(Spoken on Independence day, August 15, 1983, to the Cadets of the Indian Military Academy)
I extend a cordial welcome to all the officers and cadets from the esteemed Indian Military Academy. You are now here in an atmosphere called The Divine Life Society, which also goes by the name of Sivananda Ashram. When we received your invitation to deliver an address in your Academy, we felt that it would be good and beneficial if you all are invited to this place instead of some single person going from here to the Academy.
What was the reason for our feeling like this? In a reply that we sent to the letter of invitation we made a short suggestion that any instruction on whatever theme has a direct relationship with the atmosphere in which it is communicated. The type of communication that we are trying to establish with you today has a vital connection with this environment called The Divine Life Society Ashram. This environment, this atmosphere, this campus of The Divine Life Society is significant as a nucleus representing what may be considered as the central value of the Indian nation as a whole. It is a nucleus from where emanated a great force in the personality of the founder of this institution, Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. As you know what a nucleus means, there is no necessity for me to explain how this particular atmosphere is representative of whatever is basically meaningful in the country as a whole. So when we have the opportunity to speak to you, to address ourselves before you at this moment, we try to place ourselves in the context of the nation as a whole and not of any particular locality, not even the context of a particular institution.
I mentioned the name of the great founder. He was representative not only of the culture of this country but, in a very important sense, we may say he represented the values which are cherished as dear and near by mankind as a whole. You are all important people in your own way in the circles of your own responsibilities and professions, and you also know how significantly and essentially you represent the whole nation. In what sense that is, you know very well. There is not only a professional responsibility which is associated with every one of you, but there is something more vital. You represent not merely the Army, you represent India's culture. You represent the nation as a whole as a vital power which it wields not only to protect itself but also to stabilise itself and maintain its integrity and integrality.
Everyone who would like to consider himself as a real citizen of a country is a representative of the values of that country. A citizen of India is not to be considered as merely an isolated person living in a small family circle. What is it to be a citizen? It is to be a unit representing the values of the whole country. Every citizen is representative of the entire nation. This is a very important thing for everyone to remember if the country, the nation, its values and its culture are to stand by the values of eternity.
History has been a great and encouraging demonstration before us by which it is seen how India has stood the test of time. It has had its share, as is the case of any other nation in the world, of passing through the vicissitudes of human history. It had its ups and downs, but these have not shaken its rootedness in its values, which it considered as supreme, and even in the maintenance of its own stability. Our country has maintained itself as a completeness in itself, and its cultural roots have never been shaken even by what may be regarded as a historical onslaught. The outer atmosphere of historical occurrence has not touched the vitality of our country, which is the point which we would like to bring to the forefront of your mental vision at this auspicious moment of your visit to this Ashram.
Every one of you represents a tremendous power, a strength which the country wields, and you know what the strength of India is. It is, apart from anything else which may be equally important, essentially a moral strength. There is an adherence to the principles of truth, justice, benevolence and a consideration for the sanctity of human life. Thus, the adventures in which the programs of our country may be engaged are projects which, while they are in a way circumscribed by the administration of the country, also exceed the limits of the country.
Today, at this moment, we should also be happy that the nation stands for a universal meaning. It was India, and it is India even today, but it has become very enlarged in its outlook – not only politically and internationally, but even culturally. Many people in different parts of the world seek enlightenment and light from the representatives of our country. What is the kind of light? It is not merely light or enlightenment in the sense of academic knowledge. It is the light of a life of perfection, a life which is complete in itself, a life which being a light to its own self can also shed light to others, apart from the various other gestures of goodwill and humanity which our country has shown to the international atmosphere.
Our Army, our defence mechanism, has ever stood a great example of not only indomitable power but intense goodness and charitableness of feeling. These two characteristics are difficult to find in most people – a fearlessness born of intense courage and strength coupled with intense goodness characteristic of humanity in general.
The history of the Indian Army has been a history of this intense goodness and humane behaviour together with a fearless indomitable courage and power which no one could face. Wherefrom has this country generated this strength, this power, this goodness, this enlightenment and this charitableness? It has arisen from the very root of the structure of the country itself.
As I mentioned by way of a hint, this nation stands for perfection, integration and inclusiveness, not exclusiveness. There is the capacity in the culture of this land to absorb any faith, any culture, any outlook and any level of human life. There is nothing which India's culture can exclude as irrelevant, trash, rubbish or good for nothing. There is something which our culture sees in everything, by which anything can be transformed into that status and perfection which evidently is the goal of mankind. The culture of our country has been an example of human behaviour, human outlook, and it has always been charitable enough to include within its outlook of life the outlooks of every other person also, of mankind as a whole.
