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THE EARTH IS A SINGLE FAMILY: by Swami Agnivesh (India), Spiritual Activist, Alternative Nobel Prize


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Time & Location

21 Jan 2021, 08:00

About the Event

Home for Humanity’s Living Curriculum:

Focusing on the Humanity Charter theme: HUMANITY - Sourcing Our Humanity in Unity 

Swami Agnivesh (1939 to 2020), India, Founder of the Bonded Labour Liberation Front, Recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (‘Alternative Nobel Prize’), and Hero of Humanity Award.

“Switch from the love of power to the power of love”! 

“We are all born equal on this earth, our home. A home for humanity should involve everyone and contribute towards the challenge of making people equal.”  

A frequent visitor, close friend and indeed “foundational pillar” of Home for Humanity, Swami Agnivesh’s spirit is alive in all our work, which has been deeply inspired by these profound quotations and other insights shared in this interview. 

In this conversation, Swami Agnivesh highlights his life philosophy of ‘Vasudeva Kutumbakam’: the earth is a single family, which is also enshrined in the Humanity Charter. He shares his vision of spiritual activism and his pioneering life’s work for justice for all beings, especially the most marginalised and voiceless, despite all odds. Indeed, Swami Agnivesh was arrested and imprisoned several times for his courageous championing of justice for the powerless, and faced numerous death threats and violent attacks by religious fundamentalists who opposed his radically inclusive and anti-sectarian approach. Swami Agnivesh was a reputed leader of the global Interfaith movement, and its unstoppable voice of conscience. Swami Agnivesh was also Chairperson of the United Nations Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery; Founder of Sarva Dharma Sansad: Parliament of All Religions; Pioneer of Spiritual Activism; and Founder of One Earth Family movements.

Short Biography of Swami Agnivesh: Swami Agnivesh was one of India’s most prominent social activists, and a major voice for the underprivileged millions of India. Consistently and courageously, he crusaded for the rights of the poor, the weak and the defenseless. Among his many campaigns and initiatives, he fought against bonded labor and all forms of modern slavery, child labor, the caste system and ‘untouchability’, female foeticide, discrimination against women, subjugation of India’s Adivasi indigenous populations, alcoholism, as well as violence against animals. Swamiji pioneered Spiritual Activism, and sought to bridge politics and religion with his constant focus on social justice. As a major figure in the Interfaith Movement, invited frequently to speak at the most prestigious global fora, he was outspoken in demanding the inclusion of women in religious leadership, and an end to all forms of religious dogmatism, corruption and hypocrisy.  In the tradition of Gandhi’s Satyagraha, he convened and led interfaith marches on foot across India on numerous occasions to protest caste violence, communal riots, and female foeticide. Relentlessly, he engaged himself in all matters of social injustice close to his heart by campaigning as well as sharing wisdom and insights with innumerable admirers through television, social media, books and conferences. His public lectures, videos, conferences and talks changed the course of life for millions of people. He was awarded the Right Livelihood award, and the Hero of Humanity award, among many other recognitions. In 2020, only a few months after this legacy interview has been recorded, Swami Agnivesh died of liver failure, the consequence of a violent attack on his life two years earlier. His life and work continue to inspire. One of his key principles was to use love as an instrument for restoring justice. 

More on Swami Agnivesh at:​ 

Obituary of Swami Agnivesh in the Economist:​ 

The conversation with Swami Agnivesh was conducted by Marc L’Eplattenier  and Stefanie Kriech, Members of the Home for Humanity Team 2020. The team worked on the creation of a Home for Humanity Living Curriculum – a task that was embedded in the 2020 “Reshaping International Development” Course at the University of St. Gallen, directed by the co-founders of Home for Humanity.

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