Ennapadam Bhagavati

Bhagavathi at Ennapadam Temple at Kerala

Friday, June 25, 2010



Swami Jyotirmayananda has presented different aspects of Hindu religion, Hindu culture, Hindu society and Sanatana Dharma in his recent book India’s Gift to the World is the Light Spiritual’.


In Chapter 2 of this book, he has given a general survey of the intellectual traditions of India, their importance in the heritage of scientific and philosophical wealth of our country ever since the Vedic Age and their relevance in the larger global context today. According to Swami Jyotirmayananda, mind, intellect and spirit or self, according to Indian philosophy are the vital constituents of man and India’s traditions give overriding importance to suitably attune the mind and the intellect to the spirit. From the dawn of history, India has been engaged in an unending quest for truth behind the phenomena of life and universe. This exciting search inspired our ancient ancestors to raise different types of intellectual questions about the inscrutable ecstasy and mystery of human existence.

Religious experience is of a self-certifying character. It is svatassiddha. It carries its own credentials. The mechanical faith in the Abrahamic religions, which depends on authority and wishes to enjoy the consolations of religion without the labour of being religious, is quite different from the ancient Hindu religious faith which has its roots in experience. Hindu thought has no mistrust of reason. There can be no final breach between the two powers of the human mind, reason and intuition. In order to be able to say that religious experience reveals reality, in order to be able to transform religious certitude into logical certainty, we are obliged to give an intellectual account of the experience. But, like all perceptions, religious intuition is that from which thought has to start and to which it has to return. This kind of approach resulted in a breakthrough for a meditative quest and discovery of profound secrets of life by the great Rishis of ancient India.

The chief sacred scriptures of the Hindus, the Vedas, register the intuitions of the realized and perfected souls. They are not so much dogmatic dicta as transcripts from life. They record the spiritual experiences of souls strongly endowed with the sense for reality. They are held to be authoritative on the ground that they express the experiences of the experts in the field of religion. If the utterances of the Vedas were uninformed by spiritual insight, they would have no claim to our belief. The truths revealed in the Vedas are capable of being free-experienced on compliance with ascertained conditions. We can discriminate between the genuine and the spurious in religious experience, not only by means of logic but also through experience.

Swami Jyotirmayananda says that the distinctive character of India’s intellectual pursuit can really help evolve a new line of thought in the modern world. In order to highlight the distinctive character of India’s spiritual and intellectual traditions, he quotes the observations of Mr.R.G.H.Siu, the Chinese scientist at MIT, USA. In his “Tao of Science”, he has said: “Rational knowledge is rational only because it is obtainable through reason. The others obtainable through means other than reason are not irrational; they are extra-rational….We should contrast rational knowledge and intuitive knowledge. The role of discovery is quite different in these two forms. In rational knowledge it plays a promotional part. In intuitive knowledge, discovery, of the patent office variety, plays a minor role. Science has not accelerated human development in this area. If anything, she may have dulled man’s sensibilities to intuitive riches by passive and, in some instances, antagonistic attitudes.”

Logicians may run down the fuzziness of intuition; the intuitionists decry the strictures of logic. Discursive reasoning is not possible without intuition. In the western tradition pursuit of knowledge involves the selection of a certain event or quality as the object of knowledge. Sage-knowledge in the great Eastern tradition does not do so. Mr.Siu distinguishes between ignorance and no-knowledge; between “having-no” knowledge and having “no-knowledge”. The former is merely a state of ignorance; the latter is one of ultimate enlightenment and universal (sometimes even cosmic) sensibilities. With rational knowledge, the scientist is a spectator of nature. With “no knowledge”, he becomes a participant in nature. There is a communion of understanding. Mr.Siu concludes “to plumb the depths of no-knowledge, one must rely on his own ineffable awareness of the ineffable”.

