The objective of these conferences was declared as search for one All - embracing Religion, it was proper to lay more stress on One World Religion. The object of the Religious Conference is neither to make it a platform for any political propaganda nor to gain a cheap popularity but to create a suitable atmosphere for a One World State, so that all mankind may be united into One Great Family of Man. Earth is a common and indivisible heritage for all. We are the different members of one family and are moved by one common impulse of Truth and when that dawns in fullness, we rise above all differences and observe the light of Supreme Power of Nature and enter into Cosmic Awareness.
In the matter of religion it has become customary with us to consider our religion as the best and the perfect in the world and we have come to believe that it is our sacred duty to thrust it upon others even at the point of sword, so much so, as to make it a field for death dance over the ashes of others. Though we have before us shining examples of Rama, Krishna, Mahavira, Buddha, Confucius, Laotze, Christ, Mohammad and Nanak, all of whom were guardian angels of Truth, but we complacently close our eyes to the ideals they placed before mankind. We bypass even the most elementary principle of self-existence :- Do unto others as you would like to be done unto you. It is an ideal to be achieved both by individuals and by societies in the matter of conduct, culture, art, science and literature.
All the religions of the world originated from Asia : The religions of the East, from India and of the West, from Persia and Palestine. In spite of provincial parochialism in religions, the central theme of all is the Edification of Soul.
Dharma, is concerned with the Soul-in-Man and directs Man to the higher purpose of life - viz. to know one's Self and to know God. Awake, arise and help the helpless, protect the weak and cheer up the cheerless, lead them from darkness to light, knit the world into a harmonious whole, expand the Self so as to embrace the Universe, and with a determined will set to work for the amelioration of mankind; for the clarion call of Dharma has ever been "One World" and "Universal Brotherhood".
Acharya Sri Says ...
"If we desire to establish peace and to conquer the haunting nightmare of war and discord, we must be free from three evils - Atheism, Materialism and Violence. There have been three main causes of conflicts and war - hunger of the belly, hunger of the mind and hunger of the soul. The only remedy for these is 'Ahimsa' which works in three ways - Socialistic way of Possession (Aprigraha), Search of Relative Truth (Anekantvad) and Restraint (Sanyam). "World Religion or Universal Religion is a skilful and delightful blending of all ideals. It is represented by the Anekantvada of Shraman Mahavir, Vibhajvada of Buddha, Advaita Vedanta of Shankracharya, All - encompassing Compassion of Christ and Universal Brotherhood of Prophet Mohammad. Kabir's Realisation of the Absolute, Guru Nanak's Cordial Fraternity, Paramhansa Ramakrishna's Unity and Gandhiji's Sarvodaya also are Manifestations of the Eternal Religion.
The First World Religions' Conference was held in Delhi on 17th and 18th November, 1957 in the Dewan-e-Aam of the historic Red Fort. Besides Indian delegates, there were over 250 delegates from over a score of countries. The Session was inaugurated by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the then first President of India, and Dr. Radhakrishnan, the then Vice - President of India, presided. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru the then Prime-Minister of India addressed the conference.
Speech of the President Reception Committee: Shri Shanti Prasad Jain
"Respected Rashtrapati ji, distinguished guests, brothers and sisters! Your distinguished presence in this session of World Conference of religions, your co - operation in making it a success, is very much appreciated by the reception committee. Delhi being the capital city of India and one of the oldest cities welcomes you all. You have come on a noble mission - a mission that has a great impact on our life and politics. It is the proud privilege of this country that from long long time religion is given a predominant position in our day to day life and it is generally considered to be the path of the realizing Truth.
Today these principles of Truth and Non - violence have formed the basis of our national policy. Today man has crossed the limits of national boundaries and is now striving to reach the moon. In what best manner we can practise Truth and Non-violence, is the purpose of this congregation. It is not a new idea to hold a World Conference of Religions. Jain Emperor Khargela, Ashoka, Harshvardhan, Samadurgupta and Akbar called World Conferences, of Religions in their own way. Lord Mahavira's definition of those days "That which gives the greatest comfort to human beings"and Lord Buddha's similar definition is true even today. Today in the field of international politics, Non-violence is receiving attention. The credit for all this goes to our Father of Nation, Mahatma Gandhi and Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru. In common parlance, Non - violence is taken to mean Non-violence or No-killing. This is first step while one practises Ahimsa. However, real practice of Non - violence will mean that by thought, word and deed we do not harm anybody. In today's world, difference of opinion is the greatest cause of agitation. However correct one point of view may be, it cannot fill in the whole shape. Its second view point is equally correct. This principle is called "Anekant". This is one principle of Ahimsa. This is the principle which saves man from the violence in thought, word and deed. H.H. Muni Sushil Kumar ji has been trying for this day since many years. His guidance is the main stronghold of this conference."
"It has given me great pleasure to have come here today to inaugurate this Conference of All Religions. I welcome this opportunity of hearing the views on an important subject, of scholarly and devout people present here and also of saying a few words on it myself. Basically all faiths have one and the same object, namely, enabling the human soul to attain its full height of evolution so that man can achieve real peace or moksha or nirvana; in other words man may lose his identity with that of the Supreme Being and get absorbed in him. We find a number of faiths and religions prevalent in the world. On account of the differences in time and space, religious faith has taken different forms and we find people divided among various faiths. As a result of formal rituals and external symbolism these differences have gone so deep that we find in history man turning against man, tribe against tribe and country against country. On occasions, keen on destroying others in the name of religion, man has not restrained from shedding blood.
The finer form of religion is concerned with man's inner experiences, which, strangely enough, are also responsible for the birth of religious belief in human mind. Its outer form, on the other hand, is seen in one's behavior and actions in everyday life. Religion thus is not only essential but inevitable for man as an individual and as a member of society. It is only proper that the Conference of All Religions should have been convened in India where men belonging to all faiths and religious denominations live in peace and goodwill towards one another.
