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English fortnightly, devoted to life, literature and culture.

Vol: 08  No: 01


06 August 1961

Lessons of Somnath

Dr. Rajendra Prasad

While the external symbols of a national faith may be destroyed, nothing can destroy the fountains of that faith. According to our shastras, Somnath is one of the twelve Jyotir lingas. Naturally, therefore, this temple of Lord Somnath had become the symbol of the wealth, the faith and the culture of India. Its feet were washed by the ocean whilst its dome kissed the Heavens.
In its vast quadrangle, innumerable devotees gathered from all the regions and provinces of India to place at the feet of Lord Shankara their boundless devotion and love and their great wealth.
In those days, it was the centre of the faith and the wealth of this country. The fame of its unparalleled glory and wealth had spread to distant regions and countries. Unfortunately, during several centuries it had to suffer calamity after calamity. Again and again it was desecrated and demolished.
But, while the external symbols of a national faith may be destroyed, nothing can destroy the fountains of that faith. It was for this reason that in spite of having numerous calamities there always remained in the hearts of the Indian people, an undying faith and respect for this Temple.
It ever was their determination to build this temple again every time it was destroyed and they went on doing so time after time.
It is desirable for all of us to realise the great secret of spiritual faith -- that to have a glimpse of God or Truth, it is not necessary for all men to follow one and only one path.
On the contrary, if man devotes himself with all love and faith to the service of his fellow human beings and if he dedicates himself to the establishment of the kingdom of love and beauty on this earth, he would surely be able to realise God whatever may be the manner of his worship.
This truth had been perceived by our ancient seers and they had proclaimed it to mankind. They had consistently declared that though He is one, the wise describe Him in many ways and by many names. Similarly, according to the Mahabharata all paths lead to God just as all rivers flow into the ocean.
Unfortunately, this great truth of life and faith was not properly grasped by people in many ages which led to very destructive and terrible wars between different countries and peoples.
It is plain, therefore, that religious intolerance cannot have any other consequences but to produce bitterness and immorality among men.

This is the lesson of history and I would like all my countrymen to grasp it firmly. In our country, particularly, it is very necessary that each one of us should realise that the best course is to act with a sense of respect and equality towards every community and creed. In it lies the welfare of our country and of every one of us.
This faith and conviction has impelled India to adopt the policy of secularism and to give an assurance that there shall be no discrimination on grounds of religion. Everyone would be provided equal opportunities.
In conformity to this ideal, I have respect and affection for all the faiths. Even though I am a Sanatanist Hindu by faith and daily practice, yet, I believe that every man can reach God by worshipping Him according to the dictates of his own faith.
Not only have I respect for all religions and their places of worship but I also go to them to pay my respect whenever possible. Whenever there is an opportunity, I go to the ‘dargah’ and the ‘masjid’ the church and the ‘gurudwara’ with the same feeling of respect with which I go to the temples of my faith.
It is very plain today that the policy of religious intolerance has always been and shall ever continue to be a failure. Today, our attempt is not to rectify history.
Our only aim here is to proclaim anew our attachment to the faith, convictions and to the values on which our religion has rested since immemorial ages.
We also proclaim to the world that the great truth of spiritual life teaches that every individual should have full independence and opportunities for rising to the highest glory of life to which his experience and natural talents entitle him.
This work of restoration had been started by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. He played a prominent part in weaving the scattered parts of India into a common whole.
An idea had occurred to him that this symbol of the ancient faith of India should be restored to commemorate the restoration of Indian unity. By the grace of God, this dream of Sardar has been fulfilled to a certain extent.
But, it would have been realised fully only on the day when prosperity is restored to our people.

Bhavan's Journal

06 August 1961


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Language: English
Periodicity: Fortnightly.
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