Ans: It is not that certain things are lower truths while some others are higher truths. All things can be seen as relatively lower or higher truths. It depends on how rightly we see them. When we see anything merely in its external aspect, only at the surface, our knowledge of the thing is imperfect. That is called a lower truth. The deeper we go into the substance of things without getting stuck up at the external appearance, the more we understand their real nature. That is, our knowledge becomes more complete, less imperfect.
Mans journey in gaining right knowledge thus passes through innumerable gradations of correctness. None of these can be outright dismissed as an error. It is a journey toward more and more correct understanding of life and of the world. So, as we make progress, we understand the truth better and better, our conceptions become finer and broader, our outlook becomes more comprehensive than before.
For instance, Newtonian physics is not an error, but the theories of Einstein provide an even better understanding of the universe. Still physics does not end with Einstein, it moves further for more complete understanding. Similarly, when we see man as a body-mind complex, we are at a lower truth. But if we proceed further to realize the real nature of man, which is infinite love and purity, we see a higher truth. That spirit of forward movement for more comprehensive ideas of truth should be pursued until one is able to grasp the highest truth which is Brahman, though everyone may not agree to accept this.
Ans : We dont have and we are not sorry that we dont have such work. Do you think every work can be seen from outside, can be caught, measured, weighed, and valued? Everything can be valued, of course, in some way, but the valuation may not always be in dollars, rupees, etc. Certain things have only qualitative values. Then, how can you value the work of the Mahamandal? It will be valued on the basis of the number of proper human beings who have come up through this work. It is not like building schools, colleges, libraries, etc. or construction of factories with some materials. This is a new thing; no other organization has ever done it. So it is difficult to understand its value. How will people measure the work the Mahamandal has been doing?
It has to be seen whether proper men are coming up or not through this work. Yes, in the last forty years men of proper character are coming out of this work, and if it is continued, more men will come.
Those who are working in the Mahamandal and conducting all its activities, wherefrom have they come? They were not recruited with advertisements in the newspapers, they did not apply, interviews were not taken, they were not selected, appointment letters were not given. All of them came of their own accord. They offered themselves, their time and energy, for the work, because they could understand the value of this work. So, it is to be understood that all work cannot be identical. The nature or method of assessment cannot be the same everywhere.
Concrete action for social welfare is organized on a huge scale by the governments and on a much smaller scale by many associations and institutions. Huge sums are pumped in for all these, much of which vanishes into thin air.
It is the want of character that leads to the failure of schemes meant for the deprived. Therefore, the work of character-building is the fundamental work, without which all else is bound to fail.
However, the Mahamandal units organize many social service activities throughout the year in accordance with the means available to them and the needs of the people in and around their localities. Through such work they get a scope to develop feeling for others and an urge to serve others. They learn to work without selfish motives, to plan properly and work efficiently in an organized manner. This forms a part of our training programme for the youth. So, the quantum of external work is not at all important in this scheme.
Ans : We are not for it. Nowadays there are so many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) supposed to be serving the poor. If we have any information about our society and about what is going on throughout the world, we know that hundreds of such NGOs have been blacklisted for defalcation of funds meant for the poor.
They go to the poor to do some social service, and in the name of social service many of them indulge in stealing money and all sorts of corruption. Somehow big funds come into their hands, and they start work often for their personal financial gain.
We are not so foolish that, without building our character first, we shall collect some young men and go out to do some social work.
If we try to help the people without having built our character, we shall misuse our energy without accomplishing anything worthwhile, without any real development. That will have no value. Sometimes people will appreciate us, news- paper journalists will come, TV people may come, and they may take our photographs. That may satisfy our ego, but nothing more than this. It is not a suggestion that can be tried out, at least in the Mahamandal.
Ans : Many things have to be discussed to give a complete answer to your question, but here we don't have enough time. Swamiji did not actively take part in the freedom movement. Actually in his life time the freedom movement was yet to begin. Swamiji said that, if India were to get freedom immediately, there were too few proper men to protect it or realize its value. So Swamiji stressed on man-making as the foremost necessity for national rebuilding. Within a few years after the passing away of Swamiji the freedom movement began. Many historians have recognized his indirect influence on this movement. In America, England, and India, Swamiji made people aware of the condition of India under British rule with information and analyses. There is no doubt that he awakened the whole of India from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari, which was under foreign control. He taught his countrymen to love the Motherland, to love her poor, ignorant, oppressed children, to forget self and dedicate life for their uplift, and to gather courage to break the chain of foreign control. He inspired many national leaders and freedom fighters as a voice without a form. Yet, no national leader realized that the first duty to be accomplished was the making of men selfless, fearless, courageous following the ideal placed before us by Swamiji.
They did not understand that that way independence could be achieved easily. So they discovered different methods initially to achieve some degree of self-governance and later for complete independence. Subhas Chandra Bose was the only exception, who delved in the struggle for complete independence with Swamijis ideal in his heart. But neither Swamiji nor Subhas Chandra preached the message of a non-violent movement.
So, in spite of the well documented fact that the courage of the Indian Nation Army under the leadership of Netaji Subhas expedited our independence, their contribution was ignored in the government-sponsored history of Indian freedom struggle written after Independence.
Now the governments and the political parties are paying lip service to his memory and at the same time doing their best to hide facts about his disappearance and the events thereafter. They still play down the contribution of the INA. And, of course, they never understood Swamijis message. But people can no more be fooled by the garlanding of Gandhijis memorials and the rhetoric of non-violence, while political murders go on unabated. So, politicians of all hues are now taking the name of Swamiji to prove their credentials of honesty, patriotism, and sympathy for the downtrodden.
Ans : Every man is the soul identified what does it mean? An expression of soul this is what you mean. Again, Shastras say, Aham Brahmasmi: I am Brahman. That is to say, every individual soul is also Brahman. Then what is the relation between the soul and Brahman? Brahma is the name of the Creator just imaginary the Shastrakar imagined so. Brahman, on the other hand, is the essence of everything. It is the essence of all what exists.
The Shastras say, Brahma created the whole world. He wished that there be a world, and the world appeared. Sthitamchikirshu He also whished that it be maintained. For that he created people and the true leaders of mankind. This is how this has been described in the Shastras.
But Brahman means: not one element, not all other elements, but the real, eternal substance of all elements which make everything that exists.
I think you understand this. Brahman is the most essential element out of which this whole world has come into existence, has been created, as I say. So, in reality every being is also Brahman. The relation is this: that is the source. What then is the relation between the soul and Brahman?
