New Delhi: The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu today called for the creation of a caste-less society and said that the nation we aim to build must give equal opportunities to everyone to reach their full potential and lead fulfilling lives.
He was inaugurating the 87th Sivagiri Pilgrimage Meet at the Sivagiri Mutt in Varkala, Kerala today.
Shri Naidu asked all Gurus, Maulvis, Bishops and all other religious leaders to direct their efforts towards ending all manner of discrimination, especially in the name of caste. He also asked religious leaders to spend more time in rural areas and villages and work for the upliftment of the depressed, suppressed and oppressed people drawing inspiration from great saints like Sree Narayana Guru.
Stating that the journey to Sivagiri Mutt, hallowed by the presence of Sree Narayana Guru, had been a deeply spiritual experience for him, the Vice President said that Sree Narayana Guru was a great saint, social reformer, philosopher and revolutionary humanist.
Quoting Guru’s mantra of “Enlightenment through Education, Strength through Organization, Economic Independence through Industries”, Shri Naidu said that Guru’s teachings are of significant contemporary relevance, especially in the context of our efforts to promote social justice.
Shri Naidu said that the aim envisioned by Guru for the ‘theerthadanam’ or pilgrimage was the assimilation of wisdom, its practice in daily life and propagation.
Observing that Sree Narayana Guru respected and treated all religions equally, the Vice President said that Guru’s advice to humanity was to always remember that ‘In substance, all religions are the same’. “He proclaimed that there was no distinction of Religion or God between human beings and called upon people to abstain from violence and religious conflicts to promote universal peace, harmony and prosperity”, he added.
Underscoring that the Guru boldly rejected the caste system and all other divisive tendencies that turn people against each other, the Vice President said that Sree Narayana Guru brought back to the minds of the people the real message of “Advaitha” which he formulated into a powerful practical philosophy of life as “One Caste, One Religion, One God for Man”.
The Vice President said that India has been celebrated as the cradle of civilization, as the mother of culture and added that it had a glorious past during which its economy flourished, its society was enlightened, progressive and inclusive and its cultural ethos shone at its vibrant best.
Shri Naidu expressed concern that in spite of the significant progress on the economic and technological fronts, there were still pockets in the nation where social evils like caste discrimination persisted. “We must not doubt in our mind that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, he said.
He stressed that it was time for us to retrospect and take pragmatic steps. “India of the future must be caste-less and class-less”, he said.
The Vice President said that even though our constitution had already criminalized the abhorrent and inhuman practice of untouchability and the government has made several such laws, the implementation of these laws in letter and spirit depends a great deal on the mind-set of the society.
“The movement to dispel the caste system must come within the heart and mind of society. It must be an intellectual revolution, a compassionate revolution, a humanitarian revolution”, he added.
He urged people to never let the forces that divide us to be stronger than the forces that unite us.
Observing that the Guru’s approach to reform was through mental, emotional and spiritual transformation and not through compulsion and coercion, The Vice President expressed hope that Guru’s wisdom will continue to guide us in our efforts to build a strong, united, peaceful, harmonious society.
Shri Arif Mohammed Khan, Hon’ble Governor of Kerala, Shri V. Muraleedharan, Hon’ble Union Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Shri Kadakampally Surendran, Minister for Co-operation, Tourism and Dewaswom, Shri Oommen Chandy, former Chief Minister of Kerala and Member of Legislative Assemply of Kerala and others were present on the occasion.