Hailing spirituality as India’s strength, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday lamented that some people tend to link it to religion and asserted that the two are very different.
Addressing a function to commemorate the centenary celebrations of the Yogoda Satsanga Society of India (YSS), he said Yoga is the first step in the journey to attain spirituality.
Modi said the world acknowledges India on the basis of its population, GDP or employment rate, but it has neither known nor recognised India for its spirituality.
“India’s spirituality is its strength. But, it is unfortunate that some people link spirituality to religion. But both spirituality and religion are very different,” he said.
The Prime Minister also hailed Yogi Paramahansa who left India’s shores to spread his message but remained connected to the country all the time. Even for a second the Yogi was not away from his motherland, which he kept remembering even in his last words, the PM said.
Back from the campaign trail in his Varanasi constituency, Modi recalled how the Yogi is still remembered in Kashi and his teachings, “which are as pure as Maa Ganga”, continue to flow within many in the holy city where he spent his childhood.
Modi’s remarks come in the backdrop of a raging debate over attempts by political parties to polarise society on the lines of religion, especially during elections.
The Yogoda Satsanga Society was founded by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1917. A special postage stamp on Yogoda Satsanga Society was also released by Modi to mark the occasion.
Recalling the words of former President APJ Abdul Kalam who felt that India’s spiritualness is its strength and this process should continue, he said that the spirituality of the country has been strengthened by India’s sages and saints.
Talking about Yoga, he said it is simply an entry gate to the spiritual world. “Once an individual develops an interest in Yoga and starts diligently practicing it, it will always remain a part of his or her life,” he added.
Modi also recalled that the path shown by the Yogi was not about “mukti” (salvation) but “antaryatra” (quest within).
The PM said despite three-four generations having gone, there has not been any dilution or diversion in Yogi’s teachings. He said the ‘Kriya Yoga’ practised by Paramahansa revitalises the subtle currents of life energy in the body.
Remembering the last words of Paramahansa, the prime minister said his teachings are humane and full of compassion towards all.
Modi was later given a memento with the Yogi’s last words inscribed on it, which speak about the strength of spirituality of his motherland.