The soul is just a flicker of that eternal Brahman. Just a spark, if you imagine Brahman is a big fire. An individual soul, the soul that is in every being, is just a spark of that eternal soul. By nature it is of the same kind, non-different. Different souls are not different things. All are sparks of that eternal soul, Brahman. This is the relation: they are manifestations or expressions of the whole which is Brahman.
Ans : In the training camps of the Mahamandal you get something extra that you dont get in your school or college education and in many cases not even from your home. Many such things, useful and necessary things, are in plenty here. So, if you can take a little and make use of it, your knowledge will grow, your heart will expand, your physical power will increase, you will be able to do something for the people. The qualities of your character will improve. So, here you get the methods of becoming a real man, a genuine man, a full man. That is the training you are getting here. We can say that you will find it nowhere else. And the material that you will get in the books published by the Mahamandal is not available from any other source. Here in our camps you get the practical demonstration of how to gain these things how to gain the power. Now, of course, it is up to you to make use of these ideas. Now, let us come to your second question briefly.
Practise mental concentration twice daily, and gradually you will see how you can catch the idea and make use of that. For that, you have heard, we shall try to fix the mind on something good and precious, something you love most, something that you have the greatest respect for. We can say, without any fear of being contradicted by anybody, that to us, at least, Swamiji is the inspiration. So we may fix our mind on Swami Vivekananda. You may just place a photo or a small idol or anything good in front of you, or within your mind also you can do that. But if you keep something outside and then try to fix your mind on that, you will gradually see that, after some time, something outside will not be necessary.
Whenever you think of Sri Ramakrishna, the Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi or Swami Vivekananda, the figure will be before your eyes, not outside, but somewhere inside. We have a pair of eyes of see things outside, and we have at least one third eye, as it were, to see things inside of our mind. It is not very difficult. Any time you can see things you love, admire, and respect. Any vision you can bring to your mind.
But dont be in a hurry. Slowly, gradually, go on practising, and then, when you find that you can fix your mind on a small picture or idol of Swami Vivekananda or something else outside, you can try it inside. Some of you, at least, must have gone through the life of Sri Ramakrishna. There was a house beside the Dakshineshwar temple, where there was a picture of Mother Mary with Child Jesus in her lap. When Sri Ramakrishna went there and saw it, he had a vision that Child Jesus came down to him. It was not a miracle, it happened. Whether the child came down from the picture is not important. It is your mind which sees things. So, if you go on putting your mind on the portrait of Swami Vivekananda or someone else or something else of your choice daily in the morning and evening, do it very sincerely everyday, without fail, at least twice daily. Gradually you will see that it will become so easy. As soon as you think of Swami Vivekananda, you will see his face, his postures, his manliness. All these things will be before your eyes. If you go on doing it again and again, power will grow in you. With that power you will be able to do the most impossible things, you will be able serve the Motherland in a great way. What is impossible for you today will become very much possible, even easy to accomplish, tomorrow. So, this is the way to manifest your power.
Ans : It is in the nature of man to get attracted to beautiful things which he wants to enjoy. But it is not necessarily so, it depends on the condition of our mind, the make up of our mind. Minds of different persons are constituted differently. Some tendencies are more prominent in some people and weaker in others. So, getting attracted to beautiful things also depends on the composition of the mind, which will naturally follow the tendencies it has already acquired knowingly or unknowingly. The ordinary man is by nature inclined to selfish enjoyment, which slowly make him weaker and more selfish and ultimately bring sorrow.
However, the direction can be reversed by proper training. That is the training we are trying to have at our camps, so that we can change these tendencies. Tendencies grow through our experiences and choices throughout our life.
As we do not care to control them consciously, they grow automatically with time, almost without any conscious monitoring. By using the methods of character building, mental concentration, and the method of discrimination between the good and the bad,
we have to move further towards assimilating good ideas and grow good habits, good propensities. Otherwise the mind will go in its own way. We will then be servants of our natural tendencies which have automatically grown up. That will bring about very unfortunate results in our life in the long run. So, we have to reshape these propensities, which will also lead to further improvement of our whole character, because character is nothing but the sum-total of all our propensities, that is, all the mental tendencies.
Ans : Here by heart we dont mean the blood pumping machine set inside the cage of the chest. It is the heart where we have our emotions and feelings, love and affection, and the urge for service. When we love others without expecting any return, it is true love. The function of the heart is to love truly and feel others happiness and sorrow intensely. The heart is known through its functions. We dont know anything about its physical existence, just as in case of the mind. Heart is the most important element in the personality of man. It is where the quality of a man in its wholeness may be felt. Swamiji said that intellect cannot go very far. It is through the heart that inspiration comes. He said, Feel, my children, feel. Feel like Buddha and you will be a Buddha.
Feel like Christ and you will be a Christ. The aim of life is to expand the heart, to make it as broad as the whole world of all humans, all animals, and the rest. We need balanced development of the body, the mind, and the heart through proper nourishment and exercise. Nourishment comes from what we take from outside and assimilate. Exercise is the repeated use of ones limbs and mind with the energy gained through nourishment.
To develop the heart, we get wonderful impetus from studying the life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda, by thinking of him, and by trying to feel his heart throbs. Exercise can be done in two ways. One is: mentally visualizing all as my own and earnestly praying for their all round wellbeing. May everybody be happy and pure, may they not suffer, etc.
The other is actual work or service with an unselfish motive. When we work for the people who are in distress, we get an opportunity to feel their sufferings in real situations and learn to sacrifice little by little for them. This can be done individually in our everyday life and also in an organized manner. If we sincerely apply these methods regularly, along with other methods for the development of the body and the mind, we shall find within a short time that our heart is really expanding, that we have started to feel deeply for others. One word of caution. Beware of uncontrolled emotions, called emotionalism, which is superficial, transitory, and destructive. The test is: real love will always bring more strength and purity.
Ans : The first thing to know in this matter is that you cannot instil anything into the student from outside. You can only awaken from outside what is already within the student. Even then, if you tell him, I am the teacher and you are the student; I am calling you up, so you must wake up, that will not do. But if the teacher sincerely loves him, that love would knock and open the gates of the students heart. Teachers or those who think they teach others often make this mistake of underestimating the potentials of the student, often consider them as ignorant, foolish, and insignificant beings. So their calls cannot rouse any response in the students heart. Their efforts become futile. The teacher ought to learn to respect the student and sincerely love him. He must realize that he is not separate from but one with the student. That realization of the teacher would expedite the students progress, the waking up of his potentials. Now, to gain that capability the teacher has to be pure.
