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Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at the India – Swiss Ayurveda Conclave in Seelisberg, December 1, 2018

Posted on: December 01, 2018 | Back | Print

Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at the India – Swiss Ayurveda Conclave in Seelisberg, December 1, 2018

Hon’ble Mr. Otto Odermatt, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to visit this holy place which housed Maharshi several years. Let me begin by paying homage to His Holiness on behalf of my family and my colleagues from the Embassy. 

I recall a story that I quoted during my last visit here. In an article captioned ‘Gods of Zero and Infinity’ by a renowned Indian writer. He writes about a story in ancient history, when Alexander the Macedonian, after having crossed Persia, came to India, met a sage on the banks of the river Indus, who he referred to as a wise man, in Greek. This sage sat on a rock and spent all day staring at the sky. Alexander asked him what he was doing and the sage replied, "Experiencing nothingness.” The sage asked Alexander what he was doing. Alexander replied, "I am conquering the world.” Both laughed. For Alexander, the sage was wasting his one and only life. For the sage, Alexander was wasting his time trying to conquer a world that has no limits, with a sense of urgency that made no sense when one lives infinite lives. The empire that Alexander built collapsed within a few years of his death. But Indian spirituality continues to attract the world towards her.

Several centuries later, in 1896, Swami Vivekananda, a great sage of India, travelled all over the world with a message: “COMBINE THE BEST OF EAST WITH THAT OF THE WEST”. During his visit to Switzerland in 1896 he wrote, I quote, “I am in Switzerland. It is a miniature Himalayas, and has the same effect of raising the mind up to the Self and driving away all earthly feelings and ties. I am intensely enjoying it. I feel so, so uplifted.” Unquote. 

Years later His Holiness came and established his Headquarters here in this most beautiful part of Switzerland. Wherever I speak in Switzerland, I speak about the ‘spirituality’ that attracts the West to India. This place is a living example of the Indian spirituality, where the best of the East meets the West. 

This year is significant for India-Switzerland relationship when we celebrate the 70th anniversary of India-Switzerland Treaty of Friendship signed in 1948. We began this year with the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Prime Minister Modi in his address in Davos in January this year highlighted the concept of "Vasudhaiva kutumbakam" (the world is one family). He said and I quote, “In the ancient books written thousands of years ago in Sanskrit, Indian philosophers have said: "Vasudhaiva kutumbakam" It means the whole world is one family. In essence, we all have been joined with each other like a family and our destiny links us with a common thread. Today, this concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family) is even more relevant in bridging the gaps and distances. But one of the serious challenges that we face today is lack of understanding among us to deal with the difficult challenges of this era.” Unquote 

I am so happy that during this 70th anniversary year, we organise the Ayurveda Conclave today here. I am also happy that we are launching our Monthly Ayurveda bulletin here. I look forward to the presentations by scholars present here today. 

I hope we will be able to covert this Ayurveda Conclave into an annual event bringing together people from all over Switzerland and abroad to celebrate Ayurveda every year.

I will end with a quote from Ashtangahridayam, one of the most famous texts of Ayurveda, which Prime Minister Modi quoted while addressing an Ayurveda Conclave in 2016.

“The poor, those suffering from disease and those afflicted by sorrow should be helped. Even insects and ants should be treated with compassion, just as one’s own self. This is the guiding spirit of Ayurveda.” 

Thank you.