United Religions Initiative (URI) Cosmic Community Centre and Dr. Alexander Mar Thoma Centre for Dialogue, Kottarakara, Kerala, India, jointly organized the 7th International Intertextuality Conference at Students Christian Center, Bangkok Thailand from September 1-3, 2017. Mr. Mohammad Jahangir Alam, a promising Cao Dai research fellow and Associate Professor at the Department of World Religions and Culture of the University of Dhaka was invited to attend the conference and to present a paper titled “A Critical Analysis of Creation Theory: Cao Dai Perspective”. It is worthy to mention that the paper is published in the booklet entitled “Holy Books and Creation Stories”. Several scholars from different countries attended the conference and made the conference a grand success.
Dr. Shanti Hettiarachi, a prominent Professor of the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, presided over the session while Rev. Dr. Charles Gibbs, the Executive Director of URI and Dr. Abraham Karickam, Secretary General, URI Asia Region took part in the discussion.
The main concern of this paper, as Prof. Alam has shown, is how the theories of creation proposed by the Cao Dai religion (Dao Cao Dai or Caodaism) actually deals with the cosmic design of this universe. As the basic Cao Dai idea regarding the origin of the universe corresponds to the creation theories of Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism, Prof. Alam assumes that essence of the creation theory of Cao Dai religion might have developed on the basis of the doctrines and theories of the older traditions. Thus, in order to deal with Cao Dai creation theory he has essentially taken Taoist, Confucian and Buddhist concepts into his serious consideration. And in this paper the method Prof. Alam followed is analytical where the facts are analyzed with evaluation and criticism.
In addition, the world view, philosophy, and history of Cao Dai religion together with the main presentation actually made the participants more curious to know more about this religion, as Prof. Alam informed.
The main purpose of the conference is to promote the understanding of intertextuality where the sacred scriptures of all faiths are considered as the common heritage of humanity. People of different faiths are urged to learn and creatively respond to the Scriptures of each other. In this manner all believers can actually understand the organic relationship among the Holy Books. Thus, to accept one and negate the others is as if not following any of them. In addition, the organizers hope that this would stir a lot of interest among scholars and seekers. Indeed, in and through this practices one has chance to be spiritually tuned enough to respect the ‘sacredness’ of the other Holy Books. Finally, the upcoming final issue will be published by the end of October, 2017. This type of conference, as it is informed by Mr. Alam, would challenge all those who love peace and humanity to prevail in this world.
Some Comments on Mr. Alam’s Paper Presentation
“The creation theory of Cao Dai religion actually addresses a clear-cut Sino-Vietnamese understanding of the origin of the universe that is uniquely presented in the current paper” (Dr. Shanthi Hettiarachi).
“Your presence and presentation at the Holy Books Conference was wonderful and I am now curious to learn more about Cao Dai” (Dr. Matthew M Cobb).