for www.radhanathswami.com on Feb. 26, 2011
Mumbai: Radhanath Swami was invited for an interfaith dialogue on the topic “Decline of morality in public life: Role of religion in restoring it” organized by K.J. Somaiya Bhartiya Sanskriti Peetham. The Somaiya trust is one of the largest educational trusts in India with 34 institutes and 27,000 students.
The dialogue brought together members from the highest order of the Christian, Hindu and Islamic faiths. H.E. Oswald Cardinal Gracias and H.E. Cardinal Murphy-O’ Connor represented Christianity, H.H. Radhanath Swami and Pandit Vidyasimhacaharya Mahuli represented Hinduism, and Prof. Advocate Ashraf Ahmed Shaikh and Maulana Abdul Malik represented the Islamic view. It was attended by over 500 students and guests.
His Eminence Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor from the Vatican, who was in India to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II visit to the country, gave the keynote address. He said that to bring about a positive change in the world spiritual vision is of utmost importance, which is based on ethical values of service to others, charity, forgiveness and compassion. He urged that we should strongly unite to form a culture of love and peace.
Radhanath Swami spoke about the necessity of harmony among different religious faiths. He said that any relationship in this world is sustainable only if we are willing to resolve differences and unite for a higher cause. He illustrated this principle by giving an example from his personal life. When he was a young boy his parents were strongly considering separating, but decided against it because they realized that this decision would adversely affect their children’s future. Therefore, they decided to resolve all mutual differences for the sake of their children.
Quoting the Holy Bible and Bhagavata Purana, Radhanath Swami said that the essence of religion is not sectarianism based on external rules and rituals, but the principle to love God and become an instrument of His compassion in this world. Religion is not about affiliation but about genuine transformation of heart, he said.
He also spoke about cultivating mutual respect amongst people of various faiths and substantiated it with the example of a dog’s loyalty to its master. He said that the master may be dressed in different clothes each day, but the loyal dog can still identify him or her and express its love. Similarly one who truly loves God can appreciate Him in His various manifestations.
Maulana Abdul Malik emphasized that a self-centered lifestyle leads to increased immorality in society. He stated that selfish people are ready to do anything for their personal interests without concern for others. Their whims become their God and they become slave of their desires. He said that all these problems can be overcome if one follows the codes of religion in one’s life and live by the principles of brotherhood, peace and equality.
This was followed by a thought-provoking Q & A session, felicitation of the dignitaries and lunch for all the attendees.
The following are the profiles of the speakers:
• Mr. Samir Somaiya, Vice President, Somaiya Vidyavihar, Mumbai, Chairman, Somaiya Trust, Mumbai
• H.E. Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop Emeritus of Westminister, Former President of the Catholics Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
• H.E. Archbishop Oswald Cardinal Gracias, President of CBCI, Archbishop of Mumbai
• H.E. Archbishop Felix Machado, Archbishop of Vasai, Mumbai
• H.H. Radhanath Swami, Governing Body Commissioner, ISKCON
• Pandit Vidyasimhacharya Mahuli, Kulapati, Satyadhyan Vidyapeeth, Mumbai
• Maulana Abdul Malik, Head, The Islamic Studies in Matliwala Public School, Bharuch, Gujarat
• Prof. Advocate Ashraf Ahmed Shaikh, Advocate and Social activists, Mumbai
• H.E. Salvatore Pennacchio, Apostolic Nuncio to India