Chennai to Host Fifth Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair from Feb 19-24, 2013

February 1, 2013

Swami Vivekananda’s 150th Anniversary to be Central Theme

 

Former CEC N Gopalswami heads Fair Organising Committee

The fifth edition of the highly acclaimed Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair (HSSF) would be organized at A.M.Jain College, Meenambakkam, Chennai, from February 19-24, 2013.

This year’s Fair is very special as it will be dedicated to the memory of Swami Vivekananda whose 150th birth Anniversary is being celebrated throughout 2013-14 by the Central and State governments of India and also by many spiritual organisations.

With Swami Vivekananda and the thoughts expounded by him becoming the Central theme of the Fifth HSS Fair 2013, the organisers have planned the following publicity campaign and programmes:

● Vivekananda Effect: Hundred cut outs of Swami Vivekananda of 20’ height will be displayed in various prominent locations in the City of Chennai to create awareness.

● Swami Vivekananda Yatra: Swami Vivekananda’s Statue mounted on ten vehicles will be taken to about 500 schools throughout Chennai and surrounding areas to take the message of Swamiji to the students. This will be organised by Initiative for Moral and Cultural Training [IMCT], a unit of Hindu Spiritual and Service Foundation;

● Swami Vivekananda Walkathon: The IMCT will organise Vivekananda Walkathon on the Marina Beach Road by 3000 students from various schools as part of the HSS Fair Programme to celebrate the 150th anniversary year of the Patriotic Monk.

● Swami Vivekananda Exhibition: The thoughts, life and mission of Swami Vivekananda will be displayed and exhibited in the centre Hall of the Fair along with the “Sanathana Dharma Tree” and datas of Service activities rendered by the various participant organisations in the fair;

● Swami Vivekananda Competitions: Competitions for school students in Vivekananda-centric topics and cultural, traditional and personality development skills will be conducted.

Apart from the Special Features centred on Swami Vivekananda, the Fair will have the usual cultural shows and spiritual discourses during the fair timings by the participant organisations and students.

 

ABOUT THE HSSF

For the last five years The Hindu Spiritual and Service Foundation, affiliated to the Global Foundation for Civilizational Harmony (India), has been organising the Fair to show case the large scale, but mostly unknown and invariably unpublicized service activities undertaken by the Hindu spiritual organisations.

The idea of the Fair is to change the wrong perception about Hindu spiritual organisations that they are not socially conscious and that they do not have deep impulse for public service. This incorrect and unfair perception is needed to be corrected to create a proper image of India that tallies with the reality to enable the country, which is emerging as a global power, to play its rightful role in the world.

The Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair is thus an innovative and massive effort to network the Hindus spiritual institutions to project a proper image about them in the public domain including outside India, where Hindu spiritual organisations are mainly perceived as brand ambassadors of spiritual and religious India.

It was against this background that four such Hindu Spiritual and Service Fairs had been organised by the GFCH and HSSF with the participating Hindu spiritual organisations as the co-sponsors at Chennai from 2009 to 2012 the last fair having been held in January 2012. In the first Fair 35 spiritual organisations had participated; in the second, over 100 had participated; in the third, over 120 organisations participated; and in the fourth 160 organisations participated. The Fairs, which were the first of its kind and was perceived as a great innovation by the participants and also the public, have attracted substantial media attention and public acclaim.

The members of the Patrons Committee of the Hindu Spiritual and Service Foundation are- Swami Gauthamanda Maharaj, President, Ramakrishna Mission, Chairman; Dr. Jayant Balaji Athavale; Sathguru Sivananda Garu, Founder, Sanathana Dharma Charitable Trust; Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswathi, Founder President, Arsha Vidya Gurukulam; Sringeri SankaracharyaSwamigal Sri Sri Vidya Theertha Bharathi; Kanchi Kamakoti Shankaracharya Sri Jayendra Saraswathi; Sri Sri Ravishankar Guruji, Founder, Art of Living; Mata Amrithanandamayi, Founder, Amrita Institutions; Swami Baba Ramdev, Founder, Patanjali Yoga Peet; Swami Thejomayananda; Swami Mitrananda, President, Chinmaya Yuva Kendra; Swami Omkarananda, Founder, Omkara Ashram, Theni; Swami Ambanandaji Maharaj; Srimat SadanandaSwamigal and Swamini Pramananda.

