International Leaders Gather in Gobind Sadan to seek Baba Virsa Singh’s guidance and share successes in Overcoming Terrorism and Conflict
Russian, Indian, and U.S. Leaders Praise Babaji’s Work and Look to Adopt Model
17th and 18th February 2005
As part of Gobind Sadan Institute’s series on “Emerging Trends in World Peace,” this seminar brings together government and religious leaders, reconciliation specialists, and social and spiritual workers from all religions and many parts of the globe to jointly consider how spiritual approaches bring peace in situations of conflict.
“Gobind Sadan is the center of spiritual and cultural awakening in the world from which the love will spread to transform people and bring the peace needed for this new epoch.” With these words Yuri Ageshin, President of the Chamber of Law, Russian Federation, closed his keynote address in Baba Virsa Singh’s presence at Gobind Sadan Institute’s opening of their major international seminar, “Blessed are the Peacemakers: the Spiritual Approach to Peace.” Ageshin related how during his visit to Russia in 1989 Babaji had predicted the breakup of the Soviet Union if policies did not change. “We were unable to heed his warning and have suffered as a result. However since then we have been coming regularly to seek Babaji’s blessings and guidance. Whenever we have problems we come here to Babaji and we always receive the answers we need. Among Babaji’s greatest gifts to the Russian people has been Jaap Sahib and the teachings of Guru Gobind Singh. We receive great blessings, both as individuals and as a nation wherever Jaap Sahib goes. Last May 2004 Babaji accepted our prayers and returned to Moscow. His presence brought an immediate change as he blessed both our Parliament, and our Mayor, met with leading cultural figures, scientists, and academics. Everyone from the general public to the top leadership was deeply influenced. We noted a significant change in the economic environment as well.” Ageshin then called on India and Russia to improve their already friendly relationship and explore new areas of cooperation, including the development of a spiritual forum. When we come to Gobind Sadan we see people from all backgrounds and all religions living and working together, and we can see that the goal of world peace is not far away.”
During the seminar, Gobind Sadan’s Auditorium echoed with voices in Russian, English, Punjabi, and Hindi of leaders and youth from around the world, as the Institute President Dr. Bhai Mohan Singh, Padam Bhushan, Chairman Emeritus Ranbaxy Laboratories, Max-India Limited, and President GSI the world for Advanced Studies in Comparative Religion inaugurated the conference which focused on actual case studies and positive solutions to the terror that grips the world. The seminar attracted a diverse group of government and religious leaders, reconciliation specialists, and social and spiritual workers from Russia, United States, Africa, West Asia, India, and Tibet.
The session was opened with an appeal to the leaders by 12 year old Inderpreet Kaur, of Father Agnel School, New Delhi, on behalf of children all over the world: “We are the children of today but the leaders of tomorrow and it is important that we are connected to spirituality, not just to material toys, and understand the teachings of all the Prophets of the world so that we can learn how to truly live a life of peace and make the world a better place to live,”
Another student from Tashkent, Zarena Abdu Khali Kzade who had come to Gobind Sadan as part of her research on Babaji and his mission of peace which she had chosen as the subject of her studies, spoke on how Babaji’s message was an inspiration to their country and an ideal to be followed by all people.
In honor of Babaji’s birthday, as part of their new series, “Emerging Trends in World Peace” the Institute today released a manuscript: “Changing the Terrorist Mind – Bringing Sustainable Peace to MizoRam – A Blueprint to End the Terror that Grips the World, ” edited by Ralph Singh, sharing the untold story highlighting Babaji’s invaluable contribution to bringing peace in the world. Mizoram’s former Governor S.K.Chhibber was on hand to share how through Babaji’s vision and spiritual power peace was brought to India’s worst insurrection since Independence.” Babaji touched the minds of the people, and hit terrorism where it mattered – in the hearts and minds of the youth who had rebelled against the government. Babaji brought his love and drove out the fear which had overcome our country.”
Baba Virsa Singh, in his powerful talk, challenged both terrorists and leaders alike to take responsibility for the state of the world and turn to spiritual Power to overcome conflict: “Let us stop and think what we mean by terrorism. Terrorism is not the name of any country, not the name of any people. Terrorism is a plant that has sprung up under pressure. Take the pressure away and the plant will return to normal. Who wants to live in hunger, under the threat of death in the jungles and mountains? Let us see them as our own children who have rebelled against their parents, try to understand their problems, and seek solutions and methods to bring them back home again. Then I have full faith that if you solve their problems, they’ll turn away from bullets and love will begin to arise within them, and with that I assure you that peace will dawn.”
