Vice President asks the youth to work towards an India free of hunger and discrimination

The Vice President of India Shri M Venkaiah Naidu today called upon the youth work towards shaping an India that is free of hunger, discrimination and inequalities based on caste, creed and gender.

Speaking at the Centenary Celebrations of ‘Sri Ramakrishna Vijayam,’ Tamil Monthly Magazine brought out by Ramakrishna Mission in Chennai today, he said that there was a renewed interest on India world over as the country was moving to become a 5 trillion dollar economy.

At this juncture, Shri Naidu said that the timeless vision and teachings of Swami Vivakananda would continue to be the guideposts for the individual growth and collective advancement of the nation.

Shri Naidu described Swami Vivekananda as an embodiment of Hindu culture and a social reformer, who was against religious dogmas. He said that Vivekananda believed in the uplift of humanity, irrespective of caste or creed.

Calling upon the youth to take inspiration from the life and teachings of Swami Vivekanada, he urged them to dedicate their lives for the progress of country, welfare of the downtrodden and uplift of the poor. “We have opportunities to become strong, stable and more prosperous nation,” he added.

Shri Naidu said that Swami Vivekananda was anguished by the miserable living conditions of the poor and recalled that he prioritized “first bread and then religion.”

Vivekananda also felt that no amount of politics would be of any avail until the masses in India were well educated, well fed, and well cared for.

Talking about the importance of holistic education that takes care of the physical and mental wellbeing of the children, the Vice President said “For Swami Ji education did not mean academic pursuits alone. He stressed equally on physical fitness and bodily health.”

While expressing his deep concern over the spurt in Non Communicable Diseases, the Vice President cautioned the youth be aware of the ill effects of the changing life style and dietary habits. He suggested them to practice yoga, meditation and adopt healthy eating habits.

He also asked the youth to take a pledge to be physically fit and promote India’s cultural and spiritual values.

The Governor of Tamil Nadu, Sri Banwarilal Purohit, Minister for Fisheries, Govt of Tamil Nadu, Thiru Jaya Kumar, Pujya Swami Gautamanandaji, Vice President, SRK Math & Mission, Belur and others were present at the event.

Later, the Vice President visited Amir Mahal, the residence of Prince of Arcot, Nawab Mohammad Abdul Ali and interacted with his family members and other guests at a reception hosted in honour of the Vice President.

Briefly addressing the gathering, Shri Naidu said that India was known for its civilizational values the world over. He urged the people, particularly the younger generation to promote and propagate India’s culture and heritage.

The Vice President said “we speak different languages but we all are one. The constitution provides equal opportunities to all citizens.

Following is the full text of the Vice President’s speech on centenary celebrations of Ramakrishna Vijayam-

“Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Today is a great day. It was on this day in 1863 that one of the most illustrious spiritual leaders of India and an embodiment of Hindu Culture, Swami Vivekananda was born.

I join the nation in paying homage to Swami Vivekananda, an embodiment of Hindu Culture on his birth anniversary today. An ardent advocate of universal brotherhood, peace and a strong proponent of India’s ancient wisdom and values, Swamiji’s teachings resonate with us all the times.

Through his address at Chicago’s World Parliament of Religions, Swami Vivekananda introduced the timeless values of our culture and its eternal relevance for maintaining peace.

A great saint, teacher and social reformer, Swami Vivekananda played a major role in introducing Hinduism to the West.

I bow my head to this great son of mother India.

Today, India is moving on an ambitious path to transform people’s lives. We are on track to become a 5 trillion dollar economy. There is renewed interest in India world over.

At this juncture, the timeless vision and teachings of Swami Vivakananda will continue to be the guideposts for our individual growth and collective advancement.

Swami Ji was a social reformer and was against religious dogmas. He believed in the uplift of humanity, irrespective of caste or creed and emphasized the importance of spiritualism for the survival and progress of mankind.

The Swami Ji had said “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”.

In his historic Chicago address to the Parliament of Religions, he had said: I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation”.

Each religion can enrich itself with the higher values professed by the other, and realise that all paths, ‘crooked or straight’ lead to the Supreme Source. Truth is the essence of divinity, inherent in every religion.

Swami Ji in his final speech on September 27 had advocated that a Christian was not to become a Hindu, or a Buddhist to become a Christian. ‘But each must assimilate the others, and grow according to its own laws of growth.

Today more than ever, there is a need to bring down walls that create differences among people. We follow Sarva Dharma Sama Bhavana — that is in our Indian blood and part of our civilization.

We should all understand the concepts, precepts and practices connected with Hinduism in a correct perspective.

