Hinduism indeed is a natural religion
“Sarve Sukhinaha Santu,
Let all be happy and blissful”
I am indeed delighted to participate in the launch of the book “Hinduism” written by Sadhu Vivekjivandasji here in the beautiful spiritual environment of Akshardham, New Delhi. I congratulate Sadhu Vivekjivandasji and greet the spiritual leaders, intellectuals, thinkers, social reformers and other distinguished guests participating in this event.
When I studied the both the part of book Hinduism, an introduction, I really find that Hinduism is like a great river that tenaciously moves forward retaining the ancient while dynamically evolving to meet the present and the future. I always feel, when I meet seers and saints and thinkers of Hinduism, Hinduism indeed is a natural religion which is the topic of my presentation today.
The book - Hinduism by Sadhu Vivekjivandas ji, extending into thirty chapters discussing wide range of topics like Hindu philosophy, Hindu way of life and above all Hindu Sampradaya. What especially attracted me apart from other chapters were: Swami Narayana Sampradaya, Rishi scientist, description of Holy places, selected prayers and questions and answers on Hinduism. Let me discuss.
Swaminarayana SampradayaAs I was reading the chapter ‘Swaminarayana Sampradaya’ in the book Hinduism, my train of thoughts focused on an event took place on the day of inauguration of Akshardham. When I entered into the great spiritual Akshardham Temple complex today, I recall an event that happened in Rashtrapati Bhavan in November 2005 before the dedication of Akshardham.
I met three couples and one great banker working in Atlanta, USA. All seven of them respected the values of Akshardham. They came a week before the dedication ceremony of Akshardham and visited this divine place. I asked each one of them two questions.
1).“What you felt when you entered Akshardham?”
2). “After your journey through Akshardham, when you were leaving what thoughts came to your mind?”
All four male members told me that at the time of entry they felt like, they were entering into a gigantic monument. When they finished their journey of Akshardham, they uniformly said that it is India’s civilizational heritage in dynamic form. Their hearts cried, O Almighty! Who is the creator of this great phenomenon?
All the three women members said, when they entered they felt they were entering into their own ancient joint family home. When they finished their journey, they cried because they were leaving their great mother India. They felt like that the mother was embracing the child, touching the child, feeling the child and felt the warmth of the mother in every one of them.
But who is the creator? But who is the creator? The creator we saw in the Theater; a child wading through rivers, climbing over the snow tipped Himalayas, slips and slips and then climbs and climbs, walking across the nation and discovering cradles of India’s civilization. Who is the child? Can you remember the child? Oh! That is the divine child, the child Swaminarayan. The spirit of the divine child entered into Pramukh Swamiji Maharaj. And we see the birth of the Akshardham, the civilizational heritage of India in dynamic form in front of us.
Unity of thoughts and action I was highly inspired by the book Hinduism by Sadhu Vivekjivandas ji which brings out the unifying and universal concept of Hinduism. They are Vasudeva Kutumbkam, meaning - the whole world is one family; and yatra bhavati vishwam ekanidam, meaning - the whole world is one nest. They also teach; Sarve Sukhinaha Santu, expressing - let all be happy and blissful. Eno Bhadraha Kratava-yantu Vishwataha, radiating that noble thoughts come to us from whole universe. I consider these four noble thoughts of Hinduism, as author puts it, are the spiritual foundation of Hinduism.
Science and religion Hinduism is fascinatingly diverse, yet it has common threads or core beliefs among the many sampradayas. Hinduism advocates mainly the belief in one supreme reality called Parmatma, Parmeswara, Para-Brahman, Narayana or Bhagwan. The majority of the Hindus believe and worship one supreme God without denying the existence of other Gods or forms of the supreme God. The Hindus believe in Sanatan Dharma which includes belief in the authority of the Vedas, Atman, Karma, Punar-Janma, Moorti Pooja, Guru-shishya parampara, Ahimsa, four purusharthas and Varnashrama Dharma. Most Hindus believe that God is an all pervasive reality who resides in all both in living and non-living things. The faith in the all pervasive power of God leads to the belief all things are fundamentally rooted in God and not in materialism or atom.