We find in our ancient shastras: the acharya, having been observing brahmacharya, praying that students come to him. To teach others in the true sense, one must be pure. Unless the teachers life is such, no amount of endeavour would ever rouse the student up. Why is the present education not efficacious? Why do we say that the schools, colleges, and universities are not able to make proper men or to build character?
A report from 19 eminent academicians in the US on the education system in vogue there analysed the terrible degradation even in the US universities and opined that education failed to mould the young minds in the right way and that it failed to develop their character. How to do it then? The teachers must mould their own minds properly first. Swamiji said, The training by which the current and expression of will are brought under control and become fruitful is called education.
Swamiji defined education in various ways, but here what he said is very much important: the current of willpower must be brought under control, one should be able to express in the right manner, and that expression must bear the desired result. That will bring all success whether in big undertakings or in small actions. So, the main thing, the root, is here: this willpower. Without it, neither the teacher can achieve anything, nor the student. If the teacher is not a man of character, pure and sincere, such life cannot be transmitted to the student. For the call of awakening comes not from talk, but from life. A pure life alone can inspire another life to blossom with purity. An enlightened life alone can light up another heart. So, that light must be lit within me, before I can enlighten others. We say there is no better teacher than Sri Ramakrishna or Swami Vivekananda, for they gave the real education to humanity. How could they do so? Their lives were absolutely pure, and thus they could transmit it to others. So, that is the fundamental method of education.
Ans : Mind is something within us with the help of which we know, think, recognize, analyse, determine, imagine, and desire, and so on. We make a determination and spend some energy to accomplish any work. There must be an instrument inside us, which is used for all such functions. What exactly is it? What is its material? There is no answer to these questions. Nobody knows what it is. Nobody knows what it is made of. It cannot be perceived through our senses. So we can only say that it is a set of functions of something very fine. It is not possible to know anything about the physical existence of this internal instrument. But we are sure of its existence, because there must be something where thinking, analyzing, imagining, etc. go on all the time, something which we employ for gaining knowledge and for willing. Mind is something that does all these activities.
The mind cannot be sensed or caught in the hand or with any instrument. It is something ethereal, it is not gross matter. The actual material out of which it is made is not known. It is not possible to know that. It is a fine material, we may say, very fine beyond our ken. Even if you go to a psychologist or a psychiatrist, he cannot tell you what your mind is. But he can observe the workings of your mind through your behaviours, your movements.
I had the misfortune or good fortune, I dont know, to take a boy, a psychiatric patient, to a psychiatrist. When he started to question the young boy, the patient, the latter said to him, You are asking me about my mind. But first tell me: what is mind? The psychiatrist kept silent.
Nobody, not even a psychiatrist, can define mind. But, in an indirect way we can understand the mind. It is known through its functions. What are the functions? To elucidate, to appreciate, to understand the nature of things, to distinguish between the good and the bad, to take resolutions, to wake up ones urge strong enough to materialize what one thinks. This is mind. Mind is the greatest possession of man. Mana eva manushyanam karanam bandha-mokshayoh the mind is the cause of bondage for man, and it the cause of liberation also. Both bondage and freedom exist only in the mind. When one can bring it under control, one becomes free. He whose mind is under perfect control has conquered the world. Such is the importance of mind.
Ans : Swamiji did not give a set of separate opinions for each separate religion. His Master, Sri Ramakrishna, showed the harmony of all religions through his life and message for the first time in the history of the world. At least, we dont know about any other instance before him in this regard. Swami Vivekananda was trained up by him, and the complete man that finally appeared in the form of Vivekananda was certainly his creation. So, Swamiji also looked upon all religions as true. He also knew that there are good ideas in each of them, and that the essence of all religions is the same. Sri Ramakrishna not only said so, but also practised so many religions originated in India and foreign lands in his life. He took them up one by one, practically applied their teachings in his life, and thus, like a scientist in the realm of religion, proved in the laboratory of his heart that each of them is true and ultimately leads to the same goal. He took up Islam, Christianity, and various religious paths of the so-called Hinduism for practice. The word Hinduism came in vogue from wrong usage. So, we dont use this word, though some may dislike our opinion. The word, Hindu, does not appear in any of shastras, the ancient sacred books of India. It is neither in the four Vedas, nor in the Upanishads, nor in the Ramayana or the Mahabharata. It is nowhere. In later times, when the Persians came to the Indus valley from the land now called Iran, they marvelled at the art and architecture, philosophy and religion, etc. of the valley. They referred to all these by the name of the major river of the valley, Sindhu (called Indus by the Greek). But they could not pronounce Sindhu. Persians pronounced ha in place of Sanskrit sa. So, they pronounced Sindhu as Hindu. And thus the word came into the ordinary parlance of common people. In the beginning it meant Indian. Later it was used to refer to the traditional religious ideas and practices of India. Thus it is also confusing to use the word.
So, we would shun the word altogether. Swamiji explained it in three of his lectures delivered in India. The term, Hindu, does not clearly mean anything, but people are shouting for or against Hinduism or the Hindus. That is completely ludicrous. Now, through all those practices Sri Ramakrishna realized that there is one real thing, the Sat-vastu, in all of us, and that That can be realized through any of these religions. Sat means that which really exists. It is never born or created; it never dies or gets destroyed. It never changes. There is no trace of imperfection in It. It is variously called God, Allah, Bhagavan, etc., and That alone really exists.
There were some who, through intellectual efforts, found that God, Allah or Bhagavan are similar and not antagonistic or competing ideas. But Sri Ramakrishna alone realized in his heart, by actually practising all those religions, that these are but different names for the same Truth. Swamiji preached the same truth. In a letter he explained the potential harm in using such words as Hinduism, Christianity, etc. at present, as such usage would generate communal hatred. There he said: My master used to say that these names, as Hindu, Christian, etc., stand as great bars to all brotherly feelings between man and man. We must try to break them down first. They have lost all their good powers and now only stand as baneful influences under whose black magic even the best of us behave like demons. But we do not listen to them. We talk in terms of Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and so on and argue for or against them. It is far better to accept one of them and actually apply its teachings in our life, so that we can rise higher and higher in life, so that we can have more and more of real wisdom. Religion, taken in this spirit, unfolds in us the higher possibilities of life, makes us great and good. That is why religion is superior to all other essential things of life and society. That is why religion is primary and all else is secondary. Most of us have gross misconception about religion. Real religion does not stand for temples, mosques, and churches. It is not in the holy books like the Vedas, the Koran or the Bible. To be good and to do good that is the whole of religion, Swamiji said. The word, religion, has several connotations. One is dharma. It is very important for us. It means that which holds us up and saves us from falling down. Thus the Mahabharata says: Dharanat dharmamityahurdharmo dharayate prajah / Yad-syad-dharana-samyuktam sa dharmamiti uchyate.
