Swami Hari Prakash Udasin wades into the issues facing Hinduism
BY RAJIV MALIK
Sharing wisdom: Mahamandaleshwar Swami Hari Prakash Udasin, 79, of Panchayati Akhara Bada Udasin, Haridwar
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IT IS OFTEN SAID THAT HINDUISM HAS a lot of problems with caste differentiation and discrimination. However, no one who has come to the Kumbh Mela and taken a bath at Sangam has been asked about their caste. If we had a big problem related to caste, then where brahmins and kshatriyas were having bath, the entry of shudras would have been banned. But you see nothing like this happening. Dharma has not only united us but taught us a lesson in equality. It is only because of festivals like Kumbh that we are not just Punjabis, Gujaratis, Tamils or Marathis, but all united as Hindus. In the name of Kumbh we are all one. In past centuries there have been thousands who wanted to destroy us, but they could not succeed. The Kumbh is one reason. This gathering is the result of the internal devotion, faith and dedication of the masses; it is not social or caste based. Even if a Muslim is bathing in the Ganga, we praise his good fortune. I do not know if this large-heartedness is present in other religions.
If our youth understand their duties and start performing them, then it will be good both for our country and Hindu dharma. It is unfortunate that, although we fight for our rights and agitate about them, we never, ever talk about our duties. The man who performs his duty does not have to ask for his rights—the rights due to him fall into his lap. So whether or not we can inspire the youth from the angle of dharma, we must teach them to perform their duties. If we saints can only accomplish this much, we will consider ourselves successful.
The truth is that the youth today are not taking guidance from saints or even from their parents. The influence of TV and of the West has confused us and taken us off the correct path. Our sisters and daughters are going on dates, and we listen to news of gang rapes and killings. Why is all this happening? Who wishes to have his sister or daughter murdered ? Our Hindu sanskars would never permit this. Today we have instances of relationships without marriage, just living together. All this is leading to a shabby state of affairs. All this is not a part of our culture. This wind of Westernization is blowing from Europe and America. We do not take the good from their culture, but we readily accept the bad.
Most of our youth are not learning what they should, and they are confused. In areas of the country where the youth have improved, the region has been transformed. The painful thing is that many are not trying to improve. Certainly there are young people who have reached the top in their chosen fields, but they are small in number. Most are off track. Our youth have ample energy, but it needs to be channeled correctly so that we can change this world.
All this is leading to love marriages. There is hardly any love in these marriages. It is just infatuation. Their mind does not work, and they use their heart to make the decision. When the wisdom, mind and heart are not in unison, any decision made will not be correct. The heart itself is not very stable; decisions made by it are not very durable. In the practical world, the hard realities of life often cause love to vanish for couples who have married out of love. In earlier times the marriages were arranged by the parents, and they were everlasting or long-lived. A marriage that is arranged by the family has no expectations, but a love marriage has expectations. When something becomes one’s own, then one gets bored with that thing—this is the nature of a human being. That is the reason the love marriages fail 90% of the time. Arranged marriages are 90% successful and only 10% fail. So now tell me if our arranged marriage system is correct, or is the European way of love marriages correct? A live-in relationship is not needed at all.
This menace of drug addiction is also affecting our youth in a big way. They take drugs and are playing with their lives. Not only our youth are to be blamed for this; the elders too are to be blamed.
Responsibility of Parents, Elders and Saints
Today what the spiritual gurus and parents are teaching is not having any effect on the youth, because they themselves are not practicing what they are preaching. What we see our gurus and parents practice has a profound impact on us. So we will have to walk our talk if we wish to have an impact on our children.
Some of us are living double lives. That is why the saints who preach so much on television are not able to influence the lives of people. They themselves do not practice what they are preaching, and the people know it well. In earlier times people would go to the ashram of a rishi, and by observing that way of living they would learn. Now it is just speech-making. This trend was not there in the ancient times. It is the pure conduct of a person which has a lasting impact on others. Words can just stir up passions momentarily. It is one’s conduct that can transform others, not one’s words.
