By Swami Ramdas
23 August 2018
The question is often asked: ‘When people in the world are suffering in various ways, when they have not enough food or clothing and when they have to struggle even for their very existence, how can they aspire for the realisation of God? What Sadhana can they do?’ Ramdas shall try to answer this question.
It is true that in this world there is great suffering of various kinds. Much of it is man-made. Let us see how it is caused. What is happening now? People seem to have forgotten God. They have become dishonest and greedy. They want somehow to hoard money and materials. Some have accumulated vast wealth, lands and foodstuffs, whereas many have not got enough to live even for a day. This is due to unequal distribution of wealth.
How can there be equal distribution? It can come only when people become broad-minded and sympathetic and feel happy in helping others. Those who have genuine devotion to God are kind and compassionate. They will surely share whatever they have with those who are badly in want. If every owner of material wealth does this, realising his responsibility, the problem is solved and there will be no starvation or want anywhere in the world.
There is another aspect of the problem, another angle from which to approach this question. Even in this world of suffering, want and misery, we find that those who are truly devoted to God do not suffer. God Himself takes up their lives’ burdens and looks after their welfare. ‘Ananyaschintayanto Mam Ye Janah Paryupasate, Tesham Nityabhiyuktanam Yogakshemam Vahamyaham’ says the Lord in the Bhagavad Gita. Many are the stories told to show how the Lord unfailingly comes to the rescue of His devotees who depend solely on Him with Ananya-bhakti, or single-hearted devotion. Everybody knows from experience also that this is true. One who entirely depends upon God never suffers for want of the absolute necessities of life.
We hear that in many places, now-a-days, there is no rain. There is no water, and crops fail, causing famine and distress. What is the reason for this? People think that they are clever enough to carry on in the world without God’s aid, and they become greedy. For them God is out of the picture. God is within us, and if we think of Him and pray to Him, He will grant us everything we need. But the necessary condition is that our mind must be turned towards Him instead of being absorbed in worldly objects. Sufferings in the world will disappear if people would only remember God and depend on Him. Forgetfulness of God is the root cause of misery in the world. Saints rightly hold that those who think of God alone are happy, and those who forget Him are unhappy.
To revert to the first view-point. To bring about equal distribution of wealth in the world, those who have plenty must give away freely to those who are in want, so that whatever is available is shared by all alike. But this attitude towards life can come only to those who are devotees of God. One should not think of having more than what one actually needs. We should never be greedy, but find joy in giving what we have to others.
We can have real happiness and joy only if we think of God who is within us. There is a panacea for all the ills of life. That is Ram Smaran, or remembrance of God. Many have tried and are still trying to bring about harmony and peace in the world by various other methods. But the world continues to be as it was. What is the reason? Nothing can be achieved by merely superficial means. We must go within ourselves and realise that behind all these names and forms pervades the one Eternal Spirit. This will lead us to the realisation of unity in diversity. Then we cease to see others as separate from us. Love will then spontaneously flow from us to others. This Divine vision is the basis of all mutual help and harmony. This alone can bring about real peace and happiness in the world.
One who has everything in the world but has forgotten God, is bound to be unhappy. All the riches in the world cannot give him true peace and joy. Ramdas met rich people, millionaires, Rajas and Maharajas, rolling in wealth, when he was wandering about as a Fakir. Though clad in beggar’s garb, he was quite blissful. The big people were charmed by his happy and carefree state. They used to invite Ramdas to their homes to spend some time in his company. Ramdas then asked them, ‘You have got so much wealth. Are you not happy?’ They frankly admitted they were not. That shows that happiness does not depend on mere worldly possessions. Wealthy people envied Ramdas who, though a Fakir, was immersed in Bliss. Real happiness is only for those who always think, live, move and have their being in God.
Mere accumulation of wealth and worldly possessions does not lead to happiness. Those who give whatever they have to those who are in want and distress find real happiness by so doing. Others get attached to wealth and possessions. By forgetting God and clinging to their possessions they become unhappy themselves and make others also unhappy. But those who live in God are themselves happy and make others also happy. How wonderfully fine the world will be if more and more people live such a life, devoted to God and ready to remove the sufferings of fellow-beings! Then alone will humanity live in harmony, peace and plenty.
(Extracted from the section titled ‘World Unity and Peace’ from Swami Ramdas’ The Divine Life [vol. 2])
Swami Ramdas (1884–1963), lovingly called ‘Papa’, was a Spiritual Master and founder of Anandashram, in Kerala, India. He was leading an ordinary life till God’s grace descended on him in or about the year 1920. In a short while, he could behold God everywhere, both within and without. Having thus attained spiritual liberation and God-vision, he started on his mission to awaken mankind to the awareness of God.
Swami Ramdas wrote many books in English and in 1933 started a monthly called The Vision to carry his message of Universal Love and Service based on cosmic vision.