||Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||
Aum Namo Narayanaya
|snaking queue of thousands to caste their mark for freedom|
Every South African looked into the sky as the horizon took a golden complexion when the starlit sky cavitated into the void left by day. As the north-westerly brought the dust of the Kalahari, rattling the tin roofs of the townships and littering the streets of the cities with the autumn leaves, there was a fragrance of hope in the air that would usually be permeated by the stench of the bola fires and paraffin stoves. The screeching crickets monopolised the air as almost all activity ceased. The springbok, lion, protea, even the drying bushveld sway to the music that freedom is coming tomorrow. The day was 26 April 1994. Nothing could take away that moment as South Africans sat like expectant parents for their first born. The sun set for the last time on a nation that will succumb to racial discrimination, oppression, freedom of expression and injustice of any kind.
The day 27 April 2012 - the sun stealthily peaked through my room curtain, giving life to my senses. I could hear the dogs bark behind a roaring vehicle as I alighted from the bed to draw the curtains. I awoke to a South Africa 18 years into democracy. And indeed, much has changed. We have been given the dignity of being South African, but fundamentally nothing has changed. Millions of our people still live below the breadline, are unemployed and have no access to sanitation, electricity and water. To date, South Africans still have no stake in the mineral resources of the land and many still squat like foreigners on land in their own country.
The Oxford dictionary defines freedom as “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants”. The use of the word freedom liberally has to be questioned, as upon reflection we find that even within this freedom we are not entirely free. We are governed by systems and protocols like democracy, the constitution, social norms and various other frameworks which are essential, mind you, for a society to be run in a civil and efficient way. This is evident in many of our scriptures as well. I am reminded of Einstein’s theory which states that “energy can neither be created nor destroyed but merely transformed from one state to another”. In much the same way, the racial discrimination, oppression and apartheid prior to 1994 has simply transformed into corruption, greed and a bourgeois society post 1994.
Lord Krishna’s birth in a prison cell is a clear indication that by our very birth we are imprisoned by the body, and we develop by the norms and prejudices of our community. So freedom is not only physical, but must be evident in every aspect inclusive of thought, action, etc. Dr Nelson Mandela, the first President of the democratically elected South Africa said: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison” - a profound quote which underpins the theory that ‘ballot box freedom’ is minuscule as compared to all the other freedoms that we still have to fight for.
The fight for liberation and democracy is a ‘walk in the park’, when we consider the oppressors we up against in the manifest world ruled by the K³ (cubed): Kali, Karmini and Kanchana. Man will never be free from the shackles of time. I recall often when I am so engrossed in the beautiful and divine talks by Swami Vimokshananda, He starts to look at the clock and round up, because of the time limit given to Him to deliver his message - and many will struggle a brutal defeat against lust and greed.
|Time -the ruler of our lives(-from internet)|
Take a moment to sit and analyse how even within the best democracies, its citizens are still colonised by the K³ empire. From sadhana, pooja, time with children and family, rest, work to leisure are all governed by time. Every country is plagued by the symptoms of mal-administration, corruption, theft, fraud - all fuelled by greed. Families and societies have been rocked and destroyed by lust.
Whenever I peak into the sky and see a flock of birds flying freely across the panorama of nature, I intuitively understand my true nature to be absolutely free. With English words like freedom not doing sufficient justice in describing this absolute freedom, I take from the Sanskrit language the word moksha (totally released from this cycle of birth and death impelled by karma).
Dear Lord, understanding my true nature to be absolutely free, I once again want to merge into and experience that ultimate state - free of time, heartache and suffering, lies and false promises, fraud, corruption, deceit, lust greed, limitations of the body and mind, restrictions of any sort, hatred, birth and death. My Lord, when the time on this earth comes for me to breathe my last breath, I vote for MOKSHA in all ballot papers.
On this Freedom Day here in South Africa, I pray and hope that one day, we all will have the ultimate taste of that absolute freedom (knowledge of the self). May we understand that without darkness, we could not understand light; without this manifest world we could never understand moksha. This life in all its variety is a journey to the ultimate truth; appreciate every part of it as a stepping stone to your destination; waste not a minute in idleness; but work tirelessly for the moksha of humanity and your own.
In concluding, I quote Swami Vivekananda who said:
Many times I have been in the jaws of death, starving, footsore, and weary; for days and days I had no food, and often could walk no further; I would sink down under a tree, and life would seem to be ebbing away. I could not speak, I could scarcely think, but at last the mind reverted to the idea: "I have neither fear nor death; never was I born, never did I die; I never hunger or thirst. I am It! I am It! The whole of nature cannot crush me; it is my servant. Assert thy strength, thou Lord of Lords and God of Gods! Regain thy lost empire! Arise and walk and stop not!
With love and prayers always