A Lecture delivered on December 25, 1902, at the Academy of Sciences
Tonight there will be no regular Lecture on any particular subject. Many people have been coming to Rama with all sorts of questions. Sometimes the)’ are queer questions. Some of these questions will be taken up and a brief reply given to them. If any one of you, or any one in any part of America, has any questions to^ ask on this subject, he may write his question on a bit of paper and send it to Rama. His question will be brought into this hall or some other place where Rama may have occasion to speak, and will be dealt with in detail.
Before beginning these questions, it is necessary to make a general announcement with respect to all sorts of questions that people may have in their minds. You know the way with Indian philosophers is quite different from what it is with Europeans or Americans. When Indian philosophers take up a subject, they first give an exposition of it, and then all sorts of questions are asked and taken up by them. Rama himself had to pass through all these stages; Rama had all the questions before him which anybody could have before him; there is a sea of such questions and quibbles. Some of them are Rama’s questions when he was five years old; some of them are questions which puzzled him when he was fifteen years of age. Others are the questions which engaged his attention when he was twenty – five years old.
Another thing is to be stated in reference to these questions. Some of them pertain to the most elementary stages of the development of the philosophical spirit; others pertain to the secondary stage of religious development; others pertain to some other stage. Here comes to you a man who wants you to explain to him the 47th Proposition of the First Book of Euclid. If you take up the Proposition at once and begin to explain it to him, and the man to whom you are explaining does not know the 46th, 45th, or even the first Proposition, and is unacquainted with the axioms or postulates of Euclid, how is it possible for you to explain to his satisfaction the 47th Proposition? If you take up the task and begin to explain, then in the very beginning, you will have to apply the 46th, then to describe a square, and then you will have to apply the 32nd Proposition and so on. In order to prove them, you fall back upon the 16th, the 22nd, and so forth; this will lead bock to the first Proposition, and thus you are led back to the axioms and postulates Everything is in a state of confusion; nothing is proved.
A Science should not be attacked in a state of confusion; it ought to be attacked systematically, with method, with order. This Vedanta Philosophy, this Religion, is a Religion as well as a Science. In Europe you have conflict between Science and Religion, but this teaching which Rama brings to you reconciles them; in fact it reconciles Philosophy, Science, and Religion.
This being the Science of Sciences, it ought to be approached systematically, with method and order. The few speeches that you have heard did not enter into this Philosophy at all. Not a single lecture has been delivered on the Vedanta Philosophy as such; only the side issues have been considered; preliminary or introductory speeches have been made. If Rama gets time to give you a clear explanation of this wonderful Science and Religion, all your doubts, all your questions will subside of themselves.
Some people are very impatient, and want to have an answer to their questions. Alright. We will take up a few of them. They are queer questions.. Last night, or the night before last, a man came with this question, “What do you teach, sir?” “Have you got a soul? Do you teach the existence of a soul? Do you believe in a soul?” Rama said, “No; I havn’t got a soul”, He was astonished.
“Oh, this is a diabolical Religion; he has not got a soul”. What does Rama’s answer mean, “I have no soul?” In America and in Europe, what is Religion? It is something to furnish and decorate the drawing rooms with. Here are my wife, my children, a grand, superb mansion; here is my property and so many millions of dollars in the Bank; all this I have, but I want something more. Being actuated by this spirit of accumulation, being driven by this idea of grasping, accumulating, and gathering, they want to accumulate, gather, and grasp one thing more; as a room could not be well furnished without the portraits of relatives, so I cannot be satisfied to be a man who has a fortune, without having a little of religion. Let me have religion also along with the other things, but the other things must come first and this last of all.
