Category Archives: On Bhakti

Good Samaritan

Luke: 10.25-37

The lawyer’s question and Jesus’ answer don’t quite match up, and that’s part of the point. He wants to know who counts as ‘neighbor’. For him, God is the God of Israel, and neighbours are Jewish neighbours. For Jesus (and for Luke, who highlights (p. 127) this theme), Israel’s God is the God of grace for the whole world, and a neighbour is anybody in need. Jesus’ telling question at the end isn’t asking who the Samaritan regarded as his neighbour. He asked, instead, who turned out to be the neighbour of the half-dead Jew lying in the road. Underneath the apparently straightforward moral lesson (‘go and do the same’), we find a much sterner challenge, exactly fitting in with the emphasis of Luke’s story so far. Can you recognize the hated Samaritan as your neighbour? If you can’t, you might be left for dead.— Tom Wright, London, SPCK (2004), Indian Edition, Delhi, ISPCK, 2015, pp. 127-28

 

But the priest had a special problem. The wounded man beside the road was unconscious and stripped. If the victim was a fellow Jew, and especially a law-abiding Jew, the priest would have been responsible to reach out and help him. But this victim was naked and unconscious, so how could anyone be sure of his ethnic-linguistic identity?11No doubt, the priest wanted to do his duty under the law.  But what was his duty?  (p.292)

The wounded man could have been dead. If so the priest who approached him would become ceremonially defiled, and if defiled he would need to return to Jerusalem and undergo a week-long process of ceremonial purification. It would take some time to arrange such things. Meanwhile, he could not eat from the tithes or even collect them.  The same ban would apply to his family and servants. Distribution to the poor would also have been impossible. What’s more, the victim along the road might have been Egyptian, Greek, Syrian or Phoenician, in which case, the priest was not responsible under the law to do anything. If the  priest approached the beaten man and touched him and the man later died, the priest would have been obliged to rend his robes, and in so doing would have violated laws against the destruction of valuable property. The poor priest did not have an easy time trying to determine his duty under the law. After deciding that his ceremonial purity was too important to risk he continued on his way.— Kenneth E. Bailey,  Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels, Illinois, IVP Academic, 2008, pp. 292-93

11. Even circumcision would not settle the matter for him. Samaritans and Egyptians were circumcised.—p. 292

The Levites functioned in the temple as assistants to the priest. This particular Levite probably knew that a priest was ahead of him on the road and may have been an assistant to that same priest. Since the priest had set a precedent, the Levite could pass by with an easy conscience….Could the Levite ride into Jericho with a wounded man whom the priest, in obedience to his understanding of the law, had opted to ignore? Such an act would be an insult to the priest!—ibid. p. 293

…Here the parable assumes the wounded man to be a Jew.  It would have been more acceptable to the audience if Jesus had told a story about a good Jew who helped a wounded Samaritan on the way to Shechem. The Jewish audience might have managed to praise a “good Jew” even though he helped a hated Samaritan. It is, however, a different matter to tell a story about a good Samaritan who helps a wounded Jew, especially after the Jewish priest and Levite fail to turn aside to assist the unconscious stranger!—ibid. p. 294

…A Samaritan would not be safe in a Jewish town with a wounded Jew over the back of his riding animal. Community vengeance may be enacted against the Samaritan, even if he has saved the life of the Jew….—ibid. p. 295

The Real Great Commission

Concepts in one (religious) tradition don’t fit neatly in others. For example, take the Christian concept called the ‘Great Commission’ where Muktinath says “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Every faith has some concept similar to this. Otherwise everyone would have following the same faith/theology/philosophy/doctrine from time immemorial. This is very true in Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya, as I pointed out in my critique on Balagangadhara

Though every bhakta should do her part in fulfilling the Great Commission of Muktinath, all are not called to do it in the same format. Each bhakta is called to do her part faithfully, leaving the rest with God. 

But the tragedy is that the Great Commission is interpreted as ‘converting’ people from one religious community to another. Even in this the conversion is not limited to personal faith but includes the sociological dimension. And Christianity, at least in India, promotes ‘conversion’ from one sociological community to another. In this they are not making any improvement or progress in those issues which they claim to be bad in Hindu society, such as caste.

In other words, people are called to change their camp without giving up what they find wrong in our society. And the converts too, thinking that they are escaping from the ‘devil’, jump in the deep sea, without anyone there to rescue them.

