Formal Statements - Mumbai

REMARKS BY MR. D.R. KAARTHIKEYAN AT THE NARIMAN HOUSE, MUMBAI (17-11-09)

As the first anniversary of the 26-11 attacks approach us, we remember those who are no longer with us and we open our hearts to those who survived and to their families.

We remember and pray for the beautiful young couple and their Jewish guests from around the world who were here at this Chabad House on 26-11.

Prayer and faith are powerful tools and motivators, but sometimes faith is misrepresented, misused and abused to the extent of killing those following different paths of worship.

Civic, political and religious leaders have a solemn responsibility to speak out against individuals and groups who use faith to justify acts of terrorism on innocents.

The idea of India is the idea of pluralism, a value worthy of our deepest patriotism, and the value that the terrorists seek to destroy.

The present day rivalry among religions has led many people to abandon religion altogether.

We cannot divorce religion from life. We have to live with it. Amidst all this turmoil, we have to achieve a balance by an objective and scientific pursuit of religion.

The roots of the word ‘religion’, “re” and “legere”, mean ‘to bind together’ the hearts of all to each other, and back again to God.

At an international and national level, we must become more tolerant. Religious leaders and their congregations need to learn and teach tolerance of other faiths. First, however, this must be taught to the religious leaders themselves.

There is no just terrorism, whatever the causes.

The acts of hatred and violence committed in the name of God and religion are disgraces of human history. The need for unity and mutual understanding has never been greater than it is today.

If there are errors in other religions, that is none of the business of God’s children. God, to whom the world belongs, takes care of that.
India’s worst-ever coordinated terrorist attacks on 26-11 left the people and the government shell-shocked. Yet, seven days after Mumbai had been bloodied, a ravaged city came together at the very spot where the carnage had been unleashed in a show of support unparalleled in its scale in recent history.
The intent of the terrorists was to destabilize India, terrorize the Indian people and their brothers and sisters from other lands as well as to deliver a financial blow to the country. While we took a hit, we are not deterred - - Indeed, our resolve is bolstered, which is why all of us are gathered here today.
We are here today to remember what happened here at this Chabad House, a place that brought so much warmth and love to people of all nationalities and faiths.
We are gathered here to convey the solidarity of the entire civilized world in speaking out against those who inspire and conduct acts of terror in the name of God.

We pay tribute to the hundreds of policemen and civilians for their exemplary courage during last year’s attacks.

We are also here to remember those who are no longer with us, and we convey our sympathies to the victims and their families.

May I request that we all observe a moment of silence in memory of the fallen of the 26-11 attacks.


 

Dialogue – A Genuine & Lasting solution for Peace

A year has passed since the tragic day of November 26,th 2008 – the day the terrorists attacked Mumbai. People all over India and the world, were shocked, at the inhuman and indiscriminate killing of innocent men, women and children.

The Mumbai terror attack rubbed out hundreds of innocent people of their life. No cause or grievance can possibly justify such wanton destruction of human life. And when such acts are committed in the name of religion, it demonstrates the utter spiritual bankruptcy of the perpetrators

Every single person who lost his/her life in this tragic incident was someone’s parent, child or friend – each person irreplaceable and precious. I too, lost a friend & his parents, who had gone to Taj Hotel on that fateful day to celebrate my friend’s birthday. Another friend of mine was seriously injured in the shoot out receiving 4 bullets which damaged her vital organs... It took over 3 months, 48 bottles of blood and 24/7 efforts by 19 doctors at Mumbai Hospital to save her life.

The goal of terrorism is to cause confusion and create mistrust among people. Getting swayed by emotions of mistrust & fear would be playing in the hands of the perpetrators.

Today, I will be sharing my understanding of, how to view and find a solution to this increasing menace of terrorism. This understanding is based on my interactions and study of the writings of my mentor Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, President, Soka Gakkai International.

We, in the SGI practice Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism based on the Lotus Sutra which teaches that negative forces rampant in society are the reflection of the darkness residing in the human heart.

Therefore, to root out the ills of society, we need to change and purify our hearts. We must triumph over our own impulses towards hatred and destruction and achieve an inner transformation which we call ‘Human Revolution’ . We need to remove fear and mistrust from our hearts against each other.

Dr. Ikeda states, we must recognize that the fundamental path to solving these problems exists only in the process of substantial efforts at dialogue. And the only way to transcend this mistrust, is by conducting genuine dialogue.

“To conduct genuine dialogue it is imperative that while communicating our belief and convictions clearly to others, we must ourselves fully respect the dignity of peoples lives and endeavor to understand them. While respecting our differences, we must struggle to learn from one another. We must tenaciously persist in talking with others and engaging them repeatedly in discussions. We need to conduct genuine dialogue with opposing parties so as to build bonds of genuine trust.

To conduct such dialogue requires courage and strength.

It is the ultimate constructive undertaking of the human spirit. And it is for this reason that conflict resolution through dialogues –unlike military force whose essence is destruction –holds the promise of a genuine and lasting solution. Dialogue is the weapon of peace, and it is the fundamental spirit of Buddhism.

Indian Society during Shakyamuni Buddha’s time was very similar to the present day. It was a period of great confusion and change. Values were in utter confusion, and various contending forces were engaged in violent struggles for power and influence.

It is said, “Even at home people had to have their weapon close at hand. Such social unrest notwithstanding – however, the Shakyamuni Buddha was completely undeterred and he literally traversed the whole country, preaching peace and touching the life of one person at a time.

The weapon Shakyamuni Buddha used was none other than “nonviolent dialogue”. By waging a struggle of dialogue, he taught the sanctity of life and tried to eliminate violence from society.

This is very well illustrated by the a famous story of his encounter with a notorious murderer, called Angulimala, who used to go around killing innocent people and as a memorial wear a necklace of their fingers around his neck.

One day as the Buddha was walking through the jungle. Angulimala asked him to stop. The Buddha, however continued to walk. Angulimala repeated his command. Now, the Buddha turned back and said, I have stopped but when will you stop.

Angulimala was completely taken aback by the Buddha’s fearless answer. Yet confused by what the Buddha meant, he asked for an explanation. The Buddha explained that he had stopped harming living beings, and that Angulimala was still harming and hurting living beings. The Buddha’s deep compassion and elevated life state, touched Angulimala’s heart. He realised the folly of his ways and changed his ways. From that day, he stopped killing people and joined the Buddhist order.

Hearing this story, we may feel he was the Buddha, but I am a simple ordinary person. How can I bring a change?

Towards this I wish to share my struggle to bring change through the power of dialogue.

A few years ago, I was posted to a remote village and given the responsibility to start a teachers’ training college. All my colleagues viewed the posting as a punishment as they living conditions were very tough. Since I was responsible for the project, I I took the responsibility very seriously. This put me in conflict with my colleagues, as they found me idealistic and did not share my vision. The situation detitorated to such an extent that I was threatened and my life was in danger. I was under great stress and wanted to run away.

