ELOCUTION CONTEST: Senior 1st Prize
WINNER’S NAME: Priya Baligadoo
SCHOOL:Droopnath Ramphul SSS
TITLE: Hindu unity in diversity, ever emphasized by our best brains, is an age-old legacy that demands constant vigilance. Comment on this, showing how this unity should be reinforced today to face the challenge of the next millennium.
Mr Chairman Sir, Members of the Jury, Dear teachers and friends, Good morning.
The world today is confronted with many problems. There is fear of war, fear of famine, greed for power. There is discord between man and man, one caste and another, one nation and another. What is the reason for this? The world is riddled today with conflicts because morality has been banished and most important of all, it’s due to the total failure to remember the spiritual oneness of mankind.
However, in a world bristling with disunity, disorder and chaos, it is only the sense of unity underlying the multiplicity that can bring about peace. Conscious of this, our great saints and reformers including Tyagaraj, had tried to make the people realize that our worldly progress could be obtained only by united effort. And all intelligent people nowadays have some understanding of the need for the spirit, of unity in human affairs. It alone will enable us to meet the great challenges raised by the first global culture in history such as the exhaustion and pollution of the natural environment and the unjust inequalities between people of different races, creeds or countries.
Thus, Mr Chairman Sir, at a time when the forces of adharma threatened to tear the fabric of society apart, our great reformers, the best brains of society infused the spirit of the inter-caste marriage, improving woman’s position, establishing national education, swadeshi and national integration to reinforce Hindu unity.
In the same way, by removing all causes, sources, barriers and provocations of caste, creed, colour and race, and by replacing the existing hate and violence with love and non-violence, we will not only prevent the disintegration of Hindu society, but provide humanity with a dharma of peaceful cooperation.
Gandhi, dear friends, in his attempt of bringing cohesion in the Hindu community, called the low castes Harijans and on the initiative of Vinoba Bhave, even included equal respect for all religions among the eleven vows guiding ashrama life. He was the most tolerant and universal of Hindus, we can see his desire for Hindu unity in diversity in these words : "I call myself a sanatani Hindu because I believe in the Vedas, the Puranas and the Upanishads, I believe in Varnashrama dharma, in the protection of the cow, I do not disbelieve in idol worship".
Unfortunately Mr Chairman Sir, today people have lost this sense of respect and tolerance for other faiths; even though they are all followers of the Sanatana Dharma; they prize their own faith and criticize that of others. In fact, they fail to recognize what is said in the Upanishads: "Whatsoever moves in this moving world is englobed by God".
If every individual visualises God in all and understands that we are all "children of immortal bliss", then, instead of malice, friendliness will prevail. In such a spirit, we will be in a better position to face the challenges ahead of us.
And here, in this context of Hindu unity in Diversity, it is but relevant to refer to the Rg Veda which says: "Live in harmony and concord, be organised and cooperative. Let your mind be of one accord; common be your aim and your hearts united so that all may live happily together." Even the Prithivi Sukta of the Atharva Veda states: "Mata Bhumin Putro hum Prithivyah" — "The Earth is my mother and I’m the son of this earth", boldly preaching the universal message of one humanity to people of the world.
Mr Chairman Sir, both Valmiki and Tulsidas upheld the ideal of harmony. And in fact, putting into practice their teachings can help enormously in preventing the disintegration of the Sanatana Dharma reinforcing Hindu unity. Indeed the religion projected in Tulsi Ramayana is that of humanism. In it, is shown sympathy to the human kind through benevolence and compassion as being the core of religion. And here, it is worth mentioning that when our ancestors came from India, the ‘Ramcharitmanas’ of Tulsidas became the unifying element of different ethnic groups. One critic has even said: "This book is in everyone’s hands and is read or heard and appreciated alike by every class of the Hindu community, whether high or low, rich or poor, young or old." Dear friends, Hindu unity is undoubtedly focused here, but we will see this more clearly when we read what Rama says to Hanuman: "Dear friend Hanuman, you are a monkey and I’m a man, but the love principle is one and the same between us." Indeed it’s only when man can perceive this underlying unity and resemblance to himself of all creatures that there can be Hindu unity.
Mr Chairman Sir, Tulsidas had established the unity of Rama, Shiva and Shakti and proclaimed that there is no difference between the Saguna and Nirguna Brahman. In the same way, Swami Vivekananda, the Hindu Ambassador of the East to the West has stated: "As so many rivers come into the ocean, so all these different creeds and religions, taking their start from different standpoints running through crooked or straight courses come unto Thee".
