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PM’s address at the laying of foundation stones & dedication of various development projects to the Nation in Kedarnath

Jai Baba Kedar! Jai Baba Kedar! Jai Baba Kedar! My respectful greetings to all the dignitaries present on the dais and the faithful who have reached this holy land for the program enriched with divine aura!

Today the eminent people, revered saints, senior sages associated with the revered Shankaracharya tradition and many devotees at all the ‘mathas’ (monasteries), all the 12 Jyotirlingas, many pagodas, many adobes of Shakti from across the country are blessing us in both physical and spiritual form through the virtual medium at this holy land of Kedarnath. You are also becoming witness to the restoration of Adi Shankaracharya’s Samadhi (mausoleum). This is a very ethereal view of India’s spiritual prosperity and expanse. Our country is so vast, there is such a considerable sage tradition that even today many great ascetics keep awakening spiritual consciousness in every corner of India. There are so many such saints here and also associated with us from every part of the country that even if I address them by their names, even a week would fall short. And if I miss any name, I will be buried in the burden of some sin for the rest of my life. Despite my wish, I am not able to mention everyone’s name now. But I respectfully greet them. The blessings of those from wherever they are associated with this program are our great strength. I am sure that their blessings will give us strength to do many holy works. It is even said in our country:

आवाहनम न जानामि

न जानामि विसर्जनम,

पूजाम चैव ना

जानामि क्षमस्व परमेश्वर: !

That is: “Oh Lord, forgive me if I have made any mistake knowingly or unknowingly.”

Therefore, I sincerely apologize to all such personalities, greet and seek blessings from Shankaracharyas, sages and all the followers of the great saint tradition from across the country on this virtuous occasion.

Friends,

In our Upanishads, in the compositions of Adi Shankaracharya, an expression ‘नेति-नेति’ (neither this, nor that) has been explained in detail. It has also been reiterated and said in a different way in Ramcharitmanas also. It has been said in the Ramcharitmanas:

‘अबिगत अकथ अपार, अबिगत अकथ अपार,

नेति-नेति नित निगम कह’ नेति-नेति नित निगम कह’

That is, some experiences are so supernatural, so infinite that they cannot be expressed in words. Whenever I come to the refuge of Baba Kedarnath, get attached to every particle here, the winds, these Himalayan peaks, the company of Baba Kedar pulls me towards a kind of vibe that I cannot explain. Yesterday I was with soldiers on the border on the holy festival of Deepawali and today I am on the land of the soldiers. I have shared the joy of festivals with the brave soldiers of my country. I went among the army personnel yesterday carrying the messages of love, reverence and blessings of the 130 crore countrymen. And today on the occasion of the Govardhan Puja and the New Year for the people of Gujarat, I have the privilege of visiting Kedarnath. After worshipping Baba Kedar, I also spent some time at Adi Shankaracharya’s Samadhi and it was a moment of divine feeling. Sitting in front of the statue, it seemed that a beam of light was flowing from the eyes of Adi Shankara which was awakening the belief of a grand India. Shankaracharya ji’s Samadhi is once again with us all in a more divine form. Along with this, the Ghat has also been constructed on the Saraswati bank, and the bridge over the Mandakini has made the road to Garunchatti accessible. I have also had a special relationship with Garunchatti. I can recognize one or two old people and it felt good to meet you. Old people are now gone. Some people have left this place while some others have left this earth forever. The wall which has been constructed on the banks of Mandakini for protection from floods will make the journey of the devotees more secure. The newly built houses for the pilgrims and priests will facilitate them in every season and their service of Lord Kedarnath will be easier now. I have seen earlier that the travelers used to get stuck here in the event of a natural calamity. So many people used to spend their time in a single room of the priests. Our priests would shiver outside in the cold, but were concerned about the guests. I have seen everything, I have seen their devotion. Now they are going to get rid of those problems.

Friends,

Today, the foundation stone of many schemes related to passenger services and facilities has also been laid here. The facilities like tourist facilitation centre, modern hospital for travelers and locals, rain shelters etc will become the medium of service of the devotees and their pilgrimage will now be trouble free. Travelers will have a pleasant experience of being absorbed at the feet of Jai Bhole.

