5.The Spirit Of Indian Spiritual Inheritance



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The true greatness of Indian spiritual inheritance consists in the secret and glorious methods it has delivered to us for allaying life's sorrow and human unhappiness and for acquiring for the circumstance of human existence, the infinite peace and perfection of the Divine Being. Human grief cannot be alleviated as long as the human individual is immured in ignorance and strives merely for his individual pleasure and good. The genius of India has, to its immortal honour, soared above the conventional ties and the bonds of society, grasped the spiritual truth, realised it and proclaimed to the world, for the welfare of all mankind, that "Life is One" and not many. Apart from the petty disharmonies between one person and another, the nations of the world seem to be separated from each other and this virulent notion of division and separation is the mother of war and destruction. Deceived by the spectacular advancement of scientific knowledge, modern mind in all countries and continents has not cared to understand the fundamental meaning of life, and sought its satisfaction in a sensational floating upon the apparently attractive scum of Existence. Such has been the spirit in which science has taken its marvellous strides in progress, that it has nothing in its constitution to drive it towards a grasp of the deep and significant changes that man undergoes beneath his scalp, towards understanding the potentialities of man as a mind, as a heart, as a spirit, as a creative entity, towards directing his aspirations, towards aiding the blossoming of the noblest forces that lie buried and latent in his bosom. Redounding to the eternal credit of the genius of India, there lies the momentous fact that at the very dawn of civilisations, it has raised the deepest issues of life, questioned the limitations of human existence, ventured forth for a solution into the realms of that Infinite Power that is found 'feebly' interpenetrating this world of physics, physical experience, materialistic philosophy and 'sputniks,' discovered that guiding, governing and sustaining Permanent Ground upon which is played the tragi-comic drama of life and the pride of men that are dressed in brief authority. If there is anything valuable in life as a whole, it is the knowledge of the solution of the apparent riddle of existence, the knowledge of the essential nature and the real destiny of man, the knowledge of man's real relations to the other men, to the universe, to the Transcendence, and this knowledge is the glorious heritage of India. The men of India who are also the men of God, men who have imposed upon themselves the disciplines that lead them to Perfection, to living the good life, the ideal life, the divine life, the life in the inner Reality and for the happiness of mankind, for the solidarity of the world, have discovered the road to Success and Achievement, discerned the clues to progress and perfection, in a strict adherence to the rhythms of the universal laws and the eternal verities that guide in accordance to the genius inherent in them, humanity as a whole and all manifestation to the final denouement in a Divine Existence.

The attitude of life which the Indians developed was based upon the nature of the End or the Goal to be attained through the instrumentality of the phenomenon of life-life which is a step, a stage, and not the end in itself. This attitude ensouls the righteous law, the Dharma, and to it, the universe becomes what it intrinsically is, the Dharma-Kshetra, or the arena for the display and the justification of the prowess of the right action, the action whose whole spirit moves towards the realisation of the absolute Good that is the nature of the Infinite Being. The ideal of Dharma forms the substratum upon which is built the structure of the whole life of man who wishes to resolve the riddle of his personal life, win victory over the struggle of existence, be crowned with a strange and ethereal joy even while he is living in the environment of the world, of this imperfect earth that is the heir to change, sorrow, and death. Dharma is virtue and virtue is that which leads one to the most perfect condition, the condition that is identical with the ultimate success constituted of the joy of life, unlimited, unfettered and unalloyed, complete beyond expression. As the highest virtue that man may practise, Ahimsa is both a negative withdrawal and a positive assertion of the 'mind'. It is refraining from doing, speaking and thinking anything which will cause pain and sorrow to any other individual, to any living being. This represents the negative aspect of the discipline of Ahimsa. Its positive aspect is brought out by an expression of universal love, love that has no partiality, love that excludes nothing, love that cares not for the effect of love! The ideal of universal love is a spontaneous self-fulfilment in the delight of a discovery of Oneself, of the universally self-same, our own inner consciousness in all. Until this is done, no civilization is genuine, no culture is true, nothing is perfect and lasting. In one word, it is in the light of absolute Conciousness which is undifferentiated that Ahimsa which is more a matter of spirit than an effect of a mere act, is practised.

