?I welcome to earth the increasing light,
The lengthening day and shortening night,
I celebrate the Goddess fresh and young,
I celebrate the God the growing Sun,
The land shall soon being to arise,
Sleeping life will open its eyes,
I offer my thanks as light this flame,
As the Wheel brings forth life again,
With thanks to the Goddess the Lord awakes,
Thanks to the Goddess and all she creates.?
(Prayer on Imbolc festival)
?As per the Mayan calendar we are approaching the Zero Year. This is the period of renaissance, and a day will come soon when everything will get vanished and the New Sun will start rising,? said Elizabeth Araujo, a senior activist from Guatemala representing age-old Maya tradition. She had come to Nagpur to attend and participate in the third International Conference and Gathering of the Elders of Ancient Traditions and Cultures, organised by the International Centre for Cultural Studies (ICCS) from January 31 to February 5, 2009.
Elizabeth was not the only one who felt the necessity of renaissance of ancient traditions and cultures to save the humanity standing at the crossroads today. And the ICCS provided the much-needed platform to all those who believed in oneness of not only human beings but in all that is the creation of the Supreme Being called variously by the wise men of different traditions.
There were Druids from UK and France with 82-year-old Searge Pineau, the Chief Priest and Philip Carr-Gomm from UK leading the delegation, the delegates from USA, the Eco-spiritual Group led by Rev Ahriana Platten, the Romuva of Lithuania and the Ramava of Latvia, the Roma from Italy, the Huns from Hungary, and so on. People representing over 25 pre-Christian traditions and cultures of the globe descended in Nagpur to find out the ways and means to revive and rejuvenate the ancient traditions and cultures in the perspective of fast-changing modern world to save the humanity and other living world from the impending catastrophe of intolerance, violence of all kinds and injustices of all sorts. They all prayed for the New Sun to rise ushering in an era of universal brotherhood, peace, progress and prosperity where all that is created by the Supreme Being can live in harmony.
This was the third conference. The ICCS had earlier organised similar conferences and congregations of elders of ancient cultures and traditions in Mumbai in 2003 with the theme of Mitakuye Oyasin meaning ?We are all related?, and the second at Jaipur in 2006 to discuss ?Spirituality beyond Religions?. The theme for Nagpur conclave was ?Renaissance of Ancient Traditions and Cultures: Challenges and Solutions?.
Why are all these conclaves organised in India and not elsewhere? The simple reason is, according to Dr Yashwant Pathak, who fathered this concept of ICCS, India still remains a source of inspiration for these ancient traditions world over. Says Yugrus Liog from Lithuania: ?India is bedrock of various traditions forming a confluence. He feels, ?If traditions are saved in my country the way they are saved in India, it would be helpful in preserving and protecting the Lithuanian culture.? Says Dr RS Dwivedi, president of ICCS USA, ?The Indian culture and traditions that are still continuing are highly respected everywhere due to their uniqueness?. These representatives of various ancient traditions harbour tremendous faith and goodwill towards Indian traditions and look to India as a perennial source of inspiration, Shri Dwivedi, a former professor of Cell Biology in Washington DC, adds.
Inaugurating the conference Buddhist leader Prof Sam Dong Rinpoche gave a clarion call to all the participants to come together to preserve and rejuvenate the ancient traditions and cultures to save the humanity at this critical juncture. He said culture and tradition distinguish the human beings from other living organisms on the earth. World sans culture and tradition will be nothing more than a crowd of people without roots making co-existence almost impossible.
Rinpoche described the conference as a rare occasion and said that traditions and cultures are under threat from ?modernism?.
In her presidential speech Pramilatai Medhe, Pramukh Sanchalika of Rashtra Sevika Samiti, laid stress on interdependence for understanding the unity in diversity. She said that India could preserve its age-old traditions even in this modern age because of its capacity to accept all that is good from others and accommodate the same with suitable modifications. That is why we find a continuity of culture and tradition throughout the Indian continent, she added.
Shri Basantlal Shaw, chairman, Reception Committee, welcomed the participants to this historically famous Orange City located in the heart of India.
Scholars from various traditions and cultures presented research papers at the 24 academic sessions which were convened daily in the post-lunch sessions. Papers on Peace and Conflict, Environment, Poverty and Religion and Alternative Healing were presented by the scholars from various countries. Prominent among those who presented papers were Phyllis Bales from USA, Valdir Shevtsov from Green Gross Belarus, Dr VN Pandeya and Dr Sriniwas Tilak from Canada, Dr AK Choudhary from Mithila, Jona Trinkunas from Lithuania, Dr Rita Roy Choudhary of Kolkata and Dr Staschko Potri from Poland. Dr Pramod Pathak and Dr T Kalyani and others also presented their papers. A total of over 60 research papers were presented during the conference.
Besides lectures of distinguished personalities including Dr Ved Prakash Nanda, President of International Jurists Association and Pro-Vice Chancellor of Denver Law University, USA, Shri Suresh Soni, Sahsarkaryavah of RSS, Shri Ram Madhav, Shri Jona Trinkunas, Shri SD Youngwolf, Shri Madan Das, Sahsarkaryavah of RSS, Shri Dattatreya Hosbale and Shri Jagdevram Oraon, president of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram also spoke.
The four-day conference concluded on February 4 with Shri Mohan Bhagwat, Sarkaryavah of RSS, giving a call for creating a new ?world family? by respecting various cultures and showing ?unity of spirit?. Shri Bhagwat appealed to the delegates to ?respect? the diversities of thoughts, cultures, traditions and values that bind the human beings together anywhere in the world.
Explaining the relationship of ICCS with RSS in a very effective way, he stated that RSS mission of Hindu nation is based on allround progress of the nation. He explained that the great seers and sages of the hoary past have realised the ?fourth level? of understanding to realise the innate oneness of all living and non-living beings. This is what he called ?Hinduness?, which forms the bedrock of RSS concept of Hindu nation.
The world is now looking for a change for the better living and lasting peace. Since only the Hindu philosophy has defined the ?fourth level? of understanding, i.e. the omnipresent atma or spirit, it can provide effective solutions to the problems of the present world, Shri Bhagwat added. All the ethnic religions and traditions world over believe in this presence of spirit and are inclusive in nature, they can realise the common factor of ?unity of spirit? that will bind them together to save the world and humanity from total decay in the near future.
Swami Chaturvedi Prasanna of Ramanujam sect of South India in his speech stressed on development of civilisation on the basis of spiritual awakening, which he felt was the need and requirement of the hour. Only spirituality can save the humanity and nature from the impending doom, he said.
Rev Ahriana Platten of Eco-Spirituality Group of USA read out the Nagpur Manifesto which was later accepted by the delegates by chanting ?OM?.
The Nagpur Manifesto appeals to humanity to understand the underlying unity in diversity. It stated that the participants will work for reviving ancient traditions and customs which are in tune with scientific and spiritual knowledge for promoting understanding within the various communities.