“MAGNANIMITY OF HINDUS OFTEN EXPLOITED” - SWAMI SUKHBODHANANDAJI
Swami Sukhbodhananda needs no introduction. He expounds the age old spiritual wisdom of Hindus, Vedanata, in such a way that it captivates the attention of the modern mind. Nick named ‘Corporate Guru’ he conducts self-development programmes in several leading industrial and business houses in India and abroad. A prolific speaker and writer, his books in 79 titles have sold over a million copies. Swamiji’s books ‘Oh Mind Relax Please’ and ‘Oh Life Relax Please’ became best sellers and has been included as part of curriculum in some of the schools and colleges. He is regularly invited by many international forums to deliberate on the challenging problems that humanity now undergoes. His speeches telecast over different TV channels reach a wide spectrum of seekers all over the globe. Prasanna Trust formed with his inspiration and guidance, also undertakes different kinds of charitable works. Swamiji who was recently in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, spoke at length to Pradeep Krishnan:
1.The land of sanathanadharma is facing a lot of threats, both internal and external. Corruption, terrorism, maoist threats, etc. How can India overcome these challenges through spirituality? Are you optimistic?
No doubt Bharath can definitely overcome these challenges. To overcome the challenges, the individual has to become very alert. On the one side, the politicians are creating more and more divisions and on the other pseudo god men are corrupting the very concept of spirituality. Both are making people mere followers and not wise thinkers. People have to become more aware, alert and see their hidden agenda of operation. At present religion has become a tool only to fulfill ones desires. People visit places of worship not for any upasana but only to fulfill their vasanas. The whole issue is very complex. One should not be so gullible to get cheated by the cunningness of either religious or other people, including the media. Nowadays, media is also playing a tremendous political role even to the extent of blackmailing people! One has to be alert and aware about the role of media, politicians, religious leaders, etc. I am optimistic of the future of Sanathanadharma and India because the truths of our culture are profound. The tribulations and turmoil India is currently undergoing are only temporary.
2.It is often said that while Hinduism is getting wider acceptance all over the world, Hindus are in danger in their mother land. What are your views?
There is no other country in the world where a member of the minority community has become President/Prime Minister. That is the greatness of Hinduism. Diversity of existence has been gratefully accepted by the majority. In other countries the majority does not accept the minorities and they are forced to live like slaves. But at the same time India is having its own problems. However, since the core of India is centered on goodness, tolerance, living in diversity, there is hope. Our rishis declared that truth is one and one can seek it in so many ways. We have never said that only through a particular religion one can attain realization.
3.Was not our magnanimity exploited?
Magnanimity of Hindus is often exploited. For the time being it is exploited. It is only an eclipse; we will come out of it. We should do our work with confidence. Minorities will always be very forceful aiming to become majority. If we are not seeing the danger it is our foolishness. We are responsible for the way conversion is going on belittling our culture. Hindus are so ignorant of their culture and tradition. Caste system, which once was a beautiful arrangement in social order, was exploited. It had a lot of repercussions. When other religions came to India, they exploited the system.
4.What changes do you favour in our educational system?
The present educational system is centered on teaching children to mug up facts and figures. Real education involves learning. History lessons instead of merely narrating the events from the life of kings and queens should contain the content of their consciousness. Like wise, science should connect with planet earth. Present model of education makes one greedy. In ancient vedapadasalas, even though there was repetition, it was combined with life models. Panchatantra, Hitopadesa etc were beautiful arrangements to stimulate the learning process in children. The British deliberately removed this process of learning from our educational system. The way yoga is now accepted by one and all, irrespective of ones religion, Sanskrit, Gita, Upanishads, etc have to be included strategically in the curriculum. Since the audience is already biased, we have to present it differently to attract the modern mind. The goodness that is within all should be tapped and enhanced. The salient features of our culture have to be presented in such a way to break the barriers created by religion, caste, creed, etc.
5.What went wrong with Sanathanadharma?
