H.H. Swami Chidananda Saraswati is President and Spiritual Head of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh. He is also the founder and spiritual head of the Hindu Jain Temple in Pittsburgh, USA.
India is such a blessed country. We’ve been blessed since time immemorial with rich and abundant natural resources, lush mountains, flowing sacred rivers, and a timeless and rich spiritual heritage. India has given birth to leaders of peerless valor, courage and commitment. However, today, India is especially blessed to have at the helm, a leader who is such an embodiment of the sacred sangam of bhakti, gyan and karma as our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna emphasizes three main paths of yoga – bhakti, gyan and karma. Despite the essential nature of these three streams of yoga, it is rare to find one who actually embodies them all so fully and beautifully. Hon’ble Shri Modiji is that precious and unique being through whom the rivers of love, wisdom and right action flow together into a vision and style of leadership that is unparalleled in history.
India is not only great just because of our towering Himalayan mountains or sacred River Ganga, or even because of the historical structures like our temples or the Red Fort. India is great because we have leaders like Shri Modiji whose commitment and dedication are as mighty as the Himalayas, who are as pure in conviction, and tireless in flow as Mother Ganga and who make even the Parliament a living temple.
Swami Vivekanandaji gave the call to wake up, to rise, to stand tall and not to rest until the goal has been met. I wonder if, in his divine vision, he knew that India would, at the time of its 75th anniversary of freedom, have a leader who would embody this very clarion call. I wonder if he knew that we would have a leader who not only would rise personally, but who would also bend down as far as needed to give a hand and raise up the entire country.
Swami Vivekanandaji made history, not only for himself but for all of India and Indian spiritual culture when he stood at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, in 1893 and shared, passionately and proudly with his “sisters and brothers of America” the rich, ancient, universal wisdom of Bharat and who became truly a beacon of light for people of every race, every religion and every culture.
In the same way, Hon’ble Shri Modiji made history for India and our timeless culture when he stood in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations and gave a call for an International Day of Yoga. Through this historic and unparalleled efforts, Modiji has brought the light of yoga to every corner of the world.
I have travelled to America well over one hundred times in the forty years since I founded the Hindu-Jain temple in Pittsburgh, USA. I have spent so much time with the Indian community living abroad, working to keep them connected to their heritage, their roots and their culture. The allure of acculturating is powerful for NRIs, especially the younger generations. The impact upon the pride of NRIs in being Indian that Shri Modiji has had is phenomenal.
I remember in September 2014 when he came to New York and gave a program at Madison Square Garden. I was fortunate to be at the program, andwhat I witnessed brought tears of joy to my eyes. An enormous stadium, filled with tens of thousands of Indian Americans first sang the American national anthem along with the senators and congresspeople who had come to welcome Shri Modiji to America. They sang sincerely but softly. When, immediately after the American national anthem, our Indian anthem Jana Mana Gana began, the entire stadium burst out in full throated, ardent, ecstatic singing. The level of the volume and the excitement surely matched even the most feverish sporting events to have ever taken place at Madison Square Garden.
I remember afterwards, the reporter from ANI news asked me, “What happened today?” I told him, “India happened today!”
And then, India happened in Wembly Stadium, London and in so many stadiums around the world. Modiji has consistently drawn significantly larger crowds than not only any former Indian leader but also than almost any other leader of any nation when he/she travels to other countries.
The fundamental essence is the way the world sees India under Modiji’s leadership. Like Vivekanandaji dramatically impacted the view Americans had of a country they thought was full of only snake-charmers, so has Modiji dramatically impacted the view that the world has had about modern India, politically, technologically and spiritually!
Even in the midst of the grueling travel schedule he has, he still lives as a yogi, rising before dawn and beginning his day with yoga and meditation. He showed the world the power of spiritual strength when he consumed only lemon water during his Navratri fast at the White House with President Obama.
Here in India, his commitment to Sab ka Saath Sab ka Vikas forms the foundation upon which all of his policies are formed. One India, one people, one development. Make in India and Digital India, Swachh Bharat and Swasth Bharat. These programs will go down in history as great uniting and uplifting forces for not only the country but also for the world.
From the banks of Mother Ganga, I send deepest blessings and prayers for his continued strength and health so that he may continue to lead India for decades to come.