Inter-religious joint prayers for world peace, 14 July 2013

by Venerable Dr Wei Wu, Abbot of Than Hsiang Monastery, penang


News of the bombing of the Mahabodhi temple at Bodhgaya on July 7, 2013 came as a great shock to Buddhists far and near. Bodhgaya is the holy site where the Buddha gained Enlightenment and has become a holy pilgrimage centre for Buddhists from all over the world. It is also of international importance as it is declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation. Till today we still do not know why and by whom the Mahabodhi temple was targeted for this violent act.

Venerable Wei Wu, the Abbot of the Bayan Baru Than Hsiang Buddhist Temple has been deeply saddened by this tragedy. The  Venerable, in upholding the Buddha’s teaching of non-violence and loving-kindness, took initiative to invite members of nearby Cathedral of the Holy Spirit Church and Hindu Sivan Temple to hold a special joint prayer session for world peace and the early recovery of those injured. They would also pray for the early repentance of the attackers on their mistakes. The coming together of followers from different faiths would have also helped to promote mutual respect, understanding and better communication among them.

The event was held at the Hall of Phor Tay High School in Sungai Dua, Penang on 14th July, 2013, In his keynote speech, Venerable Wei Wu said, “While we condemn the senseless violence, we must not retaliate with violence. The Buddha has taught us in the Dhammapada that ‘Hatred is never appeased by hatred, hatred is appeased by love. This is the eternal law. The victor breeds hatred; the defeated lives in pain; the peaceful lives happily giving up victory and defeat. This is the Buddhist solution to violence.”

“While we pray for the early recovery of the victims from physical injuries, we also pray for the early recovery of the attackers from their mental anguish and the repentance of the senseless acts of violence.”

Chairman Rajindra of the Sivan Temple in his speech said, “I am glad to participate in the prayers. We may have different backgrounds and religious faiths, but we share the same aim in praying for world peace.”

Bro. Pedro Geronimo of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit Church said, “It is rare indeed for followers of different faiths to gather and pray for world peace. We are shocked by the violent attack. It is a sign to us that individual strength is limited, and that we can only
pray to God for guidance. We pray to God to calm the attackers’ mind and for their repentance and remorse.”

Following their speeches, the various religious leaders guided those present in turn to pray for world peace and early recovery of the injured in each of their own religious ways. The prayers were conducted separately in Christian, Hindu and Buddhist traditions and filled the hearts of those present with thankfulness and tranquility. It signified the spiritual harmony of our multi-racial and multi-religious society.

The successful gathering ended in a very innovative manner, the digital release of doves which symbolize freedom and peace, by the various religious leaders present accompanied by their followers. As an after event the delegates was taken on a guided tour of the school premises by the director and members of the School Board and the committee of the Parent-Teacher Association. The visitors were very impressed with the facilities at the school hall, classrooms, prayer hall, library and dancing studio. EH