Preface to the third edition


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Part Four - Moulding Men

Chapter 34. Character - Personal and National

Our cultural speciality: Personal Character - Purity of means - Personal laxity, a national danger - Tragedy of passive 'goodness' - National character, the life-breath - Verdict of history - Devotion is not bargaining - Power of devotion- When characters blooms.

IN our national tradition character has always occupied the place of foremost importance. Character has two facets: the one, which is personal, and the other, which manifests itself in our relationship with society. Both these aspects of our character should be pure and unsullied. But these days we often hear people saying that if a man is working well in the public field, why should we look at his personal conduct? Maybe he is addicted to a number of vices, but when he is doing good to the people why should we pry into his private life?

Our Concept

However, our culture has always held high the purity of personal character. We have never called a person a philosopher who is selfish or given to various vices like wine, woman and gold. For us, the philosopher is, more than everything else, a man of absolute purity and austerity of character. Right from the ancient seers down to the great personalities of modern times, all those whom we consider as standard-bearers of our philosophy and culture have been wholly pure - their thought, word and deed all in tune with the highest truths. Such men alone have been the real glowing symbols of our national heritage. But such is not the example set up by workers in the public field these days. There is a general feeling that if a person is generous in giving donations or he delivers fine speeches or has gone to jail a number of times for a public cause then his private conduct, howsoever abhorrent, may be condoned.

The idea of 'greatness' prevalent in the outside world is also similar. There are ever so many men who are eulogised as nation-builders and national heroes who, however, were degenerate in their personal character.

The "means" is like the vessel - if it is dirty and contaminated, then, the water that we drink from it will carry infection into our body. It is necessary, therefore, that the vessel too is as clean as the water.

Purity of 'Means'

However, our culture says the 'means' - the individual - for achieving the 'ideal - the social good - must also be chaste and holy. Many times we hear people saying that the end justifies the means. Most of the modern ideas and ideologies, which seem to be catching the imagination of the people today, belong to this category. It means that the

individual - the 'means' for bringing about any social change - is relegated to the background. Therefore we see the degeneration of man going on at a terrific pace all over the world, having thrown to winds all considerations of the human element in pursuit of an end ordained mostly by politicians. But, the command of our culture is different. We revere Rama and Shivaji as much for their glorious national achievements as for their pure, unimpeachable personal character. The view that some little failing in personal character needs to be ignored or even justified, provided he works all right in the public field, is against our grain.

It is, however, true that when choice became inevitable between two evils, we have tolerated - but not justified - some failings in personal character when it did not come in the way of social interest.

Bad means can never yield good results in the long run. If for some time bad means appears to give good results, it is only temporary. It is like trying to warm ourselves by sitting amidst fire when caught in a hailstorm. The warmth will soon result in our total reduction to ashes. We are no doubt aware of how electioneering is carried on by various persons and parties in our country today. There is an instance of the 1937 elections. I asked a certain Congress candidate why he was stooping to low tactics. He replied, "Well, evil has to be met with evil". I asked him, "Can you make coal-tar white by adding charcoal?" and added, "If this logic is pursued, a time will come when there will not be a single individual who will choose to be good and honest. Even supposing we are to suffer for some time, should we not fight our way through all those evils?" Today, things have come to such a pass that it is only those who have mastered more and more of those evil tactics who rise higher in power and positions. As such the importance of the character of the individual - the purity of the means - can never be over-emphasised.

A Potential Danger

If a person is loose in character and given to vices, he can be a source of danger to the nation as well. Our nation is surrounded by various other nations and it is a matter of history that no two nations are either permanently friendly or permanently hostile to each other. The relationships go on changing. Each country is guided by its own self-interest and does not hesitate to stoop to any tactics to achieve its ends. So they are all in a way 'potential enemies' to our country. It is all right that, while speaking and moving among others, we cherish sentiments of friendship, world peace and world fraternity and even strive for them. But the statesman, who guide the destinies of the country, must always keep in view this hard reality of the world which can be ignored only at our peril.

These 'potential' enemies or even the open enemies who surround our nation will certainly try to exploit our weaknesses to their advantage. There is the well-known incident of the First World War. At one stage it was found that Germans used to get the clue to the plans which the commanders of the 'Allies' used to discuss and decide upon. Before they were put into action, the enemy forestalled them and made a mockery of all their plans. For a long time it went on like this. Only when special officers were deputed to trace the leakage was it discovered that in the camp of the important generals there was

a woman spy, Mata Hari by name. To those lustful persons she appeared charming. She was also well-versed in singing, dancing and all such enticing arts. She allured those generals and wormed herself in their hearts. She stayed with them in their tents. They had such implicit faith in her that they freely discussed their plans in her presence. But she, on her part, was regularly giving out those plans to the other side. It was only after she was traced and caught that victory could be achieved. If those generals had been persons of upright character and considered the whole of womanhood as manifestation of the Divine Mother, as every Hindu is expected to consider, they could have avoided so much of disservice and disaster to their countries.

