Gurur Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Masheswara I
Guru Sakshat Parbrahm, Tasmai Sri
Gurve Namah II
THIS Dharmam Chara programme has been organised before, and again we are conducting this programme. Former Chairman of State Bank of India Sri Rajnish Kumar, who had visited Kanchipuruam once, and Parthasarathy have both expressed their views as keynote speakers in this webinar. We are s e e i n g s e v e r a l o t h e r s — Sankaranarayanan, Mahalingam, Jayaramakrishnan, Jayaram Reddy, Vaidheeshwaran, Sekar — in this grand programme.
In the situation prevailing over the past two years, through technology it has become easy and also necessary to conduct such programmes, because it is the right thing to do and the programme’s purpose is achieved with ease.
The speakers have focused on 3 topics in this programme: Vidya, Vaidya, and Veda. We will talk about Vidya first. Speakers have mentioned about Macaulay’s education system. Whether it was right or wrong, is not the point of discussion at the moment. We need to see the reality. In our country, there is sound knowledge of the English language. This has enabled economic development.
People of our large neighbouring country do not have as much knowledge about the English language as the people of India possess. Knowing English is thus favourable. This shouldn’t however have an influence on our belief. Knowledge of English or Western thought process should not influence the Indian faith.
Vidwan sarvatra pujyate— a scholar is respected and adored all over the world. Among the Indian populace, we have several educated people; this is a good thing. But English or Western thinking and influence should in no way diminish or be detrimental to our faith in Indian tradition — Bharatiya Vishwas.
Just like the honeybee — which flits from one fragrant flower to another, be it Champak, Kamal (Lotus) or any other, collecting nectar, amassing sweetness — we should seek to acquire knowledge from everywhere, wherever it is. Obtaining good from any topic is Indian tradition (Bharatiya parampara) whether it is language, science, or nirvahan- Administration (to obey, or to do what you said you would do) —There is an old saying ‘India’s custom and British system’.
In our country, our Parmacharyaji followed both. He believed in Sandhyavandanam; along with it, documentation; in the administration style, he didn’t refuse the foreigners. This is because since 1907, when he was 13 years old, he witnessed a lot. In 1917, USSR was formed, and then China. He witnessed the history of the world from close quarters. He saw British India.
During the floods in Thanjavur district, Maharaj who was residing there did a lot of work to alleviate the misery of the flood victims. The British Collector, who was called ‘Durai’ in those days, heard about the community work (samajseva) and wanted to know who did it. The people of Thanjavur said that our Shankaracharyaji, our Guru, has done it. The Collector then expressed his desire to meet him.
Similarly, anything good from wherever it is, abroad or a remote land, we need to imbibe. In doing so, however, we should not let go of our traditional or innate values, such as politeness, graciousness, and family values like respect for our elders; these values are unique to us and provide us with a distinctive identity. We should not lose our Indianness — our individuality and identity under any circumstances.
There is a lot of debate on the topic of education. A new policy has also come out. In the context of education, one more point that comes to my mind which will be shared. A well-known person from Tamil Nadu met his counterpart from Odisha and told the latter that we have sent some people outside from Tamil Nadu. The person from Odisha said, “Fine, you did a good thing.” On hearing this, the person from Tamil Nadu thought to himself that he is appreciating me for this act. Then, the Odia said one more thing: “Because you sent these people, our state received some good officers.”
Thus, exploitation of the educated people, what we call ‘brain drain’ and about which Abdul Kalamji had also spoken earlier, sometimes happens in India also. Even then, people recognise and respect the educated, the scholarly — Vidwan sarvatra pujyate.
Indians work in NASA; they work in several places; they obtain patents. They lived with patience, so they obtain patents, which is good. Yet, we have to look into the weakness in our system. Our people are working worldwide and are doing well. They do post- doctorate and other things, which is a good sign.
