The end of the world according to the Mayan calendar may not have been exactly that. Not that it was giving too many in India cause for worry. “It will need far more than that for the sab-maya-hai (its all illusion) Hindu way of thinking,” laughs Sadhu Amrutvadan Das of the Swaminarayan sect.
“For us Hindus everything is cyclical. So the scriptures do not try to frighten you. They only tell you to be righteous, compassionate and stay detached. Life will follow death and this will be be followed by life again. So this end of the world theory does not wash with our religion which says the cycle of utpati (evolution), stithi (being) and pralaya (destruction) are mere cycles. “ According to him Hinduism wants its followers to seek finding freedom from this cycle and union with the Almighty.
Jainism too, believes in a similar cycle admits Jain studies scholar Manish Modi. According to him, “Without pralay (destruction) how will utapati (evolution) happen. Jainism says that one has to learn not to become overly attached to what is coming or become depressed and unhappy with what is coming to pass. This is exactly how the religion approaches the idea of the end of the world too. ”
Considering how the community is known for its happy go lucky nature, its no surprise then that the small yet influential Zorastrian community, too does not believe in the end being catastrophic. Zorastrian studies scholar Khojeste Mistree told DNA, “The scriptures say the end will be peaceful and happy. Sickness, poverty, disease and death will cease to be. We do not believe in rebirth but only one life, and the scriptures predict that after temporary periods of calamity when evil will try to gain the upper hand, good will prevail.”
According to Maulana Hakim Mehmood Darybadi Muslims too do not believe the end is still near. “But that does not mean the scriptures do not warn us about atoning for our sins and not sinning more. We believe that a messiah will be born again and in his arrival we will get the qayamat ki almat (signs of the end). We believe that souls will be reunited with the bodies in the presence of the Allah and everybody will face the consequences of what they have done in their lives.” He did however agree that the end will be marked by cataclysmic catastrophes. “The Almighty is merciful but He too has his limits. See what is happening around us,” he remarks without elaborating.
This is a view akin to the Christian one. Spokesperson for the archdiocese of Mumbai Father Anthony Charanghat told DNA, “The Gospel does not prescribe a date but gives us signs of what to look out for to understand that the end is upon us. This is the reason why the Catholic church has never gone by dates. The signs include the arrival of false prophets and messiahs, wars and rumours of wars leading to uncertainty, famines, earthquakes, persecution and tribulations and finally the Gospel will be preached throughout the world before the actual end.”
Doesn't that sound like its already happening? Fr Charanghat simply smiles and says, “If that is how one feels, then isn't it time to start praying?”