However, I found courage through my mentors writings and decided to challenge the situation. I decided to keep a low profile and slow down my efforts. I made a genuine effort to fully believe in my colleagues humanity and really struggled to deeply respect them and their views.. I made genuine attempt to resolve the conflict through dialogue. Believing in my mentor’s words “We must somehow break through the “friend vs foe” pattern of relationships and talk with each other honestly and openly on the common ground of humanity.” I continued to work extremely hard and kept praising their smallest of efforts. I tried to create a family atmosphere, a home away from home. The breakthrough came when I started sharing their concerns and emphatizing with them. 
The warm care and genuine concern for each othe, washed away the negative feelings and hence started the process of building a team who took pride in being pioneers in establishing an institute in a remote village of Delhi. My position from the most hated person, transformed into the most loved and respected person.

Through this experience, I realized that genuine dialogue requires great effort but results in the transformation of opposing viewpoints, changing them from wedges that drive people apart into bridges that link them together.

According to Prof. Majid Tehranian, “The antidote to violence is love and compassion. Terrorist incidents may shock the world out of is complacency; they make us recognize the need to build global institutions for human security.” Human security begins with the recognition by all of us, born in to various lives, in every corner of the planet, that every human life is sacred and must be nurtured to reach its fullest potential.

“The human qualities necessary to put this principle into practice go beyond mere diplomacy; the task requires an elevated state of life. This is epimotised by the spirit of the Bodhisatvas of the Earth, illustrated in the Lotus Sutra. The Bodhisattva of the Earth, knows no fear and are masters of the art of dialogue.

The Lotus Sutra beautifully describes the characteristics of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth as,

Firm in the power of will and concentration,
With constant diligence seeking wisdom,
They expound various wonderful doctrines
And their minds are without fear.
They are clever at difficult questions and answers,
Their minds know no fear.
They have firmly cultivated a persevering mind,
Upright in dignity and virtue.


Their efforts at dialogue are supported by their firm conviction in the fundamental equality of all people - that all people posses the potential for enlightenment i.e. all people are Buddha’s and worthy of great respect. A profound faith in humanity inspires the Bodhisattvas of the Earth to constantly dedicate themselves to dialogue, in the effort to find common ground and harmonize different perspectives.

Undoubtedly this requires a tremendous effort. But the bodhisattva refuses to be dissuaded or discouraged by difficulties posed by this challenge.

Dr. Ikeda explains, these Bodhisattvas of the Earth are none other than us common people who have awakened to their mission of establishing peace in society.

What is required today is this ‘Bodhisattva spirit’ to be never defeated by any kind of negativity both from within and without and never let our hearts to be filled by fear and mistrust. Rather make a firm determination to wage a constant struggle to hold dialogue, so that the bonds of trust and friendship can be strengthened and peace can be established.

So friends, let us make today a starting point towards a more peaceful tomorrow by struggling to conduct genuine dialogue.

Thank you very much.
References :

Ikeda Daisaku , For the sake of peace, Middleway Press, Division of SGI-USA, 2001
Rev.Dr.Conrad Raiser, General Secretary, World Council of Churches, World Council of Churches, Office of Communication, Letter to UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, October 2 , 2001
Ikeda Daisaku message, The Answer to Terrorism Message of to SGI-USA, Sept. 11, 2002
The Humanism of the Middle Way – Dawn of a Global Civilization, Peace Proposal 2002
Ikeda Daisaku & Mazid Tehranian, Global Civilization of Buddhist, Islamic Dialog –British Academy Press, 2003
N.A. Palkhiwala ,Essential unity of all religions, Mani Bhavan
Ikeda Daisaku, Fighting for Peace, Penguin Books, 2005
Ikeda Daisaku, Moving behind the use of Military Force, The Japan Times, January 11, 2007
Ikeda Daisaku , Towards Humanitarian Competition, 2009 Peace Proposal
From The Ashes, A Spiritual Response to the attack on America. Rodal Inc. www.Beliefnet.in , 2001
SGI Websitehttp://www.sgi.org

Father Caesar D'Mello
TRIDENT
17.11.09

We have gathered here this afternoon at the Trident Hotel to commemorate an event that even a year later evokes the most horrible memories and gruesome scenes. We find it difficult to erase the images of the blood stained bodies scattered around C.S.T. station, or the flames and smoke billowing out of the windows of the Taj Mahal hotel. All of us religious leaders wish to commit ourselves and the religious communities that we represent to ensure that such a frightful nightmare will never again take place.

One of the prophets greatly revered by Jews and Christians is the prophet Isaiah, who lived in Palestine a little less than 3000 years ago. He has a beautiful pictorial scene in which he describes what the kingdom of PEACE is like : “Wolves and sheep will live together in peace, and leopards will lie down with young goats. Calves and lion cubs will feed together and little children will take care of them. Cows and bears will eat together and their calves and cubs will lie down in peace. Lions will eat straw as the cattle do. Even a little baby will not be harmed if it plays near a poisonous snake” (Isaiah 11: 6-8) PEACE is both a GIFT and a TASK. Peace is a process, it has to be built up gradually, one step at a time. In this short message I would like to outline some of the steps that need to be taken.

It is in the family, in the first place, that we learn the true meaning of peace. Indeed, in a healthy family life we experience some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of authority expressed by parents, loving concern for the members who are weaker because of youth, sickness or old age, mutual help in the necessities of life, readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive them. For this reason, the family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace. Where can young people gradually learn to savour the genuine “taste” of peace better than in the original “nest” which nature prepares for them? The language of the family is a language of peace; we must always draw from it, lest we lose the “vocabulary” of peace.

The social community, if it is to live in peace, is also called to draw inspiration from the values on which the family community is based. This is as true for local communities as it is for national communities; it is also true for the international community itself, for the human family which dwells in that common house which is the earth. Here, however, we cannot forget that the family comes into being from the responsible and definitive “yes” of a man and a women, and it continues to live from the conscious “yes” of the children who gradually join it. The family community, in order to prosper, needs the generous consent of all its members. This realization also needs to become a shared conviction on the part of all those called to form the common human family. We need to say our own “yes” to this vocation which God has inscribed in our very nature. We do not live alongside one another purely by chance; all of us are progressing along a common path as men and women, and thus as brothers and sisters.

The family needs a home, a fit environment in which to develop its proper relationships. For the human family, this home is the earth, the environment that God the Creator has given us to inhabit with creativity and responsibility. We need to care for the environment: it has been entrusted to men and women to be protected and cultivated with responsible freedom, with the good of all as a constant guiding criterion. Human beings, obviously, are of supreme worth vis-à-vis creation as a whole. Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man. Rather, it means not selfishly considering nature to be at the complete disposal of our own interests, for future generations also have the right to reap its benefits and to exhibit towards nature the same responsible freedom that we claim for ourselves.
We see today, on the part of many men and women of good will, the call to a kind of simple life as a condition so that the equal sharing of the fruits of the creation of God can become a reality. A simple and responsible life can face up to the needs of far away worlds where there is suffering. Today, the neighbour in need does live next door but a continent away. As long as there are people who lack the basic necessities of food, water and a home, there can be no real peace. Those who live in misery cannot expect more: they have needs now and therefore the right to immediately receive that which is necessary. We need to live simply that others may simply live.

