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(A Brief Note about the historic Meet of the Spiritual Heads, convened by Swami Dayanandaji, at Chennai, in which Swami Jyotirmayananda participated, and later prepared a brochure entitled: "Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha: The Apex Hindu Body -- It's Vision and the Mission.")
"Be thou all of one mind, be thou all of one thought…" exhorted the enlightened Vedic Rishis of yore.

"Being of one mind is the secret of society", said Swami Vivekananda. "Secret of power lies in unity and organization", he pointed out. "Bringing out life-giving common principles, we have to build up on the common ground of Sanatana Dharma".


Swamiji highlighted the unifying power of Dharma and emphasized the need for gathering up of scattered spiritual forces. "To make a great future India, the whole secret lies in organization, accumulation of power, coordination of wills… The future India depends entirely upon that. That is the secret -- accumulation of will-power, coordination, brining them all, as it were, into one focus."


"The one common ground that we have is our sacred tradition, our Dharma. That is the only common ground, and upon that we shall have to build… Unity in Sanatana Dharma, therefore, is absolutely necessary as the first condition of the future of India. There must be the recognition of one Dharma throughout the length and breadth of this land."


"We know that our Sanatana Dharma has certain common grounds, common to all our sects, however varying their conclusions may be, however different their claims may be… So there are certain common grounds; and within their limitations this Sanatana Dharma of ours admits of a marvellous variation, and infinite amount of liberty to think and live our own lives."


"What we want is to bring out these life-giving common principles of our Sanatana Dharma, and let every man, woman, and child, throughout the length and breadth of this country, understand them, know them, and try to bring them out in their lives. This is the first step; and, therefore, it has to be taken."


"We see how in Asia, and especially in India, race difficulties, linguistic difficulties, social difficulties, national difficulties, all melt away before this unifying power of Sanatana Dharma… We know that to the Indian mind there is nothing higher than dharmic ideals, that is the key-note of Indian life, and we can only work in the line of least resistance."


"It is only true that the ideal of Dharma is the highest ideal, in the case of India it is the only possible means of work; work in any other line, without first strengthening this, would be disastrous. Therefore, the first plank in the making of a future India, the first step is to be hewn out of that rock of ages, is this unification of Dharma."


"All of us have to be taught that we Hindus -- dualists, qualified monists, or monists, Shaivas, Vaishnavas, or Pashupatas -- to whatever denomination we may belong, have certain common ideas behind us.


Swami Vivekananda realized the urgent need of unifying the Nation by bringing together the various spiritual forces working on the Indian soil for the last 1000 years. With an unfailing foresight, he showed the ways of India's solidarity.


"National union in India", he declared, "must be a gathering up of its scattered spiritual forces. A nation in India must be a union of those whose hearts beat to the same spiritual tune." These are the words of a great Acharya, a saint and a modern prophet of India.


In realization of his noble vision, a sincere attempt was made in India three years ago. History was made at Chennai when, for the first time in modern Hinduism, some of the most eminent Dharma Acharyas including revered Swamijis from north, south, east, west and central India got together and deliberated upon the momentous issues facing the Hindu society and our nation. They debated for three days on the future of Sanatana Dharma, on issues for redress and development, and above all, for the pooling of energies in seva work all over the country.


It was wonderful to see so many Spiritual Heads -- Peethadipathis, Matadhipathis and Mahamandaleshwars sit together and discuss the larger issues facing society. Well organized, and on one platform for the first time, their agenda was peaceful and positive.


Forming an apex Hindu body, the 'Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha' crystallized the collective Hindu consciousness and spoke in a single voice.


Writing about the Sabha Conference, a popular evening newspaper of Chennai said, "So far, there has been no single voice that could claim to speak for the entire Hindu Society. There has been no single body that has been recognised to represent the oldest religious and spiritual tradition in the world. And most of the attacks that the hoary Hinduism has come under for some time now is because it is perceived to be an amorphous body which can be taken for granted, slighted with impunity and attacked. Therefore, the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, a body that comprises almost all the important Hindu religious leadership in the country, has come about not a day soon. It is the Apex Body of the Hindu Dharma. 40 Peetadhipathis and 14 Mandaleshwars met recently for three days and discussed several issues confronting the Hindu Dharma and the Society."


The Acharya Sabha Sabha Conference was held in Chennai, on November 29, November 30 and December 1, 2003.


Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the Convenor of Acharya Sabha, guided the proceedings. He highlighted its vision and the mission as also its formation three years ago. He was glad that there was a very positive response from many members who expressed their appreciation about the purpose of the meet. The response was very heartening to the convenor and the others who helped him in organizing this sacred meet.

At the venue of the meet, there was a sitting arrangement in oval shape where every participating member of the Acharya Sabha was given equal importance. Arrangements were made for simultaneous translation of the talks of the participants in Hindi, English, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu.
The topics in which Acharyas' guidance was sought were:
1. Definition of 'religious freedom'
2. Concrete steps for the protection of Hindu Dharma.
  a. Propagation of Hindu Dharma
b. Protection of tirthas and temples.
c. How do we take back the people coming back to Hindu Dharma.
d. Any other step.
3. Deciding whether the Government should continue to manage the Hindu Temples and Endowments or allow individual trusts to manage them.
4. Discussing whether we can formulate certain minimum samskaras that every Hindu should undergo.
Around 50 Matadhipathis, Adheenams and Mandaleshwars had a brainstorming session. There was a free and frank discussion of the problems that were agitating the minds of the members.
A galaxy of leaders like Sri Ravishankar, Founder, Art of Living Foundation, Swami Chinmayananda, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Sri Ashok Singhal of VHP, Dr. B. K. Modi, Industrialist and philanthropist, Sri S. Gurumurthy, Columnist and Chartered Accountant, Dr. Srikant Jichkar, former Revenue Minister of Maharashtra, Nagpur, Sri Cho Ramaswamy, Advocate and eminent journalist, and others were present during the Meet and participated in the discussions.