The Hindu approach is this: give personal freedom to choose any sadhana (spiritual discipline) that will help one to make progress in her spiritual aspiration according to her aptitude. It demands that each carries out one’s personal dharma inspired by the result of that personal sadhana. 

Let me explain this in my own way. Having become a bhakta of Bhagavan Muktinath, I need to do my dharma (social duty) as per the teaching of my Guru and Acharya Muktinath. For this I have to stay back where I was born rather than shifting camps and blaming others about all the shortcoming and failures. Through my personal life, seva, and sadhana I have to do my part in fulfilling the Great Commission. And in that, God will use me as per the gifts I received from Him as well which I received as my inheritance.

A plain reading of the (religious) text without thinking what are the intentions behind its teaching leads to blind faith. In the Great Commission when Muktinath says “Go and preach the gospel and make disciples”, Christians take the two words ‘preach’ and ‘make’ seriously, while forgetting the crucial aspect of ‘disciples’. When the Muktiveda allows a Hindu to become a bhakta or disciple to the Lord and also remain in her birth
family and community (I Cor. 7:17ff.), what the Christian does in the name of Great Commission is what the Lord says in Mt. 23:15:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one convert; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

Though I have my reservations about the ‘illegitimate interference‘, I agree with Gangadhara about ‘proselytization’. For me ‘witnessing’ about the transformation that I received by the Lord is not an ‘illegitimate interference’1 since I never persuade anyone through coercion to change their religious tradition.

Although it is annoying to Christians, I say that even keeping my Hindu religious tradition as the frame, I can live as a bhakta of the Lord. Since pluralism is the Hindu reality, our Hindu religious tradition is broad enough to accommodate any kind of faith expression. At the same time, this pluralism never demands or expects any sampradaya to compromise or become syncretistic in doctrinal issues. Allowing for doctrinal/theological exclusivism, it provides inclusivism within its religious tradition. 

To my dismay what I see in Christianity is pluralistic exclusivism. Dismissing every other ‘denomination’ as heretical, it accommodates all kinds of denominations within one tradition in the name of Christianity. So in pluralistic inclusivism (Hinduism), one can openly and proudly remain a ‘witness’ for her faith and bhakti. Whereas in pluralistic exclusivism (Christianity), ‘proselytization’ is promoted in the name of Great Commission.

According to my understanding the Gospel introduces new values and respects old truths that help me do my dharma as a Hindu. The Great Commission should be centered on the noun ‘disciple’ rather than the verb ‘preach and make’.

 

22-4-15

 

Notes


1. “The Semitic self-description contains a universal truth claim, which gives rise to a dynamic of proselytization. When the biblical God reveals His plan, it covers the whole of humankind. Those who receive this revelation should try to convert the others into accepting the message in this divine self-disclosure. That is, proselytizing is an intrinsic drive of Islam and Christianity. The pagan view, on the contrary, implies that every ‘religion’ is a tradition–that is, a specific set of ancestral practices–characterizing a human community. The traditions are upheld not because they contain some exclusive truth binding the believer to God, but because they make some community into a community. Any attempt at interfering with the tradition of a community from the outside will be seen as illegitimate, since all traditions are part of the human quest for truth….– S.N. Balagangadhara, Reconceptualizing India Studies, New Delhi, Oxford, 2012, p. 209.

Adjusting

Again at our year-end meeting, I made the comment after a round of questions that I have only one word for all problems in life and that is: ADJUST. What else can one do? If others cannot adjust with me, then they can leave me and walk away, but poor God; He has no alternative but to ADJUST with me. For me even the Incarnation (purna-avatara) is nothing but an ADJUSTMENT by God to reveal Himself to us.  God is not limited but (un)fortunately He has to accept me with all my limitations. At least others can escape, but God cannot because:

The famous Tamil Saiva saint Manikkavasagar in ‘Pidittap pattu’ (The Decad of the Tenacious Grasp’.—G. U. Pope, The Tiruvacagam, London, Oxford, 1900, p. 291) at the end of each poem in these lovely ten poems (cling or holding fast) challenges Siva ‘Ah whither grace imparting would’st thou rise’?3 (Pope, pp. 291-297). As he rightly said in another poem ‘who is trapped in the net of bhakti’ the Lord too cannot escape from a bhakta.*

So my formula in life is to try to live in the present, learn from the past (without depending on past success), plan for the future, don’t ask the question “What if…”, trust God, and finally ADJUST and enjoy life day by day. Continue reading

Scripture and Bhakti

Without a foundational scripture, most Hindus don’t have the habit of reading any particular (sectarian) scripture as part of their (everyday) sadhana. Of course many will recite songs (bhajans) from their particular sectarian scriptures or common devotional books as a part of their ritual as well as sadhana.

