Thursday 9 December 2021

Gita and Modern Problems

To say that the Bhagavad Gita is a solution to modern problems does not mean that it is a readymade panacea for all our present troubles. The Gita serves to enlighten a person with a philosophy by which he can find solutions to current problems. The book has not lost its relevance with time since it is rooted in eternal truths - truths which are fundamental to humans and to the laws of nature.

The Gita is not just a religious book. Nor is it just a scientific treatise. It is a comprehensive world view. It does not reject spirituality as does Communism. Nor does it deny the realities of worldly existence and material needs. It balances the dual needs of spiritualism and materialism.

For Individual and Society

Another unique feature of the Gita is that it does not concentrate solely on individual 'Moksha'. It seeks to offer itself as a guide to society as well. The symbiotic relationship between the individual and the society is recognized by this book. The Gita exhorts the individual to carry out his duty - ‘Karma’ - so that it serves himself as well as the society around him. There is no scope for spiritual enlightenment of an individual who turns away from society and the material world.

The Gita provides a multifaceted outlook. Different 'darshanas' reveal different paths to spiritual enlightenment. The path of Action - Karma Yoga, the path of Knowledge - Jnana Yoga and the path of Devotion - Bhakti Yoga. In the Gita all these different methods are integrated. In this integrated approach, the different facets of the individual are given due importance. Thus the Gita serves as a blueprint for overall personal development.

Eternal Recurrence

Though the Gita was delivered at a particular period of time at Kurukshetra, its relevance has not been limited by time or space. The battlefield of Kurukshetra and the despair of Arjuna are phenomena of eternal recurrence in the mind. The confusion and despair among the present-day youth is similar to Arjuna's dejection. The weakness which drives our people to suicide when confronted with the simplest of failures, the withering away of ideology and ideals, the arrogance born out of ignorance, the cynicism which rejects as hopeless every effort to reform the society are all but manifestations of an inner despair. A feeling of hopelessness is apparent in the face of the present-day youth who refuses to look at problems squarely in the eye. Arjuna too was in such a predicament. The Bhagavad Gita which once saved Arjuna from his dire predicament is the answer to the demoralization of the present generation.

The Gita starts with an exhortation against weakness. It calls on Arjuna to abandon his despair as despair in no way suits such a brave warrior. This psychological approach is relevant to the youth of India who face a crisis of confidence and identity. It serves as a bulwark against the weakness of spirit which prompts modern day Arjunas to abandon hope and opt for the suicide solution.

A Self-Sufficient Work Ethic

It is not sufficient to reject despair. A positive alternative is required. Here too, the Gita shows the way. Self-help and self-sufficiency is the Gita approach. It is not advisable to depend upon others for self-development. Each individual and each society should develop by independent effort. What happens otherwise? Each one becomes a burden to oneself and to others. Next time the Gita thus provides a model which cautions against the dependence of the present-day youth on foreign help, goods or inspiration.

The book calls on us to be independent and self- sufficient. Do your duty - it says - each one has his own duty. Without this one cannot even support one's own body.

The attitude of our youth which prompts them to desist from dirtying their hands by an honest day's work, an attitude which makes him like the lazy way out. The Karma Yoga is an answer to this destructive work ethic.

The Gita elaborates on the concept of duty. It calls on us to fulfil our 'Karma' with an attitude of devotion - 'Yajna Bhavam'. When the Karma - duty - is done with an attitude of devotion and for the society as a whole it becomes 'Yagna'. One who performs his duty, only for himself, misses this exalted concept. In that case there is no devotion. Even when one cooks food for only oneself, it is considered to be a sin by the Gita philosophy. The Gita calls upon us to give the fruits of Karma to the society and to partake only what is essential for oneself. Such a doer is free from all sin.

Co-operative Development

So the doer is not free to accumulate all the fruits of his own labour. He can take what is needed. Yet he is only a Trustee of the wealth. The owner is the Almighty. The owner is the Society. The doer deserves only the remanents of his offerings. This relationship between Karma and the fruits of Karma is a quantum leap from the ideas of surplus value and exploitation of labour as enunciated in this classical communist/ capitalist dogmas.

Perhaps the most striking part of the Gita philosophy is the idea of Co-operative Development. The scripture rejects the idea that conflict and competition are the methods of achieving the highest good. Instead the emphasis is on co-operation. Competition ensures the survival of the fittest. Yet, the vast majority is marginalized in this rat race. Co-operation on the other hand ensures all-round development. Thus the Gita philosophy takes under its wings the society as a whole. If all of us are but parts of the Almighty, then, is not co-operation the natural path of development? Is not competitive conflict a denial of this holistic concept? Is it not denial of Godliness? Rejecting the western concept of the survival of the fittest as ungodly, the Gita emphasizes on the path of spirituality with co-operative development. It details this idea of wealth distribution.

The model of co-operative development is not confined to man alone. The relationship between man and nature is also part of this model. The scripture calls for co-operation, not just between man and man but between man and the Devas. By 'Devas', the Gita seeks to personify the force of nature. This, it says, can be achieved through Yajna. Yajna i.e. devotion should be according to the laws of nature. When we deviate from its path, we tread through danger, as we go against nature itself. The environmental destruction undertaken by the modern society in the name of development is thus opposed to the teachings of the Gita.

The Gita shows the golden mean which ensures the protection of environment along with the pursuit of 'development'.

The Dharma of W ealth

The Gita is not against the creation of wealth or the pursuit of material happiness. In fact it encourages wealth creation and material enjoyment. But both activities should be based on 'Dharma' and aimed at 'Moksha'. In that context wealth and desire become divine.

When wealth and desire are built on the ideals of Dharma and Moksha, luxury and competitive consumerism become meaningless. When desire, and rage which stems from the denial of the object of desire predominate, sinful actions result. The Bhagavad Gita condemns the trio - Kama, Krodha, Lobha. For, are not the conflict between individuals and nations based on these sins? Does not these lead to suffering?

