India has high hopes to become the Superpower of the the 21st century. To make India’s dream come true, a new creativity and vitality is necessary that honors the country’s venerable traditions. But is this possible when there are deep concerns about the decadence of spirituality and moral values in the Indian society?
It is time we reckoned that the Indian tradition originated 3,000 years before the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions became extant. The Rig Veda, one of the oldest books in the world boldly proclaims:
“That which is the One Truth the seer teach in many different ways
…May noble aspiration come to us from every side.”
This bedrock of Indian pluralism gave rise not only to the many different sects of Hinduism, but also to Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism—perhaps the largest diversity of spiritual teachings in the entire world. This reflects an open quest for truth and a free flowering of all human potentials beyond any restriction to a particular name, form or institution, and embraces art and science as well as religion and metaphysics. But today, India does not seem to be the land of the Bhagavad Gita, the Vedas and Upanishads, of Buddha, Gandhi and Sri Ramakrishna.
‘Vamadeva Shastri’ Dr David Frawley notes that over the past 50 years, India has failed to discover its real roots. “Indians have forgotten their own profound modern sages likeSwami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo who projected modern and futuristic views of the Indian tradition. While Westerners come to India seeking spiritual knowledge, Indian intellectuals look to the West with an adulation that is often blind, if not obsequious.”
Spiritual leaders are of the opinion that the Indian society is in the throes of perhaps one of its worst crises in history. Acharya Mahapragya said it is an irony that a land of fabled spiritual and cultural wealth today has lost all spiritual bearings and has succumbed to a culture of spiritual ignorance. “The excesses of this century will reach their climax sooner or later and our people will return to understand what went wrong. The virtues of ahimsaand restraint will stand out as self-evident against a backdrop of the failings of our presently misdirected civilization. We must look forward to a future when all of humanity will work together to develop a spirit-centered society”, says the Acharya.
One vital question, however, remains: Whether all the spiritual knowledge we have gained from the saints and the religious conviction that the gurus have inspired in us, all the nihilism that modern science may offer and all the agnosticism that rootless existence invites, together make us any better as children of the divine than people were at the turn of the previous millennium. These, says writer G N Devy, are similar questions raised by Martin Luther, Mira Bai and Vivekananda in their times. “The legacy of questioning Faith”, notes Devy, “is probably the greatest achievement of religious philosophy over the last thousand years.”
One more question, spirituality has played its part in the past, but will it be of any consequence in the new millennium? Many are of the opinion that the form and nature of religion has to change keeping, however, the vision of Truth and the values based on it intact. According to Swami Tejomayananda there will be a kind of synthesis among religions, giving birth to a new religion for all. “There were masters who tried to bring synthesis among religions but they succeded only in adding a new religion. We should understand the true essence of religion as the oneness of the Self, and base all ethical values on this understanding”, says the Swami.
Hitherto, spirituality was thought to be something devoid of fun. But today, opines Sri Ravi Shankar Maharaj, “Spirituality has more to do with love, compassion, caring, beauty, peace of mind, calmness and creativity. The spirit is the basis of all the qualities that a human being exhibits. A human being is not a machine, there is something more the physical existence. That awareness of the spirit is increasing day by day.”
Ethical principles are universal and come from human reasoning and experience and from divine inspiration, and they uphold the inviolability of the human being. According toFather Samuel Rayan, “If only we are able to draw upon our spiritual heritage…can we go forward to a future worthy of our past and of the promises of the present.”
What India today requires is a new generation of thinkers who are global in outlook but grounded in the practical spirituality of the Yoga and Vedanta. India holds the spiritual power and the evolutionary force of humanity that can lead the world. Dr David Frawley feels only a spiritual superpower, which India has the best potential to become, can properly guide the global society.
~ Author Unknown