Acharya Mahaprajnaji's Message To The 2004 Parliament Of World's Religions at Barcelona, Spain

Published: 27.07.2004
Updated: 23.10.2010

We cannot conceive of a society free from all problems. Some of these problems are created by nature, but some are created by man himself.

The enormous problems which emanate from deeper levels of consciousness cannot be solved by material objects. They have to be addressed on deeper levels of consciousness, and it is here that religion plays a role, for religion is nothing but a sublimation of consciousness or an elevation of inner spiritual energy.

The greatest problem of the present age is violence. Violence is manifest in various forms, one of which is intolerance or a lack of understanding for other people’s views, other people’s ideology. The second is a consideration only of one’s own views or beliefs as superior to others, or to consider one’s own religion as the highest one. All of these are mental or ideological problems. Our instinctive pulses or negative emotional outbursts are so intense that on account of them, that one does not hesitate to engage in any kind of violence or forbidden act.

This has resulted in the increase of crime in society and problems like extremism. In dharma all religions would have been powerful enough to prevent all of this: the situation would have been altogether different.

Then shouldn’t we conclude that religion as it stands is not working competently to solve these present problems? It implicitly follows that we need to contemplate all religions on entirely different lines to the present day.

Jainism has given us the principle of Anekantvada. This is the doctrine of non-absolutism or the relativistic view. The fundamental principle of Anekantvad is to tolerate others views or beliefs; one should not only try to discover the truth in one’s own views or beliefs, but also in other’s views and beliefs. We have to accept the truth that there may be truth in other’s views too.

Freedom is our birth right, however there are many in society who do not hesitate to encroach upon other people’s freedom. The role of religion should have been not to allow them to do so: not to allow the rich to encroach upon the poor, not to allow those who are in power to encroach upon those who are without power. But unfortunately religion has not functioned in this manner.

The participants of The World’s Religions Parliament at Barcelona, who are the authorities of their respective religions should think over this matter seriously. They have to make a thorough deliberation over the very concept of religion in the present day context. It is necessary to re-evaluate ongoing activities in the field of religion.

My mentor, His Holiness Acharya Tulsi had contemplated on this concept of religion and asserted that religion without morality could not be beneficial to society. There are three forms of religion: firstly, morality; secondly, devotion and thirdly, spirituality. It is felt that the first aspect of religion, namely morality, has been neglected; spirituality too has also undergone deterioration. Thus the first and third aspect need to be uplifted in the present age, in the 21st century. The second aspect, namely devotion or worship and sectarian rites and rituals etc, continues in full fledged manner in all religions. But it is necessary that all the three forms of religion should become equally active in all religions. However, the first and foremost necessity is for the development of moral values: unless these are developed in day to day life, religion will have no utility for modern society.

Let all of us who have gathered here at the World’s Religions Parliament consider the role of religion in solving present day problems in society. Let us consider the issue with an awakened consciousness and let us present religion in a form which will provide solutions to the problems of the present day. If this is done, then I feel that this gathering of so many enlightened people at the World’s Religions Parliament will become beneficial for individuals, for society and for the whole world.

Sources
Transcription from video message by Samani Pratibha Pragya
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Tulsi
  3. Anekantvad
  4. Anekantvada
  5. Consciousness
  6. Dharma
  7. Jainism
  8. Non-absolutism
  9. Pragya
  10. Samani
  11. Samani Pratibha Pragya
  12. Tulsi
  13. Violence
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