Saturday 5 May 2018


यतो धर्म: ततो जय:

The true aim of civilization, the one idea should be of genius, greatness. The foundation of all religions, whatever be the fairy story with which each is clothed, is the striving of the human soul after the great—not material greatness—of which it feels itself a part. The Hindu mind grasps this philosophy and has always preached it. It looks upon Mankind as practically divided into two parts—those who strive after comfort, happiness, their own well-being, who have the one idea day by day, to make life as livable as possible, to get the utmost of comfort and enjoyment out of it, taking the sadness with the gladness, "the harvesters"; and— those who do not feel themselves to be isolated fragments of greatness but part of a great whole, channels through which greatness may flow, serving something higher, something beyond their own personality, beyond the usual domestic life. In all ages, in all countries, such souls are from time to time born into the world. This idea probably had some influence on the rise of monastic orders, and however much we may deplore some of the ways of those orders, we must in justice give credit to those who felt deeply that by means of monastic orders they could satisfy their longing to devote themselves to the service of the great, which pervades all things. '

A valley in the mountains of Kashmir, where I had the privilege of seeing a camp of some thousands of Indian pilgrims, stands out in my memory as the setting for this ideal of life. The valley itself was exceedingly grand, high mountains rose on each side, snow-capped peaks were visible, and a great glacier shone white in the brilliant sunshine or clear moonlight. The variety of colours in the dress of the pilgrims was charming. They had come from all parts of India—from Cape Comorin, from Bengal, from Bombay, from Central India; many were unable to find any other pilgrims who understood their language. Some had no knowledge of English, but knew Sanskrit. They represented a civilization older by hundreds of years than ours. Then women and children were in the company all dominated with the one idea of worship at the shrine. Before the tent of each household, smoke curled into the clear air, for each household had its own food prepared separately. And herein lies a very different ideal from ours—we consider the preparation of our food to be the work of servants, a drudgery to a certain extent. The Hindu woman finds in it service of the greatest importance; to prepare food for the family with utmost cleanliness, she considers an honour, because of the wonderful function of food. The cleanliness of the people is also very striking; the bathing places are part of their life. The camp was a scene of great activity all day along, the bazaar was in full swing within half an hour of the arrival of the pilgrims, and in the very early morning hours they began to move towards the shrine.  Differing as widely from each other as a Norwegian differs from a Spaniard, they were united in the same religious worship. What has the West to teach this people whose philosophy of life is so far above material greatness, and yet whose needs are so appalling, and whose problems are so vast ?


No comments:

Post a Comment