On India's past and present

India's past is remarkably rich and varied. The same can be said of Her dauntless present, which can and must provide a starting point for the golden future.

Our Bharat Mata always beckons the length and breadth of the world. She inspires the seekers. She elevates the consciousness of those who sincerely thirst for a higher life, a life of illumination and perfection.

India, in its purest sense, is neither a matter-hungry nor a world-shunning country.

An indomitable will is energising Bharat Mata. Progress, both material and spiritual, is being effected with lightning speed.

India is the land of surrender. This surrender is not a blind submission, but rather the dedication of one's limited self to one's unbounded Self.

It is easy to insist that the India of the past was sublime while the India of today is anything but that. But they are mistaken who think that ancient Hinduism is the only part of Indian life worth studying. India's present, too, has much to contribute to the world at large. Her soul's light, paying no heed to outer recognition, is playing an important role in awakening the heart of the world, and it is ultimately destined to inspire humanity with the message of truth, forgiveness and universal kindness.

The present-day world is consciously longing for unity. Hinduism teaches that India's unity is Her oneness of spiritual vision, Her integral fulfilment. Humanity is becoming convinced of the truth that the material, intellectual and spiritual lives can indeed run abreast to achieve the final Victory of God here on earth.

The ancient Romans saw religion as a force which binds and controls man. But the ancient Indian seers felt that religion, nay, dharma, must release man from that which binds him, that is, his own ignorance. Man's awakened consciousness must do away with ignorance, or to be precise, must transform ignorance into the knowledge of Truth.

India's spiritual heart knows how to accept other religions, how to appreciate other religions and how to admire other religions. India's spiritual heart has realised that for each new religion there is a new approach to the Goal. Each path is right and indispensable for its own followers.

Hinduism gives due importance to all the spiritual figures of the world. It recognises a great harmony in their teachings. Down through the ages, the firmament of India has sent forth the message of peace, love and truth. It has fostered and encouraged the synthesis of all world religions. Further, Hinduism has always affirmed that the highest end of life is not to remain in any particular religion, but to outgrow religion and realise and live in Eternal Truth.

Hinduism is the embodiment of certain lofty, infallible ideals. These ideals within us live and grow, grow and live. Because of this fact, Hinduism is still a living force. It lives to lead. It leads to live.

To know Hinduism is to discover India. To discover India is to feel the breath of the soul. To feel the breath of the soul is to become one with God.

The world surprisingly appreciates and astonishingly admires the spirituality-surges of Tibet. The world irrevocably adores and sleeplessly bows to the spirituality-ocean of India. As Hinduism is the tree and Buddhism is a branch thereof, even so, Indian consciousness is the fount of the Tibetan flow. India gave and became. India gave aspiration and became the service-smile. Tibet received and enriched. Tibet received benediction and enriched its silence-sound.

It is absurd to hold that the India of the hoary past played exclusively the role of world-renunciation. Our ancients accepted life in full faith. They clearly believed in life itself as a great power.

Our Vedic parents expressed their will to live a long, radiant life when they sang:

"//Tach chakshur devahitam//
//Purastat shukram uchcharat//"

"May we, for a hundred autumns, see
That lustrous Eye,
God-ordained, arise before us.
May we live a hundred autumns;
May we hear for a hundred autumns;
May we speak well for a hundred autumns;
May we hold our heads high for a hundred autumns;
Yea, even beyond a hundred autumns."

In full earnest, they tried to fathom and understand the mystery of life. They accepted the earth with all its joys and sorrows, its hopes and frustrations. Moreover, they wanted to live as the master and lord of life. They were therefore dauntless and uncompromising in their opposition to evil. They wanted their souls to be possessed absolutely by the Supreme and, at the same time, they aspired to serve Him in the world.

Mother India is an aspiring tree. This aspiring tree has the Vedas as its only root. The root is Truth, the tree is Truth, the experience of the tree is Truth, the realisation of the tree is Truth, the revelation of the tree is Truth, the manifestation of the tree is Truth.

The Rig Veda is the oldest of all the Vedas. This Veda embodies the earliest monument of India's aspiration and realisation. India's poetry, India's philosophy, India's literature, India's religion and India's science all owe their very existence to the Rig Veda, which is their source.

India's soul-offering is the perennial light of the Upanishads. The Upanishads offer to the world at large the supreme achievement of the awakened and illumined Hindu life.

Although outwardly the Indian people quarrel and fight, the light, the peace and the silence that we have received from the Vedic seers of the hoary past are working within us in our inner life. Outwardly many Indians are in constant conflict, but in the inner world they are in perfect harmony and they love their Source, God, most sincerely. So the inner message of India will always remain illumining and fulfilling.