You will excuse Rama if from his lips such words escape as will not be relished by some. Rama respects Truth more than persons, and in respecting Truth he pays you real respect, because according to him you are the Truth, and not this false self or body. The Truth compels Rama to make such statements. In the ordinary prayers offered in this country, what use is made of God? How do people approach God? When the child falls sick, when the property is going to be damaged, when the body is going to suffer, then they come to God, roll their eyes, lift their hands: ” O God Who art in Heaven, O God Who art in the skies/’ not even pitying God lest if He is in the clouds, He will catch cold, “O God Who art there, have mercy on me, and let my property be saved, let my body be restored, let my child be brought to health.” Is that Religion? Here is God believed in simply with the object that whenever there is anything wrong in the house, when the house becomes a little dirty, when the house is out of repair, then this poor fellow comes down and sweeps your house. Is not that the use made of God? Is not Religion kept only for low objects here? Is that Religion? Here the primary thing is the body, the little self, the wife and the children; God is simply meant to be brought down to rub and scrub the rooms. Is this not really so? Not in the whole of India, but with the really religious men at least, I will say in the light of these teachings, this Vedanta, it is different. Here in India that teaching of Christ which is faintly heard by the people, “Seek the kingdom of heaven and everything else will be added unto you”, is most forcibly, with unmistakable emphasis, inculcated. It means the body, the mind, the connections, the property, the world, all these are renounced at the feet of the beloved One. The wide world Incomes the home, and to do good is the religion. Here the one thing needful, is made all in all, and all other things are looked upon as accessories or the things of a foreign land. There God is realized in the home. These outside homes are simply like inns or hotels. These people also have to attend to the needs of their wives and children, but they take them at their worth. See the answer to the question, “Have you got a soul?” It is an irrelevant question. I have got a body. Then he says, “Have you got a soul?” Rama says, “I am the soul. I am that”. What nonsensical stuff it is to say “Have you got a soul?” as if I were the body and the soul was my property. I AM the soul; I have a body, and I have the whole world.
Another man put this question to Rama, “Do you believe in God?” Rama says, “I know God”. We believe in a thing we do not know, and which is simply forced on us. To believe in God, what does that mean? What do you know of Him?”I know God. I am He, I am He”. Then he says, “God is within you”. Rama says the body and the world are within Him – I AM the God; that makes the whole difference. When a man dies here, people say he gave up the ghost; Indians say he gave up the body. That illustrates the difference in the two different points of view. He gave up the ghost; as if his real self was the body and the ghost or the spirit was something tacked on; as if his self was the body and the spirit or the ghost was something foreign. The Indians say I am that, and I give up the body. Just as I change the clothes, I give up the body.
Here is another question; “If God is all in all, why is there so much misery and affliction in this world?” You know the Vedanta says that God is everything, God is all in all; you are God, I am God. People ask are you a part of God? No, no; God cannot be divided, God cannot be rent asunder. You are no part of God; if God is infinite, then you must be the whole God, not a part of God.
Now the question is, if God is all in all, why should He put Himself in a state of affliction in one – body, in a state of poverty in another body? Why should He bring plague and poverty to India and political freedom to America? Why should God make one man the possessor of millions of Rupees and another poor and famishing? Why should He do that? How unreasonable is He! Attempts are made even in this country, and in India, to satisfy the questioner, and most people resort to the doctrine of Karma, the doctrine of cause and effect, the doctrine that everybody is the master of his own destiny; that everybody creates his surroundings and environment of his own accord, and thus God is just; people make their own destiny, create their own fortune. Rama need not enter into the doctrine of Karma. This doctrine of cause and effect comes from India, and it is countenanced by the Vedanta, but it concerns only the empirical universe; it concerns only’ the phenomenon. It does not go to the root of the question. According to the doctrine of Karma, which explains transmigration the circumstances of your present condition are the outcome of your past desires and past actions. Thus whatever circumstances, whatever environment, whatever fate or destiny you have, that is made by your past desires and past actions. If you examine it, you will see that this doctrine simply shifts the difficulty. t does not answer the question thoroughly. Rama is not going to repudiate or demolish this doctrine. Rama approves of it and supports it, but he wants to bring out the other side of the question, the other phase, which is altogether ignored by people in America, or perhaps not altogether ignored, but kept in the background.
According to this doctrine of Karma, past actions have created the differences in your present circumstances. Then from this it follows that even in your past births, in your past lives there was a difference in your actions, desires, and whims. There were some who were sick, some who were poor, and some who were rich. To what cause were the differences in your past life due? The answer is that the differences in the circumstances in your past life were due to similar differences in the life before that. And to what cause were due the differences in the third life from this? They were due to the corresponding differences in the life preceding that. This doctrine makes the difficulty a million times more complex, because, according to this doctrine, we see that all your past lives, all your past births, even back to eternity, even up to the beginning if there be a beginning, differences are even there; there is variety and conflict all along. Now the question is not answered, it is simply made more complex. Now the question comes with even stronger force, and it stands like this: How is it that God from eternity should have kept up this difference? How is it that God from eternity should have made Himself rich at one place and poor at another? Why should He have made Himself diseased at one place and in perfect health at another? How unreasonable it is! How is this difference justified? The Vedanta says this was a question which it had to put to you, not you to the Vedanta. This is a question which you have to answer. The burden does not lie on the Vedanta. It believes in unity, oneness, and at the same time explains this apparent variety.
