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Jew, Christian, Sikh scholars vie for Guru Nanak award
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
An award of $ 50,000, to be given every other year to an individual or an organisation in recognition of propagating Guru Nanak’s philosophy of discovering oneness of humanity by exploring the differences that separate people, has attracted nominations from top Jew, Christian, Muslim and Sikh scholars besides academics and inter-faith organisations.

Instituted by the New York-based HOFSTRA University and supported by the Sardarni Kuljit Kaur Bindra Foundation, the first Guru Nanak Interfaith Award will be presented in September, 2008.

Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a former Indian Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, US Senators Charles Schumer and Norm Coleman, academics Rabbi David Rosen, Dr Martin Marty besides celebrated writer and author Khushwant Singh and a member of the Rajya Sabha (MP) Tarlochan Singh are members of the selection committee constituted for the inaugural award.

HOFSTRA University had invited nominations by inserting advertisements in major US newspapers.

Interestingly, the list of nominees is who’s who of individuals and organisations involved in spreading the message of universal brotherhood as preached by the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev.

One of the nominees, Debora Batcha, for example, is designer of a talisman symbolising the fundamental unity of three Abrahamic religions. Abode of the Message (a community of Lebanon), Rabbi Arthur Schneier (spiritual leader of Park East Synagogue, and a member of the first interfaith delegation to visit the Soviet Union and China), medicos Alan Astrow and Daniel Sulmasy, the Bo Yin Ra Foundation and the Center for Religious Inquiry.

Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, the Compassionate Listening Project, the Esalen Institute for Theory and Research and Track Two’s Abrahamic Family Reunion, Sacha Stone and the Humanitad Foundation, Hands of Peace, Hartford Seminary, the Interfaith Encounter Association, Interfaith Peace Building Initiative, Interfaith Works of Central New York, Joseph Interfaith Foundation, Interfaith Mission Service for Greater Tennessee Valley, International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, International Summer School on Religion and Public Life, Molloy College Institute for Christian/ Jewish Dialogue and the Liberian Council for Churches are among some of the organizations whose nominations have been received.

Interestingly, nomination of Modernage Public School and College of Abbottabad in Pakistan for the award has also been acknowledged.

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth Dalai Lama, is also on the nominee list for the award list.

Among individuals of Indian origin Jagdish Gandhi of Lucknow, Dr Eboo Patel, an eminent speaker and broadcaster on interfaith, Sukhbir Singh Kapoor , an author of 40 books on Sikh religion, Bhai Harbans Lal, Emeritus Professor of Pharmacology and Neurosciences and Baba Virsa Singh of Delhi and Trilochan Singh, Professor of Mechanical engineering at Wayne University in Detroit.

Others individuals nominated for the award include Steve D. Martin, president of Vital Visions, Ruth Broyde-Sharone, a film maker, Dr Sayyed Hussain Nasr, University Professor of Islamic Studies, Dr Paul F. Knitter, Gary Krupp, Dr Frank Kaufmann and Dr Harold Kasimow, a pioneer in introducing the study of non-Christian traditions in the curriculum.

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