Sunday, 8 December 2013

Mandela- The Spiritual Statesman

Mr Nelson R Mandela
Pic- Google Images
Aum Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam

Aum Namo Narayanaya


Last week, work took me to the virgin territories of the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast. Travelling away from the ocean, the roads lead me to the green country where the humble valleys co-existed peacefully alongside the regal mountains, harmoniously drinking off the same river. The air was bathed with a healthy dose of oxygen and coolness, enough to re-invigorate the slouching mind. Enslaved by the curvature of the road, I continued until I was eventually greeted by an open plateau draped with a green sheet of wild grass, and arranged with the most exquisite place setting of dandelions.  Standing boldly in the stillness of the day, they claimed their dominion over the fields... preaching the way of life through their elegant yet boisterous full bloomed bulbs.  But alas it was not to last, the gentle south eastern current wafting through scattered its pride amidst the giggling grass.

Reduced to a de-feathered stalk unable to face the challenge, it turned grey with gloom. I stood still as a silent witness, in awe at this spectacle of nature and found a striking resemblance to the play we call life.Humans boast such a strong and fortified outlook, yet really are like the dandelion... so fragile.......

So here we are... standing on the vast plateau of the world, exposed stark naked like the dandelion. How do we stand and protect ourselves from disintegrating against the attacks of enemies brutal and subtle? Can we tip the world scale towards laughter and happiness rather than tears and suffering? I scare to think that possibly a collection of the world's tears in a day shall suffice to run a household with its water needs for a day.

On the 13th of this month, we shall celebrate the words of Sri Krishna as He spoke on the battlefield of Kurukshetra many ages ago... compiled and bound as the nectar and essence of the Vedas - the Bhagavad Gita distilled into a concise set of instructions and made available for the emancipation of humanity from the yoke of misery.

yada yada hi dharmasya

glanir bhavati bharata

abhyutthanam adharmasya

tadatmanam srjamy aham


Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion --at that time I descend Myself.

The above was a guarantee given by Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.

I remember as a scholar, I was not interested in reading much, therefore I used to search frantically for a movie that was based on our set-book so that I would be able view it and write an analysis and review on the book.

Fortunately for those who have taken birth in this time, if for some reason you have not considered reading the Gita, you are fortunate enough to study the lives of great saints like  Swami Vivekananda eulogised as the cyclonic monk - who was verily the walking, talking, breathing embodiment of Bhagwan's message.


And if you were fortunate to be born in South Africa during my era you would have had the opportunity to walk the earth with an icon that moved the world and united a country devastated and segregated by the most inhumane system of oppression. In my light, He indeed was an enlightened being and a yogi. Nelson Mandela breathed his last breath peacefully on 5 December 2013 at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg just before 9pm. The world jerked with emotion as the news reached every corner with tributes pouring in from the highest offices to the common man - a clear indication that his life was one that resonated with every level of society.


Addressing the fundamental foundations of Vedanta: that  being freedom and liberation as preached by Swamiji - "When we have succeeded in preventing all the forces in the world from throwing us off our balance, then alone we have attained to freedom, and not before." Nelson Mandela dedicated his life to the cause of liberating us from the yoke of oppression. He courageously and selflessly together with his other comrades launched an assault on the regime that stripped the dignity and fundamental human rights from South Africans.


Having been incarcerated for 27 years on Robben Island, the freedom fighter and hero of the nation was subjected to cruel and harsh punishment meted out by the prison authorities. Notwithstanding all this... upon his release he killed and dismantled the enemy with love, kindness, humility and dignity --- all qualities of a true Yogi.


It was those 27 years on Robben Island that bestowed this sense of enlightenment and peace into his life; I therefore refer to these years as his years of tapasya and austerity. It would be regarded as normal human behaviour for someone who having been exposed to such disrespect would return guns blazing, seething with anger and hatred, to reap revenge.

It was with this fear that many citizens fled South Africa in the period before the election. Tata Madiba however was the beacon of hope, and dynamo of reconciliation, whose towering demeanour and divine countenance brought dignity to his people and at the same time allaying the fear of the minority. A true advaitin, he saw the oneness in all and believed and stood by the statement of the collective that South Africa truly belonged to all who lived in it.


The verse from the Gita which dawns upon me at this time with great relevance is Chapter 15, Verse 1.


Sri Bhagvan Uvaca
urdhva-mulum adhah-sakham asvattham prahur avyay chandasi yasya parnani yas tam veda sa veda vit

It is said that there is an imperishable banyan tree that has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas.


Any normal tree would have its roots in the ground and the leaves in the air. Here, Sri Krishna speaks of the converse. This relates to the roots being in the world and the leaves which are the Vedas being in our consciousness. The roots are the nourishment for the leaves. Therefore in this scenario of the conversed-tree, the roots are taking nutrition from the material world and nourishing the leaves in our consciousness. We all live by our own mantras which we formulate through our contact with the world. The Vedas are essentially made up of mantras. Mantras can be translated as that which strengthens the mind. If our consciousness, minds and thoughts are being nourished by the sense-driven material world, then we are in trouble... because our everyday lives are fashioned by our inner thoughts and samskaras. The Lord in the following verses said that we should cut down this tree with the axe of renunciation and then only can we achieve the goal of realisation. All our actions and thoughts should be rooted in the divine consciousness and not the world. Then, and only then, will we be able to see peace and transformation in the world. It was this connection with his inner being and spirit that returned Nelson Mandela as the saviour to a country that was heading for civil war and bloodshed.


We have heard and read of the Gandhis, Martin Luther Kings, Sivajis, Aurobindos, etc. but it was truly great to have lived with the Mandela. I will treasure with my heart the occasion that I met and spoke with him. The aura of positive divinity that he radiated has left an indelible mark on my consciousness.


Nelson Mandela has practically shown us the teachings of our great saints and our scriptures. He lived the values and practiced the Vedanta. Therefore today, not just South Africans mourn his passing on, but the entire humanity recognises the shining light of divinity he radiated. I pray his soul guides our country and world to righteousness, peace and prosperity. All our spiritual practices will lead us to a final goal of purity and in this month we celebrate that very embodiment of purity in the life of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi. May Mother bless the world so that tears, pain and suffering are removed. Let the New Year usher charitable feelings towards one another winding its way towards harmony and prosperity. O Mother, may you protect us and be with us always, is my sincere prayer. Wishing everyone a Happy Festive Season and enligntened New Year.  I will connect with you all once again on the 12 January 2014.  Be blessed and safe.


Hambe Kahle Tata Mandela!!!!

 Affectionately and lovingly yours

Yogan Naidoo

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