Religious, political leaders rally together for tolerance, hail Sri M’s effort


New Delhi, Feb 22: Top scholars from various religions as well as leaders of opposing national political parties have called for calm dialogue and mutual respect to help cool increasing instances of violence plaguing the country.

Addressing a gathering to felicitate social reformer Sri M in the capital where his pan-Indian march urging for interfaith harmony is currently making rounds, the speakers stressed the need for tolerance among communities to uphold its age-old character of diversity and spirit of integrity.

Union ministers Najma Heptullah, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Menaka Gandhi, besides Rajya Sabha Deputy Speaker P.J. Kurien and Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia exhorted people to transcend the boundaries of region, faith, language and political affiliations—a view they shared with religious leaders such as Shivamurthy Shivacharya Mahaswamiji, Moulana Wahiduddin Khan, Tai Situ Rinpoche, Manjit Singh G.K, Lokesh Muni and V.K. Merchant.

At the function at Sirifort Auditorium on Sunday evening, 67-year-old spriritual guide Sri M, whose 7,500-km ‘Walk of Hope’ along with 70-plus volunteers is holding discourses on interfaith harmony, said his 16-month Kanyakumari-Srinagar padayatra has been sending out messages of peace with the aim of preventing communal tensions in the future rather than curing.

“It is criticism—rather than praise—that helps us realise our character,” said Kerala-born Sri M, who has been meeting influential leaders and the public, highlighting the necessity of non-aggression while countering disagreements.

“One can also sit across the table and settle differences,” added the yogi (original name is Mumtaz Ali Khan) whose first spiritual guru—at age 19—was Shri Maheshwarnath Babaji who lived in the Himalayas.

Minister Prasad said Sri M’s best-seller autobiography ‘Apprenticed to a Himalayalan Master’ was on par with life stories of Swami Vivekanand and Paramahamsa Yogananda, while Heptullah lamented the current social situation where people were “distanced from humaneness even as they are connected through IT all the time”.

Prof Kurien said India should hold aloft the Upanishad spirit of oneness as mentioned in ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, while Menaka Gandhi and Sisodia wished all success to the ‘Walk of Hope’ scheduled to conclude in the Jammu and Kashmir capital early May this year.

Shivamurthy Shivacharya, who is the seer of Taralabalu Jagadguru Brihanmath at Sringere in Karnataka, said each religion was like a different flower in a garden. Himachal Pradesh-based Rinpoche, who is one of the foremost spiritual leaders of the Kagyu Order of Buddhism, bemoaned present-day population “losing wisdom in its eagerness to gain knowledge”.

Islamic scholar Wahabuddin Khan, who translated the Quran into contemporary English, hailed Sri M’s padayatra, which began from Kanyakumari on January 12 last year, as “both a physical and spiritual exercise”.

Manijit Singh of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee sought a “fight against turbulence to maintain peace”, while Jain leader Lokesh Muni said the ‘Walk of Hope’ could sow seeds of positive thinking. Bahai faith ideologue V.K. Merchant of the Temple of Understanding said the warm response to Sri M’s mission reflected the mindset of the average Indian peace-loving Indian.

Sister Rama of the Brahma Kumaris was also present.

The function concluded with a church choir by Sacred Heart group.

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