Siva's Message to the People of Bengal

Swami Sivananda Saraswati

24th September 1950

Blessed immortal self,my loving adorations to you all. My joyous greetings to you all. You are direct heirs to the divine wisdom of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He was the embodiment of the Vedas. You are heirs to the treasure of bliss of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. You are direct recipients of the inspired message of Swami Vivekananda. Bengal is indeed a fortunate land ever vitalized by perennial founts of inspirations from Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Maharishi Devendranath, Vijay Goswami, Keshab Chandra Sen, Pandit Vidyasagar, Rabindranath Tagore and others.

To me Bengal has always been synonymous with high idealism, sterling patriotism and a lofty conception of duty. Bengal is synonymous with aggressive renascent Hinduism. Bengal has flashed forth the light of Vedanta upon the dark firmament of occidental materialism. May you strive ceaselessly to enlighten all humanity with the brilliance of the vedantic jyoti.

Realize your birthright

More than ever the world needs this light today. It is groping in darkness. Man has lost his faith in his inner self. Abject dependence on and slavery to external things have reduced him to a pitiable state. But the true Indian stands unshaken in his perfect allegiance to the atman. To the true Hindu this world, nay, the entire universe, is less than straw. To him the atman alone is real. Greater treasure than the atman he recognizes not. This great and sublime idea is to be practically lived and demonstrated to the world by one and all of you.

Make Vedanta practical. Liberally give it to the practical-minded West. For this task qualify yourself unto perfection. Show them the shining pathway chalked out by the wisdom of the ancients. The perfect life is the one dedicated to the imperishable self. Attain this by developing right discrimination between the real and the unreal. Between the paramartha vastu (eternal truth) and the anitya jagat (transient world). This right viveka and vichara will give rise to vairagya and tyaga.

Develop a sublime character. Lead a perfect, virtuous life; sense-control, mental tranquility, pratyahara, fortitude, faith and love of truth will lead to the awakening of atmashakti. You will all be inspired and enlightened beings. Generate a strong and intense yearning to achieve the highest goal of life.

Children of immortality, assert this, realize your birthright. I see in Bengal the promise of contributing substantially towards the shaping of New India. You are to provide inspiring ideals to tomorrow's Hind. Here of all places in India it was witnessed the miracle of conquest of hatred through love. The miracle of unity in diversity.

You all recall the noble way in which the Hindu and Muslim brethren of Calcutta gave up hatred and violence, and joined hands in a mutual declaration of love and brotherhood. I allude to the beautiful change of heart brought about here at the call of that great messenger of peace, Mahatma Gandhiji. Such is religion in practice. It is indeed knowledge of Vedanta, the vision of the one Self in all beings that enables man to rise above petty discord and difference and feel the whole world as his own self.

Let me remind you of the majestic message of Vedanta. There should be perfect union and brotherhood of all beings. Vedanta is the only life-giving, courage-infusing philosophy. It is the supreme religion that has no quarrel with any other. It is a grand reconciliation of all faiths and creeds. It can light up the luminous lamp of wisdom, truth and justice. Vedanta enables you to be real helpers of humanity.

Know your real divine nature. Come out of this earthly rut. You are lions, not sheep. You are real emperors, not beggars. You are children of God, amrita putra, not weaklings tied to this perishable earth. Roar always: 'I am perfect, imperishable.' Nothing can affect you. Fear not. You are the source of strength. You are a magazine of power. You are the ocean of knowledge. You are the light of the world. Feel this. Realize this. No sorrow can touch you now. Freedom is yours.

Therefore, blessed self, lead the life of supreme renunciation, sublime dedication, unselfishness and devotion. Have noble aspiration. You may live in the world, but be not worldly. Let your life be a sacred act of Ishwararpan (surrender to God). Repeat Ishavasyam idam sarvam (God pervades everything). Sarvam khalu idam Brahman (Verily all is Brahman). Repeat also Ajaroham, amaroham, anandoham, nityamuktasvarupoham (I am imperishable, I am immortal, I am bliss, I am eternally free). Be courageous warriors in the battlefield of inner life. Be firmly established in truth even as the divine hero Sri Rama. Be unshaken in all conditions as shown through the life of Sita, Draupadi and Kunti Devi. They were the real Vedantins. Align yourself always on the side of dharma. Draw inspiration from the noble Pandavas. Satyameva jayate na anritam (Truth alone triumphs not untruth).

This is what the sages, saints and spiritual giants have declared unmistakably. Develop atmabal, the strength born out of dharma, satya and atma nishta (self-confidence). Become a dheera, courageous, the hope of svatantra Bharata (independent India) and the world at large. The grace of the Almighty is upon you all. May you realize the inner bliss of true independence. Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantih. Peace unto all beings.

—From Sivananda's Lectures, during All-India and Ceylon Tour – 1950, Chronicler Swami Venkatesananda