HISTORIC WORLD HINDU CONFERENCE
(Vishvavasu Samvatsar Magh Pratipada, Dwitiya & Tritiya)
(January 22, 23 and 24, 1966)
EVERY ‘Kumbha” is important. But the Kumbha of 1966 will be regarded as historic. For the first time in centuries, a host of Acharyas and pandits, swamis and saints, representing an almost complete cross-section of the multi-hued panorama that is Hindu Dharma, gathered on one platform at the holy Sangam for the World Conference organised by the Vishva Hindu Parishad.
Tradition has it that from the churning of the ocean emerged a “Kumbha” (earthen jar) of nectar. The nectar that emerged from the Kumbha congregation on the holy banks of the Triveni this year was this World Hindu Conference, an event that will go down as a landmark in the history of Hindu renaissance. The Parishad coincided with ‘Amrit Kumbha Mela’ of that year.
More Than Twenty- Five Thousand Delegates
Saints and Statesmen
Inauguration by U. P. Governor
Messages Pour In
Vidwat Parishad To Evolve A Code Of Hindu Conduct
Bihar Governor Shri Ayyangar Releases V. H. P. Souvenir
Pujyapada Shri Shankaracharya of Puri on the Speciality of Hinduism
Teachings Of Sanskrit Be Made Compulsory
Welcoming Former Hindus Back to the Fold
“A New Gold Leaf,” Says Guruji
Our Work Now Begins”, Says Swami Chinmayananda”
History records only one parallel event, the conference of representatives of various Sampradayas convened by Samrat Harshawardhan at Kanauj, way back in 648 A. D. Sectional congregations there have been many since then, but never a mammoth all-sect rally such as the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati witnessed on January 22-2-1966.
Over 25,000 delegates from all parts of the country and about 250 Hindu representatives from foreign lands-Britain, U. S. A., Nepal, Kenya, Ceylon, Uganda, Natal Mauritius, Aden etc., had assembled for,’ this epoch making conference. Thousands of these delegates were women.
The galaxy of spiritual and religious luminaries who adorned the dais presented a sight, which thrilled every votary of Hindu unity and strengthened his faith in the bright future of the Hindu Society. There were here the Revered Jagadguru Shankaracharyas of Dwaraka Peeth, and of Govardhan Peeth, Purl; Swami Naradanandji of Naimisharanya, Swami Chinmayananda of the Sandeepani Ashram, Bombay; Swami Advaitananda of the Bharat Sewashram Sangh, Satguru Shri Jagjit Singh of the Namdhari Sikh sect, Mahant Guru Charan Das, President of the Bharat Sadhu Samaj; Jain Muni Shri Ashok, Shri Hemachandra Deb Goswami of Assam, Jagadguru Swami Shri Vishveshwar Teerth of the Pejawar Math, Shri Sant Tukdoji Maharaj, Jagadguru Swami Raghavacharya, Mahamandaleshwar Swami Maheshwarananda Giri. Sant Prabhudutt Brahmachari of Jhusi, Swami Atmananda of the Vivekananda Ashram, Raipur; and Brahmachari Dattamurti of Masurashram, Bombay.
Besides these distinguished leaders of religion, Present at this grand conference were such eminent dignitaries as Shri Bishwanath Das, Rajyapal of Uttar Pradesh; Shri Guruji, Sar Sangh Chalak of the R.S.S.; Shri Ananthasayanam Ayyangar, Rajyapal of Bihar; and Dr. Kailash Nath Katju.
King Mahendra of Nepal was represented by Dr. Rudra Raj Pandeya, Vice-Chancellor of Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu. The Nepalese delegation also included Dr. Tulsi Giri, former Prime Minister of Nepal.
Mahamahim Shri Jayachamaraja Wadiyar Bahadur, Maharaja of Mysore, and President of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, could not attend the session because of illness, and his address was read in absentia by the Parishad General Secretary Shri S. S. Apte. The conference was presided over by Shri Ram Prasad Mukherji, former judge of the Calcutta High Court.
