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We are assembled here this morning to formally constitute the National Level Committee for the Sardha shati celebration of Swami Vivekananda. A good deal of preparatory work has already been done for this national event. All the state level celebration committees have been formally constituted by this time. Today's meeting is the culmination of the efforts already taken at various levels, right from the Panchayat upwards. This is probably the first time that such a massive organised endeavour has been undertaken for the celebration of a historic event.
Shardha shati celebration of Swami Vivekananda aims a lot more than what any ordinary celebration aims at. It is conceived as a huge international event with a specific and noble purpose. The slogan "Wake up Bharat! Enlighten the World!!" sums up in less than half-a-dozen words what we envision to achieve through this nationwide celebration. The first part namely “wake up Bharat” is really the most important one because the second part “enlighten the world” will follow as logical consequence of the first. History bears witness to the fact that whenever Bharat was awakened to her full potentialities by her spiritual masters, it created a huge tidal wave which swept the entire world and enlightened it. At Present, our endeavours so far have been to create a vast and efficient human network which, when put in full motion, will bring about spiritual –cultural awakening of India. It is a truism to say that it is the means that will decide the end. The machinery that we set up should be of such a calibre that by their collective effort this difficult goal of ‘Waking up Bharat’ could be achieved.

First of all tens and thousands of competent and qualified individuals have to be identified, carefully selected and systematically trained. Here I remember a small story which will illustrate this point. The incident is said to have taken place in Russia. A revered monk was invited by a devout family to bless them. After the formal talks were over it was time for dinner. The lady of the house was trying to clean the dining table. She took a wet towel and with the help of it was wiping the surface first vertically and then horizontally. But to her worry, the stains on the table were only becoming more glaring. She looked very desperate and did not know what to do. Then, the honoured guest gently suggested to her "first of all you clean the cleaner. Then the table will get cleaned." This is the primary lesson we have to remember. Unless the vast human force which we are going to put into our service for ‘waking up Bharat’ is sufficiently capable, fully awakened and totally committed, our noble objective will remain a dream. They should be imbued and inspired with the spirit of Swami Vivekananda and be the most efficient vehicles for communicating the same through word and deed to the people among whom they have to work. This is the first part of the work which the celebration committees at various levels will have to pay attention to.
The second part is to Awaken Bharat. This is no ordinary task. Bharat, as we all know, is a vast country, almost a mini-globe. The diversity of its people is indeed bewildering. One model will not suffice for all. Since our goal is to reach out to all the areas in the country and to all segments of society, we have to device appropriate mechanism. That is why; five important segments of the society have been identified as our target groups. Each segment has its own strength and weakness, plus and minus points, tastes and temperaments, problems and priorities and each has a vital role in the totality of the country's scenario. This also varies from region to region. So we will have to deploy most suitable persons at each level and in each area for contacting and communicating with the people, in the idiom in which they will be able to easily grasp. Those portions of Swamiji's messages, which are most apt and profitable for each of them, have to be reproduced or recreated in all the languages and even in dialects to effectively appeal to the heart and soul of the concerned people. We must have enough number of suitable communicators.Though number is very important, it is to be remembered that it is quality that matters in the final count. Our effort should be to win over a good number of the best available communicators from each segment to convey Swamiji's ideas to the people at large. Such communicators have to be well equipped with the necessary skills through methodical training. Print and visual media are important, no doubt, but practical, down to earth, programmes and projects, events and celebrations, colourful and meaningful, attractive and transforming, are what will make them active participants and part and parcel of the celebration. It is their all-round involvement that is most important. They should take this up as their life mission. It is depending upon them that the follow up work which is part of our celebration can be effectively implemented. We want communicators who are the role models.
People often speak of role models. What is a role model?  A role model is not just a leader. To get the willing acceptance and spontaneous respect from the people, he has to be their friend, guide and philosopher. He will be one among the people but will be one step ahead of them. It is such role models that we want to project as natural leaders of each segment and each area. They will inspire confidence and command respect among the people. It is such people to whom Swami Vivekananda referred when he exhorted:
“A hundred thousand men and women, fired with the zeal of holiness, fortified with eternal faith in the Lord, and nerved to lion's courage by their sympathy for the poor and the fallen and the downtrodden, will go over the length and breadth of the land, preaching the gospel of salvation, the gospel of help, the gospel of social raising-up-the gospel of equality”

In this context we have to remember one more important point. We are attempting to bring closer a large number of people who have never worked together till now. To coordinate them and trough the best among them requires very skilful handling. Otherwise it can even  be  counterproductive .It is  here we have to  remember the  beautiful phrase  coined  by Mananeeya Ekanath Ranade who  was a master organizer that a successful karyakartha  should develop the quality to instil lubricant  cooperation. That will revolve all possible complication in the work.

In a sense celebrations are easy but the follow up is difficult. We all know that celebration without follow up is all sound and fury signifying very little. Centenary celebration of Swamiji became a historical event and continues to inspire millions of men and women, young and old because it did not end up simply with the construction of the mid-sea rock memorial, but because of the follow up work of the dynamic machinery of Vivekananda Kendra. The same thing should be our ideal during the Shardha shati celebration as well, through effective and appropriate follow-up measures. After the year of celebration, a variety of country-wide activities should be undertaken which will result in Waking up Bharat, and she becomes conscious of her life mission as a nation. Only such an Awakened Bharat can think of enlightening the world.
 It is needless to say that our Mother Earth is going through a painful period of the throes of a new birth, an evolutionary crisis, as Sri Aurobindo has put it.. It is to assist and hasten this important and inevitable transformation that humanity needs enlightenment from Bharat. Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda have shown the way for a new era - a Satya yuga, where peaceful co-existence of diverse races and religions, cultures and languages, customs and costumes will peacefully coexist and cooperate with each other to build up a harmonious human society capable of evolving from the present level of consciousness to a higher and a nobler divine consciousness.

In this auspicious endeavour we are confident of our success because we have Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, famously known all over the world as Amma, to lead us. She is the embodiment of the all embracing divine Motherhood. Amma's austerities started from a humble hut in a coastal village in Kerala, which has now become a global centre of pilgrimage known as Amritapuri. She heads one of the largest networks of world-class medical and educational institutions. She has been carrying the message of spirituality and universal love all over the world for the past two decades. It is only a couple of days back that she addressed a UN initiated “Cultural Alliance Meet” in China. This is the first time that a spiritual leader from India being invited to China to address an international conference after the turbulent years of Communist revolution. With such a tower of light guiding us in this country- wide celebrations, let us put over heart and soul and leave no stone unturned, to achieve our goal of “wake-up India, enlighten the world”.

The celebration committee that is being formed now has this onerous responsibility. Let us all work together, inspired by the sublime vision and the divine mission imparted to us by Swami Vivekananda.

Swami Vivekananda's 150th Birth Anniversary

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