LEADERS OF CHRISTENDOM
Sant Kirpal Singh Ji, Baron W. F. von Blomberg, Madame Hardevi Raja Ram and Princess Devinder Kaur Narendra arrived in Athens on the evening of July 22. The party was welcomed by Professor Anthony Philip Halas, an eminent writer and journalist; Professor Choumanides, a fine scholar and a Count of Llentrisco; and some colleagues and friends of theirs. Pressmen took pictures and interviewed the Sat Guru and Baron Blomberg, and announcements of Kirpal Singh's arrival were later published in the Athens newspapers. The Master stayed at the residence of Professor Halas, who was assisted in attending to the Master's various requirements by Captain and Mrs. Dagnomilas.
The next day Professor Halas received initiation into the Science of the Soul from Kirpal Singh. The first Greek national to receive this initiation, the Professor is a man of high ideals and possesses a simple and sincere personality. His simplicity widens his cultural and religious knowledge rather than in any way detracts from it, and he had been seeking the inner truth of the world religions and philosophies for forty years. He had studied hundreds of learned tomes on these subjects, but he could find no solution to his problem. He wanted to know Truth, not just read about it. How could he find this Truth?
He searched constantly through the pages of the Holy Bible and the great mystical writings of the world. He was advancing in years and beginning to lose hope in ever discovering the Truth behind human existence. And then the hand of providence brought a small booklet, entitled "Man Know Thyself!" to his attention. "I have read many books like this," he thought. "It is just a waste of precious time!" Then his gaze fell upon the frontispiece of the booklet, a photograph of an Indian Sikh, and it was the most unusual and memorable face he had ever seen. It seemed to draw him towards itself, and the eyes appeared to delve into the very depths of his being. He started to read the introductory pages and saw that this was the face of His Holiness Sant Kirpal Singh Ji Maharaj. On the first page of the book was printed "For sincere seekers after Truth."
It was a thirty-page booklet which could be read in a very short space of time, but it took Professor Halas several months to put it aside as the focal-point of his reading. Again and again he read and re-read the booklet, absorbing each phrase, sentence and word written therein. He had come at last to the end of his search. He knew that this Master was the spiritual preceptor he had prayed for—one who had firsthand experience of the Truth and could convey this experience to the sincere seeker. But, to remove all doubts, he compared the teachings of Kirpal Singh to the old and new teachings of other Masters. He was greatly excited to find that not only did Kirpal Singh's teachings correspond with those of Christ, but they were the same as those of all other Masters too. He prepared articles on these teachings, stating that there was a living preceptor of spirituality in the world, and several of these articles were published in Greek newspapers and magazines.
Several talks were arranged at public halls and private homes, including a reception given for Kirpal Singh at the residence of Mr. Lemos, the Vice-President of the Greek Shipowners Association. The charming wife of Mr. Lemos served refreshments in traditional Greek style, using special fruit preserves and fruit juices. Mrs. Lemos was extremely interested in the work of the World Fellowship of Religions and promised to help the organization in any way possible. Mr. Lemos, who spoke of his interest in Indian affairs, expressed a desire to attend the forthcoming World Conference of the World Fellowship of Religions.
Kirpal Singh conferred with Roman Catholic Archbishop of Athens and spoke about his forthcoming visit to Rome. The Archbishop was intrigued with the way that the Master set forth the purpose of the World Fellowship of Religions and its work for inter-faith amity. Archbishop Jacob of the Greek Orthodox Church also met Kirpal Singh and discussed the World Fellowship of Religions. The Master presented a clear picture of his work for goodwill and peace in the world to the Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church. His message was prophetic and practical in intent: it led to the meeting of the supreme leaders of two great Christian Churches in January, 1964, when the supreme Pontiff of Rome met the Patriarch of Constantinople.
A practical demonstration of one of the purposes of the World Fellowship was exemplified when Kirpal Singh and Baron von Blomberg held a conference with the executive-heads of "Zoe"—meaning "Life"—one of the leading world publications on religious affairs, and the most vital spiritual magazine in Greece. "Zoe" is influential in every phase of Greek life. Professor Lazaros T. Choumanides, who met Kirpal Singh at the airport, is a contributor to "Zoe," and he is also the Greek correspondent for the Philo-Byzantine University. The representatives of "Zoe" had been unaware of the existence of the World Fellowship of Religions, for they had been propounding the necessity for such an organization for many years. The meeting between themselves and the President of the W.F.R. led to a clarification of their own work, and a mutual understanding and knowledge of each other's work was established. Professor Choumanides agreed to become the Greek Representative for the World Fellowship of Religions.
