Donnerstag, 11. August 2016

ധ്രുവദീപ്തി // Religion // Inter-religious Dialogue, a daily Reality in life // Fr. Sebastian Thottippatt

Inter-religious Dialogue, 
a daily Reality in life //

Fr. Sebastian Thottippatt

 Fr. Sebastian Thottippatt
Inter-religious dialogue is a subject that is much in vogue today. As we are hear about frequent and blatant violations of freedom of religion in different parts of the world these days, this is a subject that is most relevant for every one in a multi-religious society. By the very fact that society is composed of people belonging to diverse religious traditions and practices, it becomes incombent on all to interact with one another in a way that avoids confrontations and enhances one's life through it. We are constantly engaged in inter-actions with one another in every aspect of life. In fact we are inter-dependent on one another all the time for the fulfillment of our basic needs and growth in every area of life. 

 Inter.Religious dialogue
Most people profess affiliation to one religion or another by dint of their birth. However, whatever values and traditions a religion contains and passes on to its followers, it is not complete in itself for the simple reason that no religion can exhaust the fullness of truth. Religions have certain belief system, code of laws and rituals which come to take shape over the yeras through the influence of culture, perception of values and and the means of living it out in accordance with what one understands as consanant with the teachings of a spiritual leader. Unfortunatly, in cource of time they get solidified with their local cultural expressions and become less amenable to change. 

 Gods of Hindhuism
It is a fact borne out by history that the followers of all religions have had the tendency to carry with them wherever they go all the externals of their religion such as the specific rituals, dress code and their own particular theological understanding of the perennial truths. This has led to much tension between peoples in human history. People from different lands meeting together find themselves confronting each other when they view their religious practices against that of others who live side by side with them following a different religion or a different perception of the eternal reality. This state of affairs called for some form of dialogue between followers of different religions for peaceful co-existence among themselves. The conviction has been gaining ground in enlightened circles that no religion is the embodiment of truth but only the finger pointing to it in an imperfect way. However, in fanatic circles some have claimed their beliefs and practices to be absolute and sought to impose them on everyone with drastic consequences for breach of peace. But in actual fact, every religion has in it only segments of truth. One must, therefore, delve deeper into one’s own religion and explore the perceptions in another’s religion too in order to arrive at complete truth and be built by it.

Inter-religious dialogue does not imply compromising one’s beliefs and adopting another indiscriminately. It is rather the meeting together of human beings as they are and sharing together the best of teachings, tradition and life style they possess. There is no evaluation of each other as good or bad but of appreciating each other’s assets for what they mean to them. No name given to God is his real name because God has no name or form. It applies also to the qualities that one attributes to God. Hence no one can say that he/she is right or wrong in whichever way he or she names God or speaks of him. While sharing one’s own experience of religion, it is important to grasp that the plan of God for each human person varies and it ought to be respected in each case.

The Mountain of Arunachala at 
Thiruvannaamalai-Tamil Nadu
 The town of Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, India, where I live, is a meeting ground for people from all over the world who are drawn here by the life and teachings of Sri. Ramana Maharshi, a sage who lived here in the first half of the last century. He belonged to a Hindu Brahmin family from Madurai but came here drawn by the grace of Shiva who has been considered for centuries as embodied by the Mountain of Arunachala at Tiruvannamalai. Living for two decades in the caves of the mountain in silence with his altered state of consciousness, he grew into an enlightened sage whom people sought after from near and far. Going beyond the tenets of religion, he led those who came to him to seek and find the real self hidden in each one under various external expressions. Having an Advaitic approach to life, Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi left behind him at Tiruvnnamalai an aura of spirituality and God-seeking which continues to draw tens of thousands to the town every year. Today people from all walks of life and rooted in diverse religious affiliations come here, stay at Ramana Maharshi ashram or anywhere around and do the pilgrim walk around the mountain. No one is keen to learn about the religion of the other but all are united in seeking to discover the self within as instructed by the Maharshi. All the guest houses in Tiruvannamalai are booked up to capacity by Western seekers by and large from November to February every year. Most of these are followers of Christianity. 

 Interreligious Relations
A minimum of 100,000 people do the Girivalem walk of 14 kilometers around the Mountain of Arunachala at every full moon. And once a year at Kartikeya Deepam Festival when a flame is lit on top of the Mountain, the number of pilgrims swells to anywhere around 2 million. The vast majority of these are Hindus but there is no distinction among the persons who constitute this crowd that do the pilgrim walk. The follower of any religion can sense the presence of God on that Mountain as well as in the crowd of pious pilgrims. At different points along the route, there are groups of kindly volunteers who bring cooked food or snacks and serve them free to the pilgrims. No one is asked his or her religion. Everyone is accepted as a devotee of Shiva or a seeker of God. It is inter-religious dialogue taking place in action. People learn to go beyond one’s religion to recognize the humanity of the other and serve him or her with joy and humility. I have seen Muslim women in their purdah go into Ramanashram premises and experiencing the atmosphere of spirituality and acceptance prevailing there. The gate is open to all throughout the day and nobody is ever turned away unless evidently he or she is a public nuisance.

 Inter-Religious Dialogue
Inter-religious dialogue takes place where men and women meet together on the common ground of their humanity and share each other’s spiritual, intellectual, artistic and other humanistic riches. Every form of talent present in any man or woman is a gift of the same God, under whichever name or form one perceives him. When we recognize that and appreciate it with thankfulness we render glory to God and make our lives more human and enriched. It is not our distinctions in religion that we need to share but rather what our religion has led us to on our spiritual journey. When we enter into true dialogue and listen to each other intensely, we shall pass on to each other even unknowingly the gift of God’s presence and love. This indeed is the ultimate aim of inter-religious dialogue.//-


ധൃവദീപ്തി  ഓണ്‍ലൈൻ 
Published from Heidelberg, Germany,   
in accordance with the European charter on freedom of opinion and press. 
DISCLAIMER:   Articles published in this online magazine are exclusively the views of the authors. Neither the editor nor the publisher are responsible or liable for the contents, objectives or opinions of the articles in any form."

Keine Kommentare:

Kommentar veröffentlichen

Hinweis: Nur ein Mitglied dieses Blogs kann Kommentare posten.