Ram Madhav
September 24, 2019

Pujya Swami Dayanand Saraswati Memorial Lecture – “Transcending Dualities: In Search of Oneness”

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Text of Shri Ram Madhav’s address at the 1st Pujya Swami Dayanand Saraswati Memorial Lecture at Coimbatore

My respectful homage to the sacred memory of Pujya Swami Dayananda Ji. The audience present in this program, pranam to Pujya Sadatmanand Ji and all the other Acharyas and my greetings to all the distinguished members of the audience present in this program. Pujya Swami Dayananda Ji in his lifetime was the greatest Acharya of Vedanta in the world. We could not find any other Acharya who could come anywhere near Pujya Swami Ji in terms of his wisdom and knowledge in such a deep subject like Vedanta. So today, standing before you and attempting to deliver this first Dayananda memorial lecture, I was reminded of one thing: ‘Fools rush in where angels fear to tread’. Mr. Harikiran tried to justify inviting me, but I know that I have tried to bite probably more than I can chew. You know about unity and oneness. Speaking about it as a politician is difficult because politics divides. The very fundamental characteristic of politics is to divide. Yet, I have to speak about unity and oneness.

But then I can only find solace in the fact that besides being a politician, I, or someone like me, are not just politicians. We have been the followers of Deendayal Upadhyay ji to Narendra Modi ji today. And we have been the disciples of great Acharyas like Pujya Swami Chinmayanand Ji, Pujya Swami Dayanand Ji to the second chief of RSS Shri Guruji Golwalkar. We are committed to the idea of unity, although we work in an area whose inherent quality and characteristic temperament is to divide. Out of those superficially appearing differences, we are here to create a unified strong nation. If that is not an enough qualification for me to stand in front of you, I can flaunt another qualification. You know, nobody is somebody without a guru. I too have had the great fortune of learning so many things while sitting at the lotus feet of gurus like Pujya Swami Chinmayanand ji and subsequently Pujya Swami Dayanand Saraswati Ji.

So with those basic qualifications probably I will be talking to you on this very important topic for some time. If I am placing before you any valuable ideas, please keep in mind that these ideas have been collected by me sitting at the lotus feet of these great acharyas.

There is also no need to mention that if you find anything irrelevant or not very useful, take it as my own ignorance. Don’t attribute it to any Acharya, please. Swami Dayanand Saraswati Ji, or for that matter Swami Chinmayanand Ji who was one of the inspirations for Swami Dayanand ji were not just saints alone. That doesn’t mean that being a saint is not important or significant. All saints are great. You know it is said that you don’t find a child or a guru that cannot be loved. Every child is lovable. You don’t come across an ugly child and you don’t come across an ugly guru. All Acharyas and all saints are beautiful. But there will be some like Swami Dayanand Ji who can be called, if I were to use any specific phrase for them, Rashtra-Rishis. Rashtra-Rishi is a saint whose whole ‘Sadhana’, whose whole Adhyatma, is for building the nation, building the generation and building an epoch. They are not just content with teaching some disciples about some holy cultural-religious values.

 For them, building the entire nation becomes the end objective of their ‘Sadhana’ and meditation. This is why they are Rashtra-Rishis. Swami Dayanand Ji was one such Rashtra-rishi who dedicated his life to teaching ‘Vedanta’.

He produced an innumerable amount of good teacher’s and good acharyas. He also worked very hard in building this ‘Rashtra’, this nation. I’m using the word nation. not country , because the country is a very contemporary idea.

A country is geographical; a country probably can be part political. Whereas a Rashtra or nation is socio-spiritual, socio-civilisational and socio-cultural. Swami ji had dedicated his life to this mission, beyond the mission of teaching his students.

I remember the thrill with which Swami Ji told us about his lectures in Nagpur that he gave in the mid-60s at the Reshmi Bagh grounds. When he was once giving a discourse of one week and one day, he got to know that the then chief of RSS, Guruji Golwalkar, came in a car to listen to his discourse and sat in his car and listened. So, you would feel thrilled to mention it. Here is a Rashtra- Rishi enjoying the happiness of having another Rashtra-Rishi coming and listening to him because both had similar ideas and similar vision about the future of this nation.

