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Throw Off the Shackles of the Past
A talk given by Shri Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari
In the western world the father can be a Christian, the mother can be a Jew, and the child of that union is free to follow what it wants. Here, a Hindu father must have a Hindu son. The mother does not count for much in Indian society. I think the women should protest actively, and say, "We are contributing to the child - and we contribute nothing? Why?" Because of this male domination of Indian society which has been going on for centuries, I am sorry to say, even from the time of Lord Ramchandra of Ayodhya, who could, with impunity, sacrifice his wife because some dirty fellow on a river-bank washing clothes, cast aspersions on his wife Sita's chastity when she was with Ravana. He didn't do it once; he did it twice. So that sort of thing - we are crediting even avatars with such nonsense. And that gives us what we call religious authority. "Even Ramudu did it; Hanumanthudu did it; Krishnarayudu did it. Why not we do it? If Rama did it; it must be great! It must be right."
We must ask the women. We should ask Sitadevi why she left him and went off to her Bhumadevi - the mother Earth - in despair. I would have liked to hear her last thoughts, that having married a kalyana purusha, what we call in Tamil, chakravarti thirumahan - the son of a great chakravarti [emperor], this is the treatment I get? I am given a false charge? There is no investigation except the highest, which is agni pareeksha [trial by fire]? I passed once but I am made to do it a second time. Is this right? Is this dharma? "O maatey [mother], take me," she says and she disappears. And of course, people make a big fuss about how Rama suffered after his wife left him. Society is always praising the man, you know. What about the woman who is suffering all her life?
So we have to correct very many imbalances in our society, in our tradition, in our family culture, and get rid of all this garbage. Ninety-nine point nine nine nine nine percent of our life is garbage - sampradaya, parampara, bhaasha [customs, tradition, language]. I don't see dogs from North India having difficulty with dogs from South India. I don't see donkeys from North India having difficulty in communicating with donkeys from South India. I don't see Karnataka donkeys having trouble with Tamilnadu donkeys. Why should human beings have difficulties? We are supposed to be wise; we are supposed to be intelligent. We are supposed to have God inside us. We have worshipped for centuries. What has happened to all that? It has not been able to take away one milli-milli-milli-millimetre of skin from my body in the shape of samskaras. On the contrary, we have been adding more and more, more and more, more and more, until today we are what we are: a corrupt, biased, bigoted race of human beings who have no cultural standing, who have no moral worth, who have no values to live by. And we call ourselves great, because our forefathers were great, we say.
If Vishwamitra, the great rishi, had to meditate twenty-two thousand years, and today we have a paddhati [system] which can give us liberation within this life, with one hour of meditation every day, is it not much better than what they had in the Treta Yuga and the Dvaapara Yuga and the so-called Sathya Yuga? They had to go to jungles, renounce their families, live among animals, eat roots and berries, bathe in the ice-cold water of the Ganga, and still we don't know what happened to many of them. Animals ate them, alligators in the rivers probably ate them, many slipped and died. Because if you have to exist for twenty-two thousand years to fulfil the journey of your soul, not many are going to make it.
So we have to understand what is being offered to us today by our great Masters. You know, Lalaji Maharaj started this, rediscovered this ancient tradition of Sahaj Marg which he said was lost in the time of Raja Dasharatha. Dasharatha's son, Rama, probably contributed to its further loss, going by how he treated his wife. So we have to learn to face facts. If you have to call your god a fool, you must be willing to face it, and say, "Yes, my god, that I worshipped so far, is a fool and an idiot and stupid. He was a god of stone or brass or gold - doesn't matter - but this is the truth. Now today I must worship the God in the spirit, in his Absolute, formless, attributeless, powerless form." And I believe these Youth Seminars, instead of just focusing on whether the traffic should keep to the left or right, obedience of road rules, go to school, and don't disobey your parents - these are all perpetuating the evils of the past. "Thou shalt obey thy father and thy mother." "Why?" says the son. "If what he says is right, yes, I must obey. If what he says is wrong, against the very grain of my being, should I obey?" Spiritual laws of freedom of the Self say, "No, thou shalt not obey a wrong order."
