Community welfare is "at the very heart of the social infrastructure that dominated our Indian civilization for millennia" and this message has been taken forward by reformers like Swami Prabhupada, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu said here on Sunday.
Addressing the East West Cultural Festival in commemoration of the 121st birth anniversary of Swami Prabhupada, founder of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), he said that Swami Prabhupada was an "exemplary ambassador of India's ancient civilisation".
"It is our great civilisation that gave the world the famous slogan of 'lokah samasta sukhino bhavantu/sarve janah sukhino bhavantu/sarva jiva jantu sukhino bhavantu' (May the whole world be happy and peaceful. May all the people in the world be happy and peaceful. May all forms of life be happy and peaceful)," he said.
Naidu said that while education is a key instrument in developing social infrastructure as it breaks the vicious cycle of poverty and underdevelopment, culture, on the other hand, is the life-sustaining force of social infrastructure.
"It enlivens ethical and moral values that seem to be eroding in our modern lives."
He also commended various social welfare projects being run by ISKCON such as Annamrita programme under which ISKCON members daily feed 12 lakh government school students free meals.
Under the tribal care initiative, the organisation is providing education, healthcare in remote parts of Assam, Tripura, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal, Naidu said.
He said that the 15th century saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu enjoined all Indians to do 'paropakara' (welfare activities for humankind) and this is what Swami Prabhupada promoted as he travelled worldwide.
"And he was so remarkably successful in doing this, that today we see hundreds of thousands of westerners who are exceptionally Indian in their outlook and remarkably Vedic in their lifestyles," Naidu said.
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