Former Chief Election Commissioner Sri N Gopalaswami is the Chairperson of this year’s organizing committee while noted danseuse Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam and Sri Manoj Kumar Sonthalia of the New Indian Express are the Vice-Chairpersons.

The other distinguished members of the committee are: Sri. L. V. Subrahmanyam, IAS, Executive Officer, Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam; Sri. C. V. Narasimhan, IPS, Former Director, CBI & Educationist; Sri. R. Sethuraman, Vice-Chancellor, SASTRA University, Tanjavur; Dr. V. Shantha, Chairperson, Cancer Institute; Smt. Thangam Meganathan, Chairperson, Rajalakshmi Group of Educational Institutions; Smt. Arthi K. Ganesh, Pro-Chacellor, Vel’s University; Dr. K. S. Lakshmi, Secretary, Meenakshi College; Sri. Mugappan, M.V, Director, Murugappa Group; Sri. Ram.V.Thyagarajan, Chairman, Thiru Arooran Sugars Ltd; Sri. Gopal Srinivasan, Chairman, TVS Capital Funds Ltd; Sri. Dr. M. Manickam,Vice-Chairman & Managing Director, Sakthi Group of Companies; Sri. Karumuttu T. Kannan, Managing Director, Thiagarajar Mills Ltd;  Sri. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament (RS); Sri. Dr. B.S. Sivanthi Adityan, Chairman, Daily Thanthi; Sri. Rangaswamy. K.V., Adviser to Chairman, L&T; Sri. Prof. D. N. Rangabhashyam, FRCS, Gen. Surgeon and Gastroenterologist; Sri. Ravindra Sannareddy, Managing Director, Sri City Pvt. Ltd; Sri. D. K. Srinivasan, Founder, Hindu Mission Hospital; Sri. Srinivasan K. Swamy, Chairman & Managing Director, RKSwamy BBDO Pvt. Ltd and Sri. Gurumurthy S, Chartered Accountant, Columnist & Writer.

For further details, please contact:

 

Smt. Rajalakshmi

rajalakshmi.email@gmail.com

Mob.: +9198400 93535

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Initiative for Moral and Cultural Training

July 17, 2012

Dear Sir/ Madam,

We are pleased to bring to your kind attention that the Initiative for Moral and Cultural Training (IMCT) has been designed and developed for imparting the following values to the students through rituals and symbolism.

      Respect and love for parents and elders

      Respect for teachers

      Respect for girls and reverence for women

      Respect for nature and animals as sacred

      Respect for tradition.

IMCT is a unique programme to teach values through rituals which serve as visuals aids for students to imbibe our native culture. Rituals are the means to transfer our culture and tradition from one generation to the other. A brief note on ‘VALUE BUILDING IS NATION BUILDING’ is enclosed herewith. The profundity of IMCT and its inevitable need for the children of this great Nation is explained. Eminent intellectuals in the advisory board and leading educationists as members in organizing committee for the implementation of IMCT programme in schools add immense value to the concept of IMCT.

A two days residential camp is being organized on 28th and 29th July, 2012 for training school teachers as programmers to conduct value based rituals in their respective schools. We request you to participate in the said camp by sending two or three competent teachers.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

Thangam Meghanathan

Convenor, IMCT 

 

Selection criteria for teachers

      i.  Brief in Sanatana Dharma & Hindu traditions

      ii.  Brief in rituals and symbolism

      iii. Conviction that young has to be initiated into rituals- to preserve heritage

      iv. Conviction that through rituals like Gurupuja, Saraswati Puja, Kanya Puja higher qulaities of      respect for elders, teachers, girls/women can be inculcated.

      v. Desire to work in the above cause

      vi. Capacity to articulate and explain in Tamil, English and other languages.

      vii. Willingness to organize programmes and give time.

