Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Nigerian Temple President’s Efforts Highlighted During World Interfaith Harmony Week
By Atma Tattva Das, ISKCON News Staff Writer   |  Feb 23, 2024
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Salika Das (center in blue) gifted Srila Prabhupada’s books to the host and producer of Plateau State Radio Television Station.

In the bustling city of Jos, Nigeria, amidst the diverse trimmings of cultures and religions, Salika Das stands as a beacon of interfaith harmony and peacebuilding. As a disciple of Bhakti Tirtha Swami and the temple president at ISKCON Jos for the past 25 years, Salika’s journey has been marked by unwavering dedication to Srila Prabhupada’s mission of spreading Krishna consciousness and fostering understanding among different faith traditions.

This year’s UN World Interfaith Harmony Week has once again highlighted Salika’s remarkable efforts in promoting dialogue, cooperation, and mutual respect among diverse communities.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week, established by the UN General Assembly in 2010, aims to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith. It encourages mutual understanding and interfaith dialogue to foster peace and stability in communities worldwide. This annual observance, held from February 1st to 7th, serves as a platform for individuals and organizations to showcase their commitment to interfaith cooperation.

Salika’s journey towards promoting interfaith harmony began with his involvement in intellectual university preaching and engagement with governmental and non-governmental organizations. Facing challenges in attracting devotees during the period of religious unrest in the region of Jos, Nigeria, Salika shifted his focus to intellectual preaching and active involvement in interfaith dialogue.

Reflecting on his journey, Salika shared, “I decided to focus more on intellectual university preaching…I was actively involved in teaching students on various world religions.” His dedication to education and dialogue earned him recognition from the University of Jos, where he served as a guest lecturer for over two decades.

However, Salika’s mission took on greater significance in the aftermath of the “Jos Madness” incident, a period of violent unrest between Christian and Muslim communities in Jos. Recounting the challenges of that time, Salika explained, “There was massive violence and killings…the environment we were preaching in entirely changed.” Despite the turmoil, Salika recognized the need for increased interfaith dialogue and peacebuilding efforts.

Salika’s efforts gained momentum as he actively engaged with various UN organizations, including the United Religious Initiative and the Universal Peace Federation. His involvement in global peace initiatives led to recognition and awards, including a Peace Ambassador Award from the Universal Peace Federation in 2014.

Sharing his perspective on the significance of interfaith dialogue, Salika emphasized, “Education without spirituality is characterless education…morality has no sustenance without spirituality.” He highlighted the importance of integrating spirituality into education to foster holistic development and character formation.

Salika’s dedication to promoting interfaith harmony extends beyond academic circles to grassroots initiatives and community engagement. One such initiative involved his invitation to speak on Plateau State Radio Television Station, where he shared insights on value-based education and its pivotal role in fostering lasting peace. During the program, Salika generously gifted copies of Srila Prabhupada’s books to the host and producer, Anita Malu and Victoria Machat, respectively, further extending the reach of Krishna consciousness teachings.

Additionally, Salika’s diplomatic outreach during the week included a visit to the Indian ambassador, HC Shri G. Balasubramanian, in Abuja, where he exchanged cultural insights and discussed the potential establishment of an ISKCON temple in the capital city of Nigeria. These efforts exemplify Salika’s dedication to advancing interfaith dialogue and cooperation on both local and global platforms.

Reflecting on his journey, Salika shared, “ISKCON has all it takes to help save the world…we’re always trying, and we’re praying that Guru and Krishna will help us to do more.”

Looking ahead, Salika remains optimistic about the future of interfaith dialogue and cooperation. With ISKCON’s upcoming admission as a recognized religious body at the African Union level, Salika sees new opportunities for collaboration and engagement in promoting peace and understanding across Africa.

To learn more about his inspiring preaching work and the ongoing initiatives at ISKCON Jos, you can connect with Salika on Facebook.

 

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