BUNCH OF THOUGHTS
The indefinable Hindu Aim : God Realisation Special features Our unique standard-bearers Need to manifest ideals in daily life Effects of reactionary Hinduism Role of daily samskars Fad of modernism Hindu ideals in all spheres Live National Swadharma
When we say that the Sangh is dedicated to the rejuvenation of the great and unique Hindu way of life, there are many who confront us with the question, "First of of all, how do you define a Hindu?" Well, it is really a tough job. Once a gentleman remarked "I can define a Mussalman or a Christian, but I cannot define a Hindu." He was right when he said so. We can define the Sun and the Moon, but the ultimate Reality from which all these things have emerged cannot be defined. But does it mean that it does not exist? Merely because it refuses to be clothed in symbols and defies definition, does it prove Its non-existence? Sri Ramakrishna has said that God alone is "anuchhishtha", pure and undefined, because He alone has never been described, never been defiled by any tongue. Everything else we can define, but not that all-comprehensive something called Reality.
The Indefinable Hindu
We, the Hindus, have based our whole existence on God and therefore, it is probable that the Hindu Society has developed in an all-comprehensive manner, with a bewildering variety of phases and forms, but with one thread of unification running inherently through the multitude of its expressions and manifestations. All the sects, the various castes in the Hindu fold, can be defined, but the term Hindu cannot be defined because it comprises all. Of course, many attempts at definition have been made from time to time, but all such definitions have proved to be incomplete. They do not express the whole truth and it is but natural in the case of a people who have been growing and evolving for the last so many scores of centuries.
The origin of our people, the date from which we have been living here as a civilised entity, is unknown to the scholars of history. In a way, we are anadi, without a beginning. To define such a people is impossible, just as we cannot express or define Reality because words came into existence after the Reality. Similar is the case with the Hindu People. We existed when there was no necessity for any name. We were the good, enlightened people. We were the people who knew about the laws of nature and the laws of the Spirit. We built a great civilisation, a great culture and an unique social order. We had brought into actual life almost everything that was beneficial to mankind. Then the rest of humanity were just bipeds and so no distinctive name was given to us. Sometimes, in trying to distinguish our people from others, we are called the enlightened the Aryas and the rest Mlechhas. When different faiths arose in foreign lands in course of time and those alien faiths came in contact with us, then the necessity for naming was felt. Various names were given at different times, just as the Ganga is called Gangotri, Bhagirathi, Jahnavi and Hooghly at different stages. And the name Hindu, derived from the river Sindhu, has been associated with us in our history and tradition for so long that it has now become our universally accepted and adored name.
Life with Aim
So, here we are, Hindus, though defying all definitions, all the same a reality. The Hindu Society is a living reality which all of us feel and experience in every drop of our blood. But though we cannot define it, we can and must be able to appreciate the special features which mark out the Hindus as a distinct people. We cannot say that merely because a particular individual is not a Muslim or a Christian, he is a Hindu by the process of elimination. In our country, the Hindu is often referred to by political leaders as non-Muslim. That is not a healthy, positive way of understanding our real nature. Hindu is not a negative being. What, then, is the positive content of that word?
To a Hindu, life is not without an aim. That aim is not one of greatness measured in terms of power, position, name or fame. The realisation of his true nature-the innate Spark of Divinity, the Reality in him-which alone takes man to the state of everlasting supreme bliss, is the one great aim before him. But man has only a short span of life. How can he reach that supreme stage within such a small period? He does not know fully even about his own body even though he uses it throughout his physical existence. Then, how can he know that which is an immanent in the body? The law of cause and effect says that each action of ours the cause has its effect. The circle of cause and effect has to grow, develop and culminate. As such, the present existence of man cannot comprise the whole story of his real being. Since the distinctive natural urge in man is to expand and express his diving nature, he will be born again and again so long as the least trace of ignorance of his true Divine Self remains, and in every birth he will be able to make further progress if he makes honest efforts.
