Speech in Geneva
By Raja Jai Prithvi Bahadur Singh
[On Monday the 22nd April 1929, Col.
Raja J.P. Bahadur Singh, founder-President of the Humanistic
Club, Bangalore, South India, delivered a Speech at LA SELLE
de l, ATHENE'S, Geneva, Switzerland, explaining the aims and
objects of the Club. H. GOLAY ESQ, Director of the INTERNATIONAL
PEACE BUREU, occupied the Chair, Among those that were present,
there were Dr. Lous Favre, Dr. Pierre Bouvet, Laby Blomfield,
Dr. and Mrs. Volker, Baroness Tanfani, Mr. Combes-Editor of
the GENEVA TRIBUNE-and Mr. and Mrs. Myer Stolt.]
The Chairman, Mr. Golay, in introducing
the Lecturer, spoke as follows: -
I am thankful as the Director of the
Bureau International de-la-Paix, to have had the opportunity
to preside over this meeting.
The Prince has accomplished a great task in describing the
basic principles on which permanent peace can be founded.
Even those who do not know India have doubtless heard and
read enough about that great country to realize that the Orient
is getting familiar with the Occidental civilization in all
its latest developments: chemical science, wireless as well
as strikes and lock-outs have found currency over there. Nevertheless,
the difference in mental outlook remain, and we must salute
men of eminence like the Prince who, aware of these differences,
devote their life for the search of common principles tending
towards mutual understanding and helpfulness between the East
and the West.
The Price, who is related to the ruling
family of Nepal, an independent Stage, has been living in
retirement in Bangalore, owing to the state of his health
and his philosophical inclinations; and there he has been
working out his great ideal, writing about it and funding
the Humanistic Club. The purpose of the Club is to help human
suffering and to promote peace and goodwill generally. Branches
of the Club have been opened in some other parts of India
and the Prince's object in his present travels is to put himself
in contact with persons of similar ideas in Europe. He strives
to bring home the value of peace and suggests means for its
We salute him in all sympathy and thank
him with deep felt gratitude.
RAJA J.P. BAHADUR SINGH'S SPEECH
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before entering into the subject matter of my lecture, I should
like to explain that I am neither a professional lectures
nor a saint nor a prophet come to teach the Western world
what is right and what is wrong. But, in the interests of
peace and goodwill, I am here to offer as well as to receive
suggestions to find out a common basis for alleviating human
suffering by bringing the so-much-desired peace in practice
to mankind at large. I am only after finding out such truths
and common principles as can be applicable to all human beings
alike, irrespective of caste, creed, class, country or colour.
I see party-spirit and class-hatred are still rampant in Europe,
and these are being imported into such Eastern countries like
India where the inherent religious fanaticism and cast prejudices
added to them are making the situation worse.
Now, you will naturally
ask me why, instead of endeavouring to set matters right in
India first, I should come over to Europe and start speaking
in such a place as Geneva which has no direct connection with
India. The reason of my doing so is that in order to set anything
right it is necessary first to get into the root cause of
the mischief and then to find out the best remedy for its
eradication. The root cause of the mischief in my humble opinion
is that the mentality not of one country only but of all countries
has been painted deep with the brush of suspicion and class-hatred.
Unless this paint is erased I do not see any way out of the
present-day troubles. The West being at present the leader
of the East in all matters, I have come over to Europe; and
where else should I being my work but in Geneva which has
been chosen by the world's statesmen as the seat of the League
of Nations whose chief object is to promote peace and goodwill?
So, here in this place, there has been sown the seed of peace;
and out of the seed has also grown the plant which is blossoming;
and what I ask of you is to help me in my attempt to blow
the fragrance of this flower of peace all the world over,
so that the peoples of the earth may receive therefrom peace
as Switzerland observed strict neutrality during the Great
War, and also as it is the only county I know of where there
is the least party-spirit and class-hatred, I think it would
not be a mistake on my part to ask the Swiss people to take
the lead in strengthening the foundation of the structure
of inter-national peace.
the League of Nations has been trying to promote and establish
peace between nations. But as the League of Nations has nothing
to do with the internal affairs of any country, how can it
affect the mentality of smaller units like classes, creeds,
parties, communities and individuals that go to make up the
to bring about inter-national harmony and goodwill without
at the same time striving for inter-racial, inter-communal
and inter-class harmony and goodwill will at the best meet
with only superficial and evanescent success. If the nations
have to lay down their arms, it is necessary first for the
contending parties and communities to lay down their mutual
district, suspicion, fear envy and hatred of each other, and
meet together in mutual understanding and good will.