To make India strong, we, however, need to work in 3 areas. In the field of education, the Vishwvidya programme that these people have started; the Shankara College and schools in K a n c h i p u r a m a n d t h e Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswa Mahavidyalaya in which students from the rural hinterland come to acquire knowledge — whether it is Management, Ayurveda, Engineering, Arts & Science, or whatever degree. The first-generation students from Rayalaseema, where there is less water, less agriculture, fewer job opportunities; or from Jharkhand and many different regions come to acquire education.
We therefore need to provide need- based support. Giving someone who already has the basic necessities is different offering a shawl to a person who already has clothes is a different matter. But giving clothes to someone who really needs is important. Shankaracharyji asked, “Patram kim annadane?” Who is eligible to receive donation? “Kshudhitam” — meaning we should donate to one who is really hungry and in dire need. While doing ‘annadana’, giving to someone who already has is fine; we do it as a way of giving respect to people, like in olden times, doctors — who acquired degrees from London, the US — were honoured, which is fine. Our priority, however, should be to give to the most deserving.
Therefore, Gandhiji’s message of ‘Niradambar Jeevan’ (modest living), despite being influential and well-to-do, you shun or avoid luxuries is our Indian tradition (Bhartiya parampara). You may be wealthy, you may be a zamindar, but you live a moderate life. Simplicity, Sympathy, and Support is ingrained in our belief system. Being benevolent towards the less fortunate is the ‘Bhartiya Upadesh’ or message. Sympathy and Simplicity: We do not overspend so that we can help those who are really in need.
“Sikkanam Semippu Sevai”: through service, through our earnings, or through the wealth we have accumulated, we shall work f or the welfare o f t he underprivileged. That is “Paropkarartham Idam Shariram.”
Today, many big powers are looking towards India. Given our self-interest, we have extended a hand of friendship towards a nation that had, thus far, not extended to India the kind of support that they could have. Even now, in the last two years, that country’s local law became the reason of delay for the supply of medicines to India. After fulfilling the needs of their own populace, the country can supply medicines to other nations. This is the law of their land, which they implement strictly for their security.
Looking at India cordially has, however, become the need of the hour. India, on its part, should use this friendship to its advantage in order to rapidly bring about changes in the education sector. In June 1991, the economic crisis paved the way for the liberalisation of the Indian economy. Similarly, we need to take quick decisions now. We need to move away from MNC based liberalisation and introduce Swadeshi liberalisation policy for the country’s progress.
Then, for skills development, we need to merge skill development with ground reality at 3 levels: Firstly, in the unorganised sector comprising weavers, plumbers, vishwakarma, etc.; next, at the regular level, and finally, at the advanced level — MS PhD — impart quality education. Several people are working towards it, and we would also like to join them in this endeavor. This is the subject of education.
Second is Vaidya. The need for Vaidya (medical facilities and healthcare) couldn’t have been felt more than in the last two years. We are opening new Medical Colleges. W e have r ead in the newspapers that the Centre has decided to open 100 Medical Colleges at the zilla parishad level. This is a step in the right direction, but we need to act fast. In medical education, no compromises should be made in mental aptitude or intellectual capability. We should not compromise in service; in short, we should provide quality medical education without compromising on merit and service. Starting with nurses and lab technicians, just the way we are focusing on paramilitary, we should emphasize on paramedical.
Some of our prominent speakers like Parthasarathy have mentioned that we need 4 lakh nurses and 20 lakh doctors. In Kanchipuram, groundwork has been done to start a Nursing College for women A General Hospital is also being run, and the Nursing College will be promoted under its aegis. This is just the beginning. Later, further courses could be appended for higher education in medicine.
Everybody should work together to implement these initiatives. Government also is doing its part; it has insured 50 lakh people and decided to open 100 medical colleges.
Nonetheless, in a large country like India, which has seen significant developmental work in the last 10- 15 years, requires work to be done together with the government. To carry out development work quickly, we should take help from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, other economic institutions, BRICS, etc.
