Summit of Religious Leaders in Rome

As long as we do not give women an equal place in the world of religion, there can be neither Peace nor Justice in the world Swami Agnivesh

The religious leaders of the world should come forward to realize the ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam “Whole world a family”—Swami Agnivesh.

World peace will remain a pipe dream unless there is reduction in arms manufacturing and its trade banned.–Swami Agnivesh

19th June 2009:Just before the G8 nations’ summit in Italy in July 2009, the Italian Ministry of External Affairs and the Bishops conference organized a meeting of religious leaders of the world. Swami Agnivesh, President of World Council of Arya Samaj and founder of Sarva Dharma Sansad (Parliament of Religions) and Swami Aryavesh, Vice President of World Council of Arya Samaj, represented Sanatan Vaidic Dharma in this meeting.

On the day one 16 June 2009 the delegates from all over the world were taken to the earth quake hit city of La Aquila (On 6th April 09) with special arrangements and security. A collective prayer was organized there. After visiting the worst affected areas and expressing their concern and sympathy for the people, all the religious leaders came back to the famous hotel Aldrovandi in Rome. At 4 pm, a formal and introductory meeting with the President of Italy Giorgio Napolitano took place in his Quirinale Palace. The President welcomed all the religious leaders and expressed his hope that the meeting of religious leaders will arrive at some solid decisions to guide the G8 nations. The President came to greet Swami Agnivesh and other dignitaries and welcomed them warmly. Swami ji gave him his book ‘Applied Spirituality’.

The formal inaugural session of the meeting started at 5.30 in the evening in the famous Villa Madama in Rome and ended at 8.30 PM. Prof. Andrea Ricardi founder of Community of St. Edigio made the inaugural speech and keynote address. At 9.30 am on 17th June, the second session of the meeting began in the Conference Hall of Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Swami Agnivesh delivered an important speech along with other religious leaders.

Swami ji impressed every one with his observation that though women constitute half of the humanity, their participation in this meeting of religious leaders was negligible. He further emphasized that women should also get the right to become religious leaders and that they should get equal opportunity and respect in all walks of life. He also suggested that G8 nations should abolish agricultural subsidy and production and consumption of Alcohol and tobacco should be discouraged. He also made a very strong plea to help the developing and underdeveloped nations.

Explaining his own stand he said that Swami Aryavesh, present in this meeting who is the Vice President of World Council of Arya Samaj and he himself followed no organized religion. He said that they followed the Vedas that do not mention any popular religion. The Vedas are neither Hindu nor Muslim nor Sikh nor Christian. The Aryas do not follow any so called religion.

The most important submission of Swami Agnivesh was that the meat industry must be banned completely as it was the single most important cause of ecological crisis. By quoting relevant U.N. data, Swami Agnivesh pointed out that the meat industry alone is more polluting than pollution due to surface transport, shipping or Airways put together. Describing the horrible scenario of poverty and hunger in the world, he said that about 25,000 innocent children die of hunger in the world everyday while the meat industry feeds 12 kilos of food grains to get 1 kilo of flesh. It is the most cruel and inhuman reality of our times. (Only Swami Agnivesh and Swami Aryavesh were vegetarians, while other delegates gorged non-veg items and were distinctly uncomfortable with Swami ji’s plain talk). Swami ji put forth his views very forcefully and many among the assembled delegates appreciated warmly.

In late afternoon, the two day meeting worked out and formally passed a resolution for forwarding it to G8 Summit. In this session, Swami Agnivesh reiterated his suggestions and demanded forcefully that to end the global recession the black money parked in nations like Switzerland should be seized and returned to the developing nations like India. He called these banks Swindlers. He said a minimum of US $ 750 billion lie stashed in Swiss Banks alone. In the end, he expressed his gratitude for the Italian Ministry of External Affairs and other organizations.

The eminent religious leaders who shared their views in this two day meeting were :—

Abuna Paulos, Patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Vincenzo Paglia, President of Commission for Ecumenism and Dialogue of Italian Bishops Conference, Jean Lovis Tauran, Cardinal, President of the Pontifical council for inter religious dialogue,Andrea Riccardi, Professor of contemporary History Roma University, Rev. Aram 1, Lebanon, Rabbi Morelechai Piron, Israel, Prof. Dott. Din Syamsuddin Indonesia,Nichiko Niwano, Japan, Franco Frattini, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, George Riabykh, Moscow, Russia, Nikolaus Schnider, EKD Germany, William F. Vendley,WCRP, USA, Mrs. Mariavoce, of Foccalair Movement Rev. Richard Clarke, Ireland,Rev. James T. Christie, Canada, His Eminence Emmanual, France, Rev. Fu Xian Wei, China, Fr. Augustin Gheorgue, Romania, HE. Hans Henning, Horstmann,Germany, Fr. Leon Lemmens, Belgium, Prof. Mohammad Amine Smaili, Morocco,H.E. Miguel Viechis, Mexico.

The meeting concluded in a very enthusiastic atmosphere and everyone resolved to keep meeting for finding solutions to different problems afflicting the world.

Stop over in Zurich and Swiss Alps

It is worth mentioning that three days prior to the meeting, 13th to 15th June 09, Swami Agnivesh and Swami Aryavesh spent time with Mr. Marcel Rey in his village Feschel in meditation. The discussions, spread over many sessions, were very useful indeed. A-4 declaration was also reviewed. Mr. Marcel Rey, his wife Mrs. Pauline and their son Mr. Lucien extended very warm hospitality and expressed the desire to open a yoga centre in their village. There were also exchanges of thoughts and ideas with learned persons like Michel, Mary and Thomas.

The whole family of Mr. Marcel Rey is vegetarian and abhors non-veg food and alcoholic beverages. They have a keen interest in Yoga and spend time in ‘Surya Kuteer’, their cottage on the hill top of Alps range, in service and meditation. They are deeply influenced by the Vaidik values and visit India frequently. Mr. Rey is a great critic of all organized religions, and so called gurus and numerous useless rituals and beliefs. One would mistake him for a true disciple of Maharshi Dayanand. He prides himself for being called Swami Shudranand.