Delhi: The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, addressed the program marking the 150th anniversary of Srila Prabhupada ji at Bharat Mandapam, Pragati Maidan today. The Prime Minister paid floral tribute to the statue of Acharya Srila Prabhupada and released a commemorative stamp and a coin in his honour. Founder of the Gaudiya Mission, Acharya Srila Prabhupada played a pivotal role in preserving and spreading the fundamental tenets of the Vaishnava faith.
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister said that the magnificence of Bharat Mandapam has grown manifold with the presence of so many great saints, and informed that the concept of the building is based on the ‘Anubhav Mandap’ of Lord Basweshwara. He said that it was a center of spiritual discussions in ancient India. “‘Anubhav Mandap’ was the center of energy of the belief and resolution of social welfare”, he remarked. “On the 150th birth anniversary of Srila Prabhupada ji”, the Prime Minister said, “a similar energy can be witnessed inside Bharat Mandapam today.” Reiterating the government’s focus on making Bharat Mandapam the center of India’s modern capabilities and ancient roots, PM Modi recalled the recently concluded G20 Summit here which showed a glimpse of the possibilities of New India. “Today, this venue is hosting the World Vaishnav Convention”, Shri Modi said, noting that it presents a picture of the Naya Bharat, an amalgamation of development and heritage where modernity is welcomed and identity is a matter of pride. The Prime Minister expressed gratitude for being a part of the grand occasion and bowed before Lord Krishna. He also paid tributes to Srila Prabhupada Ji and congratulated everyone for the postage stamp and commemorative coin released in his honour
The Prime Minister said that the 150th anniversary of Srila Prabhupada ji is being celebrated in the wake of the consecration of the Shri Ram Temple at the Ayodhya Dham. Noting the happiness on the faces of the people, the Prime Minister credited the completion of this massive Yagya to the blessings of the saints.
The Prime Minister paid tribute to the contribution of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu for creating the conditions of experiencing the joy of devotion. “Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was the touchstone of love for Krishna. He made spiritualism and meditation accessible for the masses”, the Prime Minister said. PM Modi pointed out that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu showed the way of reaching God through joy. The Prime Minister recalled his personal experience when at one stage of his life, he felt that despite fully living the Bhakti there was a void, a distance. He said that it was the joy of Bhajan Keertan that enabled full immersion in the moment. “I have personally felt the power of the Chaitaya Prabhu’s tradition”, said PM Modi. Today also, he said, ‘I was clapping as a devotee, not as a PM when the keertan was on’. “Chaitanya Mahaprabhu made the lyricism of Krishna Leela as well as their importance to understanding life”, the Prime Minister said.
“Personalities like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu propagate their work with time in one way or the other”, the Prime Minister said underlining that Srila Prabhupada Ji was an embodiment of this belief. He said that Srila Prabhupada Ji’s life taught us how to accomplish anything with meditation and illuminated the path from meaning to the well-being of everyone. The Prime Minister informed that Srila Prabhupada Ji had memorized the Geeta by heart when he was less than 10 years old while also attaining knowledge in Sanskrit, Grammar and the Vedas. He stated that Srila Prabhupada Ji described the Surya Siddhant Granth in astronomical mathematics, and earned the degree of Siddhant Saraswati. He also opened a Sanskrit school by the age of 24. He informed that Srila Prabhupada Ji has authored more than 100 books and articles. In a way, PM Modi said that Srila Prabhupada Ji created a balance between Gyan Marg and Bhakti Marg ( path of knowledge and dedication) with life. He said that Srila Prabhupada Swami worked to propagate the Vaishnav Bhav of human resolve of non-violence and love that Gandhiji used to invoke.
The Prime Minister underlined the connection of Gujarat with Vaishnav Bhav. He mentioned Lord Krishna’s leelas in Gujarat and Meera Bai’s immersion in God in Gujarat. This has made Krishna and the tradition of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu a natural part of my life, said the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister recalled his views on India’s spiritual consciousness that he delivered at the centenary of the Gaudiya Mission in 2016. He underscored the importance of roots and said that the biggest manifestation of distance from one’s roots is forgetting one’s capabilities and strengths. He said this happened with the glorious tradition of Bhakti also. He said many people consider Bhakti, rationality, and modernity as contradictory. He stressed “Bhakti is a grand philosophy given by our sages. It is not despair but hope and self-confidence. Bhakti is not fear, it is enthusiasm” Devotion is not despair, it is hope and confidence.” He said Bhakti is not defeat but a resolution for impact. He said Bhakti involves getting a victory over oneself and working for humanity. He said due to this spirit India never attacked others for the expansion of its borders. He paid tributes to the saints for reintroducing the people to the glories of Bhakti. “Today, in the Amrit Kaal of independence, the country is taking forward the resolve of the saints by taking the pledge of ‘freedom from the mentality of slavery’, ” the Prime Minister said.
