Conference – Reflections on Religion, Religions and Beyond

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New Delhi: Institute of Harmony and Peace Studies (IHPS), New Delhi, in collaboration with the Indian Social Institute (ISI), New Delhi, organized a conference at the Indian Social Institute, New Delhi, recently. The theme of the seminar was ‘Religion, Religions and Beyond: Different Perspectives’. Dr Denzil Fernandes, SJ, Executive Director, Indian Social Institute, New Delhi, welcomed the scholars and participants. Dr M. D. Thomas, Founder Director, Institute of Harmony and Peace Studies, New Delhi, delivered the concept note and introductory address of the conference. Prof. Amitabh Kundu, Former Prof. of JNU, New Delhi, delivered the keynote address. Adv. Dr M. P. Raju, Eminent Jurist, Supreme Court of India, Prof. Arvinder A. Ansari, Head, Department of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, and Prof. M. H. Qureshi, Former Prof. of JNU, were other speakers of the day.
Dr M. D. Thomas, in his introductory address, said that religion has contributed immeasurably to the making of the human civilization in diverse ways. But it has also brutally caused a lot of havoc in society, by way of its raw superstitions, exaggerated theological abstractions, ritual obsessions, superlative claims and inordinate manipulations, which, in some way or other, resulted in even crimes against humanity and divinity, both at the same time. Now, a level-headed critique has to facilitate religion to become what it is supposed to be. Dr Thomas stated that as a matter of fact, all religious traditions are gifts of the same Creator and are the ‘common cultural heritage of the human society’. They have to be collectively owned and learned from, because all believers and human beings share a ‘common origin, common existence and common destiny’ in life. ‘All are mine; one is mine in special and others are mine in general’ has to be the ‘collective spirit of religions’. Prof. Arvinder Ansari addressed the gathering on the theme on ‘Religion, Religions and Beyond’ from the ‘Sociological Perspective’. She underlined ‘composite culture’ as the biggest strength of our country.