Friends, children are not afraid of anything. A child will just go and catch hold of a snake. He does not know that a snake is dangerous and if you try to tell him that he will be keener to catch it because he is curious and wants to know what the danger is all about.

Saints are also fearless. We have seen saints like Swami Chinmayananda Ji and Swami Vivekananda Ji, these Rashtra-rishis, who were fearless in their vision. For them, apart from the larger good of the nation, nothing else mattered. Everything Swami Ji did in his lifetime is amazing. Taking on challenges of Semitic religions so openly and going all the way to United Nations to tell them that they must first learn to respect plurality and diversity.

It needed courage. Only a Saint who had not only the vision and conviction, but also the courage of conviction could have done it. You see such courage of conviction in our prime minister today.

I’m bringing our honorable Prime Minister, not for any political reason. There is an important reason for my invoking the name of our Prime Minister because I was witness to a history in which Swami Dayanand Ji was a very important part.

It was decided that the BJP should project an able leader as Prime Minister of this country. This was decided looking at the kind of challenges this country was facing, not just political challenges as governments come and go, but challenges that were much larger. It was the question of a nation’s self-identity that was at stake. What will happen to this Dharma? What will happen to this Dharma Prana Samaja? In fact, Swami Dayanand Ji used to repeatedly say, “you say we will protect Dharma but What do you mean by ‘Protect Dharma?’ Protecting Dharmi is protecting Dharma”.

After all, you have to protect this society and community which represents and which is the inheritor of that Dharma. That was at stake and a lot of discussion happened about who would be able to do that for this country and for this Dharma. Remember, Swami Dayanand Ji went from leader to leader to convince that the only one person who can do that is Mr. Narendra Modi.

He was not campaigning for a new political leader of a political party. He had the vision and today he is no more so there is no need or no purpose for this to serve as flattery. So please take it as a fact that he had that vision that only somebody who is courageous, who has conviction and who has got courage of conviction can lead this country at this juncture. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has had equally strong reverence for Pujya Swami Ji.

Look at the Prime Minister today. Just know there was a reference to his speech at Houston yesterday. It was an hour long speech. When we speak for 10 minutes we invoke our own name or our organisation’s name several times as it is important to speak about what we are doing but in his 1hour speech, the Prime Minister did not invoke the name of his party even once.

He only talked about the nation, he only talked about the people and he only talked about the future of our country as though he is not the leader of a political party but a leader of 137 crore Indians, which he is.

Plato said in his work, ‘Republic’, that we need philosopher kings. What Plato meant by a philosopher king was a ruler who is on a higher philosophical and spiritual plane where mundane interests do not matter. What matters to them is only the welfare and well being of the kingdom, of the ‘Rajya’, of the people. This is what he meant by philosopher kings. Somebody who has that kind of heart and sensitivity, for the nation and for the people. Somebody who is willing to take strong measures in the larger interest of the nation. That is what meant to be a philosopher king. Kings cannot be philosophers when they have their own mundane compulsions.

I remember Chanakya also proposed that a king should not have any personal ties, in fact, it so happens that Chandragupta Maurya was a married man but Chanakya insisted that Chandragupta should marry the daughter of Seleucus. Chandragupta replied “but I am a married man”. Chanakya said that a king has no choice. Kings cannot have their own choices. That is what a philosopher king means. And fortunately for us in Prime Minister Modi you see a leader for whom nothing personal matters. What matters for him is solely the well-being and progress of this nation. That is the reason why I referred to the relationship between Pujya Swami Dayanand Ji and our honourable Prime Minister.

Look at this decision about Article 370. I remember innumerable conversations we used to have with Swami Dayanand Ji about what should be done in Kashmir. Today it was removed. Even our own hardcore supporters and even party members used to believe that it is something that is very difficult to do. But the reality is a festering wound, one that is 72 years old, has been amputated in 72 hours. My own party members sometimes tell me that they used to think that it was such a difficult task. If it was so easy why did it take 72 years?