Story with a Moral

Some have weakness for flattery. If anyone showers praise upon them, they become elated and inflated and will be prepared to do anything that is desired of them. One can resist many things but not flattery. It is easier to digest the deadliest of poisons than to digest praise and honour. As the story goes, Bhagawan Shankara drank the deadly poison for the protection of all creation but remained unaffected. However even he fell a prey to the praises of Bhasmasura and invited troubles to himself! Praise puffs up a man like an inflated football, always being kicked about from one side to the other. Anybody may come, just praise him in superlatives, get his own self-interest fulfilled and go away leaving the man disillusioned or probably not!

There is an old story carrying this moral. Once a crow with a piece of meat in its beak was sitting on a tree. Seeing the crow, a fox sat down under the tree and looking up at the crow, began praising, "What a charming colour you have, sister! It is the same Shyama varna as lord Krishna. And the last time I heard you sing, oh, even the Gandharvas would have envied you! How fortunate I would be to get another chance of listening to your divine music!" The crow began to rock to and fro in great elation and thought, "All right, let me oblige this fellow". And as it opened its beak the piece of meat fell down. The fox snatched it readily and went its way saying, "I have no love for your music any more!"

Weakness for flattery is there in many of our great personalities today. And there are many cunning men in the world, who make use of this subtle instrument of praise. When thy say, "What a peace-loving, non-violent and generous man you are! You are one of the greatest international figures in the world" and so on, our leaders are swept off their feet and they grant whatever is asked for, whether it be canal-water, money, material or our army men as cannon-fodder in conflicts all over the world.

Alert at Every Step

If therefore we are to be of service to the nation under all circumstances, we have to set our face sternly against these failings and develop a pure personal character. Especially when a worker in the public field moves about among the people the public eye becomes rivetted upon him. Even if he slips a bit, it is marked out and the people will ejaculate, "Oh! What a fall!" they nevertheless overlook far more serious lapses on the part of other

common men. When we wear a coloured shirt it makes very little difference in appearance whether we wear if for a day or for a fortnight. But, on a clean white cloth even a drop of water leaves its mark for a time. So the purer we aspire to become, the more the vigilance we have to exercise over every moment of our life. We have to be alert at every step as though the whole of society is keenly eyeing us only to peck at and expose our failings.

Enough of 'Gentlemanliness'

Then we come to the national aspect.

We see around us a number of persons with good personal character. Maybe they have remained good and harmless merely because they have had no chance or daring to take to evil ways! It is no use having such negative, inactive, so-called goodness and gentlemanliness. Doctorji used to say humorously of such persons, "See, what a thorough

gentleman Sriman is! He goes to the office punctually, returns home in the

evening, chats with his wife and children, eats and sleeps. He has never once tried to interfere in others’ matters. Although he has been residing here for over twenty-five years, he does not even know how his neighbours are nor do they know much about him. Rarely do we come across such a good, harmless, unassuming gentleman!" Doctorji would then chastise the 'gentlemanliness' that made the individual impervious to the joys and sorrows of his neighbours, and submit meekly to the insults and humiliations heaped on his society. It was this cursed mentality, he used to say, that lay at the root of all our national ills.

Even in the past there had been quite a number of pious and well-meaning persons in our land. In spite of that, we have had to face disasters continuously over the last thousand years. Some have even gone to the length of asserting that it was this too much of personal goodness that landed our nation in troubles. But it is not a correct reading of history. The real reason was that we lacked in national character - the essential counterpart of personal character. We are not mere solitary individuals but are indivisible parts of the whole society. In that relationship also we should express and uphold purity of character. If this aspect is ignored, mere piety and goodness of the individual will be of little avail in the cause of the nation. Not merely that; if society does not survive, the individual goodness and character also will be trampled under the feet of barbaric aggressors. And that is what has happened in the past.

Lurid Examples

To give a glaring example: the Raja Karna of Gujarat had a Prime Minister who was a great scholar of Vedas and also well-versed in various arts and sciences. Once the King, in a moment of weakness, abducted the wife of one of his sardars. At this the Prime Minister was beside himself with rage and took a vow to punish the King for that sin. He felt that all his powers of piety and religious learning were challenged. What was the course he adopted to fulfil his vow? He knew that the Muslim armies were poised on the northern border of Gujarat. Prior to that, they had made several abortive attempts to over 

run and subjugate Gujarat. The Prime Minister directly went to the Muslim Sultan at Delhi and sought his help to punish his King for the sin he had committed. The enemy was only too glad to snatch that golden opportunity. Equipped with the valuable information revealed by the Prime Minister, who knew all the secrets of the defences of his kingdom, the enemy marched on Gujarat. And the powerful Hindu outpost of Karnavati, which had so far effectively checked the Muslim expansion into the South, fell. Thereafter, not only Gujarat, but, the whole of South lay prostrate at the feet of Muslim marauders. What did Prime Minister gain after all? Doubtless, the King was killed, but along with him thousands of the Prime Minister's own kith and kin were put to sword. Countless women were molested before his eyes, temples razed to the ground and his own residence where he used to recite Vedas and worship God turned into a slaughter-house of cows; in addition, a vast portion of our motherland was reduced to slavery for centuries to come!

We can see, that, on the one hand, the King was loose in his personal character, but, strong in the national aspect, and, on the other hand, the Prime Minister was personally full of piety, of God-fearing nature and all that, but devoid of national character which enables a man to judge the ultimate well-being of the nation as a whole and urges him to sacrifice his all including his personal notions of righteousness at the altar of his nation's well-being. Thus both the King and Prime Minister became responsible for bringing about such a great disaster to a cause which both of them cherished.

