“We live in the age of the Internet. Wherever we goon the planet, we need to have Internet. But along with a connection to the Internet, we also need to rediscover our “Inner-net” connection. Spirituality teaches us how to manage both our internal and external worlds.” — Mata Amritanandamayi Devi
Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, The Chancellor of Amrita University and India’s most acclaimed spiritual personality, delivered the keynote address at the United Nations on technology and sustainable development in New York on July, 8. She addressed researchers representing 93 prominent international universities at the conference hosted by the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), a United Nations initiative to align institutions of higher education, scholarship and research with the UN.
Addressing the conference, Amma, as she is popularly known, urged the scientific community to approach the research with a balance of awareness and compassion.
In the introductory speech Ramu Damodaran, the Chief of UNAI, praised the contributions of Amma, the Math and the Amrita University in various fields like poverty, waste water management, water conservation, bio diversity etc. Amma’s lecture was attended by as many as 700 delegates from the different parts of the world. Her speech focused on the significance of reducing the divide between science and spirituality. “Humanity is at a crossroads. At present, mankind lives solely depending on science and technology. However, in light of our current situation, we should at least try to incorporate spiritual thinking as well.” she said.
The programme included a series of events titled ‘Skills and technology accelerating rapid transformation’. Amrita University is the first university which is chosen to co-host a series of initiatives introduced by UNAI. The experts from several prestigious institutions like Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge, EPFL, Monash, Twente, The National University of Singapore etc. were also present at the event.
In her speech, Amma called for reconciliation of ancient spiritual wisdom and modern technology for social transformation. For one who knows how to swim, frolicking in the ocean waves is a delightful experience, but one who is unable to swim will quickly drown.”, she further added.
Expressing her concern over the present deterioration and degeneration of the values of our society, she said, “What is happening to society? Caught up in the speed of life, mankind has forgotten basic human values; we belittle their significance. We attempt to justify all the violence and unrighteousness we commit, from the individual level to the international level. We then thrust our rationalisation of these actions on the rest of society.” Amma stressed the need to bring spirituality and technology together in pursuit of sustainable development and the upliftment of the poor. And she also said that science, technology, and spirituality must unite in order to ensure a sustainable and balanced existence of our world. And the present age and the world around us demand this transformation.
As she concluded the speech with the famous vedic prayer lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu, it was received with a standing ovation by the audience. It is not first time Mata Amritanandamayi Devi attended a function organised by the United Nations. In 1995, she delivered a magnificent speech, known as “Unity is Peace”, on the occasion of the Interfaith Celebrations at the UN 50th Anniversary in New York.
On the occasion, the UNAI inaugurated an online portal created by Amrita University. The web portal is established with a view to facilitate collaboration among researchers worldwide on technology for global sustainable development. The delegates, led by UNAI Chief Ram Damodaran, signed a group statement to co-operate on all aspects of information and share the research data for humanitarian benefit. –Ganesh Krishnan