While condemning this destructive path, the Gita offers solace to the strays. The sinner need not feel dejected. When one turns towards God one automatically becomes cleansed. He becomes 'Dharmathma' and achieves eternal peace of mind. 'My devotee is never destroyed' says Lord Krishna. 'Those who constantly meditate on myself will get everything they need' the Lord promises.

Scientific Spirit

The Gita is scientific to the core. The very spirit of science is the freedom to seek, question, experiment and to accept only if and when one is satisfied. The Gita too accepts and encourages this scientific spirit. It does not call for accepting its philosophy blindly. Nor does it want us to reject other teachings as blasphemy. Even in the midst of the conflict of Kurukshetra the Lord urges Arjuna to question. Afterwards Krishna reinforces the Gita philosophy with a demonstration of his own Eternal, all- encompassing self - the 'Viswa Rupam'. Finally the Lord advises Arjuna to critically analyse everything he (Krishna) has said and only then to adopt whatever he (Arjuna) feels appropriate. No other holy scripture offers such intellectual freedom. The Gita urges us to be critical of even the Vedas. It is this scientific spirit which has maintained its relevance through this yuga of science.

Convergence of EntitiesThe scripture is a guide for our daily life. It is not something put on a pedestal and light lamps to. It is not something you learn daily by heart and then put away. It is something you can live by. The Gita is not something you take up in the sunset of your life. It is something to guide through every stage of your multifaceted existence. Something which will give you material happiness and spiritual enlightenment.

In essence, the Arjuna-Krishna dialogue is but a symbolic one. Arjuna is the warrior. Krishna the philosopher. Arjuna is the doer. Krishna the guide. When there is a convergence between two such entities there will be prosperity and victory of justice. It is such a conference that is desired by everyone. The Gita shows us the path to such a convergence. This is the greatest teaching of the Bhagavad Gita.

P. Parameswaran

Friday 8 October 2021

Celebrating the Womanhood…

History of mankind is full of stories of conquest, acquisition, valorous incidents and subjugation of the vanquished. The one common thing which will find place in all stories is the way women were treated, both by the victors and by the vanquished. Women are subjected to servitude throughout the history. Even in places where religious persecution took place while the men were either converted or killed, the women were taken into the custody of the oppressors. The plight of such women taken into custody by the fundamentalist is something which cannot find a place in any civilized society. They were looked upon as an object of exploitation and were subjected to physical and sexual harassment by the oppressors. The modern society also spins a similar web around the world of women making them an object of enjoyment for men. This is being done so cleverly under the garb of liberalism and freedom, that many women are falling prey to this without knowing that they are the victims. 

Lust and Greed have become the two main reasons for all sort of cultural and moral degradation throughout the world.  Going by this backdrop of history, it will be surprising for us to know that there is an exception to all these stated above. There is one society which viewed women as a divine being. It understood the greatness of women, that all important and indispensable things are viewed as feminine in nature. This is because of the fact they sustain us without expecting anything in return. The rivers, our nation, the nature itself are all viewed as both feminine and divine in our culture. The only way the vagaries of Lust and Greed can be tackled is by training our mind to view all women as our mother and show the same kind of care and affection to them. Swami Vivekananda had insisted on this.

“The ideal woman in India is the Mother, the Mother first, and the Mother last. The word Woman calls up to the mind of the Hindu, Motherhood; and God is called Mother… Is woman a name to be coupled with the physical body only? Ay! The Hindu mind fears all those ideals which say that the flesh must cling unto the flesh. No,no! Woman! Thou shalt not be coupled with anything connected with the flesh. The name has been called Holy once and forever, for what name is there which no lust can ever approach, no carnality ever come near, than the one-word Mother? That is the Ideal in India”. (CWSV, Vol.8, p.58). The worshipping of Mother Goddess is found in many ancient Pagan Civilisations. But it holds a unique and predominant position in the Hindu way of Life. Everything auspicious and valuable is associated with a Mother God. Wealth, Wisdom and Valor, three things which are indispensable to Human Society are expressed as the gift which we get by worshipping Lakshmi, Saraswati and Durga Devis respectively. The intrinsic value of a woman, blossoms into its fullness when she attains the Motherhood. Motherhood is a mental state. It is a mindset which fosters, cares and showers Love and Compassion without expecting anything in return. Mother’s Love is Universal. It is one emotion which is expressed by all living beings. But a Human being is alone capable of showing that love to everyone irrespective of whether they are her children or not. This Motherhood is an expression of Divinity. But there were a lot of undesirable changes which happened in our society due to the influence of the Invasion by outsiders. Due to these changes the position of women deteriorated. The invading cultures thrust their ugly suppressing methods due to which our society felt that the foremost duty of it is to protect its women. 

The Navaratri and Diwali Festivals are all about celebrating these expressions of motherhood. They are celebrated with such splendor and enthusiasm that the same forces which were the cause of the deterioration of the plight of our women, are envious of this atmosphere and are trying to undermine the spirit behind such festivities. We should remind ourselves that the spirit with which these festivities ought to be celebrated are to be kept intact. 


Friday 3 September 2021

Sanatana Dharma: The Basis for Universal Brotherhood

Swami Vivekananda gave his first speech in the Parliament of Religion on 11 September 1893. After that practically every day he spoke in the Parliament in various sessions. On 19th September he spoke on Hindu Dharma. The gist of all his lectures was that there should not be the exclusive claims to truth. The exclusive approach leads to violence. The principles and the life based on these principles like - Oneness of the existence, divinity of man, one manifesting as many – are the basis of universal brotherhood. Universal brotherhood cannot be achieved by forcing everyone to follow the same path. But by realizing the One beyond the many. It was this clarion call of Swami Vivekananda is being celebrated in Vivekananda Kendra as Universal Brotherhood Day on 11 September.

What was the uniqueness of the message of Swami Vivekananda and what is its relevance to India? The Parliament of Religions was organized at Chicago in 1893 to proclaim how Christianity alone was a true religion. In Parliament of Religions everyone was stressing that how his religion is the only true religion. This exclusive approach has led to clashes and violence in the history of mankind. Therefore, the whole history of exclusive religions is written in blood and extermination of communities all over the world. The terror attack on WTC on 11 September 2001 also proved the same thing in the recent years. The world is diverse. No two men or two leaves of the same tree are exactly the same. The mental, attitudinal growth of each person is different so there cannot be only one path to pray to Ishvara. 

