Prakash Puchooa of Royal College, Curepipe
ELOCUTION CONTEST: English (Senior) 1st prize
WINNER'S NAME : Vedika Hurdoyal of Lower Six
SCHOOL: Rajcoomar Gujadhur S.S.S
Title: Hinduism in itself contains everything for the eradication of poverty. Only, it must be practised with discipline and love. Illustrate.
Mr Chairman, members of the Adjudicating Panel and dear friends, Pranaam. Today I am here to discuss the topic,
'Hinduism in itself contains everything for the eradication of poverty. Only it must be practised with discipline and love.'
But before we embark on our discussion, let us see what is Hinduism. Is Hinduism a mere religion or is it just a subject? Mr. Chairman, personally I believe that we are going to cut off the meaning of Hinduism if we limit it to being a subject or a religion. In fact it is very vast, Mr.Chairman. It is love of wisdom, ceaseless search for truth, for peace. It helps towards a better understanding of the world, a choice of which path to take in life so as to have a solid, balanced and well organised society without pain, without suffering, without unhappiness and without poverty.
Mr. Chairman Hinduism speaks of the Vedas, the Smritis, the Shastras which for untold centuries have remained the sustaining force and guidelines of our lives. It points to the four Purusharthas, viz Dharma or religious duties, Artha or material prosperity, Kama or fulfilment of desires and Moksha or Salvation.
In fact the idea of the Purusharthas is the fundamental principle of Hindu ethics. Dharma is the principle of righteousness, of holiness and of duty. In the Bhagvad Gita the supreme Lord says that the practice of certain virtues like non-violence, non-stealing, truth etc is the dharma of all. So friends you will agree that the practice of such virtues with discipline and love will automatically lead to the elimination of poverty. While talking about virtues Mr. Chairman, I would like to cite the five Mahavratas which Hinduism lays stress upon, viz, Ahimsa or abstinence from all injuries to life, Satya or abstinence from falsehood, Asteya or abstinence from stealing, Aparigraha or abstinence from attachments,
Brahmacharya or abstinence from self-indulgence.
I would like to take the name of Mahatma Gandhi, the pre-eminent leader of Indian nationalism, the prophet of non-violence, who considered truth and Ahimsa as the means of god-realization. It was only through the teachings of Hinduism that Mahatma Gandhi was able to bring all Indians on one platform. Thus Mr. Chairman Hinduism unites us, it binds us together with discipline and love and where there is love, will there be poverty? No, Mr. Chairman sir, not at all.
Mr. Chairman, what is poverty? Does it mean the state of those who are lacking food, money, wealth, material comforts? Why? Why should this be so? Because some of us are having a surplus of such things. Mr. Chairman, Artha, the second purushartha, is against such a principle, and so is kama, the third of the purusharthas. Furthermore Mr. Chairman Moksha, the last of the purusharthas, is defined as the spiritual aim of the universe, the ultimate goal of life i.e. the realisation of the Absolute, the attainment of God. And Moksha implies complete renunciation.
Renunciation from attachments and detachments, renunciation from enmity and friendliness, renunciation from happiness and unhappiness. In fact renunciation from worldliness. Hinduism does not limit life to eating, drinking and sleeping. It gives a meaning to life, it shows a clear and well-defined way to realise our aims. It points to the 4 stages of life viz Brahmacharya - the celibate student stage, Grihastha - the house-holder stage,
Vanaprastha - the partial recluse stage, and Sanyasa - the stage of renunciation.
These can be regarded as schools of life at different stages of human existence devised and organised for the individual to attain the end of moksha or Salvation.
The first stage Brahmacharya is said to be the natural and neutral phase and during this stage the individual leads a life of simplicity devoting his time to self-learning. In the second ashrama the individual is a trustee, a manager of the social estates and social mores, and in the last two stages the individual gradually frees himself from social obligations and seeks refuge in God.
In the Grihastha Ashrama Hinduism gives importance to the five great sacrifices: Deva yajna -offering oblation to Devas while reciting the Vedic mantras, Rishi yajna - study and teaching of Vedas to students, Pitri yajna - oblutions to departed souls, Bhuta yajna - giving food to cows, crows and to animals in general, Atithi yajna - giving food to guests and honouring them.
Thus Mr. Chairman, the performance of these Pancha Maha yajnas with discipline and love will surely lead to the eradication of poverty, as by so doing we remain no longer entangled in our own selves, but instead we think and act for the betterment of all. Here I would like to quote the words of Ramakrishna. I quote:
"I tell you one thing: If you want peace of mind, do not find fault with others. Rather see your own. No one is a stranger my child, the whole world is your own." (unquote)
Such thought, such ideas Mr. Chairman surely ensure the eradication of poverty, if acted upon.
