Volume 12 - Issue 09
Sept 2014
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Posted on: Sept 11, 2014

Natural Calamities: Who's Responsible?

- A Panel Discussion

part 02

NATURAL CALAMITIES: WHO'S RESPONSIBLE? - part 01 NATURAL CALAMITIES: WHO'S RESPONSIBLE? - part 03 NATURAL CALAMITIES: WHO'S RESPONSIBLE? - part 04
NATURAL CALAMITIES: WHO'S RESPONSIBLE? - part 05
NATURAL CALAMITIES: WHO'S RESPONSIBLE? - part 06

Proper Study of Mankind is Man

 

GS: Everything is included; every minute thing on the planet is connected to the entire Universe. You have to work for the welfare of everything in the entire Universe.

KSM: How does one develop such sensitivity to know that whatever I think is going to react, resound and come back to me? How do we get there? Most people think they live in silos. When we hear of a catastrophe, we think they happen to somebody else – “Thank God I live in a safe place and it is all ok here. I live in a modern country where there is good disaster management.” How do we develop the sensitivity to know that the pain of a person in Uttarakhand is also my pain? Yes, Dr. Anand?

DA: I will give a small example shared by Mr. G. Venkataraman in one of the moral classes. He was talking to us about what Swami always says – the proper study of mankind is man. He once asked Swami the real meaning of this particular phrase that Swami often used in His discourses. He was looking for an answer but Swami answered by means of a question. Swami asked him, “If you are going on a path barefoot and if a thorn pricks your feet, what will you do?” “Swami I will remove it.”

Swami counter-questioned, “How will you remove it?” “Swami, with my hand.” Swami again asked him, “Why would the hand go and help the feet?” He said, “Swami, because it also feels the pain of the feet. The eyes also shed tears because they feel the pain of the feet.” Swami said, “This is the meaning of ‘The proper study of mankind is man.' The whole society is like a human being's body. When one limb is harmed, when one part of society is suffering, other parts should not feel that they are different from this part. We are all one.” Swami always wants to take us from Vyashti (Individual) to Samashti (Society) to Srishti (Creation/Nature) and then to Parameshti (God). As Sastry Sir said, they are not different from each other.

KSM: Man, society, nature and then God.

DA: In this continuum, nature comes just next to God. Swami says that we should not treat Mother Nature as an inanimate thing. She is alive and is the reflection of God; we have to protect her. In one of the man management discourses, Swami addressed the boys in the college. Swami took up the issue of pollution of the natural environment. Pointing a finger at the boys very sternly Swami said, “Boys, if you go out and think that you can pollute the environment and that this Sai Baba will forgive you, it is not true! Your punishment is manifold because you are devotees and students of Bhagawan. If knowingly you make a mistake of even working in organisations that pollute the environment, there is no forgiveness for you.”

That is how careful we have to be! When you look at it today, because of our unbelievable greed, we are killing our villages, towns, cities, and rivers; we are killing our mountains, plants, trees, birds, and beasts. All in the name of development!

Greed has Stolen Our Discrimination

GS: I don't know whether people are getting the message or not. When you talk about extensive usage of cell phones, in recent papers they say that sparrows are going to become extinct. It is such a beautiful bird which is very very important for all of us because it helps us a lot in living a good life. I am giving only one example but many species are getting extinguished from the planet and thereby the ecological balance is going to be destroyed. And whether man knows it or not, he is getting into something like suicide in the name of development.

KSM: It is like a collective suicide pact we have and we are walking into this trap without paying any attention to where we are headed. And that is because of greed. How did we ignore these danger signals for so long?

GS: This is because of capitalism, the capitalist way of thinking, and man becoming more and more selfish and forgetting God and nature. Let's look at something I firmly believe in. Show me something which is not worshipped on this planet since times immemorial in India.

KSM: I know! We worship the trees, animals, stones, idols and however amusing it might be to people from other cultures, in this country we even worship an anthill!

GS: Not only that, we even worship a snake on Naga Panchami. We worship snakes and our cows and cattle. We revere as sacred trees, plants, mountains... And we seek the blessings of snakes. We worship Sun God. I don't know whether people realise it or not - without the sun it is not possible for anything to exist on the planet.

