Former BBC-India Chief Highlights Multiple Paths to God

Washington, D.C. (October 19, 2010) – The ninth annual Reverend Dr. Stanley Samarth Memorial Lecture was presented on October 7 in Bengaluru (Bangalore), India.  Co-sponsored by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) and hosted by the Bangalore Initiative for Religious Dialogue (BIRD), the lecture by Sir Mark Tully, former Chief of Bureau, BBC – New Delhi, was an insightful address to a gathering of over 350 people. The title of the lecture was How certain should we be? The problem of religious pluralism. Audience members included leaders of many different religious faiths, academics, government officials as well as citizens of Bangalore.
 
Sir Tully spoke about religious diversity in India and the global example India can be for its respect for the individualized nature of religious experience. Sir Tully spent over 30 years managing BBC’s news operations in the country, and he discussed his own experiences living and traveling in India.
 
“There are many arguments about the role of religion in the history of this country.  But the fundamental fact still remains that India has been a historic home to all the great religions of the world,” said Sir Tully.  “I believe this pluralism and this ability to have an individual element in your religion is culturally specific to India...I came to India as an orthodox Christian thinking there was only one way to God.  I now believe there are many ways to God and that came from living in India.”
 
Sir Tully also elaborated on what he felt to be an often stressful environment for practicing Hindus living in a secular country like India. “There is blind secularism in this country.” remarked Sir Tully. “If anyone speaks about Hinduism in this country, they are branded as Hindu fundamentalists.”
 
HAF extended its gratitude to BIRD Founder Trustee Chairman and Coordinator P.N. Benjamin and the BIRD team for arranging all the logistics for the event. HAF expressed support for BIRD's commitment to religious pluralism and for promoting interfaith dialogue.
 
"The Bangalore Initiative for Religious Dialogue sets a prime example for interfaith dialogue in India that we here at HAF work so hard to promote in the United States,” said Swaminathan Venkataraman, a member of HAF’s Board of Directors. “We hope that others will take value in religious plurality with the same fervor as Sir Mark Tully.”
 
An audio recording of the lecture is available on BIRD’s website.