Mr. Chairman Hinduism presents to us the Ramayana which depicts a father who sends away his most beloved son so as to keep his promise. It portrays such a brother who places brotherly affection above everything else, not to forget a wife who willingly leaves the comforts of the palace only to be by the side of her husband. Mr. Chairman it speaks of 'Ram-Rajya', the ideal rule without inequalities, without unhappiness and of course without poverty. Furthermore Mr Chairman, we have the Bhagvad Gita whose teachings centre around such concepts as swadharma and Niskama Karma which will obviously ensure the eradication of poverty. Here I would quote a verse from the Bhagvad Gita (III,7) which talks of control over senses, control of desires and freedom from attachments. I quote.
Yas tu Indriyani manasa
Niyamya rabhate Arjuna
Asaktah sa visisyate (unquote)
But he who controls his senses by the mind O Arjuna and without attachment engages the organs of action in the right path of work, he is superior.
Mr. Chairman, the world around us is boundless. Man can only try to solve his riddles gradually step by step. In fact it is only Hinduism which can cognise the world as a complete whole. Mr. Chairman what the world will be like in the foreseeable future? What will the earth be like? What is in store for man, is it a world of poverty or a peaceful life? Whatever it will be Hinduism will have an answer for it. Thus whether now or in future, Hinduism has an answer for everything.
However Mr. Chairman, we cannot deny the fact that poverty has existed since time immemorial and it is one of the biggest problems that the world is facing nowadays, but this does not mean that there is a world of poverty in store for man. Poverty can be conquered. It can, Mr. Chairman, by following the teachings of Hinduism. If we put into practice the precepts of the rishis with discipline and love, then certainly a peaceful life is awaiting us all.
Thank you for your kind attention.
ELOCUTION CONTEST: English (Junior) 1st Prize
WINNER'S NAME: Anjoo Seechurn
SCHOOL: Rajcoomar Gujadhur S.S.S
Title: "The ideals taught in the Ramayana are meant to ensure universal happiness."
Mr Chairman Sir, members of the Adjudicating Panel, most respectful teachers, honourable guests and dear friends, Pranam. I am thankful to the Organizing Committee for having given me this golden opportunity to express my views on today's topic "The ideals taught in the Ramayana are meant to ensure universal happiness."
Mr Chairman Sir, Hinduism has given us the most glorious epic Ramayana - that Ramayana which is a code of life, a philosophy of social and ethical relations and speculative thought on human problems. It speaks of human existence and human happiness.
Mr Chairman Sir, the epic portrays a time when there was an ideal society, Ram Rajya and one lived up to his word even at the cost of his life. "Raghukula riti sada chali ayi, prana jayi par vachan na jayi." and this was of course conducive to universal happiness. Mr Chairman Sir, in the Ramayana we find good, noble and principled characters such as lord Rama (the upholder of dharma), virtuous Sita, Lakshmana and Bharata (the ideal brothers), Hanuman (an intense devotee) and various other striking characters. The Ramayana in fact preaches the doctrines of karma and dharma which ensure universal happiness.
Mr Chairman Sir, when Rama was sent in exile for fourteen years, his wife Sita willingly accepted to share his sufferings. Mr Chairman Sir, Sita was indeed a perfect wife full of virtues and wifely duties and Rama was the perfect husband. Thus Ramayana gives a striking example of how the life of a husband and wife should be. Mr Chairman Sir, in this modern world of ours, instead of having broken homes, if every husband starts playing the role of Rama and every wife that of Sita in a family, would it not ensure universal happiness? Of course it will.
Mr Chairman Sir, selfless love free from hope or reward prevailed in the Ramayana. Each member was ready to sacrifice his own pleasures for the sake of others, for example Lakshmana and Bharata who for the sake of Rama accepted absolute renunciation from worldly things. Mr Chairman Sir, I wonder whether there still exist people like the evergreen characters Rama and Sita. If not, why? The answer is quite simple Mr Chairman Sir, because today we live only for ourselves, for our own benefit, but such behaviour will definitely lead us to misery only and not to peace and universal happiness. It is only selfless love and respect for others that lead to universal happiness and this is taught by Lord Rama to the entire world.
Hinduism teaches that the whole world is a family "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam". This is the key to universal happiness. Mr Chairman Sir, everybody irrespective of caste, creed, and status was equal in the eyes of Rama. Let us take the example of Shabri, a low caste woman who was blessed by Lord Rama because of her exceptional devotion. There are other vivid examples of such persons in the Ramayana like Hanuman (the brave, loyal, celestial monkey), Jatayu (a bird), Kewat (a low caste ferryman), Vibhishan (a rakshasa) and many others. Here it is noteworthy Mr Chairman Sir that superiority and inferiority complexes should not exist so as to ensure universal happiness as it was in the Ram Rajya.
