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Spirituality — the new culture of Harmony and Brotherhood
A talk given by Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari on 25th Decemeber, 2003 at Kolkata, India
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I love Bengal and Bengali. Like Brother Tapan, I also studied here at St. Xavier’s College. I have and I will continue to have great love and reverence for Swami Vivekananda, whom I have personally considered to be one of the greatest Indians ever to grace this karma bhoomi [field of action, earth] of ours. It is a shame that as we say in Tamil or in Hindi or in English or in any language: No great man is respected, loved in his own country. I hope my Bengali brothers and sisters will not be upset about it. In Bengal we have lots of places associated with the name of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekananda, but few people follow their teaching or their way of spirituality.
All good things, especially in India, we export. You know our best bananas go abroad, our best mangoes go abroad, our best intellects go abroad, our spirituality goes abroad and we have to re-import it. You know, everything in India was originally Indian. Until the British ruled us, we imported cement, we imported iron, we imported steel; we only did not import human beings because that is the one thing in which we are highly capable of manufacturing. But today we are also exporting humans. You know, much of the so-called information technology in the computer sciences—the people manning them are people of Indian origin who are selling their brains abroad, putting on foreign clothes, getting westernised, eating what they themselves call junk food, and pretending to be great. And like the Bandar-log [monkey people] of Kipling they say, “We all say so, so we must be great.” Greatness should abide where it was born. Like a human being is in his heart, not in his head or in his feet; the existence, the summum bonum of human existence, is in the heart. The Veda says—hridayam tat vijaaneeyaat. That [referring to the heart] is where the Lord himself resides, and the Lord must have the human heart as his residence and that heart must have its residence in a human body. Divinisation comes from inside, good things come from outside.
So as Tapan pointed out, as he tried to quote what Babuji Maharaj said, “Read and enjoy, do and feel and become.” So you see, I am very proud that, among all our exports of iron ore and wood and I don’t know what else, cabbages, kings, we are managing to export our spirituality today to the farthest corners of this world. Thanks to Lalaji’s great genius in creating a system and to Babuji’s great genius added with a lot of personal effort in spreading it abroad. Therefore we are able to talk today of Sahaj Marg in most corners of the world. Brother Tapan Chakravarthy lives in Perth in Australia. Brother Michel who released the souvenir is from Tunisia. He is actually an African from one part of the Congo, a Republic of Africa. We have people from Russia, from Belarus, from Denmark, from England, South America—name the country and they are here. We are a small United Nations assembly here and that is something. You know, we need not be proud of it, because there is nothing to be proud of in this. It is recognition of the fact that spirituality today is the only force, the only power, the only value which can bring human beings together, making them forget their race, their language, their culture, everything else. What we are doing in Sahaj Marg is to create a new human race with a new culture of unification, of harmony, of brotherhood, and in such assemblies we have representation from some fifty nations, forty cultures, thirty languages, and many colours and, of course, two sexes. You see that this is a minute representation of what the world can become, if the great United Nations did something that we are doing, followed the pattern that we are following, instead of giving lectures at their great assemblies and spending billions of dollars. Those of you who have the power and who have the access to such august bodies, in governments and in so-called organisations which are trying to unify people of the world, should advise them on how to spend their money, because for one dollar that I spend here, they spend probably a million dollars in the United Nations. That is their scale of expenditure.
People must recognise that without spirituality, there can be no unification. United Nations as a body may exist, but there are no united nations. Even the nations themselves are split asunder by forces today which we have no control over. They are not only political forces. They are religious forces, they are racial forces. Go to any country in this world—I have lived in Yugoslavia, it was a lovely country. Today it has been split apart by so-called ethnic problems. It was Islam versus Christianity that split Yugoslavia apart—the Serbs killing the Muslims. The United Nations was unable to do the right thing except to put peace making bodies there and post soldiers—to do what?
India is the epitome of all religious animosity—a breeding ground for religious mistrust. I know it is unsavoury. My friends may not like me to say the truth about India, but India is a land divided by not just two religions but Hinduism itself is divided by a hundred and fifty cults, castes, and creeds. So you see India is a very small country divided by large number of divisive forces against which we have no recourse. But I am happy to say, here too we have the Brahmin, the Muslim, the Kayasth, whatever you want to say; they are all here sitting side by side forgetting their differences, coming together because of their love for one Master, one Mission, one Method.
These are the values I hope you will all take out of this ashram when you go, talk about, spread and endeavour with all your life to create among your own small communities. I am not talking of religious or social communities—the communities where you live. Babuji did not know any language other than Hindi. He could speak in English, of course. He was not a speaker. Just by his presence he managed to unify a great deal of this world under one umbrella called Sahaj Marg. We are speaking, and so we have a second advantage. You people can do also; you can be, you can speak and you can do.
