The Vision behind CIRD
After independence, our country rightly chose the motto “Satyam-eva jayate” (Truth alone triumphs) from Muṇḍakopanishad. But it ignored the very first statement of the same Upanishad: “Brahmavidyā sarva-vidyā-pratishṭhā” - The science of supreme Reality is the foundation of all other sciences. The supreme Reality being our own true Identity, the one Self of all, the pursuit of Brahmavidyā is based on expansion, purification, and fortification of our inner being. It leads to universal love and a comprehensive vision of life in the world. It makes us master of ourselves by removing our slavery to objects and objective situations.
Before the British intervention, this inner growth was the fundamental note in education in our country. And that is what sustained this civilization for thousands of years. The amazing treasure of literature, art and culture evolved in this land was anchored in this core truth of oneness underlying the infinite external variety. During the last century, the unbridled indulgence in materiality and neglect of inner development have brought us to the present precipitous state of value decline.
To re-institute the science of inner fortification with a current perspective and without any religious connotation, Swamiji conceived of the Centre for Inner Resources Development (CIRD) or Ātmīya Vaibhav Vikās Kendra. CIRD was conceptualized as a unique Knowledge Institution to help man discover and harness the hidden powers of mind through wisdom-orientation. The mind has immense potential to grow to any dimension. It can assimilate and harmonise any input to remain victorious in any external situation. Only it has to know its power, and actualise it through dedicated application.
Hurdles or opportunities for growth?
Although the construction of CIRD at Vasundhara started only by April 1999, the inner transformation envisioned in the concept of CIRD started working right from March 1998, through the growth and expansion of the minds of the volunteers involved in various aspects of the project. The execution of the project at different phases brought forth opportunities to discover and harness their inner resources, to expand their mind and broaden their vision.
Poojya Swamiji’s observations and statements at crucial junctures showed the path to freedom and expansion. His enlightening message – looking at the critical situations from a larger and deeper perspective – helped one transcend the usual notes of possessiveness, fear of failure, and anxiety about lack of funds or manpower.
The immediate hurdle was money. The cost of the 2-acre land (institutional lease rent for 99 years) came to about Rs. 90 lakhs, payable in four equal quarterly instalments. We did not have money to pay an instalment even for 1 acre. But, various considerations about the proper ambience and moderate future needs of the institution made us apply for 2 acres. Our strength was Swamiji’s statement: “A householder will spend 1 thousand when he has 10 lakhs. A Sannyāsin will plan for 10 lakhs when he does not have even 1 thousand.”
Anything a Sannyāsin does is for the welfare of the society. Considering the needs of the society, he has to visualise a realistic dimension of the project or the service. He has to strike a balance between the resources and the intended purpose and worth of the conceived project or service. The safeguard in his decisions lies in keeping the mind free of any desire or ambition. For any auspicious development of the society, he can attempt even a Herculean task, because he is not obsessed by the thought of failure. Instead, equipped with the lofty notes of renunciation and guided by the fundamental harmony of Nature, he greets whatever comes providentially and is also greeted by Providence at every step.
Swamiji always says: “If the society needs what we do, the money will come from the society.”
With the devotional sacrifice of some devotees and disciples, and benevolent gesture of some well-wishers, the first instalment was somehow paid in time. Soon thereafter the UP Housing & Development Board gave us the possession of the land on 13 May 1998, which happened to be the 65th birthday of Poojya Swamiji.
On the Gurupoorṇimā day (July 09, 1998), the Delhi devotees, as advised by Swamiji, went to the site early morning and planted saplings of various auspicious trees like Neem, Pomegranate, Jamun, and the Pañchavaṭī constituting of Aśvattha, Vaṭa, Aśoka, Āmalaka and Bilva. While planting the saplings, they recited the Subhāshita ślokas expressing the selfless service of Mother Nature as well as of Saints:
It is for the benefit of others that trees produce fruits, rivers flow, and cows shed milk. Likewise, this body (which is also a product of Nature) is meant for serving others.
Rivers never drink their own water, trees never eat their own fruits, and clouds never eat the grains (to produce which they carry water). Likewise, the resources of the good people are also meant for the service of others.
This sublime vṛkṣaropaṇa (tree-plantation) function, with the ślokas having a bearing on the spirit of CIRD as well as Narayanashrama Tapovanam, marked the humble beginning of the sacred mission of CIRD. Swamiji asked the devotees to make a thatched shed at the site and hold their weekly Satsangs under it as an austerity, till the Satsang hall of CIRD would become ready.
