Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Right Action -Krishnammal Jagannathan

I seek the blessings of Ramalinga Swami, - whose Graceful-Divine-Light (Arut Perum Jyothi), and the Greater-Compassion (Thaniperum Karunai) has guided and blessed me all my life, for the well-being of each and every one of you here today, your families, and friends.
(Amma ends with the prayer in Tamil):
Yellam Kaikoodum (Everything will come to fruition),
En Anai Ambalethe, (My call to universal being)
Yellam Vallan Thanaiye Yethu. (In acceptance of the Omni-potent)
Arut-perum Jothi, Thani-perum Karunai (Compassionate-divine light, Omni-present divine light)
Thani-perum Karunai, Arut-perum Jothi, (Omni-present divine light, Compassionate-divine light)

Indru varumo, Nalaikke Varumo, Endru Varumo,
(Will IT* come today, tomorrow or when)
Ariyen En Kove,
(Do not know, my Lord) 
Thondru-mala, Vemmayayei Attru
(Devoid of the Illusions, that springforth from one-self)
Vezhikul, Vezhi kidandu
(To dwell beyond the space and time)
Summa kidakkum Sugam  Arut-perum Jothi, Thani-perum Karunai (Compassionate-divine light, Omni-present divine light) 
Thani-perum Karunai, Arut-perum Jothi,  (Omni-present divine light, Compassionate-divine light) 
(*the eternal bliss of non-being, non-doing) 

Right and just action have been the corner stones of our lives and I learnt the art and essence of Right and Just Social Action from Jagannathan who organized and held numerous Sathyagrahas (a term coined by Gandhi for non-violent social action/civil disobedience to address conflicts in society) in his life. On this occasion, I recollect with gratitude my godmother and mentor Dr. Soundram Ramachandran who not only inspired me to follow the path of Right action, but also brought me and Shri. Jagannathan together when we were involved in a constructive program at Gandhigram. Being as innovative in personal as in social life, Jagannathan gave me the wedding-dress (Saree) that he hand-spun himself in his chakra (spinning wheel) for 48 days. The momentum of his spinning chakra had never slackened, and led us in the path of dedicated social action, the movement that continues to this moment.
There are miles to go! But, it is immensely satisfying that through LAFTI - the organization established by us, we have found ways to effect the peaceful transfer of land from landlords to 13,000 landless families in the Cauvery delta region of Tamilnadu. In Bodhgaya, Bihar, the place where Buddha attained Nirvana, a Mahant, the leader of a religious monastery, was sexually exploiting the women, keeping the villages under bonded-slavery. Shri. Jagannathan and myself, after three long years of people-participatory-social action, were able to relieve the sufferings of women from exploitation and bonded labor by distributing 24,000 acres of land among an equal number of families.
The attempt at social action with a spiritual bent of mind had taken us to remote corners of Tamil Nadu. During one of our 'Gramswarajya padayathras' (pilgrimage on foot to villages to promote Gandhiji's vision of self-ruling, self-sustaining villages), the people brought to our notice the destruction of coastal ecosphere, due to the mushrooming shrimp-farms. Jagannathan appealed to the Supreme Court of India, and the team of scientists from the National Environmental Engineering Institute (NEERI) outlined clear guidelines and recommendations to protect the coastal ecology that had provided sustenance and livelihood to millions of people for thousands of years on the Eastern coast of peninsular India. The team of dedicated LAFTI workers is still working hard on this issue to implement the recommendations of the Supreme Court of India. Our struggle continues!
We hope the dream and social vision of Sarvodaya (Welfare of All), is possible through concerted, nonviolent, social action. In this context, the recognition the Right Livelihood Award provides is indeed a tribute to Gandhi and Vinoba, and the values of nonviolence, interreligious dialogue and amity, simple lifestyles, high-thinking-low-energy-living that they stood for, and to all those inspired by them around the globe.  In an increasingly complex and globalized world, with problems of climate change, conflicts in the name of religion and ethnicity, the values and methods of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Lama stand vindicated.
We have a lot to learn from the Swedish community, on the deeply held cultural and social notion of "lagom", akin to 'Buddha's middle-path'. Your government and its policies of environmental protection and conservation, without compromising social justice and development are exemplary and a role model to the rest of the world. I sincerely believe that "everything is possible" when policies for sustainable development reflect people-participation, ethical-science, and right-action.

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