In fact, the perverted notion of personal character and dharma exhibited by that Prime Minister is not a solitary instance in our history. It was sufficiently deep-rooted to produce a whole race of traitors down the centuries. It was the 'devout' worshippers of Ishwara who guided and aided the Mohammed of Ghazni, who had, set out with the declared objective of desecrating Somnath. Jayasingh, the famous sardar of Aurangzeb, who came to destroy Shivaji, too, was a man of learning, an ardent worshipper of God and endowed with many a remarkable quality of head and heart. But in vain did Shivaji appeal to him in the name of swadesh and swadharma and call upon him to lead the patriotic forces against the cruel foreigner instead of remaining his slave. But Jayasingh was quite contented with his 'devotion to God' along with his oath of 'loyalty to Emperor'. What a dangerous perversion of the concept of devotion to God and of one's sense of personal integrity and loyalty! It is clear that only when the twin aspects of character are manifest that both the individual and the society can progress and prosper. They are like the two faces of a coin - one having the imprint of national insignia and the other carrying its value. Erasure of any one face will render it useless.

The National Aspect

It is essential, therefore, that personal goodness and purity of character be made active and dynamic in the national cause. It must express itself in the form of complete dedication to the nation which does not expect anything in return, be it name or fame or any gain whatsoever. We should not worry whether the people whom we serve praise us or not. In fact, it would be better for us if they do not. Because we are then free from the bondage of public praise which may tie us down to an undesirable course. We look upon

our nation as our Chosen Deity. Our dedication, our offering of all that we have, should be made in a spirit of worshipping the Nation-God. Then how can we ask for anything in return?

Today, this spirit of unreserved sacrifice and dedication has all but disappeared. If persons go to serve in the public field they want something in return; if not money, a name, a jaikar or at least a photograph in some paper. Once an eminent leader of our country, always accustomed to receiving big ovations, went to a place. He was shocked to see no one present there to receive him. There were no slogans, no garlands and no photographs. He felt insulted and actually went back at once! This is a polished way of selfish behaviour. Other practical and paying ways are also being practised. If in the name of the nation a person serves himself, then it is not rashtra-bhakti but swartha­bhakti. For such a person service of the people is only a mask to further his own personal glory.

These days even worship of God is carried on by many in the same fashion. They pray putran dehi dhanam dehi - 'Oh, God! Give me sons, give me wealth' - and so on. If there is a demand for something, then it is not worship, it is carrying on mere business. All our scriptures and holy men have derided this ignoble attitude. Worship is for the sake of worship, for the very joy of it. If at all we pray for anything, it is for greater capacity and greater worthiness to worship, greater strength to pursue the path of service and sacrifice.

There is an instance of Yudhishthira in Mahahbahrata. When the Pandavas along with Draupadi were roaming about in the forests, Draupadi observed Yudhishthira constantly repeating the name of God. Being keenly aware of their woeful conditions she asked bitterly, "Why do you always take the name of God? Even from your childhood you have been devoted to Him. You have performed so many yajnas and all the duties enjoined by the shastras. But till now, how has God responded to you? You have been even deprived of your rightful throne and are now made to wander about from place to place, always under the shadow of danger. Are you not tired of repeating His name even now?" Yudhishthira gently replied. "Look at those Himalayas! How peaceful and majestic! Do we not love it! Is it because we expect anything from it? We love it because of its solemn grandeur, its serenity and purity. So is God, but infinitely more grand. In the presence of such sublime grandeur I have nothing to ask, except to enjoy its bliss and love it all the more". In the Narada Bhakti Sutra, God is described as the very embodiment of love - Sa Paramapremaroopa.

Power of Devotion

Devotion is not business. It is sheer self-surrender. It is all one-way traffic; we only give. It is only persons of such absolute dedication who can raise the nation to glorious heights from amidst a heap of ruins.

The inspiring example of Khando Ballal is before us. After Sambhaji ascended the throne he, because of some past prejudices, put to death Khando Ballal's father who was one of the Ashta Pradhans of Shivaji. Khando Ballal was at that time a proud, heroic

young man. But he silently gulped down that agony and insult. And again when Sambhaji, who was addicted to women and wine, cast his evil eyes on his sister, Khando Ballal allowed her to end her life to save her chastity, but he himself never forsook his loyalty to Sambhaji. For he knew that Sambhaji, with all his personal vices, was then the unifying symbol of the resurgent Hindu Swaraj around which all Hindu forces were trying to rally. Later, when Sambhaji was captured by Aurangzeb, it was Khando Ballal who risked his life in a hazardous attempt to free him. True to his spirit of dedication to a cause, Rajaram became his point of loyalty after the end of Sambhaji. Once again we see him casting the life of his own son in mortal peril and giving away all his property in a successful bid to free Rajaram, who lay besieged in Jinji fort. Ultimately he sacrificed his life as the final offering in the cause of swaraj. What a glorious and unreserved self-immolation!

