"After our youngest son had seen Star Wars for the twelfth or thirteenth time, I said, "Why do you go so often?" He said, "For the same reason you have been reading the Old Testament all of your life." He was in a new world of myth." Bill Moyers, interview with Joseph Campbell














PRABUDDHA BHARATABenedictory Address | Swami Ranganathananda  





            Benedictory Address



            Swami Ranganathananda


Delivered on 4 January 2005 at the concluding celebrations of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi's
150th birth anniversary held at Belur Math.



     Friends and Devotees,

     We are observing today Holy Mother's 150th birth anniversary. Different speakers - today, tomorrow and the day after - will discuss various aspects of Holy Mother's life and message. I am glad to speak to you today a few words about Holy Mother's life and what message we get from that life.

     One thing you can mark - our country is now free; we have got a democracy; democracy means that the common people are equal to all high-class people, not separate. And so in this age, we need a new attitude towards each other. We are citizens of a free democracy - everyone; no distinction of caste or creed. And in Holy Mother's life you will find this wonderful development; one who could take in American Christians, British Christians; live together, eat together. Mother, although coming from a very orthodox kulin brahmin family, could overcome all this and create a democratic attitude. Miss Margaret Noble (Sister Nivedita) of England, Christine Greenstidel, Mrs Sara Bull and Josephine MacLeod of America - all were received by Holy Mother. They also ate together. She also looked after a Muslim boy, Amjad, very well. After feeding him she cleaned the ucchishta (leavings) herself. What a wonderful thing! Coming from a kulin brahmin family and without any (formal) education, she cultivated this liberal attitude. Holy Mother's life contains these various incidents - all of which have great meaning for India.

     Our country has one peculiar disease, what we call discrimination between upper caste and lower caste - untouchability (asprishyata). All this has been ruining India. Now the time has come to make all people one and the same. Ultimately this equality must come. Holy Mother, Swamiji and Sri Ramakrishna have showed this in their lives: this type of harmony between man and man, man and woman; no kind of upper caste or lower caste. Democracy also emphasizes this point - only one vote for everyone. No one is superior or inferior. Democracy means [of and for the] common people - all are common people, so far as democracy is concerned.

     Today we have this celebration. Beginning with the 150th birthday of Holy Mother, by the next century, we must be able to achieve complete democracy in India. Holy Mother, Swamiji and Sri Ramakrishna have given us the message to treat human beings as equals. No upper or lower, no caste or creed. Casteism and untouchability must be completely removed from India. And we can see that happening slowly in our own lives.

     The Gita tells you - God incarnates whenever there is decline of dharma to create new dharma, kaladharma; 'sambhavami yuge yuge.' This time Sri Ramakrishna has come, along with Swami Vivekananda and Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi, and there is a manifestation of real human development in India. If these teachings are applied all over India, it is my hope that this century will see the beginning of tremendous activity to remove the great blot of untouchability and casteism from India. Swamiji lived in England and America, and we are told that all the foreign people are mlecchas. Swamiji says in one place that India's doom was sealed the very day it started believing in the word mleccha and stopped communicating with the world outside. The mleccha - idea should be killed now - no more of mleccha. Indeed, thousands of our people are studying in America and England.

     Holy Mother's life is a great example. She is a divine personality, with absolutely no (conventional) education. Yet she had shown how to deal with all these (foreign) people. One important thing is Holy Mother's photo. Who arranged to take these photos? Mrs Sara Bull. She requested Mother to allow a photo. Mother did not allow in the beginning. After much persuasion, when she (Mrs Bull) said, 'I want to take the photo to America and worship it', Mother slowly agreed. In all the different photos that you get, taken by Mrs Sara Bull, you can see Holy Mother sitting. In one photo you can see Holy Mother sitting on one side and Sister Nivedita sitting on the other. It is a beautiful photo. We are all enjoying this photo of Holy Mother - it is seen everywhere. This photo signifies this unity (of the East and the West). Our democracy must thus be strengthened. India is very bad in this matter. For more than two thousand years we have been practising this kind of untouchability, casteism, and all that.

     Mother's life is a great example for us - for all our people, all over India. The Gita says, whatever a great man does, all others follow that. The brahmins and also the highly educated people in India - if they change and try to stop untouchability, all other people will then follow. There is the teaching in the Gita:

     Yadyadacarati shreshthas
          tattadevetaro janah;
     Sa yatpramanam kurute

     Whatever the top people do, that will be followed by lesser people also.

     Our democracy today will be real only when we have this equality. Already it has come in the political language. Everybody has one vote, even the untouchable; even the tribal has only one vote. So also the top people in India - brahmanas and kshatriyas - have but one vote. The servant has one vote, the master also has only one vote, not two. Democracy has already made for this equality of humanity in India. So you will see great consequences in the future, the strength of this new democracy - of everybody having one vote.

     Holy Mother's message will spread. The life and message of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda will continue to inspire India in the coming generations. In this manner we shall establish harmony and peace in India and respect for every human being. Our teachers tell us in the Upanishads, Gita and Bhagavata that God is present in the hearts of all beings. Krishna says in the Gita: 'Ahamatma gudakesha sarvabhutashayasthitah; Arjuna, I am in the hearts of all beings.' (10.20) If God is in the hearts of all beings what distinction can there be? We alone make social distinctions, artificial distinctions - these shall go. The distinctions based upon the highest titles of a person must come; and we are identified with God who is in the hearts of all beings. So, I am sure, these teachings of Vedanta exemplified in the lives of Sri Ramakrishna, Swamiji and Mother will inspire people all over India and also abroad. I am sure this will happen. Today I am very happy to be at this beautiful meeting, where people have come from all over India. I thank you all for this function. I am happy to take part in it and I am sure we shall get great inspiration during the next few days. When you go back home, you should carry this inspiration. Stop untouchability. Democracy will thus be strengthened and Vedantic India will come thereby. Swami Vivekananda wanted that. Vedanta says: We are all one; 'I am the Atman' - (this applies to) every being.

     Thank you all. Namaskar.



International Yoga Day 21 June 2015
International Yoga Day 21 June 2015








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