Many diverse personalities called on Kirpal Singh to discuss the W.F.R. These included Mr. Dayton, Chief of the United States Information Service in Athens, and General Paulopoules. Another press conference was held for Indian, Greek and Italian newsmen. More people were initiated into the Science of the Soul, and regular meditation sittings were held each morning. Professor Halas, who has become the Greek Representative for Ruhani Satsang, translated the Master's discourses into Greek. As in India, Kirpal Singh found deep spiritual traditions in the Cradle of Western civilization. The first public initiation to be held in Greece occurred on July 27, 1963, the birth anniversary of Baba Sawan Singh Ji Maharaj, Kirpal Singh's own Master. Five hundred years previously, Guru Nanak had visited Athens, and now, once again, a Living Master of spirituality was in the city to revive the forgotten science of uniting the soul back to God: the Science of the Masters. On August 1, 1963, Kirpal Singh and his party bade farewell to their new friends and devotees in Athens and flew to Rome Italy. Immediately upon arrival in Rome, Kirpal Singh was officially welcomed by the Mayor of the city. After the mayoral reception, Kirpal Singh and his party were received by the President of the Council of Ministers of Italy. The Master and Baron W. F. von Blomberg conferred with the Papal Commission on Cooperation with non-Christian religions, setting forth the work of the World Fellowship of Religions before these and other Vatican dignitaries. The Master found in Italy, as in every nation, men and women who recognize the necessity of using spiritual methods in dealing with the conflicts of humanity. Such dedicated souls are constantly endeavoring to raise the consciousness of humanity above the shallow ideals of temporal wealth and power. These servers of humanity are thus a potent force for the realization of the ideal of brotherhood on this planet.
The Papal Commission on Cooperation with non-Christian religions is a forerunner of the new global enlightenment. The unification of the superb mystical literature of the East with the religious traditions of the West will give many seekers after Truth, a clearer vision of the deeper issues immanent in all social religions. The Science of the Soul, through the grace of a living Satguru, goes further than this and gives the aspirant a practical realization of these truths. With the widespread promulgation of the Master's teachings, a far greater wisdom and knowledge of life will be gained.
In an audience with the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Kirpal Singh was offered every cooperation with the unifying purpose of the World Fellowship of Religions. Count Vanni Teodorani, Member of the Italian Parliament, accepted the office of Italian Representative of the World Fellowship of Religions.
"We shall pray for India and we shall pray for you!"
With these noble sentiments, His Holiness Pope Paul VI, vigorous supporter of the progressive policies of his renowned predecessor, greeted Kirpal Singh, Princess Devinder Kaur Narendra, Madame Hardevi and Baron Blomberg. The party from India had been granted a special audience with the Pope. This meeting between Pope Paul and the Great Master from India was a living expression of the unifying power of the Holy Spirit. As Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli—the great Pope John XXIII—had often expressed this ideal of unification:—ut unum sint— "that all may be one."
"I am your brother, I am the brother of all men," said Pope John, shortly after his coronation. Kirpal Singh and Pope Paul met in the spirit of these sublime words. Such simple and beautiful ideals, given by the great soul who issued the Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) encyclical, are mirrored in the aims and purpose of the Living Master. In the fellowship of common purpose, under the Grace of God, the newly elected Pope of one year, Giovanni Battista Montini, Paul VI, met the great spiritual Master from Delhi, the Founder-Director of Ruhani Satsang— Science of the Soul. After fruitful and meaningful discussions between the two men of God—religious Pontiff and Sat Guru—His Holiness Pope Paul presented Sant Kirpal Singh Ji Maharaj with the specially-struck Medal of his first year as Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.
Wherever Kirpal Singh went in Rome he found a desire for interfaith understanding and tolerance. He and Baron von Blomberg were warmly greeted in the Papal Chambers by His Eminence, Cardinal Agajanian, the World Propaganda head of the Roman Catholic Church. He advised them to meet Cardinal Gracias of Bombay and also the Bishop of Delhi on their return to India.