It is as a result of such sacrifices, not merely of one's life but all that one holds near and dear including one's ego, that the entire course of history changes. Aurangzeb who had come down to the South with an army of nearly five lakhs after Shivaji's passing away to put out the smouldering embers of the spirit of swaraj, was himself enveloped in the flames that blazed forth form the sacrificial pyres of such heroic souls as Khando Ballal and had to enter his grave in South itself.

When Character Blooms

Such is real national character. Let us develop it in our lives by constant endeavour. With our hearts overflowing with pure love for the whole of society, with no trace of selfishness or expectation for our self, let us serve the nation. And may the lotus of our character blossom in the bright rays of pure sacred national devotion.

Let us aspire and strive for such an unwavering and unreserved spirit of devotion-a devotion, which rises above the ordinary plane of intellect and ego and enters into the very marrows of our being. Let that deep, serene and perennial flow of pure devotion permeate the whole of our being. All great lives beckon us to this one direction- the direction of single-minded dedication. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a scholar of unchallenged eminence. He had defeated all his great contemporaries in discussions on all the varied spiritual subjects. But with all that brilliance of intellect and vastness of learning, he later on gave up all discussions and arguments, and to those who came to discuss he would only say in words soaked with devotion - Hari bol, Hari bol. The thrill of devotion in those words would carry away the listener in its current and make him realise the vanity of dry discussions and the grandeur of devotion.

Such a person of intense devotion develops extraordinary powers for achieving his goal. Even in our daily life do we not see that an ordinary workman works best when he loves and adores his work and an artist is at his best when he forgets himself in drawing the picture after his heart? Let us try to develop such a state of perfect concentration on the path of national devotion and make our lives living examples of sterling character in all its aspects.

Part Four - Moulding Men

Chapter 35 - Be Men with Capital 'M'

Be foundation-stones - Ideal of service - Self-reliance; glowing examples - Curse of careerism - Choosing the right ideal - Avoid two extremes - Serve nation - Shake off inferiority complex, cheap imitations - Secret of world respect; our past heroes- Past tradition - What Mother wants.

ONCE, while I was conversing with a great Sadhu, the subject of frequent student strikes came up. The Sadhu remarked, "This is the bitter fruit of dinning into the ears of students by our leaders that they are the pillars of the nation, the leaders of tomorrow and so on. This, coupled with their natural immaturity, has made them swollen-headed. The right attitude to be inculcated in the young minds is of selfless service, where ego has no chance to raise its ugly head. Calling them 'pillars', 'future leaders' and all that has only roused their ego which makes them rise in revolt and indulge in strikes and violence at the slightest touch of injustice or insult, imaginary or otherwise."

Listening to those wise words of the Sadhu, I remembered an incident in the life of Sri Ramakrishna. Once some of his disciples were talking about helping the poor, showing compassion to them and so on. Sri Ramakrishna came there in a God-intoxicated mood and admonished them saying, "Who are you to show compassion to them? Who are you to help them? They are the living manifestations of Narayana himself. So you can only serve them".

Be a Foundation - Stone

This attitude will generate in us the spirit of true selfless service and take us a long way in giving purity, humility and strength to our character and save us from swollen­headedness, which is the first step to degeneration. Let the stone in the foundation be our ideal. It lies there unseen, unadmired. It may not be beautiful, may not be polished; but all the same it is the base. If it moves or is shaken, the whole edifice crumbles down. More important than the central dome, more important than anything else, is that stone in the foundation. However, the stone remains there as a symbol of self-oblivious service and self-effacement. That should be the spirit with which we have to work among the people. The desire to strut about in the limelight of name and fame, to shine at the top only betrays one's lack of inner worth and weakness for self-adulation. After all, what is great about sitting at the top? Even a crow can sit at the top of a dome!

True Service

The great men of our land have always upheld the spirit of service as the highest expression of devotion to God. One such great soul has prayed to Almighty 

Uk Roga dke;s jkT;a u LoxZa ukiquHkZoe~A

dke;s nq%[krIrkuka izkf.kukekfrZuk'kue~AA

(I desire neither kingdom nor heaven nor salvation. All that I desire is to remove the sorrows and miseries of living beings.)

This is the true spirit of service. The constant prayer of such a person is for greater strength and capacity to serve. His fulfillment in life is that he has offered in service all that God has bestowed upon him. He says, "Oh, God! I have emptied the jholi (bag) of my life at Thy feet, and therein lies the fullness of my life".

Swami Vivekananda used to say, "Be ready to bear everything for the sake of the people like the great Guru Govind Singh. After having shed his blood and the blood of his nearest and dearest, he retired from the field calmly to die in the South but not a word of curse escaped his lips against those who had ungratefully forsaken him!"

Such is the true servant of society who seeks not anything in return for himself but finds the joy of fulfillment in having suffered and sacrificed for the good of society.

Even while wiping the tears of sorrow of others, the feelings of elation or self-gratification does not enter such minds. Such perversions enter when there is no real identification with the sufferings of others.

There was an annual function of a 'Home for Destitute Widows' in Bombay. The secretary while reporting the progress of the institution expressed his gratification that every year larger number of widows were filling that 'home'. He ended with the hope that the institution would grow on like that for ever! If he had been really distressed at the woeful condition of those women, evidently he would not have prayed for there 'growing number"! The feeling of a worker with the true sprit of service will be like those of a son while serving his ailing mother. We are all children of our society and whatever service we do should be imbued with that pure and sublime spirit.