You know, we have had in India, so-called spiritual, religious paddhatis [systems] where the Guru ordered somebody murdered, and they murdered him and buried him also. There have been paddhatis where so many corpses have been exhumed after investigation. I don't want to name names; you know it. There have been paddhatis where the man had hoarded gold; the income tax people were informed by somebody. They came and ploughed up the estate of sixteen or eighteen acres, and discovered two-and-a-half tons of gold buried in the ground! Now what is a man who is going to heaven going to do with two-and-a-half tons of gold? Yet the children were told he is a great man, he is a man who has reached, who is divine, a man who could be considered an avatara of the divine, etcetera, etcetera, you see. And naturally, they follow. So this parampara business, and following in his footsteps and all, is humbug - unless the person you follow is the right person; unless the teaching he gives you is the right teaching; unless he can show you by example that what you are expected to do, he is doing himself. If he says, "Eat less," does he eat less? If he says, "Tell the truth," does he tell the truth? If he says, "Meditate," did he meditate and become what he has become?
So the youth have a great responsibility - not towards others, but towards themselves - to examine everything that today's society, including their family and their parents, are teaching them. "Why should I be called Shankarappa Naidu? I don't like it." "No, no, but," says your mother with tears in her eyes, "don't you love your father?" "What has love to do with my being called a Naidu? I love him - not the Naidu in him (or the Chettiar in him or the Iyengar in him). I want to get rid of it." "No, no, naina, att-la cheya oddu." [Don't do that.] "Why, mother?" "Because, you know, your father loves you."
Now modern children who have a good education call this emotional blackmail, which is exactly what it is. They bring a Bailagundappa bride for you because you are from Bailagundappa or Bailadesappa - somewhere. "But Mummy, I don't like -" "No, no, your father already has heart problem. Anything may happen to him if you refuse." Another piece of blackmail. "But mother, what about my heart attack if I marry this girl? I have to live fifty, sixty, seventy years more. Father will in any case go, if not today - tomorrow, even in ten years. How long do you expect a father of seventy to live?" "No, no, no, please. Attla cheppoda naina - you should not talk like that. He has loved you. He has made so many sacrifices for you."
Today's children say, "What sacrifice? Did you want me? Did you create me because you wanted a son?" Openly they ask, "You had your pleasure and I was the result - unwanted, perhaps. So why are you extolling the sacrifices which you have never made? Agreed, you did not throw me out. Ashtey. [That is all.] Like you feed your dog and you feed your cattle, you fed me, hoping that I will fulfil the desires which you were not able to fulfil yourself. He is a doctor; I must be a doctor. He is a lawyer; I must be a lawyer." (Liar as they say in North India, because lawyers cannot earn without lying. And very aptly in North India they say, "I am a liar" [mispronouncing the word 'lawyer']. When I ask them, "Criminal or civil?" they say, "Criminal liar, sir." And I say, "That is excellent!" Instead of being a civil liar, you are at least a criminal liar!)
So, you see how we have been corrupted? Because this is corruption; to perpetuate rubbish is corruption. If you are going on throwing rubbish outside your door on the street, and day by day it piles up, it will stink. In modern terms, it is called 'polluting the neighbourhood.' You can be punished under today's laws. Why not these laws - of family, of caste, of narrow-mindedness? Even in God, you see - "My ishta devta." [household deity] Who said he is your ishta devta? Do you have any theka [rights] on him? "No, no sir, parampara. My grandfather worshipped, my great-grandfather worshipped."
There is a beautiful story about a young girl who was rowing a ferry across a river, because her father was sick or maybe dead or - I don't know. One sannyasi came - a saint. He said, "Young girl! You are ferrying this boat. Are you not afraid?"
She said, "Afraid of what, Swamiji?"
"Afraid of being drowned in the river."
She said, "What is there to be afraid of?"
"How did your great-grandfather die?"
"Oh, he was drowned in the flood."
"And your father?"
"He was also drowned in the flood."
"Are you not afraid? So many paramparas of your family have died of drowning."
She said, "Swamiji, how did your grandfather die?"
"Oh, he died comfortably in bed surrounded by his relations."
"And your father?" "Ditto. We were all there - six children, seven grandchildren."
"Are you not afraid of sleeping in bed?" she asked.
So you see, when we are young, we have not only enthusiasm, we have idealism, and we have the ability to speak the truth without being afraid. But by repeated beatings that the elder generation offers us, by withholding gifts, by punishing us - "You wanted a bicycle, isn't it? Go to your uncle." "But nanagaaru, meeru cheppinaru kada." [But father, you said, isn't it?] "Yeppidira nenu cheppinnanu?" [When did I say this?] So this sort of humbug we must put a stop to. The sins of the father shall not be visited on the son. They have a right to give you property; they cannot leave you their debt. They have a right to give you all their wisdom, not their foolishness. They have a right to give you their health, not their sickness. They have a right to teach you correct things, not bad things. And this evil of perpetuating society in the way it is now stinking - this has got to stop. And unless the youth takes it up, it will not succeed. Because suppose I tell Bairathnahalli to change his name, he cannot. He is already fifty years old. He has got a passport. He has got several bank accounts. And if he changes his name, IBM will not recognize him.
