Swami Swaroopananda ji is the Head of Chinmaya Mission Worldwide. He is also the Chancellor of the Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth Trust (University for Sanskrit and Indic Traditions) and Chairman of the Chinmaya International Residential School in Coimbatore, South India. He has written numerous books on spirituality and contemporary lifestyles. Swamiji currently lives in Mumbai.
That Shri Narendra Modiji has reached the milestone of 70 years, is a fact worth noting. I know of many people half his age who envy Modiji’s energy and zeal. Chinmaya Mission heartily congratulates the Prime Minister on his 70th birthday. I also applaud the Vivekananda Youth Connect Foundation for this very thoughtful initiative of publishing an eBook on Modiji, and thank the organisation for inviting me to be a part of it.
The starting point of all great work and leadership is a vision. Vision plus right action yields transformation. And when vision-inspired work is laid at the altar of an ideal, it becomes karma yoga. Modiji no doubt envisions a strong, self-confident and prosperous India which is cognisant of its core values and leverages them to embrace the future and contribute to a peaceful world. To realise this noble vision, Modiji clearly works very hard, dedicating his efforts to Mother India and the people of the country. He is a true karma yogi.
A good leader also sets an example for others, thereby motivating them. The principles of diligence, discipline, cleanliness and self-reliance have always been part of Indian culture. The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, encouraged the same. However, the practice of these principles in our community life has eroded greatly over time. The Prime Minister tries to demonstrate, 24/7 through his own leadership, the emphasis he places on Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and, more recently, Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan – to indicate that these principles are absolutely essential if India is to realise its potential.
I am also delighted by Modiji’s commitment to the fundamentals of Indian culture. In this regard, the construction of a grand Sri Rama Temple in Ayodhya is laudable. This was also the dream of our Pujya Gurudev, Swami Chinmayanandaji, who, in the context of the Temple issue, wrote in a letter to a devotee: “After 1,500 years of neglect, [we must] strive to revive our culture…” Sri Rama has been central to the culture of India for millennia, and we welcome the fitting tribute at His birthplace.
Mention must also be made of the special status given to Sanskrit in the National Education Policy 2020. This is key towards enabling the full unlocking and utilisation of ancient Indian knowledge systems in various sciences and arts – much of which still lies dormant because of the inadequate grasp of Sanskrit across the country. It is in pursuance of the same goal, in fact, that our Mission established the Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth (Chinmaya University) in 2016 as a full-fledged institute for Sanskrit and Indic traditions.
As I mentioned earlier, Modiji’s vision for India encompasses the rediscovery of our nation’s core values. While efforts in this direction have been launched, the proper realisation of this goal in a manner that speaks to both the idealism and the tolerance built into Hindu culture, with material progress also considered a legitimate aim, is admittedly a huge challenge. In the last several decades, even centuries, we have lost our core values to a large extent.
What are India’s core values? Our scriptures highlight three. First, Integrity or Truthfulness (Satyam). This refers to not just speaking the truth, but also intelligently living up to it in one’s everyday life and not compromising on one’s understanding. Second, Non-injury (Ahimsa). This means minimising violence (even as it is unavoidable sometimes), not just outwardly but also internally, as in harbouring no malicious thoughts or ill will towards others. And third, Self-control (Brahmacharya). This one is grossly misunderstood and scary for many people. But Brahmacharya, for non-sanyasis, is not about abstinence. It is simply moderation in the activities of all our senses, including talking or eating too much, for example. If we overeat, we could experience stomach discomfort; if we oversleep, we may feel dull rather than alert; and so forth.
These are among our core values because they ‘cleanse’ and integrate our intellectual, psychological and physical lives. The less ‘cluttered’ or distracted or burdened with negativity our energies are, the easier it becomes to align these three layers of our personality, and the better we are equipped to lead a productive, happy life. More significantly, such purification and integration of our personality leads to the unfolding of the fourth layer, the spiritual. In the final analysis, spiritual fulfilment – which, it has to be stressed, does not mean ignoring material aspects, for life itself is the field for spiritual growth – delivers success and joy at the very highest level… This is the prized cultural capital of India – a vision of life not just for Indians but for all of humankind.
Presently our country is in urgent need of moral reformation, which alone can be the basis of equitable and sustainable development. This is something we all, without exception, need to acknowledge and participate in. My best wishes to Shri Narendra Modiji in all his endeavours. May God bless him with ample correct support and lasting success in the pursuit of his grand vision and mission for India.