In the education and healthcare sectors, we should go for international funding at lower interest rates, or start more institutions in sectors where we can receive funding without interest. We can avail of such facilities from international funding agencies. So far, India has taken funding to build roads, dams, and to promote agriculture. We should look at relaxing laws (removing restrictions) for economic liberalisation.
The earlier ‘Permit Raj’ should be ‘Permission Raj’, but never ‘Permit Raj’. Towards this, we need to do some work; only then can we pay attention to the third subject: Veda. Liberalisation in Vidya and Vaidya, along with support from the Centre and State governments, can promote ‘dharma’ or faith that connects us from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. We should focus on our Sanskriti (culture) whether it is Shastriya Sangeet (classical music), Ayurveda, Hastakala (crafts), or Kalamkari (free hand drawing done using a pen), [referring to the elephant’s sketch on the wall behind.]
At the Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswa Mahavidyalaya, we have started a 5 -year course on Shilpashastra (ancient Indian science or ‘shastra’ of creative arts or ‘shilpa’). Similarly, we have started a certificate course for Archakas. We need to give a fillip to these cultural aspects in order to preserve our culture and national integrity.
The Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham intends to build a National Integration Hall at Port Blair in the Andamans. In Sikkim, a Veda Patashala is being run; we intend to start another one in Assam. We also plan to build a temple near the Parshuram Kund in Arunachal Pradesh.
Similarly, in Siliguri, frequently referred by Indian Defence Analysts. Some speakers spoke about sustainable development and strategy.
In Siliguri (West Bengal), the Chicken’s Neck — narrow strip of Indian territory, connecting the northeastern states to the rest of India — a strategically important locale from the security point of view, the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham is supporting the Triveni Veda Patashala.
In a nutshell, desh — country; dharma — faith or belief; and samaj — society or community: we need to connect the three. By uniting them, we can bring about unity among the Indian populace of 130 crores. At present, we have many units, there is a need to bring about unity among these units. To promote unity, work is to be done in both Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. In the Northeast, we need to focus on the ‘Look East’ policy from Jagannath Puri in Odisha to Tripura.
In Odisha, we have an Eye hospital. Eye hospitals are being planned in Haryana and Jammu & Kashmir for which we are to receive some economic support. In Panvel, near Mumbai, an Eye hospital has been started. All these efforts and initiatives are aimed at uniting the country.
This meeting has not been organised for the purpose of only raising funds. No doubt, fund raising is an important factor. Recently, through the Viswavidya scheme, Rs 50 lakh donation was given to meritorious students from the rural areas. This initiative has been successful through the efforts of Dharmam Chara. This has been the benefit of Vishwavidya.
Funds are required to do the work of Dharmam Chara. Alongside, we need to promote patriotism (Desh bhakti) and faith — a moral obligation — for community and nation building. In the way we build buildings, we should build reverence or deep respect (shraddha) towards the nation. We need to foster Bhakti (devotion) towards God, Sneha (love) towards the nation & Nishtha (dedication) towards the community. With this intent in mind, this programme has been organised.
By joining this programme, both Rajnish Kumar and Parthasarathy have expressed their views. The organisers of Dharmam Chara, Sankaranarayanaji, Sekarji, Jayaramakrishnan — all of them — should keep organising such programmes from time to time. By organising them once in two-three months, we can promote non- political leadership in India. Political leadership, through political alignment, aims at promoting a good administration for the majority.
To promote our culture, preserve national unity, and to encourage a service- oriented attitude towards the community, we should look at bringing together people from different sectors of society who are already participating in social activities or those who could do so. In this way, we can build a non-political leadership system from the panchayat level upwards. Some speakers have spoken about alternative arrangement — in the similar way we should have an alternative leadership platform to solve social problems & promote peace in the society.