Let me recall a beautiful response from Lord Krishna in Bhagvad Gita which dates back to 5th Century BC:
“There has never been a time when you and I and the kings gathered here have not existed, nor will there be a time when we will cease to exist. As the same person inhabits the body through childhood, youth, and old age, so too at the time of death, he attains another body. The wise are not deluded by these changes”.
Recently, I was going through a scientific statement “quantum physics has confirmed that every single possibility of anything and everything actually exists now.” The quantum physics indeed has a unique bridge between religion and science.
Astronomy: When I was studying the chapter on Rishi scientist, one thought came to me as a student of Science. When Copernicus (15th century) and Galileo (16th century) established the dynamics of solar system, that the earth is spherical and orbits around the sun. For this scientific statement to the world, Copernicus was forced to withdraw his statement and Galileo was imprisonment for lifetime. Whereas in 500 AD, nearly a millennium before Galileo and Copernicus, Indian astronomer and mathematician Aryabhatta discovered and publicly announced that earth orbits around the sun in about 365 days, the Indian society accepted this scientific wisdom of Aryabhatta and he happily continued to propagate his scientific work.
Now let me take you eight centuries further deep into Indian history and discuss about the great Acharya Charaka.
Thoughts on health Acharya Charaka (300 BC) is popularly known as father of medicine. His work Charaka samhita is an encyclopedia of Ayurveda and medicine. He principally said that sickness is an imbalance of tridosha in the body, namely; Vatta, pitta, and kapha. To re-establish good health, he prescribed Ayurvedic medicines, changes in diet, habits and thoughts.
While I was reading about Charaka in Hinduism, I am reminded of the book “Man the Unknown” by Dr. Alexis Carrel, a doctor-turned-philosopher and a Nobel Laureate. This book highlights how the mind and body have both to be treated in an ailment as the two are integrated. You cannot treat one and ignore the other which has been told by Charaka as early as 2nd century BC. We have to analyze, why Aryabhatta and Charaka’s work are not fully visible to scientific and medical community across the world.
Sacred places of India Another area of interest for me, the chapter on Sacred Places of India, particularly on Rameswaram, one of the four sacred Dhams. The author says, presiding deity in Rameswaram is Shiva Linga called Ramanatha which is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. I am tempted to say a few words about Rameswaram, since I was born in Rameswaram, brought-up in Rameswaram and I have a strong umbilical connectivity in Rameswaram even today where my brother of 94 years age lives with family having great - great grand children. My brother is an integral part of the societies of Rameswaram.
The great story associated with Rameswaram is a part of the great Indian epic Ramayana. Even though the great war fought by Rama and the destruction of Ravana and bringing back Devi Sita was based on high Dharmic principles, the great Purushotama Shri Rama was guilty of killing an accomplished Vedic scholar Ravana. This brings out the importance given to Vedic scholarship in Hinduism. To purify himself from the sin of killing Ravana, Shri Rama had to perform a special Pooja for Lord Shiva. Shri Rama requested Hanuman to get a Shivalinga. Hanuman with his characteristic greatness went to Kailash and fetched two Lingas from Lord Shiva himself. But there was a hitch. The Pooja was to be performed in a pre-determined auspicious time. Since, the arrival of Hanuman form Kailash was getting delayed, Sitaji made a Linga out of Sand there, and the Pooja was performed within the auspicious time. See the importance of time given by the Hinduism. When Hanuman came back with two beautiful Lingas from Lord Shiva himself, he saw that Shri Rama had already completed the Pooja. He was angry and he tried to remove the sand Linga for replacing it with the divine Lingas which he brought from Kailash. Even the great might of Hanuman could not move the seemingly fragile Sand Linga from its position. Tired Hanuman was sad. Shri Rama told Hanuman, even though we finished the Pooja today, everybody in future will worship the two Lingas brought by Hanuman first and then only perform the Pooja to Ramalinga, the one installed by Devi Sita and Lord Rama. This tradition in Rameswaran continues even today.
We can see from this episode that even Purushotama is not absolved of his actions against a scholar, importance of time and the nobility and humility of the Leader.
