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Saturday, 15 June 2013

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Sri Lanka commemorates Swami Vivekananda's 150th birth anniversary

A postage stamp to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda was issued by the Philatelic Bureau of Sri Lanka and the first day cover ceremonially handed by the Postmaster General to President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Tress on June 7 in the presence of a large gathering.

Ministers, Members of Parliament, diplomats, senior government officials and community leaders participated.


Participants at the 150th birth anniversary commemoration of Swami Vivekananda

Among those present were Acting Indian High Commissioner P Kumaran, Swami Atmaghanananda from Chennai who was invited by the Sri Lankan government to represent the Ramakrishna Mission in India, members of a special delegation from the India Foundation led by Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad, four swamis and 18 devotees representing the Ramakrishna Mission in Sri Lanka and two nuns from the Ramakrishna Sarada Mission, the Principal, Deputy Principal and senior students representing Vivekananda College, Colombo and representatives of the Hindu Swayamsevaka Sangha including its President R. Wijayapalan.

The perception of the challenge to the authority of the indigenous socio-religious value systems and cultural ethos of Asian communities posed by Christian missionary activism stirred the emergence of movements of religious reform and spiritual nationalism in both India and Sri Lanka in the closing decades of the 19th and the early decades of the 20th century.

While the Hindu Revivalist Movement in India was inspired and given direction by Swami Vivekanada, the Buddhist Revivalist Movement in Sri Lanka was steered and inspired by Anagarika Dharmapala.

Not only did these two religious leaders scatter the seeds of a religious - spiritual revival in their two neighbouring countries and generate the spiritual energy to inspire a whole generation of freedom fighters to propel the nationalist movements that eventually freed their people from European colonial rule, they also took the respective messages of Hinduism and Buddhism to Europe and America as well for the spiritual uplift of the West.

They met at the historic Parliament of World Religions in Chicago in 1893 where Swami Vivekananda represented Hinduism and Anagarika Dharmapala represented Southern Buddhism which was the term applied at that time to Theravada Buddhism.

The two religious leaders, Swami Vivekananda being the elder of the two by just one year, became close friends and together strengthened the Hindu - Buddhist tradition of Peaceful Coexistence as a fundamental tenet of world peace and the spiritual fountainhead of Indo - Sri Lankan friendship and understanding.

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