Is Disowning The Material World The Only Key To the Spiritual Penance?

Posted on April 6, 2012 in Society

By Awanish Shahi:

Bewildered and perplexed I stepped into the sprawling premises of Ramakrishna Math in Bengaluru. Though in my close vicinity, I never contemplated to drop in and witness what exactly goes inside this lush green campus. A sandstone trail from the entrance gate took me to the main sanctum sanctorum. The profound tranquility and serenity of the place blew me away. The main temple consisted of idols along with pictures of Kali, Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, his wife and the man of the world Swami Vivekananda. I imitated my fellow devotee’s actions, bent down and sat crossed legs to meditate.

I was trying hard to concentrate but ruminating thoughts kept me consciously meandering. I shifted my gaze outside the temple and saw few people clad in saffron attire with head shaven, reflecting profound light from their faces. At first they look like any mendicant and I was curious about them. In my enthusiasm and bravado I reached to one of them and it went on to become one of my most enthralling experiences. This herd lives an ascetic life, practicing celibacy and devotes energy for the betterment of the mankind.

Actually this tranche of humankind are not born monks or saints, erstwhile to this avatar they were normal humans doing all sort of worldly activities and enjoying the pleasure of flesh. At a point in life they got their call to emancipate the material life and transcend into becoming completely new being. They are trained and taught to devote themselves in service of humankind. Like any of us, they too were someone’s brother, son or were ‘in a relation’. So unraveling many such revelations about their mystic life I recollected a story which I read in a national newspaper years ago.

A gentleman recounted a story about his batch-mate while he was graduating from IIT Kanpur. This gentleman met his batch-mate, Shirish Yadav, years after graduation in Belur Math, Kolkata where Shirish was a saint dispensing his duty as teacher of Computer Science. He narrated how Shirish, an outstanding student in IIT Kanpur, left the glittering dreams of almost every IITian of USA, MNCs and Civil Services to become a saint serving the humankind. Shirish was deeply inspired from Vivekananda and led a candidly simple life as a student. His austerity and humility was genuine and pure as he spent the entire graduation in a pair of Kurta Pajama.

Well the rendezvous with that saint brought to me a completely different insight. Does one need to leave normal common man life for efficacy? Do we need to drape in saffron to bring a change? The answer to this questions is no. You can sport Gucci or Gabbana, be a resident of Laddakh or cosmoplis like Bombay, may ride BMW or a cycle and can foster or revolutionize a new change in our society.

As an Indian we have seen India emerging from super poor to super power, its varied color, culture and cuisine, all have amalgamated to put forth India on globe as an emblem of integrity and strength. The great part of our population consists of youth who can be the harbingers of many unprecedented changes. Needless to say our sub-continent is witnessing such cataclysm where a youth never thinks of hightailing it seeing any social problem, calamity or disaster while our policy makers and politician are busy doing shadowboxing. So we can be a formally clad IT professional working in swanky offices in morning while in evening we can be teacher for the unprivileged kids in our proximity, as a teacher in the morning to a volunteer in the evening, as a doctor in the morning to a social entrepreneur in evening. Today we have myriads roles and opportunities to take up. So one need not relinquish everything to self-actualize and take an exodus to settle in Himalayas and become a monk. A monk can sport Gucci and drive a Ferrari.