Volume 11 - Issue 08
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Posted on: Aug 15, 2013

Freedom Struggle and the Struggle for True Freedom

by Mr. Sairam Radhakrishnamurthy

A post graduate in physics from Osmania University, Mr. Sairam Radhakrishnamurthy hails from a family which came to Baba in the fifties. He is currently engaged in personally tutoring many college graduates. Since 2008, he is also the convenor of V. P. Colony Sai Samithi in Chennai North District.

Man today is clamouring for rights and bargaining it with money. This has led to a decline in the social, moral, ethical, political, economic and even spiritual fields. To set right this state, we need to understand the basic concept of rights.

Rights are the fruits of freedom and freedom is the staff of independence. In other words, modern man wants independence, right from a suckling baby to the stuporing old man. The spirit of unity is fast depleting like the ozone layer. No one wants to look back like Julius Caesar and none has the boon of sound sleep as described in Charles Dickens ‘city night peace’. This is a struggle which has replaced the chuckles and giggles of the grandmas and grandpas.

So, the world is shrinking with technology. It is a technological enhancement but at times seems like a spiritual and ethical denouncement. Why is this negativity cropping in us? The reason is we want to be ‘independent’ and enjoy our own creative ‘rights’.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak asserted – “Freedom is our birthright and we shall have it”. But Baba asks us, “Oh man! You have been craving for rights. But when are you going to crave for your real birthright i.e. Freedom of no rebirth”.

To understand this undecipherable birthright, let us compare it with the subtle aspect of the freedom struggle fought by our forefathers for an independent India.

Independence = 'In Dependence' of the Inner Self

We as the children of Bharat celebrate Independence Day on August 15 every year. But honestly speaking, are we independent? Certainly not. We are henpecked by one weakness or the other. So what is independence? To understand this, Baba says independence means 'in dependence'. Literally it might mean, man is a social animal. But Baba says it means dependence on the inner self.

This boosts our self-confidence and this self-confidence leads to self-satisfaction. This self-satisfaction leads to self-contentment and self-contentment leads to self-realization. When the self is realized, we are not bound and nothing can bind us. We can then taste the nectar of real freedom. Only then we can call ourselves really independent. Until then, Independence Days are merriment on television, outing, a day of recreation or just another holiday.

Let us recollect the lives of the noble souls who fought for freedom. None of them lived a life of pleasure. They sacrificed their health, wealth and even their youth for the sake of freedom struggle. Many women have given away even their mangala sutra (that too when orthodoxy was high) to the Mahatma to be used to fund the freedom movement. How many multi-millionaires have removed the night soil to be certified to become a part of the Sabarmati ashram of Gandhiji.

Even at the highest provocation none of the leaders and even sevaks revolted against the British regime, sticking to the might of satyagraha and non-violence. Some showed their bare bodies daringly to the British to kill them. Before being hanged many kissed the gallows with a smile, happy that they are dying for the nation. Some threw their positions of power just to become sevaks.

They wound their own yarn and stitched clothes. Even the mightiest bullock cannot pull the machine to produce oil where men were used instead of bullocks. Yet in spite of this none hinged from the thirst for Swarajya (independence). The mothers while cradling their babies used to tell the children about the British imperial rule and nourished their infants with thirst for freedom along with the milk. These mothers who also sacrificed their children in this holy war did not even shed a tear, as this would mean disrespect to the son who has offered his life for the sake of the country. Probably writing about these sacrifices is practically impossible as unsung heroes are more than those in the limelight. They expected nothing in return, none instigated them, yet they died for the country. What greater evidence of self-confidence is necessary?

Now let us see the other side of the picture. Gandhiji chanted the name of Rama incessantly which he learnt from his maid servant; Subramaniya Bharathi was a lover of Mother Parasakthi; Alluri Seeta Rama Raju was killed while offering sandhya vandanam, etc. They were men and women of sterling character, evil traits dare not go near them. Living for the sake of others was their greatest virtue. All these make them treasure houses of human values and real spiritual masters.

Thus love for Mother India had bestowed them with the boon of self-confidence leading them to self-realization and real freedom i.e. freedom from no rebirth. Also Sri Aurobindo who first was a freedom fighter and later became a jnani (spiritual seeker on the path of knowledge) is a fine example. In fact he was the one who announced about the advent of the Sathya Sai Avatar.