Indeed, I think the moment everyone of us understands this truth, then the world will be rid of wars in the name of religion. The whole mankind belongs to one religion, the religion of man. The basic truth in all religions irrespective of country or race is one and the same. The philosophic ideas, the practices, the methods of approach may vary but the final objective is one. This is why Ramakrishna, the Messiah of spiritual democracy, has preached the universality of religion and often used to say: "I see Him as all, men and other creatures. They appear as veritable figures, skinbound with the Lord within, shaking their head and moving their hands and feet."
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, Ram Mohun Roy, the "Father of the Hindu Renaissance" has set up the Brahmo Samaj as a place of worship for all, irrespective of caste, creed, sex or colour. And in this way he unifies the Hindu society by deep emotions and rationality. As for Dayanand, the "Great Champion of Hinduism" he used Shuddhi and Sangathan to make the Hindus alert in the wake of the Christian Missionary zeal and even expressed his desire for world unity and brotherhood of man in his book "The Light of Truth". Shankaracharya, the great propounder of Advaita philosophy has on his side, preached the oneness of God, the oneness of Atman and Brahman, the oneness of the goal — self-realisation.
Today those who are ignorant of this basic truth develop pride and ego because of their own religion. Such people are creating confusion and chaos by fragmenting Divinity. To confine and divide the Infinite into such narrow compartments is treason to the divine, Mr Chairman, Sir. The basis for a spiritual God-based life is in the indwelling spirit. And the body is the home of that spirit.
If the essential divinity of man is realised, dear friends, mankind can build up a great society based on unity and on adherence to the divine principle of love. True integration can only come from a spiritual understanding of the oneness of all life and to achieve this, the feeling of separateness must go. The feeling of brotherhood must emanate from the heart. Then when the individual changes, society will change. And when society changes, the whole world will change. Thus we will live to the ideal of Vasudaiva Kutumbakam: that is "The whole world is one family" which each and every enlightened member of every society has preached.
The moment this happens, Mr Chairman Sir, we will be able to surmount every obstacle that tends to hinder economic progress. We will be in a better position to face the challenges of the next millennium. For I think we all agree that it is in unity that lies our strength.
Indeed, ladies and gentlemen, in a plural society like Mauritius, the over-riding problem is how to keep the component parts together because of the difference over ethnic origins, religious affiliations and so on. But if so far, we have been able to resist any attempt to shake the foundations of the much-prized unity and stability, it is because we have been inspired by the concept of unity in Diversity. I hope that we will continue to organize activities like the meetings of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and the International symposium for Asian languages. In this way we shall express our feeling of Hindu Unity in Diversity. And also, dear friends, preserve the reputation of Mauritius as the rainbow nation, as the land of peace and brotherhood. "One may be a Shaiva, a Vaishnava, an Arya Samaji, a Sai devotee, a Telegu, a Marathi but we all belong to the Hindu family." Regardless of caste, creed, sex or colour let us all walk hand in hand with the folks of our land. Let us live as one nation, as one people, in peace, justice and liberty; and together unite our efforts to face the new challenges ahead of us.
ELOCUTION CONTEST Senior 2nd Prize
WINNER’S NAME: Prakash Puchooa
SCHOOL: Royal College, Curepipe
TITLE: Hindu unity in diversity, ever emphasized by our best brains, is an age-old legacy that demands constant vigilance. Comment on this, showing how this unity should be reinforced today to face the challenge of the next millennium.
Mr Chairman Sir, members of the Panel, ladies and gentlemen and dear friends, good morning. The motion of today clearly states ‘reinforced the concept of Hindu unity’, meaning that it has always existed. It has been alive. Only men of outstanding character and of strong personality must come forward and challenge society whenever necessary.
The pathmakers ranging from Vyasa, Valmiki, Surdas, Tulsidas to Ram Mohun Roy, Swami Dayananda, Mahatma Gandhi, and other saints who diffused great teachings brought about Hindu unity. Every one of them had a message that showed oneness. As the Veda says, ‘Ekam sat viprah bahudha vadanti’, that is, "God is one but wise men call Him by various names". The Unity is one but has been preached in different ways.
