His Master's Voice
Dr. Debesh C. Patra, Ph. D
Institute of Indo-Aryan Studies
(This is published in Collected Works of Prafulla Kumar Das, a volume published by ‘Sri Sri Thakur Anukul Chandra Research Academy, Kolkata’ on the occasion of birth centenary celebration of Prafulla Kumar Das; 1913-2006)
Sri Sri Thakur Anukul Chandra bears temporal appearance; but carries eternal essence. It is a task of veritable significance to come to know him; of much more significance to get to know his ideological views. It is one of the rarest of rare events for the humanity when the prophet of the age plays his role and rolls out his views on various branches of knowledge. He brings with him high order of reformation and plants seeds in the womb of time for evolution. The contemporary associates of the prophet play historic role in helping the prophet playing out his mission. One such leading apostle of the latest prophet was Reverend Prafulla Kumar Das (popularly known as Prafulla da). Prafulla da’s life was spent at the feet of the Lord. He was an inseparable fixture in the assembly that used to sit around Sri Sri Thakur every now and then. That assembly used to draw lessons from Sri Sri Thakur on all and sundry topics and in a manner that was unseen and unheard in the history of humanity. The setting was informal yet profound. People of diverse background and with various interests would come and seek assured solutions from Sri Sri Thakur. Every word that used to drop from the lip of Sri Sri Thakur had a world of meaning in it. The words would flow from Sri Sri Thakur with feelings that are indescribable. The volume of literature that has been published during Sri Sri Thakur’s lifetime is something stupendous. Prafulla da used to transcribe and archive Sri Sri Thakur’s discussions and dictations. Prafulla da is commonly known in Satsang world as the compiler of Alochana Prasange. Besides that, Prafulla da was a prolific writer and has authored a number of books in Bengali as well as in English. What is relatively less known about Prafulla da was that he was also an erudite speaker. He used to regularly speak in the satsang sittings and ritwik conferences held at Deoghar. It is natural to expect that when Prafulla da spoke, the topic got an extempore shape in synthesis, backed by minute analysis and aimed at application in life and society. One feels a spontaneous eruption of knowledge (gyana) backed by devotion (bhakti) par excellence and with a desire for translating the ideology into action (karma). In this paper, an attempt has been made to know the ideological views of Sri Sri Thakur, from the speeches delivered by Prafulla da in the meetings and conferences held at Deoghar during October 1961 to July 1963. In this article Prafulla da’s role as a spokesperson of Satsang movement and mouthpiece of Sri Sri Thakur has been used to know how Satsang movement was built up, what were the missions and what were the ideological blocks. These together open up several lines of action for us; individually and collectively.
Sri Sri Thakur’s ideology is a comprehensive package for the growth of each individual. The ideology is also relevant for bringing about a socio-economic order that is required for overall peace and prosperity. The ideology deals with all aspects of life and growth. The complexities of life and of society can be better handled by an individual, if the individual knows and practices Sri Sri Thakur’s principles in life and looks at issues from the perspective of Sri Sri Thakur’s logic. Therefore, it is significant for all of us to know the views of Sri Sri Thakur and the tenets of his ideological paradigm. From this perspective, discussions held by Reverend Prafulla Kumar Das in various satsang meetings are very useful. In a limited space, Sri Sri Thakur’s views on education, ideal centric practices, marriage and a brief history of Satsang movement have been discussed in this paper. Each day’s speech has been classified under a heading and the date on which the speech was delivered has also been mentioned.
