INAUGURAL ADDRESS AT J.S.S. SCHOOL SUTTUR
27-12-2002 : Mysore
I am indeed delighted to be here in this divine environment to inaugurate the JSS School & Hostel complex in the lovely surroundings of Suttur. The history and tradition which forms the background of the JSS Mahavidyapeetha has impressed me a great deal. The peace initiatives of Adi Jagadguru Shri Shivarathreeshwara Mahaswamiji in the 10th Century which averted a disastrous war between Raja Raja Chola of Kanchi and Rachamalla of Talkad have formed the bed-lock on which the Peetha has been built. Throughout its history, the Peetha has spread the message of Peace and Harmony. The pontiffs who have succeeded Swami Shivarathreeshwara all have contributed to the growth and development of spirituality, culture and literature of the whole region.
Mahavidyapeetha and Rural Education
An important aspect from my point of view is the fact that education has formed a very important part of the philanthropic activity of the Math. Apart from the traditional areas of spirituality and culture, one of the laudable objectives of the JSS Mahavidyapeetha has been to educate the disadvantaged rural and urban children through both the formal and informal methods. For this, I have been very impressed to see that over 250 educational institutions ranging from kindergarten/nurseries to post graduate professional courses have been established by the Peeth in several districts of Karnataka, Tamilnadu and even in places as far away as Uttar Pradesh. These institutions help in providing education to over 35000 students which is no small achievement. Such an act of philanthropy for such a laudable objective is very difficult to match. As is usual in our country, most of the institutes of higher learning are concentrated in and around big cities while the rural and backward areas are left to fend for themselves. The concentration of most of the educational activities by the Mahavidyapeetha in rural and backward areas is thus, a welcome initiative.
Education with Care
Providing facilities for imparting education is only half the story for the rural poor. Even though many of our rural children are bright and intelligent, their economic plight is such that we cannot expect them to learn properly unless they are fed properly as well. This is difficult for most the people who live below the poverty line. Under these circumstances, it was gracious foresight on behalf of Swamiji who established a small boarding home where the students could be provided free food and lodging along with the educational inputs at Suttur itself. I am told that the Suttur Main Building hostel has produced hundreds of outstanding students many of whom have risen to positions of eminence as Vice Chancellors, Professors, Doctors and Civil servants both in India as well as abroad. Nothing can be more rewarding for the founders of this Institute. The success of this movement has led to development of many such hostels attached to important educational centers in Mysore, Chamrajnagar, Hassan and other districts of Karnataka. The movement has become of such a size that the Vidyapeetha now runs 19 free hostels, 3 destitute homes one hostel for the blind and two for the disabled. Apart from this I am also told that there are 23 other hostels also attached to different training institutions wherein more than 4000 students are being provided food and shelter in these free boarding homes. This speaks volumes for the dedication and effort put in by all those who are associated with this movement.
Religion graduating into spirituality
I appreciate the efforts which have been made to provide free food and education to the rural poor. I am fully aware of this problem having seen it first hand during my own childhood. I would like to express my thanks to the founding fathers as well as their successors who have created this movement for education and spirituality. I am also very happy to note that the stress of the Mahavidyapeetha is always on 'spirituality' and not 'religion'. I am of the strong opinion that 'religion' has to transform into 'spirituality' when it rises to the higher levels of attainment. However, I must also request the teachers of the Peetha to encourage all the children under their care to dream for themselves. Unless they have dreams, they will not be motivated to attain them. Slowly, you will find that with proper effort, dreams will transform into thoughts and with effort and labour, these thoughts can be transformed into action. Success is possible only when we have a commitment to action. This 'dream-thought-action' philosophy is what I would like to be inculcated in each and everyone of the student of the Mahavidyapeetha. Our country has a very bright future but all of us and especially you children who will be leaders of tomorrow have to work hard to achieve the goals which we set for ourselves.
Vision: Developed India 2020
As I foresee it, my vision is to make India a developed country by the year 2020. But, this will not come to us on its own. It will not be gifted to us by someone but we have to work and work hard to achieve the goals which we have set for ourselves. It is only through sweat and toil that we will be able to make India stand proudly amongst the comity of developed nations by the year 2020 and for this, I would ask all the Gurus and teachers of the Mahavidyapeetha to inculcate a sense of pride and achievement in the students and to demonstrate to them that they are no less than anyone in the world and if India is to become developed by the year 2020, it will do so only by riding on the shoulders of these young students whom I see in front of me today.
A word about the modern system of education. I would not like the students or the teachers to feed disadvantaged simply because they are in a rural or backward setting. Technology has placed very modern and important tools for education at our fingertips. Even in the remote areas like Suttur we can have modern education techniques brought to our doorstep by various technological means through the computer and via the internet. I would request the authorities of this Vidyapeetha to make sure that the students have some access to the benefits of modern technology and to see for themselves how the world is progressing and also to dream about how we are to achieve the goal of a developed India by the year 2020.
I am convinced, a nation can only prosper if all the states particularly states with high population like UP and Bihar progress. States' progress depends on its performance in various sectors particularly in the area of primary education with value system. I see, the Mahavidyapeetha's activities in various parts of southern India. I have a suggestion to Mahavidyapeetha : Can you extend the noble mission of education to these states and other states so that states progress together for the nation to prosper. My deep respects to Adi Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeshwara Maha Swamiji who founded the Peetha, His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji and to all the pontiffs who have succeeded him to the Peetha and who have contributed to the growth and development of this institution and for the outstanding contribution it has made in the field of education for the rural students to enable them to come up in life and to provide them excellent educational and spiritual training. May the Math and the Peetha prosper and may the students who pass out from the Vidyapeetha travel far and wide and bring laurels to this Centre of Spirituality and learning.