It was just
with this object of working with persons individually that
I started the Humanistic Club in Bangalore, India; and what
I suggest to you, people of Switzerland, is that, as this
city has been chosen as the headquarters of the great inter-national
institution for the promotion of inter-national peace, it
will be the right place also for some sort of an institution
for the promotion of peace between smaller units beginning
with individuals, by presenting through its members the high
and noble ideals of the Leagues of Nations and other philanthropic
bodies and persons in such a way as may be applicable and
suitable to the conditions and tastes of different societies
and classes of people.
I had given
a serious consideration for a pretty long time to the question
as to what should form a common basis for unity and co-operation
among mankind before I started the Humanistic Club, and I
came to the conclusion that the sense of the fundamental oneness
of humanity could be the only principle that would bind men
into one common family irrespective of class, creed, rank,
country or colour. The chief object of the Club, therefore,
is to bring home to every individual that, despite such minor
difference as class, country, religion etc, all men are one
as human beings. When this idea is inculcated in the mind
of the general public, they will naturally try to learn and
by degrees realise what the duties of man as man are as distinct
from those of the animals.
I must not,
however, be understood to say that I want to turn the whole
of humanity into one way of thinking either in religion, customs
or principles, which is both impossible and perhaps undesirable.
But what I say is, various as are the castes, creeds and customs
of man, there is one thing that everyone respects and observes,
of whatever country or nationality he may be, and this is
the Law of Self- Preservation which, if followed and observed
rightly will in itself lead to a peaceful and law-abiding
attitude. I say rightly; for, there are two ways of observing
the Law of self-preservation; one is by force, aggressiveness
and brutality; the other by unity, co-operations and order.
The former methods are found among the lower forms of life
like animals and plants, while the latter methods are employed
by man as distinct from other sentient beings. Throughout
the ages all the progress that man has attained has been through
unity and co-operation, while all destruction and setbacks
to civilisation have been through man's retrogression, into
the brute nature of force and aggressiveness.
short time that I have been in Europe, I came across several
people with whom I had brief talks about my ideals; and what
I gathered from these talks is that most of the people in
Europe think that the spirit of fighting is deep down in the
human nature and that it will continue to exist in spit of
any attempts made to the contrary by a few. But in this connection
I should like to point out whether history does not show that
our conditions and ideas were not the same some centuries
ago as they are now. Are there not cannibals living still
in the heart of Africa? But shall we be justified in saying
that this condition will remain for ever in that part of the
world, or can anyone of us say for certain that our ancestors
of a remote past were not in similar condition of barbarism?
I am one of those who think that there has been evolution
in the condition, habits and states of civilisation and that
we are always keeping on changing for the better and that
one day we shall reach that stage of evolution which is considered
divine or superhuman to-day.
on the other hand several well-meaning persons who have told
me that my ideals are very good; but they doubt if people
will listen to them. The world, they say, is too materialistic
to taken up such ideas at once; but here I should like to
point out that what I propose to propound is not a doctrine
of self-sacrifice, asking everyone to give up his self-interest,
but it is essentially a doctrine of self-preservation, telling
people that in the interests of their own well being they
must be peaceful and law-abiding, and that under conditions
of unity and co-operation they can live more peacefully and
comfortably than under conditions of division and discord.
But I have
not come here like a saint or a prophet to preach to anybody.
I am here only to suggest that you people of every country
put your heads together and find out the best means for safety,
comfort and happiness for yourselves. At the same time. I
should like to point out what occurs to me as the best means;
and this I have drawn up as the programme for the Humanistic
Club. I know that it is incomplete and I request you to complete
it and make it as practicable and applicable to all as possible.
