Address by Governor at the 125th Anniversary of the Historic Address of the Swami Vivekananda
Address by Shri CH. Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra at the 125th Anniversary of the Historic Address of the Swami Vivekananda at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago organized by Ramakrishna Mission, Mumbai at Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi, Mumbai at 10.30 am on Saturday, 29th September 2018
Revered Swami Suviranandaji Maharaj, General Secretary, Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math, Swami Satyadevananda, Adhyaksh, Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, Mumbai, all revered Swamijis of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, religious leaders representing various Faiths, devotees of Swami Ramakrishna and Maa Sarada, Sisters and Brothers,
At the outset, I express my blissful joy and happiness to be able to join you in commemorating the 125th anniversary of the Historic Address delivered by Swami Vivekananda at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in the year 1893.
I congratulate each one of you for your gracious presence here today when we recall and relive the most glorious moment for the Indian Civilization, Vedanta and India’s idea of universal inclusion.
I acknowledge with pleasure, the august presence of Revered Swami Suviranandaji Maharaj, General Secretary, Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission who has come especially for this programme, all the way from Belur Math.
There are numerous spiritual and service organizations in the world dedicated to spread the Divine Word and serve humanity. But, Ramakrishna Math, founded by none other than Swami Vivekananda himself, is a unique organization that has struck a perfect balance between the spiritual thought and selfless service to humanity. The Ramakrishna Mission, according to me, is the greatest gift from Swami Vivekananda to India and the world at large.
‘Aatmano Mokshartham…..Jagat Hitay Cha’ has been the guiding motto of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission.
In conformity with this ideal, the Ramakrishna Mission has been continuously engaged in community service in diverse areas such as education, healthcare, welfare of the poor and the needy, welfare of tribals and so on.
Today I have come here to tell you that I am really proud of Ramakrishna Mission. Maharashtra is proud of Ramakrishna Mission and the Nation is proud of Ramakrishna Math and Mission.
Sisters and Brothers,
The arrival of Swami Vivekananda reminds me of the divine words of Bhagwan Shrikrishna in the Bhagwad Gita,
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत ।
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ॥४-७॥
परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् ।
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे ॥४-८॥
A glance at the life and work of Swamiji convinces one, that he was born to revive and rejuvenate the Dharma and to awaken the nation about the glory of Indian civilization. On an occasion like this we distinctly remember his words, “Arise, Awake and stop not till the goal is reached.”
Sisters and brothers,
When Swami Vivekananda arrived on the national scene, India had not only lost its political and economic clout, but had forgotten its own identity and its glorious cultural past.
Two hundred years of reckless exploitation by the East India Company and perpetuated by the British, had also served a deadly blow to our rich traditions of learning and scientific pursuits.
From being one of the richest nations in the world until 1750, India was reduced to one of the poorest nations, steeped into poverty, hunger, deprivation, disease, ignorance, blind faith and superstition.
The impact of Swamiji’s Speech at Chicago was so great that it changed the way the Western World saw India. Most importantly changed the perception of the people of India towards themselves.
Vivekananda declared, and I quote, “I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true.” (unquote)
Reminding the people of their inherent divinity, Swami Vivekananda said, and I quote: “Every soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this Divinity within, by controlling nature, external and internal.” (unquote)
Sisters and brothers,
We seldom acknowledge the role of Swami Vivekananda as a fierce nationalist and the main inspiration in India’s freedom movement.
If the French Revolution was inspired by French philosophers like Voltaire, Rousseau and Montesquieu, Indian freedom movement was inspired by the most revered Swami Vivekananda. Vivekananda was a torchbearer of India’s freedom movement, having inspired several generations of young freedom fighters in the country.
Sisters and brothers,
Two subjects were very dear to the heart of Swami Vivekananda. Number one: Youth Empowerment, and Two, Women Empowerment.
Swamiji had said, “My hope of the future lies in the youths of character, intelligent, renouncing all, for the service of others, and obedient – good to themselves and the country at large”
Today, India is one of the most youthful nations in the world. By 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years, almost 8 years younger than an American or a Chinese.
While the government is working for empowering the youths with education and skills, organizations like Ramakrishna Mission must work for shaping the character of youths and imbibing in them the spirit of serving the society and the nation.
I will call upon Ramakrishna Mission to increase its engagement with schools and colleges during this year.
This year also happens to be the 151st birth anniversary of Sister Nivedita, one of the finest disciples of Swami Vivekananda. Swamiji was a great believer in equality for women.
Vivekananda believed that there is no chance of welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. He asserted that countries which do not respect women, have never become great nor will ever be in future.
In this year, when we commemorate the Speech of Swami Vivekananda at the World Parliament of Religions, we must commit ourselves to further improve the condition of women in our society. We must make conscious efforts to developing respect for women in all sections of our population. We must increase the participation of women in all areas of human endeavor.
One hundered and twenty five years after the historic speech, Swami Vivekananda’s thoughts are more relevant today. There are fissiparous tendencies which want to divide India on the lines of caste, creed, region and religion. Naxalism is raising its ugly head in certain parts of the country. Intolerance is growing, both at the individual and at the community levels. In order to maintain the emotional unity and integrity of the nation, we will have to go back to the historic speech and assimilate the ideas of Vivekananda.
Many of India’s and world’s problems can be resolved by adopting Swami Vivekananda’s views. I will call upon the Ramakrishna Mission to promote Interfaith Dialogue, organize competitions in schools and colleges to spread the thoughts of Swami Vivekananda during this year. We must involve the youths from premier institutions like IITs and IIMs to debate on important national issues and try to find solutions to some of the challenges that confront India today.
It should be our goal to attain the goal of Ek Bharat, Shreshta Bharat which was the essence of Swami ji’s message.
I am personally aware of the various initiatives of Ramakrishna Mission Mumbai especially in the areas of Education, Healthcare and Tribal Welfare. You cannot measure the dedicated work of Swamijis by any yardstick. I have greatest admiration for all the Swamijis of the Ramakrishna order.
I congratulate the Mission for organizing this grand function to commemorate the glorious occasion of 125th anniversary of the historic speech of Swami Vivekananda and wish you all success in your noble mission. Thanking you once again,
Jai Hind ! Jai Maharashtra !!