The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi inaugurated the year-long celebrations commemorating the 200th birth anniversary of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati, at Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in Delhi today. He also released a logo for commemoration.
Upon arriving at the venue, the Prime Minister walked past the panorama and live representations of Arya Samaj and also offered Ahuti Arpan in the ongoing Yagya. Later on, he handed over the LED Mashal to youth representatives as a symbolic carry forward of the spark ignited in this programme reinforcing the messages of Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati to the rest of India and the world.
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister called the occasion of the 200th birth anniversary of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati historic, an occasion to create a future and inspiration for the entire world. Referring to Maharishi Dayanand’s ideal of making the world a better place, the Prime Minister said in this era of discord, violence and instability, the path shown by Maharishi Dayanand gives hope.
The Prime Minister underlined that the auspicious occasion will be celebrated for two years and said that the government has decided to celebrate the 200th birth anniversary of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati. Throwing light on the continuous practice for the welfare of humanity, the Prime Minister expressed gratitude for being able to offer Ahuti Arpan in the ongoing Yagya. Referring to the good fortune of being born in the same land where Swami ji was born, the Prime Minister stressed the continued attraction of the ideals of Maharshi Dayananda in his life.
Recalling India’s condition when Dayanand Saraswati was born, the Prime Minister stated that India was marred and weakened after centuries of slavery and was losing its aura and self-confidence. He recalled the numerous efforts that were underway to crush the ideals, the culture and the roots of India. Swami ji dispelled the notion of any deficiency in the traditions and scriptures of India, he pointed out that their real meaning is forgotten. The Prime Minister recalled the time when the false interpretation of Vedas was being used to belittle India and traditions were being deformed, in such a time Maharshi Dayanand’s effort came as a saviour. “Maharshi Ji started a strong campaign against social ills like discrimination and untouchability.” Shri Modi cited the reactions against his emphasis on duty as a challenge in the 21st century to illustrate the enormity of the effort of the Maharshi in his time. “Evils that were falsely attributed to religion, Swami Ji removed them with the light of religion itself”, the Prime Minister explained. Mahatma Gandhi, said the Prime Minister, considered Swamiji’s fight against untouchability as his biggest contribution.
The Prime Minister underlined that Maharishi Dayanand ji also emerged as a logical and effective voice against the stereotypes that had flourished in society regarding women. He informed that Maharishi Dayanand ji strongly opposed discrimination against women and also initiated campaigns for the education of women while underlining that these facts are more than 150 years old. Even in today’s day and age, the Prime Minister said, there are societies which deprive women of their right to education and respect, but it was Maharishi Dayanand who raised his voice when equal rights for women was a far-fetched reality, even in the western countries.
The Prime Minister emphasized the extraordinary nature of the achievements and efforts of Maharishi ji. He said that people’s spirit and regard for him 150 years after Arya Samaj and 200 years after his birth is an indication of his prominent place in the journey of the nation. “In the Amrit Kaal, the 200th birth anniversary of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati has come with a sacred inspiration”, he added.
Shri Modi said that the country is following Swamiji’s teaching with great confidence. Referring to Swamiji’s call ‘Back to Vedas’, the Prime Minister said “today the country is confidently calling for ‘pride in our heritage’”, as he noted the confidence of the people of India to lay the path of modernity while enriching the culture and traditions at the same time.
The Prime Minister dwelled on the expansive notion of religion in India which goes beyond rituals and is defined as an entire way of life. ‘With us, the first interpretation of religion is about duty’, the Prime Minister said. Swami ji, the Prime Minister said, took an inclusive and integrated approach and assumed responsibility and leadership of many dimensions of the nation’s life. The Prime Minister further elaborated on the wider role of the sages and saints in Indian life by referring to the achievements of Indian sages in philosophy, Yoga, Mathematics, policy, diplomacy, science and medical science. Swami ji played a big role in reviving that ancient tradition, the Prime Minister added.
