Sunday, March 20, 2011

Who Is Closer To God ?


There are quite a number of modern educated people who do not believe in the existence of God. This sort of atheistic tendency is nothing peculiar to modern times. Such a trend was prevalent even in ancient India. However it is important that we should bear no hatred to the non-conformists. They must be given the freedom not to believe in the same way we concede the right to religious belief and practice to others. Most of them are bound to come around and turn over a new leaf at some stage or the other in life.

The relationship of man to God is a subject of profound importance. Discussion on the subject is full of intricate metaphysics. Who has to take up the job of proving the existence of God? Can it be a physical demonstration? His Holiness Sri Chandrasekhar Bharathi, the 34th Pontiff of the Sri Shankara Math, Sringeri once said that even if God made his appearance once before you, you will not accept Him. This is for the reason that He appears as other objects do! Arguments in favour of a proposition can be tackled by counter-arguments. Hence a logical proof will never be conclusive. Hence, the most important thing is the fundamental belief in the existence of a Superhuman Power whom we may call ‘GOD”.

The relevance of discussion on atheism in a spiritual context may appear unnecessary. However there is a justification for such a debate since one’s faith becomes even firmer either after meeting a great sage or a seer or when doubts are raised and cleared. There is the classic example of Swami Chinmayananda, the founder of the Chinmaya Mission, who was a confirmed atheist till he was 20 years old and who got converted into a perfect Vedantin after his very first meeting with Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in June 1936. Recalling this meeting with Ramana, Swami Chinmayananda says “A mere look at the Maharshi, that was all. I felt that the Maharshi was, in that split moment, looking deep into me. I was sure that he saw all my shallowness, faithlessness, imperfections and fears. My atheism dropped away.” Acharya Shankara in his commentary on the Brahma Sutras has explained that when a proposition is presented and a doubt about it is also expressed, then, when that doubt is refuted, one’s conviction on the subject matter becomes even firmer.

The Paramacharya of Kanchi who observed the highest standards of austerity and spiritual practice was a source of inspiration and a guide to many disgruntled intellectuals all over the world who called on him to quench their spiritual thirst. Dr. S.I.Tulaev, well-known Indologist from Moscow, was visibly moved when he met His Holiness on 24th February 1965 near Sunkuvar Chatram, about 40 miles from Madras. This is how the illuminating interview went on:

Dr. Tulaev: A man has no belief in religion. He does not adopt any rituals. He never goes to a temple or a church nor does he listen to dogmas. But he always thinks good of others and has good thoughts always. Could you kindly tell me. Sir, whether such a man has any salvation at the end of his life?

His Holiness closed his eyes and was in meditation for a few seconds. These few seconds, the whole surrounding was absolutely calm and divinely calm. After a few minutes, His Holiness replied “YES”

At this answer, Dr. Tulaev was overwhelmed with joy – a joy that that he never experienced in life and for which his heart was longing all these years. He looked as if he attained the unattainable. He whispered “I thank you, Sir, I thank you, Sir, and I thank you, sir. I am completely satisfied “

His Holiness: [Elaborating the answer further His Holiness continued] Do not think that I am giving this answer after seeing the modern standards of life. No.
This is said in our ancient scriptures. There are many aspirants for liberation.
The agnostics, those who enquire into the nature of God and by using their own brain, come to the conclusion that there is no God. Secondly, there are the Buddhists, especially the Shunyavadins, who believe in non-existence. Thirdly, the Jains, who believe in suffering by putting their body to various austerities [Vratas]. Fourthly, Shaivites, Vaishnavaites and others who believe in a personal God and spend their life in devotion. Lastly, the Advaitins who believe the entire world, the Cosmic Reality, is the apparent manifestation of one and the same ultimate Reality. All these aspirants are near the Truth. The difference between them lies in their proximity to God. Step by step these five aspirants are nearer the Reality. If one enquired into the nature of God by using one’s own mind, whatever be the conclusion arrived at, even if it is a total rejection of God-hood, such an aspirant is far higher than the idler who never worries about the search for Truth. This is not my saying but it is said so in our scriptures.

Dr. Tulaev asked a few more questions on Advaita and was completely satisfied. On his way back hr remarked “Here is the true Indian sage who is living a simple life, in the midst of such tiny villages, with people in such villages carrying the highest philosophy. It is only such sages who bless you with necessary answers you seek in a few seconds. I consider this a fortunate day in my life. I am happy that I have been able to meet him”.

ARTICLE NO. 398---Non-Belief in the Existence of God
Created: Friday, July 6, 2007


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