“Magnanimity of Hindus is often exploited” —Swami Sukhbodhananda
Swami Sukhbodhananda needs no introduction. He expounds the age-old spiritual wisdom of Hindus, Vedanata, in such a way that it captures the attention of the modern mind. Nick named ‘Corporate Guru’ he conducts self-development programmes for several leading industrial and business houses in India and abroad. He is regularly invited by many international forums to speak on the challenging problems that humanity now faces. Prasanna Trust, formed with his inspiration and under his guidance, undertakes different kinds of charitable works. Swamiji, who was recently in Thiruvananthapuram, spoke to Pradeep Krishnan on issues related to Hinduism, spirituality etc. Excerpts:
The land of Sanatana Dharma is facing a lot of challenges such as corruption, terrorism, Maoist threats, etc. How can India overcome these obstacles through spirituality?
No doubt Bharat can definitely overcome these challenges. To overcome the challenges, the individual has to become extremely alert. On the one side, the politicians are creating more and more divisions and on the other pseudo god men are corrupting the very concept of spirituality. Both are making people mere followers and not wise thinkers. People have to become more aware, alert and see their hidden agenda of operation. At present, religion has become a tool only to fulfil one’s desires. The whole issue is very complex. One should not be so gullible as to get cheated by the cunningness of either religious gurus or other people, including the media. Nowadays, media is also playing a tremendous political role even to the extent of blackmailing people! One has to be alert and aware of the role of the media, politicians, religious leaders, etc.
It is often said that Hinduism is getting wider acceptance all over the world, Hindus are in danger in their own country. What are your views?
There is no other country in the world where a member of the minority community has become President/Prime Minister. That is the greatness of Hinduism. Diversity of existence has been gratefully accepted by the majority. In other countries, the majority does not accept the minorities and they are forced to live like slaves. But since the core of India is centered on goodness, tolerance, living in diversity, there is hope. Our rishis declared that truth is one and one can seek it in so many ways. We have never said that only through a particular religion one can attain realisation.
Was magnanimity of Hindus not exploited?
Magnanimity of Hindus is often exploited. For the time being, it is exploited. It is only an eclipse; we will come out of it. We should do our work with confidence. Minorities will always be very forceful aiming to become a majority. If we are not seeing the danger it is our foolishness. We are responsible for the way conversion is going on diluting the essence of our culture. Hindus are so ignorant of their culture and tradition. Caste system, which once was a beautiful arrangement in social order, was exploited. It had a lot of repercussions. When other religions entered India, they exploited the whole system.
What changes do you want in our educational system?
The present educational system is centered on teaching children to mug up facts and figures. Real education involves learning. History lessons instead of merely narrating the events from the lives of kings and queens should contain the contents of their consciousness. Likewise, science should connect with planet earth. Present format of education makes one greedy. In ancient vedapathshalas, even though there was repetition, it was combined with life models. Panchatantra, Hitopadesa etc were beautiful arrangements to stimulate the learning process in children. The British deliberately removed this process of learning from our educational system. The way yoga is now accepted by one and all, irrespective of one’s religion, Sanskrit, Gita, Upanishads, etc should be included in the curriculum. The salient features of our culture have to be presented in such a way so as to break the barriers created by religion, caste, creed, etc.
What went wrong with Sanatana Dharma?
Invasion by the barbarians was the first blow to Sanatana Dharma. Indian society was highly accomplished and advanced. When the Britishers came to India, we were a highly developed nation. When the concept of university was conceived in Britain, we had a large number of universities, where 16 subjects including, Metallurgy, Ayurveda, Mathematics, Astronomy, etc were taught. But the barbaric outsiders constantly and continuously attacked and deliberately destroyed our centres of learning, and the whole social structure that sustained the society crumbled. When the society had become weak and crumbled, the invaders could successfully convert masses. The British with their divide and rule policy, armed with Lord Macaulay’s educational system were bent upon disintegrating and degrading anything that was good in Indian culture. Unfortunately, even after 63 years of Independence, we are still not mentally free from that mindset.
Critics are of the view that spiritual experiences are subjective and hence not scientific.
Accomplishment of the not-yet-accomplished is materialism and accomplishment of the already accomplished is spirituality. Spirituality is involvement with that which is beyond the purview of science. Can love be proved scientifically? Can beauty be proved scientifically? Can poetry be analysed scientifically? The criticism against spiritual experiences is the result of certain people describing their hallucinations as spiritual experiences. Any presentation of spirituality need not be spirituality and any presentation of science need not be science. If a scientist commits an error, science is not in error.
There is a view that the decline of India is directly related to its overemphasis on spirituality?
Not at all. Moksha Shastra, Dharma Shastra, Artha Shastra, Kama Shastra are examples showing the classical way of living. Our technology was extremely high, literature and art are extremely profound. In fact, as recent studies have revealed, materially also we were so rich. India was a developed nation and the invaders came only to loot the wealth of India.