Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Bhagini Nivedita

28 October is Bhagini Nivedita's Birth day. All of you must have remembered her.
It occurred to us late, hence sending Her some important views on Hinduism and Organisation

HINDUISM AND ORGANIZATION. (From the book Religion and Dharma by Sister Nivedita)

HINDUISM is one of the finest and most coherent growths in the world. Its disadvantages arise out of the fact that it is a growth, not an organization ; a tree, not a machine. In an age in which the whole world worships the machine, for its exactness, its calculableness, and its dirigibility, this fact, while it makes for a greater permanence, also involves a certain number of desiderata. The fruits of the tree of Hinduism are of an excellence unparalleled; but it is not easy to reach by its means those benefits that do not occur spontaneously, ends that have to be foreseen and deliberately planned and arranged for.

For instance, alone amongst the world's faiths perhaps, ours has no quarrel of any sort with truth. Under its sway, the scientific mind is absolutely free to pursue to the uttermost its researches into the Infinite Nescience of things, the philosopher is encouraged to elucidate his conclusions, and simple piety does not dream of passing judgment on things admittedly too high for it. All this is true of Hinduism. At the same time, what has it done to grasp the highest scientific education for its children, or to impel its people forward upon the pursuit of mastery in learning or in ministering to social service ? There is nothing in Hinduism to forbid an attempt on our part to compass these things, and the only thing that could drive us to make the effort, namely a vigilant and energetic sense of affairs, a public spirit that took account of things as a whole, was undoubtedly indicated by the Swami Vivekananda, as part of what he meant by Aggressive Hinduism. We ought to make our faith aggressive, not only internationally, by sending out missionaries, but also socially, by self-improvement ; not only doctrinally, by accepting converts, but also spiritually, by intensifying its activity. What we need is to supplement religion by public spirit, an enlightened self-sense in which every member of the community has a part.

Class-preference is obsolete in matters of education. The career of the intellect is now for him who has the talent. By us, this principle has to be boldly and enthusiastically accepted. Even as the school is open to all, so must every form of social ministration be made. The college, the orphanage, the hospital, the women's refuge, these must be opened by such as have the devotion and energy for the task, and nothing must be said of the birth of the servant of humanity. By virtue of his consecration, he becomes a saint, even as, by his jnanam, the philosopher makes himself a rishi. Activity is eased and heightened if it is socialized : that is to say, if it is the work of a body, espousing a common conviction, and not of a solitary individual,wandering the world, and divided between his idea itself and the question of its support. This common conviction, driving into work, is the reason why small religious sects are so often the source of vast move-ments of human amelioration. Many of these outstanding problems of Hinduism have been attacked, for instance, by the Brahmo Samaj, with considerable success. The little church forms a background and home for the worker. It sends him out to his task, rejoices over his success, and welcomes him back with laurels, or with ministration, when he turns home to die. Without some such city of the heart, it is difficult to see how the worker is to keep up his energy and courage. The praise and pleasure of our own little group of beloved ones is very sweet to all of us, and quite properly spurs us on to surmount many an obstacle that we should not otherwise attempt.

Let the soul grow, by saying " not this ! not this !" to what height it will ; but let it have the occasion for practising this discrimination.

We must take up our problems, then, as social groups. Let no man enter on the apostolate that is to shake the world, alone. Everything done, every discovery made, even every poem written, and every dream dreamed, is a social achievement. Society has contributed to it, and will receive its benefits. Let the missionary, then, on whom the effort seems to rest, not reckon himself to be the chief actor. There must be some two or three, knit together by some well wrought bond, in every undertaking that is to benefit humanity. Perhaps they were comrades at school and college. Perhaps they are disciples of a single master. Possibly they belong to the same village. Maybe they are fellow-workmen in some common employment. Whatever be the shaping force, there must be association of aim and co-operation of effort, if there is to be success, and there must be a strong bond of love amongst those few ardent souls who form the central core.

Voluntary association, the desire of a body to take on corporate individuality, is thus the point of departure within Hinduism for civic activity. But we must not forget how much every activity owes to the general movement of society around it. Work must be done by the few as the servants, not as the enemies, of the many. Every single movement needs other counter-movements to supplement it, if it is to maintain itself in vigour. Thus, the difficulty about technical education in India is not want of funds, which have been poured in in abundance ; but want of general industrial development, in the society around. There is a fixed ratio between education and development which cannot be passed, hence only by definite and alternating increments to the one and to the other can progress take place. Again, there is a fixed proportion between the total of these and the community's need of the highest scientific research, which cannot be contravened. And all these alike must find themselves inhering in an inclusive social energy, which takes account of its own needs, its own problems and its own organs. The vivifying of this general social sense is the first of all our problems. We have to awaken it, to refresh it, and to keep it constantly informed. What this social sense has now first and foremost to realize, is our want of education, the need of a real ploughing of the mind. For this, high and low, we ought to be content to starve and slave and bear the utmost pinch of poverty. And not for our own sons alone. This is a matter in which the interest of all should be the interest of each one, the necessity of one the interest of all. We have to energize our culture. We have to learn to think of things in their wholeness, and to see them from new points of view. We have to possess ourselves of all that is known by humanity, not to continue in contentment with a mere corner of its knowledge, well fenced off. Are we mentally capable of science, of sanity, of comprehensiveness? If so, we have now to prove our capacity.

And where shall we find the starting-point for this new assault on the citadel of our own ignorance1? Let us find it boldly amongst religious forces. In Buddhist countries, the monastery is the centre round which are grouped schools, libraries, museums, and efforts at technical education. Why should we not, in our Southerncities expect the temple, similarly, to take the lead, in the fostering of the new and higher education ?

Why should we dread the Brahman's tendency to exclusiveness and reaction ? If it be really true that we are capable of sanity, is the Brahman to remain an exception to that sanity? Let us expect of our own country and of our own people, the highest and noblest and most progressive outlook that any people in the world might take. And in doing this, let us look to become Hindus, in a true sense, for the first time. For it is a question whether so grand a word ought to be borne by us unless we have first earned and approved our right to it. Ought not the name of our countryand our faith to be to us as a sort of order of merit, a guerdon of loyal love, the token of accepted toil ?