Swami Agni Vesh, leader of Arya Samaj echoed Babaji’s words calling on everyone to return to their spiritual roots, and Dr. Vaschaspati Upandhaya, Vice-Chancellor of Lal Bahadur Shastri Sanskrit Vidyapeeth who presided over the session, summed up everyone’s feelings when he spoke of the Light of Dharam that spreads from Gobind Sadan will bring peace to the whole world.
Bringing Sustainable Peace to Mizoram
The afternoon panel, chaired by Ralph Singh who had edited the manuscript “Changing the Terrorist Mind” for the Gobind Sadan Institute, included first hand testimony from M.S.Sandhu, former Commander of the Mizoram Armed Police, and Sushil Kumar Chopra, I.A.S, who served in Mizoram as a civil servant from the 1970 until 1999, and Major Kirpal Singh who had accompanied Babaji on his historic mission of peace in 1977. They shared many examples of the experiences which not only impacted them personally but through which they gained insight to overcome the terrorist movement. Following their talks, Governor Chhibber joined the others in a lively discussion with the audience. One of the main questions asked by one of our Russian participants: Can the success in Mizoram be replicated and can the methods used be adapted to other areas?” M.S. Sandhu affirmed that Babaji’s message of love which changed the hearts of the terrorists and the kindness. “Due to Babaji’s spiritual teachings and the I.G. P. Gurnam Singh Randhawa’s example, we showed kindness to the hostiles and it was only due to this kindness that we began to gain their trust and they began to surrender in record numbers. Especially in this time when abuse of prisoners and demonizing terrorists is rampant, everyone applauded Mr. Sandhu’s kindness and compassion and even suggested that Babaji’s methods be adopted all over the world wherever insurgencies or conflicts arise.
Baba Virsa Singh’s Closing Comments
“Practice before you preach otherwise you will turn everyone away from God,” was Baba Virsa Singh ji’s powerful message at the conclusion of the Gobind Sadan Institute seminar session, “The role of religious leaders in overcoming religious conflict. “Today the major conflict exists between the Guru and those who consider themselves His followers. “if they put their own thoughts before the Teachings of God they themselves are creating the conflicts we see in the world. I’ve traveled the world and find that there is no such thing as an Atheist or a terrorist. In the face of God’s love they all change. It is those who misinterpret God’s teachings or don’t practice what they are taught who are the real atheists.”
In his major address for the Institute’s. “Blessed are Peacemakers: the Spiritual Approach to Peace.” Sergey Glasiev, Deputy, Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, the former Minister of International Economic Policy during the Yeltzin administration called on the audience to resist violence in the world and explore the link between spiritual and economic development. “Events in the world show that we can’t establish control by force, as Babaji has said and shown us, we must change people’s minds. Spiritual values promote social justice, teach that we are all united by God and therefore we are all responsible for each other. We should understand that the human creativity which stems from spirituality is also the major source of economic development. Spiritual values should not be simply seen in a historical context but understood to be practical and necessary for the uplift of humanity and as a source of peace in the world.”
Speakers again and again echoed the theme of recognizing each other as fellow human beings. In Guru Gobind Singh ji’s words – Recognize all people as one human race – which is the watchword of Baba Virsa Singh ji’s mission and what we find practically demonstrated in the daily prayers that flow from Guru Granth Sahib to Gobind Sadan’s mosque, to Jesus’ Place, and in the havans that burn 24 hours a day. All remarked that while Interfaith understanding is spoken about, and seminars and conferences abound, it is only here in Gobind Sadan that they have actually experienced that sense of reverence for all faiths, as the Rev. Samuel Muyskens, President of the North American Association of Ecumenical and Interfaith Staff, so aptly put it.
Rev Dr. Andres DeSouza of the Henry Martyn Institute in Hyderabad shared that during the height of the Gujrat riots 3 Muslim women saved the lives of Hindu women and children –taking them into their own homes and telling the angry crowds that they would have to kill us first if they wanted to attack “our sisters and our own children.”
