Chapter 6: SOCIETY AND SANGHA
The basic cause of today’s sorrows, troubles and conflicts is that man wishes to put his own burden on others, instead of taking it upon himself. In today’s society, putting the burden on others, getting one’s work done by others instead of doing it himself is considered dignified. But it is the greatest injustice, an atrocity and improper conduct. Why should one feel shamed of doing one’s own work? Only the sick or the handicapped have any right of getting their work done by others. Putting the burden of your work on others when you are in good health, is not only indecent, it is a sin.
Oh man! Do not think that your good and bad nature is your personal affair and therefore limited to you. Remember that the effect of every action of yours affects far and wide in this vast world. Is it not true that when you throw a stone in one corner of the lake, waves rise over the entire water body?
The entire human race is sailing in the same boat. Here everybody has the same advantage and disadvantage. Either everybody reaches across or everybody drowns. All have the same destiny. Only when everybody makes efforts alike together can the boat go across safely.
Human race will get ruined if it bows to individual selfishness. There is no alternative to rising above individual selfishness.
Oh man! Do you despise another human being in the name of the differences in caste, nation and religion? Ignorant friend! All these differences are imaginary and false. How can there be a difference between man and man? Or conflict or hate? Demolish the walls of these differences and walk all over this earth singing the songs of united humanity. Superior man is he who can sing songs of unity amidst diversity.
Great men of this world wanted to do good to the ignorant public, wanted to remove their ignorance. But unfortunately, the public could not understand their feelings and started opposing them instead. Thus, the only thing that the great men received from the ignorant public is criticism, torture and contempt. There was a dog. He put his mouth in an earthen pot. Just at that time there was some noise and the dog wanted to run. In this confusion the pot broke but the rim of the pot remained in the dog’s neck. Seeing the dog’s discomfort a kind man took a stick and ran after the dog with the intention of breaking the ring and thus put an end to the dog’s troubles. The dog saw the man with the stick chasing him and not understanding his real intention, thought that he was chasing to beat him. He started barking and running faster. The story no doubt sounds bitter, but so far the ignorant public has been behaving like this dog towards the great men who tried to uplift them.
Real man is one who fulfils his duties towards his family, neighbourhood, society and country honestly. Social balance is never to ignore any kind of life in one’s surroundings in any way. It is called religion in the older language of India and socialism in the new language.
There is a cry everywhere today that there is no morality and no honesty. I say, how can there be morality and honesty when the feeling of sacrifice is vanishing here?
The tongue of great men is high up in the sky and the ears of common people are down on the ground. Now the question is, how can common people hear the words of great men?
On one side there are parties where lots of good food is consumed of and on the other side there is not a single grain for the hungry stomach. On one side there are silken clothes embroidered in silver thread and on the other side there is not even an old torn loincloth to cover the shame. On one side there are marble skyscrapers while on the other side there is not even a grass roof on the dilapidated earthen walls. This is the inequality that is eroding the strength, peace, respect and dignity of the nation. Today, rupee has become the centre of decency, of culture. No one can hear the sound of humanity in today’s age. The fist of man today is jingling with coins. This jingling has drowned the sound of humanity and the essence of religion. This situation needs to be changed. The rupee will have to be demoted from its most superior position. Today’s capitalism is a python, which is swallowing food, shelter and honesty of the poor people. The welfare of starving people lies in removing its poisonous teeth.
On one hand, there is not enough to eat even after toiling day and night in hot sun and cold winds and one has to sleep on the bare ground under the roof of the sky.
And on the other hand there are people who suck the blood of the poor destitute and the downtrodden so that they can revel in feasts and lunch parties. And sleep on fragrant bed sheets in golden skyscrapers until late mornings.
This is the curse of accumulation. And as long as it is not removed it is certain that peace can never be established in this world.
Do you have attraction for the old? Then wear old torn rags; eat old, rotten, stale bread. Live in old broken down caves. Are you attracted towards the new? Then suck fresh raw mangoes, take rest under the cool shadow of a newly sprouted tree and entrust the shop and office work to a baby born just today. No thinking person gets attracted to new or old. He sees only the usefulness of a thing in terms of money, time, place and feelings.
In modern age, sticking to old but useless traditions cannot be called a religion. Starting new and useful traditions in place of the old is what religion is. Is it not religion to raze very old houses from the point of view of public good?
The fall of any society or nation does not occur because of its poverty. Oh residents of India! You may lose everything else but do not become spiritually poor by losing traditional spiritual wealth.
