On 15-08-2017 we are celebrating our 71st 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 71 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.

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.

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