Spirituality in India

Spirituality and mystical charm have always drawn people from all over the world to India. As the world becomes increasingly capitalistic and materialist, the quest and urgency for spirituality grows more and more. India, its people, its infrastructure, and indeed its very soil, encourage and breed Spiritualism, allowing religions to thrive, flourish and prosper. India boasts the presence of every major religion in the world, as well many of their off-shoots and facets, all being supported, nourished, and living in comparative harmony. The age-old environment has always supported such freedom of belief.

Whether you define spiritualism as “having something to do with the spirit or soul” (for example “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us”), “caring much for things of the spirit or soul”, (such as “men are they who see that spirituality is stronger than any material force”), or “having to do with spirits; supernatural” (“Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth unseen”), you will find all of your senses saturated by spiritualism in India.

Indian Philosophy-

Belief in God is an inseparable part of the Indian philosophy. Intertwined with its sheer spiritualism, Indian philosophy stands as an emblem of ultimate consciousness. The very presence of the metaphysical God, ideally unifies with the absolute reality in Indian philosophy whilst reverberating the aura of spiritualism in the most eloquent way.

Thus, Indian spirituality is all about showing respect to all living beings-animals trees, rocks and even water and lead a positive and healthy life. It is believed that the supreme Creator has put each one of us in this world for a purpose and that purpose is to be compassionate, caring and loving to one-another. The great Indian spiritual personalities and gurus have played an important role in spreading the message of love, care and the need for positive living all over the world.

Nature of Adhyatma-

However present day self proclaimed saints and Gurus do not follow the path of the old saints like Gadge Baba, Tukaram etc. These Godmen boast about the knowledge of Adhyatma but try to amass wealth and prosperity in the name of spiritualism. The nature of Adhyatma (spiritualism) of these men is different from that of the traditional Baba-Buvas. Their language is modern and sophisticated. With a few exceptions they refrain from performing miracles. They guarantee ethical sublimation to their disciples. Their spiritualism has a philosophical foundation and is coupled with some social service or other.

One tends to ask at the first glance, ‘So, what is wrong in all this?’ The people of this country are enamoured of the word ‘Adhyatma’ and all the practices and rituals that go with it. Although there are different opinions regarding the concept of Adhyatma there is some common understanding about its nature. Generally it is believed that – Adhyatmic principle is different than the material principle in that unlike the material principle it is a vital principle; for various reasons it gets shrouded in ignorance and becomes impure; being caught in various bindings it suffers. When this vital principle becomes aware of itself, i.e. realizes what it is, the vital principle- Atma becomes one with the Paramatma it attains unending bliss. This certainly is a very charming idea and we need not enter into the debate whether it  is scientifically true.

How to identify Adhyatmic person?-

For the present let us only consider how to recognize such a sublime Adhyatmic (spiritual) person? There is a standard answer to this. Such a person is self restrained, virtuous and would never take what belongs to others. Truth and non-violence are the core principles of his life. He is moved by the sorrow of other people and acts for the good of human beings out of compassion. He is an idol of purity and piety. He lives in this material world but his life illustrates that there is some thing more precious and beatific beyond this material world and it is several times more valuable than this corporal life. Swami Vivekananda, Gadge Baba, Gandhi, Vinoba and a few others are excellent examples of this. A number of saints in Maharashtra with this line of thinking did valuable social work. Charity, forgiveness, truth and altruism are the most cherished values in the literature produced by these saints.

Present Day Godmen-

This is the back ground against which we should examine the present abundant crop of spiritual Buvas and Babas. On one side is the saint Gadge Baba a standard bearer of selfless service while on the other side are rallied our modern spiritualist self styled Baba, Maharaj, Swami and Acharya.These so called Adhyatmic personalities never think of liberating the ordinary men and women from poverty, hunger, ignorance, diseases, exploitation, ritualistic practices, etc. They did not care to teach them dignity of labour or strike at the senseless superstitions; nor did they endeavour to purify the concept of god and religion in the minds of the common people. Instead of caring for the lame, helpless needy people, these modern spiritualists wrest personal service from them. Instead of pulling out the ignorant from the quagmire of rituals they organize big pompous and wishful Pooja rituals for satiating their vainglory. They wear garlands round their own necks but do not remove the noose round the neck of the common man.

People today are more self- centred and absorbed in themselves. They do not like to talk about social commitment or equality and want immediate solutions to their own problems, stresses and strains. The modern Adhyatma offers ready made answers to their problems. The answers are deceptive but appealing and capture the imagination of educated young generation. In fact the path shown by these god men leads our young generation to run after the mirage called “Moksha’ that brings all investigating endeavours to a stand still. It contains the seeds of demolition of the social fabric. If the crowd that is presently enamoured of Adhyatmic Buvabaji is diverted towards progressive social organizations then we can hope for some social change.

Despite many revelations of wrongdoings and corruption by the god men, their roaring business remains in tact. It is, therefore, all the more necessary and urgent to begin a harsh criticism of this phenomenon, for, this ‘Buvabaji’ is leading the public away from the legitimate social problems and their solutions and changing their awareness and understanding regarding the real causes of their difficulties. Under the influence of the Babas and Buvas taking action to solve the problems is altogether out of the question.

Why people get trapped?-

The deprived poor people of the ‘Bahujan Samaj’ turn to the ‘Babas’ to get relief from their poverty and the accompanying difficulties. The well-to-do educated middle class go to the ‘Maharaj’, who preach ‘live and let live’ policy. And the highly educated higher middle class go to ‘Acharya’ in search of ‘the art of living’. All these three institutions – Baba, Maharaj and Acharya – are individual centred. They start with the dictum- if the individual changes, the society will change. Next they preach the audience to uplift their own selves and progress. Finally they ask them to leave all the  problems of their lives to the Adhyatmic powers of the god man and surrender to him. The audience is convinced that their beatitude lies in the total surrender to the god man. This whole process gradually de-socialises the individual.

Challenge posed-

The path of the rationalist movement is full of difficulties and challenges. One of those challenges is the spiritual pretensions of the god men.Today all our energy is spent in fighting superstitions of the primary state. Those who do not openly indulge in deceit and exploitation but harbour very regressive thoughts and act accordingly as do the Maharaj are unfortunately left alone. And the fight against the Acharya is altogether out of the question. Such Babas hold workshops for personality development provide health facilities and also do some other socially useful work. But they also generate indifference and aloofness towards progressive movements, administration, community life and even generates religious hatred at times. All this leads to the destruction of youth’s reasoning and gives it a wrong direction. This is quite dangerous and does not have a simple solution. We can only chalk out the direction thus: on one hand there is the responsibility of determining what is truth and what is not, what is right and what is not right.