THE DRY SALVAGES
I sometimes wonder if that is what Krishna meant—
Among other things—or one way of putting the same thing: That the future is a faded song, a Royal Rose or a lavender spray
Of wistful regret for those who are not yet here to regret,
Pressed between yellow leaves of a book that has never been opened.
And the way up is the way down, the way forward is the way back.
You cannot face it steadily, but this thing is sure,
That time is no healer: the patient is no longer here.
When the train starts, and the passengers are settled
To fruit, periodicals and business letters
(And those who saw them off have left the platform)
Their faces relax from grief into relief,
To the sleepy rhythm of a hundred hours.
Fare forward, travellers! not escaping from the past
Into different lives, or into any future;
You are not the same people who left that station
Or who will arrive at any terminus,
While the narrowing rails slide together behind you;
And on the deck of the drumming liner
Watching the furrow that widens behind you,
You shall not think 'the past is finished'
Or 'the future is before us'.
At nightfall, in the rigging and the aerial,
Is a voice descanting (though not to the ear,
The murmuring shell of time, and not in any language)
'Fare forward, you who think that you are voyaging;
You are not those who saw the harbour
Receding, or those who will disembark.
Here between the hither and the farther shore
While time is withdrawn, consider the future
And the past with an equal mind.
At the moment which is not of action or inaction
You can receive this: "on whatever sphere of being
The mind of a man may be intent
At the time of death"—that is the one action
(And the time of death is every moment)
Which shall fructify in the lives of others:
And do not think of the fruit of action.
O voyagers, O seamen,
You who came to port, and you whose bodies
Will suffer the trial and judgement of the sea,
OR WHATEVER EVENT, THIS IS YOUR REAL DESTINATION.'
SO KRISHNA, AS WHEN HE ADMONISHED ARJUNA
ON THE FIELD OF BATTLE.
NOT FARE WELL,
BUT FARE FORWARD, VOYAGERS.
Take the Upanishad as the bow, the great weapon and place
upon it the arrow sharpened by meditation. Then, having drawn
it back with a mind directed to the thought of Brahman, strike that mark, O my good friend—that which is the Imperishable
Om is the bow; the atman is the arrow; Brahman is said to be
the mark. It is to be struck by an undistracted mind. Then the
atman becomes one with Brahman, as the arrow with the target.
In Him are woven heaven, earth and the space between and the
mind with all the sense—organs. Know that non—dual Atman
alone and give up all other talk. He is the bridge to Immortality.
He moves about, becoming manifold, within the heart, where
the arteries meet, like the spokes fastened in the nave of a
chariot wheel. Meditate on Atman as Om. Hail to you! May
you cross beyond the sea of darkness!
He who knows all and understands all and to whom belongs all
the glory in the world—He, Atman, is placed in the space in the
effulgent abode of Brahman. He assumes the forms of the mind
and leads the body and the senses. He dwells in the body, inside
the heart. By the knowledge of That which shines as the blissful
and immortal Atman, the wise behold Him fully in all things.
The fetters of the heart are broken, all doubts are resolved and
all works cease to bear fruit, when He is beheld who is both
high and low.
There the stainless and indivisible Brahman shines in the
highest, golden sheath. It is pure; It is the Light of lights; It is
That which they know who know the Self.
The sun does not shine there, nor the moon and the stars, nor
these lightnings, not to speak of this fire. When He shines,
everything shines after Him; by His light everything is lighted.
That immortal Brahman alone is before, that Brahman is
behind, that Brahman is to the right and left. Brahman alone
pervades everything above and below; this universe is that
Supreme Brahman alone.
THE MOTHER'S HEART, THE HERO'S WILL,
THE SWEETNESS OF THE SOUTHERN BREEZE,
THE SACRED CHARM AND STRENGTH THAT DWELL
ON ARYAN ALTARS, FLAMING, FREE;
ALL THESE BE YOURS AND MANY MORE NO ANCIENT SOUL COULD DREAM BEFORE-
BE THOU TO INDIA'S FUTURE SON
THE MISTRESS, SERVANT, FRIEND IN ONE.
