Is it possible to see a reflection of the master in his followers, I asked myself, as I sat in the meeting room at the Sadhu Vaswani Mission in Pune, India, waiting to meet its present spiritual head, Dada Jashan Pahlajrai Vaswani. With me sat three of his associates. There was none of that anxiety, fervor or awe that many spiritual masters excite. The ease was explained by the appearance of a little man, dressed plainly in a kurta-pyjama, with a shawl falling over his left shoulder, his salt and pepper hair parted to one side and severely slicked down. His eyebrows are a surprise—bushy, grizzled, and furrowed. This, plus his large sticking-out ears, add a puckish note to an otherwise innocuous face.
"A new civilisation will be born"A precise and articulate use of English, clarity of mind and a fervent heart makes Dada Vaswani, head of the Sadhu Vaswani Mission, a conversationalist of rare power. Excerpts from an interview with him:
How did the Sadhu Vaswani Mission come into being?
It was started in 1931 to assist in the uplift of women, because Sadhu Vaswani believed that there was great shakti (power) in the women of India.
Later, the scope widened to include two more ideals. One is the cultivation of the soul. We do this through Satsangs (communion) held thrice a day, and the practice of silence. Silence is modern man's greatest need, because he lives in a world of noise. Silence strengthens, purifies, heals. It is in the depths of silence that revelation comes. Apart from meditation, we also advocate prayer, and spiritual thinking, because not everyone can meditate.
Our second ideal is service. Service of the poor is worship of God. All our work, such as our schools and hospitals and Jiv Daya (welfare of birds and animals), is in the realm of service.
Does the world stand on the edge of transformation?
I believe that if you want to transform the world, you must begin with the child. Our system of education is wrong. We must teach the child that life is larger than livelihood, and the means is service and sacrifice. If this were followed, within 30 years, we would have a new India, provided the home environment was also conducive to the change.
Do you believe that mankind is in the throes of a new age?
I believe in the time spirit. Once that changes, the whole world will change. Fifty years ago, people used to laugh at us for advocating vegetarianism. Today, the world is mad about vegetarianism. When the time spirit changes, we will have the splendor of the new sun. The new age is knocking on the door. Let us open it.
Do you see India moving in that direction?
Yes, I do. On the one hand, we have unprecedented corruption; on the other, there is purification. Indian thought is influencing so many people in the West. Our own centers in the West are growing.
What is your dream for India?
Before India can set out on her mission of health and healing, our lives must be rooted in the great ideals our ancestors gave us. Science and spirituality must walk hand-in-hand in the service of suffering humanity. Science is neutral. It is the use we put it to that determines the consequences. If the splitting of the atom were used in the service of humanity, the whole world would have been transformed. We must change the axis of our action. The master word of our age is power. In the new age, it will be service.
Does evil really exist?
We live in a relative world. There is a plane, which is beyond good or evil. This is akin to the fourth dimension of life, where duality disappears. We are crying for the oneness of humanity, but unity is already accomplished. We have to rise to that plane.
At 79, do you have any regrets about the way your life turned out?
No regrets. Everything works according to the divine will. All we need to do is surrender. It is only the ego that stands in between, but through the grace of the guru and of God, it is possible to transcend it and rise to unity. I see myself in them. The Master is by me. The Mother Divine is by me. I am not to fear, not to worry. At one stroke, fears and worries vanish like phantoms, which is what they really are, creatures of the mind.
What is the essence of your philosophy?
I preach the philosophy of acceptance. I don't mean passive resignation.
How do you feel about death?
Death is the biggest illusion mankind suffers from. What we call death is the dropping of the garment. My beloved Master used to say: "The sun appears to set, but it will rise elsewhere. There should be no fear of death. Or grief for the departed ones."
What is mankind's most important task?
To cultivate the soul. Man is essentially a soul who has worn the body. This is the fundamental difference between the East and the West. The West thinks that man is a body with a mind and a soul.
What will happen to the Mission after you? He (God) is the one who is doing everything. He will continue to do it. None of us is doing anything.
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