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'Religion is the soul of Man' - The Times of India (New Delhi)

K Balakrishnan ()
8 November 1997

Title: 'Religion is the soul of Man'
Author: K Balakrishnan
Publication: The Times of India (New Delhi)
Date: November 8, 1997

Ayodhya is no more an issue. The Lord has claimed his birthplace

Sri Jayendra Saraswati, the 69th Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam is
in the capital on a week's visit, accompanied by his chief disciple and
successor-to-be, Sri Sankara Vijayendra Saraswati. The two acharyas are on
a Vijaya Yatra or countrywide tour, having left Kanchipuram in January this
year and journeyed through Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh,
Uttar Pradesh, Nepal, Bihar, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and
Himachal Pradesh. Excerpts from an interview granted to K Balakrishnan by
the pontiff in New Delhi:

Q: Can you explain why this journey is called a Vijaya Yatra?

A: It was Adi Sankara who had embarked on a dig-Vijaya, travelling to all
corners of the country to awaken the people, revive the eternal values of
Hindu religion and spread his message of love and devotion. Those were
hazardous times and as his mission was so successful it was called a Vijaya
Yatra. We who have come in his lineage are seeking to continue this
tradition. My guru and predecessor, the Paramacharya, had gone around the
country on foot several times in his lifetime and this is my third such tour.

You had gone across the border to Nepal this time.

Though Nepal is another country we are the same people and share a rich
heritage of culture, values, lifestyle and beliefs. Rama's birthplace
Ayodhya is in India, but Janakpur where he married Sita is in Nepal. If the
twin pilgrim centres of Kedarnath and Badrinath are here, the equally
significant Pashupatinath and Muktinath are in Nepal.

Rudraksha beads and the mineral saligrama which are objects of worship for
all Hindus, are found only in Nepal. It is important that we cherish this
common heritage.

What are the impressions you gathered in your visits to Srinagar and Amritsar?

It is unfortunate that peace and harmony have not returned to Kashmir.
Conditions are not yet conducive for the Hindus who had fled the Valley to
return to their homes. On the other hand I found things normal, orderly and
peaceful everywhere in Punjab. The Golden Temple at Amritsar radiates glory
and grace and I was received there with great love.

What was the object of the World Hindu Conference that was held at Hardwar
during your visit there last month?

It was held as a conclave of scholars to spread awareness of the heritage
of Hinduism during this Golden Jubilee year of India's Independence. The
King of Nepal attended it and we had also invited scholars and dignitaries
from other countries.

What is the purpose of the new university that you have started in
Kanchipuram - the Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Vishwa Mahavidyalaya?

In ancient times, Kanchi was the seat of a ghatika-sthala, a great centre
of learning. We wanted to revive this glory and this university was
established to commemorate the 100th year of the Paramacharya. Among its
objects is the revival of learning in Sanskrit and conservation of the
Sanskritic tradition, including the study of the Ayurveda, the Vedas and
Vedanta. We teach management and computer courses too, but everyone is
required to learn Sanskrit language as one of the subjects.

Many people feel that religion and politics ought to he kept separate, and
that our failure to do this successfully has created problems. Do you agree?

No, not at all. Religion is the soul of Man. It cannot be separated from
any part of his life. If we try to keep religion separate, we shall only
get valueless politics.

Ayodhya remains a contentious issue. How do you think it can be resolved?

The problem is over. The Lord has reclaimed his birthplace. There is no
more any issue.

The Sankaracharyas of all the peetams had got together at Sringeri a few
years ago. Are such contacts continuing?

Yes, that was a useful meeting. We shall continue to meet whenever we think
it necessary. Last year the Sankaracharyas of Puri and Dwaraka visited
Kanchi to meet us.

What is your message to the people of Delhi?

Delhi is the capital city, the heart of the nation. If people here will be
true, noble, righteous, straightforward and self disciplined, its effects
will spread far and wide and it will be good for the nation. This is my
wish and prayer.

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