THE SEVEN SAGES
"41nYIJC8-SL"" alt=""41nYIJC8-SL"" />""THE SEVEN SAGES"", a book of selected essays by Ramchandra Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and C Rajagoplachari, underlines the need for dialogue and inclusive approach to faith in resolving burning issues within and among states rather than waging wars. The father of the nation and a sage Mahatma Gandhi gave non-violence to the world for promoting peace and brotherhood. Ironically he became one among two million innocent human beings led like lambs to the slaughter by the trauma of partition.Along with the Mahatma died the idea of subcontinental India, that vastness of self identity, suggestive of God's generosity, which had been available to all Indians down the ages regardless of cultural, religious and political differences and divisions. The Mahatma believed India, Pakistan and Bangladesh can atone for this crime against humanity through a symbolic resurrection of subcontinental Indian reality within existing sovereignties, in a region like Jammu and Kashmir which has mercifully kept 'unfinished' the vivisectional agenda of partition.He called for a subcontinental cultural Parliament to be inaugurated in the area as a whole to which members will be elected from all of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Men and women of goodwill who would not rule but serve life and nature and all sacred traditions in the region and not majoritarian or minoritarian or anthropocentric vested interests. It was the author's conviction that the mass of subcontinental humanity would thunderously support such a gesture of atonement for partition.He had no doubt ""two million souls now hovering over their former homelands, waiting to be remembered, would find final release and bless, not curse, in this morally forgetful new century."" A philosopher, Professor and intellectual, Ramchandra Gandhi (1937-2007) came to be regarded as a top sage in his lifetime. His student at the University of Hyderabad A Raghuramaraju puts together and edits some of his long essays and hitherto unpublished talks and writings on themes ranging from non-violence to karma and swaraj, brahmacharya and modern Indian spirituality.The book provides valuable insight to the manner in which Mahatma Gandhi's martyrdom broke the prevailing power of evil and violence; and swaraj being a struggle for the kingdom of self and autonomy and not mere political autonomy. It deals with modern India's great sages from Ramakrishna Paramhansa to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi providing insights into their lives and ideas. He often repeated the narrative of the non-upper-caste women's role in the life of Paramahamsa, Ramana Maharishi and Mahatma Gandhi. This is perhaps intended to claim that Advaita is incompatible with caste.In his essay 'A Himalayan Betrayal' the author cautioned the Indian government against sending the Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka observing this was estranging itself from Theravada Buddhism and keeping itself away from the Tibetan problem further estranging it from Mahayana Buddhism. The Dalai Lama's peace proposals concern not only the fate of Tibet but also of China and India and the whole world. The sage of Tibet does not insist on sovereignty for Tibet independent of China. He requests China to reverse its invasive settlement of a massive Han population in Tibet which threatens to reduce Tibetans to the status of an endangered species in their own homeland.In 1893 when Swami Vivekananda addressed the Parliament of World's Religions in Chicago he was very nervous and kept telling the chairperson, ""I will speak later, I will speak later.."" As a very interesting man of 30 he came up to the stage and said""Brothers and sisters of America'.That is all and there was thunderous applause. For the first time people of the US had been addressed in that way. People always feared America or wanted to flatter it. Swami Vivekananda was the first person to have made a new world sibling and this is quite remarkable historically and politically. So that is a tremendous achievement of Swami Vivekananda.Then in 1939 Mahatma Gandhi called one of his staunch followers Jamnalal Bajaj, who was also the financier of the Congress party, and asked him to visit Ramana Maharshi to absorb some peace. It was a crucial year when the second World began. Bajaj asks many questions and no one has any idea that there is going to be independence in India from foreign rule. Bajaj tells Maharshi 'well after many years of struggle and sacrifice, freedom is attained, ought we not to be elated?' Maharshi says 'certainly not. You are meant to do what is right, what is your duty and not care about results at all, because a greater power than yourself is behind you. ""Do what you are told to do as Gandhi is doing. Don't worry about results, don't think of elation or disappointment, because if you think of elation, the first disappointment destroys the struggle, apart from ingratitude.""When Independence came in 1947 only one person in India followed this advice and that was Mahatma Gandhi himself. He was not in Delhi celebrating independence which was won at a tremendous sacrifice of the lives of innocents. Gandhiji was in Noakhali, a thousand miles away trying to save innocent lives. What Maharshi said applies to the world as a whole. As a true sage Maharishi did not take part explicitly in politics. At the same time ""we should look at the remarks of the sages because therein lies true political as well as moral wisdom not only for this world but for the entire world as a whole."" For Mahatma Gandhi to have won a political victory over Muhammad Ali Jinnah who wanted a separate state for the Muslims, the consequences would have been disastrous. There would have been a hundred divisions of India. The author maintains that Hinduism's hand was stretched in friendship to Islam and this will be remembered one day when the big revolution within Islam takes place. Ramchandra Gandhi emphasises ""Muslims will remember this saint who did not hate them. People think of Islam as a sort of a monopoly of violence. Mahatma Gandhi saw the essential wisdom, the spiritual truth in Islam and embraced it in love and friendship continuously, regardless of the political consequences. ""I do think he planted seeds in the soil of time and they will bear fruit. So, that's the Mohandas Gandhi I think about of the last year who became a sage."" In his lengthy essays, the author foresees ""Mankind must perish surely without a solution to the problem of war, want and lust. May Sri Krishna, the Buddha and Christ guide us to sanity and safety. ""AUM SHANTIH SHANTIH SHANTIH.""
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(T R Ramachandran is a senior journalist and commentator.)