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A.S. Goswami: Address to International Leadership Conference 2018

Address to International Leadership Conference 2018, Seoul, Korea, February 18-22, 2018

I feel privileged to greet you all on behalf of India, home to over a billion Hindus, along with all major religious traditions of the world—and the only home to some. One of the main guiding principles for Hindus, uttered already in the Vedas, has been “Let noble thoughts come to us from all directions.” Hinduism’s pride is that it celebrates diversity, and this has often made it possible for dialogue to win out over conflict in Indian history.

The dialogical strength of the Hindu tradition comes from its comprehensive worldview. It values and respects four realms of life: Artha, the economic forces; Kama, the aesthetic ones; Dharma, the spirituality of righteousness; and Moksha, the hope of total freedom from our various sufferings. Standing on these four pillars, Hinduism sponsors a multilayered dialogue that embraces both the material and spiritual realms.

Hindus proclaim that human welfare is the highest truth. Such a deep concern I also hear in the views of our dear Father and Mother Moon. I have the privilege of being a co-traveler in the evolving journey of True Parents’ vision of peace and service. The results tell us that much more needs to be done. What is missing?

As Mahatma Gandhi reminded us, There is no department of life which can be divorced from religion.”  Until recently the civil society tended to keep religious institutions away from the realm of human service. There have been legitimate worries that religious bodies might try to subvert these efforts for their own ends. But one can go too far with such cautions. It’s like trying to keep electricity away from appliances. Hindus believe in what Shri Krishna said: Let spiritual wisdom be in harmony with mundane sciences.” Jnanam param guhyam me yad vijnana samanvitam.

At this historic gathering, I bring you greetings from Vrindavan, Krishna’s eternal paradise on earth. But it was only in 1598 that this holiest of Hindu places was fully actualized as a this-worldly reality. This happened as a result of a dialogue between religion and politics that involved my ancestor Goswamis on the one hand andthe great Mughal emperor Akbar on the other. This partnership between Hindus and Muslims and between religion and politics, spirituality and economics ushered in an era of peace and stability wherein we saw creativity and growth in religion, culture, economy, arts, literature and liturgy that was unprecedentedin Indian, if not human, history.

Such partnerships are not the dream of the past alone. Even today, this Hindu holy center, Vrindavan, is thriving upon the mutual respect and interdependence of different faith communities. The Hindu temples heavily depend upon the Muslim sisters and brothers for creating and supplying ritual artifacts. The Muslim craftsmen and business enrich the Hindu religious experience, which in turn sustains the economic interests of the local Muslim community. Let the Vrindavan experience be a global experience.

However, any act of good intention is assured to be wasted, if it is not based on a value system. At the core of Hindu religiosity is a value system called dharma.Dharma champions truth, nonviolence, peace, compassion, penance, contentment, sharing, respect for others and so on. Based on these universal values, we can then have a dialogical dalliance between religion and politics, spirituality and economics.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, under whose leadership the Goswamis talked to the Emperor Akbar, warned that dialogue and the resultant mutual prosperity will be a mirage if leadership does not live and practice these values. He prayed:

Be more humble than a blade of grass,

Have forbearance like a tree,

Have no conceit,

Always respect others,

Then only you can sing the song of happiness.

These are simple words from the heart, but they go to the heart of what an alliance between religion and politics, as well as between spirituality and economics, must mean. I offer them to you with hope today that the vision of True Parents, which we all share, becomes a reality.

Thank you.


To go to the International Leadership Conference Schedule 2018, click here.