Agni Peethadhishwar Acharya Mahamandaleshwar Shri Ramkrishnanand Ji Maharaj, Head of Sri Panchadashnam Panchagni Akhara
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Voices of the Saints
Our Unity in Diversity”
SOME PEOPLE OF OTHER RELIGIONS believe and often emphasize that they have one holy book and one God. At the same time they highlight that those belonging to Sanatana Dharma believe in a number of scriptures and books and also a number of Gods—implying we are not united. For all such people this Kumbh gives an appropriate reply. Here people belonging to different castes and spiritual lineages, different countries and often different ways of thinking have come to have a collective holy dip in the Triveni and worship Bhagwan Suryanarayan, the Sun God. It is here you get to view our unity in diversity. This is the majestic form of Sanatana Dharma.
A lot of university students come to us to ask questions about their various projects and assignments. I have told them the influence of Western civilization upon them is increasingly apparent, but at the same time Westerners are being influenced by us, and in a big way—I see them here at the mela moving about in Indian dress, some with shaven heads even.
Because of inadequate education, devotion to mother, father, religion and country is lessening. I tell the young girls coming to me about the kind of respect they should get in this country, respect which is not found anywhere else in the world. Our scriptures say, “Where women are worshiped, the Gods are present.” When our daughters are small, we worship them in Kumari Puja. When they are married, again they are worshipped in Suvashini Puja. Married women are taken as the embodiment of Goddess Jagdamba.
When it comes to men, only one’s own father is called “Father.” Other male relatives are called “Uncle.” But in the case of elderly women, everyone calls them “Mother.” If a father’s son becomes a sannyasin, then the father does pranam and touches his sannyasin son’s feet. But in the case of the mother, the son touches her feet even after sannyas. Even if the son becomes a Shankaracharya, still he touches the feet of his mother. This country has had eminent women of stature like Anusuya, Maitri, Gargi, Sita and Savitri. Our girls should follow their path. It is the women of India that have given birth to Ramanujacharyas, Ramanandacharyas, Nimbarkacharyas and Vallabhacharyas. Such is the prestige of women in this country.
I tell the college girls who come to me to wear graceful, traditional clothes and not blindly emulate the Western clothing, which is not graceful. We would like our girls to follow the traditional and moral values of our culture and heritage. This will certainly lead to more respect and the betterment of our nation and society.