5 Feb 2015

Sectarianism or Loyalty ─ by Nolini Kanto Gupta

MODERN culture demands that one should not be bound to one creed or dogma, swear by one principle or rule of life or be led blindly by one man. Truth, it is said, has many facets and the human being is also not a Cyclops, a one-eyed creature. To fix oneself to one mode of seeing and believing and even behaving is to be narrow, restricted, sectarian. One must be able to see many standpoints, appreciate views of variance with one's own, appraise the relativity of all standards. Not to be able to do so leads to obscurantism and fanaticism. The Inquisitors were monomaniacs, obsessed by an idée fixe. On the other hand, the wisest counsel seems to have been given by Voltaire who advised the inquirers to learn from anywhere and everywhere, even Science from the Chinese. In our Indian legends we know that Uddhava did not hesitate to accept and learn from more than a dozen Gurus. That is as it should be if we would have a mind and consciousness large and vast and all-encompassing.

And yet there is a question. While attempting to be too liberal and catholic one may happen to turn a dilettante. Dilettante is one who takes an interest, an aesthetic, a dispassionate and detached interest in all things. His interest is intellectual, something abstract and necessarily superficial; it is not a vital interest, not a question of his soul, an urgent problem of his living.

A spiritual interest is nothing if it is not in this way a question that touches life to its core. That means a definite goal and appropriate means to reach that goal, and that again necessarily involves a choice, a process of acceptance and rejection. The goal is also called the ista, the godhead that one seeks, the Divine that is fulfilled in oneself. Being a personality, an individual, one has to choose, one can best follow the line of evolution and growth and fulfilment of that personality and individuality – that is the call of the Psyche, the direction of the Jiva. In other words, one has to be loyal and faithful to one's nature and being. That is why it is said: Better to perish while fulfilling one's own law of life than to flourish by fulfilling another's law. By being curious about another's Dharma – it is this kind of curiosity that led to the original fall of man, according to the Bible – that is to say, if one is vitally curious, allows oneself to be influenced and so affected and diverted by what is an outside and foreign force, because not in the line of one's own truth and development, one asks for a mixture and intervention which bring confusion, thwart the growth and fulfilment, as that falsifies the nature.

It is not only bad influences that affect you badly, even good influences do so – like medicines that depend upon the particular constitution for their action. In ancient times this was called varnasankara or dharmasankara, as for example, when a Kshatriya sought to follow the rule of life of a Brahmin or vice versa. This kind of admixture or mésalliance was not favoured, as it was likely to bring about an obscurity in the consciousness and in the end frustration in the spiritual life. That was the original psychological reason why heresy was considered such a dangerous thing in all religions.

It is not sufficient to say that God is one and therefore wherever He is found and however He is found and whoever finds Him one must implicitly accept and obey and follow. God is one indeed: but it is equally true that he is multiple. God is not a point, but a limitless infinity, so that when one does reach Him one arrives at a particular spot, as it were, enters into only one of his many mansions. Likewise, God's manifestation upon earth has been infinitely diverse, his Vibhutis, Avataras, his prophets and viceregents have been of all sorts and kinds. Precisely because God is at once one and infinitely multiple and because human nature also is likewise, if one in essence, infinitely multiple in expression, each one, while seeing and finding the one God, seeks and finds him in and through a particular formulation. That is the original meaning, the genesis and justification of creeds and dogmas. Only, it must be borne in mind, that one can be faithful even to a particular creed and dogma and yet transcend it, live a particular mode of life and yet possess at the back of it and as its support the very sense and consciousness of infinity itself. Where there is this synthetic and transcendent experience dogmatism has no place, nor conflict between creed and creed.

One can be as catholic and boundless as infinity, still one can and has to bow down to a special figure of it, since or if one who approaches it has a figure of his own. Just in the same way as when one is in the body, one has to live a particular life framed by the body, even the mind as well as the life are canalised in the mould of the body consciousness, and yet at the same time one can live in and through the inner consciousness immeasurably, innumerably in other bodies, in the unbarred expanse of the cosmic and the transcendent. The two experiences are not contradictory, rather they reinforce each other.

Uddhava might have had numberless teachers and instructors, but the Guru of his soul was Sri Krishna alone, none other. We may learn many things from many places, from books, from nature, from persons; intuitions and inspirations may come from many quarters, inside and outside, but the central guidance flows from one source only and one must be careful to keep it unmixed, undefiled, clear and pure. When one means nothing more than playing with ideas and persons and places, there is no harm in being a globe-trotter; but as soon as one becomes serious, means business, one automatically stops short, finds and sticks to his Ishta, even like the Gopis of Sri Krishna who declared unequivocally that they would not move out of Brindaban even by a single step. 

(Nolini Kanto Gupta, Complete Works, Volume 3, pp 99-101)

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