(Speech by Fr Dr KM George at the Dr Paulos Mar Gregorios Award ceremony when the former President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee presented the award to Smt. Aruna Roy in New Delhi, July 28, 2019).
Respected Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Your Holiness the Catholicos, Shrimati Aruna Roy, Shri Shashi Tharoor, Metropolitan Yuhanon Mar Dimitrios, distinguished dignitaries, Ambassadors, Bishops, Clergy, sisters and brothers.
We all know that in 1893 when the World Parliament of Religions had its first gathering in Chicago, Swami Vivekananda the legendary monk and scholar from Kolkota made a historic speech that brought the great Indian philosophical and spiritual heritage to the attention of the wider world. In 1993 when the World Parliament of Religions celebrated its 100th anniversary in Chicago, another Indian monk and scholar Paulos Mar Gregorios delivered the inaugural address. At the end of his speech he reiterated the famous dictum , Not one religion for all humanity, but one humanity for all religions.
With his inspired vision of a new humanity Mar Gregorios focussed his enormous intellectual endowment and spiritual energy to create a solid common ground for various religions, ideologies and political structures to meet in the service of one humanity. He crisscrossed the continents to dialogue with, to challenge and even to confront statesmen and scholars, scientists and social thinkers in the cause of peace and justice. Highly critical of the European Enlghtenment and the colonial movement he brilliantly called for a new Enghtenment rooted in the Indian and Asian Wisdom traditions.
When he created the Delhi Orthodox centre in 1985 he dedicated special space for a Sarvadharma Nilaya and a Niti Santi Kendra which reflected his overarching concerns for the future of our world .
The way in which he chaired for a week the international encounter of renowned scientists, theologians and social thinkers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1978 on the future of the world has become legendary.
The Mahatma Gandhi University in Kerala created an academic Chair in his name in 1998 to honour his remarkable intellectual and interdisciplinary contributions to the contemporary world.
Let me now express our respectful gratitude to the distinguished guests.
Your Holiness, we know how much you venerate the memory of your own great teacher Mar Gregorios. We now humbly thank you for your gracious presence and pastoral guidance in conducting this function.
Shri Pranab Mukherjee, we have always been inspired by your committed vision for our nation and your laudable initiatives to create a true human community from the grassroots. Your heart was always with the common people even when you occupied the highest position in the life of our nation. Sir, please accept our heartfelt gratitude.
Shrimati Aruna Roy, your unyielding and lifelong struggles to uphold human dignity and justice to the marginalised have created a significant landmark in the history of civil society in our country. If Bishop Paulos Mar Gregorios were here right now he would have touched your feet with respectful appreciation of your commitment to the poor and the least ones of our society. Madam, please accept our most sincere gratitude for your acceptance of the award.
Dr Shashi Tharoor is our own beloved member of Parliament from God’s own country. We count on his erudition, creative openness to the larger world and his youthful dynamism as signals of hope for our country. Sir, please accept our grateful regards.
It would be superfluous to thank Dr Yuhanon Mar Dimetrios, for he is our chief host on this occasion. Yet in the name of all assembled here, Your Grace, let me express our deep appreciation for your eminent leadership and pastoral guidance.
To the distinguished guests, the ambassadors, bishops, clergy and other dignitaries I express our sincere gratitude. Our special thanks go to the media personnel present here. Let me also gratefully remember the services rendered by the late Ramban MS Skariah in the early planning of the event.
Above all, our brothers and sisters in the audience from various churches and social circles , to you I say a big thank you from the depth of my heart, because you constitute the heart of the matter.
Thank you all.