I am laying a little emphasis on this thing I mentioned to you: goodness and strength going together in a single person, going together in the culture of the country, coming together into a blend in the national spirit which every one of us is expected to entertain. The goodness which is and which has been ever a special characteristic of India's citizens, of Indian culture as a whole, is not a goodness born of weakness. In fact, no weak man can be a really good man because goodness is the capacity to understand the neighbour around you, the power to appreciate the situation in which anyone else is placed, and this power is not to be identified with weakness. Only a person with an elevated understanding will also have an elevated strength to wield it. The stronger you are, the greater is your goodness of disposition.
We may wonder how a person who wields intense power and is immensely strong can also be humane, charitable and good in disposition. It is because we consider strength as the result of understanding. It is not the strength or the power that comes by way of external relationship. It is not physical strength merely, and even the power of our defence setup is the power of truth. It is the power not merely of the muscle and the nerve, which also is there in its heightened form, but it is something else also from which its strength is derived. There is a strength in you as you are in yourself. This power, this strength arises in you because of your identification with the national spirit. No citizen or responsible person in the country can remain isolated as an individual. No part of the body, the physical organism of ours, is independently maintaining an individuality of its own. The belonging, the sense of affiliation which one feels in respect of one's country, which one feels in respect of humanity, is a sense of self-sacrifice, a sacrifice by which one does not merely deny oneself as if one is losing something, but a sacrifice by which one gains something larger than what one has lost.
The spirit of our culture is the spirit of self-sacrifice. For whom and for what purpose are we performing this sacrifice? It is for the purpose of the stability of truth. Satyameva jayate nānṛtam: Truth alone triumphs, and nothing else. This principle that truth alone triumphs will make it incumbent upon every one of us to understand what this truth is which alone can triumph, and why it should triumph. You know very well, as it has been said again and again, that truth triumphs, but you may ask me, “Why should it triumph? Why not something else?” Something else cannot triumph, and truth alone should triumph, because truth is the name that we give to the manner in which the universe itself is operating. The system of the government of the universe is called truth, and if that does not succeed, what else can succeed? So when you say that truth alone triumphs, satyameva jayate, you mean that the laws of the universe will reign supreme and every one of us and everything shall also succeed in its adventure and in its projects as far as it is attuned to the law of this universe.
Truth is not merely a speaking of truth; it is something more than that, though the utterance of truth is directly associated with the central truth which is the substance of the universe. I mentioned to you that we as individuals, citizens of a country, are not really individuals. We may look like isolated persons, but we are organically connected with the purpose of the spirit of the whole nation and, therefore, embodied in each one of us is the spirit of the entire country.
Now, this logic can be extended further to the area which is also inseparably connected with the spirit of the nation. Today we live in an international world. Though it is true that we are living in the atmosphere of a single country, we are also fully aware that today our country is a unit of responsibility in the international principle of justice. This takes us further on, beyond the little ken of our limited understanding, even if it be as large as the country itself. This principle takes us beyond the limits not only of our individual personality and the limits of the country geographically speaking, but it has taken us to the international level of mankind as a whole. There is a tremendous responsibility which each one is called upon to wield, fulfil and discharge in the interest of their relationship with their country and with other countries maintained in the light of international organisation.
But there is something more in the universe than even what is considered as international mechanism. The world is wider than mankind. You know very well that the world is not exhausted merely by human beings. Don't you believe that there are forces in the world which are superhuman, or at least non-human? There are powers which nature wields, which are coming to the light of our understanding gradually by the discoveries of modern science – powers which are hidden in nature, which go beyond even the understanding of the human brain. So while it is true that we have a responsibility which is national and international, there is a larger responsibility to recognise our relationship with the cosmic forces themselves. If we rebut them, disobey these principles of natural powers, we would be reaping a consequence which may manifest itself as a catastrophe or a cataclysm or some unwanted historical occurrence.
Human history is not merely the history of human beings. It is a study of the events and processes through which humanity seems to pass, but which is conditioned by factors that are not necessarily human. Our lives as human beings are not entirely human. There is the air that we breathe, which is not human. There is the sunlight which sustains us, which is not human. There is the water that we drink, which is not human. There is the very earth on which we are sitting, which is not human. There is space which accommodates us, which is not human. Do you regard these as unimportant principles? Do you regard the powers of nature as insignificant compared to the values mankind considers as ultimate from a purely academic or university point of view? Wherefrom do you really gain strength? Your strength enhances the moment you enlarge your personality. The moment you begin to feel that you represent the whole nation, you have the strength of the whole nation behind you, and you are no more a person. You are a non-person representing the whole country. That is the moral strength that I referred to. You may call it the power of the whole country backing you up.
