“Dear Sisters and Brothers,
I am indeed honoured to be here amidst you to deliver the First P Parameswaran Memorial Lecture. Sri Parameswaranji, a role model for many, was a multifaceted personality. He was a great writer, orator, a poet and social philosopher who worked relentlessly to carry forward his nationalistic mission which he had taken as his life mission.
Through his writings, speeches and other intellectual activities, Sri Parameswaranji changed the tone and tenor of intellectual discourse in Kerala. He expounded the thoughts and teachings of Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Narayana Guru and Pandit DeenDayalUpadyaya among the youths. He was instrumental in reviving the forgotten tradition of observing Ramayana Month (July –August) in Kerala which has currently become a popular festival.
Sri Parameswaranji is undoubtedly one of the outstanding figures of Kerala – a State that has a rich legacy of great intellectuals who brought about cultural awakening and spiritual regeneration.
In 8th century, Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya integrated diverse thoughts and practices through his philosophy of Advaita Vedanta. The Gita which was lying dormant in our intellectual tradition was recovered by Sri Shankaracharya who gave it back to us with his brilliant narrative of Advaita. This Advaita was not a new school but was churned out of the Upanishads.
Later, Acharyas like Ramanuja and Madhva also played the role of great social reformers. The sage Vidyaranya connected with Sringeri Matt greatly influenced the founders of Vijayanagara Empire Harihara and Bukka Raya. Of late, Swami Ranganathananda of Sri Ramakrishna Matt, Swami Chinmayananda of Chinmaya Mission acted as Ambassadors of India`s spiritualism and cultural tradition. Mata AmritanandaMayi moves in the same path.
In modern times in Kerala, the Advaita was made an inspiration both in intellectual and social reformation strata by Sri Narayana Guru. In both his preachings and literary works Guru made Advaita the power of narration and inspiration. But for Sri Narayana Guru, Kerala would have drowned in the darkness of social and intellectual decline. Sri Parameswaranji, in his book titled – ‘Sri Narayana Guru, the Prophet of Renaissance’ puts the life and teachings of Narayana Guru in right perspective. This book highlights Guru as a torch- bearer of peaceful social transformation in modern times, a legacy which can be linked with our ancient Rishis.
It is because of the strong background of this intellectual tradition, India remains as an eternal nation or civilizational entity, in spite of the vicissitudes it had to face throughout ages.
Sisters and brothers,
India’s intellectual tradition in cultural and civilizational contexts survived over five thousand years. This intellectual tradition was interwoven with India’s social texture and helped to sustain India’s fundamental unity despite its diversities. In 2003, UNESCO proclaimed the Vedic tradition as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Scholars like Prof. A L Basham observed that the religious and cultural life of India and much of Asia has been deeply influenced by the two great Sanskrit epics or Itihaas the Mahabharata and Ramayana which form the fountainhead of Hindu thought and philosophy. India’s intellectual tradition that rose in the valleys of Ganga, Saraswati, Kaveri, Krishna and Godavari cherished and flourished over the past five millennia. It flowered through many schools of Upanishads as well as Buddhism and Jainism.
We owe a lot to our Vedic Rishis for our culture and knowledge tradition. These Rishis (Seers and Sages) were not mere Jnanis but they acted also as great reformers – Karmayogis. They applied their knowledge and spiritual experience for the benefit of the society. They envisaged an orderly collective human life which ensures the welfare of all (SarvabhootaHitam). They put forward the concept of Dharma - a rule of behavior based on values which have a spiritual content.
Parameswaranji popularized Gita as a comprehensive life science which can provide a solution to the social problems in Kerala and rest of India. For this purpose, he initiated many seminars, symposiums and started panchayat level SwadhyayaSamithis. He wanted to combine Sanskrit, Yoga and Gita Studies for which he coined a new term ‘Samyogi’. In this connection, an International Seminar was organized in Thiruvananthapuram in 2000 in which 1500 scholars, youths and saints from all over India participated. Parameswaranji organized so many seminars in Kerala to discuss the developmental issues and other socio-cultural problems facing Kerala.
Parameswaranji was a great institution builder. He was the Director of DeenDayal Research Institute at New Delhi during 1977 to 1981. He established BharatheeyaVicharaKendram at Thiruvananthapuram in 1982 and developed it into a leading Study and Research Center in Kerala. He became the Vice President of Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari in 1984 and became its president in 1995 and held that post up to his last days. He gave a new dimension to the development of all these institutions and ably guided the workers and other personnel connected with them.
Parameswaranji has published hundreds of articles and authored about 25 books. He was awarded Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for his book titled “DisabhotathinteDarsanam”. He was the editor of journals Manthan (New Delhi) and Pragati (Thiruvananthapuram). He was also the editor of the monthly ‘Yuva Bharati’ and Quarterly ‘Vivekananda Kendra Patrika’ of Vivekananda Kendra. In recognition of his service to nation, he was honoured with Padma Sri in 2004 and Padma Vibhushan in 2018 besides so many national and international awards. Parameswaranji initiated so many young people to the field of writing and research.
He was the State Organizing Secretary of Bharatheeya Jana Sangh in Kerala from 1957 to 68. In 1969 he assumed the charge of All India General Secretary and later Vice President. He was imprisoned during the period of emergency from 1975-77.
Parameswaranji lived a simple, disciplined saintly life throughout his public career which extended to 70 years. Even though a visionary, statesman and intellectual giant, he was affable and accessible to one and all. He was a tapasvi and humanist par excellence. His life inspires us to keep the nation above everything – be it our cast, creed, region or religion.
I call upon the present generation to follow the path shown by Sri Parameswaranji and strive to build a stronger, happier and prosperous India - an India that is free from the social evils like casteism and corruption… An India that takes pride in its rich cultural and spiritual heritage.