Swami Vivekananda stressed that only that approach, which says that each religion is valid for its followers can bring peace to the world. This approach is the inclusive approach. It is inclusive because it understands the creation as the manifestation of One and everything in it as its parts. Therefore, each nation or religion, man or woman, family or community should accept others (not just tolerate) and contribute for the wellbeing of all. Religion cannot be dogmatic. It has to be experiential. This approach alone can bring the brotherhood. Anubhuti of that One which has manifested as many, is the central theme of Sanatana Dharma. India whose life center is Sanatana Dharma has to guide the world which is hampered with dogmatisms and materialism. It is to remind ourselves of the mission of India and also to give this message that we celebrate Universal Brotherhood Day on 11 September. 

India had forgotten her mission. To awaken us to give this message that Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa took birth in 1836, exactly in the year when Macaulay introduced his ‘Minutes on Education’ to enslave our minds completely and permanently. 

The Macaulay education was deliberately designed to ridicule certain aspects of our Dharma. 

That Hindus are idol worshippers, 

They worship devils, 

Their languages are very crude and unless they learn English they cannot develop, 

India can be saved only if Hindus give up their Dharma and accept Jesus as the only son of God and Christianity as the only true religion. 

India is crude as she lives mostly in villages

Sri Ramakrishna's life was exactly to show the fallacy in each of these points. 

Sri Ramakrishna's whole spiritual Sadhana starts with idol worship. He showed through his Sadhana that we Hindus do not worship idols but worship God and realize Him through these idols. Thus, in all his Sadhanas he saw Only God everywhere and yet his worship through idols continued. Thus, worship of God in idols is the necessity of the beginner and is also the understanding of the realized. Because once the Truth is realized, one finds God in all that is around. 

His chosen deity for the idol worship was Kali whose terrible form may appear as devil for those who are in the nursery of spirituality. But he, by his Sadhana, realized Her as Mother of the Universe. 

He did not know English and yet the educated scholars like Keshav Chandra Sen, Narendranath Dutta sat at his feet to get the knowledge. Thus, he showed that ultimate knowledge to be acquired is beyond senses and languages. What matters is not scholarship but experiencing the Divine. 

He practiced various sadhanas including praying to Jesus and yet he remained in the Hindu Dharma nurtured by the Rishi tradition. He realized by his spiritual practices that Jesus was a son of God but not the only son of God. By his Sadhana of the exclusive religions he proved that exclusive claims by Abrahamic religionists is incorrect. After undergoing all types of spiritual practices, he said, "The Hindu religion alone is the Sanatana Dharma. The various creeds you hear nowadays have come into existence through the will of God and will disappear again through His will. They will not last forever. Therefore, I say, "I bow down at the feet of even the modern devotees." The Hindu religion has always existed and will always exist." (The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna 6 Ed, P. 610) Sanatana Dharma is not about many Gods or One God but is based on the vision that there is only God. The whole creation is only an expression of God and God alone. This vision leads to inclusive and universal approach as everything becomes sacred and divine.

He was born and brought up in village and his life underlined that the villages of India do not denote crudeness or backwardness but are rich in spirituality.    

Swami Vivekananda was a disciple of such a person. Thus, it was very natural that when Swami Vivekananda went to America to participate in the Parliament of Religions, he stressed that all religions are valid for their followers. The whole Sadhana of Sri Ramakrishna was behind his words. And, therefore, his speech created such an everlasting impact.   

Romain Rolland puts the effect in the following words. " On Monday, September 11, 1893, the first session of the Parliament was opened...but it was the young man (Vivekananda) who represented nothing – and everything – the man belonging to no sect, but rather to India as a whole, who drew the glance of the assembled thousands...his speech was like a tongue of flame, it fired the souls of the listening throng.... Each of the other orators had spoken of his God, of the God of his sect. He – he alone – spoke of all their Gods, and embraced them all in the Universal Being. It was the breath of Ramakrishna, breaking down the barriers through the mouth of his great disciple... During the ensuing days he spoke again ten or twelve times. Each time he repeated with new arguments but with the same force of conviction his thesis of a universal religion without limit of time or space, uniting the whole Credo of human spirit from the enslaved fetishism of the savage to the most liberal creative affirmations of modern science. He harmonised them into a magnificent synthesis, which...helped all hopes to grow and flourish according to their own proper nature. There was to be no other dogma but the divinity inherent in man and his capacity of indefinite evolution... The effect of these mighty words was immense. Over the heads of the official representatives of the Parliament they were addressed to all and appealed to outside thought. Vivekananda's fame at once spread abroad, and India as a whole benefited..." 

“Swami Vivekananda, who completely surrendered himself to his most wonderful Master Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, could have easily given in to the temptation of talking about him. But then, he was there to represent all Hindus, the whole Rishi tradition. So in the true spirit of a Hindu, his speech gave the common principles of Hindus of all sects. In Sister Nivedita's words, "Of the Swami's address before the Parliament of Religions, it may be said that when he began to speak it was of 'the religious ideas of the Hindus', but when he ended, Hinduism was created…. For it was no experience of his own that rose to the lips of the Swami Vivekananda there. He did not even take advantage of the occasion to tell the story of his Master. Instead of either of these, it was the religious consciousness of India that spoke through him, the message of his whole people, as determined by their whole past...Others stood beside the Swami Vivekananda, on the same platform as he, as apostles of particular creeds and churches. But it was his glory that he came to preach a religion to which each of these was, in his own words, 'only a traveling, a coming up, of different men, and women, through various conditions and circumstances to the same goal".

