Har Har Mahadev! Har Har Mahadev! Har Har Mahadev!
Hail Kashi Kotwal, Mata Annapurna, Maa Ganga!
Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal! Namo Buddhaya!
Heartiest wishes to all the people of Kashi and the country on the occasion of Kartik Purnima Dev Deepawali. Many congratulations to all of you for the Prakash Parv of Guru Nanak Dev ji also.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath ji, my colleague in parliament Shri Radha Mohan Singh ji, ministers in UP government Bhai Ashutosh ji, Ravindra Jaiswal ji, Neelkanth Tiwari ji, Uttar Pradesh state BJP president Bhai Swatantra Dev Singh ji, legislator Saurav Shrivastav ji, Legislative Council member Bhai Ashok Dhawan ji, local BJP leaders Maheshchand Shrivastav ji, Vidyasagar Rai ji, all other dignitaries and my affectionate brothers and sisters of Kashi,
We the people of Kashi call the auspicious Kartik month, which is considered as a special month of gods, as Katiki Punwasi. And since ages, there has been a tradition of taking a dip in the Ganges and offering charity on this day. Since ages, the devotees come to take a dip in Panch Ganga Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat, Sheetla Ghat or Assi Ghat. The entire banks of the Ganges, Godowlia and Gyanvapi Dharamshala used to be teeming with people. Pandit Ramkinkar Maharaj would recite Baba Vishwanath’s Ram Katha throughout the month of Kartik. People from different parts of the country would come to listen to his Katha.
Corona may have changed a lot, but nobody can change the energy, devotion and power of Kashi. Since morning, the people of Kashi are busy in bathing, devotion and charity. Kashi is always vibrant. The streets of Kashi are always seeped in energy. The banks of Kashi are always divine and this is my eternal Kashi.
Kashi is celebrating the festival of lights in the proximity of Maa Ganga and I am fortunate to be part of this with the blessings of Mahadev. Today, I got an opportunity to be present on the occasion of the inauguration of the six-lane highway in Kashi. In the evening, I am witnessing Dev Deepawali. I also had the opportunity to go to Kashi Vishwanath Corridor before coming here and will also witness the laser show at Sarnath later in the evening. I consider it the blessings of Mahadev and the special affection of all the people of Kashi.
There is also a special occasion for Kashi. Yesterday, you must have heard when I referred to it during my Mann Ki Baat programme and now Yogi ji has reiterated that with full force. The idol of Mata Annapurna, which was stolen over 100 years ago from Kashi, is coming back to India. Mata Annapurna is once again returning to her home. This is a fortunate moment for Kashi. These ancient idols of our gods and goddesses are symbols of our faith as well as our invaluable heritage. If this effort had been done earlier, many such idols would have been brought back to India. However, some people's thinking is different. For us, inheritance means heritage of the country.
For some, inheritance means their family and the name of their family. For us, inheritance means our culture, faith and values. Inheritance for them is their statues and photographs of their families. Therefore, they concentrated only on saving their family’s legacy, while we focused on saving and preserving the legacy of the country. Tell me the people of Kashi whether I am on the right path? Am I doing right? See, all this is happening because of your blessings. Today, when the heritage of Kashi is returning, it appears as if Kashi is bedecked upon hearing the news of the arrival of Mata Annapurna.
It is amazing to see the 84 Ghats of Kashi illuminated with millions of lamps. This light in the midst of waves of the Ganges is making this aura even more divine. And see, who is the witness to it? It looks like Dev Deepawali glittering like a moon on the forehead of Kashi Mahadev on this full moon day. This is the glory of Kashi. It is written in our scriptures: “काश्यां हि काशते काशी सर्वप्रकाशिका”. It means Kashi is embellished with enlightenment and therefore Kashi is going to enlighten and lead the entire world. In every era, Kashi is enlightened due to the penance of some saints and Kashi continues to lead the world. Adi Shankaracharya ji had first inspired this Dev Deepawali at Panchganga Ghat that we are witnessing today. Later, Ahilyabai Holkar ji carried forward this tradition. The light column of 1000 lamps established by Ahilyabai Holkar ji at Panchganga Ghat is still witness to this tradition.
Legend has it that when a demon called Tripurasur had terrorized the entire world, he was eliminated by Lord Shiva on the full moon day. The rest of the gods had lit the lamps on the land of Mahadev and celebrated Diwali to rejoice the end of terror, tyranny and darkness. That Diwali by the gods is Dev Deepawali. Who are these gods? These gods are still here and are celebrating Deepawali in Banaras. Our great sages and saints have written “लोक बेदह बिदित बारानसी की बड़ाई, बासी नर-नारि ईस-अंबिका-स्वरूप हैं”. It means the people of Kashi are manifestations of gods. The people of Kashi are manifestations of Devi and Shiva, therefore, the gods are illuminating millions of lamps on these 84 ghats and gods are spreading the light. These lamps are also lit for those precious lives who sacrificed themselves for the country. Kashi’s spirit behind the tradition of Dev Deepawali for those who sacrificed themselves for the country makes one emotional. On this occasion, I salute our brave sons who get martyred for the defence of the country, who sacrifice their entire youth and put their dreams at the feet of Maa Bharati.
