Underlining that pluralism and multi-culturalism were at the core of India’s psyche, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said the world was witnessing “the worst impulses of intolerance” and it was time to reinforce the values that bind together a diverse India.
Inaugurating the first-ever international conference of Indologists at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mukherjee said the world was struggling to deal with the kind of hatred never seen earlier.
“We are, today, witnessing events without precedent: when the world is struggling to deal with the worst impulses of intolerance and hatred that mankind has ever witnessed,” he told the gathering of Indian and foreign Indologists.
“At such a time, there can be no better recourse than to remind ourselves of the high values, written and unwritten samskaras, duties and the way of life that is the essence of India.
“This is the time to reinforce the civilizational values that bind together the complex diversity of modern-day India and promote them among our people and the world,” he said.
The president has in recent times repeatedly referred to “intolerance”. But on Saturday, he did not refer to any specific incident within the country.
Mukherjee exhorted the indologists to highlight India’s pluralism and multi-culturalism rather than excessively dwelling on ancient times or merely fill with nostalgia about India’s grand past.
“I anticipate that your scholastic interactions, while firmly anchoring today’s India in her glorious history – will illuminate the logical path to her destined greatness.
“I am confident that your deliberations over the next three days will highlight the manner in which pluralism and multi-culturalism are at the very core of the Indian psyche.”
Quoting Swami Vivekananda, Mukherjee said the one great lesson the world has yet to learn from India is the idea not only of toleration but of sympathy.
“It is here that Indians build temples for Mohammedans and Christians; nowhere else,” he quoted Vivekananda as saying. “The one great lesson, therefore, that the world wants most, that the world has yet to learn from India, is the idea not only of toleration, but of sympathy.”
Noting that the Vedic texts were the first to pronounce the universal concept of ‘Vasudhaiva kutumvakam’ (world is one family), he also dwelt on the need for inclusiveness.
“It must be recognised that India’s ancient traditions, to survive and grow, did not hesitate to selectively embrace all that is good in modernism.
“Her history remains alive and vibrant in the thoughts, actions, customs and rituals of her people. Modernity, in all its manifestations, is equally welcome here,” he said.
The president said India’s ancient traditions, to survive and grow, did not hesitate to selectively embrace all that was good in modernism.
“Her history remains alive and vibrant in the thoughts, actions, customs and rituals of her people. Modernity, in all its manifestations is equally welcome here.”
He also lauded Sanskrit, saying it has long been the medium for studying at least two major religions of the world and eight philosophical schools. “It is the language of the greatest works on human development, world peace and global prosperity.”
Mukherjee conferred the first Distinguished Indologist Award to German scholar Emeritus Heinrich Freiherr Von Stietencron for his significant contribution to Indology.
The three-day conference is being attended by 22 Indologists, including scholars from China, Russia, Sri Lanka and India.