For example if there was a tyrant, and he had before him five different persons, different from himself, that man being in the place of God, and those persons being his creatures, servants, slaves, and if this man put one of these slaves, into a dungeon, and another into a beautiful garden, and another into a magnificent palace, and another into the toilet room, and the last one all the time under a very heavy burden, and placed on his breast the mighty Himalayas, and kept them on his bosom all the time, what would you think of such a master? Cruel, unjust master! If God be different from his creatures, and makes one nation very happy and another very wretched, and if He makes one man very wealthy and another very poor, what will you think of such a Master? Cruel, cruel, unjust, unjust! This is now the question which those people have to answer who believe God is different from Mankind. The Vedanta does not believe God to be far away; one has only to close his eyes and see Him within.
Suppose there is a master who goes into the garden at one time, into the mansion at another time, into the dingy dungeon at one time, and into the toilet room some other time, goes into the kitchen himself, and lives also under a burden himself. What will you call him? Is he unjust? No, no. He would be unjust if the people whom he kept in the dungeon, in the garden, in the mansion, or in the toilet room had been different from him; but if it is he himself who resorts to the toilet room and he himself who goes into the other places, then he is not unjust. All the blame is taken off him.
Thus the Vedanta says this apparent variety, this apparent conflict, will be a blot on the face of God if God were different from the people who suffer and from the people who are rich and poor. It is God Himself; it is Rama himself; it is I myself that am rich at one place and it is I myself that am in the dungeon, it is myself that am fair and I myself that am ugly, in the garden I am, and in the deserted palace 1 am. Whom will you blame? Even the blamer I am. There is another thing to be said in relation to it.
It is very hard to preach the Vedanta in this country where the word ‘I’ is used to denote the body or mind; the people in this country are accustomed to say “I have a soul”, and they understand by ‘I’ the body, the mind, the intellect, the incarnate soul, or the reincarnated self. Never, never does the man who has realized the Vedanta understand by the word ‘I’ the body, the mind, or the reincarnated body. This I am not; if I am anything, I am God.
Here is a statement, I am a king, I am a master of horse, I am a Swami, I am an American, I am a Hindu. These statements are of a different nature from the statement “I am God”. You mark the difference. In the statement ‘I am a king’ the word ‘king’ is like a title; ‘I am a master of horse’ the title ‘master of horse’ is like a robe put on. When we say ‘I am poor’ poverty is something and I am something else; poverty is like a robe put on. Well, the Hindus say I am God; but beware, the word God is not a title, it is not an attribute, it is not a robe that you put on keeping yourself the same little false ego, and putting godliness on yourself like a robe. The Indian does not mean that when he says “I am God”. His statement is like this: This snake is a rope. Here is a man who in the dark mistook the rope for a snake. There was a coiled rope lying on the ground and he took it to be a snake, got frightened and fell down. Somebody comes and says, “Brother, brother, your snake is a rope”. What is the meaning of that? The meaning is that what you mistook to be a snake is not a snake, it is a rope. This is not a statement of the same sort as I am a king. Here the word ‘snake’ is not an attribute; the word ‘ rope’ is not an attribute; if you had made the statement ‘this snake is black’ the word ‘black’ would have been an attribute of the word ‘snake’. But when you say that the snake is a rope, the rope is not an attribute. Mark it please. It seems to be a little difficult to grasp, but understand it once and then you have no right to bring in objections; understand it aright. ‘The snake is black’ is one kind of statement, and ‘the snake is a rope’ is quite another kind of statement.
Similarly ‘I am godly’,’I am an angel’ is one kind of statement, and when the Hindu says, ‘I am God’ that is another kind of statement. When he says ‘I am God’ it means that I am not the body, what you are taking me to be, that I am not. You mistake me to be flesh and blood, bones and muscles, but it is not so. I am not the bones, not the muscles, not this little three – and – a – half cubits (quarantine), I am not the mind, nor the intellect. I am the fountain – head; I am the real force, the real thing in itself, the real God, the real power. That alone I am; I am nothing else.
Again the people wish to bring God before their tribunal, to say, God do that, as if He were an ordinary person like themselves and could be brought before them and taken to task just like an ordinary person.
The cause of all these doubts and objections may be illustrated by a story.
