Hindu leaders and scholars from more than 21 countries called for enhancing tolerance during the second World Hindu Summit (WHS), held in Bali from June 13th to June 17th.
"We happily announce to the world that harmony and tolerance shall prevail and that acceptance is the basic principle of our relationship, with our brothers of same faith or with our brothers of the different faiths. Hindu believes in one world, one God Supreme, and one World Family. There are no boundaries or borders in Hindu Dharma. We are all one, we share the same fate and destiny," the summit declaration said.
A similar tone was expressed by the newly elected president of the World Hindu Parisad, Ida Pedanda Gede Ketut Sebali Tianyar Arimbawa. He called on Hindus to enhance tolerance.
"We are calling for all Hindu devotees to always be respectful to each other and accepting of different faiths," the Hindu high priest said.
Unity in diversity
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono addressed the assembled leaders in a speech to the opening ceremony of the 35th Bali Arts Festival, attended by WHS participants. "I urge Hindu devotees from all around the world to always embody a harmonious and peaceful life," he said.
He also urged Indonesians across the archipelago to maintain tolerance. "We should firmly refuse any forms of violence committed in the name of a specific religion or identity because that is simply not consistent with our values and character as a nation that respects pluralism," he said, stressing the nation's motto of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity).
As many as 500 Hindu leaders and scholars attended the second WHS, which officially opened June 13th at the historic Samuan Tiga Temple in Bedulu village, Bali. Meetings were held at the Bali Arts Center in Denpasar, where the Bali Arts Festival was also taking place.
The temple was chosen because of its significance for many Hindus. Around 1,000 years ago, the great Hindu leader Mpu Kuturan initiated a momentous event unifying the numerous Hindu sects in Bali at the Samuan Tiga Temple.
"We chose Samuan Tiga Temple because we really hope that the spirit of Mpu Kuturan will continue to resonate and unite Hindu devotees from all over the world," I Made Bakta, the chairman of the WHS, said.
Bali honoured with global role
The WHS discussed many contemporary issues including tolerance, the environment, health, science, human rights, and globalisation.
It also launched two new international Hindu organisations, both based in Bali: the World Hindu Parisad, a forum for discussion and deliberation among members, and its implementation arm, the World Hindu Centre. Creation of the two organisations was mandated during the first WHS, held in Bali in 2012.
"Bali should be proud of the trust that world Hindu followers have given to us. This is a big challenge for Bali. We should answer the challenge by doing our best for Hindu devotees from all around the world," organising committee chairman Gede Made Sadguna said.
Through the World Hindu Parisad, Bali will lead the implementation of several programmes, including for child development, women empowerment, elderly care, education, and the economy.
Tianyar Arimbawa, the new Hindu leader, said summit participants discussed increasing cases of intolerance around the world and expressed their commitment to help Hindus contribute to a peaceful existence.
"The World Hindu Parisad will play an active role to enhance tolerance and harmonious life. Tolerance is the key to creating a peaceful life. We are eager to embody the peaceful life," he said.