‘It is important to understand fundamental principles preached by various religions’

Community leaders and scholars congregated at the ‘Unity of mankind through harmony of religions’ meeting organised by the Ramakrishna Mission Centres to mark the day when Swami Vivekananda gave his historic speech at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago on September 11, 1893.

Talking about Vivekananda’s teachings, Swami Brahmeshanandaji Maharaj, senior trustee and adhyaksha, said it was important to understand the fundamental principles the religions preached and leave aside external differences.

“Sri Ramakrishna once narrated a parable about a chameleon. Several people had gone to see a chameleon. One said it was white, another said, green, and the third person said it was yellow. The man sitting on the tree came down and explained that though it changed colours, deep inside, it was the same being,” he said.

Brahmeshanandaji Maharaj, senior monk, laid emphasis on the need to use religion as a unifying force, and not a divisive one. “Let us search for the unifying theme in this medley of disarray and disharmony or various religions. Unity may be sought by considering these religions complementary and not contradictory. Each religion, with its peculiarity, satisfies a different group of individuals,” he said.

Priyadarshana Jain, head of department of Jainology, Madras University, said, “The problem today is not of guided missiles but of misguided men who use religion for promoting violence and terror.” Religion sans the dogma and false beliefs and practices is the need of the hour, he said.

K.P. Aleaz, professor of religions, Bishop’s College, Kolkata, said, “According to Swami Vivekananda, a study of all religions will indicate that the essence of all is the same. The differences between religions are of expression and degree and not of substance,” he said.

B. Vinayagam, Buddhist scholar, Mahabodhi Society, Sardar Nanak Singh Nishter, director, International Sikh Centre for Interfaith Relations, ‘Kaviko’ Abdul Rahuman and ‘Sol Vendar’ Sukisivam were among those who spoke. The meeting was organised as part of the four-year-long celebration to commemorate the 150 birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.

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