Ma said I should say something about our dharma and in what manner it relates to religion or does it go beyond religion. You know our ashram is a trust. It is actually a public charitable educational trust. We want to describe it as an educational trust because whatever we do is for the purpose of educating the people and participants. Even if many people do not look at the life of a sannyasin as the life of a teacher, a very distinguished teacher who tries to learn, study on the one hand, pursue knowledge, at the same time disseminate it. All people are not able to disseminate but a sannyasin’s life is supposed to be for propagating wisdom. It is such a wisdom that will enable the people to understand the nature and purpose of life, the necessary disciplines and refinements to be followed in order to enrich and elevate life.
Everything concerning human life comes under the gamut of dharma. In that way our dharma is not just religious and not so much religious. There are people who do not believe in God and who can and do believe in God. Belief in God or disbelief in God does not in any way affect the course of our dharma. Our dharma is the outcome of a dedicated enquiry. We have a celebrated proverb called athatho dharma jijnasa. It is the birth right of human individual to think about ‘am I doing the right thing, am I right, how to make our life right. What is purpose of being right or righteous’.
Any kind of enquiry can come up in life and the enquiry into dharma is also very relevant and indispensable in human life. In fact that individual in whom enquiry sprouts alone is considered to be an ārya, śreśtha. This is the concept of our dharma. Our dharma considers whether belief in God is necessary or not. Can we go without the belief. Suppose we believe in God, what are the benefits or advantages. If you believe and don’t get the benefit, then the belief is not meaningful.
It (dharma) will analyse everything in human life oneself, the constituents of the world, the very concept of God and religion, everything is enquired into by dharma. Such a dharma by its very nature is not religious. It does not divide anything like religious and non religious. Our dharma when properly understood covers entire gamut of life, activities, interactions, character, behaviour, inter personal relationships, relationship with the world, with nature, relationship with the beyond - everything is included. Nothing is precluded from dharma. In other words only when one is able to bring the entire life and activities of his within the sphere of dharma, we become dharmic.
Such a dharma obviously does not allow considerations as either religious or secular. This is a point many people do not know. When our dharma was evolved, I am sure, in the plains of Ganga where people began to concentrate and live peacefully because of the availability of beautiful water throughout the year. There was nothing like religion or religious matter in the world at all. The word religion got included in the dictionary much much later. Then how can you call our dharma to be a religion? So it is not religion. The subject has been debated and discussed and advocated in Supreme court many years ago where they have said that Hindu dharma is a way of life. It is not a religion at all.
Our dharma relates to human life and personality. In the personality there are four distinct levels. The sensory level which refers to the functioning of the sense organs. Then oral and articulational level which refers to sounds and speech. Then we go inside to touch the mind level where thoughts, feelings, memories arise. When we go into the intelligence level wherein investigation, interrogations, assessments, findings etc. abide. Then our dharma is relevant to the sensory plain of our life, the oral plain of our life, then the mental and intellectual plain. It also relates to the ego level and finally touches and concludes by reaching the Self level.
It is the Self level that was disclosed in the Kurukshetra battlefield by Krishna to Arjuna because there was nothing else that could have worked to make Arjuna fight his own grandfather and kill him. Arjuna had to fight Drona and all respectable and adorable people with whom he had no enmity at all. Obviously such a war is not permissible to any level of human life. Therefore Krishna had to instruct and disclose the existence of the Self and the invisibility of the Self. Positioning yourself inwardly on the Self which is unborn and undying, which is indestructible - simply undergo this war just like any other activity of nature. Do not claim any possessiveness about anything. Simply act as a non actor.
This is what he said. So our dharma takes us to that level of perception, that level of realization. This dharma is not merely a goal of the intelligence. It is a pursuit of the mind, heart, even ego I can say. The pursuit gets climaxed and fulfilled when we reach a stage of ego effacement or ego extinction. As our ego is prominent now, it can also be extinct. For both, the mind alone has to work. In one you have a feeling that I am working, in the other you have a feeling I don’t work, it is nature that enables me to work. Neither over the senses, nor over the tongue nor over the brain, mind and intelligence do I have a sense of ownership and control. So, I am working almost irresistibly as an automatic process like the wind blows, water flows, the earth springs and the aakaashaa remains. Like that I also am working. Now this is something very interesting for you to know. Unfortunately our people are unable to understand our dharma in this manner. They still have the scare crow of the religion.
Our trust which is a public charitable trust, which also enjoys the 80G registration. We have been registered and sanctioned 80G. That means donations made to the ashram are exempt to the extent of 50% from the taxable income. Now if you want to get this 80G, which we have, and retain it, we cannot spend any money for any religious purpose at all. So, this is a constriction we have to suffer from or work under.
When I think about it, I don’t find any meaning and purpose in the statement at all. Because so far as our dharma is concerned, we don’t have a religion, we only have a dharma and that dharma does not allow any kind of a division or thought like religion or non religion. It is a way of life. Our dharma when properly analyzed you will find all forms of worship are exercises done by the worshipper and for his own benefit. Whether he worships God or contemplates upon the soul, chanting Gayatri, it makes no difference. Some people take to God, others takes to their own soul. Others take to nature. Others take to śoonya or a zero. All these are available in our dharma. How dare anyone call it religion and God based?
So I am at present thinking of defining our dharma and trying to place before the people whenever necessary that please understand this dharma and get away from your differentiation of religion and non religion. We don’t do anything at all except when it is beneficial to human life either at the individual level or in the family level or in the society, national and global level. We don’t do anything except as a benefit to any of the creature in this country. When we bury something in the earth, earth digests it and remains more and more useful and relevant. The biological nature of the earth increases. We should preserve our earth, preserve our air, water, all the other elements also. This ecological consideration is a compulsion for us.
So our dharma can go to any extent of defining anything whatsoever. It always relates you to nature which has moulded your life and personality and which surrounds you. Now such a dharma is it not very secular, very pragmatic, very practical. It does not take your mind away from anything absolutely world, absolutely social, individualistic, familial, everything is pragmatic, pragmatic. Such a thing how can it be ordinarily religion because any religion tries to think of a God who is not visible and who is at an infinite distance. Our dharma is not like that.
I would like all of you to know about it. I would like to put some thoughts in writing to govern our activities which are going to be to some extent in the sphere of the seeming religion also because people who come here are invariably devotees and worshippers and it is a herculean task for me to tell them what is the meaning and purpose of worship. Worship is not to make God fatter and look better. It is to make yourself better, more reformed and refined person. The entire emphasis should be shifted from the external and distant God to your own mind and intelligence. Then devotion becomes fulfilled. You will become a true meaningful devotee.
Harih Om Tat Sat Jai Guru.
[A transcription of Poojya Swamiji's Prabhaata-rashmih on 05 Aug 2013]