For happiness, one has to return to the roots, to the self, and not to material things, was Juna Akhara chief Swami Avdheshanand Giri’s advice to Madhya Pradesh’s recently created Happiness department.
Speaking at the inauguration of the three-day Lokmanthan, a colloquium organised by the state Culture department and RSS-inspired think-tank Prajna Pravah for brainstorming on the contemporary issues, the swami stressed on Vasudev Kutumbam—world is one family—as against the Western thinking of the world as a market.
“Happiness doesn’t come from material things, it comes from good and proper thoughts, it comes from returning to one’s roots,” he said on Saturday.
Collectors, SDMs and tehsildars cannot go to people and understand what happiness means, he said.
Madhya Pradesh is the first state to create a Happiness department that would help the government craft polices focussed on improving happiness levels of people.
Inaugurating an exhibition ahead of Lokmanthan on Friday, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had said that “blind westernisation” had alienated happiness from our lives.
Swami Giri touched upon this point, saying that these days, people believe more in looking good than being good and having more followers and likes on social media. “The real goodness comes from having good thoughts.”
He also said that despite colonising India for a long time, the British could not “win our hearts”.
On the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, the Swami said though it would cause inconvenience to people for some time, in the long run, it will be very good for the society and will help in checking corruption.
In his welcome address on Saturday, Chouhan emphasised the antiquity of Indian civilisational ethos and how India’s worldview was rooted in the mantra Vasudev Kutumbkam.
“The amrit (nectar) that will come out of this three day manthan (churning) will be shared with the whole world,” he said.
RSS sahsarkaryawah Suresh Soni, who participated in a public function in MP after a long time, stressed on the need for ‘chintan’ (intellectual discourse) “in times of crisis”.
Soni said people talk of “Mera Bharat Mahan (India is great),” without understanding what ‘Bharat’ means.
“For understanding Bharat, you have to first go into the larger context. Western nation states, after they came into being, started destroying or exploiting other areas of the world or distorting their cultures through colonisation.
“But Indians, wherever we have gone, have tried to elevate the consciousness of that country, without destroying their culture. Jews were persecuted everywhere in the world, with one exception: India.
“Our sense of nationhood is totally different; it is rooted in our ancient traditions. Despite so much diversity, we have held it together, unlike other big countries like USSR which disintegrated as they couldn’t hold together their diversity,” he said.
Governor OP Kohli, state assembly speaker Sitasaran Sharma and BJP national vice president and in-charge of BJP Madhya Pradesh Vinay Sahasrabuddhe were also present on the occasion.