Purity the sole refuge
Months passed after the first instalment was paid. What about further payment? Many devotees became anxious and also apprehensive about the fate. Some felt concerned whether the money already paid to the Board would be forfeited as per the agreement. Swamiji consoled: “Why are you so worried? After all, we have paid the money to the government. Even if we are not able to meet the commitment, the money will be with our government only. We are trying to serve the society. We don’t lose anything!”
In a letter to Smt. Uma and Sri Shankar (who were playing a leading role in the project), Swamiji had written: “…It is important that none of the devotees be asked to contribute or even advance any amount for any purpose. It will be an embarrassment to them. If and when any one feels like doing something, let him/her do so, and to the extent each feels like. This is the fundamental spiritual note on which we live and move, and all of you also should. Only then the spiritual purity and welfare will be ensured.
“Do not become anxious or over-enthusiastic about getting anything done. We shall proceed only to the extent we can. Providence will then look after the rest. Some will have the heart but not resources, and some will have resources but not the heart. The world needs everyone to make it. Diversity is inherent in Nature, and that is what sustains it.
“The whole effort must primarily mean sādhanā and evolution at every stage. Then the benefit will live with the society for ages. Otherwise, it will be only buildings and gardens, to perish soon like any other material possession. …”
Providence versus Purity
Finally one day, a letter came from an industrialist, a close devotee of Swamiji and a serious spiritual seeker. He was quite concerned about meeting the land dues for CIRD. He wrote: “… I have discussed the matter with my industrialist friends. In other similar institutions, the sādhaka units (rooms in the guest house) are allocated to donors with the first right of use on payment of some fixed donation. We can seek donations from our friends interested in such a scheme. Once we have paid for the land, the constructions can be taken up gradually depending on the availability of funds. …”
The letter arrived like a sudden Providential help. But … there was a big “but”. Swamiji looked deeply concerned. We too. In Swamiji’s Ashram, seekers and devotees are permitted to stay depending on their spiritual or devotional need. In case anybody wishes to stay for longer period, it depends additionally on his/her behavioural harmony with the Ashram. But, nobody is ever allowed or disallowed on the basis of the offerings he may have made. Not only accommodation, any programme, residential or otherwise, conducted by the Ashram has always been free.
After discussing with us, Swamiji wrote: “Your suggestion is quite practical and must be serving the temperament of the resourceful people as well as the needs of the institutions. But, the practice in this Ashram has been that whatever offerings are given are like those made at the feet of the Lord in a Temple, and we make whatever facilities are necessary from the common pool.
“It has been my cherished view that an offering made in front of God or a Mahātmā should not carry any such tag with it. All the property or riches one possesses, does he not owe them to the great Creator? My soliloquy had been: ‘O Lord! I, and those like me, who live and move only to spread Your glory and supremacy, should not be made to go to any rich agency putting You to shame. The little support they may need to disseminate Your words must come by itself. …’
“When I see boards and plaques in temples and Ashrams, with the inscription ‘donated by …’, I feel ashamed thinking how far we have come away from the great cultural refinement our society and forefathers stood for. Any such display or special privilege defeats the very purpose of offering. …”
The industrialist devotee wrote back: “Swamiji, I have always appreciated your principled stand and traditional purity. I have full faith that the work of CIRD will have all the Providential support. As far as I am concerned, I shall certainly do whatever possible. …”
We felt greatly strengthened. Within a few days came a visitor from an Ashram in Uttarkashi. He narrated the deplorable situation in their Ashram because of the licentious behaviour of a person staying there. Swamiji enquired: “Why is the Swamiji in charge of the Ashram not sending him away?” With a helpless smile the man said: “The father of this young man had donated the major amount during the construction of the Ashram.”
As if the visitor had arrived only to communicate the Providential approval of our non-acceptance of the ‘Providential help’.
The Institution takes shape
We reached Delhi from Jamshedpur on 28 February 1999. This was supposed to be our last stay at Sureka Farm. The land dues for CIRD at Vasundhara (UP) were cleared in time. On 14 March 1999, we had arranged for Bhoomi-poojā at the site, marking the commencement of the construction work for the Centre.
We reached the CIRD site early in the morning. The devotees had put up some simple ‘tents’ for conducting the poojā as well as for cooking and feeding. The function was attended by a large number of devotees from Delhi and Vasundhara. All the devotees, together with about 400 construction workers from the surrounding areas, were offered food.
In his address to the assembled devotees, Poojya Swamiji reminded all: “Neither does the land belong to us, nor have we taken possession of the land from the UP Housing & Development Board. The land belongs to Vasundhara, and it will remain with Vasundhara. Our “taking possession” is only a working arrangement facilitating our service to the society – the service which the Government itself should have taken up after independence, fifty years ago.”
(to be continued)