Vanakkam! It is an honour to address this programme marking the two hundredth birth anniversary of the great श्री रामलिंग स्वामी जी, also known as Vallalar. It is even more special that this programme is being held in Vadalur, a place closely associated with Vallalar. Vallalar is one of our most respected Saints. He walked this earth in the 19th century but his spiritual insights continue to inspire millions of people even today. His impact is global. There are several organisations working on his thoughts and ideals.
When we remember Vallalar, we recall his spirit of care and compassion. He believed in a way of life based on जीव-कारुण्यम which is compassion towards fellow human beings. One of his most important contributions was his strong commitment to removing hunger. Nothing pained him more than a human being going to bed on an empty stomach. He believed that sharing food with the hungry is one of the most noble of all acts of kindness. He said, वाडिय पईरई कंडा पोदेल्लाम, वाडी नेन. Which means “Every time I saw crops withering, I withered too”. This is an ideal to which we are all committed. You may recall that when the once-in-a-century COVID-19 pandemic came, 80 crore fellow Indians received free ration. This was a major relief in testing times.
Vallalar believed in the power of learning and education. As a mentor, his door was always open. He guided countless people. His efforts to make the Kural more popular are widely known. Equally important is the importance he gave to modern curriculums. He wanted the youth to be fluent in Tamil, Sanskrit and English. The last 9 years have seen a major change in India’s education infrastructure. After over 3 long decades, India has got a National Education Policy. This policy is transforming the entire educational landscape. The focus has moved to innovation, research and development. The number of Universities, engineering and medical colleges set up in the last 9 years is at a record high. Now, youngsters can become doctors and engineers by studying in their local languages. This has opened several opportunities for the youth.
Vallalar was ahead of his time when it came to social reforms. Vallalar’s vision of God went beyond barriers of religion, caste, and creed. He saw divinity in every atom of the universe. He urged humanity to recognize and cherish this divine connection. His teachings aimed to work for an equal society. My belief in Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwaas, Sabka Prayaas gets even stronger when I pay my homage to Vallalar. Today, I am confident that he would have blessed the passing of the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, which reserves seats for women in legislative bodies. Vallalar’s works are also easy to read and understand. He could therefore convey complex spiritual wisdom in simple words. The diversity in our cultural wisdom across time and space connected by the common thread of teachings by the great saints adds strength our collective idea of Ek Bharat Shreshth Bharat.
On this pious occasion let us reiterate our commitment to fulfilling his ideals. Let us spread his message of love, kindness and justice. May we also keep working hard in areas close to his heart. Let us ensure that no one around us goes hungry. Let us ensure every child gets a quality education. I once again pay my homage to the great saint on his two-hundredth birth anniversary and wish you all the very best.