Reflecting on the teachings of Maharishi Dayanand, the Prime Minister noted the various organizations established by him during his lifetime. Even though Maharishi lived with a revolutionary ideology, the Prime Minister underlined how Maharishi connected all his ideas with order and institutionalized them to establish various organizations that have actively taken up various welfare work in different sectors for decades. Giving the example of Paropkarini Sabha, the Prime Minister said that the organization was established by Maharishi himself and propagates Vedic traditions today through Gurukuls and publications as mediums. He also gave examples of Kurukshetra Gurukul, Swami Shraddhanand Trust and Maharishi Dayanand Trust and noted the numerous lives of youth that have been shaped by these organizations. The Prime Minister also noted the significant contributions of Jeevan Prabhat Trust in social service and rescue operations during the 2001 earthquake in Gujarat and underlined that the organization was inspired by the ideals of Maharishi Ji.
The Prime Minister underlined that the country is witnessing progress with non-discriminatory policies and efforts which were a priority for Swami Ji also. “The service of the poor, backward and downtrodden is the first yagya for the country today.” He cited housing, medical treatment, and women empowerment in this regard. New Education policy promotes modern education with emphasis on Indianness as taught by Swami ji.
The Prime Minister recalled Swami ji’s definition of a realized person, a person who gives more than he takes is a realized person. This has relevance in myriad spheres including the environment. Swami ji understood this knowledge of Vedas deeply, the Prime Minister said. “Maharishi ji was a student of Vedas and a saint of Gyan Marg”, the Prime Minister said. India is leading the world in the quest for sustainable development. The Prime Minister referred to Mission LiFE in this regard and said the environment is being pushed as a special agenda of G20. The Prime Minister said that Arya Samaj can play a big role by promoting these modern ideals with the foundation of ancient wisdom. He asked them to push natural farming. The Prime Minister also mentioned the push for Shri Anna.
Emphasizing that lots can be learnt from the Maharishi’s personality, the Prime Minister narrated the story of an English officer who came to meet Maharishi and asked him to pray for continuous British Rule in India to which Maharishi fearlessly replied, “Independence is my soul and the voice of India”. The Prime Minister said innumerable freedom fighters and institution builders and patriots took inspiration from Swami Ji and gave examples of Lokmanya Tilak, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Veer Savarkar, Lala Lajpat Rai, Lala Hardayal, Chandrashekhar Azad, Ram Prasad Bismil and other freedom fighters. He also gave examples of Mahatma Hansraj, Swami Shraddhanand Ji, Bhai Parmanand Ji and many other leaders who found inspiration from Maharishi
The Prime Minister said that Arya Samaj has the legacy of teachings of Swami Ji and the country expects a lot from every ‘Arya Veer’. He also informed that next year, Arya Samaj will begin its 150th year. Concluding the address, the Prime Minister congratulated everyone for organizing the momentous occasion with great planning, execution and management. “In the Amrit Kaal, may we all find inspiration from the efforts of Maharishi Dayanand ji”, the Prime Minister concluded.
Governor of Gujarat, Shri Acharya Devvrat, Union Minister for Culture, Shri G. Kishan Reddy, Ministers of State for Culture, Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal and Smt Meenakshi Lekhi, President of Delhi Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, Shri Daram Pal Arya, Mahamantri of Delhi Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, Shri Vinay Arya, and President, Sarvadeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, Shri Suresh Chandra Arya were present on the occasion among others.
Born on 12th February 1824, Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati was a social reformer who founded Arya Samaj in 1875 to counter social inequities prevalent during the times. Arya Samaj has played a crucial role in the cultural and social awakening of the country through its emphasis on social reforms and education.
The government has been committed to celebrating the social reformers and important personalities, especially those whose contributions were not given their due yet on a pan-India scale. From declaring the birth anniversary of Bhagwan Birsa Muda as Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas to participating in a programme commemorating Sri Aurobindo’s 150th birth anniversary, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been leading such initiatives from the front.