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Dr Mohinder Singh
Member, Linguistic Minority Education Commission, GoI

Dr Mohinder Singh began by thanking Hon’ble Dr Karan Singh, who epitomizes the finest and the most universal image of interfaith harmony not only in India but also in the world.

As a Sikh, he considers himself to be unconventional and unpretentious in the sense that he does not subscribe to many of the things that happen in his community in the name of Sikhism. He said: the example of the Sikh Gurus has often been forgotten and importance is being given to traditions and rituals. The Sikh Gurus exemplified the true spirit of Guru Granth Sahib and it is this element of the Sikh religion that needed to be publicized and practiced.

Dr Mohinder Singh shared a couple of interesting anecdotes of his life. The first one, although his mother was an illiterate woman, yet she had the highest level of integrity and spirituality. Once she had to cross a river by boat, she first asked the boatman to collect the money for ferrying her because she didn’t wish to die in debt in case some mishap prevented her from crossing the river. The second one related to his college days when he started his studies at the Khalsa College, Bhatinda.  Prior to that, he had never bothered about his identity as a Sikh because with his friends he used to visit the Kali Temple, go to a Church and had no problem even visiting a Mosque. But when he went to a college, suddenly it was thrust upon him that his identity is that of a Sikh and that he ought to be conscious of his religious background.

Dr Mohinder Singh firmly believes that knowledge is knowledge, soul is soul and God is God. Knowledge, Soul and God are permanent. Their attributes do not change. Human mind is fallible and the knowledge gained through the mind is not permanent.

Interfaith Paradigm should consist of the following features:
God is one. He is on all sides. He belongs to all. He is creator of everything. He is present in every being. We are all children of the same God. All Prophets are His messengers. All religions in essence are the same. The dissimilarities are more at the level of rituals and ceremonies. Truth is one; the wise call it by different names (Rig Veda). There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim (Guru Nanak). Guru Nanak stated: A wise person would not tread the path of communalism (Japuji Sahib, Stanza 14). Guru Nanak had discarded external symbols in his personal life. The most important thing is devotion to the Lord but more important than this is the righteous deeds. Truth is highest, but higher still is truthful living (Guru Nanak). Outer symbols and garbs are not the essence of religion (Sukhmani Sahib Canto 3, 4). His worship and worshippers are of the same hew (Sukhmani Sahib Canto 17).

Dr Mohinder Singh rejects exploitation of man by man, both on economic and religious basis. No ethical philosophy can overlook the spiritual equality of mankind. But it will remain only a cliche in a society, based on gross economic inequalities where the major chunk of the society does not have an access to bare minimum requirements for living as human beings. Interfaith Paradigm should re-unite mankind, not ignoring the maxim of unity in diversity. A worthwhile Interfaith Paradigm should be based on Justice, harmony, brotherhood and peaceful coexistence. Religion is only a means to an end and that end is self-realization and human fulfillment.

 
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