11th international Arya Mahasammelan concludes in Delhi
The global event was attended by representatives from 32 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia,, Canada, Nepal, Thailand, Myanmar, The Netherlands, Guyana, Trinidad, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Malawi, Mauritius, Armenia, France, Germany, Japan, Jamaica, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The Governors of Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Assam, Union Cabinet Ministers and Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, and other participants hailing from various walks of life, attended this signature event.
President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the convention on Thursday (October 25). Delivering a short, but impressive speech of about 20-minutes, he recalled his association with the Arya Samaj in his youth in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, describing it as a fortunate experience of four to five years that inspired him and gave him several life lessons which were of value to him even today.
He said that the Arya Samaj is an institution of cultural pride and there was now a greater need in modern Indian society to promote the teachings and philosophies of Arya Samaj Founder Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati (12 February 1824 – 30 October 1883).
President Kovind said for citizens of India, it was important to take the message and teachings of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati forward, especially his campaign to end cultural isolation, re-establish links with the time-tested Vedic way of life, and end social evils like caste and class differentiation, and superstitions.
Maharashi Dayanand Saraswati, during his life time, also championed the cause of gender equality and empowerment of women, he added.
He reminded the audience that Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati was one of the first people in 1875 to use an item like salt to take the fight to the then British colonial masters, adding that it was ironical that almost half-a-century later, Mahatma Gandhi had used the same tactic (The Salt March to Dandi in 1930) to make the British withdraw their illegal Salt tax.
Highlighting the need for a values-based society, President Kovind said those occupying offices of authority and responsibility today in India, would do well to imbibe Swami Dayanand’s beliefs for the betterment of the nation.
He also called on relevant institutions to be more active in creating a pollution-free and clean air atmosphere. Climate change and global warming were pressing issues that needed to be addressed on priority for the survival of society both in the short and long term, he added.
The second day (October 26, Friday) saw popular yoga guru Baba Ramdev leaving the entire audience enthralled, enraptured and spellbound with the simplicity with which he explained the philosophical teachings and messages of Swami Dayanand Saraswati. He urged participants to look for ways to imbibe the 16 key values required for leading a good and useful life as humans as enunciated by Swami Dayanand Saraswati.
Describing the Vedas as the very foundation of Indian civilisation, Baba Ramdev said, “We have to apply the Vedas to every aspect of our lives. This is not only Swami Dayanand Saraswati’s gift to us, but also God’s gift. Each of us needs to think of our responsibilities and implement them with honesty and sincerity. Every effort must be made to come out of our present darkness into light and pass on our learnings and teachings to the young and the next generation. We have to commit and make a promise to ourselves that we will all adopt and implement the 16 ideals of Maharashi Swami Dayanand Saraswati.”
“Secondly, all of us must commit to teach the Gayatri Mantra to our youth, especially to our young children. Maharashi Swami Dayanand Saraswati was a ‘Tapaswi’, a sage, who descended on this earth as a once-in-a-lifetime creation of the Almighty. For all those present here, it is important for you to know that our Constitution, our Fundamental Rights, are based on the teachings and messages of Maharashi Swami Dayanand Saraswati. He was not only a Brahman by birth, but also through his work for society throughout his life, challenging and removing social evils like caste, class and gender discrimination, and using the medium of education (Vedic) to reclaim our glorious cultural traditions and heritage from our more insular bretheren and then colonial masters.”
Baba Ramdev indirectly questioned the thought processes of the Shankaracharyas (Hindu pontiffs) and some political parties for misusing and misinterpreting the Vedic scriptures for self gain, and predicted that a time would come when the Arya Samaj way of life would be inspiring enough for everyone across India and rest of the world to adopt.
“Till there is a disciple of Maharashi Swami Dayanand Saraswati on this earth, the destruction of the Vedas is next to impossible. Every stream of life, be it political, economic, social, health, environment has had the imprint of Maharashi Swami Dayanand Saraswati, and it is there for us to claim, and we must to ensure our well-being and future,” Baba Ramdev said.
