Introduction and award presentation6Dr William Livingston (Senior Vice-President, the University of Texas at Austin): Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great, good fortune to be asked this evening to introduce our speaker, and I do so with pride and pleasure.
For a long time Sri Chinmoy has dedicated his life to the achievement of world peace and the fulfilment of the human spirit. He works towards these goals in a number of different ways. He is a poet, an author, an essayist, a speaker, a musician, an artist and, not least, an athlete. Nowadays he works out of New York, but his interests and his travels have taken him to many parts of the globe. He has inspired and encouraged people throughout the world by his activities and by the example of his own life.
The prizes and awards and commendations that he has received make it perfectly obvious that he has touched the lives of many people in many different places.
Texas is widely known as the home not only of individuality, but also of hospitality — a rough and ready culture in which men and women are prepared to stand alone, but in which they are also prepared to lend a hand to a neighbour. I think you will find this audience a congenial one, and one prepared to listen to your message with great interest.
This spring, the University adopted a new slogan or a theme called, "We're Texas." It was intended to enhance our sense of belonging here in Texas and to exemplify the culture of this part of the country. But as you see, the student body of this institution is marked by considerable diversity, both in its composition and in its interest and outlook. We tried to epitomise this slogan in our commencement programme in May by reproducing in it, in as many languages as possible, that slogan that had been adopted. It was thus presented to all the guests at the commencement. The intent was to reproduce it in all the languages represented by people in the student body. I can say to you it was not easy to render it, say, in the Cyrillic alphabet or to translate it into Bengali. But the point I make here is that we ran out of space in the programme before we ran out of languages to put it in. Accordingly, Sri Chinmoy, if you hope to reach out to many different peoples and cultures, I say to you that this is a good place in which to articulate your message.
One of the great problems of our time is, of course, to extend adequate communication across national and cultural boundaries, and to bring the varied communities of our world together in a common concern for peace and progress. Thus it is with great pleasure that I join these student organisations and this faculty in welcoming you to the University of Texas. It is the participation and the visits of people such as yourself that enrich the experience of our students and provide the yeast and flavour of life in a great university.
I welcome you, Sir, to this university and to this audience, and I am most pleased to present to this audience a man of rich experience and one who is deeply committed to an objective to which all of us may subscribe. Sri Chinmoy calls himself "a dreamer of world peace", but as I examine his biography and ponder his message, I have to say that he commits himself not merely to dreams but to actions and efforts. He is here tonight to share with us his dream and to enlist us in those efforts. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Sri Chinmoy Kumar Ghose.
Dr Lester Kurtz (Professor of Sociology and Asian Studies, on behalf of the Department of Sociology and the Ad Hoc Committee on Peace and Conflict Studies): There is such a wonderful turnout for tonight's concert that I am really tempted to give a lecture, but I have this suspicion that you are not here to hear me. And so let me just say that it is a delight to be here to welcome Sri Chinmoy, to have all of you here. Let me simply read the plaque that I'm going to present to Sri Chinmoy.
[Reads plaque.] "The Department of Sociology and the Ad Hoc Committee on Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Texas at Austin are pleased to present Sri Chinmoy with the Peace Educator Award on the occasion of his visit to the University of Texas at Austin as a distinguished speaker and in recognition of his tireless commitment to world peace. Through his writings, paintings and musical compositions as well as through the global Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run, the International Peace-Blossom family and his worldwide Peace Concert programme, Sri Chinmoy has become a teacher of world peace to millions of people worldwide. Through eloquent words and actions, Sri Chinmoy has been striving to foster humanity's goal of goals: world peace. Austin, Texas, June 25, 1998."
Sri Chinmoy: I wish to offer my heartfelt gratitude to the many faculty, staff and students who have worked so hard for the success of this evening's programme. Highly esteemed Senior Vice-President Livingston, I am extremely grateful to you for your very kind and gracious introduction, as well as for the blessingful letter of welcome which you wrote to me last month. Your entire life has been consecrated to inspiring and encouraging your fellow professors and students at the University of Texas and worldwide. Therefore, I feel specially honoured and prayerfully moved by your soul-stirring words.
I would like to offer my heart's deepest appreciation to Professor Lester Kurtz, Professor of Sociology and Asian Studies and an enthusiastic pioneer of peace studies through the Ad Hoc Committee on Peace and Conflict Studies. Your tireless vision for a world of non-violence and peace has taken you to the four corners of the globe, including my homeland, India, and my heart is all gratitude to you for your kind invitation to your august University. I shall deeply treasure the "Peace Educator Award" which you have just bestowed upon my devoted head and aspiring heart.
May I also thank my student-friends of the Distinguished Speakers Committee for their wholehearted enthusiasm and support for my visit tonight.
BI 19. University of Texas at Austin, 25 June 1998.↩