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Foreword To 'Buddhism'

Though man's religious consciousness has been, time and again, enshrined in song and scripture, in art and architecture, from the beginning there has always been a need for exegetical literature; For the saint and the lay man, the literature of prophecy is enough, but the advanced initiate and the rational thinker always seek doctrinal support. Each major religion, therefore, has gathered a huge mass of expository material which helps project its true image. Nevertheless, it continually requires fresh thought and application inasmuch as it has to meet the requirements of the changing imagination. That is indeed how a religion remains a living force. The effort of the Guru Gobind Singh Department of Religious Studies, Punjabi University-the first Depart­ment of its kind in Indian Universities-to bring out up-to-date volumes on the five principle religions-Hinduism, Buddhism, Christanity, Islam and Sikhism-is accordingly a scholarly step of great value, particularly as it synchronises with the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. The release of the volumes on this occasion, therefore, is an apt and concrete tribute to the catholicity of the Founder's mind.

The primary aim of these publications is to give the reader an idea of the fundamentals of the religions in question. Thus, no comprehen­sive analysis or exposition has been attempted, though, I trust, the scholarship, which has been commissioned, has made a good job of it. These skeletal studies are intended, in particular, to bring the younger people in our colleges and universities into contact with the various stream of religious experience, thought and practice. Religion, though frequently abused by the pundit and the padre, remains man's most cherished heritage and hope. To open a window on to a long and beautiful vista is thus to invite the youth to unending pastures of pleasure. Literature of this kind has its own distinctive flavour and appeal. Once one has felt what Guru Nanak calls, "the touch of His Love," nothing else will quite satisfy.

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