Sunday, 25 September 2011

My Rich Heritage

|| Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||

Our Country South Africa

Aum Namo Narayanaya
My loving pranams to you all. I trust that as South Africans we utilised Saturday (Heritage Day) to reflect upon and appreciate our heritage. As descendants of an immigrant community there is always sometimes ambiguity with regards to our identities. The cultural umbilical cord continues to nourish our love for our ancestral motherland.
At this point I recall the thunderous words of Swami Vivekanada when  he said: “What we
want are some young men who will renounce everything and sacrifice their lives for their country's sake.” For the love of His country Swamiji dedicated his life's breath for the emancipation of the masses who were displaying vivid signs of oppression and colonisation.
After spending three days and nights in deep contemplation and meditation at Kanya Kumari, Revered Swamiji proclaimed: “The best way to serve and seek God is to serve the needy, to feed the hungry, to help the fallen and friendless, irrespective of caste or creed.”
It is definitely the Dharma of an individual to give his life if need be in defending his land of birth, and to work for the welfare of all its citizens.
In terms of this duty no one has put it more eloquently than Swamiji when he said: “I hold every man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them! I call those men who strut about in their finery, having got all their money by grinding the poor, wretches, so long as they do not do anything for those two hundred millions who are now no better than hungry savages.”
Yes indeed, I am African and South African identify strongly with the words  of our former President Thabo Mbeki when he said:
I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land. My body has frozen in our frosts and in our latter day snows. It has thawed in the warmth of our sunshine and melted in the heat of the midday sun. The crack and the rumble of the summer thunders, lashed by startling lightening, have been a cause both of trembling and of hope.
The fragrances of nature have been as pleasant to us as the sight of the wild blooms of the citizens of the veld. The dramatic shapes of the Drakensberg, the soil-coloured waters of the Lekoa, iGqili, noThukela, and the sands of the Kgalagadi, have all been panels of the set on the natural stage on which we act out the foolish deeds of the theatre of our day.
At times, and in fear, I have wondered whether I should concede equal citizenship of our country to the leopard and the lion, the elephant and the springbok, the hyena, the black mamba and the pestilential mosquito. A human presence among all these, a feature on the face of our native land thus defined, I know that none dare challenge me when I say - I am an African!
In saying this, I can never deny though, my lineage back to the great sages of India, who have through immense austerities and penance handed down the most profound knowledge and value systems for the welfare of humanity. I therefore feel proud and with this knowledge as the basis of my existence I am in a better position to contribute positively to my country and people.
On this important day, the Shree Veeraboga Emperumal Temple launched the Narayana Seva Grain Bank, which will provide hot meals to the hungry on a weekly basis at first and then seek to increase the frequency as the project gains momentum.
As part of this seva a wonderful addition was added to the temple, which is practiced in many Narayana temples in India. The Thullabaram (scale) where devotees make an offering equivalent to their body weight was also launched. Devotees will be able to donate grains and items equal to their body weight towards the feeding project. Without a doubt they will receive the divine grace of the Lord.
This project is not done as a mere charity but with the motive of serving the Lord in man and will lend impetus to nation building and driving the social and development agenda of our country.
I sincerely pray that we appreciate our heritage and work selflessly for the welfare of our country in all respects, whilst preserving the rich lineage of our sages and saints of India.
This week millions of Hindus throughout the world will commence the festival of Navarathri - the nine nights of worship dedicated to the Divine Mother.  The Mother in our dharma has been given the highest form of respect. She is always respected first, yes even before God - as the famous saying goes: “Mataa, Pitha, Guru, Devam” which translates to “Mother, Father, Guru and God”.
She is unmatched in compassion and love and will give her life for her children. In the same manner one’s county is one’s motherland and if one respects and reveres their country, she will reciprocate with her all embracing motherly love.
I take this opportunity is wishing all observing Navarathri the grace of the Divine Mother and may you have the opportunity to feel Her love.
With love and prayers always

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