For the country’s progress, peace should prevail. In a non-peaceful environment, the possibility of progress and development is less, or it doesn’t happen that quickly. Complete peace, complete education and complete development at the micro- level is a prerequisite for development and progress. For complete peace, at this level, people who have held prominent positions in banks, in administration, and in leading developmental work, should come together to form a s amiti (organisation) to protect and preserve Dharma, national unity and for community welfare.
As regards the attitude for Service, Sri Adi Shankaracharyaji has said “Kutra Vidheyo Yatnaha?” What are the areas that we need to attempt to do service ? To which, Shankaracharyaji has said: Vidyabhyase Sadaushadhe Daane. In the education sector, we need to strive hard. This Dharmam Chara is not a new programme. It started at the time of Shankaracharyaji.
Sadaushadhe means medicines with efficacy should be available to all at an affordable cost and on time. The purpose for which it is required should be met, Shankaracharyaji had said.
Daane (charity), the third aspect of Dharmam Chara, is being practised from the time of Mahabharata. In the times of the Mahabharata, there was a ‘kiri'(tamil) or mongoose, with half its body normal and the other half made of gold. This mongoose visited a poor person’s hamlet. A guest had visited that house then. To welcome and give respect to a guest is a part of the Indian tradition whether one has enough or not. ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’.
In the hamlet, 3-4 people were sitting who had not had a meal for the past 2-3 days, they were living only on water. On seeing their guest, the young members of the family decided to give away their share of the meagre food to the guest. Doing charity comes naturally to Indian families.
When this mongoose entered the precincts of the hamlet, the area was so special and pious because of the charity being done by the members that it was blessed and half his body turned into gold. This goes to show the significance of charity in the Indian tradition.
The mongoose now resolved that the other half of his body should also turn into gold and started roaming about in places where good work was being done. When Dharmaputra Yudhishthira performed the Soma yagna, the mongoose went inside the confines of the yagna boundary, supposed to be very holy and pious due the sacrificial fire, to turn the other half of his body into gold but nothing happened. What this underscores is that the significance of the charity performed at the hands of those living in the hamlet and, thus, that place, far outweighed even the yagna or sacrificial fire conducted to appease the Gods. Similarly, it is said that gold and silver pale in comparison to the importance of tulasi, signifying the importance of Bhakti.
The desire to do good work resides in every heart. And, Dharmam Chara is that programme that strings together such noble hearts to do good work. It is not only about collecting donation; it is also about providing and readying a platform, either through Pratyaksha or any other forum, to do work for the welfare of all, and several prominent people have come together to participate in it.
In this attempt, people should participate and perform seva (community work) in whatever way through ‘Tan, Man, Dhan’ — voluntarily committing one’s physical, mental and financial resources for the welfare of society. People who perform such Dharamaacharan (good work) shall be blessed a 1000 times.
– sahasraguNamuthsraSHtum AdhaththE hi rasam ravihi
Like the Sun that absorbs water and returns it 1000 times more for agriculture, for the welfare of people, and for other good work, we should perform charity for the welfare of our fellow beings and to make our country self-sufficient and self- reliant. Through charity we need to achieve clarity in the nation. “Saharsrakoti Jana Paalana”, as it is said in one of the k e e r t a n a s ( s o n g s ) , l i k e “dorakunaitivantiseva” as cited by Parthasarathy, “Saharsrakoti Jana Paalana”, it is essential to protect and promote the 130 crores Indian citizens so that they can go and work anywhere in the world.
“Etat Desha Prasutasya Sakasat Agrajanmanah, Swam Swam Charitram Shiksheran Prithivyam SarvaManavah…” It means that people who are born in this part of the earth should enlighten the entire world by presenting the example of their own character”
To become the Jagadguru, India will first have to become a good guru. For that, all the devotees should come together to perform this service to God.
On the occasion of Deepavali, may everyone by the blessings of God see good progress in their employments, financial situation and good health. Prayers to Lord Krishna for the well-being of all Indians. With this prayer, we conclude this programme of Dharmam Chara for today.
Hara Hara Shankara, Jaya Jaya Shankara