Details of the Camp

A two day camp from 10 a.m. on 28th to 5p.m. on 29th July, 2012.

Venue:

      Vel’s University capmus

      P.V. Vaithiyalingam Road,

      Velan Nagar, Pallavaram Chennai 600 117.

STAY & FOOD

      Hospitality by Vel’s University 

PICK UP & DROP FROM KILPAUK ONLY 

      Maharishi Vidyalaya,

      Gurusamy Road, Kilpauk 

      Contact:- Smt. Chitra Ramesh +91-9840651589

DRESS CODE:

      1. Norma Traditional wear

      2. Special dress for yoga practice.

Plight of Pakistani Hindus

June 22, 2012

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) commemorated World Refugee Day yesterday by drawing attention to the plight of Hindu refugees and displaced persons throughout the world.  The Foundation marked the occasion by writing directly to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), urging it to address the escalating crisis facing Pakistani Hindu refugees living inIndia.  It further called on UNHCR officials to oversee the protection and shelter needs of Balochi Hindus internally displaced withinPakistanby violent conflict and religious oppression.

Celebrated annually on June 20, World Refugee Day provides an international stage to pay tribute to the more than 42 million people forcibly displaced as a result of violent conflict or persecution.  UNHCR’s theme and campaign for this year, “Refugees have no choice.  You do,” emphasized the powerlessness and vulnerability of refugee populations.

“Today, as the international community observes World Refugee Day, we have a unique opportunity to support and empower the millions of refugees suffering in silence throughout the globe,” said Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF’s Director and Senior Fellow for Human Rights.  “We have a responsibility to not only advocate on their behalf, but also work collectively towards finding durable and lasting solutions solutions to address their needs.”

Kalra highlighted the plight of Hindu refugees fromBangladesh, internally displaced Kashmiri Hindus, and stateless Hindus of Indian origin inMalaysiain a blog for Beliefnet, entitled  All Refugees are Created Equal.

Moreover, HAF noted that there have been significant Hindu refugee populations uprooted from their homes inBhutanandSri Lanka.  InBhutanfor instance, more than 100,000 Bhutanese Hindus of Nepali descent were stripped of their citizenship and forced to leaveBhutanunder the “One Nation, One People” policy aimed at forced homogenization of a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society.  For years, the Bhutanese Hindus languished in UNHCR camps inNepal, but many have now been resettled in a number of third-party countries, including theUnited States.

The Foundation also used World Refugee Day as a platform to announce its nationwide film tour by Indian filmmaker, Rahul Riji Nair, to showcase his new documentary, The Human Boundaries.  The critically acclaimed documentary, inspired by Hindu spiritual leader and Art of Living founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, highlights the plight of a group of Pakistani Hindu refugees living in the Dera Dhuni Baba refugee camp nearNew Delhi.

“The Human Boundaries is a crucially important film for the American public to see,” said Jay Kansara, HAF’s Washington, D.C. based Associate Director.  “It breathes life into the human emotion and anguish of persecuted Pakistani Hindu men, women, and children desperate to remain India, but in constant fear of deportation.”

Harmonious Living- The Statesman

June 19, 2012

A foundation that seeks to reduce tensions among various communities brings together people of all faiths, writes- Sri Krishna

With religious tolerance being the need of the hour in the wake of growing tension among communities, the Global Foundation for Civilizational Harmony (GFCH) India has been making efforts towards building better understanding.

GFCH India was launched in Delhi on 22 January 2008 at a function attended and addressed by great religious and spiritual masters belonging to all faiths, including the Dalai Lama with former the President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam delivering the presidential address.

