Jain head invites pope to inter-faith meet in India
By Matters India reporter
Rome: A top leader of Jainism from India has invited Pope Francis to an international Inter-religious meeting in New Delhi.
“Your Holiness, I am here to invite you for an international Inter-religious meeting, in which my organization has invited the president and prime minister of India and supreme heads of all religions of India,” said Acharya Dr Lokesh Muni in a written message to Pope Francis delivered in person in the Vatican on March 7.
Dr Lokesh Muni continued, “I am deeply happy to inform you that in the past we have organized many international inter-religious programs that have graced many international faith and social luminaries.”
In his invitation on behalf of Jain religion Lokesh Muni continued, “This invitation is close to my heart, as I know you are champion of peace and harmony and tirelessly working for bonding and love between religions. I am hopeful that you must grace this program according to your suitability of time.”
We are really optimistic and I am humbled if you can say two words of nonviolence. I am really grateful, if we can meet alone and discuss a few very important issues, which could bring our religions closer.”
Lokesh Muni first garlanded the pope with cardamom during the Wednesday audience when the pope came around to greet the VVIPs. Muni said the pope’s good works spread just as the fragrance of the “elaichi mala” (cardamom garland).
Then he showed the brochure of the previous international meet and invited him on behalf of the Government of India and his Jain community to come and inaugurate the next program.
Pope in his broken English said “I like and hope to come.”
Muni also gave the pope a bronze plaque depicting the Jain mantras explaining stages in human life.
The Acharya, versatile thinker, writer and poet, handed over a Jain plaque to the pope.
Lokesh Muni, who will turn 57 on April 17, had also visited the Vatican Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and Proclamation, and was interviewed at Radio Vatican.
For the past 30 years, Lokesh Muni has made efforts to build national character, develop human values and establish non-violence, peace and mutual co-operation in society.
He has traveled on foot more than 20,000 km throughout India to remove social evils and propagate moral values.
“My first and last ambition is that I should be able to make the world free from violence, terrorism and tension and that I may help in making my humble contribution in establishing peace and mutual co-operation,” says a website on the Acharya.
After completing his formal education Lokesh Muni studied Jain, Buddhist, Vedic and other Indian and foreign philosophies.
In 2001, the then US president Bill Clinton invited him to visit America. During his first visit to the States in 2007, the Acharya discussed peace education and training of non-violence in the Senate, where members of both Republican and Democrats participated.
The Acharya has written more than a dozen books in prose and poetry. His literature shows a new approach and solution to current problems.
The Jain leader has also started a movement to check abortion of female child and other social evils.