by Father Barnabe D'Souza & Cleric Christopher Nadar for BISMumbai

The MumbaiSalesians' at Don Bosco Nerul as part of their tri-monthly recollection organized an interactive session on “Spirituality: Ideologue in Praxis” of Dr. Harsh Mander, on 08 August 2020. Apart from the community of DB Nerul, several Salesians, lay scholars from across the globe and several prominent Rectors of Major Seminaries and Colleges of India, CRI Justice Commission leaders and other prominent leaders of the Church in India, joined the discourse with Dr. Mander, keen on listening to one who lives his spirituality in the literal sense of the word.

Dr. Mander drew on his experience as an IAS officer serving in MP and Chhattisgarh for 02 decades, given up only in protest over the atrocities during the Gujarat riots of 2002. He said he drew his inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Azad, Dr.Ambedkar and Dr. Martin Luther King. These inspirations led him to campaign for several issues in intervention at the Supreme Court, helping to decriminalize begging after 100 years, and be at the forefront at the Right to Food, Human Rights and Right to Information campaigns.

On being asked what drives him in spite of the persecution he is facing for fighting for peace and being framed wrongly as his remarks have been distorted by the authorities from the various columns he has been writing in various papers, he says, "the radical love of Gandhi is one that has motivated him to be fearless and risk it all, to the extent of threats to his freedom."

His spirituality, could be a seen as an emanation of his passion and radical love for the various causes he spearheaded, chaired, and convened for the homeless, bonded labourers, street children, urban slum-dwellers, dalits, tribals, Land Acquisition Rehabilitation Bill, rights for victims of mass violence, apart from special interventions at the Supreme Court for diverse causes. His stint as member of the Advisory Council of India paved the way for several successful interventions that made listening to him enchanting.

The discourse came to an end with several wanting to ask more questions but due to the lack of time and Dr. Mander’s packed schedule, it was left to further correspond with him electronically. The session on a very different perspective of spirituality was interesting and set us thinking - is not this the way Christ expects us to live our life, our spirituality?