RIP – Dr APJ Abdul Kalam
(October 15, 1931-July 27, 2015)
A Call for Peace and Harmony in the World
As we bid adieu to Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, heaven gates open up for Him for our earthly sojourn is but temporary while our heavenly abode is for eternity.
I had the privilege and pleasant experience of greeting him on his birthday when he visited Raj Bhavan during the tenure of Governor T N Chaturvedi here in Bangalore. We exchanged pleasantries. His calm disposure and humility appealed to me almost instantly. I would call him a ‘Karma Yogi’, one who worked tirelessly all through his life. I learnt that his keen sense of Secularism stemmed from his early childhood where he listened to healthy debates and discussion from three persons at his residence in Rameshwaram. The discussions were between his father Jainulabdeen who served as Imam in a Mosque, Rev. Fr. Bodal, who built the first Church on the island and Pakshi Lakhmana Sastrigal, a vedic scholar and a priest in a famous temple in Rameshwaram.
Even as we mourn the demise of our former-President and Bharat Ratna awardee the Late Dr. Abdul Kalam, his speeches and writings on world ‘Peace and Harmony’ continues to resonate in our hearts and minds. As an advocate of Peace and Harmony in India and the world over, he never missed a podium, where he could address these issues. He did it with a deep conviction, passion and an expressive urgency.
While addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, during the Golden Jubilee of the European Union, way back in 2007, he received a standing ovation when in the middle of his speech he passionately called for world Peace and Harmony, quoting Chinese thinker and social philosopher Confucius:
“Where there is righteousness in the heart
There is beauty in the character.
When there is beauty in the character,
There is harmony in the home.
When there is harmony in the home,
There is order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation,
There is peace in the world”.
Dr AJP Abdul Kalam’s frequent and clarion call for Peace and Harmony, both on National and International platforms was always related to socio-economic disparities as a reason for strife and injustice among peoples.
He pointed out that overcoming poverty in the world is a precondition for peace and harmony. He even quoted Tagore in connection with India, saying, “If you want to know India, study Vivekananda, in him all is positive, nothing negative.” He urged young minds to cultivate righteousness in the heart and told his listeners that, in his experience the answer lies in the power of great teachers.
For many Christians across the world, Dr. Kalam’s hope for ‘Peace and Harmony’ in the world is an echo of what Prophet Isaiah prophesied about the Jesus the Messiah “Righteousness will be the belt about His loins, faithfulness the belt about His waist. The wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, their young will lie down together and the lion will eat straw like the ox.…” (Isaiah 11:5-7)
The prayer of St. Francis of Assisi also calls upon us “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy; O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life”.
I call upon all Christians to look upon the message of this great soul (Dr. Kalam) in the light of the Scriptures and our Christian Faith and calling to beacons of Hope, Peace, Justice and Harmony in the world. The first step in promoting this ambience is to begin from the vicinity we live in, both with fellow-Christians and brothers and sisters of other religions.
Archbishop of Bangalore,
President – Karnataka Region Catholic Bishops’ Council, and
President – All Karnataka United Forum for Human Rights