The three-day Vishva Hindu Parishad opened with the song ” Vishvam Akhilam Uddhartum Ami Nirmita Vayam” (We are born to redeem the whole world; we have been commissioned by the Almighty to uplift the humanity.)
The song over, five Pandits belonging to different Vedic branches from Kashi recited the Rig, Shukla and Krishna, Sam and Atharva Ved Mantras in chaste Vedic style dignity and sound. Then the Acharyas seated on a foot-high platform on the dais were invited to bless the Parishad with their Ashirwadas (blessings). Each one in his turn recited a prayer according to his Sampradaya and greeted the conference wishing it all success.
His Holiness Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Shard Peeth of Dwarka, in his benedictory speech, observed, “We have chosen to meet during a crisis and against a crisis in the great history of Hinduism. Had we delayed and had we not awakened to the fact of disintegration, we would have done to ourselves and to the Eternal Law (Sanatana Dharma) a great injustice. We must be grateful to the Great Lord that he has goaded us to see the urgency of the matter, to try to set things right if they are not already beyond our Control. It is significant that we are now meeting here under the auspices of the Vishva Hindu Parishad to work for the integration of all the Hindus wherever they are in the world Many factors have brought about a disintegration of the Hindu society and a deterioration of Hindu ideals. There was a time when our life was reflecting a great sense of understanding of the Eternal Law. That was also the time when the teachings of Hinduism found easy access into far off countries because of their universal appeal. There was a time when people who came into contact with Hinduism were finding great comfort and solace in it. The great understanding that only one principle is behind all existence was the uniting bond.
To sum up, a false sense of prestige, false sense of values have eaten into the very vitals of our life. It is a crisis, and unless we try to grasp the situation and try to overcome the critical situation, the hopes for man are meagre. Let us pray, let us awaken to the situation, let us work hard for the rejuvenation of mankind by understanding the Sanatana Dharma which upholds our life, which guides us through and ultimately leads us to happiness and peace. Let the sacred task unite us all and Act the Vishva Hindu Parishad he the platform of our work.”
Following him, Jain Muni Ashok, Bhikshu Shasan Rashmi (a delegate deputed by the Thailand Government); the Jagadguru Shri Vishveshteerth of Pejawar Math of Madhvacharya; Shri Hemachandra Deb Goswami, Satradhikar of, Auniati Satra, Assam; Shri Raghavacharya of the Jagadguru Ramanuja Sampradaya; Shri Nimbarkacharya; Shri Sadguru Jagjit Singh of the Namdhari- Panth; and Yogi Devariah Baba; and Swami Gurucharandas, Bharat Sadhu Samaj; conferred their blessings upon the conference.
The special pandal put up for the Conference had been tastefully decorated with portraits of various saints and seers, and paintings of scenes from the great epics. The backdrop of the 9-foot high rostrum was provided by a simple but striking painting – in the centre a globe embellished by a lighted OM symbol and two huge Swastikas on either side, one adorned by various insignia of religion such as padma, chakra, paduka, nandini trishul etc. and the other with sketches of the ten avataras inscribed on it.
Shri Maha Mandaleshwar Swami Maheshananda Giri, Chairman of the Reception Committee, called on Hindus to shed all pessimism and inertia, and kindle in Hindu society not only kshatratej, whose need everyone seemed to recognise in the wake of the recent Chinese and Pak aggression, but also brahma tej.
The Conference was then inaugurated by Shri Bishwanath Das, Governor of Uttar Pradesh. In his speech, Shri Das stressed the need of having a strong organisation with branches all over the world pledged to the dissemination of the Hindu way of life and great values of Hindu culture. He expressed happiness that the Vishva Hindu Parishad was striving to fulfill this need.
Shri Ramchandra Rao, president, Karnatak Vishva Hindi Parishad read out relevant portions and important names from the English messages received from almost all over the world. Dr. Lokeshchandra, one of the Secretaries of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, read the Hindi messages.
