This article is a chapter from the book Sivananda’s Lectures: All India and Ceylon Tour — 1950.
2nd November, 1950
At 3 p.m. Siva addressed a Press Conference, and answered some questions.
The following were the questions put by the correspondent Gujarat Samachar, Ahmedabad, and Siva’s replies to them.
Q. How would religion be a help to come out from the present-day political crisis and economic calamities?
A. It would help to resolve the present national crisis in this way, i.e., by going to its very root and working to cure it there. If you reflect a little upon what precisely these political crisis and national calamities imply, you will find that they are ultimately the outcome of the actions of man. Things happen because man does them. The unit man is the prime mover at the back of all affairs, events and occurrences. If he is pure, noble, truthful, loving and righteous, his work, too, will partake of a similar nature. But man being degenerate and immoral, fully led away by his senses and wayward mind and a slave under the sway of anger, passion, greed, and jealousy and the like, the outcome of such a man’s actions turns out to be the very devil’s handiwork. Hence we see the present deplorable state of affairs everywhere. When you realise this, you at once see where religion steps into our life. You must know that the first thing that true religion does is to bring about a thorough change for the better in the fundamental nature of man. Sadachar or good conduct that is based on truthfulness is the very basis of religion. The prime process of religion is to turn a bad man good and raise the good man to the heights of Godliness. Religion is the practical means of rendering human life pure, truthful, honest, loving, noble, righteous and glorious. Known in this light, the practice of such a religion is the surest way to counteract all evils, hatred, hostility, corruption, deceit, violence, etc. Religion will bring about oneness, brotherly cooperation, purity of social and political life and the establishment of a moral standard in the people.
Q. Sovereignty has yielded to a rule of the sevak. Is it a change for the better?
A. This world is a world of changes. God has his own plan for the evolution of humanity to this universe. Different periods in the evolution of the races require different conditions of social and political life. When an able line of the noble and dharmic monarchs was there, people flourished under their leadership. But when centuries of supremacy began to have its effects and gradually abhiman and egoism began to creep into the real nature and vitiated it, the monarchs gradually ceased to be what they formerly were. Selfishness, cruelty and oppression began to manifest themselves and the national genius deemed it fit to entrust the power into the hands of the people’s own representatives. This is inevitable. It is even as the minor son who is ruled by his father gradually attains freedom to manage his own affairs when he grows up and becomes a major adult. It is a change for the better in as much as it has removed oppression and injustice and tyranny of the unscrupulous rulers. Whether it is absolutely good will depend entirely upon how the people’s own representatives use the power that has now become vested in their own hands.
India is verily a punya bhoomi. Bharatavarsha is the most sacred land, the most blessed and sublime land in the whole world.
India is the spiritual mother of the human race. What the life’s breath is to the body that India is to the whole world. She has a special purpose to work out in the history of mankind. That is to show to humanity the path to immortality and eternal bliss. Just as different people in a family have different duties allotted to them, even so in this family of mankind, different nations have each their own purpose to work out. The mission of India is to keep alive the science of the soul, the Adhyatma Vidya and to give to all atma jnana. Down the countless centuries, through all the violent vicissitudes of fortunes, India has bravely kept alive this flame of spirituality. Greed and mammon worship, agnosticism and atheism are seeking to engulf the whole world. The future of India is quite clear. She is to hold aloft the shining banner of spirituality and theism, of vedanta, which declares ‘man is divine’ and that all souls are one and that the supreme atman is the only reality and is the goal and end of all existence. Bharatavarsha’s future is to take this grand doctrine of idam sarvam yat ayam atma into every nook and corner of the whole world, to conquer and overcome all materialistic ideas and to establish the universal religion of the vedanta in all lands of the earth.
