In defence of Hindu gurus
Date: January 9, 2006
When Marxist leader Brinda Karat attacks Swami Ramdev, she is not attacking Ramdev in particular, she is attacking Hinduism in general.
This guru or that guru makes no difference to her; she is against all gurus.
Other gurus might think they are safe, that Ramdev committed some sin for which he is paying. But one of them will be the next in the line of fire!
Hindu gurus are all vulnerable in today's India: The Kanchi Shankaracharya has already been hit. So has Satya Sai Baba. Amritanandamayi has to live under the constant shadow of a hostile Kerala Communist-dominated government. Dhirendra Brahmachari is dead and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is periodically targeted as the 'Guru of the rich', the 'Glib Godman' etc.
May I be forgiven my arrogance, but what Indian gurus have to understand is that for Indian Communists, Hinduism is the Number 1 enemy. Mao called religion 'the opium of the people'. But for Indian Communists, what stands between their ambition for absolute power in India (and eventually the triumphant return of Communism in the world -- as Indian Communists believe) is the hold Hinduism has in the hearts of the rural people of India, who constitute 80 per cent of this country.
Yet, the humble farmer from Uttar Pradesh to Tamil Nadu has a natural understanding of the universality of God, who takes many names throughout the ages who could be Buddha, Jesus Christ, Ram or Mohammad. This humble farmer possesses the knowledge that there is a something deeper than the skin and the mind, and a life beyond death. This knowledge is inbred, it is not in his head, not even in his heart, but in his or her genes from generation to generation.
Of course, the English-speaking media is too happy to oblige Brinda Karat and come down hard on gurus with all kind of accusations.
Before Ramdev, they came down on the Kanchi Shankaracharya, before him on Osho, before him on Dhirendra Brahmachari. You can even go back to Sri Aurobindo, who was accused in the early 1900s by the moderate Congress-controlled press to be a 'fanatic', when he was only demanding total independence from the British long before Gandhi took it up.
Accusations against Hinduism of superstition, brainwashing, ritualistic ignorance, date back from British missionaries and have been taken up today by the Communists. Yet, Hinduism -- at least the Hinduism which goes beyond the rituals and becomes universal spirituality -- has nothing to do with superstition and conmanship: it is all about science, knowledge and light.
Look at Pranayama, a science that has known for thousands of years how to harness breath and use it for controlling the mind, for a better, more healthy, more spiritualised life. If you read Osho's books today, you find a lot of solid common sense, wisdom, even light.
Satya Sai Baba cannot have millions of disciples from the most humble to the Presidents of India without 'something' which is beyond superstition. So goes for Amritanandamayi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Ramdev, or Guruma of Ganeshpuri.
And why should Brinda Karat target Ayurveda, the most ancient medical system in India still in practice, the first medicine to realise 3,000 years ago that plants and minerals offer the best cure, that many illnesses have a psychosomatic origin, the first to practice plastic surgery on patients?
In India today, every third shop is an allopathic medical shop, whose profits go to Western multinationals (hello Mrs Karat!) at a time when Ayurvedic medicine is becoming increasingly popular in Western countries, after being disillusioned by antibiotics and other heavy-handed medicines.
We are witnessing an interesting phenomenon in India today. Some Communists, some Christians, some Muslims and some Congress leaders -- all of whom have nothing in common and often hate each other are united against Hinduism and Hindu leaders.
In contrast, look at the Hindus: Swami Ramdev himself criticised Sri Sri Ravi Shankar live on television, advising his followers not to practice Art of Living breathing techniques. During the tsunami relief operations in Nagapattinam, disciples of Amritanandamayi and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar nearly came to blows over who would give relief to whom, instead of networking and uniting their efforts.
And who came to the rescue of Osho when he was maligned to death, or Dhirendra Brahmachari when the entire press came down on him, or Satya Sai Baba, when he was slandered, or the Shankaracharya when he was thrown into jail, or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, when Javed Akhtar accused him of coming 'from a cave to live in a palace' (and not from a palace to a cave like the Buddha)? None of the previously mentioned. Yet, Indian politicians can commit any crime, have any number of court cases against them, and they still end up as Union ministers and get positive press coverage.
The greatest curse of Hinduism throughout the ages has been its disunity -- and more than that -- its betraying each other. The British did not conquer India, it was given to them by its warring Hindu princes, jealous of each other. The same is true of Islam: the last great Hindu empire, that of Vijaynagar, was betrayed to the Muslims by the Lingayats.
I know there is something mysterious and unfathomable in the manifestation of the Divine upon earth, and that each guru has a defined task to fulfill and that the combined task of all the gurus may solve the great puzzle that is this ignorant and suffering earth.
Thus, it may not be necessary for each guru to communicate with each other. But nevertheless, it is of the greatest urgency today that Hindu leaders unite to save Hinduism, rather than 'each one for his own' that we see today.
The Catholics have their Pope and his word is binding on all Catholics. Muslims have Prophet Mohammed's words and that binds all of Islam together. Indian Communists have the words of Marx and Lenin, even if it has become irrelevant in Russia, Germany, and also in China. But the poor Hindus have nobody to refer to, so as to defend themselves.
Yet, if you take the combined people power of Satya Sai Baba, Amritaanandamayi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Swami Ramdev, Guruma of Ganeshpuri, the Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram, and so many others I cannot mention here, it runs in hundreds of millions.
Again, in all humility and conscious of the limitation of mind compared to some of these great gurus whom I have met, I propose that a Supreme Spiritual Council, composed of at least seven of the most popular Hindu leaders of India, be constituted, maybe under the leadership of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the most travelled of all these, the one who has disciples and teachers of all religions, both from India and the West.
It should be a non-political body, and each group would keep its independence but nevertheless. It could meet two three times a year and issue edicts, which would be binding on 850 millions Hindus in India and one billion over the world.
Then and then only can this wonderful spirituality which is Hinduism, this eternal knowledge behind the outer forms, the wisdom to understand this mad earth and its sufferings, be preserved for the future of India, and for the future of humanity.
I bow down to each of these gurus mentioned above and to all those not mentioned, to Swami Vivekananda, the initiator of modern Hinduism, to Sri Aurobindo, the great avatar of the supramental, and to all the great gurus who have graced over the ages, this wonderful and sacred land which is India and beseech them to hear my prayer:
Hindus leaders, unite, if you want eternal Dharma to survive.