– Vasudev Prjapati
– Translated in English by Avnish Bhatnagar
In the Bharatiya thought process, life is believed to be one, single, continuing, integral, which does not come to an end with death. The same life continues from one birth to another, one life cycle to another. Our present birth is a result of our previous births and the next birth will be a result of the present. As such, the journey of life continues after each death and rebirth thereafter. The western thought process is different. They don’t believe in re-birth. As per their viewpoint, the life ends with the death.
The belief of Punarjanma (re-birth or re-incarnation) is associated with the thought of Karma (deeds), Karmaphala (the results of the deeds) and Bhagya (fate or luck). We, in Bharat, have strong faith in the result of our Karmas i.e. the way we perform our Karmas, we shall either, enjoy, or have to face the ill-effects, either immediately or may be later. By the time the result of our Karmas are not over, they are preserved in our Chitta; and if by chance, this process could not be over by death, they are carried forward to our next birth. The belief of Punarjanma is based on this Karmaphala i.e. we are given next birth as per the Karma performed by us in the present birth.
The western philosophy does not accept the concept of Karma, Karmaphala or Punarjanma. Since life reaches to its ultimate destination with death and the human being has only one life, the basic aim of life becomes, “Eat, drink and be merry.” i.e. since we have only one life, the maximum satisfaction through maximum consumption of everything is supposed to be the purpose of life. On the other hand, the Bharatiya line of thinking believes in ‘Sanyam‘ – consumption limited to our needs only and not to satisfy our greed. Ultimately, the highest level of development of one’s personality is also accepted and measured with the level of the ‘Sanyam’ he or she could achieve during the life time.
Hindu Shastra have provided for the observance of Yama (यम) and Niyama (नियम) for leading a life full of Sanyam (संयम). The Yama include – Ahimsa (अहिंसा-Non-violence), Satya (सत्य-Truthfulness or Righteousness), Asteya (अस्तेय-Not taking anybody’s belonging without permission or abstinence from theft), Aprigaraha (अपरिग्रह-Abstinence from greed and unbalanced collection of anything – more than the need) and Brahmacharya (ब्रह्मचर्य-celibacy or the conduct fit for a Vedic scholar); and are laid down in order to maintain a righteous society.
Likewise, there are Niyama – Shaucha (शौच -Neatness of body and mind), Santosha (सन्तोष – the limitation of desires), Tapa (तप), Swadhyaya (स्वाध्याय – expansion of knowledge) and Ishwara- Pranidhan (ईश्वर प्रणिधान- the constant effort for self-realisation or the realisation of God in inner self). These five Niyamas are to be observed by each and every person for his own development.
Although, all the Yama and Niyama are personal in nature, i.e. they are to be observed by an individual in his personal life, but they are the social regulations, the observance of which is essential for the constitution of a perfect, peaceful and inter-dependent society. We may understand this just by thinking that if everybody in the society performs Yama and Niyama in his or her personal life, there remains no chance for any clash with someone else. In Bharatiya social system, the life of an individual is not for the satisfaction of one’s own desires, but is meant for Yajna (यज्ञ), which denotes Tyaga (त्याग- sacrificing one’s own interests for other) and Sewa (सेवा- service to the mankind). In the foundation of both of the Tyaga and Sewa, there lies Prema (प्रेम- love for others), because nobody can make any sacrifice or can perform service for somebody, for whom he does not possess feeling of love. In Bharat, this lifestyle is known as Yajnamayi Jeevan-shaili (यज्ञमयी जीवन शैली- life full of love, service and sacrifice to one and all).
As we have the Samskara (संस्कार) of such a sumptuous tradition from generations, the piousness in the life and piety in mindset is automatically generated. “Shareeramadyam Khalu Dharma Sadhanam (शरीरमाद्यं खलु धर्मसाधनम्), is an age – old saying in Bharat, which means that this body is the medium for observance of all the divine duties laid down on the mankind. As an individual, we have to keep this medium safe, strong and pious, above all. The first step is the purity of body. During the effect of Covid-19, everybody is seen washing hands repeatedly, using face mask, maintaining physical distance from others. In Bharat, these have been the age-old traditions, though the conduct of the so-called modern people is found different, as they think such practices are superstitious and ridiculous. Still today, in the rural areas it is a common practice. The person coming from outside shall remove his footwear outside the house, will wash his hands, face and feet and then only shall enter the house.
The practices like sanitization, quarantine and isolation have also been observed in our society since the time immemorial. Be it rich or poor, everybody white-washes his house at least once every year. The earthen floor and walls are pasted and painted with Cow-dung. If somebody in the family is found suffering with any communicable disease like small-pox or chicken-pox, he is put under isolation, other in the family maintain a two- yard distance from the patient, the clothes, beddings and utensils used by the patient are kept separate and not used by other members of family. The practice of isolation and self-quarantine by the ladies in the Bharatiya society during the period of their menstrual-circle is also an age-old custom and is also a scientifically proven system.
