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Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Front Cover of Book

Swami Jyotirmayananda in his recent book ‘India’s Gift to the World is the Light Spiritual’. makes us understand how the acceptance of and reverence for India’s spirituality was gained in many parts of the world right from the days of yore and how it influenced the cultural life and artistic expressions of many nations. India’s spirituality is exercising a great influence on the inquisitive minds in many parts of the world even today. Our philosophy has succeeded in inspiring and influencing the best scientific minds of today. According to Swami Jyotirmayananda, any sensitive person who makes a study of the Vedantic wisdom will quickly realize that it is a super-science of human evolution and adjustment.

It was the full realization of the spirit of Vedanta that really inspired Sir Warren Hastings (1732-1818), the first Governor General of India, to write the following words in his introduction to the first English translation of the Bhagavad-Gita done by Charles Wilkins (1749-1836) in 1785: ‘The writers of Indian philosophies will survive when the British domination in India shall have long ceased to exist, and when the sources which it yielded of wealth and power are lost to remembrance.’ Anyone can see that these prophetic and clairvoyant words of Sir.Warren Hastings have come true today.

In the midst of plenty and prosperity, the people of the so-called affluent and developed’ countries are in the vicious grip of a dilemma today. With an overbearing sense of having reached a unique dead end, they have started asking whether human life has no other destiny than repeated indulgence in sense pleasures which wane with age. They seem to be desperately seeking a glimpse of inner peace, aspiring for freedom from the death trap of endless and insatiable desires. The grave intensity of this existential crisis was highlighted by the German philosopher Dr Graf K.Von Durekheim in these words: ‘Last year in Germany alone 500 top mangers committed suicide because they could not find a way of the blind alley into which they had been pushed by the stress of everyday life. But the real source of these maladies is not external stress, but the loss of contact with the true self. The deepest frustration in this wholeness is that Western man, being occupied one-sidedly by the materialistic activities in the outside world, has lost the living contact with his inner self, his soul. This also is the cause of a deep widespread suffering for which there is no outward reason.’

                                               Swamy Jyotirmayananda

Swami Jyotirmayananda fully endorses the above view of Dr.Graf K.Von Durekheim. He says that the Western mind focuses on the gratification of the physical senses and the resultant mechanistic view of life makes Western man subservient to external circumstances, putting him in the slave bonded labour of unquenchable desires. Let us hear his words: ‘Therefore, amidst the all- round luxury, but devoid of a sense of the higher destiny of human life, the Western mind does often suffer from a sense of misery, of purposelessness, as indicated by the above mentioned statement. This alienation of the Western mind from a higher vision of life, and unlimited desires provoke the Occidental man to evolve a heartless system of exploration and exploitation that results in cruelty and war’.

I totally agree with Swami Jyotirmayananda that most of the prosperous nations today have been afflicted by what is called the Affluenza Virus---the placing of a high VALUE on money, possessions, appearances (physical and social) and fame. Many international studies done by WHO and other organizations have come to the conclusion that people who hold such VALUES are at a greater risk of being emotionally distressed, depressed, anxious, substance-abusing and personality-disordered. Here I would like to quote Oliver James who says: ‘I would use existing scientific studies of national rates of such problems as my starting point, and then see how ‘Affluenza’ was panning out locally, around the world. I also pictured myself as itinerant Marie Curie returning triumphantly clutching vaccines which immunize us against the virus, phials of tactics for making the best of the very bad job that the world has become.’

Something has gone wrong in our society and many of the news programmes—both print and electronic—are not noticing it: while we are getting richer and richer and yet at the same time, simultaneously, we are also getting to be less and less happy. Those who dare to dismiss this global phenomenon would find their theories blown apart by Oliver James in page after page of his book on the virus of what he calls ‘Affluenza’.In today’s world of crass and selfish commercialism, most people, regardless of their level of education are unable to distinguish between the quality and the quantity of what appears to make life good and worth living. The search for the good life, the endless race for a higher standard of living, is so often defined by the new generation in terms of ‘THINGS’ and the means to get as many ‘Things’ as possible. This approach has turned into a dead end as more and more people have more and more. This ‘Midas Culture’ has not provided the joy or happiness that it would appear to have promised at the beginning. We seem to be living in a land of fractured families, poisoned personal relationships, and unfulfilling work totally devoid of any job satisfaction, disloyal corporations, fragile self-esteem, and social distrust.Against this background, Swami Jyotirmayananda comes to the conclusion that the only way out for the modern man is to seek solace and refuge in India’s Vedantic Wisdom. The great Rishis of ancient India looked at life in its totality and evolved from their own experience of true illumination a science of human fulfillment. This rationale of India’s spirituality makes it a true science of human evolution. From the very ancient times, this science of human evolution gave India a unique status in the history of the world. The uniqueness of India’s traditional knowledge is the remarkable interconnections that exist between various branches of knowledge. Astronomy, Astrology and Ayurveda complement one another and they blend with spirituality. There is a science called Marma-Vidya, which is still prevalent in some parts of Kerala, but almost getting extinct because of our sad negligence of our great treasures under the impact of western education. A most important fact to remember is that all these sciences are closely linked to the spiritual concept of life. Thus India’s spiritual message is clear as declared by the Vedic Rishis that the true happiness comes from the spiritual dimension, which transcends all changes. One could experience blessedness by one’s own inward journey. India’s Rishis did not deny the need for material advancement but they reconciled material advance with spiritual elevation. They concluded that the model of development must be need-based and not greed-based. There can certainly be material advance without resorting to crude materialism. They declared that ‘Jiva’ (man) must not end up as ‘Shava’ (Corpse), but evolve, as he has the inherent potential, to become ‘Shiva’, the Universal Man. Swami Jyotirmayananda rightly concludes that it is this emphasis on the development of the true human potentials that was responsible for the spread of India’s spiritual vision and culture to several countries even before the beginning of the Christian Era, and still continues to draw the attention of the thinking sections all over the world.

Against this background, the following glorious and radiant words of Swami Vivekananda are very relevant even today: ‘Political greatness or military power is never the mission of our race; it never was and, mark my words it never will be. But there has been the other mission given to us, which is to conserve, preserve, to accumulate as it were into a dynamo, all the spiritual energy of the race and that concentrated energy is to pour forth into a deluge on the world whenever circumstances are propitious. Let the Persian or the Greek, the Roman, the Arab, or the Englishman march his battalions, conquer the world. The Hindu’s calm brain must pour out its own quota to the sum total of human progress. INDIA’S GIFT TO THE WORLD IS THE LIGHT SPIRITUAL.’