Friday, 19 June 2015

Attractive Associations

Landing the pen on to the page after 6 months found my mind in turmoil struggling to coalesce the fragments of thoughts into a coherent idea. At that point, I recalled the last post of Swami Vimokshananda before He departed South Africa where He elaborated about an incident related to Kanaka Dasa -a humble and sincere devotee of Lord Krishna- and the association with metal and magnet. The laws of physics explain explicitly the behaviour of a metal in the field of a magnet. The metal becomes extremely excited and active in its presence and goes to rest in the absence of the magnet. In trying to justify my absence especially to those avid readers of the blog who mailed and messaged me to enquire about the distinct silence, I would have to submit to the fact that my magnet of inspiration, Revered Swamiji leaving us, did leave me marooned from the will to write.

Bhagawan Sri Ramakrishna in many of His teachings gave prominence to the benefits of pious and holy company. He said: “many warm themselves in the fire kindled by someone else who has taken the trouble of collecting the firewood and the other necessary things, similarity many fix their mind on the Lord by associating with, and following the instructions of holy men who have come to realise the divine after a good deal of hard penance.” Swami Vimokshananda was one such warm and selfless fire who warmed the hearts of all South Africans that associated with Him and those who were in His presence. He gave all that He could whole-heartedly without a single thought for Himself. Hence His departure in a way set in a cold spell of emptiness.

Yesterday was four years since I received the gentle command from Maharaj to pen my thoughts in the form of a blog and like a splint He has always guided, supported, encouraged and inspired me to explore my mind and inner being for answers to enquiries that plague us on a daily basis. The journey has been truly enlightening and rewarding. Like a veracious and unerring magnet that always maintains its attractiveness to metal, Maharaj sent an awakening jolt from Singapore yesterday on the Anniversary of the blog calling for a new post. Like how the metal has to succumb in full co-operation to the power of the magnet, I with full sastanga pranams to my Guru and Maharaj pen this first post for the year.

THUF Poster at the Youth Day Fun Run
The Tongaat Hindu Unity Form hosted yet another astounding and successful Arise Awake Fun Run on June 16th commemorated as National Youth Day in South Africa. Interestingly, India celebrates National Youth Day on the Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda… because of His grand and illuminating ideas on youth development and also for His colossal contributions to the awakening and liberation of India during the prime of his youth.

The word “youth” is trending increasingly on social media. Why has it become the new buzzword? Are youth feeling the pressure of the pressure? What are their expectations? What do adults expect of them? At a Youth Day address in 1995, Nelson Mandela said: “I am confident that South Africa’s youth is more than ready to meet the challenge of freedom. We are firm in our conviction that you deserve a better future.” 21 Years later and even after the deaths of Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko, Swami Vivekananda and others... their visionary ideas and ideals hold true. The question remains: are youth doing their duty?

Duty, sacrifice and other such beautiful words in the literary pantheon can only be given true meaning if we attach respect and action to them. Action – another pretty word... that has no meaning... if the verb is not carried out. Leo Buscaglia famously said: “the time for action is now, and only you can make the difference.”

Without wanting to diminish the success and achievements of a good portion of the youth in our country -which is sadly polarised by the large number who have become a menace to the society through their deeds and habits- we attribute the negativity to the lack of employment opportunities, skills, social conditions and the association of uninspiring company.

Sri Ramakrishna said that even moist wood placed upon fire soon becomes dry and finally burns. Similarly association with good, inspiring company helps drive away the moisture of weakness, dullness, lethargy and despondency from the heart of a person and then the fire of viveka   (discrimination between good and bad) burns steadily in them.

Swami Saradaprabhanandaji of the Phoenix Sub-Centre always pointed out that young people must be exposed to mind strengthening, character-building literature rather than material that is merely sensational and lacks the ability to inspire you to excel to your full potential.

Youth must ensure that they identify and study sound role models. Amidst all the scandals and inadequacies of leaders in the world, there are role models of impeccable character and who have the force to mould young people into laureate citizens.

In concluding this post, I want to quote from the engraved walls of the Hector Pieterson Memorial Square in Soweto the words of Mbuyisa Makhubo’s Mother (the boy who together with Antoinette Sithole carried the body of Hector Pieterson moments after he was shot... in the iconic picture we’ve come to associate with Youth Day in South Africa): Mbuyisa is or was my son, but he is not a hero. In my culture, picking up Hector is not an act of heroism. It was his job as a brother. It was his duty.

Swami Vivekananda said that He “holds every man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense pays not the least heed to them”. This profound statement by Swamiji speaks to the fact that a society cannot progress when certain parts of the society lag behind. It is the duty therefore of every person to help raise the standards of every person to a dignified position. Swamiji further states that there can be no liberation until all are free.

Hence we can deduce that when we perform any act of kindness or seva, it is futile to attempt such for recognition or fame, but to attempt it with a sense of duty as it eventually is for your own well-being and liberation. Let us all collectively work towards ending hatred, bigotry and all forms of discrimination on the basis of race, sex, social status etc. and work towards harmonising the world towards peace, joy and the one goal being God-realisation. 

The 21st of June has been declared International Yoga day by the United Nations. Let us all use this ancient technique to find union with the universe.

May we all strive to be good people and to be good and inspiring company to others, is my sincere prayer.

With love and prayers always

Wishing all Dads a blessed Father’s Day for Sunday, 21st June. 

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