Invasion by the barbarians was the first error. Indian society was highly accomplished and advanced. When the British came to India, we were a highly developed nation. When the concept of university was conceived in Britain, we had a large number of universities, where 16 subjects including, Metallurgy, Ayurveda, Mathematics, Astronomy, etc were taught. When the barbarians attacked India, which was like the attack of present day terrorists, it was very difficult to resist. When they constantly and continuously attacked and deliberately destroyed our centres of learning, the whole social structure that sustained the society crumbled. When the society had become weak and crumbled, the invaders could successfully convert masses. The error started there. Basic misinterpretation of all our sastras started and powerful leadership could not emerge. The British with their divide and rule policy, armed with Lord Macaulay’s educational system was bent upon disintegrating and degrading anything that was good in Indian culture. Unfortunately even after 63 years of independence, we are still not mentally free from that mind set. Due to the merciless attack of invading barbarians, who knew only about looting, we lost all that we had. You can fight with decent persons but with persons like Muhammed Gazni, Muhammed Gori, Jhengiskhan who were mere barbarians it was difficult.
6.Critics are of the view that spiritual experiences are subjective and hence not scientific?
Accomplishment of the not yet accomplished is materialism and accomplishment of the already accomplished is spirituality. Spirituality is involvement with that which is beyond the purview of science. Can love be proved scientifically? Can beauty be proved scientifically? Can poetry be analyzed scientifically? The criticism against spiritual experiences is the result of certain people describing their hallucinations as spiritual experiences. Any presentation of spirituality need not be spirituality and any presentation of science need not be science. If a scientist commits an error, science is not in error.
7.There is a view that the decline of India is directly related to its overemphasis on spirituality?
Not at all. Moksha Sastra, Dharma Sastra, Artha Sastra, Kama Sastra are examples showing the classical way of living. Our technology was extremely high, literature and art extremely profound. In fact, as recent studies have revealed, materially also we were so rich. India was a developed nation and the invaders came only to loot the wealth of India.
8.Critics say that our Gurus are fast becoming CEOs?
I will be very happy if all our gurus become CEOs. That shows that spirituality is taught in a systematic and organized way. For any knowledge to be imparted there should be an organized way. A CEO is a person who is an executive and who thinks intelligently. What is wrong with that? Making money or profit is not a problem so long as it is due for a good cause. There are things which I do free of cost and there are things for which I charge.
9.Is there any conflict between spiritual life and material life? What do you mean by following a spiritual path?
I do not see any conflict. If one is aware, then there will not be any conflict between spiritual and material life. Without awareness, anything can become a source for conflict. With awareness, even conflicts will result in greater harmony and peace. If ones being –core- is simple, even complex matters will become simple. Only when one wants more and more, material life comes in conflict with spiritual life. When one can earn money not out of greed, but out of commitment there will not be any conflict. A person, who earns money out of greed, will never be happy. Gandhiji said that there is sufficient in the world for mans need, but not for mans greed. Earning money out of commitment brings forth the excellence within. If one is not spiritually inclined, ones material life will be only out of greed. When one becomes aware that basically all are seeking happiness, one will realize that greed will never give happiness. On the contrary, one will find greed is giving deficiency and not sufficiency. Awareness brings the realization that greed will not give happiness, it only results in deficiency.
10.Do we have a free will of acting or are we completely owned and ruled by consciousness?
It is a combination of the two. There is a free will but there is play of Karma also. River can freely flow, but the banks are there to set the path. Life is a Divine play (lila). Life is a combination of free will and Karma, combination of bondage and freedom. We all have free will to become divine, one can consciously choose.
11.What would it mean for our consciousness when we have been continuously destroying our planet earth by our actions?
It is only means that we are irresponsible and insensitive. We are not looking earth as our mother. Every body should be responsible to mother earth. We should do something to Bhoomidevi (earth goddess) every time. Before cutting a tree, plant at least 4/5 trees. We have to rectify our mistakes. We have to bring in awareness in our actions. Do small things such as avoiding plastic, reducing wastage of water, use recyclable things, etc.
12.Why does humanity suffer so tremendously?
