By Suma Varughese January 2004 Ever since Vedic seers proclaimed, Aham brahmasmi (I am Brahaman), India has oriented its entire existence around the goal of realising God within, devising various means to achieve it. It is this that will guide humanity’s future evolution I feel that India mission is different from that of others. India is fitted for the religious supremacy of the world. There is no parallel in the world for the process of purification that this country has voluntarily undergone. —Mahatma Gandhi There is a particular poignance about seeing the beauty hidden behind India’s surface degradation. It is like kicking a pile of rags on the road, only to have it open up to reveal a sublime human being Our ability to tolerate religious differences and to respectspiritual freedom is unparalleled. Nowhere else in the world would it be possible for members of the same family to worship different gurus and deities My IndiaA poem by Paramahansa Yogananda Not where the musk of happiness blows,Nor where darkness and fears never tread;Not in the homes of perpetual smiles,Nor in the heaven of a land of prosperityWould I be born,If I must put on mortal garb once more. Dread famine may prowl and tear my flesh,Yet would I love to be againIn my Hindustan.A million thieves of diseaseMay try to steal the body’s fleeting health;And clouds of fateMay shower scalding drops of searing sorrow—Yet would I there, in India,Love to reappear!Is this love of mine blind sentimentThat sees not the pathways of reason?Ah, no! I love India,For there I learned first to love God and all things beautiful.Some teach to seize the fickle dewdrop, life,Sliding down the lotus leaf of time;Stubborn hopes are builtAround the gilded, brittle body-bubble.But India taught me to loveThe soul of deathless beauty in the dewdrop and the bubble—Not their fragile frames.Her sages taught me to find my Self,Buried beneath the ash heapsOf incarnations of ignorance.Through many a land of power, plenty, and scienceMy soul, garbed sometimes as an Oriental,Sometimes as an Occidental,Travelled far and wide,Seeking Itself;At last, in India, to find Itself.Though mortal fires raze all her homes and golden paddy fields,Yet to sleep on her ashes and dream immortality,O India, I will be there!The guns of science and matterHave boomed on her shores,Yet she is unconquered.Her soul is free evermore!Her soldier saints are away,To rout with realization’s rayThe bandits of hate, prejudice, and patriotic selfishness;And to burn the walls of separation darkBetween children of the One, One Father.The Western brothers by matter’s might have conquered my land;Blow, blow aloud, her conch shells all!India now invades with love,To conquer their souls. Better than Heaven or ArcadiaI love Thee, O my India!And thy love I shall giveTo every brother nation that lives.God made the earth;Man made confining countriesAnd their fancy-frozen boundaries.But with newfound boundless loveI behold the borderland of my IndiaExpanding into the world.Hail, mother of religions, lotus, scenic beauty, and sages!Thy wide doors are open,Welcoming God’s true sons through all ages.Where Ganges, woods, Himalayan caves,and men dream God—I am hallowed; my body touched that sod. Copyright (c) 2001 Self-Realization Fellowship What makes India unique is that even in these days it can produce God-realised souls. These people know that the purpose of human life is not money, nor fame or name. All that is passing. What abides is the spirit.—Dada Vaswani India mission of spiritualising the world is realising itself. India’s greatness lies in this, and not in supremacy in the economic or political arenas Having created man and given him his mission to know and be God, the Almighty was faced with a conundrum. Where could he hide so that man would not be able to find him easily—up on a mountain, deep in the sea, floating on a cloud somewhere? At last he hit upon the perfect solution. “I shall live in the soul of man,” he said. “For that is the one place man will never think of looking for me.” In the same vein, one can conjecture that God created the world, filled it with continents and people and pondered as to where he should place its soul. And then he had an idea. “I will place it in India, hidden among its heat and dust and noise and dirt. No one will think of looking for it there.” Can you imagine it? Mingling with the stinking garbage piles in dark and dirty alleys, one with the festering wounds of beggars and the unwashed bottoms of their children, shimmering among the grinding poverty of the masses and the cupidity of the ruling classes, oblivious to India’s lowly status as a third world country embroiled in corruption and chaos, reposes the soul of the world. It’s like a morality tale or Biblical prediction—the last shall be first, the modest miss gets the guy, the naïve Fool carries the day. So where exactly is this soul to be