Finally, it is truly necessary for all persons of good will to come together to reach concrete agreements aimed at an effective demilitarization, especially in the area of nuclear arms. At a time when the process of nuclear non-proliferation is at a stand-still, it is important that those in authority resume with greater determination negotiations for a progressive and mutually agreed dismantling of existing nuclear weapons. This is truly desire of all those concerned for the future of humanity.

The word religion, comes from the Latin word “religare” to bind together. If in the past, “more wars were fought in the name of religion, than for any other cause”, today, religion can be used to build a civilization of peace, goodwill and love, a civilization that fights against poverty, provides for the basic needs of all and places at the disposal of justice and peace the resources of the world.

Fr. Caesar D’Mello


 

Terrorism & Peace
By Er. Dr. Ramiyar Parvez karanjia


(Gist of talk to be delivered at Trident under the auspices of Simon Wiesenthal Center (USA) and The Art of Living 17-11-09)

Terrorism is a scourge which plagues mankind today. Billions of dollars, thousands of hours of man-power and hundreds of lives have been lost in the process.

Terrorism is not a demon born in the present times. It is a state of mind and has existed ever since the beginnings of mankind. The word for terrorism in an Iranian language is sāstār.

Terrorism is a crime, which like any other crime is born from a mind gone astray, or rather led astray, a resentful, fearful and cornered mind, which is seething and angry and hence reacts in a vindictive, destructive and revengeful manner.

If one wants to address the issue of terrorism one has to keep in mind the three fold process involved in making of a terrorist’s mind.

Firstly one needs to examine why is the person feeling fearful, resented and cornered. Secondly one has to find acceptable means of channelising the anger which has been brewing since a long time. And the las tand the most difficult part is to induce him not to give vent to his anger in mindless revenge and violence.

Peace:
Peace is not a solution to terrorism. It is a state of mind to be inculcated among men ant large so that further terrorism is not born. It implies a unique sort of harmony, which in the Zoroastrian religion is called hamazor.

Hamazor bad hamazor hama asho bad hamazor hama nekih bad…….kam gunah bad
“May we be united in strength with all those who are righteous and truthful, with all devout people, with all those who work in service for mankind, with all those who persevere to stay away from sin.”

This unity, or any unity for that matter, cannot be enforced from outside. It should come from within. Quest for unity should start with the self. Each individual should be an integrated personality. One has to be at peace with oneself in order to live in harmony with others. Then one has to be in harmony with one’s family, which then extends to friends, negihbours, society and country.

Motivating others to unite:
It is necessary to sow the seeds of unity in everyone’s mind, irrespective of their caste, creed, religion or race. Each one of us are children of one God, bound to one creative energy. It is just our way of perceiving that energy which makes us different.

Obstacles to unity:
Every individual has a unique mind, and hence no two individuals can think the same way. However, in broader issue, there needs to be consensus if not total agreement. This consensus will bring about unity and harmony in a group or a community. Without harmony progress and prosperity is not possible. If eight horses pull a chariot in eight different directions, the chariot will go nowhere and the horses will exhaust themselves in no time. However if they are moving in one direction a lot of distance can be covered within a short time and with very little efforts on the part of each horse.

Personal as well as world progress is possible only if there is unity.

In is necessary to respect every human being. In order to respect a person, one needs to respect all aspects of the person, including the religion. Only then can tolerance come about. Respect comes from Understanding the unity and similarity in diversity. It is necessary to respect each other’s religion –God, prophet, customs and traditions. Only by giving mutual respect can we be above suspicion and that is the key to Harmony and unity.

Living with peace and harmony is not a state which has to be worked for. Once we work for the ideal of living a noble life of ethics and virtues, our mind is automatically tuned to live in peace and harmony not only with fellow humans but with all living and non living creations of the world.

Peace and harmony leads to progress and prosperity. Absence of peace leads to discord which is damaging not only to the individual but all those around him. In the Avesta a desire is expressed,

Progress and prosperity are possible only where there is peace and harmony. Discord always leads to divisiveness, and unpleasantness and is a loss for everybody.

The concept of peace is having a mind which is automatically in love with all fellow creatures. Such a mind is blessed with wisdom.

In the Avesta a desire is expressed,
Vainit ahmi nmāne ākshstish anākhshtim
“In this house, may peace always overcome discord.”

I express the same desire over here and pray to Almighty to grant strength and courage to bear the burden of pain and suffering that have cometo them on accound of mindless acts of a few. May they also have the inner strength, fortitude, power and magnanimity to forgive all those who have wronged them.

Thank you


 

Remarks of Dr. Khwaja Iftikhar Ahmed

Brother Rabbi Cooper, Distinguished Invitees, Diplomats, Members of civil society Ladies and Gentleman

Greetings of peace,
I am grateful to the Organizers for having invited me in this august gathering and more so for a very noble cause; a cause that expresses solidarity with the innocent victims of 26/11 and of their families and friends. Friends! Traveling for a noble cause is no lesser a blessing of Almighty God. In Islam it is the noble tradition set by Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and his companions religiously followed that and spread themselves in almost every part of the globe. Now it is incumbent upon all Muslims living in any part of the world to travel in every nook and corner to work for peace and for creating universal brotherhood and amity between diverse groups, cultures, systems and civilizations.
Brother Rabbi Cooper has travelled for thousands of miles and me hundreds of miles to meet each other and to express solidarity for a cause that has brought the global civil society together. 9/11 or 26/11 both are acts of terrorism and that is the menace we all have to get together to fight without attaching no ifs’ and buts’ to that.|

At the outset I want to condemn all acts of terrorism committed by individuals, groups, outfits, non state or state players in any part of the world. Let us not forget that human misery is common to all and wherever that occurs must be taken in that spirit only. It is only the terrorist and their outfits who are devoid of this noble brand of thinking and acting. No religion, Faith, ideology or civil society can ever approve killing of innocent people and the worst can be in the name of religion. The killer just kills without being conscious of who is going to be the victim of his barbarism; a ten year child, a twenty four year youth or an old man of 70 years. He is not bothered about. What a shame?
The civil society around the globe has this challenge to face and this is not a new challenge. The mankind in all ages and in all races has faced these kinds of challenges. Violence has always been a menace to fight with for centuries. Its shape, structure and motivation may be different at different times’. For example more than 30 million people died in World War I & II ; six million Jews killed at the hands of civilized Germans and Europeans, one third of Algerian population literally wiped off for seeking freedom and liberty for itself at the hands of civilized France, occupation of Iraq by America and its allies in the name of elimination of weapons of mass destruction; a big farce established by none other than their own intelligence and establishment; more than a million death and injuries of innocent civilians and the same being true in Afghanistan, Gulf, Central Asia and elsewhere. Are these not examples of State terrorism. Yes of course! The new President of America Mr. Barak Husain Obama and his administration are doing a tremendous job to rectify the follies of previous US administrations. They need our full support in this noble task. What Whites were doing with black in South Africa for centuries is an example of racial terrorism; What LTTE was doing in Sri Lanka for many years and what Talibans are doing in Tribal areas of Pakistan are examples of terrorism by non state players. What Al-Qaida and their other constituents are doing in various parts of the world is terrorism in the name of religion. They were the supported lot till very recently by the government of Pakistan and USA and their intelligence agencies. Now both of them are fighting their own creation. What is Al-Qaida? These are erstwhile Talibans who are now fighting with their own creators and masters. What happened in Mumbai and before that at our Parliament and at many other places in the country are all acts of terrorism.
Besides condemning these heinous acts it is also our responsibility to get into the details of those factors that are primarily responsible for giving leverage to these extremists to exploit them to their advantage and to further their dirty agenda. Conflict resolution has to be the uppermost agenda in the minds of all of us and the states. Palestinian-Israeli conflict has not resolved in sixty one years, Iraq and Afghanistan are struggling to regain their sovereignty, dignity and self respect as a nation, Chechens are fighting for the last 250 years for their rights, Kashmiris are yet not sure of their future and destiny, India and Pakistan are still at loggerheads with each other and there can be many more examples of this nature.