Friends,

The devastation and damage that happened here years ago was unimaginable. I was the Chief Minister of Gujarat but I could not restrain myself. I rushed here immediately. I saw that devastation and pain with my own eyes. The people who used to come here had doubts whether Kedardham, this Kedarpuri would be redeveloped. But my inner voice always said that it would stand with more pride than ever before. And my faith was because of Baba Kedar, Adi Shankara’s ‘sadhana’ and the penance of the sages. At the same time, I also had the experience of rebuilding Kutch after the earthquake. Therefore, I had faith and what greater satisfaction can there be in life than this that I can see that faith come true with my own eyes. I consider it my good fortune that Baba Kedar, the blessings of the saints, this holy land, the soil whose winds had once nurtured me and what greater virtue of life would be there than getting the privilege of doing service. This combination of modernity with the eternal on this primitive land and these development works are the result of the natural grace of Lord Shankar. Neither God nor human beings can take the credit. Only God’s grace deserves it. I thank the Uttarakhand government, our energetic and young Chief Minister Dhami ji and also all the people who are responsible for fulfilling this dream with their hard work. I know how difficult it is to work here in the midst of snowfall and there is very little time available here. Our labor brothers and sisters who were not from the mountains and had come from outside did not leave work even in the midst of snowfall and rain and kept working even in minus temperature considering it a divine work. Only then it was made possible. My mind was always here, so with the help of technology and drones, I used to monitor construction work closely from my office on a monthly basis. I also express special gratitude to the Rawals and all the priests of Kedarnath temple today because they kept guiding us due to their positive attitude, efforts and traditions. As a result, we are able to save this old heritage and introduce modernity as well. I express my heartfelt gratitude to the Rawal families and these priests.

Our scholars have described Adi Shankaracharya ji: “शंकरो शंकरः साक्षात्” i.e., Acharya Shankara was the incarnation of Lord Shankar. We can experience this glory and divinity in every moment of his life. A mere look at him and all the memory comes to the fore. Amazing knowledge at such a young age! Study of scriptures, knowledge and science from childhood! At the age in which an ordinary human being begins to understand worldly matters a little, he used to interpret Vedanta. It can be nothing but the awakening of Lord Shankar in him.

Friends,

The great pundits of Sanskrit and Vedas are here and have also joined us virtually. You know that the meaning of Shankar in Sanskrit is very simple – “शं करोति सः शंकरः” i.e., the one who does welfare is Shankar. This welfare was also directly established by Acharya Shankara. His life was extraordinary, but he was devoted to the welfare of the common man. He was always devoted to the welfare of India and the world. When India was losing its solidarity by getting trapped in the vortex of anger and hatred, Shankaracharya said: “न मे द्वेष रागौ, न मे लोभ मोहौ, मदो नैव, मे नैव, मात्सर्य भावः” i.e., attachment, malice, greed, glamour, jealousy and ego are not our nature. When mankind needed to understand India from outside the boundaries of caste and creed and rise above doubts and apprehensions, then he instilled consciousness in the society. Adi Shankara said: “न मे मृत्यु-शंका, न मे जातिभेदः” i.e., doubts of destruction, caste distinctions have nothing to do with our tradition. In order to explain what we are, what our philosophy and thoughts are, Adi Shankara said: “चिदानन्द रूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम” i.e., I am Shiva (auspiciousness) of the nature of consciousness and bliss. There is Shiva in the soul itself. Sometimes huge volumes of texts are needed to explain the principle of ‘Advaita’. I am not a scholar. I understand it in simple language. All I say is, where there is no ambivalence, there is probity. Shankaracharya ji breathed life again in the consciousness of India and gave us the mantra of our economic-transcendental progress. He has said: “ज्ञान विहीनः सर्व मतेन्, मुक्तिम् न भजति जन्म शतेन” i.e., there is only one way for our liberation from sorrows, sufferings and difficulties, and that is knowledge. Adi Shankaracharya revived the timeless tradition of India’s knowledge-science and philosophy.

