by Swami Krishnananda
An address given on the 22nd of October, 1975 in reply to the message of H.E. Dr. Channa Reddy, the then Governor of U.P., when he visited the Ashram.
The message which has been so eloquently and powerfully expressed by our honoured guest His Excellency may be regarded as perhaps the spirit behind the voice of India. It has been an awakening message not only for the reorientation that is necessary in the envisagement of spiritual values, but also in the effort to rectify any erroneous approach in the public life of man in the outer world. The message, in its quintessence, conveyed the great truth that is operating invisibly behind all human functions in the world; and that is the need of the hour. What is this need? The need is to see things as God would see things and, as His Excellency put it beautifully, to do what God would expect us to do. This is something very difficult for the human mind to conceive – what God expects us to do. Well, to put it plainly, God would expect us to follow the principles of His constitution. And what are the principles behind His law, His Satya or Rita – Dharma, as the Vedas have put it? This also has been impliedly pointed out in the message of His Excellency when he said that God has been present in every one of His Avataras, which signifies that perfection is immanent in every stage of evolution. And he has also beautifully said that God blessed not merely Prahlada but also Hiranyakasipu. It is not merely an analogy that he has given but a great secret of human action in the world in the light of what God would expect us to do in this world.
It is difficult for the human mind to conceive the law of God because, in one word, the principle of God is also the principle of integration – the integration of existence in the various levels of its manifestation. This is very important to remember. While God is the Supreme Integration, it does not mean that He is merely a transcendental integration minus the world of values and actions. The word 'integration' means inclusiveness of every conceivable value and type of existence. And in this blend of the totality of values to be envisaged in the light of God's vision, in this reoriented vision, we would see the world as a field of duty, not imposed upon us by external power or force, but as a mandate that comes voluntarily from our own inner core which is commensurate with the principle of God.
I am very glad that His Excellency has pointedly put his finger on the knob that there is no gulf between spirituality and secularity; or, rather, we have to give a new and correct definition of what religion is and what secularity is. Religion has been wrongly interpreted as love of God to the exclusion of the world; and secularism was wrongly interpreted as love of the world minus God. Not so is the message. And he has told us that our vision has to be a Godly vision and it is only from the point of view of this Godly vision that we can work in this world as God would expect us to work. There is no secularity for God; there is no religion for God. We cannot say God is a spiritual person or a secular person. He is not even a human being. Though we talk of humanity, mankind, etc., God rises above this concept of the species to which we are likely to be wedded in an emotionalism of our attitude for a particular group or category of creation.
As I mentioned, it is almost impossible for the human mind to conceive what God is and, therefore, equally impossible to conceive what human duty can be in this world which is God's creation. The message of Lord Sri Krishna in the Bhagavadgita purports to be this integral message of God to mankind. It was not Bhagavan Sri Krishna that spoke to Arjuna; it was the Absolute that gave Its message to the entire world of manifestation. And what was that message? It is the message of the blend of knowledge and action – Krishna and Arjuna sitting in a single chariot. While it is possible for us to regard knowledge and action as perhaps the right hand and the left hand of the single body of human existence, I may say it is much more than that. It is something like the two facets of the crystal of human aspiration for ultimate perfection. While the right hand and the left hand may appear to be two different projections, spatially isolated from each other, knowledge and action are not so isolated. Here is the glory of the culture of Bharatavarsha. The philosopher and the administrator are identical. Knowledge and action are one. Arjuna and Krishna work together for a common cause, viz., the redemption of humanity from all evil and establishment of Dharma, which means the revival of the consciousness of the structural pattern of the universe as a whole, on the basis of which every temporal law has to be framed in the world for success of mankind.
We have an erroneous notion of the very meaning of life, the concept of life, as something different from the divine element hidden in man. It is very essential, as His Excellency beautifully put it, that we have a total vision which is requisite if it is essential that we have to work on the command of God, as God would expect us to work. How does God work? He works with infinite hands, with total impartiality, and without any consciousness of the difference between Himself and His creation. We are likely, wrongly perhaps, to make a distinction between God and the world. We say the world is of matter and God is Spirit. God is neither matter nor Spirit. He is transcendent, which is an inconceivable something which cannot be designated either as Spirit or matter. And whatever definitions are applied to God by human beings, even in the utmost heights of philosophy, they are only the counterparts of the deficiencies of human thought. It is impossible to define God, and, therefore, it is impossible to lead a perfect life. We are all imperfect beings merely because we are not in a position to be in consonance with the law of God. But that is imperative. And if this law is not fulfilled, if this principle is not to be the guiding light of our daily activity, even in the minutest of our actions, success is certainly far to seek. And the message of India, the message of our culture, the message of Bharatavarsha, the message of all saints and sages is the message of Perfection. And Perfection is not merely God minus the world, or world minus God, or any such thing, but a totality of vision which it is very difficult for ordinary people to envisage and enshrine in their hearts. But it is essential that people have to be trained in this art and science of integral vision, so that there may be integral action which is called Karma Yoga, not only for the benefit of an individual or a society, but for the fulfilment of the unselfish purpose of mankind, which is the realisation of the values dear to the universe as a whole. There is no private interest for anybody in this world. Private life is a misnomer. And, therefore, it is necessary that we gradually outgrow notions of private life, individual life, selfishness, parochialism of various sorts and rise into the concept of Universality by degrees until we reach this Totality or Universality of God, which is that which we see within the purview of our own senses in the presence of our own eyes. That which the physical eye sees is also God. And to recognise the divine presence in things, what is needed is merely a re-interpretation of values, by a shift in our consciousness, like a dreaming man waking into consciousness, without moving from place to place. He has only brought about a revolution in the total attitude of his personality and life, so that he is in a higher degree of reality. The highest degree of Reality, which is God, is not transcendent, i.e., rising above the world of action and duty, but, other than being merely transcendent and immanent, it is a combination of the two principles, two values. Nay, Reality is not merely a combination of the transcendent and the immanent even; words are inadequate to express this possibility and necessity. It is a blend like honey, wherein we cannot find different types of pollen independently existing. It is like cow's milk which is a blend in which we cannot find the different ingredients which the cow has taken as its diet. Such a blend is Godly vision and such a blend is the call of the hour.