By S. Bagchi
Man’s search after the unknown starts even from his creation, whether he has been created out of void or evolved from something already existed, is for the people of science to decipher. We, the common men, are hardly concerned with that. We see him struggling for his existence and he is astounded with certain happenings which appear before him. He is deeply in thought as to the cause of these phenomena, and he fails to locate, and ascribes these to fate or to the acts of the unknown and the unknowable. Gradually he realises that there is something Greater than himself – who controls him, guides him and decides his destiny. The realisation of God-the Supreme Being, thus comes to him, the ancients, as were their mental capacities, gave physical forms to their realisations, the god of love-cupid-the god of thunder-the god of the Merciful, etc. etc. By and by, these people of the earlier ages realised the inner link,– the god of war and that of peace are actually not two different beings, but One and the same Supreme Being.
Religions evolved and developed from paganism to theism. People appeared in different regions of the globe, which purified the earlier ones and illumined the people. The principles of different religions remained almost the same. The Greek pantheism and Indian orthodox way of worship, I am not saying paganism are no different. So are the basic principles of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and those of Brahmo Samaj . But the outer forms of religions differ as in the ancients and so in modern times. It is for the other side of religion, people fight as if one is superior to the other. To end this, men appear from time to time to dispel the untruth and bring the eternal words to the forefront. The efforts of medieval saints like Nanak-Kabir-Mirabai-Shri Chaitanya- Mansur of Iran and of our modern times the Unitarians of the West, Behais of the Middle East, and of our Brahmo Samaj, lead to the dictum that the God is the same. The god of the Israel, the followers of Jesus and of Muhammad is the same. He is Immanuel. He manifests himself. He is everywhere. He is in the All High. He is in the All Low. There are no particular chosen people. All are the chosen people. All are the chosen ones without any exception.
Though in different ages and climes, the universatility of Godhood appeared in the minds of men, it is mainly the realisation of the present age. The nineteenth century produced Unitarianism in the West, Bahaism in Iran and Iraq and certain other parts of the Muslim world, and Brahmo Samaj in India. According to these- Roads are many but the goal is the same. Light is good in whatsoever lamp it is burning. A rose is beautiful in whatsoever garden it may bloom. A star has the same radiance if it shines from the East or from the west, there is hardly any basic difference except local variations existing between these three, with the Unitarians and we practically there is no difference. We are almost the same. To illustrate with a small example, one has baptism of repentance for the remission of sins and baptism with the Holy Ghost and Fire. The other enjoins “Agni mantra diksha”. Many of our missionaries got there trainings in the theological colleges of the west-Manchaster College, Oxfored, and the Meadville Theological School, Chicago. A number of scholarships to these universities exist for the theological training of the missionaries also come and preach the principles of Godhood to us. Men of my age group, who are not present here now, will, no doubt, remember Rev. M.C. Ratter, had been with us, conducted services, and carried the gospel of love to one and all. Some of the episodes are just before these eyes of mine; I still endearingly possess a book kindly presented by him before his departure from India forty years ago.
I have no desire here to delineate in details the principles and dogmas we believe in or the social and religious practices we follow. What I want to bring before us is certain aspects of the Brahmo Samaj which our predecessors stressed upon and we are apt to forget.
It is agreed that the main purpose of life is search after happiness, satisfaction and avoidance of unhappiness of any sort. For the attainment of this happiness or sublimation, there are three principle ways, Jnan marga, karma marga and Bhakti marga, Regarding the first, Patanjali in his Yoga Sutra summarised the process in one sentence atmanan biddhi-know thyself, and Husain Fakir said-bande, aap nu pahchhan. It is rather, difficult to realise one self. More karma marga without any of the other two may lead to some direction which may not be congenial. Bbhakti marg as shown by the saints all over the world, moderated by the other two, appears to solve the question. Hence, our founders directed that- tasmin prititasya priya Karya Sadhanancha. Worship consists in love for God and translation of that love into action for the objects He loves. Again it goes on to say:
That the wide world is our holy place of worship, our mind, the heart, the holy place of pilgrimage, truth and only truth is our holy book which lasts for eternity. Faith is the source-root of religion and love is the noblest way to follow-and so also annihilation of self interest and detachment from objects. For the realisation of God, we are not to go far. Our own heart is His temple and truth and faith are the vehicles. These we are to have with a detached mind.
According to Maharshi Devendranath, second in to hierarchy “the Brahmo Dharma -source of Brahmoism is not upanishad but it originates from common sense and self realisation.” P-353
Keshub brought forward the nascent religion (i should say) to the wide world-to become a world religion-to solve all iniquities. He was not for the suppression of any religion but Sarba dharma Samanyai-as is evinced from the architectural structure up the church and the emblem of Navabidhan Samaj in what is now named Keshub Sen Street at Calcutta. These have got the impact of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism just as Bahai’s House of worship has 9 sides-9 doors and 9 avenues symbolising the unity of religions and races of the world.
From the beautiful world, God has created sweet as they look, sweet as they smell and sweet as we hear through our ears. The fragrance will no doubt enchant us, we shall no doubt enjoy to the core through our senses. But amidst these it is He Who remains all Beautiful-all Nector. Our earthly connections will not be our snares. Like small candle lights, these will illuminate with His radiance His Temple where we are. We are to take these as bliss He has bestowed. Everything we get through Him and hence, not to be disposed off. He is to be the centre of our activities. His grace will transform all of our worldly activities to anandam—the happiness we are after. Brahmo Samaj does not enjoin renouncement of the world to attain happiness-the sublimation. We are to remain good householders doing our duties properly as husband, a wife, a brother, a sister, a fellow neighbour or whatever it may be-and attending our earthly business as a merchant, teacher, servants etc. and enjoy everything through the senses rightly . And we shall get sublimation. Brahmo Samaj says that going away from the world is selfishness. God’s intention is not that. We are to be within this world and still without, i.e. we are to do our duties and leave the fruits of those i.e. resulting there from to God. In whatever way we live, work, our sole attention will be on God, Tukaram is one of the Avangs also dwells on this way. We know that in far off village, we have not yet got always the fountain, the well, the water taps, the source of water for drinking or other purposes in all the homes. The village women often have to get water from a distant river or well. They go with other ladies and as they bring, they put several earthen pitchers one over the other on their heads. On the way they talk, they gossip, they have their jokes, they amuse with each other. The earthen water pitchers are on their heads. Whatever they do while they proceed, their whole attention is on their heads. This is so with us. We remain within the society, perform our earthly duties but our whole attention is to be on God. We have to transfer ourselves from this mundane world to Him.
Today, with all humility, I want to stress upon this point on myself and to all of us present here. We are not destined to be mendicants but good householders with the fruits of our action delivered to God without any expectations resulting therefrom. Most of our missionaries have their families and they discharge their duties properly to them. They are quite alive to the duties to their neighbours, to the fellowmen, help those who are in need of their assistance and there by fulfil the will of God – the Creater and Sustainer of the universe.
Bachchan, a modern Hindu poet describes nicely in one of his poems about the human love which transforms a man to an object which had not been earlier. Actually, this love is the symbol of attachment in this world. It can be ignored.
“The countless generations
Like autumn leaves go by;
Love only is eternal,
Love only does not die
Pandit Sivanath Shastri, one of the founders of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj sang to say that let my heart, my soul remain at this test and these hands of mine do the work He loves. This way let me lead my life. This is the ideal Sivanath left for us.
Sermon delivered at the Delhi Brahmo Samaj congregation. Dr. H.C. Sarkar, M.A. Subba Krishnaiyya, Shri Amal Siddhanta etc