When Abdul Kalam visited the Bharatiya Temple & Cultural Centre (BTCC) in USA, he addressed and interacted with the members. In his address, he discussed the topic “Faith, Religion & Spirituality in the 21st Century”. In his speech, he discussed about the importance of prayer. He said that the prayer is a force which brings mental peace. . The Prayer is the unique power in the world that seems to overcome the power called laws of nature. Normally, people do prayers for themselves, for their family and friends. Many good hearts pray for the welfare of society and fellow human beings.
Kalam’s teacher Rev. Iyyadorai Solomon brought two newspaper clippings and narrated two incidents which touched his heart. The first news item and the most important one, which embedded in his memory, is about Mahatma Gandhi, walking barefoot in Calcutta in Bengal on 15 August, 1947, removing the pain of riot affected people. As Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi would have been there at the Red Fort to unfurl the National Flag on Independence Day. But Gandhi was not there at the Red Fort. But he was in the riot affected areas to console people. He had nurtured the leadership who could take charge of the nation during the freedom celebration. Mahatma Gandhi was as an embodiment of nobility, elevated thinking and a leader with great concern for the sufferings of the human beings. Kalam was inspired by his simplicity and opines that our country needs such type of leaders to make progress and shun violence and terrorism.
Kalam narrated an incident about Abraham Lincoln, which influenced him a lot. This incident brings out the humility of a great leader and is a lesson for humanity.He was born in the state of Kentucky in USA. Though he faced many hurdles ,He made extraordinary efforts to attain knowledge while working. He lost the election for senator but he gained a national reputation that won him the Republican nomination for President in 1860. He issued the emancipation proclamation that declared freedom for those slaves within the confederacy. He is remembered for this great action.
One day in the senate, a senator who was very arrogant stood up before Lincoln and remembered him that he was a shoemaker’s son. The whole senate laughed. But it was difficult to humiliate a man like Lincoln. Lincoln replied to him that he was tremendously grateful for the senator as he reminded him of his father who was dead. He offered to mend their shoes if there is a trouble with their shoes as he learnt the art of shoe making from his father. And tears came to his eyes in the memory of his great father.
During the year 2003, he visited a Buddhist monastery at Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh. He stayed there nearly a day. He observed happiness among all the villagers in spite of severe winter condition. He asked the Chief Monk, how the people were always happy there. The Chief Monk said that in the present world, we had the problem of distrust and unhappiness transforming into violence. When we remove 'I' and 'Me' from our minds, we can eliminate ego, hatred towards fellow human beings, violence in thinking and action. If violence is taken away, peace springs in human minds. Then peace will blossom everywhere in the society.