Dr. Najma Heptulla
Deputy Chairperson, Rajya Sabha, India’s Upper House of Parliament
“My obedience to Amma, my friends on the dais, my friends in this sea of humanity, which has come from around the world, from more than 100 countries, from far and near together here to celebrate this very auspicious occasion of the 50th birthday of Amma the Great.
“Half a century ago, in a small village in Kerala, a costal village, not very far from this place were we are sitting and meeting, a child, a girl-child, was born. Her parents did not know, the neighbors did not know, when they celebrated the birth of this baby, that one day She would become the embodiment of Motherhood, the embodiment of Universal Motherhood, our Great Amma.
“I am extremely happy to be here with you on this occasion. If I tell you how many miles I traveled, you won’t believe me because most of you would be thinking that I am coming from New Delhi, but no, I was in Berlin, inaugurating the cultural weeks of India. And when I heard the chanting of the Vedas here, it reminded me the day when I was sitting with Chancellor Shröder and listening to the chanting of the Vedic mantras by young girls like I heard today. This is the strength and the spirit of India. This is the strength and this spirit, which Amma has given in the form of chanting of these Vedic mantras on this auspicious day here.
“There could not have been a better topic and choice than to talk about peace and harmony and Universal Motherhood. Today, the world is divided into narrow fragments of hatred and suspicion. Today innocent people die for no fault of theirs. People – misguided men and women – carry guns and bombs to kill innocent people – men, women and children, for no reason. And there could be no better place but here at the feet of Amma and the blessings of Her to discuss about peace.
“Today, we heard Ms. King who is a victim of such violence. We heard from her the voice that is within her. She has gone through the same violence when her father was killed. It is such a coincidence that 10 days from now I would be in Houston releasing a book written in memory of two martyrs: Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. I was to go from Berlin directly to United States for my commitment there, but I could not; the call of Amma was so great that I said I will come here to Kerala, I will come here to all of you in paying my respects and tributes on this auspicious occasion of Her birth.
“In India, we have the ethos of respecting women, not only respecting women but worshipping women. Whether it is in the form of Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge, we worship Her. Before any auspicious programme, any auspicious occasion, we worship Her. Whether it is Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, we worship Her. Whether it is Durga, the embodiment of shakti, of power, we worship Her. We worship them in the temples; we worship them in our home. But when it comes to an ordinary girl from a village or a town, whose name might be Saraswati, Lakshmi or Durga, we don’t treat her the way we treat the Goddess. The message of Amma is that every women, every girl, in a village, or in a town, should be given the same respect and honor and reverence that Indian ethos gives to Lakshmi, Saraswati and Durga.
“Amma talks about the inner strength of women. Even when I say – and I quote from one of the sayings of Amma – ‘Even to incarnate, God needed a woman who went through all the pain and hardship of pregnancy and giving birth. Yet none considers the justice of women being ruled by men.’
“My friends, I see many of my brothers sitting before me. My colleague and my friend Mr. Raja Gopal is sitting with me, in front of me, with whom, as a Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, I work day after day in doing my duty. I am not here to divide the wedge more between men and women; I am here to bridge this gap. I am here to carry the message of Amma for bridging this gap between men and women. As Amma says, ‘More than half the world’s population is women. It is a great loss when women are denied the freedom to come forward and when they are denied the high status that should be theirs in society. When women are denied this, society loses their potential and contribution.’
“We come from a democratic country. Most of you, almost all of you, come from democratic countries. No democracy is complete, no democracy is equal, no democracy is functioning until and unless there is a rightful position for women. The democracy is only complete when it is inclusive, inclusive of all genders, participatory, when all the sections of society, including men and women, participate in it; interactive, when all the sections of the society, both men and women interact with each others. And that kind of a democracy we have in India, we want to have in India, and we want to have in the world – where people sit together and discuss the problems of society, of peace and progress and compassion without the divisions between men and women.
“No religion teaches violence, no religion teaches killing of innocent people – and I quote again from Amma, ‘No authentic religion belittles or denigrates women. For those who have realized God, there is no difference between men and women, male and female. The Realized Ones have equal vision. If anywhere in the world there exist rules and prevent women from enjoying their rightful freedom, rules that obstruct their progress in society, then those are not God’s commandments, but are born out of the selfishness of men.’
“The religions, whether it is Vedas or Koran, the teachings of Prophet Mohammed of Koran, the teaching of Jesus and Bible, the teaching of Moses and Torah – nobody says that you should discriminate from people to people, from gender to gender. And I will quote from Koran when it says, ‘My religion is with me’; your religion is for you; let us live together; let us exist together.’
“In India, in this ancient nation, we believe in the spirit and ethos of vasudaiva kutumbam: ‘The whole world is one big family.’ And I see today here in this big pandal [tent] that the world is really a one big community, a big family, where everybody has come today.
“What message should we take from here? What message should we take from here for us to carry forward the message of Amma. It was two years ago we started a campaign, ‘Yes for Children.’ And when I reached the United Nation for the special session on children, we had 98 million signatures for the ‘Yes for Children’ campaign. I call upon you today to take a vow on this auspicious day of Amma’s 50th birthday that we will take a message: ‘Yes for Women,’ ‘Yes for Universal Motherhood,’ and start a campaign and promise to meet here again next year to see, to evaluate how we have been able to fulfill our own commitments to ourselves for peace and dignity, for Universal Motherhood and harmony – how many people we converted to this message of Amma. This is what I feel. I have taken a vow that I will, from today onwards, today is the first day in the rest of my life, take the message of Amma to as many people I can. And I am sure all of you, if you take a vow today – I do not want you to raise your hands, I do not want you to get up and tell me, ‘yes, I agree with it,’ but you make a commitment to your own self that by this gathering over here, if we want to achieve anything, if we do not want to forget what we learned here, then we should make a vow to our own self, to our own conscious that we will light this candle – like we lighted this candle today, from path to path, from villages to villages, from home to home, throughout the world, the message ‘Yes for Amma’s Campaign for Universal Motherhood.’
“Thank you very much.”