The Message and Ministrations of Dewan Bahadur R. Venkata Ratnam, volume 2/Chapter 16
DEATH THE HEART OF LIFE.
praise and adoration, thanks and salutations, unto Him, the Supreme One, the Refuge of all worlds, the Home and Haven of all souls, the Pilot across the depths of sorrow and suffering, and the Welcomer into the vast Beyond of hope and joy! Blessed be His name! Unto Him be glory that He is endlessly, boundlessly, ail-comprehensively, all-embracingly welling up and coming down in incessant and inexhaustible life! He is the spring- source, the fountain-head, of life. He is the ceaseless current, the ever-flowing* flood, the ever-expanding vastness of life He is the profound deep, the fathomless ocean, of life. We spring from Him; we hold our course through Him; we find our close, our fulfilment, in Him; we for ever abide in Him. We are wholly of Him, in Him and unto Him; we are His offspring the direct issue of His ever-creative Being. He is the God of the living. He is the Adored of those that for ever abide in hope. He is not the distant author but the very vital, direct substance and essence of our life. He is the reality, He is the primal fact, of which we are but the expression, the manifestation, the outcome. Here we are in seemingly separate yet intimate and incorporate affinity and filial association and holy companionship with Him. And thus we are prompted to turn to Him, to look up to Him, to hold converse with Him and to confide all our needs and wants, all our cravings and desires, unto Him. Him do we first seek, Him do we first appeal to, in all our needs, in all our trials and in all our afflictions; and by His grace are we comforted and strengthened. Him do we first think of in all our doings; Him do we first bless in all our joys and felicitations. He is unto us the inexhaustible fund of life, the inalienable friend and companion through life and beyond life. He holds us by the hand and leads us along His path, sheds the blessings of His light on as and awakens in our hearts the faith that so readily perceives what pure happiness it is to believe in Him, to trust in Him, to confide all our secrets unto Him, How shall we forget Him in the day of trial, how can we ignore Him in the day of triumph ? He is the Being unto whom we owe our all ; He is our first quest ; He is our prime confidant; He is our ever-faithful friend; He is our ever-trusted consellor ; He is our ever-reliable guide. Unto Him we turn this day, turn that we may, by His grace, be granted the vision to glimpse light through gloom, to receive comfort through tears, to hear messages of hope through wailings of grief, to taste the sweetness of love amidst the bitterness of parting, and to hold by unshakable faith despite the tearing, convulsive groans of bereavement. Wonderful are the means which He, in His mercy and wisdom, adopts to undeceive us, to disclose unto us the secrets of life, to lay bare unto us the realities veiled behind the appearances of the common day and, in seeming to enwrap us in the sable folds of death, to lead us into that inner shrine where He reveals Himself in all the effulgence of His glory. He is training and disciplining, He is testing and proving, He is beckoning and guiding, He is perplexing and reassuring, He is seemingly smiting but actually soothing and nerving us, as we are taught — as we are habituated — to depend upon Him, to trust in Him, to confide in Him, to wait on Him, to abide by His commandment. And now that it comes to be our turn, shall we not have the trust to say, "Now comes unto us a call from Him to unlearn the old notions and to learn a new lesson in the truths, in the facts, in the verities of life; now is given us a rare chance to lay ourselves open unto His Spirit with the eagerness which anguish soothed by hope ever begets in the human breast ; now is granted unto us a blessed opportunity to wait on the Lord trustfully and expectantly to receive a grand message, a golden gospel, a glorious revelation, a gracious dispensation?" As the end of every religion, faith has now to peep through the 'triple gates' of death and perceive the eternal glory that is in the celestial Shrine beyond. Even in our cradles we are said to be laid in the grave, not as the creatures of time to be 'rung out' with the passing hour, but as the deathless offspring of eternity. Even as we stand by cradles, we are visited with clear intimations of the high hopes, profound promises and priceless possibilities of a spirit that persists uninjured, that survives unimpaired, that soars unhampered, despite the veils and mists, the shadows and clouds, of this dark valley of life. Thus, each life which descends into its little accommodating abode, also rises as a new star, apparently as a mere speck but truly as a vast orb seemingly sinking below the horizon but actually achieving larger sweeps of an ever-enlarging circle, in uncrippled energy, in unquenched glory. Here we are to receive from Him this truth, this assurance, chat He has once and for ever made us His own, that He loves us as His own and that whatever He loves once He loves for ever. And our sole duty and responsibility lies in trusting in Him and in saying, not with surtendered will alone, but with deep confidence and vivid hope, "Thy will be done ! For Thy will shall ever work our weal, our joy! " Bles3ed be our God, the living God, the enduring God, the eternal God, that He has even unto us— mere ephemeral, insignificant creatures — even unto us revealed this hope and brought unto our hearts this assurance !