Swami Jyotirmayananda says that in Indian culture the pursuit of intellectual knowledge, in fact, was considered as the means to reach ‘sage-knowledge’. When intuitive knowledge is added to scientific knowledge, one becomes a man of culture with a sense of commitment to his fellow beings and nature and reaches near to perfection. This should be the goal of the common people. Then human society will evolve into a truer, purer, nobler and greater dimension of existence. This is India’s intellectual and spiritual message to the world.

The people of present-day world can be conveniently classified into 3 distinct groups, each with an inherent special trait of its own: 1) The Exclusivist Group consisting of Abrahamic Faiths. 2) The Pseudo-Secular Group and 3) The Victimized Group consisting of peace-loving Hindus of the mighty and majestic Hindu Nation, well-known from time immemorial as ‘Bharath’. That glorious name was discarded by the ‘shrewd’ British Imperialists in favour of ‘India’, a colonial appellation given by Europeans to our sacred land. The modern day descendents of Western Imperialism—global Islam, global Christianity and Marxism—continue to pursue their policies for global dominance, which have an unlimited potential for endangering the safety, security and integrity of our motherland. Swami Jyotirmayananda says: “In order to prevent it, we have to reenergize ourselves to protect and preserve our Dharmic Mores in the tradition of our Great Monk, Swami Vivekananda”.

I fully endorse the view of Shri.Vijay Kapoor: “The Hindu failure is that we I I have never made an effort to learn the inner working and the psyche of our adversaries. What motivates them to attack and kill the Hindus? ….Remove the Bible, Torah and the Koran from the landscape and there will be no perpetual wars. How is it, that Hindus cannot grasp this daily event? Hindus walk in sleep! If we Hindus fail to define what inflicts us, we can never get rid of the ‘VIRUS’ , which is killing us. To my mind, that ‘Virus’ is our ignorance of what motivates Christians and Islamic forces to keep attacking Hindu culture either through guns or via missionaries. The anti-dote to the ‘Virus’, which inflicts us, is to read and absorb the causes of daily carnage carried out by the Abrahamic Faiths.”
Professor Babu Suseelan is right in saying that HINDUS have no choice but to UNITE, if they ever hope to regain dignity, strength and political power to confront the evil forces ranged against them. Aggressive assertiveness is required to project their desire for peace and coexistence. Hindus should be active, not passive. Hindu unity and activism will rectify and prevent injustices and abuse whenever and wherever they occur. Our survival, indeed that of the whole world, demands the propagation of the all-inclusive, spiritual, pluralistic Hindutva.

Swami Vivekananda clearly understood the imperative national need for unifying the nation by bringing together the various scattered spiritual forces working on the Indian soil. With tremendous insight and vision, he showed the way for achieving both national solidarity and collective national vision. Let us hear the bracing words of Swami Vivekananda in this context: “National union of India must be a gathering up of its scattered spiritual forces. A nation in India must be a union of those whose hearts beat to the same spiritual tune.” In another context he said: “Secret of power lies in unity and organisation. Bring out life-giving common principles, we have to build upon the common ground of Dharma.”

Swami Jyotirmayananda’s book can be used as a primer for understanding the letter and spirit of the dynamic forces of Sanatana Dharma and Hindutva pervading the West, more particularly the USA today. The spiritual process is a day-by-day, step-by-step unfolding of our consciousness, a process of breaking down stale, conditioned and dead parts of ourselves to allow rebirth to take place. We are our own inveterate enemies stuck in stagnant pools of self-righteousness. We are afraid to step into the unknown. We are afraid to be touched by creative energy. Anyone who reads this great book by Swami Jyotirmayananda will get filled and inspired by a new creative energy. HE IS A GREAT GURU. The Guru/Disciple dynamic takes place because both surrender to higher energy. Each demands the other to go deeper. It is a question of how much the Guru and disciple want enlightenment. They reflect each other’s tireless need to open to higher energy in the universe.
Let me conclude with a mystical poem:
Lightly, lightly—
Soaring above the dread of the waters,
In the moment of dedication,
All strength gathered, all life at stake
Plunging into the deep.
But no rest on the waves, constrained by currents.
Again over the waters, stillness over the swell,
Borne by the wind with the strength of our own wings.
Never land, never nesting place-
Until the final plunge when the deep takes back its own.