In Hinduism there have been four ages which have each in their turn marked a new era. The Vedic, the Epic, the Medieval and the Modern age are the various periods when men had displayed their power and strength. When I say power, I mean the power of the mind as emphasized by Swami Vivekananda and strength of wisdom and words as stressed by poets like Surdas and Tulsidas. Chronologically speaking, it was in the Vedic age and later in the Ramayana and Mahabharata that the bond among Hindus began to reinforce. Bhakti, literally meaning devotion, was the pivot on which poet Surdas brought unity. Tulsidas in his Ramcharitmanas laid emphasis on Hindu unity by bringing Vaishnavism and Shaivism together. The Bhagavad Gita itself says that Bhakti is the easiest way of attaining God. Tulsidas stressed on simple, pure and easy conduct. The nine forms of devotion played a vital role in the unity of the Hindus. They are:
Fellowship with the saints
Knowing the legends and stories of the Lord.
Selfless service offered at the lotus feet of the Lord.
Chanting the name of the Lord
Repetition of the name with single-minded faith
Knowing that the whole world is permeated by God
Being contented with whatever one has in life.
Leading a pure, simple, devout life.
These nine forms of devotion were important to people. All the evils and vices were eradicated, thus reinforcing Hindu unity. But that was one facet of unity, that is why ‘unity in diversity’ has always been a key feature in the different epochs characterizing Hinduism.
The reformers came in the Modern age. They all from Ram Mohun Roy to Mahatma Gandhi reinforced unity. Within that period so many events happened but the Hindu unity after being shattered was always put in one piece. Many evils occurred under the cloak of religion. For instance during the time of Ram Mohun Roy, the practice of Sati was a hindering factor. Luckily it was taken out of the customs of the Hindus thanks to Ram Mohun Roy. He worked on religious, social and political fronts. At that time, all the three were decadent but Ram Mohun Roy having a mastery over several languages brought a change. He held that the only way to correct the Hindus was to correct the popular modes of religious thinking. Politcal freedom inevitably leads to stability, progress and above all unity. Before he left this world, he founded the Brahmo Samaj which stressed Hindu unity on the strength of the Upanishads.
To face the challenge of the next millennium, we have to be one. That is why the Rg Veda says "Come together, speak together, be of one mind".
The Isa Upanishad says: "Isa vasyam idam sarvam": "God is all-pervading"
If we understand this verse, we realise this unity in the oneness of the soul. Swami Dayananda, the founder of the Arya Samaj, clearly pointed out how the Hindus were one. Like Ram Mohun Roy, Swami Dayananda too came on the social, religious and political fields. The main tool of unity used by the founder of the Arya Samaj was Sangathan, meaning union. He prevented mass conversion and showed the glory and greatness of Hinduism. In the place of polytheism, he put the Vedic belief in monotheism. He shook all those who were in slumber, in superstition. He prepared people against foreign rule and for "India for Indians". His call was "Back to the Vedas". Purification according to him was an essential element for unity. He used shuddhi to purify his people and bring them together. Islam and Christianity were rejected for the sake of preserving the glory of Hinduism. Thus he himself being a virtuous, pure, and energetic man reinforced Hindu unity and Indian power as he emphasised on home-rule and asked Indian princes to be united to rule justly.
The Bhagavad Gita says in chapter III V-43; "Greater than the body are the senses, greater than the senses is the mind, greater than the mind is the intellect, greater than the intellect is He".
Thus the message conveyed is the attainment of God by the mind. Swami Vivekananda illustrated this through his life-long example. His message on education, religion and on equality was accepted. He showed the way through work.
Mahatma Gandhi on the other hand stands as a man of word and action. His daily companion was God and the past of India was his inspiration. Although Swami Dayanand had partly solved the problem of caste, it again arose. Mahatma Gandhi fought against it treating it as a BLOT on Hinduism. He gave the untouchables a status, calling them Harijan. He also helped in various ways. For him non-violence was extremely important as he said: "The rishis who discovered the law of non-violence amidst violence are greater than Newton".
Values like truthfulness and niskama karma equally play a vital role. The living legend that was the Mahatma even coined the word "Satyagraha" meaning soul-force to unite the Hindus. His whole life itself was a sacrifice as the Gita Chapter III Verse 9 says: "Man is bound to perform work in a spirit of sacrifice". Sometimes he would even fast for his people to come together.
The question that we have to ask ourselves is how Hindu unity should be reinforced. Well, we have to blend both materialism and spiritualism. The Isa Upanishad says that there should be a synthesis between vidya and avidya. Similarly if by using technology, we spread them worldwide in different languages, thousands of people can get acquainted with them and enrich their knowledge. More conferences, lectures, books can arouse the consciousness of people.