ARADHANA AND PRARDHANA.
O Thou God of Truth ! How we have, time and again, lightly and idly uttered the solemn word 'Truth' but failed to feel how Truth is Thy name, how Truth is Thine own self, how Truth alone is our dear and honoured idea, conception and hope of Thy reality, Thy eternal permanence, Thy everlasting embrace, Thy ever-living witness and guidance ! 'Truth abides,' we say; yet we fail to feel that Thou abidest and Truth abideth in Thee. We adore Thee; but we forget to honour and uphold Thee with the resolute, undivided loyalty of our hearts. Thou art our God of Truth. Now we behold Thee as the very centre, the real core, the true substance, the vital secret, of life and creation. Thou art the Truth that forbids unreality, uncertainty. Thou art the Truth that fits together all changes into one serried series, a marvellous continuity of life and growth. Thou -art the Truth that eludes the inquisitive but reveals itself to the trustful. Thou art the Truth that the philosopher laboriously seeks but the devotee familiarly sees and enjoys. Thou art the Truth that makes the hope of day, even in the darkest hour of night, a fact, a certainty. Thou art the Truth that sustains the apparently faded and the seemingly, exhausted life of the seed and the plant exposed to the frost and the mildew. Thou art the Truth that impels the out-pouring, through every nook and corner, every chink and orevice, of the rejuvenated, the irresistible, the abundant, the jubilant life. Thou art the Truth that nourishes the soul and braces the heart, that quickens the conscience and. informs the intellect, while even the decrepit body, the quivering limb and the failing sense, with shattered health, serve as so many openings through which eternal life flows in. Thou art the Truth that makes youth such a joy, old age such a calm, death such a solemn and welcome translation, life such an irrepressible, inexhaustible power. Thou art the Truth that makes the earth below firm and solid. Thou art the Truth that makes the heavens above serene and awe-inspiring. Thou art the Truth that for ever refreshes the wafting breeze. Thou art the Truth that ever pours the flood of light into every eye and every soul. O God! The puzzling, the troubling, the baffling secret is that we can-not see, we are unable to perceive, the fulness of Thy Truth. Oh, how we condemn ourselves to little corners,petty narrownesses, passing distractions, and lose possession of Thee, fall away from Thee, the Source of. Truth! Oh, do Thou teach us to see Thee, to realise Thee, in all occurrences, in every interest and engagement of life. Oh! Thou Prime Truth! We bow down before Thee; we render obeisance unto Thee. Thou art the very life, the ceaseless pulsation, of. our heart, the throb of our bosom : that Thou verily art in essence. We in our best moments feel how Thou art nearer unto us than our own thoughts, our inmost ideas; they are more distant as being only the outcome, the expression, of Thy immediate working in us. Thou art the main-spring, the vital secret, the fountain-source, of our existence. What is life but a genial current of joy and grace that wells up incessantly from Thy centred self? Thou art the life, the inner vitality, of our senses. Thou art that by which every sense functions. Thou art the very mould and model of our thoughts and ideas; Thou art the very essence of our feelings and emotions. Thou art the very inspiration and sanction of our aims and ideals. Thou art the parent and the preceptor of our spirits. Words distance Thee, keep Thee aloof, instead of bringing Thee nearer Unto us. In silent enjoyment, in subdued suffering, in sweet communion, we see how Thou art the very Life of our lives, the very Soul of our souls, the very stamina, the very substance, the very vitality of our existence. Thou art the whole plan, the complete purpose, the entire progress, of all our lives. Thou hast designed, Thou hast determined, Thou hast prescribed, the destiny of our lives. All out days Thou hast counted out, each in its detail; laid out each along its entire course; all with a friendly solicitude and with a parental promise of fulfilment. Thou art the indescribable, the inconceivable, and yet the very true and verifiable Ordainer of our lives. How Thou leadest us step by step> day after day! How Thou fittest the present into the past and adaptest the future to the present! Oh Thou all-knowing, all-wise God, really and truly Thou art the Author of our destinies; and even for that prerogative we render our thanks unto Thee. Thou art the fulfiller of our lives. The whole purpose of our existence closes in Thee. All our designed activities only carry us nearer unto Thee. The soul leaps unto Thee and into Thy bracing Spirit. Thou art the ultimate goal, the eternal abode and the everlasting home of the soul. We bless Thee, we thank Thee, we adore Thee. O Thou Supreme