- In the 1980s, the Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yu, having observed a sharp drop in the barometer of moral values in his country, had by law introduced a campaign to spread the ideals of Confucianism. Cham Longe, a Minister, in spite of furious public opposition clamped down on one of its city's prostitution areas.
- In the 1980s, the Prime Minister of Malawi, Dr. Banda, had bitterly denounced ball-dances and mini-skirts in his country.
- In Thailand the need to maintain its Buddhist culture requires every student by law to spend at least six months as a Buddhist monk.
In several foreign countries we find more and more people taking to vegetarianism through the efforts of growing vegetarian societies that have sprung up rapidly during the last few years. Advertisements on the hazards of smoking and drinking have inspired thousands in recent years to give them up altogether. If such a campaign against the evils of society is kept up, I'm sure the dark clouds thundering on our grim horizon will disperse and be silenced.
Arnold Toynbee, an eminent historian, foresaw a surge of oriental values that would revive the West. He said, "It is already becoming clear that a chapter which had a Western beginning will have to have an Indian ending if it is not to end in the self-destruction of the human race. At this supremely dangerous moment in human history, the only way of salvation for mankind is the Indian way."
Max Mueller, the German philosopher and Indologist, deeply impressed by Indian Culture said, "If I were to look over the whole world to find out the country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow, in some parts a very paradise on earth, I should point to India.
"If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life and has found solutions to some of them which will deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant, I should point to India.
"And if I were to ask myself from what literature we, here in Europe, we who have been nurtured most exclusively on the thoughts of the Greeks and Romans and of the Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw that corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more comprehensive, more universal, in fact a more truly human life, not for this life only, but a transfigured and eternal life, again I should point to India."
Our Indian Culture had spread its wings to far off countries. Even today we still find vestiges of our Culture in countries like Thailand, Burma, Japan, Kampuchea, Latin America and scores of other places.
The last decades have been witness to an increasing demand for Indian thought and Culture in the West. Thousands of institutions teaching Indian languages, yoga, philosophy, traditions, arts, crafts and in general Culture have sprung up. Indeed, one such School, St. James' High School in Kensington, London, has been overwhelmingly successful. The school teaches Sanskrit to its young primary and secondary pupils. The administrators believe that Vedic Culture ranks among the noblest of all cultures; one, if sincerely adhered to, could forge peace in our world. The very immortalizing nectar of Vedic Culture is locked in our Sanskrit language. And it is with this objective that St.James' School has been teaching Sanskrit to its pupils from the age of five till seventeen. It is a compulsory subject for all students. And a point worth appreciating is that all its teachers are required to know Sanskrit and be free from any addictions whatsoever.
While we find the West drawn towards the splendor of Indian Culture, India on the contrary, allows its sails to be filled by the winds of materialism blowing from the West. Nani Palkhiwala, an eminent Indian economist, pertinently points out, "India is like a donkey who doesn't know what it's carrying." It forgets that its Vedic Culture is the motherhen of all cultures. We have forgotten that we are the sons of a noble culture. Our situation is like the donkey described in the following shloka,
Yathã swarshchandanbhãrvãhi bhãrasya vettã na tu chandansya.
"When a sack of sandalwood is placed on a donkey, the beast of burden merely takes it to be another load."
The Modern 'Tripur'
In the Shrimad Bhagwat we find the story of a demon, Mai, who presented three gigantic flying machines to his brethrens. Each of the machines, one of gold, another of silver and the third made of iron, were the size of a large city. Wherever these flying machines attacked they pulverised the existing moral and spiritual structure and established their own materialistic hierarchy. When the demons started to spread his net of evil and materialism, God stalled their efforts and destroyed the three flying machines and hence He has been hailed as 'Tripurari' ever since.
Today, we find these three flying machines locked on a path of destruction. Let us have a look at the way in which these flying machines, namely the gold, silver and iron are destroying our culture.
We can relate the 'Gold' machine to the affluent Western society with particular reference to its materialism. Today in the United States this disturbing torrent of materialism has swept many Indians from their moral and spiritual grounds. Their comfy homes have no mini-mandirs for worship and devotion. And instead of their shelves being packed with inspiring scriptures like the Bhagvad Gita, Upanishad, Vachanamrut, we find magazines and paperbacks on romance and suspense. Their dining tables are often littered with bottles or cans of beer.
If you happen to wear some traditional Indian clothes you may well be derided for being rural and backward. Parents are often proud of their children's fluency in English and indifferent to their ignorance for their native language. Sanskrit pundits are scoffed at and termed as 'Vediyas'. The ennobling stages of practising our 16 sanskars have now become extinct. This is indeed in sharp contrast to our forefathers.
In an age when India was ruled by the Moguls our people remained steadfast in their faith and morals. They refused to remove their sacred thread and tilak and chandlo in spite of heavy persecution. Today the picture is quite different! In an Independent India these auspicious signs and customs are dying away. We are now witnessing an influence on the 'Gold' machine on the cultural landscape of India.
The 'Silver' flying machine ushers an eat, drink and be merry philosophy as the prime objective of life. Those under the influence of the 'Gold' machine wallow in a greater degree of mundaneness than the 'Silver' machine society.
The 'Iron' flying machine fans the fires of murder, prostitution, stealing, corruption and a host of other evils.
We find that India, like many other countries is morally ablaze. These flying machines are wreaking havoc and destruction on our culture. Out of these three machines, any one of them descends on hundreds of people everyday to destroy their moral and spiritual character. It behoves upon us to be alert from being crushed by the influence of any of these three lethal machines.
Traditions Are Being Strangled!
In recent years we have seen the birth of a disco age in India. It has created a wave of frenzy amongst our growing generation. This particular mode of entertainment has also entered the religious arena. Our sacred and auspicious mantra, 'Hari Om' has now become a part of many disco songs. We find disco dances held under the false pretext of worship in the presence of a murti of Ganpati. During the 'Navratri' festival, disco dances, with a murti of Mataji, have now become a source of distasteful entertainment rather than worship. The spiritual throb in our festivals has begun to fade. During great holy festivals like 'Janmashtmi' and 'Shivaratri' people are busy gambling in a game of cards and intoxicating themselves with 'bhang.'
Where other religions are inexorably making efforts to preserve their culture, we have been wilfully trying to remain untouched by ours. Our interests have become more mundane and gross. We steer our efforts according to the prevailing winds in society. We find people spending lavishly on antiques to add luster in their homes but how many furnish their homes with a murti of God and our Cultural values - the most valuable antiques of all.
I'm sure you must have observed insects attracted by the light of a lamp. They cannot resist the infatuation towards the light in spite of them seeing their brothers perish. Likewise, the Eastern Hemisphere, in spite of seeing the miseries and frustrations that overwhelm the affluent lifestyle are still irresistibly drawn towards the inevitable pit of unhappiness.
The unhealthy times have always left our society crippled of its morals and drained of its spiritual vitality. It is during such times of estrangement from righteousness that God comes to our rescue and repairs the moral fabric of society.
Translated by Sadhu Vivekjivandas