There was an oil vendor in India. He kept in his house a very beautiful parrot. One day this oil vendor left his shop and went out to some place. His servant also went out on some other errand. The parrot was there in the shop. In the absence of the oil – vendor, there came up a big cat. At the sight of the cat, the parrot got frightened. It was in the cage, but it got frightened and jumped up; the parrot fluttered his wings, and jumped this way and that way until the cage, which was hanging on the wall, slipped down, and fell upon a jar full of very precious oil. The jar was broken and all the oil was spilt. After a while up came the oil – vendor, and being very angry, he lost his temper, seeing that his precious oil was spilt. He got annoyed with the parrot; he thought that it had done some mischief, he was beyond himself with rage and could not keep his temper because the parrot had thrown down the cage upon the jar and had caused him a loss of about $ 50. He opened the door of the cage and just snatched all the plumes from the head of the parrot. The parrot was made bald; no crest was left on its head. The parrot did not speak and entertain the master for two weeks. The master was very sorry for what he had done. After two weeks there came a customer to the oil – vendor’s shop. This customer was bare – headed at that time, and he was also bald – headed. The parrot laughed a hearty laugh; it was very happy to see another companion. Then the master asked the parrot what was the cause of his hilarity, what made him full of joy, and it said, “Oh, I thank God I am not the only servant of an oil – vendor. This man also must have been the servant of an oil – vendor, otherwise how could he lose the hair on his head, and how could he become bald if he had not been the servant of an oil – vendor?”
Exactly the same kind of reasoning some people employ. They think that all the works they perform, all the duties they discharge, everything they do is with Some kind of motive or other. They do with Some kind of selfish desire or premeditation. They say that God created the world; He also must have done that with Some kind of motive or other, some kind of desire or other, some kind of premeditation or other. This is a mistaken way of arguing. This is making God limited. Why, you call Him Infinity and yet you want to drag Him to the level of an ordinary human being. It won’t do.
This same question ‘Why did God cause this difference’ was put to Rama in different language by another man. “If I am everything, why should I suffer?” Rama simply asks you this, “In your dreams are you not everything around you?” You are everything. In your dreams, the mountains, the rivers, the forests, and the sandy deserts, are all your own working, your own handiwork, your own workmanship, and yet in your dreams a lion comes up and begins to devour you, there comes up a snake and bites you, and that frightens you. Is it not so? And yet you are the Hon, you are the tiger, and you are the snake.
You know that Rama preaches that you are God, Now Somebody asks, “If I am God, why do I not know everything?” Rama asks, “Brother, if you are not God, what are you? Let us know.” He said, “I am this body”. Alright, if you are simply the false personality, if you are this body, let us know the number of hairs on your head. Is not the head yours? He said, “Yes.” If the head is yours, please do tell us the number of hairs you have on your head. Do tell us how many bones you have. (This man knows nothing about Anatomy). How many muscles? Did you not take food this morning? Then let us know where is the food that you took this morning. Is it in the bowels? Is it in the kidneys, stomach, lungs? Where is it? He could make no answer. Then Rama says, you cannot tell the number of hairs on your head, and yet the hair are yours. Whether you can tell the number of bones and muscles you have or not, the bones and muscles are yours. Whether you can tell where the food is that you took this morning, whether you can tell that or not, the body is yours. You have taken it, nobody else has taken it. Similarly whether your intellect be able to tell the number of stars in the skies or not, all the stars are yours. Whether or not your intellect be able to tell what is passing in England at this moment, still England is yours. Whether you be able to tell or not what is going on in the planet Mercury, the planet Mercury is yours. If you cannot tell these things, it does not follow that they are not yours. Who is to tell these things? To tell these things is the work of that which is finite. You can tell what that picture is (pointing to a picture on the wall) because you are aware the picture is here. You are not the picture; the subject and the object are different. You tell what is that picture because it is different from you, the word ‘you’ being taken in its false sense. But if you are that, if you are everything, if there is nothing else besides yon, if you are Infinite, if there is nothing else which can limit you, who will tell about you? Thus telling and seeing stops there. It cannot reach there. No words can reach there.
Another man put this question, “What denomination do you belong to? Are you a Hindu, a Brahmin?” Rama said, “No” “Are you a Christian, a Jew, what are you? To what denomination, to what religion, to what creed do you belong?”If a thing belongs to somebody, it is his property; an inanimate thing or an animal belongs to somebody, and these things are the property of somebody, or belong to somebody. Oh, Rama is not an inanimate something; Rama is not like property that he should belong to anything; he is no animal. Why should he belong to anybody? The world belongs to him. America belongs to Rama, Rama is your own self. All of you belong to me, and India also belongs to me. Christianity, Mohammedanism, Judaism, Hinduism, the Vedanta, all belong to me.