In the Indian context the culprits of communal violence in the last sixty years have not yet been convicted in spite of recommendations by successive enquiry commissions set up by the central or state governments. Symbolism and tokenism is not an answer to any problem. It needs to be tackled to the core. In Maharashtra Legislative Assembly physical assault on a member for taking oath in the national language, undue and inflated propaganda of non issues and questioning ones’ patriotism are sufficient a cause for the creation of community or religion based isolation.

At the global level 9/11 and at the national level 26/11 are two terrorist acts that have united the conscience of the two largest democracies of the world. I am not among those who will find refuge in the above stated facts on terrorism and justify the acts of terrorists. For me under the worst of provocation and alienation killing of innocent men, women and children remains an unpardonable act. I stand by zero tolerance regime against the perpetrators of violence and more so those who do it in the name of religion. But along with this I also want to awake the conscience of global civil society to kindly concentrate on evolving a broad based mechanism for conflict resolution. Like in our Indian context I want to call upon the central government to set up a National Reconciliation Commission for the resolution of those disputes which target religious tolerance, social harmony and our emotional cohesiveness. Issues like Babri Masjid-Ram Janmbhumi, singing of Vande Matram, common Civil Code, Cow slaughter, reservation can be amicably settled through that. Move to set up equal rights commission by the Centre is a welcome step.

Coming to the specific issue of 26/11 I want to express total solidarity with all the families whose kith and kin were killed or injured in that and I would also like to assure them that civil society, intelligence agencies, institutions of governance, security apparatus and recently created special commando force are enough signals to give terrorists a message of no retreat. Be rest assured, the respective quarters that future offers these terrorists and their perpetrators nothing but hell and death.

After the most tragic event in Mumbai the way citizens of Mumbai stood like a rock and as one solid community raising much above the narrow factors of caste, color, creed, region or religion deserve our salute for that exemplary demonstration of unity in diversity. We as a country, a civilization and a state have always been a living example of unity in diversity. This is what makes India so beautiful and unique. Our best answer to these terrorists can be our political, social, human and moral cohesiveness. Let it be the best deterrent for those who challenge this beauty.

Coming to the last segment of my address I want to say something about my Jewish sisters and brothers. Firstly by Faith Islam you are my ancestors and eternal brothers. Islam permits marriage with Christians and Jews. For more than 1300 years we have co-existed so peacefully. Ottoman Umpire, Muslim rule in Spain and India is the golden era of our excellent relationship and partnership. Even today in India, America, Egypt Morocco, Tunisia, various parts of Europe and in Asia we have excellent relations and partnerships.

With the establishment of the state of Israel political and territorial differences between us have been created. Nevertheless, the initial darkness at the tunnel is the sign of light and hope at the end of the tunnel. I am not disillusioned by the present state of affairs. I am a strong believer in Jewish-Muslim relationship. My trip to Israel in spite of stiff opposition from all Muslim circles in 2005 and thereafter bears testimony to the fact.

I had first met Rabbi Cooper in the holy city of Jerusalem and since then the relationship goes on. Let me assure you, Brother Cooper and through you my other Jewish sisters and brothers around the globe that dialogue and regular engagement is the way forward to go back to our eternal roots of brotherhood.

Inter Faith Harmony Foundation of India to which I head is more than willing to cooperate and collaborate with your Organization in creating a saner and safer world. Before I conclude, let me once again express solidarity with the bereaved families including those foreign friends who lost their near and dear ones’ in the Trident Hotel on 26/11 and elsewhere in Mumbai. I thank you all for listening to me so patiently and perfectly.
Dr. Khwaja Iftikhar Ahmed
Founder President, Inter Faith Harmony Foundation of India, New Delhi
Remarks of Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
ON TERRORISM


What happened on November twenty-six, 2008 at some prominent buildings in Bombay was a sheer act of Terrorism. According to the International Law as well as Islamic Law it was a heinous crime. In every aspect it is highly condemnable, nothing can justify it.
What is Terrorism? According to the Islamic definition, terrorism is an act of violence by any agency or organization other than state. Islam allows only an established state to use arms only in a situation when there is a clear attack from outside. According to the Islamic Sharia only one kind of war is permissible, that is, defensive war. According to this definition guerrilla war, proxy war, and undeclared war are unislamic.

Islam gives great respect to all human beings. There is a verse in the Quran:
Whoever killed a human being – except as a punishment for murder or for spreading corruption in the land – shall be regarded as having killed all mankind. (5:32)
It means, according to Islam, killing of an innocent person is so bad that it is like killing all mankind.

According to Islam violence is not only a moral crime, it also does not yield any positive result. According to the law of nature, one cannot achieve anything through the violent method. The prophet of Islam has said: “God grants to non-violence what He does not grant to violence.”

Islam tries to root out all kinds of violence. According to the Islamic teaching, negative reaction is completely prohibited.

One person came to the Prophet and asked: “O Prophet, give me a master advice by which I may be able to manage all the affairs of my life.”
The Prophet replied: “Don’t be angry.”

What is anger? Anger is a negative reaction to a situation. Anger is the source of all kinds of evil. Anger leads to hate, hate leads to enmity, and enmity leads to revenge and violence, and lastly to war.

Terrorism is a world-wide phenomenon, several states are involved in trying to eradicate terrorism, but as far as the result is concerned they have completely failed. We have to reassess the matter and find out an effective solution. We have to re-plan our strategy.
According to the dictum of UNESCO: “Violence begins from the mind.” So, we have to kill violence in human mind. If it is alive in the human mind, no effort can eradicate terrorism except the re-engineering of minds of individuals by taking them away from the culture of violence and bringing them closer to the culture of peace.

Those who are engaged in eradicating violence or terrorism, have taken it as a gun versus gun issue, so they are trying to eliminate violence with counter violence. But this method is not going to work. Present violence or terrorism is based on an ideology so we have to find out a counter ideology, otherwise all kinds of methods based on this theory adopted to eradicate violence will fail.

The ideology behind present day terrorism is that Islam is a political system and that it is the duty of all Muslims to establish the political rule of Islam in the world. This kind of thinking was not prevalent during the time of the Prophet Muhammad or his early companions. It is a later innovation. This was developed over the last few centuries by a handful of people and has become widespread in the Muslim world today. This has led to the present-day violence.

