New Delhi, Jan 12: True religion can’t be the basis of hatred and division, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Sunday, urging every citizen to imbibe lessons from Swami Vivekananda and learn to be tolerant.
“Let us, in all humility, imbibe lessons from Swami Vivekananda. Let us learn to be tolerant of one another, have respect for all religions and dedicate ourselves to the development of our people and our country,” the prime minister said at the closing ceremony of the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda at Vigyan Bhavan here.
“There is no use celebrating Swamiji’s life, paying our respects to his ideas and teachings and honouring his memory if we do not also imbibe the values that he advocated.”
“His true message for us was that true religion and true religiosity can’t be the basis of hatred and division, but of mutual respect and tolerance for the faiths and beliefs of all,” he said.
The prime minister said he sincerely believed that the “best tribute” to Swami Vivekananda “would be to recognise the relevance of his teachings and his thoughts to the 21st century, for today’s India and tomorrow’s India”.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch also paid tributes to Swami Vivekananda.
The prime minister said Swami Vivekananda’s pluralist and syncretic view of religion was a real “religious experience”.
“I have personally been inspired by Swamijii’s syncretic views. This view of religion is one of the great contributions of Hinduism and of the civilisations that took root in this ancient land of ours,” Manmohan Singh said.
“The idea that the whole world is one family has inspired millions of people around the world. But, I also believe it is an idea that defines India and the Indian view of the world,” he added.
Sonia Gandhi described Swami Vivekananda’s life as that of magnificent achievement.
“Several of our great leaders drew inspiration from Swami Vivekananda in nation building,” she said.
Vivekananda recognised the importance of gender equality and lived to illuminate the life of others, she said.
The prime minister also mentioned how Swami Vivekananda’s speech at Chicago in 1893 instilled courage and faith among people.
“One striking feature that I find in Swami Vivekananda is the amount of courage and faith he instils in the readers through his stirring speeches,” he said.
“Let us be humble enough to recognise that there is much that we can learn from the world and therefore be open to new ideas, new opportunities and new challenges,” he added.
Manmohan Singh also urged youngsters to be inspired by “this courageous man”.
“I urge every young Indian, irrespective of faith and religion, to be inspired by such a man as they build their own future,” the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted, quoting Manmohan Singh’s speech.
“India’s true liberation would come when every Indian feels liberated from the scourge of poverty, ignorance and disease. India, this great motherland of ours, has much to learn from the world around us and, equally, much to teach the world,” he said.