One! Thou hast meant us to be the children of eternity, the pilgrims of everlasting progress. O, do Thou now and here so touch and shape and fashion us that we may feel the grandeur of Thy purpose and of our destiny; and do Thou in Thy mercy grant us that thrill of ecstasy which, in an overpowering measure, pulsates through us as we realise the incalculable worth and value Thou manifestly assignest even to the creatures of this world, as Thou adoptest them as Thy children. Through this delight, with the worshipful, the adoring attachment unto Thee which comes with it, do Thou make us incapable of a fall, impervious to temptation, invulnerable to the assaults of sorrows and tribulations, that so we may feel the mercy that Thou hast meant for us in all the fluctuations of time. O Thou, the eternal, the ever-abiding, the ever-enduring the ever-true, the ever-good God, do Thou disclose unto us the abundance of Thy mercy and the blessedness of Thy benignantly designed and graciously vouchsafed peace and joy in everlasting companionship with Thee. Long have we thought of Thee as the terrific God, the appalling God, as the God of Death, the God of Dissolution. Do Thou now teach us to recognise Thee as the redeeming God, the resuming God, the rejuvenating God, the eternally reliable God. Long have we in faithlessness thought of the soul as the bubble that bursts and breaks up in no time. Do Thou now teach us to realise that, being securely held in Thy embrace, we cannot fail. Our failure would be Thy discomfiture; our vanishing into emptiness, Thy privation, Do Thou instil into us the sure and saving trust that, though now limited— bounded, circumscribed—by time and place, we are really even now enabled by the moving events of life to rise to the wider and higher outlook transcending time and place. Do Thou reveal unto us the unmistakable fact that what truly counts, what really abides, is not deceptive change but the underlying permanence; that what truly constitutes the great value and worth of our existence is that it cannot be told out by time or hedged in by place but that even now, living in Thee, incorporated in Thee, imbedded in Thee, our real life partakes of the Everlasting. May this trust abide in us! May we be disillusioned into Truth and Faith! May we be snatched and saved from the lamentable illusion that makes us the sport of passing changes! May we learn, not as a theoretical possibility but as a verifiable experience, that Thou art the Indweller in us! O Thou eternal, all-pervading God! Do Thou this day, in Thy mercy, overlook our unworthy, our un-chaste, our infidel lack of confidence and trust in Thee and infuse into us the faith, the assurance, the certainty that we are always kept hale and secure in the shelter of Thy all-loving presence. We are destined to live, to grow, to expand, to rejoice for ever in Thee. Blessed, blessed, blessed be Thy name! Thou art the all-good God unto whom is due our endless gratitude. How we misjudge Thee! How we distrust Thee! How we complain against Thee! How we arrogate to ourselves the right to scrutinise Thy ways and pronounce upon Thy doings! Even this is the height of our pitiable presumption, as it is the very abyss of our sordid baseness and ingratitude. O, do Thou pardon us in Thy all-merciful grace for this 'deadly sin' against Thy Holy Spirit While Thou trainest and teachest even by attracting and fastening our attention and our interest upon that larger life into whose all-including range Thou transplantest affection after affection and love after love, we grieve and cry, we sob and moan, we call black names and think hard thoughts. This most heinous sin against Thee, how can it be pardoned? Even as transplantation give larger growth and richer yield, so Thou shiftest our destinies from these narrow, nooks below into the ample fields above. But we fondly fancy that for ever shall last our term here below, only to grieve for the lost touch of many a vanished hand. Oh, pardon this enormity of iniquity, in Thy all-forgetting grace. Do Thou lay it bare to our hearts, do Thou bring it home to our bosoms, that what is Withdrawn from our physical eye is resumed into Thy embracing heart; that every earthly winter, by Thy wonderful transforming grace, changes into an everlasting heavenly spring, where not the sense but the soul constitutes the vinculum of comradeship. O Thou beloved God! How thou dost teach us to ennoble ourselves even by the translation thereinto of our kith and kin! We revolt against Thy noble purpose—worse than crass folly, pitiable ignorance, lamentable illusion this! Do Thou pardon us by shielding, protecting and safeguarding us against this materialism of the world and the flesh, O Thou all-merciful God! Even through the holy bond of at-one-ment established between Thy children and Thy self, the eternal verity which time cannot wear out and our petty follies