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At the Feet of The Mother

Ram Mandir: A Civilisational Crossroads | 5. A National Prayer

As the nation now wakes up and pays tribute to Rama who can be rightly called as one of the finest flowers of the ancient Aryan culture, we hope and pray that a new era shall begin not only in Indian polity but in the Indian Nation and its people.  Modern India is growing fast as an economic and military power. It is not only catching up fast in scientific and technological fields and competing with the best in the area but also throwing up new ideas in the field of education and polity, psychology and health and beginning to take an active role in world governance as a major power.  

But what was missing until now was the strong foundational base of Sanatana Dharma in every sphere of living.  For Sanatana Dharma is life itself and to keep it confined to some monasteries and temples or limit its access and outreach to a chosen few is to stifle its wide-winged Spirit.  No more can the right or adhikar to be representative and spokesperson of Sanatana Dharma can be limited to a few luminous figures in the background and in whose shadow the others must grow.  Nor can we imprison the vast spirit of Sanatana Dharma to this or that scripture and its holy interpreters. Nor can we bind its spirit of freedom anymore to certain rites, rituals, ceremonies, customs and traditions. Especially we should not make the mistake of tying it down to scholastic petrified Wisdom. 

All these things were necessary when there was a desperate need to preserve our culture against the polluting hands and defiling touch of barbarian invaders. Though one cannot say that the world has become safe from invasions or civilisational destructions yet the mode of working has changed. The battleground has somewhat shifted from the physical to the ideative world and based upon the outcome we shall see the world march move along. The method of self-defence too must therefore change.  We must return back to the original Sanatana Dharma and its spirit of tyag and tapasya, inner renunciation and sacrifice.  Nor should we divide life into the sacred and the profane but turn all into a sacred offering and conscious sacrifice in the vast cosmic temple of the unseen Eternal. Doing away with all that is mean and small we should turn all actions into a worship. Removing the artificial walls built by the mind between the secular and the religious or between politics and religion we should bridge and fill the gap by the sense of the Omnipresent Divine who dwells in all things and everywhere and there is nothing that can be considered so humble as it cannot be used by Him to manifest the glory and greatness of the Spirit.  Dharma is everywhere and in everything since God is everywhere and in everything.  This is what India must learn and live before it can pass this knowledge to the world. Let us hope that the inauguration of the much-awaited Ram temple also inaugurates the temple of our heart and installs there the living Presence. Even as Lord Rama prayed to goddess Durga before he undertook the war to rescue Sita from the clutch of the Asura Ravana, let us also invoke the divine shakti that guards India and shedding the narrow paths rise towards freedom and greatness of the Vast, the Right, the True that our ancient forefathers had discovered. Then, with its power we can remake ourselves, reclaim the nation and rebuild the world towards a new and higher and nobler and diviner way of life.

Just as each individual has a psychic being which is his true self and which governs his destiny more or less overtly, so too each nation has a psychic being which is its true being and moulds its destiny from behind the veil: it is the soul of the country, the national genius, the spirit of the people, the centre of national aspiration, the fountainhead of all that is beautiful, noble, great and generous in the life of the country. True patriots feel its presence as a tangible reality. In India it has been made into an almost divine entity, and all who truly love their country call it “Mother India” (Bharat Mata) and offer her a daily prayer for the welfare of their country. It is she who symbolises and embodies the true ideal of the country, its true mission in the world.

The thinking elite in India even identifies her with one of the aspects of the universal Mother, as the following extract from the Hymn to Durga by Sri Aurobindo illustrates:

“Mother Durga! Rider on the lion, giver of all strength,… we, born from thy parts of Power, we the youth of India, are seated here in thy temple. Listen, O Mother, descend upon earth, make thyself manifest in this land of India.

Mother Durga! Giver of force and love and knowledge, terrible art thou in thy own self of might, Mother beautiful and fierce. In the battle of life, in India’s battle, we are warriors commissioned by thee; Mother, give to our heart and mind a titan’s energy, to our soul and intelligence a god’s character and knowledge.

Mother Durga! India, world’s noblest race, lay whelmed in darkness. Mother, thou risest on the eastern horizon, the dawn comes with the glow of thy divine limbs scattering the darkness. Spread thy light, Mother, destroy the darkness.

Mother Durga! We are thy children, through thy grace, by thy influence may we become fit for the great work, for the great Ideal. Mother, destroy our smallness, our selfishness, our fear.

Mother Durga! Thou art Kali… sword in hand, thou slayest the Asura. Goddess, do thou slay with thy pitiless cry the enemies who dwell within us, may none remain alive there, not one. May we become pure and spotless, this is our prayer, O Mother, make thyself manifest.

Mother Durga! India lies low in selfishness and fearfulness and littleness. Make us great, make our efforts great, our hearts vast, make us true to our resolve. May we no longer desire the small, void of energy, given to laziness, stricken with fear.

Mother Durga! Extend wide the power of Yoga. We are thy Aryan children, develop in us again the lost teaching, character, strength of intelligence, faith and devotion, force of austerity, power of chastity and true knowledge, bestow all that upon the world. To help mankind, appear, O Mother of the world, dispel all ills.

Mother Durga! Slay the enemy within, then root out all obstacles abroad. May the noble heroic mighty Indian race, supreme in love and unity, truth and strength, arts and letters, force and knowledge, ever dwell in its holy woodlands, its fertile fields, under its sky-scraping hills, along the banks of its pure streaming rivers. This is our prayer at the feet of the Mother. Make thyself manifest.

Mother Durga! Enter our bodies in thy Yogic strength. We shall become thy instruments, thy sword slaying all evil, thy lamp dispelling all ignorance. Fulfil this yearning of thy young children, O Mother. Be the master and drive thy instrument, wield thy sword and slay the evil, hold up the lamp and spread the light of knowledge. Make thyself manifest.” [Sri Aurobindo, Writings in Bengali]

One would like to see in all countries the same veneration for the national soul, the same aspiration to become fit instruments for the manifestation of its highest ideal, the same ardour for progress and self-perfection enabling each people to identify itself with its national soul and thus find its true nature and role, which makes each one a living and immortal entity regardless of all the accidents of history.

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It is not the personality, the character that is of the first importance in rebirth — it is the psychic being who stands behind the evolution of the nature and evolves with it.