Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Taking Old India To The NRI

Swami Ranganathananda

Swami Ranganathananda, the 13th President of the Ramakrishna Mission, who passed away on 26th April 2005 at the ripe old age of 97 years, represented the quintessence of Indian wisdom. For a man whose education stopped with High School, Swamiji was a scholar and linguist of great eminence. A self-taught master of Sanskrit and the Upanishads, he was firm believer in modern science and technology. Indeed, the thrust of his teachings was that Vedanta was a science. He always emphasized that if wisdom does not grow with knowledge, then knowledge is sure to bring sorrow.

Swamiji was a globe-trotter. Probably there was no major university in the West where he did not address the students. In the year 2000, he went on an extensive lecture tour of America and captivated the audience with his spellbound lectures. During the question-answer session of one such lecture, he was asked to give a parting advice to the NRIs in America. This is what the Swamiji said:

“People from India have come here; a new type of Indians, not the Red Indians but the other Indians. Red Indian is a great Indian; but this is a new Indian coming from far away. The West had a great secret love for India. And Columbus discovered this America while he was in search of India—not in search of America—and thought it to be India; hence came the name Indian to the Native Americans. Later, Indians from India have come here. They are here to serve this country like any other American, as citizens. And they have behind them an ancient 5000-year-old culture. Prof. Will Durant, in his 242 pages devoted to India in his book “Our Oriental Heritage”, in the last section ‘Farewell to India’ says:

“ One cannot conclude the history of India as one can conclude the history of Egypt, or Babylonia, or Assyria ; for that history is still being made, that civilization is still creating--. It is true that even across the Himalayan barrier, India has sent to us such questionable gifts as grammar and logic, philosophy and fables, hypnotism and chess, and above all, our numerals and our decimal system. But these are not the essence of her spirit; they are trifles compared to what we may learn from her in the future. As invention, industry and trade bind the contents together, or as they fling us into conflict with Asia, we shall study its civilization more closely, and shall absorb even in enmity, some of its ways and thoughts. Perhaps, in return for conquest, arrogance and spoliation, India will teach us tolerance and gentleness of the mature mind, the quietness of the soul, the calm of the understanding spirit and a unifying, pacifying love for all living things”

One blessing every Indian here has behind him or her is his or her ancient culture, which has never indulged in any foreign aggression, or in destroying other peoples’ happiness. Uniformly peaceful international relations is one of the most outstanding features of India’s long History. She had military power; she had unified empire; she had political strength. But never did she go to conquer any other nation. This is a tremendous blessing on the head of every citizen in India and from India. Remember this as your greatest gift to any nation, that wonderful attitude of tolerance, understanding the other and live and let live attitude. And that is why India is alive even after 5000 years, even after many ups and downs. In spite of centuries of foreign invasion and subjection, India is still strong and still young. That we owe to its Advaita philosophy and spirituality of the immortal Upanishads.
Always remember that India has tremendous spiritual strength behind it. Let your children in this country be impressed with that great spiritual strength. It is there in their blood; only they must learn how to rediscover that. And here, in America, there is tremendous scientific efficiency. If you can combine this efficiency of America with the Vedantic spiritual efficiency of India, you will enrich yourself and enrich this great country as well. You live a good Hindu life here: this great Vedanta can influence to live a happy family life, integrated family life. Develop an integrated family life. We need it in America in a big way, because problems are multiplying due to breaking up of families, and the children are the worst sufferers in such a situation.
So, if Indians here can stress this particular influence, by example, it will be a cultural contribution to America. That is my request to our Indians settled in this great country. Swami Vivekananda first forged indo-American friendship in the last decade of the 19th century. It is a tremendous friendship, unaffected by day-to-day political differences. Some American thinkers like Emerson, Walt Whitman and Thoreau had earlier initiated a tremendous friendship between India and America. I call it the beginning of Indo- American history. It became intertwined from the time of Swami Vivekananda onwards. This is going to develop further and further, as decades pass. You are one of the instruments for bringing about this harmony between this great modern nation and that great ancient nation”


ARTICLE NO. 436---Message to NRIs by Swami Ranganathananda of Sri Ramakrishna Mission
Created: Friday, March 14, 2008 9:46 PM


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