Symbols of Self-reliance

The spirit of humility and service need not make us loose our self-reliance and self-confidence. All our great men have been an embodiment of the blend of the two virtues. In fact, the two qualities are like the two faces of a coin.

Mahadev Govind Ranade, a scholar of great note in Maharashtra was a destitute in his early life. In his school days he would go to Madhukari (receiving food from a few homes) which was then considered honourable. He would sit in temples under an oil lamp and study. Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, one of our greatest educationists from Bengal, was also very poor. It was monetarily hard enough for him even to complete Matriculation. Then he took up a job and out of his meagre earnings continued his college

studies. Self-reliance was the watchword that made these stalwarts rise to such heights of scholarship.

Then we have the inspiring example of Swami Ramatirtha. He was born in an extremely poor family. He was married early as was the custom in those days. After his completing Matriculation his father wanted him to take a job and maintain the family. But he had resolved to continue his studies. A conflict ensued and his father asked him to quit the house. Ramatirtha made obeisance to his father, asked his wife to follow and quit the house. He was aged about fifteen years and his wife about eight years at that time. She also braved the storm, having devoutly listened in her childhood to the stories of Sita and Draupadi and how they had followed their husbands to the forests. Ramatirtha rented a small room and lodged his wife there. He became a part-time tutor in a school and joined the college. Further, he was a student bound by all the injunctions enjoined on a brahmachari. He could not take food prepared by any woman other than his mother. So he cooked food for himself and his wife. He began teaching her also. In spite of all these privations, he was always coming out in flying colours in all his examinations. He took Sanskrit for B.A.. Till then he had not the slightest touch of Sanskrit. But he had steeled his will to pass and he came out in first class. Such are the towering personalities who rose to sublime heights of achievement on the strength of their will and determination, which carried them through all obstacles and adversities.

Truly has it been said, "Self-help is the best help". Once a villager was driving his bullock cart to a neighbouring village. On the way the wheels got stuck in the mud. The man sat cursing his fate and praying to God to get him out of the troubles. After some time, a person passing that way saw him sitting with folded hands bewailing his lot. He asked the villager to get up and put his shoulders to the wheel along with him. The cart came out of the mud in no time; then he went his way telling the villager, "God helps those who help themselves."

Curse of 'Careerism'

But what do we see all around us today? Do we find such self-effort and self-reliance in our youth? Take a student, for instance. He does not like to take the trouble of writing notes every day at home. The study of textbooks also has become out of date. He goes in for printed notes, questions and answers and tries to get them by rote. And if he can dispense with that also, so much the better. For that purpose, he moves about to see if he can get at the examination questions beforehand and sometimes does not hesitate even to copy from others in the examination hall. Or else, he takes some rounds of the Hanuman shrine! But he never pauses to think that he has to put in personal efforts to learn, to acquire knowledge. Naturally, he remains the same dunce that he was even after passing the examination.

Our educated young men hanker after easy jobs and easier money. They are after cheap careers, which are the very antithesis of self-respect and self-reliance. The same low mentality is the reason for hankering after Government jobs. Guaranteed regular monthly income, little exertion, very little responsibility, and pension after retirement - well, this

line of least resistance appeals to many. They hanker after this simplest of short-cuts to ease and comfort. How despicable is this idle 'career' for filling one's belly!

Sometimes even good and well-meaning persons get into that track and then bitterly complain of their helplessness to act up to their convictions in life on account of having become Government employees. It is like a person putting his neck into the noose and then crying out that he is losing his life! To sell one's soul by becoming 'your most obedient servant' as a short-cut to easy money is in fact a short-cut to animality. There is joy in living by the sweat of one's brow even as a 'hamal'. I know of an M.Com. who pulls a rickshaw. He prefers that life of hard work and independence to one of idleness and servility. He gets quite a handsome income too. One should bow down to such a life of self-respect and self-reliance.

Let us not become 'careerists' hankering after easy money, less effort and more comfort. Such unmanliness ill behoves the educated young men of a land, which has produced a Ramatirtha and a Vidyasagar. Let us build our life on those inspiring models blending the spirit of service with self-respect and humility with self-confidence. All our latent virtues and energies will then blossom into a beautiful and fragrant flower of heroic manhood.

Tall Talking, Low Living

Now, how are we to manifest this spirit of selfless service and other virtues in our actual life? What is that inspiring object to which we are to offer our worship and service? Is it 'humanity'? We often hear persons speaking of 'world brotherhood', 'service to humanity' and all that. But when such people come to grips with reality, all those dreams vanish into thin air. I know of a gentleman, who used to repeat the highest Advaitic saying Sarvam khalvidam Brahma (verily God pervades all creation) but who would draw back with revulsion at the sight of a Negro! Our educated young men cannot even bear the atmosphere of our own villages, what to speak of humanity! Now there is a cry, "Go back to villages". But who listens to that? When they see the stark naked humanity in the villages, all their tall talk gets frozen. Once a young man went to take 'up the work of village upliftment. He was accustomed to gingelly oil but the people there were habituated to linseed oil. He could not simply bear the smell of that oil. It appeared as if that horrible smell pervaded the whole atmosphere! He could not eat, he could not sleep. He could not stay there even for a day and he hastened back.