The Foundation has been set up on the conviction that all faiths are valid and sacred for their respective adherents who are strongly motivated by such faiths and emphasis on faith and related civilisational and cultural issues as the core of its work. The GFCH [India] has emerged in the background of the growing global concern that different civilisations sourced in the different faiths – particularly those exclusive faiths, which claim to be universal and, therefore, regard other faiths as false faiths – are inexorably moving towards violent conflicts and clashes.

The Foundation Chairman Subhash Chandra, who heads the Essel Group has been heading the GFCH since its inception. After the successful Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair series in Chennai, GFCH India is planning to host the first ever Islam in the Service of the Nation Fair towards the year end to showcase the philanthropic activities carried out by Muslim organisations in the country with a view to build better understanding. The GFCH India also hopes to make its presence felt at the next World Parliament of Religions.

As part of its existence to bring religious harmony, GFCH plans to hold a dialogue between Muslim and Hindu spiritual leaders as also Hindu and Buddhist spiritual leaders to iron out fundamental differences. “GFCH is working towards a paradigm shift in thinking from the now prevailing notion of tolerance of other faiths as the ideal to the acceptance of all faiths as valid and sacred so as to achieve peace and harmony based on mutual understanding and accommodation,” said K G Suresh, director, GFCH India. GFCH [India] has been recognised a partner orgainsation of the prestigious United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC). GFCH India was invited to the UNAOC Annual Forum at Doha in December 2011, where Suresh met senior Alliance officials including Jorge Sampaio, UN High Representative for AOC and former Portuguese President. GFCH and UNAOC are now working together on projects of mutual interest including an intra country video programme.

Invite for Talk on Sufism and Indian Islam at Vivekananda International Foundation

April 21, 2012

Invite for

 

GFCH Director K G Suresh to Deliver Talk On Hindu New Year

April 4, 2011

Dear All,

Shri K G Suresh, Director, Global Foundation for Civilizational
Harmony (India), would be delivering a talk on ‘Hindu New Year and
Indian Culture’ (Hindu Navvarsha Evam Bharatiya Sanskriti), organized
by the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, on the auspicious occasion of Hindu New
Year, on Monday, April 4, 2011, as per the following programme:

Time:                     4.00 pm

Date:                      Monday, April 04, 2011

Venue:                 Swadeshi Jagran Manch Central Office
Dharmakshetra, Shiv Shakti Mandir,
Babu Genu Marg, Sector-8,
R K Puram, New Delhi-110022

Shri Lalit Bihari Goswami, Principal, Delhi University, would preside
over the function.

You are cordially invited to attend the same

With warm regards

(Devdutt Chakravarty)
GFCH India
indiagfch@gmail.com

GITA & KORAN COMPLEMENTARY TO EACH OTHER: Dr Mohd Hanif Khan

March 21, 2011

ISLAM IS NO DIFFERENT FROM SANATAN DHARMA, says noted Sanskrit Scholar

New Delhi, March 21: Gita and the Koran are complementary to each other and several principles laid down in both the sacred books are surprisingly similar, noted Sanskrit scholar Dr Mohd Hanif Khan Shastri has said.

Dr Khan, a devout Muslim who teaches at the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, a deemed university under the Ministry of Human Resources Development, was delivering a talk on ‘Gita, Koran and Civilizational Harmony’ organized by the Global Foundation for Civilizational Harmony (GFCH-INDIA), in collaboration with Vivekananda International Foundation on the eve of Holi on Saturday, March 19, 2011 in New Delhi.

Maintaining that Gita held the key to entire Indian Philosophy and ancient religious discourse, Dr Khan said the sacred book can be hailed as a source for all the existing religions in the world.

Dr Khan also recited extensively from his poetry collection in Hindi ‘Mohan Gita’

which has 700 poems based on 700 shlokas from the ancient Indian scripture.  The book is under publication and will soon be available in the market.

“The extract of all the existing religions of the world has been accommodated in this small book (Gita) but still 90 percent of people cannot read it. The messages of Gita are followed in all the religions in one way or the other,” said Khan.