The Hindu attitude to religion is interesting. While fixed intellectual beliefs mark off one religion from another in Abrahamic faiths, Hinduism sets itself no such limits. In Hinduism, intellect is subordinated to intuition, dogma to experience, and outer expression to inward realization. Religion is not the acceptance of soulless academic abstractions or the regimented celebration of ceremonies, but a kind of life or experience. It is insight into the nature of reality (darshana) or experience of reality (anubhava). Religion is a specific attitude of the self, itself and no other, though it is mixed up generally with intellectual views, authentic forms, aesthetic visions and moral valuations.


Front Cover of Book

Swami Jyotirmayananda in his recent book ‘India’s Gift to the World is the Light Spiritual’. makes us understand how the acceptance of and reverence for India’s spirituality was gained in many parts of the world right from the days of yore and how it influenced the cultural life and artistic expressions of many nations. India’s spirituality is exercising a great influence on the inquisitive minds in many parts of the world even today. Our philosophy has succeeded in inspiring and influencing the best scientific minds of today. According to Swami Jyotirmayananda, any sensitive person who makes a study of the Vedantic wisdom will quickly realize that it is a super-science of human evolution and adjustment.

It was the full realization of the spirit of Vedanta that really inspired Sir Warren Hastings (1732-1818), the first Governor General of India, to write the following words in his introduction to the first English translation of the Bhagavad-Gita done by Charles Wilkins (1749-1836) in 1785: ‘The writers of Indian philosophies will survive when the British domination in India shall have long ceased to exist, and when the sources which it yielded of wealth and power are lost to remembrance.’ Anyone can see that these prophetic and clairvoyant words of Sir.Warren Hastings have come true today.

In the midst of plenty and prosperity, the people of the so-called ‘affluent and developed’ countries are in the vicious grip of a dilemma today. With an overbearing sense of having reached a unique dead end, they have started asking whether human life has no other destiny than repeated indulgence in sense pleasures which wane with age. They seem to be desperately seeking a glimpse of inner peace, aspiring for freedom from the death trap of endless and insatiable desires. The grave intensity of this existential crisis was highlighted by the German philosopher Dr Graf K.Von Durekheim in these words: ‘Last year in Germany alone 500 top mangers committed suicide because they could not find a way of the blind alley into which they had been pushed by the stress of everyday life. But the real source of these maladies is not external stress, but the loss of contact with the true self. The deepest frustration in this wholeness is that Western man, being occupied one-sidedly by the materialistic activities in the outside world, has lost the living contact with his inner self, his soul. This also is the cause of a deep widespread suffering for which there is no outward reason.’

Swami Jyotirmayananda

Swami Jyotirmayananda fully endorses the above view of Dr.Graf K.Von Durekheim. He says that the Western mind focuses on the gratification of the physical senses and the resultant mechanistic view of life makes Western man subservient to external circumstances, putting him in the slave bonded labour of unquenchable desires. Let us hear his words: ‘Therefore, amidst the all- round luxury, but devoid of a sense of the higher destiny of human life, the Western mind does often suffer from a sense of misery, of purposelessness, as indicated by the above mentioned statement. This alienation of the Western mind from a higher vision of life, and unlimited desires provoke the Occidental man to evolve a heartless system of exploration and exploitation that results in cruelty and war’.

I totally agree with Swami Jyotirmayananda that most of the prosperous nations today have been afflicted by what is called the Affluenza Virus---the placing of a high VALUE on money, possessions, appearances (physical and social) and fame. Many international studies done by WHO and other organizations have come to the conclusion that people who hold such VALUES are at a greater risk of being emotionally distressed, depressed, anxious, substance-abusing and personality-disordered. Here I would like to quote Oliver James who says: ‘I would use existing scientific studies of national rates of such problems as my starting point, and then see how ‘Affluenza’ was panning out locally, around the world. I also pictured myself as itinerant Marie Curie returning triumphantly clutching vaccines which immunize us against the virus, phials of tactics for making the best of the very bad job that the world has become.’

