INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE AND SOCIAL FORMATION IN INDIAN CONTEXT

Johny Koikara, CM[*]

1.         Introduction

2.         Meaning of Religious Dialogue:

    • It is a reciprocal communication between individuals and groups in the society
    • It is an interpretive communion that leads to intimate relationship in the society
    • It is an attitude and activity of committed people of various religions in a geographical area
    • It is a way of life for a better living in the society

 

3.           Objectives of Inter Religious Dialogue in Relation to Social Life:

  • To encounter God in people and environment (society)
  • To eliminate social prejudices
  • To foster and enrich diverse ideologies of other religions
  • To identify the commonality and differences of religions
  • To promote friendship in the society
  • To seek truth
  • To work for the welfare of the people

 

4.         The Socio- Political Background of India

  • Second most populated country in the world
  • Christian population – 2% (approximate)
  • Other Religions – Islam, Sikh, , Zoroastrians, Jains and Buddhists
  • Concept of Sarvodaya – Mahatma Gandhi

 

5.         The Major Threats to Social Justice

  • Cast system, inequality, poverty, illiteracy ,
  • Legitimizing injustice in the form of Doctrine of Karma,
  • Bonded- labour, infanticide, divorce
  • Ecological Crisis
  • Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes struggles
  • Crisis in the value system
  • Intensified spirit of competition and consumerism
  • Manipulation of religion by politics
  • An aggregative policy of Mass Media
  • Fast construction of group identity (race, language, caste)
  • Alcoholism, Drug addiction, Terrorism

6.         Favorable Conditions And Inter- Religious Dialogue

  • Declaration of India as a Socialistic Secular Democracy
  • Secularism is an ideal to be achieved
  • Concept of Moksha
  • The concept of Dharma (Justice)
  • Newness in other religions
  • Commonness of human life
  • Welfare of all
  • Liberative role of Religions
  • To promote greater tolerance and unity
  • Introduction of Secretariat for Non-Christian Religions at Vatican  (19th may 1964)
  • Ecclesian Suam and other Documents (6th April 1964)
  • Statements of CBCI

 

7.         Indian Provinces:  Inter-Religious Dialogue and Social Formation

1.  The Dialogue of Life

Education Ministry

Technical Training Centers

2.  The Dialogue of Action

Social Work

Legal Aid Programme

3.   Dialogue of Reconciliation

Respecting Religious Freedom

Healing touch

8.       Significance

9.      Action-Oriented Programme

Novitiate:

  • Contemplative approach to Indian religions in the way of meditation and       bhajans for better understanding of the society
  • Deep study on the social life and works of the saints of Bhakti and Sufi movements
  • Visit to the holy places of other religions.
  • Visit the families of other religions.
  • Collection of stories and parables of the saints of other religions
  • Anti -Poverty programmes in the villages

 

Philosophy / Theology:

  • Study on the social and philosophical background of other religions and tribal traditions
  • Personal guidance in reading scriptures of other religion (Fomators’ guidance)
  • Develop relationship between local leaders of other religion
  • Prepare a Dissertation on saints of other Religions
  • To involve neighborhood for common celebration (Divali,  Xmas, Ramsan)
  • Highlights the deeper meaning of festivals through social programmes
  • Form a ‘neighborhood committee’ among villages
  • Arrange ‘Village Grass Root Programme’
  • ‘Silent Action Method’ in times of destruction of communal harmony
  • Formation of ‘Model Villages’ by the students
  • Introduction of ‘Dialogue oriented Youth Programme’
  • Create ‘Resource Committee’ for emergency
  • Start the ‘Spot Study Groups’
  • Introduce ‘Monthly an Area Programme’
  • Inter religious retreat programme (inviting other religious leaders for a talk during the retreat)
  • Make a forum for ‘Inter religious  students fellowship’- between other religious students
  • Programmes for Ecological Balance
  • Training for family counseling
  • Training to write articles and letters to editor in News Papers
  • Conduct social workshop on evils of  terrorism and Alcoholism

 

10.       Conclusion:

  • Activity oriented Religious Dialog takes place in the society.
  • Formation programme should implement new areas of Social Problems.
  • Like St. Vincent, let us be an instrument in the transformation of our Society.

 

 

 

 


[*] Fr. Johny Koikara CM is director of seminary in Karnataka, India. He belongs to the Southern Province of India.

 

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