There are some who think that because we are a Secular State, we do not believe in religion or spiritual values. Far from being so, it really means that in this country all are free to profess or preach the faith of their liking and that we wish well of all religions and want them to develop in their own way without let or hindrance.
Before concluding I would like to say that in the light of the history of the past few thousands years, we must pause and see if violence and aggression have done any good to human society or if they have been able to stop wars. The world has seen thousands of wars, hoping that thus aggression would end. That has not happened. Is it not the time we gave up violence and gave a trial to non-violence and tolerance ? Whatever we do to promote these is to the good of the world, and this is also the aim of the Conference.
May this Conference of Religions inspire all to imbibe this feeling of broad tolerance and may its proceedings give an impetus to the forces of the world peace, is my wish and prayer.
"Mr. President and Friends, I am glad to have this opportunity of saying a few words to this vast gathering. We are living in times of revolution. Different cultures, civilizations and religions have met together. Material contacts and spiritual encounters are taking place. Living in an age of tremendous advances in science when weapons of death and destruction are multiplying, if we are to save the future of humanity, what is needed is a change in the minds and hearts of the people. The discipline which is calculated to bring about such a kind of self- transformation is religion. So the purpose of religions is to help human intelligence to rise from its present level of intellectuality to the level of spirit, of charity, etc. Religion is essentially a transmutation of personality. It is a change of the intellectual man into the illumined spirit. That is the purpose of religion. All thinkers have laid the greatest stress on that aspect. We have said from 'agyana' (ignorance), from irreligious conditions into conditions of knowledge, and wisdom 'Tamso ma Jotirgma'. We say that we are living in a world of darkness. We must awaken and grow into a world of light. The Buddha tells us the same thing. We must acquire Bodhi or enlightenment. The Jain thinkers have stressed Gyana, Darshana and Charitra, these are three essentials of religion, to have 'Atma Darshan', to develop divine possibility in us, to grow into fullness of our stature. The test of religion is universal love. If you are able to have it, you are a religious man. If you cannot have it, you may mutter any number of mantras, visit mosques, churches, but the heart of the matter is not in you. Unless we are able to admit that the essence of religion consists in perpetual self-examination; perpetual conquering of our lower passions, establishing, so to say, a kind of conquest over our appetite, becoming Buddhas or Jainas or Gianis, conquerers of one's own appetite, it is not possible for us to call ourselves religious people. What is it that is preventing the world from becoming a peaceful soul? It is pride, it is love of power, it is an organisational, national kind of selfishness.
Maulana Abul-Kalam Azad, the Union Education Minister also addressed the conference.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today I am feeling celestial joy, because the dream that I had had for years of bringing a world-wide unity of religious people is now coming true. This is the age of unity and solidarity. We see in this world that all organisations based on materialism are gradually expanding into national and then international bodies. Even those who are narrow minded and have their eyes on pelf and power, also feel the need for 'One World State'.
The sages and the seers of India have come to the conclusion that in this world of diversity and materialism there is only one universal Truth and it must be expounded to the world at large. All the religions of the world have taken their birth from this fundamental Truth. I believe that materialism, agnosticism and violence are the factors that are instrumental in degrading mankind. It is only by discarding these evils that the greatness of man is achieved. Religion based on Ahimsa is the only way to glorify man. We cannot wipe out evil from the face of the earth by bombs and swords. Love and change of heart are only means to solve world problems. We firmly believe that by enshrining the idol of Ahimsa in the Temple of Science, we can make the world happy and prosperous.
So it is certain that the society shall have to adopt non-violence in all the walks of life such as education, health, institutions and public dealings. For this we have to build up a Research Institute on Non-violence. In order to achieve this end, we will have to seek the cooperation of all and we do hope that you will leave no stone unturned for the success of this noble cause and help in the re-orientation of the ancient culture based not upon indulgence in the life of senses but upon selfless sacrifice and renunciation.
"Respected President, Ladies and Gentlemen, You might ask me how I came to the World Conference of All Religions. Generally, I am not to be seen on such occasions. This may be true and I am myself at a loss but this does not imply that I have no regard for such matters. Yes, it is one thing to have regard for them and another to interfere with them without the proper knowledge of the same. You already know that I am trying to do something in the field of national politics and I am aware that if you separate politics from the high ideals of human life they become hollow and meaningless and even dangerous. The Great Soul at whose feet I learnt something gave great importance to such ideals and moulded his political methods according to the same. He made Ahimsa as his sheet anchor and he stood by it regardless of religious colouring. If we have to teach others, We must do it not by precept but by example, by practising in our own lives through speech and actions, what we wish to inculcate in others.
A month ago, I returned from Japan and, as I have said on an earlier occasion, that nation possesses many virtues. For one thing, they are very devoted to their motherland. I know of no other people that love their country to such an extent. There is nothing that can break their unity and split them into atoms. But here in our country we forget ourselves on every petty occasion. For another thing, we talk a great deal about non -violence, but in our actions we very often indulge in violence directly or indirectly. Surely such a state of affairs does us little credit. If India has to give a message to the world then I think that in India we must live by love.
One thing is plain that if our methods remain those of violence, of a cold war, then doom is inevitable. Let us study the path of Ahimsa and friendship and see if we can be friends with even those with whom we disagree. So I would exhort you to try and follow the great ideals, the path of Ahimsa of which we talk so much, for it will prove the best for us.
"In order to carry out the work of the World Fellowship of Religions, we unanimously elect Muni Sushil Kumar Ji as the convener of the fellowship and request him to make a beginning with the help and co - operation of Sant Tukdoji Maharaj and authorise him to appoint suitable conveners in different parts of the world."