“I believe in tenets of all religions that preach peace, harmony and co-existence.”
– Vijay Darda
Though a devout Jain, Vijay Darda believes that all religions preach love, harmony and co-existence. He encourages public discourses of gurus, munis and sadhvis of various communities for spiritual upliftment of humankind. He emphasises that every individual in a religiously diverse society has the rights, freedom and safety to worship according to their conscience.
Darda founded Sakal Jain Samaj in the year 1994 with the vision of uniting all sects of the Jain community under one national level organisation. It hosts and celebrates auspicious Jain events and festivals, and performs such activities in the furtherance of the religion. It aims to teach and propagate Lord Mahavir’s doctrine by publishing and distributing his literature.
The organisation also conducts discourses, conferences and conclaves to guide people for leading a righteous path. It facilitates academic, cultural and intellectual exchanges among various communities across the country. It universally espouses the principles of pure vegetarianism, non-violence, forgiveness and peaceful coexistence.
Darda visited Chandrapur to listen to the ‘Pravachan’ of Shri Preeti Sudha ji Maharaj on his wife Jyotsna’s insistence. He was highly motivated by her words, “to change the way one lives his life is a process of devotion & penance. We have been to temples so many times, never have we tried to make our mind, body & soul a temple. We don’t respect our parents when they are alive, then what’s the use of crying when they are gone?”
Darda later pursued Shri Preeti Sudha ji Maharaj and even met Acharya Shri Vidya Saagar Ji Maharaj to perform Chaturmas in Nagpur. It is the holy period from July to October every year, beginning on Shayani Ekadashi and lasts until Prabodhini Ekadashi of the Hindu lunar calendar. Jain monks practise Varshayog and engage in prayers, religious activities and spiritual discussions
Darda, being a Shwetambara Jain, did not confine this event to a single community, but kept it open for people from diverse sects, faiths, and religions. Sakal Jain Samaj under his presidentship formed an organisational team headed by the then Mayor of Nagpur, Atal Bahadur Singh for a smooth execution of the event.
The first-of-its-kind event witnessed an unprecedented congregation of sadhus, saadhvis and gurus on a common dais, enlightening the attendees with spiritual and religious discourses. With a footfall of more than 10,000 visitors per day, the event was also attended by many prominent personalities from across the country.
The then Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao graced the occasion along with former Governor of Maharashtra P. C. Alexander. Senior Congress Leader Sharad Pawar (currently President of Nationalist Congress Party), Founder of Force Motors N. K. Firodia and Times of India Group Executive Director Ashok Jain also paid their obeisance.
Darda organised ‘Shrimad Bhagwat Katha Gyanyagya’ conducted by Shri Rameshbhai Oza in the year 2002 in Yavatmal, and also published a book of his discourse titled ‘Naimisharanya’. He has organised interactive sessions with other gurus like Tarun Sagar Ji Maharaj Sahab of Digambara sect, Rajyogini Dadi Jankiji of Brahma Kumaris, Shri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living Foundation, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev of Isha Foundation and Baba Ramdev of Patanjali.
Under the guidance of Shri Vijay Darda, Lokmat Media Group organised a National Inter-Religious Conference in Nagpur on 24th October 2021. Religious and spiritual leaders from different religions participated in this conference and called for communal harmony and universal brotherhood. The religious leaders who graced the conference included Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, Founder of Art of Living, H. H. Swami Ramdev ji, Founder of Patanjali Yogpeeth, Haridwar, H. H. Acharya Dr. Lokeshmuni ji, Founder of Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti, H. H. Brahmaviharidas Swami ji of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, H. H. Cardinal Oswald Gracias ji, Archbishop of Mumbai, H. H. Pralhad Wamanrao Pai ji of Jeevanvidya Mission, Mumbai, H. H. Bhikkhu Sanghasena, Founder of Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre, Leh and Ladakh and H. H. Haji Syed Salman Chishty, Gaddi Nashin, Dargah Ajmer Sharif. The Chief Guest of the programme was Shri Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Government of India and the Guest of Honour was Shri Dayashankar Tiwari, Mayor of Nagpur.