04/07/98 - 1732
Prime Minister of India Inauguration Speech
India (VNN) - The following is the speech by Sri Atal Behari Vajpayee,
the Honorable Prime Minister of India, at the Inauguration of
the Sri Sri Radha-Parthasarathi Temple and Glory of India Vedic
Cutural Center. Rama Navami, 5 April 18, 1988:
Hare Krishna. Hare Rama.
For the benefit of my friends from abroad, I would like to say
a few words in English:
Distinguished guests, it is my privilege to be present at today's
pious function to mark the opening of this magnificent temple
and also the Glory of India Vedic Cultural Center in Delhi. The
piousness of today's function is further enhanced by the fact
that it is taking place on the auspicious occasion of Rama Navami.
I would first of all like to express my deepest sense of appreciation
for the vision, dedication and achievement of the International
Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) and all those who have
collaborated with it to present this unique spiritual gift to
the nation's capital. The ISKCON movement has few parallels in
the world in terms of its rapid global spread, its trans-national,
trans-ethnic, and trans-professional appeal, its outward simplicity,
and the devotional energy of its followers. In the less than three
and a half decades since its inception it has established temples
in practically all parts of the world, and many of them are marvels
of beauty, such as the one that is being opened in New Delhi today.
The maha-mantra of Hare Krishna Hare Rama reverberates to the
dancing feet of ISKCON devotees each morning and evening in temples
from Stockholm to Sao Paulo and from Miami to Mayapur. What ISKCON
has achieved is indeed globalization of the Gita appeal. Some
people say that my government is opposed to globalization. But
let me say that I am all in favor of globalization of the message
of the Gita. Not only the globalization of the message of Gita
but indeed of the messages of all the sacred books of the world
with which the message of Gita bears close conformity.
If today the Bhagavad Gita is printed in millions of copies in
scores of Indian languages and distributed in all nooks and corners
of the world, the credit for this great sacred service goes chiefly
I understand that ISKCON is also propagating the message of the
Gita through the latest gadgets of information techonology, and
this temple itself provides an astonishing demonstration of the
use of high tech to popularize the higher truth of life and the
For this one accomplishment alone, Indians should be eternally
grateful to the devoted spritual army of Swami Prabhupada's followers.
The voyage of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to the United States
in 1965 and the spectacular popularity his movement gained in
a very short spell of twelve years must be regarded as one of
the greatest spiritual events of the century.
What accounts for the rapid spread of the ISKCON movement globally?
The answer should be sought in two factors--internal and external.
The external factor was, in my opinion, the disillusionment in
the leading minds in Western countries arising out of the domination
of the materialist ideology and culture in the West. Both capitalism
and communism gave birth to disillusionment, since both are essentially
materialist ideologies that are incapable of satisfying the real
needs of man. Young, sensitive and searching minds could not have
reconciled themselves to the reality of wars, violence, greed,
excessive consumerism, and degradation of the human and natural
environment. They had to seek answers elsewhere, and ISKCON was
one movement where they found the answer.
The internal factor was of course the inherent strength of ISKCON's
message, a message founded in the philosophy of the Gita. It answers
all the moral concerns and needs of the world, be it man's quest
for inner peace, his need for belonging to the rest of the human
and natural community, his concern for the environment, his attitude
towards work and attitude towards death. The Gita provides comprehensive
and internally consistent answers to all these concerns.
It is in this respect that ISKCON differs from other passing fads
and fashions that appealed to the disillusioned Western minds
in the 1960s and 70s. These fads come and go, but the ISKCON movement
is growing from strength to strength.
The transcendental and universal message of the Bhagavad Gita
is evocatively communicated by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabupada in
his book Bhagavad Gita As It Is, and I would like to read the
following excerpt from his introduction to the book:
In this world men are not meant for quarreling like cats and dogs.
Men must be intelligent to realize the importance of human life
and refuse to act like ordinary animals. A human being should
realize the aim of his life, and this direction is given in all
Vedic literatures, and the essence is given in Bhagavad-gita.
Vedic literature is meant for human beings, not for animals. Animals
can kill other living animals, and there is no question of sin
on their part, but if a man kills an animal for the satisfaction
of his uncontrolled taste, he must be responsible for breaking
the laws of nature. . . . If we properly utilize the instructions
of Bhagavad-gita, then our whole life will become purified, and
ultimately we will be able to reach the destination which is beyond
this material sky. That destination is called the sanatana sky,
the eternal, spiritual sky. In this material world we find that
everything is temporary. It comes into being, stays for some time,
produces some by-products, dwindles and then vanishes. That is
the law of the material world, whether we use as an example this
body, or a piece of fruit or anything. But beyond this temporary
world there is another world of which we have information. That
world consists of another nature, which is sanatana, eternal.
In this distinguished gathering of spiritual masters and spiritual
seekers I am indeed a layman. But permit me to share with you
a few thoughts of mine on the relevance of the Gita's message
in today's national and global contexts. The Gita's relevance
is universal and eternal because it provides a satisfactory answer
to three basic questions of life: What are we? What should we
do? And how should we live?
Human beings have confronted these questions in all societies
at all times. The Gita answers these question through the harmonization
of jnana-yoga, karma-yoga, and bhakti-yoga. The beauty of Indian
culture is that it made the essence of these three paths of yoga
available to the lowest man as well as to the highest seeker.
The Gita is not a prescription for non-action or passivity. It
gives a radical message of action which transforms the self and
the society. That is why it could inspire countless revolutionaries
and freedom fighters, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda,
Lokmanya Tilak and others. But in times of peace and nation-building,
the Gita can also inspire the politician, the teacher, the worker,
the scientist, and the common citizen--and film actors also.*
Therefore the motto of all of us today should be yoga karmasu
kausalam ["the art of work in devotion to the Supreme"]. What
we need today is the application on a national scale of the work-related
ideology of the Gita. This will create a new work culture, and
a new work culture will create a new India.
A word about the architectural beauty of the new ISKCON temple.
It is undoubtably a worthy addition to New Delhi's array of beautiful
buildings and structures, both old and new, whose numbers, sadly,
are far less than what the nation's capital ought to have and
whose collective beauty, even more sadly, is drowned under the
sprawling and spreading sea of ugliness and ordinariness.
The spectacular look of this temple and its landscape reminds
me of a telling quotation I came across in a newspaper yesterday.
It is by the celebrated author Sri V. S. Naipaul, who commented
on the paucity of beautiful modern buildings in India. Naipaul
says, "Independent India has not produced architecture. Poor countries
need very fine buildings to put people in touch with what is possible
with the beautiful. Such fine buildings are the most public art."
Naipaul is right. We need more and more buildings which put our
people in touch with our own tradition of beauty and aesthetics.
Naipaul may also be right in observing that beautiful buildings
are the most public art. We cannot tolerate a situation where
everything that is beautiful--beautiful paintings, beautiful beaches,
beautiful mountain resorts, and beautiful works of art--is available
only to those who have the money. A beautiful temple, of course,
is more than a piece of public art. It puts people in touch with
the higher beauty of the almighty creator and all His creation.
The sights, sounds, and indeed all the vibrations in a temple
have the effect of soothing the devotees, comforting them, giving
them hope and confidence, and elevating them to a transcendental
plane of existence, at least for the brief time we spend praying
and worshiping in the temple.
May I once again felicitate all those who have had a hand in making
this great dream come true--the acharyas of ISKCON, the generous
donors, the architect, the landscape designers, the engineers,
the workers, and all the other humble devotees. Thank you very
[Editor's note: Film stars Sunil Dutt and Hema Malini were among
the guests present in the audience.]
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