I am a dreamer. I come from the land of dreams. I am now in a dream-boat. The name of my dream-boat is Hinduism. Day in, day out, it sails. On it sails across the Sea of Eternity. It knows no journey's end. Its goal is Immortality. The Boatman is the Dreamer Supreme. If you, my brothers and sisters, would like to sail with me in this boat, do come. I welcome you all with folded hands, with unbounded love and tears of delight. The fare demands no dollars, no cents, nothing of the sort. The fare is just sympathy, the sympathy that springs from the heart's core.
To add to the joy of our enthusiasm, a voice of a courageous dreamer, quite unexpected, is now heard echoing and re-echoing in the recesses of our memories. A century and a half ago, this dreamer saw the light of day here on Long Island, New York. He is Walt Whitman. This seer-poet, with his message of the universal "I", joins us in our momentous journey.
Our first stop is a visit to Dr. Radhakrishnan, one of the greatest living philosophers. He speaks on Hinduism:
"The Hindu attitude to religion is interesting. While fixed intellectual beliefs mark off one religion from another, Hinduism sets itself no such limits. Intellect is subordinated to intuition, dogma to experience, outer expression to inward realisation."
Keeping this in mind, let us move on to examine Hinduism. It is no doubt a great religion. But it is also a simple religion. It does not want to confuse a man or test his intellectual capacities. It does not crave his attention or solicit his favour. Significantly, what it wants from him is his soul's understanding. Hinduism wants not only to preserve but also to propagate the inner harmony of every human soul, if such is the Will of God. What it wants is to possess and be possessed by all that is best in the cultural, religious and spiritual wisdom of the world.
Although it has had its periods of inertia, Hinduism is not a static religion. A static religion would lead only to sterility and finally to death. Hinduism has, in its long history, become an emblem of flexibility, independence, creative thinking, and spontaneous innovation in both thought and action. Hinduism knows how to absorb; it knows, too, how to reject in order to sit at the feet of Truth. Hinduism is a ceaseless mounting cry for Truth. It aspires to be the essence of an all-embracing spiritual panacea to feed humanity.
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. The Hinduism of today is sincerely trying to discover a unique way of life in which groups of radically different racial, historical, ethical, conceptual and spiritual backgrounds can live in perfect harmony and at the same time actively collaborate in the fulfilment of one task: the marriage of Matter and Spirit. India, in its purest essence, is neither a matter-hungry nor a world-shunning country. And the tolerance with which Hinduism has always been associated is firmly rooted in sacrifice and a full recognition of other men's rights.
India acts with neither fear nor a sense of superiority. Indeed, Hinduism has become self-critical of late. Hence its improvement is dawning fast. It is true that the Hinduism of today has countless problems. It is equally true that Mother India alone must and certainly will solve all her problems. An indomitable will is energising Bharat Mata (Mother India). Progress, both material and spiritual, is being effected with lightning speed. Of supreme importance, however, is the fact that the Hinduism of today is going to model itself — not on Western or Eastern or Southern or Northern patterns — but on the Infinite's own Pattern.
Here in America, we are in a land of freedom, the freedom that nourishes dynamic thoughts and dynamic movements. There in India, we are in a land of freedom, the freedom of a fertile tolerant spirituality that nourishes all religions.
Here we wish to reach God by running speedily, while there we wish to reach God by climbing swiftly.
Let us go and listen to a devout Hindu. He says that his father is Silence, his mother is Power. Silence feeds his consciousness. Power utilises his consciousness. His parents teach him to breathe in the air of spiritual oneness, to feel that oneness in all human beings: indeed, in the entire creation. His parents have taught him the secret of secrets: that through meditation alone the world can be seen and felt fully and integrally. They have made him realise that his life is part and parcel of humanity. He has no race, no nation of his own. His religion is God-vision. He knows that to realise God, he has not to kill his lower self. He has just to transform it into his Higher Self. Then, behold! The Goal beckons him. Indeed, this is a new approach to and a new fulfilment of Truth. Finally, he wants not only to see God but also to be God Himself.
So our boat is sailing, dancing in tune with God's eternal, mystic cadence. We are dreamers. We are also realists and idealists. Our boat, with its heart's love, pines to touch the far-off shores of the Golden Beyond. Our boat, with its soul's peace, aspires to commune with the Breath of the Supreme.