So, as I have said again and again and I would like to emphasise once more—in Sahaj Marg you are not here only for yourself; you are here to be made into something that can make others. As Babuji once said, you know, this poroshpathor [touchstone] about which Rabindranath Tagore has done so much kasauti you call it in Hindi, the touchstone in English—that which proves the purity of gold. Babuji said, “Here I have the touchstone which will not prove the purity of gold or make gold, but will create another touchstone.” So it was with that intention, in that meaning, that he said that he creates Masters, not slaves. If you misunderstand that and everybody wants to sit on the simhaasana [throne] and say, “I am the Master,” adhogati [downfall], negative path—patan [fall] as they say beautifully in Hindi. If you say, “I have mastered myself. I am now in a position not to think of myself. I no longer live for myself. I exist for your sake,” then such a person can become very well a master without being the Master. It is a responsibility that each one of you must accept, because this is a voluntary thing, not an imposed thing. Sahaj Marg imposes no obligation on anybody. We don’t even tell you to practise regularly. If you don’t have the good sense to do it, that is your loss. Brother Hari Krishan Chaudhry said, “We don’t want to come back here, however wonderful this world.” The great Rabindranath referred to this land as the sonaar baangla [golden Bengal], but not for us. We are here for today, we are here to take the sona [gold] out of the Bangla, (and what is the sona of the Bangla?—it is the culture, the tradition, the beauty) and spread it among other worlds, other nations, other cultures. Bengali is a very rich language, but you must remember that Swami Vivekananda was as arrogant and intellectual as any one in here, but he had to subordinate that arrogance and that intellect at the feet of his guru, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, before he could become Vivekananda.
So you see, we can be born arrogant, we can be born proud, we can be born great, we can be born stupid, we can be born a beggar, we can be anything, because don’t think beggars have no arrogance. I have heard a beggar laughing at a great man who got into a Mercedes Benz. He said, “Fool! He thinks, by riding in the Mercedes Benz he is greater than me. Look at me—I am sitting under the tree and my khana [food] comes to me, people come to me and give me money; he has to go and earn money.” This is what one beggar said in my hearing. He was right too, because essentially what that beggar has is the shade of the tree, the breeze that God gives, the sunlight conferring health upon him, and his food coming to him, which was also correct. And these people are going around in magnificent cars, in air-conditioned rooms, may be earning a million to what that fellow earns one, but yet eating the same food, suffering the same sickness, the same deprivation, the same traumas of the body and the mind, and the same misery. Ultimately, of course, both end up on a pile of wood. That is all that matters how you are born and how you die. As they say, “Born in sweat, blood and tears; dead on a pyre of wood.” In between is all this tamasha [drama] of greatness and poorness, poverty and riches, intelligent and foolish, man and woman, et cetera, et cetera.
Remember that in this land of great intellect, great beauty, there also was great sacrifice. Shri Aurobindo was a great intellectual who was going to be an ICS officer, you know, the elitist of elite services in those days, and he said no to that. Before that he was Aurobindo Ghosh and later on he became Shri Aurobindo, you see. He went to jail, he had his revelations, he built the ashram in Pondicherry, spent his time in tapasya [meditation], wrote books for people. So everything that we achieve in the material world has to be sacrificed before the Lord of Death who holds sway on everything, takes it away from us. Remember—you can only give it when you have it. After death you can give to nobody. Yeh vaseeyat sab likhna bevakoofi hai [It is foolishness to write wills.]Only vakeels [lawyers] make money out of vaseeyats [wills]. Who gets the money after you die? You don’t know. It may hang in a court of law for two hundred years until two thousand rupees becomes one rupee and that one rupee is shared by seventeen litigants who are the so called progeny of the original estate. Don’t leave wills. Use your will. That will help you while you are alive; that will take you to where you are to go after this body leaves you or you leave the body. And that is the wisdom, that everything that we have—power, money, intelligence, must be used for a spiritual purpose to get liberation from all these things. Because like a boat in which you cross the Ganga, you leave the boat after you cross. You don’t say, “Wonderful boat, beautiful boat, aamaar [my] boat,” and carry it with you. People will laugh if you carry a boat with you. Leave the boat behind, leave knowledge behind, leave intellect behind, leave money behind, power behind; progressively, leave them like the jet aircraft which leaves a trail behind but it moves on—that is the wisdom of life.
I pray to my Master to confer this wisdom as a blessing upon all of us, because wisdom is never acquired, wisdom is conferred. Babuji Maharaj said, “The eyes of knowledge, the true knowledge, the knowledge of wisdom, is only given by opening.” It is opened in us by a process which in Brahmanism they call Upanayanam, which in Shiva they say is opening the third eye. That was not fire or destruction. That was the destruction created by a true wisdom which burnt up the rubbish of the world and left behind the beauties of a liberated existence. That is what we should aspire to. That is what Sahaj Marg offers; that is what my Master has blessed with us as his teaching, as his practice; that is what these ashrams are meant to serve. I hope all of you will benefit by using these ashrams for the right purpose, at the right time, which is while you are still alive.