cannot defeat or destroy, Thou art incessantly augmenting our treasures, Thou art ceaselessly multiplying our family and Thou art endlessly adding to our affections in our heavenly home. Ours is no narrow home-stead, a household of mundane worlds. No, not herein is our home; but we belong to the larger household of love. And those that have gone before us being made sure in Thee, we have our confidence reaffirmed that they shall abide in Thee for ever. The dear ones are gone, but it is impossible that they should vanish into nothing. Annihilation is an unthinkable condition in our relationship to Thee. Who can destroy life, when Thou art all-life? Do Thou impart unto us larger belief in Thee, infuse into us deeper faith in Thee, that we might praise Thee, glorify Thee, render our thanks unto Thee, as we understand and apprise all these arresting occurrences as Thy lovedesigned preparations for each one of us to shift the scene of our lasting interests and affections. Tho child gone, the parent gone, the brother gone, the sister gone! But whither have they gone? They have not gone out; they have gone in. They appear to have vanished out of our sight, because they have come so very close to the heart. Does not the eye, which cannot see itself, see all in Thee? May this faith endure in us! Thee we now gratefully, reverently bless; as Thou disclosest unto us the mystery of death: "Death is the Heart of Life!" Every cemetery, every burial-place, every cremation-ground is a standing reminder of Thy proclamation that the fleeting breath of man is necessarily and even beneficently destined to fail, but the enduring, the abiding, the imperishable, God-inbreathed spirit is wafted onward and upward, homeward and heavenward. Thee we shall not shun, but shall wait on and trust in unto the very end. How blessed Thou art, enriching our heaven in Thy bosom, Thy realm of righteousness, with Thy beloved—the cherished, the honoured, the revered! All the prophets and all the saints of the race, all that have toiled faithfully in Thy name here below, all that have loyally wrought Thy will in the strivings and struggles of this world, are there with no infirmities, no decrepitude of age, no failings of the flesh, to mar the increasing life with its ever-expansive hope and ever-deepening joy! How inconceivably vast, how incalculably rich, is that illimitable home, the eternal city, which admits them all as inmates and citizens! We render our thanks unto Thee, who dost reawaken in us, here amidst this dense darkness, a ray of hope, of comfort, of cheer; we render our whole-hearted thanks unto Thee. What rare legacies, what tender mementos, what cherished recollections, what uplifting ideals, what inspiring models and what encouraging guides. Thou dost leave behind with us! Even as Thou art with us, Thou art dear unto each one of us amidst the consoling, comforting, cheering memories of hope and trust inspired through the sages whose wisdom is our garnered reserve of spirit. Thou art the heart and soul of the sages. Thou art the fragrance and the aroma of their lives. The patriot and the philsopher leave us rich largesses, proofs of Thy beneficence. All these are Thy gifts. O beloved God, it is not merely compensation; but it is also real and merciful benevolence, benefaction; it is an invaluable boon and benediction which Thou lea vest with us, before Thou wouldst withdraw from us those dear and honoured ones. We render our whole-hearted thanks unto Thee.
The friend that seems to be gone but lives with us, he is now all a spirit to commune with, to assimilate and to absorb into our-selves. And this intermingling and inter-twining in spirit-communion with our comrade and co-pilgrim can become closer, dearer intenser, sweeter, only if Thy grace abides. Oh, do thou prepare us, enable us, grant us the capacity, infuse into us the spirit, to receive and to use Thy tokens, Thy gifts, that help us grow stronger, purer serener, holier even by and from this exceedingly distressing occasion. Even death revives the cherished memories, the precious reminiscences, of his life. May they abide with us I May they grow into us! Nothing fails which is blessed of Thee, which partakes of Thy spirit. May we read death as the dissolution of two for the purpose of resolution into one, of re-union in closer companionship, fuller fellowship and truer love! Do thou grant Thy beloved ones each a source of increasing life, of deeper thoughts, of finer susceptibilities, of livelier hopes, of holier aspirations. Do Thou grant unto us all this, that we may grow all our days, here and hereafter, till we close in Thy eternal love and life. This is our heart-felt prayer. Do Thou most mercifully vouch-safe unto us this, our humble prayer. Blessed, blessed, blessed, be Thy name!
Om! Brahma Krupahi Kevalam!
Om! Santhih! Santhih! Santhih!
- *In Memoriam : Mr. P. Seetharamayya (4-1-1916).