Apr 29 2013, 3:18am CDT | by Luigi Lugmayr
Port of Spain, April 29 — The Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, where about 40 percent of its 1.3 million population is of Indian origin, will soon set up a Vivekananda Foundation in honour of the late Indian philosopher saint, whose 150th birth anniversary is being observed this year.
The idea is the brainchild of Indian High Commissioner Malay Mishra, and it is proposed to take shape by September.
At an international seminar "One World: One Reality" held here, Indrani Rampersad, a former columnist of The Guardian, said Swami Vivekananda brought "revolutionary ideas" to the global table of religion and spirituality when non-Christians were seen as "pagans and barbaric".
"Swami Vivekananda challenged people to step out of the religious armour that isolated them from those who were different, an armour that excluded all others through violent thoughts, violent rhetoric and violent actions."
He said Vivekananda was revolutionary in differentiating between spirituality and religion, and demonstrated how the scientific spirit could apply to Hinduism as well.
"By highlighting the inherent divinity of man, Vivekananda revitalized Hindu ethics and a sense of morality. He highlighted the worship of God with service to mankind. He showed that India's cultural unity was its strength and that it was based on spirituality."
Indian envoy Mishra said Swami Vivekananda was a figure who galvanized people of India as well as in places as the US, Britain and Japan, with simple but powerful words, "I Am Divine".
Mishra called on the young people to read Swami Vivekananda's writings as his words were "dynamic, and full of fire and energy".
Father Anthony Bhaskar of the Moruga R.C. Church said the basic philosophies of Vedanta and Christianity merged at one level.
"The kingdom of god is love, peace, patience and kindness and that all religious paths lead to salvation, or moksha or nirvana... eternal bliss and that is the ultimate reality," Bhaskar said.
Rampersad Parasram, chairman of the Swami Vivekaanda 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations, said: "The message of the inherent divinity in all of us regardless of the discrimination of class, caste or creed makes the case for us to embrace each other and create a world where despite the diversity we can break down the walls of prejudice and work together towards salvation which is the ultimate goal of human birth."
Fazal Ali, acting principal of the University of Trinidad and Tobago, said man must face external and internal pilgrimages.
"Man must work towards self-realization as this is of quintessential importance for mankind," Ali said.
(Paras Ramoutar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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