Swamiji’s Birth Anniversary will awaken our minds: Prez

Kolkata: President Pranab Mukherjee today hoped that the commemoration of Swami Vivekananda's 150th birth anniversary would awaken the people to the great contributions and sacrifices made by him for the welfare, progress and enlightenment of mankind.

"Swamiji's message of rationality and universality is very much relevant in the present day world. It is meant for all people without any distinction of caste, religion, race, gender or nationality," Mukherjee said at Swamiji's ancestral house in north Kolkata today.

Calling upon people to rededicate themselves to the causes for which Swamiji devoted his entire life, the president said he had portrayed religion as a universal concept and liberated it from the age-old scourges of superstitions, dogma and intolerance.

"Swamiji, the great son and visionary of the country, viewed religion as the 'science of consciousness' and believed that religion and modern science are complementary rather than contradictory," he said, adding the monk had enabled thousands of people in the West to appreciate Indian philosophy and culture.

"Through his speeches at the World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893 and his subsequent works in America and England, the great monk had showed the universal relevance and significance of India's ancient philosophy and spiritual culture in solving problems of modern living".

Swamiji stands as the image of national unity and whenever he travelled to any part of the country he identified himself with the people of that region, Mukherjee said.

Pointing to Swamiji's views on the significance of India's ancient culture in the modern world, the president said, "His efforts at making the common people aware of the rich cultural traditions of the country are truly remarkable."

Swamiji, he said, had created a national consciousness amongst all Indians. "At a time when the self-esteem of our people was low and many Indians looked to the West for ideals and role models, Swamiji infused self-confidence and pride in them."

"Rooted in the past and full of pride in India's prestige, Vivekananda was yet modern in his approach to life's problems and was a kind of bridge between the past of India and her present," the President said quoting the country's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Noting that Swamiji did not believe in abrupt changes in society, Mukherjee said that the great visionary believed socio-economic changes could be brought about through education. He, therefore, wanted both moral and secular education to be imparted among common people through Ramakrishna Mission which he set up in 1897".

West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan, Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar and eminent monks of the Ramakrishna Mission were present on the occasion.