Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh here on Friday stressed the need for unity of thought and action, saying it was required now more than ever.
“More than any other period of human history, the need for unity of thought and action today is the most urgent,” said the former PM speaking on the concluding day of an international conference on Guru Nanak Dev by the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) here.
“When the world is breaking up into fragments, and fragments clash with fragments, surrendering all sense and purpose of living for the larger humanity, it is the humanity which seeks transcendence from narrow limits and boundaries,” Singh stressed.
Saying that today’s world was beset with violence and rejection, the former PM said the humanity needed to provide succour to the people “ejected from their land and hearth”.
“We are hearing the cry of the refugees and their children in the middle east, we hear the cry of the deprived and we hear the cry of those who are abandoned by the unjust social and economic order,” he said.
The former prime minister also called for an alternative model of society based on truth, gender equality, protection of the environment and universal responsibility due to serious challenges posed by unchecked exploitation of natural resources, growing race for arms, continued exploitation of the poor by the rich and growing environmental degradation.
“For a lasting peace in the turbulent world that we live in, let me conclude by offering a prayer from the Guru Granth Sahib: This world is burning O’ Lord, show thy mercy, thy grace and save it through whatever door thou can,” said Singh.
Earlier, speaking on the Sikhism founder he said, “Guru Nanak Dev ji’s hymns contained in the Guru Granth Sahib show that India at that time was passing through a period of civilisational conflict.”
“Fortunately, the wise and women from different faiths joined together for the cause of peace and love, which resulted in the formation of the Bhakti and Sufi movements,” he added.
Singh said both movements emphasised transcending narrow boundaries created in the name of caste, colour, creed and preached love, peace and devotion to God.
He said Guru Nanak demonstrated his concern for the poor and needy at an early age when he was given Rs 20 by his father for a profitable business.
Instead, he purchased food for hungry sadhus and began the institution of langar (free community kitchen), where food was served to all without any distinction of high and low, he said.
Speaking on the stay of the Guru at Sultanpur Lodhi, where he got enlightenment on the banks of the Kali Bein, Manmohan Singh said, “It is important to note that the first words the Guru uttered after his enlightenment were ‘na koi Hindu, na Koi Musalman‘, clearly indicating that his mission was to unite humanity.”
The former PM said the Guru’s teachings could be summed up in three Punjabi words–naam japna, kirat karna and wand chhakna (meditation, hard and honest labour, and sharing fruits of one’s earnings with others).
Former Union minister and BJP veteran leader Murli Manohar Joshi and CRRID’s Executive Vice-Chairman Rashpal Malhotra also spoke on the occasion.
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