No country, community or culture has made a more subtle and deep study of human life as the rishis. It was not an easy task to study the subtle nature of man. For this, Indian sages and saints gave up material comforts and consumerist attitude and researched human life through sadhana. Keeping in view the inferences so drawn they prepared an exhaustive code of conduct and gave instructions to lead the life accordingly.
An perennial Philosophy and an ideal model of Culture evolved in India, the like of which is not found in any other country. It is so extraordinary and comprehensive in every respect that even a little contemplation of its glorious aspects overwhelms our hearts with reverence for the sages.
When the whole world was following the policy of selfishness, whereby a person would accumulate in excess and deprive others, sages in India mused what was the uniqueness of man if he continues practising this dictum? Everybody is desirous of indulging in pleasures.
Everyone is willing to commit unethical deeds for earning money. The society is tormented by people's habit of loafing around in idleness. Who does not crave to eat the best food and wear the best clothes? All these are the features of an ordinary man. Many of these tendencies are found in animals too, and if man also wallows in them, what is his specialty? Such an attitude does not make the right use of his knowledge, intellect and wisdom. In spite of being the possessor of extraordinary strength and abilities, if man leads a contemptible life, then where does lie the meaningfulness of the human existence? Superior possessions should be used for superior deeds only Indians have apprehended this fact. For this very reason alone our authority and eminence have survived the vicissitudes of the tides of time.
The problem of bread and butter could not be more important for man than the need to understand the aim of life. Even an atheist will accept that human life is a rare gift. It would be unwise to waste it like ordinary people. Going in an opposite direction of the blind routine of the masses, the purpose of human life can be discovered.
The outcome of living life casually "pain and suffering" is evident to us all. Therefore the sages asked: why not go in an opposite direction and discover some new facts? With this ideology a new philosophy emerged in India. It inspired the birth of sadhana. The achievements (siddhis) of sadhana were majestic and great. The dispersal of even a fraction of these achievements resulted in heavenly happiness in the world. The name of these achievements was "humanity", meaning practising the dictum "I do not want it, you take it. Nothing belongs to me; everything belongs to the Almighty God" (i.e. selflessness and sacrifice).
After thorough sadhanas and the resulting experiences, saints concluded that everyone is entitled to God's gifts, so they should be distributed amongst all. By pursuing this guideline, the emergence of free happiness can take place and the world can be kept secure. Without it, there is no other way to establish peace in human life.
Worldly glories are automatically attracted to the one who can differentiate between justice and injustice and between righteousness and unrighteousness, and who perceives the same consciousness in all living beings.
A person experiences happiness as a by-product resulting from voluntary sacrifice for the welfare of others. A person whose heart is filled with loving kindness becomes so powerful and capable that material pleasures seem trivial to him. What could be the value of transient pleasures compared to the effulgence of the soul?
It is beyond the intellectual capacity of the modern man to contemplate the achievements of sages like Vashishtha, Vishwamitra, Gautum, Dadhichi, Kanva, Angira, Jamadagni, Bhardwaj, etc.
The whole world bowed before their spiritual and material attainments. Through their tapas they had command over the sublime energies of the universe. They could have, if they wished, accumulated material wealth in unimaginable proportions. But they never desired it. Compared to the welfare of humanity they considered the pleasures of the world worthless. They were ever ready to serve mankind. One of the most famous cases is of sage Dadhichi, who permitted Lord Indra to take his bones and construct an indestructible weapon called "vajra" to defeat the evil forces threatening mankind. Dadhichi experienced immense happiness in self-sacrifice, which he had not experienced by attaining spiritual and material powers. Achievements are meant to aid man realise his goal. Man is born for the service of humanity.
There was an era during which ennobling feelings of helping others reigned supreme. A person used to think-
"How could I be of help to others? Whom should I offer my services so as to uplift his condition?"
This was considered a measure of superiority. People did not yearn as much for riches, worldly glory, etc as they did for sacrificing themselves in the interest of the society and the world at large. They considered it a blessing to give up life for noble ideals and whosoever got such an opportunity considered it as God's grace bestowed upon them.
History contains several examples of sacrifices of the highest order. Pannadai sacrificed her son for the security of the royal throne. Sukanya had accidentally damaged the eyes of Rishi Chyavan. In repentance, she married him and shared in all his austerities. Gandhari's husband Dhritrashtra was blind; she could not bear the difficulties he was going through due to his blindness. Hence she voluntarily chose blindness by covering her eyes with a strip of cloth. Can anyone forget this episode of history? Such glorious examples of unbelievable sacrifices have been the backbone of the Hindu culture. This is the reason why India's fame radiates even today like a brilliant constellation in the sky.
Hindus have exhibited steadfast determination and faith in religious beliefs, gurus, family members, society and the nation in the development of humanity. The original beliefs of the Hindus have not been wiped out, though their purity has been adulterated. Owing to the conditions of the Medieval Age, blind faith, irrational faith, narrow-mindedness and sectarianism have sapped the true Hindu ethos and vitality. Who won't lament over the dimming of the light that once guided the world? This downfall can be a cause of sorrow particularly for those who have faith and trust in the ideals of the rishis. No one could have expected that the Hindu would demean the legacy of their ancestors, and let the glory of their culture be left to the mercy of fate and helplessly watch its demise.
Today, awareness of the rich Hindu heritage is again growing. The spirit of India is awakening from a state of stupor.
Today, the hordes of evil are bent upon destroying every single noble ideal of humanity but the divine forces are determined to foil these evil designs of the devil. It is our sacred duty to welcome this change since the founder fathers of our culture lived for strengthening and stabilising humanity. If we are firmly committed to revive our ideal heritage, it will enhance our glory and self-respect.
Rishis, rightly evaluating the human life, had preached manurbhava janaya daivyam janam, meaning, "O man! Be a human being in the real sense (i.e. practice the principles of humanity)." To accomplish this, certain things must be kept in mind. One should not think only about self-development. He should not remain contented by himself adopting humanity but should also try to spread it by precepts and practice. He should be always ready to sacrifice for the sake of ideals so that the flow of the stream of humanity is not interrupted and allowed to dry up.
The purpose of human life is contained in the above single mantra and the implementation of its meaning is the imperative need of today. Humanity is the legacy of our ancestors. The responsibility of its protection rests on our shoulders. How vigilant we are about it is being closely watched with hope by the future.
See the article "Awakening of supernormal Faculties Through sadhana" for a discussion on sadhana in this issue
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