Friends,

There was a time when spirituality and religion was being misinterpreted. But Indian philosophy refers to human welfare, looks at life with completeness and holistic approach. Adi Shankaracharya worked to make the society aware of this truth. He established holy monasteries, four Dhams and revived the 12 Jyotirlingas. He renounced everything and created a strong tradition for those who live for the country, society and humanity. Today, these establishments represent a strong identity of India and Indianness. What is dharma for us, what is the relation of dharma and knowledge, and that is why it has been said: ‘अथातो ब्रह्म जिज्ञासा’ i.e., the stronger the curiosity for Brahma-Darshan, the faster he sees Narayana. What is the Upanishad tradition of giving this mantra which teaches us to ask questions every moment and sometimes the child Nachiketa goes to Yama’s court and asks him ‘what is death’? Our monasteries are keeping this heritage of asking questions and acquiring knowledge alive for thousands of years and enriching it. For generations, these monasteries are preserving and showing the path of the tradition of Shankaracharya whether it is Sanskrit or science like Vedic mathematics in Sanskrit language. I think the principles of Adi Shankaracharya have become more relevant in today’s era.

Friends,

The importance of Chardham Yatra has been here for centuries, the tradition of visiting the Dwadash Jyotirlinga, the Shaktipeeths or Ashtavinayak ji. This pilgrimage is considered a part of our lifetime. This pilgrimage for us is not just a sightseeing tour. It is a living tradition that connects India, gives an overview of India. Everyone here wishes to visit Chardham, the Dwadash Jyotirlinga and take a dip in the Mother Ganga once in his lifetime. Earlier, the tradition was to teach children at home “सौराष्ट्रे सोमनाथम् च, श्रीशैले मल्लि-कार्जुनम्”. This mantra of Dwadash Jyotirlinga used to take us to the entire country while sitting at home. From childhood, connecting with the different parts of the country became an easy rite of passage. These beliefs turn India into a living entity from east to west, north to south, enhancing the strength of national unity and the grand philosophy of ‘Ek Bharat- Shreshtha Bharat’ (One India, Supreme India). Every devotee takes a new energy with him after visiting Baba Kedarnath.

Friends,

The country today sees the legacy of Adi Shankaracharya as an inspiration for itself. Now our cultural heritage and centers of faith are being looked upon with the same pride as it should have been. Today a grand temple of Lord Shri Ram is being built in Ayodhya with full glory and Ayodhya is getting its glory back after centuries. Just two days ago, the entire world saw the grand celebration of Deepotsav in Ayodhya. Today we can imagine how the ancient cultural form of India must have been. Similarly, Kashi is also being rejuvenated in Uttar Pradesh and the work of Vishwanath Dham is also progressing towards fruition. Work is going on at a rapid pace at Kushinagar near Sarnath in Banaras and Bodh Gaya to develop them as Buddhist Circuits to attract international tourists and Buddhist devotees from all over the world. The work of making a complete circuit by connecting all the pilgrimage places associated with Lord Rama is also going on. Along with the development in Mathura-Vrindavan, the sanctity is being maintained. The feelings of saints are being taken care of. If all this is happening it is because today’s India is moving ahead with reverence and pride in the teachings of our sages like Adi Shankaracharya.

Friends,

Currently, our country is also celebrating the Amrit Mahotsav of freedom. The country is taking new resolutions for its future and rebuilding. I see Adi Shankaracharya ji as a great inspiration as far as the resolutions of Amrit Mahotsav are concerned.

When the country sets big goals for itself and decides the time frame, some people wonder how it is possible in such a short time! Whether it will happen or not! And then only one voice comes from within me, I hear the voice of 130 crore countrymen. Then I say that it is no longer acceptable to India to be intimidated by the restrictions of time. Look at Adi Shankaracharya ji. At a young age, he left home and became a hermit. From Kaladi in Kerala, he came to Kedar. At a very young age, he left the world but he enlightened India and created a new future for India in a very short time. The energy he ignited is keeping India on the move and will keep it moving for thousands of years to come. Similarly, look at Swami Vivekananda ji and many freedom fighters. There have been countless great personalities who took birth here and in a very short span of time left an imprint. India follows the inspirations of these great personalities. Accepting the Eternal in a way, we believe in action. With this confidence, the country is moving ahead in this ‘Amrit Kaal’ today. And at such times, I want to make one more request to the countrymen. In addition to seeing the historical places associated with the freedom struggle, visit such holy places as much as possible and introduce them to the new generation. Experience Maa Bharati, feel the consciousness of the great tradition of thousands of years. In the virtuous period of independence, it can also be a grand festival of independence. The spirit of Shankar can be awakened in the heart of every Indian and in every nook and corner of India. And this is the time to move on. It was no small service by those who kept our faith intact in the period of hundreds of years of servitude and did not let any harm to it. Isn’t it the duty of the citizens of India to worship this great service during the period of independence? And that’s why I say as a citizen we should visit these holy places and know their glory.

