Each race and each nation appears to me to have a particular ideal — a prominent ideal running through its whole life; and this ideal is the backbone of the national life. Not politics nor military power, not commercial supremacy, nor mechanical genius furnishes India with that backbone, but Dharma; and Dharma alone is all that we have and mean to have. Spirituality has been always in India.
The history of our race shows that India has always been most active.Our most ancient and magnanimous race still lives, and at every decade in its glorious career seems to take on fresh youth — undying and imperishable. This activity manifests here in Dharma.
The eyes of the whole world are now turned towards this land of India for spiritual food; and India has to provide it for all the races. Here alone is the best ideal for mankind; and Western scholars are now striving to understand this ideal which is enshrined in our Sanskrit literature and philosophy, and which has been the characteristic of India all through the ages.
Religious researches disclose to us the fact that there is not a country possessing a good ethical code but has borrowed something of it from us, and there is not one religion possessing good ideas of the immortality of the soul but has derived it directly or indirectly from us.
Everybody should know that there is no salvation except through the conquering of desires, and that no man is free who is subject to the bondage of matter.As soon as the disciple is in a position to grasp this truth, the words of the Guru come to his help. The Lord sends help to His own children in His infinite mercy which never cease and is ever flowing in all creeds. Our Lord is the Lord of all religions. This idea belongs to India alone; and I challenge any one of you to find it in any other scripture of the world.
We Hindus have now been placed, under God's providence, in a very critical and responsible position. The nations of the West are coming to us for spiritual help.
We Hindus, take pride in being the descendants of Rishis and sages who lived on roots and fruits in mountains and caves, meditating on the Supreme. We may be degraded and degenerated now; but however degraded and degenerated we may be, we can become great if only we begin to work in right earnest on behalf of our Dharma.
Standing beside me, the Raja of Ramnad, with all his old enthusiasm is still expecting me to do more and more work. I wish there were half a dozen more such Rajas to take interest in our dear motherland and work for her amelioration in the spiritual line.
(CW VOL 3: REPLY TO THE ADDRESS OF WELCOME AT PAMBAN, 26 Jan 1897)Read Full Lecture
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