A large number of Muslims, and especially many easily influenced youth, have become obsessed with this ideology and are trying to establish the political rule of Islam, thinking it to be their ticket to paradise. Having failed to achieve this objective of establishing Islamic rule by the peaceful method, they have started resorting to suicide bombing, the idea being that if we cannot eliminate non-Islamic rule, then let us at least de-stabilize it and pave the way for Islamic rule.

I have studied Islam by making reference to its original sources—the Quran and Hadith—and I can say with certainty that the political interpretation of Islam is an innovation and the real Islam, as followed by Prophet Muhammad and his early followers, is based upon peace, compassion and tolerance.

People consider peace as the greatest good in the world. However, peace does not prevail in the world today. In my view, this is because people the world over are acting intolerantly and indulging in acts of violence, saying, “Give us justice and peace will ensue”. But when people, ostensibly seeking justice, stoop to violence, peace can never prevail. Peace is always desirable for its own sake, and every other desirable state comes after peace, not along with it. So, the maxim I follow, when peace is the desired state, is:
“Ignore the problems, and avail of the opportunities.”

Once people become tolerant and obtain peace for its own sake, what that actually does is open up opportunities—it creates favourable conditions, which enable people to strive for their ideals, eventually attaining justice and other constructive ends.
This happens due to the law of nature. When the individual refrains from making a controversial matter into one of prestige, this gives rise to serious thinking. This non-emotional thinking helps him to understand that if he were to walk out of the point of controversy he would find all other paths open to him.

To me, this ideology of peace can counter the ideology of violence and it is based on the original sources of Islam. The Prophet Muhammad provides a very clear historical example of this in his method of negotiating the Hudaybiyya peace treaty.

All religions condemn violence; all religions preach love, compassion, and tolerance. So, is the case of Islam. Islam gives us the formula of enmity management rather than fighting with the enemies. There is a verse in the Quran: “Good deeds and bad deeds are not equal. Do good deeds in return for enemy’s bad deeds. And you will see that your enemy has become your dearest friend.” (41:34)

According to this Quranic teaching, one’s enemy is his potential friend, so, turn this potential into actual.

Everyone wants to live in peace. In terms of result, peace is the summon bonum, it is a fact that violence or terrorism is not going to give a positive result to anyone. Violence can only lead to destruction rather than construction, so we have no option other than to choose peace at any cost. Violence is not an option, neither for an individual nor for a nation.

On the eve of the first anniversary of the 26/11, I join my voice with others against religion-based terrorism and express my solidarity with all victims, may they be Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, or Jews. May God give peace to all.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Rabbi Cooper's Remarks For Nov. 17, Event in Mumbai

Four years ago, my teacher and friend His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar spoke at the opening of our Holocaust exhibition at the Gandhi Cultural Centre, entitled Courage To Remember. Sri Sri said this to the audience in New Delhi: “I know that many of you are my students and I teach you to live in the moment. So why am I here at an exhibition called: “Courage to Remember”? Because in the world we live in today, in order to live in the moment, we must have courage to remember...”

After the Bali suicide terror attacks Sri Sri Ravi Shankar stood in solidarity with President Wahid, Rabbi Daniel Landes of Jerusalem and faith leaders of all communities to speak out in one voice against the unjustified use of religion to justify mass murder of innocent people.

And now we are here together with Art of Living and leaders of India’s diverse religions and cultures to first and foremost express our solidarity with the 26/11 victims of terror; innocent citizens of India and other nations who were targeted in this world class city of Mumbai to tell them and their loved ones their suffering are not forgotten; we are here to pray for peace and tolerance— but as religious leaders speak in one voice to state unequivocally we will never condone or tolerate suicide bombers or any other cowardly terrorist actions—especially when they are launched in the name of G-d.

I have traveled from the United States to also express on behalf of the 400,000 constituent families of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a United Nations-- recognized NGO (Non governmental Organization) Human Rights organization, our admiration for the people of India and for their civilization that has always welcomed people of different religions and faith, including Jews and to assure you of our commitment to work with you against the scourge of terrorism. 9/11/, 7/7, and 26/11 were launched to wreak havoc on the innocent and wreak havoc on inter-group relations. Our presence here today is proof that rather than destroying our solidarity, such horrible acts by international terrorists only strengthen our resolve to stand together in unity — remembering ALL victims regardless of race, nationality or religion.

In closing, Simon Wiesenthal, himself a victims of the Nazi Genocide during the second World War— which claimed 6 million Jews—among them 89 members of his own family, made these two statements:

“Freedom is not a gift from heaven- we must work to earn it every day”

“Hope lives when people remember” ...

Today, a few days before the first anniversary of the 26/11 attacks, we REMEMBER and commit to work with all decent people of faith to secure a collective future based on human dignity and freedom.

Shalom!!
REMARKS OF DR. ALFRED BALITZER FOR NOV. 17, 2009 MUMBAI EVENT

Happy times tend to remind us of the pleasures and pleasantries of the moment. By contrast, sad moments tend to remind us of eternal principles, the meaning of our existence and of the things we cherish most. On this day, a day of remembrance, we think of those whose lives were cut short in a series of acts that were premeditated and savage. Although it is said that the perpetrators targeted Westerners, their bloody deeds made no distinction between Asian and Caucasian, between Easterner and Westerner, between rich and poor, and between Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Jew. The indiscriminate nature of their acts—so indiscriminate that they killed those who shared a common faith with them—was born of a rage that defies all reason, all justice, all compassion and all love—in short, defies all religion.

Religion teaches man to love G-d and out of that love, to love his fellow man. Whether we seek G-d from within or above, religion, as I have written elsewhere, teaches the “art of peace” and commands us how to practice that art. It provides the person with knowledge of the meaning of life, enabling us to find personal solace and a sense of place in the great university of which we are all a part. By cultivating the divine spark in each of us, religion forms and informs our humanity. It also provides the community with a notion of the greater good--the foundation of a just society, giving meaning to communal life beyond the daily tasks required of preservation, indeed, giving those tasks meaning that in themselves they do not possess. The fanatics who attacked Mumbai’s citizens and guests, going about their lives with every expectation of a happy and fulfilling day, practiced the art of war, excused and energized by an ideology that invokes the name of G-d to celebrate death over life, vengeance over justice, hate over compassion and anger over love.

Gathered here together today as one voice, let us say to the world that religion celebrates life not death. Your very presence here says to the world that religion can no longer, will no longer be used as an excuse to murder, torture and maim innocent persons going about their daily lives. The Holy Koran and the Holy Bible do not teach this violence, nor do the Vedas sacred to the Hindu world or the Sutras of the Buddhist world.

Violent acts in the name of religion is not something that belongs exclusively to one area or region of the world. We have seen it take place in the United States on 9/11 and only two weeks ago again at Ft. Hood in Texas. It is all too common in Israel, in Pakistan, and less so but just as compelling in Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia. India has had more than its share of this violence, indeed, perhaps has seen more of this violence than most other countries or regions. It is therefore appropriate that as we commemorate the terrible violence of 11/26, we take our stand in India, here in Mumbai, and say to the world that the leaders of all faiths will no longer remain silent, will speak out clearly, loudly and repeatedly with one voice to condemn the fanaticism of the few, forming ranks to fight this evil within their own faith traditions and as leaders of a broader community.

