Present with us in the program are Governor of Maharashtra Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari ji, Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shri Uddhav Thackeray ji, my colleague in the Council of Ministers Shri Nitin Gadkari ji, my other colleagues Narayan Rane ji, Raosaheb Danve ji, Ramdas Athawale ji, Kapil Patil ji, Dr. Bhagwat Karad ji, Dr. Bharati Pawar ji, General V.K. Singh ji, Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shri Ajit Pawar ji, Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and my friend Shri Devendra Fadnavis ji, Chairman of Legislative Council Ramraje Naik ji, all respected Ministers of Maharashtra Government, my fellow MPs in Parliament, MLAs of Maharashtra, all other public representatives and all our revered saints here to bless us, and faithful friends!
By the grace of God, I got an opportunity to unveil the renovated Samadhi of Adi Shankaracharya in Kedarnath two days ago, and today, I am connected with Pandharpur, the permanent abode of Lord Vitthal. What could be more joyful than this, the privilege of realizing God's grace? Adi Shankaracharya himself has said-
That is Lord Vitthal is the embodiment of bliss in this grand land of Pandharpur. Therefore, Pandharpur is the direct form of bliss. And today, there is the joy of service as well. I am very happy that today the Palkhi Marg of Sant Gyanoba Mauli and Sant Tukobaraya is being inaugurated. Warkaris will get more facilities. As it is said that roads are the gateway to development, similarly, these roads leading to Pandhari will also be the highways that will hoist the flag of Bhagwat Dharma even higher. This will be the gateway to the holy path.
Today the foundation stone of Sreesanth Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Palkhi Marg and Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi Marg has been laid here. The construction of Sreesanth Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Palkhi Marg will be done in five phases as you have seen in the video and have heard Nitin ji also. The construction of Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi Marg will be completed in three phases. In all these phases, highways of more than 350 km length costing more than Rs 11,000 crore will be built. Importantly, special routes will be made on both sides of these highways for Warkaris, the pilgrims marching on foot for the Palkhi Yatra. Apart from this, about 225 kilometer long National Highway connecting Pandharpur has also been inaugurated. It has cost around 1200 crore rupees. This highway will be of great help to the devotees coming to Pandharpur from Satara, Kolhapur, Sangli, Bijapur, Marathwada region and northern Maharashtra region. In a way, this highway will also become a medium for the development of this entire holy region besides serving the devotees of Lord Vitthal. The connectivity for South India will become better through this highway. Now more devotees will be able to come here easily, and other activities related to the development of the area will also get momentum. I congratulate every single person who is associated with all these sacred projects. These are such efforts which give us spiritual satisfaction and a sense of importance in life. I congratulate all the devotees of Lord Vitthal and the people of the region for this development drive. I greet all the Warkaris. I bow at the feet of Lord Vitthaldev ji and all the saints.
India has been attacked several times in the past. This country was enslaved for hundreds of years. There were natural calamities, challenges and other difficulties, but our faith in Lord Vitthal Dev remained unceasing. Even today, this yatra is seen as the world's oldest and largest mass march, as a people movement. Who can forget the panoramic view of Pandharpur Yatra on 'Ashadh Ekadashi'. Hundreds and thousands of devotees are drawn towards it. The chants of 'Ramakrishna Hari', 'Pundalik Varde Hari Vitthal' and 'Gyanba Tukaram' can be heard all around. A unique discipline and an extraordinary restraint is visible for the entire 21 days. There are numerous yatras on different Palkhi routes, but all have the same destination. It is a symbol of the eternal teaching of India which does not bind our faith, but liberates. It teaches us that there may be different paths, methods and ideas, but we have the same goal. In the end all the sects are the 'Bhagavata sect' and, therefore, our scriptures say it with great confidence - एकम् सत् विप्राः बहुधा वदन्ति (There is one truth with endless manifestations)
Sant Tukaram Maharaj Ji has given us the mantra which says:
विष्णूमय जग वैष्णवांचा धर्म, भेदाभेद भ्रम अमंगळ अइका जी तुम्ही भक्त भागवत, कराल तें हित सत्य करा। कोणा ही जिवाचा न घडो मत्सर, वर्म सर्वेश्वर पूजनाचे॥
That is, everything in the world belongs to Vishnu. Therefore, it is inauspicious to discriminate between living beings. There should be no jealousy and envy; we should treat everyone as equal. This is the true religion. That is why there is no caste, no discrimination in Dindi. Every Warkari is equal. Every Warkari is each other's 'Gurubhau' and 'Guru Bahin'. All are the children of one Vitthal, therefore, everyone has one ‘gotra’ and that is 'Vitthal gotra'. The court of Lord Vitthal is open to everyone. And when I talk about Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, the same sentiment is behind this. This spirit inspires us for the development of the country, takes everyone along and inspires us for the development of all.