Something has gone wrong in our society and many of the news programmes—both print and electronic—are not noticing it: while we are getting richer and richer and yet at the same time, simultaneously, we are also getting to be less and less happy. Those who dare to dismiss this global phenomenon would find their theories blown apart by Oliver James in page after page of his book on the virus of what he calls ‘Affluenza’.In today’s world of crass and selfish commercialism, most people, regardless of their level of education are unable to distinguish between the quality and the quantity of what appears to make life good and worth living. The search for the good life, the endless race for a higher standard of living, is so often defined by the new generation in terms of ‘THINGS’ and the means to get as many ‘Things’ as possible. This approach has turned into a dead end as more and more people have more and more. This ‘Midas Culture’ has not provided the joy or happiness that it would appear to have promised at the beginning. We seem to be living in a land of fractured families, poisoned personal relationships, and unfulfilling work totally devoid of any job satisfaction, disloyal corporations, fragile self-esteem, and social distrust. Against this background, Swami Jyotirmayananda comes to the conclusion that the only way out for the modern man is to seek solace and refuge in India’s Vedantic Wisdom. The great Rishis of ancient India looked at life in its totality and evolved from their own experience of true illumination a science of human fulfillment. This rationale of India’s spirituality makes it a true science of human evolution. From the very ancient times, this science of human evolution gave India a unique status in the history of the world. The uniqueness of India’s traditional knowledge is the remarkable interconnections that exist between various branches of knowledge. Astronomy, Astrology and Ayurveda complement one another and they blend with spirituality. There is a science called Marma-Vidya, which is still prevalent in some parts of Kerala, but almost getting extinct because of our sad negligence of our great treasures under the impact of western education. A most important fact to remember is that all these sciences are closely linked to the spiritual concept of life. Thus India’s spiritual message is clear as declared by the Vedic Rishis that the true happiness comes from the spiritual dimension, which transcends all changes. One could experience blessedness by one’s own inward journey. India’s Rishis did not deny the need for material advancement but they reconciled material advance with spiritual elevation. They concluded that the model of development must be need-based and not greed-based. There can certainly be material advance without resorting to crude materialism. They declared that ‘Jiva’ (man) must not end up as ‘Shava’ (Corpse), but evolve, as he has the inherent potential, to become ‘Shiva’, the Universal Man. Swami Jyotirmayananda rightly concludes that it is this emphasis on the development of the true human potentials that was responsible for the spread of India’s spiritual vision and culture to several countries even before the beginning of the Christian Era, and still continues to draw the attention of the thinking sections all over the world.

Against this background, the following glorious and radiant words of Swami Vivekananda are very relevant even today: ‘Political greatness or military power is never the mission of our race; it never was and, mark my words it never will be. But there has been the other mission given to us, which is to conserve, preserve, to accumulate as it were into a dynamo, all the spiritual energy of the race and that concentrated energy is to pour forth into a deluge on the world whenever circumstances are propitious. Let the Persian or the Greek, the Roman, the Arab, or the Englishman march his battalions, conquer the world. The Hindu’s calm brain must pour out its own quota to the sum total of human progress. INDIA’S GIFT TO THE WORLD IS THE LIGHT SPIRITUAL.’


Swami Jyotirmayananda’s latest book titled ‘INDIA’S GIFT TO THE WORLD IS THE LIGHT SPIRITUAL’ is an inspiring and moving treatise on the glory and grandeur of Hinduism, Hindu culture, Hindu society, Hindu thought, Hindu wisdom---in short Sanatana Dharma. In my view, the perennial words of John Milton (1608-1674), the peerless English poet, are wholly applicable to this recent book of Swami Jyotirmayananda: ‘A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.’