Small souls may sell their liberty but never shall you.
People say that in this country they are free; political freedom perhaps they might have, but Ah! The religious slavery, the social slavery of America! I Rama brings to you independence, freedom, freedom of thought, freedom of action. The religion that Rama brings some people nickname the Vedanta; but no nickname ought to be applied to it. The true Vedanta is not confined to the Vedas only. It is in your hearts, so once for all Rama wants to let you know that Rama is not an Indian only; Rama is also an American; take not Rama as a Hindu alone, Rama is also a Christian; take not Rama as a slave of this creed or that dogma. Rama is your own self, independence itself.
Another man said, “Well, if you are God, if you are like Christ, Christ worked this miracle; please do this miracle for us, then we will believe in you.” Rama says, “Brother, Christ worked miracles and was not believed in; He was persecuted, nailed to the cross. Can miracles make you believe? Not at all”
Again, what is miracle working? What is all that? If this body worked all the miracles in the world, that would not add one iota to my Godhead. I am not this body; I am your own self. What if this body works miracles? That body is not working miracles, but I am that also. If this body works miracles, you will make a god of this body, which is the worst part of it; you should not do this. Rama wants you to make a God of your own self. Do not make a god of this body. Rama does not wish to take away your freedom by working miracles and imposing this particular personality on you. Rama should not enslave you and take away your independence, as was done by the previous prophets.
You want this body to work miracles, but this body I am not; I am the same God that has already brought out this whole miracle of the world; the same am I. This wide world is my miracle, the same am I whose workmanship this whole universe is.
There was a boy who used to serve in the house in which this body used to live in India. That boy remaining all the while in contact with Rama, was one day walking on the top of the high mansion, and was shouting aloud, “I am God, I am God, I am God.” There were some people in the other houses next door to the house on the top of which he was shouting. They spoke to him, “What are you raving, what are you saying? Do you say you are God? If you are God, do jump down from the roof and let us see whether you are hurt. If you are not hurt, then we shall believe in you as God; if you are hurt, we shall kill you; we shall persecute you. Why are you speaking that way? This profane language you have no right to employ.”
The boy, full of Divine madness, spoke out, “O my own self, I am ready to jump down; I am ready to take a leap into any abyss that’ you may point out; I am ready to jump into any ocean that you may indicate, but kindly let me know the place where I am not present already, because in order to jump down, we ought to have some spot where we can jump down and where we are not present already. Let me know the place where there is a void of me, where I am not present already. I am the God of gods. Do point out to me the place where I am not present already and I will jump. How can he jump who already permeates the whole? He alone can jump who is limited, who is present here and not there.”
Then the gentleman who had asked him to jump down said, “Oh, are you that God? You are the body.” The boy said, “This body is made by your own imagination; this body I am not. Your questions and objections cannot reach me; they reach only your imagination. Similarly how can he jump, or how can he do such things who is already all – permeating? There is not a single spot where he is not present already. The same am I. If I be present only in this body and not in that, then of course I ought to work worldly miracles through this body in order to make good my claim to Godhead. All the bodies are mine; readymade they are mine. I have simply to take possession; I have to make nothing, everything is made by me.
Another man came with this question: “What is your attitude towards the Vedas? What do you think of them?”Rama says, “We approach the Vedas in the same way that we approach Chemistry.” “Do you believe in the Vedas?” Rama says, “I know the Vedas. I recommend them to you.” “Shall we regard the Vedas in the same way as we do the Bible?” Rama says, “You are making a wreck of the Bible. DQ not approach the Vedas in the same way; approach the Vedas as you approach a work on Astronomy or Chemistry. Do not believe in everything implicitly, with a blind faith, as some Hindus do.” Rama says, “As you take up a book on Chemistry, you do not believe in the results of Chemistry because they are laid down by Lavoiser or by Liebig; do not take these things on authority; a faith that is founded on authority is no faith. Try the experiments yourself; verify them yourself and approach them in a true scientific way, not selling your independence, keeping your own freedom; read them in this way, and then alone will you be able to enter into the spirit of the Vedas, otherwise you will always miss the point. The teaching in the Vedas is not afraid of any criticism, of any questions or doubts. Let all your Western Science examine them; let your Western light (light always comes from the East you remember, but suppose this is Western light), come with its startling rays and let a flood of this light bathe the fairy face of the Shruti;(That part of the Hindu Scriptures which is believed to be revealed by God) there is not a single dark spot, there is not a single black mole to be found on the fairy face of the Shruti, The Vedas are not in conflict with Science; your present day discoveries and inventions are simply washing the feet of the queen of Shrutis. They are serving the cause of the Vedanta more and more.
