(Written as Introduction to a Book)
Rama will now say a few words about the Future of India, which promises to be hopeful and bright. Everything in this world “moves rhythmically” and the law of periodicity governs all phenomena. In accord with this law should move even the Sun or star of prosperity. There was a time when the son of wisdom and wealth shone at the zenith of glory in India. As seen through the eyes of History, this luminary, like other heavenly bodies, began gradually to march westward and westward. It passed over Persia, Assyria, and further west. Egypt saw it shining overhead. Next came the turn of Greece. After that Rome enjoyed the noon of glory. Then Germany, France, and Spain were duly waked up by the Light.
At last England began to receive the dazzling splendour of the Sun of prosperity. Westward, ho! travels the Sun and brings America to the high swing of Fortune. In the United States, the Light spread in the usual course travelling from New York (or “the East”) westward and westward till it reached California or “the west”. When it was day in India, nobody knew America. Now that it is day in America the night of poverty and pain is hovering over India. But, no; the Sun seems already crossing over the Pacific Ocean, and Japan bids fair to be among the foremost powers of the world, and if the laws of Nature are to be trusted, the Sun of wealth and wisdom must complete his Revolution and shine once more on India with redoubled splendour. Amen!
Reviewing the past history of India we find, as in the case of any other country, an ultimate internal cause of India’s night to be no other than Exclusivism. “How glorious is the broad daylight in this room (India)! Oh! It is mine – mine! Let it belong to me alone.” So saying, we practically pulled down the blinds, shut the doors, closed the windows; and in the very attempt to monopolize the light of Ind created darkness. God is no respecter of persons, nor is Fortune geographical. We ceased to incorporate in our lives the divine truth of Oneness-feeling (Tat-tvam-asi); we were divided and weakened. The great wrong which the leaders of the nation committed was to lay more stress on their self seeking rights than on their self-denying duties to their children – the lower classes. Be that as it may, by the very necessity of the situation, matters are taking a most hopeful turn. Those who sleep well, wake well. India has slept long enough. Most surely, though slowly, the lethargy is breaking; and most surely, though slowly, Conservatism is playing Liberal to adapt itself to the altered conditions.
The principle of progress demands differentiation of form and function, but integration of spirit and feeling. The Hindu caste system was due to rational advancement expressing itself beautifully in organised division of labour and occupation and the union of spirit and – heart. But in course o£ time the form came to be exalted above the spirit, the natural order was reversed; evolution gave room to dissolution, and there we had division of love (spirit) and mixing up of labour (occupation). Members of one caste often took up the occupations o£ other castes, and yet the ancient caste feelings kept the hearts even more estranged than before. The abnormal development of skin – consciousness (caste prejudice) buried the real self (Atma, God) under a heap of transitory names, forms and limitations. The Shruti (Vedic wisdom concerning the eternal self) was practically made a dead letter, and Smriti (Law-codes dealing with ancient customs and affairs} was made the tyrant’s staff. The latter dominated over the spirit. Someone says, “Grammar is the grave of language.” Yes, try to save the grammar, keep it invariable, and thereby the language will die. Just so the rigidity of laws, customs and karma-kand saps the vitality of a nation. Up to a time the laws and rules are helpful like the husk for the protection and preservation of the seed, but if not changed after a while, they become the choking prison impeding all growth. Bear in mind, dear people, the laws and Smritis are for you, you are not for the laws and Smritis. Spread universally the teachings of eternal Shruti, but adapt your Smritis to the needs of the day. Let the heritage of Smritis belong to you and not you to the heritage. The rivers have changed their beds in India, the snow-lines have shifted, forests are replaced by cultivated fields, the face of the country is altered, government have changed, language has changed, yet in this inconstant, transient world ye seek to perpetuate the rules and customs of the past which is no more! Sad, indeed, is the state of one who is all the time looking behind while he wants to walk forwards. Such a one must stumble at every step.
Life evolves on the principles of heredity and adaptation. The law of heredity reigns supreme in the lower kingdoms. It is the predominance of the principle of adaptation or education that distinguishes man from the animal and the plants. The pretty little baby is just as unintelligent and silly as the infant puppy; nay, the puppy or polly is often more intelligent than the little Adam. But the difference lies in this, that whereas the little dog or parrot has at the time of birth inherited almost all it required for its perfection, the child will or can through adaptation and education bring the whole world under his sway.
