Embodiment of the essential Indian spirit

B.Viswanatha Reddi

It is often observed by historians and Indologists that while many great civilisations had flourished in the past, they also vanished in the course of time; but one civilisation which has stood the test of time is the Indian civilisation.

But this theory can be challenged by many. How is India different from any other country? Has it not imbibed a great deal of Western culture, Culture, has it not gone through ups and downs in history?

When we speak of the continuity of a civilisation we speak of its essential spirit and we examine whether that essential spirit has been preserved or not. There too, it is not a question of quantity but of quality. If the spirit is still a living force in the life of some who are revered by millions of people and who can offer solutions to the problems of contemporary life, to the special demands of devotees belonging to different walks of life. It is only a prodigious genius who could show light to a politician facing a problem, an educationist in search of a new way, a householder troubled with a worldly dilemma - but himself remaining untouched by and above everything.

Since times immemorial the Indian Consciousness has traveled in many directions in search of the ultimate Truth. There have been several ways leading to that goal. The Paramacharya represented one way. But he was one of those sages who succeeded in illumining his way with the light of understanding so that it did not become a narrow groove. It remained a Broadway to God.

My institution (Dolton Publication) and myself were among those who had been graced by His personal attention.

The Paramacharya was an unmistakable example of live spirit. The high and the lofty will always remain far above the average humanity and so was the Paramacharya. But he was not beyond the reach of humanity. Great, though he was, he could still touch the heart of the humble seeker; enlighten the misery of the ignorant; above all kinds of need though he was, he was, he could, with his compassion, take care of the needs of others.

The Paramacharya represented an illustrious line of spiritual teachers going back to a remote past. The institution of Sankaracharya, with its age-old philosophy, remained the same. The Paramacharya was steeped in the wisdom of that tradition. Yet he was unique because he could relate that wisdom enriched by his very kind personal advice. He loved the children's magazine, Chandamma. In fact he even suggested to us some of the topics we should serialise and I am happy that we faithfully followed His instruction in that regard. To come in personal contact with him was an elevating experience and whoever had that experience will treasure it as a spiritual reward. More than three decades ago, in one of his discourses in Madras, he had said, "constantly think of what you are and what you want to be and what you should do to bridge the gap". While paying tribute to His luminous memory, let us aspire to bridge that gap which he had advised us to do and do so with a little of that profound humility which he exemplified in his life.