Asserting that Islam was no different from Sanatana Dharma, he pointed out that while Koran highlighted the importance of ‘Roza’ or fasting in leading a pious and virtuous life, the Gita in the Shlokas 59-62 of Part 2 elaborated the way and importance of Vrat (religious fasting). In Patanjali’s Yoga Darshan the importance and process of Namaz or offering prayers to the Almighty has been thoroughly elaborated. “While Koran emphasized on the importance of  Namaz, the Gita in Chapter eight explained the spirit in which it is to be done, Dr Khan said, adding that all the religions were similar in their basic philosophy and guideline for leading a better life with harmony.

“What is Panchkarma (Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Aprigraha and Brahmacharya) in Jain, Buddhist and Yam in Hindu tradition is Hukukul Ibaad or Hukukul Naass (The right of humans) in Koran. And the five Niyam (Shauch, Santosh, Tap etc) are Hukukul Allah (the rights of the God) in Islam,” argued Khan. He further said that it is very easy to find the differences as all the humans dead and alive have their different fingerprints but difficult to find similarities which can be done only by following the path shown by our sages and great souls.

Rabbi Ezekiel Isaac Malekar, Head Priest at the Delhi Jewish Synagogue, and founder patron of GFCH India  said all religions taught good principles to enable human beings to lead a peaceful and harmonious life. “We must understand the principles of coexistence and harmony. One can not reform the society by speeches alone. We have to practice good things and attract the others to follow. This is the only way to reform the society particularly youngsters who are increasingly being driven by materialistic western philosophy,”.

Industrialist and philanthropist Mr Puneet Dalmia highlighted the need to instill pride for our culture among the youth. He expressed satisfaction that that such events were being organized to maintain civilisational harmony when the entire world was suffering from greed, violence, terrorism etc.

Mr K G Suresh, Director of GFCH (INDIA), said the organization, which is a partner organization of the United Nations’ Alliance of Civilization, worked towards removing misconceptions about each other among followers of different faiths.  Like its effort to highlight the service aspect of Hindu spiritual organizations, GFCH India now planned to organize in Delhi a fair entitled ‘Islam in the Service of Mother India’, he said.

VIF Secretary Mr Mukul Kanitkar said it was easier to find differences and disparities but essential to highlight the commonalities so as to bring about better understanding and civilizational harmony.

GFCH India was launched in Delhi on January 22, 2008 at a function attended and addressed by great religious and spiritual masters belonging to all faiths including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, founder of Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha Swami Dayanand Saraswati, founder of the Art of Living Sri Sri Ravishankar, renowned yoga guru Baba Ramdev, the chief of Akal Takt Jatthedar Joginder Singh Vedanti, the President of Chinmaya Yuvak Kendra Swami Mitrananda, Jain Muni Sumermal, the Arch Bishop of Mumbai Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the chief of Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband Moulana Mohammod Ali Madani, Rabbi Ezekiel Issac Malekar and Swami Prajnan Mitranand of Mata Amritanandamayi Mutt. The GFCH was launched by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam delivered the presidential address at the function and blessed the initiative. The spiritual masters and religious scholars who attended the function are the now Patrons of GFCH India.

Essel Group Chairman Mr Subhash Chandra is the Chairman of GFCH India.

Zee Salam and Zee Jagran were media partners of the event.

Striving for Peace in an Era of Conflicts

February 7, 2011

K G Suresh*

Published in Eternal India in February 2011

Year 2011 started on an ominous note for civilizational harmony.

A powerful bomb exploded in front of a Coptic Christian church as a crowd of worshippers emerged from a New Years Mass, killing at least 21 people and wounding nearly 80 in an attack that raised suspicions of an Al Qaeda role.

The attack came in the wake of repeated threats by Al Qaeda militants in Iraq to attack Egypt’s Christians. Al Qaeda in Iraq has already been waging a campaign of violence against Christians in that country.

