Intro: Swami Chinmayananda believed in the process of social spirit, the process of thoughts and the process of actual, simple but symbolic actions that keep people united with solidarity and also gets people keep on walking towards the goal with the highest ideals despite
A flowing discourse with a powerful voice and clarity of thoughts made the eminent gathering at the UN give a standing ovation to a simple, saffron clad Swami in December 1992. He was Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati. He clearly announced, “Adapt to the change while maintaining the rich heritage and culture of civilisations or you will get wiped off!” His discourse in the UN was titled “World in Crisis” and he spoke on Scriptures of Bharat and how they show the perfect path to the world towards the highest ideals and happiness. This requires courage. Swami Vivekananda showed it in Chicago way back. Swami Chinmayananda , so fearlessly, without being apologetic of Bharat’s culture and traditional strengths, did it again.
In his birth centenary, there is a lot we can re-learn from Swami Chinmayanandaji’s life, his actions and his thoughts. In the fast changing world it is very tough to be fearless for a kind-hearted person. During his times, the world and Bharat saw a lot of upheavals. Second World War, Bharat’s British occupation and freedom movement, new government in Bharat, post British systematisation and a typical cynicism coupled with mediocrity that takes roots during such big transformations. Social psyche’ has too many references and sudden exposure to the more confused outer world increases socio-economic pressures. The immediate intellectual elite reaction to such situation is to discard all that is traditional and glorify non-conformity. These were the difficult times, therefore, for Bharat’s ancient scriptures, Vedas, and Upanishads and also for the cultural ethos based of certain values.
Swami Chinmayananda did not give up. Born in a simple Kerala family, he always had the highest ideals in front of him. Even before he was initiated into formal Sanyasa in 1949 by his Guru Swami Sivananda, he was already involved in various spiritual activities that had social connotations important for the common people’s lives. His Guru made him in-charge of the Gita Committee and a great social organiser that he was, Swami Chinmayananda made Bhagwad Gita reach in almost every household through regular classes for children and all members of families. His stay in Uttarkashi guided by Swami Tapovanam after his sanyas, gave him deep insights into the rich scriptures of Bharat, in Vedanta, in Upanishadas etc. He studied Panchadashi there. He started ‘Jnana Yajna Mission’ for reaching out the pearls of wisdom and practical aspects of Bharat’s rich culture to the common people. This was a tough mission then and he wasn’t a sage who could give in to any mediocrity or apologetic mind set towards Bharat’s glory! His doing MA from the Lucknow University and studies in Madras University before taking up sanyas were also a part of the path he was to choose later on.
While travelling all over Bharat and globally too interacting with many common people and the elite classes, Swami Chinmayananda realised that the time for reviving the respect of the world towards Hindu way of life had come. He was the founder President of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad ( VHP ) that begun on Janmashtami in the year 1964. VHP is now celebrating its 50th year and it is time again to study what Swami Chinmayananda had thought of while starting VHP.
He was of the firm opinion that Hindus must be politically empowered to survive and grow in the changing socio-political dynamics of the world. He was the first one to emphasise on the need of the Hindu vote – bank to be a formidable strength in polity .
Revival of Hindu strength through value-based society based on Hindu scriptures, cohesive unity for eradicating untouchability and empowering Hindus in all socio-economic fields including the polity were the strong pillars of his action for founding the VHP along with the like- minded visionaries such as Guruji Golwalkar , Shri Apte and so on. He believed in the process of social spirit the process of thoughts and the process of actual, simple but symbolic actions that keep people united with solidarity and also gets people keep on walking towards the goal with the highest ideals despite any hurdles. He had advised a simple action that every Hindu should raise a ‘Bhagwa’ (Saffron Flag) on / in front of her / his house. He made Bhagwad Gita with easily understandable translations, to reach every house. He organised common meals for all Hindus so that caste barriers wither away. He was an epitome of Hindu dignity.
He was active in reaching out messages to the common people in the simplest style. When he would say, “We often give without love, but we cannot love without giving”, it touched millions of hearts. He said, “YOU Change!” Before people perceive this line as “YOU change; I will NOT!” He would say, “YOU change! Introspect! Watch the mind. It will gradually grow calmer and calmer. You will be able to find your defects.” He himself followed it throughout his l life! His constant urge to learn was the source of his visionary actions with kind heart and fearless ways.
He wrote many books like Art of Man-Making, Talks on Bhagwad Gita etc that are even today seen in the book shelves of many cutting across the classes and statures. Today, Chinmaya Mission has been taking his work ahead with utmost commitment and with the most modern ways.
Today, when the Chinmaya Mission disciple meets you in a light saffron coloured T–shirt and a dhoti / lungi / track suit, you will find him smiling ear to ear with great calmness and when he starts explaining to you the importance of ancient scriptures using the most modern technologies, I’m sure Swami Chinmayanandaji’s soul must be happy wherever it is.
His words that guide men like me as an eternal pillar of strength are here for you all to introspect and reflect within: “Man is essentially the thoughts that he entertains. … The tragedy of Human history is that decreasing happiness in the midst of increasing comforts. … The Desirer-of Desires can never come to peace. …What we have here is a gift from HIM; what we do with what we have is our gift to HIM…” Now, it is up to us to decide, what we choose: A path of easy ways or a fearless visionary’s path. Here is a link of his historical discourse in the UN: (Swami Chinmayananda UN Speech Dec1992 https://www.youtube.com/watch ?v=OUg3UiiikVI)
Dr Pravin Togadia (The writer is President VHP-International and can be contacted at [email protected])