SPIRITUALITY – THE SOUL OF MOTHER INDIA – I
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 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.’