The Message and Ministrations of Dewan Bahadur R. Venkata Ratnam, volume 2/Chapter 17
SERVICE with Sermon on
THE SPIRITUAL BASIS OF HUMAN BROTHERHOOD.
Unto Him, our ever-reliable, faithful Friend ; unto Him, our supreme, sovereign Lord, we offer our praises and thanks, salutations and obeisances. Unto Him, the all-centered and the all-besetting God; Unto Him, the all-pervading and the all-controlling God ; unto Him, we render our loyal tribute of trustful and reverent adoration. Unto Him, the compassionate Witness; unto Him, the nurturing Regenerator ; unto Him, the righteous Rectifier; unto Him, the gracious Saviour ; unto Him tender we our hearts' grateful and reverent prostrations ! Blessed be His holy name ! Praised be His infinite mercy! Hallowed be His bountiful Spirit that has brought us here together. We are His humble servants, we are His trustful devotees, we are His loving children. We adore Him, we glorify Him, we rejoice in Him, that He has vouchsafed unto us—even us, lowly, insignificant creatures—this supreme privilege of looking up to Him through the irresistible drawing-power of the Lord and partaking of the sweetness of holy communion. Blessed, blessed, blessed be His name that He has thus made man after the image of His own Spirit to find his destiny and his delight in Him! In Him is our wills' strength, in Him is our minds' wealth, in Him is our hearts' joy. We call on Him as our God, our Father, our Saviour, our eternal Companion. Blessed be His name that He has thus given us this supreme blessing of adoring Him and glorifying His name!
Thou infusest Thy love into all, Thou sheddest Thy light upon all, Thou disclosest Thy way to all Thy children. Thine is the changeless Spirit which figures itself in myriad forms; Thine, the controlling power which holds apparently divergent forces in the focus of an unerring order. Man can trace neither the beginning nor the end of Thy power, the single power, the vital power, the originating power, the sustaining power. Blessed,blessed, blessed be Thy name! Thou art the imperishable reality, the eternal vital truth embracing and harmonising all the wise—all the knowing, all the informing, all the illuminating. The laws of the universe are the enunciation of Thy wise designs; the principles of philosophy are the expositions of Thy profound purposes; the researches of science are the elucidations of Thy marvellous methods through age after age and in diverse departments. The brooks with their babble, the rivers with their flow, the sun with its radiance, the rainbow with its hues, the stars with their lustre, the mountains with their serenity, the woods with their freshness—all these are testimonies unto Thy self-revealing wisdom. Every fountain is the gleam of Thy joy ; every grove, the chorus of Thy harmony; every star, the peep of Thy glory ; every flower, the bloom of Thy beauty. This extensive expanse of the universe is Thine own sacred fane,always open-doored to waft in and wave the hourly harathi of Thy praise.
Thou Ocean of mercy, inexhaustible Spring of affection, interminable Mine of compassion, our illimitable Reserve of sustenance and strength! We cast ourselves with the bounding joy of grateful hearts into Thy loving embrace, even like unto the child that is filled with the self-imparting milk from the bosom of the loving mother who, while transmitting her very substance, also infuses the love which makes life at once strong and happy, chastened and refreshed. Even as the child seeks not separation but loves to be seated on the exalted throne of the loving mother's lap, so also, fed with the holy milk of grace from Thy bosom, which rendereth the whole process of existence a growth of strength, a progress of wisdom, a pilgrimage of holiness, a triumph of joy, and even thus nurtured, fostered, developed and sanctified, we, Thy children, desire, elect, love, to abide in the lap of Thy love. Behold the universal kingdom of our Sovereign of which we are the chosen chiefs the honoured princes! Thou, our Sovereign Mother, Thou enrichest us with Thy bounties; Thou Sanctifiest us with Thy grace, We are born and reborn, time and again, in Thy love. Thus we are heirs to Thy measureless mercy. Every night we lapse into Thee With our frail imperfections; every morning we Spring up from Thee with rejuvenated beings. In sleep we are gathered into the bosom of our Mother, to be nursed with Her care and to be nerved with Her peace. In awakening, we rise with refreshed minds, with renewed hopes, with re-cheered hearts, to obtain the blessing of the Mother, to receive the behest of the Father and to rejoice in the service of the Master. With every returning day there comes fresh life right from the Spirit of the Creator. Thou art the Centre reaching forth Thy benevolence in all directions* Thou hast not placed us alone. We are inseparably associated with Thee and with all in Thee. Thou art the Lord of creation. Thou hast made no object but is a marvel of Thy goodness and glory. And of all Thy marvels, this is the most marvellous that we are trusted, honoured, anointed participators in Thy purposes, as we are evolved and matured into the full destiny of our life. With trust in Thee, with hope in Thee, with a burning desire for Thee, with a passionate yearning for Thy love, with surging, swelling thankfulness for Thy mercy, we chant the sacred prayer; Lead us out of untruth into truth; lead us out of darkness into light; lead us out of death into life eternal; Thou the self-effulgent One! Thou the all-inspiring One! Shed the cheering smile of Thy enrapturing countenance and sprinkle the honeyed dew of Thy affection on our parched hearts, that, thus strengthened, thus fortified against all aggressive temptations, thus rendered sure of foot and firm of resolve, we might do Thy will and sing Thy praise for evermore. This is our most humble supplication. Do Thou graciously respond unto it.