This theory of rebirth for the realisation of our oneness with that Ultimate Reality is the one great hope for the human soul. It is the lighthouse of Hinduism alone which sheds this light of immortal hope that all is not over with this present life, that there is eternal time before us to put our shoulders to the wheel, life after life, and reach the destination. It is the Hindu alone, in the vast mass of humanity, who holds aloft this torch of hope and confidence. All our holy scriptures, all our sects, old or recent, have these fundamentals ingrained in them.
With this, we go forward. We are living in this world. We are surrounded by innumerable worldly charms and distractions. Probably we may not, even for once, think over the real aim of life. Then, how are we to conduct ourselves so that we may be able to progressively realise, during the course of our life, our real nature and not degenerate into further and further ignorance thus dragging ourselves down in the scale of evolution? The law recognises that if a man commits a harmful act, without, however, any evil motive, his fault is less. Sometimes he is even supposed to be absolved of all his sin. If we, therefore, act without any selfish motive, do things out of a sense of duty, i.e., if we take out the personal attachment from our action, the motive of personal enjoyment therein, then the various actions and their fruits do not affect us. Then we are completely absolved from the effects and shocks of the external world and we will be able to concentrate on our True Self. So, our philosophy says, do your work, do your duty in a selfless spirit.
Now, what is the nature of the work we have to do? What is the nature of our duty? From where are we to begin and how are we to lead our life so that we may reach that Ultimate Reality? Is it possible to do it by merely proclaiming that there is something which is called Reality, which will in course of time automatically manifest Itself? No! We must be able to see its objective manifestation in this objective world, something concrete, something living which we can feel and experience and through which we will be able to complete the process of realisation. Our philosophers have placed man as that objective manifestation of Reality, as the object of worship and service. They declared, "Like ourselves, every man is a spark of the same Reality. Let us try to identify our joys and sorrows with an ever-increasing circle of men, expand thus our being and ultimately realise the Great Reality pervading the entire universe".
What, then, is the arrangement that makes it possible for every one of us to serve man, each according to his stage of evolution?
Man does not live alone. He shuns solitude. He is gregarious by nature. So, human beings come together and live as social beings in the form of society. Thus he can live well, develop, and manifest the best in him. He can thus rise in the social rung and progress towards the fulfillment of the aim of life. It means that the building up and maintenance of a social order capable of affording each individual full opportunities to identify himself with wider and wider social groups and serve society with all that he possesses, is the best way for lighting up the path of every individual towards the realisation of the Ultimate Truth. Therefore, we have said, "Let us serve society without any selfish ambition or selfish attachment". Service to humanity is verily service to God. This has been a special feature of our philosophy of life.
With this ultimate aim always before our eyes, it was natural that throughout our history we have laid great store by the qualities of head and heart conducive to the welfare of humanity rather than the amount of earthly riches that one possesses. The richness of heart, the purity of mind and the nobility of character have always been the touchstone of our values of life. The standard of greatness with us has always been ones inner, and not ones outside, possessions. All outer things come and go. Why should we run after those fleeting objects? We opted for a wealth which is the unique treasure of human life, which we can develop within ourselves the wealth of sound virtues, of perfect knowledge and of sublimity of the soul. That alone is real, that alone is abiding. Therefore, whereas the general mass of people in other countries have worshipped a great military hero or a mighty chieftain, we find in our land that even the great heroes and monarchs have worshipped the dust of the feet of half-naked sanyasins living in forests without a piece of cloth to call their own. Why? Because our way of looking at life, because of our realisation that the quality of the inner being alone is abiding and that it goes from life to life till it reaches the culmination of perfection.
Be Living, Dynamic Emblems
These are just a few basic features which go to make us real, positive Hindus. It is only when we pay special attention to them, imbibe them, manifest them in our life, and stand up as real, living and dynamic emblems of those glorious concepts that our taking birth in the divine Hindu heritage will not have been in vain.
