Ms. Nisha R. Gupta – B.Com Graduate , Persuing MBA at Thakur Institue of Management Studies & Research , Mumbai

Culture shapes the way we see the world. It therefore has the capacity to bring about the change of attitudes needed to ensure peace and sustainable development which, we know, form the only possible way forward for life on planet Earth. Today, that goal is still a long way off. A global crisis faces humanity at the dawn of the 21st century, marked by increasing poverty in our asymmetrical world, environmental degradation and short-sightedness in policy-making. Culture is a crucial key to solving this crisis.

Source: Preface, World Culture Report, UNESCO Publishing, Paris, 1999.

Religion is a great force – the only real motive force in the world¡¦. There is a common misconception that religion means ritualistic religion and nothing else. The word religion actually means laws, both natural and moral, that ensure right living .Religion stands for an integral development of the personality, a comprehensive view of life.
-George Bernard Shaw

As so many rivers, having their source in different mountains, roll down, crooked or straight, and at last come into the ocean — so, all these various creeds and religions, taking their start from different standpoints and running through crooked or straight courses, at last come unto Thee.                                                -Swami Vivekanand

The human species that only has the ability to transmit information and knowledge from one generation to the next, given man his cherished civilization and culture. An enquiring mind naturally seeks for an order, for a unifying principal behind the apparent diversity. It is well known that faith infuses energy and grit, without which no worthwhile progress in any field of activity is possible. Today we all are at the verge of atomic destruction and when everybody is busy in the mad rat race of materialistic pursuit, religious harmony will be a relief .

Ambassadors of peace have tried to prove through their visits, interviews and research that schools play an important role to bind the people through cultural heritage .Children of different religious and cultural background come to school. They show keen interest to learn each others’ dance and music. They share food with each other. They show keen interest to know each others’ festivals and other religious celebrations. Schools are playing an important role to instill values like peace, tolerance and understanding among the students. By celebrating International Day in the school; this creates interest among the students about the cultural heritage of different countries. The music, dance, food and dress of different cultures are shown in such celebrations in the schools. This makes the students to learn and adopt the best of all the cultures. Thus schools are playing an important role to bring peace in the world through Religious harmony.

Today, a lot of people from different religious backgrounds are present here. In every religion, there are transcendent things that are beyond the grasp of our mind and speech. For example, the concept of God in Christianity and Islam and that of wisdom truth body in Buddhism are metaphysical, which is not possible for an ordinary person like us to realise. This is a common difficulty faced by every religion. It is taught in every religion, including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, that the ultimate truth is driven by faith.

If a harmonious relationship is established amongst societies and religious beliefs in today’s multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural world, then it will surely set a very good example for others. However, if all the sides become careless, then there is a danger of imminent problems. In a multiethnic society the biggest problem is that of between the majority and the minority.

“We should ourselves create inner peace by practicing love and compassion in daily life.”

In the 21st century, people everywhere talk about money and material value. That is also important. Material wealth provides physical comfort. Mental comfort is possible only by faith, said by Dalai Lama.

A disturbed mind is very bad for health, while a healthy mind and health body go together. Material wealth alone will not bring happiness,” the spiritual leader said.

Former President A P J Abdul Kalam said there is need for a combination of economic prosperity and spiritual way of life.

Building and maintaining religious harmony as well as presenting enlightened examples of leadership are part of the requirements needed to settle conflict,¡¨ -Antara news agency.

India has been home for centuries to all great religions of the world. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has stated that religious tolerance and the ability to evolve, despite differences, is the basis of India. Swami Vivekananda says that what makes our civilization great is the fact that it is based on the idea of the co-existence of faiths – Sarva Dharma Sambhava. This notion implies that we have equal respect for all Dharmas, for all faiths. Elaborating this idea Swami Vivekananda used the metaphor of many rivers flowing into one mighty ocean. He quoted from an ancient hymn to say: “As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, sources in different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.¡¨ Quated by Mr. Manmohan Singh.

To worship God in the 21st century is to

  • marvel at the living ecosphere of life on this planet of which we are the product and on which we depend for our existence and continuing sustenance. Life on this planet is itself the manifestation of God and we are all part of the living God;
  •  be grateful to the successive generations of our human ancestors who have slowly evolved the various forms of human culture which have enabled us to become the kind of human beings we are;
  •  value everything with which we are endowed as human beings, our capacity to think and to be engaged in the quest for what is true and meaningful, our capacity to feel, to love and be loved, to show compassion and selfless sacrifice;
  •  accept in a responsible and self-sacrificing fashion the burden of responsibility now being laid upon us for the future of our species and for the protection of all planetary life.

Recognizing that the moral imperatives of all religions, convictions and beliefs call for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding. To be religious in the 21st century is to be devoted to maximising the future for all those whose destiny is increasingly in our hands. It is to value even more than ever the importance of the human relationships which bind us together into social groups. Because we humans are social creatures we are dependent on one another for being what we are, for the way we think, for the understanding and practice of religion.