My experienceFriends, when I was reading the book Hinduism, particularly on prayer relating to Gayatri Mantra, I recall an experience which I would like to share with you. One of my friends Dhan Shyam Sharma who has been constantly chanting a Mantra everyday morning after bath, whether he is in Delhi or any other city in India or abroad. One day, I asked Dhan Shyam, what was he chanting? He told me that he is reciting the Gayatri Mantra everyday at-least 108 times after bath. On some special occasions, he chants over 216 times. I asked him to chant the Gayatri Mantra in my presence and he chanted the Mantra beautifully. When I asked about the meaning of this Mantra, he gave the meaning as he understood. When I studied the part-II of the book “Hinduism”, I got the full meaning, that is: (We meditate on) Om (which pervades) earth, intervening space and swarga (heaven). May we contemplate on the desirable radiance of The sun-god; may he guide our intellects. The author also says that, the name Gayatri Mantra literally means; “the Mantra protects the one who chants it”. Chanting the Gayatri Mantra, invokes dignity and blesses one with spiritual illumination, cosmic energy, intelligence, subtle discrimination, creative vision and healing powers. The prayer is chanted three times a day, following the changing position of the Sun in the sky. When I look at the chanting of this Mantra, I am reminded of my own schedule of prayer the Namaz five times a day with the verse:
Bismillāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm
Al ḥamdu lillāhi rabbi l-'ālamīn
Ar raḥmāni r-raḥīm
Māliki yawmi d-dīn
Iyyāka na'budu wa iyyāka nasta'īn
Ihdinā ṣ-ṣirāṭ al-mustaqīm
Ṣirāṭ al-laḏīna an'amta 'alayhim ġayril
maġḍūbi 'alayhim walāḍḍāllīn
In the name of God, the most beneficent, the most merciful
All appreciation, gratefulness and thankfulness are to Allah alone, Lord of the worlds.
The most beneficent, the most merciful
The possessor of the day of judgment.
You we worship, and you we seek help
Direct all of us to the straight path.
The way of those on whom you have bestowed your grace, not the way of those who have earned your anger, nor of those who have lost their way and are astray.
We can see, both the Prayers are seeking the blessings and guidance for the intellect of the devotee for right conduct as prescribed in Dharma.
Tolerance and righteousness
When I read the all the chapters of Hinduism, I get a great messages of societal tolerance and societal righteousness. What are the various issues on tolerance?
Tolerance for people’s opinion
Tolerance for people’s culture
Tolerance for people’s belief system
Tolerance for people’s styles and
Tolerance for new discoveries and disruptive technologies
In fact, such an attitude, be it that of an individual or a collection of them i.e. society, is the hallmark of civilization and that is what characterizes and differentiates life from sheer existence. In this respect, Hinduism the book elaborately describes tolerance, tolerance and tolerance.
Now let me recall a divine hymn on Righteousness which I have heard in many spiritual places.
Righteousness in the heart
Where there is righteousness in the heart
There is beauty in the character.
When there is beauty in the character,
There is harmony in the home.
When there is harmony in the home.
There is order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation,
There is peace in the world.
It is a beautiful connectivity between heart, character, nation and the world. In a society we have to build righteousness among all its constituents. For the society as a whole to be righteous, we need creation of righteousness in family, righteousness in religions, righteousness in education, righteousness in service, righteousness in career, righteousness in business & industry, righteousness in civil administration, righteousness in politics, righteousness in government, righteousness in law and order, righteousness in justice. I am sure, such prayers are there in every religion and if only believers of different religions follow this path, it will act as a foundation for promoting universal harmony, prosperity and peace, since every individual will be engaged in the action of God.
Conclusion: My Prayer for Peace
Friends, in conclusion, I would like to recite the peace prayer which I had composed.
MY PRAYER FOR PEACE
“Oh Almighty, create thoughts and actions
in the minds of the people of my nation
so that they live united.
Oh Almighty, bless my people
a path of life with righteousness
as righteousness gives the strength of character.
Help all religious leaders of my country to
give strength to the people to combat the divisive forces.
Guide my people to develop an attitude to appreciate different
ideologies and transform enmity among individuals,
organizations and nations, into friendliness and harmony.
Oh Almighty, terrorism is a curse to the humanity
And the people who remove innocent lives indeed are insane
Let the pain of the people transform the cruel minds.
Oh God, bless my people to work with perseverance to
transform the country into a peaceful and prosperous nation.”
With these words, I launch the both the parts of the book “Hinduism – An Introduction”. I congratulate Sadhu Vivekjivandasji for this beautiful work. My best wishes to all the participants of this event.
May God Bless you.