True religion cannot be basis of hatred: PM

True religion cannot be basis of hatred: PM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said true religion cannot be the basis of hatred and division, but of mutual respect and tolerance for faiths and beliefs of all.

"It is no use celebrating Swamiji's life, paying our respects to his ideas and teachings and honouring his memory if we do not imbibe the values that he advocated," he said while paying homage to the memory of Swami Vivekananda on his 150th birth anniversary.

Singh said, "His truly great message for us which is of great relevance to our country and our sub-continent, was that true religion and true religiosity cannot be the basis of hatred and division but of mutual respect and tolerance for faiths and beliefs of all."

Recalling Vivekananda's famous address at the World Parliament of Religions at Chicago in 1893, he said, "Swami Vivekananda said sectarianism, bigotry and fanaticism have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often with human blood, destroyed civilisation and sent whole nations to disrepair.

"Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now."

The closing ceremony of Swami Vivekanand's 150th birth anniversary was attended by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Defence Minister AK Antony and Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch.

Quoting Vivekananda's speech, Singh said "Swami Vivekananda expressed the hope at the World Parliament of Religions that the bell that tolled this morning in honour of this conversion may be the death-knell of all fanaticism of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal."

Describing Vivekanand as a "citizen of the world", the Prime Minister said his message has gone far and wide, inspiring millions of devotees across the world.

Singh said he has been personally inspired by Vivekanand's syncretic views that "All who have actually attained any real religious experience never wrangle over the form in which different religions are expressed. They know that the soul of all religions is the same and so they have no quarrel with anybody just because he or she does not speak in the same tongue."

Invoking Vivekananda, the Prime Minister said, "This syncretic and pluralist view of religion is one of the great contributions of Hinduism and of the civilisations that took root in this ancient land of ours. The idea that the whole world is one family has inspired millions all over the world."

Singh also believed that it is an idea that defines India and the Indian view of the world.

Highlighting three central messages of Vivekananda's teachings, Singh said, "First of all the great religions of the world seek peace on earth and goodwill among human beings."

"Second that India's true religions would come when every Indian feels liberated from the scourge of poverty, ignorance and disease and third that India, this great motherland of ours, has much to learn from the world around us and equally much to teach the world and that a two-way flow of knowledge between India and the world can only be part of our benefit and the benefit of all humanity."

The Prime Minister said another major contribution made by Swami Vivekananda to modern India was to stir the minds of fellow Indians and inspire them to seek freedom and a life of dignity.

Recalling his clarion call "Arise! Awake and stop not till the goal is reached", Singh said it was a call for spiritual as well as political liberation.

"While promoting the idea of the oneness of all religions, Swamiji promoted with equal zeal the idea of equality of all human being. Therefore, he rejected colonialism and alien rule as an affront to human dignity," Singh said.

Observing that Swamiji's sense of confidence without being arrogant "is a rare but precious trait," Singh said, "It is a trait we in India today must readily acquire and jealously retain."

Advocating tolerance, the Prime Minister said, "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."

"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 said.

The best tribute to Swamiji would be to recognise "the relevance of his teachings and his thoughts for the 21st century, for today's India, for tomorrow's India."

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