This book is an anthology of the deeply analytical, incisive and seminal papers presented by Swami Jyotirmayananda (Swamiji) at various Indological Conferences on various facets and aspects on Sanatana Dharma as well as the seemingly insurmountable problems the HINDU SAMAJ is confronting today in India and abroad. We can clearly see from Swamiji’s book that the Hindu religion, Hindu society, Hindu culture, Hindu ethos and Hindu civilization are under the siege of certain lethal international forces like Global Christianity, Global Islam and International moribund Marxism, apart from politically mercenary India-centric Nehruvian anti-Hindu pseudo secularism. Against this background, the pointed observation of Swami Dayananda Saraswati that this book consisting of all the papers of Swami Jyotirmayananda is being made available solely for promoting the awareness of the need for a united and harmonious Hindu Voice gains a special significance.

Any reader of this book can see that Swami Jyotirmayananda is one of the great torch bearers of the light and wisdom of Swami Vivekananda in our generation today. Every page of this book bears the imprint and soul of Swami Vivekananda’s deathless and eternal message meant not only to India but for all mankind. Swami Jyotirmayananda has dedicated this book to the hallowed memory of Swami Vivekananda whom he has described as a great Patron-Saint of Modern India.
Swami Jyotirmayananda

Swami Jyotirmayananda in his introductory note sets the appropriate stage for this book by giving the following message of Swami Vivekananda: ‘As I look upon the history of my country, I do not find in the whole world another country which had done quite so much for the improvement of the human mind and that India was the land of invisible powers that ruled the destinies of men and nations and its ancient scriptures could make it the teacher of the world …. I am thoroughly convinced that no individual or nation can live by holding itself apart from the community of others …. Give and take is the law; and if India wants to raise herself once more, it is absolutely necessary that she brings her treasure and throws them broadcast among the nations of the Earth, and in return be ready to receive what others have to give her.’

In my view, Swami Jyotirmayananda has endeavoured to translate the above ideals of Swami Vivekananda into a concrete reality. I can testify from my personal experience of my close association with Swami Jyotirmayananda that just as Acharya Drona was the maanaseeka guru for Ekalavya, so also for Swami Jyotirmayananda, Swami Vivekananda is his maanaseeka guru.

Reading the recent book of our Swamiji, I am reminded of what Swami Vivekananda told the citizens of Madras soon after his return to India from Chicago in the last decade of the 19th century:
‘In India, new circumstances at the same time are persistently demanding a new adjustment of social organizations. For the last three-quarters of a century, India has been bubbling over with reform societies and reformers. But, alas, every one of them has proved a failure. They did not know the secret. They had not learnt the great lesson to be learnt. In their haste, they laid all the evils in our society at the door of religion; and like the man in the story, wanting to kill the mosquito that sat on a friend’s forehead, they were trying to deal such heavy blows as would have killed man and mosquito together. But in this case, fortunately, they only dashed themselves against immovable rocks and were crushed out of existence in the shock of recoil…Those galvanic shocks of reformatory zeal were necessary to rouse the sleeping leviathan. But they were destructive and not constructive, and as such they were mortal, and therefore died.’

I am recalling the above words of Swami Vivekananda because Swami Jyotirmayananda in his book has brought out the paramount importance of promoting the awareness of the need for creating a consolidated and united Hindu Voice which he calls the crying need of the hour amidst the encircling gloom. According to him, anti-Hindu forces which are inimical to Hindu Dharma and the Hindu Samaj, are merrily on prowl all over India. These forces are being aided and abetted by the unfortunate alien, secular (read anti-Hindu) dispensation, hell bent on de-Hinduising and de-Nationalising the Hindu populace, fragmenting the Hindu Samaj in the guise of the so-called secularism (a form of rabid anti-Hinduism), disempowering the majority Hindus in every possible way and Balkanizing the country and destroying the Hindu Dharma altogether.

In this context Swami Jyotirmayananda quotes the words of Swami Dayananda Saraswati: “Faced with militant missionaries and jihadis, Hinduism has to show that its plurality and all-encompassing acceptance are not signs of disparateness or disunity. For that a collective voice is needed. … Unless the country is protected, the Hindu Dharma cannot be protected and unless the Hindu Dharma is protected, the country cannot be protected. … Also, protect the Dharmi to protect the Dharma.’