Besides the messages from Rashtrapati, Bbarat Ratna Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, His Holiness Dalai Lama and a number of other Acharyas, who could not be present, blessings and good wishes in English and Hindi and some other languages (making a large pile) were received from almost all over the world.
In his goodwill message to the Conference King Mahendra of Nepal said that it was “necessary that Hindus all over the world should be united with cultural ties”. The King’s message called on the “saints, oriental scholars and men of learning and culture” assembled at the Conference to spell cut the basis of the Hindu way of life and frame a “religious code suited to the needs of the time”
An important resolution drafted for the Conference and adopted unanimously seemed to incorporate this very suggestion of the Nepal Naresh. The resolution took note of the weakling of Hindu Samskaras, and resolved to set up a 7 man committee which in turn had been asked to constitute a Vidwat Parishad of members well versed in the Hindu Castries to evolve a of conduct which would promote and strengthen Hindu Samskaras in society. The seven members of this committee are: Jagadguru Shri Shankaracharya of Dwaraka Peeth, the Maharaja of Mysore, Dr. C. P. Ramaswamy Ayyar, Swami Chinmayananda, Shri Ram Prasad Mukherji, Shri Guruji and Sant Tukdoji Maharaj.
The afternoon session on the first day of the Conference opened with the release of the Parishad’s Souvenir by Shri A. Ayyangar, Governor of Bihar. The neatly-produced Souvenir sought to present to readers ‘glimpses of Hindu religion, culture and history from the Vedic times to the present day” through various articles by eminent scholars.
Speaking in Hindi Shri Ayyangar expressed great admiration for the Parishad’s aims and said that long before Christianity or Islam was born, Hinduism had spread to the remotest earners of the globe. The ‘Maya’ and ‘Aztec’ civilisations of Mexico and South America, he said, provided unmistakable evidence of this fact The Ramayana showed that Mandoadari’s Mother was a Maya.
The Governor regretted that the educated young men of today had little faith in Hindu religion. The Pirishads’ endeavour to rekindle this faith was extremely laudable, he added.
The afternoon session of January 22, 1966 debated the question of overseas Hindus and their problems.
On behalf of the citizens of Prayag, Mayor Shri Shyam Nath Kakkar welcomed the “Acharyas, Saints, Sadhus, and other representatives” present and described the Parishad’s Conference as an “historic event” and an unprecedented endeavour to rejoin the broken thread of our past tradition.”
A large number of delegates had arrived from oversees, from South and East, Africa, Aden, Ceylon, Mauritius, Trinidad, Fiji; U.K., U.S.A., Thailand, Andaman and so on. A few were called upon to speak on the Topic and to enlighten the audience on their problems and needs. The time at the disposal being very short it was impossible for anyone to give full expression. We had therefore, to be satisfied with merely broaching the subject. Shri F. C. Sondhi, President, Hindu Centre, London; Acharya Ramanaresh, of Fiji, Dr. Tulsi Giri, a former Prime Minister of Nepal; Bhikshu Shasan Rashmi; Bhikshu U Mahendra; were some amongst those who spoke on the Topic.
While speaking on the Topic, Dr. Tulsi Giri former Prime Minister of Nepal, declared amidst thunderous applause, “The great need of the hour is to build up Hinduism as a strong force based on the eternal ideals and the values of Hindutva. Dr. Giri further added, ‘We must derive strength from our great ideals and eternal values so that we are able to contribute to the international unity and peace.” And stated that it was a matter to be pondered and considered whether, “we would be able to contribute to this great cause.” Re added further that merely talking and discussing about religion was not enough. Marxism and Capitalism have proved the hollowness of their claims. The whole world is changing. The principles of economics were also under- going changes, but only the values of Hinduism were and are constant and eternal, he said.