Thou our Warrant and our Guide, do Thou grant unto us the priceless joy and grace of some little, some quivering hope of direct, invigorating, thrilling communion with Thy Holy Spirit. This is our supreme need on this solemn occasion. Do Thou mercifully grant it unto us.
Let us for a while think of Him and think unto Him this thought that He hath, in His great mercy, granted unto us a glimpse of His saving, sanctifying truth, by which alone it is possible to know the Custodian of all truth, the Master of all truth, the Sovereign of all truth, the Revealer of all truth.
Here is a verse from the Yajur-Veda Aranyaka: "The Brahman is the inner Soul of all existence." To begin with, it is noteworthy that this verse is as age-long as the most ancient of scriptures. Is this not a convincing proof that religion is not restricted to one age or to one country—not the privilege of one chosen people or the monopoly of one favoured realm? It is eternal as the Truth of God, universal as the Love of God. In the dim hoary past when the civilisation of the world was yet in its infancy, the blessed rishi, illumined by the Spirit, was enabled to perceive His glory and to sing it rapturously, not as the feeble echo of a reported truth, but as the oracular voice of a realised experience. My brethren, the Brahman is the very inner Soul seated in the hearts of all objects even as every crystal consists of particles symmetrically clustered around a central axis with its forces of attraction and cohesion; even as in every organism the centre is the nucleus containing not merely the force around which additions might gather but also the living, cohering power which draws and holds together all the congenial accretions in the upgrowth of the microscopic speck of vital life. The Lord now sends forth, with the impulse of His own Spirit, myriads of created objects; and again He resumes them into Himself—not to annihilate but to cherish, not to wipe out but to conserve, not to engulf but to regenerate. Thus we are daily at the close of a great cycle with the in-coming of night, and again we are at the beginning of a new cycle with the returning dawn of light. As in the study of science and even in the pursuit of philosophy, with their more or less limited quest for immediate causes; as in the visions of poetry, with its intuitive attraction for some select, favourite features of a more or less soul-suffusing emotion; as in the endeavours of art to shift the concrete charm on to the canvas, so too, in the daily routine of the work-a-day world, we place ourselves at every point within hedge and fence, partition and division. We lose ourselves in the labyrinth of abstract laws, content with immediate antecedents—connected links of phenomenal sequence. We forget, in the midst of man-made theories, that the central vitality is God Himself. As the child is but the child reproduced, as the friend is but the 'alter ego'—'the other self,' as the disciple is but the preceptor rejuvenated, as the harvest is but the seed manifolded, even so the universe is the offspring—the creation and the companion, the expansion and the harmony of the supreme Spirit-God. He is not merely a distant driving-power but the ever-present, immediate, inmost vitality. God is the plan and the purpose, the essential and enduring reality, behind this ever-unfolding scene called creation. Let us realise it as a literal fact that even now my tongue could not speak, the other organs of speech could not form the modulations to which we give the name of language, the atmospheric throbs of undulation could not carry my humble utterance to your receptive minds, my feeble expressions could not find a sympathetic response in your valuable experience, but for the direct working, nay, the personal presence, of the Universal Witness in our souls through the whole round of these seemingly trivial transactions. When the sages described Him as the Sarvantharyamin, they did not closet or confine Him at the centre of innumerable ramparts and fortifications, there to be segregated and thus shut out from our daily doings. In all our diversified activities, He precedes us, accompanies us, follows us, hovers over us, encompasses, underlies, permeates us. In the beat of the heart, in the wink of the eye, in the movement of the tongue, in the sensitiveness of touch, in the swing of the limb, in the delights of fragrance, in the charms of beauty, in the resolves of the will, in the aspirations of the soul—everywhere the Lord is the inspiration; the Lord is the effectuation; the Lord is the in-coming impulse; the Lord is the out-going endeavour; the Lord is the concluding ratification; the Lord is the cheering benediction. We misbelieve, we delude ourselves, when we talk of the laws of science and their compelling rule. The patient probings of the searching student, the thrilling raptures of the sensitive artist, the selfless services of the generous philanthropist, the piercing insight of the mystic seer—all originate in, all emerge from, all converge towards, all terminate in, the supreme God. As the centre of a circle is not the point which shows the distance of one part from another but really that focus from which