As a Hindu, I believe in the concept of ‘avtarr’ (avatar) i.e. the Holy Spirit may at times take a human shape to guide humanity as Lord Krishna did in the Mahabharata. In the Old Testament, Moses another ‘avtarr’ guided mankind on the path to freedom. Then the Holy Spirit in the shape of Jesus came to teach us Love and Mercy; some 500 years later another ‘avtarr’ came in the shape of Prophet Muhammad to teach us solidarity and sharing.

I believe, as a non-practising Hindu, that the present time is perhaps the most dangerous humanity has had to face. The planet is in danger of death as a result of our doings. Our very existence is at stake. Very urgent and drastic changes are to be contemplated. Fossil fuels have to be banned and replaced by renewables; forests have to be ‘replanted’; intensive chemical-dependent monoculture has to be replaced by organic agriculture which “is a system that relies on ecosystem management rather than external agricultural inputs. It is a system that begins to consider potential environmental and social impacts by eliminating the use of synthetic inputs, such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, veterinary drugs, genetically modified seeds and breeds, preservatives, additives and irradiation. These are replaced with site-specific management practices that maintain and increase long-term soil fertility and prevent pest and diseases” (F.A.O). Animal husbandry must be radically changed; consumerism must be curbed and wastage eliminated. Who will do this?

Most powerful political leaders are in cahoots with the world oligarchs who will use all means, by hook or by crook, to maintain the status quo. Quite a few religious, social and cultural leaders are mere doormats of the rich. The peoples of the world are at a loss. Hence, a general feeling of despair, especially among the youths who have lost their bearings.

In this situation of general morass and chaos, suddenly a clear and powerful voice is heard: that of Pope Francis. In very clear terms blended with full moral authority he, without fear, tells us what is to be done. The system of production and consumption worshipped by the rich and powerful is wrong; it is killing the planet; it generates injustice; it is destroying “Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love”.

Pope Francis is our present day ‘avtarr’, the divine with a human face whose coming was perhaps announced 250 years ago by the great visionary William Blake in the poem, THE DIVINE IMAGE.

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
All pray in their distress;
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is God, our father dear,
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love
Is Man, his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,
Pity a human face,
And Love, the human form divine,
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine,
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.

The Mauritian version also exists:

                     PORTRÉ BONDIE

Pardon, Pitié, Lapé, Lamour
Nou priyé dan traka;
Kan lapriyer finn ekzosé
Nou dir mersi Papa.

Pardon, Pitié, Lapé, Lamour
Limem Mama-Papa;
Pardon, Pitié, Lapé, Lamour
Se So Zanfan, twa, mwa.

Pardon ena leker imen;
Pitié se so vizaz;
Lamour se Bondie vinn imen;
Lapé se lenz dimoun.

Kan dimoun partou kote
Pe priyé dan traka,
Zot priyé Bondie vinn imen:
Lamour, Pardon, Pitié, Lapé.

Bizen kontan Bondie Imen
Ki li payen ou Zwif.
Kan Pardon, Lamour, Pitié la
Bondie ‘si li la.


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