REMARKS BY MR. D.R. KAARTHIKEYAN AT THE NARIMAN HOUSE, MUMBAI (17-11-09)

As the first anniversary of the 26-11 attacks approach us, we remember those who are no longer with us and we open our hearts to those who survived and to their families.

We remember and pray for the beautiful young couple and their Jewish guests from around the world who were here at this Chabad House on 26-11.

Prayer and faith are powerful tools and motivators, but sometimes faith is misrepresented, misused and abused to the extent of killing those following different paths of worship.

Civic, political and religious leaders have a solemn responsibility to speak out against individuals and groups who use faith to justify acts of terrorism on innocents.

The idea of India is the idea of pluralism, a value worthy of our deepest patriotism, and the value that the terrorists seek to destroy.

The present day rivalry among religions has led many people to abandon religion altogether.

We cannot divorce religion from life. We have to live with it. Amidst all this turmoil, we have to achieve a balance by an objective and scientific pursuit of religion.

The roots of the word ‘religion’, “re” and “legere”, mean ‘to bind together’ the hearts of all to each other, and back again to God.

At an international and national level, we must become more tolerant. Religious leaders and their congregations need to learn and teach tolerance of other faiths. First, however, this must be taught to the religious leaders themselves.

There is no just terrorism, whatever the causes.

The acts of hatred and violence committed in the name of God and religion are disgraces of human history. The need for unity and mutual understanding has never been greater than it is today.

If there are errors in other religions, that is none of the business of God’s children. God, to whom the world belongs, takes care of that.
India’s worst-ever coordinated terrorist attacks on 26-11 left the people and the government shell-shocked. Yet, seven days after Mumbai had been bloodied, a ravaged city came together at the very spot where the carnage had been unleashed in a show of support unparalleled in its scale in recent history.
The intent of the terrorists was to destabilize India, terrorize the Indian people and their brothers and sisters from other lands as well as to deliver a financial blow to the country. While we took a hit, we are not deterred - - Indeed, our resolve is bolstered, which is why all of us are gathered here today.

We are here today to remember what happened here at this Chabad House, a place that brought so much warmth and love to people of all nationalities and faiths.
We are gathered here to convey the solidarity of the entire civilized world in speaking out against those who inspire and conduct acts of terror in the name of God.

We pay tribute to the hundreds of policemen and civilians for their exemplary courage during last year’s attacks.

We are also here to remember those who are no longer with us, and we convey our sympathies to the victims and their families.
May I request that we all observe a moment of silence in memory of the fallen of the 26-11 attacks.
Dr. Khwaja Iftikhar Ahmed
Founder President, Inter Faith Harmony Foundation of India, New Delhi

Brother Rabbi Cooper, Distinguished Invitees, Diplomats, Members of civil society Ladies and Gentleman

Greetings of peace,
I am grateful to the Organizers for having invited me in this august gathering and more so for a very noble cause; a cause that expresses solidarity with the innocent victims of 26/11 and of their families and friends. Friends! Traveling to serve a noble cause is no lesser a blessing of Almighty God. In Islam, it is the noble tradition set by Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) to which his companions religiously followed. They spread themselves in almost every part of the globe. Now it is incumbent upon all Muslims living in any part of the world to travel to every nook and corner to work for peace and for creating universal brotherhood and amity between diverse groups, cultures, systems and civilizations.

Brother Rabbi Cooper has travelled for thousands of miles and me hundreds of miles to meet each other and to express solidarity for a cause that has brought the global civil society together. 9/11 or 26/11 both are acts of terrorism and that is the menace we all have to get together to fight without attaching no ifs’ and buts’ to that.

At the outset, I want to condemn all acts of terrorism committed by individuals, groups, outfits, non-state or state players in any part of the world. Let us not forget that human misery is common to all. Whenever or wherever that occurs, is taken in that spirit only. It is only the terrorists and their outfits who are devoid of this noble brand of thinking and acting. No religion, Faith, ideology or civil society can ever approve killing of innocent people and the worst can be in the name of religion. The killer just kills without being conscious of who is going to be the victim of his barbarism; a ten-year child, a twenty-four year youth or an old man of 70 years. He is not bothered. What a shame?
The civil society around the globe has this challenge to face and this is not a new challenge. Humankind in all ages and in all races has faced such challenges. Violence has always been a menace to fight with for centuries. Its shape, structure and motivation may be different at different times’. For example, approximately 70 million people died in World War I & II ; six million Jews killed at the hands of Germans and Europeans, one third of Algerian population literally wiped off for seeking freedom and liberty for itself at the hands of France, occupation of Iraq by America and its allies in the name of elimination of weapons of mass destruction; a big farce established by none other than their own intelligence and establishment; more than a million death and injuries of innocent civilians and the same being true in Afghanistan, Gulf, Central Asia and elsewhere. Are these not examples of State terrorism. Yes of course! The new President of America Mr. Barak Husain Obama and his administration are doing a tremendous job to rectify the follies of the previous US administrations. They need our full support in this noble task. What the Whites were doing with the black in South Africa for centuries is an example of racial terrorism; What LTTE was doing in Sri Lanka for many years and what Talibans are doing in Tribal areas of Pakistan are examples of terrorism by non state players. What Al-Qaida and their other constituents are doing in various parts of the world is terrorism in the name of religion. Until very recently they were supported by the government of Pakistan and USA and their intelligence agencies. Now both of them are fighting their own creation. What is Al-Qaida? These erstwhile Talibans are now fighting with their own creators and masters. What happened in Mumbai and before that at our Parliament and at many other places in the country are all acts of terrorism.

Besides condemning these heinous acts, it is also our responsibility to get into the details of those factors that are primarily responsible for giving advantage to these extremists to exploit them to their advantage and to further their dirty agenda. Conflict resolution has to be the uppermost agenda in the minds of all of the states and us. Palestinian-Israeli conflict has not resolved in sixty-one years. Iraq and Afghanistan are struggling to regain their sovereignty, dignity and self-respect as a nation. Chechens are fighting for the last 250 years for their rights. Kashmiris are yet not sure of their future and destiny. India and Pakistan are still at loggerheads with each other and there can be many more examples of this nature.

In the Indian context, the culprits of communal violence in the last sixty years have not yet been convicted. in spite of recommendations by successive enquiry commissions set up by the central or state governments. Symbolism and tokenism is not an answer to any problem. It needs to be tackled to the core. In Maharashtra Legislative Assembly physical assault on a member for taking oath in the national language, undue and inflated propaganda of non issues and questioning ones’ patriotism are sufficient a cause for the creation of community or religion based isolation.

At the global level 9/11 and at the national level 26/11 are two terrorist acts that have united the conscience of the two largest democracies of the world. I am not among those who will find refuge in the above stated facts on terrorism and justify the acts of terrorists. For me under the worst of provocation and alienation killing of innocent men, women and children remains an unpardonable act. I stand by zero tolerance regime against the perpetrators of violence and more so those who do it in the name of religion. However, along with this I also want to awake the conscience of global civil society to kindly concentrate on evolving a broad based mechanism for conflict resolution. Like in our Indian context, I want to call upon the central government to set up a National Reconciliation Commission for the resolution of those disputes, which target religious tolerance, social harmony and our emotional cohesiveness. Issues like Babri Masjid-Ram Janmbhumi, singing of Vande Matram, common Civil Code, Cow slaughter, reservation can be amicably settled through that. The move to set up an equal rights commission by the Centre is a welcome step.