My beloved Hindus! By aversion to change or adaptation, laying too much emphasis on the old customs and heredity, pray, degrade not yourselves below the level of man.
You live in time as well as space. You are descended from the ancient Rishis of India, but you live not in their age now, do you? Steam – engine, steam ship, telegraph, etc. are at you; you can no longer shut yourselves off from the present world; your struggle is with the twentieth century scientists, artists and workmen of Europe and America; you cannot escape it, and if you observe carefully, you will see that you cannot survive except by making yourselves fit to live in the altered environment of this age. If you are not willing and ready to assimilate the New Light, which is also the old, old light of your own land, go and live in Pitru loka with your forefathers. Why tarry here! Good – bye!
Rama does not mean that you should be denationalized. A plant assimilates the outside air, water, manure, and earth; but does it by that turn into the air, water or the earth? No. Similarly you should by absorbing and digesting the outside materials develop and flourish, with the original life of Shruti still in you.
The object of Education should be to enable us to utilize the resources of the country. Proper education should enable the people to make the land more fertile, the mines more productive, the trade more flourishing, the bodies more active, the minds more original, the hearts more pure, the industries more varied, and the nation more united. The capability of quoting big long texts to show off our learning, nonsensical hair – splitting to torture the sense of passages in ancient Scriptures, the study of subjects which we never have to use in life, is not education. The taking in of knowledge which we cannot carry out in practice, is spiritual constipation or mental dyspepsia.
It is a matter of satisfaction that, in spite of all surface discouragements and bitter but lifeless opposition, steadily and surely the Hindus are acquiring proper education, showing necessary adaptation; the social laws of past ages are becoming less stringent, and the caste system is resuming its more natural proportions. Instead of being scared by Western Science, the Hindus today welcome her as the greatest ally to their own Brahma – Vidya (Shruti).
As to Hindu marriage, the different communities, often headed by the most orthodox and learned Pandits, are enacting social laws to increase the age of marriage; and now and then suitable intermarriages are ‘ also tolerated.
Apparently the question of food has gained such undue dimensions amongst the Hindus that some have nicknamed our religion as no more than “kitchen-religion.” But in spite of all our fuss our energy on the point has been misdirected and dreadfully wasted. We have never examined scientifically what to eat and how to eat. As you eat, so will your acts and thoughts be. You cannot get out of a machine what is not put into it. It is silly to expect muscular or brain work from persons who never take any food for the muscles or the brain. From vegetables, grains and fruit we could easily make a proper selection to supply us with the necessary amount of nitrates and phosphates to keep up high mental and physical activity. Is it not a pity that we prize ghee so much when it contains not a particle of food for brain or muscle, and we despise barley, such an excellent food for students? Pepper, condiments and medicines undermine the system, pervert our natural tastes, invite all sorts of weakness, disease and death. Carbonates, like butter, sugar and starch, which serve_ only as fuel to the lungs and supply no nutrition for the muscle or the brain, are valued out of all proportion. The consequence is that lethargy, drowsiness and exhaustion become inevitable. Let Jnanam (Science, know – ledge) guide our eating (Annam).
The Sadhus of India are a unique phenomenon peculiar to this country. As a green mantle gathers over standing water, so have Sadhus collected over India, full fifty – two lakhs by this time. Some of them are indeed beautiful lotuses – the glory of the lake! But a vast majority are unhealthy scum. Let the water begin to flow, let there be marching life in the people, the scum will soon be carried off. Sadhus were the natural outcome of the past dark ages of Indian History. But now – a – days the general spirit of reform, inasmuch »s it is changing the feelings and tastes of the householders, is affecting the Sadhus also. There are springing up Sadhus who instead of remaining as suckers and parasites to the tree of Nationality, are anxious to make of their body and mind humble manure for the tree, if nothing more.
The sense of the dignity of labour, the religion of unselfish activity, so long orally repeated by millions of the ^eta – students, is at last being more or less realized in practice in the land of Krishna.
