Uniqueness of the Gospel of Gurudev
Sri Swami Chidananda
The soul-elevating and life-transforming gospel of Sri Gurudev, now diffused nearly all over the modern world, have brought about among large sections of people a remarkable awakening to the lofty spiritual purpose of life, while pointing out to them the fundamentals of noble idealism, and the ways and means of their realization in and through the world.
Long, long ago, in the dim and distant past, nearly four thousand years before, in what is called the Vedic age, were implanted the seeds of spiritual culture of this holy land. The great Vedic call of enlightened sages, like Vyasa, Vasishtha and others, was then sounded, and in this call constituted the basic elements in the structure of our culture, righteousness being the way of life, and God-realization its ultimate goal.
Through the corridors of centuries, many changes have taken place in our country, as in the rest of the world. Various external influences and indigenous factors have contributed to the shaping of the different phases of the Indian culture, such as the advent of the Buddha, the inroads of foreign occupations, and it has undergone many transformations, though all the while retaining its basic outlook.
During the last nine hundred years or so, Indian culture had to pass through a number of crises, it absorbed so many strains that were alien to it, and had to build up so many barricades within its framework so as to protect itself from obliteration through strong influences from outside. What are considered as many of the negative aspects of our culture today had their genesis in this period, at least quite a few of them.
There were, of course, occasional flashes of brilliance, and spurts of religious enthusiasm and awareness, but the spiritual element in the life of the people, generally speaking, steadily corroded, and the voice of our ancient saints and seers began to sound faint and distant, and were often confused with interpolations that were born of frustration and bigotry.
Therefore it was as though our ancient seers, the immortal souls of our culture, out of their compassion for us, desired that their call might once again be rung out, that the same note, the same call to humanity, to partake of the glorious spiritual experience of divine realization, be once again voiced forth.
As though as an answer to their heart’s wish, God has sent amidst us a unique spiritual messenger in the person of Gurudev, who treasures within himself the voice of the Divine, the voice of the enlightened seers of the Upanishadic age, and who is eminently capable of understanding the trends of the modern times, and reinterpret the ancient teachings according to the needs and the spirit of our era.
We find in Sri Gurudev’s gospel the voice of the Upanishads, the Gita, the Brahmasutras, once again resounding clear and urgent in our ears, so that we could regain what we have lost through the stresses of past centuries, reshape our lives according to the ideals of divine realization, and raise ourselves from the level of instinctive, animal life that we commonly lead, to that of what is really human and rationalistic, to that of what is ultimately divine and spiritual.
The gospel of Gurudev, commented upon by many writers have come at a time, when more than ever we are in need of it, when we are rushing headlong towards the abyss of materialism, so that our aspirations would be turned towards a noble, spiritual objective, towards Dharma and godliness, so that we might save ourselves from the folly of misdirecting the powers of modern science and technology, rather than dictating and harnessing them for universal good.
It is not only the reinterpretation of the voice of the Upanishads, the Bramha-sutras and the Gita that marks out Gurudev as a unique spiritual teacher, but it is his realization of the supreme truth, embodied in them, through practical experience.
Our divine Master is unique in another respect as a teacher of the masses all over the world. He has delved deep into the teachings of all the great saints and sages belonging to different religions and times and climes, in order to bring about a beautiful synthesis of their essential points. His teachings are, therefore, universal in scope.
In India there are a number of spiritual traditions, and, though within the fold of Hinduism, they have not so far substantially coalesced with one another. There are traditions of the great Tamil saints–the Nayanars and Alwars–the saints of Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Sindh, Punjab and so on, each group of them eliciting the allegiance of their respective linguistic regions.
There has been little of intermingling of the traditions of these regions, and the saints of one region, though by their names known in another, did not reach out to the people outside their areas of influence through their teachings, because India is a multi-lingual country and the teachings of the regional saints are mostly in the languages of the regions.
Gurudev has done a unique service to the people of India through making available to them a synthetic combination of the teachings of most of the great saints of this country, by the means of a common language, as also by inter-vernacular translation of his works, and has brought about a beautiful unification of the diverse teachings that are scattered over the various parts of this sub-continent. He has thus given a great common heritage to the India of the twentieth century, and passed it on to the rest of the world.
Our Master’s gospel is neither Vaishnavite, nor Saivite, neither Vedantic nor Tantrik, neither Yogic nor Pauranik, in the exclusive sense. It represents a beautiful unification of all philosophical trends, religious cults and spiritual ecstasies, not only of this land, but of the whole world, in their essential perspectives. His gospel represents a combination of the spiritual approaches and experiences of all saints and seers.
Gurudev has flooded the world through this gospel of unique synthesis of all that is sublime in spiritual thought and experience, and the only name that could be given to it is the ‘Gospel of Divine Life.’ Through this he has effected a new spiritual dawn in the midst of materialistic darkness. By unthreading the choicest flowers from the gardens of different religious traditions and philosophical thoughts, he has made a unique spiritual garland for all humanity to wear.