The wealth of Somnath attracted many greedy invaders. But it was not just wealth that motivated them. Actually, they were possessed by their exclusive religious ideology which taught them that their god was the only true god and others worshiped just idols. Thus their gods are false gods worth to be destroyed. They believed so much in their fallacy that they thought that if they break the 'idols', the 'idolators' will lose their faith. They did not know that Hindus worship Bhagawan in all the forms. We worship the One who is formless, who is ever present in all the forms and thus even if the forms are broken, the formless continues to exist everywhere, pervading everything. It is like the space in the pot. If the pot is broken, the space continues to exist. The eternal is always present.
Those who hold on to Eternal, cannot be wiped out at the destruction of the ethereal or apparent. This fact, the invaders just failed to understand and so they thought that if the temples were broken, these Hindus would be finished. They did not know that they were attacking India at a very superficial level. And thus the moment the invaders turned their back or as the Hindus gathered back their strength, again and again the grand temples arose. India thus holding on to the Eternal became invincible. The temple of Somnath symbolises the eternal and invincible Bharat.
Someone might ask that if India is Sanatana and invincible, why was there such degradation? Swami Vivekananda answers, 'There have been periods of decay and degradation. I do not attach much importance to them; we all know that. Such periods have been necessary. A mighty tree produces a beautiful ripe fruit. That fruit falls on the ground, it decays and rots, and out of that decay springs the root and the future tree, perhaps mightier than the first one. This period of decay through which we have passed was all the more necessary. Out of this decay is coming the India of the future; it is sprouting, its first leaves are already out; and a mighty, gigantic tree, the Urdhvamula, is here, already beginning to appear...'
Thus the intervening period of degradation was necessary for India to rise again more glorious to respond to the problems of humanity. To manifest the invincibility of India, to make her great again, to enable India to fulfill her ordained mission, Swami Vivekananda emphasized mainly on three things. Firstly, realizing that Dharma is the life center of India, we should practice Dharma vibrantly. Secondly, to unify the scattered spiritual forces of our nation focus on the life-giving common principles of our Dharma so that these are internalized. And thirdly, the need of the organized efforts to enable India to her ordained mission of helping humanity to evolve spiritually.
Dharma: The life center of India
Dharma is the life-center of India. Swami Vivekanand explains this, 'We have seen that our vigour, our strength, nay, our national life is in our Dharma. I am not going to discuss now whether it is right or not, whether it is correct or not, 'whether it is beneficial or not in the long run, to have this vitality in Dharma, but for good or evil it is there; you cannot get out of it, you have it now and for ever, and you have to stand by it, even if you have not the same faith that I have in our Dharma. You are bound by it, and if you give it up, you are smashed to pieces. That is the life of our race and that must be strengthened. You have withstood the shocks of centuries simply because you took great care of it, you sacrificed everything else for it. Your forefathers underwent everything boldly, even death itself, but preserved their Dharma. Temple after temple was broken down by the foreign conqueror, but no sooner had the wave passed than the spire of the temple rose up again. Some of these old temples of Southern India and those like Somnâth of Gujarat will teach you volumes of wisdom, will give you a keener insight into the history of the race than any amount of books. Mark how these temples bear the marks of a hundred attacks and a hundred regenerations, continually destroyed and continually springing up out of the ruins, rejuvenated and strong as ever! That is the national mind, that is the national life-current. Follow it and it leads to glory. Give it up and you die; death will be the only result, annihilation the only effect, the moment you step beyond that life-current. I do not mean to say that other things are not necessary. I do not mean to say that political or social improvements are not necessary, but what I mean is this, and I want you to bear it in mind, that they are secondary here and that Dharma is primary.'
Uniting the Scattered Spiritual Forces
How do we bring together the scattered strength in India? Swami Vivekananda said, 'The one common ground that we have is our sacred tradition, our Dharma. That is the only common ground, and upon that we shall have to build. In Europe, political ideas form the national unity. In Asia, Dharmik ideals form the national unity. The unity in Dharma, therefore, is absolutely necessary as the first condition of the future of India. There must be the recognition of one Dharma throughout the length and breadth of this land. What do I mean by one Dharma? Not in the sense of one religion as held among the Christians, or the Mohammedans, or the Buddhists. We know that our Dharma has certain common grounds, common to all our sects, however varying their conclusions may be, however different their claims may be. So there are certain common grounds; and within their limitation this Dharma of ours admits of a marvellous variation, an infinite amount of liberty to think and live our own lives. We all know that, at least those of us who have thought; and what we want is to bring out these lifegiving common principles of our Dharma, and let every man, woman, and child, throughout the length and breadth of this country, understand them, know them, and try to bring them out in their lives. This is the first step; and, therefore, it has to be taken.'
He further says, 'We see how in Asia, and especially in India, race difficulties, linguistic difficulties, social difficulties, national difficulties, all melt away before this unifying power of Dharma. We know that to the Indian mind there is nothing higher than Dharmik ideals, that this is the keynote of Indian life, and we can only work in the line of least resistance.'
