“Sisters and brothers,
I take great pleasure in releasing the book, “Sing, Dance and Pray – the inspirational story of Srila Prabhupada” at this august event.
As all of you know, India is one of the world’s most ancient cradles of spiritual culture. Spirituality has been the soul of our nation and the foundation of our civilisation since ancient times. Vedas, Upanishads, epics like The Ramayana, The Mahabharata, and other Puranas have a transcendental spiritual value. For millennia, there have been manuals directing people to lead an ideal life based on ethics and values. Our scripture The Bhagavad Gita provides insightful solutions to all the problems of human existence, ranging from approaches to liberation from suffering, to self-realisation and attaining moksha or salvation, to the nature and significance of dharma to the overriding importance of action, devotion and a wide array of other philosophical questions. The father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi, expressed his deep reverence for the Gita. He said, “I find solace in the Bhagavad Gita…. When disappointment stares me in the face, and all along, I see not one ray of light, I go back to the Bhagavad Gita. I find a verse here and a verse there, and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming tragedies – and my life has been full of external tragedies – and if they have left no visible, no indelible scar on me, I owe it all to the teachings of Bhagavad Gita.”
Our ancient land is also the land of devotion. Many rishis, munis and acharyas have appeared on this punyabhumi to uplift the masses through the non-sectarian, universal method of worship. I can say that bhakti runs through the veins of Indians. It is the lifeline of India’s collective civilizational consciousness.
The 15th century Vaishnava saint, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is said to have predicted that the holy names of Lord Krishna would be chanted in every town and village. It is widely accepted that Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acharya of ISKCON, fulfilled this prophecy. Srila Prabhupada founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in New York in 1966 with the help of a few young followers and in a short span of 12 years, established more than a hundred ISKCON temples across the six continents.Significantly, he also set up Gurukalas, farm communities, and a publishing house for bhakti literature. He travelled around the globe multiple times, preaching the message of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” stressing that humanity is one family.
It must be said to Srila Prabhupada’s credit that he popularised The Bhagavad Gita’s message across the world. Millions of copies of his devotional commentary on the Bhagavad Gita have been distributed in over seventy languages.
It was Swami Prabhupada’s wish that no one within a ten-mile radius of a Krishna temple should go hungry and he directed his followers to ensure this. Even Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple company, used to walk seven miles to get a good meal at an ISKCON temple during his struggling days.This spirit of service and ‘share & care’ lies at the core of the Indian value system.The youth of the country should strive to inculcate these values and therefore, I would suggest making community service compulsory in schools and colleges so that our children and youth can develop an attitude of sharing and caring in their interaction with others.
There is no doubt thatSrila Prabhupada came to be seen as one of the greatest ambassadors of India’s culture and heritage in the modern era. He was also a torchbearer of egalitarian thought. He embraced those discarded by society and brought joy and fulfilment to their lives.The only criterion he stressed was bhakti, or love of God. He truly brought about a spiritual revolution through the simple yet sublime act of singing, dancing and praying. I deeply admire Srila Prabhupada’s untiring efforts towards universal peace and harmony through the propagation of Vedic knowledge and culture.
I would like to appreciate the efforts of Sri Madhu Pandit Das Ji in carrying forward his Guru’s mission to build a house where the whole world can live happily. I also wish him success with the upcoming Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir project at Vrindavan,dedicated to Lord Krishna. May this cultural heritage project become a spiritual landmark and attract thinkers, leaders, and inquisitive minds.
Spirituality is our greatest strength and Indian culture stands for the universal values of unity, peace and social harmony. Each one of us must strive to preserve and propagate these values. Our youngsters must take inspiration from great saints of this ancient nation and spiritual masters like Swami Prabhupada. They must imbibe from them qualities of discipline, hard work, patience and empathy to become better human beings. They must always rise above narrow considerations of caste, gender, religion & region and work for bringing unity, harmony and peace in society.
I understand that Dr. Hindol Sengupta has captured all the aspects of Srila Prabhupada’s life and work in the book ‘Sing, Dance and Pray’. This biography will be a fitting tribute to Srila Prabhupada on his 125th birth anniversary.I am confident that ‘Sing, Dance and Pray’ will inspire its readers to apply this principle in their daily lives.
ISKCON Bangalore’s wonderful spirit of service or seva-bhavais yet another key dimension of its functioning. It is this seva-bhava which led to the birth of The Akshaya Patra Foundation—the world’s largest NGO-run school lunch programme. The service rendered by Akshaya Patra to underprivileged children and communities is truly commendable.Annadana is considered to be the highest of all charities, and Akshaya Patra, true to its name, has been supplying unlimited fresh food to the needy every day, realising Srila Prabhupada’s ideal of compassion in action. During the pandemic, their feeding operations have benefitted lakhs of people across the country and I wish to commend them for this selfless service.
Once again, I congratulate Dr. Hindol Sengupta and ISKCON Bangalore for publishing the book - Sing, Dance, and Pray. I encourage all of you to read this biography of Srila Prabhupada and take inspiration from his life and philosophy.
Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President after releasing the book, “Sing, Dance and Pray – the inspirational story of Srila Prabhupada” at Upa-Rashtrapati Nivas in New Delhi on July 24, 2022.
“Sisters and brothers,