During a lecture on fanaticism, Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda, world-renowned yoga spiritual master & founder of the Science of Identity Foundation, shares with his audience that fanaticism has caused so much unnecessary pain in the world by failing to respect an individual’s freedom to cultivate their personal relationship with God.

Jagad Guru explains that “God is not a God of just the Jews or the Christians or the Muslims, or whatever. God is God. All living entities are His children. Real religion means to develop your love for God. Recognize that God is the owner of everything; everything and everyone belongs to God. Not that this is ours because it’s God’s, and we are God’s chosen people. No.”

Fanaticism in the name of religion can be seen throughout the world. Jagad Guru shares that this is not real religion because it’s not based upon love for God and others. Instead, it is a very unfortunate thing based on force. “By force people are trying to claim God’s property as their own property. This includes the living as well as the non-living. In other words, a fanatic who’s trying to collect people as being ‘ours,’ the members of ‘our group (cult).’ That’s not much different than trying to claim non-living property.”

Rather than finding security and strength from love for God and through developing a strong relationship with Him, fanatics find security and strength by trying to gain followers. The more followers they have, the stronger they feel. If they lose followers, “they feel they’ve lost part of their security. It’s like a piece of property I lost. So if somebody leaves the church or somebody leaves their group or cult, it’s like, ‘We lost something,’ rather than, ‘That person lost God,’ or ‘has left God.’”

The truth is, Jagad Guru explains, fanatics do not really love, and this has led to great trouble. If they want to gain someone as a follower, “it’s not that they really love me. They don’t really love me. They need me. They’re insecure. This is fanaticism. They view people as property. They view people as things. The amount of trouble that the world is in due to so-called ‘religious fanaticism’ is so great. There’s so much suffering due to this. So much suffering in the name of God.”

Unfortunately, many fail to draw a clear distinction between fanatics or cults and real religion. Jagad Guru says, “They always talk about religious fanaticism. There is no such thing as religious fanaticism. Religion means love for God, love for all living beings. Love is based on freedom; that I give my heart, I give my mind, I give my will, I give my life to God.”

While religion means “love for God,” fanaticism means “force.” Someone who was converted by force or fear will have a difficult time understanding the concept of real religion—an experience of freely giving your life to God. The truly religious understand that this is the process of religion, but the fanatic only knows force. “Their whole idea of religion is perverted.”

Jagad Guru notes that many propagate this perverted meaning of religion and see it as “joining some group. But religious fanatics are not really religious.” We must become truly religious through our love for God and give up fanaticism.

Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda is a yoga spiritual master in the disciplic succession known as the Brahma Madhva Gaudiya Sampradaya. This highly respected spiritual lineage extends back over 5,000 years to Lord Sri Krishna Himself.

Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda is also the founder of the Science of Identity Foundation which teaches the practice of meditation and kirtan—along with the timeless yoga wisdom—to help individuals achieve greater spiritual, mental, and physical well-being. Passed down for centuries through an unbroken line of self-realized teachers, this ancient and authentic process of self-discovery can be practiced by anyone.

For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.