Thus the unity should be reinforced according to culture, race, tradition, ethnic group to suit all needs.
To conclude, let me use a quotation of Swami Vivekananda to explain the Hindu situation.
"The more the Hindus study their past, the more glorious will be their future, and whosoever brings the past to the door of everyone is a great benefactor to his country. The degeneration of India did not occur because the laws and customs of the ancient were bad, but because they were not allowed to be carried out to their legitimate conclusions".
That, Mr Chairman Sir, members of the Panel, ladies and gentlemen and dear friends, is my conclusion.
ELOCUTION CONTEST:Junior 1st Prize
WINNER’S NAME: SHARDA SEEKUN
SCHOOL: St Bartholomew’s College
TITLE: "Of all the virtues taught in the Ramayana unity stands foremost"
"Mitrasya chakshusha samikshamahe" which means "May we look at all with a friendly eye."
Mr Chairman Sir, Members of the Adjudicating Panel, ladies and gentlemen and dear friends, accept my holy greetings and pranaam.
The theme to be dealt with is, "Of all the virtues taught in the Ramayana unity stands foremost".
Well Mr Chairman Sir, as we know, Hinduism is a religion of brotherhood aiming at oneness and unity of all beings. I quote, "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, that is, the whole mankind is one family. Thus where else can we find such a great value of equality and unity in the society? It is only from the Ramayana that we draw the inspiration regarding the value of unity because the dharmas taught in the Ramayana are universal. Its doctrines are grand and its philosophy is sublime.
My dear friends, we should know that where there is unity there is peace, progress and happiness. The two greatest epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata give us a vivid example of Hindu unity in the society. On one side we see the unity of all beings in Rama and on the other side, we note a great unity among the Pandavas.
The Ramayana clearly depicts that whenever there is no unity in the society, the latter suffers. Thus, we see, the Ramayana gives us the message of cosmic love, and the gospel of the unity of man.
Ramchandraji, the embodiment of Dharma, is the great example of unity of all beings in this universe. The Ramayana says.
Unquote, which means Mr Chairman Sir, whatever beings, animate or inanimate, there are in the universe, recognising them one and all as consisting of Sri Rama, I ever adore the lotus feet of all with joined palms. To Lord Rama, no one is superior or inferior in this universe. He looked upon all with an equal eye. This is why even today people copy the domestic, social and religious ideals lived by the noble characters of the Ramayana.
Ladies and gentlemen, in the Ramayana, from the noble personality of Shri Rama, one learns how a man should behave towards his superiors, equals and inferiors, how a king ought to rule his kingdom, how a man should lead his life in this world and how he can obtain freedom and perfection while still in existence.
Mr Chairman Sir, in this excellent epic, the lives of Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana, and Shatrughna provide a model of fraternal affection and mutual service. Among the four brothers there is solidarity, courage, cordiality and unity and a great example of oneness.
Ladies and gentlemen, Sri Rama is the cream of masculine virtues. He is the friend of Sugriva, a vaanar, the friend of Vibhishan, the brother of the demon king Ravana. He respects Kevat who according to some people is considered to be of the lowest class. So, we see that Rama loves all. This is why he eats the half-eaten plum of Sabari and gives her the subtle teachings of "Navdha Bhakti’. When his consort Sita is abducted by Ravana, he meets Jatayu whom the people consider as a low carnivorous bird. For him, Jatayu is as his father Dashratha, this is why he performs its funeral rite without any discrimination of caste, creed and colour. As a duteous son, Rama fulfils the wish of his father and readily accepts his banishment to the forest for 14 years. For him the great verse of the Raghu family stands foremost. I quote: "Raghukula riti sada chali ayi praana jahu baru vachanu na jayi." Unquote
Though to some people Kaikeyi seems to be a wicked lady, to Rama she is his beloved mother.
Similarly, Mr Chairman Sir, Sita is regarded as the most perfect example of womanly fidelity, chastity and sweetness. Though Ravana offers her a huge fortune yet she remains united in thought, word and deed to Rama.
To prove her chastity and loyalty to her husband, she stands the ordeal by fire, that is, the agnipariksha, after coming from Lanka. Rama and Sita are perfect examples of constancy and unity in marriage.
Dear friends, in the Ramayana, we have the ideals of peace, justice, tolerance, harmony, respect, morality, stability, dharma, care and affection in a family. As such we can say that the Ramayana is the moral encyclopedia of the world, the best that mankind has ever known. These qualities are lived by different characters but they practise them in such a way that the result is unity. The ideal characters we find in the Ramayana like Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata and Sri Hanuman firmly establish unity in our minds.