Swamiji who was proud of his religion and nation, which he unequivocally proclaimed there, could have stressed the greatness of his religion alone. But then he was there to represent the 'inclusive' and therefore, the universal aspects of Hindu Dharma so as to guide all other religions on the path of Universality. Though he never mentioned the name of Sri Ramakrishna or any other Rishi in his speech it was only their teachings that he spoke. In one of his letters he wrote, "But there is one thing to know: Great sages come with special messages for the world, and not for name; but their followers throw their teachings overboard and fight over their names-this is verily the history of the world. I do not take into any consideration whether people accept his name or not, but I am ready to lay down my life to help his teachings, his life, and his message spread all over the world."     

Thus, if anyone insists on the name and form of God as the only true name and only true form then it would lead to clashes. The insistence on name and form brings divisions. If we stress on the ‘message’ alone then Brotherhood is possible, because any realized soul is inclusive and therefore Universal in approach. A really spiritual person has to be inclusive. If someone claims spiritual status but is exclusive in approach, criticizes others’ Gods means the claim of spirituality is false. 

After his return from the West, Swamiji exhorted India to accomplish her world mission to give this knowledge for the evolution of humanity. For that she should raise herself. He asserted that Santana Dharma is the life center of India. Thus, to practice Dharma one also has to work for the country. His inspiring message moved many to fight for the freedom of India. This year we shall also be celebrating the 75 years of the Independence. 

The freedom movement was inspired by this vision that India has to raise not for herself but for the whole of humanity; she needs to be independent to express her national soul in all walks of life. Thus, Swami Vivekananda gave the ‘rousing call to the Hindu nation’ to be ‘Jagadguru’. Sri Aurobindo shared his realization that Sanatana Dharma is the nationalism, is the identity of India. Sri Bankimchandra envisaged her as the ‘Dashpraharandharini Durga’. Mahatma Gandhi aspired Ramrajya to commence with the independence of India. The visions of all these great persons are yet to be fully realized. 

Though the advent of Sri Ramakrishna put full stop to the dream of Macaulay- missionaries- colonial rulers combine to convert whole of India, but even after the Independence in 1947, we are not fully de-colonized mentally, intellectually and religiously. The year 2036 would be 200th year of the advent of Sri Ramakrishna and just after 11 years from it, would be the 100th year of Independence of India from the colonial rule. As we celebrate the completion of the 75 years of Independence, we should also make a resolve that by 2047 i.e., when India completes 100 years of Independence, the soul of India would manifest is all walks of national life and India would guide the world in spiritualty. Only when the Sanatana Dharma is understood and practiced world over, (Ishtadevatas and paths for religious practices could be many), the universal brotherhood would be experienced by the humanity. This role India is destined to play. Let us work towards such universal brotherhood.

Nivedita Raghunath Bhide

Wednesday 4 August 2021


 In our public life today, we find that any group that feels aggrieved and wants the government to remove the cause of its grievances, resorts to destruction of public property as well as violence to public life by attempting to paralyse it. The idea, that more such disruption and destruction is wrought in support of an agitation, the more will be its efficacy to achieve the desired ends has now become a dictum and a formula for agitators of all categories.

Curiously enough, the above formula has never failed the agita­tors, so far, during the last over twenty five years of our independence. In recent history, the willful destruction of public property to ventilate one’s demands and to pressurise the government into yielding to them, was resorted to by our people, perhaps for the first time, during the Quit India Movement of 1942. But as the country was then under foreign rule, that measure could be justified by treating it as only a variant of what has been known as the ‘scorched earth’ policy of destroying one’s own national wealth, such as standing crops, bridges, water-reservoirs and other means of sustenance and supply to deny their use to the invading enemy forces. But its use as a political weapon by various groups of people, to coerce one’s own govern­ment, as is widely prevalent in India today, is totally un-understandable and extremely unfortunate.

How to account for this suicidal technique presently adopted by all political parties as well as other organised groups such as trade unions and student’s fronts in the country ? The following may be the only two valid reasons. Firstly, many people seem to be unaware of the amount of national wealth we are losing by every such orgy of violence and disruption and of the total damage caused to us on account of the destruction of our assets and resources as well as of the dissipation of human energy and time leading to inevitable loss of production, during-the last twenty five years. It will be worthwhile for someone to calculate and work out statistical figures of the total loss suffered by the country over the years and present them to our people. This knowledge may perhaps open their eyes and may, eventually, dissuade them from indulging in these orgies. Had our people not taken to this path of self-liquidation, the resources saved thereby might well have been more than enough to connect every village in the country with an all-weather road, provide every dry field with irrigation water, furnish every needy place with electric power and, perhaps as a result of all this, give every hand some fruitful work to do.

The other reason for this state of affairs is that the spirit of patrio­tism and the sense of national consciousness that were present in the people during our freedom struggle against British rule have, since the advent of freedom, undergone heavy corrosion, contrary to the natural expectation that these higher sentiments would get more and more intensified. In this, the worst affected is the educated class which provides leadership to a
ctivities in all spheres of national life. No one can concede that even the educated are ignorant of the heavy price the country has been paying on account of the destruction of public property and the breakdown of public life that accompany all violent agitations in which many of them not only merrily indulge but are also seen to be in the forefront. The only conclusion one can draw from this is that the national good has now ceased to be of the highest value in the minds of at least those among the educated who follow that course. What we witness today in our country is, indeed, the most unfortunate spectacle. On the one hand, the vision of Mother India that remained enthroned in the hearts of her children till recently as their supreme object of devotion is being slowly lost sight of by them. On the other hand, a tendency to regard their own respective group-interests, either regional, linguistic, economic or political as the be-all and end-all of life has been fast growing. In short, the place of higher values is being usurped by unworthy ones.

Some may argue that neither of the explanations given above is correct. They may say that there is no justification for doubting the patriotism of persons simply because they take to violence resulting in the destruction of their own national wealth and that we need not form so poor an opinion also about the illiterate sections of our countrymen that they are unaware of the colossal loss that is being suffered by our country on that account. Their own explanation may be simply this, that the people are compelled to take to these methods only out of righteous indignation and after having exhausted all peaceful means of getting justice and fair play from the government.