LECTURES FROM COLOMBO TO ALMORA
What we want is strength, so believe in yourselves. We have become weak, and that is why occultism and mysticism come to us — these creepy things; there may be great truths in them, but they have nearly destroyed us. Make your nerves strong. What we want is muscles of iron and nerves of steel. We have wept long enough. No more weeping, but stand on your feet and be men. It is a man-making religion that we want. It is man-making theories that we want. It is man-making education all round that we want. And here is the test of truth — anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually, and spiritually, reject as poison; there is no life in it, it cannot be true. Truth is strengthening. Truth is purity, truth is all-knowledge; truth must be strengthening, must be enlightening, must be invigorating. These mysticisms, in spite of some grains of truth in them, are generally weakening. Believe me, I have a lifelong experience of it, and the one conclusion that I draw is that it is weakening. I have travelled all over India, searched almost every cave here, and lived in the Himalayas. I know people who lived there all their lives. I love my nation, I cannot see you degraded, weakened any more than you are now. Therefore I am bound for your sake and for truth's sake to cry, "Hold!" and to raise my voice against this degradation of my race. Give up these weakening mysticisms and be strong.
I believe in patriotism, and I also have my own ideal of patriotism. Three things are necessary for great achievements. First, feel from the heart. What is in the intellect or reason? It goes a few steps and there it stops. But through the heart comes inspiration. Love opens the most impossible gates; love is the gate to all the secrets of the universe. Feel, therefore, my would-be reformers, my would-be patriots! Do you feel? Do you feel that millions and millions of the descendants of gods and of sages have become next-door neighbours to brutes? Do you feel that millions are starving today, and millions have been starving for ages? Do you feel that ignorance has come over the land as a dark cloud? Does it make you restless? Does it make you sleepless? Has it gone into your blood, coursing through your veins, becoming consonant with your heartbeats? Has it made you almost mad? Are you seized with that one idea of the misery of ruin, and have you forgotten all about your name, your fame, your wives, your children, your property, even your own bodies? Have you done that? That is the first step to become a patriot, the very first step.
Yet that is not all. Have you got the will to surmount mountain-high obstructions? If the whole world stands against you sword in hand, would you still dare to do what you think is right? If your wives and children are against you, if all your money goes, your name dies, your wealth vanishes, would you still stick to it? Would you still pursue it and go on steadily towards your own goal? As the great King Bhartrihari says, "Let the sages blame or let them praise; let the goddess of fortune come or let her go wherever she likes; let death come today, or let it come in hundreds of years; he indeed is the steady man who does not move one inch from the way of truth." Have you got that steadfastness? If you have these three things, each one of you will work miracles. You need not write in the newspapers, you need not go about lecturing; your very face will shine. If you live in a cave, your thoughts will permeate even through the rock walls, will go vibrating all over the world for hundreds of years, maybe, until they will fasten on to some brain and work out there. Such is the power of thought, of sincerity, and of purity of purpose.
let New India arise in your place. Let her arise — out of the peasants' cottage, grasping the plough; out of the huts of the fisherman, the cobbler, and the sweeper. Let her spring from the grocer's shop, from beside the oven of the fritter-seller. Let her emanate from the factory, from marts, and from markets. Let her emerge from groves and forests, from hills and mountains. These common people have suffered oppression for thousands of years —#8212; suffered it without murmur, and as a result have got wonderful fortitude. They have suffered eternal misery, which has given them unflinching vitality. Living on a handful of grain, they can convulse the world; give them only half a piece of bread, and the whole world will not be big enough to contain their energy; they are endowed with the inexhaustible vitality of a Raktabija. (A demon, in the Durgâ-Saptashati, every drop of whose blood falling on the ground produced another demon like him.) And, besides, they have got the wonderful strength that comes of a pure and moral life, which is not to be found anywhere else in the world. Such peacefulness, such contentment, such love, such power of silent and incessant work, and such manifestation of lion's strength in times of action — where else will you find these! Skeletons of the Past, there, before you, are your successors, the India that is to be. Throw those treasure-chests of yours and those jewelled rings among them,
Then, (sickening even while I spoke)
^ Let me alone ! No answer, pray,
^ To this ! I know what Thou wilt say !