Referring to his Patanjali Group, he announced that a time would soon come when it would be taking two significant measures (1) To offer Patanjali branded dairy (cow-based) products tax free to everyone, and (2) To make sure that a Patanjali published book on Maharashi Swami Dayanand Saraswati’s teachings finds a place in every library of the world.
He said that now there was an even greater need for ensuring the unity and sanctity of the Arya Samaj, adding that the traditional Indian way of spreading education through Gurukuls would see a resurgence in the times to come.
On Saturday (October 27), the third day, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath urged all to embrace nationalism as the supreme religion. He said every Indian should rise above casteism, regionalism and language barriers.
Describing his association with the Arya Samaj as emotional and close, he encouraged it and other nationalist organisations to take advantage of the positive environment existing under the Narendra Modi-led NDA government.
Reminiscing about Arya Samaj Founder Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati’s struggle against British colonial rule in the latter half of the 19th century, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister said a ray of new hope emerged when the Arya Samaj was founded in 1875.
Extolling Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati’s virtues, he said, “When a man is alive, he is remembered by everyone, but the mark of a great man is that he is remembered for posterity.”
Adityanath said, “When an individual doesn’t have time for his family, the holding of such a mega event is a testimony to the greatness of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, whose ideas are still relevant today.
“In order to preserve India, we have to realise Rashtra Dharma, which should be the supreme religion. Those who remain mute spectators must be held equally responsible for assaulting this nation. When we are not criminals, we should never play second fiddle to them nor remain mute spectators,” he stated.
He declared that the upcoming Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj (now known as Allahabad) would be the grandest of all Kumbh Melas held till now.
His thoughts were echoed by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who praised the progressive values of the Arya Samaj, especially in relation to the empowerment of women.
He said Haryana would not hesitate to allot funds for developing the nation and preserving its culture.
The fourth and final day saw Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh urging the Arya Samaj community to continue their revolutionary work for the betterment of mankind across the globe through the time-tested Vedic scriptures.
He delivered an inspirational and heart-felt valedictory speech.
He said, “The activities of the Arya Samaj are known very well. Its impact and influence has been felt across the globe and to me personally. It is only institutions like the Arya Samaj and the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) that have believed in and espoused the principle of Vasudaiva Kutumbakam (The World is One), and these are the only ones that have the ability to organise programmes of this stature with such positive vibrations.”
“The Arya Mahasammelan is ending today, but the work of the Arya Samaj movement will continue and grow from strength to strength. It is a revolution that will even wake up a man from his sleep. This is not a movement for small-minded people or societies. This is a movement that believes in ‘Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah, Sarve Santu Niramayah’, which translated means ‘Om, May All become Happy, May All be Healthy (Free from Illness), May All See what is Auspicious, May no one Suffer in any way. Om Peace, Peace, Peace,’” he added.
He added, “People present here know very well that we are a very tolerant nation, assimilating all cultures and way of life through the ages. What more can be said about our great country. I was told that the Arya Samaj is now running over 6000 educational institutions. That indeed is something to be proud about and is a testimony to the hard work put in by this institution and movement.”
“If we talk about Maharishi Swami Dayanand Saraswati, he was a person who devoted his entire life for mankind. His teachings, based on the Vedic scriptures, most certainly continue to have relevance in modern Indian society. Any subject, be it Mathematics, Geometry or Physics, does not have its origins in Europe as is being propagated, but have their origins in our Vedas and other ancient scriptures, which predated people like Pythagoras etc. Bharati Sanskriti has everything that India and the world needs. Swami Dayanand’s 200th birth anniversary is coming up in 2024. From this podium, I promise and commit that I will approach our Prime Minister Narendra Modiji to celebrate that occasion on such a large scale that it will leave the world in awe,” Singh said.
Several other dignitaries also addressed the event on each of the four-days. They included Minister of State for Human Resource Development Dr. Satyapal Singh, Acharya Devvrat, Governor of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Sudanshu Trivedi, National General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin Gadkari and Jagdish Mukhi, Governor of Assam.
