His Excellency, the President of the Republic of India, President Shri Ram Nath Kovind and Madame Savita Kovind, and other dignitaries, etc.
Heartfelt greetings of peace— shanti.
In one episode of the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata, while a battle was raging on, the mother of a great warrior was mourning the death of her beloved son. She asked, “Do prayers of a mother praying for her soldier son fighting in battle cancel out the prayers of another mother who is also praying for the life of her son fighting on the other side of the battle?”
It is a very profound question. For it is in all mothers’ prayers that, we see the pain and the aspirations of the human spirit and the absurdity of war and conflict in the face of all that is sacred around us.
Do loving mothers, in their prayers during times of violence and war, inevitably and unfairly ask God, the Giver of Life, to make a choice on whose life He will take back through the violent action of another man?
It is significant to note that the bust of the Mahatma that was unveiled today is in a lotus sitting position, not upright in an active posture. It is this position that the Buddha is always depicted. It is a position of equilibrium, of equanimity, of peace.
India’s two great sons, the Buddha or the Enlightened Soul and the Mahatma or the Great Soul lived their historical lives as Siddhartha Gautama and Mohandas Gandhi. They lived almost 2,500 years apart. But their distance in time did not separate them from what they understood. They understood the profound divine meaning of life, why we live and how we should live.
Mahatma Gandhi has touched the lives of Filipinos during one of the Philippines’ most crucial phase in its political history. The principle of ahimsa or “non-violence” was adopted by the presidential candidate Corazon Aquino as her strategy for political change. Ahimsa goes beyond the absence of violence, Ironically the absence of force and violence is what makes the concept of ahimsa so powerful. It runs against the common belief that might is right.
Both Buddha and Mahatma understood a higher principle beyond the absence of violence. To them, ahimsa means advocating that the other person’s life be honored Ahimsa means, “respect for life, for all the living things.”
And to Mahatma Gandhi, satyagraha or courageous political action based on truth and non-violence or ahimsa, is the better way to lift man’s life to its highest potential and to raise man’s consciousness beyond his tribal thinking and concerns. And these days, in the midst of social media and trolls, we have to struggle harder for truth to come out.
Only through truth will we be free from the imprisonment of our minds and spirits and find peace.
Miriam College’s motto is just a single word: veritas, the Latin word for truth. It is written beneath two Greek letters, the chi and the rho. To us these two Greek letters stand for Christ. As we pass by the bust of Gandhi everyday on our way to our classrooms and offices, we are reminded to seek peaceful ways. And as we pursue peace in our daily lives, we also follow Christ’s footsteps who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
Three simple words, with the deepest of meanings resonate to us today from ages past, from thousands of years ago. Truth, Life and Peace.
Dhanyabad, Your Excellency. Thank you very much for the gift you gave us Miriam College today. And to all of you, a profound thank you for joining us on this occasion Shanti.