HISHISTORIAN APPLAUDS BIHAR’S RELIGIO-CULTURAL HERITAGE

Bihar has been a multi-religious society from ancient times. This heritage of communal harmony must be lived today to create a peaceful society in Bihar, says Historian Imtiaz Ahmad. Besides the Indic religions, three more religious traditions (Islam, Christianity and Sikhism) merged in Bihar’s religious horizon, since the medieval times even under Muslim political leadership. But the Sufis propagated Islam through peace and persuasion, he said. />
Ahmad was delivering the 12th Arrupe Memorial Lecture on “Religio-cultural Heritage of Bihar from the Medieval Times to the Present Times” on March 26 at Gandhi Sangrahalaya in Patna, capital of Bihar state.

The lecture was organized by Xavier Institute of Social Research (XISR), a center for research and action, Patna, to honor Pedro Arrupe, international head of the Jesuit Society who was involved in humanitarian works to refugees and liberation of the marginalized.

India has been a land of multiple religions and all religions have been respected in this great land. This has reflected in religious life, art, architecture, social life, music, language and literature. It is true that Islam spread in Bihar since the mediaeval times. There is no evidence to show that the rulers imposed Islam by force. But Islam spread through example and persuasion by the Sufi saints who accepted local culture and rituals, the historian said.

Occasional communal disturbances occurred in Bihar only in the late 19th and 20th centuries. These disturbances are not be seen in isolation but as part of the broader sense of intolerance and violence against marginalized groups specially minorities and Dalits. These are also to be seen as evidences of the erosion of the tradition of harmony, he noted.

This is a matter of concern especially in Bihar, a land with its glorious pluralistic past. But the question is which of the two – harmony and disharmony – is more decisively reflected in our present knowledge of the past? he asked.

Certainly it is harmony and peaceful co-existence. A greater understanding of culture of unity and diversity is needed to live the glorious religio-cultural heritage of Bihar to create a harmony and peace today, he emphasized.

Presiding over the function, veteran educationist and former Vice-Chancellor of Magadh and Nalanda Open Universities, Prof Emeritus Shamshad Hussain said religious freedom, guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, essentially is aimed at creating a harmonious society. This is needed also for created a developed society. Educating ourselves about our religious heritage is the need of the hour.

Education which is needed for development of society, also enables to attain national integration, he said.

More than 125 activists, scholars, representatives of minority institutions and NGOs, and concerned citizens attended the program.

XISR Director Father Jose Kalapura welcomed the guests and explained about the Arrupe Lecture Series, as well as the Institute’s research, publications and action for communal harmony.





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