"Oh, it is you, Bairathnahalli?"
"Yes, sir, but I am no longer Bairathnahalli."
"What happened to you?"
"No, no, sir, my -"
"Your what? Your wife told you?"
"No, no, sir, my wife is understanding. You know I practice something."
"Oh, you mean religion?"
"No, no, sir, religion is also good, because I was christened in my religion. My father did it with a poojari [priest] at home."
"Then who asked you to change?"
"Sir, it is difficult to say, sir. It is very delicate. But I have someone we call a Guru."
"Aha! You have a Guru, and he told you to change your name? What a stupid thing! Is a guru not supposed to teach you right things? Can your change of identity not mean some loss to you? I have to change your identity card. I have to change your pass which you swipe through the gate when you enter. Who is going to do all this? Passport? New passport. When you go to America, they will say, 'Who is this? Did you have a passport before?' 'Yes.' 'What was your name on that? - Sorry! Sit down there.'"
So, you see, the elder people are stuck in that mud up to here, knee deep. They cannot get out very easily. I pity them. But, you youth need not be in that sthithi [situation], you know. Suppose Bairathnahalli's son is Bairathnahalli. He can say, "Daddy, I am no longer Bairathnahalli. I am a world citizen today. If I belong to Bairathnahalli, I am only Bairathnahalli. When I am a world citizen, the world is mine. When I am a universe, the universe is mine. You people could not even conquer your stupid village. You don't know where it is. As they say in America, 'a one-horse town'. I don't want to live in a one-horse town. I want to conquer this world and to go where no man has gone before." Where does that come from? Star Trek. That should be the boldness, you see. And to have that sort of vision, you have to drop all stupid things here.
You know, girls are willing to wear jeans because they have to ride scooters, two wheelers; they have to go to work. You cannot go to work with your sari fluttering like this, you know. You may fall. And today when girls wear all this, it is good. "Don't you think she looks beautiful?" the wife asks her husband. "Chup raho!" [Be quiet!] Audha? [Isn't it?] But to earn money, it is good. You can wear salwars, you can wear jeans, you can wear anything.
So money is what is making you hold on to disgraceful situations, and without that money, girls were not allowed to go even to see a friend in the opposite house. Thirty years, forty years back, they had to go to school with a chaperone. What is going to happen between the house and the school? I don't know what sort of funny and, what should I say, callous imagination those mothers and fathers had, how much they trusted their daughters, that between the home and the school they could get involved in romance, in flirtation, possibly rape. Today they don't bother, you know. You have these call centres and girls work till midnight. They don't even see whether the girl has come home. Mother says in bed to her husband, "Shyamala bandidallye nodu." [See if Shyamala has come.] "Nodu beda [Not needed.] Every day she comes alwaa? [Isn't it?]" "Arrey, you said you love your daughter. When she went to school, at 5:30 if she was not there, you said, 'Where is Shyamala? Did Raghu go with her today?'" Who is Raghu - we don't know. But, you see, now because she is earning seventeen thousand rupees a month - "She will come. Arrey, here and there, we have to give margin." "Emmandi, what are you saying? It is midnight. Margin antae yaemitti?" [What do you mean by margin?] "Margin ante yaemitti naaku yetla taelusu? [How do I know what the margin is?] She knows. I have brought her up properly. Nenu Sidharamappa [I am Siddharamappa.] My daughter cannot be different from me," he says. This we think is good culture.
So, you see, this is not a matter of laughing and joke. I am telling to you like a joke. But it is very serious. Young people must change. You know, if the root of the tree is damaged, the tree falls. You can cut the branches - it doesn't matter; it will live. So the elder generation is dispensable. I mean, in any case they are going. As Kabir says, "All my youth and childhood, I wasted in fun and play. I have never done a day's prayer. Sumiran kar ley meray manwa [Heart, be in His remembrance]," he says, you see.
Here, what should we do? Sumiran [remembrance] must come after we have become human beings. All human beings without differences - of what as Sahaj Marg claims: caste, religion, creed, profession, sex - no difference. You know, according to Dharma as we call it: All souls in human form when related to the Lord our Creator; they are females. The Lord is the only male - only purusha [male]. All the rest of creation is a female creation. And he seeds himself through us.