All the people who have studied the Vedas with an unprejudiced mind have paid their tribute unto them. Schopenhauer, a philosopher who was never prone to praise any other philosophy, who poured forth all sorts of abusive language on all the philosophies but his own, when speaking of the Vedas says, “In the whole world there is no study so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Upanishads (Vedas). It has been the solace of my life; it will be the solace of my death.”
Max Mailer, while commenting upon this assertion of Schopenhauer’s, says, “If the words of such an independent philosopher require any endorsement, with my life – long study of all the religions in this world, and all the systems of philosophy of Europe, I am ready to humbly endorse this experience of Schopenhauer’s.”
“If Philosophy is meant to be preparation for a happy death, I know of no better preparation for it than the Vedanta Philosophy (viz. the Philosophy of the Vedas).
Another man came with this question. “Look here, Your Vedanta is confined only within the narrow limits of India.” These questions that are now to be discussed are very important and very interesting. He says Christianity has spread over the whole world while the Vedanta is confined within the narrow limits of India, and is only the religion of the educated classes, not of the masses. Rama says that it would have been a great deal tatter if Christianity had really ruled the nations, if Christianity were really prevalent in Europe; it would have been a matter of great delight to Rama; but it is not Christianity that is prevalent in Europe or America; it is Churchianity. It is Churchianity and not Christianity.
And again, if you think that real Christianity has spread over the masses, and that is a great argument in its favour, then brother, be not misled. Satan’s religion has more adherents to it than Christianity. Vice, evil desires, enmity, hatred, passion, sensuality, this is Satan’s religion you know, and Satan’s religion is more prevalent than Christianity is.
A man in the House of Parliament in London, who was a great orator, was hooted. Do you know what he said afterwards? He said, “What, if you have the majority on your side.” He spoke to the opposite party, “Opinions ought to be weighed, they ought not to be counted.” Majority is no proof of truth.
There was a time when Galileo upheld the doctrine of Copernicus; he said that the Earth revolves, not the Sun. He was in a complete minority, he was alone in fact. The whole wide world was against him, all the majority were against him. But what is the truth now? Is the truth with the minority, or with the majority? Majority and minority are nothing. There was a time when Roman Catholicism had all the majority on its side; there came a time when the majority was on the other side. There was a time when Christianity was confined to a small minority of eleven disciples. There came a time when this Christianity or Churchianity had the apparent majority on its side. Majority and minority are nothing. We stand on the rock, we stand on the truth, and the truth must out.
Another man said, “Look here, why are the Christian nations making all the progress in the world? The Christian nations are the only nations that have progress and civilization.” Rama says, “Brother, if Europe and America are ahead of India and China and Japan in political and social matters, that is not due to Christianity. Use no false logic. If all the civilization and all the scientific progress were to be attributed to Christianity, then please let us know when, Galileo made that little discovery, how he was dealt with by Christians? Bruno was burnt. Who burnt him? Christianity, Christianity. Huxley, Spencer, and Darwin were opposed by Christianity. Their discoveries and progress and independence of spirit were not engendered and encouraged by Christianity; they are living in spite of all the crushing influences of Christianity. What was the fate of Schopenhauer? Do you know how he had to live? Schopenhauer had to make just as great a sacrifice as Christ. Christ died for his convictions and Schopenhauer lived for his, and you know to die for your convictions is easier than to five for them. Do you know what it was that checked the independent spirit of Schopenhauer? In his later books he lost that force and vigour which characterized him in his earlier writings. The feebleness and weakness in the philosophies of Hegel and Kant were due to the influence of Christianity. Do you know how Fichte had to give up his Professorship and was driven out of his country? How was it? That was Christianity. From the very beginning all progress has been made in spite of Christianity and not by Christianity Do not misjudge things.
An Anglo – Indian who had lived in India for some time, on coming back to England, was boasting to his wife about his valour and strength. They were living at their country house, and a bear appeared on the scene.
This Anglo – Indian jumped up to the top of an adjoining tree. His wife took up a weapon and killed the bear, and then he came down. Some other people came to where they were and asked, ‘ Who killed the bear?’ He said, “I and my wife have killed the bear.” But it was not so. Similarly, when the thing is done, to say it is done by me, it is done through Christianity, is not true.
