Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inaugurated the Conclave by recalling how in 1893 Swami Vivekananda impressed upon our civilisational tradition of accepting the greatness of all religions while speaking at the Parliament of Worlds Religions in Chicago.
This is a simple but exceedingly important idea. It was not religious tolerance that Swamiji valued, as much as religious harmony. True harmony is based on mutual respect and regard, he said.
However, does not the socio-cultural and political context in which religion functions decide to a large extent its manifestation
Every nation will have to learn to deal with the political, cultural and social consequences and implications of this growing phenomenon of diversity. No modern and open society can be a monolith. Our Constitution is based on equal respect for all faiths. This idea of equality is important. The numerical notions of majority community and minority community are based on political and social concepts. They are not spiritual categories, was his thoughtful observation.
Not many realise that four of the worlds great faiths trace their roots to India Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Besides, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam have flourished on this land for centuries. A true celebration of unity in diversity is it not
Religion has always been a major factor in the growth of human civilisation. Whether it is art or architecture, music or literature, philosophy or law, moral codes or spiritual texts, many of the glorious achievements of the human race can be traced back to religion. But let us have the courage to admit that there have also been negative contributions mass killings, pogroms, inquisitions, torture, persecution, vandalism and bigotry have all at some point of time been perpetrated in the name of religion. The crowning irony is that these have been done in the name of a divinity which every religion looks upon as being merciful and compassionate, Dr Karan Singh, President, Indian Council for Cultural Relations and chairman, the Temple of Understanding, said.
Expressing concerns over the constitutional barriers he further added, We must all lay stress on interfaith religious teaching. It is high time that the interfaith movement takes centrestage. The forces of fundamentalism are propagating hatred and violence in the world. We need a equally strong coalition of faith, peace and harmony to counter the same.
Sardar Aseff Ali Daulla, former foreign minister of Pakistan agreed, Pakistan has a fairly large number of people from different religions. A module of interfaith religious teaching will certainly go a long way in developing an environment of trust and respect for all religions.
The moulding of young minds in a secular frame must undoubtedly begin at the school level, and whats better than interfaith religious teachings
Because religion seeks to give meaning and purpose to whom we are, it is inextricably bound up with all the different components of human identity right from the most basic unit of a family to larger ethnic groups and nations to the widest components of humanity and creation as a whole. These components of human identity are the building blocks of our psycho-spiritual well-being and we deny them at our peril, said Chief Rabbi David Rosen, president, International Jewish Committee for Inter-religious Consultations.
Contemporary society multicultural, multi-ethnic and even multi-religious has to find the fundamental shared values that can enable it to function as a collective society at the same time, he further said.
Interestingly, all religions propagate the same fundamental values. In the Bible it finds mention in the expression Love thy neighbour as yourself; in the Koran it is, no one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself; in Buddhism it finds expression in terms such as hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful, Dr Khwaja Iftikar Ahmed, founder president, Inter Faith Harmony Foundation of India firmly reiterated.
He further added that to attain ultimate peace in the world the yawning gulf between Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and the other faiths must be bridged and this can be done only through dialogue. The concept of Sarva Dharma Sambhav reiterates the key message the need of the hour is not just tolerance but harmony.
It is time a consistent effort towards the same takes roots throughout the human kind.