The Message of India's Culture
by Swami Krishnananda

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(Spoken on Guru Purnima in July 1975)

Blessed immortal Atman. This is holy Sri Guru Purnima, the full moon day when the glorious rays of the spiritual moon shed themselves upon the inner lives of all people. May we know the grace of the Almighty on this holy Sri Guru Purnima day. This is also the sacred commencement of the Chaturmasya, the four months during which spiritual seekers observe intense austerity and practise inward discipline.

To us humble followers of Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, seekers of God, devotees of the Almighty, this is an occasion which is thrice blessed. To us humble seekers, this is not merely an occasion of the commencement of any temporal succession of personal efforts or activities, but an eternal remembrance of the fact of the awakening of the human soul to its universal destination.

These few words that I have uttered before you should be significant enough of the purpose of human life, of the beauty of man in general. In these few words I have tried to sum up the esoteric truth, the secret fact that human duty is inseparable from divine realisation—the fact that the creation of God cannot be separated from the being of God. The great truth that our activities in life are coextensive and commensurate with our spiritual aspiration is to me, at least, the message of holy Sri Guru Purnima from Master Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj.

The great Guru that was Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj comes to us as an ambassador of the Absolute. He has not come to us as a bodily encasement, as a personality, as a Guru in the ordinary sense. People cry when the Guru passes away, but he is one of those rare specimens who came to tell us that the Guru never passes away because we daily repeat in our prayers that Guru is Brahma, Vishnu and Siva—which, again, has a double meaning and significance.

The Guru is the same as Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, or it may mean Brahma, Vishnu and Siva are the Guru. Both meanings apply to this famous verse: Gurur-Brahma Gurur-Vishnu Gurur-Devo Maheshwara Guru-sakshat Param-Brahma tasmai Sri Gurave namah. It is Parameswara, the Supreme Lord, in His various and glorious manifestations who comes as teacher—not only to mankind but to every created being—to accelerate the process of its evolution towards Himself.

Life is a process of evolution. Towards what? Towards that from which everything has come. Anandadd hy eva khalv imani bhutani jayante, anandena jatani jivanti, anandam prayanty abhisamvisanti (Taitt. Up. 3.6.1): From bliss Absolute we have come, in bliss Absolute are we rooted, and to bliss Absolute are we destined, so that the philosophy and culture of our land is a philosophy and culture of ananda, or bliss. It is not a message of pain, agony and distress. Pessimism is unknown to our culture. It is a culture of exuberant positivity of approach to God, who is the greatest of positivities.

It is a movement from joy to joy that we call the evolutionary process of the soul. It is a movement from lesser truth to higher truth, which is a better way of putting things than to repeat the old opinion that we move from error to truth. In the glorious kingdom of heaven, which is within everyone, there cannot be error. Error is only misplacement of values. It cannot ultimately exist, and it cannot have an absolute value. Absolute error is unthinkable, and therefore, it cannot be. Absolute falsehood cannot exist. Everything exists as a relative representation of God’s perfection; therefore, everywhere—even in the so-called erroneous movements of material, psychological and social forces—there is an element of God present, urging all these processes towards His Supreme Perfection.

To our culture, which is the culture of God, the culture of Perfection, all the duties of life become manifestations of happiness. The glorious gospel of the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagavadgita, which may be regarded as the tripod of India’s message to mankind, provides us with the hopeful exhortation that we can never be helpless at any moment of our life. Our culture is the blossoming full moon, the real ‘Purnima’ of hope after hope, aspiration after aspiration. May we recall to our minds, once again, the message of the saints and sages of all times and climes, who plumbed into the depths of the Great Reality of the universe, that we exist in God, live in God, breathe in God, move in God, and perform the functions of our life in the kingdom of God.

The great message of Christ that “the kingdom of heaven is within you” should be a miraculous and revolutionary teaching to all those who think in terms of the temporal and always evaluate things from the historical point of view. A kingdom cannot be inside anyone. Can you imagine a kingdom being situated within anyone? And, yet, a great incarnation spoke this truth to mankind: “The kingdom of heaven is within you.” Either it is a contradiction in terms or it is a super-mundane fact which the human understanding cannot fathom. “That which is external is also the internal” is also a message of the Chhandogya Upanishad, which is echoed in the statement of Christ that the kingdom of heaven is within us.

The whole cosmos is vibrating within every cell of our personalities. Everything that is everywhere is also within us and is inseparable from us. This was the foundation of the doctrine of God’s supreme perfection also given to us by Acharya Sankara on the basis of the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavadgita, and the Brahma Sutras. Everything we need is in us. Everything required by us for our existence, every movement in evolution towards perfection, is implanted in our being. When we were born we brought with us everything that is necessary for us, and we carry all these necessities with us wherever we move in this world. We cannot be separated from these needs or standing necessities; they are inseparable from our vital existence.