' All still is earth's,— to Know, as much ' As Feel its truths, which if we touch
^ With sense or apprehend in soul.
' What matter ? I have reached the goal —
' " Whereto does Knowledge serve V^ will bum
' My eyes, too sure, at every turn !
^ I cannot look back now, nor stake
' Bliss on the race, for running's sake.
^ The goal's a ruin like the rest !' —
— " And so much worse thy latter quest,
(Added the Voice) ^Hhat even on earth
" Whenever, in man's soul, had birth
" Those intuitions, grasps of guess.
That pull the more into the less.
Making the finite comprehend
Infinity, the bard would spend
Such praise alone, upon his craft.
As, when wind-lyres obey the waft.
Goes to the craftsman who arranged
The seven strings, changed them and rechanged-
Knowing it was the South that harped.
" He felt his song, in singing, warped,
" Distinguished his and God's part : whence
" A world of spirit as of sense
" Was plain to him, yet not too plain,
" Which he could traverse, not remain
A guest in : — else were permanent
Heaven upon earth, its gleams were meant
To sting with hunger for the hght,—
Made visible in Verse, despite
The veiling weakness, — ^truth by means
Of fable, showing while it screens, —
Since highest truth, man e'er supplied,
" Was ever fable on outside-
'' Such gleams made bright the earth an age ;
'^ Now, the whole sun 's his heritage I
'' Take up thy world, it is allowed,
" Thou who hast entered in the cloud
Born 28 October 1867
County Tyrone, Ireland
Died 13 October 1911
Darjeeling, West Bengal, India The name Nivedita means 'the dedicated one.' Who was she? you may ask. What was the 'all' she gave to India, and why?
Sister Nivedita born as Margaret Elizabeth Noble, was a Scots-Irish social worker, author, teacher and disciple of Swami Vivekananda. She met Vivekananda in 1895 in London and travelled to Calcutta, India (present-day Kolkata) in 1898. Swami Vivekananda gave her the name Nivedita (meaning "Dedicated to God") when he initiated her into the vow of Brahmacharya on March 25, 1898. She had close associations with the newly established Ramakrishna Mission.
It is true that we are the children of Mother India. But do we love her enough to give her anything in return for all that she gives to us? Do we love all her children as our own? The great poet Rabindranath Tagore, answers for us: "whoever has seen what reality there was in her (Nivedita's) love of the people, has surely understood that we-while giving perhaps our time, our money, even our life-have not been able to give them our heart." Sister Nivedita had no money to give-for she was poor herself. But she gave her life.
This great offering, giving her life for Mother India, is like a song of love. Love is blind for it sees not the faults of the beloved, and Nivedita never found fault with India. Indeed, she was hard on those who even talked of her slightingly.
This seems wonderful enough, does it not? But it will seem all the more wonderful to you when you hear that Nivedita was not an Indian; she was not even born in India.
She believed that India could not be great and powerful unless there was unity. She was never tired of speaking about this. 'It is true,' she said, 'that in India we have many races, many religions and many kinds of social conditions, but that does not mean that all cannot be united into one.'
Once she most prayerfully made a suggestion for achieving this sense of unity amongst us. She said: 'If the whole of India could agree to give, say, ten minutes every evening, at the oncoming of darkness to thinking a single thought, "We are one, we are one, nothing can prevail against us to make us think we are divided. We are one, and all antagonisms amongst us are illusion"-the power that would be generated can hardly be measured.'
Thus she continued to work for the good of India, as she had always wished to do.
