A View of Santhigiri Ashram

A View of Santhigiri Ashram
Lotus Parnasala and Sahakarana Mandiram , Santhigiri Ashram, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Despairs As Well As Hope before Hindus




In the Rig Veda we find this verse: ‘We are surrounded by dasyus from all sides. They do not perform yagna; they are non-believers. Their observances are different. O’ Slayer of enemies! Kill them, destroy their tribes’. The history of religious intolerance is quite old and unpleasant. Holding a flashlight on this stagnated pool is only to lift up one to a refreshing perspective. The conflicts between devas and asuras in the scriptures are interpreted as the history of conflicts between Dravidians and Aryans. Prior to the Aryan cycle, the Dravidian race dominated. From the accounts in the epics and puranas and other ancient texts, it can be known that the Dravidians were an advanced civilization. Many among them like Bali, Ravana and Mayan were titans of that age possessing superhuman skills. Their technological prowess and architectural skills were superb. They had airplanes and mystical weapons, which could be either a much advanced version or a prototype of today’s nuclear weapons. They had built magnificent palaces and cities. As ages went by, the Dravidian civilization decayed. Great geological changes occurred. There was the great Flood. The Kumari continent (Lemuria) of the Dravidians had gone underneath the deeps. The ice age had set in. Then a new race emerged from the snowy cool mountains and terrains - the white Aryans, may be 10000 - 15000 years ago. They began to conquer the moribund Dravidian civilization – the asuras, daityas, rakshashas, nagas, vanaras and other aboriginal races which inhabited the earth from previous age cycles.

It seems that the Dravidians chiefly worshiped Siva. It has been established from the excavations at Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa that the worship of Siva existed even before the emergence of Aryans. Some historians say that the Aryan, Greek, Roman and Celtic religions developed from the ancient Sumerian civilization in Mesopotamia. The Sumers built their cities and towns dedicated to the worship of gods and goddesses like sun, moon, vayu, water, etc. But, who inhabited Sumeria? It must be a branch of ancient Dravidians, who were spread throughout West Asia in ancient times. According to researchers, the old Sumerian texts mention that people arrived from south by sea and occupied the land. Sumerian seals were one among the artifacts recovered from Indus valley, which establishes the early contact between the two civilizations. 

The Aryan worship was notable for its fire worship and sacrifices aimed to appease various nature deities like Vayu, Yama, Agni, Varnua, etc. Nevertheless, the Vedic seers perceived Truth as an organic whole. God was perceived as a Cosmic Archetypal Person (Purusha) from whose sankalpam emerged the universe including the sun, earth, moon and other planets and all sentient and insentient beings. Although the Rig Veda assigns the creation to Purusha, the Vedic community gave importance to the worship of guardian deities. In the Vedic religion the spiritual authority was vested with a community of priests or purohits, who called themselves as brahmanas. They considered themselves as superior claiming their origin from the face of the Cosmic Purusha. The status of kshatriyas, vaisyas and sudras dwindled according to the limbs from which they originated from the Purusha, such as from his arms kshatriyas, from navel the vaisyas and from the legs sudras although such a theory of genesis is viewed as a clear misinterpretation of Purusha Sukta. The brahmanas who now grouped themselves as purohits became specialized in complex fire rituals, which they conducted for the rulers who wanted to ward off threats from natural forces as well as expiation of sins for their misdeeds. The Vedic priests conducted rituals for the ruling class and the elite who generously gifted cows, land, grains, gold etc. and granted them special privileges. The sudra had no spiritual or social privileges under the Vedic dispensation.  

II

According to few historians, a group among the Aryans decided to migrate to Iran protesting against the corruption of Vedic priests and established the religion of Zarathustra (the Parsi religion). In the Zarathustra religion the devas were treated as unholy spirits. In India too, some wise men were unhappy with the greedy Vaidikas and their pompous rituals and sacrifices. These wise men withdrew to forests and mountain caves and began to meditate on the mystery of life. They received visions of truth and shared their knowledge to the keen disciples who approached them. Their teaching came to be known as Upanishads, which means ‘learn sitting near the master’. They propagated the wisdom path. It is from the Upanishad rishis the ashram and guru-sishya tradition originated. The Upanishad seers saw God as pure Consciousness beyond name and form. However, these rishis lived a secluded life away from worldly pursuits, which they took as mind’s unprofitable diversion. Therefore, their profound and egalitarian ideology could not be developed into a religious culture among the masses. So, they continued to live trapped in the decadent religious practices. 

Efforts were on to liberate the people from this pathetic condition and spiritual downfall from the time of Sri Krishna itself. Krishna taught humanity the first lessons of religious tolerance and tried to harmonize worldly life with transcendental wisdom.  He initiated the concept of an undivided and eternal Supreme Entity which rules over the universe and whose light guides all sentient and insentient beings remaining in their innermost self. One can find the basic principles of a perfect spiritual science in the teachings of Sri Krishna in Bhagavat Gita. Through the famous verse in Bhagavat Gita ‘yadhaa yadhaa hi dharmasya glaanirbhavati bhaarata, abhyuthanam adharmasya tadaatmaanam srijaamyham’, Sri Krishna was presenting an alternative spiritual path, i.e. the system of an (epochal) spiritual mediator, an avatar or Guru medium, who will lift up humanity whenever dharma is in peril. Krishna said:  ‘Surrender your heart completely to me; love and worship me; bow only before me abandoning all other paths. Then you can see me, this is my promise. I am the one who love you the most; you submit all dharma to me. Find refuge in me and do not fear because I will save you from all sins and slavery’.