So, it is not about this or that religion. Well has it been said:
Sarvesham yah suhrnnityam sarvesham cha hite ratah / Karmana manasa vacha sa dharmam veda jajale.
One who is friendly to all and always doing good to all through his thought, word, and deed knows what dharma really is. So, let us not search religion in external symbols and rituals and books and temples. These may be a little helpful for the beginners in some cases, or these may give us a sense of ethnic identity, but these are not essential parts of religion. And all dissention between religions and all fanaticism and bigotry are the outcomes of confusing these external things with real religion. Sri Ramakrishna related a beautiful story, which is in the Mahabharata with a little variation. We generally think that the Mahabharata is the story of the competing cousins, Kurus and Pandavas, and the War of Kurukshetra, while the Ramayana is just the story of Rama and Sita and the War of Lanka. We have very little opportunity to come across the essential ideas presented through these great epics. Anyway, thus the story goes: A man went into a forest for hard spiritual practices. One day, while he was meditating under a tree, a crane sitting on that tree excreted, and the extreta fell on his head. The man got very angry, and as soon as he stared at the bird, it was burnt into ashes! So, this man became very happy and boastful. He thought: See, I have gained so much of miraculous power by meditating in the forest. Now he went out for begging alms and entered a village. He came in front of a house and commanded, Here is a Mahatma in front of your house. Do bring alms. A female voice came from inside: Wait a while, please. I am busy discharging an important duty. As soon as I finish, I shall come with alms. The conceited hermit would not wait. He got vexed, and he asked, Do you know who I am? The lady retorted, I am not a crane! Now this man was taken aback: how this ordinary housewife comes to know all that had happened in the forest? He was humbled. So he waited patiently for the lady. She came out after some time and apologized for her delay, explaining that her husband was just in after the days hard work and that it was her duty to look after his comfort first. The hermit was amazed and he earnestly requested her to teach him true religion. But she said she was an ordinary woman and if he wanted such instructions, he should better visit a butcher at a nearby market. This man went to the butcher, who too kept him waiting for finishing his daily work, cleaning his body, and then serving his aged parents. Then he retired and taught the hermit. The two beautiful verses I quoted a little back were from these teachings of the butcher. So, that is real religion, and nothing in our life is greater than that.
Ans : The Mahamandals aim is to build a good society, healthy society, of people who have hearts full of love, sympathy, compassion, and the urge to serve others. Our task is to make this sort of men in a large number, so that they become the majority in the society. Today if you look at our society, it is in a very bad shape. Worst possible shape our society has taken, not only in India, but almost in every country. In the past this country was so nice, so beautiful. But, first of all, India has been trisected. When we were school students, what a beautiful India we saw! One India! When we finished Class X and were waiting for the final examination, we heard that India was going to be free. It had been ruled by the foreigners for a long time, for centuries. It was going to be liberated. What a beautiful thing! Our geography teacher used to hang the map of India on a blackboard. How beautiful it appeared to us. It looked like the physique of the Mother, our Motherland. We used to worship the Mother. And the Mother was trisected. Greed and love of power threw those men who descended on our people to declare, We are your leaders, we will save you, we will do everything. And they trisected India into Pakistan, East Pakistan, and the rest, the middle part that we now call India. The India of ancient times was so big. The Burma side, as you see in the map, used to appear before me as the end part of the clothes of my mother, that stretched towards the Bay of Bengal. It was the idol of the Mother. But these people cut her into pieces, just as beasts are cut into pieces to be devoured. Of what is left, you know the condition. The sole objective of the privileged is to make more and more money and to ensure more and more sense-pleasure at the cost of others. You will find very little fair deeds around you. Foul means are adopted everywhere with impunity to satisfy desires. Such is the condition. This should not be tolerated.
We should something to bring about a change, a revolutionary change. Not changes of roads, airports, sea-ports more ships, more aircrafts, more flyovers, more highways, and so on. Not just these things. These have become more important now than human lives. But the most important thing is: human beings are being neglected. What sort of education are we giving to our young men? From Calcutta University to Oxford University, scores of Ph.D. papers are partly or fully stolen from others. A professor was appointed in a university in West Bengal. To become a university professor, Ph.D. is required. But he had no Ph.D. After twenty years it came to be known that he had only submitted a thesis in a foreign university, but did not get a Ph.D. We will have our education from such persons who do not even have honesty.
All problems of our country boil down to this simple assertion: we have too few men of character. The solution is, therefore, man-making. This idea of the Mahamandal should be pushed into the hearts of the youth with the ideal of Swami Vivekananda. He came to lift mankind, to lift India. He worked for the whole world. He realized the supreme Truth and illuminated the human mind of the world. And his appeal was mainly to the young men to work for the sake of their life, for the sake of India as well as the world. So, we have expectations from you, young men of India. Build your lives on a strong ground, with a broad heart, a keen intellect, a strong physique. Acquire right knowledge, and with the feelings of your broad heart, translate those great ideas into action in society for the welfare of all from the richest to the poorest, from the educated to the ignorant. You will have to be men first. The body must be strong, and there must be restraint. But by body only men are not built. Is the heart like that of a beast or of a man or of a devata? That is the real test of manhood.
All the sorrows and sufferings of the world will be yours. With the help of the body and mind you will always do good to all. Your constant prayer will be for the wellbeing of all. If you have some wealth, a part of it will be given to those who have not. This type of young men is requiredin large numbers. To understand this nobody is there either in the government or in the political parties. This meditation, this dream, is there in nobody. Young men have to come forward and fulfill this dream. In this training camp, you are 1309 this year from so many States of India. You have taken all the troubles to come to this small village, where there is no proper connecting road even. Why? To listen to something very important. We are sure you will not get these ideas anywhere else. There are so many organizations religious, cultural, political. Nowhere will you hear these ideas. So, it is our good fortune that we have been able to came here and exchange our ideas. If you really like these ideas, accept them in such a way that you can translate them into action in your life.
One should learn to live for others, not for oneself. One who lives for oneself is like a beast. Those who want to be men will live for others. Our strength, knowledge, wealth everything will be used for the good of others. In short, this is the aim of the Mahamandal.