The above explanation amounts to accepting the view that patriotic behaviour is only a conditional obligation and can be waived if those conditions are not fulfilled. In other words, it may mean that people are expected to be patriotic, i.e. devoted to their country and to work for its welfare, only if the government of the day gives good and just administration and that the citizens are duty-bound to act patrioti­cally only to the extent that the above mentioned condition-precedent is fulfilled by the government. But, is this the proper view? According to our traditional way of thinking, to be patriotic is an ABSOLUTE DUTY on the part of every national. It has no corresponding rights whatsoever, as any of the ‘relative duties’ may have. To act patrioti­cally, i.e. to act in the interest of one’s nation and to refrain from any act that may be detrimental to it, is a CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE. If the people are dissatisfied with the performance of their government, they have every right to oust that government, lock, stock and barrel. In fact, patriotism demands of them that they remove from power a bad or a wicked government. But, more than that, it demands that the means employed by the people for such an overthrow of one’s own government, do not cripple the country and defeat the very purpose they propose to serve.

Thursday 8 July 2021

Utsarati Iti Utsava

 Guru Purnima: We all enjoy festivals. Utsavas - festivals are for cultural continuation, for expressing the joy of life, strengthening the collectives like family, community, society, and nation and for expressing the gratitude towards the creation. Utsarati iti utsava - Festival is that which elevates us.

India is full of various festivals. The characteristic of our festivals is that no festival is without pooja. No festival is just for merry-making though in every festival we do enjoy. The festivals are to make us relevant in time as well as to continue our tradition. That is what made Hindu dharma and our nation as Nitya Nootan Chira Puratan - that is ‘ever new and most ancient’. Some festivals are celebrated ceremoniously with all splendour on large scale and some are celebrated quietly but very meaningfully. The festival of Gurupurnima comes in the second category. This year the Gurupurnima festival is coming on 23rd July.

This festival is celebrated on Ashadhi Purnima which is Jayanti - the birth anniversary of Maharishi Veda Vyasa, a son of  Rishi Parashar and  fisherwoman Satyawati. What was his work that made him so exalted a being that on his birthday Gurupurnima is celebrated? He did a fourfold work.

First, when he saw that the Vedas, which are a voluminous store of knowledge discovered by seers over the ages, were in the fear of getting extinct, he collected and compiled them.

Second, to protect Vedas, he allotted its Shakhas (branches) to various families to be preserved by Guru-Shishya tradition. That is in a family, father would teach to his son and along with that to some other willing and deserving children. It would also happen that the children would come from far off places and stay with the reputed Guru who would treat them as part of his own family. Gradually, the famous Gurukula system of India developed. In today's language it was the most extensive and privatized system of education in the world. Thus a very natural way of protection of knowledge as it was family based was devised by him.

Third, it was not just the Vedas but all the other branches of knowledge called as Upavedas like Ayurveda including Surgery; Sthapatya Veda which means sculpture including everything related to construction with metals, stones, mortars and wood; Gandharva Veda covering music, vocal and instrumental, dance, drama etc; Dhanurveda all skills and knowledge related to military warfare were also systematized by Veda Vyasa allotting its branches to various families and communities. Thus each family of every community became a repository of a branch of knowledge and so continuing the family tradition got equated with continuance of knowledge.

Fourth, for the common man to understand the Vedic truth he also composed Puranas and Mahabharat, so that the application of Vedic truth in life is clear to all. Religion is not just in believing but in being and becoming. Not just the information about one's religion but realizing the truths and then expressing it in our lives was the aim of Sanatana Dharma.

In this Guru-sishya tradition, the knowledge is learnt by observing the life of the Guru who may be one's own parents or a realized soul. Veda Vyasa succeeded in preserving and inculcating the respect for tradition. It is because of Vyasa that our Vedic knowledge survived and also the importance of Guru-tradition got established. Thus this is a day to remember all the Gurus who have contributed in continuation and propagation of our eternal tradition.

This sacred day also marks the very first transmission of the yogic sciences from Bhagwan Shiva - the Adiyogi or First Yogi - to the Saptarishis, the seven celebrated sages. Thus, the Adiyogi became the Adi Guru or the First Guru on this day. The Saptarishis carried this knowledge offered by Adiyogi throughout the world. Even today, every spiritual process on the planet draws knowingly or unknowingly from the knowledge given by Adiyogi.

Therefore, traditionally this is also the day to remember our whole tradition of Guru starting with Bhagwan Siva and to offer our respects to the Guru who guides us in life, who has handed over the tradition of knowledge and wisdom to us. This is also a day to express our gratitude and commitment to the Guru for carrying forward our culture vibrantly, with the vision of 'Krinvanto Vishwamaryam - let us make the whole world noble.'

Paying our obeisance to Guru on the day of Gurupurnima also means that like Veda Vyasa we shall work to protect our culture in changed times. We have to train our mind that we learn from everything and everyone around us about how to move toward our goal. On Gurupurnima day, let all of us introspect, analyze and vow to do our best for `1fulfilling our responsibilities towards our Country, Our Dharma and our society.