I have so far drawn up is as follows:
- To open
Humanistic Clubs in as many places of every country as possible.
I recommend the establishment of a Club in every place so
that the ideals of peace, unity and co-operation may be
with us even in our play, in our recreation and in our light-heartedness.
- To make researches in Sociology,
Philosophy, Psychic, Phenomena etc., in order to get at
the truth of every aspect of Life.
- By a spread of these truths through
members to their neighborhood to bring about mutual understanding
and goodwill between the several contending parties and
classes, and thus make it possible for the nations of the
world to live in amity and friendliness.
- To make it possible for the institution
to exchange ideas on matters of human interest and benefit
with all the countries of the world, by strictly avoiding
all controversial topics like religious and political propaganda.
- To invite all philanthropic and
social bodies to co-operate with the Club so as to enable
everyone to discuss and adopt things of common human interest
and benefit whenever and in whatever way it suits their
Ladies and gentlemen, I know that what
I have said this evening is very simple and obvious, and one
can easily doubt the efficacy of such a scheme. But let me
remind you that the League of Nations whose chief object is
to promote peace cannot act further than make certain suggestions
to those countries, which are its members. And all countries
do try to make their people law-abiding and banish all crimes
by enacting laws after laws. But has any country been entirely
successful in this attempt? No law, no order to pulpit preaching
affects the mind of the general public as much as a social
gathering like a Club where people discuss among friends of
their own liking and think for themselves. It is for this
reason that I suggested the opening of Clubs qualified by
the 'World Humanistic', so as to direct their attention in
the right channels. This is my opinion is the only way of
making the world more peaceful than it is at present.
As I said at the beginning, I am here
to offer as well as to perceive subsections, an if any of
you would make better and more practical suggestions I should
be only too glad to receive them.
After the Raja's speech was over, Mr.
Golay, the Chairman, asked the representatives of the Inter-national
institutions present there if they had any suggestions to
In response, Dr. L. FAVRE, Professor in the University of
The ideas of the Prince are in harmony
with our ideas. The thesis put forward here is identical with
that once of our old Swiss Statesmen, 'Co-operation in Federation'.
Four hundred years ago the different parts of Switzerland
were at war. Now, no state in the Confederation wold fights
against another. That shows that the fighting instinct, that
particular mentality, can be changed. Even 150 years ago,
the sword was freely drawn in petty discussions between individuals.
No one dreams of doing it to-day.
There are people who say that the League
has done nothing in these ten years. That is not true; but
even so, patience and time are necessary; for a national mentality
is a stubborn thing. I have no doubt that the right of conservation
of peoples is becoming an established right, and it will be
preserved in future. It is a question of education.
If the League exists, it is because
of the efforts of the Peace Societies. If President Wilson
had the desire of creating the League, it was the peace societies,
which influenced him.
There are already many institutions
for peace; but they do not penetrate through all the classes,
and they do not reach the entire public. An attempt like that
of the Club ought to be encouraged.
You, Sir, are a Princess of Nepal. We call that country the
Indian Switzerland. It is the business of the mountain folks
to cultivate the peace blossom and to send it all over the
world. You have all our gratitude; and as a Prince your work
is far more potent than that of the princes who fight with
Then, LADY BLOMFIELD of the Society
"FOR THE WORLDS SUPREME PEACE," followed and said.
I have nothing to add. I wish only to
express our gratitude. The people of Geneva have been prepared
to understand such ideals. Small currents of peace have been
forming, and will gather together into a powerful river covering
the whole world, bringing everywhere Unity. Let us work together
so as to make the poet's prophecy true and realize Tennyson's
vision of the oneness of humanity.
I ask you to thank the Prince and resolve to help him in his
At the conclusion of the meeting, a
Branch of the Humanistic Club was opened, with the following
persons forming the Committee.
Lady Blomfield, Baroness Tanfani, Mr.
Myers Stolt (Hon. Treasurer.), Madam Myers, Miss. Hale White
(Hon. Secretary), Mr. Sidney Brown, Mr. and Mrs. Rao.
Location of the Branch:
No. 3, Cheman de 1' Escalade,
Champel, Geneva, Switzerland.
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