Saying that the world was witnessing “the worst impulses of intolerance”, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Saturday that it was time to reinforce the civilizational values that bind together “the complex diversity of modern-day India”.
Inaugurating the first-ever international conference of Indologists, Mukherjee said the world was struggling to deal with a kind of hatred never before seen.
“We are, today, witnessing events without precedent: when the world is struggling to deal with the worst impulses of intolerance and hatred that mankind has ever witnessed,” he said in a speech.
“At such a time, there can be no better recourse than to remind ourselves of the high values, written and unwritten samskaras, duties and the way of life that is the essence of India.
“This is the time to reinforce the civilizational values that bind together the complex diversity of modern-day India and promote them among our people and the world,” he said.
The President exhorted the Indologists to highlight India’s pluralism and multi-culturalism rather than excessively dwelling on ancient times or merely fill with nostalgia about India’s grand past.
“I anticipate that your scholastic interactions, while firmly anchoring today’s India in her glorious history - will illuminate the logical path to her destined greatness.
“I am confident that your deliberations over the next three days will highlight the manner in which pluralism and multi-culturalism are at the very core of the Indian psyche.”
Quoting Swami Vivekananda, Mukherjee said the one great lesson the world has yet to learn from India is the idea not only of toleration but of sympathy.
“It is here that Indians build temples for Mohammedans and Christians; nowhere else. The one great lesson, therefore, that the world wants most, that the world has yet to learn from India, is the idea not only of toleration, but of sympathy.”
Noting that the Vedic texts were the first to pronounce the universal concept of ‘Vasudhaiva kutumvakam’ (world is one family), he also dwelt on the need for inclusiveness.
“It must be recognised that India’s ancient traditions, to survive and grow, did not hesitate to selectively embrace all that is good in modernism.
“Her history remains alive and vibrant in the thoughts, actions, customs and rituals of her people. Modernity, in all its manifestations, is equally welcome here,” he said.
Mukherjee conferred the first Distinguished Indologist Award to German scholar Emeritus Heinrich Freiherr Von Stietencron for his significant contribution to Indology.
The three-day conference is being attended by 22 Indologists, including scholars from China, Russia, Sri Lanka and India.