Messages Of Vedanta For The Women, Men & Children Of Modern India- Part II
How does one manifest the divinity within?
Vedanta suggests four yogas:
- Karma yoga, the path of unselfish action
- Jnana yoga, the path of knowledge
- Raja yoga, the path of meditation and
- Bhakti yoga, the path of devotion
The word yoga signifies the union of the individual soul with the Cosmic Soul.
Truth is one and universal. It cannot be limited to any country or race or individual. All religions of the world express the same Truth in different languages and in various ways. Just as the sun is no one’s property, so also Truth is not confined to one particular religion or philosophy. No one can say that the sun is a Christian sun or a Hindu sun or a Buddhist sun or a Jewish sun or an Islamic sun. Vedanta, rather, promulgates the harmony of religions. As different rivers originate from different sources but mingle in the ocean, losing their names and forms, so all the various religious paths those human beings take, through different tendencies, lead to God, or the Truth.
Now if a person would ask me, “What do you suggest that I read to know about Vedanta?” it would be hard for me to give an answer. Vedanta is a vast subject. Its scriptures have been evolving for the last six thousand years. The three basic scriptures of Vedanta are the Upanishads (the revealed truths), the Brahma Sutras (the reasoned truths) and the Bhagavad Gita (the practical truths). But it is hard for someone to get the essence of these scriptures without the help of a teacher and without going through the commentaries. Sometimes we suggest that a person read Sri Ramakrishna: The Great Master and The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, because Sri Ramakrishna’s life and teachings were saturated with Vedanta. Or we suggest The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, because it was Swami Vivekananda who brought the message of Vedanta to the West. In doing so, he made the Great Truths, available to millions, for those, who really were thirsty to swim in the ocean of ancient ‘truths’.
In the year of 1893, Swami Vivekananda had said, “I have a message for the West, as Buddha had a message for the East”.
But invariably we have noticed that the normal inquirer is dismayed, seeing the huge volumes of the Great Master, the Gospel and the Complete Works, which consist of 1081, 1063 and 4363 pages respectively. Of course, many swamis of the Ramakrishna Order have written excellent shorter books of Vedanta and yoga and these undoubtedly are very helpful.
Sri Ramakrishna had several visions about Vivekananda before he ever met him. Once, in a state of Samadhi, Sri Ramakrishna’s mind soared higher and higher, transcending the realm of the gods and goddesses, until it reached the transcendental realm. There he found seven venerable sages seated in Samadhi. He felt that those sages had surpassed not only men, but also even the gods, in knowledge and holiness, in renunciation and love. He then saw a divine child move toward one of the sages, put his arms around his neck and addressing him in a sweet voice, try to drag his mind down from Samadhi. When the magic touch had roused the sage, the child said to him: “I am going down to earth. Won’t you come with me?” With a benign look, the sage gave his consent and again became immersed in Samadhi. “No sooner had I seen Naren (Vivekananda, I had recognized the sage,” said Sri Ramakrishna. And he later disclosed, on inquiry, the divine child was none other than himself.
In another vision, Sri Ramakrishna saw a streak of light flash across the sky from Varanasi toward Calcutta. “My prayer has been answered”, he exclaimed, “and my man must come to me one day.”
True to the ancient tradition of India these men of renunciation, and not like the Western world of men of wealth, have lead society and the nation. We observe the tremendous influence of Swami Vivekananda, Paramahansa Ramakrishna, Paramahansa Yogananda, Sri Yukteswar Giri, Lahiri Mahasaya and other spiritual giants, such as Buddha, Shankara, Chaitanya, Ramana Maharshi and Nanaka; have over millions of people. Their impact on the minds of the mass is deeper and more lasting than that of kings and emperors.
