10 October 2008

Birth of New Spiritualism After Three Thousand Years

Some personal stray thoughts:

From my very childhood I have been inclined to spiritual matters. This is not to say that I felt god- ward emotion as we find in sadhus and yogis. Neither was I a spiritual seeker in my life. What interested me was to know how God exits and in what way he is related to our lives. This is also not to say that I had philosophical bend in my mind. I was born in a very spiritual and religious family. But as the family was deeply rooted in Sri Ramakrishna –we were not conventionally religious. Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda rid many Hindus –especially Bengali Hindus, of the debris of conservative Hinduism. The disciples and the followers of Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda were enlightened neo-Hindus then. My grandfather and grandmother were initiated by Sri Sarada Devi-whom we knew as Ma in our family. All the sons and daughters of my grandfather were initiated by this and that of the twelve sanyasin disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. We lived in Ranchi then permanently. My grandfather was one of the founders of Sri Ramakrishna Mission at Ranchi. So our house was frequently visited by the different sadhus and sanyasins and they stayed in our house whenever they felt necessary. So it was natural for me to grow as a strong believer in God. There was a strong presence of Sri Ramakrishna in our home. Sri Ramakrishna was our God. He was with us in every moment –in all the events good and bad. I loved him-sincerely loved him. I still love him.

But I had questions –which grew in numbers and in strength as I kept growing in age. One day when I was ten years-I suddenly got out of my otherwise normal calm mind and asked my aunt-a very devoted woman “If India is so rich and great with her Vedas, Upanishads, Gita-and with the numerous sadhus , monks, yogis and devotees sacrificing so much for the sake of God-why is this country suffering from poverty, diseases and illiteracy? Why are we lagging behind the West? Why Mr Morgan who has not even heard the name of Sri Ramakrishna –and without even caring God, can live so lavishly and why we can not, with Sri Ramakrishna behind us? How could it be possible for the British to be so mighty and wealthy, enough to be the king of almost half of this world while we Indians have appeared to be degenerated –so badly –that we are hardly recognisable as human beings as compared to them? I have serious doubt whether the Rishis and Yogis of your Vedas and Upanishads were wise enough in their vision of future. If they really had had the proper wisdom they would not have recommended spirituality-the most right path for us. Actually you have been worshipping false wisdom. Had they not the vision that their children would suffer like animals if they would sacrifice everything in the name of god?” By the way-Mr Morgan, an Englishman and his family were our tenants. We have two houses and my grandfather gave in rent one to Mr Morgan. So the difference of life styles and the standard of life of the Morgan and us was very much striking to me from my childhood. I felt confused. I could not ignore Indian spiritual seeking but at the same time I could not ignore her material suffering. There was another thing that I could not understand at all. Very frequently I heard elderly people seeking and praying for ‘mukti’. ‘Mukti’ (riddance from worldly life) was a very difficult word for me. I would think where one goes after mukti! But none cared to answer my ignorance. This is what I felt in my childhood. Much later I was put into many more riddles –the answers or solutions of them were not available from any quarter –materialists or spiritualists. I got so disgusted about all the unsolved riddles that it pushed me to think that it was better to be an agnostic or a Buddhist. I read many books on spiritual matters including that of Vivekananda. But the riddle of the meaning of existence could not be found. I’m sad to say that Vivekananda was a great man-and he appeared on this land as an epoch-making man. He was even an indispensible person for creating a spiritual atmosphere in India which ultimately helped preparing a ground for a sense of Indian nationalism-essential for seeking political independence. To read Vivekananda is to get awakened into a spirit to get convinced in one’s inner strength. But there is nothing in him that can satisfy that elementary question seeking the meaning and justification of existence-both individual and collective. Vivekananda was a force and an outstanding organiser but not an uncompromising seeker. He himself was in confusion which he was unaware of. He believed in the Mayavada of Shankaracharya but at the same time he passionately thought of the welfare of his country. He never was able to rid himself from these dual contradictions. Shankaracharya did not stand for Life but his follower Vivekananda loved Life-in all its aspects passionately. He could not withstand tears of suffering persons. He had a tremendous vital power but not a matching mind. Philosophy of life or truth never tormented him but what moved his life was the quality of life-especially the life of his countrymen. After Raja Rammohun -he was the second Indian to show India a modern path. This modernity was then a phenomenon in support of worldly life, an awakening to the values of material world. Vivekananda himself was the representative modern material man. But in his seeking for a truth there was no entry of the confused modern man. So I could not get shelter in Vivekananda. Apart from Vivekananda there was not a single person who wrote on the riddle of life and the future of man and spirituality-at least not significantly. So I remained a shelter less man even in my late twenties.

I wrote the above situation only to tell a little reality that concerns the conventional spiritualist and the scientist both. I have had to write so much only to say that if it were not for the Mother I would have been a sad atheist.

We all use to think of our habitat –the Earth being only a planet. There exists the whole universe compared to which the Earth is almost non-existent insignificance. The scientists have been trying to reach other planets for enquiry as if these celestial bodies and the rest of the universe lie separately from our own. Let the scientists go on seeking in their own way –as it (the Science) has its own values that affect our physical life. It stands in the conglomerate whole as a functional truth also just as we need to cultivate to feed us.

But –unfortunately after thousands of years from the rich past of the discovered truth –we, the seekers in the spiritual path still remain ignorant about the exact truth of this universe and the mind. It’s not a place to discuss metaphysical matters here but we may ponder over this matter as a truth of our life. If it’s necessary to know the role of psychic being in individual life for a devotee –then in the parallel significance it must be accepted that the universe exists but not outside our own life separately. It is created from within us or simultaneously in a single act - but we conceive it keeping outside of our understanding. There is no place to reach –as no place exists elsewhere. Actually –there is no place outside me. It’s only a question of stretching me if I want to have more or ‘different’. This is an old truth of Indian spiritualism.

According to the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram –the Earth is the centre of this universe and the very crucible of the centre of evolutionary process. I find that apart from their own sadhana and proclamation on the future of Man –the Mother and Sri Aurobindo explained everything of Indian spiritual wealth which none before them tried to lay bare under scanning wisdom and transparent intelligence. They have answered all the questions that may arise within a modern seeker for truth. And I am convinced that all will be able to rid themselves from the confusions I suffered from in my childhood. Had there been no Sri Aurobindo-the spiritual wealth of India would not have been re-discovered. He freed Indian spiritual wisdom from the degenerated garb of Hindu religion. He even paved the way for greater spiritual possibility for the whole world free from religious narrowness.

It took nearly three thousand years for Sri Aurobindo to be born for the establishment of true spiritualism which man needs most to find his existential meaning.