In the speech 'Common bases of Hinduism' given by Swami Vivekananda we read about these life-giving principles. In Spite of the various sampradaya, the principles which are common are to us all are: God is everywhere, the existence is interconnected and interdependent; the manifested existence is without beginning and without end, it just disappears and appears again but is not destroyed; man is not body but Atman; man takes many births as per his karma; death is not an end to existence but just giving up the body to take another one; Atman is ever pure, eternal and immortal; the purpose of human life is to know Atman, our real Self; Dharma is not in believing but in being and becoming.
The need of organized efforts
Swami Vivekananda wanted us to organize to serve the needy and deprived persons in the society at the same time to rejuvenate our motherland. To attack on our temples, like Somnath, we could give a befitting reply only when we organized. The attacks on our civilization and Dharma continue even today though the nature of it is different. The attacks are more at thought level. Thus we need to organize to respond to those attacks. But the organizing ourself is not reactionary in nature. Even if the attacks are not there, we need to organize and work for raising the mankind to the higher consciousness, as only that can solve many problems facing humanity like, disintegration, degradation of nature, excessive individualism, crass selfishness and fanaticism that come out of exclusive religious ideologies. For all this we have to refocus on and internalise our life-giving principles. The thought that led to the formation of Vivekananda Kendra is based on these life giving principles. As Atman is our real Swaroopa, we must have conviction in our Atmic strength, which is eternal. Then while working for the society, whatever might be the problems we shall not crumble. The more we are rooted in our Atman, more we shall feel affinity, oneness with all. And thus working for Dharma, serving others without any apparent expectations like fame, money and power or subtle expectations like satisfaction of ego etc., will become spontaneous. In short, if we hold on to the Eternal, we become invincible; no change in situations, relationships, health status, behaviour of others, our own mental afflictions can deter us from the work for Dharma.
In the book 'Spiritualising Life' Mananeeya Eknathji explains how a Kendra karyakarta should hold on to the unchangeable, the eternal in him so that he can face all the challenges. He says, 'To change the atmosphere, you must have an element of ‘Unchangeable’ in you. The gravitational pulls are so much that unless you are extraordinarily conscious of your own duty and your own role you will be undone in no time. If you have to change the atmosphere there must be some element of ‘unchangeable’ in you. Others change within two minutes, whereas you take five minutes. But you also change. You also don’t have resistance. The question is of only degrees. People fall a victim within 10 minutes and you fall a victim after 20 minutes. How the change could be brought about? So it means there must be at least a few persons who stand out and take upon themselves the responsibilities of bringing about a change in the society. Those who feel ordained to do it; those who feel called upon to do it; what should be their nature, what may be their quality? If in them there is something, some element that makes them different from others, and especially in the society where things are going wrong and only few people are there who can deliver the goods then more responsibilities lie upon them.
'Self-propelled workers do not know going back. Today in our country the situation is like this. Suppose a ton of wet fuel is put on the small fire, it will not be the fuel which will begin to burn. It will be the fire which will get extinguished. There may be fire. But then if the timber is wet, if the wet fuel is going to fall upon that small glow, fire would not be enough to set off the power of the whole lot of fuel. The timber will extinguish the fire. The fire will not burn them. This is the position. So you must have extra-ordinary inspiration in you. Then alone you can bring about a change. So when we say we are preparing a cadre of workers that means specialized cadre who are outstanding, and ordinarily whatever happens those laws are not applicable to them. There is something extra-ordinary in them. Then alone we can think of bringing about a change. We are out to build a team of self-propelled workers. Once they are set in motion, they go ahead. They do not know going back. They don’t have depressions. They don’t know ups and downs. Straight way they must go ahead. They are self-propelled. They never reach a point of exhaustion. This quality of making oneself self-propelled is the most important quality required of a worker if something great is to be achieved. Just as I said earlier that when we set out one should not say that well his capacity to go ahead is only for one year, two years. After two years, he will reach a breaking point. ‘It may be said of all others. But it should not be said of myself. I should not be belonging to that category. I should be self- propelled. Others may require a push.’
This is the spirit of Somnath that if we hold on to the unchangeable, to the eternal, if we hold on to the Atomic power within us, then we can face any challenging situation and we are not crumbled by the challenges of time or place. When we take the darshan of Somnath if we remember this, then as Swami Vivekananda says, 'the temple of Somnath will teach you the volumes of wisdom', we shall really have the insight in the secret of Sanatana and invincible Bharat.
To conclude it in the words of Swami Vivekananda, 'Life is short, but the soul is immortal and eternal, and one thing being certain, death, let us therefore take up a great ideal and give up our whole life to it. Let this be our determination, and may He, the Lord, who "comes again and again for the salvation of His own people", to quote from our scriptures — may the great Krishna Bless us and lead us all to the fulfilment of our aims!'
Nivedita Raghunath Bhide