From 29 November to 1 December 2003, over 70 heads from various branches of Sanatan Hindu Dharma convened for the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha. On behalf of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Pujya Dr. Swami attended the seminar. He was greeted with nadswaram and garlands. There were 48 Peethadipatis, Mathadipatis and Mahamandaleshwars (heads) of various Hindu religious denominations present.
Also present were minister of
state for Home Affairs, Government of India, Swami Chinmayananda,
Shri Cho Ramaswamy, eminent journalist, Dr. Shrikant Jitchkar,
well known expert on India's constitution and Shri S. Gurumurthy,
The main topics for discussion at this meeting were (1) Religious freedom (2) Religious conversion (3) Administration and control of Hindu temples (4) Common civil code (5) Ban on cow slaughter and (6) Uplift of Hindu Society.
The convener, Pujya Dayanand
Saraswatiji hailed the meet in his welcome address. He said,
“Hindu Dharma requires one single voice. Just as Muslims have
a ‘Muslim Personal Law Board,' we need one Acharya Sabha.
You, oh Acharyas, are our strength as you occupy very significant
and important positions in Hindu society. We need to make
sure that the Sanatan Hindu Dharma is well protected and handed
over, in fact, without any damage to the generations to come.”
Thereafter, chanting of Vedic Mantras and bhajans in Sanskrit, Tamil and Kannada took place. Facilities for simultaneous translation of the proceedings into Hindi, Kannada, Tamil and English were available for every acharya.
The first to speak was H.H. Jayendra Saraswatiji of Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Pitham. Then Shri S. Gurumurthy, columnist, spoke on the issue of religious freedom. Then, Pujya Doctor Swami delivering his presentation in English, said, “Hinduism is perhaps the only and truly democratic religion as it allows its followers to worship any one they choose. It did not force one Book or one Prophet on all. The only principle that all our acharyas accept and agree is that the truth is one, the paths to achieve it are many. Yet, ironically, the whole Western world teaches us to be secular. The country and people of India who gave a warm welcome and shelter to the persecuted Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians (Parsis) are asked to be tolerant! We are tolerant and have allowed other religions to worship in their own way. We believe that the freedom of religion does not include the right to denigrate other religions, to mislead innocent people, to use allurement to bring illiterate people into one's own religious fold.
“Secondly, as provided in our constitution we should have a uniform civil code.
“Thirdly, it is necessary that the donations offered to Hindu temples be used for religious and spiritual purposes.”
The inspirational message was appreciated by the audience.