Key words: Sri Sri Thakur Anukul Chandra, Ritwik movement, Yajan, Yaajan, Ishtabhrity
22nd October 1961
Every person is an integrated whole, with immense potential. Education aims to explore and bring out the latent potential and give full shape to each personality. This is done by making him to follow an ideal centric life. One’s love for a living ideal develops servicing attitude in oneself. One is inclined to feel that life is dedicated for others’ life. Life gets a novel inspiration. Whatever comes out of that kind of service, centering on the Lord (the Ishta), brings bliss. This process leads one towards spiritual progress. Spirituality tends to seize the spirit (the existence). A spiritually inclined person can hardly be languid; he moves fast towards an unending horizon. When we are led by complexes, we lose consistency of purpose; the wholeness in us gets disintegrated. Our personality features comes under spells of myriad obsessions, as diverse complexes pull from different angles. The chain of alignment amongst thoughts, words and actions gets shattered. Ideal centric education makes a difference by keeping the complexes at bay. Sri Sri Thakur says: “Habits and behavior as refined, Better educated a person is defined.” The first step of imparting this type of education is to purify our family culture. Our family culture has to be such that children of higher instincts are born and such inborn instincts get proper nurture in the family. The child gets inclined towards the Lord (ideal) as much as the mother appreciates the father. Conjugal love between husband and wife is a fundamental factor which shapes life of the children. Wife sacrifices her own comfort and wins the heart of her husband. About teachers, Sri Sri Thakur said, “Teachers, not attached to the Lord Who would lift the pupil’s world?” A teacher who has fire in the belly can only ignite other’s life. Today, unfortunately, we lead a self centric life and do not wish others’ welfare. A brazen meanness is engulfing majority of people, who aspire to grow at the cost of someone else. But an ideal centric life teaches us to grow together with the environment; there is no scope for enviousness. Love for the ideal develops fellow feelings. We develop a consciousness that prompts us: as we draw our sustenance from the environment, so we need to serve the environment in our own interest. We therefore have to undertake works for the fulfillment of ideal’s desire. That will lead us on the path of bliss. Sri Sri Thakur says: “Intense attachment on the Lord, brings success in work and progress in life”. Today our educated youths do not find gainful engagement except getting into a job. But Sri Sri Thakur wanted to impart practical education. The pupils in Pabna ashram used to study and at their leisure time used to undertake apprenticeship in mechanical workshop, textile mill and other firms. Vocational skill does not lead to unemployment. Our education system has to adopt that pattern.
1st January 1962
Education, in Satsang, aims to develop devotion in child. For that purpose, Sri Sri Thakur spoke about ‘pitru-bhruti’ (offering to father) and ‘matru-bhruti’ (offering to mother). We would do well, if we now introduce this system in each family. Children will grow by this process to an unlimited extent. It is good to maintain and cultivate the culture and the tradition of respective clan; that helps to infuse self dignity amongst the progeny. Ceremonial ovation for the forefathers is something related to this. It is a good practice to refresh the memory of forefathers at the end of the year, solemnly and collectively. Primary aim of girls’ education is to prepare her to nominate appropriate groom for her. This exercise is stepping stone for her life, and therefore needs to be undertaken very carefully. There are people in society who scale heights in life by aspiration, backed by inferiority complex. Such a man, however imposing he might appear, should not be held high in impression. The strength and weakness of the parents gets transmitted to the children easily and naturally. Therefore, parents have to be very careful in their conducts, at every step. It is essential that prayer and in-family satsangs are held regularly and Sri Sri Thakur’s ideology is discussed by the family members. Togetherness amongst the family members and love amongst them make the children tied by the love. Yaajan within the family create an ambience of joy, progressive tenor and ideal centric attachment. Today’s children see no other way except joining a formal job after completing education. Sri Sri Thakur has been telling us since long that every household should be like an institute. There will be all kinds of avenues like a laboratory, library, garden, agriculture, grinding pedestal and cottage industry. Children will acquire practical lessons by working on these. In this process, the whole family will grow in knowledge, skill, experience and capability. That is real yaajan.