This is the spirit of true spirituality. There is the letter of the teachings of spiritual life, and also the spirit of these teachings. The letter of the teaching is what is generally practised by the masses in the world, but the spirit is missed. The letter is easy to understand, but the spirit is difficult to follow. What is the letter of the teaching of spiritual life? What does the letter of religion say? It says: You must love God, you must believe in the existence of God, you must speak the truth, you should be honest in your dealings with your brethren, and you should be living a life of purity, goodness and truthfulness. But the letter of the teaching has been so construed, on account of the very constitution of the human mind, that the life of the spirit, or the life of God, or the life of spiritual aspiration has been covertly, without one’s knowing what is happening, separated from the day-to-day activities of life, so that we are one thing in the street or the shop and another thing in the church or the temple. Thus, we have two ideals before us: the ideal for the marketplace and the ideal for the church or the temple. This is the traditional and organised creed of what we may call the church, which does not necessarily mean the Christian holy of holies, but the concept of the religious atmosphere in any so-called religious mind.

Religion today appears to be shaking from its very roots because the edifice of religion is built on a sandy basement; it has no substantial support at the bottom. The so-called religious man does not really believe in God. The religious mind has taken advantage of its apparent belief in God or concept of God as an instrument in the personal fulfilment of its wishes and ambitions. To most of us, God is an instrument, not the aim or goal of life. Our asking for God is not because He is all-in-all, but because He is a tool for the fulfilment of our ulterior motives. We have many desires in all the levels of our personalities. We are made up of desires: kamamayoyam purushah. We do not possess or have desires; we are made up of the desires. Every fibre of our being is constituted of desire alone. Therefore, this desireful personality contrives a tool in the form of the concept of a God in Brahmaloka, Vaikuntha or Kailasa, for its own fulfilment. God’s existence is travestied; it becomes a blasphemy of the very religious concept and the idea of God. We are told, again and again, that God is the goal of life and not a means to the satisfaction of the needs of the individual.

We now have to be taught the primary lessons of life itself. We are still in need of the initial educational process, which has to set right the very thinking method of our mind. There is something wrong with us at the very root itself. We think in terms of the body, the personality and its external relationships. These relationships subtly interfere with every activity of our life, including the ‘activity’ of the ‘practice of religion’. It is unfortunate that religion has become a sort of activity, a kind of duty among the many other duties in life.

The religious consciousness is not a work, it is not a function, it is not an action proceeding from our individual being, because the personality of the individual is an effect; it is of the nature of a process of becoming, tending towards something else transcending it. And, therefore, any activity proceeding from this procession of individual existence cannot be identified with the religious consciousness which is the emblem of God’s Being.

God is Being. We call Him the Supreme Being. The human mind cannot conceive the meaning of true Being. We have a very wrong notion of even what ‘being’ is. When we say that something exists, something is, we associate ‘being’ as a kind of adjective with the object that is supposed to exist. A chair exists. When we say that a chair exists, the chair is the subject and its existence the predicate. We have conceived existence as a predicate of the chair, which is the subject. But existence cannot be a predicate of anything. It is the subject. It is presupposed by the notion of every other individual object in the world. Existence precedes even the notion of chair; it cannot be a predicate of it. On the other hand, when we understand the situation metaphysically, philosophically or spiritually, the chairhood of the so-called object is the predicate of the existence which precedes it. And because of a peculiar twist of character in human thinking, we also conceive God as a predicate to our temporal life. God is an appendage to all our needs, necessities and desires!

Therefore, God does not seem to be helping us, at least openly. We have misused our relationship with God. We have conceived Him as a kind of attribute to our individuality, which is a very sorry state of affairs. God cannot be an attribute. He is the Supreme Substantive. He is the Reality. The presupposition of even our thought of ‘being’ is the Supreme Being that God is. That is why we say that God cannot be thought through the mind. And if such an unthinkable presupposition even of all human understanding is the nature of God’s existence, what should be the character of religion, which is the way to God? It should be characterised by all the attributes which ‘being’ can have, though to a lesser degree.

So, the practice of religion is the practice of God-consciousness, in some degree or the other. It is to flood our personality with something super-mundane, super-personal and super-individualistic. When we become religious seekers, we become non-temporal not only in our personal life but also in our social existence. To be a seeker of God is not easy. You cannot just receive initiation into a mantra from a Guru and think that you are a religious seeker. When you receive initiation, you are led into a new way of living and being. Your life gets transformed, and there is a complete transvaluation of values.

This is the message of Bharatavarsha, the message of India’s culture, the message of true spirituality, the message of Gurudev Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, the message of all the mystics, saints and sages of the world, and the message of holy Guru Purnima. God bless you all! Peace be to the whole world!