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A Report on the World Convention on Reverence for All Life

India, November 1997
IVU News - Issue 3 - 1998

The two-day World Convention on Reverence for All Life, held from November 22nd to 24th at the Blue Diamond hotel in Pune, gathered together more than 850 delegates from 27 countries and 40 speakers, determined to rekindle the flame of compassion and respect for the animal kingdom and mother earth by calling for an end to all forms of cruelty and the preparation of an animal rights charter identifying and promoting our duties to the animal world as well as the growth of vegetarianism while helping to create the necessary conditions and general awareness of the urgent need to establish a more peaceful and harmonious human relationship with the global environment.

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The convention - held to coincide with the Golden Jubilee year of India’s independence as a tribute to the nation - was inaugurated by His Excellency Dr. Bali Ram Bhagatji, Governor of Rajasthan, while revered Dada J.P. Vaswani, who proposed to Mr. B. R. Malhotra the celebration of this conference, presided and delivered a Presidential address which touched the feelings of the entire audience and was warmly welcomed. Supreme master Suma Ching Hai, accompanied by some 140 followers from Taiwan, also spoke on this occasion. His Holiness Giriraj Maharaj of Iskcon addressed the gathering ending with a congregational chanting of the holy name of Lord Krishna, as requested by the organisers. Other speeches by several spiritual leaders from different faiths - Sikh, Zoroastrian, Muslim, Seventh Day Adventist, Chinmaya Mission and Brahma Kumaris - covered various philosophical and spiritual topics. Dr. Rooyintan Peter made the interesting observation that Cyrus the Great and his army were vegetarian. Jashu Shah, Regional Secretary of IVU, spoke on Jainism while former IVU President Surendra Mehta chaired the session. Three new books were presented on the occasion by Dada J.P. Vaswani and Supreme Master Suma Chin Hai: Chinmayi by Swami Chinmayanandji, Life Itself by Dr. V. G. Bhide, and Shakahar by Dr. Gangwal.

A beautiful commemorative postal stamp by the Union Minister for Law and Justice, Mr. Ramakant Khalap, depicting the theme of the convention was released on Sunday the 23rd. Mrs. Tarla Dalal - author of several internationally acclaimed vegetarian recipe books and a recipient of the 1995 Vegetarian of the Year National Award presented by the Vegetarian Society Reverence for Life - showed through some practical hints how to prepare simple and nutritious vegetarian foods. Members of the medical profession, including those serving in the armed forces, addressed the following session, and the various health benefits of a vegetarian diet were discussed. Thirteen-year- old Vidur Malhotra was the youngest speaker to express his views on Reverence for Life.

The evening entertainment programme, organised by the Osho Community, included a selection of music played with western and eastern instruments which was very much appreciated by the audience.

At the closing day’s session Hiren Kara, on behalf of IVU, followed up the theme of Reverence for Life and Mr. Surendrabhai Mehta spoke on the Ahimsa Research Foundation project.

The final session was summed up by Swami Anubhavananda, who advised people on how to promote vegetarianism without hurting the feelings of non-vegetarians, stressing that there is no place for any further divisiveness in the world. Mr. K.P. Daswani, co-chairing the event, highlighted the importance of a peaceful life and co-existence based on love and respect for others, saying that if we want to build a peaceful world and a better family, as well as to be loved and respected by others, we must first offer them our love and respect.

A wide variety of vegetarian meals were prepared and served by the Blue Diamond hotel during the convention, including a variety of Indian, Chinese and European specialities which were greatly appreciated by all the delegates.

As a memento, delegates received the Collection of Gems book on Reverence for All Life, containing papers written by many learned speakers, plus another sponsored gift. Various stalls satisfied the demand for books and literature at special discount prices for the event, which under the theme of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (All Creation is One Family) succeeded in bringing together people of different faiths from different communities and countries - a rare contemporary phenomenon which enjoyed wide media attention.

For more than six months Mr. Bahri B. R. Malhotra and his dedicated team worked tirelessly to make the convention an unforgettable experience and for this Herculean effort they deserve gratitude and respect from one and all.

Information provided by Hiren Kara and Firoz Wadia.


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