Save environment, culture and ancient faith : RSS

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Addressing the 8th International Conference and Gathering of Elders on 28 January 2024 at Dibrugarh of Assam in northeast India, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat, insisted on conserving the environment, culture and ancient faiths for the benefit of the human race on Earth. RSS chief Bhagwat delivered a keynote address in the inaugural session where  Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and spiritual leaders from 33 countries were present. The program began with lighting of auspicious lamps, followed by religious prayers of eight representatives of ancient faiths from seven continents.

The five-day conference under the auspices of International Centre for Cultural Studies (ICCS), which began on a colourful note, is expected to witness the deliberations by spiritual leaders with an aim to prepare a roadmap for the global peace and prosperity. A splendid procession with the delegates from the participating  countries in their traditional attires and fineries accompanying drums and devotional dances by many  tribes of north-eastern region traversed through the streets of Dibrugarh to mesmerise the onlookers.

Welcoming  the delegates, CM Sarma stated that Assam is home to hundreds of indigenous tribes and faiths. He pointed out that in the current intolerant and strife-torn world, indigenous faiths have suffered the worst, and it is everyone’s duty to nurture them. We must preserve these belief systems as they are deeply committed to the environment, said Sarma, adding that they have been living in harmony with nature from time immemorial.

He mentioned many Assamese tribes and their connection with nature, that form the rich tapestry of ancient beliefs. The saffron leader  expressed his pain that these communities have been targets of conversion, where education and healthcare are used as baits. The erosion of indigenous faiths is deeply worrying as it weakens the society. Sarma gave examples of various tribes across Bharat who have faced this attack. He recalled how Birsa Munda made it his life’s mission to protect his community from conversions and revive Munda faith.

He also quoted Mahatma Gandhi from his book titled ‘Why I am a Hindu’, where Gandhi said that the demise of a faith is the demise of its wisdom. Sarma informed the audience that his government has formed a separate department for preserving, promoting and nurturing indigenous faiths of Assam. Finally he expressed hope that the conference will help in reviving indigenous faith & culture and stop the cultural erosion taking place in the present day society.

Sarsanghchalak   Bhagwat in his address termed Assam as the land of spirituality. He pointed out that this gathering which came together two decades back as a beginning with promises. He congratulated the elders of the ancient traditions and cultures for  keeping their ancient faiths alive  despite the aggressive environment surrounding them. Despite two thousand years of progress and material prosperity, the world is facing conflicts, asserted Bhagwat, adding that there is no peace outside or within.

“Children go to schools with guns and shoot people without any apparent reason. There is envy and ego and there are struggles due to narrowness of minds where people are divided into ‘us and them, ours and theirs’. Those who wish to go beyond these groupings and save humanity, end up becoming another group. Leaders and thinkers have been talking about saving the environment, but nothing concrete has come up except talks,” said Bhagwat.

He noted that many theories and isms came up – from individualism that didn’t consider society important, to communism that considered society as supreme, with no space for individual bliss and social peace. All theories necessarily focused on material prosperity. Religions evolved to find solutions but they too failed. Because they did not look at the integral whole  they couldn’t discern the underlying element of oneness that connects all these human dimensions. They could not reach the ancient wisdom of sarve sukhinah santu (let all is happy).

Bhagwat also noted that an individual, the community or society, the nation and nature are related in a spiral, each leading to the next mechanism. They don’t exist in concentric circles. Factoring this culture can bring peace and prosperity. He pointed out how a United Nations resolution in 1951 talked about scrapping of ancient philosophies and disintegration of old social institutions for one goal of rapid economic progress. But in 2013, the UN  had to admit that integration of culture into development policies was necessary for global development, commented Bhagwat.

On this occasion a new academic and research journal was launched by the ICCS that will focus on history, anthropology and governance. A souvenir with insightful articles and highlights of earlier conferences was also released. The conference will conclude with the gracious presence of RSS Sarkaryavah Dattatreya Hosabale,  Arunachal Pradesh government chief  Pema Khandu, ICCS president Shashibala  and  many other dignitaries.

 

Also Read: https://clipper28.com/en/8th-international-conference-and-gathering-of-elders-concludes/

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