West indian culture

PM Modi describes Kashi, Tamil Nadu as timeless centers of culture and civilization

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday described his parliamentary constituency Varanasi (Kashi) and Tamil Nadu (TN) as timeless centers of culture and civilisation.

Insisting on “removing linguistic differences and establishing emotional unity”, he said, “it is the responsibility of the 130 million Indians to preserve the language (Tamil) and the heritage of our country”.

Ignoring Tamil would be a huge disservice to the nation, he said.

He was speaking at the official inauguration of the Kashi-Tamil Sangamam on the grounds of the amphitheater of the Hindu University of Benares.

The Kashi-Tamil Sangamam is unique and important in itself, he said.

Aimed at rekindling the age-old cultural ties between Kashi and Tamil Nadu, the event is organized by the Union Ministry of Education in collaboration with Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and IIT Madras.

”If we ignore Tamil, we are doing a huge disservice to the nation and if we keep Tamil confined within restrictions, we will do it a lot of harm. We must remember to remove language differences and establish emotional unity,” Modi said.

“In our country, there is an importance of “sangams” (confluences). From the confluence of rivers and streams to ideas-ideology, knowledge-science and societies-cultures, we celebrated all confluences,” he said.

“It is as pious as that of the Ganges and the Yamuna”, added the Prime Minister.

Kashi-Tamil Sangamam is a celebration of India‘s diversity and uniqueness. It is special in itself and unprecedented, he said.

Kashi and Tamil Nadu are also centers of the world’s oldest languages ​​like Sanskrit and Tamil, the Prime Minister noted.

He said it is the responsibility of every Indian to preserve their culture and heritage.

“Kashi and Tamil Nadu are timeless centers of culture and religion. One (Kashi) has Sanskrit and Tamil Nadu is gifted with Tamil, the oldest spoken language in the country. Kashi has the temple of Kashi Vishwanath while Tamil Nadu has the blessings of Bhagwan Rameshwaram. Both places have their own significance,” he said, beginning his speech with the chants of Har Har Mahadev and Vanakkam (welcome in Tamil language) Kashi and Vanakkam Tamil Nadu.

“Both Kashi and Tamil Nadu are ‘Shivmay’ (imbued with devotion to Lord Shiv) and ‘Shaktimay’ (imbued with devotion to Goddess Shakti),” he said at the event.

While the cultural capital Kashi encompasses all of India, “our Tamil Nadu and Tamil culture represent the pride of India’s ancient heritage,” he said.

Apart from being spiritually connected, PM said that Kashi and TN are also the sources of classical music and literature.

“On one side we have the tabla of Kashi and on the other the ‘thanimai’ of Tamil Nadu. If Banarasi saree is found in Varanasi, then Kanjivaram silk from Tamil Nadu is world famous,” Modi said.

Both places have been the birthplace of great spiritual leaders, writers and famous personalities, he said.

“Kashi is the birthplace of Bhakt Tulsi and Tamil Nadu is that of Saint Thiruvalluvar,” he said.

Highlighting the contributions made by scholars from the South, Modi said, “From my experience, from Ramanujacharya and Shankaracharya to Rajaji and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (who was former Vice Chancellor of BHU and became President of India) , without understanding the philosophy of India according to the scholars of the South, we cannot know India.

“Other famous personalities include Rajesh Shastri, a famous ‘Veda Vidwan’ of TN who established Sang Ved institution and Vidya Ved on Ram Ghat in Kashi. Patta Viram Shastri, a litterateur, who stayed at Hanuman Ghat in Kashi is known for his contributions,” the Prime Minister added.

The prime minister said a country with a rich heritage should be proud of its heritage.

There is also a Dakshin Kashi in Tamil Nadu, the prime minister noted.

He said the Kashi-Kanchi hold an important place among the “Sapta Puris”, the seven centers of pilgrimage which, according to Hindu beliefs, lead to salvation.

The Sapta Puris are – Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya (Mayapuri or Haridwar), Kashi (Varanasi), Kanchi (Kanchipuram), Avantika (Ujjain) and Dwaravati (Dwaraka).

