THE TRUE NATURE OF MANContinued from The Challenge of Human Experience
Romain Rolland in his book, The Life of Shri Ramakrishna, writes (Sixth Edition, p.13):
" The man whose image I have evoked was the consummation of two thousand years of spiritual life of three hundred million people."
That a man like Sri Ramakrishna (A.D. 1836-1886) could appear in our time and live such a glorious life is entirely due to the fact of this continuity of India's spiritual tradition. It is a perennial river, flowing down the ages. Many of us, perhaps do not know about it. Many of us, perhaps, have not been able to take advantage of it. For some it is too lofty a theme. But all who hear about it look up to it in wonder and in admiration. There is a verse in the Bhagavad-Gita (II. 29), which says:
asharyavat vadati tathaiva chanyah;
Ascharyavatchainam anyah srinnoti
shrutyapenam veda na chaiva kaschit.
"Some look upon this Atman as a wonder, some speak of it as a wonder, some hear of it as a wonder, in spite of all this, few truly know this Truth, the eternal glory of man!"
What then is this 'eternal glory of man'? It is his inborn divine nature, birthless. deathless, pure, and holy. He is not the body, nor the senses; these are but the instruments of his manifestation and action in the spatio-temporal world .He is limitless One expressing itself through the little finite forms of body and mind. This is the true nature of man. This is not a mere philosophical concept, but a realized fact. All sensitive minds are inspired by these ideas. They inspired people at the time when the Upanishads were composed; they inspired people a thousand years later; and today, after three or four thousand years, they still inspire us. Neither the phenomenal progress of science and technology, nor the wealth and power of the modern world, has been able to reduce the relevancy of these ideas of the Upanishads; they only increased it. The world is seeking precisely this spiritual growth of man; it is the only means of breaking through the stagnation, which has come down upon the human mind. The human mind has lost its bearings in delusion of wealth and power', pramadyntam vittamohena mudham (Katha Upanishad, II. 6). Continued stagnation means death. So the Upanishads give us their gospel of hope for man through their grand theme: Man shall have wealth; man shall have power; man shall have all this; but he shall not get lost in any of these. These are the means not the end; he shall break the crust of experience, and realize the Atman his divine Self, which is Sat-Chit-Ananda, Existence -Knowledge- Bliss. Thus do the Upanishads show us the way to creative living and life fulfillment.
Creative living is a beautiful term, but what is 'creative'? Merely doing the same things over and over again does not indicate creativity. The body, the senses, the nervous system, their recurring excitements and titilatins, do not make for creative living. Some time or other we have to break through the prison wall of body and mind. Then we reach true creativity that the Upanishads represent. That is why the Upanishads are inspiring to the modern man and woman.
Those who are modern fall in to two categories. First, there are those who are modern simply because they use modern amenities. That is the ordinary word of the 'modern'. But there is another meaning, a more profound meaning, to this word. In this second meaning the modern man is who is nourished on the spirit of science, who is alert of mind and on the track of truth, who has the capacity to question, 'to seek, ask, and knock' as Jesus expresses it. The man is modern who is inquisitive, who has a passion for truth and power of rational investigation, who never takes things for granted but always tries to get at the heart of things; his heart constantly asks, ' What next? What next?' Such a modern mind is the mind that is closest to the spirit of the Upanishads. For in the Upanishads too there is this atmosphere of alertness, this mood of constant seeking, a deep passion for truth, a constant desire to forge ahead and not take things for granted in a complacent spirit. It is here that we find the close kinship between the Upanishads and the modern spirit.
So we find today that scientific thinkers, those who continually seek for the deeper vistas of truth, those who strive to take life to higher levels of expression, when they become acquainted with the literature of the Upanishads, they become charmed, fascinated. Swami Vivekananda (A.D.1863- 1902), referring to the Upanishads, said (Complete Works Vol. III, Eighth Edition, p. 110):
"If there is one word in the English language to express the effect which the literature of India produces upon mankind, it is this one word fascination."
The reason for this fascination is precisely that they draw the mind up to something higher, purer, loftier. The Upanishads send out a clarion call to lead us ever upward and onward. In the Katha Upanishads (III.14) we read :
"Arise! Awake! And enlighten yourself by approaching the great ones!"
Continued in The Moving Power of the Spirit
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This page is created and maintained by Dr. Nilotpal Ghosh
Last Update : September 25, 2003