World convention on reverence for all life
by Hiren N. Kara,
The World Convention on Reverence for all Life was held at Hotel Blue Diamond, Poona between 22nd and 24th November, 1997. Over 850 delegates from 27 countries with 40 speakers participated in this event. The objects of the Convention were to rekindle the flame of compassion towards mother earth, the plant and animal kingdom, to create an awareness for an urgent need to harmonise human life with universal environment, to promote vegetarianism, to launch a programme for the cessation of cruelty to animals/birds and to formulate a charter of animal rights and man’s duties to the animal world. As a tribute to the nation, it was decided to hold this event in the golden jubilee year celebration of India’s Independence.
The convention was inaugurated by His Excellency Dr. Bali Ram Bhagatji, Governor of Rajasthan. Revered Dada J.P Vaswani presided and delivered the Presidential address. Dada Vaswani’s address was very well received as he spoke from his heart and touched the feelings of the entire audience. This entire event was born from an idea suggested by him to Mr. B.R. Malhotra. Supreme Master Suma Ching Hai who came from Taiwan with about 140 followers, also spoke on this occasion. His Holiness Giriraj Maharaj of ISKCON addressed the gathering which ended with a request from the organisers to have congregational chanting of the holy name of Lord Krishna. Other spiritual leaders from different faiths like Sikh, Zorastrian, Mohamedan, Seventh Day Adventists Mission, Chinmaya Mission and Brahma Kumaris spoke on the philosophical and spiritual aspects.
An interesting point mentioned by Dr. Rooyintan Peer was that Cyrus the Great and his army were Vegetarians. Mr. Jashu Shah, Regional Secretary of the IVU, spoke on Jainism. Mr. Surendra Mehta, Past President of the International Vegetarian Union (I.V.U.) was the Chairman of the session. The following 3 books were released on this occasion by the hands of Dada J.P. Vaswani and Supreme Master Suma Ching Hai. Chinmayi by Swami Chinmayanandji, Life Itself by Dr.V.G. Bhide and Shakahar by Dr. Gangwal.
Sunday 23rd November started with the issue of a beautiful commemorative Postal Stamp by Union Minister for Law & Justice Mr. Ramakant Khalap depicting the theme of the convention. Mrs. Tarla Dalal – recipient of the Vegetarian of the Year 1995 National Award instituted by the Vegetarian Society Reverence for Life, spoke on this occasion and gave practical hints towards making Vegetarian food simple and nutritional. She is the author of several internationally acclaimed vegetarian recipe books.
The next session was addressed by members of the medical profession, including those from the armed forces.
The benefits of having a vegetarian diet for health reasons were discussed. It was also a delight to hear the youngest speaker of the Convention -Vidur Malhotra, the 13 year old grandson of Mr. Bahn B.R. Malhotra, giving his views on Reverence for Life.
In the evening an entertainment programme was organised by the Osho Community. Music was played with a blend of Western & Eastern instruments which was appreciated by the audience.
The Valedictory function was summed up by Swami Anubhavananda who said that vegetarians during their propagation should do it in a manner without hurting the feelings of non-vegetarians. He jokingly said that there is enough division in the world and one more division should not be there. Mr. K.P. Daswani, Co-Chair-man of the event also summed up on how we should live life with peace, love and respectful co-existence. With touching words he said if we want love and respect, we have to give them first, to have a better family and a peaceful world.
A wide range of vegetarian meals was arranged by Hotel Blue Diamond throughout the convention. A variety of Indian, Italian, Taiwanese, Chinese and Continental dishes were enjoyed by all the delegates. During the Convention the delegates sat in rapt attention, absorbing the ideas conveyed by all the speakers.
A book on Reverence for all Life – Collection of Gems was distributed to all the delegates containing papers written by many learned speakers. A memento and gift sponsored by Bajaj Auto Ltd. and Weikfield Ltd. were also distributed to all delegates. There were about a dozen stalls containing books and other literature which were sold at discounted prices, especially for this event. Wide publicity was given by the media.
In recent times one has rarely come across such an event which has brought people of different faiths, communities and countries together under the concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (All Creation is one family). Mr. Bahn B.R. Malhotra and his dedicated team who have worked tirelessly for over six months deserve kudos from one and all for their Herculean efforts in making this convention an unforgettable experience.
Written by Hiren N. Kara & assisted by Mr. Firoz Wadi; H. Kara: Pallonji Mansion, 43 Cuffe Parade, Bombay 400005, India.