In neighbouring Pakistan, the liberal Governor of its Punjab province Salman Taseer was assassinated by his own 26-year old security guard Mumtaz Qadri.

Taseer’s crime, in Qadri’s eyes, was to advocate reform of Pakistan’s
blasphemy law. Few other Pakistani politicians dared to speak against the law, which prescribes the death penalty for offenders yet is widely misused. Those who did now live in fear.

Even as a liberal dream was being buried along with Taseer, the Hindu community in Pakistan’s Balochistan started migrating out of the province frightened by the rise in kidnappings.

According to the Pakistan’s home department, 291 people were abducted while eight were kidnapped for seeking ransom throughout Balochistan in 2010.

The recent incident of abducting a leading spiritual leader, Luckmi
Chand Garji, has shaken the community.

In neighbouring Bangladesh, the minority Hindus are in shock following theft of gold and silver ornaments and money from Dhakeshwari National Temple, the most important place of worship for the community in the country.

As these religious conflicts were taking place, one was reminded of the vision of a universal religion conceived by Swami Vivekananda, whose 150th birth anniversary celebrations were inaugurated by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on January 12.

Elaborating on his vision, the Swami had said, “How do we cope with differences ? The only rational way is to accept them, not only as inevitable, but essential. “One must learn that truth may be expressed in a hundred thousand different ways, and that each of these
ways is true as far as it goes. We must learn that the same thing can
be viewed from a hundred different standpoints, and yet be the same
thing …. ”

“Suppose we all go with vessels in our hands to draw water from
the lake. One has a cup, another a jar, another a bucket, and so
forth, and we all fill our vessels. The water in each case takes the
form of the vessel carried by each of us, but in every case, water,
and nothing but water is in the vessel….. God is like that water
filling these different vessels, and in each vessel, the vision of God
comes in the form of the vessel. Yet He is One…….”

All religions have preached peace since time immemorial. Lord Buddha’s sermon was all about Ahimsa or non-violence yet in the past couple of years, there couldn’t have been anything more violent and brutal than what the predominantly Buddhist Sinhalese Sri Lankan Army perpetrated on the innocent  Tamilian population in the island nation.

Most terror activities in India, USA, Israel, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and rest of the world are being carried out by fundamentalist elements under the garb of Islam. Certainly, such acts including against Mosques and Muslims themselves were never endorsed by the Prophet.

Jesus of Nazareth too taught the world to show the other cheek when slapped on one. Yet, neither the activities of pre-dominantly Christian insurgent groups in North-East India or the racist attack on Indian students in Australia conform to the peace and non-violence enunciated and espoused in the Holy Bible.

Since time immemorial, there have been efforts to establish peace and harmony. From the World Parliament of Religions, where Swami Vivekananda made history, to the creation of League of Nations and the United Nations, history has been witnesses to umpteen such sincere and honest efforts to resolve conflicts. Yet, disharmony rules the roost, violence continues unabated.

With the conflict resolution models failing to succeed, the time has come to evolve conflict avoidance models. Resolution comes after the conflict take place whereas conflict avoidance is a preventive as against a curative step.

The need of the hour is paradigm shift in thinking from the now prevailing notion of tolerance of other faiths as the ideal to the ideal of acceptance of all faiths as valid and sacred to achieve peace and harmony based on mutual accommodation.

Swami Vivekananda had famously said, “

“But is there any way of practically working out this harmony in religions ? … I have also my little plan … In the first place, I
would ask mankind to recognise the maxim :

‘Do not destroy’. Iconoclastic religions do no good to this
world……

Of late, a silent revolution along these lines has been taking place the world over. Religious leaders from the world over signed the historic inter-faith document, ‘The Faith Human Rights Statement’, on December 10, 2008.

While emphasizing the importance of the freedom of expression, the leaders resolved to deplore the portrayals of objects of religious veneration which fail to be properly respectful to the sensibilities of believers. They also agreed the freedom to have, to retain and to adopt a religion or belief of one’s choice, without coercion or inducement to be an undeniable right.