Through this exhortation, Sri Krishna was trying to liberate the society from the domination of Vaidikas and Vedic ritualism. According to some thinkers the Mahabharata war was a war between Sri Krishna and the spokesperson of Vedic Dharma, Dhronacharya. Such a pernicious and colossal war in which almost all kshatriyas of the land were perished was not fought just for resolving a family feud. It could have been as well a rebellious war against the hegemony and injustices of a priestly social order, which supported a corrupt regime. When Krishna passed away from the scene with the end of Dwapara yuga, the Vedic religion re-established its supremacy. Krishna’s life and teachings were misinterpreted to suit the tradition. The profundity of Krishna’s teachings was lost in the fanciful tales of the poets who portrayed Krishna as Makkan Chor or Radhe Krishna, who flirted with gopikas. 

Then the Sage Kapila came with Sankhyan philosophy. The Vedic religion had become unpopular with the masses. The philosophy of Sage Kapila freed the concept of God and Creation from the ritualistic framework of Vedic religion. Sankhyan philosophy can be said as a refinement of the philosophical discourse of Upanishadic Rishis and their jnana path. Buddhism and Jainism were influenced by the Sankhyan philosophy. People suffering from an oppressive religious and social order wanted a Savior. Buddha was that Savior. Buddha’s religion was egalitarian and based on right action, human love and compassion. There was no place in it for meaningless rituals and caste discrimination. The whole of India and many other nations in Asia accepted the ideology of Buddha. 

III

The period of Buddhism between 600 B.C– 800 AD was the golden period of Indian history. Chandragupta Maurya, Asoka, Vikramaditya, Harsha and Kanishka were the great emperors of this age. It was during this period several other great souls like Patanjali, Sree Sankaracharya, Kautilya, Aryabhatta, Charvaka, Susrutha, Kalidasa, Amarasimha, Vararuchi, Bhairavi, Varahamihira, Dandin, Banabhatta, Subandhu, Bhathruhari, Bhavabhuti and others lived spreading the glory of India around the world. The great growth of Buddhism was intolerable to the Vaidikas although the Buddhist Sangha constituted a large number of Brahmins. Buddhism and Jainism which came as protest movements against the Vedic religion were depicted as Atheists and their followers were ridiculed and persecuted. It was another chapter of religious intolerance. Buddhism was soon split into two sects - Hinayana and Mahayana, incorporating the very practices which the Buddha abhorred such as the veneration of deities, animal sacrifice and inclusion of mantric and tantric rituals into the Buddhist canon. Soon Buddhism weakened and migrated outside its land of origin.

During the Gupta period, the Vedic religion regained its upper hand. The Indian society under Vedic religion was highly segmented on the basis of caste. Each caste, tribe or guild had different gods (kula devata), mostly lesser and unholy spirits compared to the beautiful gods of higher castes. This crippled the spiritual and social solidarity of Hindu masses. Eventually, the Gupta dynasty declined and foreign intruders began to mount attacks on India. The local rulers who were in mutual enmity went to the extent of seeking assistance from these foreign intruders in order to defeat their enemies in the neighborhood. India had fully degenerated socially and politically after the decline of Buddhism. It was at this moment in history Islam made it entry into India. The kings of India bent their knees in front of the ferocious sultans. Thousands and thousands were massacred and all wealth looted. Thousands were forcibly converted. Those who refused were put to the sword. Their womenfolk were raped. Some jumped into fire. Many thousands were taken as slaves to die in the enemy lands. Hindu temples and Buddhist viharas were razed to the ground. The holiest of holy temples of Hindus at Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi were demolished and masjids built in their place. The world famous Buddhist library at Nalanda was burnt to ashes. Islam inflicted horrendous pain not only on Hindus but also on Christians and Jews. Islam was born out of a historical frustration in the area of spirituality. Despite the efforts of many earlier messengers like Sri Krishna, Buddha, Mahavir and prophets like Moses and Jesus Christ, people had not yet accepted the true path and relapsed again and again to the faith in many messiahs, gods and demigods. Some among the early persecuted Christians believed that the ferocious power of Islam was the curse of God on them for deviating from the true faith. 

Buddhism and Jainism were basically protest movements against the Vedic religion, against its caste segregation and priest-craft. However, Buddhism and Jainism had never posed a threat to India’s fundamental culture and unity. Even when there were differences, the undercurrents of culture remained the same. Buddism and Jainism never ‘de-nationalized’ the people of India, as a well known westerner put it. The Indian religions never displayed religious hatred or bigotry as seen today in a manner that would tear away the very unity of the country and its cultural foundation. India was always known for its religious tolerance compared to other nations. The Indian society was not politically segmented on the lines of race, class, caste and tribe as it is seen today. However, changes took place in the fabric of Indian society after India was colonized by the British. Although during the rule of the Muslim Sultanate and Mogul kings, a lot of Hindus were forcibly or otherwise converted to Islam, it had not affected the pan Indian Hindu identity and culture. It was difficult to convert the majority Hindus, who were spread across the length and width of the country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. With the end of Mogul rule the advance of Islam came to an end. During the British period also serious efforts were made for the conversion of Hindus. However, Hinduism outlived all these attacks while the Islamic conquests and European colonialism had uprooted the native cultures and beliefs in the continents of America, Europe, Africa and other places. They forced their religion on the conquered people and thus Christianity and Islam became the biggest religions in the world.