But reading Muktiveda as part of everyday sadhana is often insisted, mostly by evangelical Christians.

About this H. L. Richard says: “The Bible itself contains no exhortations to regular reading of the sacred text, simply because that was not even an option for a few millennia before the invention of movable type and the printing press. Thus, the current Evangelical focus on personal Bible reading is not something that the Bible makes any reference to. (This is not to imply that it is a bad idea…)” [Scripture in Hindu Contexts]

Since I came from a tradition where reading scripture was not a part of everyday sadhana, reading Muktiveda to know the will and leading of God in everyday life looked bit strange in the early days of my bhakti. But my sojourn among the evangelicals helped me to adopt this good idea and even now I continue to do it.  Continue reading

Hybrid Nationalism

No human can remain alone without being influenced by others. Though there are some original thoughts, most of them, in the course of their development, influence and are influenced by other thoughts paving for the emergence of new kinds of thoughts.

For example, some of our critics see that what we do as Hindu bhaktas of the Lord and say it is simply a parallel of what they are doing in the church. In my response to such criticism, first, I say that we cannot remain in isolation in life. So naturally we are influenced by others.

But I try to do everything to experience and express my bhakti in Muktinath as my birthright. Of course, even what I inherited as my birthright wasn’t completely original as I’ve been influenced by so many other cultures and traditions. But, I can also point out that as a Hindu bhakta of the Lord, my life has so many parallels from my own Indian tradition rather than only aping the Church.

In fact the nine forms of bhakti (Navadana bhakti1) already cover almost all that we do as Hindu bhaktas, which one can also see in the Indian church tradition also. Both individual personal sadhana and corporate worship are part of our Indian (Hindu) tradition, as is well-documented from various references from Vedic times to the present day.

Although Indian Christianity inherited so many of its religious expressions from the West, still it is part of our Indian dharmic tradition and cannot escape from Hindu influences. I must acknowledge that the intercessory prayer that we do is the same as what Christians do, though such prayer is not completely absent in the Hindu tradition (kuttup prarthanai is a form of corporate prayer).

Often the criticism is levelled from the Hindutva group, assuming we are just Christianity disguised in Hindu form. Though we can counter their arguments by proving that it is our birthright to follow this path and we have no need to defend it, there is no point of explaining to them about our conviction, because once they have made up their mind about our approach to it is mere waste of time and words.

However as a counter argument, I would like to point out that what they promote as ‘Hindutva’ is nothing but a ‘hybrid variety’ which cannot naturally multiply itself like the original or desi (local) variety. Here I don’t need to take time to point out that this ‘Hindutva’ Nationalism is imported from Europe, particularly from Nazi German which is purely racial and divisive in nature. That is why no matter how they try to promote this kind of ‘hybrid nationalism’ artificially among Indians, it never induces a strong sense of true nationalism among the common masses as Mahatma Gandhiji managed to invoke by giving a call to fight against the British.

Gandhiji’s nationalism was inclusive and it never divided people based on any criteria. It didn’t create ‘the Other’ among Indians by creating any sense of hatred about the British. However, this ‘hybrid nationalism’ can survive only by creating ‘the Other’ just for the sake of survival.

I am a strong Nationalist, even to some extent an ultra-nationalist. But while I agree with some of their cultural nationalism, I am dead against the way it is promoted and sustained by creating ‘the Other’ so that it can be sustained.

If we study our own Indian tradition of both the ancient and recent past — this so-called ‘NATIONALISM’ is not the original part of our Indian or Hindu worldview. It is artificially induced in our society, and it still struggles to take root among the common mass.

As I pointed out in Understanding Hinduism, though the Right wing groups try to promote it by encouraging people to celebrate and participate in certain events which they think will sustain such Nationalism, considering the size of our population not even a fragment of our people have followed this hybrid nationalism. I have previously mentioned Kargil day, which most of us have now forgotten.2

In the more recent past, our P.M. Modi sent an invitation for people to send Diwali greetings to our soldiers, which is good and we all should do (I have done it). But again considering the size of our population, I think only a tiny fraction would have sent such greetings.