found? Ah, for that you need a special vision. To be able to see the soul of India is like being able to see into one of those trick pictures. Look at it one way and you will see a meaningless jumble—a chaos so extreme that it sends many foreigners screaming back to their more orderly lands and caused V.S. Naipaul to denounce it as ‘an area of darkness’. Look at it another way, and you will see the most beautiful and noble vision of human possibility. A vision so charged with wisdom, profundity, ideals and love, that a higher perspective is impossible. Hidden in the soul of India is the ultimate vision of life and human purpose. All those who see this elusive soul are forever transformed in their view and opinion of India. Foreigner or Indian alike, he cannot stop raving about it or getting hopelessly emotional about it. One foreign writer, I recall, confessed that India was the only country in the world whose soil he kissed the moment he set foot on the airport tarmac. There is a particular poignance about seeing the beauty hidden behind India’s surface degradation. It is like kicking a pile of rags on the road, only to have it open up to reveal a sublime human being. You are both awed with wonder at the sight and full of regret and sorrow that she has fallen upon such bad times. And you throw yourself ardently into the task of restoring her to her innate glory. Sage after sage from Swami Vivekananda to Sri Aurobindo, to S. Radhakrishnan to Mahatma Gandhi, to Osho, have been alive to India’s hidden splendour and dedicated themselves to burnishing it, polishing it and bringing it up to the fore. Their mission is to fire the soul spark in each of us so that we all may know the land in which we are born, truly be its children, and go down on our knees in gratitude for the privilege of having been born here. For we are indescribably lucky to be born in India and to live in India. Tell that to the yuppie pining for a green card and he will think you are a basket case. Lucky to live in a country where nothing moves without a bribe, where systems are routinely bucked and loopholes found, where quality standards are so low that everything falls apart, where poverty creeps over the land so insidiously that you have to run to stay out of its grasp, where honest officers like Satyendra Dubey (the recent case of the government officer who blew the whistle on the rampant corruption in his department, only to have his identity exposed, making him the victim of a murderous attack) get killed? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! These things exist and we would be foolish to ignore them but they do not constitute the whole of India. To be able to understand and appreciate India truly, we need a perspective far deeper and broader than one shaped by the daily newspaper. The real India, when you discover her, has never really changed too much from her ancient avatar, shaped by the truths enshrined in the Vedas and Upanishads. These truths were proclaimed by anonymous sages and seers bent upon an unutterably audacious project—to explore the inner world of the mind, the personality, the intellect and consciousness and never to stop until the end was reached. What possessed them to undertake such an unprecedented enterprise? What caused them to shift the beams of their awareness from the outer world and move it within? Who can say from where the original inspiration came? It could just as well have come from the whisper of leaves as the wind caressed them, the babble of brooks on their way to the sea, from the still serene Indian sky, and the forgiving earth. Perhaps the genius of the land lay abroad in nature and whispered her commands to receptive ears. Whatever the cause, this inversion of our normal use of consciousness is the single most important determinant of our national philosophy, culture, character and identity. For the sages found untold truth hidden within us and they told the world about it. In passages of matchless beauty and nobility, they revealed that the Universe is One without a second, that the Creator and creation are one, that all is divine and all is interconnected. God was within us, not outside us—and that the same God was within the humblest twig and pebble. We are God. Aham brahmasmi. Astonishing! Unbelievable. Even today, so many thousands of years since they were first proclaimed, these insights are so little known that they raise eyebrows, hackles and doubts, not just in the foreigner but in ourselves too. Writes Osho, whose book, India My Love, a compilation of his references to India, is one long, passionate ode to the country: “God has been talked about in every corner of the world, but God has always remained far away, beyond the stars. Only India has established that God is within man… Aham brahmasmi is perhaps the boldest statement ever made by any human
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