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 Blooming Stars

Programming, Deprogramming and Reprogramming of the World – 15

            Vivekananda built on Ramakrishna Paramahansa and his concept of harmony of religions and service of humanity. He taught us that a true Hindu can be a true Christian, and a true Christian can be a true Hindu.. Gandhi, who was ostracized by his Hindu community, for crossing the ocean to study in England, refused to divorce religion, non-violence, truth-force (satyagraha) and purity of intention from politics and day-to-day practical living. Henry David Thoreau with his essay on Civil Disobedience was a precursor of Gandhi. Gandhi was profoundly influenced by Leo Tolstoy, a Christian anarchist, whom Gandhi described as “the greatest apostle of non-violence the present age has produced”.

            Christian anarchism was a movement in political theology that held that Christians ultimately should be answerable only to the authority of God as embodied in the teachings of Christ, especially the Sermon on the Mount. Tolstoy rejected all violence and convinced Gandhi to espouse non-violent resistance to drive out the British from India. Gandhi deepened the meaning of tolerance in the Indian and world psyche. He envisioned that the world of the future, our current world, has to be one of tolerance and compassion for survival. He provided the world with an effective spiritual as well as practical tool for conflict resolution. Through non-violence that is ultimate love he taught the world that it is better to suffer than inflict suffering on others. He gave the confidence that reasonable persons in the world will gradually change when they become aware of the pain they cause others. Martin Luther King Jr., in the USA and Nelson Mandela in South Africa effectively used non-violent agitations to secure civil rights and freedom. Gandhi, a non-Christian, was able to more eloquently teach the message of Christ than most Christians.

            Narayana Guru has not yet received the attention and recognition he truly deserves. He through his heroic, symbolic gestures struck an effective blow to varnashrama (caste hierarchy), the basis of traditional occupation. He clearly understood the scriptural saying: Janmana jayate shoodra; Karmana dvija uchyate [All are shoodra (low caste) by birth; twice-born (high caste) by deeds]. Vivekananda, Gandhi, and Narayana Guru are truly representatives of spirituality beyond all religions. In this connection it may be of interest to remember Kabir who advocated simply following sahaja path (simple, natural way to oneness) in God, setting aside scriptures (Vedas and Quran). The presupposition is that humans having a yearning for completion through union with God will be naturally guided to this union by his/her own svabhava (inborn self or essence).

            The Hindu and the Christian sages, seers, and saints also saw some kind of unity of humanity and divinity whether they saw it as dissolution of the individual being into the Supreme Being or an Ultimate Eternal Presence of one to the other in terms of Beatific Vision. Here then all form themselves into the one City of God. The early stages and seers (both Hindus and Christians) abandoned this world of appearances and went to the forests and mountain caves and deserts and desolate places as sanyasis (renunciates) and hermits (dwellers of deserts or secluded retreats) in search of themselves and their God. They did the best they could at the time. Their sacrifices, their search and findings, their wisdom and insights throw a floodlight on life and the world of maya (illusion) immensely enrich us, guide us, and give us courage and strength to do our own search. Looking at spirituality and holiness as something positive that all are called to, and viewing life in its here and now as something that needs to be celebrated and not escaped from, we can and we should, because of the yearning for union imprinted within us, live in every situation or state of life and search for the Ultimate even as we are surrounded by appearances, phoniness, and hypocrisy.


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