Kirpal Singh pointed out the new direction to be taken by the major religions to many of the Church leaders. If social religions are to share the positive endeavor of creating goodwill, they must develop a constructive exposition of their fundamental tenets. Religions should point the way to the technique of self-realization, and show man that he can attain soul-consciousness. It is the duty of social religions to develop the highest ideal of the brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God. Religion must know and serve the purpose of unity. "Let us pray together for these things to come about," were the parting words of Reverend Father Stranski of the Papal Commission on Unity.
Kirpal Singh was interviewed by many pressmen from the leading Rome newspapers. Baroness Heynold von Graefe, representative of several European magazines, paid the Master a special visit and pledged that she would do her utmost to place his great mission before the world. She also expressed the wish to become one of his disciples. On his final evening in Rome, prior to his departure for Paris, France, Kirpal Singh and his party were invited to a dinner party, given in their honor by His Excellency the Indian Ambassador and his wife.
Kirpal Singh and his party were welcomed to Paris by Madame Denise Mafille and other disciples on August 6, 1963. A beautiful bouquet of flowers was presented to the Master, and he saw that many of his other European devotees were there to greet him. Although reservations were made for the Tour party at a Paris hotel, Madame N. Goldenberg, a very devoted disciple, begged the Master to bless her home by staying there during his visit. Kirpal Singh placed his hand upon her shoulder and said: "Why not! That is also my home." With true love and devotion, Madame Goldenberg placed the whole home at the disposal of the Master and his party, and for two days and one night her apartment was graced by the presence of this spiritual ambassador of light, love and wisdom.
Kirpal Singh stayed in Paris until August 13, and on the second day of his stay conferred with His Grace, Monsignor Kovalesky, Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church in France. Monsignor Kovalesky endorsed the aims and ideals of the World Fellowship of Religions with great enthusiasm. He echoed the sentiments of other leaders of Christendom by stating that the W.F.R. would smooth out many difficulties and erase apparent differences between the major religions of the world. He invited Kirpal Singh to speak at the Church of Saint Denise that evening, and the Master graciously accepted. At the conclusion of his inspiring address Kirpal Singh said: "As President of the World Fellowship of Religions, I am asking all religious leaders to come together for greater understanding so that peace can reign on earth." Monsignor Kovalesky willingly agreed to act as an advisor to the World Fellowship of Religions and to attend the forthcoming World Conference.
At the invitation of Madame Choisy, Director of the Centre, Kirpal Singh gave two public talks at the Centre International de Meditation Hindoue. A further public talk was given at a venue in the Boulevard Saint Germaine. At the three meetings Kirpal Singh gave a progressive exposition of the Science of the Soul. He stated that religious leaders must realize that the suffering and spiritual blindness of humanity are not due to lack of observance of outward forms of worship. Humanity's distress is basically due to ignorance of the essential reality which dwells behind all manifested forms. Man knows neither himself nor God. Religion must rediscover the supreme fact of the Sound Current:—the Way back to God—and the necessity of the guiding hand of a competent Master-Saint as the means to finding and knowing God. If any religion could restore this understanding and knowledge to the world, it would surely prove to be the hope and living faith for all mankind. Paris had the least number of local disciples when Kirpal Singh arrived. When he left, three initiation sittings had taken place, and many people received direct experience of the divine Light and Sound Principle.
Jewish religious leaders visited Kirpal Singh twice, and on the second visit informed him that they had conveyed news of his mission to the Chief Rabbi in Israel. A consultation between Kirpal Singh and the Chief Rabbi had been arranged for the Master's eventual visit to Israel. Kirpal Singh was given a reception by Raymond Duncan, world-famous poet and playwright, at the Academic Raymond Duncan, a focal-point for humanitarian and cultural activities in Paris. Members of the Unity of Love movement, a French spiritual group; Sufi leaders and delegates of the great Coptic Church; all expressed their support for the tremendous world-mission of spirituality and unification. The Ambassador of Ethiopia, acting on behalf of His Majesty the Emperor Haile Selassie, invited Kirpal Singh and Baron von Blomberg to Ethiopia. When the Master left Paris on August 13, he was bidden farewell by many of his German, Swiss and French followers, including Frau Fitting, the German representative, and Mme. Mafille and Mme. Choisy, the two French group-leaders.