Can we, then, say confidently that we are such real, positive Hindus? Let us ask ourselves. How do we live? What are the ideals before us? What are our feelings? Are we Hindus only by the force of circumstances or by accident of birth? Or because we have remained untouched by conversion to Islam or Christianity, as the proselytisers were very few and we were very large in numbers? Is that the only meaning of our being Hindus? There is no use merely saying "Oh! We have a great culture." What do we know of it? How do we practise it? Do we look at our individual life as an offering to society? Do we feel that we should not merely run after pelf and power but should hold aloft virtues in life? Do we feel that we should really be such men that as soon as anyone looks at us, he must be able to say, "Here is a man, who is seeking perfection in all that go to make a real human being?" Let us introspect on these lines and gradually assimilate all these distinctive Hindu traits so that we can stand before the world as positive, dynamic Hindus. Let us live up to our philosophy, our dharma, and all those great qualities, which have moulded our lives for countless generations.
Therefore, though the idea of organising the Hindu Society may appear to be very simple, it really means that first of all we should be keenly conscious in our day-to-day life of our Hindu heritage and should mould every little aspect of our life in keeping with those great traditional values. In all that we do, in our dress, in our behaviour and in all walks of our life, that stamp of positive conviction should be vividly manifest. This is the prime responsibility that rests upon us.
But, unfortunately, what do we see all around us today? Some are Hindus, not out of conviction, but out of reaction. To give an example, our workers once approached a prominent Hindu leader during the signature collection campaign demanding ban on the slaughter of cows. But they were greatly shocked to hear him saying, "What is the use of preventing the slaughter of useless cattle? Let them die. What does it matter? After all, one animal is as good as the other. But, since the Muslims are bent upon cow-slaughter, we should make this an issue. And so, I give you my signature." What does this show? We are to protect the cow not because the cow has been for ages an emblem of Hindu devotion but because the Muslims kill it! This is Hinduism born out of reaction, a kind of negative Hinduism.
There are some for whom, the term Hindu is of use only to serve political objectives. Because a Congressman or a Socialist or some X thinks in terms of composite culture, they stand up and say that they want a pure Hindu culture. Stranger than this is the cry of Hindu Communism! A person can either be a Hindu or a Communist. He cannot be both. It only means that those who shout about Hindu Communism know neither Communism nor Hinduism. This is all out of reaction. Once a gentleman asked me whether we are organising Hindus in order to counteract the various activities of the Muslims. I simply told him that even if Prophet Mohammed had not been born and Islam had not come into existence, we would have taken up this work just as we are doing it today, if we had found Hindus in the same disorganised, self-forgetful condition as at present. The positive conviction that this is my Hindu Rashtra, this is my dharma, this is my philosophy which I have to live and set up as standard for all other nations to follow-well, this should be the solid basis for Hindu reoorganisation.
If, then, we are not to be mere political Hindu animals or Hindus out of reaction, we must live as Hindus by conviction, capable of expressing that conviction in all aspects of our day-to-day life. The mere propagation of Hindu thought in literature and newspapers takes us nowhere. For instance, Veer Savarkarji wrote a beautiful book Hindutva and Hindu Mahasabha based itself on that pure philosophy of Hindu Nationalism. But once, the Hindu Mahasabha passed a resolution that Congress should not give up its nationalist stand by holding talks with Muslim League but should ask Hindu Mahasabha to do that job! What does it mean? It only means that the hybrid nationalism of Congress was of the pure variety, whereas Hindu Mahasabha represented the Hindu counterpart of the rabidly communal, anti-national Muslim League! How did this strange perversion set in? Because, the deep-rooted conviction which would spontaneously evoke the ready affirmation "yes, this is Hindu Nation" under all conditions, even in dreams, was not there.
Things that Count
So, we say that we have to imbibe deep and positive samskars of our nationhood which shall not allow us to be swept off our feet by political or other considerations. It is no use to speak of Hindu Nationhood and the eminence of Hindu way of life without a corresponding life-pattern in our practical day-to-day behaviour.
One of our ancient customs is to get up early in the morning before sunrise. Once a sadhu described to me his early childhood, how his mother used to get up early in the morning and, while doing the normal household duties, would be reciting in her melodious voice various hymns describing the glory of the Divine Mother of the Universe, and how she would awaken him with words invoking Her holy blessings. The Sadhu said, "Those holy words which I used to hear immediately after I woke up from my sleep went deep into my being, purified me, gave me faith and strength to resist all worldly temptations and devote myself to the service of the Mother". This is Hindu samskar. Let us thus mould our life with an attitude of discipline throughout the day, from morning till night. A Hindu is born to be trained in a life-long course of discipline and self-restraint, which purify and strengthen him to reach the Supreme Goal in life.