A lone droplet falling down from the clouds towards the earth get dried up in mid-air or gets absorbed in the earth. It can neither flow by itself nor can make other drops flow. The ability to flow and make others flow lies only in a stream of water, which is a Sangha (group or union) of millions of drops present one behind the other. Any thinker can conclude from this that a Sangha and not an individual is the centre of power
Suppose that in a sandy desert spread thousands of miles across, there stands a single tree with a single branch with a single leaf on it. How will it look? Completely odd! And how will a wood with thousands of trees, each lush green and full of flowers and fruits look? Beautiful in all respects! Any thinker can conclude from this that a Sangha and not an individual is the centre beauty.
If you want to shine, then surrender to and serve somebody who is already shining, and gain from his virtuous company. The lamp is full of ghee and has a full wick but is not giving out light. It is capable of giving light but that light is not apparent. For light to appear, the lamp will have to be brought it in contact with any lighted lamp i.e., initiate it by touch. The self is capable of giving light but the light has not become apparent. To make it appear, you will have to sacrifice and touch the feet of some spiritual seeker. As soon as you are initiated by his touch the spiritual flame will illuminate your inside.
By joining the flow of Ganges a dirty stream also becomes Ganges. The trees standing around a sandalwood tree also give fragrance. It is said that touch of philosopher’s stone turns even iron into gold. Is this the result of companionship? What man becomes depends upon the company he keeps. Look what that orange tree is hinting. It tells that “I am a plant of sweet lime that, by being grafted on a orange tree, have myself become an orange tree.” and indicates that it has been elevated by contact. Will man ponder over these examples?
Oh jewellers, the appraisers of jewels! You have been wandering like madmen for many days thinking the stones and pebbles are really jewels. Now appraise these living diamonds in human form a little. It is sad that you remained busy appraising the lifeless stones and pebbles. Who knows how many priceless jewels went to dust during that time? “The wealthy person is not really wealthy but is a demoniacal sinner who, in spite of having enough wealth to serve people, watches them suffer in hunger and does nothing about it.”
Today, every man desires power, position, wants to become a king. How much struggle is going on for this? How many fights? But the power to make a king is greater than becoming a king itself and it is the highest position. Cannot man achieve the dignity for this position? To take active part in making a leader is better than to become a leader and it is very dignified.
There is a lot of activity around today for preaching religion. Wherever you look you find a big movement of preaching, a big clamour! Lots of contributions are collected and gold and silver are used to clear the way. But the best way to spread a religion is to bring it in practice oneself and make it a way of life.
Just as one dirty fish makes the whole lake dirty, similarly one seeker deviated from righteous behaviour makes the whole society dirty and gives it a bad name. The leaders of the Sangha must be watchful against such depraved people.
In the Jain religion, the position of a householder is not less important. If he is a man then he is the father of the saints and if a woman then she is the mother of saints. One should give a serious thought to how much pure, bright and great the behaviour of father and mother of the eminent group of saints should be.
Today I met a very rich businessman. He was crying because he has lost a lot of money in gambling. Should I ask him, “Have you ever donated some bread to anybody? Have you ever given any piece of cloth to some poor man to cover his body? Have you ever wiped the tears of a crying person? Has anybody ever been fortunate to take shelter for an hour or two in the cool shade of your mansion? Has your wealth sustained even a little the dying institutions of this nation or society? Has your wealth improved this world or the after world? If all this has not happened then why are you crying for that wealth? That was not wealth but poison. It is good it has gone, otherwise it would have killed your soul.”
Going yourself to the person to whom you wish to donate and make the donation with respect is the best charity
To call the person to you and then donate is middle type of charity
To give only when being asked is the lowest kind of charity
To donate in exchange for some service is the lowest of the low kinds of charity.
Bhagwan Mahavir and other Acharyas of his path have given importance only to the quality and not to quantity. In a jungle, is the importance of a single lion more or that of thousands of vultures?
Real education is the light of life. How can the darkness of personal selfishness remain there? The young people who have received real education fight not for their own hunger but that of the people. They fight not for their own reputation but for the dignity of the entire society and the nation.
The dignity of man lies in going with illuminating thoughts. Nothing can be achieved by mere labour and strength. Even bulls and donkeys labour more and are stronger than you. But it is known that they go only when driven and therefore they are animals eating grass. If man does not have illuminating thoughts then he is no better than a beast without a tail. He will be driven, he will be loaded, and he has no right to live as a man.
Education does not mean just studying big, difficult books and getting high degrees from the universities. The meaning of education is development of the self, development of life, development of the society and development of the entire humanity.