“Why couldn’t it have been done before?” Why couldn’t it have been removed in the previous regimes? I used to tell them only one thing. Look it did not take 72 years. It took one Modi. A visionary who understands what national unity and national integrity is all about. That is the kind of leadership we have and I would attribute the decision to bring that leadership, if not fully but partly, to Pujya Swami Dayanand Ji. That is why I said he was a Rashtra-Rishi who had a vision about this nation. He dedicated his whole life to this Dharma.

Today, we have to talk about this issue of oneness amidst the duality and diversity that we see. Muhammad Iqbal wrote his famous song ‘Sare Jahan Se Accha’ which many of you would have probably read or learned about in your school days. He raises a very important question in that song “Yunan misr roma, sab mit gaye jahan se, kuch baat hai ki hasti mit-ti nahi hamari”. Yunan, ancient Rome, ancient Egypt, ancient kingdoms of Persia; they have all vanished. What you see as Rome today has nothing to do with ancient Rome. The same is the case with today’s Iran, it has nothing to do with Persia. Those ancient civilizations do not exist today and they have disappeared while Iqbal says of India” Kuch baat hai ki hasti mit-ti nahi Hamari “. In this civilization of ours, there is something in it that it doesn’t go. It doesn’t vanish.

What is that something? That something is the innate oneness of this nation. This nation is diverse like any other nation. Innumerable diversities, visible to the naked eye, are seen in this nation in its diversity. There is one innate strong thread of unity in this country. It is that unity which keeps this nation alive, surviving so many onslaughts.

Friends, had it been any other country, its culture, facing subjugation for one thousand years by foreign religion and foreign civilizations, there would have been no question for its survival. But we survived. We survived because there is one important institution in this country. The institution of guru: the Guru-Shishya Parampara (The guru-disciple tradition).

Which is the secret of our eternity. Maybe Mohammed Iqbal could not understand it, but we know. We have the living guru tradition, the tradition that no other religion in the world has. We have living gurus who teach this nation to worship an innate oneness.

In Taoism there is an interesting study. Xiang was a carpenter. He makes wonderful wood works. One day the king saw his wood work and was greatly impressed by it. He asked him how he had developed this skill. “How could you make such an excellent artefact?” Xiang said that when he shuts himself off for three days and start looking inwards he forgets that he will get a compliment from you, the Prince. When he travels further inwards for five days, he forgets that he will get an award from some institution or authority and if he goes seven days further inwards, he forgets about his own body and enters in his mind space. When he then enters the forest, he just looks at the tree and sees the artefact in the tree. All he does is trim it. This is an inward journey and departure from all sorts of ‘Moha’, all sorts of ‘attractions’. The inward unity is first thing our Acharyas teach us to practice. Unity does not only begin at the outer world. It begins from within, because the diversity you see is outside.

There was a reference to Adi Shankara by Shri Harikiran. Adi Shankara had said “Brahma Satyam Jagan Mithya”. After all, whatever is reality is all divine or the other way the divine is only reality. Everything else is an illusion – Mythya – Is it really? Doesn’t it exist, doesn’t diversity exist? What Adi Shankara said was that outward appearing diversity is not a ‘Mythya’, it is a reality. It is there and you cannot wish that diversity away but in your mind space you need to feel that innate oneness.

The ‘Mythya’; is in our minds. This has to be overcome without expecting anything in return. Revered acharyas are sitting in front of me. People come for Moksha. In fact, Swami Dayananda Ji used to say “Even this urge for Moksha by readily discarding everything but even in that discarding, you have that Moha that you want Moksha”.

That is what Swami Ji used to say. There is no Moksha outside your life. It is here in front of you in this life. But there is something called ‘Paramananda’ and I hope to reach there. Tell me how can I do that? Can you teach me some meditation through which I can reach there? You will tell him. Okay. Do this for 20 minutes every day, Pranayam, and in every five minutes, you will just open your eyes and see how far you have gotten to the Moksha. That’s why, in fact, Buddha did not accept the philosophy that the Hindu scholars proposed Paramananda as Moksha. He said that Paramananda is not Moksha. Moksha is ‘Dukh Rahitya’ where there is no sorrow. That is Moksha. So Buddha’s philosophy was of ‘Dukh Nirodh’. Don’t call it Moksha but call it ‘Dukh Nirodh’ -The emancipation. So that’s the message for which we are here to take to the world. This is the philosophy for which this country has to live.