It was in South East Asia Islam and Christianity failed because Hinduism and Buddhism strongly resisted the efforts of global religious conversion. At the time of independence, the Hindu population in India was more than 85%.  Nevertheless, the thousand year long Islamic and British rule had greatly affected the Hindu society politically and socially. Several social evils and superstitions in Hindu society were demolished. The reform movements began by Ram Mohan Roy, Dayananda Saraswati, Swami Vivekanada, Aravind Ghosh, Mahatma Gandhi, Ambedkar, Sri Narayana Guru and others helped. There was a constitution which ensured social justice to the deprived classes in order to prevent the hegemony of a Brahmanical social order. Concepts such as freedom of religion and secularism were included in the Constitution. When the hold of religion was separated from the political system after independence, the Hindu religion was not accepted as the state religion, although the Hindus were in majority.  At the same time, two theocratic states came into existence dividing India - Pakistan and Bangladesh. This caused big distress to the majority of Hindus. The efforts of the British succeeded to restrain Hindu religion politically and socially. In one way, the partition of India was unavoidable, because both the British and Indian leaders had realized that it was impossible to restrain and make the Muslims live under a democratic set up among the majority Hindus. Whenever and wherever Muslims form the majority, they would opt for a theocratic society under Islamic laws. This is inbuilt in the Islamic theology.

IV

Behind the British occupation of India, there were not only political and economic aims; one of their main objectives was to convert the people of India into Christianity. The British saw the Indians and their religion as primitive. They strongly believed that only through Christianity the Indian souls could be saved. Several missionaries from Europe arrived in India for this purpose.  The British administration extended all assistance to them. However, they soon realized that it was almost impossible to convert the Hindus. This fact has been mentioned in the book ‘Letter on the State of Christianity in India in which the Conversion of the Hindus is Considered Impractical’, written R. Abe Dubois, a missionary in India during the British period. The British administration and the missionaries who arrived in India changed their tactics when they understood that it was not easy to convert the Hindus. First, they began to study about the religion, philosophy and culture of India. They were surprised to find the history of a very ancient and profound culture. They thought that a people who was so much degenerated and colonized could not be the heirs to this great culture and philosophy. They picked up the theme of conflicts between deva and asura in the Puranas and described it as the racial conflicts between Aryan and Dravidian population. It was William Jones, Max Muller and other Indologists who propagated this concept first. Sri Rajiv Malhotra has done a detailed study of this subject in his book ‘Breaking India’.

The Indians who were living for centuries in unity and brotherhood suddenly became Dravidians and Aryans, hill tribes, dalits, etc. They defined Indian society as a conglomeration of isolated groups which had no common bonds. Through this they aimed to divide Indian society on the basis of race, caste, language and region and held Hinduism responsible for all these evils. The missionaries thought that they could convert more and more Hindus into Christianity by exploiting and aggravating this situation. The Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu is a big example for this. During the British period, Christian missionaries in India like Bishop Robert Caldwell and others provided ideological fire for this movement. They spread the idea that the Aryans, after coming to India, destroyed Dravidians, their religion and culture and therefore Aryans were the enemies of Dravidians. The books and articles written by these missionaries and their preaching raised a cloud of racial hatred. Thus the Hindu religion, language and culture were seen as the enemies of Dravidians. In 1916 an organization was founded by the name Justice Party. It is this organization which has become the Dravida Munnetta Kazhakam (DMK) in the political scenario today. During this period there was a big tide of religious animosity in Tamil Nadu. A lot of people in Tamil Nadu converted to Christianity. Sanskrit and Hindi, the language of North Indians were opposed. The Hindu face of Tamil Nadu underwent change like that of Kerala. The Aryan-Dravidian racial conflict spread to Sri Lanka also. The European colonialists adopted the method of polarizing the people of India on the lines of caste, class, religion, race and language, which kept them alienated from the national mainstream through social and political confrontations. Thus religious intolerance is perpetuated in the form of political and social protest movements.

V

Western culture or Arab culture is incapable of leading the human race towards peace and spiritual fulfillment. Today, the influence of western materialist culture has led humanity to all types of vulgarity, family breakdown, health hazards and environmental damage. There is disillusionment and disquiet everywhere. The murderous jihadi groups are slowly digging the grave of Islam, which has grown through a history of bloodshed. Majority of its followers are blind to any other truth, therefore, are confined to their self-imposed ideological isolation. The world is in need of a new spiritual path to forge ahead, which would form the basis of the faith of future humanity. Navajoythi Sree Karunakara Guru said that only the wisdom tradition (jnana path) of the rishis provide such a unitive spiritual view, which has been developed through ages of spiritual enquiry and culture. Guru mentions that all religions, sages and prophets have their own place in the historical march of humanity. Therefore, we should not berate any religion or prophet. What we can do is to pray for a good transformation with a benign vision and largeness of heart. The slogan of mere religious harmony is not enough. The human race has to be guided to the path of one Supreme Godhead, who is not Hindu, Christian or Muslim. God rules over His entire creation equally. Although God is formless, Guru said that God has a shape. A formless God has no necessity to create a world full of forms and names. Manu Smriti provides a rational view of creation thus:

