World Peace Forum Vienna 2 October 2014
WORLD PEACE FORUM on the occasion of the Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhiji's Birthday and the UN International Day of Non-Violence
In the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi
On 2 October 2014, on the occasion of the birthday of India’s great reformer and liberator, Mahatma Gandhiji, a World Peace Forum was held in Vienna, Austria, under the umbrella of the Sri Swami Madhavananda World Peace Council (SMWPC) and Yoga in Daily Life. Participants from all over Austria and neighbouring countries Slovakia, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Germany, came to participate in this peace gathering. International speakers remembered the day that is recognised as the International Day of Non-Violence by the United Nations.
His Holiness Abunathswami Maheshwaranandaji initiated the World Peace Summit 20 years ago on behalf of the SMWPC. Over the years these Summits have brought the message and concept of Gandhiji, the sanatan dharma principle of ahimsa, non-violence, to the general public. Many different countries and continents have been host to the Summits, which have now returned to the starting point – Vienna, Austria.
The Peace Forum was opened by H. H. Abunathswamiji, the President of the SMWPC, with a Sanskrit mantra for the peace and welfare of all humanity and all living beings on Earth. A Peace Candle was lit and the message of the Vice-President of the SMWPC, Monsignor David Cappo from Adelaide in South Australia, was read to the audience.
After His Holiness Abunathswamiji's opening speech, the order of speeches then continued as below, concluding with His Holiness again taking the stand.
- Dr. Manfred Stepponat, President of International Sri Deep Madhavananda Ashram Fellowship
- Swami Premanand from OM Ashram, Jadan, India
- Gregor Kos, Secretary General of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia
- Claudia Matejovski, founder of the Ayurveda Academy of Yoga in Daily Life
- Jasmindevi, actress and founder of the initiative Pro-Ahimsa in Vienna, Austria
- Josef Warzel, Yoga in Daily Life, Vienna
- Károly Kovács Krishnanand, President of Yoga in Daily Life Hungary
- Dr. Naresh Sheetal, ophthalmologist in Vienna, Austria
- Sri Alok Raj, Counsellor of the Indian Embassy
- His Holiness Abunathswami Paramhans Maheshwarananda, founder of Sri Swami Madhavananda World Peace Council and author of the Yoga in Daily Life System.
The invited representatives shared their thoughts, illuminating the subject of Ahimsa (non-violence) from different viewpoints and giving much inspiration and many ideas on how each individual can contribute something in their daily life, in order that our world should become more peaceful and free from violence. Sri Alok Raj, representative of the Indian Embassy in Vienna, brought greetings and a message of appreciation from the Indian Ambassador for this international World Peace Forum.
In H. H. Abunathswamiji's closing speech, he reinforced the message of unity of all living beings, as conveyed by the saints and masters of Sri Siddha Peeth Alakhpuriji Parampara and the 'father of the Indian nation' Mahatma Gandhi. His Holiness emphasized that the greed which soaks the human mind is one of the obstacles on the way to peace, along with our lifestyle choices -
"There are thousands of NGOs that work for the protection of our beautiful Mother Earth - but what can an individual do for peace? There is a powerful weapon in our hands, and that is to stop eating meat and stop contributing to the mass torture and killing of animals. That approach can make us into virtuous and pious souls, which in Hindi is called punya; in contrast to papa (sinful acts).
"We are poisoning our environment and if we do not change our lifestyle soon, we will suffer the consequences. We produce weapons and these weapons eventually are used against ourselves. In this way, only unnecessary death is supported, not the way of peace. We are born to be protectors not destroyors."
"Animals are also living beings as we are, they feel pain as we do - but they have no language in order to make their selves understood. If people would become vegetarians, it would be not only ethically and humanly valuable, it would save a lot of suffering to the animals and also to ourselves and would be a significant contribution to saving our earth from a climate catastrophe and irretrievable destruction of our environment."