Maulana Wahiduddin Khan I Speaking Tree Website I Monday March 18, 2013
I have always maintained that India is a potential spiritual superpower. As a matter of ancient tradition, India may be called a land of spirituality. Here, I recall an event pertaining to Swami Vivekanand. One day, during a visit of his to America one hundred years ago, he was walking along a street in Chicago, and according to the Swami tradition, he was clad in just two pieces of untailored cloth. An American lady, seeing him in these clothes, found this very strange. She whispered to her husband: “I don’t think that person is a gentleman.” Swamiji overheard this. He went up to her and said, “Excuse me, madam, in your country a tailor makes a man a gentleman. But in the country from which I come, character makes a man a gentleman.”
Here, I would like to add a very relevant story. You know, Mother Teresa was born in Europe. She visited India and was so fascinated with this land of spirituality that she decided to settle here. She dedicated her entire life to social upliftment. In recognition of her services, she was awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize. On this occasion, she was invited to the USA to address an American audience there. She began her address with these historic words: “I have come from a rich country to a poor country.” She was indeed referring to the spiritual wealth of this country. It is a fact that India has a long tradition of spirituality and moral values. In other words, potentially, India is a spiritual bomb. This is the true spirit of India. We only need to revive ancient Indian traditions in our lives, for India to emerge as a spiritual superpower in the world. It will be able to conquer the world with its spiritual bomb, without using any destructive weapons. But turning this Indian potential into reality would need a long and sincere effort. It is a struggle involving four phases, consisting of purely peaceful methods.
First of all, we have to re-build good traditions in individual minds. We have to bring about a change in people’s thinking, so that we may build a society based on sound ethical principles. This again requires a non-violent struggle, in the complete sense of the phrase.
Then, we need to build a nation reinforced by these principles - a nation, which knows the difference between peace and violence, a nation that knows the difference between the spiritual and the non-spiritual. Individuals are the social constituents that make a nation. And a nation armed with the spiritual power of its individuals, is in a position to inculcate spirituality in international life. India, by revitalizing, can change the whole world. Let us work for this noble cause.
Why is India a spiritual power? This is traceable to its long spiritual tradition. Where the western world was engaged in technical activities, in previous centuries; India, throughout those same centuries was engaged in spiritual activities. While the Western world was producing material experts, in the form of physical scientists, during the same period, India was producing spiritual scientists, in the form of Swamis and Sufis. It is this factor, which has been mainly responsible for the difference between India and the western world. India might be an underdeveloped country, in the material sense, but it is a highly developed country, in the spiritual sense.
In the age of the culture of peace, the entire world craves peace. It is here that India has a chance to play an important role. India can show the world the path to peace and spirituality and thus emerge as a spiritual super-power.
Swami Vivekanand was a great soul of India. I think he was quite right in predicting that, after independence, India would emerge as a spiritual leader of the world. In spite of all the material progress that has been made, the world is in search of spirituality. Here, I would like to refer to a very telling incident. I once saw a white youth, simply clad, walking along an Indian street. He looked very happy and contented. I struck a conversation with him and learnt that he belonged to an affluent western country, namely Canada. I asked him why he had left his own developed country and come to India. He quietly replied: “There, I was comfortable physically; here, I am comfortable spiritually.”
Indeed, spirituality -- a national gift to India -- is the whole identity of our country. For centuries, the lofty Himalayas have served as an abode of spirituality. Its message flows eternally in the water of the Ganga and the Jamuna, while tall green trees provide spiritual solace, and beautiful birds warble the song of peace. This rare combination of spiritual greatness is to be found only in India. This is what makes it a spiritual superpower. It is in this sense that I say that India is potentially a super power, and as such we need to produce a spiritual renaissance in this, the second decade of the 21st century. According to me, herein lies the secret of attaining world leadership for India.