‘This universe was enveloped in darkness- unperceived, undistinguishable, undiscoverable, unknowable, as it were, entirely sunk in sleep. The irresistible Self-existent Lord, undiscovered, creating this universe with the five elements and all other things was manifested dispelling the gloom. He who is beyond the cognizance of the senses, subtle, un-discernible, eternal, who is the essence of all things and inconceivable, himself shown forth. He desiring, seeking to produce various creatures from his own body, first created the waters, and deposited in them a seed. This (seed) became a golden egg resplendent as the sun, in which he himself was born as the progenitor of all worlds. The waters are called Narah, because they are the offspring of Nara; and since they were formerly the place of his movement (ayana), he is therefore called Narayana… That Lord having continued in the egg divided it into two parts (male and female) by his mere thought. Its (the egg’s) womb, vast as the mountains of Meru, was composed of the mountains and the mighty oceans were the waters, which filled its cavity. In that egg were the continents, seas and mountains, the planets and divisions of the universe; the gods, the demons and mankind'. 

The male creation of God is the Manu of Manvantara cycles, who is not be confused with the author of Manu Smriti with the same name. The female part is known as Satarupa. The echo of this idea of a Cosmic Person is also reflected in the Semitic religions. The word Adam is said to have originated from the Sanskrit root ‘Adi’, which means the beginning. The great Rishis taught us that Guru Principle is the qualitative transformation, the creative intent of the formless Brahman. (Brahman is different from the god Brahma. Brahman denotes to Almighty God). The Tantra texts mention that God exists in the form of Guru (Primal Guru, the Cosmic Purusha) in the middle of a thousand-petalled lotus. The solar system is created by the sankalpam of this Cosmic Preceptor, known as Manu. Thus Manu is the authority of a solar system. 

The Indian sages calculated the age of universe in terms of Manvantara after the name of Manu. We should remember that the words ‘manushya’, ‘manava’, ‘manuja’ and even the English word ‘man’ is derived from the root Manu. There is an interpretation that the word Bharat is derived from Manu. Manur Bharata Iti Bharata, i.e. the land governed by Manu is Bharat. One wheel of creation (kalpa) is set to the time periods of fourteen such Manus. In the long duration of a Manu age partitioned by cosmic ages such as Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali, several spiritual authorities manifest age after age. It is this spiritual view of Indians which makes them tolerant to other religions, sages and prophets. Only through such a cosmology, the human race can be united and liberated from religious intolerance. Only a Guru who comes as the authority of the age within this cosmology can lead all people to a unitive spiritual path. Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru has not brought a new religion; He has only reinterpreted the Sanatana Dharma concepts in tune with the age. During this age of religious conflicts only such a unitive spiritual ideology can save us. 

Mukundan P.R.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Making India Truly Hindu



As we all know, culture is the backbone of any nation. India has to identify and nourish a culture of its own not alien to its soil. By blindly following the western concepts of secularism and democracy, India has neglected its cultural character, which is based on the wisdom-tradition of its rishis and sages. In some western democracies, the Church may not have any direct role in governance, but they continue to swear by the gospel and stand behind Christianity, while allowing religious freedom to others, who do not believe in Christianity. However, in India, the State shies away from identifying with its ancient spiritual and cultural identity. It is not just because of a hollow interpretation of secularism and democracy. There are internal contradictions in Hinduism itself that prevent the Indian state to identify with Hinduism.

The cultural and spiritual identity of Bharat is not Judaic, Christian or Islamic, but Hinduism, as long as India remains a Hindu majority country - forget that India is the ancient-most civilization which gave birth to Hinduism and followed it for ages and ages. Sadly, the Hindus have been denied of their legitimate right to proclaim and uphold the unique cultural and religious identity of their mother land by the Nehruvian politicians left behind by the colonialists. The prevailing anti-Hindu political ideologies such as Marxism, Communism and pseudo Secularism are only the bye-products of this political misdirection. The colonialists and their agents have succeeded to mangle Hindus in such a way that the Hindus mock their own religion and culture. The Hindus have to be rescued from this cultural hara-kiri and spiritual stupor. This is the biggest civilizational challenge India faces today.

While some of the oldest civilizations of Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia, Rome and others have withered away, the Indian civilization has survived for long adapting itself to the changing times. It shows the great strength and vision of the rishis and sages, on whose philosophy the Indian culture is based. Their worldview is founded on universal spiritual verities. Realizing the divine nature of life, they taught that Atma (one’s self or consciousness) can evolve to divine status through various incarnations. Truth is universal, therefore, the rishis never promoted an exclusive theory of religion. There cannot be a Hindu God, then a Christian or Islamic God. They conceived God as Pragyanam Brahm (Eternal Consciousness) or Sat-Chit-Ananda (Truth, Consciousness and Bliss), which transcends all dualities, name and form.