Swami Vivekananda, for the first time in the history, with the message of Vedanta, brought India to be recognized (Sep11 1893 Chicago International Hall of Religion) as The Spiritual Giant Of A Country In The Globe. Till then India was known only as a poor and illiterate country, where people were known to live with snakes, tigers, and scorpions and slept on a bed of nails. I remember the ignorance of a person, educated primarily in USA, had spent major part of his life out of India and even though being an Indian; had stated with a gleam in his eyes; “I know, you people live with cobras and sleep on the bed of thorns”. This was as late as, in the year of 1991. He had shared with me those TV serial on India. People have progressively woken up, around the world, about “This Holy land India”
The world religion authority Huston Smith recalls, that in 1950, eminent historian and philosopher Arnold Toynbee predicted, “India the conquered, would conquer her conquerors, in the 21st century.” – God Talks With Arjuna – Bhagavad Gita – Paramahansa Yogananda – verse 31 – chapter II Where as, by scientists’ discoveries of seals, potteries, coins, statues unearthed in Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa in the Indus Valley, northern India, India’s civilization has been established, as, far older than that of Egypt – “taking us back to an age that can”, by the materialistic Western world, “that can only be dimly surmised” – (Sir John Marshal – Mohenjo Daro and the Indus Civilization – 1931)
“Looking at the great major centers of civilization that flourished in those ancient times, we find four (1) along the Nile in Egypt, (2) along the Tigris and the Euphrates in the Middle East – Mesopotamia (3) along the Yang Yangtze (Ch’ang) and the Yellow River (Huangho in China and (4) along the Indus in India. What has happened to all these ancient civilizations? … And yet in the land of the Indus and the Ganges, that ancient stream of wisdom, still flows with the same vigor.
At the time India was concurred by Western colonial powers, according to historian JT Sunderland, India was the wealthiest nation in the globe. “This material wealth was created by the Hindus vast and varied industries. Nearly every kind of manufacture of product known to the civilized world – nearly every kind of creation of man’s hand and brain – existing anywhere and prized either for its utility or beauty – had long been produced in India. India was a far greater industrial and manufacturing Nation anywhere in Europe or any other in Asia” – (India in Bondage – New York – Simon & Schuster – 1928).
“Let us remember” wrote the eminent historian and philosopher Will Durant (in ‘The Case of India’ – New York – Simon & Schuster – 1930) “that India was the motherland of our race and Sanskrit was the mother of Europe’s languages – that she was the mother of our philosophy, mother through the Arabs much of our mathematics, mother of our ideals embodied through the Christianity, mother through the village community of ‘self governance and democracy’. Mother India in many ways was the mother of us all.”
World religion authority Huston Smith recalls that in 1950s, the eminent British historian Arnold Toynbee predicted that in the 21st century “India the conquered would conquer her conquerors.” This is 21st century, and this century belongs to India. The Modi Government is already sounding strong to bring back India to her ‘Natural Glory’.
In each century India has given birth to lofty spiritual personages. Though she has reached every field of culture, when that tradition declined somewhat in material terms, these great Masters, who appeared one after another in the Indian scene, nevertheless upheld its spiritual luster.
Just as the river does not drink its own water, nor does the tree eat its own fruit. They live for others. Similarly, from time to time great souls are born, whose lives are lived for the good of others. They bring peace and happiness to mankind. Having themselves crossed the dreadful ocean of maya (relative existence); they help others to cross without any selfish motive. It does not matter when and where a great soul is born or how long s/he lives; her/his life and messages are a source of inspiration to all people, of all ages. The way of Vedantic life ‘was’ and once again ‘is’ rising like tumultuous oceanic waves in India.
India – the conquered shall once again, in the 21st century, conquer the conquerors. But we need to establish the spirit of ‘Human Excellence’. Through our understanding of Vedanta, we shall, not just be the Industrial Giants, but also ‘The Spiritual Giants’ of the world. The world is already experiencing a famine for qualified human beings. Through the right education, our children would be the ones, to fill up the gap, to lead the world and make this Earth a better place to live.
- The Bhagavad Gita – God talks with Arjuna – Paramahansa Yogananda.
- Voice of Freedom – Swami Vivekananda.
- Inner Voice of Robbin Ghosh.