Tuesday 1 June 2021

Face the trouble with Optimism

The entire Humanity is now engulfed with fear and pessimism. The fear of death is now more protruding than at any time in the last century. This virus has taken the Human Mind for a toll. The daily tolls and new case numbers are only adding fuel to the already blazing fear. This results in constant pumping of cortisol by our body which will be very harmful. But what is the way out? Thanks to our traditional wisdom we have the way. Yes, our Yoga is the panacea to all these evils caused by mental stress. Yoga teaches us to ward of the negative thinking in an easy manner. Yoga Sutras of Sage Patanjali teaches us the method called ‘Prati Paksha Bha- vanam’. 
It will not be possible for a person to stop having one particular thought. Instead he can adopt the method of ‘Prati Paksha Bhavanam’ wherein he has constantly think of the opposite. So to avoid having negative thoughts, we should dwell about positive issues more. When a negative thought comes up, counter act it with a positive thought. If one gets carried away by the negative thought process, then the reaction that one expresses will also be negative. So we should consciously allow the Positive thoughts to fill up the Mind. When the mind is caught in the wheels of Rajas and Tamas, stress and anxiety are experienced. But positive thought which are basically Sattwic in nature, brings Bliss and Peace to the Mind. Filling up the mind with positivity will en- sure there is no space of negativity. When we worry about our health, we attract ill-health. On the other hand, when focusing on feelings of appreciation, happiness, hope, love, joy and peace, all such emotions are positive and uplifting and so act on the body and mind to restore and maintain bal- ance and harmony and actually stimulate circulation and nutrition bringing to you wonderful experiences. 
 The one who does not allow himself to focus on or be influenced or con- trolled by fears or forebodings is the one who ordinarily does not yield to discouragements or disappointments. He who focuses on thoughts that evoke feeling good about oneself is continually drawing to him/her good things to happen. The good feeling thoughts are continually helping to actualize his/her vibration in the realm of the material and spiritual worlds. 
Yuva Bharati - Editorial Team

Monday 3 May 2021

Yoga to the rescue.

 History has seen several pandemics. Nearly 500 million people have perished due to pandemics in the last 12 millenniums, says a study. The modern world with all its advancements in medicine and technology is beset with another problem now.  That is the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which will affect a considerable number of people even after the wave of virus recedes. People who themselves have suffered due to the virus attack; people who have learnt about the death of their dear ones but could not attend the funeral due to the restrictions in travel; people who have exposed themselves constantly to aversive details through social media; people who have first-hand experience of the suffering, e.g. Doctors, Hospital personnel. Health care workers etc, are bound to be affected by this problem.

Apart from this direct impact of the virus there are other causes which will also impair a person’s psyche in an enormous way, such as, social isolation, unemployment, economic losses etc. The fear of virus exposure may go away from the public memory, but the terrible experience due to the above mentioned reasons will have a lasting impact. This stress and depression will lead to many other health problems. Many studies are being undertaken throughout the world to gauge the psychological impact of this pandemic. 

We can take solace from the fact that the Humanity has bounced back to normalcy from the earlier pandemic attacks. This time too that will happen though with a little bit more difficulty. The very advancements in the fields of Medicine and Technology, which have made our life cozy and with more longevity, it will also be the one to impede our recovery. Because, the recovery essentially asks for a minimalistic life style, which is antithetical to the modern life style. But the bitter pill has to be swallowed nevertheless, in order to come out of this dreadful state.

This is where organizations like Vivekananda Kendra have a role to play in the society. The resultant mental fatigue of the Covid Pandemic can be tackled by switching over to the Yoga way of life. Though this is something which organizations like ours, do regularly, now there is a dire need to do this activity with more intensity and far wider outreach. Manah prasamanah upaya yoga- ityabhi dhiyate, It is a subtle technique to tackle the problems which arise in the Mind, says Yoga Vasishta. This is the purpose of Yoga too. This science is more needed now to Humanity than at any other point of time in the History.



Saturday 24 April 2021

syāt pradānaṁ tato’dhikam

 India’s role in helping the world community to wriggle itself out of the present Pandemic crisis is a sign that it is coming of age to assume its role of Jagadguru. The “Vaccine Maitri” initiative is a step towards that goal. When the panic driven world succumbed economically due to the spread of virus, very few would have expected that the solution will come from India. But the supposedly developing country had the answer to this global threat. Out of the vaccines which have been developed, the Indigenously developed Covaxin has found a lot of recipients in the world.  Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that India has extended medical and other assistance to more than 150 countries in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. But apart from this Our Great land has something more to offer as a relief to the Humanity. It is the spiritual solution to the other more dangerous pandemic called Religious Fundamentalism. The world should listen to sane voice of India once the pandemic dust settles in. Swami Vivekananda said that, “Every other problem in life must be subordinated to that one principle theme(religion). That is also the law of Harmony in music. There may be a nation whose theme of life is Political Supremacy; religion and everything else must become subordinate to that one great theme of its life. But here is another nation whose great theme of life is Spirituality and renuncia
tion, whose one watchword is that this world is all Vanity and a delusion of three days”. 

The world direly needs the lesson of unselfishness now. Because there can be no Spiritual Journey possible where selfishness resides. India’s recent showing is an example of how a country, if properly guided by men of extraordinary will, can give the world a practical lesson in being unselfish. Giving more to the society than what we actually recive from it. Even when our own society is reeling under the threat of the Pandemic, India has extended its helping hand to several countries, many of which are very poor ones. The real test of an evolved society lies in the way it handles the obstacles and we have proved to the world that we are capable of guiding them.



Freedom of expression

 The chaos witnessed during the Republic day in our Capital were unprecedented. To our shock and dismay we saw our national flag being disrespected and brought down. This unpardonable crime has some back ground instigators and plotters who are all lined up before the law now. The act by one Disha Ravi is being probed by the police and the very same probe is being questioned by the liberals as an act which undermines the freedom of expression. But does it fall under the ambit of freedom of expression? Can we really afford to brush aside such seditious acts under the garb of freedom of expression? Supporting the farmer’s agitation is one, but aligning with known Khalistani separatists is another one.  It is an act which undermines our sovereignty. An act which lowered the dignity of our national Flag, that too on the occasion of our Republic day, cannot be pardoned so easily. It cannot be construed as an innocent act which exceeded its limit.  She has worked in tandem with a Canada based organization which aims at breaking India and spread riots on the republic day just to defame our elected Government and bring it down as a result. 

Citing her age is not justified as even juveniles can be tried under adult laws considering severity of the offences they commit. And she is not that young to take shelter under that argument either. When a girl is trapped in Love jihad, the liberals who give vocal support to the Jamats say that the girl is an adult and she is capable of making her own decisions. But when it comes to such seditious acts they take refuge under the argument that she is not matured enough to understand the consequences of her acts. This argument has two fallacies wrapped into one. One they accept that the act is such a grievous one, and that they accept she has committed a crime against the Nation. Second is the fact that she is not a juvenile. As an educated adult individual she knows very well the consequences of her actions. She calls herself a climate activist and such a person cannot be presumed to be an innocent one when it comes to the issue which is of grave concern as far as our National Security is concerned. Law cannot presume a person to be ignorant especially when they have committed a crime against the Nation. The question also arises that if she feels that she is not guilty then why did she erase all the chats? The toolkit which she edited and sent to others to mobilize force to fight against the country is an offence against our Nation. The breaking India forces are working in unison. Time for us to gather all the scattered energies to work for the Nation.



