Friday, 2 September 2016

Social Responsibility


Swami Chinmayananda's vision for spiritual resurgence was an all-embracing one. He truly believed that the role of spirituality was imminent in secular fields such as education and technology and could provide answers to the problems of the modern world. Towards this end he urged leaders, industrialists, educationists and scientists to embrace a spiritual outlook.

In his own words, 'A community or nation is constituted of its members and its strength and happiness depend not only upon the material wealth and environmental circumstances, but pre-eminently upon the texture and composition of the individuals concerned… The secular plans and scientific achievements of the present age are certainly magnificent and acceptable but, when applied in a practical life, they seem to entomb our peace and happiness. The redemption lies in the happy marriage between the secular and the sacred, between science and religion.'

Like other spiritual pathfinders the world over, Swami Chinmayananda was an active social reformer who could galvanize people to work for social causes. Dr. Vijaya Venkat runs a health awareness center, educating people about healthy living that is in accordance with the well-being of society and the environment. She remembers how Swami Chinmayananda's denouncement of modern development struck an instant rapport with her. 'He was outspoken and critical about the trends of development in our country and a sentence of his still rings in my memory, 'Once India had agriculture and culture and today we are going around with a begging bowl'. He taught us to think, to question the kind of progress that was being promoted. Social injustice remains an issue that is close to my heart and I realized that Vedanta also teaches equality.'

Swami Tejomayananda clarifies that along with propagation of Vedanta and Indian culture, social service is the third important aim of the mission. He explains that students, on completing the course, are given practical training in fields such as senior education, children and rural development, so that they have a practical field to carry out voluntary social service.

How does seva go along with Vedanta and realisation of the Self? 'Seva is but a natural expression of the truth in the dictum 'The Self in me is the Self in all beings',' says Swami Tejomayananda. Being involved in selfless seva also helps one's transformation and effectively paves the way for improvement of the world, he concludes.