Anil Sarwal appears an unlikely preacher. A handsome, debonair man, in his forties, teaching in the DAV College, Chandigarh, Sarwal was in Patna this week to attend a youth camp of the Bahá'í Faith. Professor Sarwal teaches English, has done his M.Litt, was a Fellow at CIEFL, Hyderabad, taught in a Tibetan Refugee school in Sikkim, has written over one hundred articles and visited 13 countries. He accepted the 'Bahá'í' faith early in his life and claims to have no regrets.
"When 1 celebrate the birthday of my son", he patiently explains," everybody who comes reads from the scripture of his respective faith". A Sikh friend would be handed over the Gum Granth Sahib, a Hindu would be invited to read from the Vedas while a Muslim would be requested to recite from the holy book. " Because", he adds, " all religions are accepted by the Bahá'í Faith; we do not deny the truth of any prophet".
Sarwal clearly believes that the Bahá'í Faith is the most modern Faith and is needed in our own country that has a multiplicity of religions. There is no place for priests among the Baháís, he points out and recalls that Bahá'u'lláh, the Prophet who founded the Faith, believed that in the modem age there was no place for priests. In earlier times priests, he felt, were needed to carry forward the oral tradition but in the modem age, the book ought to replace this class." Why do we need intermediaries when we can learn directly from the Book?", Sarwal asked.
There were 22 lakh Bahá'ís in India, he claimed, and more than 700 projects run by them. The projects, he says, are run on voluntary donations from the faithful and points out that the Faith does not allow them to accept any donation from the government or government agencies. They run a school at Panchgani among other places and a centre for women at Indore and all the projects are expected to be self-sufficient.
Mr. Sarwal, unusually articulate, claims to have been pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm displayed by the village youth who attended the three-day camp at the A.N. Sinha Institute. His is a 'man making mission', he added and declared that he looked at his life "as a candle" which will burn, give light and then burn out. "Anyone who leads a spiritual life fights a daily battle", he quipped before leaving.