Thursday 8 April 2021

Need for Bharat.

 The world at present is witnessing two extremes of attitudes, the good and the bad, from two of the oldest of nations. The bad came from China and the entire Humanity suffered because of the Covid 19 Virus, which apparently originated from the labs of Wuhan.  More than 99 million people got affected by this Virus and around 2.13 million people perished in the last eight months due to this deadly biological weapon unleashed by the Chinese. Gone are the days of conventional wars. Nowadays the wars are fought by such surreptitious means, for which the world has to be prepared. Man has proved once again that he is the worst enemy of Humanity and also for the entire environment. 

Quite contrary to this unethical warfare another oldest nation has displayed what goes to prove that all is not lost for Humanity. India has developed a vaccine for this deadly virus and apart from giving relief to its countrymen it has also given succor to its neighboring countries and other poor and under developed counties.  India has announced that it will give the Vaccine to many of its neighbors and to some at free of cost. Already shipment of vaccine has reached Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Mauritius and Seychelles, just days after India launched its own nationwide inoculation program. This is also an effort to preempt the rich countries who would attempt to hoard vaccines by striking pre-purchase deals with pharmaceutical companies, across the world. India has also sent the vaccine to Brazil and the Brazil president Jair Messias Bolsonaro has equated India’s effort to that of Lord Hanuman bringing the Sanjeevani mountain to bring Lakshmana alive in the Ramayana war. Last year also India came to the aid of Brazil and USA when they needed anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine. This move of sending the vaccine in millions to the South Asian Counties will also be a move to counter the dominance China has in this region. India has clearly sent a subtle signal to the world that it will not be creating any problems but rather will be part of the solution. This is DHARMA in action.

Swami Vivekananda's historic meditation on the Sreepada Shila in Kanyakumari

Have you ever heard of a young unknown Wandering Monk doing Dhyana to know the root cause of the downfall of a great nation from its pinnacle of spiritual glory to the depth of degradation?

Have you ever heard a young sanyasi with full of vigour and vitality, doing Dhyana in the midst of ocean, in an isolated spot, to plan for the revitalisation of the dormant Hindu Society, living like worms in the gutter water under the tyranny of British rule.

Yes! It happened at Kanyakumari, the holy Sreepadam of Bharat Mata where the three oceans meet to wash Mother’s feet uninterruptedly from time immemorial.

That young monk was Swami Vivekananda who reached Kanyakumari on 24th December 1892 after a long and strenuous journey starting from Kolkata in the year 1888.  In his long and hazardous sojourn he visited most of the holy places of North India and then came down to south after covering the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Mysore and Travancore Cochin. It was a great education for the youthful Swamiji meeting people face to face and knowing their trials and tribulations. He had occasion to live with Kings, princes, rich businessmen, intellectuals and also often with common men. He could visit many of the historical places of India and saw how many Hindu temples, libraries and cultural centres were want only destroyed by the unscrupulous and barbaric Muslim invaders. He also could gauge to what extent India’s treasuries containing precious wealth were looted by the British rulers. He could see with his own eyes how the masses of India are living in poverty and disease. Swamiji’s heart pained to see how the English educated Indians were serving the British masters, forgetting their own brothers living in most pitiable condition.

He reached Kanyakumari with a very heavy heart. He remembered his Guru Sri Ramakrishna’s words: “Naren, you have to do Mother’s work”. But Swami Vivekananda was not very clear about what his Guru had said while he was alive. Having reached Kanyakumari, as a worshipper of Shakthi, Swamiji decided to go to the temple of Goddess Kanyakumari, one of the oldest and well-known places of Devi worship in the southern part of India. He entered the temple and prostrated before the deity, with tears rolling down from his eyes and deep pain in heart. He sat and prayed to the Goddess, “How can I serve you, Oh Mother! Are you not able to see the living condition of your children under a unholy regime. Show me the way that I can be an instrument in Thy hands, for giving them freedom from the foreign yoke. Let my country and my people regain their lost glory and manliness”.

After having a face to face dialogue with Mother, who was personified in the beautiful deity, Swamiji came out of the temple. What a beautiful sight was waiting for him! A long stretch of beach of colourful sand, comprising red, black and white spread out to the far extent. Swamiji walked in the beach for some time. He saw the confluence (Sangam) of the three oceans. Also he could see from the beach, the Rock, known as Sreepada shila. He learnt from the people moving around in the beach that the Rock in the midst of the ocean has a Foot print of Goddess Parvati and local Hindus visited the Rock during the festival days. As he heard this he felt an intense urge to go to the Rock and spend some time in that isolated spot, in contemplation.

His urge was so intense that he jumped into the sea and swam to the Rock, all alone, braving the waves and sharks. He climbed over the rock and saw the foot print of Goddess Parvati. As he looked towards North, he could see the vastness and feel the greatness of our Motherland. Swamiji could visualise the undivided Hindu Rashtra extending her cultural influence by peaceful means from Iran, Afghanistan to South East Asia.

Soon the young Swamiji fell into a deep meditation. It was a meditation, not for his own mukti, but for the salvation of an age old nation and its people from the oppressive foreign domination.  Sri. P.Parameswaranji, writes in his preface to the book titled “Arise! Awake!!” Swamiji’s quest for the eternal covers millennia of India’s history at the spiritual level which of course is the true source and strength of India in all its facets of national life. Naturally, it is the saints and sages, spiritual stalwarts whose appearance at each turning point of our national life that shaped our collective identity and made it what it is. Not that India was lagging behind other nations, in material advancement and achievement, but the governing principle that influenced all such endeavours was spirituality”.

