Bengaluru observes 800th anniversary of Francis-Sultan encounter

By C V Joseph

Bengaluru, July 29, 2019: Heads of various religions in Bengaluru have commemorated the 800th anniversary of an encounter between Saint Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kāmil of Egypt.

Although all religions aim at the same holy and spiritual aspects to lead a good life, unfortunately people do not follow even 10 percent of their tenets and teachings,” regretted Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore at the interreligious meet held on July 27 St. Joseph’s Boys’ High School Auditorium, Bengaluru.

The archbishop joined Franciscans, the followers of Saint Francis of Assisi who work in the archdiocese to observe the anniversary.

Saint Francis was one of the greatest champions and advocates of harmony and it took tremendous courage for him to go to the sultan in the days of crusade. Sultan al-Kamil was also a good man. Francis’ resemblance of the poor and his approach towards all creatures attracted “the Sultan,” the archbishop said in his presidential address.

Representatives of other religions were Swami Tattwarupananda Adhyaksha of Ramakrishna Order, Mahamunivandaru Sritha Mahagatha, Giani Kewal Singh, M T Matheen, Shreya Vakil and J Bhavani.

Archbishop Machado spoke on Islam to highlight the relation Francis had with the sultan. The prelate said he likes the five pillars of Islam –Faith (Shahadah), Prayer – five times each day (Salat), Charity or alms-giving (Zakat); Fasting during the month of Ramadan (Sawm) and Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj).

Archbishop encouraged all to visit pilgrim centers to increase one’s faith in God. He urged those present to become ambassadors of peace and harmony. “Ultimately, whatever be one’s religion, we all believe in one God,” he said and added, “Let make in India be translated into take from India – Peace and Harmony.”

Swami Tattwarupananda of Halasuru called upon all to follow the footsteps of Francis of Assisi who stood and worked for peace and harmony among different communities. He encouraged the gathering to look forward for perfect situation of peace and harmony in society.

“From time to time, great persons appeared in society to groom, shape and guide people of the particular time. Francis lifted the spiritual life of many and it is relevant to remember him on the 800th year of anniversary. It is also important to purify our senses and thoughts,” the swami added.

Giani Kewal Singh said all humans have come from one light and aim to the same goal. “Everywhere and anywhere we go, we see Gurugraham – God’s presence. Grurugranth is like the Bible and Quran of the Muslims. We need to accept the commonality of religions and faith leads all to universal prosperity.

Shreya Vakil, Parsi, began his talk regretted that humans have replaced love with hate. “All are children of the same Father. We require to trust each other.

Narrating how his mother was healed during a Marian procession, said one need not be a Christian to have faith in Jesus and experience God’s love and mercy. “Life is beautiful, live it and encourage one another.”

Bhavani said she believed peace comes from internal dialogue. “No God likes to fight. Only human beings make wars and go for battles. It is very difficult to wage war without pain and suffering,” she said and added that she often wondered why people fight in the name of religions.

Matheen, who runs charitable hospitals, said people kill each other and wage wars for the sake of religion. Hatred begets hatred only and love does the same. All fights have a base on religion. Greed makes people fight. The golden rule is that wish for others what you wish for yourself.

He spoke of radical love and freedom. One’s freedom of expression should not impinge on others. Need to focus on one God and one truth. And let there be one nation but not one election.

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