Anuvrat Movement : Quintessence of Indian Cultural Heritage
By Dr. S. Radhakrishnan
Former President of India
Acharya Shri Tulsi has been the head of the order of Terapanthis for twentyfive years. It has a large number of monks and lakhs of laymen. The great respect which they all have for Acharya Tulsiji is a sign of his outstanding personality.
Acharya Shri Tulsi's impact on the Indian community is due to the Anuvrat Movement which he has started. There is a general feeling in the country that while we are attending to the material progress and doing substantial work in that direction, we are neglecting the human side of true progress. A civilized human being ought to be free from greed, vanity, passion, anger, Civilizations decline if there is a coarsening of moral fibre, if there is callousness of heart. Man is tending to becoming a robot, a mechanical instrument caring for nothing except his material welfare, incapable of exercising his intelligence and obligation. He seems to prefer comfort to liberty.
Politicians are resorting to direct action to enforce their particular viewpoint or to fulfil their ambitions. This is unfortunate. To remedy this growing indiscipline, lack of rectitude, egotism, the Anuvrat Movement was started on March 1, 1949. It requires strict adherence to the principles of good life. It is intended to impart education in moral and spiritual values.
We cannot say that, as a result of this movement, things have improved very considerably. Public spirit, commercial integrity, individual rectitude, family life, peaceful behaviour, these require to be cultivated. These cannot be achieved by merely talking about them. The only way in which this can be brought about is by imparting to our young people the essentials of our culture. These may be summarized in the three great words abhaya, ahimsa, asanga which are the common possessions of all systems of religious thought.
Abhaya - The world in which we live is full of suffering 'lokam soka hatam ca samastant'disease, old age, death - the Upanishads raise this question and ask whether there is a way out of it and believe that there is. The Buddha speaks in a similar way: so does Christianity. The Gita affirms anityam asukham lokam- and argues that we can get rid of these troubles by the worship of the Divine. Thus we get the Ultimate Reality. Brahmajijnasa is the love of wisdom. The only way of getting rid of fear is by the conviction that there is something which redeems us from this world of time, something timeless. The Upanishads say: anandam brahmano vidvan na bibheti kadacana. The writer of the Gita says: ma sucah - be not afraid. The Buddha says that if we follow the ethical path, there will be an end of suffering.
Simply because we are afraid, it does not follow that there is something which removes our fear. Simply because we are hungry, it does not follow that there is food which will satisfy our hunger. The assumption of a Transcendent Reality may merely be a wish-fulfilment. So it is argued that we should take an empirical survey of the world and by means of reason establish the Reality of something timeless and transcendent. Brahman is the world-ground.
A mere wish or a logical conclusion is not enough. We must have an encounter, a personal experience of the Supreme. Faith is not belief, but a state of the soul. All the systems believe in this. The Bodhi of the Buddha, the KevalaJnana, the Samyag-darsana of the Jain, the integrated insight, the Brahmasamsparsaofthe Gita, Truth, which casts out fear, of the Christians - all these depend on personal realization.
The peculiarity of Indian systems of thought is that this insight into Reality means the discovery of the Divine in us. The Chandogya Upanishad says that truth by which this whole world is sustained is in the human being - etad atmayam idam sarvam tat satyam sa atma tat twam ast. Again - esa devo visvakarma matatma sadajananam hrdaye sannivistah - deho devalayo nama. The Budhha's meditations are an endeavour to know the highest. The Jains believe that behind the body of karm there is in each soul infinite knowledge, infinite power, infinite happiness. Thejiva is by its very nature pure. Ultimate knowledge is its inherent possession. It is overlaid by ignorance created by the karmic body. When dwelling within the bonds of karm, the jiva experiences only finite knowledge, but as the impediments to greater knowledge are removed, infinite knowledge is manifested and the true nature of the soul is revealed. The impediments are desires and passions.
The perfected soul is sidha paramesthin. It is a state of unconditioned being, passionless peace, dissociated from desire and action. The arhat has not reached ultimate liberation but works in the world with compassion for it. Then we have ordinary human teachers.
From this follows a kind of hospitality to all religious creeds. ''Ajopi sann avyayatma bhutanam isvaropi san prakrtim svam adhisthaya sambhavamy atmamayaya."
Though (I am) unborn, my self is imperishable, though I am the Lord of all creation yet establishing myself in my own nature, I come into (empiric) being through my power.
Syadvada affirms that the absolute of experience is not the absolute of language or of logic. We should not quarrel about the names we give to the Supreme or the ways by which we greet Him. On the wings of aspiration, man rises from earth to heaven, from ignorance to knowledge, from darkness to light. Without this aspiration man remains purely animal, earthly sensual, unenlightened and uninspired.
Ahimsa - If we believe that each individual has the Divine in him, it follows that our attitude towards others should be one of noninjury. Ahimsa is vaira tyaga- renunciation of hatred. There is no question that all those who are free from fear, who have attained abhaya will act in the world in a spirit of love and compassion - karuna. Love is the basis of all civilized living. All our unhappiness is traceable to our insatiable selfishness. Suffering is the result of craving, of greed. Our life will be suffering and our end full of sorrow until we overcome our selfishness. Marana is not extinction. It is the extinction of carving which makes life mean and pitiful. It is serenity of soul. The Buddha says, 'To those in need give without restraint." Tyaga or renunciation is the way to it. Not by giving up vain clothing or outward riches, not by abstaining from certain foods, but by giving up the spirit of vanity, the desire for wealth, the lust for self-indulgence, by giving up hatred, jealousy and selfishness do we attain purity of heart. The man of passion is eager to put others right, the man of wisdom puts himself right. Self-conquest means selfliberation Tri-ratna of the Jains is satya faith, right knowledge and right conduct. The panchsheel of the Jains is ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, aparigraha, and of the Buddhists is practically the same, ahimsa, satyavacana. brahmacarya, aparigraha and surapana-nisedha.
Asanga - While we work in this world, we do so free from any attachment to the results of action - yogasthah kuru kar mani sangam tyaktva dhananjaya, Again. gata sangasya muktasya. Muktah is free from Sanga. We are unattached but not uninterested.
If we are able to spread these essentials of spiritual life, freedom from fear, love and non-attachment, we will improve the character of human beings. Anuvrat Sangh which Acharya Tulsiji has established. and is working for. aims at this moral improvement of the individual and. therefore, of society.
A true democracy has for its aim the making of moral personalities. Political power in a democracy is attained by appeals to people through the press and the platform. Moral power, on the other hand, resides in a moral personality and in the latter's compelling characteristic. There is always this difference between the King and the Prophet. Rama and Vasistha, the political and the spiritual power, The desire for power is 'the perpetual and restless desire of power that ceaseth only in death,' in the words of Hobbes. Its end is enslavement. Spiritual leaders speak of the soul and the health of the soul; they utter words that provoke, stimulate, awaken; they are not objects of knowledge but stimulants to thought, ungraspable but always beckoning us. These we should hold before us in all our activities.
Article Source :
Anuvibha Reporter ( Special Issue : Dec. 2000 )
Ahimsa, Peacemaking, Conflict Prevention and Management Proceedings and Presentations
Fourth International Conference on Peace and Nonviolent Action ( IV ICPNA )
New Delhi : Nov. 10-14, 1999
Mail to : Ahimsa Foundation