This declaration addressed a principal apprehension of faiths like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism (in the Indian context) and Confucianism about the Abrahamic faiths. Interestingly, conversion has been a major bone of contention between Hindu and Christian groups in the country and both leaders of Abrahamic religions and Head of the Hindu Acharya Sabha Swami Dayananda Saraswathi were signatories to this agreement at Amsterdam.

The Swami also traveled to Israel and held a comprehensive dialogue with top Jewish leaders which helped remove theological misunderstanding that existed between the two faiths over the centuries, rather millennia. In a joint declaration after the dialogue, the Jewish leaders were convinced that the different idols and Gods in Hinduism were merely the form, but in substance, the Hindus accepted only one reality. This was a path breaking and illustrative endeavour to remove a basic and fundamental misconception about Hinduism in the oldest of the Abrahamic faiths.

This opens the gates for similar consensus with the other Abrahamic faiths, Islam and Christianity, which is particularly crucial, nay critical, in the Indian context.

In this regard, the Global Foundation for Civilizational Harmony (India), which was founded three years back on January 22, 2008 in the presence of a galaxy of spiritual leaders from all faiths in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, has been doing a pioneering work.

Deviating from the popular and conventional models of seeking harmony among faiths and civilizations, the organization is engaged in the difficult path of persuading different faiths and civilizations to undergo an endogenous transformation and thereby bring about changes in the longstanding perceptions about them within and outside as an essential part of the process to bring about lasting harmony among faiths and civilizations.

In fact, GFCH India supported and worked with the Darul Uloom Deoband to hold rallies of Muslims against terrorism in different parts of India with a view to dispel the perception identifying terror with Islam. The Foundation felt that unless some visible initiative was taken from within the community and by a reputed and respected Islamic theological school to dispel this perception, it was bound to persist and even deepen.

Of late, GFCH been organizing Hindu Spiritual and Service Fairs in Chennai, where Hindu spiritual organizations have been participating in large numbers, with the objective of dispelling a long held perception that Hindu spiritual organizations were not socially conscious and they do not have a deep impulse for public service. Apart from the younger generation within the community, this perception had also greatly prejudiced the respect for Hindu faith in the minds of the followers of other faiths as a socially insensitive faith.

One of the primary objectives of the GFCH is to strive for a paradigm shift in thinking and to work for capacity building and force multiplication for a dialogue and understanding to prevent any threat of violence and chaos resulting from the emerging clash of civilizations.

Among its envisioned task is to create awareness among people regarding civilizational threats, implications of various contemporary developments, possible responses etc. through meetings, seminars, publications, website etc. In this regard, it has created a dynamic website www.gfchindia.com with a varied content including conflict and harmony news from across the world.

There are other organizations doing equally good work. The need of the hour is to strengthen such efforts, for at stake is global peace and harmony, which is crucial for progress and prosperity. Let our New Year resolution this year be for creating a peaceful and harmonious universe through better mutual understanding among the followers of diverse faiths. Amen, Inshallah, Tathastu!

(*The author is the Director of the Delhi-based Global Foundation for Civilizational Harmony (India)

Harmony News: Essay Competition on Unity in Diversity

January 28, 2011

OPPORTUNITY TO ADDRESS INTERNATIONAL FORUM

The Unity in Diversity – Bridging Cultures: Building Peace & Development Forum, organized by Global Dialogue Foundation will be held in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, on 6-8 February 2011, under the auspices of UNAOC.

At the occasion, an Essay competition invites 18-30 year old people to present local, regional or global perspectives on the topics of the Forum ,  advancing cultural understanding, fostering integration and building inclusive society.. Authors of the two most innovative essays will be invited to address the Forum and will be provided with travel (from within India) and hotel costs for two nights.

