INDIAN spiritual leader and president of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, north India, His Holiness (HH) Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji (HH Pujya Muniji), met the Pope at the Vatican on Friday (4) during a meeting of religious leaders.
HH Pujya Muniji, who is also the co-founder and co-chair of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, was in Rome to take part in a two-day (3-4) symposium where leaders of the world’s major religions discussed the concept on mercy, and its role in peace and reconciliation.
The Pope said: “We receive God’s forgiveness in order to share it with others. Forgiveness is surely the greatest gift we can give to others, because it is the most costly. Yet at the same time, it is what makes us most like God.
“To bow down with compassionate love before the weak and needy is part of the authentic spirit of religion.”
In his remarks, the Pope also stressed how everyone should cultivate mercy and share it with others.
Accompanied by Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, secretary-general of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) and president of Divine Shakti Foundation, HH Pujya Muniji presented the Pope with a garland made of cardamom pods or an elaichi mala. He explained to the Pope that it was a green mala not only in colour, but also content as it was organic and eco-friendly.
A “green” mala for a “green” Pope, HH Pujya Muniji said.
He told the Pope: “You are bringing a new vision and new concept of religion, a green vision, a vision of religion that thinks, cares and acts for the whole planet. You are a Pope of Hope – bringing new hope to so many people across the world.”
Pope Francis was also presented with a proposal for a summit on the Ganga and Jordan Rivers, to discuss challenges being faced by the people who live on their banks.
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati explained to the pontiff the work carried out by the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, which is preparing booklets on the importance of WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) in every religion. She requested the Pope to write the foreword for the book on WASH in Christianity.
The Pope was also presented a copy of By God’s Grace, HH Pujya Muniji’s biography which she authored, and also a copy of HH Pujya Muniji’s book Peace.
HH Pujya Muniji told the Pope: “You are a man of peace and this is what the world needs today. Our world is turning to pieces in so many places, and we need to turn those pieces into peace. You are a great model of the peace that our world needs and you are doing so much to spread this crucial message.”