|early Indians in cane field|
image- google images
In the very last public function in Tongaat by Swami Vimokshananda at the Shree Veeraboga Emperumal Temple, Maharaj addressed the gathering on the importance of respecting our forefathers and ancestors for their immense sacrifices for the benefit of society. On this day 154 years ago we remember and salute those pioneers who ventured into a foreign land on the promised hope of prosperity and a better life. At that time in British India, the population suffered a similar fate of the indigenous peoples of South Africa. It was the refusal of the African people in South Africa to provide labour under slave conditions to enrich the colonial masters that led the British government to seek assistance from their other colonies. Living under severe oppression, it was easy to lure the Indians under false pretences of gold and prosperity to the shores of Africa only to suffer under similar circumstances of bondage and oppression.
However, it was their absolute faith in God and the communal support structure within which they lived that allowed them to persevere and develop conditions for their expansion and growth. Their understanding that by sharing they will grow led the way for educational, cultural and spiritual centres of excellence to be developed through the collection of resources amongst themselves despite their meagre earnings. Today, as thousands of people graduate and benefit from these institutes... we cannot but be in reverence of these great souls who had a profound vision to invest in a better future. By total coincidence, a few of us gathered yesterday for breakfast after a meeting and were discussing the days of yore when so much of love and affection was prevalent within our community. There was a practice that anybody who visited a home was not allowed to leave without partaking of a meal even if the host had not prepared enough for themselves. That was the incredibly rich culture that we stemmed from. Completely out of phase of that custom... today we find a society fractured and disintegrating at an alarming pace. Family feuds, abandoned parents and animosity amongst neighbours have all seemed to displace the sense of harmony and unity that once blanketed our community. For those of us who have experienced a bit of the yesteryears, it plagues our mind as to what went wrong.
Its seems that Revered Swami Vishwatmananda Maharaj - the new president of the Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa upon His arrival itself has grasped an understanding of the situation. A beautiful introduction was given last week when Swami Vimokshananda narrated an in depth bio-data of the new President in His blog (www.vimokshananda.com).
Last night, I was blessed to have an intimate tea satsang with both Swamijis. In a few words, President Maharaj was able to answer many doubts and concerns regarding the state of our society. Maharaj said today we have a situation where wealth, education and the standards of living are growing exponentially but sadly there is also a conversely proportional deterioration of values, morals and ethics. The malaise that we find ourselves in is due to the neglect of complementing man- making, character-building education with our secular education system. Swami Vivekananda after His careful analysis of the western world was able to deduce that this critical component was integral in fundamentally developing an ideal society.
The science of navigation was utilised by our Vedic scholars since ancient times. They utilised the constellations and the heavens as a basis to plot their way. As time progressed, the science got more and more advanced. Our forefathers who came to our shores probably used a compass to direct them. Today navigation has evolved to such as extent that we now utilise a system of satellites to collectively give us GPS (global positioning system). Every point on the globe is addressed by a longitude and latitude co-ordinate or in simpler terms a horizontal and vertical position. By merely keying in these two positions into a GPS navigator, one will be directed to that point with little effort.
Swami Vishwatmananda seemed very vocal about man’s obsession with material advancement at the expense of spiritual development. In a very pragmatic tone, Maharaj disclosed that both must be done concurrently. The horizontal expansion (which is material progress) must take place together with the vertical expansion(spiritual progress).Imagine if you were to only key in the horizontal co-ordinates into a GPS system... you will definitely be going nowhere slowly. That is the situation that humanity is in currently. In the spiritual path, the GPS is the GOD positioning system. Mankind must now start to lock onto finding the vertical position. Where the horizontal and vertical lines meet in perfect balance and harmony, we would have found the God position. When Swami Vivekananda speaks of the potential divinity of man, He speaks of the fact that in theory we know that we are divine, but we have not found the experience. It’s like we know there's a country called Finland, but until we plot the co-ordinates on a map, we will only know of it but will never experience it.
Maharaj in a sinuous way brought the discussion to completion by elaborating on ways to develop the vertical through the practice of selfless service, devotion to God, regular spiritual practices and by studying the scriptures. If we can approach these paths with sincerity then we will genuinely experience the divinity within... and once we have achieved this, then the process of transforming our society would have started involuntarily.
Today, as we remember with fondness our forefathers who crossed the treacherous seas and toiled for our success, let us commit to make their legacy proud by finding the God position and live the ideal way in a society they would have wanted... full of peace, love, compassion and empathy.
Jai Shree Guru Maharaj ki Jai!!!!!
With love and prayers always