Ans : Certainly, it is not relevant now in the sense it was in the past. But we still need the ideals that worked through the system. Todays students cannot go to the forest and live with a Guru. But they should try to follow the ideal of the brahmacharya ashrama. Brahmacharya means restraint in life, purity in thought, word, and deed, and conserving the physical and mental energy for appropriate use. Right use of our energy means applying it for good purposes. Otherwise it would automatically go wrong. That is the present relevance this ideal. We should concentrate on the core ideas instead of the external forms. After the student life many would naturally opt for a family life, the garhasthya ashrama. That should be founded on righteousness and discipline, so that it can be devoted to the welfare of many people. Later on, perhaps the attachments of family life will diminish. That is the spirit of vanaprastha. At a still later stage perhaps it would occur to some that enough of familial duties were done. A sense of detachment comes. Selfish desires become less and less. Perhaps one is now telling the young men of ones locality about Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda and getting involved in some work for the good of others.
That is: there is a touch of the sannyasa ashrama, even while one is at home. How is varna relevant? The actual concept is: if my intelligence does not work, if I can only earn my bread by physical labour, and if my demand grows more and more I have the life of a shudra. Shall we spend the life in this way? It cannot be. There is an infinite ocean of power, knowledge, and bliss within me. I can see everybody as my own and work for the good of all.
Why should I not be able to do anything beyond physical labour? To organize training camps boys of the Mahamandal in some places arrange for the money by working as daily wage labourers. The physical aspect of the work is apparently shudras. But they do it with the intelligence of the brahmana. That is what we need today. Let everyone do ones own duty, but let it be done with the intelligent outlook of the brahmana. Thus a new dimension will be added to the work, resulting in the good of all.
The power of the brahmana, coming from his inner apprehension of the truth, is brahma-teja. The valour and practical efficiency of the kshatriya is kshatra-virya. If these two come together, the gods dwell there happily and shower their blessings say the Vedas. That means, the life, the family, and the society of such people become the abode of goodness, happiness, and prosperity. Whether we are labourers or farmers or something else by occupation, we have no reason not to acquire such intelligence, knowledge, wisdom, and feeling, along with practical efficiency. The country will rise, if we can develop ourselves in this way. And in that sense the ideals of varnaand ashrama are still valid.
Ans : The answer to the last part of your question is an emphatic no. Do you know about hawkers? They move from one place to another and shout: This is my article very good and very cheap. The Mahamandal is like hawkers. The task of the Mahamandal is to visit every house, every village, and every town to give this vidya, this idea. In the beginning the Mahamandal had very few centres. Now you see, in 12 States of India about 250 centres have come up. In every centre some 30 to 80 members may be there. They are working through the centres in their localities, villages or towns or cities, and the people living in the surrounding areas are also getting the idea. It is possible for the local people to get acquainted with these ideas, because the centres are working there. Others do not have an opportunity to hear about the ideas. The results are palpable when these centres are there. There are no political leaders or famous persons with us.
We are all very simple people, householders, many not with much of education, but I feel the only secret of success is sincerity, the proper understanding of the idea, and intense determination to work it out.
And there is no other organization on the same line of work. There are thousands of institutions and societies. But what is going on? Have a piece of land, make a building, and arrange lectures and music etc., and so on. What is the result of all that? We are listening, but remaining as before. Remember what Swamiji told us: You listen to the lectures with rapt attention, you praise the speaker, and after you go home and have your dinner, you digest all that you have heard along with the ingested food nothing is retained. This type of effort can neither make men nor build the nation.
The Mahamandal has an altogether different approach, which was suggested by Swami Vivekananda. We have a clearly defined goal and a detailed plan of action. We offer training and literature particularly suitable for the youths. Simplicity of the ideas and of the language expressing them is the watchword. All emphasis is on implementation of the ideas in our everyday life. Our life and character should be such that others will be charged, and that is the way to spread the idea. That way it is very difficult. In the case of the Mahamandal, the hawker that shouts should be character itself. Remember Swamijis words: Neither money pays, nor name, nor fame, nor learning; it is character that can cleave through adamantine walls of difficulties.
Ans : The soul does not enter our body. Amused? Now be serious. Be silent and think deeply for a while what is really meant by the soul or atman. The atman and the jivatman are not two different things. The atman manifested in a jiva or living being is called jivatman. It is also essentially the same as the Paramatman. Brahman is also That. Bhagavan or God is an aspect of Brahman. These words have a little difference in exact connotations. But, in a simple way, all of them stand for the same thing. The difference lies in the angle from which we see the same Truth. The Truth is but one. In colloquial terms a thing means something like brick, wood, stone, etc. Actually a thing is whatever we can think of. If we are able to conceive something mentally, it is called a thing.
The thing which is eternal, which has neither birth nor death, which has no change, no modification, is the real and fundamental thing, out of which everything else comes. It is variously called Brahman, Atman, Bhagavan, etc. It appears or manifests Itself as the universe with all its material things and living beings. You may describe it in so many ways, but all that we see in this universe are Its different manifestations only.
This is the central idea of the philosophical thoughts of our country. There is no question of a soul entering a body, because there is nothing but the soul.
This table and everything else that we see are different forms of the soul, and we are also the soul. Sri Ramakrishna said: God is the only thing. In other words, all things are in reality God. And the soul is God. So, the body and mind of human beings are also different manifestations of the soul. The degree of manifestation is different in different things. It is the least in matter, more in living beings, even more in human beings, and the most in pure and selfless men and women. But it is there everywhere. So, the question of a soul entering a body at a particular time does not arise.
Ans : Everybody has the possibility of manifesting the divinity which is already there in all of us. But it is slumbering, I must rouse it. And then, through my thoughts, words, actions, etc. the divinity will flourish and flow out for the good of others. God is in everybody, but It is not like a doll set inside the human body. It manifests Itself as unbounded, unselfish love for all, as great strength and purity. That is divinity.
How can I rouse it? – By developing strong faith in that. How is it? – The faith that the ananda-swarupa, the prema-swarupa, is in me, that unselfish love and strength and purity are in me. These qualities are there in all and there is the possibility of their coming out. The duty of a man is to rouse this power, the beautiful things that are inherent and slumbering in us, and to bring them out for the good of others
Ans : Vairagya means giving up, renunciation. We have to give up something to get something higher or better. To strengthen the mind, we have to give up its impurities. All impurities come from selfishness. So, vairagya may be understood as the giving up of all selfish hankering after small things that bring weakness and narrowness, for the sake of gaining strength and purity.
