Attending the 19th Annual Celebration of city-based sociocultural organisation, Sree Narayana Guru Cultural Centre (SNGCC), and 168th Birth Anniversary of Jagatpurush Sree Narayana Guru here at the Oneness Center, Jingkieng, on September 10 as chief guest, Vice-Chancellor, NEHU, Prof. Prabha Shankar Shukla said, “Irrespective of whichever religion you belong to, try to be a better human being,” recalling mystic, saint, philosopher, cosmologist, Sree Narayana Guru and further delved into the teachings of the Guru.
While emphasising the importance of being an excellent human being and practicing the virtues of the religion, the VC deplored that few religions are only interested in growing their numbers while castigating that it is not right to push a particular religion and harp that is the only path to salvation.
At the backdrop of the United Nations emphasising that the year 2022 is pivotal for achieving gender equality, Shukla recalled the UN Declaration of the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which came only in 1967 where the 9th section says, “All necessary steps are to be taken to ensure that girls and women, whether married or unmarried, have equal rights to education in all fields.” “But about 55 years earlier to this declaration, Sree Narayana Guru had given instructions to the volunteers of SNDP (Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam, a social service organization operating in Kerala since 1903) about education through Vivekodayam (a Malayalam literary journal established in 1904 to serve as a voice of the underprivileged communities in Kerala),” he said.
Stating further about Guru’s stance on gender equality, Shukla said that he made special efforts in providing education to women and how he guided SNDP towards emancipation of women by way of starting of schools with primary importance to girls.
Sharing a letter written by Guru to the Vignana Vardhini Sabha, a leading socio-cultural and literary organisation of the day, “…In the society, not only men, but also women must be educated. Do not neglect them in such matters…”, Shukla stated that three points emerged from these statements. He did not discriminate between men and women. He considered them integral parts of the society with equal status and responsibilities. The Guru had understood, much before the UN had thought about it, that the liberation of any society is complete, only if the women are emancipated. This emancipation does not mean liberation from male domination, but liberation from the different social forces that curb her freedom and stunts her individuality. Education is the only way to emancipate women.