India imbibed equality from its heritage: Prez Kovind

Hails eternal relevance of Sri Ramanujacharya’s deep-rooted philosophy

HYDERABAD: President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday contended that ‘Vishishtadvait’ was not merely a singular contribution to philosophy but also showed the relevance of philosophy in everyday life. What is called philosophy in the west has been reduced to a scholarly study subject. ‘Darshan’ is not a matter of dry analysis but a way of looking at the world and life. That has always remained true in the Indian context, thanks to philosopher-saints like Sri Ramanujacharya, he said.

He was speaking at Muchintal Chinna Jeeyar ashram after unveiling a golden idol of Sri Ramanujacharya weighing 120 kgs and seeing the statue of equality, the details of which were explained to him by
Chinna Jeeyar Swamy. As part of the millennium celebrations, he visited 108 divyadesas and performed special pujas at the ashram.

Kovind said that saint-poets and philosophers like Sri Ramanujacharya created and nurtured the country’s cultural identity, continuity and unity. They promoted the concept of a nation based on cultural values. This culture-based concept is different from how it is defined in western thought, he said.

Kovind said that references to the bhakti tradition that united India in a single-thread centuries ago are found in the puranas. This tradition is also found in bhakti sects inspired by Sri Ramanujacharya, which had spread from Srirangam and Kancheepuram to Varanasi. Thus, the emotional unity of Indians dates back to several centuries, he said.

He said that Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, who stood for social justice, had clearly stated that the fundamental constitutional ideals of the Indian republic are based on her ever-vibrant cultural heritage. He also espoused the egalitarian ideals of Sri Ramanujacharya, the president pointed out.

“Our concept of equality is not derived from the west but has developed on India’s cultural soil. Our vision of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ is based on equality, which is the cornerstone of our democracy. Equality before law, prohibition of all forms of discrimination, equality of opportunity, abolition of untouchability - all these fundamental rights have been enshrined in our constitution. In order to achieve the constitutional objective of an equitable society, many public welfare programmes are run by the government”, he explained.

“We are celebrating 75 years of independence. One of the objectives of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ is to re-discover those values that inspired our freedom struggle. It is only then that the young generation would understand the origins of movements led by Mahatma Gandhi, Ambedkar and others. The youth of today will realise how our founding fathers connected us to our heritage as expressed in the life and works of Sri Ramanuja”, he said.

Earlier in the day, Kovind and wife were received at Begumpet airport by Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao and minister Talsani Srinivas Yadav. He will stay in Raj Bhavan for the night and leave for Delhi by a special flight Monday morning.

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