12th October 1962
An integrated personality feathered with progressive conducts is known for his well groomed nature. Existential propitious conducts, pleasant behavior and progressive go are the yardsticks of a person with evolved nature. All these are to be learnt, practiced and to be assimilated by way of acquisition. These may not be available on the pages of the book. These are to be gleaned from a teacher who has mastered all these features in his life and demonstrate for others to learn and acquire. Love and attachment for such a teacher is the foundation of education. Teacher’s personality features gets transmitted to others through the conduit of love and attachment. This is a fundamental tenet in Aryan method of education. That is why our scriptures lead us towards mother, father and aacharya (the exemplar) for moulding ourselves. An ideal family is the founding institution for education. A child would be led towards the ideal in the inspired environment of the family. A child develops regards for the superior, having seen his parent’s regards for their superior. Every family ought to be a field for cultivation of love, devotion, regards, service, sympathy, inquisitiveness and efficiency. In old age, every family used to hold five havans (ceremonial sacrifice) with a pledge to serve everyone on this planet. Today ‘ishtabhrity’ has been introduced in satsang as a partial substitute to those rites. Sri Sri Thakur also speaks about ‘pitrubhruti’ and ‘matrubhruti’ to be offered along with ‘ishtabhrity’. If someone develops an obsession for pleasure arising out of serving and giving to superior beloved, then he automatically becomes inquisitive, serviceable and acquisitive. On the issue of personality, what comes foremost in my mind is that our personality is split, if not scattered. Our personality is fractured by a number of self contradictory and inconsistent elements. What is required for us is unicentral attachment or devotion. Unless that devotion regulates our inner faculties, our personality would fail to be integrated and strong. If a man is not altruistic; he is only self seeker, then all his education is doomed. Therefore every person has to be made interested for each other through the instrumentality of education. Then only social cohesion and capability sprouts. Today as a nation we are lethargic and indolent. Our education has to infuse love for labour in our children and make them work oriented. We would love to lift ourselves not at the cost of someone else; rather we will make someone else a company in our uplift. That is divine education. Education has to be imparted following the distinctive aptitude of each child. Peter Sendiford said ‘Children must first be bred and then educated’. It therefore implies that condition to be created for the birth of high caliber child and arrangement to be made for his education. A psycho-biological compatibility in marriage and wisely adjusted conjugal life is one of the basic requirements to produce progeny of educative traits. Today boys and girls are imparted the same teaching, which is not appropriate. Boys and girls are to be educated as per their distinctive traits. Today’s education builds commercially competent man and woman; who may not be interested in humanity. Education must lay foundation for progress of society in consonance with the Lord’s wish.
Post initiation practices for satsangees
15th July 1962
It is absolutely essential that satsangees, after initiation, need to be put into a process by which they get habituated in practicing the principles. Every locality ought to have devoted yaajaks, who would make rounds of the houses regularly and would see people practicing prayer and maintaining hygiene etc. It is very beneficial that devotees develop practice of reading and discussing Sri Sri Thakur’s books and ‘Alochana’ magazine regularly. A ritwik would keep correspondence with his oblates regularly. Newly initiated persons need to be goaded and kept engaged in yaajan. As one remains engaged in yaajan, shedding all inhibitions, one’s attachment on Sri Sri Thakur gets strengthened. Initiated people should be guided to visit Sri Sri Thakur’s holy place of abode. Everyone has to carry practical responsibilities for Sri Sri Thakur. Yajan, yaajan and ishtabhrity gets consolidated through the above practices.
Marriage and Human Evolution
15th July 1962
A man loses his ground, if he is hit by cyclone of complexes. On the contrary, if a man remains aligned with the Lord (ishta), he invites wellbeing for himself as well as for the society. A man with the Lord in his heart and sympathy for all is a real friend of the people. The reason being, one who loves the Lord also loves everyone else in the surrounding. He sees Lord’s manifestation in every creation. Personal attributes like self restraint, loving approach, serving attitude and existence-propitious conducts etc reflect the extent to which a person is well adjusted. Society should have more and more persons of that type; for which compatible marriage system has to be in place. An improper (out of principle) and hypogamous marriage is enough to damage the thousand years-old disciplined family tradition in a moment. Therefore, we need to spread the message amongst our relatives and friends that they should never indulge into improper or hypogamous marriage for their children. Without well guided continuous pursuit for overall success coupled with genetic enrichment, a race cannot be steady on the path of continued evolution.