When Babuji Maharaj first gives us our first sitting, he calls it seeding. He puts the seed of Himself into our heart. That is why the heart in yogic terms is called the hridayayoni. It is a creation of a new life where you are reborn within yourself as a new being, provided you allow that seed to germinate, water it with bhakti, shraddha and dhyana; then another Master, comes there. Not Master as a Master, but exactly like the Master - another human individual. Like I just planted a sapling - suppose nobody waters it, it will die in ten days. Next time I come, Bairathnahalli may plant another one very similar to it and say, "Sir, but it is not growing very well." (I am sorry Bairathnahalli is featuring so much in my talk.) But this has happened. I have seen saplings. "Why is it shorter?" "The top was broken, sir."
So to allow divinity to play its role - like we prepare the soil, we put chemicals or manure, water it, protect it. Similarly this, the soil in which the Master sows his seed has to be prepared, cleaned, so that the thing which he sows can grow. Now each one has to do this for himself or herself. You have to clean your house. You know, the Corporation will clean the street in front of your house, but they cannot come and clean your latrine. That you have to keep clean. If you are sick in the hospital, the nurse will clean you, wash you, bathe you. But at home you don't say, "Call a nurse!" Wife will say, "What for?" Audha? [Isn't it?] "Nurse bekaitha?" [Is the nurse necessary?]
So what we have to do by ourselves, we have to do by ourselves, except when we are no longer able to do it for ourselves. Then we can ask for help. Babuji has said very clearly: "Don't ask for service unless you are prepared to serve, yourself." Therefore I gave one slogan you know, 'Serve and be served.' He who serves will always be served. But today's society is full of people who want service. "Serve me! Come here."
So the message I have to give is nothing very important, nothing very earth shaking, you know, nothing very profound, nothing very philosophical. It is the same call in the Vedas you see, Uttishtatha, jaagratha, praapyavaraan nibodhata. [Awake, arise, having approached the Chosen One, realise your goal.] Youth must awake. Youth must realise that it is the root of society - roots - and that unless each root is nourished properly, one part of the tree will go; and that tree is our life - total life, including all of creation. Therefore the Gita also speaks of "urdhvamoolam madashaakham ashvattham praahuravyayam" - our tree is an inverted ashvattha [holy fig] tree. Roots are there [above] and the branches are here [below]. No use watering this. The nourishment must come from above. What is above and what is below? Above means the higher world, the higher thoughts, teachings which we have lost, forgotten, deliberately set aside. Go back to that. Not go back and investigate, you see, from where Bairathnahalli started. Invert it and start today - new. I cannot change; I must permit at least my children to change. What I should compel them to do is to become what I could not become, what I did not become, I did not want to become and now it is too late for me to become.
At fifty, if a man wants to start playing tennis, he will first break his arm, then his back. So the right time to start is when you are young. Education is for the young. Physical culture is when you are young. Also all values worth instilling in the human being must be instilled when you are young. You know, they say in the old tradition that these Brahmins used to wear this [sacred] thread, you know, Garbhaashtakam - that is, at the seventh year of age it must be done. After that it is too old. His ideas are already formed. Maybe he has already started smoking in school, things like that you see. 'Catch them young', it is said in English. Why? Because, when you are young, you are flexible, you are open to new ideas, you are idealistic that you want to become something great. And because when we are young the father is the only ideal we are exposed to, every son wants to become like the father until he realises that he made a big mistake in accepting his father as his ideal. Then they shift to the uncle or neighbour or something like that. But by then, often, it is too late.
So set your sights very high. Do away with everything that separates you as a human being from other human beings. Unity cannot come by your waiting for the other man to change. If you don't change, nothing in this universe will change for you. The whole universe may change but you will not change; whereas if you change, the whole universe will change for you.
So may my Master bless you all with this simple intelligence and wisdom: to throw off the past, throw off the shackles of the past, the burdens of the past, whether it is cultural, linguistic, religious - anything, it doesn't matter. You see their effect on society. You see the problem with Kashmir that we are always having with Pakistan - ideologies which were not ideals, which were not idealistic. From I don't know what to what - from sharing of waters between states to showing films, this nonsense is pervading our society, and we are all watching, we are all waiting, wondering how to break the law, if it is possible or not.
We have to change society. We cannot change laws, you see. We have to change society by changing ourselves, so that when we become law makers, at least then the world has a chance having new laws, sensible laws, laws which unite human beings and not divide them.