Raga in Sanskrit means inclination, affection, attachment, or attraction toward something or somebody. Vairagya is its absence. It is a very strong mental state characterized by indifference to or detachment from all worldly, selfish pleasures and objects of pleasure.
Most people think day and night: I want this and that, I must have so much money, so much enjoyment and fame, I hate others who are doing better than me, and so on. That makes the mind restless and extremely narrow day by day. Such a mind being weak and uncontrollable cannot be concentrated properly for any good purpose. And if we remain very selfish, how can we love and do good to others?
However, we are not suggesting that all of us must shun all selfish desire here and now. Higher ideals can be understood and assimilated only through slow and constant practice. Moreover, we must avoid a negative approach. The more we proceed toward Kashi, the more is Kolkata left behind.
The more we progress toward the positive ideas of life, the more we grow natural detachment from weakening things. It is a question of growth and not of artificial imposition. A fruit falls when it is ripe.
For us, it may be suggested that we should try to have a little less selfish desire than before, curtail a bit of it, so that we can become true men, so that we learn to feel for others, work for others, without giving up our own ordinary requirements entirely. Let us not be too engrossed in self-centred thoughts and activities, in self-seeking pleasures. Let us avoid the unwholesome, weakening things of life by engaging the mind more and more in life-giving thoughts and good activities. Let us try to shun compromising with weakness and be men. A small drop of vairagya will be enough for us.
Ans : The solution is what the Mahamandal is attempting to do. Things have come to this horrible pass mainly due to politics. Only some cunning, self-centred people go into politics here. They form governments and become ministers. You know how elections are held. Is there any will for the good of the country, for the good of the younger generation? We just want to gratify our own cravings for enjoyment, power, and money by hook or by crook. There is hardly anybody, at least in politics, who really feels for our youths, for our toiling and suffering masses.
Before Independence we had many leaders in society and a few real leaders in politics also. Now there are none for the young to emulate. Nobody knows what change is required and where. The ministers, administrators, and the planners of our education are themselves not educated in the real sense.
Nor do they have any touch with the harsh reality in which most of our young people have to struggle. So, there is no chance at all of any worthy idea coming out of their heads. If you don't mind – the country is being governed by fools – neither by knowledge, nor by love. Everybody who is in a good position is interested in his own pay, prospect, and promotion. Swami Ranganathanandaji once spoke about the tyranny of these three P's. Many of the MLAs and MPs are almost illiterate, some are criminals.
You are young. The future of our motherland completely depends on you. If you too do not try to be proper men, you will perhaps earn well and many of you may not, and the burden of family will fall on your shoulders, and you may not be fit for the struggle.
We must be men, so that we shall not only boldly face our own troubles, but also work to rebuild our nation. So, an organization of bold and energetic young men is the need of the hour. What will be the source of their energy? The power of character, the power of love. We shall have to cultivate strength of the mind, of the body, and, above all, of the heart. We must have a rational and scientific approach. Stop all misuse of time. We are wasting so much time viewing TV, viewing games and entertaining programmes. Today babies on the lap of their mothers are watching TV! TV is run entirely on commercial – and not moral – principles. Hardly any good can come out of it. The government is happy as it earns a lot from it. But we must not be victims of such nation-wide character-assassination schemes.
Let us read good books conducive to life-building, join the training camps and other activities of the Mahamandal, make a strong determination, and work hard to build our life and character. That will solve the problem.
Ans : It requires continuous practice, continuous effort, continuous struggle for a long time. The more you do so, the more frequently it will seem to you that the world is really a series of pictures. Swami Vivekananda used this word: picture. He said: The world is a series of pictures, and man-making is the great interest running through. These are pictures indeed, but do they not carry any meaning for us? Are they empty and meaningless? Not really. These pictures serve a purpose; they are striving, as it were, to express a theme. What is that theme? – That those who try and understand that the world is 'a series of pictures' and not a concrete truth are becoming true men. So, as we look at the world, what is the message that we get? – That through the changing series of pictures one theme is emerging: men are becoming true men. If you accept this fact, even these pictures get a sort of meaning. And they do have a meaning. They are certainly not utter nonsense. If they were really meaningless, everything would have become airy nothing. There is definitely a purpose, even though that is not the ultimate thing. These pictures do not present the ultimate thing to us. But there is something in it to comprehend. So this world is also there.
If we continuously strive to comprehend this, a time will come when we shall be conscious of this truth. We shall no more be distracted. What are we doing now? Occasionally we are becoming vaguely aware of the truth and think that the world is just a series of pictures without a real essence. And what does a picture do? It reminds us of the real thing. What do these pictures represent? Swamiji said, 'Your society is but the shadow of Mahamaya – the Universal Motherhood.' The world is a shadow or a picture. Shadow of what? – Of 'the Universal Motherhood'. What is this Universal Motherhood? It is the Power of Brahman – out of which everything has come. Therefore, this shadow or this picture is a form of that supreme reality, Brahman. So, we cannot say that it is absolute nothing. As I find myself inside this series of pictures, I may try to make use of it. I may try to comprehend it as 'the shadow of the Universal Motherhood'.
After making sincere efforts for long, a time comes when the picture never appears to be anything more than a picture. By that time the purpose of the pictures is properly understood. If we had not been in this world, we would have missed the scope of realizing the supreme reality, the shadow of which is the world. And when we grasp this truth, we are no longer a burden to this world. We may rather help them for whom the world is an uncanny burden. This is the secret of the world and Swami Vivekananda's solution to the problem of existence-nonexistence.
Ans : The Mahamandal was not formed to solve any temporary problem. It was formed during a crisis indeed, but not just to tackle it. The crisis itself was caused by the neglect of the universal and eternal principles of human life and society. Such neglect also caused many other crises. The Mahamandal was formed and is still working to address the fundamental problem of such neglect. Now, it cannot be placed before young men to suit their liking. That will be tantamount to distortion of the ideas of the Mahamandal. Yes, these ideas have to be placed before them in such a manner that they can easily understand them. This has been done throughout the four decades of its existence, and that is why the work has spread to a considerable extent. But that does not men that these ideas are to be twisted to suit whatever they may like. That would be like vote-catching tactics.
Time and again political parties take certain resolutions at their conventions or meetings to redefine their strategies under compulsions of time, so as to be acceptable to the public. We are not for amending our ideas in that manner for spreading our organization fast. That would dilute the very ideas which are required for the wellbeing of the nation. A good doctor cannot prescribe medicines to suit the liking of the patients.