But, what exactly is ‘Hinduism’?  That is the question.  That has to be understood. That has to be analyzed. That has to be articulated in a proper manner. As Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan had observed, “We find it difficult, if not impossible, to define Hindu religion or even adequately describe it. Unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim any Prophet.  It does not worship any one God.” In fact, there is a whole range of beliefs from atheism to worshipping Gods and Goddesses in different forms. In fact, we believe divinity exists in each and every being or in every atom of the Universe.

As Radhakrishnan goes on to say, “It does not subscribe to one dogma; it does not believe in any one philosophical concept; it does not follow any one set of religious rites or performances.  In fact, it does not appear to satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion or creed.  It may broadly be described as a way of life, and nothing more.”  This is what Dr. Radhakrishnan has said. Hinduism is a way of life. It is a way of life that has evolved over millions of years and has become an integral part of our daily lives. When someone asked me for a simple definition of this way of life , I had said that if you eat what you have, it is quite natural, if  you snatch away what others are eating it is unnatural, but If you share what you have with others in need , that reflects your cultural refinement. I wish to underscore this attitude of ‘care’ and ‘share’ as the core principle of Indian way of life.

Dear sisters and brothers

Swami Vivekananda believed in the religion of humanity. Swami ji said that he did not believe in a god or religion ‘ which cannot wipe the widow’s tears or bring a piece of bread to the orphan’s mouth’.

His heart pained at the miserable living conditions of his fellow countrymen. He prioritized “first bread and then religion” and felt that no amount of politics would be of any avail until the masses in India are well educated, well fed, and well cared for.

Swami Ji had said: “Let each one of us pray day and night for the downtrodden millions who are held fast by poverty, priest-craft and tyranny. Pray day and night for them. I care more to preach religion to them than to the high and the rich”.

Stressing on the emancipating role of education, he advocated inclusive education system and said, “If the poor boy cannot come to education, education must go to him”.

For Swami Ji education did not mean academic pursuits alone, he stressed equally on physical fitness and bodily health. Very few of us know that Swami Vivekanada was a good player of football as well.

Swami Ji observed that the greatest sin is to consider oneself to be weak. ‘You will understand the Bhagwad Gita better with your biceps, your muscles, a little stronger,’

Today Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given a call for ‘Fit India’. I appeal to each and every youngster to adopt it as a mission and spread the message of fitness among our schools, institutions, friends, families and communities.

Let us take this pledge on the Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekanada today.

His clarion call to youth was – “Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.”

Our youth must become ambassadors of our great heritage and culture. India was known as Vishwaguru once upon a time and was in the forefront of knowledge creation and sharing it with people from all over the world. We believe in sharing our knowledge for the well-being of entire humanity as we treat the entire universe as one family-Vasudhaika Kutumbakam. Share and care is at the core of Indian philosophy.

Youth are the future of any nation and they must work towards shaping India that is free of hunger, discrimination and inequalities based on caste, creed and gender.

Of course, there would be challenges in it. But let me quote Swami Ji who had said: “In a day, when you don’t come across any problems – you can be sure that you are travelling in a wrong path.”

Swami Ji always advocated women’s empowerment and gender equality. He had stated, “The best thermometer to the progress of a nation is treatment of its women”.

He had also said “there is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved.

In the 21st century, the world is facing the threats of fragmentation, conflict, hatred and irrational prejudices. The voice of Swami Vivekanada is an eternal guiding lamp for the humanity. We need to strive to spread Swami Ji’s teachings far and wide.

In this regard, I am happy to note that Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai has been publishing ’Sri Ramakrishna Vijayam” a Tamil monthly since January 1921.

It is a record that a spiritual-cultural Tamil monthly maintained uninterrupted publication and is celebrating Centenary Year.

I am told that 3 other magazines, viz., Prabuddha Bharata (English), Udbodhan (Bengali) and Vedanta Kesari (English) have crossed centenary year landmark. It is praiseworthy that all the three magazines are from Sri Ramakrishna Mission.

Sri Ramakrishna Vijayam has been propagating Sanatana Dharma since its inception.

Once again, I congratulate Sri Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Vijayam for doing yeoman service to humanity.

Swami Ji had said, “They alone live, who live for others.”

Today on National Youth Day, I call upon the youth of the country to take inspiration from the life and teachings of Swami Vevekanada and dedicate their lives for the progress of country, welfare of the downtrodden and uplift of the poor.

As we celebrate National Youth Day, we must make the youth understand the importance of the teachings of Vivekananda. The youth must follow the path laid down by Swami Vivekananda and lead by the ideals of Tyaga (Sacrifice) and Seva (Service).

My best wishes to all of you.”