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Sannyasins, Wake Up!

by Swami Sivananda

Mere study of Vichara-Sagara or Panchadasi cannot bring in the experience of pure, Advaitic consciousness. Vedantic gossiping and idle, dry talk on the Brahma Sutras and the Upanishads cannot help a man in feeling the unity or oneness of life. There is no hope for this man to feel the Advaitic unity of consciousness-Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma-"All this indeed is Brahman," unless the aspirant destroys ruthlessly all sorts of Ghrina, hatred, petty-mindedness, jealousy, envy, idea of superiority and all barriers that separate man from man, by incessant, protracted service of humanity with the right mental attitude or divine Bhava. Practical Vedanta is rare in these days. There are only dry discussions and meaningless fights over the non-essentials of various religions.

The central teaching of the Gita is Self-realisation in and through the world. The same thing is preached by Sri Vasishtha to Sri Rama. To serve humanity, God in manifestation, and to think of God, while living in the world amidst various activities is far superior to a cave-life. Selfless work is Yoga. Work is Atma-Pooja. There is no loss in Nishkamya Karma. Real spiritual progress starts in Nishkamya Karma Yoga.

Just as a medical student cannot understand pathology, diagnosis and medicine, if he neglects to study physiology and morphology in the beginning, so also the aspirant cannot understand and realise the spirit and object of Vedanta, if he neglects to practise Nishkamya Yoga to eradicate the impurities of his mind. Practice of Karma Yoga eventually culminates in the realisation of Vedantic unity of Self.

Sarvam karmakhilam Partha jnane parisamapyate.

"All actions in the entirety, O Partha, culminate in wisdom, says Lord Krishna to Arjuna. There is not even an iota of hope to realise the Self without self-purification by Nishkamya Karma Yoga.

Serve everyone with intense love, without the idea of agency, without expectation of fruits, reward or even appreciation. Utilise this body-machine in selfless works. Feel that you are only Nimitta (instrument) in the hands of God, or a Sakshi of Prakriti's activities, when you do Karma Yoga. Worship God in the poor and the sick. Have no attachment to any place, person or thing. Keep up the mental poise amidst the toil and moil of the world without considerations of success or failure, gain or loss, victory or defeat, respect or disrespect, pleasure or pain. Always have a balanced mind. Have the mind firmly rooted in the Self amidst all activities. Then you will become a true Karma Yogi. Work elevates, when done in the right spirit. Even if people scoff at you, revile, beat, kill or taunt you, always be indifferent. Be steady in your Sadhana.

This Sadhana demands constant practice, steadfastness, patience, perseverance and endurance. Practice of combined Karma and Jnana Yoga in the world is far more difficult than the practice of pure Jnana Yoga in a cave of Himalayan retreats. The former Yogi will have no Vikshepa or tossing of mind, while the latter will be easily disturbed by a little sound or bustle of the city. To keep up meditation while performing actions is a different kind of difficult Sadhana. The Yogi who keeps up meditation while performing actions is a powerful Yogi indeed. He has a different mind altogether.

People do not want to remove Mala (impurities) by Nishkamya Karma Yoga. They think that service and Bhakti are nothing. They at once shave their heads, put on coloured clothes and remain in a cave, posing as great Munis or Yogis. People study a few books on Vedanta and style themselves as Jivanmuktas. This is a serious mistake. Even if there is one real Jivanmukta, he is a great dynamic force to guide the whole world. Some Sannyasins of the old, orthodox school think that a Jivanmukta is without powers. A Jivanmukta is a dynamic personality with full powers. He can change or alter the destiny of the whole world.

This is the difference between a worldly-minded man and a trained Karma Yogi or a Sannyasin who works for the Lokasangraha or uplift of humanity. A Karma Yogi or a Sannyasin works with Akarta and Sakshi Bhava, without attachment or idea of agency and with the strong Nischaya or determination that the world is unreal and that the world is nothing but Atman or Brahman. This work is not work at all. This is 'inaction in action'. This will not bring bondage. This Jnanagni or fire of wisdom burns all fruits of action. A worldly-minded man works with the idea of "I am the doer" and with expectation of fruits, and thinks that this world is a solid reality. This brings on bondage.

A long stay in caves makes a man Tamasic and unfit for energetic, active service of humanity. A recluse is afraid when he sees a big crowd or a bevy of ladies. A little sound throws him out of balance. A recluse in forests will have to test his real, inner strength by occasional visits to the plains and service of humanity. A proper understanding of the Maya-Vada is very necessary. The present deplorable condition of India is due to lack of right understanding of Maya-Vada. If some occasional batches of Sannyasins come out from their retreats and work in the world vigorously in a systematic manner according to their capacity, temperament and taste, we will indeed have a new and glorious India, full of new religious life with spiritual and moral upheaval.

This is a dire need of the present hour. A thorough overhauling of the organisation of this fourth order of life-Sannyasa-is an imperative necessity. Mere social service in some form or other and a little Katha or preaching here and there will not bring about satisfactory results. A drastic form of service is indispensable requisite. How active was Sri Sankara himself, the propounder of Maya-Vada! Look at the magnanimous work turned out by him! He preached against selfish Karmas only. He was not against selfless actions. He himself was a wonderful Karma yogi!

Let us all follow in his footsteps and his ideal and remove the wrong impressions that are formed in the minds of our countrymen. It is only Sannyasins bold who have worked wonders in the past. They can do wonders now also. They are whole-timed free men. They are full of energy, concentration, strength, purity and capacity. They have spiritual and ethical powers. They can undoubtedly thrill and electrify the whole world in the twinkling of an eye. Glory, glory to such exalted Sannyasins, children of Sri Sankara and Dattatreya, the real spiritual kings and spiritual teachers of the three worlds! May their blessings be upon us all! May the Sannyasins guide and enlighten the people who are sunk hopelessly and deplorably in the mire of Samsara! May the householders get their spiritual instructions with full Bhava and Sraddha and serve the Sannyasins with great care and sincerity!

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