The aura, experience and expression of Pandharpur are all supernatural. आपण म्हणतो ना! माझे माहेर पंढरी, आहे भिवरेच्या तीरी. Indeed, Pandharpur is like a mother's house. But there are two other very special relations with Pandharpur for me and I want to tell this in front of the saints. My first relation is with Gujarat, Dwarka. Lord Dwarkadhish is here in the form of Vitthal. And my second relation is with Kashi. I am from Kashi, and this Pandharpur is our 'Dakshin Kashi'. Therefore, service to Pandharpur for me is the service of Shri Narayan Hari. This is the land where the Lord resides even today for the devotees. This is the land about which Sant Namdev Ji Maharaj has said that Pandharpur is there since the world was not even created. This is because Pandharpur resides in our minds not only physically but also emotionally. This is the land that has made so many saints like Sant Gyaneshwar, Sant Namdev, Sant Tukaram and Sant Eknath as saints of the ages. This land gave a new energy to India, revived India. The specialty of India is that from time to time, in different regions, such great personalities kept emerging and giving direction to the country. In the south there were Madhvacharya, Nimbarkacharya, Vallabhacharya, Ramanujacharya and in the west Narsi Mehta, Mirabai, Dhiro Bhagat, Bhoja Bhagat, Pritam were born. In the north there were Ramananda, Kabirdas, Goswami Tulsidas, Surdas, Guru Nanak Dev, Sant Raidas. In the east, the thoughts of saints like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Shankar Dev enriched the country at different places and in different eras, but with the same purpose. All of them breathed a new consciousness in the minds of the Indian people and made the entire India realize the power of devotion. In the same sense we also see that Krishna of Mathura becomes Dwarikadhish in Gujarat, Balakrishna in Udupi and becomes Vitthal when he comes to Pandharpur. The same Lord Vitthal connects with the masses in South India through saint poets like Kanakdas and Purandardas and also appears in Kerala in the verses of Leelashuk. This is the devotion whose power binds us together. This is the grand philosophy of 'Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat’ (One India, Supreme India).
Another feature of the Warkari movement has been and that is our sisters, the maternal power of the country, the feminine power of the country, walking in ‘Wari’ step by step with men! The ‘Wari’ of Pandhari symbolizes the equality of opportunities. The motto of the Warkari movement is 'भेदाभेद अमंगळ' (Discrimination is evil)! This is the proclamation of social harmony and gender equality is also inherent in this harmony. Many Warkaris, women and men, also call each other 'Mauli' and see the form of Lord Vitthal and Sant Dnyaneshwar in each other. You also know that 'Mauli' means mother. That is, it is also the pride of mother power.
If eminent personalities like Mahatma Phule and Veer Savarkar reached the pinnacle of success in their initiatives in Maharashtra, it was largely due to the contribution of the Warkari movement which laid the foundation. Who all was not there in the Warkari movement? Sant Sawta Maharaj, Sant Chokha, Sant Namdev Maharaj, Sant Goroba, Sen ji Maharaj, Sant Narhari Maharaj, Sant Kanhopatra, every community of the society was part of the Warkari movement.
