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Of Bhagwaans and Babs - Logic and Faith

by T.N. Dhar 'Kundan'

There have been a series of articles, letters and write-ups about ‘Babs’ and ‘Bhagavaans’ prompted by an erudite article written by Dr. Chowdhury that have appeared in our magazine. These are thought provoking and interesting. In forming an opinion of our own in this regard we have to keep in mind two things. The first is the latitude that Hindus have to reason out everything and question something that they cannot account for. This latitude is not available to the adherents of other faiths and beliefs. The second is the fact that faith begins where logic and reasoning end. I remember once when the participants of a seminar on Kashmir Shaiva Darshan held in Srinagar called on Swami Laxman Joo, what he told them and I quote ‘reasoning will carry you up to a point; beyond that you have to depend on faith.’ In other words he established the importance of both intellectual logic and devotional faith.

Having said that, let me make another observation in this regard. The so-called ‘godmen’cannot all be put in one category. There are erudite scholars among them, who impart teaching in any discipline of their specialization to their disciples. There are narrators, who are adept in explaining in detail stories from Puranas, Ramayana and Shrimad Bhagwat. There are preachers, who aim at propagating the tenets and principles of Sanatana Dharma. There are sages who have achieved the Supreme Truth after spending years and years in penance. People benefit just by having a glimpse of such persons and by gaining proximity to them. There could be some fake persons (as in any other walk of life) masquerading as ‘Sadhus’ who try to entice gullible persons by showing fake miracles. As regards some of the real ones showing some miracles these can again be divided into two categories. First the miracles performed to make others believe in themor developing a spiritual frame of mind and second the miracles performed to alleviate the people from their sufferings. The difference is obvious. When I wrote the biography of Bhagavaan Gopinath ji I came across a number of instances of miracles performed by this saint, which were simply to relieve people from their grief and suffering.

As for the importance and usefulness of these pious men and women is concerned, let me narrate what I read once in the Sunday magazine. The then editor of the magazine M.J. Akber had an interview with Swami Chinmayananda. He asked him about the ‘godmen’. The Swami replied, ‘I wish there were many more’. Akber asked, ‘do you mean to say that they are useful to the society?’ Swami ji retorted, ‘why do you ask me? Ask the millions who go to them, sit before them and get solace and peace of mind.’ Let us not forget that the life is no bed of roses, particularly for those who are poor and downtrodden. If these pious people are in a position to relieve them of their grief and give them some happiness, why not, let them do so. Of course we have to make exception in the case where people are preached in such a way that they turn to be lotus-eaters, fatalists and then become parasites. So long as the advice is in the right direction, inspiring to labour and put in honest efforts and have a reasonable amount of contentment, it is very useful for the society as a whole.

An observation has been made about these pious people themselves suffering physical ailments that needed medical attention. Nothing is wrong or astonishing in this fact. After all when a soul is embodied it has to go through all the properties of the body, changes in the form of growth and decay and the effects of the elements. We cannot expect a saint to hear with his eyes and see with his nose simply because he is a saint. Those who believe in the incarnation of the Divine have accepted Rama’s and Krishna’s life as the life of any human being. They have also suffered, toiled and undergone changes as any ordinary human being would. Shri Rama Krishna suffered. As Dr. Chowdhury has recorded, Swami Laxman Joo and other saints suffered physical ailments. That does not diminish their greatness and usefulness in any way. Even the human beings have mental, intellectual and spiritual aspects besides the physical aspects.

I had the privilege of attending a seminar at the residence of Shri T.N. Seshan, the then Chief Election Commissioner. It was soon after there was a wide spread occurrence of people offering milk to the idol of Ganesha. The then V.C. of J.N.U, who read his paper in the seminar, ridiculed this episode. Seshan observed, "our intellectuals have a habit of ridiculing anything that they cannot account for or explain scientifically. When we heard this we tried with dozens of idols of different metals that we possess but it did not work. Our servant, who lives in our servant quarter, however reported having fed milk to the idol of Ganesha that he had. We asked him to fetch the idol, which he did.We placed it in a silver plate and the servant, my wife andme all were able to feed the idol and there was not a single drop in the plate. Now this is my experience, which I cannot explain scientifically and gentlemen! I think you will give me some credit of being reasonably intelligent without any gullibility.’ There are many such instances, which occur with most of us and we ignore them by treating them as happenings by chance.

We look upon Babs and Bhagavaans aspreceptors, parents, guides, and saviours, who show us the way and give us enlightenment. This helps us lead a life of purity, piety and brings in divinity in our thoughts, words and deeds. Intellect is an important aspect of human existence, which gives us the faculties of reasoning and logic. This enables us to chalk out a path of righteousness for ourselves by discriminating between right and wrong, true and false desirable and undesirable and beneficial and harmful. Our heart gives us the faculties of kindness and compassion. Our mind gives us the faculty of thinking and discernment. Beyond all this there is some other aspect in human existence, may be the soul, that gives us faith, belief and trust and these in turn lead us to a position of bliss. Since the realm of bliss is subtle it is hard to describe or explain. Be that as it may. One thing is very clear and that is that the logic and faith both are inseparable part of human life and have their respective importance and relevance.

Let me end this write up on a personal note. Dr. Chowdhury has made a mention of some event in the life of his elder brother, Shri Chaman Lal Chowdhury. This brought to my memory a wonderful period of four years spent by my family in his company at London more than three decades back. I had the privilege of attending his marriage with Ann and thereafter our two families developed a close relationship. He is one of the finest persons I have ever met and both he and his wife were nice to us during our stay there. They were a very affectionate couple and loving friends. I send them our remembrance and best wishes for health and happiness, peace and prosperity.

Source: Har-Van

T. N. Dhar Kundan's Articles

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