All progress in Science, all progress in Philosophy in Europe and America, all these discoveries and inventions are due to the spirit of the Vedanta being put into practice. The Vedanta means liberty, freedom. They are due to the spirit of freedom, the spirit of liberty, the spirit of independence, the spirit of standing above bodily needs and wants. All this progress is due to that, and that is the Vedanta unconsciously put into practice. You might call it true Christianity also. True Christianity is not different from the Vedanta, if you properly understand it. They say we have wiped slavery from the face of the Earth, and we have made many reforms. Rama says, “Brothers, slavery was removed; oh, how much does Rama wish that slavery had been removed.’ If we accept the statement that slavery is done away with, the removal of it is not due to Christianity. If there were something in Christianity which would remove slavery, why did not Christianity remove slavery during the previous 1700 years? There was something else. People had come to America; European nations were going from place to place; they were coming in contact with other nations, and they were being educated, they were being made broader – minded. This is practical Vedanta. That was the cause of removing slavery, and not Christianity. The political and social circumstances stirred the hearts and souls of men. If you ascribe good things to Christianity, then Inquisitions, the burning of witches, guillotine, – and you know what Inquisition is, it reigned supreme even in San Francisco at one time, oh horrible! Horrible!! Taking out the blood from the breast, Rama need not enter upon all that – to what are these to be ascribed?
Rama is going to skip over many questions and many answers. We will take them up at some other time.
One more question, “Why is India politically so low?” They say the cause of India’s fall is the Vedanta. Far from it. The cause of India’s fall is lack of the Vedanta, You know Rama has told you that he belongs to every country. Rama does not come as an Indian, as a Hindu, as a Vedantist. Rama corner as Rama, which means all – pervading. Rama does not want to flatter you or to flatter Indians. Rama does not stand for India or America or anything; Rama stands for “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” and on that ground, from that stand – point, Rama says whatever he says. Rama does not want to flatter India or to flatter America. The truth is that BO long as the Vedanta was prevalent among the masses of India, she was at the highest point of her glory; she reigned supreme, and was prosperous. There came a time when this Vedanta fell into the hands of a particular class, and then it was not allowed to reach the masses of India, and then began India’s fall. The Vedanta was not allowed to reach the masses; the Indian masses began to believe in a religion – I am a slave, I am a slave, I am Thy slave, O God. This religion was imported into India from Europe. Here is a statement which will astonish the so – called historians and philosophers, which will astonish Europeans, but this is a statement which Rama does not make without thought. That is a statement which can be proved, demonstrated with mathematical certainty. The religion which wants us to look down upon the self and to condemn the self and call ourselves worms, wretches, slaves, sinners, was imported into India, and when it became the religion of the masses, then began the fall of India. And what about the Europeans and Americans? The Europeans believe also in their slavery, – O God, we are Thy slaves! Why did they not suffer the same degradation as the Indians suffered from the political and social points of view? This will be illustrated by a story which is often referred to by Naturalists and writers on Evolution. They say that sometimes weakness becomes the cause of survival; it is not always the fittest that survive. OM.
A large number of locusts were flying in a certain direction, and some of the locusts lost their wings and fell and the remaining locusts that were healthy went on, but when they reached a hill, the hill was on fire, and all the locusts perished. Here the wreak survived compelled to retreat. How was it? Those were the days when the Vedanta was prevalent among the masses of India. Do you want to have proof of that? As proof of that, read the accounts of India left by the Greeks of that day, read in History what the Greeks of that time, the companions of Alexander, wrote about India. You will see that practical Vedanta was prevalent among the masses and the people were strong. Alexander the Great had to turn back.
There came a time when an ordinary invader, called Mahmud Gaznavi, seventeen times plundered India; seventeen times he took off all the wealth that he could lay his hands on from India. Read the accounts of the masses in those days, and you will see that the religion of the masses was exactly at the opposite pole to the Vedanta, The Vedanta was prevalent, but only amongst the chosen few. The masses had given it up, and thus was India brought low.