KSM: The Greeks worship the sun as well.

GS: The sun is the source of sustenance of everything. All that is to be eliminated from the face of the earth evaporates because of the heat emanating from the sun. We have all the foliage and food because of Him. Water evaporates and comes back in the form of rain. We worship the sun and all the planets since ages.

KSM: We have beautiful prayers and hymns glorifying the Sun God like the Aditya Hridayam.

GS: We worship mountains too. In Bala Krishna's leelas, we say Krishna and all the Gopikas and Gopa Balas worshipped cows. Without cows where are we? Every blade of grass is worshipped.

Even when a Raja (king) went to war, he would first bow down to the chariot before getting on. Then he would pray to the horses to take him safely. You have to also pray to the charioteer because the chariot is in his hands. So if you are able to just open up your mind, you can see that your well-being is in the hands of everything around you! If you are going to destroy everything around you, where is your well-being?

KSM: You cannot live as an island and be happy in your expensive condominium or beautiful house when everything outside your gate is a mess.

GS: That is what we are doing today! Bhagawan Baba once said, “In the name of exploiting mineral resources you are getting to the bowels of Mother Earth and are destroying them. Without your knowledge, this will ultimately cause terrible earthquakes.”

DA: Absolutely, and it is coming to happen! I was reading an article by Gaylord Nelson, a former Senator in the US, written in 1970. Let me quote what he says – “Let us all remember that the economy is a fully owned subsidiary of the environment and not the other way round. All economic activity is dependent upon the natural environment. And if you destroy the environment, you cannot have any GDP, GNP or any other major economic development because it is totally dependent upon that.”

Some authors believe that the way humanity has destroyed the natural environment, it has set into motion a particular process that if on this particular day a miracle happens and everybody stops using fossil fuels, say becomes environmentally conscious and starts contributing with heart and soul, even then 90 percent chances are that humanity cannot survive the 21st Century. This is sincere research by great scholars and mathematicians.

There is Still Hope, and He is the Hope

It doesn't mean that everything is lost. We have our Bhagawan with us. We have the Parameshti with us, the Godhead with us, whose reflection is Prakriti; in His hands are all the powers. If we sincerely pray, everything can be changed. It has happened so many times in the past. For example, Bhagawan Baba declared that He would never leave the shores of the Indian sub-continent and go abroad but then He went to East Africa. When somebody asked “Swami, you had promised you will never go”, He said it was the devotion of that devotee.

 

“I had promised him (a devotee by name Dr. Patel) that I would go to his house and have parting meals in his house. But by the time I could fulfil the promise, he had already gone to East Africa. To fulfil that true devotee's prayer, I changed all the rules.” In Hindi, there is a particular saying ‘Param Prem ke paale padkar, Prabhu ko niyam badalte dekha’ – ‘getting entangled in the great devotion of the devotee, we have seen God change the rules of creation Himself. ‘Apna maan bhale tal jaaye’ – ‘His honour may go for a toss but He doesn't bother.’ ‘Par bhakt ka maan nahin talte dekha’ – ‘He has never let the word or the true prayer of a devotee go false.’

We still have hope. All research may say that humanity cannot survive and we will become like dinosaurs in the 22nd Century but we have hope because we have a great God with us who has all the powers of the whole universe in His hands.

KSM: That is reassuring to know and we all want to hold on to our faith and know that because we have known Swami and God has been on earth and has given us very good teachings to follow, anything can be averted; His Avataric incarnation is not going to be in vain .

Having said that, all we are seeing of late is calamity after calamity, manmade. Even the so-called natural disasters, if we probe deeply as both of you are suggesting, go down to a cause by human beings. They've been caused by human beings collectively abusing and misusing Mother Nature. Where does the solution lie in your opinion for the larger humanity? It is at many levels. It cannot be simplistic, I understand, but starting from the spiritual going down to corporate and economic, where do you see the solutions?

GS: The solution is given by Swami Himself. Today the problem is limitless desires. That is the only thing. We are running after so many things in the world and we want the whole world for ourselves. In the process, we don't mind going to any extent in destroying everything that comes in our way. Endless desires are responsible for such a bad situation today. We go to places and spoil them. Take the Himalayas for example. People go there and even destroy the ecosystem there.