Coming to the specific issue of 26/11 I want to express total solidarity with all the families whose kith and kin were killed or injured in that and I am sure that civil society, intelligence agencies, institutions of governance, security apparatus and recently created special commando force together are giving enough signals to the perpetrators of terrorism, a message of no more retreat. Rest assured, the respective quarters that future offers these terrorists and their perpetrators nothing but hell and death.
After the most tragic event in Mumbai, the way citizens of Mumbai stood like a rock and as one solid community rising much above the narrow factors of caste, color, creed, region or religion deserve our salute for that exemplary demonstration of unity in diversity. We as a country, a civilization and a state have always been a living example of unity in diversity. This is what makes India so beautiful and unique. Our best answer to these terrorists can be our political, social, human and moral cohesiveness. Let it be the best deterrent for those who challenge this beauty.

Coming to the last segment of my address I want to say something about my Jewish sisters and brothers. Firstly, by Faith Islam you are my ancestors and eternal brothers. Islam permits marriage with Christians and Jews. For more than 1300 years, we have co-existed so peacefully. Ottoman Umpire, Muslim rule in Spain and India is the golden era of our excellent relationship and partnership. Even today in India, America, Egypt Morocco, Tunisia, various parts of Europe and in Asia we have excellent relations and partnerships.

With the establishment of the state of Israel, political and territorial differences between us have been created. Nevertheless, the initial darkness at the tunnel is the sign of light and hope at the end of the tunnel. I am not disillusioned by the present state of affairs. I am a strong believer in Jewish-Muslim relationship. My trip to Israel in spite of stiff opposition from all Muslim circles in 2005 and thereafter bears testimony to the fact.
Muslim perspective: Though our perspective is no different to the perspective, held by our sisters and brothers in other communities but we are independently asked by certain quarters at home and abroad about our position on terrorism. We are required to disclose that to avoid any misgivings. In that context, I am taking up this issue more specifically
Islam like any other faith is a religion of peace and brotherhood. It addresses the whole of humanity as a family, believes in equal respect for all religions, accepts the right of each individual to choose faith of its own choice and restricts the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam by force or allurement. Its mantra of life is that killing of an innocent human being is equal to the killing of whole of humanity. It is a faith, which disallows its believer to have food without ensuring that his neighbour had it, or not. It does not allow any celebration until the due of the poorest of the poor is given its due. It is a faith, which approves the right to attack or go to war only for self defence and call upon the believers to treat the prisoners of war with dignity and humility.

Specifically coming to the issue of 26/11 out of 171 people killed in the terrorist attack 33 of them were Muslims. The Muslims and their religious leadership in Mumbai did not offer graveyard for their burial. .MJ.Akbar, a credible Indian Muslim Journalist called the Jehadis’ as Fasadis’. All leading Muslim religious, social, political and educational bodies condemned the terrorist attack with one voice. The largest Muslim religious Organization Dar-ul-Uloom, Deoband has already issued a FATWA against all acts of terrorism, committed in any part of the world.

Indian Muslims, who are the second largest Muslim community in the world, after Indonesia’s, and the one with deepest democratic tradition, do a great service to Islam by delegitimizing suicide murderers by refusing to bury their bodies. One reason for this attitude is that we are the product of and feel empowered by a democratic and pluralistic society. We are not intimidated by extremist religious leaders and are not afraid to speak out against religious extremism in their midst.

Before I close let me once again thank specially Rabbi Cooper for providing me this opportunity. I, few years back met in the holy city of Jerusalem and since then the relationship has grown stronger. Let me assure you, Brother Cooper and through you my other Jewish sisters and brothers around the globe, organizers of this event and participating dignitaries that dialogue and regular engagement is the way forward to go back to our eternal roots of unity.

Inter Faith Harmony Foundation of India to which I head is more than willing to cooperate and collaborate with your Organization in creating a saner and safer world. Before I conclude, let me once again express solidarity with the bereaved families including those foreign friends who lost their near and dear ones’ in the Trident Hotel on 26/11 and elsewhere in Mumbai. Let me also assure my friends in Mumbai and Maharashtra that my Foundation stands for a strong, stable and secular India. Moreover, we the Indians together stand for a peaceful, progressive, secular and democratic world. I thank you all for listening to me so patiently and perfectly. Let me end this presentation by m own quote;
“amity is better than enmity, conciliation is better than confrontation, dialogue is better than deadlock, harmony is better than discord, love is better than hatred, Peace is better than war, tolerance is better than impatience, Understanding is better than conflict, unity is better than division or dissidence and Sacrifice is better than demand.”

Mr. Raman Tikka

Good Afternoon,
Friends, we have gathered here today to express our solidarity by speaking out in one voice against faith-based terrorism. I am here before you today, to deliver a message on behalf of my Guru, Pujya Rakeshbhai, who is the Spiritual Head of Shrimad Rajchandra Ashram, Dharampur. First, I would like to give you all a brief background.

In this universe, every living being has the sole desire to attain everlasting happiness, but yet struggles to find it. According to the Jain philosophy, The spiritual Lords, referred to as the Jinas or the Victorious Ones, having understood the fundamental cause of this unhappiness and having discovered the appropriate cure, out of their selfless compassion, guide others on to the blissful path of self-experience. Lord Mahavir, about 2500 years ago, is the most recent Jina of our times.

Since time immemorial, there have been many enlightened souls who have expounded religion. Shrimad Rajchandra, in the late 19th. Century, being one of them, is highly respected for His great spiritual elevation, extraordinary personality, remarkable exposition of Lord Mahavir's teachings and literary genius. Shrimad Rajchandra was also the mentor and spiritual guide of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation. In his autobiography- My experiments with Truth, Gandhiji says, Quote “I have met many a religious leaders and heads of faith, and I must say that no one else has ever made on me the impression that Shrimad Rajchandra did. In my moments of spiritual crisis, he was my refuge.” Unquote. One could say that the inspiration of Non Violence and Satyagraha in India’s freedom struggle came to Gandhiji from his early days interaction with Shrimad Rajchandra.

This powerful spiritual legacy is carried forward in the present times by Shrimad Rajchandra’s ardent devotee, Pujyashri Rakeshbhai Jhaveri. Since the last 25 years, several seekers are spiritually advancing under Pujyashri's able guidance, through Discourses, devotional prayer and meditation workshops which are regularly held at the Shrimad Rajchandra Ashram, Dharampur, in south Gujarat. It is Pujya Rakeshbhai’s emancipated views, practice of Religious Pluralism and interaction with leaders and people from all faiths that has endeared him to so many. At the age of 43, He has a large following of Youth, who have opted to walk on the spiritual path. Academically, having passed M.A. (Philosophy) with a gold medal, He wrote an extensive research treatise on Shrimad Rajchandra’s finest literary creation, 'Shri Atmasiddhi Shastra' (a poetic composition on Self-Realization), for which the University of Mumbai conferred on Him the degree of Ph.D. in 1998.

