‘Give Peace a Chance’- Panel discussion on Religious Tolerance & Communal Harmony at St Aloysius PUC
Mangaluru: Harmony week was celebrated at St Aloysius PU College, Mangaluru with various activities and competitions for the students. A panel discussion on inter-religious harmony composed of experts from various religions was organised for students of SAPUC. The panellists for the programme were Rev. Fr Pradeep Sequeira SJ, Prof. Ajit Prasad, Mr Mohammad Kunhi and Swami Viveka Chaitanyananda.
Fr Pradeep Sequeira SJ, Finance Officer of St Aloysius PU College shared a parable of Jesus Christ conveying his disciples about loving one’s neighbours, family, friends and even one’s enemy. He felt that one can find harmony when a person does not consider only his religion as superior but shows equal love and respect towards other religions. Fr Pradeep encouraged students to learn and understand the basic concepts of other religions from their neighbours and friends so that one can develop the concept of harmony in mind by having knowledge about the different religions and their beliefs. He emphasized that every religion teaches harmony and kindness and we need to find peace in our religion and be better human first.
Prof. Ajit Prasad, a prominent educator, author and a well-known subject expert on Jainism described the basic concepts of Jainism such as ‘Ahimsa Paramo Dharma’; non-violence. He said that according to Jainism, one should not show violence to any other living being and that the religion propagates peace and mentioned the philosophies which help a person to lead his life in peace. Prof. Ajit explained how one needs to keep his mind under control to prevent violence and how thoughts, speech and actions are interlinked. Prof. Ajit Prasad motivated the students to read the Holy Scriptures and treat fellow human beings with love and dignity by respecting their beliefs.
Mr Mohammed Kunhi, an entrepreneur, social activist and a prominent personality in Mangaluru for promoting religious harmony spoke on Islam and its ethics. He felt that God has created this universe without differences and we should co-exist as brothers and sisters. He quoted the Holy Quran and mentioned that one may belong to a different caste, religion or have a different set of beliefs but should maintain a good relationship with neighbours and friends. He felt that the world has many religions and we should be tolerant of all, as no religion is an enemy or competitor to each other and that we have to ultimately believe in God who gives us strength and hope.
Swami Viveka Chaithanya Nanda of Ramakrishna Mission, Mangaluru during the panel discussion spoke on the concept of universal tolerance through Hinduism. He explained the universal truth of only one God even though there may be differences in the paths, beliefs, traditions, caste, creed, language and customs; hence one has to show tolerance and accept other religions so that the world becomes a better place. He felt that one does not have the moral right to comment on other religions without having enough knowledge of theirs. He stated that though language, names, practices of religions are different, belief in God is one. Swamiji gave the example of how the 5 elements of the earth- air, water, fire, sky and earth are shared by people from all faiths. Swami Viveka Chaitanyananda summarized the discussion with a message to learn to love one another because without love there is no God.
The panel discussion comprising various religious heads gave the students a primary account of the basic philosophies of major religions and a message of communal harmony was imbibed in the young minds. The Campus Minister, Fr Sujay Daniel SJ welcomed the panellists and the gathering. The Principal, Rev. Fr Clifford Sequeira SJ, Vice Principals, Deans and faculty also participated in the event. Mark R Pereira, Coordinator-Centre for Social Concern proposed the vote of thanks. Dr Mona J Mendonca, Department of English, moderated the session.