It is sad that in this way, we Indians have not had the spirit of Nationalism and don’t honour our soldiers in proper way which they deserve. Personally, I have great respect and I serve them when I get the opportunity. In 2014, one soldier travelling with me was coming to finish some work in Chennai from Delhi. I helped him carry some of his heavy luggage and also arranged to keep it at Raman’s house until he was to continue his trip to his native place in Karaikkal. I even dedicated the book Understanding Hinduism to the soldiers of India who are guarding our civilization.

But before we seriously take up any issue or principle, we should stop and think, read, understand, and reflect rather than suddenly changing our position based on emotion.

Here I need not give any reference about the way Nationalism came from outside India and wasn’t a part of our civilization’s worldview. Liah Greenfeld’s ‘Nationalism & Modernity’, (Critical Quest, New Delhi, (1995, 2012) will give short but precise details about the concept of Nationalism and its origin and development in the West. Of course the Indian Hybrid Nationalists (Hindutva) will reject any kind of scholarship from the west in a sweeping generalization as they cannot stand to face the sincere and scholarly critical views about them (except those who have converted to their ideology). But simply closing their eyes and rejecting others view won’t hide the truth forever.

So the parallel is inevitable in life. However, there are certain parallels which may look parallel but might be a product of something indigenous, not unlike this kind of hybrid nationalism which cannot be reproduced, like any other hybrid items that we have at present—in vegetable, fruits and in animals (birds, chicken and egg).

Dayanand Bharati

5-1-17, Mathigiri.

 

Endnotes

1. “[In the] Bhagavata Purana…we come across as many as nineteen different classifications of bhakti, ranging from a threefold devotion to a thirty-six fold devotion, although a ninefold devotion (7.5.23; 11.6.9) comprising sravanam (hearing, 11.6.9), kiertanam (chanting, 12.3.52), smarnam (remembering, 12.12.54), padasevanam (service at Bhagavan’s feet), archanam (offering worship), vandanam (praising, 11.27.9), dasyam (servitude and humility), sakhyam (friendship), atmanivedam (self-surrender, 11.29.34) is more frequently recognised and recommended.” (Nath, Vijay (2001). Puranas and Acculturation: A Historico-Anthropological Perspective, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. 2001, 173-174)

2. In my travels I have often noticed a lack of nationalism among Indians. As I wrote in Understanding Hinduism:

“On July 26, 2001, while I was at Ranikhet (in Uttarkhand) some of my shishyas (on my instruction) and I lit a candle to celebrate Vijay Divas (victory day for the Kargil war with Pakistan in 1999). But none of our neighbours lit any candle, though it was announced both in TV and radio calling people to celebrate the day nationwide. This suggests that a spirit of nationalism is not part of our tradition. Politicians and other patriots can at times host successful events, but a spontaneous spirit is lacking.

“This is not limited to Ranikhet as I have seen in various parts of India that people themselves do not voluntarily participate in patriotic acts. Badrinath shows that our feelings go towards dharma rather than towards nation:

“Nationalism arises in India not in response to any inner impulse of Indian society but as a Western graft. An outcome of a variety of very complex political and economic and emotional factors to which German romanticism had contributed greatly, nationalism had become by the nineteenth century a dominant passion of Europe. That passion was introduced into India artificially. Much of the Western history of nationalism came to be grafted upon Indian society whose traditions and values were rooted not in the concept of nationality, or rashtra, but in the idea of dharma, and the understanding of social relationships that followed from it.” (Badrinath, Chaturvedi (1993). Dharma, India and the World Order. Bonn: Pahl-Rugenstein. 1993, 103)”

Understanding Hinduism, New Delhi: Mushiram Manoharlal, 2005, pp. 295-296.

The Other and Going Overboard

Certain ideologies in the world need to create ‘the other’ to survive. This ‘other’ need not be a challenger or a counter-movement but should be an opponent. This enemy not only presents the positive value of their own ideology but also creates fear and insecurity in the mind of the people among whom they want to promote that ideology. They accuse ‘the other’ in order to keep their own survival. In most cases, this fear and ‘the other’ are created for political reasons or for their own survival rather than the interest of the common good of all mankind.

This practice goes by many names: religious fundamentalism, fanaticism, fascism, etc. But the promoters of such ideologies forgot that in the long run, any ideology created with a sense of hate for ‘the other’ will eventually divide itself, creating many ‘others’ amongst itself.

