Swami Jyotirmayananda has presented different aspects of Hindu religion, Hindu culture, Hindu society and Sanatana Dharma in his recent book ‘India’s Gift to the World is the Light Spiritual’.
In Chapter 2 of this book, he has given a general survey of the intellectual traditions of India, their importance in the heritage of scientific and philosophical wealth of our country ever since the Vedic Age and their relevance in the larger global context today. According to Swami Jyotirmayananda, mind, intellect and spirit or self, according to Indian philosophy are the vital constituents of man and India’s traditions give overriding importance to suitably attune the mind and the intellect to the spirit. From the dawn of history, India has been engaged in an unending quest for truth behind the phenomena of life and universe. This exciting search inspired our ancient ancestors to raise different types of intellectual questions about the inscrutable ecstasy and mystery of human existence.
The Hindu attitude to religion is interesting. While fixed intellectual beliefs mark off one religion from another in Abrahamic faiths, Hinduism sets itself no such limits. In Hinduism, intellect is subordinated to intuition, dogma to experience, and outer expression to inward realization. Religion is not the acceptance of soulless academic abstractions or the regimented celebration of ceremonies, but a kind of life or experience. It is insight into the nature of reality (darshana) or experience of reality (anubhava). Religion is a specific attitude of the self, itself and no other, though it is mixed up generally with intellectual views, authentic forms, aesthetic visions and moral valuations.
Religious experience is of a self-certifying character. It is svatassiddha. It carries its own credentials. The mechanical faith in the Abrahamic religions, which depends on authority and wishes to enjoy the consolations of religion without the labour of being religious, is quite different from the ancient Hindu religious faith which has its roots in experience. Hindu thought has no mistrust of reason. There can be no final breach between the two powers of the human mind, reason and intuition. In order to be able to say that religious experience reveals reality, in order to be able to transform religious certitude into logical certainty, we are obliged to give an intellectual account of the experience. But, like all perceptions, religious intuition is that from which thought has to start and to which it has to return. This kind of approach resulted in a breakthrough for a meditative quest and discovery of profound secrets of life by the great Rishis of ancient India.
The chief sacred scriptures of the Hindus, the Vedas, register the intuitions of the realized and perfected souls. They are not so much dogmatic dicta as transcripts from life. They record the spiritual experiences of souls strongly endowed with the sense for reality. They are held to be authoritative on the ground that they express the experiences of the experts in the field of religion. If the utterances of the Vedas were uninformed by spiritual insight, they would have no claim to our belief. The truths revealed in the Vedas are capable of being free-experienced on compliance with ascertained conditions. We can discriminate between the genuine and the spurious in religious experience, not only by means of logic but also through experience.
Swami Jyotirmayananda says that the distinctive character of India’s intellectual pursuit can really help evolve a new line of thought in the modern world. In order to highlight the distinctive character of India’s spiritual and intellectual traditions, he quotes the observations of Mr.R.G.H.Siu, the Chinese scientist at MIT, USA. In his “Tao of Science”, he has said: “Rational knowledge is rational only because it is obtainable through reason. The others obtainable through means other than reason are not irrational; they are extra-rational….We should contrast rational knowledge and intuitive knowledge. The role of discovery is quite different in these two forms. In rational knowledge it plays a promotional part. In intuitive knowledge, discovery, of the patent office variety, plays a minor role. Science has not accelerated human development in this area. If anything, she may have dulled man’s sensibilities to intuitive riches by passive and, in some instances, antagonistic attitudes.”
Logicians may run down the fuzziness of intuition; the intuitionists decry the strictures of logic. Discursive reasoning is not possible without intuition. In the western tradition pursuit of knowledge involves the selection of a certain event or quality as the object of knowledge. Sage-knowledge in the great Eastern tradition does not do so. Mr.Siu distinguishes between ignorance and no-knowledge; between “having-no” knowledge and having “no-knowledge”. The former is merely a state of ignorance; the latter is one of ultimate enlightenment and universal (sometimes even cosmic) sensibilities. With rational knowledge, the scientist is a spectator of nature. With “no knowledge”, he becomes a participant in nature. There is a communion of understanding. Mr.Siu concludes “to plumb the depths of no-knowledge, one must rely on his own ineffable awareness of the ineffable”.
