IT IS UNFORTUNATE THAT INSTEAD of sadhus impressing or influencing people, people are exerting influence on the sadhus. Sadhus listen patiently to what people have to say, but people are not listening as patiently to what sadhus are telling them. It is even happening that corrupt people are influencing the sadhus. Sadhus should be careful to choose the company of good people.
Many of our saints preach good things via TV channels and kathas which are watched and attended by hundreds of thousands of people, but still they have not been able to bring about any improvement in the society. Why?
Also known as Swami Atmapremananda, Mahant Ghanshyam Giri is a saint of the Juna Akhara based in Himachal Pradesh
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The government has only laid down the basic infrastructure for this Kumbh Mela city. All other arrangements have been done by saints and akharas. Each has put up their own tents out of their own money.
Yesterday I was visited by some youth from an engineering college. They were only interested in showing their palms to me and wanting to know their future through palmistry. Finally, I told them that it was better they focused on using their hands for working, which will get them success, rather than being much bothered about the lines in their palms. There are very few seekers among the youth.
I lay a lot of emphasis on brahmacharya. If you do not preserve the sacred seed, how will there be grace and light on your face? When the seed is preserved and utilized for a higher cause, then we see there is a certain grace and light on the face of the person. A regulated and disciplined daily life is a must for maintaining brahmacharya. Sometimes students tell me their memory fails them. I tell them to observe brahmacharya and see how their memory improves.
Our scriptures say that where women are worshipped, devatas roam.
Ramayana and Mahabharata happened because of the disrespectful behavior meted out to Sita and Draupadi. Something similar happened recently, when a girl was raped in Delhi and all those powerful and educated people were helpless to save her honor.
This was just one example. Besides this there have been so many incidents of injustice done to women. Crimes against women are happening on a big scale, while only a few are highlighted by the media. The rest do not get much attention and prominence.
The big positive change after the Delhi rape case is that people have become awakened, and now they have decided to raise their voice in a big way. However, women also must maintain a certain code of conduct, which will strengthen them, make them more empowered and get them better respect overall.
IN THE PAST, WHEN TRAVEL WAS DIFFICULT, the Kumbh Mela was mainly a gathering of top saints and acharyas as a symbol of unity. They would consider the various problems faced at district, state and village levels. Are our daughters and mothers being victimized? Is there an attack on our Vedic culture and literature? If the problem was among the intellectuals, then the intellectual saints of very high level were sent. If it was with the common people, then those adept in bhajans and kirtans would go and improve the situation. This is how the traditions of our Sanatana Dharma were kept alive by our top seers through these Kumbh Melas. Today only around 65 percent of the pilgrims are deeply religious and have come here with total devotion, while the remaining 35 percent have come to the event in the spirit of a mela or a fair.
Pollution of the Ganga
For this mela, the message is that the saints and pilgrims here are highly concerned about the pollution of our Mother Ganga. This can be solved only when each and every Hindu becomes aware of it and keeps their local small rivers and tributaries free of pollution. The quality and quantity of water in successive Kumbh Melas is under severe pressure. The time has come to take this matter very seriously. All Hindus must join this movement to clean Ganga.
Proud to Be Hindu
I will end by saying I am proud that I am an Indian and I am proud that I am a Hindu. I salute our men and women who, once married before the Fire God, remain with each other throughout their life.
Swami Gopal Sharan Devacharya (interviewed, at right) of the Nimbarka Sampradaya with Mahant Keshav Puri (center) of Mumbai and Swami Ananda Giri (left)
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