KSM: And people who climb Mt. Everest leave tons and tons of garbage. They go to Manasarovar and litter it with plastic bags. If you go to the Nilgiris - the tourist spot in Tamil Nadu, South India - mountains have been cut into little motels, trees have been destroyed; the same is true in parts of Himachal Pradesh, also Uttarakhand, where there is so much of lopsided development without any ecological considerations.

The Importance of Morality in Society Must be Reinforced

GS: The calamity in Uttarakhand in June 2013 is said to be because of this. People went on eliminating the forests there. The speed at which the rain water flows down is cut down because of the forests. Forests are eliminated because we want to make money in the name of tourism. We are playing with nature and nature is going to bounce back with reinforced power; it will settle scores with you.

We are trying to harness all sorts of things such as energy. We want more and more energy; we are not satisfied with what we have. If you look at Prasanthi Nilayam, the spiritual centre established by Bhagawan Baba, in the ashram you have lots of people who are highly educated in all respects, well-versed in various walks of life, but living a simple life. You find them leading a simple life living in small accommodations whereas people outside run for huge buildings and facilities. Are we questioning ourselves whether it is necessary at all? How were people living in ancient India?

KSM: The size of our carbon footprint has increased drastically over the centuries. Modern man's carbon footprint is huge compared to the Vedic man's. It seems to be like a cycle we are caught up in, trying to keep up with the Jones – trying to match other people; the advertising industry and consumerism are fuelling our desires. Somewhere there has to be a spiritual solution to this.

Source: www.tagbauer.com

GS: Are people ready to take to the path of spirituality at all? When I was a school student, we had moral classes. In every lesson that was taught, I was given some values relating to life and how I am supposed to live for society. Even today when you enter the Super Specialty Hospital in the central dome you have the Maha Ganesha statue and there it is written –‘Paropakarartham idam shariram’ - ‘This body is to be utilized…’ - maybe I can change it – ‘This body is to be destroyed in the service of the society.’

We will be able to realize this purpose when the fact sinks into our mind that we are going to vacate this planet one day or the other.

KSM: We seem to forget everything about our mortality, thinking that we are here forever. You know what is the saddest part? In India when we exploit natural resources, often we mine them without regard for regulation. Every other day, we hear about another scam that has happened. Most of the time, people involved in this scam after making a few headlines and losing their ministership get away with it. In the meanwhile, millions of tons of coal or other natural resources are mined from Mother Earth and are lost without any ecological concern at all and often they are not diverted to our nation's treasury but siphoned off. We're becoming so insensitive.

GS: This means the purpose of education, the road that education is supposed to take, is lost. Probably the worst-hit department in the entire country ever since independence is education. We are not imparting right education. That is why Baba started a University. The University's central focal point according to Bhagawan Baba is to produce good individuals, not great individuals.

 

KSM: And not greedy human beings. But then what do you say to doctors and engineers who are so driven to get these degrees? They go to private colleges and their families have to pay huge amounts of money in India just to get them into a medical school or a private school. So as soon as they finish four or five years worth of professional education, their aim is to go back to society and start making the money to make up for the financial loss their families have suffered. They begin the profession from a place of greed – they have to get even and have to make up the loss. The whole system is so skewed and it is all driven by profits, not purpose.

DA: Absolutely. I would like to share one experience that happened in Kodaikanal. In 1998, I was with Bhagawan in Kodaikanal. We proposed to Bhagawan to give us a topic for debate and the topic was ‘For all the ills of society, are the institutions more responsible or the individual?’

KSM: Which side were you on, Dr. Anand?

DA: I was on the side that the individual is more important. He demands from the institutions what they have to provide to him – I go to the market and place a demand and some manufacturer seeing that particular opportunity provides what I want.

NATURAL CALAMITIES: WHO'S RESPONSIBLE? - part 01 NATURAL CALAMITIES: WHO'S RESPONSIBLE? - part 03 NATURAL CALAMITIES: WHO'S RESPONSIBLE? - part 04
NATURAL CALAMITIES: WHO'S RESPONSIBLE? - part 05
NATURAL CALAMITIES: WHO'S RESPONSIBLE? - part 06

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