One More Essay: Whither To?
The Urgent Need
The Indian scriptures, epics, and other mythological writings are poetic compositions; the Mahabharata consisting of nearly 1,00,000 verses. These compositions depict the social and political forces acting in those ancient times in India. But additionally, and as the central theme of their teachings, this whole literature gave us the message of realization of Truth, the urge for self-inquiry: Who am I? For instance, the Mahabharata while on one hand tells us about the responsibilities and functions of a king and the state in its totality - during peacetime and war, prosperity and failure, attitude towards the sick and the poor -, on the other it also incorporates the Gita in 700 verses in which Sri Krishna expounds the whole gamut of Indian philosophical and spiritual thought that can establish a spiritual aspirant in divine state of Self Realization. The Epic Ramayana is historically ancient to the Mahabharata. It introduces many progressive concepts including that of monogamy and fidelity both on the part of wife and the man. Moreover, as the ideal of every conceivable relationship and virtue - as husband, brother, master, king, son, friend, etc. - Sri Rama is eulogized as the best example. The stories of the Ramayana and Mahabharata are sung and told and retold generation after generations in every part of India, in every language and dialect. The folk dances and ballads, the dramas and acts, art and literature are full of references to them. They as if circulate in the arteries and the veins of Hindus, what we call as the cultural heritage of India.
Present day scenario
However, the heritage is in shambles. The social conflicts that we see today are the outcome of the influence of communism and socialism on one hand and materialism and consumerism on the other, amongst other causes, on young generations who, under the spell of such modern ideologies, have forgotten the ancient teachings of epics and scriptures. Thus, India is passing through the same stage that Europe experienced during Scientific Revolution and the period of Renaissance. Unfortunately, the organizational skills, the discipline and obedience required to invent, discover, and to incorporate the scientific truths and apply them for social welfare as the technology are lacking in today's India. Thus, the 'scientific attitude and culture' today is a caricature, or a mere shadow of the 'pursuit of excellence' that Europe achieved a few centuries ago, and in which the Americans succeeded in last two centuries. The enormity of such debacle in India, of dwindling faith in their own mythology, epics, and scriptures on the one hand and inability to proceed to grasp the scientific culture of the day on the other, has left the people in inescapable chasm and dilemma. We will look into the causes of such impasse in very brief.
Many people might wonder 'what is so great about India? At least I do not see anything progressive or illuming there.' Such an attitude and opinion is not defective. Indeed, India today has nothing to offer to the world. But it has potential to give the best that is not available anywhere: The treasure of spiritual truths. I say potential because the treasure is not yet fully excavated from the debris of age-old and outdated rituals and traditions. The Upanishads and the Scriptures are the live mines of these treasures. They remain locked and are therefore useless. A long forgotten treasure may be the lost treasure. Therefore, unless Indians themselves excavate the treasure, throwing away the accumulated dirt in the process, the peoples of the world cannot be 1) convinced about its existence, and 2) hence would not be benefited.
The reasons for India's failure to exhibit the treasure, her inability to announce her riches can be put as a hypothesis: a) the natural tendency of dharma to deteriorate in time, with rituals and traditions becoming more important and prevalent than the principles, b) prolonged subjugation under Muslim and British rule, c) introduction of British system of education, which d) affected the traditional Indian way of seeking knowledge.
The same comments can be made about declining dharma all over the world. In conclusion, I want to emphasis one point; it is the duty of every wise person to learn his or her systems of philosophies and on that basis to practice and realize the truths mentioned therein. This is the sure way to help humanity to come out of stagnation and reach the higher divine plane of existence. And it also follows that it is the responsibility of every citizen across the globe to help such seekers after the truth in their labour that is hard and time consuming. If such aspirants are not encouraged in their endeavors to seek the truths of the Scriptures there is every chance that in the ensuing phase of depression the humanity would be permanently deprived of the treasure of the Highest Knowledge.
c s shah
One More Essay: Whither To?