He said, “Let Hindus of the world unite” remain our slogan and let us work in the direction of uniting world Hindus. Let us not feel ashamed of calling ourselves Hindus. However, the objectives of strengthening Hinduism can be better achieved with the support of the Government. For last several years we have fought against the foreign onslaught. Now, if our own Government does not support our religion it will be worse than the foreign invasion.
If Hindus in Hindustan become strong and powerful, the other Hindus, world over, will always be for self-protection and not for harming others. But, no onslaught on Hindu Religion from any quarter will he tolerated and any such attempts will he resisted with force, he concluded.
A resolution adopted at this session sent “greetings and good wishes” to Hindus settled abroad and urge them “to maintain and strengthen contacts with Hindus in Bharat.”
The resolution was moved by Swami Advaitananda of the Bharat Sewashram Sangh and seconded by Principal Teerthanath Sharma, Vice-President of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, Assam Branch.
The resolution was moved by Swami Advaitananda of the Bharat Sewashram Sangh and seconded by Principal Teerthanath Sharma, Vice-President of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, Assam Branch.
The subject of discussion for the morning session on January 23 was “Unity in Diversity in the Society.” The discussions were presided over by Shri Sant Tukdoji Maharaj.
Intervening in the debate, Jagadguru Shri Shankaracharya of Puri said that the quack peddling medicine on the pavement assures everyone that his packet is panacea of all ailments, but if one goes to hospital he would find a specialist for every single disease. Creedal religions like Christianity and Islam offer to humanity the quack’s panacea and tell men just to believe in the ‘Book’ and the ‘Prophet’, and all would be well. Hinduism on the other hand, he said, offered no cut and dry formulae and provided to every individual a path of spiritual uplift as suited his individual needs.
A resolution moved by Dr. Varnekar of Nagpur said it was “imperative to provide facilities for the teaching of Sanskrit to Hindus in the country as well as those settled abroad “, and urged that steps be taken in this direction.
The resolution was seconded by Shri Pandeya, Vice-Chancellor of the Tribhuvan University (Nepal), and was unanimously adopted.’
Another resolution passed at this session appealed to Government to make Sanskrit a compulsory subject at the secondary stage of education.
In the afternoon session Jagadguru Shri Vishyesh-Teertha of the Madhav Sampradaya, Sadguru Jagajit Singh of Namdhari Sikh Panth; Guru Raghavacharya of Ramanuja Panth; Buddha Bhikshu Shasan Rashmi and Shri Dhunda Maharaj of the Bhagwat Sampradaya of Maharashtra, spoke on the basic values and ideals common to all sects of the Hindu Society.
Swami Vishvesh Teertha in his brilliant and inspiring speech in Hindi emphatically dealt with the need for all the Sampradayas coming together to lead the Hindu society. He said, “We are all in one boat. If the Hindu society is to sail smoothly to its destined course ahead in future, all those who are guiding, piloting, as also those who are being led and directed must act in unison and steer this great ship of Hinduism to safety, security and prosperity. We cannot and should not quarrel amongst ourselves and pull in opposite directions.”
A significant resolution adopted in this session pertained to Hindus who had renounced Swadharma, because of coercion or temptation, and said that “the pressing need of the time is the assimilation, through return back of all such people, who may desire, out of their own free will, to return to the faith of their forefathers.”
The resolution was moved by Shri Tirtha Nath Sharma, Principal Pragjyotish College. Gauhati, and found hearty approbation in the supporting speeches made by Shri R. R. Deshpande, President, Kalyan Ashram, Jashpurnagar (M. P.); Brahmachari Dattamurti of Masurashram, Bombay; and the Maharajkumar of Tripura, all of whom drew attention to the sinister activities of Christian missionaries amongst the Tribals.
Another resolution passed by the Conference appealed to all administrators; custodians and trustees of temples, maths and ashrams to co-operate with the public in bringing about a “transformation, restoration or reformation” in these holy places so that they could become vibrant centres for the “dissemination of our Dharma and Sanskriti.”