After three days and night of deep meditation, Swamiji regained his consciousness. The epoch making Dhyana transformed the young Sanyasi, from an ordinary monk to a world teacher, to a great social reformer, an organizer par - excellence, a spiritual dynamo. Yes! Saviour of Mother India and her children has arrived on the world stage. It was the beginning of the eruption of a spiritual volcano, which is going to unleash its hither to hidden powers for the next several generation. No power on the earth can stop it. It is the power of a “Shakti”, which wanted to work through Swami Vivekananda”.

On reaching the mainland, when asked by some curious people as to what was he doing for such long time, he simply replied that the world will come to know about it very soon. But at Madras while he was talking to some of his close disciples he said, “At Kanyakumari sitting at the last bit of Indian soil, I hit upon a plan”!  He further elaborated that his plan was to organise the Hindus and awaken their dormant spiritual power. During his long wandering he could see the people of Bharat are divided into various caste and groups. Nowhere he saw unity among Hindus. He saw not only a disorganised Hindu society but also one which lost its spiritual moorings. Therefore Swamiji’s epic meditation on the rock gave him the vision and mission for the life.

Swargeeya Eknathji Ranade, the spirit behind the Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Vivekananda Kendra, while describing the posture of the Statue installed on the Memorial, said, “that it is a very unique posture. I wanted it to be seen by all that the Swamiji has just got up from his meditation with full of determination to do something great. Swamiji’s face and eyes reflects “Gambeerya” (firmness), his erect body shows the power, of lightening, and his putting right foot forward indicates, the onset of a spiritual tornado.

Swamiji felt that the time tested Vedanta philosophy of oneness must be taken to the west. There was no point in teaching this philosophy to the starving millions of our country. What they need immediately is food, water, shelter, clothe to wear and medicines. Swamiji said, “Yes, I shall go to the West, where the materialism rules. I will give the West, the message of Vedanta and in turn get material help and modem science and technology for our countrymen who are in dire need of it.

On 11th September 1893, a Vedantic tidal wave hit the Parliament of Religions at Chicago, which was organised to show the supremacy of the Christianity over rest of the world. Swami Vivekananda, in his inaugural speech of 2 ½  minutes duration set fire to the vast assembly, which reverberated from one corner to another corner of the world. The speech mystified the whole audience and brought a great attitudinal change in their mindset towards Santana Dharma and particularly about India. That day onwards, the Vedanta of the Hindus took the center stage. From Chicago, the Vedantic tidal wave spread to whole of America, Britan and France. Hither to unknown Indian sub-continent turned into a spiritual lighthouse for the humanity.

After his historic triumph over the west, Swamiji returned to India in 1897 to a rousing welcome given to a sanyasi hitherto unknown in the history of our nation. Seeing the overwhelming reception given to him by the people of Madras, Swamiji, while addressing the vast gathering of young men and women told; “For the next fifty years this alone shall be our key-note-this, our great Mother India. Let all other vain gods disappear for the time from our minds. This is the only God that is awake, our own race - “everywhere his hands, everywhere his feet, everywhere his ears, he covers everything.” All other Gods are sleeping. What vain gods shall we go after and yet cannot worship the God that we see all around us, the Virat? When we have worshipped this, we shall be able to worship all the other Gods what is needed is chittashuddhi, purification of the heart. And how does that come?  First of all worship is the worship of the Virat ……. of those all around us.  Worship it …. These are all our gods - men and animals; and the first God we have to worship are our countrymen. These we have to worship, instead of being jealous of each other and fighting with each other. It is the most terrible Karma for which we are suffering and yet it does not open our eyes (CW-III 300-301).

Eknathji Ranade, therefore very aptly adopted the Motto of Vivekananda Kendra as “Serve man- Serve God”, with the twin objectives of Man-making and Nation building as envisaged by Swami Vivekananda.

There is only one way of organising the Hindu society, that is by rendering Nishkama Seva and there by slowly awakening the dormant divinity covered with impurity and selfishness.

Vande Mataram



Friday 2 April 2021

Bhagavad Gita- to revitalize ourselves.

 The main aim of mankind in all its endeavor is progress. Evolution is also a result of our attempt in making progress. But time and again humanity suffers a lot of digression in its path due to various reasons. Recent pandemic is one such reason which has put the entire mankind on back foot. It has taken a heavy toll on all the nations and the time to recover from this is something which no one can predict. Apart from the schemes aimed at political and economic revival of Nations there is a lot need to be done to take care of the Individual too. The battered psyche of the Individual needs some solace to recover. It has to get back its lost courage. Each and every nation has its own cultural genius to tide over such turbulences. The best among that is our Bhagavad Gita. It is the best possible choice with which we can rediscover our mental poise and courage.

A nation can become strong only if its citizens are strong, happy, healthy, self-sacrificing, and courageous. If they are unhealthy, corrupt, selfish and immoral then the nation can seldom travel on the path of prosperity. Swami Chinmayananda says, “In Individual redemption lies National Redemption and progress”.   Bhagavad Gita teaches us not only about the path of liberation but also the ways to get over our anxiety and fear. Fear is a most dominant emotion and tackling it is a very important aspect in our life. The way we tackle it and overcome it defines the quality of our life. Many time we are hesitant to face this and confine ourselves into our cocoon thinking that as our comfort zone. Our doubts, our dilemmas, our hesitations, our lack of initiative are all various forms of fear only. Bhagavad Gita goes to the root of the problem and addresses it. It makes a person to have a proper perspective of his/her self. With this understanding comes a great realization and with that comes peace and equanimity to the mind. Arjuna was a personification of fear and it was the reason for his confusion.  Sri Krishna through Bhagavad Gita, gave him the much wanted realization and thus energized him to face the battle against the greatest of warriors. The same Bhagavad Gita has energized our society time and again whenever there was a slump in its fortitude. The recent woes can also be addressed by going back to the same eternal source of courage and wisdom. Gita Jayanti falls on December 25th and let us all restart our swadyaya with our study of Bhagavad Gita.