SPEECH Delivered by
SMT. INDIRA GANDHI, Prime Minister of India.
It is indeed a pleasure, a privilege for me to be here, to have the opportunity, of seeing the famous memorial. Swami Ranganathanandaji, I am afraid, has put too great a task on my shoulders. I do not think, that a few words of mine can give courage or wisdom or vision to the people.
Swami Vivekananda, like other great leaders of Indian thought, has told us that all these qualities must come from within us. Others can show the path but whether to follow that path or not is the responsibility of each individual.
This morning the Committee very graciously sent me a small booklet of the sayings of Swami Vivekananda. I had read it before, but I was glad to see it again. The grand words that spring up in every page, every saying of Swami Vivekananda breathe courage, strength, self-reliance and faith. This is what India has needed and what India needs today. We have been the inheritors of a truly great culture and a truly great tradition. How has he analysed our national illness? How has he pointed to the shaping of our nation? Swami Ranganathanandaji's words, just now, give some indication that we are in no way near living up to our great traditions and our great heritage. And, we have in a way, given up its importance by reducing it to ritual and routine. We have forgotten that the ritual, the routine is merely a way which could lead us to something, and is not an end in itself.
The greatness of Swami Vivekananda was not only due to his great intellectual power and discretion but also his burning passion to do something not only to the whole of India but to the entire world. I think his greatness was that he sought to release our ancient wisdom, to find a sense of individual purpose and to promote social well-being and collective progress. His special intellectual gift was that he was keenly aware of the forces at work in the modern world. Just before coming here, I looked at the exhibition which has been arranged. And it was remarkable how he could address himself to the modern world knowing fully well the trends at work even in model days. He did not realise perhaps the great changes that science and technological advancement would bring, the great knowledge, and the great power put into the hands of man by those two things. Again what have we done with that knowledge and power? Swami Ranganathanandaji spoke, just now, of the need for removing economic poverty. We are pledged to do that. We are trying to take various steps which can lead us forward in that direction. We do not know if we would succeed. We know only that we must try, as far as we can, to do this with all the strength that we have.