Every state and province in our country has a unique and different cuisine, dance styles, dressing styles and they celebrate festivals in their own unique way too. Today you can see so many dishes from Gujarat laid out before you. Nowhere else in the world will you find so much diversity. I still remember that a few years back when we had an event called Annabrahma in Gujarat, an amazing 5800 dishes were prepared for the celebration. Food from every corner of the country was prepared and presented there – ranging from the Kattha Baingan and Dum Aloo. Dishes from Kashmir to a multitude of dishes from the state of Tripura, and the many varieties of Payasam from Kerala. You can find such an amazing diversity only in India. Just see! From one side we have all the savouries and towards the other end we have all the sweet preparations.
I remember an incident from the time I was visiting Lahore in Pakistan. There was a huge meeting arranged in the Lahore University at that time and many young students had attended the meeting.
The Vice Chancellor of the University told me, “Gurudev, we have never had such a huge crowd for one event in the history of this institution. There is huge excitement to listen to you”.
People had gathered and seated in two or three halls together, such was the crowd. One young student asked me, “Gurudev, in Pakistan we believe in only one God that is Allah. But in India, people believe in so many gods and goddesses. How is this possible?” I replied, “See, from the same wheat flour you make Karachi Halwa (a sweet preparation), a Samosa (savoury snack), Naan (baked flatbread), and Parantha (stuffed flatbread) and even noodles. But ultimately it is the one same flour, isn’t it? Then why do you make so many varieties of dishes from it? In the same way in India we also believe that God is one, just that He arrives or presents Himself in a variety of forms and dresses. That’s all. God does not always dress up like a grand warrior all the time. Every time He dresses in a different attire. But still, God is one”.
Hearing this, the boy replied, “Gurudev, I have never heard such a simple and profound explanation”.
I said “See, you adore and address Allah by 99 sacred names, isn’t it? In India we have 108 names for the Divine, just a little more, that’s it”.
Religion exists to unite people and bring them together, not to divide them and keep them apart. We all are one. The youth really liked this understanding.
Just see, God has created so many different kinds of vegetables. He did not just make only one kind of vegetable isn’t it? God did not only create the eggplant and have everyone only eat eggplant. God created potatoes, tomatoes, okra (ladyfinger), eggplant, etc., and a huge variety of vegetables. In the same way, He also created people of different kinds. So we should bring everyone together and celebrate. This is the essence of Lord Krishna’s message when He said “Dear one! See Me in everyone, and see everyone as Me”.