"Religious / cultural conversion, in any form, is violence"

Swamiji’s genius does not restrict him to teaching Vedanta, but leads him into spheres that impact humanity as a whole. It is precisely his humaneness, a respect for all cultures, that makes him declare that all civilisations, all cultural forms, need to be preserved, nurtured and appreciated. The mosaic of human civilisation enriches life as a manifestation of the universal spirit. His anguish at the loss of great civilisations of the past such as the Egyptian, Greek, Aztec and others, makes him intensely aware of the need to preserve and nurture the diversity of human culture. He is more certain than ever before, that there is no place in the scheme of things for aggression in religion/culture. All cultural forms are equally valid and need to be respected, which led him to declare in July 1999 that religious/cultural conversion, in any form, is violence. An epochal statement, it was to echo in universities and among other spiritual thinkers and leaders.

The following decade witnessed the growing international impact of Swami Dayananda’s vision. . In each succeeding global conference, his persistence to establish and promote mutual understanding and respect for all religions left its mark on the resolutions passed.

From declaring that conversion is violence, to the Hindu Jewish Dialogues, the logic of his arguments and quiet diplomacy convinced the delegates that Hindus believe and worship One Supreme Being, invoking that Being in different aspects and forms. “It is absolutely wrong to say people worship idols. No religion worships idols; every religion worships only Isvara. Hindu dharma is no different,” says Swami Dayananda. The dialogues concluded, declaring that Hinduism is not an idol worshipping religion as is the common misconception, which has had disastrous consequences on the country and its people.

In the Hindu Buddhist dialogue, leaders of both religions agreed that Eastern wisdom must stand together and be treated on par with the other major religions of the world. The culmination was the conference at The Hague, Netherlands, where he was instrumental in ensuring that the clauses redefining human rights were included in the final document. The clauses stress the need for peace and harmony through mutual respect and cooperation. They declare that religious conversion is opposed to freedom of religion and the spirit of mutual respect.