Sanatana Dharma and Religion
Our guru paramapara started from ancient seers like Sanak, Sanatan and Sanatkumara. They were all the manas putras (mind-made sons) of Lord Brahma. Sanatana Dharma is not something created by a particular individual. Whatever is created by man is not everlasting, as man himself is not everlasting. The various religions of the world are not religions, they are matas and panthas. Those matas have been established by specific individuals. However, Sanatana Dharma was not established by any one person. Neither any rishis nor Rama nor Krishna established it. Sanatana means eternal, which was, which is and which will always remain. During the time of Buddha, there was a domination of Buddhism, and Sanatana Dharma was in the background. But then Shankaracharyaji came, and our tree of Sanatana Dharma was green once again. So Sanatana Dharma also has seen ups and downs. Even today in Hinduism there are certain panths which are guru oriented. In Sanatana Dharma too much importance to a person is not appropriate.
When most people die, their pranas go out from the lower parts of their body. For about 20 percent, the pranas go out through the mouth. Then there are more elevated ones, just a few percent, whose pranas go out through the eyes, ears and nose. For just a few out of millions, the pranas go out through their head, through the sahasrara chakra.
Bathing in Ganga water is important, but even more important is the devotion and faith with which we enter the water of Ganga. If the level of devotion is not proper, then we will not get the due merit out of even a seemingly good action. So when one goes for a snan at the Ganga, one has to observe the purity of body, mind and soul. One has to be sweet to others, nice to others, focused, devoted and in a contemplative state of mind. Your speech, your eyes, your ears, your hands—all have to be without any vasanas or worldly attractions. Then only the snan in Ganga will be of benefit. To become liberated by the Ganga bath you have to be a deserving patra or utensil. You have to be a clean utensil.
I did not participate in the procession for the snan because I cannot sit on an elephant for seven hours. I go and have a bath at leisure when it is suitable to me, and then for a long time and just like a small child. I just undertake at this age what is suitable to my body and naturally convenient to me. I am more happy taking care of the feeding of all those devotees who are visiting my camp. Though I am a mahamandaleshwar, I do not believe in much pomp and show.
Seriousness is not the natural state of a human being; being simple and natural is our proper style. We have to be childlike. Simplicity is the result of sadhana. If one is not natural and simple, then the sadhana of that person is not bearing him any fruit.
Hindus outside india are better hindus and are more devoted to their religion. They are more organized and united as well. In fact, they have preserved the Hindutva in themselves. They are also very keen to give the good sanskars of Hindutva to their children and youth. Here in India we are sending our children to Christian schools, where they have to pray as per the Christian traditions. If they wear a tilak or shikha in a convent school, they are punished by the school authorities. Even our girls, when they pierce their nose or ears, are punished. Here in India we are not as good Hindus as our brethren abroad, who are more devoted to Hinduism.
The State of Hinduism
Hindus today are valuing money over religion. I knew a doctor whose father and even grandfather were my devotees; he used the name of a different sect to run his shop. When I asked him, he said he was doing it for the sake of business. So some Hindus go to any length to gain money. A Muslim will leave all his clients if his time for namaaz comes. But a Hindu will give preference to attending his clients and miss the temple arati. So we give more importance to money over our religion, while people of other religions do not behave this way.
Austere quarters: Swami paused frequently during the interview to explain the questions and his thinking to the assembled devotees
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We are not taught to be good human beings from childhood. Rather we are taught how to be successful in making money. Today we are not attaching due value and importance to moral values, as we did in the olden times. That is the reason there is a deterioration of the character and moral values in the present generation. It is because of this fall in moral values that we are becoming a corrupt society. Our political leaders are also corrupt, and they are setting wrong standards and a wrong code of conduct, which the common man is now following.
It is sad that today even some of our saints are not very honest in their conduct. They speak of penance and renunciation, but when it comes to the wealth accumulated by them, they try to pass it on to their close relatives. Ramayana says that the root of all wrong things is in the attachment to worldly things. Today, however, the saints who are married will pass on their seat only to their son and not to a deserving disciple. This is what they practice, although they preach renunciation of the world.
Today, unfortunately, almost everyone compromises for monetary gains, whether he is a successful politician, businessman or saint. Therefore, how can others follow them and become honest? In the end, I would like to say that only those who do not get attached to the things of the world are eternally happy.