Last year in January, a 130 year old crocodile died in a small village in the State of Chattisgarh in India. The people of that village did not cook food the whole day in grief and they performed the last rites of the reptile very fondly. This crocodile lived in the village pond and even if any human bathed in the same pond, it would never harm anyone. This bond between humans and animal life and Nature as a whole is what “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” actually is all about. The whole world is one, only because we come from the same source and go back to the same source – Brahman – the ultimate Entity.

If one wants to understand this Oneness, one has to first accept that all beings have a soul. Not just humans, not just animals, not just trees – the whole creation has a soul and its own destiny. Once one accepts this, one would realise that Nature is not there for the benefit of Humankind only. On the contrary, Nature exists by Herself independent of mankind. Man in his arrogance thinks that he is the supreme creature born to lord over the world and control the fate of others but actually he is just the dust on the wheel of creation. He is neither the creator of anything, nor the executor of anything. If truly he were, would he not have been able to control Covid 19 as soon as it was released into the world? Man is just the Nimmit or the medium for Kala or Time to play its act at its chosen time. According to Ramana Maharishi, “It is the Higher Power which does everything, and the man is only a tool. If he accepts that position, he is free from troubles; otherwise, he courts them.”

I had once asked my Guruji on how Ego can be controlled. He had the simplest of replies, “Either you think that you are just a speck of dust in this entire universe, or you think that you are the universe. If you think the former, you lose your boastful arrogance that the world moves because of you. If you accept that you are the latter, you place on your shoulders the greatness of realizing that everyone and everything in this world is you. Either way, you would not be able to treat anyone else as big or small because you would realise that that is what you are – if you treat others as small, that is what you are & if you think you are great that is what the others are.” Once someone had asked Ramana Maharishi, “How do we treat others?” He replied, “There are no others.”

Once we realise the deep truth behind this, understanding the philosophy behind “Vasudaiva Kutumbakam” becomes easy. When there are no others, the whole world is one family. That alone is the mantra to true Peace and true Love. Any language, any region, any culture, any religion which does not understand this Nature of the Self, this Oneness of the Self, cannot teach others about Peace or Love.

The second most important thing is “Work in a way that the results benefit those other than yourself alone.” By becoming greedy and lusting for more than what he needs, man has brought great destruction upon himself and others. There is a time beyond the present, your own future generations will live in that time … how then can you seek to destroy and pollute the world today? Nature can heal Herself, but can man heal himself from the self-destructive activities that he has brought upon himself, his nation and other nations collectively? Growing together can be an option, but can destroying each other be an option?

Thirdly and most importantly, Sanatan Dharma or Hinduism recognized the need to accept all other viewpoints even if it differed from that which was the most popular view. If one truly wants an Era of Peace, one has to learn, NOT to be Tolerant but learn to be ACCEPTING of others, even if they differ from you. This wanting to colour everyone with the same brush cannot be acceptable – you do not follow my God, you must convert … you don’t follow my politics, you must be destroyed … you are not of my race, you should be sidelined … I love beef so you saving cows is stupid … all these views only widen the gap between people, not reduce it. Be accepting.

Finally, all life forms need to be preserved, not just human life form. Hindus worship trees, rivers, seas, stones, mountains, animals, everything … Worship is just another form of encouraging humans to respect every life form and preserve it. The world needs to learn this. Killing animals cannot be a measure of strength or a fashion statement, polluting waters cannot be a measure of progress, denuding land cannot be acceptable. Respect nature, because what you do to Nature comes back to you and twice as much.

Live life responsibly, love everyone equally. That is the only Mantra to peace and happiness. Namaste.

Note: This was the speech given by me at the “Panorama International Literary Festival, 2020”.

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