31st December 1962
If we have to swell up the initiated mass, then we need to create appetite amongst the people for initiation. That would happen when people observe our character, acquired through successful pursuits. People would look at us and be energized and be propped up. For that to happen, we have to actively and wholeheartedly involve ourselves in activities related to the image and interest of the Lord. A slightest obsession with complexes would be a great fall. We have to be a tool in the hands of the Lord for his at-will operation. Yaajan is not effective only by talk. Yaajan is in fact reverberation of one’s personality that gets expressed in every spore of our being. If we have to charm and win over someone by the Lord’s flavor; then it is absolutely necessary that the flavor possesses us in the first place, actively and without interruption. Yaajan is not done only by application of knowledge and fecundity. Let there be surge of Thakur in each one of us, foisting a tempestuous sway in the society that will have the infinite force of the Lord that is waiting to work through us. Let not the wall of our complexes prevent that surge. Often it is observed that the workers (in satsang) are not well aligned amongst themselves. Factors for the fissures usually are: complex orientation, infatuation for lust and wealth and finally the ego. The interest of the Lord has to reign supreme amongst us; Lord being the first and foremost in our life. Every worker will lookout opportunities for engaging other workers in the Lord’s service. Workers with existential energetic urge need to be taken special care. After initiation those people should be brought to ashram and that would make them further enthused. It is necessary to maintain large public contact in the society with the help of the satsangees (initiated disciples). Sri Sri Thakur has to be there in all spheres of life. Sri Sri Thakur has given his direction and codes of conduct in all fields like family life, economy, politics, agriculture, education etc. We get to know all these from magazines and books like ‘Aalochanaa’ and ‘Saaswati’. Every worker must have these books with them and regularly go through these. This is a great exercise for self development for each worker. It is a great responsibility for the workers to not only keep those literatures with themselves, but also to spread it around and make available with other families, institutions and libraries. People would get Sri Sri Thakur’s touch through these immortal literatures.
Love for Existence & Initiation with Guru
31st December 1962
The country today is short of worthy people. We need such person who has mastered complexes and who is devoted to his parents. A child with attachment on parents would not commit such an act that might cause pain in parents’ mind. This is how the first seed of human values sprouts in him. In the later part of life for further growth, one has to adopt Guru, who is the live-image of God. A person who has not accepted Guru is sure to harm himself and others, however large hearted he might appear to be. While rendering service to others; he also helps people who might habitually indulge into misdeeds and evils. Therefore ultimately his service does not result in anything good. Rather evil minded people get support from his service and continue to indulge into wrong doings. The root of all our sufferings lies in our infatuation with complexes. Unless a person gets rid of those obsessions, there can not be anything good for him. If a person is not adhered to Lord (Ishta), he is definitely under the shady influence of complexes. Therefore, initiation with and attachment for living ideal (Ishta) is a basic requirement. It is not enough to have some level of intelligence; there are elements like feelings, emotions, passions and instincts which together make a person. All these psycho-spiritual anchors have to be tied with living ideal (Ishta) by the tendril of love and devotion. Then thoughts, habits and behaviors tend to get regulated towards bliss. When we are out for yaajan, people should get to perceive examples of success and achievement in us. Our personality should exhibit such aura of dedication that people would be charmed by us. At the time of diksha, there should be only one objective and that is to acquire and possess divine, the Lord. Accepting diksha with expectation for any kind of material benefit, does not lead to any desirable result. If Lord alone is our interest, then everything of Lord would possess whole of our attention. Everyone related to Lord, including his family members, becomes dear to us. A strong urge develops to serve them, devoid of any expectation and hurt sentiment. We dwell on ground of love, serenity and purity. We can see beauty in ugliness; we can convert ugliness to beauty, when we are immersed in name (sat-naam) and love. We make ourselves responsible for anything unwanted in the surrounding. It is not feasible to help elevate others into a divine state, if we ourselves remain stuck at brute state. Our Lord, Sri Sri Thakur is sad-Guru; he upholds and fulfils all varieties as per their respective distinctiveness. He is engaged in fulfilling all the past prophets. People of all ages come to him and seek fulfillment; irrespective of their communal affiliation. He is the living Ideal; one to be followed and to be imbibed. A symphony of unity and integrity reverberates on the ground which Sri Sri Thakur has created. A unified group like us, around the Lord, acquires strength and vigor which would be capable to dispel evil. That evil-banishing valour is an element of devotion. The evil-banishing valour fights against things which are anti-existence. Such valour is not induced by anger or jealousy; rather it is born of deep love for existence. This love only makes a man to proclaim truth and take a firm stand against evil. Let this love for truth be ever awakened in all, this is my prayer.