Attracted by the beauty of Indian thought and culture and the richness of the land, great travelers like Megasthenese, Fa Hien, Huen Tsang and others visited India. In a letter Huen Tsang wrote to a Buddhist monk in Magadha in 654 AD, Huen Tsang mentions that he carried a horse-load of scriptures to China for the study of Indian culture, philosophy and religion.  Thousands of students came to study in the ancient universities of Nalanda and Takshashila and carried the teachings of Indian sages on varied subjects such as metallurgy, textiles, medicine, surgery, mathematics, aviation, and of course, philosophy and spirituality to their countries. Thus Indian culture and philosophy had influenced the world from the very ancient times. Francois Voltaire rightly mentioned that ‘everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges…’

However, the pertinent question is why India has lost its olden glory. Here lies the need to examine what had gone wrong with the nation’s culture and spiritual heritage. There is a need to reinterpret and reinvigorate India’s ancient heritage. From the spiritual practices of Dwapara and Treta Yuga, Hindus have to evolve into the spiritual vision of Kali Yuga, the concluding era in a chaturyuga cycle (consisting of satya, treta, dwapara and kali yuga). Kaliyuga is the period of great spiritual churning. In Kaliyuga, the spiritual practices followed in Treta and Dwapara yuga become redundant and ineffective. Kali yuga is the age of enlightenment and supramental evolution under a Guru of transcendental realization. In Kali yuga souls get purified and perfected and these souls are promoted to the next chaturyuga beginning with Satyayuga to become perfect divinities, enjoying uninterrupted divine bliss. By clinging on to the spiritual practices of bygone ages, human beings limit their spiritual evolution. The cataclysms and attacks on Hinduism since the onset of Kali yuga about 5200 years ago after the time of Sri Krishna are related to this yuga-parivartan or aeonic change, which the Hindus are yet to be aware of. The main difficulty before Hindus in accepting the wisdom-tradition seems to be their difficulty in rallying behind a strong spiritual leadership forgetting caste, clan and regional boundaries.

Hinduism is attacked mainly because of two reasons: One is its polytheism, the veneration of trimurti gods (Brahma,Vishnu and Maheshwara) and other devi-devas instead of Brahman, the Almighty God. The learned as well as the ignorant are trapped in the puranic version of Hinduism that places gods and goddesses at the altar of veneration. Besides its weak rational foundation, this type of worship fragments the masses spiritually and socially. The votaries of this system, mainly the orthodox Brahmins justify the tradition and would not tolerate any attempts at its reformation as they are the only ones to lose by way of profession and social privileges. Thus the Buddha, Mahavira, the Sikh Gurus, Swami Dayananda Saraswati and others had to leave Hinduism and many millions converted. This is not to suggest that all Brahmins are against the reformation of Hinduism. On the contrary, some of the greatest reformers of Hinduism have been the Brahmins themselves.

The worship of devi-devas was popularized through the puranas, which are part of mythology written down for mass consumption of various sects in Hinduism. Each sect contradicts the other while promoting their ishta-devata over the other. For the Saivites, Siva is the Lord of creation, while for the Vaishnavites it is Vishnu. There are yet other gods like Surya, Ganapati as well as the Devi of Sakteyas who claim the role of creation. This spiritual fragmentation has led to inimical social groupings in a subtle way often leading to suicidal enmity and clashes, wherein the downfall of one group is desired by the other. The Hindus who work for the triumph of Hinduism should realize that this spiritual fragmentation stands in the way of Hindu unity, which is a precondition for making India a truly Hindu nation.

The Hindu philosophy (Sanatana Dharma) is not based on the mythology in the puranas. Its base can be said as the Upanishads, the jnana portion of the Vedas and the philosophical sciences such as Sankhya, Vedanta, Yoga, Nyaya etc. all of which speak about God in terms of Atman, Purusha or Brahman, the Absolute God Principle, which is contradictory to the creation theories in the puranas. The puranas portray Brahma, Vishnu, Maheswara or Devi as the authorities of creation. In the same puranas as well as in the Vedas and Upanishads, it can be seen that the gods themselves were secondary creations of Brahman. Even the god Brahma has to meet with his end, say the puranas. Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara were the spiritual authorities of previous yuga-cycles. The puranic myths glorify the history pertaining to a remote past, which cannot be relived now. Moreover, the spiritual incumbency of trimurty ends with the onset of Kaliyuga. It is said that even the gods and angels are eager to be born In Kali yuga, especially in Bharata Varsha for working out their liberation through the great preceptors who would be born in this age. In Kaliyuga human beings are able to perform the feats what gods had performed in earlier ages. Man has much evolved than the gods. Like the great god Siva did with his third eye, today man can destroy the whole earth with the press of a button. He can go to different planets using vehicles equivalent to the ones used by devas. Therefore, the worship of devas in Kali yuga would not yield any special boons to the worshippers because human beings in Kaliyuga are endowed with greater spiritual prowess. Those who worship still lower spiritual entities such as ghosts, goblins and other evil powers are sure to lose their human character and beauty.

This is not to deny the existence of devas nor their exalted spiritual status. Devas are splendorous spiritual entities inhabiting the heavenly plane (swarga). They are the embodiment of ashta aishwaryas, the eightfold riches and fortunes. By worshipping them and by living a life of dharma, one can no doubt attain heavenly pleasures here and hereafter. But there is one problem. They can enjoy this paradise only until the exhaustion of their punya. Once the punya is exhausted this person is expelled from the heavens to be born again, one does not know in what wombs (ksheene punye marthya lokam visanthi, ref Bhagavat Gita). Sri Sankara refers this vicious circle as ‘punarapi jananam, punarapi maranam, punarapi janani jattare sayanam, iha samsare bahu dustarre….. (there is the chain of births and deaths; man is born in the mother’s womb again and again; this worldly existence is very difficult to transcend). Only after transcending the celestial plane of devas and angels, one can experience the real joy of spiritual realization, declare the rishis. However, no mahatmas or prophets in this Kali yuga could transcend the most perilous and treacherous plane of the celestials including those prophets who negate the devi-deva tradition. That is another story which resembles the star-wars.  

