“One God, One Universe and One Human Family, with birds and bees, animals and insects, as part of this sacred family to be sustained by universal values of Truth, Love, Compassion and Justice – altogether integrated into a new paradigm of integral development. That is the need of the hour! Let’s feel challenged and realise this in our day and age!”
Swami Agnivesh is a swami with a difference, a holy man who is also an untiring social worker and political activist. He reasons that religion and spirituality can be applied in our day-to-day lives so as to make them resonate in a more practical manner.
Addressing issues as diverse as religious intolerance, Naxalism, social justice, human rights, world trade and women’s empowerment, Swami Agnivesh calls for a transformation of society through a multi-pronged, holistic approach. Swamiji’s vision is that of a “proactive social spirituality” against the many ills that plague our societies and the planet.
Swami Agnivesh, winner of the Alternative Nobel Peace Price (the Right Livelihood Award) in 2004, looks like a sadhu, talks like a politician and, most importantly, voices the cause of India’s underprivileged millions. He abandoned a promising career as a professor of law and management in Calcutta for a life of activism. Later, he gave up a coveted ministerial position with the Government of Haryana to work for the oppressed.
Swami Agnivesh has inspired many young minds to strive towards making the world a better place to live in. In 1994, he was appointed the chairperson of the UN Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery. He is better known around the world for his crusade against bonded labour, and is founder-chairperson for the Bonded Labour Liberation Front.
He has led numerous initiatives to foster peace and interfaith harmony in Kashmir during the worst periods of violence. In 2010, Swamiji was appointed by the Government of India as the mediator between the government and the Maoist leadership.
The Sarva Dharma Sansad (or: All Faiths Parliament) established by him in India in 2007 is the first interfaith movement that includes both women and men leaders. Currently, he is also on the board of directors of the first-ever intergovernmental, inter religious, intercultural, international Centre for Dialogue (KAICIID) based in Vienna.
Swami Agnivesh is the author of many books and articles, the most recent is his work on “Applied Spirituality – A Spiritual Vision for the Dialogue of Religions” (2015, Harper Element).
Since many years, Swami Agnivesh is a close friend of Trans4m and our integral work. He has guided Trans4m’s work in India through numerous in-depth dialogues to deepen our understanding of the socio-economic and cultural dynamics of the country, and has helped many of Fellows and Junior Fellows in their own contributions to Indian society. Combining ecological, spiritual, political and socio-economic activism for justice, Swami Agnivesh is a living role model of Integral Development in action.