Unless we are properly trained so as to meet the challenges we cannot stand the test of harsh reality. Once I came across a young man who wanted to learn wrestling. But when he was asked to take off his clothes, he exclaimed, "Taking off the clothes and wrestling! No! No! If there is anything like wrestling with all my clothes on, then only I can". So I asked him to wrestle with mosquitoes! This is what happens to those who speak of high ideals like serving humanity. When they come face to face with its severe demands they turn back and invariably end in inactivity.

The Golden Mean

The other extreme swing of the pendulum to which people go is the mentality of "I and my family, that is all." Once a leading advocate of a place asked me, "If I cannot think of humanity why should I not think of only my family?" I replied, "Our national prosperity and happiness were razed to dust when we thought of Brahma satyam jaganmithya only on a superficial plane. Similar fate overtook us when we were immersed only in our narrow personal and family life. So, both these extremes - ativyapti and avyapti - must be avoided and a middle path adopted. We get that balance, that perfect poise of mind, when we take up the golden mean between the two extremes, in the form of 'nation'.

Reactionary 'Progressives'

Hence, the one idea, which can inspire us all to dedicate ourselves, is 'service to our nation'. That will satisfy both the aspects of a practical ideal - the sense of realism and the sense of idealism.

It is well known that the spirit of service will be generated only towards the object of our love, pride and adoration. The first and foremost training that we must impart to our minds is, therefore, the inculcation of feelings of intense love, pride and adoration for our national life in its manifold aspects - its religion, history, heritage, philosophy of life, aspirations, points of faith and honour.

But there are people calling themselves 'progressives' in our country today for whom all our ancient life-values appear as reactionary and harmful. Their chief argument against our values of life is its age. These neo-prophets have neo-mania. For them all that is old is bad. Since their nostrums are chronologically later arrivals, they assume them to be more efficacious. It is like a doctor advising the patient to die since chronologically death follows life! Must we substitute tube-light for the sun because the sun is old, indeed very old, and tube-light a recent device to dispel darkness?

To condemn things as useless and retrograde simply because they are old would amount to accepting the worst type of slavery - the slavery of the intellect. And yet these intellectual slaves are pleased to appoint themselves as the 'progressives' of this age. This is a sign of weakness of the mind, the absence of intellectual strength to think freely and positively, fully and fearlessly.

Mental Slavery

The second factor, which has added to this weakness of mind, is the sense of inferiority complex that we suffer in relation to the Westerners. This is an evil legacy of the days of English rule here. During the last one century or more many personalities have arisen in this land, who have striven to shake off the foreign yoke. But most of them had themselves become mental salves to the English. A sense of defeatism, a sense of inferiority complex ruled their minds. How did this happen? The reason is simple and lies in the common human weakness of associating good qualities with wealth and power. A famous saying in Sanskrit -

;L;kfLr foÙka l uj% d qyhu%A

l if.Mr% l Jqfreku~ xq.kK%AA

describes how the human mind naturally attributes all virtues, learning, wisdom and great lineage to the possessor of riches and power. When the tide of war turned in favour of the English and for a time it seemed as though we were finally overthrown, there came a period of lull and diffidence, resulting in the fostering of the idea that the victors, superior in their military prowess and scheming skill and possessed of a brave show of physical prosperity, must also needs be superior in all kinds of knowledge. That is why our people at the beginning of the British rule started aping the manners and customs of the English and voicing opinions borrowed from the West with an air of conviction. Every European ideal, however absurd, was gospel truth; everything ours, by contrast, was naturally false and foolish. Especially those learned in the Western lore, the 'educated' class, became in truth 'black-skinned Englishman'.

No wonder that such 'educated' men found no difficulty in gulping down the extraordinary absurdity cleverly propagated by the foreigner that at the root of our defeat and degeneration lay our way of life. So they began to rebuild our national life with contempt for our own culture and infatuation for the foreign ideals. The Britisher too cleverly managed to bring up such soft-pedalling leadership in the country. Foreign rulers have always followed that policy of playing down the genuine elements of patriotism and bringing up a compromising group in order to tone down the fury of freedom struggle in enslaved countries.

Animality Supplants Divinity

This attitude of base imitation had a disastrous effect on our national life. It changed our very life attitudes. As we know, imitation implies a complete absence of one's inherent genius and originality in one's outlook of life. Firstly, it resulted in our forsaking the noble ideals of self-sacrifice and self-restraint in a mad rush to embrace the Western life-pattern of enjoyment and satiation of pleasures of the flesh. Western life is, after all, extrovert. Earthly enjoyment is its highest ideal. Their concept of individual freedom lies in allowing the senses full licence to have an unbridled sway over the mind, thereby making a slave of oneself to the brute instinct. We also, in our wild-goose chase of the white man's ideals, echoed his slogan of 'raising the standard of life', which simply means increasing our slavery to material things in life or, in other words, increasing slavery of man to the brute. It is this glorification of animality that has resulted in all-round selfishness and jealousy. The youth of today is getting infatuated with but one dream in life - of maximum pleasures and enjoyment.