Pandharpur has not only shown the path of devotion and patriotism to humanity, but has also introduced humanity with the power of devotion. People often do not come here to ask God for anything. The vision of Lord Vitthal is their selfless devotion and the goal of life. For ages, the Lord Himself has been standing with his hands on his waist here on the orders of the devotees. Devotee Pundalik had seen God in his parents, considered 'Nar Seva Narayan Seva'. Till today, the same ideal is being followed by our society through Seva-Dindi by considering the service of living beings as sadhana. Every Warkari performs selfless service with the same spirit with which he performs devotion. Projects to serve the poor with 'Amrit Kalash Dan-Annadan' continue to run here, your service in the field of education and health is a unique example of empowering the society. Seva Dindi is also a great example of how faith and devotion are related to national service and patriotism in our country. Seva Dindi has become a great medium for the uplift and progress of the villages. Our Warkari brothers and sisters are a huge influence in the resolutions of the country for the development of the villages. The country started the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, and today the devotees of Vithoba are giving it momentum through the 'Nirmal Vaari' campaign. Similarly, be it the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign, or our efforts for water conservation; our spiritual consciousness is giving energy to our national resolve. And today when I am talking to my Warkari brothers and sisters, I want to ask you three things as blessings. Should I? Raise your hands to confirm. Your affection has always been with me the way you have blessed me today by raising your hands. The first blessing that I want is that shady trees must be planted every few meters of the special walkway being built along the Sreesanth Dnyaneshwar Maharaj Palkhi Marg and Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi Marg. Will you do this for me? My mantra is ‘Sabka Prayas’ (collective efforts). By the time these are ready, these trees will also grow so that the entire walkway will become shadowy. I request many villages falling along these Palkhi Margs to lead this mass movement. If every village takes the responsibility of planting trees along the Palkhi Marg passing through its area, then this work can be done expeditiously.
The second blessing that I want is the arrangement of pure drinking water at every few distances on this walkway. ‘Pyaus’ (places for drinking water) should be built on these routes. When the devotees, absorbed in the devotion of Lord Vitthal, move towards Pandharpur, they forget everything for 21 days. These will be of great use to the devotees. And the third blessing that I want and you will not let me down is that I want to see Pandharpur among the cleanest pilgrimage sites in India in future. Whenever anyone wants to find out which is the cleanest pilgrimage site in India, it should be my Vithoba, the holy land of Vitthal and Pandharpur. These are the three things that I want from you and this will be done through public participation. When the local people take the leadership of the cleanliness movement under their command, then only we will be able to make this dream come true. This is ‘Sabka Prayas’ which I always advocate.
When we develop our pilgrimage centres like Pandharpur, it not only leads to cultural progress, but also gives impetus to the development of the entire region. The roads which are being widened here and the new highways that are being approved will give a fillip to religious tourism, new jobs will be created and service campaigns will also get momentum. Our revered Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji was also of the view that a new stream of development starts flowing where highways and roads reach. Keeping this in mind, he started the Golden Quadrilateral, a campaign to connect the villages of the country with roads. On the same ideals, rapid work is being done on modern infrastructure in the country. Wellness centers are being opened to promote health infrastructure in the country, new medical colleges are being opened and digital systems are being encouraged. Today a vast network of new highways, waterways, rail lines, metro lines, modern railway stations, new airports and new air routes is being built in the country. Work is also being done at a fast pace to connect every village of the country with the optical fiber network. The PM GatiShakti National Master Plan has also been launched for better coordination to further accelerate all these projects. Today the country is moving ahead with the vision of 100% coverage. Dreams like a pucca house for the poor, toilets in every house, electricity connection to every family, water from the tap to every household and gas connection to our mothers and sisters are coming true today. The poor, deprived, downtrodden and middle class of the society are getting maximum benefit.
Most of our Warkari Gurubhaus come from farmer families. All of you can see how the efforts of the country for the poor of the villages are changing the lives of ordinary human beings today. The poor growers in villages are the drivers of the rural economy, and also provide leadership to the culture of the society and the unity of the nation. It is the sons of the earth who have kept alive the culture and ideals of India for centuries. A true ‘annadata’ unites the society and lives the society and lives for the society. You are the cause as well as a reflection of society’s progress. Therefore, our farmers are at the core of our progress in the resolutions of the country during the virtuous period. The country is moving forward with this sentiment.
Sant Dnyaneshwar Ji Maharaj has a very beautiful message for all of us:
दुरितांचे तिमिर जावो । विश्व स्वधर्म सूर्यें पाहो । जो जे वांच्छिल तो तें लाहो, प्राणिजात।
That is, there should be an end to the darkness of evil from the world. May the sun of righteousness and responsibility rise in the entire world and the wishes of every living being be fulfilled! We have full faith that our devotion and efforts will definitely realize these sentiments of Sant Dnyaneshwar ji. With this belief, I once again bow down to all the saints and at the feet of Vithoba. Thank you all very much!
Jai Jai Ramakrishna Hari!
Jai Jai Ramakrishna Hari!