Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” One hundred fifty years after his birth, to celebrate his life and teachings, an extraordinarily special SarvaDharma Sangam took place today at the Gandhi Ashram in Kingsway Camp where Gandhiji stayed, held meetings, and inspired and led the movement for an independent India.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Pujya Swami Ramdevji, Pujya Sant Shri Morari Bapuji, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Respected Maulana Mehmood Madaniji and other saints and leaders of different religious traditions came together in the name of an expanded definition of peace – one that includes protection and preservation of our natural environment.
The event was organized by the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh in cooperation with Harijan Sevak Sangh, the oldest Gandhian organization, founded by Mahatma Gandhi in 1932.
Gandhiji used to love to sing, “Ishwar allah tere naam, sab ko sanmati de bhagwaan.” In his honor, the revered faith leaders shared messages of oneness, togetherness and the importance of environmental protection and combatting climate change.
The leaders at the event included:
1. His Holiness the Dalai Lamaji
2. Pujya Yogrishi Swami Ramdevji, Patanjali Yogpeeth
3. Pujya Sant Shri Morari Bapuji,
4. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President, Parmarth Niketan, Founder/Chair, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance
5. Respected Maulana Mahmood Madaniji, Secretary General, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind
6. Respected Giani Gurbachan Singhji, Former, Chief Jathedar, Amritsar
7. Respected Maulana Kokab Mujatbaji, President, Ulema Foundation of India- Shia Tradition
8. Respected Father Ajit Patrickji, Representative of the Archbishop of Delhi
9. Pujya Dr Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, President, Divine Shakti Foundation, President, Harijan Sevak Sangh, Uttarakhand
10. Dr Sankar Kumar Sanyalji, President, Harijan Sevak Sangh
11. Shri Laxmi Das, Vice President, Harijan Sevak Sangh
The leaders joined hands and hearts together in a sacred water blessing ceremony, praying that all sisters and brothers across the world, of every race, religion, color, caste and creed, should have access to safe, sufficient water.
Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji presented the revered saints with saplings of the sacred Rudraksh tree as a symbol of the power of faith leaders coming together to bring new, healthy, sustainable, sacred life for all. He also got all those present to pledge to plant 11 trees each and to inspire ten more people. “Each one, reach ten, become eleven,” he said.
Additionally, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji’s new book, Come Home to Yourself, published by Penguin was released by HH the Dalai Lama and the revered saints.
QUOTES FROM THE LEADERS….
H.H. the Dalai Lama: India has moral responsibility to illustrate that religious harmony is possible on the basis of mutual respect. It has existed here for more than 1000 years – values of karuna and ahimsa are part of India’s ancient tradition. Hygiene of physical health is important but hygiene of our emotional health is even more important – India must bridge the gap between modern education and ancient Indian education in order to cultivate individuals with inner peace and compassion.
Because of over-population and global warming our home is hot and burning and we have nowhere to escape. We must take care of our environment, save water and plant more trees. We must save our planet but it must start from our homes and ourselves.
Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji: Today is a day where we are celebrating oneness and togetherness. Today we come together to shift our focus from I to We. When I becomes We, Illness Becomes Wellness – in our lives, in our communities, our nations and our world. That is the need of the hour. For us to come together in Oneness. Gandhiji united the land of India in the name of Independence from colonial rule. The greatest threats we face today are climate change, environmental destruction and lack of clean water. As we united for independence, as we unite for peace, we must unite for our Planet. There can be a Plan A and a Plan B, but there is no Planet B. We have only one planet and we must unite to take care of it.
YogGuru Swami Ramdevji: Here we have a true sangam- a confluence of one side scriptures and the other side saints who are living embodiments of those teachings. We are truly blessed today to be getting this message of living together in peace and harmony from our divine sangam. The need to integrate our modern and traditional education, protect our environment and interfaith harmony is the need of the hour.
Maulanna Mehmood Madaniji: The protection and preservation of our nation is our primary responsibility and for that if we need to sacrifice anything we must not step back. Let us also move from our preachings into our practice and into our actions- that is the need of the hour.
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji: Today our revered leaders have come together in the name of peace, and it is an expanded definition of peace. Our definition of peace must expand. It is no longer enough to simply say, “Do not kill.” Today our definition of peace must include protection and preservation of our natural environment and having access to clean air, clean water and clean soil.
Former Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singhji: Guru Nanak Devji emphasized the importance of ending pollution, preserving water, importance of tree plantation, empowering women and selfless service. Let us live in his teachings, in his light with this divine message.
Father Ajit Patrick Representative of the Archbishop of Delhi: Love your God with all your energy, passion and soul but then also love thy neighbor as thy self is at the core of all faith traditions. In Hindi we have a popular quote Jeeo aur Jeeno Do- which translates to live and let live but let’s not settle there – let’s say Jeeo aur Jeevan Do- live and bring and sustain all of life.
The interfaith leaders joined together at the end, answering the call of Pujya Swamiji, to join together in a pledge to keep the environment clean.