Friends,

In deference to the Devbhoomi and having faith in the limitless possibilities here, the Government of Uttarakhand today is engaged in the ‘Mahayagya’ of development with full force. Work is progressing rapidly on the Chardham road project and all the four Dhams are being connected with the highway. A project has also been started so that the faithful can come to Kedarnath ji through cable car. There is also the holy Hemkund Sahib ji nearby. Preparation is underway to build a ropeway to facilitate visit to Hemkund Sahib ji. Apart from this, efforts are being made to connect Rishikesh and Karnprayag by rail. Right now the Chief Minister was saying that it is difficult for the people of the mountains to see the rail. Now the train is reaching here. Once the Delhi-Dehradun highway is built, people are going to spend less time on travel. All these projects will greatly help Uttarakhand and its tourism. Note my words, the people of Uttarakhand. The speed with which the infrastructure is being built, the number of devotees visiting here in the next 10 years will be much more than the last 100 years. You can imagine the strength it will provide to the economy here. The third decade of the 21st century belongs to Uttarakhand. Mark my words. I am speaking from the holy land. In recent times, we all have seen how the number of devotees visiting the Char-Dham Yatra is continuously breaking records. Had Covid been not there, I do not know what would be the number? I am feeling very happy for Uttarakhand, especially for my mothers and sisters and their strength in the mountains has a different potential. The travelers coming to Uttarakhand also like the network of home stays in small places and in the lap of nature. There will be employment and there will also be an opportunity to live with self-respect. The way the government here is engaged in development works, it has got another benefit. It was being said about this place that the waters of the mountains and the youth of the mountains are of no use to the mountains. I have changed this, now water will also be useful to the mountains and so will be the youth. The migration has to stop now. So, my young friends, this decade is yours, it belongs to Uttarakhand, it has a bright future and Baba Kedar’s blessings are with us.

This Devbhoomi is also the birthplace of many brave sons and daughters who protect the motherland. There is no house or village here, where there is no introduction to the saga of valor. Today, the way the country is modernizing its forces, making them self-reliant, the strength of our brave soldiers is also growing. Today their as well as their families’ needs and expectations are being prioritized. This is our government which has fulfilled the four-decades old demand of ‘One Rank, One Pension’, the demand from the last century was fulfilled in this century. I am satisfied that I got an opportunity to serve the soldiers of my country. About thousands of families of Uttarakhand have benefited from this.

Friends,

The kind of discipline shown by Uttarakhand in the fight against Corona is also very commendable. Overcoming the geographical difficulties, today the people of Uttarakhand have achieved the target of 100 percent single dose. It shows the strength and potential of Uttarakhand. Those who are familiar with mountains know that this task is not easy. I can imagine how painful it is when one has to climb mountain peaks for hours to vaccinate only two or five families and walk throughout the night to return home. Even then Uttarakhand continued because it has to save the life of every citizen. I congratulate the Chief Minister and his team. I have full faith that Uttarakhand, which is settled on the heights, will achieve even greater heights. Let us move ahead in our many resolutions from this holy land with the blessings of all of you from the land of Baba Kedar and with the blessings of saints, mahants, sages and Acharyas from every corner of the country. Let everyone resolve to take the country to new heights in this Amrit Mahotsav of independence. May a new zeal, new light and new energy give us the strength to do something new after Diwali. Bowing at the feet of Lord Kedarnath and Adi Shankaracharya, I once again greet you for several festivals between Diwali and Chhath Puja. Utter with me with love, devotion and wholeheartedly:

Jai Kedar!

Jai Kedar!

Jai Kedar!

Thanks!