Mr Chairman Sir, here it is also worthy to note that the teachings of Ramayana have reached beyond the frontiers of India. Let us take the example of Mauritius where several festivals in honour of or related to Rama are celebrated like Ram Nawmi, Hanuman Jayanti, not to forget Deepavali which has become our national festival, a festival which makes us realise that we are one, we are equal, and let's pray, work and live together in happiness. This Mr Chairman Sir, gives us a striking proof that the teachings of Ramayana are for all times, universal, and are meant to ensure everyone's happiness. Here I would like to quote the words of Rishi Valmiki, quote "As long as there would be rivers, forests, mountains and infinite oceans, so long will the Ramayana remain in the life of humanity." Unquote
With this I conclude Mr Chairman Sir, that the ideals taught in the Ramayana shall never die. We, as mortals shall pass away but the unique teachings of the Ramayana shall remain forever. Because today the whole world is in search of happiness and we can get happiness only if we walk on the path of dharma. It is Ramayana which makes an appeal to mankind to take on dharma and reject adharma. Then no doubt Mr Chairman Sir, the whole world will turn into a place of joy and happiness.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.
ELOCUTION CONTEST: English (Junior) 2nd Prize
WINNER'S NAME: Prakash Puchooa of Form V
SCHOOL: Royal College, Curepipe
Title: The ideals taught in the Ramayana are meant to ensure universal happiness. Illustrate.
Dear "members of the jury", and friends, Good morning.
You might ask yourselves why I used inverted commas. Well, the title of this Final compels me to view it thus. If we want universal happiness, we simply have to be one. So if I address you as ladies and gentlemen instead of brothers and sisters, there is a distinguishing social grading which is futile.
In this world, what is the single force that drives me to my religion? It is the sacred scriptures that reveal that we should be one and the same. Whether it concerns Christianity, Islam, or Hinduism, it makes no difference. Names are not explanations. Happiness is not an explanation. This material world itself has no end, especially as it is replete with evils. Anyhow the scriptures are a means to liberation, especially the Ramayana. It deals with everything we need and yet everything we lack. Some of the figures in this Itihaasa are striking. As I previously said the scriptures want us to become one, these men of wisdom like Sri Rama, Sri Lakshmana and Mother Sita gave out to the world ideals. These ideals help the shaping of character.
Dharma was the main tool and force of Sri Rama. He believed that the world should be treated as one whole family. That is why there is the saying "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam" to eradicate certain evil influences. Bigotry and hatred are two examples. In the Ramayana Dharma had to face its opposite Adharma, as every action has a reaction. Believe it or not, not only did Dharma win but its impact put the inhabitants of Ayodhya in utter bliss. In this way, happiness was promoted.
But this is only the first ideal, the major one. The others, I mean other universal, unparalleled ideals concern character. They had again given rise to happiness. When I mean character, I just want to convey the idea of Dharma. I want to illustrate that happiness protected its possessors, just as Dharma protected people. Brotherhood, friendship, love and sincerity are only a few of the virtues that gave those great figures a special gift. That gift was added up to other virtues to make spirituality. In short what they got was oneness according to the Upanishads. "Take the full from the full, the full itself remains." This is what the Ramayana teaches and Sri Rama put it into practice. During his reign, he saw to it that no Adharma existed. Coming to Sri Lakshmana now, we can gather that he was equally outstanding. He kept his word to his brother. He could spend hours without a wink of sleep, but he would make sure that his brother would be always in peace.
The couple Sri Rama and Mother Sita were ideal too. They created extreme joy in the kingdom of Ayodhya. This is what the world should follow. This is what should be taken into consideration. Happiness should come from the heart and not from underground. It is as spiritualistic as humanistic. This demonstrates the difference between spirituality, humanity and animality. Sri Rama showed spirituality, his people evinced humanity whereas Ravan sided with animality. They each in their own way showed a different character.
Sri Rama lived to convince his people that truth was the only way out of this world. Treat all as your brothers and sisters. Women should be respected. Animals should not be ill-treated. These were some of the ideals taught by the king himself. I use the word King but Sri Rama liked remaining humble. He did not like being lionised. He wanted to remain a simple man typifying good. "Dharma is ever so dear to me." Although he was exiled, he was not the least angry. He went and returned with the same smile. Is it not ideal and benevolent?
He even went through the first Ashrama stages following those of Brahmacharya and Grihastha. He accepted forest-life too. When it was time to fight, he fought. His life was planned. To conclude, I can say that the Ramayana characters were all ideals, and Sri Rama, the main figure, always came to the help of his nation and humanity.