I And Mine: [02.05] - A Religious Revolution - Religion Separated From Spirituality Denotes Unrighteousness

Published: 06.11.2005
Updated: 02.07.2015

A parrot is inside a cage. It is muttering something. It is repeating what it was made to learn by rote. A parrot has memory but no thinking. Man has both memory and thinking. He does not repeat what he has crammed. He thinks afresh, seeks new paths and treads them.

The buffalo was a beast of burden thousands of years ago and is so even now. Nothing has changed in its life during the long years. It has made no progress because it is incapable of independent thinking. Man on the other hand has made tremendous progress. He began with the Stone Age and has arrived in the Nuclear Age. Starting from a hovel he has acquired a multi-storey mansion. He has registered progress in every field of life. The binding force between memory and impendent thinking is tradition. In the absence of tradition man would not have been different from a buffalo. The history of human development is the history of traditions. The light generated by past experiences has made it possible for man to discover many new tracks.

Some people want to discontinue tradition, but it is not possible. One endowed with memory can never rid himself of tradition, for the two are intimately related. If I were not to mince words, I would say that memory itself is tradition.

We are human beings; memory is our privilege. Since we want to benefit from the past, we cannot free ourselves from tradition; we can however, rectify it. This is where the usefulness of training comes in. Even birds and animals are trained and they become skilled too but they cannot become as skilled as man, since they lack independent thinking.

Once a monkey was trained. He was in attendance on a monarch. One day the king was asleep and the monkey was on guard with a naked sword in his hand. Just then a fly sat down on the king' s throat. This made the monkey angry and he struck it with the sword. The king began to bleed profusely. The monkey had training but no power of reflection. He did not have the ability to refer things to a context. Man has this ability.

Man cannot progress if he does not combine reflection and contemplation with training. All development in recorded history has been the outcome of combination of memory, tradition, training, reflection, and contemplation. We want to talk of religion also because it shares the above trait. Neglect of religion results not only in the denial of development but also in the severance of relation with the basis of group or social life. The very existence of social life depends on truth and trustworthy behaviour. It is mutual trust that has brought men together. And it is on the same basis that life's commerce goes on. If the tendency to behead a person lying in one' s lap had been widespread, man would have been isolated and barbaric, without the right to lead a social life. But that is not the case. Man has faith in truth. And truth begets trust. It is on account of this trust that people are playing different roles in society. If social development is not possible without giving central importance to truth, can it be possible to survive by neglecting religion? I am absolutely sure that it is not possible. What is religion but the same as truth?

A Sanskrit poet has said, ‘A person devoid of religion breathes like the bellows of a blacksmith, but does not live in the true sense of the word.' I would have put it differently by maintaining that such a person cannot even breathe. Can someone breathe in the lap of a hungry wolf? Is it possible for a man to lead a social life by giving birth to violence, cruelty, falsehood and stealing? If it is impossible, it means that it is impossible to live without religion. With the coming of autumn the tree sheds everything-leaves, blossoms and fruit. It is once again laden with all of them with the coming of spring. This cycle is perennial. When both power and money become part of religion, a revolution of ideas comes into being and religion becomes cribbed and confined. It results in the need to discipline religion and once again it becomes pervasive. Even during autumn the existence of the tree remains secure. Likewise, even when religious people disappear, the existence of religion is not endangered. It is like a building duly constructed but crumbling down with the ravages of time. With the building erect, space is manifest; with its crumbling down, space becomes imperceptible. However, in either case the existence of space is not in doubt. When religious people are good, religion is manifest; when they get entangled in external rituals, religion becomes imperceptible. But non-manifestation is not the same as non-existence.