Procrustean Bed of Politics

Secondly, having lost the cultural essence of our national existence, we fell a prey to the superficial view of looking upon politics, as the pivot of life. In line with this perverted view, our people were advised to become 'politically conscious'. This has gone

to the extent of even saying that all our life-values must be recast in the light of the requirements of politics! In fact, life was equated with politics and accordingly our dharma, our language and even our history were altered to suit the fleeting shims of political exigencies. After all, politics is described as -

ar~r~~~~a ~r~

-changing its hue and shade every now and then. It is only an arrangement, a means to serve social life. But external arrangement is not all, is not life. However, in our case the 'means' was mistaken for the 'end'. Man wears clothes according to the needs of the body. He does not cut up his body according to size of the clothes!

There is a story of a robber by name Procrustes who used to invite an unwary guest to his forest-house and ask him to rest on a cot. If the guest was longer than the cot, the robber used to chop off his extra length, and if shorter, he was elongated forcibly! That was the novel technique the robber employed to murder persons. Similarly are our leaders hammering and straining the body of our nation to adjust it to the bed of politics with the inevitable result that our age-old social life has fallen into a perilous plight.

It is well known that each family has its own deity. Some worship Rama, some Bhavani and some others Shankara as their Chosen Deity. If in the place some evil spirit or a fallen soul is installed nothing short of total perdition awaits such a family. This is what we are witnessing today in our country. Our Chosen Deity of ancient spiritual and cultural heritage is now dethroned form our hearts and in its place the Western spirit of materialism and politics installed.

'Swa' in Swatantrya

Today we find everywhere attempts to recast our life-pattern in the mould of an American, English or Russian way of life. How can we call it swatantrata (freedom) which has no swa (our genius) in it? Then it is only para-tantrata. If Lenin is kept as the ideal, it becomes 'Lenin-tantra' and not swa-tantra! In fact, protection and propagation of our national life-values, i.e., our dharma and samskriti, have always been held in our historical tradition as the raison d'etre of swatantrata.

A wheel, in order to rotate, must have its pivot inside. If that pivot is outside the wheel, it cannot rotate. A circle with the centre outside cannot exist. Similarly if the life-centre of Bharatiya life is kept outside Bharat, it cannot survive. If anybody cherishes extra­territorial loyalties, we call him a traitor. Would it not then be a greater disloyalty to our country if a person derives inspiration from extra-territorial ideals?

Some people ask us, "What is your 'ism'? It is clear from the question that the questioners are slaves of the European way of thinking and that they have straitjacketed themselves in European 'isms'. They cannot even conceive that we too have a thought-pattern, a solid substratum of our own on which we can build an ideal national life.

We have to shake ourselves free from these shackles of inferiority complex and imitation. It does not mean that we should not take what is good in other countries. But we should assimilate those things and make them the flesh and blood of our own body. But now we are taking all those foreign things at the cost of our own vitality. Our fate will be like that of a person who is unable to digest the food thrust into his belly, and is sinking under its load.

This mental subservience to the foreigner will ruin all our natural virtues and make us a laughing-stock in the eyes of the world. There is that notorious incident of one of our ambassadors, who, while talking to the Pope, said that the world would no more be poorer even if all the copies of Bhagvad-Gita were consigned to the fire, so long as a single copy of the Sermon on the Mount remained with mankind! Another ambassador, another chip of the same 'progressive' block, selected a cheap cinema love song to be presented as one of our national songs to the country to which he was accredited! Fortunately for our country, the patriotic instinct of one of his subordinate staff averted the national humiliation.

Body without a Soul

A gentleman from the West once remarked, "When I came to Delhi I felt that I was not in India at all. It is just a cheap imitation of London or New York. If this continues, I feel your country has no future. It can only be a satellite, a slave of some other country." How strange, an Englishman comes to us, we talk in English; we go to London and there also we talk in English! And we pride ourselves on being 'internationalists'. This is nothing but utter lack of national self-respect, abject slavery of the mind. When Srimati Vijayalakshmi Pandit was sent as Ambassador to Russia she presented her credentials in English but it was rejected as it was not in our national language. Then the Hindi copy was presented. It was again sent back as there was mistake in the Hindi rendering. What a disgrace!

There are some eminent personalities in our country, who write and speak highly of our culture and philosophy and proclaim that we can lead the world on that basis. But ironically enough it is they who clamour for the retention of English and for the adoption of all foreign systems and customs.

In the days of our fighting against the British, foreign clothes were burnt and foreign goods boycotted. But today, after the British have left, we have not only retained their language, dress, etc., but we are using many times more of foreign goods than we did ten years ago! One can understand the sheer necessity of importing certain essential commodities not manufactured here, like certain military equipment for our armies, and medicines. But what is this nonsense of wasting crores of rupees on playing-cards, lipstick and such other worthless articles? The costly game of cricket, which has not only become a fashion with us but something over which we are spending crores of rupees, only proves that the English are still dominating our mind and intellect. The cricket match that Pandit Nehru and other M.P.s played some years back was the very depth of

this Anglicism. Why could they not play Kabaddi, our national game, which has been acclaimed by several countries as a great game?