The Upanishads say: ‘the face of Truth is hidden by a golden vessel’. The golden vessel compared here is the splendorous world of the gods and angels, the seventh heaven. Kali yuga is the age to transcend this plane, which is the yuga dharma or the requirement of this age. According to the philosophy of Hinduism, the Supreme Truth is above the heavenly plane; therefore it becomes difficult to accept the authority of gods as the ultimate way of spiritual redemption. The strife between the inner sects in Hinduism as well as other religions has arisen because it promotes the worship of gods and angels, which limits man’s spiritual potential to the notion of heaven, which also happens to be the ultimate goal of Christianity and Islam. Christianity and Islam have a half-baked theory of creation. Since they do not entertain the idea of transmigration of souls, they do not accept the truth of spiritual evolution through the guidance of different preceptors, who incarnate from time to time in the long cycles of yugas. Hindus can never accept the view that only through the teachings of Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed the human race can be redeemed. In fact, no other religions have caused and continue to cause so much violence and bloodshed than Islam and Christianity because of the bigoted view of religion.

Fortunately, Hindus are the descendents of the great rishis who spoke about a universal religion, the Sanatana Dharma, whose principles are extolled as the highest peak of mystical experience. However, the Hindus have never come to terms with such a lofty religion of the rishis because of the corruption occurred over the ages. It is time the Hindus sit down and introspect in order to meet the challenges before their ancient-most religion, which happens to be the most peaceful and contemplative life science with a universal applicability.

Second is the caste gradation of Hindus, which divides them into socially fragmented groups. Religion unites people, but Hinduism created fissures among its adherents by the caste classification. We can find that the original inhabitants of India never instituted any caste system. It began with the ancient Vedic priests (yagnikas), who considered themselves as racially superior. They devised caste system in order to protect their racial purity and to exercise control over the people, whom they brought under subjugation. It is one of the earliest instances of colonialism in per-historic times, similar to the conquests of native populations by white Europeans in the continents of America, Africa and other places. Although, some Indians try to prove that Aryans were not different from the native Indians, all evidence suggests that it was a racially conscious group, which injected this poison into the Indian society. One may make any number of arguments for and against the Aryan invasion theory, but the truth is apparent and cannot be erased from the canvas of Indian history.

The otherwise lofty teachings in the scriptures are marred by the deification of a particular caste, the Brahmins. Again, instead of questioning its irrational foundation, some Hindus are eager to prove that caste system is good. No government would be able to promote the study of Hindu scriptures in schools and colleges despite its great treasure house of knowledge; it is because of the unequal and objectionable caste hierarchy in them. In almost all the scriptures, the Brahmin is eulogized to the level of a god, and the sudra is condemned without any privileges in the society. This hidden apartheid in the body of Hindu scriptures prevents it being accepted universally. It is naive to believe that the scriptures available now are the original work of Vyasa and other rishis. These scriptures have been manipulated and interpolated during subsequent redactions by the Brahmin editors. What one can do to make the Hindu scriptures universally acceptable is to remove the caste references in it. The word ‘brahmana’ in the scriptures should be replaced by ‘sage’, ‘brahma jnani’, ‘sadhu,’ ‘sanyasi’, ‘guru’ etc. The real meaning intended in the scriptures by the word ‘brahmana’ is brahma Jnani or a sage, who are realized souls. But, in the subsequent editions over the ages the pundits have deliberately used the words ‘brahmin’, ‘dwija’ etc. which has a definite caste connotation. Moreover, many stories have been incorporated in the puranas and epics that speak of cruel punishment for violation of caste laws. An example is the story of the killing of Shambhuka, a sudra sanyasi by Sri Ram. This is a concocted story incorporated in the Ramayana for legitimizing caste laws. Sri Ram, the supreme Guru of Treta Yuga was beyond all caste discrimination. In Ramayana, he is seen venerating Sabari, a sudra woman ascetic.

All sensible Hindus should think whether these types of stories and caste gradation would foster Hindu unity, leave alone the question of attracting other people to Hinduism. Conversion of other people to Hinduism is not possible because of the caste gradation. A few westerners who embrace Hinduism do not follow the traditional Hinduism; they follow only the path of jnana or yoga under the guru-sishya tradition, which is the real core of Sanatana Dharma. Brahmanical Hinduism remains like a parasite on the tree of Sanatana Dharma. India can regain its olden glory only by uniting its people spiritually and socially, for which there should be an internal discussion among the Hindu leadership regarding the true foundation of Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma) and its principles.