For me, religious fundamentalism in whatever forms it takes (‘cultural nationalism’, ‘way of life’, etc.) does the same. This not only creates a division among people, but also creates a negative perspective on everything outside of that ideology.

Sometime this spirit is also found among us who want to follow the Lord as Hindu bhaktas. Consciously or unconsciously we create ‘the other’ who follows the Lord in a traditional way or other ways they found appropriate for their need. But the unique teaching of the Muktiveda in the words of Dr. Paul Brand is: Continue reading

Critiquing The Critic

“Agree to disagree” is a golden principle that everybody knows. But there are very few who stop at disagreeing. In the name of ‘constructive criticism’ they find fault with the ‘other’. But such people forget an important difference between critiquing, which is healthy, and fault-finding in the name of ‘healthy criticism’. But how do we handle such people and at the same time help them realize that their criticism is not going to change the view of the other person so easily, sometime leading to a break in the relationship.

There lived one ‘Suppudu’ famous for his critical review of dance and music programs performed by various artists in Tamilnadu. As he wrote in the name ‘Suppudu’, his original name was almost forgotten by us. As an expert in his field, even great artists would become nervous when he attended their program. With much anxiety to get good comments from him in the next day’s column in leading newspapers, they would become extra cautious to present their performance.

But in their anxiety they would make some mistake and it would be pointed out clearly by Suppudu the next day. Because his views were authentic, everyone was anxious to receive good remarks from him. Artists also valued his critiques since he was the best in his profession as a critic. When some upcoming artist received some negative comments from Suppudu along with his appreciation, it would be endorsed by the editor of the paper with the Tamil saying; ‘even one is hit on the head, it should be done by a hand with a golden ring’ (குட்டுப்பட்டாலும் மோதிரக்கையால் குட்டுப் படணும்.), which means even criticized it should come from a person like Suppudu.

But one problem with the critic should also be recorded here. Sometimes they go to a program not to review it, but just for personal enjoyment. But when they allow their profession to become their very nature, they began to evaluate the performance rather than enjoy it. In this way, if they allow their profession to become too personal, they will miss several beautiful things.

And another problem also should be noted here. As a reputed critic, they will always receive accommodation in the first row—whether they go as a critic or for personal enjoyment. The artist who tries to ignore the presence of the Suppudus cannot do their best in the performance because in the name of ignoring she will constantly remember him. It is known as dveshya bhakti (bhakti of hate) in which the enemy of god too will attain mukti as he always remembered god out of hate.

But there are several mature artist who handle it nicely. Instead of ignoring him, they will recognize the presence of Suppudu and will give a big ‘Namaskaram’ to him. Whether this eases their nerves or not, at least it will help the Suppudus relax and enjoy the program. The mature artist knows that people like Suppudu who came to enjoy the program and not for any review cannot overcome their spirit of criticism.

Many artists are not just professional performers, but they make their art form part of their nature—as they live, move and their being become that very art. These artists understand the plight of the critic too. Making the critic also part of their life, they will not only continue to do their best on the stage and life but will also help the critic to do the same. Now the critic does not become the ‘other’, but becomes part of the artist’s own troop. A mature artist neither ignores nor becomes anxious with the presence of any critic in her performance. Instead, she integrates the critic as a part of her team. That way she can give her best, enjoy her own performance, and also help the critic enjoy the program.

Both the mature artist and the mature critic know that no one can perform an art, particularly related to music in a set pattern, without any change. When it comes to Indian classical music of both the South (Carnatic) and the North (Hindustani), the way an artist performs depends upon many things: the receptivity of the audience, their own health and mood, etc. So, without minding the presence of a critic, they will perform while enjoying themselves.

T.M. Krishna is the best contemporary example for this. He has said several times that he sings only for himself and not for others. One time in Chennai when he was performing for an invited audience in which they bought tickets for that concert, after singing for 45 minutes, Krishna said that he was not in a mood to sing further but if the audience insisted, he would finish his concert for the rest of the program. Knowing his nature, the audience also left after 45 minutes. He also never follows the set patters of beginning with Varnam and ending with bhajans or thukada. Though many orthodox musicians and critics criticized him for not following the traditional ways of presenting a concert, he doesn’t mind. Simply ignoring them, he carries on his art. In this way, mature artists don’t become anxious to impress others, particular the critic. By welcoming the critique, they ignore a critical mind and spirit about their art.

