SUMMIT OF WORLD LEADERS
THE WORLD AT A TURNING POINT
A Global Vision of Peace and Good Governance
2003. 8. 11-15 Seoul Korea
Sri Taralabalu Jagadguru
Dr Shivamurthy Shivacharya Mahaswamiji
Sri Taralabalu Jagadguru Brihanmath Sirigere,
Dear Members of the Global Family and
distinguished World Leaders
Many years ago, I had been to Costa Rica in Central America on the invitation of the University for Peace to give a talk at an International Conference on the theme "Religions Responding to Global Threats". One of the participants was a Rabbi (Jewish priest) from Israel who had an interesting incident to narrate. At the time of his departure from his country, he had met an old man his next door neighbour and told him that he was going to attend the Conference in Costa Rica on the theme "Religions Responding to Global Threats". The old man who had some problem with his ears, mistook the theme of the Conference and immediately responded nodding his head: "Yes, Yes, Religions are the Global Threats!" Perhaps the old man is right and only we are mistaken!
Every country has got its own national territory with a definite geographical boundary separating the territory of other neighbouring countries. Apart from these political boundaries forming various Nations, people have formed their own invisible mental boundaries based on religion, race, region, language and what not! These invisible mental boundaries are in a way stronger than the political boundaries. The political boundaries may change from time to time but not these mental boundaries, especially those based on religion, which we see growing stronger and stronger every day.
Religion, region and language influence our thoughts, our behaviours and our relationships with people around us. We identify ourselves with the religion we belong to, the region we live in and the language we speak out.
Persons of the same religious group living in far away places, whom we seldom know or who may not be seen at all during our life time, will receive more sympathy than our next door neighbour belonging to a different religious faith. There are more Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims, etc., in this world than those who are simple human beings!
The primary aim of all religions is to make man happy both in this life and in the life hereafter. "Yato'bhyudaya nisreyasa siddhih sa dharmah" (True religion brings earthly happiness and heavenly paradise), says the Vaisheshika Sutra, a treatise on one of the six schools of Indian Philosophy. Religions propagate mutual trust, peaceful co-existence and humanism, among people of the world. No religion preaches any violence to its followers. But there is no country in the world where there has been no violence or blood-shed in the name of religion or God. Basavanna who led a great socio-religious movement during 12th century AD in Karnataka (South India), strongly condemns the acts of violence in the name of religion. He stresses the need for being kind and gentle at heart towards all living beings, if one really wants to win the grace of God:
dayave beku jagada pranigalellaralli
dayave dharmada mulavayya
What is the use of religion
Which has no compassion?
Be compassionate to all living beings in the world
Compassion is indeed the root of all religions
Lord Kudala Sangama
Does not like it otherwise!
Religions influence our thoughts, our behaviours and our relationships with people around us. Theoretically, religions do not preach any violence, but in practice we experience a situation quite contrary to it, causing much blood-shed and conflict in the name of religion and God. During one of my previous visits to London, I happened to read a letter written by a Muslim reader of the "Indian Weekly" in London stating that religion has done more harm than good to humanity and that 'religion is the tragedy of mankind!'. He minced no words in saying: "the world today is delirious with hatred, and the conflicts are cruel and unceasing and in most cases, religion or religion mixed with intense nationalism is responsible for man's inhumanity to man. If a religious leader decrees that a novelist deserves to die for something he has written in a work of fiction, then he is inciting an act of violence". We need such 'critical insiders' within every religion if religions have to regain their true character. It is in this sense that the Bhagavad Gita ordained: "Tad viddhi pranipatena, pari-prashnena sevaya." i.e., Be humble while learning at the feet of your teacher, but do not blindly accept what is being taught. And never hesitate to ask questions to satisfy your inner conscience in the quest for knowledge. We should, thus, be the critics of our own religion. Instead, we find on the increase an aggressive attitude of religions towards other religions and their condemnation, rejection and destruction. Communism is diminishing, whereas communalism is fast growing all over the world today.
Religions were founded for finding peace in this life and in the life hereafter. But in practice, they have become the causes of unhappiness and unrest in the world. Religions were meant to overcome one's weakness but ironically they themselves have become one's weakness.
Creation of nations is not the law of Nature. It is an artificial line of demarcation drawn by groups of people in different regions at different periods of time in history. "States and Governments come and disappear whereas the mountains remain for ever!" says a Chinese proverb. The gentle breeze blowing from East to West or the enchanting rivers flowing from mountains to oceans, the lovely birds flying high in the air from one continent to another continent, know no boundaries of any country or continent! They do not require any Passport or Visa to travel. No country stops them at her frontiers and checks them or detains or deports them. Let everyone of us belonging to this one 'Global family' take a pledge to live together in Peace and harmony.
The Global Peace which we are now looking for, has also been the dream of Seers and Sages of India thousands of years ago as envisaged in the following hymn of Yajurveda, one of the ancient Hindu scriptures, which I chanted on the opening day of this Summit.
Prithvi shantih, antarikshagam shantih,
Dyauh shantih, dishah shantih,
Vayuh shantih, adityah shantih,
chandramah shantih, nakshtrani shantih
Apah shantih, oshadhayah shantih, vanspatayah shantih
Gauh shantih, aja shantih, ashvah shantih
Dvipade chatushpade ca shantim karomi
shantir me'stu shantih!
Peace be on this Earth! Peace be in the skies!
Peace be in the space! Peace be in all directions!
Peace be in the air! Peace be in the waters!
Peace with Sun, Moon and Stars!
Peace with plants and trees!
Peace be with cows, goats, horses and all other animals
Peace be with me and deep in me!
Please note the last line of this hymn: 'Peace be with me and deep in me!' The Yajurveda speaks of Peace outside and then the Peace inside. There cannot be any Peace outside, unless one is at Peace within oneself. The Peace loving heart cannot be at Peace unless the Peace prevails outside. Each and every line of this hymn reverberates with deep meaning, especially in the context of the recent dreadful war in the Gulf region which has wounded the mother Earth, wounded the skies, wounded the oceans, wounded the birds and wounded the peace loving hearts. The 'Global Heart' is still crying in agony and bemoaning: "Couldn't this dreadful war be averted and young and innocent lives spared!" The wounds are yet to be healed and it is quite certain that it has left a deep scar behind. Let the above hymn on Global Peace be the charter of all peace loving organization in the world and be the daily prayer of all those who sincerely wish for the World Peace! Let this Gulf war be the last war not only for America, but also for the whole Globe as such and not only for this century but also for all the centuries ahead! Let everyone of us belonging to this one 'Global Family' take a pledge to live together in Peace and harmony. Let not the Sun, Moon and Stars in the skies be the witnesses of any more dreadful scenes of bloodshed and brutalities on this mother earth in the ages to come! Let me conclude with a poem I have written, though I am not a poet.
God is one, but His names are many
Reality is one, but its ways are many
Spirituality is one, but religions are many
Humanity is one, but human beings are many
There cannot be one religion for the whole world
Religions are like flowers of a beautiful garden
Every flower has got its own individual beauty
Adding to the total beauty of the garden!
Enjoy the beauty of the flower of your choice!
While enjoying the beauty of the garden!
Let not your choice be thrust on others
Nor be it a cause for coercion and conflict!