Immediately succeeding the devotion to the principle of Ahimsa, comes the practice of the excellence of truth. To the spiritual genius, Truth is more than truth-speaking; it is God or the Absolute; it is that which triumphs, not untruth. Again, Truth is right; untruth is wrong; that which elevates one and takes one nearer to God is right, that which brings one down and takes one away from God is wrong. And that God towards which our whole inner being must rise, in the indivisible unity of conscious existence, the infinity of delight and awareness. Control over passions constitutes the essence of truth; self-denial or refraining from greedy indulgence is truth; to permit the spiritual element in us triumph is truth. Truth is a life in the eternal. Untruth is change, decay and death. Love is truth; hatred is untruth; harmony is truth; disharmony is untruth. There is no greater sin than hatred and battle-the pungent word and the insolent action, the arrogance and the uncharitableness, the egoistic self-assertion and vehement action of the selfish impulse. Relative truths are valid only insofar as they do not run against the grain of absolute truth which is the Eternal in the highest sense.

The third canon is the self-control which is the holding in check of the instinctive urges that try to drag the individual away from the experience of the truth. Self-control is a universal rule unexceptionally applicable to all men and all women, at all places and at all times. It is the very key to beatitude. Indulgence in externalities, in sensuous objects, in physical pleasures is the effect of the failure of the individual to discriminate the spiritual value from the material chaff, the Truth from the untruth. Desire to have contact with and enjoy outward things is the outcome of the ignorance of the Truth that is God, the Truth that is the Infinite Existence. Self-control is the restraint of the outgoing tendencies of the senses and the mind and to centre the same in the active participation of Truth-existence, the Universal One. This self-control, this energization of consciousness, this Tapas, this restraining of one's externalising, self-diffusing energies and founding oneself upon that one Cosmic Being is Dharma that supports the life and law of the universe, integrates the being of man, and spreads before the vision of man the creative God-centred life. Adharma is selfishness and egoism of nature which leads to self-imprisonment, suffering and failure in life. Absolute righteousness means the sacrifice of the self for universal well-being, the well-being pertaining not merely to the earth but to the highest spiritual reality, the well-being of keeping the Consciousness in its poise liberated from the distraction engendered by the darkness of ignorance, separativencss, division, limitedness. It is the opposite of "I"-ness and "mine"-ness which belong to the nature of the world of bondage.

Life on earth is not self-sufficient and, hence, there is perpetual flux of states to reach other states of superior knowledge and happiness. Life in this world and in this body is only a preparation, a step for the higher life. That which we see and hear of is not the real; the Real is beyond this. To reach the Real, the present life acts as a ladder, a field of activity that affords the conditions and the scope for the individual to establish its relations with the most exalted Divine Life. Wrong it is to restrict the outlook of our life to the perceptible phenomena and to judge our sense of values in relation to the objective worth of things. The grandeur and greatness of our life rests upon the measure to which we have raised ourselves into the law of inmost life in general, in the Supreme Being. Dealings with one another are justified only so long as they do not deviate from the eternal law of the Spiritual Nature. Neither social welfare nor national betterment is possible by mere clinging to shadows and forgetting the essential Substance. The substance of Truth does not belong to any particular person for it is the being and life of whatever that is. That which is One and Common can only be divisionless and all-inclusive in a self-identical existence. This is the fulness of attainment and the culmination of all the aspirations and ideals of life.