Acharya Devrrat issued an appeal to all sections of society to end the use of chemicals and fertilisers in the agricultural sector, and revert back to the time-tested Vedic practices of yore to save the planet and Indian society in particular. He emphatically pointed out the dangers of using Genetically Modified Crops (GMCs, GM Crops, or biotech crops), describing them as plants whose DNA has been modified through genetic engineering methods. He said that this introduction of new traits to the plant was unnatural and unhealthy, and therefore, a very immediate challenge that needed to be countered effectively and efficiently.
“The Arya Samaj needs to think deeply about this. We need absolute freedom from chemicals as they are not suitable for India or Indians. Our animal wealth has been suffering and we as a people are not benefitting from their presence on this earth as we should. A small amount of cow excreta and urine is enough to produce sufficient agricultural produce on 30 acres of land. We need to undertake a revolutionary mission to protect our bovine population. This way we can ensure the right income for our farmers as envisioned by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the year 2022,” he said
Trivedi said India is today young as well as one of the oldest civilisations in the world.
“Our culture has survived through time. The meaning of Bharat is “Being Maintained”. The Vedas are the source of our wisdom. The Rig Veda speaks of the eternal fire. Treatises on health, mathematics and science all of their origins in the Vedas. People of the past have exploited our culture and traditions, misrepresented our heritage for self benefit. It is important to mention here that there is no other civilisation other than India that has a mention of 20 women Rishis.
Gadkari said, “India’s heritage and culture is world renowned. It is a rich country with a poor population. Our own people have not benefited as they should have. Hunger, poverty, unemployment are our biggest challenges.”
Recalling a recent visit to the United Kingdom, Gadkari revealed that his British counterpart told him that Britain’s biggest challenge was dealing with live-in relationships. He (Gadkari) told the latter that India still proudly retains traditional and strong social values that by and large does not encourage such practices.
He said, “Tradition and modern knowledge and technology needs to be merged for India to prosper in the future.”
He also informed the audience about some of the targets of his various ministries, adding that by March next year, the Ganges would be at least 70 percent pollution free and 100 percent by 2020. A 12-lane road between Delhi and Mumbai was also in the pipeline, which would reduce travel time between the two cities to 12 to 14 hours as opposed to more than 72 hours at present.
Organised by the Sarvdeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha (SAPS), this global convention is taking up a host of socially relevant issues to the country such as the divisiveness prevailing within the Hindu community in the name of class and caste, or in the name of socially underprivileged and backward sections and movements like the Dalit ( a class of people subjected to untouchability; people who have been declared backward, broken and scattered), Patidar (Gujarat’s agricultural-dominant Kanbi community) and Gurjar (a pastoral agricultural ethnic group with populations in India, Pakistan and north eastern Afghanistan).
According to SAPS, the main objective is to spread the message of human welfare as originating from the ancient Vedas, promote principles of universal brotherhood, take steps to eradicate discrimination and enmity between various sects and religions, and to make the whole world “Krinvanto Vishvamaryam” i.e. “Noble”.
Participants and followers are being given the opportunity to broadly exchange ideas and experiences, and share various aspects of Vedic thought.
Previously, ten International Arya Mahasamelans (IAMS) have been held between 2006 and 2017 in various parts of the world. There was a gap of three years between the fifth and sixth IAMS i.e. between 2010 and 2013.
This year’s IAMS was held in 16 halls and dwelt on advanced technologies, innovative methodologies like social media and information technology platforms, discourses on the Vedic scriptures, training in Yoga and meditation, historical aspects of the Vedas, the life, times and teachings of Arya Samaj founder Maharashi Dayanand Saraswati, discourses on the dangers of addiction, non-vegetarianism, slaughter of animals, cow slaughter to redefine, rejuvenate and groom the present generation of Arya Samajis to lead and guide the world to a better tomorrow.
The Arya Samaj was founded by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati more than a century-and-a-half ago. Today, the movement has a presence in countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, Canada, Nepal, Thailand, Myanmar, The Netherlands, Guyana, Trinidad, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Malawi, Mauritius, Armenia, France, Germany, Japan and Jamaica, apart from India.
A laser show, a poetry session and a Yagna (religious sacrifice or offering) wereas also organised and attended by at least 10,000 Arya Samaj followers.