Dharmic Activism and Work without Proper Spiritual Foundation is Dangerous!
Given how things are as dice is cast against one religious group by the media, the “Secularists” and the foreign forces, it is imperative that Hindus also find their expression. Expression to speak up against the intolerance that has been going on for many decades – starting from the colonial era (also read “Why Indian Secularism is a Euphemism for Hinduphobia“). What has passed off as “Freedom of Expression” in India, was really “Expression Apartheid” by the forces that targeted everything “Hindu”. So the voice of Dharma is imperative.
But what is happening, the way it is happening, is that the right way? Yes, Indian culture and spiritual history has opened things up for everyone and every experimentation is important. Indeed, necessary. Those however, who feel there is a need to put the Hindu ethos in proper perspective need more than just “passion” in the heart and a loud voice. They need to touch the Dharmic ethos itself! Otherwise how will their work be any different from the ideological chains that the Secularists and others have bound the minds of modern India with?
Dharmic fight is not a religious fight. It cannot be. It cannot purport to replace one belief system with another and yet be Dharmic. It has to posit Spiritual path against Belief. That is the battle that this nation has lost as its ethos has gotten eroded over time.
Let us take a look at how we need to work on ourselves first, before we contribute to the ethos of Dharma itself. Without adequate Purushaartha (or self effort) on a Spiritual path, we may end up doing more harm than good.
Yoga Vasistha: Worship of Vishnu only possible when you are Vishnu consciousness
In Yoga Vasistha, the celebrated book where Sage Vasistha teaches Ram about the Truth and takes him through the path of complete enlightenment, narrates something very interesting. In the chapter of Prahalad, Prahalad says”
However, one who is not Vishnu does not derive any benefit by worshipping Vishnu. One should worship Vishnu by being Vishnu. Hence I am Vishnu. He who is known as Prahalad is none other than Vishnu: there is no duality.
This statement is very significant. And, this understanding is also reiterated by Sage Vasistha himself later. In the same chapter, the Sage suggests to Ram that Prahalad attained to enlightenment through the grace of Vishnu. This was after suggesting that Self Effort was more important than even God or Guru. For if, Sage Vasistha said, Vishnu could grant enlightenment without self effort, why doesn’t he do so to animals and plants?
So, Ram asked the obvious question:
Holy sir, you said that Prahalad attained enlightenment by the grace of lord Vishnu. If Everything is achieved by self-effort, why was he not able to attain enlightenment without Vishnu’s grace?
Perfect question.. right? The Sage gives the answer:
Surely, whatever Prahalad attained was through self-effort, O Rama, not otherwise. Vishnu is self and self is Vishnu; the distinction is verbal. It was the self of prahalad that generated in itself devotion to Vishnu. Prahalad obtained from Vishnu, who was his own self, the boon of self enquiry; and through such enquiry attained self knowledge.
What the Great Sage was saying is that at the level of consciousness that Prahalad had reached, his being / self / consciousness was no different than that of Vishnu. So, whatever grace happened… happened from that level of consciousness. Precisely what Prahalad himself suggested. That, to be a Vishnu Devotee, you need to be Vishnu himself!
Just as wave is the Ocean, and the force of the wave as well as the water of the wave is part and parcel of the Ocean, but every part of the Ocean is not the wave. When the water and vibrations at a particular point reach a certain level the wave happens. Similarly, Vishnu consciousness is in the self. But self at all times does not manifest the Vishnu consciousness. When the vibration of a being is right, and the life energies are right, Vishnu consciousness happens.
So, to say Vishnu is in everyone is the truth as well as a misleading statement. It is true in potential form, but complete falsehood in manifest reality.
Unless, proper self effort is done to raise one’s consciousness, Vishnu consciousness will not manifest in anyone. And without that, worshipping Vishnu is devoid of all benefit.
Importance of Spiritual Journey In India’s Revival
Those who are convinced of the fact that India’s Civilizational strength lies in Dharmic traditions do not say so because of any Superiority Majoritarian Complex, but because Dharmic traditions have put the onus of attaining divinity on every self. It is not a history-centric (as coined by Rajiv Malhotra) event or happening. Just because Jesus was enlightened has no meaning or importance to anyone. You and you alone are responsible for your consciousness. You suck because YOU suck. Your being shines because YOUR being shines. No one has anything to do with it. This spiritual tradition is truly Open Source Spirituality. And in that lies the answer as to why Pakistan and India are so different despite having “everything same”.
But in the Open Source Spirituality traditions of Dharmic civilization is also embedded the criticality of attaining to Liberation yourself.
Unfortunately, over the last many hundreds of years – specially since the British tried to translate our scripture, it has become important for Hindus to read their books and debate on that.
Is that really spirituality or just mere entertainment?
In one event in Houston some years back Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev declared that “I have not read the Bhagwad Gita”, folding his hands in love, “but I know this piece of life in completeness. From its origin to its end.” And then he went on to say how even if the Gita was a verbatim representation of what Krishna conveyed to Arjun, Sanjay – the one who heard it on the sly to repeat it to Dhritrashtra – could not have conveyed the non-verbal conversation that went on between Krishna and Arjun.
