The Real Spirituality of Life

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Spirituality and expression in life are not different from each other. The person who considers them to be different is going against spirituality and against society. Spirituality, personal behaviour and conduct are complementary to each other. In the autobiographies of saints and sages it is written that even after attaining enlightenment, they continued to do their work in the form of seva in the world. Even as enlightened people they did not show magic, rather they kept working hard to serve humankind and to spread happiness.

Understanding righteousness

Looking at the lives of saints one understands that spirituality has a strong relation with one's expression in life. Spirituality expresses the goodness and creativity of life. It does not make a person isolate himself from the world. A system which makes a person isolate himself from the world can never be of benefit to society.

Sannyasa is the tradition of detachment, yet in sannyasa it is also said that a sannyasin ignites the light within him. Then he stands at the crossroads so that people coming from all sides can receive some light. Sadhus have not been told to go to the Himalayan caves and do sadhana. Those who do not understand righteousness, think that achievement is in renunciation and going to the Himalayas. However, those who understand righteousness awaken their spiritual vritti by living in the world.

Towards humanity

This is the law of God and prakriti, nature, and it is the truth. It is like light which ignites and burning itself gives illumination to others. This is the sadhana of yoga: to burn oneself so that the light which is within shines brightly and gives light to others searching for their path in the dark. The journey of yoga starts with the physical body and then connects one human being to another human being. When this happens divinity becomes visible and there is no need to search for the divine.

Sri Swami Satyananda said that Sita and Lakshmi are sweeping the road. They cook in the kitchen. Nobody worships them, yet everyone is ready to worship stones in the temple. No one cares for the living gods and goddesses who are serving society.

Humanity in people will only awaken when people are able to see the pure divine element in other beings. As long as people are unable to see the divine element in others, they can never be human beings. They can stay alive, yet never as human beings. They are merely living beings, creatures of this world. The fate of human beings will be to live and die like insects and flies without progress or evolution of humanity.

Message of the saints

According to Indian thought and philosophy, the journey starts with the sankalpa of healing and well being, continues with the sankalpa of peace, and ends with the effort to see the existence of divinity in all living beings. Only then will humanity awaken, otherwise not.

After having said everything, studied the holy texts, and written the Vedas and shastras the saints of India said: We have written what we had to write; we have said what we had to say; we have taught what we had to teach. Now this is your responsibility: atma deepo bhava – In your life, become a light and shine.

This will lead to the creation of culture, sanskriti, and samskara in your life. The meaning of sanskriti is 'samyak kriten iti sanskriti'. When all the expressions of human life start happening in an integrated and harmonious way, it is called sanskriti. Sanskriti is neither dance, music nor any other art. It is an expression of life. Music, art and science are expressions of life. The expression which helps to further the progress of life and which brings samyakta, perfect balance, equanimity, integrity and harmony in life, is called sanskriti.

Sri Swami Satyananda declared fifty years ago that yoga is the sanskriti, 'the culture of tomorrow'. Today after fifty years it can be said that yoga can become the culture of everyone's life.

The sankalpas

The work of sadhus and sages is not limited to teaching and preaching dharma and philosophy. They should also provide support for the upliftment of people. There are many institutions and ashrams of sages in India. Many sages and sadhus open a hospital and provide seva, or they open a school and work in the field of education. The work which Sri Swami Satyananda inspired is connected to seva. Nobody expects any remuneration, neither sannyasins nor supporters. All are united with the feeling to provide seva.

Sri Swami Satyananda said, "I do not want moksha, nirvana, bhagawat darshan or samadhi. In my life I have only one desire, one wish, one longing; that God make me a sannyasin and send me on this earth again. May I be born again and again. May the purpose of my birth always be to wipe the tears of pain from the eyes of people. The purpose of my life is only this." Then he added, "My sannyasins should also have only this purpose."

This was his command: A sannyasin does not work for his moksha but to awaken the divine element in society. The attainment of divinity is not possible through religion, yet it can be achieved through experience and action. Sri Swamiji expressed this vision through the three sankalpas of Yogapeeth and Sannyasa or Samskara Peeth in Munger, and Rikhiapeeth in Rikhia.

Be thou a yogi

If you give this vision of Sri Swamiji a small place in your life, you can surely hope for a bright future for this world. Otherwise the fire of disturbance, disorder and scarcity which is burning in society will burn your air-conditioned houses. You sit inside your air-conditioned house and think that it is protected from the fire raging outside. The fire which is spreading in society will not spare your air-conditioned house. Some day the fire will engulf it and burn your house to ashes. What effort do you make to pacify the fire? You should not be hiding inside your air-conditioned house, but make an effort to play the role of a fireman.

The person who controls and pacifies the fire which is raging in society by playing the role of a fireman becomes a yogi. The one who plays the role of a sweeper and clears the mess and dirt of society becomes a yogi. Therefore, in the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna said to Arjuna again and again: Tasmat yogi bhavah Arjuna – "Therefore, O Arjuna, be thou a yogi."

I am saying this not with the feeling that you become liberated from this world, rather with the feeling that you make your world beautiful. This is the real spirituality of your life. Spirituality is the effort which makes your world, your society, your family beautiful. To realize satyam, truth, and shivam, consciousness, you must make an effort. This effort is the real spirituality of life.

27 July 2014, Swabhoomi Rangamanch, Kolkata, India