PM Modi lauded the significant contributions of spiritual leaders towards India’s cultural and societal fabric. He emphasized their pivotal role in India’s freedom struggle and the shaping of its national ethos.”Our Bhakti Margi saints have played an invaluable role, not only in the freedom movement but also in guiding the nation through every challenging phase. Throughout India’s tumultuous history, eminent saints and spiritual leaders have emerged to provide direction to the nation in various capacities”, he said. He also underlined the role of Saints in the difficult medieval times. The Prime Minister continued, “These revered saints taught us that true dedication lies in surrendering oneself solely to the ultimate power. Amid centuries of adversity, they upheld the virtues of sacrifice and perseverance, safeguarding our cultural values.” “Their teachings have reinstilled in us the belief that when everything is sacrificed in the pursuit of truth, falsehood inevitably fades away, and truth prevails. Hence, the victory of truth is inevitable – as we say, ‘Satyamev Jayate'”, said the Prime Minister.
PM Modi recalled that during the struggle for independence, spiritual luminaries such as Swami Vivekananda and Srila Prabhupada infused boundless energy into the masses, guiding them towards the path of righteousness. He said personalities like Netaji Subhas and Mahamana Malviya sought guidance from Srila Prabhupada.
The Prime Minister said, “The confidence to endure and remain immortal through sacrifice is derived from the practice of Bhakti Yoga.” The Prime Minister emphasized, “Today, with this same confidence and devotion, millions of Indians have embarked on a spiritual journey, ushering in an era of prosperity for our nation. We treat the nation as ‘dev’ and move with a vision of ‘dev se desh’”, he added.
PM Modi said, “We have harnessed our strength and diversity, transforming every corner of the country into a powerhouse of progress.” “As Shri Krishna teaches us – ‘I am the soul seated in the hearts of all living beings’ – emphasizing the unity that lies within the diversity of our nation. This unity in diversity is ingrained so deeply in the Indian psyche that the notion of division finds no place within it”, said the PM. “For the world, a nation may represent a political ideology, but for India, ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ is a spiritual belief”, the Prime Minister added.
Touching upon Srila Prabhupada Ji’s life being an example of ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’, the Prime Minister informed that he was born in Puri, took initiation in the tradition of Ramanujacharya Ji of the South and carried on the tradition of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu while establishing the center of his spiritual journey, his monastery in Bengal. “Bengal is a source of constant energy from spirituality and intellectuality”, PM Modi added noting that the land of Bengal gave the nation saints like Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Guru Rabindranath Tagore and Raja Rammohan Roy.
The Prime Minister underlined that India’s speed and progress are being discussed everywhere today and we are at par with developed countries in modern infrastructure and hi-tech services. “We are even surpassing big countries in many fields”, he added, noting that Indians are being seen in leadership roles. PM Modi further added that Yoga is reaching every home in the world and the trust in Ayurveda and Naturopathy is also growing. Shri Modi credited the energy of India’s youth for the change in the outlook and emphasized that they take along both knowledge and research together. “Our new generation now wears its culture proudly on its forehead”, the Prime Minister remarked. He said that today’s youth understands the importance of both spirituality and start-ups and is capable of both. As a result, said the Prime Minister, pilgrimages like Kashi and Ayodhya are witnessing a large number of young people.
Throwing light on the awareness of the young generations of India, the Prime Minister said that it is natural for a country to build the Chandrayaan and also illuminate Chandrashekhar Mahadev Dham. “When youth lead the country, it can land a rover on the moon, and nourish the traditions by naming the landing spot ‘Shivshakti’. Now Vande Bharat trains will also run in the country, and Vrindavan, Mathura and Ayodhya will also be rejuvenated”, he stated. A delighted Prime Minister also informed about the beginning of the construction of the Ganga Ghat in Mayapur, Bengal under the Namami Gange scheme.
Concluding the address, the Prime Minister said the harmony between development and heritage will continue for 25 years of Amrit Kaal. “With the blessings of the saints, we will build a Viksit Bharat, and our spirituality will pave the way for the welfare of the entire humanity”, Shri Modi concluded.
Union Ministers, Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal, and Smt Meenakshi Lekhi were present on the occasion among others