Twentieth century saw mind-boggling progress in the field of science and technology, particularly in the latter half of this century. It is said that the progress made in this period surpasses the achievement of many millenniums in this field. However, the cost of this achievement has been very high in the sense that for this progress we lost the wealth of our ancient wisdom. No wonder that despite all the materialistic progress, human happiness has come down drastically and the society is facing a period of conflict, confusion and chaos.
We need to contemplate on this issue seriously so that the human race achieves not only progress but peace also. The whole world started realising this situation towards the end of the twentieth century and many positive forces came forward to work in this direction. I got the opportunity to participate in two such initiatives during the year 2000 itself. The first occasion was the address of the world’s spiritual leader, Dalai Lama, from the precincts of Sarnath in Varanasi. This is the place where Gautam Buddha gave his first discourse after achieving enlightenment. The event started with a ‘deep-yagya’ on the bank of the Ganges in which several spiritual and social leaders of the country took part. Lighting of the lamp is a symbol of removing ignorance and imparting knowledge. This symbolic ceremony was received well and in a way the twenty-first century began with the vow of lighting a lamp instead of cursing the darkness. In the forenoon of January 1, 2000, Dalai Lama gave his message to the entire world. The central message of his address was that we must make use of ancient wisdom in order to make the best use of the material progress on account of scientific development. Both are complimentary to each other rather than in conflict.
Our ancient wisdom lays emphasis on core values of life, which are necessary to follow if we want peace. May be some modifications in the interpretation of our scriptures are required, but their spirit has to be followed as such. If we do so, our conflicts and confusion will reduce greatly and disappear in due course. The second event was the meeting of the world’s spiritual and religious leaders at the UN headquarters in New York. In this event, about 2000 delegates from almost all countries of the world participated and deliberated on the subject of ‘peace’. It was noticed that human nature is essentially the same irrespective of place, language, colour, religion, caste and creed. Everyone wants peace and the mad race for material progress is also an effort to achieve the same objective. It is a different matter that in the absence of core values, we fail to find it. The central message of this meet was also the same that we need ‘ancient wisdom’ in order to make the best use of ‘modern times’. Let us all try to follow this in our lives in order to be successful, as well as peaceful.