By Vijay Phanshikar :
The subtle smile is sourced from within. The glow on the face also fountains up from that depth and spreads all over his being. When spiritual master Sri M speaks, words, too, emerge from an inner sanctorum spelling truth in simple terms -- clear, well-defined, well-drafted, with a clear sense of purpose. The question is complex: In the current chaos, how should the individual relate to the collective? In other words, what kind of relationship should exist between the individual person and the society? When everybody is so fastidiously self-centered, who will care for the larger social good? And when many people poke their noses into larger issues without any sense of focus or commitment, how to control that kind of wayward indulgence? “I realise your concern”, Sri M says in his soft but firm voice as the morning glow peeps through the window. What follows is an exchange of a rare kind -- bringing to fore critical aspects of quintessential Indian wisdom acquired and accumulated over centuries of enriched social, cultural and spiritual discourses all rolled into one.
Sri M recalls the three-fold attributions which Lord Shrikrishna shares with Arjuna as an eternal solution to how a human individual should conduct self in life: Control of emotions; a tranquil mind; and desire and effort for the welfare of all -- Sarvepi Sukhina Bhavantu! “These three attributions can make the difference we are concerned about. And effort in that direction must begin right from childhood. The sanskaar must take place at a right time and in a right manner. The change must take place in the mind. The effort must be to instill the satva guna in the human consciousness. Through education, through the familial upbringing, through a careful nursing of right thought and action, this can be achieved,” Sri M says smilingly, very sure of the correctness of the path. A reference to his sadhanaa in the Himalayas enhances the glow on his ever-energetic face that defies his 73 years of age. With his long, grey-white hair tied behind his head in a knot, Sri M’s forehead shines and his eyes sparkle as he recalls how his Guru -- Babaji -- asked him to emerge from the Himalayan cave and give up ascetic life-style to return to normal life. “I said, ‘but Babaji, I am very happy here, unaffected by worldly trappings, enjoying a sense of liberation. Why should I go back?’ But Babaji said, I could not call it liberation when I have not been tested in a true sense by material dimensions. That testing will prove you. ...”, Sri M says.
Of course, the rest is history, in the sense too well known to his countless thousands of followers all over the world. Through his Satsang Foundation, he initiated multiple projects and efforts to educate people in spiritual pursuit, motivate them to follow a transparent and simple life-style. Vedic hymns and Upanishadic verses flow out in a Ganga-like ease as Sri M explains his global view. “India’s ancient wisdom tells us to live a life of complete togetherness -- we think together, we act together, we follow in the footsteps of our wise forefathers and sages and gods, striving for happiness of all -- Lokah Samastaa! Time and again, the conversation travels back into the mind-zone. “Mind is the key to human conduct. It has no boundaries. It is in the mind that we have the keys to both, enslavement and salvation. So, the effort should be to shape the mental process correctly,” Sri M says in a soft assertion. His discourses on Yoga find a reference in the conversation.
The thought moves towards the famous ancient treatise of Patanjal Yogasutra (which is a collection of several formulas explaining, highlighting dimensions of Yoga as a science of spiritual elevation, categorised in four mega-chapters). “Sire, the Patanjal Yogasutra begins with the assertion Athah Yoganushashanam -- ‘Here begins the disciplined pursuit of Yoga. What does this anushashan -- discipline -- mean?” To this question, the reply offers a wonderful elaboration, “It relates to the control of faculties -- from the physical posture to the mental processes. It prepares one for the long journey on the path of spirituality. This discipline helps the human body to attain core fitness and the mind to achieve the fundamental tranquility. And the best tool that one can use in this sadhanaa is restraint, a well-modulated moderation in Ahaar (intake of food), Vihaar (movement), Achaar (conduct), and Vichaar (cognition),” Sri M says.
The seer smiles at the question about his familial engagement: Does it not inhabit your thought and action as an ascetic? “It actually enhances that sense. In that eco-system, all my beliefs, all my sense of focus and discipline and restraint get tested. I get to practise what I believe in and what I preach”, he says in effect. The conversation also hovers around formal religion, narrow ideologies, societal harmony and unity. On each of these, Sri M offers authentic and convincing responses. And the reason for it is simple: He does not insist on any point. He suggests. He assists in the thought-process -- like a Guru (spiritual master) that he is. Hardly can such an exchange be called an interview. At best, it can be described as Innerview!