Intro:“The sadhu, ——, is no recent importation, no modern excrescence, but has been flourishing in India, a veritable indigenous growth, from a time which dates many centuries before the advent of Christ….”
—Joseph Campbell Oman, The mystics, ascetics, and saints of India: a study of Sadhuism, (1905)?
When we think of the 67 years journey of post—Independent India, we generally take a pessimistic call. True, there are issues of social, cultural and systemic decay. Still, we have made a significant progress in many walks of life and true civilisational spirit of India is intact and growing till date. And it will continue with greater rigour. For many, this is a fascinating mystique about Indian civilisation. What is the raison d”être for such incessant expedition of cilvilisational India? The simple reason is that this unbroken cultural heritage is harnessed by many hands through the ‘Art of Giving’.
There is a concept of Parivrajak in the Buddhist tradition. Unless we understand this spiritual concept, real India cannot be understood. Shankaracharya could realise the departure of Indian society from the true Vedic wisdom and then, while starting from Kerala he went to all corners of this great land to establish four spiritual centres. We find a ‘Shankaracharya Hill’ even in the Kashmir Valley. Vivekananda followed the message of his Guru Ramakrishna Paramhans and started from Bellur Math in Bengal, after seeing the misery of masses of all over India, he realised that the strings of natural brotherhood have weakened. Therefore, he made Kanyakumari as the centre of his activity and gave the message of “Service to man is service to God’. When Gandhiji came from South Africa, he went to meet Gopal Krishna Gokhale, whom he considered as Guru. Gokhale who himself was known as Lok Sevak suggested him to travel throughout India before doing anything. Gandhiji followed the point, and finally established his model Ashram at Wardha in Maharashtra. Shri Guruji, Second Sarsanghachalak of RSS toured across India many a times, to work for national resurgence. All these people led the life of Parivrajak, literally meaning ‘wandering monk’. They remained in the society, for the society but still away from society. This tradition of silent reformers is the strength of resilient Indian civilisation.
Besides these known names there are silent grass roots workers who if necessary, even after uprooting themselves, nurture the spirit of ‘sewa’. They chose enlightened ascetic life. For some it is just philanthropy, for others it may be profession, but for many it is a passion, compassion and purpose of life. Some are inspired by their Gurus, some by the message of great insights provided by the earlier Parivrajaks, while others discovered something for which they decided to dedicate themselves. In a way, it is spiritual inspiration from within. They find their life mission, mobilise personal and social resources and give it back to the society. There is no desire for any recognition. No expectation from the establishment. It may be an individual mission. But this mission ultimately contributes to the mission of nation building.
While celebrating Independence Day, we are generally reminded of freedom fighters. We also salute the soldiers on the border who are guarding us day and night. But we should not forget that there are grass roots soldiers also who are selflessly serving the nation. They are the ones who are ensuring percolation of true Independence to the bottom. This is our sincere effort to present such living examples of some grass roots soldiers whose mission is working for the nation. We hope, this will instigate the missionary spirit of many others.