But you have also the blessing of the whole of mankind if you are fighting for a cause which is just and humane. Now I carry the logic further. You shall have the support of the powers of nature, and many a time you have been told that God will bless you, which is another way of saying that supernatural powers are at your beck and call in the same sense as the powers of the whole country are at your back if you are representing the whole country. Don't you think the whole nation will back you up when you are standing for its cause? Certainly so. Every atom in the whole country will stand by you if the time for it comes. But why not the whole nature? Why would not the whole humanity stand by you? Yes, it will, and it shall. Not only the country, but mankind as a whole will stand by you because you stand for justice and, therefore, you stand by a power. Not only that, the whole nature will protect you.
The world is not really outside us. The peculiarity, the essentiality of our culture is that we do not consider the world as outside us. In the same way as we are organically involved in the national spirit and the international justice, we are involved in the world as a whole, in nature as a total, and therefore, the spirit of the whole universe is behind you. And who can be stronger and bolder and more capable in performing a function than the one who is supported by the powers that be?
So who is it that represents India? It is he who stands by its culture. Who is it that stands by its culture? It is he or she that stands by the values which humanity as a whole considers as sacred and meaningful. And who is this person? It is that person who is inwardly affiliated with the justice of the cosmos – in other words, with the power of God Himself.
This term 'God' that I have used at least twice may require a little explanation. What is meant by this term? I mean something simple, common sense – nothing mystical, religious or difficult to grasp. What I mean is, the potentiality of energy that is immanent in the whole universe. You are well acquainted with the doctrine of there being immense power even in a little atom. A little atom is so powerful that you may say it is unimaginable indeed. How many atoms are there in the universe? So you can imagine what power the universe is. This is one side of the matter. There is an indomitable, unthinkable, universal energy which not only pervades this universe, but which constitutes the very substance of the universe. Atoms are not bags in which energy is filled. They are not baskets which carry energies inside them or bottles in which energy is filled. They are only condensed forms of energy itself. Likewise, you may say the whole universe is a condensed form of energy and power. So energy is not merely pervasive in the universe; it is itself the universe. Water is not inside ice, it is itself ice. So these concrete forms of the universe are condensed forms of energy.
The whole universe is continuous energy, continuous because there is no gap between its parts. But there is something more about it than its being merely a continuum of energy. It is aware. Are you intelligent? Yes. You are energetic, you wield strength of some kind, but you are also intelligent. The power of your body, the strength of your muscles is permeated by intelligence. Every part of your body is sensitive. It is intelligent. There is no part of your body, no cell of your body which is not intelligent, which cannot feel a sensation. This intelligence is in me, in you, in everybody; therefore, it is everywhere. So if it is everywhere, naturally there is no gap between its parts. This intelligence is not made up of bits, just as the intelligence that pervades your body is not made up of bits. Do you believe that your personality is made up of bits? No, you are a complete whole. I am a total, integrated individual. I am not a heap of particulars or parts jumbled together. Likewise, the parts of the universe are not jumbles or heaps of particular units of energy, and it is not also a heap of little bits or points of intelligence. It is an indivisible intelligence.
So while, on the one hand, the universe represents a total energy, as your physical body is a total energy, there is also a total intelligence in the universe which is deducible as a fact from the very premise of there being intelligence everywhere, not merely in the human being. Even in biological levels we find intelligence in a potential form, and today we are living in an age when we seem to be awakened to the fact that intelligence is potentially present even in an atom. This universal intelligence is what I term 'God', and not an entity in a religious sense.
These principles which I mentioned just now are easy to understand. I was told in the letter of invitation that we received from the Indian Military Academy that we may address you on divine life. I think I have spoken nothing else, but I have not used that word because it was my intention to speak only those words which carry meaning to you and which are definitely intelligible to you as common sense, pure and simple, and nothing veiled or beyond the limits of realistic existence in the world.
Thus, I consider this coming together of the principles of The Divine Life Society and the principles represented by the Indian Military Academy today as heralding of many more such communions between ourselves in such a way that we together may perhaps contribute something worthwhile for the well-being, stability and progress of our country – not only that, but the welfare of humanity as a whole. God bless you.