The observation of Sootak (सूतक- state of being impure) is also one of the reason of the unique examples of quarantine prevalent in Bharat since ages. At the time of birth of a child or death of somebody in the family, the customary restrictions of Sootak, are observed. During that period, other than the family the nearby people maintain distance from them, don’t take any edible thing or even water from the family under Sootak. The family members do not perform any Pooja or rituals, unless the house and the family members are purified again on completion of certain period by performing Havana (यज्ञ-हवन). The family goes under Sootak soon after the death of its member. They do not cook anything inside the house. The relatives or neighbours provide food items to the family. Those who participate in the cremation shall take bath before entering into the living area of house. All these have been the scientifically proven age-old methods of sanitization, isolation and quarantine, which the world is talking today during the Corona pandemic.
The same system of Sootak is observed during the period of solar or lunar eclipse (सूर्य या चन्द्रग्रहण). The Bharatiya people go into self-adopted lockdown during the period of any eclipse, they do not consume anything, they live inside their house or on the bank of some river or other reservoir of water. They feel themselves pure only after taking bath when the eclipse period is over.
These examples are sufficient to prove that the Bharatiya society has been observing such self-accepted social restrictions since ages, about which the medical science is talking today when the pandemic has arisen. It will also not be out of place to mention that due to such customs, a common Bharatiya observes the restrictions laid down during Covid-19 more easily and probably this has been the reason behind the smaller number of casualties due to this pandemic in Bharat, as compared to the other developed countries of the World.
Life – Not with Struggle, but with co-existence:
Bharat has been believing in the fact that life is integral and wholesome. The western vision is to see the life in pieces and not in entirety. They understand that the progress necessarily means progress in comparison to others. If you have to grow faster than others, it will need a feeling of competition which ultimately leads to struggle, and ends into conflicts, violence and destruction. Contrary to this, the vision of Bharat about growth, progress or development is not of competition and struggle, not as compared to others. Here, we believe growth as the development of our internal capabilities and to make self-realisation of the divineness in ourselves as also inside others. This has been the reason why we do not believe in struggle, violence and destruction, but have faith in coordination and co-existence, which leads to well-wishing of others and ultimately peace, happiness and stability.
Further, it is believed in Bharat that all the elements of this universe are inter-related and integrated. Their direction of movement is circular, i.e. they go back to the abode from where they had come. The circle is complete only when the element reaches to its original abode. During this period, they are integral, as they support, cooperate, coordinate and co-exist with each other and are inter-connected and inter-dependent. Anything in the universe has its own existence and a purpose of its arrival. This is also one of the important and inbuilt peculiarity of the vision of Bharat. No creation of the universe is supposed to be valueless or useless and this has been the reason why we believe in non-violence, even of the smallest creatures for the food purpose.
Let us make a Comeback towards our ‘ownness’:
Bharat has always been having a Universal vision. Sri Aurobindo said that the Almighty implements His plan of welfare of the world in each era taking any country as his medium and I have strong belief that it is none other than Bharat during the current era. As such, the welfare of the world is the destiny of Bharat, which we have to fulfill. The Almighty God has granted the capacity to Bharat. This is a godly act and we have to perform it with such belief and understanding.
Now, let us consider, what exactly we are supposed to do in order to reach to our roots. The first and foremost responsibility upon us is undoubtedly that our own life style must be of Bharat – our knowledge, our traditions, the routine we follow, the language we speak, the food we eat, the dress we wear and so on. What is seen today that in the name of modernity, many of our brothers and sisters have been very proudly following western lifestyle in everything. We have to bring them back to our roots, by making them understand the uniqueness of the lifestyle of Bharat, which the world has now accepted during the pandemic. The aim that was proclaimed by our Rishis of कृण्वन्तो विश्वमार्यम् (let us make the whole word of divine) has to be achieved by us in the present era.
Another big task which we have been assigned is more important under the present scenario. We have to make our country self- reliant, which is possible only by adopting Swadeshi goods in our consumption pattern. The way delineated by Mahatma Gandhi in his Gram Swaraj shall usher us to this new era. Bharat is the country with largest young population today. ‘Work for every hand’ shall be our motto while planning for the employment generation opportunities for our youth. Ultimately, Bharat has to lead the world and we should be ready to play our respective role in achieving this target, bring this dream to reality.
(Author is educationist and Joint secretary of Vidya Bharati Sanskriti Shiksha Sansthan kurukshtera)