20th July 1963
(on 25th year of formation of Ritwik movement and on 100th session of Ritwik Conference)
There are quite a number of participants here who have been associated with this movement for quite sometime and they are aware of many things. There are also some people present here, who are not very familiar with the history of the Ritwik movement and for their benefit I will present a brief account of it. The first session of Satsang Ritwik Conference was held in July 1938. Generally we come across that most of the movements in the history are outcome of some reactionary process. Some movements are parochial. But the movements that aim at the growth of life, both at individual and collective level, centering on the prophets, are normally set against the backdrop of the whole universe. Ours is that kind of movement. This type of movement owes its genesis to the very inception of Indian culture. The ritwik’s role is being played since the vedic era. Our movement is a revival of that tradition. All the Aryan institutions like varnashram, gurubad, rishi-paramparya, dasa bidha sanskar (ten fold rites), daily panch-maha-yagnya, harmony amongst ideal, self and surroundings etc are founded on divine basis. Our ritwik movement is the contemporary edition of those. After Ananta Maharaj passed away, substantial work was done at Khulna, Barisal, Yashohar and Faridpur. Ishtabhrity as a daily practice was formalized in the second session of Ritwik Conference that was held in October 1938. Sri Sri Thakur at that time observed, ‘I have been talking of ishtabhrity for last twelve years. No one paid heed to that till I made it absolutely clear. I realized that nothing happens unless some real work is done.’ At that time, mountains of questions and doubts came from workers which had to be cleared. The system of panja for the adhwarju was introduced in early part of 1939. Adhwarju is an associate of ritwik. In those days, ritwiks were given a Monthly Return Form. They were required to submit the form in the office with all the details of how many people were initiated, out of which how many perform yajan, yaajan and ishtabhrity etc. Those days, there were District In-charges, through whom diksha patras were sent. Sri Sri Thakur introduced panja for saha prati-ritwik (SPR) in October 1939. Yaajak panja was introduced in December 1939. A saha prati-ritwik would work under a specific prati-ritwik. ‘Ritwik Manual’ was released in July 1940. That contained special instruction for ritwik, yaajak and adhwarju; what they are supposed to do. Bengali translation of that was later released as ‘Ritwik Saathi’. Pujya Khepu da (prati-nidhi-naayak pujaniya Shri Prabhas Chandra Chakravarty, younger brother of Sri Sri Thakur) and Kesto da (ritwigacharya Krishna Prasanna Bhattacharya) used to move around different places regularly. There used to be large public meetings. Shri Virendralal Mitra was given the responsibility of publicity. From that time onwards Satsang news started appearing on news papers. In the early part of 1942, some more groups of workers were formed and were sent to different districts of West Bengal. That is how the whole of Bengal was covered. Prior to that time, Satsang work already was introduced in states like Bihar, Assam and in Burma. World War II was raging on the other side. In the Ritwik Conference held in April 1942, Sri Sri Thakur had a word for all the workers, ‘Each one of you contribute Rs 300; acquire agricultural land. If you want to avert disaster, transplant good meaning people from different places where they are concentrated in large number and rehabilitate them at different place where they are required. Twenty lakhs of people should be transplanted at different places immediately.’ People from places like Yashohar and Maymansingh were brought into Pabna and were housed around the ashram (Himaitpur). Subsequently, Ramshankar Bhai (Singh) mobilized people from Bihar. Unfortunately local residents misunderstood the movement and took opposing stand. Therefore Sri Sri Thakur’s plan did not materialize. Pakistan was born in 1947 and Himaitpur became part of Pakistan. This side, Kesto da was at his work. From 1942 onwards, Kesto da used to list actionable points which arose during deliberations in Ritwik Conference and started mailing them to workers. Number of Satsang centers (either as adhibesan Kendra or Satsang branch) started opening up. Then came the great famine in 1943; Sri Sri Thakur struggled in innumerable ways to manage the famine. He did not allow a single starvation death in the area ten miles around the ashram. Since then, beginning 1942–1943, Sri Sri Thakur has been urging to acquire land in the border of Bengal and Bihar. Great deal of efforts was made to increase the land property of Satsang. Sri Sri Thakur migrated to Deoghar on ground of ill health in 1946. From 1946 onwards, the practice of offering ritwikee was told again and again. Satsang movement got spread in the whole of India like wildfire, ever since Sri Sri Thakur came to Deoghar. Mr. Spencer and Mr. Hauserman took shelter at the feet of Sri Sri Thakur in 1945. Mr. Hauserman has written a biography of Sri Sri Thakur, ‘Ocean in a Tea Cup’, by title, which has been published by Harper Brothers publishers in America. Of late he has composed Sri Sri Thakur’s select sayings in the form of question answer and has sent portion of these to the publisher. Publisher has started printing work. The published biography of Sri Sri Thakur by Hauserman was sent to President of United States, Mr. Kennedy and he has acknowledged to have received the book. This is how Sri Sri Thakur’s ideology is getting spread in different regions across the globe. One does not know what can get accomplished by whom. Currently the transmission work is fast progressing in Bombay (Mumbai) and Madras (Chennai). This is how ritwik movement is expanding. Sri Sri Thakur remains worried for the nation and the society. He is seen to spend anxious moments in apprehension of the misery that humanity is facing. We therefore have to totally dedicate ourselves for fulfilling his mission. We have to work ceaselessly on people to prepare them to invite bliss.
Sri Sri Thakur’s ideology is a high powered tool, which is meant to be used for enhancement of the consciousness and acceleration of growth. Man achieves a superior status by virtue of his clarity of vision, integrity in thought and motivation for excellence; all these flow automatically as one passes through Sri Sri Thakur’s principles. It is however necessary for us to know these principles, put these in practice and spread it around so that people at large can benefit from these. From the above discussions held by Reverend Prafulla Kumar Das in eight sessions during less than 2 years duration, we get to know two aspects: a) Sri Sri Thakur’s views on man making process, encompassing marriage and education; and b) how Sri Sri Thakur’s movement was formed and what he expected from those who have worn the mantle of being His workers. It is worth reflecting that Reverend Prafulla da held this discussion in 1961-1963; since then mother earth has orbited around the Sun 45 times. Till date, it appears, the fundamentals of the mission of Satsang movement, which can be said to be ‘man making process’ has not been amply tried out and therefore not fully appreciated by the workers in particular and society in general. It perhaps awaits better exposition at intellectual level and vigorous implementation at socio-political level.
Author owes his gratitude to Shri Kumar Krishna Bhattacharya, from whose compilation ‘Mahamanaber Sagaratire’ – Vol II (2006, Bengali), Reverend Prafulla da’s speeches have been taken for translation. While every effort has been made to maintain the ideological spirit of the discussion while translating, still author owns up deficiency, if any identified, and shall be obliged if feedback is provided. Author expresses his gratefulness to ‘Sri Sri Thakur Anukulchandra Research Academy’, Kolkata and its Secretary Shri Phani Bhusan Roy in particular, for guidance and inspiration for writing this paper. Lastly author pays tribute to Reverend Prafulla Kumar Das, who was kind enough to spend some time in personal discussion with the author on few occasions, while staying in Bibek Bitan, Deoghar.
Mumbai 25th September 2009