One of the consistent themes that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been touching upon during his just-concluded visit to the United States and Canada is the fact that his efforts on the promotion of compassion, promotion of human values, religious harmony, and non-violence are all based on Indian classical thoughts. At several occasions, His Holiness called himself only as a messenger of these thoughts that Indian masters of the past had formulated.
I thought His Holiness was in a subtle way drawing the attention of the world to the greatness of India and the perspective that it needs to adopt to that country with great potential.
When expanding on his commitment to promote human values and religious harmony, His Holiness always mentions the need for the promotion of secular ethics, which he said transcends religions while not negating them. Here he always referred to the Constitution of India, in which an integral part is emphasis. The preamble of the Indian Constitution lays it out clearly by saying, “We, The People of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic…”
His Holiness points out that the Indian interpretation of the term “secularism” is different from the conventional western understanding where religion is kept out of the equation. In the Indian context, His Holiness said that secularism had the understanding of respecting all religious tradition. I tried looking up on the discussions on secularism in India and found that indeed there was this line of thinking among Indian scholars. One scholar affirsm that in India, “Secularism is thus more than a passive attitude of religious tolerance. It is a positive concept of equal treatment of all religions.” Another says, “…the Indian concept of secularism demands acceptance of the values of other religions while permitting the individual to believe in the values of his own religion.”
His Holiness the messenger of India also had a message for the religious leaders in India. At one occasion, he said that the messenger was doing his best in conveying the message to the international community and that the very many religious leaders in India also need to be more proactive in promoting the basic Indian thoughts on promotion of human values, religious harmony and secularism.