Scholarship does not lie in the pages of large books but in the experience of life, if any good-hearted person can get it.
Acharya Manu says, “Knowledge liberates.” Knowledge is that which is able to give freedom from worldly desires, blind traditions and bad customs. Thinking independently about public welfare and acting according to it is the only sacred purpose of knowledge.
Real knowledge teaches the art of living happily, to labour not like a labourer but like a master. The real knowledge of life is not to run away in unfavourable circumstances but to turn them into favourable ones.
Today man, in the name of knowledge, has enclosed himself like a silkworm in the cocoon of ignorance, which it cannot cut, in order to come out.
Today’s man is playing with death; he is walking on fire. He is engaged in trying to destroy himself using all his intelligence and inspiration. What did man achieve by cutting open the chest of nature with the sharp knife of science? Nothing but poison. He went in search of nectar but returned with poison.
The real test to find out whether a person is educated or not is to see whether he has become a man in the real sense; whether or not he has been able to raise the level of his moral conduct? Whether or not he has been able to change his outdated and wrong outlook? Whether or not the human society around him has become very ordered and disciplined? Whether or not he has the courage to fight against the evil to the end?
What is the difference between a fool and a learned person? A learned person thinks first and acts later but a fool acts first and thinks later and repents if the results are not good. And he who does not think even after he has failed is extremely foolish and a beast. We need not even mention him.
Thinking is human and not thinking is beastliness. Thinking is the only thing that differentiates a man from a beast.
Indian woman is a pretty idol of penance (tapas) and sacrifice, the living image of peace and restraint. She is the shining star of humanity in the world surrounded by darkness. She goes around carrying the deep ocean of forgiveness, kindness, compassion, tolerance and love in every atom of her heart. She gives away nectar in return for poison. She spreads flowers in return for thorns. That is the woman of India, sister of Sita and Draupadi.
Woman is goddess Saraswati. In the beginning of civilisation it was she who taught us to read the alphabet in the Brahmi and Sundari scripts. It was she who taught us to count 1,2,3,4 etc. It was the daughters of Bhagwan Rishabhdeo who had first learnt the script and mathematics given by him.
Today, the same woman is ignorant and foolish but it is not her fault. The fault is of the men who have not repaid their dues to her properly. They kept the sisters of the very same women from whom they received the light of knowledge, kept them in dark to fulfil their selfish desires.
Ladies! I am not going to criticise your cosmetics and makeup or find fault with your dress and the way you walk. That is for fools, not for thinkers. Make yourself as beautiful as you can. That is not a sin or a crime. Actually the fragrance of love resides in beauty. But remember one thing! The inner beauty should not be destroyed by getting obsessed with the outside beauty. Become beautiful both from inside as well as outside. Let your body be beautiful and still better, let your speech be beautiful and still better, let your mind be beautiful from inside.
Sisters! You want ornaments? Wear the ornaments of character, restraint, beauty and dutifulness. You will shine like lightning in the dark. Your light will fill the entire human world with a new light. These ornaments of silver, gold, diamonds and precious stones are insignificant. What kind of light you will gain by wearing stones and pebbles? What kind of ornaments does a lighthouse shining in the dark need? It is its own ornament.
Oh man! What do you think of woman? Is she an object of pleasure? Do you wish to gain her by means of silk clothes and gold and silver ornaments? She is the lady of the house. She doesn’t want all this. What she wants is love, her right, respect and pride of being a householder. It is true that she can ask for the most beautiful ornaments and clothes when needed. She is a worshipper of beauty; she loves beauty. But she is also one who can, if needed, sacrifice and kick away everything in a moment. Remember that Sita gave up everything and followed Rama barefoot to the forest.
The inspiring words of Shraman Bhagwan Mahavir were imbibed most by those sisters who were the socially backward and whom we had been compelling to live in the darkness of ignorance. Actually, they were the powers that were suppressed under the boulders of customs. But as soon as they had the chance to come up and got when they received the divine direction from Bhagwan Mahavir, they immediately left their palaces in large numbers to join the thorny path of a spiritual seeker.
They spread the holy message of Bhagwan Mahavir from house to house defying unfavourable circumstances and calamities, bearing the torments from the severe heat, cold and rain. And the very queens who knew only how to give and give more, began begging for alms from their subjects and even from the hutments and along with that dispensing the nectar of Bhagwan Mahavir’s words
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May every particle of life be sweet,
May sweet nectar rain over the earth,
Let the dormant feelings lying inside
Be awake and become Divine.
It is good that man who came in this world crying
Leaves it laughing,
And make other crying people
also laugh like himself.