Revive Indian traditions in tribute to Vivekananda, says Pranab

Mumbai, May 31 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee Friday called for the revival of India’s proud traditions in morality, ethics and social conduct as a tribute to Swami Vivekananda’s call for rebuilding India’s national character.

“We seem to be losing our sense of right and wrong, and good and bad, as we pursue our short-term objectives. As a result, not only is the greater public good being sacrificed but even the private search for success and happiness is yielding short-lived, illusory and often counter-productive outcomes,” President Mukherjee said here.

He was speaking at a commemoration to mark the 120th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s epoch voyage to the west, which started from Mumbai’s Appollo Bunder (where the Gateway of India stands now), May 31, 1893.

“To remember Swami Vivekananda is to remember his call for rebuilding India’s national character and his call to the country’s youth to be daring, courageous, adventurous, strong and above all, unshakably strong in their morals and ethics,” the president said.

Mukherjee said that the people of India “must show the way to the world by adhering to this message of Swami Vivekananda”, as we have long symbolised communal peace and harmony, based on tolerance and respect for all faiths.

Referring to Swami Vivekananda’s historic speech at the Parliament of World’s Religions in Chicago in September 1893, Mukherjee said that in those days, the western world’s understanding of India was coloured by misconceptions.

“It was therefore a turning point indeed, when Swami Vivekananda’s powerful thoughts and the purity of his personality won the minds and hearts of a large section of the influential thinkers that he came across,” Mukherjee said.

As Swami Vivekananda unhesitatingly appreciated the positive aspects and accomplishments of the western societies and refrained from being dogmatic as he made his point, he was able to build a robust new bridge of understanding and goodwill for India.

Mukherjee quoted French Nobel laureate Romain Rolland, who in his book ‘The Life of Vivekananda and the Universal Gospel’, wrote: “Vivekananda’s constructive genius may be summed up in two words ‘equilibrium’ and ‘synthesis’. He was the personification of the harmony of all human energy.”

The president urged people to take up social reforms and remove injustices based on caste, class and gender, to which Swami Vivekananda was totally opposed.

Besides, as Swami Vivekananda believed, there is an urgent imperative to both improve and expand our education system through a comprehensive and time-bound plan for reforms, with the involvement of the corporate sector, the president said.

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