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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

PM Narendra Modiji pays floral tributes to statue of Sri Aurobindo at UNESCO HQ

In Paris on his first visit to Europe, our beloved  Prime Minister Narendra Modiji addressed representatives of 195 countries in a packed hall where he said, "We will ensure every citizen of every religion has an equal place."    This milestone reminds us of a fundamental achievement of our age: for the first time in human history, we have an organization for the entire world - the United Nations. And, through the sweeping change of these decades, through many challenges of our times, and the great progress of this era, the organization has endured and grown. There have been doubts and skepticism. There is need for urgent reforms. But, for the nations that came together at its birth; and,for three times as many that joined it later, there is one unshakeable belief: Our world is and will remain a better place because of the United Nations. It is this faith that has given birth to so many of its institutions that deal with every aspect of human challenge……………

 No organization serves our cause more than this one. The seeds of our collective destiny are sown in human minds. It is nurtured by the light of education and the spirit of enquiry. It makes progress through the marvels of science.And, it draws strength from the basic character of Nature-the harmony and unity in diversity. …..

In Sept. 1946, the Preparatory Commission moved from London to the Hotel Majestic on the Avenue Kléber in Paris, which had been given a quick refit following its liberation from the German occupation. The Hotel Majestic on the Avenue Kléber in Paris was it’s temporary home until 1958, when it moved to its present headquarters on the Place de Fontenoy.   Located on the Place de Fontenoy, in Paris, the main building which houses the Headquarters; the Y-shaped design was invented by three architects of different nationalities under the direction of an international committee.

It is – “ The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization” (UNESCO)  a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN). Its purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.  It is the heir of the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.  UNESCO has 195 member states and nine associate members.

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram is a spiritual community (ashram) located in Pondicherry.   The ashram grew out of a small community of disciples who had gathered around Sri Aurobindo after he retired from politics and settled in Pondicherry in 1910.  In Nov  1926, after a major spiritual realization, Sri Aurobindo withdrew from public view in order to continue his spiritual work. At this time he handed over the full responsibility for the inner and outer lives of the sadhaks (spiritual aspirants) and the ashram to his spiritual collaborator, "the Mother", earlier known as Mirra Alfassa. This date is therefore generally known as the founding-day of the ashram.

Sri Aurobindo, (15 August 1872 – 5 December 1950), born Aurobindo Ghose, was a great Nationalist, philosopher, yogi, guru, and poet. He joined the Indian movement for independence from British rule, for a while became one of its influential leaders and then became a spiritual reformer, introducing his visions on human progress and spiritual evolution.  Aurobindo studied for the Indian Civil Service at King's College, Cambridge, England. After returning to India he took up various civil service works under the maharaja of the princely state of Baroda and began to involve himself in politics. He was imprisoned by the British for writing articles against British rule in India. He was released when no evidence was provided. During his stay in the jail he had mystical and spiritual experiences, after which he moved to Pondicherry, leaving politics for spiritual work.

During his stay in Pondicherry, Aurobindo developed a method of spiritual practice he called Integral Yoga. The central theme of his vision was the evolution of human life into a life divine.  His main literary works are The Life Divine, which deals with theoretical aspects of Integral Yoga; Synthesis of Yoga, which deals with practical guidance to Integral Yoga; and Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol, an epic poem which refers to a passage in the Mahabharata, where its characters actualise Integral Yoga in their lives. His works also include philosophy, poetry, translations and commentaries on the Vedas,Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1943 and for the Nobel Prize in Peace in 1950.

In 1907,  poet Rabindranath Tagore paid him a visit after his acquittal, and wrote the now famous lines:  “ O Aurobindo, bows to thee! O friend, my country’s friend, O Voice incarnate, free, Of India’s soul! … The fiery messenger that with the lamp of God. Hath come…

At Paris addressing the gathering at  UNESCO headquarters, PM Narendra Modi said -  “There is much that we can learn from his humanism and spiritualism, from his belief in the unity of individual consciousness with the world outside; the enlightened purpose of education; the service of science; and, the unity of world, founded on national freedom, diversity of civilisations and autonomy of culture.” Mr. Modi made the address after paying a floral tribute to a bronze statue of Sri Aurobindo which was installed at the UNESCO headquarters in 2009.

For Puducherians who were tuned in to the news, it was a matter of great pride. The Prime Minister had paid tribute to a philosopher who has had a deep influence on Puducherry and has left a lasting legacy. There was another reason for Puducherians to be proud. The bronze statue, over seven feet high, was made in Puducherry by a team led by Lalit Verma, current president of the Alliance Francaise here and owner of the Aurodhan gallery.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

14th April 2015.

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