In this integral spiritual view of life is rooted the ethical basis of social and domestic relationship. Society is the collective body of individuals determined to pierce the veils and enter the realms of Immortal Being with the power of a unified and common aspiration and struggle to grasp the Highest. Unified we live; divided we cease to live. Human relationship is not meant to signify anything less than the attempt to live in everyday life the spiritual egoless love that is at the background of all existent beings. The love of the Self means the love of everything of the universe. The Indian genius would complete the teaching "Love thy neighbour as thyself" by adding "because thy neighbour is thy own Self". Altruistic love is the expression of eternal unison of the Infinite Life that lies at the depth of the universe. If family or society or nation is understood as a means to separate one from another, however much large the scope of its inclusion of human beings may be, such a family, such a society, such a nation, cannot triumph. All relationship is expected to end in the absolute unity of existence excluding nothing from itself. This goal of life should be borne in mind in the process of daily activities if our actions are to be free from selfishness, at one with the universal movement of Nature. Life is a divine worship. The proper conduct of family, the administration of the country and the society is a part of the Universal Government which looks at the entirety of beings with a strictly impartial eye. We live because God exists and our life is to be perfect and just even as God is perfect and just. We exist in God's Being, we breathe and move in Him.

The knowledge of this unity of life and the proper moral and the ethical attitude required to start the process of realising it are achieved through being directly instructed by the teacher who is truly advanced in knowledge and has attained Self-perfection.

The psychology of Gurukulavasa is inseparably connected with the science of self-discipline and Self-knowledge. It is not the mechanical education of the present day that is meant by real education in the Gurukula, but the means of erasing out the propensities that cloud the awareness of the Truth and controlling the distractive nature of the psyche. Self-mastery is the effect of the protracted checking of the ego-sense and centring of it in the General God-Being which is egoless, free from the sense of individual existence. The religion, the philosophy, the code of ethical and social law of India are all universal in their character. Universality is the expression of the nature of the Reality. The highest universal science of the Truth is the Vedanta in which are blended together the different existent views of life. The Vedanta is neither a sect nor a creed, but the science of the Absolute Reality, the only life-giving science, the only solace to the intelligent mankind.

The boldest proclamation of Vedanta is that man is in essence infinitely Divine, that everyone is bound to succeed sooner or later, that all are bound to recover themselves in the Infinite Life Divine. The ideal of the Vedanta is not merely a universal brotherhood nor merely living a united and happy social life in the world of differentiated individuals, but the being of the Absolute Essence of the Highest Divinity which is the Life, Source and End of the Universe. The Vedanta is the master-technique of transmuting the many into the Undivided One. It means Experience Whole and existing as the birthless and deathless Infinite. This is the greatest heritage of India, this is the greatest treasure that India has and this is the greatest gift that India can offer to the world. This is the zenith of culture and civilization, this is the highest knowledge that man can ever attempt to acquire, this is the final fruition of the best of human aspiration.

The awe-inspiring greatness of India rests mainly upon the bedrock of Absolute-Experience, of Truth-realisation, or a poised awareness of the Infinite here on earth, in this life, in the environment of the dance and pageantry of finitude, relativity, objectivity. As the dwelling place of the Rishis, the Sages, the Men of God-Vision, India enjoys in the estimation of the world a unique prerogative.

All the grand ideals of world's great religions that have moulded the characters of men, the loftiest tenets of ethics and morality that have raised human beings to the magnanimous height of supreme perfection and all the sublime truths of spirituality that have made man divine and have shaped the spiritual life of nations and of the saviours of mankind, first took their origins in India, the land of those daring spiritual individuals who entered into the heart of the Absolute and proclaimed truths which have eternal values. With its spiritual horizons lit up with the deathless light of the Upanishadic wisdom, India is essentially a land of spiritual wealth, and its history is the history of religious experience. The Goal of India is Self-realisation or the attainment of God-Consciousness through the express manifestation of a spirit of renunciative detachment and through a dynamic divine knowledge. If men are but to understand the significance and the richness of this spiritual inheritance of India, and make the spirit of this heritage part and parcel of their daily awareness, they all would be veritable gods on earth.


Next: Chapter 1, 6.Kundalini Yoga


Energy Enhancement          Enlightened Texts         Sri Swami Sivananda          Essence of Yoga





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