They remind us of the ancient teaching given in the Rg Veda. (X 191)
Which means "let us walk together, let us talk together in one rhythm, and be united in our minds, as the ancient devas partake of the offerings in unity."
To establish Ram Rajya in this world, we have to abide by the teachings of Ramayana, because no other country has produced such great men, such great teachers, yogis, rishis, spiritual kings and heroes as India, and their greatest teaching is unity.
Thank you for your attention.
ELOCUTION CONTEST: Junior 2nd Prize
WINNER’S NAME: Dya Ghose
SCHOOL: Maurice Curé SSS
TITLE: "Of all the virtues taught in the Ramayana, unity stands foremost"
Mr Chairman Sir, members of the Adjudicating Panel, respectful teachers, honourable guests, dear friends, Pranaam. Today the world is full of problems and sorrows, and there seems to be no solution to the never-ending difficulties of life. However, the Ramayana provides a panacea for all ills.
The Ramayana has been for millions of men, and for centuries, a source of solace and guidance. And of all the virtues taught in the Ramayana, we can rightly say that unity stands foremost.
The concept of unity stands for harmony, the state of being one with everybody, all being the same soul.
To start with, when sage Vishwamitra asked Dasharatha to send Rama to the forest, the latter without hesitation followed him to kill the evil-doers. He felt one with the good people and could not stay aloof without helping them.
Moreover, when Rama heard of the promises Dasharatha had made to Kaikeyi, he readily agreed to keep his father’s word — feeling one with him as if it was a promise he himself had made.
Since his childhood, Rama loved all his three mothers equally. After being banished, he bore no ill-feeling towards Kaikeyi. Before leaving for the forest, he even told Sita, I quote:
"Queen Kaikeyi and Sumitra, equal love and honour claim", end of quote. Even towards Bharat, he bore no ill-feeling. Instead, he told Sita to obey Bharat’s will and I quote:
"Cherish Bharat and Shatrughan with a sister’s watchful love", end of quote. Later, when Bharat came to the forest to meet Rama, Lakshmana prepared to attack him but Rama replied that Bharat was his devotee and had no evil intentions. So, here again Mr Chairman Sir, we see the unity between these two brothers.
Bharat also did not seize this opportunity to rule. Feeling united with Rama, he would not betray him. Instead, he kept Rama’s sandals on the throne and he himself led an ascetic life like Rama. This indeed is unique, Mr Chairman Sir.
Lakshmana too had throughout his life felt united with Rama and acted accordingly, serving him both in good and hard times. He left his own wife and mother and all the luxuries of the palace for the hard forest life.
Even Sumitra, instead of wanting her son to remain by her side, ordered Lakshmana to follow Rama in the forest. How many mothers will exhibit this feeling of unity nowadays, Mr Chairman Sir? Even the mothers had this feeling of oneness and unity until the evil-minded servant Manthra poisoned Kaikeyi’s mind.
Coming back to Lakshmana, he followed Rama like a shadow everywhere, showing perfect obedience to his commands despite everything.
Did he not prepare the fire for Sita’s ordeal? Did he not leave Sita in the forest? Did he not act as a watchman in the forest, attending to the needs of Rama and Sita? Yes, Mr Chairman Sir, Lakshmana has always shown a unique sense of unity with Rama.
Sita, too, always felt one with Rama. When the latter was banished, without a second thought, she decided to accompany him. She said, I quote: "For the faithful woman follows where her wedded Lord may lead" unquote. Even when she was abducted by Ravana, she never even thought of any man but Rama, even in her dreams. When she was left in the forest later on when Rama was ruling, she approved totally of the decision of her Lord. For her, Rama as a king had to abandon her to avoid a bad name. She even told Lakshmana to tell the King that only Rama would be in her heart always. She completely identified herself with her Lord Rama. This is no doubt a very great example of unity, Mr Chairman Sir.
In the same way Hanuman was united in thought, word and deed with Rama. He even broke a pearl chain to find out if Rama was there. All the hairs on his body were repeating the name of Rama. Hence, his extreme unity with Rama.
Maricha also who was forced to obey Ravana, expressed this feeling of unity with Rama for when he breathed his last, he called out Rama’s name.
To conclude, Mr Chairman Sir, we can say that no other story has had such a profound impact on the Hindu mind. May all be inspired to follow the great example of unity taught in the Ramayana!
Thank you for your kind attention.