Let us not say that these are small things about which we need not worry. It is only such little things that go to discipline our life and give shape and strength to our character.
But, unfortunately what do we see at present? All such benevolent customs and codes of conduct are ridiculed as superstition. A revealing incident took place recently. A student had gone to America from our country. He stayed as a paying guest in one of the ordinary families there. On the first day, when he sat for meals at the table along with the members of the family, he immediately started serving himself. Then the lady of the house gently requested him to wait for a minute and explained that it was their custom to pray to God before taking food. Remember, that young man had gone from a land which is considered to be a land of spirituality, a land of God, to a land which is supposed to be a land of Mammon worship, a land of gross materialism. There is no doubt that it is this faith in God, this faith in religion that has given to the West, to a large extent, the strength to succeed in this world.
We pride ourselves upon our spiritual tradition. But how are we actually living? What are our daily samskars? Is there any place for God in all our daily routine? Is there at least some place in our homes where we can contemplate upon Him? Once an acquaintance of mine invited me to visit his newly built house. It was a well-furnished and in every sense a modern house. When he had finished showing me its special features, I just asked him, "Well, where is the devagriha? Have you no family deity, which your forefathers had worshipped and handed down to you?" My question came as a surprise to him. He replied apologetically, "Yes, yes, but I had forgotten all about it". After a few months, when I had gone to that place again, he specially invited me to his house saying that he had carried out my suggestion. I went there. He showed me a small almirah constructed in the triangular space under the staircase and all the chappals and shoes quite a number of them because their standard of life was quite high! of the family members neatly arranged over that almirah! He said with a sense of gratification, " I have just constructed this and kept our family-god here". I was horrified to see that. I only remarked, "Why not keep these chappals inside and worship them instead of defiling the deity?" Such is our modern progressive Hindu life!
Let us not forget that a Sri Rama, a Shivaji or a Vivekananda was not a product of this type of modernism. Shivaji was inspired by the ideals enshrined in a Ramayana and Mahabharata. It was his supreme devotion to our Hindu way of life coupled with his unparalleled organisational acumen which gave it a practical dynamic form, that made him a force which changed the entire course of our history. Right from the Vedic seers down to Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Ramatirtha and such other stalwarts of the modern age, all have left the impress of their inspiring personality on our people by their life of positive love and realisation of our age-old ideals. They could stand erect in spite of all adverse forces, speak to the world in challenging tones. To what a pitiable condition we, their children, have descended! We do not know even the a,b,c of the ideals which moved and moulded those heroic souls.
I know a young man who had gone to a foreign land on Government scholarship. There he was confronted with a number of queries by his friends and strangers about atma, pranayama, Gita and so many other Hindu ideas and ways of life. This young man was blissfully ignorant of all those things. He wrote to me about his difficulty. But what could I do? Could I give him postal training in yogabhyasa, in samadhi, in pranayama and in all such things? How humiliating, it is, that our so-called educated young men of this land do not have the least scent of the fundamentals of our own philosophy let alone their realising them in full!
Ideals in All Aspects
Then, let us look into the other aspects the aspect of our relation with the various spheres of contact with society, as for example, our family, our neighbourhood, our centres of education, our field of profession and so on. Has there been no distinctive contribution of the Hindu in all these spheres of life? On the contrary, it is the Hindu alone whose philosophy embraces the smallest as well as the widest spheres of human activity. To us, the family is the first stage of our self-expansion. Then, all the various duties that devolve upon us as family members, have to be gone through so as to keep the delicate ties of sweet affection and identity among the members of the family always in tact. As a son, as a brother, as a husband or in whatever relationship, let us uphold the noble Hindu ideal of a family man. It brings no credit to us if we say, "Oh, I am working for society, why should I bother about the family bonds?" Again, look at the great ideal characters of our land. Sri Rama, though in his teens, accompanied Vishwamitra to the forest to destroy the rakshasas according to the bidding of his father. Later, he gladly started for his fourteen years of forest sojourn only to preserve the sanctity of his fathers pledge. As a brother, what an intense affection he bore towards Lakshmana and others. He was an ideal son, an ideal brother, an ideal husband, an ideal friend, an ideal disciple and to his foes an ideal enemy too all blended in one ideal Hindu manhood. So was Sri Krishna. What a source of joy and solace he was to Yashoda and Nanda! How he charmed the whole neighbourhood with his sweet behaviour!
