You cannot always oblige, but you can speak obligingly
Loving Sai Ram and greetings from Prashanti Nilayam.
Tomorrow is 30th January, the anniversary of the death of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi often said that he wanted to live till 120 but he died much before that, not due to natural causes but due to assassination. Gandhi preached and practiced non-violence, peace and love; but ironically, he died on account of the anger and hate in the mind of the assassin. Gandhi is remembered for many things but today, we would like to dwell briefly upon a few aspects most important for our times.
If there is anything that stands above everything else in the personality of Gandhi, it is his firm commitment to Sathya and Dharma. Where these two were concerned, Gandhi took no orders from anyone except his Conscience. As Swami often reminds us, Conscience is our true Master. Even recently, Swami was telling a couple of people from overseas, 'People worship my Form but that is not enough; God is Inside and they should listen to His voice which is always speaking and giving good advice.'
Getting back to Gandhi, one might ask: 'We all have Conscience; God is in all of us; then how come we are not able to do what Gandhi did?' This is a question we really ought to be asking ourselves all the time, especially when Swami often tells that we are very deficient when it comes to following His teachings. The answer to the question we have posed is simple: Gandhi practiced many of the things that Swami teaches even though he never met Swami and had never even seen Him - remember Gandhi died on 30th January 1948, when very few people in this country knew about Swami. We, on the other hand, pride ourselves in listening and reading Swami's Discourses, but avoid practice.
Gandhi took God seriously, indeed far more seriously than most of us do, and that is what made him so very different. Now what are those things that Gandhi did that gave him such towering Inner strength? Firstly, he was always chanting the Name of the Lord so much so he literally died with God's Name on his lips. Next, he tried his best to remain true to his Conscience, indeed even in politics. Chanting the Name and being true to one's Conscience are precisely the things that Swami wants from all of us; yet we consistently deny exactly those two to Swami whereas Gandhi gave just Him that; and that is because he really loved God.
Gandhi was called Mahatma; what does that mean? All of us are embodiments of the Divine Atma, as Swami often reminds us; but Gandhi made that embodiment come ALIVE, and that is why he was called Mahatma, which means a great Atma. Gandhi was not born a Mahatma but by strictly adhering to the command of God, he became one.
Swami often talks of bookish knowledge and practical knowledge. Gandhi is a good example of a man who translated bookish knowledge into brilliant practical knowledge. And this is something we should pay careful attention to. Today, if anyone were to say that Sathya and Dharma are very essential in national and international politics, people would dismiss that person as a bloody fool. Gandhi showed, however, that indeed even politics must be pursued keeping in mind all the time, what we call human values.
When Gandhi launched the famous Sathyagraha [non-violent, civil disobedience] movement as a part of the freedom struggle in India, he made it very clear that the struggle would be non-violent. However, some misguided people let their passions run away and burnt a Police Station, which resulted in the death of many Policemen. Gandhi was stunned; he did not expect this. Promptly he suspended the Sathyagraha, publicly declared that he had made a huge mistake - a Himalayan blunder as he called it - and then went on a fast to purify himself.
In August 1947, the British partitioned the subcontinent into two countries, India and Pakistan. All the assets of British India were divided between these two new countries - the railways, the Central Bank [called the Reserve Bank], and so on. It so happened that as a part of this division, India had to pay Pakistan 550 million rupees [or 55 crores as we would say in India]. Immediately after partition, there was an armed conflict between the two countries and on that basis, India withheld the 55 crores. Gandhi criticised that action as being morally incorrect; the word having been given, must be kept, politics or no politics. Such was the respect that Gandhi commanded, that the Government of India yielded and did precisely what Gandhi advised.
Gandhi started off as like most of us, as an ordinary person. He was not a scholar of the scriptures, the Vedas and the Upanishads. But one thing he knew - in life, Truth and Righteousness are always of paramount importance. And he resolved that never would he compromise on these, even if it meant death. That is what firm faith is all about. In other words, Gandhi demonstrated beyond doubt that with firm faith and deep love for God, one can develop so much self-confidence that one can face any adverse situation.
It is no surprise that Gandhi attracted and continues to attract admirers and even followers. Speaking on the occasion of Nelson Mandela's 85th Birthday, President Clinton said that in politics he admired no one more than Gandhi. Martin Luther King never saw Gandhi but he showed that Gandhi's principle of non-violence works even in modern times. And, in his own way, Nelson Mandela too demonstrated that non-violence is superior to violence.
These are days when people tend to dismiss Sathya and Dharma rather quickly, claiming that they won't work in the age of globalisation. This is a myth and it is tragic that such falsehood is being actively peddled amongst the gullible.
If we concede that it is God who has created the Universe of which we are a part, and that God is Sathya, Dharma and Prema, then we too must have those genes of basic values. If we have come from the Creator, how can we not have at least some of the 'Divine genes'. Under the circumstances, to deny Sathya and Dharma is to deny ourselves as well as God. Nothing could be more foolish. Today's generation might tend to dismiss Gandhi but, as Einstein said of him, centuries hence people would wonder whether such a man did really walk on earth.
When Swami talks of values like Prema, Ahimsa etc., we nod our heads and clap but later dismiss them as irrelevant for this age. That is not true; as long as there are humans on earth, values are a MUST, and instead of dismissing them because we are too weak to follow them, we must take courage from the shining example of Gandhi and try to emulate him, in at least a small measure, by listening to our Conscience, for example.
Well, what do you think? Why don't you write to us and tell us.
Jai Sai Ram.
With Love and Regards,