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Professor R P Singh
Head, Deptt of Philosophy, JNU

The present millennium is different from all the earlier events of human history. There is scientific knowledge, which is most delicate and advanced, technology, which is most capable and sophisticated, and the fifth generation Microsoft, with rare knowledge and information. But do we have the wisdom to make use of all this knowledge for social harmony and cohesion? One of the salient features of human history is that people, resources, ideas and consciousness move from one place to another and get transformed gradually. But what has been the role of faiths and values in such movements and transformations?  We can see disharmony and disintegration at all levels – individual, family, community, nation/ state, society and environment etc. The way to overcome these problems is to propose interfaith and intrafaith harmony in which one faith does not alienate another faith but tries to harmonize them in such a way that their common features, such as brotherhood, love, compassion, nonviolence and above all peace are overemphasized. A discourse among harmony in religions is based on pluralism, tolerance and mutual self- respect.

In Taittriya Upanishad, there is a prayer that reveals that the sense of harmony proceeds from the protection that we seek from the source of being for togetherness. “Together may He protect us; together may He possess us; together may we make unto us strength and virility. May our quest be full to us of light and power. May we never envy.” The prayer proceeds from our cooperative effort to increase strength, harmony and vitality, with constant vigilance to be free from envy and hatred. Our constant hymn is “Peace and Peace again and Peace still again.” This is what lies at the basis of harmony in religions.

Harmony is an act of understanding different faiths in terms of unity in their philosophical doctrines, principles and practices, myths and rituals, beliefs and attitudes, identities, legends and profiles etc. For instance, we come across intrafaith harmony with the Sanatan Dharma as the basis of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism andSikhism on the one hand, while on the other hand , we have interfaith harmony in terms of love, compassion and nonviolence in Christianity, Buddhism and Jainism; Sthitaprajna in Gita and Arhat in Buddhism; doctrine of Brahman in the Upanishads and the notion of God in Judaism, Christianity and Islam; Status ofDevotion in Buddhism and Bhakti movement, including Sufism and Sikhism; Immortality of Words, Trinity - Reason and Revelation, Dialectics, Reconciliation of God, Man and Evil; Cultural response to Hope, Shame and Guilt; Swami Vivekananda’s vision of Universal Religion; Mahatma Gandhi’s  commitment to Interfaith Harmony; Pluralism, Self-respect and Tolerance; Nature of Dharma Yuddha, Crusade and Jihad; Convergence of faiths in Art, Architecture and Music and so on.

The Interfaith Paradigm should reflect the best of all philosophies and faiths. Naturally, it should have the magnetic force to unite and reunite mankind into one corporate entity.

 
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