The First Meeting of Convenors held on August 29, 1964 – Shri Krishna Janmasthami Vikrami Samvat 2021, in the Sandeepani Sadhanalaya Ashram of Swami Chinmayanandji at Bombay Shri Shiv Shankar Apte spoke: by S.S. Apte, Advocate, Bomb
Respected Masters and Worthy Friends
It is with delight and deep sense of gratitude that I welcome you all and thank you. That you have honoured an invitation of an insignificant person like me indeed bespeaks of your intense devotion to the cause of our Dharma and your earnest desire to take the expedient steps to improve upon the state of affairs .It is your anxious thoughts and your readiness to act that have in fact prompted us the Organisers to invite this meeting for deliberations. I thank you again for coming. For this presence here of so many worthies from different branches of the great Ashwattha Tree, which the Hindu society is, augurs well the brilliant future.
Is it very necessary to say how the idea originated and how it, developed into a proposal? Was it not a thought, which had struck the imagination of every one who is present here and of all those who are prevented by circumstances to come today? In my wanderings in the country I used to hear this idea from the mouths of very thoughtful thinkers. If you permit me to speak of a vain claim I myself had some three years back written a series of articles in the renowned Kesari of the Lokmanya on the need of inviting such a convention. I must honestly confess beyond expressing my thoughts I could do nothing then though I had received a bunch of letters goading me to undertake the work. Only last year our holy host Revered Swami Chinmayananda wrote in his Tapovana Prasad.
“Very vaguely it comes to me that it is time we convened a World Hindu Council either at Delhi or Calcutta inviting delegates from allover the world to meet and discuss and discover the difficulties and needs for the maintenance and growth of the Hindu culture. In this Council we shall try to hammer out the plans and programmes to hold our spiritual family of Hindu religion together.”
Reading that passage the idea, mad or wild as some may call it, possessed me and my friends some of whom are here today in this hall. In the meantime some other friends from political parties and cultural organisations were also thinking loudly about the possibility. Those from the Hindu Maha Sabha had gone ahead in declaring their decision. In our exchange of thoughts it was decided that an effort should be made but it should be non-political, on a common platform, not attached to, or sponsored by, anyone or the other party or organisation though of course their co-operation should be sought and secured. I am very happy to state that the Hindu Maha Sabha very wisely agreed in this proposed approach and mode of inviting the convention and even went to the length of passing in its Sholapur session a resolution “lending its whole hearted support to this convention.”
What I wanted to impress is, it is indeed vain to imagine or claim that the idea is mine or his, whoever might have been less or more vocal. The idea was lurking in the minds of all those countless who are not here, as you will see from the resume of thoughts of some well wishers which I have appended in this brochures. When it developed into a proposal it came to me to work it out. I was no more than as some one said only a message carrier of in modern terms a post-office, and I am happy to remain at that only. Let me, therefore, once more emphasise that the idea is yours, and ours, and of one and all who are and are not here. We shall forget how it originated. Now that it has possessed us we shall work it out.
What I have done which I will very briefly present before you is to carry and convey your idea and gather others thoughts on the subject, link them and bring them together so that all those whose hearts are throbbing with the selfsame urge may feel its warmth, intensity and urgency and then act well in time. That is how and why, you know, you have come here this morning.
In this assignment I had to travel almost all over the country. First I went to the South to the feet of Their Holinessess the Shankaracharyas of Kamakoti and Sharda Peethas. In my hours long talks at Kanchi and Sringri I received full blessings and assurances of complete backing in our endeavours. I am unable to express in words the most sublimating inspiration, which I personally felt to be injected in me by the hallowed holiness of those our Masters. In Bombay first I called on Shri Munshi who, kind and patronising as he has been to me for the last over twenty years for his guidance. He heard me in his frail state of health patiently for over two hours, gave me valuable suggestions in respect of so many details and asked me to go ahead. He had even offered to sponsor the convention on the platform of his great Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
Next I went to Rashtra Sant Tukadoji. I stayed with him in his Ashram for twenty-four hours. That he is here tells how completely he is with the idea. From the very start he made it assuringly clear to me that he will give not only his blessings and guidance but all what he can muster at his disposal (and, this, is, as you know, unfathomable) for this cause.
In Nagpur I talked to Shri Golwalkar who has been an inspiring genius for me and a sponsorer of this idea. He is one of those who has been striving to see that the convention is raised on the highest pedestal with an appeal to all panthas and sampradayas which have sprung from the common roots and trunk of this great Ashvattha Tree, a symbol of which is before you and around us. If I am to state a fact it was his suggestion that out of this convention a central organisation, we shall call it by whatever name we determine here, should be evolved. I am sure you will admire the idea and adopt it entirely to be worked out in the form and scope we decide for it here.
In Rajasthan I met the learned Shri Chandrashekhar Shastri who has now ascended the holy Peetha of Shri Sankaracharya of Puri. His blessings and backing are all with us. Dr. Mathuralal Sharma the ex-vice Chancellor of the University is expected to be here if only urgent meetings do not hold him up. The learned Dr. Sampurnananda with whom I had discussed the proposal expressed his very favourable appreciation and encouraged me. If he is not here today that it is only because, as he says: ” circumstances prevent him from attending.” H.H. Kushok Bakula wants to participate and I hope he arrives in time.
