70th Independence day celebrations celebrated in a grand manner @ NRI College of Medical Sciences premises in the divine presence of HH Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji and HH Ahobila Ramanuja Jeeyar Swamiji. HH Swamiji has given an inspiring speech to all the students and devotees.
70 Years of Independence: Message from His Holiness Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji
Today we celebrate the 70th Independence Day. Thanks to the effort of many a great soul, the country has been breathing the air of freedom since 1947. We have been enjoying external freedom for the past 70 years. We are yet to mature enough to experience it internally too. The day we can say, “I am free to practice my dharma, my beliefs, and my culture, in my country,” is the day we will have achieved internal independence too. At present, we still hanker after the ways of the westerners that left us.
We are fortunate to have our freedom. Given our current central government’s patriotism, cultural awareness, respect for our heritage, and administrative competence, perhaps the day is not far when we will get freedom in its real sense that we seek for all. All the fingers of our hand are not the same. They should not be the same. However, they all work together, enabling us to accomplish much with our hands, with each finger doing its job. Each finger is free to move as it does. This is individual independence. Together, these fingers do much. This is collective or social independence. Along with this, we should also have cultural independence at the national level. Then, we can proudly claim this nation as our nation. Today, our individual freedom is quite restricted. Our social freedom too is not stellar. It is open to speculation as to how much cultural freedom we have nationally. Our current leaders are striving hard to get this.
Our country is great. Our soil has a natural fragrance and flavor. The first monsoon makes us aware of the fragrance of our soil. The flavor of our soil is physically evident in the fruits and vegetables produced here. We have been to many countries, but did not find this kind of fragrance or flavor there. The fruits and vegetables look good there but lack the flavor. The flavor of our soil is figuratively evident in our hospitality. Athitthi de:vo: bhava—we treat the guest as a form of the Lord. That is why, for thousands of years, we have been welcoming newcomers from foreign lands irrespective of their caste or creed. We have been conscientiously honoring all newcomers, considering it a godsend opportunity to be thus hospitable to them. That is the essential Indian fragrance and flavor.
We are not given in to violence. Ours is not, “Follow my way or off with your head.” Nonviolently, with no hatred, we sent back the British. This is our cultural character. This is the fragrance of our spirit. To be truly free, we should be able to not only preserve but openly practice what is natural and essential to us. Foreign imperialists tried to erase our natural, essential ways. Despite that, by following the ways of our venerated ancestors, we have been able to keep our culture alive. Our customs, traditions, and practices are still alive. We have to protect them actively. Unlike others, Indians believe, “Worship Your Own and Respect All.” We believe in letting others practice their ways, not in crushing them because they are different from ours.
It is not the color of the skin but the hue of the samska:ram or the innate good tendency (of tolerance) that our great ancestors passed on to us that makes us what we are. That is why many religions and communities live freely in our land. We let them practice their ways, respecting them. Fortunately, our constitution guarantees religious freedom. One can follow one’s religion without the fear of unconscionable practices of others. When we honor this, we will earn the right to live in our country. If one does not honor this, one does not deserve to live in this country. This is the cultural independence at the national level.
Individual independence, social independence, and cultural independence at the national level should coexist harmoniously as thrive:ni. Only then do we have the real independence. We should all strive towards achieving this. Irrespective of our caste, creed, everyone of us should honor our Independence Day with national fervor. Nothing should come in the way of doing so. That is why we too are honoring the national flag. Doing so is the minimum one should do to have the right to live in this country. Anyone who does not do so relinquishes all privileges to be on this soil. We must remember and remind others of this and behave accordingly on this occasion of the 70th Independence Day.
Our mangala:sasanams to you all. It is our fortune to celebrate the Independence Day at the NRI Medical College. May the College prepare good citizens with good cultural samska:ras! May the Lord grant us all the necessary strength to protect the dharma or the right ways!