Sai Avatars and the Freedom Struggle of All

Now let's come to the role played by the Sai Avatars in this freedom struggle - man’s struggle for freedom from the cycle of birth and death with that of the historical events in the freedom struggle for independent India.

  The first uprising against the British, May 1857

After the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the British East India Company established itself as a major player in India’s affairs. The embers to free India started in the 19th Century and history records that the first struggle for freedom was the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857.

The revolt began at Meerut on 10 May 1857, with the uprising of Indian sepoys of the British army against the British. It was the result of accumulated resentment, which had been growing since the beginning of the British conquest of India. This led the British to firm their grip on India and so British Raj (the rule of the British) was established in total from 1858.

Obviously this was the early phase of Indian nationalism. Many factors like political unification of the country, beginning of modern trade, etc. contributed to the growth of nationalism since 1858.

Interestingly, this is the year Shirdi Sai established Himself in Shirdi, having arrived there along with Chand Patil's marriage troupe. Moreover it was then that Shirdi Sai chose Dwaraka Mayi as His eternal abode and lighted the 'dhuni', signifying the lamp of love to bestow freedom to entire mankind.

I want to believe that it is this 'sacred fire of freedom' that Baba lit which gave birth to so many noble souls during this period for the sake of this country like Gandhiji, Subhash Chandra Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru, etc. Eventually it led to the establishment of Indian National Congress (INC) in 1885.

Again curiously a year after this, in 1886 Shirdi Sai went into 72-hour Samadhi. This triggered the blossoming of the spark of divinity within many individuals and lead them to selflessness and divinity.

In 1897, Mr. Gopal Rao Gund, a devout Hindu and an ardent devotee of Baba, gave a suggestion to celebrate 'Urus' festival i.e. worshipping the tombs of the Muslim saints and that too on Sri Rama Navami Day and Baba readily agreed. From that year on this festival is being celebrated annually as a symbol of unity between the Hindu and Muslim communities. Baba in a manner of sorts had laid the first step for Hindu-Muslim unity which was so much needed for the freedom struggle.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak, one of the first popular leaders of the Indian Independence Movement. People affectionately called him 'Lokamanya Tilak'.  

As the freedom movement was surging ahead, India was looking for a competent one to control and guide the masses. This search ended when Mahatma Gandhi returned from South Africa on January 6, 1915.

Meanwhile, Baba had decided to relinquish His earthly sojourn, but before that He sought to guide the leaders who were active in the freedom movement.

Hence, by His divine will, Khaparde came along with Bal Gangadhar Tilak, to Shirdi on 19 May, 1917. Tilak then was an extremist leader in the Indian National Congress (being one of the famous trio 'Lal Bal Pal'). Apparently Baba gave Tilak certain advices in private. There were indications that from that day the extremist actions were toned down.

Then on October 15, 1918, Sri Shirdi Sai Baba assumed Maha Samadhi. During that period, India saw the greatest of its political turmoils.

The closing months of 1918 and the early weeks of 1919 saw the launch of a strike movement on a scale never seen before. It was the passing of the Rowlatt Act by the Imperial Legislative Council in London in March 1919 which vested supreme powers with the Government to control public unrest and 'conspiracy'.

It was more or less like emergency, and there were protests all over the country. The forceful one in Amritsar led to the gruesome Jallianwala Bagh massacre. All these events stringed the hearts of the people of this nation.

Finally led by Mahatma Gandhi, India defied the British rule mostly by non-violent means and became an independent country in 1947. The turmoil included a great divide between people of Hindu faith and Islam that ended with the formation of Pakistan as a Muslim state.

When India attained independence finally on August 15, 1947 there were more reasons to lament than celebrate due to the unfortunate partition of this nation

When you reflect on this the Lord chose Gandhiji to lead the freedom struggle of this land. He was someone who valued truth, righteousness, discipline, character, religious sentiments, ceiling on desires (burning of foreign goods), self-dependence (salt satyagraha and spinning our own clothes), selfless service (attending to lepers and even removing the night soil), equality and fraternity (addessing the downtrodden as harijans), and non-violence. He was a guide not only for the common masses but also for saints and enlightened ones; one who believed and demonstrated that service to man is service to God.



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