Friday, November 9, 2012

PM Kamla speaks of submission to God in Divali message at Diplomatic Centre celebration

PM Kamla and MPs celebrate Divali in Parliament
The fact that we, as citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, can appreciate and celebrate diverse cultures and religious holidays as a united people and as a nation speaks to our shared values as well as our profound respect for each other’s beliefs.

Indeed ladies and gentlemen, we can justly and proudly boast of the fact that the freedom to worship – as enshrined in our Republican Constitution – is alive and well in this veritable melting pot we call Trinidad and Tobago.

It is our unity in diversity that defines our character as a nation and it is that which will propel us – working hand in hand – to a future that is filled with hope and prosperity for all…not only for ourselves but for the generations to come.

Because of our tradition of mutual respect for each other’s beliefs, I am certain that we are all familiar with the story of Lord Rama: his exile, his victory over Ravana and his triumphant return to Ayodhya.

It is a lesson that we are reminded of every Divali, as it embodies the principle of good over evil through devotion to the Divine.

But this evening I want to share another story with you: the story of Drupadi, which like the story of Lord Rama demonstrates that good will always overcome evil once we have faith in the Almighty.

According to the Mahabharata, Draupadi, was the beautiful wife of the Pandava brothers and pious devotee of Lord Krishna, who, like Lord Rama is also an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

She was once captured and dragged into the packed courtyard of the evil King.

Here she was ridiculed and tormented by the King’s noblemen, and as a final insult, the wicked men decided to humiliate the helpless woman by stripping her of her clothing in front of the jeering audience.

Draupadi held on to her sari, for as long as she could, but the strength of the man pulling it away started to become too overbearing for her. 

Still gripping her sari and in an instant of sheer desperation, she remembered Lord Krishna, and called out to him to come to her aid.

But Lord Krishna never came.

She continued to call out to him, still clinging to her sari, yet still Lord Krishna never came.

In a final moment of agony, Drupadi finally gave up all her efforts, and resigned herself to her horrible fate.

At that moment, Lord Krishna appeared, and turned her sari into an infinite robe, so no matter how many times they pulled and the sari unraveled, Drupadi remained clothed.

Finally, the men gave up on their diabolical plan when it became apparent their malevolent efforts were futile.

A few days after her ordeal, Drupadi met Lord Krishna, and in anger rebuked the Lord for not coming to her aid when first she cried out for help.

Lord Krishna replied by telling her that when she first called out to Him, she also kept her hands firmly on her sari.

Her ego was not ready to fully submit itself to the divine power of God, and her faith was not strong enough to trust that Lord Krishna would save her.

It was only when she lost all hope, that her ego had finally loosened its grip on her sari, that her heart allowed space for the Divine to enter and work its miracle.

Only then, could God come to her aid.

In other words, “Let go and let God”.

We can learn many lessons from this story.

In addition to total submission to God, we must not only remember God in times of distress, but also in times of joy and happiness.

Therefore today as we come together to celebrate, I thank God first for the many blessings that He has bestowed upon the great nation of Trinidad and Tobago and upon my government.

As a nation celebrating its Golden Jubilee, as we reflect on the past 50 years of self-determination, we recognize that we have made remarkable advances in our country’s development and, without a doubt, there is still much work ahead of us.

Every single one of us, as citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, must play their part in this process of development.

The wisdom of the story of Drupadi, teaches us what we should do, but also what we shouldn’t do.

We must not be like the jeering crowd who stood by and encouraged malicious actions.

When unrighteousness takes place and when elements of evil try their best to humiliate and degrade us we must stand up for the truth and defend our dharma.

With God as our guide, I propose that we re-commit to following our dharmic paths.

Ladies and gentlemen, authentic prosperity – be it material or spiritual – can only be realized through hard and honest work, dedication, perseverance, commitment, and an opening up of oneself totally – heart, mind, and soul – to the Divine influence in all our lives.

In fervent anticipation of Divali, Hindus all over the world prepare themselves to truly celebrate this festival of lights by a “cleansing” of the outside as well as the inside.

It is that great cleansing Light of the Divine that can transform each of us, if and only if we are so disposed to heed the never ending call to divinity.

Once transformed we can then be lights and beacons of hope, compassion, truth, wisdom, love, kindness, and forgiveness shining in a world that is filled with habits and activities that are totally contrary and even hostile to those values that good people hold dear.

So I ask each and every one of you today to purge yourselves of negative thoughts and influences and let the positive light of the Divine take over.

As we work toward a bright and prosperous future for all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, let us focus on what unites us, rather than what divides us.

Let us look at how we can improve things, instead of lamenting about our failures.

This is the spiritual prosperity we must all pray for.

This is the prosperity that we must earnestly ask for from Mother Lakshmi as we seek her maternal assistance in cultivating and accumulating spiritual wealth – individually and collectively.

With this arsenal of spiritual wealth, not only can we fight but we can win the battle against evil whenever and wherever it presents itself.

Together we can win the battle over discrimination, injustice, hatred, bigotry, inequality, greed and violence.

Every segment of our society must willingly and unselfishly shoulder the yoke of responsibility and look towards the horizon of hope with a renewed sense of purpose and patriotism and an undying belief that “Together We Aspire, Together We Achieve”.

This, my dear friends, in my respectful view, is the meaning of Divali.

An authentic transformation of the hearts, minds, and souls of all of us in order to selflessly serve one another, and humankind, in truth and love so that everyone can prosper and live lives consistent with human dignity, our higher aspirations and God’s will and vision in our lives.

Let us then pledge ourselves on this auspicious occasion of Divali to be the best we can be…steadfastly adhering to the tenets of our faith, and instilling those same moral and spiritual values to our children through our own good example.

As we light the deyas this Divali let it be for us, a new beginning…for ourselves, our families, and for our country.

On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, all citizens of goodwill, and my own family, I wish each and every one of you a Shubh Divali.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai