God’s own country
Dr Naresh removes the cobwebs of religious sectarianism covering the soul of India, and re-introduces its shining inner core of inclusivity, pluralism and peaceful co-existence with clarity, conviction and emphasis, says Shivi Verma
Spiritual knowledge is India’s legacy as well as India’s greatest offering to the world community. At a time when India seems virtually engulfed in a communal storm and the identity of India as a secular country, that has its basis in spiritual ethos, seems endangered, it’s a delight to know that the nation still hides spiritual jewels of the highest order who lay bare the real essence of all faiths.
Chandigarh-based Dr Naresh is one such master, whose academic and scholastic achievements are as tall as his spiritual ones. His spiritual attainments are complemented by his deep study and research on languages, history, scriptures, and philosophy.
A former professor of modern literature in Punjab University and chairman of the Chandigarh Academy of Letters, he is a polyglot poet and writer, who is wedded to the spread of spirituality and global brotherhood. He has authored over seven dozen books in Urdu, Hindi, and Punjabi and is the recipient of 39 state, national, and international awards for his contribution to literature.
When I met him at his residence in Chandigarh, at first glance, he came across as a serious and sombre man of letters, but as the interview progressed, the inherent lightness of spirit of a man who has reached the acme of spiritual realisation became more and more apparent. His energy was infectious and transformative and his views, broad, liberal, and open-minded.
And excerpt from the interview:
Q. Please tell me something about your spiritual journey.
I do not wish to discuss it much. I had been a seeker in my youth and was fortunate enough to come in contact with a living master, who trained me in the methods of spiritual inquiry. I do not want to elaborate upon this because my guru wanted to stay anonymous. I want to respect his wish.
Q. India is the birthplace of spirituality. In the current scenario, do you think it is possible to preserve the real essence of Indian wisdom? If yes, then how?
The essence of all religions is spirituality. We created rituals in the name of religion and got embroiled in ritualism. Unfortunately, during the last few decades, the world over, and particularly in India, religiosity has increased and spirituality has taken a backseat. Whereas we have been teaching spirituality to the whole world from the time of the Vedas. If we stay in the mad race of economics, we will reach nowhere. Even if we become an advanced nation, what is the benefit if our conscience dies, if our values die? The way we understand religion is not right.
We made our own gods, gave them our own form, created our own ways of worship, but what is there to it? People do jagratas (all-night invocation of a deity) in the house where bhajans (devotional songs) are sung to filmy tunes. The one organising the jagrata does not have his mind on God. His attention is on thinking who all didn’t come from the invitees. The ones who came, were they properly received or not? Were they served tea or water? Were they seen off nicely? In all this where did he remember God? And the ones who do ritualism, do it to prove to others that they are very religious people. The exhibition of religiosity negates the essence of spirituality. Your relationship with God is a personal matter. People talk to God in their own languages, which run into thousands, but the real language of God is silence. Unless you learn the language of silence, you cannot converse with Him because He does not answer in your language. Silence does not mean that your lips are closed, therefore, you are silent. Silence should become a part of you. When this happens, your subtle body opens up and then powers given to you by nature since birth become accessible to you. This is spirituality.
Q. Do you mean to say that religion is redundant?
The problem is that people do not want to make an effort to deeply understand their books. How many people have actually read the scriptures? How many people have read the Gita, the Bhagavatam, the Upanishads, the Ramayana, or the Koran? If the readers have read the Koran in Arabic, then how many have understood it? How many have read the Bible? We have not read them. We just bow before them, since they are considered to be sacred texts but do not read them. The book was written to be read.
If we read the scriptures properly, we will understand that no religion has a dispute with any other religion. Let me give you an example: A Muslim refers to God as Allah. ‘Allah’ is a combination of two words ‘Al’ and ‘Ilah,’ where ‘Al’ means ‘the.’ Remove the prefix and what remains is ‘Ilah,’ which means Muslims pray to Ilah.
Now the Rigveda starts with the hymn Aum agnim ile purohitam,which means ‘Fire and Ila are my guides.’
The Yajurveda makes it clearer. It states, Namaste ilamastu, which means, ‘I salute Ila,’ (God) then defines, Na tasy apratima asti, which means ‘He has no shape.’
If we read this, we get to know that we have a close relationship with Islam. The basis of Islam is kalma(tenet), which is La Ilah Illallah, Muhammadur Rasool Allah.
This means ‘There is no God except one and Muhammad is His messenger.’You may not agree with the second half, but you do accept the first half because your sacred book says Eko Brahma, dwitiyanaasti, which means ‘God is one.’According to this verse, every Muslim is half Hindu and every Hindu is half Muslim.We are half-brothers.
We have created a divide between people for the sake of politics and have made religion its basis. The result is that inside the parliament, we forgot the constitution and began to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Allah HuAkbar.’
This degeneration, this loss of values, is what I am trying to stem. I am not interested in creating a cult or have a long list of disciples. I simply want to deliver the message of truth and peace.
Religiosity, when it reaches its extreme, turns into blindness. When faith becomes blind, what can you see? Blind faith makes one believe that no religion is superior to theirs, and the one who does not believe in it has no right to live. From here, all troubles begin. A human being ceases to be a human being. He becomes a religious animal, and starts behaving like one. I want people to leave religious blindness and embrace spirituality.
Q. But there is a clash in the way we worship. Worshipping deities is forbidden in Islam and Hindus feel that not worshipping the cow is sacrilege.
This simply means people do not know their religion. Islam does not say that non-Muslims are kafirs. It does not tell Muslims to kill those who worship idols. According to Islam, a kafir is the one who says that what the Koran says is a lie. None of the non-Muslims or Hindus have read the Koran, so how can they say that the word of the Koran is a lie. Therefore, how can he be a kafir? He is ignorant of Islam.
The Koran says ‘Before this, too, I have sent thousands of messengers. I sent them in every corner of the world, every community of the world.’According to Hadis (sayings of the Prophet), once the Prophet took a deep breath while facing the direction of India. One of his followers asked him what he was doing. He said, “I get the fragrance of God from this direction.”
Similarly, in Hinduism too, naastik does not mean the one who does not believe in God. Manu says that the one who criticises the Vedas is a non-believer. We have misinterpreted, misused, and misrepresented religion and deformed it. The crux of all religions is spirituality. And what is spirituality? It is discovering your own Self.
Often, spirituality is confused with mysticism. It is not called mysticism because it is difficult to understand. The word ‘mystic’ is derived from the Greek word ‘muso’ which means sewing two ends of an open wound. A mystic is the one who stitches the wound. We suffer from the primordial wound which is separation of the soul from its original source. According to the law of nature, everything wants to go to its source. Water moves downwards, fire goes upwards; similarly, the soul wants to go back to where it came from. It is part of God, it is part of the Divine, and it wants to go back to its Divinity.
Q. Many scholars of religious theology too come across as fundamentalists. Is there a flaw in the way they study their books?
They are relying on information. They are not relying on multiplying the information through their wisdom. They lack intellect; that is why they don’t understand what is written in the scriptures. They interpret scriptures as it pleases them, as it suits them. If you study the scriptures seriously and then contemplate on what you have read, you will understand that there is no difference between the Koran and the Vedas, and between the Bible and the Vedas.
Q. There is some difference in the teachings. Hinduism and Buddhism believe in rebirth and reincarnation, whereas Islam and Christianity do not.
Islam does not believe in rebirth, but it does believe that one day all souls will have to go back to God. Since we came from there, we will go back. In Hinduism too, we believe in pralay (total annihilation), when all souls will go back. Christianity also believes in doomsday.
If Hinduism says that one can achieve this state of merger with the Divine even while in the human body, then other faiths can examine this concept and practise it.And if it doesn’t suit them, it is okay. They can wait for doomsday to merge finally with God.
The point is that no religion says that you will not merge with God finally. In the Koran, Allah says, “I have given birth to you now, I will give birth to you again and again.” After doomsday, God creates the world again, sends out the same souls again into the world.
The issue is that we are obsessed with the physical body. We do not think about the soul. Such an important thing, when it flies out of the body, the body becomes a corpse. Has anybody ever thought, “Where does the soul live in the body? What is its shape? How can one talk to it?” That is why spirituality tells you that you are not the physical body; you are the soul. The body comes from the mother’s womb and goes to the pyre. The soul is never born, it never dies, and if you understand that you are the soul and not the body, then you must understand that you are Divine. If you discover your soul, you discover your divinity. If you decide to live a life of divinity, then you become an exemplary human being. I appeal to people to become human beings from Homo sapiens, and great human beings from just human beings. A great human being is the one who lives for others, not himself. It is divinity when we serve others, think of the welfare of others, do not hurt anyone, and consider all people like ourselves. All people are like drops, but if all drops come together, they form an ocean. We do not want to create ponds and streams of humanity but an ocean which can have the whole cosmos inside it.
Q. How can this idea be made possible?
God has given us a subtle body, which is not visible to the naked eye, nor can it be detected by machines. It is full of powers. If you discover it, you will discover your own powers and become a different kind of person. You will realise that all souls are a part of that Supersoul; the world is one big family. If this is the truth, then there cannot be many religions; everybody will have one religion. The ways of remembering Him can be different, but the one we are remembering is one without another. Which means there is only one religion, which is spirituality. So where is the problem?
The nature of the soul is to seek the Divine. The soul wants to be with the Supersoul, but it is unable to do so in the material body. We suppress the ache of the soul by engaging the body and mind in material and pleasure-seeking pursuits.
Those who care to listen to its cries are called awakened people. But any efforts to have a glimpse of the ultimate through a form or shape, projected by man himself under specific ‘socio-geographic’ conditions is an effort in futility. What is needed is that you go deep down into your own inner being as His image, His reflection dwells in you. Under no circumstances can we have a glimpse of Him with the physical eyes. The Divine can only be seen by the inner eye.
The soul must get converted into light if it wants to have a glimpse of the Divine energy. However, it is difficult, rather impossible, to reach the Divine without the help of the master because no human body has the capability of producing as much energy as required in taking the soul to Brahman. The required additional energy can be transmitted to the seeker by the guru alone.
Q. How does the guru help a sincere seeker?
Unless one has achieved union with the Divine in the human body, one cannot claim to have done meditation. For this, extra energy is required. Transmission of energy is possible after the pupil’s body is charged by the master through touch. Hence, a disciple has to present himself before the master to get his touch. Similarly, an incantation does not become a mantra as long as it is not chanted by the master himself while initiating a person. The accomplished words of a hymn, wrapped in the master’s energy are the real mantra.
The soul is an aerial element which is not capable of flying from the human body to the Supreme on its own. For this, the soul needs energy. Then this awakened energy has to be rotated in such a manner that it forms a cycle within the body. It is that energy, moving circularly in the body, which produces a vehicle for the soul’s journey. The vehicle too can take off only when the master’s energy is added to it.
The primary task of the master is to move the inherent physical energy of the disciple and form a cycle. For this, the guru imparts his mastered mantra to his pupil, with the help of which the pupil draws energy from the cosmos. The cosmic energy drawn in this way, in the course of time, changes into physical energy which moves the body. Directed by the master, the rotating energy builds pressure on the base of the spine, which is called Mooladhara. It is made of three and a half folds of flesh.
Due to these three folds, it is called Kundalini, the ganglion.
The half fold of the flesh in the ganglion lies head down, which is raised upwards through the pressure of energy. When the reclined head reverses its position and stands straight, the ganglion is awakened. With the awakening of the ganglion, also called the serpent power, energy starts flowing in the spine. The master, by adding his own energy, activates the flow, with the pressure of which the knot at the back of the neck is opened. Passing through this knot and moving under the skull, the energy gathers in the forehead, where it builds its own pressure to throw open the point of sacred suture between the eyebrows called Brahmarandhra. Through the point of the opening, the liquid energy drips, drop by drop, at the omphalos. Each drop produces such a melodious sound, as if many musical instruments are at work at the navel. This sound, echoing within the body, fills the performer with blissful joy. As no hand plays the instrument, the music so produced is called Anhada Nada, the unstruck music. In this process, the master’s job is to ensure that the energy keeps on moving in a circular way in the pupil’s body and does not go astray.
Master is thegoldsmith
Gold is the pupil
Liquefied, it changes
From the old to the new
(Dr Nareshe’s books, ‘Rise to the Dawn’ and ‘Odyssey of a Fragrance’ are available on amazon and www.virasat.com.au )
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