He said there is a Kashi Kamkotteshwar temple at Harishchandra Ghat.

Kedar Ghat has the 200 year old Kumar Swami Math. Markande Ashram has many families, whose generations have helped shape the Kashi we see today, Modi said.

He said there was an urgent need to strengthen ties between the two places which are separated by distance but connected by culture and spirituality.

“Such measures have never been taken before to preserve the rich heritage of our country. There are countries like Egypt which boast of their pyramids which are its heritage. Italy talks about its Leaning Tower of Pisa but we in India, despite having the oldest spoken language (Tamil) in the world, fail to celebrate such a heritage. It is the responsibility of the 130 million Indians to preserve the language and heritage of our country,” he said.

He said such events should also be held in Tamil Nadu and other parts of the country to create awareness among the present generation about the rich culture and heritage of our country.

The prime minister also pointed to a connection with Kashi, also known as Benaras, in Tamil marriages.

“Even today in traditional Tamil weddings there is a reference made to ‘Kashi yatra.’ In other words, Kashi yatra is related to the new journey in the lives of young Tamils.

“It is the ‘abhilashi’ love for Kashi in the hearts of Tamils, which has never diminished in the past and will not diminish in the future,” he said. “It is the tradition of ‘Ek Bharat, Shreshth Bharat’, which our ancestors had lived, and the Kashi-Tamil Sangamam carries on this pride,” he added.

The Prime Minister expressed the hope that the people of Kashi will spare no effort to provide memorable hospitality.

PM has published books on Tirukkural (a classic text in Tamil language) and Kashi-Tamil culture. The event also saw the cultural events of Tamil artists Kasim and Babu whose grandfathers played Shehnai with Ustad Bismillah Khan.

Famous musician Ilayaraja, a member of Rajya Sabha also performed at the event. It was followed by the chanting of mantras by the Tamil priests of Varanasi.

JYOTIRLINGAS AT THE CENTER OF LINKS BETWEEN KASHI, TAMIL NADU, SAID YOGI

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said jyotirlingas in Kashi and Rameswaram are central to the relationship between Kashi and Tamil Nadu.

He was speaking at the Kashi-Tamil Sangamam in Varanasi.

“Adi Shankaracharya has taken this relationship established by Lord Shri Ram and Lord Shiva forward by establishing sacred peeths (centers of spirituality) all over India. Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking this ‘Mahayagya’ forward with all his strength,” he said.

“Kashi remains the center of India’s religion, culture and spiritual consciousness. Likewise, Tamil Nadu has been the center of knowledge, art and culture since ancient times which was expanded by the Pandya, Chola and Pallava kings among others. All elements of Indian culture are also preserved in Kashi and Tamil Nadu,” said the Chief Minister.

He went on to say that it is believed that among the two languages ​​that emerged from the mouth of Lord Shiva, Tamil and Sanskrit are also known for their rich literature.

Uttar Pradesh Governor Anadiben Patel, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and other political figures attended the occasion.

Over 2500 delegates from all over the country took part in the event which was also marked by a grand exhibition showcasing the culture and tradition of Tamil Nadu. There was another exhibit showcasing the struggle of freedom fighters and Tamil culture like Meenakshi Chittaranjan’s Bharatanatyam, Tamil Nadu folk music, Irula and other tribal dances.

Delegates who have arrived in Kashi will stay in Varanasi for two days and visit Hanuman Ghat, Residence of Subrahmanya Bharti, Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Sarnath Archaeological Site and Museum. They will watch Ganga aarti and also take a boat ride through 84 ghats, besides taking part in cultural programs at BHU in the evenings.

After Varanasi, delegates can travel to Prayagraj and Ayodhya.


  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Oliver Fredrick works as Senior Correspondent and is based in Lucknow. Apart from covering important beats like Railways, Defence, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), District Administration, he enjoys writing about human interest stories as it gives instant connection with the readers. During his roughly 10-year career, he made several groundbreaking stories that forced state government authorities to take appropriate action. Before coming to Lucknow, he was based in Bareilly and looked after the politically sensitive areas of West UP like Rampur, Moradabad, Pilibhit, Badaun, Muzaffarnagar and others.
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