“For the last 25 years I’ve considered Gobind Sadan my spiritual home,” said Dr. S. A. Ali, renowned international scholar and Director Hamdard University, who was one of the founders of the Indian institute of Islamic studies. “Here Babaji speaks as much of Islam, Jesus and Moses as he does of the Sikh or Hindu traditions. We all must learn from him to study each other’s scriptures.” Dr. Gurbax Singh Gill of the Institute for Sikh Studied shared an amusing story to illustrate how God is unhappy when we fight over what we call him – when his children were small one would call him darji and the other daddy and would fight about what to call their father. Mohammed Rafiq Warsi of Dewa Sharif, beautifully summed up the feelings by stating that wherever we are in the world we must understand our tie to that one God and the love that emanates from the Guru.
Throughout the two day session, Gobind Sadan’s Auditorium the participants from Russia, USA, and India, representing different communities from youth to leaders from around the world raised one voice for peace and recognized Baba Virsa Singh and Gobind Sadan’s contribution to bringing peace in the world. The day 2 panel chaired by Ranjit Singh Kalha, former Ambassador to Iraq and Indonesia, and member National Human Rights Commission, highlighted how all religions must face the fundamentalist who would make exclusive claims and use their position to incite violence. All disclaimed the practice and shared positive examples from Africa, Middle East, India, the US and Russia of how religious precepts play a positive role in peace.
The Gobind Sadan Institute and its founder and preceptor, the great visionary and peacemaker Baba Virsa Singh, have since 1990 been organizing international seminars relating to emerging facets of peace. Under Babaji’s guidance, Gobind Sadan itself is a living example of the power of religion to bring harmony, for in its communities in Delhi, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh, Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and others of all social levels live, work, and worship together as members of one human family. Our English and Punjabi newsletters about our activities go to interested people in 80 countries, and our English and Russian websites are visited by many people who feel that people of all religions can surely co-exist and that spirituality can be a positive force in the world. The Rev. Dr. Harvey Sindhima a Malawi Theologian and professor summed up his experience at the seminar that Gobind Sadan represents the harmony we seek in the world – showing respect and reverence for each other in our various traditions.
Ranjit Singh Kalha, Member Human Rights Commission, former Ambassador to Iraq and Indonesia
Dr. Andreas D’Souza, Director of Henry Martyn Institute, an International Centre for Research, Interfaith Relations, and Reconciliation, Hyderabad
Dr. Kharak Singh, Director,Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh
Brig. Sarbjit Singh Randhawa, son of late Gurnam Singh Randhawa, I.G. Police, Mizoram
Dr. Surjit Kaur Jolly, Principal of SGM College, Delhi University, Secretary, GSI
Sushil Kumar Chopra, IAS, former Add’l Secretary, Mizoram, Deputy Commissioner DMC
Mohinder Singh Sandhu, Former Commandant Police, 1st MAP, Mizoram
Bhai Kirpal Singh, Head Granthi and Chief Research Scholar, Gobind Sadan Institute
Other guests who served in Mizoram
Prof Shilin Yvanovich – Professor of Institute of Asian and African Countries, Moscow State University
Rev. Dr. Harvey Sindima, Malawi Theologian and Prof. at Colgate University, USA
Swami Om Vesh, Minister of Sugaracane, Uttar Pradesh
Rev. Dr. Samuel Muyskens, Wichita, Kansas, USA – Chair, North American Ecumenical and Interfaith Staff; Director of the oldest local interfaith council in North America
Dr. Raj Wadhwa, former Principal Vivekananda College, Delhi University
Tenzin Lhadrun, Sonam, Lobsang – Jamyang Choling Institute, Dharamsala
Dr. Hillel Levine, Director International Institute of Mediation and Historic Reconciliation, Prof of Jewish Studies, Boston University, USA
Mary Pat Fisher – internationally renowned author, “Living Religions,” GSI
Valeria Iman Porokhova, Chairman of Al Furq’an Center, Moscow and Syria
Dr. Fatima Hussain, Delhi University
Natasha Schenova, International Organization for Peace through Culture, Ekaterinburg, Russia
Galina Ermolina, Novozibirsk, educator, leader of spiritual pilgrimages
Tegbir Singh, youth leader, Boston, MA, USA