Traditionally, Hindus believe that the Vedas are the only authority in the matters of Hinduism. However, Vedas are bound to Yuga Dharma, i.e. they are age-specific. The sages in every age receive the revealed 'word' from Brahman, which is a catalog of spiritual principles and duties to be followed in a particular yuga. With the change of yuga, the sages again receive the Veda or the ‘Word’ from Brahman regarding the spiritual duties. This was how in Treta Yuga Sri Ram was worshiped and in Dwapara Yuga Sri Krishna was worshiped as the spiritual authorities of those ages relegating the Vedic gods (Indra, Varuna, Vayu, Agni, etc.) to the background. Their words and deeds were the moral code for the people. Spiritual truths were conveyed by them. The teachings of Sri Ram and Sri Krishna are available even now in the form of Jnana Vasishtam (Vasishta Ramayan) and Bhagavat Gita (also Udhava Gita, the last word of Sri Krishna to Uddhava ) respectively. Therefore, what the divinely commissioned sages reveal in this Kali yuga are the Vedas or the dharma shastra to be followed now.

In every age, a Trikala Jnani Guru takes birth in Bharat Varsha, the sacred land of rishis. They would appear by divine design and would lead us forward at the appropriate time, if and when we are ripe enough to receive their message. Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru was one such sage who tried to sensitize the people about the rich wisdom-tradition. The spiritual flowering of humanity has to take place through newer spiritual masters. We have to open our heart and heed their words of wisdom. We have to share the burden of improving the life of downtrodden and uphold the dignity and importance of women as well as sensitize them spiritually. This can be possible only by liberating the people from retarding cultural practices and exploitation in the name of religion. In order to infuse new life into the culture of the nation, it is very essential that the society be guided by the wisdom of a sage or Trikala Jnani Guru. Whenever the people of India absorbed the wisdom of its sages, it had risen to great heights and whenever it failed to do so, it fell into the depth of great moral and physical decadence. The present spiritual decadence of India is related to this spiritual perplexity.

The real enemies of Hinduism are internal. The new generation of children is not going to accept any irrational beliefs and practices. Already, the majority of Hindus remain Hindus for the namesake, having lost all sense of their religion. We should not be complacent and wait to see the complete alienation of our children from their cultural and spiritual moorings. It is difficult for Hindus to forget the temple tradition and caste gradation. However, they would be doing great injustice to the sages and rishis if they do not spiritually upgrade themselves by respecting the concept of yuga-parivartan or yuga-dharma by following the Jnana path through the medium of a transcendental Guru Parampara. When the Hindus are thus able to respect and rally behind a blameless spiritual leadership, they would have advanced one step forward in transforming India into a mighty Hindu nation. The followers of all other religions, including the Christians and Muslims ought to respect the Yuga dharma, which is the key to the door of a universal religion.

Mukundan P.R.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A New Spiritual Movement to Save India



The sage tradition representing Sri Krishna, Sri Buddha and Mahavir endeavored to uplift the masses from the quagmire of tradition that continues to confine them within prehistoric cults, moral values and objects of worship belonging to former ages retarding and deforming them spiritually. Educating and civilizing such ‘savage’ and heathen races and converting them to their ‘superior’ monotheistic religion and culture formed ‘the white man’s burden’ and the excuse for colonialism in the past. However, the truth is far from that. The so called western culture has been hegemonic and exploitive of the poor nations and peoples and has produced a corrupt and hollow human civilization bringing degradation in all walks of life including culture and morality. It has never been able to resuscitate the human race spiritually in its true sense. The mere evangelic preaching of the self-sacrifice and love of a compassionate God or forcing one’s religion on others would not help humanity’s transition to a new age of spiritual transformation.

The Guru-Word seeks to liberate individuals from the spiritual morass of ages that continues to pollute life and vitiate the social fabric. Beliefs and practices when outlive their tenure and age-specific dynamism stifle human aspirations and arrest spiritual growth unless renewed and reinterpreted from time to time by the wisdom tradition represented by great sages and avatars. The significance of the Guru Vani, the spoken Word of Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru is immense in this age of socio-cultural turmoil. There is nothing beyond the Guru-Word for deliverance which has flowed down from Brahman, the Supreme Light. The Guru-Word sanctifies the pollution in our life and helps us to understand ourselves, our tradition and belief systems in a new age-specific perspective that is so liberating. For the same reason, the Guru said that His path is the Vimochana Matam, i.e. the Liberating Dharma.

The Guru-Word dusts away the dirt and pollution accumulated over the ages on the surface of tradition and beliefs of the forefathers and discovers for them the true basis of their ancient-most faith and culture, to which all forms of Gnostic and monotheistic beliefs in the world owe a debt. However, it might be a paradox to say so because of the long history of distortion and deviation the Indian spirituality is subjected to by its own votaries. The idea of a Single God and the Guru, the God in human form (as the medium between man and God) is central to Indian spirituality like any other monotheistic religions. The Guru Word re-affirms more emphatically what Sri Krishna said some five thousand years ago: 

Give me your whole heart,     
Love and adore me,   
Worship me always,
Bow to me only,
And you shall find me;
This is my promise,
Who love you dearly; 
Lay down all duties in me, your refuge,
Fear no longer, for I will save you
From sin and from bondage.                          

This is the assurance of the Guru to His followers. The very theme that underlines the corpus of Guru-Word is unmistakably the same. Follow the Guru-Word and the Guru Dharma that has been gifted to us as the invaluable gift of God for this age. Guru did not like to utter or act like a prophet who declares his prophet-hood himself, in keeping with the self-denial and self-effacing character of the age-old rishi tradition. However, the Almighty gave Guru’s disciples the divine eyes as it were to see for themselves the sameness of God in Guru through revelations and visions by which they realized beyond the clouds of doubt that in Guru was both the Will of God and the Word of God. 

