(Speech delivered on the occasion of Shabarikumbh Mahotsav, Dang district, Ahwa Taluka, Subir Village. January 11, 2006)

 In the coming years, Shabaridham in Dang district will become a place of pilgrimage for forest people of the entire nation. Just as every Hindu from all over the country shares the desire of Gangasnan (bathing in river Ganga), similarly, every forest dweller of the country will nurture the desire to visit Shabaridham once in his lifetime. As the message of Shabaridham goes all over the country, many new opportunities for development will open up for Dang, enabling the forest people to have greater scope to earn their livelihood and bringing their art, grace and achievements into the limelight. I can envisage huge progress in Shabarikumbh. Life in India is dotted with religious celebrations and fairs, which are celebrated almost once in every three days in different corners of India. It has been observed by experience that the middle and higher middle classes of the society have power and prosperity and hence they can arrange such functions according to their desire. However, the forest people are exceptions as they are the last to be noticed. But, today, they have been given first priority with respect to their feelings to pray to Mother Shabari. The Hindu society has a tradition of praying to Lord Rama; but for the forest people true fulfilment lies in remembering Mother Shabari who waited all her life for Lord Rama. Mother Shabari’s long wait can be compared to the

Forest people’s yearning for a brighter future, for Ramrajya (rule of Lord Rama). Today we can see the glory of India in Shabarikumbh. The beginning of Shabarikumbh may become a cause of India’s bright future.

If I express the underlying sentiment of the Indian Constitution, I may be accused by many due to the perversion that has spread into our social fabric. The Constitution of India talks about social life too. It specifically says that religious conversions should not be carried out by force, fear or greed. If I say this, I would be called wicked and guilty. What type of mentality do we have? It is the aim of our State Government to respect the wishes of the Indian Constitution and we are working in that direction. Even if Mahatma Gandhi were to express this desire today, the hypocrites would undoubtedly kill him. Gandhiji was opposed to the religious conversion as he felt that such conversions are not fair for any civilized society. Where is the root of this problem? Some people do not like the fact that Shabari is associated to Lord Rama and the forest people are associated with Shabari, which creates concern in their minds about the kind of relationship between Lord Rama and the forest people. No amount of effort by such perverted minds can separate the forest people of India from Lord Rama, who is their life. They will be separated from Lord Rama only when they part from life itself. It is the misfortune of our country that the English speaking descendants of Lord McKaulay are asking whether this is the rebirth of Shabari. These fools need to be told that their ancestors knew all about Shabari. God knows what has happened to these people? If we ourselves will not be proud of India’s cultural heritage and its prestigious history then who will be? If the progeny of this nation will not take pride in its history, then will our neighbours do so? There should be some limit to the lies spread in our society. The history of the world has documented that Hindu society is the most tolerant. It is the only one to proclaim that God is one and there can be different paths for reaching Him.