We do not blame young men for their present state. They have no opportunity to get proper education. Education worth the name is not to be found in schools or colleges, or even in homes in most cases. Instead of that, destructive ideas are being heaped on them everywhere. The governments and political parties are also helping the spread of such things. There is hardly anyone among the so-called leaders, who has proper manhood. Naturally, the young men they groom have become destructive. Economic gloom has intensified due to corruption. Poverty spoils good qualities of people. Employment opportunities are shrinking, as we must allow modern technology and foreign capital. Only the interests of the powerful must be protected, that's all. This must give rise to cut-throat competition. Over and above that, the blessings of electronics and telecommunication have intensified the desire for enjoyment beyond all decency. The politician-administrator-antisocial nexus is opening new, fraudulent avenues of income for the youths. Alcoholic drinks are becoming more and more popular. If the whole society become united to degenerate the younger generations, who can save them?
Yes, they can save themselves, if they are determined to be saved. One can raise oneself through sincere effort. So, take courage, do not lose heart. Your mind can become your greatest friend. To tell young men how this is possible is the task of the Mahamandal.
We are to get rid of the selfish desires for enjoyment. We must build strong characters. We have to be diligent and ready to face hardships of life, especially for the sake of others. Carelessness and lack of serious thinking must have no place with us. No other ideology, no amount of politics, no government can build a prosperous nation, nothing will be done for the proletariat, Rama-rajya will remain an idle dream. Stand on your own feet. At least that will bring half a meal. In stead of wasting your time with shallow things, utilize it for fruitful study. The strength of your character will then sharpen your intelligence. Do not waste time in useless gossip and intoxication and give the lame excuse of unemployment. Work hard and you will at least be able to somehow sustain your family. If huge groups of young men participate in this silent revolution for a long time, despite all suffering, one day the whole society will have the benefit.
If many young people do not resolve to act, it will take much time to bring about a big change. So, we have to tell them the plain truth. We must tell them: Let us not waste this human life for the sake of cheap things. We must struggle to make a living, but not at the cost of honesty, not at the cost of character. Then only the day will come when the power of character will defeat the powers of animal nature. Falsehood cannot deceive all people for ever. We shall end this with the strength of our character.
Ans : The nation comprises of men. So, national integration means union of the minds of men. National integration can be achieved if all people love one another and put national interest above self-interest and communal or provincial interests. Otherwise people will always fight among themselves whenever there is an iota of conflict between their self-interests. This is happening here for a long time.
In our country there are so many religions, languages, dresses, etc. But we are all Indians. As we proudly say: 'I am an Indian, the Indian is my brother.' It must come into our heart, we must feel it.
Then all divisive tendencies will go, as they are based on a feeling of separateness. In spite of differences, we Indians have a common cultural heritage that is very, very ancient and rich. This culture teaches us about unity in variety. We must first bring it back in our national life through right education and culture which are almost nowhere to be found now.
Along with that, all exploitation, corruption, and political opportunism must stop. These are eating into the vitals of the nation.
If the more fortunate take away the lion's share of all wealth, power, and learning and let millions of others remain in poverty and ignorance, there cannot be a real union of these haves and have-nots. Vested interests from inside as well as from outside the country use this weakness to their own benefit quite easily.
To bring about such changes we need men of sterling character, of clear intellect and oceanic heart. Now there are too few real men in our society. So, we must be and make such men first. With the increase of such men, the negative things will start disappearing and the nation will become united. There is no other way to national integration.
Ans : Brahmacharya is to conserve one's energy – all kinds of energy. Everybody has some energy in him, and without expenditure of that energy nothing can be accomplished. So, to conserve that energy and not to misuse it is called brahmacharya.
Brahmacharya is to try to fix one's mind on Brahman. That is a very great thing. But normally it means the conservation of one's energy. There are so many kinds of energy: physical energy, mental energy, intellectual energy, etc. Spiritual energy is also there. To conserve all these various kinds of energy is brahmacharya.
How to do that? As much as you put your mind on higher things, your mind will not go astray, it will not try to be fixed on things which lower human dignity. So, to be cautious that way and to conserve one's energy – that is brahmacharya.
The other day our very good President introduced himself as a brahmachari. I was very happy to see that. Wonderful! Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, President of India, saying, 'I am a brahmachari.' Hence, I do not misuse my energy. I do not allow my energy to go astray, to be used in any purposeless action
You should expend your energy in purposeful actions – the actions which are good for some people at least. To conserve one's energy for such good purposes only by all means is to follow the principle of brahmacharya.
Ans : Caste is a social division. It has nothing to do with religion. True religion stands for oneness and not for any sort of division. There are different forms of caste in different places. In any society, communities having close affinities or similarities with regard to their characteristics and occupations automatically form a caste. In our country there were originally four castes – brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya, and shudra
Caste is jati in Sanskrit. The word, jati, originally implied the in-born characteristics and speciality of an individual. Thus each individual has a different jati. There is also a cultural basis of the caste system which was prevalent in India from the hoary past: 'Janmana jayate shudrah samskarat dvijochyate / Veda-pathe bhavedviprah Brahma janati brahmanah.'
As you are born, you are a shudra, that is, there has been no attempt yet to refine the mind. The state of shudra-hood implies that there is no training to improve one's desires, attires, movements, ways of talking, etc. and bring about culture. Some sort of polish in behaviour, in one's way of talking, in everything – some refinement appears through striving. We are to make an attempt and work hard to be a little cultured. Thus we become a dvija, born for the second time, as it were. After that he studies the Vedas. The Veda literally means jnana, knowledge. The state attained by striving for jnana is that of a vipra. A vast amount of knowledge is contained in the Vedas and other books. Studying them may be helpful, but often bookish knowledge does not come to our rescue. Knowledge must be assimilated and made our own, so that it can be applied fruitfully in real life situations. Otherwise such knowledge has absolutely no practical value.
And you won't find everything in books. The highest knowledge, the ultimate jnana, is the realization of the Oneness of all that exists. The many are the various manifestations of the One, which we call Brahman. The man who has come to know that the One has become the many is the perfect man. He can never take the wrong roads in life, he can never commit mistakes. He is the brahmana.
The brahmana does not belong to the Hindus alone. There may be brahmanas among Muslims, Christians, and others too. The test is: whether he has come to know the One and thus reached the highest state of life. All such castes are found in all communities – the Hindus, the Muslims, the Christians, etc. Though they may differ in their social systems and daily rites, fundamentally their castes are the same.