Students and youth between the ages 18-30 are invited to participate by submitting their Essay Application on or before 28 January, 2011, midnight (IST), by email to info@globaldialoguefoundation.org

Your essay should be clear, concise and persuasive and written in English. It should be no longer than 500 words and can present local, regional or global perspectives.

Some suggested themes are as follows:
Your views on the topics of the Forum
Concrete initiatives you have heard about
Suggestions to improve understanding between peoples and cultures, religions/faiths, within your community
Your views and visions of the world
Advancing cultural understanding through education
Fostering integration of new settlers in urban and rural areas
Your views on the issues of cultural tensions among people of the world
Using technology to facilitate intercultural understanding
Championing youth to further dialogue and cooperation among cultures

Please include your name, location, website, telephone number, email address.

The Organising Committee will review all applications and select best essays by 31th January, 2011.

Authors of the two most innovative essays will be invited to address the Forum and will be provided with travel (from within India) and hotel costs for two nights in Thiruvananthapuram. For any questions, please contact: the Program Manager by email: info@globaldialoguefoundation.org

Harmony News: Buddhist monk from India promotes Hindu conference in New Zealand

April 27, 2010

The 3rd New Zealand Hindu Conference will be held on 15th & 16th May 2010 at the Hindu Heritage Centre, Mangere, Auckland. The theme of the conference is “Sustaining New Zealand through strengthening bond amongst communities”.

The focus of this conference is networking, whether it is with Maori community, general public, government agencies, Hindus from various countries, the different schools of thought of Dharma, with Hindu organisations, associations and institutions.

Ven. Dr. Bhikkhu Bodhipala, a well respected teacher of Vipassana (Buddhist Meditation) who belongs to Theravada tradition from India, is in New Zealand promoting the 3rd New Zealand Hindu conference. He has been visiting Buddhist monasteries and meditation centres around major cities and promoting meditation techniques and Hindu conference.

Ven. Dr. Bhikkhu Bodhipala was awarded a Ph. D. by the Madurai Kamaraj University for his research on Vipassana meditation. He has penned many books and articles both in Tamil and English. He has given programmes on TV about Reiki & Tibetan Yoga. His book entitled “Buddhist Physics” earned worldwide reputation for him. He is conversant in five languages – Tamil, English, Sinhalese, Hindi and Pali.

He has initiated more than 6000 people in Vipassana, Reiki & Tibetan Yoga within a span of 10 years in India and abroad. Presently he is deeply engaged in teaching Buddhist Meditation.

Although born as a Protestant Christian, Ven. Dr. Bhikkhu Bodhipala embraced Buddhism in 1977 under the preceptorship of (Late) Ven. E. Nandiswara Nayaka Thera, the then Secretary General of Maha Bodhi Society of India, Kolkata. After his retirement from Government service he was ordained a Bhikkhu under the preceptorship of Ven.Dr.Rastrapala Maha Thera, internationally reputed teacher of Buddhist Meditation.

 “I was influenced by the teachings of Swami Vivekananda and Paramahansa Yogananda, and then came in contact with Buddhist teachers” ” said Ven Dr Bhikkhu Bodhipala.

In addition to performing a Buddhist prayer at the opening ceremony at the 3rd New Zealand Hindu Conference, Ven Dr Bodhipala will present a paper at the conference.

“All Bharatiya Dharma have the same root and we are all children of same mother. I am here to support and promote the conference and help develop understanding with various Dharma groups” said Ven Dr Bodhipala.

Mr Joris De Bres (Race Relations Commissioner, Human Rights Commission), Dr Rajen Prasad (ex- Chief Commissioner of the Families Commission and currently a Member of Parliament), Mr Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (Member of Parliamentarian), Mr Pravin Patel (well known community leader) will chair some of the conference sessions. A number of Government agencies and NGOs are participating in the conference

“We are happy the way conference organisation is going. Response to registration request by general public, interest by businesses/ services to advertise through the conference souvenir and interest shown by various dharma groups to participate in the conference has been very encouraging so far” said Ms Pritika Sharma, conference coordinator.