But the secret of this is a different matter. The gods, it is said, were looking for a divine weapon, that is to say, for the divine weapon, par excellence-and they were told that only if they could find a man willing to give his own bones for the substance of it, could the Invincible Sword be forged. Whereupon they trooped up to the rishi Dadhichi and asked for his bones for the purpose. The request sounded like mockery. A man would give all but his own life-breath, assuredly, for a great end, but who, even to furnish forth a weapon for Indra, would hand over his body itself? To the rishi Dadhichi, however, this was no insuperable height of sacrifice. Smilingly he listened, smilingly he answered, and in that very moment laid himself down to die-yielding at a word the very utmost demanded of humanity.
Here, then, we have the significance of the Vajra. The Selfless Man is the Thunderbolt. Let us strive only for selflessness, and we become the weapon in the hands of the Gods. Not for us to ask how. Not for us to plan methods. For us, it is only to lay ourselves down at the altar-foot. The gods do the rest. The divine carries us. It is not the thunderbolt that is invincible, but the hand that hurls it. Mother! Mother! take away from us this self! Let not fame or gain or pleasure have dominion over us! Be Thou the sunlight, we the dew dissolving in its heat.
Miss Margaret Elizabeth Noble, later known as Sister Nivedita
Sister Nivedita broke down and wept all night in her room in Bodh Gaya saying, "We have failed. The country has not been roused from its slumber; it has not come back to life. We have been able to do almost nothing. The true spirit of India,-what once made India the glory of the world and the heart of Asia, has not been revived. When will the nation be conscious of its glorious heritage, and the distinct place it once occupied in the growth of human thought and human civilization? When will that life, that spirit, return?"
The English had taught the Indian to believe that it was only after the introduction of cheap postage, the extended railway travel and the common use of the English language that India had been united. Nivedita stoutly refused to believe this and said:
If India had no unity herself, no unity could be given to her. The unity which undoubtedly belonged to India was self-born and had its own destiny, its own functions and its own vast powers; but it was the gift of no one.
She ended with a high note of hope and inspiration:
Yet again shall come the great re-establishment of Dharma when the whole of this nation shall be united together not in a common weakness, not in a common misfortune or grievance but in a great, overflowing, complex, actual, ever-strong, ever-living consciousness of the common nationality, the common heritage, the common struggle, the common life, aye! the common destiny and the common hope. And so let me in all reverence and in all grateful memory and love repeat to you again these words that were spoken here in our midst a few years ago by a voice so dear, so well remembered by you all-those words that were the text of his message to his land for ever more-"Arise, awake, struggle on and rest not till the goal is reached."
I believe that India is one, indissoluble, indivisible.
National unity is built on the common home, the common interest and the common love.
I believe that the strength which spoke in the Vedas and Upanishads, in the making of religions and empires, in the learning of scholars, and the meditation of the saints, is born once more amongst us, and its name today is Nationality.
I believe that the present of India is deep-rooted in her past, and that before her shines a glorious future.
O Nationality, come thou to me as joy or sorrow, as honour or as shame! Make me thine own!
If we travel today to the hills of Darjeeling, just below the railway station we shall see the Hindu cremation ground. There stands a memorial built of brick. In the stillness and the quite of that place Mother Nature seems to enfold the memorial with her sweet air and sunlight, and with her singing birds and dancing flowers she seems to tell everyone that it is there.
If you are attracted to it and wonder whose memorial it is, you will see a marble tablet on it with these words:
REPOSE THE ASHES
OF THE RAMAKRISHNA-VIVEKANANDA
WHO GAVE HER ALL TO INDIA
Bring me my bow of burning gold
Bring me my arrows of desire
Bring me my spear, Oh clouds, unfold
Bring me my chariot of fire!
It begins to be thought that there is a religious idea that may be called Indian, but it is of no single sect; that there is a social idea, which is the property of no caste or group; that there is a historic evolution, in which all are united; that it is the thing within all these which alone is to be called 'India'.