I shall now read out Pujya Rakeshbhai’s message for today on Ahimsa- Non Violence with Love.

Bhagwan Mahavir expounded Ahimsa or Non Violence as the ultimate Dharma or Religion. Just as amongst mountains the highest is Mt. Meru, the vastest amongst elements is Space, so also amongst the most essential human values it is that of Non violence. One may wonder why Lord Mahavir had to use a negative word AHIMSA; as it means NON-VIOLENCE. Is this not a negative definition of religion? Shouldn’t religion denote something more positive?

The enlightened masters, whilst revealing its essence say, that though the word Non violence may be a negative sounding one, its state is extremely positive. Ahimsa is the state of absolute complete Love; and what can exist more positive than LOVE itself! But, as we are familiar with the states of violence, hence its usage. In order to take us from this known state of violence to the unknown in an easy way, the Lord was compelled to use a negative word starting as NON-VIOLENCE. If we want to obliterate darkness; the presence of light is a necessity. We say ‘darkness has ended, but this event is possible only by the presence of light. So also darkness, like violence, ends only -when some positive event takes place, where light exists in the form Love.

Thus Ahimsa is not literally non-violence but rather the positive state of Absolute love, as it is not only being non-violent but something much more; that is, being LOVE! This is the positive definition of AHIMSA.

Having understood that Ahimsa means Love, then one may ask, why love has not been called the ultimate DHARMA; why use the word AHIMSA. Again, the enlightened masters explain that there exists an important reason behind the non usage of the word ‘LOVE’. If ‘AHIMSA’ was substituted by the word ‘LOVE’ we may mistakenly understand that which we know as ‘LOVE’ and may carry on in the delusion that our interpretation of love is religion. But no, sadly, what we have understood to be LOVE is not really Dharma. We have a deep rooted age-old association with the word love and wherever we use the word ‘LOVE’ it is full of attachments, passion, conditions and expectations. We have mistakenly taken the relational aspect of love, rather than its pure state of unconditional love
This state is so pure, so fulfilling and established in wellness of ones being, that neither can you think of causing harm to any other being, nor of harming your own self . Love means to love both - oneself and all others, as now love is not merely a relationship but rather a radiating state of pure love. You have become Love itself! So now, only Love can emanate from you. It does not matter if there exists another to receive your love, as that no longer is of importance to you. Just as, in the darkness if a lamp exists it will only radiate light – even if no one is there to witness it. A flower will emit fragrance anywhere, everywhere irrespective of whether anyone imbibes its fragrance or not! The Lamp, the flowers do not think in terms that ‘Since no one is there, let us not radiate, emanate.” So those who have truly imbibed the state of unconditional love need no more the presence of any others to radiate love. Love has become a state of being, their very essence, so it flows evermore. This divine tenderness needs no event, nor the existence of a person to create it. Tenderness or love has become their very being, their nature, their Dharma. What we understand as love is actually attachment, passion and desire. So that this kind of conditional love is not misinterpreted as ‘LOVE’ that is why the Lord has used the word AHIMSA instead of LOVE as the Ultimate DHARMA.

Ahimsa is a state of being proactively positive. Ahimsa means consciously extending love to one and all. The meaning of love is ‘I wish others well, I pray for their well-being, I will be instrumental in bringing joy to their lives, will offer flowers on their path. This is the real meaning of Ahimsa. If Ahimsa was merely negative, then it would read as ‘I will not cause unhappiness to others, nor cause them injury” and this would be its restrictive or myopic meaning, as it would constitute no positive element. To put no thorns on anyone’s path – that is not the meaning but beyond that ‘to decorating their path with flowers’ is the essential meaning. To restrict oneself ‘to non-violence’ alone, is not the definition of Ahimsa, but to make others truly happy is Ahimsa.

Suppose a man is walking on a road and he falls down. If you have limited yourself to the negative understanding, this event will have no effect on you, as you bear no relation to him. You have not caused him to fall down, so you are indifferent to the situation. But if you have comprehended the positive aspect of dharma, then you will rush to help him stand upright again. In this way, Dharma expects a state of being positive.

If some person is not full of love and only restricts himself to not harming others,; thus believing himself to be an Ahimsak person , then one may question;- why does he want to be non-violent ? Let’s say that if he has love for ants, then we can understand that he does not want to cause them any harm. But if he has no real love for them and yet does not want to harm them, then his abstaining from violence is surely due to some other reason. In reality he does not want to step on them as he may believe thus ‘If I cause them harm, I will acquire sin, and I will go to hell, so I don’t want to harm them.” The real intention behind not wanting to harm others, actually translates to, not causing harm to myself! Here, the other is of no importance, as here the ‘I’ is enlarged. If I will not harm others, I will be religious and I will go to heaven’ etc, are feelings full of selfishness. How can one be religious with such ulterior motives? Where love occurs, then selfishness cannot co-exist as the ‘I’ has become unimportant. Dissolution of ‘I’ is true religion and that is only possible with love. This is the only meaning of Ahimsa and that is why Ahimsa is the ultimate Dharma.

Dharma teaches love and love includes thought for all other sentient beings. Due to this SELFLESS, pure state of love, salvation occurs. In love, selfishness, ego etc dissolve. The individual expands from the consciousness of personality and body and enters the realm of the soul, and gets established totally in his divine essence.

When the desire to hurt others ceases effortlessly in thoughts and deeds, it is because the conscious self has acquired a state of love. But where the myopic view is highlighted, only the welfare of one’s own self occurs and even religious activities are undertaken with this selfish motive. In Contrast to his, where Ahimsa’s positive aspect is highlighted, then all activities undertaken even at the individual level, are with the motive of universal welfare.
When the individual being expands into loving consciousness state, all beings become the object of his love. He becomes incapable of harming any one. Enlightened ones say that to expand in love is the way to be truly non-violent. When the entire universe, with all its creations, becomes the object of your love, then you will no longer try to acquire happiness from them; rather you will make every effort to bring happiness to them. Then you will try and take care to support all forms of life. So Ahimsa is the paramount state of unconditional love. By merely outward observance of rules or vows, only the emoting of non-violence is done. True Ahimsa is achieved by acquiring the internal state of Absolute unconditional love.

As Shrimad Rajchandraji says “Religion does not mean religious differences and set beliefs. Religion does not mean cramming or reading of all religious texts. Religion is the spiritual quality of the soul. It is embedded in human nature in the visible or invisible form. By religion we are able to know the duty of man; by it we are able to know our relations with other living beings. But all this requires the capacity to know one's self. If we do not know ourselves, we cannot know others rightly. No religious scripture advises people to tell a lie or to practice falsehood. Nor does any religion advise violence.”

Let’s all of us present at today’s Interfaith solidarity meet pray; that the all beings in this world are filled with Absolute unconditional love and it is only through this form of Love, that we dissolve all forms of negativity and violence. Let us ask the Almighty to give us strength, that even in our most challenging moments; we resort only to Love as our response.