Once an Islamic scholar from Delhi posed a question to the Guru; ‘Are you a Prophet? ‘I did not say so’, said the Guru to him. This scholar went away with the mistaken notion that Guru was like any other crowd-pulling god-men of India. Guru was not a messenger of God like Prophet Mohammad, he argued. It is true that Guru is not a prophet because with Prophet Mohammad, the prophetical tradition had come to an end, which Islam also asserts. In this age, the humanity needs to be guided by a Far-sighted Seer. Guru often talked about His role as a Far-Sighted Seer or Deergha Darshi, an Authority of Age, who is able to envision the genesis of the world and its sustenance through the course of long cosmic ages, its twists and turns and the rights and wrongs occurred in the spiritual and historical march of humanity. The final sublimation or liberation of human soul culminates in the truth of Guru. At the end of the tunnel of spiritual experience or spiritual realization is the Guru.

The Guru-Word reveals the cosmology of Manu and Manvantara, in which is found the original framework or the teleological foundation of monotheism. The far-reaching significance of the cosmology of Manu has never been comprehended by both monotheists and polytheists alike. God in the form of the Primordial Preceptor or Archetypal Guru - that is the raison d’ĂȘtre behind the concept of Manu. A solar system and human life originate from the sankalpam or creational intent of Manu in association with the Saptarshis, the guardians of the solar system. It is for this reason the cosmic ages are calculated in terms of Manu Ages or Manvantara cycles after Manu’s name. Reflecting the truth of Manu and the Guru-origin of the universe, the flow of wisdom or the system of spiritual guidance has been ordained through the medium of Preceptors who appear at specific ages as the spiritual authorities.

At the turn of every spiritual renewal, the appearance of a Guru is imminent. Everything has its ordained time and space and has to give place to the continuing stream of spiritual renewal. This is the basic foundation of Sanatana Dharma or the Eternal Dharma, which is behind the resilience and tolerant nature of Indian spirituality. The spiritual incumbency of the sages and prophets is not static in the course of long cosmic ages. In other words, there is no scope for a final prophet or an exclusive religion for salvation in the scheme of spiritual evolution. However, there is an exclusive spiritual path that links man to God. That is the path of a realized Guru who can sensitize us experientially about the eternal truth of God through direct experiences and spiritual visions nourished by a way of life based on universal love and compassion. India has been the land of this experiential spirituality from ancient times.

Although the original history of Manu has been lost to human race long ago, the mention of Manu is found in the scriptures in a passing way. A parallel is also seen in the Adam concept of Semitic religions, which must have found its way to Christianity originally from India. Here the Manu or the Adam is portrayed as the earliest human ancestor or preceptor in earthly terms. However, the reality of Manu is not so as explained earlier. God, the Formless One (Nirguna Brahman) projects the human universe through the medium of Manu, the Adi Guru who is said to be seated in a thousand-petalled Lotus presiding over the spiritual evolution of humanity. This idea of the Guru-origin of the world is found in the more ancient Saiva tradition (refer Maha Nirvana Tantra for example) as well as in the Rig Veda, which mentions that in the beginning there was only the Purusha or Hiranya Garbha, from whom originated  everything.  The Purusha, Hiranya Garbha and Isa in the Vedic and Puranic texts refer to Manu, the First Archetypal Guru.

However, over the long ages, this cosmology was distorted and presented through the sectarian lenses of spiritual cults like Saivism, Vaishnavism and Sakteyism and it developed into the system of soliciting help from the gods through priest-craft and yogic cults. The powerful league of priests replaced the position of sages from the center stage and instituted the worship of idols in temples. The priests became the spiritual mentors in the society claiming exclusive authority over spiritual functions and divine knowledge. It diluted the role of sages in the wisdom tradition or jnana path as ordained by Manu. The less fortunate in the society were left to live in gross ignorance and servitude in a high and low notion of caste hierarchy instituted by the priests. This has been the cause of the spiritual downfall and social disintegration of India.

A big array of inimical forces consisting of evangelists, jihadists, Maoists, Leftists and other victims of race politics are engaged in a pernicious war with India. Yes, they want to break India and its religion, which they perceive as a hegemonic social order of Brahmins and worship of mythical gods instead of the only God. What could not happen even during the Islamic and British rule is happening now. The Hindu civilization is crumbling. Unable to find an egalitarian and philanthropic spiritual leadership, vast sections of vulnerable Hindu population are falling in the trap of evangelists and leftist ideologies that would turn the nation into a dirty pig yard. India cannot forsake its wisdom tradition of the rishis and sages, which is in fact the backbone of all wisdom traditions in the world. A world without the saving wisdom of the sages is unimaginable. The mission of Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru is to restore this lost wisdom tradition to its original status. It is a new spiritual initiative by the Almighty to save India.

Only a realized Guru can guide a soul to liberation or mukti. The Liberating Dharma of Guru provides another God given opportunity for India to reclaim its Guru status and the long lost egalitarian guru-disciple wisdom or jnana path under a Deergha Darshi Guru and His Parampara. The Guru-Parampara founded by Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru transcends all differentiations of race, religion, caste, class and creed and proclaims the Oneness of God. Through this new initiative of God, the human race can evolve into an age of goodness and perfection, as envisioned and dreamt by several mahatmas and sages down the ages. 

Mukundan P.R.