Pune, Jun 14 (IANS): Paying tributes to the greats saints of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that the welfare of Dalits, deprived, backwards, tribals, workers are the first priority of the country.
"The spirit of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas' is inspired by the great traditions like the annual Pandharpur Yatra of the Warkari devotees... The spirit of gender equality and the Antyodaya spirit among Warkari tradition is an inspiration," said Modi.
He was inaugurating the Jagadguru Shrisant Tukaram Maharaj Temple in Dehu, Pune this afternoon.
He said the country is moving towards '100 per cent empowerment' through the saturation of welfare schemes, and the poor getting connected with the basic necessities through these initiatives in the 75th year of India's Independence.
Referring to the temple, Modi said that Dehu's Shila Mandir is not only a centre of power of devotion but paves the way for the cultural future of India.
On the occasion, he recalled laying the foundation stone of the 4-laning of two national highways in the Palkhi Margs - the Shri Sant Dynajeshwar Maharaj Palkhi Marg and Sant Tukaram Maharaj Palkhi Marg.
While the first would be completed in five phases, the second would be ready in three phases, giving a total of 350 km-long highways at a cost of over Rs 11,000 crore.
Terming India as one of the oldest living civilisations in the world, he said the credit for this goes to the traditions of saints and sages, and the country is eternal because India is a land of saints with some great soul descending to give direction to the country and society in every era.
Currently, the country is celebrating the birth anniversary of Sant Kabirdas besides other great souls like Shri Sant Dnyaneshawar Maharaj, Sant Nivruttinath, Sant Sopandev and Adi-Shakti Mukta Bai-ji.
The Prime Minister paid tributes to the glorious traditions of 'abhangas' of distinguished saints, their teachings that preached against discrimination between human beings which were equally for devotion to the country and society as they were for spiritual devotion.
Modi said the kindness, compassion and service of Sant Tukaram are still with us in the form of his 'abhangas' which have inspired generations and when the country is moving ahead keeping in sync with its cultural values, Sant Tukaram's 'abhangas' gives us energy.
The great saints also inspired national heroes like Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Veer Savarkar, while the 'yatras' like Pandharpur, Jagannath Puri, Brij Parikrama in Mathura or Kashi Panchkoshi Parikrama, Char Dham or Amarnath Yatra, united the diverse nation and created the spirit of 'Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat', said Modi.
He said it is our responsibility to keep our ancient identity and traditions alive to strengthen the national unity, when modern technology and infrastructure are becoming synonymous with India's development, both development and heritage must move forward together.
Sant Tukaram was a Warkari saint and poet who lived in Dehu, famously known for 'Abhangas' -- devotional poetry -- and community-oriented worship through spiritual songs known as 'Kirtans'.
He lived, preached and died in Dehu around 1650 and later an informal Shila Mandir was built in his memory, which has now been rebuilt in stone masonry wit 36 peaks with an idol of Sant Tukaram.