“Truth is high, but higher still is truthful living. God’s name, according to Sikhism, is said to be truth,” said former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, invoking the words of Guru Nanak Dev, while accepting the South Indian Education Society (SIES) Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati National Eminence Award as part of the Kanchi Mahaswami festival on Saturday.
While Singh was feted for his contribution to the field of public leadership, Professor Dr Manjul Bhargava, Niti Aayog member Dr V K Saraswat and Swami Chidanand Saraswati were awarded for their work in the fields of community leadership, science and technology and social thinkers, respectively. Japan-based philosopher and teacher of Hindu philosophy, Dr Sengaku Mayeda, was conferred the award in-absentia in the international category.
Reflecting on the milestones in his life, Singh said, “The late Shri R Venkatraman, former President of India, and [an] ardent devotee of the Mahaswami of Kanchi… had invited me to Chennai to receive the inaugural award.. I remember the occasion vividly. In his presidential address, Shri R Venkatraman said that the blessings of the sage of Kanchi were with me, and that I would soon become the Prime Minister of India. Such an idea was unthinkable for a relatively recent entrant into politics. Besides, I had no such ambition.”
“However, five years later, to my very great surprise, the Mahaswami’s prediction came true. In 2004, I became Prime Minister of this great democracy, and I served the nation to the best of my abilities for the next 10 years,” he added.
Dr Manjul Bhargava said, he was fortunate to receive the award on the 137th birth anniversary of Srinivasa Ramanujan, one of the greatest mathematicians in the world and also on a day observed as Mathematics Day in India.
“Spirituality is the medium through which a man’s biological and spiritual world speak to each other,” said Saraswat.
“The next generation must read and know their culture. Our land is replete with stories of inclusiveness, oneness and togetherness,” said Swami Chidanand Saraswati, adding that innovation does not require one to be uprooted from their culture.
“By 2040, the entire world is going to lose 50 per cent of its water, and in order to survive, we must be serious about water conservation,” he said.
The awards were instituted by SIES in 1998 in memory of the late seer of Kanchi, Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswati. Each award carries a cash prize of Rs 2.5 lakh, a citation, an ornamental lamp and a scroll, said V Shankar, SIES president.
So far, 74 people have been honoured with the awards, including Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, Dr R Chidambaram, Dr Jayant Narlikar, Dr Anil Kakodkar, Amitabh Bachchan, Dr M S Subbulakshmi, Anna Hazare, Lata Mangeshkar, Dr Nani Palkhivala, Dr Varghese Kurien, Sunil Dutt and Dilip Kumar.