More than one hundred disciples of Swami Dayanandaji were also present and assisted in the conduct of the Meet.


The convenor of the Acharya Sabha, Swami Dayanandaji, in his welcome address to the august gathering hailed the Meet as a significant historical event for which they had been waiting for years.


He said: "Hindu Dharma requires one single voice. Muslims have their Personal Law Board. We need an Acharya Sabha…


Addressing the assembled Acharyas he said, "You are our strength. You occupy a position, which is very significant and very important. You must realize the importance of your position. I know you realize this.


"In this session, we will try to project certain important topics about which we want to hear you. We want to have a resolution. Every topic is very important. Your participation is very important in formulating the resolutions. I therefore consider this as a very significant event in the history of Hindu Dharma.


"There are a number of people who are committed to Dharma who have been dreaming about this kind of event to see that there is no more danger. We have to see in our own lifetime that this Dharma is not in danger in the near future. Later generations will take care of what they need to take care of. But in our lifetime, we need to make sure that this Dharma is protected; Not only it is protected; it is handed over in tact without any damage to the generations to came".


Talking to newsmen at the end of conclave, Swami Dayanandaji said it was a massive movement of the people of Hindu Dharma, with the primary focus on caring for the poor, the downtrodden and the powerless. This is a commitment," he said. "The three-day meeting, the first of its kind, deliberated on various things. A variety of topics were chosen for discussion keeping in view the concerns of all the Acharyas who had gathered".


The Acharya Sabha, comprising the Heads of various Sampradayas within the single composite whole known from time immemorial as Sanatana Dharma, deliberated comprehensively for three days, on several issues of concern and importance for the Hindu Society, and crystallized the collective Hindu consciousness.


An immediate issue with the Acharya Sabha was deregulating the Hindu Religious and Endowments Act, that gave the government total control over Hindu places of worship. Nor did the Acharya Sabha held back on its objections to conversion as a project of faith. Sanatana Dharma does not seek to subvert, conquer or denigrate other religious persuasions and faiths. It was therefore resolved to appeal to the leadership of the proselytizing religion in the country to review and change their theological disposition towards Hinduism to promote harmony and avoid any conflict, violence and disruption in Indian society.


The Acharya Sabha was of the view that concerted and conscious efforts are necessary to safeguard and advance the legitimate interests of Hindu Society. The spirit of tolerance and inclusiveness of Hindu Dharma has been exploited by aggressive and acquisitive religious interests too long.


The protection and strengthening of Hindu Society lies in the hands of Hindus. Hindu society needs to be strengthened by ridding it of birth-based caste-centric rigidities such as untouchability, dowry related atrocities on women, female feticide and infanticide etc.


Restoring individual dignity through education, employment opportunities and empowerment of women will result in restoring social dignity and strengthening of Hindu society. Women are nurturers and protectors of life and the essence of religion and spirituality calls for partnership of women and men in all aspects of life for building a harmonious and just society.


Justifiable and informed pride should be inculcated in the youth of Hindu Society at being Hindus and to understand that practicing Hinduism does not stop with some rituals but involves a set of great values.


Efforts must be made to recover, rejuvenate and rebuild places and sites, sacred in Hindu memory -- temples, bathing ghats, pilgrimage centres etc.


Proselytizing religions should not be allowed to erase the identity and spiritual and religious sampradayas of tribal, adivasi and mountain dwelling communities; these communities are far from power centres, are inherently weak and therefore need support to maintain their spiritual and religious identities.


Social peace and harmony will prevail in the country only with correct understanding of the concept of religious freedom, which means freedom to practice one's own religion but not denigrating the religion of the other, such denigration being the basis of all conversion activities in the country.


The Acharya Sabha is not against any religion or religious community in the country to which Hindu Dharma has played the role of a well-meaning host. However, the Sabha will not allow disruption of Hindu families and consequentially Hindu Society by other religions in the country; nor will it accept foreign interference in the form of monetary and other support to contribute to such disruption.


As Swami Dayanandaji rightly pointed out at the end of the three-day Sabha conference, "Faced with militant missionaries and missionary militants, Hinduism had to show its plurality, and all-encompassing acceptance is not a sign of disparateness or disunity. For that is needed a collective voice. In the Acharya Sabha, it can find one. Quite simple, it is a Sabha whose time has come.


"The idea of the Sabha is to become a movement for the people with the emphasis on caring. But aren't there many institutions that lend themselves to such service? May be. But the Sabha cares for the caring. The operative word is caring and not service which has a patronizing tone to it.

"But more than such caring proposals, the very fact that there is now an umbrella body that has representation from all the important Matams and Peetams (that is, the Hindu monasteries and the traditional religious establishments) in the country will in itself send out all the right signals that Hinduism is looking for."
For further details about the Acharya Sabha please read the brochure entitled: "Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha: The Apex Hindu Body--Its Vision and the Mission". Contact Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, PO Box 1059, Saylorsburg, PA 18353, Tel: 570-992-2339,
Fax: 570-992-7150/9617, Email: [email protected]