When Arnold Toynbee said “every chapter in the human history which had a European beginning has to have an Indian ending” what did he mean? This is the profound message of oneness, where one only strives for the happiness of all others. The foundation for that, going back to Pujya Swamiji, is our Dharma’s singular conviction and contribution of the omnipresence of divinity. Most of you here are disciples of Swamiji. He used to say that Semitic religions have a belief that there is one God. For them he’s formless. Formless, but a He. Swami Ji used to highlight this distinction. You say he is formless but you know his gender. It is their problem, not our problem. So the claim of Semetic religions used to be that while they have one God, Hindus have many gods.

So we are polytheists and you are monotheists. Swamiji used to say that you are monotheists, understood. You have one God. While we have only God. Whatever is there is Ishwara. Whatever is there is divinity.

I had a good friend in America who is a practicing Hindu. He was a Christian but he became a practicing Hindu. One day I asked him “What is the motivation for you to become a practicing Hindu?” He told me a story that he heard from his guru. Because there are some students here I thought let me lighten the atmosphere.

So one day the Pope came to India. PM Vajpayee Ji had invited him, so he came. Before he came to India, one of our globetrotter Swamijis went and met him at his place in Rome, in the Vatican. When he met him He found a very interesting looking telephone on his table, a red telephone. Swamiji asked him about the telephone. It looks like something different. The Pope said that was his hotline to God. Whenever he has a problem he just dials-up, God comes on the line and he takes His advice and does whatever is needed for his religion. But Swami Ji was so surprised. In our country, for you to have that kind of conversation with God, you need to do penance (‘Tapasya’) for ten days, ten years, fifteen years. And still, there is no guarantee that God will come. Before that he will test you and then finally if he comes, it is good. But here you just dial-up and he will come.

So the Pope said -You don’t believe me, do you? So call. So Swamiji dialed up, and God came on the line. For a Swami, suddenly God comes in front of him, what does a Swami want? Some talk from here and there. “God, how are you? All is well. A lot of snowfall? Parvathy ji is healthy? No cold and all that?” he enquired.

For 2 minutes, there was a normal conversation and Swamiji put the phone down. And Pope asked “Now you believe me?” Swamiji said that it was unimaginable in my country. So when Swamiji was about to leave, the Pope gave him a bill for a three-minute conversation, some three thousand dollars. Poor Swami Ji did not believe this was such a costly affair. But since he had already used the phone, he paid up and came back. So when the Pope came to India, he remembered this Swami who had come to meet him and inquired about him. That Swami was in Rishikesh.

So the Pope went to meet him and found a red telephone in Swamiji’s hut. He asked Swamiji “You have it too? Swamiji said “yes” to the Pope, ever since the communications revolution happened, while Pramod Mahajan was the telecommunication minister, everybody had a mobile phone. In every meeting, one standard announcement is ‘Please put your phones on silent or switch off’.

Everybody has a phone in their pocket. I have this hotline. The Pope was very happy. The Pope had actually left the Vatican some 10 days ago and had accumulated many problems. He urgently needed a conversation with God. So he got the line. Swamiji let him make a call. This man called up and God came on the line. So many problems so he went on talking with God 10 minutes, 20 minutes, half an hour. He spoke with God for one hour. He put down the phone. Swamiji asked how the telephone conversation was. The Pope said “wonderful”. It was as if we were talking to each other directly. It was so clear, I never realized that India has progressed so much.

“Thank you very much! Now tell me what the bill is”. Swamiji said “ In India, we don’t take money from the guests. Don’t worry we’ll take care of that”. The Pope refused. How can it be when you came and just called up for three minutes I charged you three thousand dollars? “Now I spoke for one hour. Tell me what to pay? Behind me is America. Behind me there is England”.

              After a lot of pressure, Swamiji said “Give me 20 rupees”. The Pope thought that Swamiji was giving him a discount. Swamiji said “No, I’m not giving any discount”. In India talking to God is a local call because our Gods are everywhere.

This one message of innate oneness is based on the belief that everything is divine. Everything is ‘Ishwara’ is the profound message that India has to offer to the world. There will be diversity in the world. We are not against any diversity. We are worshippers of pluralism. But we are also practitioner of the innate oneness of mankind. This is the profound message that this nation has to give to the world.