“And live in action! Labour;
Make thine acts thy piety;
Casting all self aside;
Contemning gain and merit;
Equable in good or evil;
Equability is Yoga, is piety! “
Deep devotion and keen discrimination is observable among some of the laity as well as the Sadhus. And any one who is duly acquainted with the external and internal, ancient and modern, situation of India, can see without difficulty that the future religion of educated India must be
PRACTICAL VEDANTA OR
Renunciation – through Love – in Action
True action is not separable from true love and true wisdom. The religion of Shruti (Practical Vedanta) makes every act, feeling, and thought of our life a yajna, an offering to the devas.
Deva in the Vedantic language means the power – giving life and light to the different faculties; and the deva or devata of a faculty, indriya or sense, implies that faculty, indriya or sense taken cosmically. (Cf. Adhyatmik and Adhidaivik) The devata of chakshu (or sight) is the sight of all beings, called Aditya and only symbolized by the material Sun or the world’s eye. The devata of hands is the power in all hands and is named Indra. The devata of feet is the power in all feet styled Vishnu, and so on. Thus true yajna or sacrifice to the devas means offering or dedicating my individual faculties and senses to the corresponding cosmic powers. Offering to Indra would mean working for the good of all hands in the land. Offering to Aditya would mean realizing the presence of God in all eyes; honouring and respecting all eyes; offering no eyes by unworthy conduct; presenting smiles, blessings, love and kindness to whatsoever eyes may turn upon you; and offering your eyes 10 the All – Sight with such a devotion that the egoistic claim being entirely given up, the All – Light Himself may shine through your eyes. Sacrifice to Brihaspati is dedicating my intellect (thoughts) to all the intellects in the land or thinking for the good of the land as if myself were none else than my countrymen, merging my interests in the interests of the people and exulting in their joy.
In short yajna implies realizing in active practice my neighbour to be my own self, feeling myself as one or identical with all, losing my little self to become the self of all. This is crucifixion of the selfishness, and this is resurrection of the All Self. One aspect of it is usually styled bhakti and the other is called jnana.
Take my life and let it be Humbly offered, All, to Thee. Take my hands and let them be Working, serving Thee, yea! Thee* Take my heart and let it be Full saturated, Lord, with Thee. Take my eyes and let them be Intoxicated, God, with Thee, Take this mind and let it be All day long a shrine for Thee.
This dedication being thoroughly accomplished, one realizes the blissful significance of Tat-tvam-asi (“That Thou Art”).
Do you wish to be a patriot? Tune yourself in love with your country and the people. Feel your unity with them. Let not even the shadow of your present personality be the thin glass partition between you and your people. Be a genuine spiritual soldier laying down your personal life in the interests of the land. Abnegating the little ego and having thus become the whole of the country, feel anything your country will feel with you. March, your country will follow. Feel health, your people will be healthy. Your strength will begin to pulsate in their nerves. Let me feel I am India – the whole of India. The land of India is my own body. The Comorin is my feet, the Himalayas my head. From my hair flows the Ganges, from my head come the Brahmaputra and the Indus. The Vindhyachals are girt round my loins. The Coromandel is my right and the Malabar my left leg. 1 am the whole of India and its east and west are my arms, and I spread them in a straight line to embrace humanity. I am universal in my love. Ah! such is the posture of my body. It is standing and gazing at infinite space; but my inner spirit is the soul of all. When I walk, I feel it is India walking. When I speak, I feel it is India speaking. When I breathe, I feel it is India breathing. I am India, I am Shankara, I am Siva. This is the highest realization of patriotism, and this is Practical Vedanta.
Peace like a river flows to me,
Peace as an ocean rolls in me,
Peace like the Ganges flows,
It flows from all my hair and toes,
Through the arched door
Of eyebrows I pour,
And sit in the heaven of heart,
There well do I ride
In glory, and guide,
And no one can leave me and part.
Merry wedlock, union,
On earth or in heaven,
Is a dim foreshadowing symbol
Of my perfect embrace
Of the whole human race,
And my clasp so firm and nimble,
As the golden lance
Of the sun’s sharp glance,
I pierce the hearts of flowers,
As the silvery ray
Of the full moon gay,
I hook up the sea to my bowers.
O Lightning! O Light!
O thought, quick and bright!
Come let us run a race.
Avaunt! Avaunt! Fly! Fly
I But you can’t
With me even keep pace.
O Earths and Waters,
My sons and daughters I
O Flora and Fauna I
All limitations flinging
Break forth into singing
Hosanna! Hosanna I
Om! Om!! Om!!!!