The same is the case with us. We should neither ignore nor become too anxious with those who critique our views. They are the unpaid guardians of our atman (soul). There will be critical people everywhere—beginning at home. We cannot avoid them and it is also not good to ignore them. But we must help them understand that as we make them part of our life, we too should help them make us part of their life. While critiquing a critic we should not ignore her but when she becomes too critical about everything, then for the benefit of all we should ignore her.

One final illustration. Some people are best when they are allowed to perform solo. While In a group performance, they may hit others while waving their hands and legs in the dance, where they cannot adjust to the need of a group performance. So in some dance dramas, such talented solo performers will be used when a single character is required and the rest will be done by the other members of the group. In fact, more talent and maturity is needed to perform in a group than a solo. But the solo won’t make sense without the group performance and the group performance will miss the link without the solo dancer. And the choreographer alone knows where to bring the solo and where the group. In the end, the audience applauds both for their joint performance.

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01-12-14

Objective Gospel

A bhakta of the Lord can never say “My life is my message.” Mukti is purely based on the grace of God and nothing can be added to it. As we are ‘saved sinners and struggling saints’ we can never say, “Let my life speak/share the message of the gospel.” However, if we try to present an ‘objective’ gospel that isn’t reflected in our lives, then we are propagating some utopian ideal which has no relevancy to the struggle on this earth. As someone well said, “Show me that you are saved, then I will believe in your saviour.” This is a golden statement that we all need to take seriously.

Therefore, any explanation about the noble truth of the gospel ‘objectively’ without relating to the way it was preached, propagated, presented and several times marred by our own life needs to be accepted by us. The gospel, like mukti (according to Muktiveda) is both paramartika and vyavakarika (transcendental and practical). But one cannot be explained and experienced at the cost of the other.  Continue reading

Song 360 – A Request to Forget Me

360 மறக்க வேண்டுகிறேன்

கையெடுத்துக் கும்பிடுகிறேன்

கெஞ்சி ஒன்று வேண்டுகிறேன்

என்னைப் பற்றி எவருமே

ஏதுஒன்றும் சொல்லவேண்டாம்

 

காலமென்னும் ஓட்டத்திலே

கால்கடுக்க ஓடுகின்றேன்

இறுதியாக எப்படியோ

கரைநானும் சேர்வதற்கே

 

மனிதனாக பிறந்தபோதும்

மனிதனாக வாழ்வில்லை

மனதுஒன்று இருந்தும்கூட

முழுமையாகப் புரியவில்லை

 

புத்திபலதை மறுக்கிறது

பக்திசிலதை ஏற்கிறது

புத்திபக்தி இரண்டினிடையே

சித்தம் ஊசலாடிடுது

 

புத்தியிலும் வளரவில்லை

பக்தியிலும் சிறக்கவில்லை

எப்படியோ இறைவன்கருணை

ஏந்திஎன்னைக் காக்கிறது

 

அந்தக்கருணை யாறறிவார்

அவர்சொந்தம் ஆகாவிட்டால்

அடையாஒன்றை அறிதவர்போல்

வீண்வாதம் செய்கின்றார்

 

வந்தபோதுஒரு அடையாளம்

வையம்தானே தருகிறது

போகும்போது அதனுடனே

போகத்தானே சொல்கிறது

 

இடையிலெதனை மாற்றிடினும்

எந்தவேடம் போட்டிடினும்

இறுதியாகஏதோ ஒன்றை

ஏற்கவேண்டி இருக்கிறது

 

என்னவாக அதுஇருந்தும்

எவர் அதைத்தந்தும்

“பக்தன்” என்ற ஒன்றுமட்டும்

பணிந்துநானும் கேட்கின்றேன்

 

பாவியாக வாழ்ந்திருந்தேன்

“பக்தனாக்கி” ஆட்கொண்டான்

அந்தஒரு அடையாளம்

அடிமைக்கு என்றும்போதும்

 

எனவேஒன்றை வேண்டுகிறேன்

என்னைமறக்க கெஞ்சுகிறேன்

அவனைப்பெருக்கி என்னைச்சிறுக்கி

அவனுள்புதைக்க விரும்புகிறேன்

 

புதைத்ததை தோண்டியெடுத்து

கூறுபோட்டு பார்ப்பீரோ

கொடுமையான அந்தசெயலை

செய்யவேண்டாம் கெஞ்சுகிறேன்.

