SOCIAL HARMONY AN UNFINISHED DREAM
The combined texture of one and many is the genius of the creation, of all living beings and especially human beings. That there be harmony between one and many is essential to the balance of life. Human being is an individual and a society at the same time. A healthy and meaningful life cannot dispense with the dynamics of relatedness, interaction and collaboration between individuals, families, communities and between the diverse entities of the society. Such a dream of peaceful co-existence and harmony in social life is an unfinished reality even today. A lot remains yet to be done in the direction of transforming this dream into an everyday culture of the humans.
A NOVEL VENTURE
Institute of Harmony and Peace Studies (IHPS), New Delhi, is an establishment for research on 'interfaith perspectives, inter-community relations, national solidarity and social harmony'. It also engages with grass root realities and is geared towards making a better society. Mostly India is its specific area of operation and the world at large, the scale of its perspective-setting. It is a non-profit organization (Public Charitable Trust) that is constituted as a collective undertaking of scholars from diverse community and university affiliations. With 'inclusive thinking for harmonious living’ as its esteemed motto, IHPS is a novel undertaking of its own right.
'Rainbow' is the emblem of IHPS. To be more specific, IHPS is within rainbow or rainbow in an arch form is above IHPS. The seven colours and the shades of colours in rainbow are the ingredients of rainbow and when they are separated, the rainbow ceases to exist. The beauty of those colours is inherent in their staying together. Rainbow is a singular model for a culture of shared living. Besides, rainbow stands for harmony between one and many and implies touching the earthly and celestial heights at the same time. Drawing inspiration from the rainbow and fostering concord among the diverse components of the national and global society is the goal of the institute. Rainbow is a perennial source of motivation for reproducing rainbow-like sentiments in social life.
Human beings, the entire creation as well, reflect, in various dimensions and degrees, the ‘image’ of the Creator, in terms of his or her sacred characteristics. The spirit of the divine is present in every human being and so human being is the real temple of God. For that reason, all human communities, in spite of their specific features, are complementary to each other. They ‘belong one to another’ and ‘belong together to the divine being’, too. The consciousness of the ‘common origin, common existence and common destiny’ of all civilizations and communities is imprinted in the hearts of the humans. As a result, universal brotherhood is the basic identity of human beings. Accordingly, ‘breaking barriers’, ‘building bridges’, ‘crossing boundaries’, ‘reaching out to the other’, ‘relishing the world beyond borders’, ‘learning from the other’, ‘knowing the unknown’, ‘finding oneself enriched’, ‘becoming co-pilgrims’, ‘making a joint pilgrimage’, 'making a harmonious society', and the like, are some of the dimensions of a meaningful way of human living. This is the cherished spiritual vision of IHPS.
ALL-INCLUSIVE RELIGIOUS FOUNDATION
Religion occupies an unparalleled space in the history of the humans. IHPS places its focus on the result religion produces for life. Religion is for the humans and not vice versa. The effect of the religious engagement has to be mirrored in social life. Religion is the motivating factor and source of strength in life. IHPS ventures an imaginative approach to interaction among people of religious faiths. Imbibing universal values from all religious traditions, IHPS pledges to join hands with well-meaning persons of all backgrounds and affiliations, in view of fostering communal relatedness, national solidarity and social cohesion. Facilitating change and transformation in the society, leading to a more qualitative and harmonious living, is the real fruit of faith. Such abiding insights and convictions are the all-inclusive religious resource of IHPS.
The sublime contribution of great spiritualists and reformers of the world is the valued treasure of IHPS. IHPS is grounded in the human and spiritual values of all religious, secular, social and cultural traditions of human civilizations. Making an ethically sound and spiritually-tuned society, fostering inter-community relations, national solidarity and social harmony, through exchange of views, fellowship, mutual enrichment and we-feeling, is the sacred task of the institute. IHPS will engage in insightful research, open interaction, applied studies and collaborative partnership among communities, for ensuring the holistic wellbeing of our country and of the entire human society. IHPS is deeply committed to the mission of nurturing the spirit of harmonious and peaceful living among communities of diverse perspectives, ideologies, traditions and persuasions.
IHPS is beached at the ‘Constitution of India’ as the ‘national sacred book’ of the land and avows to further the consciousness of the ‘secular character’ and ‘democratic values’ enshrined in it. Maintaining friendly and mutually enriching relations with people of all communities as well as granting due dignity and space to all voices will accelerate fellowship and collaboration, which will ultimately lead to peaceful and harmonious living. IHPS is deeply committed to upholding the lofty and multi-faceted ‘spiritual wisdom and cultural traditions’ of the land as well as of all the sacred books and classics of the world. Relying on the characteristic maxims of our land ‘unity in diversity’ and ‘vasudhaivakutumbakam’, IHPS proposes to navigate the humane heritage of ‘composite culture’ in the human society. It envisages playing its national capacity by making the different cities and towns of the country its area of operation, through its schemes and programmes, as well.
Identity is a core component in every individual and community. Since it is a dynamic reality and not a static one, it has to facilitate the progressive unfolding of one's life, towards larger and larger proportions. Grounded in one's individual identity and growing beyond the horizons towards a ‘social identity’ that is shared by all human beings and eventually to a ‘spiritual identity’ that is beyond all identities in the world of space and time is its fundamental orientation. The culture of ‘walking together’ and ‘working together’ is the firm bond for ushering in a ‘communion of communities’ and that in turn will enable the celebration of ‘beauty-in-diversity’ in a universally catholic manner.
IHPS takes off from the pivotal idea of ‘harmony’ as the most celebrated spiritual ideal and ethos in the life of the humans and aspires to celebrate peace in life in a sustainable manner. It approaches the diversities of life, like gender, age, ethnic origin, language, faith, tradition, ideology, caste, class, profession, culture, etc, in an inter-related and integral way. IHPS pledges to motivate full-blown insights in the society through participatory, innovative, people-friendly and field-supported interactions and person-based or ground-related studies. It attempts to combine academics with ground realities, by studying individuals, communities, nations and society, in search of knowledge that is tested in live situations and scholarship that is applied to the context and times.
IHPS has an ‘Executive Council’, which comprises of scholars and leaders from diverse religious and social backgrounds. To give back to the society, against what one has received from it, is the noble mission that motivates the EC members. They will jointly monitor its dynamics at its sections -- Research, Publication, Programmes, Certificate/Diploma/Degree and Extension. It will also have a few forums that will strengthen the executive council, like ‘Forum of Religious Heads' and 'Forum of Scholars in Disciplines' and 'Forum of Young People'. Besides, the institute will have an ‘Associate Council’, whose members are committed to the cause of harmony and peace in the society and will collaborate with it. The Councils and the Forums will focus on addressing social concerns in a curative, preventive and innovative way, for building an enhanced society, in all possible ways.
An idea can change the world. A better world is possible. A single step can initiate a movement. A more harmonious and peaceful world can certainly be realized in our own time. It is our constitutional duty to devote back into our society the best we are endowed with. It is in giving that one's level of enlightenment and growth is reflected. Motivated and empowered by great persons and scriptures of the world, when persons of good will and commitment from diverse communities join minds and hands together for a collective leadership, good result is bound to emerge. It is ours to explore an enhanced world together and celebrate a shared culture of composite living. Why don't we dare together to make a rock-solid step forward?