The nation is giving a befitting reply to those trying to infiltrate the borders, or to the audacity of expansionist forces, or those conspiring to disintegrate the country from within. But, at the same time, the country is now lighting lamps against the darkness of poverty, injustice and discrimination and also for a change. Today, a campaign is under way to provide employment to the poor in their districts and villages under the Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Yojana. Legal rights are being given to common people for their houses under the Swamitva Yojana. Today the farmers are being liberated from middlemen and those who exploit them. Today, banks are coming forward to provide help and capital to street vendors. A few days ago, I talked to the beneficiaries of ‘Swanidi Yojana’ in Kashi. Being part of Atmanirbhar Bharat, the country is becoming vocal for local. Is it not happening? Do you always remember this or forget once I leave? I will say Vocal for and you will chant Local. Will you? Vocal for Local! The way the people celebrated the festivals and Diwali this time by buying local products and gifts is truly inspirational. But it should not be limited to festivals. It should become part of our life. Our festivals once again are becoming medium for the service of the poor through our efforts.
Guru Nanak Dev ji devoted his entire life for the service of the poor, exploited and the deprived. Kashi has also had a very close relationship with Guru Nanak Dev ji. He spent a long time in Kashi. Kashi’s Gurubagh Gurudwara is witness to that historic moment when Guru Nanak Dev ji came here and showed a new path to the people of Kashi. Today we talk of reforms, but Guru Nanak Dev ji himself was the biggest symbol of reforms in the society and the system. And we have also seen that unwittingly there are voices of opposition when there are changes in the interest of the society and the nation. But when the significance of those reforms starts to emerge, everything settles down. This is the lesson we get from the life of Guru Nanak Dev ji.
When development works of Kashi began, the protesters opposed it for the sake of opposition. Didn’t they do it? They did. You would recall when Kashi decided that Vishwanath Corridor would be built up to Baba's court and the convenience of devotees will be increased with grandeur and divinity, the opposition forces had said a lot about it. They had done many other things as well. But today, the glory of Kashi is being revived with the blessings of Baba. Centuries- long direct connection between Baba's Darbar and Maa Ganga is being re-established.
When good deeds are done with the right spirit, they are accomplished in spite of opposition. What can be a bigger example than the Ram Temple in Ayodhya? What all was not done to delay and distract this sacred work for decades? How efforts were made to instill fear? But when Ram ji willed, the temple is being built.
The entire belt of Ayodhya, Kashi and Prayag is today gearing up for the immense potential of spirituality as well as tourism. Tourists from all over the world are looking towards this region today for the speed with which Ayodhya is developing, the way Kumbh was organized in Prayagraj, and Kashi which is on the path of development today. Sites of eternal importance like Durga Kund have also been developed along with Kashi Vishwanath Temple area in Banaras. Other temples and parikrama centres are also being improved. The picture of ghats has changed rapidly and it has again added the supernatural aura to the ‘Subah-e-Banaras’. The water of Maa Ganga is also now becoming pure. This is the modern eternal incarnation of ancient Kashi, which is the ever-lasting specialty of Banaras.
From here, I will go to Sarnath, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Your long-standing demand to promote tourism in Sarnath during the evening and also for public education has now been fulfilled. The laser show will now realise the messages of compassion, mercy and non-violence of Lord Buddha. These messages become even more relevant today when the world is concerned about the threat of violence, unrest and terror. Lord Buddha would say: न हि वेरेन वेरानि सम्मन्ती ध कुदाचन अवेरेन हि सम्मन्ति एस धम्मो सनन्तनो i.e., hostility does not silence hostility. Harmony brings calm to hostility. This is the message from Kashi, which introduces divinity from Dev Deepawali, that our minds should be illuminated like these lamps. There is a sense of positivity in all. The path for development is paved. The whole world should absorb compassion and mercy in itself. I am confident that this message from Kashi, this energy of light will realize the resolutions of the entire country. With the help of the 130 crore countrymen, we will achieve the journey of self-reliant India which has been started by the country.
With these good wishes, I wish all of you a lot of good luck on Dev Deepawali and Prakash Parv once again. Earlier, I used to visit you frequently, but my visit was delayed this time due to rules laid down for all in the wake of corona. I could feel as if I have lost something when there was a lapse of such a long period. It seemed as if I had not seen you. Today, I am very happy when I came here. I am energized after meeting you. But I tell you that I was not away from you even for a single day during this period of corona. Friends, I was keeping a tab on the increase in the number of corona cases, regarding the arrangements in hospitals and how the social organizations were working and whether nobody is starving. The service that you have provided from this land of Maa Annapurna by not allowing anyone to starve, or letting anyone live without medicine reflects your spirit of service. I am very happy for this spirit of service which continued for 4-8 months across the country and in my Kashi also. I salute all the people of Kashi today again for your dedication to this service from the banks of the Maa Ganga. I have been touched by your concern towards the poor. Whatever I do you will remain very little. I assure you that you will not find me lacking towards my service to you.
It is a festival of glory for me today that I have had the opportunity to come to you in such a sparkling atmosphere. We will grow at a faster pace on the path of development the way Maa Ganga is flowing after defeating corona. It has been flowing for centuries despite the obstacles and crises. Development will also flow in the same way. I will go back to Delhi with this belief. I once again express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you.
Jai Kashi, Jai Maa Bharati.
Har Har Mahadev!