Swami Jyotirmayananda says that in Indian culture the pursuit of intellectual knowledge, in fact, was considered as the means to reach ‘sage-knowledge’. When intuitive knowledge is added to scientific knowledge, one becomes a man of culture with a sense of commitment to his fellow beings and nature and reaches near to perfection. This should be the goal of the common people. Then human society will evolve into a truer, purer, nobler and greater dimension of existence. This is India’s intellectual and spiritual message to the world.
The people of present-day world can be conveniently classified into 3 distinct groups, each with an inherent special trait of its own: 1) The Exclusivist Group consisting of Abrahamic Faiths. 2) The Pseudo-Secular Group and 3) The Victimized Group consisting of peace-loving Hindus of the mighty and majestic Hindu Nation, well-known from time immemorial as ‘Bharath’. That glorious name was discarded by the ‘shrewd’ British Imperialists in favour of ‘India’, a colonial appellation given by Europeans to our sacred land. The modern day descendents of Western Imperialism—global Islam, global Christianity and Marxism—continue to pursue their policies for global dominance, which have an unlimited potential for endangering the safety, security and integrity of our motherland. Swami Jyotirmayananda says: “In order to prevent it, we have to reenergize ourselves to protect and preserve our Dharmic Mores in the tradition of our Great Monk, Swami Vivekananda”.
I fully endorse the view of Shri.Vijay Kapoor: “The Hindu failure is that we have never made an effort to learn the inner working and the psyche of our adversaries. What motivates them to attack and kill the Hindus? ….Remove the Bible, Torah and the Koran from the landscape and there will be no perpetual wars. How is it, that Hindus cannot grasp this daily event? Hindus walk in sleep! If we Hindus fail to define what inflicts us, we can never get rid of the ‘VIRUS’ , which is killing us. To my mind, that ‘Virus’ is our ignorance of what motivates Christians and Islamic forces to keep attacking Hindu culture either through guns or via missionaries. The anti-dote to the ‘Virus’, which inflicts us, is to read and absorb the causes of daily carnage carried out by the Abrahamic Faiths.”
Professor Babu Suseelan is right in saying that HINDUS have no choice but to UNITE, if they ever hope to regain dignity, strength and political power to confront the evil forces ranged against them. Aggressive assertiveness is required to project their desire for peace and coexistence. Hindus should be active, not passive. Hindu unity and activism will rectify and prevent injustices and abuse whenever and wherever they occur. Our survival, indeed that of the whole world, demands the propagation of the all-inclusive, spiritual, pluralistic Hindutva.
Swami Vivekananda clearly understood the imperative national need for unifying the nation by bringing together the various scattered spiritual forces working on the Indian soil. With tremendous insight and vision, he showed the way for achieving both national solidarity and collective national vision. Let us hear the bracing words of Swami Vivekananda in this context: “National union of India must be a gathering up of its scattered spiritual forces. A nation in India must be a union of those whose hearts beat to the same spiritual tune.” In another context he said: “Secret of power lies in unity and organisation. Bring out life-giving common principles, we have to build upon the common ground of Dharma.”
Swami Jyotirmayananda’s book can be used as a primer for understanding the letter and spirit of the dynamic forces of Sanatana Dharma and Hindutva pervading the West, more particularly the USA today. The spiritual process is a day-by-day, step-by-step unfolding of our consciousness, a process of breaking down stale, conditioned and dead parts of ourselves to allow rebirth to take place. We are our own inveterate enemies stuck in stagnant pools of self-righteousness. We are afraid to step into the unknown. We are afraid to be touched by creative energy. Anyone who reads this great book by Swami Jyotirmayananda will get filled and inspired by a new creative energy. HE IS A GREAT GURU. The Guru/Disciple dynamic takes place because both surrender to higher energy. Each demands the other to go deeper. It is a question of how much the Guru and disciple want enlightenment. They reflect each other’s tireless need to open to higher energy in the universe.
Let me conclude with a mystical poem:
Soaring above the dread of the waters,
In the moment of dedication,
All strength gathered, all life at stake
Plunging into the deep.
But no rest on the waves, constrained by currents.
Again over the waters, stillness over the swell,
Borne by the wind with the strength of our own wings.
Never land, never nesting place-
Until the final plunge when the deep takes back its own.