Paramahansa Yogananda laying a wreath of flowers at George Washington’s grave at Mt. Vernon on his birth anniversary, February 22.
As Washington performed his duty, he never forgot the Giver of all gifts. That is what inspired me in his life. In India he always inspired me with this thought. His love for truth was greater than love of party politics. I believe that though patriotism is necessary, it should not exclude spiritual truth, because patriotism which excludes international well-being is built on loose stones. That patriotism cannot last forever. But patriotism which is firmly built on the everlasting source of truth, that patriotism which loves truth and truth alone, that nation is based on such patriotism as Washington possessed, and the great good that he did to the world and to America is ever awake with us. He is ever living in the minds of the world; and we must always be inspired by his example, for he inspired not only thousands, hundreds of thousands, but millions.
Most great men that serve live hundreds of years before their time. He came, he conquered, he mastered himself and the situations in which he was placed, and then withdrew and led the life of a hermit in seclusion here. There are politicians and politicians–those puny ones who cater to the mob sentiment and who put the national mansion on a loose foundation; but men like Lincoln and Washington have always tried to solidify the foundations of the national mansions with the eternal rock of truth and spirituality. The politicians who are going to live forever are the direct beneficiaries of his labors, his aspirations, his trials, and great strength. The whole world after all should remember that these national boundaries are all man-made. Time shall again erase these boundaries and as we love to love our nation we must always remember and regard the love and patriotism of all other nations. One’s own patriotism must not exclude the patriotism of others. Our national ideals must not militate against other ideals, but we must find harmony in nations. It was for ideals like this that great men like Lincoln and Washington lived and died.
In studying Washington’s life and his principles, I find he was a man of wide vision; he did not live by the stereotyped customs of his time. He lived for the ideal of freedom and independence inspired only by the love of truth and not by party politics. He is not only an inspiration to America’s best, but he is a source of inspiration to all nations. His love of Truth, his great strength, deep understanding, not only made him America’s national hero, but all nations of the world are proud of him and glorify him.
Let us all with united hearts bless the soul of George Washington that he may forever live in our memory not only in image but a perpetual source of spiritual inspiration of liberty. With Thy grace, with Thy strength, in Thy name, O Spirit, our One Father, we are all gathered here to worship the national hero, the international hero, the inspirer of millions, and we wish him good-will, eternal good-will, for the great services that he rendered to us. In the name of Jesus Christ and the Great Spirit and with our hearts filled with sincerity, love, and gratitude, we offer this wreath in the name of India, America, and all nations.”
East-West Magazine, May-June 1927