How strange that we have picked up only the vulgar exterior of the Western civilization and ignored the spirit of national pride and patriotism that animates every one of their activities, whether in affluence or in adversity. A few decades back, in spite of all-round plenty and prosperity, England was faced with an economic crisis. The leaders of England put their heads together to face the challenge. For that purpose they decided to revive the spirit of swadeshi. They arranged exhibition and geared up their propaganda machinery. And the King himself was in the forefront of that movement. That King and other leaders of society set an example by themselves scrupulously taking to Swadeshi goods. And thus they were able to ward off the economic disaster that was looming large over their nation. We, in our infatuation for the show and pomp of Western life, have sacrificed the spirit of swadeshi and are inviting decay and disaster in every field of our national life.

This corrosion of our national soul has not spared even the most hallowed aspects of our life. For us marriage is a dharmic ceremony. But even there during the sacramental rituals, and not only at the time of reception, the bridegroom is often dressed as an Englishman from top to toe. One is shocked to see aping of a foreigner even in a religious ceremony! The same dismal humiliating picture stares us in the face wherever we go. There can be no future for a nation, which does violence to itself losing faith in its own way of life.

Our forefathers were great, commanding the respect of the world, because they were conscious of their great national ideals and their national self-respect. They would address the world in a tone of quiet confidence born out of the consciousness of their intrinsic greatness. The very term Arya, which they applied to themselves conveyed culture and character. They had proudly declared:

Uk Rosok;ZL; nklHkko%A

(The Arya shall never be a slave.) They announced:

,rís'kizlwrL; ldk'kknxztUeu%A

Loa Loa pfj=ka f'k{ksju~



a(Let men all over the world, learn their lessons in life sitting at the feet of the first-born of this land.)

Such an intense love and pride in our own national life and ideals alone can protect the true and glowing image of our country before the world today. This flame of pure patriotism needs to be lit in the heart of every son of this soil. And the warmth and

effulgence of such hearts shall dispel the darkness of intellectual imbecility enveloping our country.

Let us, with this firm realisation, press forward on the path of national rejuvenation. Let us not be carried away by the clever and often mischievous arguments that corrode the people's faith and devotion to nation. Once a leading figure of our country wrote in an article that the RSS people were 'fanatically patriotic'! We do not know what made him say like that. But so far as we are concerned, we feel that there are no gradations in desha-bhakti, i.e., patriotism. Bhakti is self-surrender, it is dedicating oneself completely and unreservedly without any thought of the self. Real devotion can never be half-way. But it seems some people cannot bear this full-blooded spirit of patriotism. It may be too hot for them. Probably they require gradations in patriotism - warm, lukewarm, and cold! Those who dare to drink to the full the cup of devotion need not be afraid or misled by such words as 'fanatical'. Let us challengingly say, "Yes, we are building that intense white heat of patriotism”.

Springs of National Glory

In fact, such have been the qualities of the great builders of our society since hoary times. It is always the selfless, self-confident and devoted band of missionaries, intensely proud of their national ethos, who have roused the sleeping manliness in our nation in times of adversity and made our nation rise gloriously from a heap of shambles. Verily such men have been the true salt of this soil. In ancient times, the educated and intelligent young men came forward in an unbroken succession to serve and elevate society giving up all thought of personal comforts and enjoyments. They were the embodiment of the spirit of selfless service, sacrifice and character. They would live on roots or collect a morsel going from door to door and somehow carry on their physical existence. And all their energies were bent towards the single purpose of bringing about the welfare of the common people. They would mix with them, share their joys and sorrows, try to alleviate their physical wants and miseries and infuse in them the higher values of life. They - intelligent, the self-sacrificing hearts - were the pinnacles from which the streams of cultural and spiritual values flowed and permeated all levels of our society. They formed the perennial life-springs, that made, both these streams, i.e., of cultural sublimity and physical prosperity, flow to the brim in national life and made our nation a treasure-house of material and spiritual glory.

Mother Wants

Let us re-live those great ideals. Let us shake off the present-day emasculating notions and become real living men, bubbling with national pride, living and breathing the grand ideas of service, self-reliance and dedication in the cause of our dear and sacred motherland. Only such a band of young men fired with a missionary zeal can rouse our people to action and ward off the grave perils threatening our country from inside and outside.

Let us feel ourselves fortunate to have been born in the present trying situation. Some may deem it a stroke of rare good luck to come into the world in a nation of peace and plenty, of power and glory. There are so many in our country today, who feel in that manner and go away to America, England etc., lured by the luxuries there. But men with ring of real heroism think otherwise and thank God that during their sojourn here they are faced with hardships, scarcity, adversity and trouble, through which they have to struggle on to prosperity. In times of affluence, our life will probably mean nothing more than 'to be born, to live happily for some time and die one day'. But in adverse circumstances we get an opportunity to put forth the best in us, to test our manliness and to stand before the world as a colossal personality full of grandeur. We are offered the chance to rise to our full stature, to soar to heights beyond the highest flights of human imagination.

Today, more than anything else, Mother needs such men - young, intelligent, dedicated and more than all virile and masculine. When Narayana-eternal knowledge- and Nara-eternal manliness- combine, victory is ensured. And such are the men who make history - men with capital 'M'.

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