Our prayers in Vedic tradition end with; ‘Aum Shanti, Shanti, Shanti hi’ - we pray and seek for peace in material, spiritual and divine spheres of life”, is what Didi Talwalkar of the Swadhyaya Movement explained at the ‘Paths of Peace’ Inter-religious Conference, held in Germany two weeks ago under the aegis of the Community of Sant Egidio. Despite sporadic wars and massive refugee movements, like of the Rohingyas currently, resulting in killings of human beings, there is no let up in peace efforts that continue all over the world by people of good will. Last week, 21st September was observed as the International Day of Peace, presently focusing on, “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for all”.
According to the UN and I believe providentially so, this year, “The Day will highlight solidarity with refugees and migrants and showcase the shared benefits of migration to economies and nations, while also acknowledging legitimate concerns of host communities. Ultimately, it will be about bringing people together and reminding them of their common humanity”. The pertinent question, however, being asked by many but mostly by bitter and pessimists amongst us is, “if peace is at all possible in our life’s time”? Seeing the current world scenario, one can easily lose hope.
Andrea Ricardi, the founder of the Community of St. Egidio, speaking to us at the concluding ceremony of ‘Paths of Peace’, hence reminded the world, “In prayer, in the depth of our faiths, we discover that peace is not impossible, because it is a gift of God… Peace must always be possible. It must always be sought… For this reason, religions kindle a hope of peace – as we do today: they drive believers to get rid of indifference, and compel them to turn into artisans of peace”.
But again religion is often considered the cause of conflicts, wars and killings of innocents. It is important for those engaged in peace building mission to differntiate between what religions actually teach and how certain followers of those teachings misinterpret them to bring about conflict. It is said that the reason why Guru Nanakji stated that he was neither a Hindu nor a Muslim was because he could not find anyone leading their life in consonance with the tenets of those religions. And that applies equally to people of all religions. The commandement, ‘to love one’s neighbour as oneself’, though articulated by Jesus, need not be restricted to any one religion. It should be the foundation on which to build and preserve peace. That more and more people, like the recent ‘Karwan e Mohabbat’, led by Harsh Mander and John Dayal, are becoming part of peace initiatives gives us the hope that Peace is indeed possible and that in the end Peace will be victorious.