‘We are proud to be one of oldest living civilizations in world’: PM Modi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday (June 14, 2022) inaugurated the Jagatguru Shrisant Tukaram Maharaj Temple in Pune and said that his teachings inspire all of us. PM Modi also expressed that “we are proud to be one of the oldest living civilizations in the world”.

“We are proud to be one of the oldest living civilizations in the world. If the credit for this goes to anyone, it is to the saint tradition of India, to the sages of India,” he said.

“India is eternal because India is the land of saints. In every era, some great soul has been descending to give direction to our country and society,” PM Modi added.

The Prime Minister stated that to strengthen India’s national unity, it is our responsibility to keep our ancient identity and traditions alive.

“Today when modern technology and infrastructure are becoming synonymous with India’s development, we are making sure that both development and heritage move forward together,” he said.

Lauding Sant Tukaram, a prominent figure in the Bhakti movement, Modi said he played an important role in the life of a ‘Rashtra Nayak’ like Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. 

He also said that Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar sang abhangs (devotional poetry in praise of Lord Vitthal) of Sant Tukaram while in jail during India’s freedom struggle.

“While in jail, Veer Savarkar used his handcuffs like the chipli (a musical instrument) of Sant Tukaram and sang his abhangs,” Modi told the gathering of warkaris (devotees undertaking pilgrimage to Lord Vitthal temple at Pandharpur), after inaugurating a shila (rock) temple at the Sant Tukaram Maharaj Mandir dedicated to the 17th-century saint at Dehu near Pune. 

He also interacted with the warkaris during his visit, which comes ahead of the annual ‘wari’ tradition which will commence on June 20 from Dehu. 

Modi mentioned the infrastructure upgradation work undertaken by the Centre on key sections of Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi Marg as well as Sant Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Palkhi Marg. Dedicated walkways are being constructed alongside the highways to ease the movement of warkaris undertaking the pilgrimage to Pandharpur. 

The Prime Minister was also presented with a special headgear, the Tukaram pagdi, on the occasion. 

Built with a special type of Rajasthani stone, the Shila temple is a temple dedicated to a slab of stone on which Sant Tukaram had meditated for 13 days. Warkaris offer prayers at the Shila temple before starting their pilgrimage to Pandharpur. A new idol of Sant Tukaram has also been installed in the temple near the ‘Shila Mandir’. 

Sant Tukaram was famous for his devotional poetry known as abhang and spiritual songs known as kirtan. His works are central to the warkari sect in Maharashtra. 

Dehu, on the banks of the Indrayani river, is the birth place of the poet-saint. 

Atul Tiwari

Atul Tiwari

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