In Delhi I met Shri B.P. Sinha Ex-chief Justice of India who endorsed the proposal and gave some very useful cautions. He would have been here but for some unexpected work cropping up I am glad to tell you that Babu Shri Jagjivan Ram who also liked the idea very much has assured us of his complete association. He is not here only because the A.I.C.C. meeting falls on the same dates. Jain Muni Sushil kumar, who is ill, has sent his delegate to represent him.
In Punjab what success and encouragement I met with, the evidence is here in the presence of the Masters. Respected Gayani Bhupindra Singh ji, who was once the Head-Priest of the Sacred Amratsar and is now the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, with whom I had the first and let me say the most enlivening talk was so kind and responsive to the idea that he immediately offered his association and agreed to come for the meeting. I was sorry then that I could not meet in spite of my earnest efforts the indefatigable Master ji. That he offered to become a convenor and has come to participate in the deliberation on a mere request in a letter speaks volumes of his intense desire to forgo out an unbreakable bond of love and unity between the strong are, the feet, the head and the heart of this great Nation-Personality-the Rashtra-Purush that our Hindu Society is.
Dr. Hajari Prasad Divedi from Chandigarh, Dr. Acharya Vishva Bandhu of the Vedic Research Society of Hoshirapur, Satguru Jagjit Singh of Bhaini Sahib and many other have all offered their hand of co-operation and wished success to the meeting.
From U.P. Prabhu Datta Brahmachari who is not here, like the Sankaracharyas because of the Chaturmasya Vratas, has assured to give his Ashram at Prayag for the main forthcoming convention, which we are contemplating. Sir Sita Ram Rai, Shri Prakash have also wished success for these our talks and the convention. The respected Shri Hanuman Prasad Poddar of the Kalyan organisation has consented to become a convenor. Shri Jugal Kishor Birla has backed our endeavour.
From Gujarat the Shankaracharya of Sharada Peeth of Dwarka sends his blessings and assurances of all help we want I met the most revered Guru Yogiraj Maharaj of the Swami Narayan Panth who has greeted the idea with joy and asked us to go ahead. Bhai Lalbhai Patel we are expecting for he is with us wholeheartedly.
In Bengal I received spontaneous sympathy and support. It is indeed a long distance, which only may prevent so many who, promised to come. Only yesterday I have received an intimation that the learned Shri Batuk Nath Bhattacharya may arrive for the meeting.
From Assam two very respected Gurus who have unbounded devotion and following of the Vaishnava folds of that eastern region have been offering me their encouraging guidance.
Dr. Ram swami Iyer who is not here only because his University convocation coincides with our dates, H.H. Maharaja of Patiala, Shri Divakar, Shri Santanam, and so many eminent and renowned who are prevented by one reason or the other from attending this meeting have all sent their good wishes. I have a very valuable letter of cautions and guidance from Dr. Aney with whom I had long discussions. Though he disagrees on many points he promised to come and assist us in arriving at correct decisions. Shri N .V. Gadgil as per his promise, which he seldom breaks, will come tomorrow as soon as he is free from A.I.C.C.
If I do not mention and acknowledge the debt due to so many of you who are before me it is only for want of time and not the quantum of your help. Please pardon.
Having said all that was favourable I must reveal there were some few, very few indeed, who doubted the results of such a convention. These thinkers see nothing wrong basically in the idea but fear its other consequences, which they hold, would harm the cause of Hinduism more than help it. You are aware of the reason of such a fear-complex and I restrain myself from averring to it. My only conviction which gives me strength is, let us act correctly and let the world react as it likes. Let us not shun right action because of the fear of reactions. Let us not fear to act rightly, rather than fail in action out of fear.
In this my effort to secure broadest support from all quarters. I have approached over six hundred persons by correspondence in our country. I have written to about forty associations and individuals abroad. I personally called on about 200 eminent leaders and thinkers during the course of about last eight months. Exactly 150 persons were sent final invitations to attend and the result of all that is the present assembly. I need not mention here the expenses incurred for that is a matter for the treasurer whom we shall select.
I have finished. You are assembled here today let me tell you on a unique occasion. It is our tradition ever since Vedic days to come together in the hour of Crisis in the anxiety to reform the society and remedy the ills. There were lain assembles, Buddhists councils and our great Sikh leaders will tell us Pantha gatherings in which we used to think out the solutions of the evils which crept in the society from time to time. If I should say there was never such a representative united gathering ever since the days of Harsha of all the Panthas and sects of our multipetal society. Such a great opportunity is before us. Today is the eve and tomorrow the birthday of the most Perfect of human beings ever born in this mortal world. Tomorrow is the day of Descent of the Divine in this land of Bharat who more than any philosopher or prophet revealed to humanity the secret of prefect life. We are in the Sandeepani Ashram. What better place and which more opportune time can we think of praying the Almighty to make us worthy of receiving the light? I pray and request you, all good souls, as you have come “together to think, determine and give us and the posterity a panacea “I for the evils, a new code of life, which will reinforce the common bonds of unity, which will infuse in us a spirit of brotherhood, and perfect understanding-which have been nourishing us since ages. That alone will lead our nation and us to a full and affluent life without any contradiction or conflict with the outside world. May I humbly request you al] not to part or leave this hall before or without defining and determining the common goal and the ways and means to achieve it.
I have taken a long time. I am sorry to have forced myself so much upon your kind patience. But here I step aside begging you to pardon me for all my failings in the execution of the assignment.
S.S. Apte, Advocate, Bombay