Independent Catholic News logo Welcome Visitor
Sunday, March 26, 2017
India: Jesuits host major interfaith seminar
Comment Email Print
¬†The South Asian Jesuit Secretariat for Dialogue, in association with St Francis Xavier Movement convened a two day seminar on inter-religious dialogue from 15-16th of February at Indian Social Institute, New Delhi. Representatives from all the major religions of India, namely Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism and subaltern traditions took part. The first day addressed the question "How far can a religion be theologically reshaped in the encounter with the other, remaining both meaningful for its adherents and open to other believers?". Prof Bettina Baeumer, President of Abhishiktananda Society, in her inaugural address stressed the primacy of spiritual experience one's own religion, in inter religious dialogue, for only when we have experienced that core in one's own religion, one can be open to other traditions and religions. It is spiritual experiences that converge going beyond Institutional and theological differences. Elevating the importance on de-identification she said " if the aim of religion is to liberate its followers, this liberation has to go along with a de-identification , breaking down walls and limitations, based not on Divine revelation or enlightenment, but on narrow ego centred human identification. She also cautioned against the fashionable usage of "Dialogue". Fr. Michael Amaladoss, SJ, Director of the Institute of Dialogue with Cultures and Religions, Loyola College, presented a paper on "Indian Christian Theological Issues in the context of Inter- Religious Dialogue", in which a he set a context of multi-religious and multi-cultural that led to violence and conflict, inequality and injustice, wide economic disparities between rich and poor, political imbalance between powerful and powerless, social discriminations on the basis of caste and gender. He envisaged the goal of dialogue to establish the Kingdom of God - a community of freedom and equality, fraternity and justice, with a preferential option for the marginalised. Calling on followers of different religions in realising this goal, he quoted John Paul II "As followers of different religions we should join together in promoting and defending common ideals in the spheres of religious liberty, human brotherhood, education, culture, social welfare and civic order. Suggesting the need for participating and following the other religious traditions he said that positive view towards other religions should also extend to the usage of their scriptures, symbols, and participation in their worship. He aptly concluded quoting John Paul II "We can call God by names, without ever completely exhausting His reality, which is beyond us." Theological issues from a Hindu perspective were presented by Prof Kapil Kapoor, a retired Professor of English and Concurrent Professor of Sanskrit studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Talking development No God, One god, many Gods, Prof Kapoor explained the nature of deity as formless, form with attributes, form without attributes, form with necessity of attributes. Based on the notions of Dualism and Non-Dualism, he said Monotheistic(formless) religions like Judaism practice Book Worship, pantheistic(form) religions like Hinduism practice Idol worship. He viewed goal of all religions are for salvaging oneself/other. Theory of nama(Name) was central to the presentation of Prof J.P.S. Uberoi, Professor of Sociology at Delhi School of Economics, who presented theological issues from Sikh Perspectives. Explaining the theory of name he mentioned about personal name of God ≠ YHWH, by which He is addressed, written but never uttered; Generic names of God ≠ Creator, Ruler, and Judge, which refer to role and functions of God; God qualified by attributes and qualities. Explaining the revelation of Name, he said "prophets saints and other spirituals are regarded as individuations or particular examples of the "perfect man", the microcosm, while the universal category or the species "perfect man" is the complete theophany, the macrocosm, the totality of the divine names and attributes through which the divine essence or the godhead reveals itself to itself, its virtualities in its actuality, manifested in multiple names and forms, vassals of love." Dr Asghar Ali Engineer, a liberation theologian and communal harmony activist He was given Right livelihood awardee from Swedish Foundation; had subscribed to the inclusive nature of religion in his presentation on Sufi Theological issues. He said that Sufi Islam is highly inclusive and tolerant, love and peace are central to Sufi Islam. Articulating the inclusive nature of Sufi Isalm, he quoted Moinudin-Ibn- Arabi, a Sufi Saint " my heart is centre of love for God, my heart is synagogue a church, mosque and temple, because in all these places god is remembered and loved". Talking on the doctrine of existance he said "existence is one we are all manifestations of that being real being is one. We are all manifestations of that being. This concept have very significant implication for inter religious harmony. Because it demolishes all walls of separation. We are all manifestations of one being. And so we are all one. There shouldn't be any wall of separation." Further he commented that no religion is to mislead people. Religions may be different in form and content, they are different not because of content but but because of differences in culture and geography. Theological Issues from European Perspectives were presented by Dr.Ambrogio Bongiovanni. He is Founder and President of the Saint Francis Xavier Movement; Acting Director of the Institute for the Study of Religions and Culture of the Gregorian University in Rome; Professor at the Gregorian University and Pontificia Universita Urbaniana, Rome. Talking on the need for inter-religious and cultural dialogue he said "Our time is a time of transition and anxiety. Dialogue has a meta value. Encounter with different cultures/faiths is not rid of tension. There is threat to identity, arising from fear. We need to understand that 'the other' is not a threat but an opportunity to interact". His other views are need to Dialogue between Philosophy and Theology: How to reconcile the question of 'uniqueness' in inter-religious dialogue? Church needs to continue to offer 'service to the truth'. Our understanding of inter-religious dialogue and religious pluralism has consequences in the pedagogical approach, Dialogue is for peace, justice and ethics moving from peaceful coexistence to a sharing of values and a new consciousness of the other Mr. Naresh Mathur is a Supreme Court lawyer from Delhi, has studied Buddhist Madyamika philosophy privately with Geshe Palden Drakpa at Tibet House in Delhi,trustee of Root Institute since 1984 and was Director of Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre in Delhi. He started to share Buddhist perspectives by quoting John Paul II from his book ' Crossing the Threshold of Hope "what unites us is much greater than what separates us. It is necessary to rid ourselves of stereo types, old habits, and above it is necessary to recognize the unity that already exists" . And Mr. Mathur continued: "Buddhists may not accept a creator God, but certainly we accept mind as creator and which mind not everyday ordinary mind. But a subtle mind. If u look beyond the characteristics of subtle mind are not different from God in Christian tradition... According to Dalai Lama, the differences are necessary and desirable. The buddhist attitude to each religious tradition is that of deep respect. Why because each religious tradition has benefited countless number of mental dispositions. Something appeals to some one , something appeals to someone else. May I say that unity needs to be experienced and that which separates us needs to be understood. Theological Issues on Subaltern perspectives were presented by Dr. John Mundu S.J., he is the Director of Jesuit Regional Theologate Centre, Ranchi. He restricted himself to the Adivasis of Jharkhand, addressing the subaltern perspective. In the first half of presentation he had enumerated the hsitory of Jharkhand Adivasis from the state of prosperity to the distorted, dehumanised, disfigured, colonised and marginalised state. Questioning the denial of adivasi identity he said "The passing of the anti conversion law and law for the protection of cows are examples of fundamentalist groups influence on Government and distortion of conciousness of people. The temples along the road side and the junctions are set up and named 'prachin mandir' (ancient temple) which they had erected recently. the adivasis are called vanavasis, in a bid to change their historical consciousness, history and identity. In such a situation what does the inter-religious dialogue mean for adivasis, if their identity is not recognised?" In this process of imposition of one vision of life as espoused by one religious tradition and people, destroying the alternative visions of life, Dr. Mundu envisaged that the dialogue first and foremost should identify and acknowledge the human degradation of its subaltern dialogue partner. The dialogue should go beyond dialectical dialogue of doctrines and opinions to the mysterious hidden interdependence among things and beings is the core of Indigenous people's vision of life. Second day of the Seminar started with a presentation of the summary by Prof. Leonard Fernando S.J, who threaded through the Issues that were discussed on the first day. This day the seminar dealt with "What should be the social impact of these new relations, and how working together, the different religious traditions can have real impact in the concrete life of the people? Dr Rudolf C. Heredia SJ addressing " Dialogue Responding to Social Concerns" said that a visible and sustainable perspective on dialogue must be premised not on a walled-in consciousness of a colonised mind, nor on the rootless wonderings of the uncommitted spirit, rather it must be a serious quest for a mutually enriching encounter. Talking on the need for critical interrogation of our multicultural and pluri-religious society, he quoted Gandhi "I do not want my house to be walled on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But i refuse to be blown off my feet by any of them." Dr. Rudy explained how the diverse traditions can be used as resources to understand and respond creatively and constructively to our present crisis: "We must do this with the Jaina concept of anekantavada (the many-isdedness of truth), and Syadavada (the interrelatedness of things); with the Buddhist outreach in Sarvabhutadaya (universal compassion); with the advaitic relativising of mayavada and avidhya; the Upanishadic ideal of vasudhaiva kutumbam (the universal family); with the materialistic rationalism of Carvaka; with the religious pluralism, the sarva-dharma-sambhavana, of the sufi bhakti heritage of our sant-kavis, with the Islamic ijitihad (creative interpretation) and fiqh (jurisprduence), with the Bhagavadgita and the Sermon on Mount." After a heavy intellectual deliberations, group discussion was arranged. Responding to the concern over building relationships across religious communities, participants voiced the need to find spaces of openness within one's own religious traditions; impart value-oriented sessions for students; being critical towards oneself and one's religion; instead of exclusive places of worship, have inclusive venues; encourage inter-faith marriages; accepting the other with one's cultural baggages; building bridges; walking with people of different groups; shed prejudices/complexes about the 'other'; emphasize breaking point and multi-level dialogue; use of art/culture; dialogue with self (intra-personal) before dialoguing with others; the notion of 'institution' entails the concept of 'border' ≠ therefore, deinstitutionalize religions; contextual understanding of religious traditions from the perspective of the marginalized/subalterns Beiing exposed to friends of various religions, different religious practices, Scriptures, worship places, pilgrim centres everybody agreed the experience embodiment universal spirit, universal humanity. answering the question of carrying forward the learning experience of listening to others to a deeper level many suggeted to make the family a basis for witness, immersion and action,through retreats and spiritual practices one has to deepen spirituality and humanity; need to LISTEN in order to become aware of the richness and problems of the 'other'; Dialogue of life by participating in people's lives and festivals. Participants valued it as a well organized, rich in thought presentations coherent presentations; discovery new 'commonalities' for better relationships;'subaltern perspective' was emphasized; inspirational; informative. Windows on dialogue was convened by Fr Victor Edwin SJ, Secretary, Jesuit Secretariat for Dialogue and Dr Gaetano Sabetta, Member of St Francis Xavier Movement.
Share:  Bookmark and Share
Tags: None

Powered by Bondware
News Publishing Software

The browser you are using is outdated!

You may not be getting all you can out of your browsing experience
and may be open to security risks!

Consider upgrading to the latest version of your browser or choose on below: