of the many Arab gods. There were 365 gods at the Kaaba. Mohammed chose Allah from among them. Thus Allah became the Arab god. But Allah did not become a universal god nor did Islam become a universal creed. The entire Quran was addressed to the Arab. But Monotheism has been distorted. It is presented today as an universal religion. This was never the idea.
Monism is anticipated in the Vedas. All that Shankara did was to elaborate the insights of the Vedas. They are: 1) Prajnanam Brahma; 2) Aham Brahmasmi; 3) Ta Twam Asi, Shankara converted these into a new philosophy-Advaita. Universal self or Atman is not different from Brahman-this was the central idea of Advaita.
The image of the divine is not that of a ruler in Hinduism who directs the world from above, but of a principle that controls everything from within. The atom moves not by a force external to it, but by a force within it.
Vivekananda says: “Brahman is the last generalisation to which we can arrive. Beyond Brahman we cannot go.”
Why was Advaita not elevated into a religion? Because the masses could not understand it. Why, even scholars found it difficult to grasp the depth of the doctrine of Advaita. There is no scope in Advaita for feelings, love and emotion. There is not even scope for worship. The Monist tradition was placed beyond thought and speculation.
We have seen that a universal religion or a universal god is not possible, although it is the most desirable thing. We must all try to live with what we have. It is wrong to distort any religion or prettify it. By imposing a religion on the world, it does not become universal. It becomes universal only if it is truly universal. But alas, that is not what is happening. Every religion is trying to widen the difference with other religions in order to increase the appeal of one’s own religion.
To conclude, it is not proper to transfer the experience of one tribe to another.