There was a huge hue and cry by many Hindu groups suggesting that here was someone “who hasn’t read Gita and yet says Gita is distorted“. I happened to talk to a gentlemen who was particularly peeved. He also told me in anger how he had completely memorized the Gita. I just smiled.
Why? Because even though he had memorized the Gita, he hadn’t understood a word of it. In Chapter 2 shloka 46, Krishna says something very significant:
यावानर्थ उदपाने सर्वत: सम्प्लुतोदके |
तावान्सर्वेषु वेदेषु ब्राह्मणस्य विजानत: || 2.46||
yāvān artha udapāne sarvataḥ samplutodake
tāvānsarveṣhu vedeṣhu brāhmaṇasya vijānataḥ
yāvān—whatever; arthaḥ—purpose; uda-pāne—a well of water; sarvataḥ—in all respects; sampluta-udake—by a large lake; tāvān—that many; sarveṣhu—in all; vedeṣhu—Vedas; brāhmaṇasya—one who realizes the Absolute Truth; vijānataḥ—who is in complete knowledge
What he means is –
All the knowledge contained in the Vedas is of as much use to a Realized Being as water in a water tank in a large flood of water.
Basically, Arjun, who had been to one of the best “schools” in those times as a prince, was quoting scriptures to suggest what was right and what wasn’t. Why the act of war from his side wasn’t as per Dharma. Krishna told him to keep aside his knowledge of the scriptures and not quote from there. For, only people with limited understanding of Self start quoting something without any experiential understanding! Those who know self speak from experience and that is far above any scripture. So, move beyond all this and be established in the highest consciousness.
He takes the discussion further by stating unequivocally:
श्रुतिविप्रतिपन्ना ते यदा स्थास्यति निश्चला |
समाधावचला बुद्धिस्तदा योगमवाप्स्यसि || 2.53||
śhruti-vipratipannā te yadā sthāsyati niśhchalā
samādhāv-achalā buddhis tadā yogam avāpsyasi
śhruti-vipratipannā—not allured by the fruitive sections of the Vedas; te—your; yadā —when; sthāsyati—remains; niśhchalā —steadfast; samādhau—in divine consciousness; achalā —steadfast; buddhiḥ —intellect; tadā —at that time; yogam —Yog; avāpsyasi —you will attain
In other words, Krishna tells Arjun that – In the period, when your intellect is not swayed or confused by the theological arguments of the scriptures and has become still, and is firmly established in the Divine Consciousness, at that time you will attain to Yoga. Yoga means Union.
Unbeknowst to the gentleman who has memorized the Bhagwad Gita, this is precisely what Sadhguru was explaining about his relationship to Gita. What was true of Vedas (as per Krishna himself) was also true of Gita itself!
Activism without Spiritual Work is Dangerous
Just as there are rhetorical “Secular” (HInduphobic really) activists, there are Hindu activists of all hues. Unfortunately, a number of them not only do not have initiation into any Spiritual path, but they denounce all Gurus and Spirituality!
This is dangerous. Because it cuts at the root of Dharmic ethos.
From aeons, India has been the center of the planet when it came to Spiritual work. You know why? Not because Indians were endowed in some special way. But because we allowed diversity of work in spiritual space. This meant thousands and thousands of unscrupulous and often useless charlatans. Yes, they aren’t a phenomenon of today. But out of those hundreds of thousands, even millions of charlatans, one Valmiki or Vasistha or Buddha or Nanak or Ramakrishna Paramhans or Raman Maharishi would emerge. That was enough. One Ramana could do far far more than those millions of charlatans could ever destroy.
It was a true “Silicon Valley culture”. A hub of experimentation, creativity and innovation. For one Apple, millions of start-ups have failed and failed miserably. But just 5 of the top successes – Hewlett Packard, IBM, Apple, Microsoft and Google have contributed more to the society than robbed by the millions of failures.
When we seek to destroy or limit the unsuccessful by riling against “All Gurus”, we not only go for a Nirmal Baba but also subvert a Swami Vivekananda or a Ramana Maharishi. That will singularly be the death knell of Dharmic Spirituality. I am not suggesting we let the charlatans do what they want. But to at the least understand how a Nirmal Baba is different from a Ramana Maharishi and how Devotion is different from Blind faith!
We cannot save the possibility of Vishnu Consciousness by being anything less than Vishnu himself. For devotion without work on consciousness is akin to deception.
One of the critics of Sadhguru in Houston – someone whose intellect I admire greatly – once said that he was a devotee of Hanuman. His principal suggestion to me has been to stay away from having “blind faith” in a Guru. Like the gentleman who had memorized the Gita, but understood nothing, this friend had completely missed the meaning of being Hanuman consciousness altogether. One who was the highest of devotees – his consciousness can only be touched by one who is in absolute and complete submission. If we are to brand devotion as blind faith, then Hanuman loses all value altogether! With intellect, or Vivek, the ability to discern – one cannot be in devotion.
When we proclaim our love for Bhagwad Gita or for Hanuman and wage a war against Spiritual journey of raising consciousness or devotion itself, then we have missed the point. Whatever we will do will be wrong and unfruitful.
To paraphrase Krishna Himself, let us not aim to be the water tank. Rather raise ourselves to be the vast flood. The Ocean itself!