On the morning of January 24, the delegates assembled in the Mandap for the closing session. The proceedings began with an inspiring lyric sung by well-known music director Shri Sudhir Phadke of Bombay: “Mukti Mantra Do”. The entire audience was electrified by his sonorous voice and vigorous interpretation.
Highlight of’ this concluding session was a stirring speech by Sar Sangh Chalak, Shri Guruji. Recapitulating the proceedings of the Conference Shri Guruji said, “These had been memorable two and a half days, which participants at this Parishad Conference would no doubt treasure all their lives.”
He said, “It is for the first time after centuries that the leaders, Acharyas and Gurus, representing all the sects and panthas in the Hindu society have assembled together.”
Listening to the venerable Acharyas and Sants, Shri Guruji said, one felt the history of Hindu society was turning over a new leaf, a golden leaf.
Shri Guruji referred to the sense of inferiority complex that had long pervaded Hindu society, and because of which the average Hindu felt ashamed of being called a Hindu, felt shy of his language, his dress, etc. “This inferiority-complex has to be completely shaken off and a pride about Hindudom infused in him”, he added.
He also cited the evidence to show that Buddhists and Jains were and are part and parcel of the Hindu society. He asked if a person could be a Jain without being a Hindu. “All Jains are fundamentally Hindus”, he said.
Referring to the proselytisation activities carried on by the Christians and Muslim Shri Guruji said that the proselytising creeds perhaps felt diffident about the validity of their own doctrines, and so sought to derive confidence from numbers.
Shri Guruji recalled Christ’s dictum: ‘I have come to fulfil, and not to destroy’ and said, “But Christ’s followers seem to carry only destruction everywhere. No wonder it has been said ‘There was only one Christian, and he died on the Cross”. “The irony is that even he was not a Christian for he was a Jew! “, he added.
Concluding. Shri Guruji exhorted the assembled delegates to go back from the Conference with the determination that they would make the torch of Hindu Dharma burn brighter in every little corner of the world where Hindus dwell.
Rashtrasant Shri Tukdoji Maharaj expressed distress that despite the fact that Hindu Society was gifted with such scholarly Jagadgurus and saintly Dharmagurus, the cause of Dharma in Bharat was languishing. “It is no use blaming others,” he said, “the fault lies with us, we who have undertaken to serve the cause of Dharma. It is we who have failed to do justice to our duty”.
Shri Tukdoji referred to his own part in the creation of the Bharat Sadhu Samaj and admitted that it had not been doing as well as it had been intended to. “I feel so glad seeing how successfully the Vishva Hindu Parishad has been exerting to translate the ideas, which inspired the setting up of the Sadhu Samaj.”
It deserves to be mentioned here that the President of the Bharat Sadhu Samaj Swami Gurucharandas, in his short but forceful speech had expressed his great appreciation for the efforts of the Vishva Hindu Parishad and proudly defended the honour and function of the Hindus all over the world. Shri Gurucharandas associated himself fully with the aims and objects of the Parishad and promised all help in furthering its cause.
Swami Chinmayananda’s was another forceful speech at this final session. He said:
“No doubt, this has been a wonderful conference, but merely organising a conference, or launching an organisation is not enough. The actual work has only now started. All Acharyas have blessed our work without reservations. But very often the enthusiasm manifested in the beginning does not last. To maintain the tempo, we must have a clear idea of what we stand for.”
Swamiji affirmed: “This Parishad is the work not of one Shankaracharya or one Swami, but it is the outcome of the efforts of all the saintly personages here. Let us resolve to carry it to success.”
Towards the end of the conference Shri S. S. Apte, General Secretary of the Parishad, rose to express warm thanks for all those who had contributed to the success of the Conference from the revered Jagadgurus to the Mayor and Corporation of Prayag, who has made every facility available to the organisers of this Conference.
Everyone, however, took due note of President Ram Prasad Mukherjee’s cryptic remark:
“The Parishad’s conference has ended but the Parishad’s work has only started.”