They say that you preach Renunciation, and Renunciation must make us poor. Oh, far from it. It is true that in order to learn the Vedanta, you have to retire into the forests, you have to go into the deep recesses of the Himalayan woods. But never does the Vedanta inculcate that you should lead the life of an ascetic. Never, never. There retiring into the woods is just like the going of students to a College. Is it not true that in order to learn any Science or Philosophy, you should isolate yourself, you should live at a place without any harassing circumstances about you? You ought to live in a place where quietly and silently you may prosecute your studies. Thus if the Indian retires into the forest, and if he goes into the woods, that – is simply to keep himself in places where he may thoroughly master the Science of Sciences, where he may thoroughly realize the true spirit of the Vedanta. You know the Vedanta is an Experimental Science like Chemistry, – in Chemistry you cannot make any progress unless you make corresponding experiments. Similarly what can a man know of the Vedanta who does not perform spiritual experiments alongside the intellectual training that he gets. Thus, in order to try these spiritual experiments and gain the intellectual knowledge, people have to retire into the forests. The forests are like the Universities and Colleges. Having acquired this knowledge, they come down into the world and preach it, and apply it in everyday life, and let people know how they can work this system of Philosophy into practice. You know during the live years every Brahmin or Hindu had td pass in the forest, he acquired this knowledge, and having acquired it, he had to come down into the World and work there, and some of them had to take up the ordinary worldly duties. Not everybody has to take up the order of monks after acquiring full knowledge of the Vedanta. It is just like many a student who passes the Master of Arts Examination or who takes the Doctor of Science Degree, but all of whom are not expected to become Professors. Some become Magistrates, some great merchants, some of them become Professors also.
Similarly, to acquire the Vedanta, to acquire and thoroughly realize it, puts you in a state where the whole world may become to you a heaven, a garden, where the whole universe may become to you a paradise, that life may become worth living for you. They misrepresent the Vedanta who say that it wants everybody to become an ascetic. No, no. The outward order of monkhood is like taking up the Professor’s profession after passing the Doctor of Science Examination.
We see again that this Vedanta was preached by men who were actively engaged in worldly life. The Vedanta is not pessimistic. They misrepresent it who say that this religion is pessimism; far from it. It is rather the highest pinnacle of optimism.
The Vedanta tells you that if you launch your body into the ocean of the world without a rudder, without a compass, without oars or without sails, without steam or electricity, you will necessarily make a shipwreck of your life. You throw yourself at the mercy of all sorts of winds and storms. The Vedanta says that the world is full of misery and wretchedness because of Ignorance. Ignorance only is sin; Ignorance is the cause of all your wretchedness. So long as you are ignorant, you are miserable; and the Vedanta says if you remove this Ignorance, if you acquire the perfect knowledge, if you know the true Atma, all dungeons become paradise for you. Life becomes worth living, never worrying, never bothering about anything, never. thrown off the balance, never losing your presence of mind, never crest – fallen or sad or wearing a long face. Is not that desirable? Is not that the very Truth? The Vedanta is not pessimism. It says, “O people of the world, you are making a veritable hell of this world, Acquire knowledge, acquire knowledge.” That is the position of the Vedanta. No pessimism at all.
And you see this Vedanta has been preached _by people who lived in the world, people who were far from being ascetics, but who were still men of Renunciation.
Once a great Indian prince was going to give up his worldly duties and was about to retire into the forest. His preceptor, an ancestor of this body, preached this Vedanta unto him, and having acquired the secret of Renunciation, after becoming a true man of renunciation, lived in the world as a mighty Emperor.
A great warrior, Arjuna, who was the hero of the battle of Kurukshetra, was about to give up his worldly action; his duty required him to fight, and he was going to give that up, he was going to retire, he was going to become an ascetic, he was about to do that, and Krishna appeared to him. He preached the Vedanta to Arjuna, and it is this Vedanta properly understood, which braced up the courage of Arjuna, which infused energy and power into him, which breathed a spirit of life and activity into him, and he rose up like a mighty lion, and there he was the mighty hero.
The Vedanta fills you with energy and strength, and not weakness. In the Vedas there is a passage which says that this Atma, this Truth, can never, never be achieved by a man who is weak. It is not for the weak; the weak – hearted, the weak of body, the weak in spirit can never acquire it.
A great king gave up his kingdom and retired into the forests where he acquired true knowledge, and after acquiring perfect knowledge, he went back and took possession of the throne. The throne was decorated by his presence only after he had acquired this perfect knowledge, and not before.
If by renunciation is not meant asceticism, what is renunciation then? That is a sublime subject. It will be taken up at some other time.
Here is a passage from the Hindu Scriptures. Some people say that the Hindus do not eat meat because they think that God is everywhere. The Hindus do not eat meat, the Vedantists do not eat meat, it is true, but this is not the reason. The reason is something else. There is no time left now to enter into that.
In the Upanishad (Katha) there is a passage. It is translated into English thus:
“If he that slayeth thinks * I slay;’ if he
Whom he doth slay, thinks ‘I am slain’’, then both
Know not aright! That which was life in each
Cannot be slain, nor slay! “