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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 realization.

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 and prosperity.

Moreover, 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.

You know 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 different nations?

Any attempt 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.

During the 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.

There are 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.

The Programme I have so far drawn up is as follows:

  1. 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.
  2. To make researches in Sociology, Philosophy, Psychic, Phenomena etc., in order to get at the truth of every aspect of Life.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 convenience.

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.

CONCLUSION

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 offer.
In response, Dr. L. FAVRE, Professor in the University of Geneva said:

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 their swords.

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 great work.

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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