New Delhi: India’s mantra of unity in diversity is so comprehensive that there is no scope for divisions in it, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday and asserted that development and heritage will continue to march together as the country moves forward.
Addressing a programme marking the 150th birth anniversary of Srila Prabhupada at the Bharat Mandapam, Pragati Maidan, Modi said in today’s India, Vande Bharat trains will run along with the transformation of Ayodhya and Mathura-Vrindavan.
He lauded the younger generation for the change in their outlook and emphasised that they take along both knowledge and research together. “Our new generation now wears its culture proudly on its forehead,” Modi said.
When youngsters lead the country, they can land a rover on the moon and also nourish traditions by naming the landing spot “Shivshakti”, he said.
They understand the importance of both spirituality and start-ups, the prime minister said, noting that pilgrimage centres like Kashi and Ayodhya are witnessing a large number of young visitors.
Modi paid rich tributes to Srila Prabhupada and noted that the 150th birth anniversary of the spiritual guru is being celebrated at a time when just a few days ago, the centuries-old dream of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya was fulfilled.
Talking about the Ram temple and the consecration ceremony there on January 22, he said such a big “mahayagya” was completed only with the blessings of saints.
“We are celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Srila Prabhupada at a time when just a few days ago, the centuries-old dream of a grand Ram temple was fulfilled. The enthusiasm that is seen on your face is also reflective of the happiness for the Ram Lalla ‘virajman’,” the prime minister said.
“India’s mantra of unity in diversity is so simple and comprehensive that there is no scope for divisions in it,” he added.
Modi also said Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the 15th-century saint, was the epitome of love for Lord Krishna.
“He made spirituality and spiritual practice accessible to the common people,” he said.
The prime minister also released a commemorative stamp and a coin in honour of Srila Prabhupada.
Prabhupada was the founder of the Gaudiya Mission that played a pivotal role in preserving and spreading the fundamental tenets of the Vaishnava faith. Gaudiya Mission has played a significant role in propagating the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the rich spiritual heritage of Vaishnavism across the world, making it the centre of the Hare Krishna movement.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Modi said, showed the way of reaching god through joy.
He recalled his personal experience when at one stage of his life, he felt that despite fully living the “bhakti”, there was a void, a distance, adding that it was the joy of “bhajan kirtan” that enabled his full immersion in the moment.
“I have personally felt the power of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s tradition. I was clapping today as a devotee and not as a prime minister when the kirtan was on,” he said.
The biggest manifestation of distance from one’s own roots is forgetting one’s capabilities and strengths, Modi said, ruing that this happened with the glorious tradition of “bhakti” too.
He said “bhakti”, rationality and modernity are considered contradictory to each other by many, adding that devotion is not despair, but hope and confidence. It involves securing victory over oneself and working for the humanity.
Due to this spirit, India never attacked other countries to expand its borders, the prime minister said.
“Today, in the Amrit Kaal of independence, the country is taking forward the resolve of the saints by taking the pledge of freedom from the mentality of slavery,” he added.
Saints propagating the “bhakti” tradition have played an invaluable role not only in the freedom movement but also in guiding the country through every challenging phase, Modi said. Throughout India’s tumultuous history, eminent saints and spiritual leaders have emerged to provide direction to the country in various capacities, he added.
Describing Srila Prabhupada’s life as an example of “Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat”, Modi noted that he was born in Puri, took initiation in the tradition of Ramanujacharya, who was from south India, and carried on the tradition of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who had his monastery in Bengal.
“Bengal is a source of constant energy from spirituality and intellectuality,” the prime minister said, adding that it has given the country saints like Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Rabindranath Tagore and Raja Rammohan Roy.