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Obama Speech-Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi And Tagore

It is not only a reason to be proud but also a reminder to stoke our spirits to realise our higher ideals put forward by Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore, when the US President, Barack Obama referred to these great men of India in his speech in Indian Parliament.

The US President, Obama stated in his speech in Indian Parliament, “India not only opened our minds, she expanded our moral imagination. With religious texts that still summon the faithful to lives of dignity and discipline. With poets who imagined a future "where the mind is without fear and the head is held high." And with a man whose message of love and justice endures-the Father of your Nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

Instead of succumbing to division, you have shown that the strength of India-the very idea of India-is its embrace of all colors, castes and creeds. It's the diversity represented in this chamber today. It's the richness of faiths celebrated by a visitor to my hometown of Chicago more than a century ago-the renowned Swami Vivekananda. He said that, "holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character."

Celebrating the 'Richness of faiths,' become possible with a mind that is vast to accommodate all irrespective of- caste, creed and nationality, that Obama today has drawn reference to it.

It is but a small wonder, for who would not appreciate, an accommodating heart as that of Swamiji's. The US President, Obama, referred to His words from His speech in the Parliament of Religions- "holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character." He whose vision was far beyond sectoral differences, focused on universal oneness and harmony.

“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high" referred to in Obama's speech; the poem of Tagore is a prayer to the Lord for the awakening of his country not only in terms of relative freedom, but a deeper look into its depth, reveals the higher freedom that he so yearningly prays for. A mind without the least taint of fear is possible only with higher freedom or spiritual freedom, which encapsulates relative freedom and all that Tagore prayerfully asks God in this poem.

While expressing the fact that he was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, the US President, Obama said, “For me and Michelle, this visit has therefore held special meaning. Throughout my life, including my work as a young man on behalf of the urban poor, I have always found inspiration in the life of Gandhiji and in his simple and profound lesson to be the change we seek in the world. And just as he summoned Indians to seek their destiny, he influenced champions of equality in my own country, including a young Martin Luther King. After making his pilgrimage to India a half century ago, Dr. King called Gandhi's philosophy of non-violent resistance "the only logical and moral approach" in the struggle for justice and progress.

So we were honored to visit the residence where Gandhi and King both stayed-Mani Bhavan. We were humbled to pay our respects at Raj Ghat. And I am mindful that I might not be standing before you today, as President of the United States, had it not been for Gandhi and the message he shared with America and the world"

Let us be thus be reminded of the fact that we may pace fast to realise our relative dreams, in the most humanitarian way, in the path walked by these moral giants. Let us strive with a pacing head and a peaceful heart.

Story first published: Wednesday, November 10, 2010, 13:10 [IST]
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