Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday unveiled a statue of Swami Vivekananda and paid a floral tribute at Ramakrishna Mission in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, on the sidelines of a crucial summit of South East Asian nations.
Speaking on the occasion, Modi said that Vivekananda was a representation of India's ancient culture and the soul of India. He added that India's cultural tradition is very rich and ancient, from the Vedas to Vivekananda.
"Narendra (Swami Vivekananda) was not out looking for a guru or any kind of religion, what he was in search of was the truth. If we are able to maintain the true identity of who we are (as Indians), then we will be able to instill values of Swami Vivekananda in ourselves," Modi said.
Modi pointed out that like Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramahansa was also not looking for a disciple, he was searching for truth. "One was dedicated to the truth, while the other was searching for it. It is this quest that brought them together," Modi said.
"Swami Vivekananda used to say that service of humanity is service of God. During a visit to Kolkata, some youngsters asked Vivekananda how they could find God. Go play football, play it with full passion and intensity. Perhaps then you will find God, he replied," said Modi.
The Indian PM also praised Vivekananda for travelling to the west at the age of 30 to spread the message of spirituality.
Claiming that Vivekananda was also behind the concept of 'One Asia', the Indian PM said, "It was Swami Vivekananda who first gave the concept of One Asia that ASEAN is speaking of today". Modi also claimed that while the world was talking of global warming today, Indian tradition had always seen God in plants.
"In fact all our gods and goddesses are linked to some forces of nature. We personify them through trees, animals, birds. The message is very simple - that nature should not be exploited, we should live in harmony with nature. This is what can save the world," Modi said.
Praising the tradition of Yoga, Modi said that the western world is today attracted to the practice, which holds great promise for healthcare, and helps lead a tension-free life.
Earlier, PM Modi in a speech at the ASEAN Summit had called for new strategies to combat Islamist terrorism.