Then, during our student life, acquiring knowledge and character, and not merely stuffing our brains with information, has been the constant urge with us. We are not to become mere bookworms. The one key to all learning is concentration of mind. With regular healthy habits for the body and for the mind, it should not be difficult for us to develop concentration. And then, in various educational institutions in which we study, we come in contact with our teachers and co-students. In the Hindu tradition the relationship between the teacher and the taught is not one of contract. It is something sublime the shishya looks up to the guru as the very embodiment of knowledge and divinity and behaves towards him in a spirit of humility and devotion.
Immediately this is said, there are today some who ask whether the present-day teachers are worthy of such devotion. But the students should not fall a prey to such a perverted outlook. Let us behave as we ought to; it is for our own good, for our own refinement. We worship the idol of Hanuman in the temple. After a time, by constant application the idol is thickly covered with sindhur and its shape is changed beyond all recognition. But still it is worshipped as Hanuman with the same devotion. The Deity of Learning is Vinayaka the Deity with a pot belly and an elephant head! But that does not affect ones devotion to Him. See the born Jagadguru Sri Krishna behaving like any ordinary pupil in the hermitage of Sandipani, and you get the true picture of an ideal Hindu student. He served his teacher with utmost love and devotion just like any other pupil. He went to forests in rain and storm to bring dry faggots for yajna. What was there for him, who was himself the very embodiment of knowledge, to learn?
And again, see him moving among his comrades and co-students. What a deep and pure love he had for all! Sudama, a poor Brahmin boy, was his classmate in Sandipanis ashrama. Later in life, when Sri Krishnas fame spread far and wide, Sudama once set out with torn clothes and a handful of beaten rice to see his old classmate. As soon as Krishna sighted his old friend he dashed forth and warmly embraced him to his bosom. He snatched the precious present that his friend had brought and ate it with great relish. He conferred upon Sudama immense riches also.
Even if, by chance, there is a conflict with our elders on points of ideology, our respectful behaviour towards them need not change. In the Mahabharata war, when Bhishma and Arjuna faced each other, Arjuna directed his first five arrows to the feet of Bhishma. The charioteer of Bhishma was amazed to see Arjunas unfailing arrows falling at Bhishmas feet instead of striking his chest. Bhishma said "My beloved Arjuna is prostrating before me with all his five pranas seeking my blessings".
"Swadarme Nidhanam Shreyah"
Let us not brush aside these examples as old puranic stories. In them are embedded the priceless gems of our culture, which once made the Hindu life the envy of the whole world. Nor are they to be discarded as having become impractical in these days. Even in this twentieth century, we do see such inspiring examples. There is the example of our own founder, Dr. Hedgewar. When he had once gone to Poona in connection with the organisational work, one of his old teachers at Poona was also invited to the elders meeting to be addressed by him. Many a leading light of the city had assembled for the meeting. The old teacher came a bit late. But as soon as Doctorji saw him, he got up and touched the old teachers feet and offered him his own seat.
These are only a few features of our present-day living on the background of our permanent values of life. It is only when a nation, just as an individual, sticks to its roots of swadharma that it grows and blossoms forth in all-round glory and achievement. Pulling out ones roots of swadharma and transplanting something else in its place will only result in utter chaos and degeneration. The Bhagawad-Gita says :
Lo/kesZ fUk/kUkę Js;% ij/ke®Z Hk;kog% AA
(Even death while performing ones own dharma brings blessedness; taking to anothers dharma is fraught with fearful consequences)
The task of rekindling the Hindu way of life brushing off the ashes of self-forgetfulness and imitation covering the immortal embers of the age-old samskars in the Hindu heart so that pure flame of the National Self of this sacred land will once again blaze forth in all its effulgence, therefore, comes up before us as the call of National Swadharma.