But before it gives it out to the world, it has to practice it. So the nation called Bharat is surviving for this one purpose. Swami Vivekananda used to say every nation has its destiny to fulfil, a duty to perform and a mission to accomplish. What is that mission? What is that destiny? This is the destiny or a mission of this land. Carry this message of oneness at all levels not just at the level of God. But all levels. The way we look at nature. We see it as a form of divinity.

When our government undertook a number of infrastructure projects, some of them were given to companies from Taiwan and other countries. One Taiwanese official came to me with a very peculiar experience. He said “We were given this 400 kilometer road to be built. We hired local labor. We need to cut off some trees on these sites because we needed to expand the road. But this labor every day before they start their work would go and do a puja. Literally worship the tree before he could cut it”. He said “I cannot understand what they are doing. They have to cut it, why are they worshipping it”.

How do you explain to him that they are doing it as a ‘Prayashita’. They are saying to the tree, “please forgive me I’m committing a sin today. I will face it. Because I’m compelled to do it”. This is our approach to the environment. That’s why the Prime Minister has undertaken a major lead in protecting the world environment. Global climate leadership is today in the hands of India and in the hands of Prime Minister Modi. No better country can be there to lead the globe in this global climate preservation. We believe because we attach spiritual significance that every river reaches the same end, and every river is sacred for us. Remember these things are not necessarily because of any great training and education. It is the core of India, the very essence. I can give you my own experience. You go to a village, the remotest village in Uttar Pradesh. Go to the poorest family in that village, probably living in a hut. Go to the oldest lady in the hut. Obviously she will be an uneducated needy, illiterate. Look at her morning prayer. In the morning when she prays before the sun god, what is that prayer? “Sarve Sukhina Bhavantu. Ganga Maiya ki jai. Gau mata ki jai and the prayer ends with Lok Kalyan Ho”. It is not about her family. It is not about her property. It’s not about her locality, her village. Let the whole world be happy. This is real Bharat. This is the innate oneness in our culture in our civilization. We may be different but what binds us together, this one idea that everything is Ishwara.

We have to serve everything, animate and inanimate alike. From the viewpoint of a Westerner, a Christian or a Muslim, we are worshipping stones. But Swami Dayananda used to say “No we don’t worship stones but we worship the divine in that form. And he used to jokingly ask “What is it that you worship in a Church? If the cross in a church is not an idol you should prostate before every telephone pole. Because they look like a cross too. But that’s, not your cross, similarly that’s not just a stone for us”. It is ‘ishwara’. We don’t believe that only animate world needs to be protected. Everything together is ishwara.

So that unity is the message of this country that needed to be given to the outside world. In fact, this friend of mine, the Christian who became a practicing Hindu, one day said “Sir, don’t try to teach any fancy Vedanta to the Westerners. Just somehow convince them that everything is sacred”.

That addresses all the conflicts. Make them believe that everything is sacred. So, friends, those in politics, those in social life or those such as our revered Acharyas in the spiritual life are the worshippers of this innate oneness that pervades all existing creation. We are not against diversity. We are not against the diversity in languages. We respect Tamil as much as we respect Hindi. In fact, our constitution clearly says that all the 18 Languages in the country enjoy the status of national languages. But in Tamil or in Hindi do not utter something that hurts the feelings sentiments or innate unity of this country.

We are in politics today, no doubt, where it demands certain inherent things from us. But take it from me that we are in politics also only for that great objective for which Great Swamijis like the pujya Swami Dayanad ji have dedicated their lives and continue to dedicate their lives. That is in this visible diversity we need to find an innate emotional unity and oneness. Let me conclude by saying that the question asked by Muhammad Iqbal in the song “Saare Jahan Se Achcha …… Kuchch baat hai ki hasti mitt-ti nahi humari”. There is something because of which this civilization survives, this something is this global mission which we in our normal parlance call- ‘Krunwanto Vishwa Aryam’ – Let us make the entire world a noble place to live in.

Thank you.

(Click Here to access the video of the Address)

Published by Ram Madhav

Member, Board of Governors, India Foundation

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