 

13-12-2015, மத்திகிரி, 2.00

 

English Translation

“A Request to Forget Me”

With folded hands I request you
And plead with you to do me a favor
Please don’t do
Any kind of study of me

In the race of life
I run with much pain and strain
So that by some means
I too will reach the further shore

Though born as a human being
I never remained like a ‘human’
Though I have a mind,
I never completely understood myself

Reason (intellect) refuses to accept many things
But bhakti accepts a few things
And my mind swings
In between reason/rationalism and bhakti

Neither I have grown in my intellect
Nor shone in my bhakti
Somehow the grace of God
Sustains me each day

Who can understand that grace
Unless one owns it as her/his own
And they unnecessarily debate over it
Without actually receiving it

When we are born
The world gives an identity to us
And when we will pass away
It asks us to go with that identity

What ever that might be
And whoever bestows it to us
I with humility request to give
the identity of “Bhakta” for me

I lived as a sinner
He redeemed me and made me a “bhakta”
That one identity is
Enough for this slave

Therefore I request you one thing
And plead with you to forget me
And please bury me in him
To increase him and decrease me

Will you exhume a buried life
And do the post mortem?
Don’t do that cruel act
I plead with much humility

13.12.2015, Mathigiri, 2.00 pm

 

 

 

Thoughts

This is bit autobiographical; if you get irritated please ignore this poem.

I read two rebuttals1 today that overwhelmed me in showing how Swami Vivekananda was more of a victim than an ideal case study for scholars.

Then I thought about myself. Whether I like it or not, there will be some debate about me in the future. It was amusing to think how they will interpret me against their ideologies and agendas.

But if I was asked, “How would you like to be remembered?”, my humble response would be, “Please forget me completely.” I don’t say this with any pseudo-humility but a real commitment. Frankly, I want to be erased from people’s memory. If that is not possible, the only way I want to be interpreted is as “a bhakta of Muktinath” – nothing more and nothing less.

I don’t believe the myth that we have no identity when we are born and we have none when we die. According to my understanding, we are all born and die with an identity (cultural, social, religious, etc.). No matter how you change that identity (changing religion, culture, nationality, gender, etc.) we must carry some identity when we die. For me, I want that identity to be as ‘a bhakta of Muktinath’.

My rational mind refuses to understand or accept so many things related to the life and mission of the Lord. At the same time, my bhakti is happy to remain His bhakta because I don’t need any proof other than my own life. I never lived an extremely immoral life, but knowing my nature, I have always thought of myself as a sinner saved by the Grace of the Lord.

Many other (Hindu) saints had similar experiences2 and claimed to be saved by the same grace of God. But I find the doctrine of prayaschitta (atonement) done by the Lord more convincing as it addresses my psychological and moral (spiritual) needs. Until the end of my life, I have to swing between rationality and my bhakti.

Therefore, as a sinner saved by the grace of Bhagavan Muktinath, I would prefer to be forgotten by all. If that won’t happen, let my life ‘increase His glory’ and decrease my identity and let me be buried in Him. As a final request, please don’t unearth my life after I die to conduct some post-mortem to give a report to others according to your ideology or agenda.

Anxiety is inevitable when you worry about how people will think of you after you are gone. When I was at Mahari (Rewa, M.P. with Shashi Kant Dube 11-11-1994) I wrote a poem about it.3 I never consciously planned my life. Several things happened on their own, decided by the invisible Hands of God. Only those who receive that grace alone can understand my life. Those who try to analyse my life with their agenda will only end up presenting a picture about me which I myself never understood or intended to live.

Db.

13-12-2015.

 

Endnotes:

  1. Ashis Nandy “Vivekananda and Secularism: A Nineteenth Century Solution and a Twentieth Century Problem” (pp.291-295) and Nirmal Mukherjee, “Vivekananda and Secularism” (pp.296-301) to Krishna Prakash Gupta’s article ‘Swami Vivekananda: “A Case Study of the Hindu Religious Tradition and the Modern Secular Ideal” (263-290), and Gupta’s “A Response”(pp.302-306) in: A. Raghuramaraju, ed. Debating Vivekananda: A Reader, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2014)
  1. குலம்பொல்லேன் குணம்பொல்லேன் குறியும்பொல்லேன்

குற்றமேபெரிதுடையேன் கோலமாய

நலம்பொல்லேனான்பொல்லேன் ஞானியல்லே

னல்லாரோடிசைந்திலேனடுவேனின்ற

விலங்கலேன்விலங்கலாதொழிந்தேனல்லேன்

வெறுப்பனவுமிகப் பெரிதும்பேசவல்லேன்

இலம்பொல்லேனிரப்பதல்லால் ஈயமாட்டே

னென்செய்வான்றோன்றினே னேழையேனே–

Evil, all evil, my race, evil my qualities all,

Great am I only in sin, evil is even my good.