proceed the countless lines comprised within and constituting the complete circuit so the Lord is the centre as well as the circumference of the full circle of life. The Lord in His sanctified Self is present in the inner soul, aye, seated in the very heart of every created being. As the good sovereign on the throne, apparently isolated and seemingly detached and unconcerned, is yet the source, the fountain-head, the central sanctum of authority and the sole stay and the supreme strength of the realm, even so the supreme Lord is seated in the inner core of all created beings; and from Him wells up and flows forth all vitalising spirit. He is not the mere ruler that issues orders and lets things have their own play; He is not the mere teacher who imparts hints to the pupil and leaves him to Work out the solution; He is mot merely the skilled artist who sketches the design, and expects his humbler workmen to rear the edifice; He is not even the parent who apportions his or her life to the offspring and gradually consigns it to its own care. He is the ever-pressut, direct, immediate personal, controlling Power. Yes! Therein lies the intimacy, the immediacy of God's presence, control «and authority. From that place to this He has, in very fact, moved me to come to you. It has pleased Him to prompt you all to meet me, as a humble, trembling, erring exponent of this great truth today* He has desired that grain unto grain be attached in the plank on which we are seated. He has ordered that particle with particle be connected to make the floor on which we stand. He has arranged that layer upon layer be put into the spherical compact of this earth. Lastly, He has ordained that the whole fraternity of spirits do become one in Him.
Therein consists the religious gospel of brotherhood. All creatures become one in Him, as all children become one in the mother. If brother holds to brother, if sister clings to sister, if brother and sister embrace each the other, it is all because of, it is as they all become one in, the mother. The love which the mother remits, seemingly separate and distributive, is really conjoint and unitive. All the children gather themselves into one sweet concourse within the wonb whence they have successively been shaped into being, on the bosom from which they have successively drawn the very elixir of life, around the arms within which they have successively been enfolded, upon the lap whereon they have successively sported, and in the home where-in they have successively been cradled into joy and nurtured into vigour. She nurses the helpless babe into the attempting child, strengthens the timid child into the confident youth, and matures the confident youth into the dutiful house-holder. This blessing of the Spirit-Mother makes all brothers and sisters one in Her. The controlling authority of the teacher, the comprehensive instruction of the teacher, the unifying affection of the teacher, in a word, the central personality of the teacher, makes one body of the class-members around the teacher in their growth into life-long companionship, aye, in several cases, into eternal co-pilgrimage. As the children in the home become one in the mother, as the disciples in the class become one in the teacher, as the subjects in the state become one in the sovereign, we become one in the Lord—not merely that we become one for the Lord, not that we become one through the Lord, not that we become one with the Lord, but that we become one in the Lord. We are thus pervaded and environed by the Divine Spirit and fused into one compact, inseparable, indissoluble brotherhood— not co-operation of resources, not division of labour, not contract between mutual help-mates, but unification—complete oneness—-in the Spirit, albeit occassionally suppressed by tyranny, enfeebled by indifference, blindfolded by ignorance or atrophied by insensibility. We are primarily one, because He has created us one. We are essentially one, because we are moulded of the same substance. We are eternally one, because 'all are the undying offspring of one Sire', not merely 'but parts of one stupendous whole'. Herein lies the real truth, the central truth, of our spiritual life. Our brotherhood is not the brotherhood of the many grouped together as one, as is the ordinary notion of brotherhood. It is not the brotherhood of diverse elements knit together, but the brotherhood of the multifarious emerging out of the One; not the brotherhood of several notes mingling into one strain, but the brotherhood of many offshoots from one parent-stock; not the brotherhoot of several workmen labouring in one field or factory, but the brotherhood of the many disciples germinating from the spiritual seed-plot of a single Preceptor.
Oh Thou Antharyamin, Sarvantharyamin, we are all one in Thee. We cannot, care not, will not, dare not to seek to express in words what Thou art unto us all and what we are unto one another in Thee; we are happy in the bliss of its experience. Do Thou increasingly deepen and heighten, strengthen and sweeten in us this sense of oneness with Thee and in Thee. Blessed, blessed, blessed be Thou and Thy name, now and for ever!
Om! Santhih! Santhih! Santhih!