With the increase in materialism people are progressively ignoring religion. According to Marx religion is opium, an intoxicating drug. It makes people frenzied. Those believing in Marxism consider religion the biggest obstacle to development. Communist countries have even tried to extirpate religion. But all such things relate to the external form of religion, for the form can be forgotten, religion itself cannot be forgotten. Deep reverence does make one somewhat intoxicated towards him he reveres. Do nationalists not feel a bit heady when it comes to the glorification of their country? Are lovers of language free from some kind of intoxication felt in the use of good language? All means adopted and revered by human beings, like caste, colour or class, become sources of intoxication. Why should we then deny the truth that religion is intoxicating? In this context, it is also necessary to highlight another truth. This intoxication is in the body of religion, not in its spirit. The body of religion is sect and the spirit of religion is spirituality. It is very easy to acquire a body; the spirit is acquired through dedicated practice. There are very few religious people who go as far as to acquire the spirit of religion. Most religious people merely worship the body of religion. How can they save themselves from sectarian intoxication? When people cling to the body of religion and keep away from spirituality, religion becomes lifeless. As a result, self-discipline and comprehensive vision or catholic attitude are destroyed. Religion is reduced to being a mere bundle o artificial rules and narrow viewpoints. Such a religion hinders social transformation. It is under these circumstances that social revolutionaries, thinking that it is an institution that gives refuge to conservative practices, try to eliminate it. We have no respect for such a body of religion which is conservative and divorced from spirituality. We need a great revolution in the field of religion. Acharya Shree Tulsi (now Ganadhipati Gurudev Tulsi) has provided a proper leadership in this direction and through the medium of Anuvrat the seeds of revolution are being sown.

Those, practising religion throughout life fail to develop comprehensive vision and friendliness. The result is that a religion shorn of spiritual dignity finds itself incapable of bringing about transcendental transformation of life. Our physical sciences are quite adequate to bring about physical transformation. For that we do not have to take refuge in religion. Those given to telling their beads daily think the day wasted when they fail to do so; they do not have this feeling of wasted time when they indulge in dishonest and immoral behaviour. Their understanding of religion is not aimed at transforming life but at perpetuating the imperfections of life. Religion is used not for removing the evils of behaviour but for seeking condonation of the ill effects of those evils. A man was once telling a qualified physician that he was helpless in giving up his extreme weakness of the palate. He wanted the physician to give him a medicine that would enable him to eat excessively without falling ill. Do religious people also not think in the same language? Two persons are fighting a legal battle in a court. Both pray for victory before going to the court. Does the one who is blameworthy not thus want victory of falsehood over truth, of irreligion on religion? If he does, how can it be said that he has faith in truth or religion? He regards religion merely as a means of achieving his selfish ends.

Whenever religion becomes a means of satisfying wishes, it gets defiled. And defiled religion is a terrible thing. Lord Mahavira had given a clear warning against such a religion: 'Defiled or perverted religion is as dangerous as are drinking deadly poison, wrongly handled weapons and evil spirits cultivated without the knowledge of defensive measures.' It was this kind of religion which Marx called opium. Religion reinforced with spirituality is never intoxicating and can never be called opium.

What is spirituality?

The experience of freedom:

It frees one from the afflictions and bonds of desires.

The experience of completeness:

It removes vacuity.

The experience of blessedness:

It puts an end to the tradition of sorrow.

The senses, the mind, and the intellect are phenomenal objects. They are not self-illumined. What really illumines them is spirituality, though from behind the curtains, as it were. It is from there that the demand for freedom emanates. The voice of completeness arises from there. Blessedness billows out of it only. A bulb starts emitting light as soon as it is switched on. But the bulb is not the source of that light. The source is the electric powerhouse. Likewise, the source of consciousness is not the senses or the mind or the intellect, but spirituality, which is surging like an endless ocean within every individual.

That moment is not interconnected with the source of religion, which lacks the experience of freedom. That moment also is not interconnected with the source of religion, which lacks the experience of completeness. So too is that moment not interconnected with the source of religion which lacks the experience of blessedness. How can one expect there to be light where there is no interconnection with the source of light?

  • I And Mine by Acharya Mahaprajna
  • Edited by Muni Dulahraj ji
  • Translated by R.P. Bhatnagar, formerly Prof. Dept. of English at Jaipur University
  • Published by Jain Vishva Bharati Institute, Ladnun, India, 1st Edition, 1995

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Shree Tulsi
  3. Anuvrat
  4. Body
  5. Consciousness
  6. Contemplation
  7. Discipline
  8. Gurudev
  9. Mahavira
  10. Sanskrit
  11. Space
  12. Tulsi
  13. Violence
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