“Man… Know thyself”

For almost a decade, His Holiness Swami Paramananda has been continuously uttering with unfatiguable vigour and force these three simple words, beautiful yet portent with the loftiest spiritual message – that of exhorting man to find release from ignorance.  It is the same ignorance which blinded Arjuna’s intellect, creating in him attachment and aversion and which compelled Lord Krishna to sing the Bhagavad-Gita.  Every individual is a potential Arjuna and in the battlefield of life, amidst pleasures and pain, very rare are those who solemnly accept their destiny and accomplish their duty.  While the rest of mankind on its side is unconsciously trapped in the meshes of worldly life, helplessly attached to the objects in it.


In this era of rapid technological advance and growing materialistic extremism, courageous individuals like Arjuna who acknowledge their helplessness in action or ignorance in reasoning and discrimination are very difficult to be found.  “Acceptance,” says Sai Baba, “is transcendence.”  Very few indeed are those who accept their ignorance for such acceptance of limitation is a shameful slap on the face … and that is not acceptable!  That is why most of us preciously hide our lack of knowledge behind the veils of shallow intellectualism or bookish knowledge.  Thus, expertly camouflaging through oral and written usage of highly technical and mostly incomprehensible terms, apparently intelligent people arrive successfully at either creating artificial awe and wonder or generating a sense of discontentment and indifference in individuals.  But in no way are they even able to point at a mere ray of Truth, let alone the sun of Truth itself!


This is the reason which explains the extremely arduous difficulties encountered by those who are intellectually dissatisfied to come across a truly enlightened sage, especially in the context of our present world situation.  For such a master has the innate capacity to shatter all the barricades of intellectualism and conditionings built by the disciple’s mind.  His path freed from all obstacles, the seeker of Truth inexorably flows towards the experience of supra-consciousness – a state in which the crooked manipulation of language gradually fades away giving rise to wisdom.  It was with the view to avoid the emergence of dexterous jugglers in word articulation that spiritual knowledge was originally imparted by instructors who had realised and experienced it first.  And for the experience and realisation of the Absolute Truth, intellectual qualifications are secondary.  Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa is a beautiful illustration of this perennial principle.  The famous nineteenth century saint imparted spiritual teachings which soared high in the intellectual realm, baffling even the most educated of his disciples (amongst whom was Swami Vivekananda), yet he was completely illiterate!


Unfortunately, however, when egoistic feelings began colouring this fundamental principle in spiritual instruction, religion started its own decline.  Losing the pristine lustre of realisation that shone in religious experience or spiritual wisdom, religion in this century has become the sad panorama of a distorted landscape, comprehensible to only a fortunate few.


Hence, religion, the common denominator of humanity, the unifying element in every person, has now become the dividing factor among men.  Why?  The answer is obvious.  Religious precepts and ethical values are being adhered to mechanically without there being prior adequate reflection followed by full awareness of them.  When Jesus said, “Love thy neighbour as thyself,” it does not point towards a mere moral code, but emerges from the depth of his apprehension of the essential oneness of existence.  In the same manner, many such lofty teachings in human history have been consciously as well as unconsciously deprived of their metaphysical significance and attributed shallow and literal renderings.


We are standing at a critical juncture in mankind’s history.  On one hand, the twentieth century is rapidly exhausting its last years bringing down the curtains on a millennium and on the other hand, an uncertain yet promising one is about to begin.  In the atmosphere of such a crucial period, man feels at a loss especially with reference to the apocalyptic prophecies of different religious movements.  The year two thousand carries therefore a highly significant meaning for each man, so much so that ‘millennialists’ have cropped up and, through their ignorant intellectualism, are creating the fear of destructive omens.  This has led many to choose suicidal alternatives.  The Heaven’s Gate tragedy in the United States sadly proves this fact.


Man needs guidance.  And guidance from spiritually enlightened persons only!  While some patiently await the second coming of Christ or the tenth incarnation of Lord Vishnu as Kalki, validity of which we have no concrete evidence, let us resort to those who are present in this age, on this planet, and acquire knowledge to face life, not run away from it.


And hence, just like Lord Krishna who, out of compassion, became Arjuna’s charioteer, in the same way, His Holiness Swami Paramananda, out of love for humanity, becomes the charioteer of every Truth-seeker who heartily appeals to him for guidance and spiritual unfolding.  And the Satyam Gyanam Anandam Society, his chariot, which he founded five years ago, is the vehicle which he skilfully drives, carrying the seeker across the tumultuous ocean of life and dropping him safely on the shore of Absolute Truth.


Only a master has the spiritual knowledge to free the disciple from the tentacles of ignorance.  Only Lord Krishna was able to transform Arjuna!

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