Honouring Acharya Vinoba Bhaveji at the Gandhi Ashram, Delhi

7 Day National Youth Conference celebrates the power of Gandhian Thought, seeks to foster its use by India’s youth.

11 SEPTEMBER 2019 DELHI/RISHIKESH: On the 125th anniversary of the birth of famed Gandhian thinker Acharya Vinoba Bhaveji, HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President and Spiritual Leader of Parmarth Niketan, inaugurated a seven-day International Integration & Communal Harmony Youth Camp in his honor at the Gandhi Ashram, Kingsway Camp, New Delhi recently, gathering such notable Gandhian-thought luminaries as Dr SN Subba Raoji, now 91 and founder in 1971 of India’s original National Youth Project; Harijan Sevak Sangh’s President, Prof. Dr. Sankar Sanyalji; Divine Shakti Foundation President, Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji; Ganga Action Parivar (GAP)’s Ganga Nandini Tripathiji and other notable persons whose ties with and continued fostering of the principles of The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, form the foundation of the camp’s program.

This year’s camp was dedicated to Bhaveji, the Satyagraha soldier who was a disciple of Mahatma Gandhiji, initiated the Bhoodan Movement in 1951, a movement designed to convince wealthy landowners to voluntarily give a percentage of their land to landless Indians. Over the years, Bhaveji dedicated more and more of his time and effort to the Gandhi Ashram and Ghandian principles, and upheld his doctrines of non-violence and equality. He dedicated his life to serve the poor and downtrodden, and stood up for their rights and needs. He also sent a message of respect for all religions as the result of his intense study throughout his life of the Vedas.

In addressing the gathered youth, Pujya Swamiji reminded the large crowd that we, like Bhaveji before us, must “live the message of truth, love and compassion.” And he went on to recall the ideals of Swami Vivekanandaji whom, at the World Conference of Religions in 1893, said proudly that “I am from the religion which taught tolerance all over the world” while sharing stories of “universal acceptance.”

“These three people,” Pujya Swamiji continued, “Swami Vivekanandaji, Acharya Bhaveji and Dr Raoji all believe in what Gandhiji taught his entire life. That love is eternal, and the most important thing. They embody the principles of true religion, harmony, unity and patriotism that is essential for a modern country to survive and thrive. And, these principles must be shared by all, especially by our youth. In their youth – these three people – they were working for peace and unity. We must all do the same, whatever our age.”

Harijan Sevak Sangh President Dr. Prof. Sankar Sanyalji also shared details of Gandhiji’s life and work and said that “in the 21st Century, we can and should live up to the ideas, ideals and values of Gandhiji. We can do it, and we should!”

Sadhvi Bhagawatiji shared her own journey to India and said, “Indian youth need to realise that going abroad and being born abroad does not make one special- being Indian is what makes you very special. They need to be able to choose serving their country instead of merely dream of being abroad. Today as we celebrate the divine example of Mahatma Gandhiji and Vinobha Bhaveji and pay tribute to the spirit of selfless service of our nation we must all reaffirm our commitment to serve.” She then inspired the youth by asking- Desh Ke Seva Kyon Karega? (who will serve the nation?) And they all raised their hands to share- “Hum Karenga. Hum Karenga.” (we will serve the nation)

Ganga Nandini added her thoughts at the end and shared, “Mahatma Gandhiji taught us to wake up to the truth of our true existence but Vinoba Bhaveji taught us to walk as the expression of that truth. They both teach us that the journey of change must begin with ourselves and then expand outwards.This is what our spiritual teachers teach us and we are so very fortunate in India to have a relationship, a deep sense of belongingness with this divine souls. But this relationship comes with a responsibility to walk in their path and lead by our example.”

Pujya Swamiji used the occasion to inspire the gathered youth to make a pledge to commemorate Bhaveji’s birth anniversary by planting 125 trees in the coming year, both as a sign of respect for his contribution to the world and a sign of our commitment to the planet and to Gandhian Thought.

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