November 11, 2008

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar addresses the 29th Jamiat-Ulema-i-Hind (Nov-9, 2008)

Sri Sri was invited to address the 29th National Meeting of the Jamiat-Ulema-i-Hind, the largest Islamic body in India on November 9th. He urged the audience comprising 6,000 clerics to prevent youth from treading the wrong path of terrorism. He also appealed for unity between the Hindu and Muslim communities, in the face of attempts made by vested interests. He also appealed for unity in the Muslim community itself. The Shias and Sunnis are like two eyes of Islam and both should remain united. Unfortunately, Muslims are being branded as terrorists and this attempt can be fought only when the community remains united, said Sri Sri, citing his travel experiences from Iraq where people from both sects in a village came together after his appeal.



Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

Khuda Hafeez. I am very happy. I was waiting for this day since so many months… years. In today’s world, terrorism is linked especially with the Muslim community. We need to separate the association. Today, I am very happy to greet you all. So many prominent personalities are sitting here: Swami Agniveshji is here, the Chief Minister is also here. We all have to come together today, challenge this prevalent misunderstanding, and resound with one voice: We will move ahead.

I have heard from our ancestors that in Haddis, Hazrat Mohammad Paigambar Sahib said, “From the East, I am getting cold air; from the West, hot air is coming.” Today, let us resolve that we will sustain this cool air. We will send waves of love and harmony throughout the world. This Eastern cold wind will reach as far as Palestine.

When someone returns from a visit to Iraq, he is unable to sleep peacefully. The conditions in Iraq bring so much pain. If it does not, then that person is not a human being. Seven lakh women have been widowed over there. What a community it was! What a splendid city it was! Today, everything is destroyed. When I went over there, I was told, “There are many bomb blasts here everyday, you don’t go.” People in London asked me not to go to Iraq. I said, “I shall go.”

I believe in the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – the whole world is my own family. Everyone is my own. There is no time for love here. How can people resort to violence and hatred? Life is so short, just an instant.

When I went to Iraq, the government provided us with twelve cars for our security and two tankers – one ahead and one behind the entourage. A journey of half-hour took two hours. I went to Najaf also from there, despite people asking me not to go. The government there told me, “There is a problem over here in the Green Zone, bomb blasts take place. How will you go?” I said, “I do not want to stay in the fort of this politics, I want to be with the common people. Muslims are my brothers and they love me. I want to stay with them and be one among them.”

I said that I would not doubt anybody’s loyalty because if we harbour a doubt, it is our weakness, not the other person’s. I also spoke to Swami Agniveshji on the telephone from there and told him, “Everywhere there is mayhem, violence and bomb blasts.”

The people of the Shia council embraced me so lovingly. They said, “Guruji, people are running away from here. At such a moment, you have come over here, this is your second home.” I hugged them. When I went in the Red Zone, I said, “I do not require any security. God is there with me. Like you said, the person who has faith in the Almighty, merges with Him. The motto of our country is ‘Satyameva Jayate’ – Truth Alone Triumphs.

I interacted with the people in Iraq and said, “Shias and Sunnis become one. You should not fight.” In one village, the Shias had removed 8,000 Sunni families. I went there and took the Ulema and important authorities to the Shia village. I said, “Both Shias and Sunnis are like the two eyes of Islam. Both the eyes have only one vision, they can see the same view. Therefore, we have to stay united.” People welcomed the other families who returned back and started staying in the village. I am narrating the incident of this one small village. However, such cases are many and only India can unite people who are divided in the world.

I will narrate a short story. There was a very famous tailor. People used to seek his advice and would tell him their troubles. He would give them some advice and people would feel better. He was like a counsellor. A youth asked the tailor for a wise message. The tailor picked up a needle from his table and put it to his head and placed a pair of scissors under his feet. The youth once again asked him for a message. The tailor said that he had already given it. “I put the needle on my head because a needle stitches together and the scissors cut, so I placed it under my feet.”

Similarly, we should do this in the world. The ones, who divide, should be placed beneath and the ones who unite should be honoured. So, let us unite. A Hindu youth came to me and said, “Hindu religion is in danger. What are all the religious leaders doing? They are doing nothing.”I said, “Hindu religion has been in existence since thousands of years, what do you think? Has God died that you are talking about saving God? God is alive. Until God is alive, all the religions given by him will stay alive.

We should not spread such rumours that religion is in danger, Islam is in danger and Hinduism is in danger. This way, by talking about danger, we are being divided internally. We all should become one – Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists – this country belongs to everyone. Not only this country, but also this whole world is our own. So, I would say that we should all come together and separate these perpetrators of violence whether they are of any community, any religion (anyway, they belong to no religion) or from our own home.”

I would like to say one more thing. Around 15 years ago, a gentleman from Sri Lanka arrived at our Bangalore Ashram campus. He was a very good man and performed all kinds of seva, winning everyone’s hearts. Sometimes he would help the gardeners, lend his hand in the cooking. He used to work wonderfully and was friendly with everyone. I was abroad at that time, in Germany and then was travelling to other places. Suddenly, I called the ashram and asked them to remove this man. The people at the ashram became very sad and began wondering why this was done. When I returned, everyone had a sad look on their faces and were surprised that out of so many people, I had asked this one person to be removed. After 15 days, we got to know that the same person was a part of Sri Lanka’s LTTE group and had come with a bomb to blow Bangalore’s Vidhana Soudha. So, when we listen to our inner voice, we come to know the truth. That man was caught. He had come with a different purpose.

Why is it that our youth - whether they are Hindus, Muslims or Christians - become victims of misunderstanding? After Iran-Iraq, the maximum number of people dying from terrorism is from our country – whether they are from the Left, Naxal war, encounters, from government encounters or from bomb blasts. The maximum casualties are from India. We cannot tolerate this.

Our country is one, where everyone respects each other. When Colombia University in New York invited the Prime Minister of Iran, the University’s president did not welcome him but verbally abused him. After listening to the abuses, the Prime Minister of Iran got up and said, “This is not our culture, to call a guest and then abuse him and put him down. This is not a part of our tradition.” With that one sentence, the Prime Minister of Iran won the hearts of all the learned people sitting there. Our culture is like that, Iran’s culture is such. India’s culture is such that we do not put anyone down – we are one, of one light, of one God. We stay united. If someone from our home is doing a wrong, first we should catch them.

I salute that mother from Kerala who said that if my child is involved in violence, he would cease to be my child. She said that such mothers have present in this country, such ulemas are present here. Our youth should follow their path and realise a beautiful dream to make our country strong. I thank you all again, sincerely from my heart. I am with you all. When I heard that such a wonderful programme is taking place here, I was in Mexico. I cancelled a programme I was scheduled to attend in Florida University and came here directly. Now, I have to go back tonight.
I offer my heart-felt pranaams and love to you all.