SPEECH BY HER EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SHRIMATI PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE PLATINUM JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS OF THE BRAHMA KUMARIS
Gurgaon, Harayana, 16th September 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to inaugurate the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations of the Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya. 75 years is an important milestone in the journey of any organization. Brahma Kumaris is not a religion, but a spiritual fraternity, and with its message of the importance of a spiritually rich life and value-based living, it has touched the lives of thousands of people from all walks of life from different nations, culture, creeds and races. It is, therefore, apt for such an organization to have chosen the theme "One God, One World Family" to celebrate its Platinum Jubilee.
I begin with a quotation of Gandhiji where he said, "I believe in absolute oneness of God and, therefore, also of humanity." This captures so well the basic philosophy of India, contained in the concept of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' – the world is one family. It enjoins upon us to treat fellow human beings as if they were our own family. This thinking is an outcome of a profound understanding of the inter-connectivity and inter-dependability of human beings on one another. In today's era of globalization, an echo of this is heard, when the world is described as a global village, and where all human beings are required to be good global citizens to promote global good.
Of course, each individual is an important entity. The collective world that we are building is dependent on individual behaviour. The macrocosm is, hence, a product of microcosm. This again is an ancient truth. Our lives are not isolated islands; rather we are living in close proximity with each other. Each one has to be deeply conscious of the reality, that there will be peace and harmony in our environs, only if there is peace in our minds. For it is then only, that we will seek to live in peace with fellow humans and nature. For communities to live in harmony we need to have human beings, with qualities of love and compassion, who work to create calm and concord. The purpose of our lives must go beyond self-satisfaction. Concern for humanity and desire to alleviate suffering has always been an exemplary thought and action for individuals and society. It requires a spirit of giving and a spirit of generosity. Nature contains this basic message. It is said in one of our Shlokas:
Trees give fruits for the benefit of others
Rivers flow for helping others
Cows give milk for others
So, also our lives are for helping others.
Human beings have immense potential to rise above narrow considerations and to strive for broader welfare. This can happen when our thoughts, attitudes, emotions and actions are righteous. All religions espouse the path of virtue and righteousness, and emphasize the importance of pursuing peace, adhering to goodness and kindness and overcoming anger and greed. Today if we look around us, things are not good. In this situation the people need to fortify their minds, control their greed. To build an internal reservoir of positive energy requires reflection, introspection and self correction by an individual, at every stage in life. Feelings of lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego that generate negative emotions are not conducive for the well-being of either the self or others.
It is a matter of concern that a degree of selfishness has crept into our societies. Visions have got limited. Take the example of the meaning that is attached to success. It is often measured in terms of material gains and in this race for success; we forget human relationships. We sometimes forget that in little things like loving smiles, friendly conversations, in words of encouragement, in sharing our joys and sorrows, there is meaning. A meaningful life as I have mentioned earlier, is one of living for others. Spiritual awareness and empowerment of people should go hand in hand with material progress. Then only can we realize the dream of establishing peace and prosperity in the world.
Building peace has another essential element. It is rejecting violence of any kind, as violence even of the subtlest form can destroy peace. Indeed, Mahatma Gandhi the Apostle of non-violence describes it as a creed, and as a strategy which involves respect and love for all forms of life. Using harsh language is also similar to violence. The US civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., deeply influenced by Gandhiji, said, "Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars…Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Non-violence and pure feelings for all are necessary to foster unity in diversity".
Often differences are created by lack of understanding and misperceptions. We need to bridge these divides and necessarily through dialogue. Dialogue produces a confluence of the various streams of thought, opinions and aspirations. It draws together various inputs to produce a grand movement of human advancement. India is a land of many faiths and cultures, and the principle of secularism, enshrined in our Constitution, is based on respect for all religions. I would like to stress this again, that not merely tolerance but respect for all religions is important. There is no place for fissiparous ideas of any sort – region, religion, language, culture, caste, creed, hatred or any other ground. We have to work together with unity of purpose to make India, which has a pluralistic society, an even more prosperous and harmonious nation, on the solid foundation of secularism which is the basic principle of our Constitution.
Also, progress should touch every section of society. Inclusive growth is very important in building an equitable, stable and sustainable base for the growth of the nation. I have always been a proponent of women's empowerment, as I believe that they have immense potential, and channelizing their energies will build more peaceful societies. A women's intrinsic nature is that of giving and nurturing. These qualities are very important to create stable societies. It is noteworthy that from a small beginning in 1936, the institution of the Brahma Kumaris has emerged as a large organization of its kind, led largely by women working ceaselessly for peace, harmony and universal brotherhood. I congratulate you for this.
I hope that the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations will spread the message of compassion and oneness; and inspire people to build bridges of unity amongst all cultures and creeds. I once again congratulate the Brahma Kumaris on this momentous occasion, and wish them success in achieving the noble vision of creating a world of peace and harmony.