Evil my innermost self, foolish, avoiding the pure,

Beast am I not, yet the ways of the beast I can never forsake.

I can exhort with strong words, telling men what they should hate,

Yet can I never give gifts, only to beg them I know.

Ah! Wretched man that I am, whereunto came I to birth?6

Tirunavukkarasu, F. Kingsbury, and G.E.Phillips, Hymns of the Tamil Saivite Saints, Calcutta, Association Press, 1921, song 35, p. 44 சுயசரிதை

 

  1. என்னென்ன கூறுவார்கள்

இறந்தபின் என்னைப்பற்றி

இருக்கும்போது கேட்கமாட்டார்

எந்தன் மனநிலையைப் பற்றி

துறவறம் இவனும் பூண்டான்

துணிவற்றதால் வாழ்ந்துகாட்ட

போட்டதெல்லாம் வெறும் வேஷம்

காணவில்லை அவனில் பெரும் மாற்றம்

காரணம் ஏதாய் இருக்கும் இவன்

வாழ்வைத் துறந்து இங்கு ஓட?

காதல் தோல்வியாய் இருக்கும் என

கதையும் கூறுவார் பலவே

துறக்கவில்லை வாழ்வை நானும்

தோற்கவில்லை வேறெதில் தானும்

வாழ்கின்றேன் வாழ்வில் நாளும்

வளமுடனே உம்மைப் போல

காசு, காதல், பெண்டு, பிள்ளை

எல்லாம் உலகின் வெளி வேஷம்

போகும்போது கூட வாரார் எனவே

இருக்கும் போதும் வேண்டாம் எனக்கும்

 

மஹரி, ரீவா,. மத்திய பிரதேசம், 11-11-1994.

 

“Autobiography”

Once I pass away

what all people will talk about me?

no one will ask about my mind

when I am still alive!

as he does not have courage

Many story will be told about me that

“he renounced everything

as he does not have courage to live

all are mere outward drama and

We cannot see any great change in him!

What could be the reason for him to?

Run away from the life like this?

May be it could be love failure”.

But I didn’t renounced the life

And not get defeated in any other thing

I too live a good life

Like you all

Wealth, love, wife and children

Are mere outward appearance in this world?

Won’t come when we go away

As they won’t come along with me when I go away

I don’t need them when I live too!

 

Silent Sermon

Recently, Sri Suki Sivam, in a Pattimandram (debating assembly) in Mega T.V. shared one important illustration about the need of ‘Sat-sangh’.

A church father noticed that one of the wealthiest members of his congregation didn’t turn up for two successive weeks. After his third week of absence, the Father went to his house after the service. As it was a cold country in the winter, the rich man was enjoying sitting before a fire. After some initial talk, the Father pulled one of the burning pieces of wood from the fire, kept it aside, and continued talking. Over time, the wood stopped burning.

At no point did he ask the rich man why he hadn’t been at the church recently. When the Father was about to leave, he put the extinguished piece of wood back in the fire and it immediately began to burn. When the rich man came out to say good-bye to the Father said that he would come next week without fail. He got the message that however rich he might be, without participating in sat-sangh he cannot survive in his spiritual life.

Sri Suki Sivam also mentioned that the late Kundrakkudi Adigalar said that in Hindu temples the priests keep account for all the vessels and other things they use, but they never keep an account of the people who visited or did not visit. The truth is that Hindus go to the temple for personal sadhana and ritual needs and not to have any ‘sat-sangh’ with others and the priest. A Hindu priest is just like any other professional, and need not take care of the personal spiritual, religious or social needs of individuals.

Thankfully, Hindus find this in many places. Household rituals related to life (samskaras) are performed in the home and reminded by the family priest (prophet). Spiritual needs are sometimes provided by a preceptor and other forums like bhajan mandalis. Social needs are taken care of by the family, community, and society.

Anyhow, Sri Sivam, again proved that he is not only a good speaker but also imparts valuable practical teaching for the life.

22-10-2015.

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