Sri Srikant, the editor, has written a brilliant summarizing note covering all the eleven chapters of this book.

In Chapter 1, titled as, ‘Worldwide impact of India’s Spiritual Wisdom’ gives a breezy survey of the importance, acceptance and reverence of India’s spirituality in different parts of the world from the days of antiquity, greatly impacting on the cultural life and artistic expressions of many nations. In today’s sordid world of unchecked materialism, the contemporary relevance of Vedantic wisdom has been clearly and categorically brought out by Swami Jyotirmayananda

In Chapter 2, titled ‘India’s Intellectual Traditions in Global Context’, we get a general survey of the glorious intellectual traditions of India, their role in the evolution and development of the scientific and philosophical wealth which our country has come to possess through the ages since the Vedic Age and their modern relevance.

Chapter 3 is titled ‘The Crying Need of the Hour’. According to Swami Jyotirmayananda, it is the bounden duty of all the Hindus to arise, awake and unite together to protect and safeguard Hindu Dharma. Sri Srikant says that Swami Vivekananda exemplified that kind of ardent martial spirit by acting on it over a hundred years ago by relentlessly calling on all of us to play our part with dedication and commitment and shine brilliantly as resplendent stars of pluralism.

Chapter 4 deals with the subject of ‘Realising Swami Vivekananda’s Dream of Unity’.

Chapter 5 relates to Swami Vivekananda on the Need for Unity’. This is a very interesting and useful compilation of the timeless sayings and quotations of Swami Vivekananda. Chapter 6 is titled ‘Be Better Informed about Indian Culture’. The greatest Rishis --- Master Minds of Ancient India --- were able to discover relevant, true and sublime facts in different fields of knowledge and wisdom. They enable us to get a deeper understanding of the intangible ecstatic mystery of human life and existence. This vital aspect of Indian culture is not suitable highlighted in the curriculum of American schools which leads to the spread of much misinformation about India and her culture. This lapse is cleverly exploited by firmly entrenched evangelical vested interests in the United States. Chapter 7 deals with the ‘Relevance of Hindu Dharma for the Modern World’. Chapter 8 is devoted to ‘The Renaissance of Hindu Dharma in the New Millennium’. In this chapter, the Vision and the Mission of the Acharya Sabha, the Plan of Action and the Seva Activities under the auspices of the Acharya Sabha have been eloquently outlined by Swami Dayanand Saraswati. Chapters 9 and 10 are vitally linked and should be read together. Chapter 9 is concerned with the subject of ‘Sustaining Dharma through Mandirs’. Chapter 10 describes ‘The Role of Mandirs and Religious Institutions’. Chapter 11 talks about ‘Media’s War on Hindu Dharma’.

The most brilliant paragraph in this book is ‘The present dilemma for Hinduism is that the community is eager to define it, while the experts fear that any attempt to define it is politically motivated. I believe that we should make an attempt to better understand and represent Hinduism now, for ourselves, and for the world, and we should do this in a manner that befits an ‘Eternal Dharma’, rather than in a wounded, reactionary manner. To do so, I would like to suggest that we think about two core values in Hindu thought and culture as defining precepts, and ideals we can focus on when we are called up to explain Hinduism to our children, and to the global community. The first of these is the ideal of Universalism … The second ideal in Hinduism I believe, we need strongly to identify with is that of Ahimsa.’

I am overawed by the beauty of simplicity of Swami Jyotirmayananda’s comments and observations in this book. Perhaps it is a proof of high culture to say the greatest matters in the simplest way. The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. The greatest truths are the simplest: and so are the greatest men. Simplicity of character is no hindrance to subtlety of intellect. The great American poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) wrote: ‘The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.’ In my humble opinion Swami Jyotirmayananda’s book is both simple and great. His message to us in this book is this: ‘Strive, then, constantly to purify the eye of your attention until it becomes utterly simple and direct.’