There are two reasons. Suffering can be nature’s mechanism of whipping to make one aware. Suffering is the result of using ones mind unintelligently. Mind is the cause for both Moksha and Bandha. To get rid of suffering learn from the scriptures, gurus and above all observe the book of life for life is the greatest scripture ever written, which can teach one a lot.
13.How to bring happiness in day to day life?
First and foremost decide to be happy. A zen master was asked what is the secret of being happy. He said that when he gets up in the morning he decides whether he wants to be in heaven or hell. Always conscious of what is missing in life is a sure way to remain unhappy. Be grateful to existence for what you have. Then don’t focus on what you don’t have. We put happiness as always in the future. All our desires, makes us to become happy in the future. Being happy is more important than becoming happy. I can talk for happiness and I can talk out of happiness. If I talk out of happiness, I will be happy right now. We always put happiness somewhere to become and not being. Relating with others, one has an image and the clash is with images and not with people. The attitude my way alone is right and other’s way is wrong gives rise to conflict. Drop all the images, one has about oneself as well about others, and accept the other person as he or she is. Be aware that differences are part of life. Accepting the difficulties with awareness would lead one to transformation.
14.What are the fundamental matters that one should understand?
Fundamental matters one should understand are; learn how to be happy, for happiness is an art to be learned, learn to give happiness to others and learn to help one another to be creative. Also, respect and do well to planet earth because the way we are living un unhealthy life, we are destroying mother earth. As far as possible, avoid using plastic; reduce damage to the ozone layer, etc. I am not saying to live an austere life. These are the basic fundamentals one should learn.
15.Why are people who have a master more joyful than others?
Because a person who doesn’t have a master lives according to his wants, and is carried away by his likes and dislikes. Such a person doesn’t live according to what is right, wise and true. In fact, his life is pivoted on likes and dislikes. A true master tells him what is wise, good and true. A person who lives wisely will automatically be in joy.
16.Do you have a practical method for people to come to self realization?
Of course, I have. But this cannot be summed up so easily. First realize that ‘I’ do not exist and ‘I’ can never ‘get’ realization. I am a good speaker or writer or an artist, etc, because of the capacity of my brain. If my faculties are the products of my brain, really has ‘I’ created anything? If one thinks deeply, one can find that, the brain which one considers his is actually not his own. In fact, strictly speaking, parents, grand parents, great grand parents, all have ownership rights over ones brain. Ultimately, the realization dawns that the brain is part of ones evolution. The body exists because of the sun, air, water, trees and so on. So it naturally follows that the body is not ones own and that the ‘I’ is a big illusion. This realization stimulates the inward journey.
Another important matter to be realized is that even though thoughts have its place, it has to be switched off, when not required. Actually, we are not living in the world rather we are living with our mind filled with thoughts. Thought is nothing but expression of memories of the past. One can never meet life with memory because the past can never meet the present. By meeting life with openness, one can live in the present, which ultimately paves the way for opening the faculty of intelligence. When the power of intelligence operates in any one, that person is realized.
17.What question of your students has touched you the most?
The question people often ask, “I know action is important but I am not able to act,” this question has deeply touched me and provoked me. To know and not to act on what you know is equal to not knowing. Such knowledge is not real knowledge rather it is only a concept, only pseudo knowing. The concept of climbing the tree is not climbing the tree. Concept of love is not actual love. The photograph of Mr. X represents Mr.X, but it is not Mr.X. This question motivated me to ponder over the intricacies in human behaviour.
18.Swamiji, in your speeches and writings you emphasize that the heart understands perfectly well the oneness in all things. Could you please explain?
While the heart can understand only through love, the mind can understand only through logic. Love can happen only through the heart. When ones understanding happen through heart, ones perception becomes all encompassing. That is why I say, the heart of education is the education of the heart. That is why the person in love experience oneness, which is part of enlightened state.
19.Swamiji, your message to our readers?
A little lamp can do much. What a little lamp can do at night the sun cannot do. It can shine in the night. Let everyone become little lamps and shine with confidence. Whatever one can do to our Rishirina (indebtedness to rishi) is good. We are all indebted to our great Rishis. One should study, practice, support any school, mutt, ashram or any organization.an that applies these ideals.