Diverse faiths can live together: Scholars


New Delhi: Four leading theologians, including the Dalai Lama, Saturday urged harmony across diverging faiths, saying at a seminar here Saturday to commemorate Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary that the idea of “one world religion was of diversity and not dissension”.

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Presented by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), it was part of a two-day interfaith conference March 7-9. Four spiritual leaders, the Dalai Lama, Karan Singh, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan and Mopho Tutu, expressed their views on faith and universalism in a question-answer format of discussion moderated by theology scholar Anindita Balshev.

Karan Singh, the president of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and a Hindu scholar, said the Raj Yoga, Gyana Yoga and Karma Yoga were the three ways through which man could connect to the cosmic divine.

The Dalai Lama referred to the Vinaya Sutra, saying unless “someone asks you to teach when Buddha is coming, one does not teach”.

“Buddhism and Jainism have never tried to convert (unlike the Christain traditions). Only those people, who knew something about Buddhism can take up the faith as practitioners. It comes across as one full faith and a common experience for happy and sensible persons,” the seer said, adding that the “basis of non-violence on which the faith prospered was one of compassion”.

The commonman and the goodness of the soul have been integral to the Quran, Islamic scholar Maulana Wahidudddin Khan said. “The quran uses the word ‘insaan’. There is only one equation in this world – man and god. The concept of conversion is alien to the Quran. The truth is your own realisation. One has to study the faith and discuss,” the Islamic scholar said.

The Muslims came to India in two different forms – as Sufi scholars and as invaders and iconoclasts, Karan Singh said. “They did have some kind of reaction in the Hindu psyche that we have to put behind us,” he said.

Comparing Christianity with other faiths, Mpho Tutu, daughter of South African visionary and evangelist Bishop Desmond Tutu, said Christianity has so much variety within itself.

“Faith as a tradition and faith as a part of being other. Born out of the Jewish faith, it stood in the positive of being in the other,” Tutu said.

The Dalai Lama, capping the debate, said: “One needs a special effort. One must educate the people to show that people of different faith can live together.”