Q. What is Swami’s opinion about Gorakshaka and Vanaspathi?
A. Regarding cow slaughter there can but be one opinion. It ought to be absolutely condemned. The cow is one of the most sacred and the greatest blessings upon mankind. The benefits which she gives to man are indeed numerous. That is why our ancients have sanctified it. The protection of this holy creature is the sacred duty of every true patriot and well-wisher of the country and its people. As regards vanaspathi or vegetable ghee, I have no detailed personal touch or experience in this subject. Conflicting opinions exist regarding its purity and utility, and the benefits or harm of its use. But I have heard from many reliable and authoritative persons who say that the use of vanaspathi has a deleterious effect upon health. If this is a fact, then I have no hesitation to say that the manufacture of vanaspathi should be discouraged by every means; for, more than money, the health of the nation is a far greater consideration to us. That which is found to be destructive or harmful to the health of the people should be voluntarily given up by the parties concerned.
Q. What is Swami’s message to the mill-owners at Ahmedabad?
A. My message to the mill-owners is:
O beloved brethren, thou art extremely fortunate and blessed that the divine mother Lakshmi has been specially propitious unto you. The goddess of wealth has specially blessed you, and favoured you. But I wish to remind you that this good fortune also implies a sacred responsibility. All the wealth belongs to the Lord. It is given to man only as a divine and sacred and holy trust, so that we may make the best use of it for the welfare of the greatest number of people. The real glory of money is in spending it for the happiness of the many. Take care to discharge this trust satisfactorily so that you can give a good conduct of yourself before the throne of the divine. The owners of mills and such industrial magnates should regard all the thousands of the poor employed under them as veritable manifestations of the Lord whom they have the good fortune to worship in the form of providing them employment and other amenities of life. Selflessness and love should be the dominant force that should animate the rich multimillionaires in their attitude to and their dealings with workers. The mill with its countless workers is the Virat Murti at which the mill-owner is to offer his homage and adorations.
To the countless workers, on the other hand, my message is: Be loyal to your master. Love him as your own father, friend and leader. Be eager to give your best unto him. The Lord has endowed him with superior organising power and enterprising ability. Therefore He has put him at the helm of a vast organisation doing public utility work. Yours’ is the privilege to participate in the seva of the society which the owner is working out through His will. Steer clear of all godless and violent organisations. Your duty is to be loyal to your immediate bread giver. Work with absolute honesty, industry and a true spirit of obedience and discipline. To try to please your masters should be one of the main concerns to you. Each one is put into a particular position in life by the benign will of the Divine Lord. Be truthful and contented. If you have any trouble, take it before your master, even as the son would take it before his father. Remember also that your labour, too, is indeed the worship of the Lord. If both the worker and the employer live and move together having such pure bhav, even the industrial field will be filled with peace, goodwill, brotherly cooperation and happiness to one and all.
PRECEPTS FOR PRACTICE
Then Siva summed up his own teachings with a short speech. After Ganesha and Guru Kirtans, he sang:
Serve, Love, Purify, Meditate, Realise,
Be good, Do Good, Be kind, Be Compassionate,
Adapt, Adjust, Accommodate,
Bear Insult, Bear Injury–Highest sadhana–
Enquire ‘Who am I?’ Know the Self and be free.
“Bear insult; bear injury–this is the highest sadhana. One harsh word upsets you, brings about bloodshot eyes and you at once react to it ‘Do you know who I am?’ You are not able to control yourself in spite of your boasted intellect. You should learn to bear insult, bear injury with equanimity–‘These are only sound-vibrations in the ether.’ This demands perfect pulverisation of the ego. You should enquire ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Who is abused by whom?’ and thus utilise every occasion when you are insulted as very good opportunities for introspection, enquiry and spiritual progress.
“You see a world of various temperaments before you. God is a mystery. The world which is a manifestation of the Lord is also a mystery. You can have peace and solace only in vedanta and by repeating vedanticformulae. I have got a very nice vedantic formula; repeat it even once, you will enjoy perfect peace: ‘Nothing exists; nothing belongs to me. I am neither mind nor body; Immortal Self I am.'”