Ans : It depends on how you define science and religion. There were great astronomers and physicists who thought that the world has a religion. Now, what we generally mean by religion is not very satisfactory. What does the word, religion, really mean? It comes from a Latin word, religare. Ligare means 'to bind together'. We have become disjoined, disconnected. I am a single person here. You are so many, more than thirteen hundred campers – all separate beings. No, we have to come closer and become one with all. Because, the inner thing, our essential substance, is the same in all. There is no real distinction – whether you are a male person or a female person, a Bengali or a Bihari, it does not matter. Whether you are a Christian or a Hindu or a Muslim, it does not matter. True religion is the realization of this oneness.
In our physical features, our expressions, our behaviour, and the mode of our life, there are distinctions. Two identical things never came into existence. There are some distinctions in everything, in every being. If you take the case of glass manufacturing in a factory, where thousands of glasses are being produced, and closely examine all the glasses produced, you will find there are some distinctions in each product. Exactly the same thing cannot be produced twice, however advanced the technology.
So, human beings are somewhat similar, but not exactly the same, in their bodily features, facial expressions, behaviour, etc. But our essence or core is the same. We must understand the unity of mankind. Man is the highest species in the world, because of his power of ratiocination, his power of imagination, which are highly developed. These powers can be developed further by self-effort to attain the summum bonum of human life. Animals cannot do that. So, being a single unit of this species, you must prove that. Understand the meaning of life and make the best use of it. That is the purpose of religion.
Religion is to re-unite us – with what? It may be said in various ways. There are people who believe in so-called religions like Christianity, Hinduism, etc. But that is not real religion. Religion cannot be many. All religions actually have the same essential thing. Their modes of religious practices, their ways of preaching, etc. may be different, but ultimately they all emphasize on the existence of One thing that in India has been called Atman, Paramatman, or Brahman. From a source of fire sparks go out. A human being is one of the sparks of Paramatman. And going back to and being re-united with Paramatman is what religion can achieve for us. So, this is religare. We came from that source, now we want to go back to that source, not physically, but rather through our inner realization. Being one with the common source, we become one with all.
Science may neglect religion. But even Einstein said, 'Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.' That is the relationship between science and religion. They cannot be divorced from each other, because all science will ultimately take us to the science of the non-material. Science, we think, is for material things. But the science of material things has its limitations. It cannot tell us about our inner essence. Religion is also a science: it is for the immaterial thing – the inner essence of man. 'There are more things in heaven and earth,… than are dreamt of in your philosophy.' – said Shakespeare in one of his famous plays. Science is not only about chemical analysis or physical laws. There is something else that unites all beings, all things, and particularly human beings. So, science may boast that it can proceed without religion, but really it cannot go very far. Religion, if it is completely in the dark about science, will also not make much progress and may land up in superstitions and bigotry. If we accept science as far as necessary and then from science dip into the region of religion, both science and religion will help every human being.
Ans : No. Not at all. Their ideas were the same – absolutely. Swami Vivekananda received these ideas from his Guru, Sri Ramakrishna, and all his life Swamiji followed him faithfully. He said, 'If there has been anything achieved by me, by thoughts, or words, or deeds,
if from my lips has ever fallen one word that has helped any one in the world, I lay no claim to it, it was his…. All that has been weak has been mine, and all that has been life-giving, strengthening, pure, and holy, has been his inspiration, his words, and he himself.'
Swamiji said this to emphasize the fact that whatever he said or did really reflected the ideas of Sri Ramakrishna. There is no difference between their ideas.
Ans : There is nothing really absolute in the world. But, for all practical purposes, absolute unselfishness can be attained in all ages. It has been demonstrated by the greatest men and women throughout history. For us absolute unselfishness is an ideal, but we are to take the next step from where we are now. If we are now mostly concerned with ourselves, it is useless to think much about absolute unselfishness. Our present task is to be a little less selfish, a little more concerned about others. Thus we move forward.
Circumstances often go against this. Swami Vivekananda said, 'Life is the unfoldment and development of a being under circumstances tending to press it down.' He also said, 'It is in the nature of things that many should fall, that troubles should come,
that tremendous difficulties should arise, that selfishness and all the other devils in the human heart should struggle hard when they are about to be driven out by the fire of spirituality. The road to the Good is the roughest and steepest in the universe.'
So, the difficulties posed by circumstances do not belong to the present age alone, though it may become greater or lesser at times. The greatest difficulty arises from within our own minds. Suppose a small piece of wood and another of steel are kept near a strong magnet. The piece of steel will be magnetized immediately under its influence, but nothing will happen to the wood.
Swamiji said, 'We must learn that nothing can happen to us, unless we make ourselves susceptible to it. I have just said, no disease can come to me until the body is ready; it does not depend alone on the germs, but upon a certain predisposition which is already in the body.'
However difficult the present circumstances may be, we must have the courage to conquer it. If I understand that unselfishness is the only way to make life a success and build the nation, I cannot lay all the blame on the circumstances and sit idle. I shall take it as a challenge. Listen to Swamiji: 'The more opposition there is, the better. Does a river acquire velocity unless there is resistance?
Ans : Mental abilities can be strengthened by their repeated proper use. So, we must first know what the mind is, what its abilities are, what is proper use and why, and how to use the mind in the proper way. That is to say, we must know the science of mind and the practical methods to strengthen it. Then that knowledge is to be applied in daily life continuously.
The mind is known through what is does. Perception, memory, thinking, analysing, feeling, and willing are among its functions and abilities. Success in life depends on how well we can use such abilities. But unfortunately the present education system does not help us in this matter.
The result is that mostly we misuse and waste the powers of the mind. The scheme of life-building suggested by the Mahamandal takes the whole issue into account. Its prescription includes among other things mental concentration, prayer, and study for character-building which help greatly to enhance our mental abilities. The body is also to be strengthened to let the mind grow strong. The whole scheme cannot be explained in a few words. But none of the methods can be very fruitful when practised in isolation. So, instead of taking up any one method exclusively, the complete set of methods should be understood clearly and applied continuously with determination.
To help young men in this matter the Mahamandal organizes many training camps throughout the year, publishes books and booklets, and every unit of the Mahamandal runs weekly study circles. The guidelines are laid down in details in such a simple way that everybody can grasp them. By making good use of them, you can get the whole thing and apply them in your life. Thus you can surely help yourself to improve your mental faculties.