From the Jacket:
This book has identified "the good of all" as the single most important criterion of excellence of any socio-spiritual approach to life's problems-particularly in the context of the conflict-ridden society of today. The comprehensive coverage of this criterion, as presented in this study, has strong links with (like Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati) three life-sustaining steams of thought. The first stream refers to the Lokasamgraha-Message of the Gita which has been formulated in that scripture from ten different but inter-connected angles. The second stream refers to the jagmangal-message of the Manas which is simpler to grasp and which can also be explained from the same ten angles as are applicable to the Gita. The third stream refers to the repeated expressions of the concern for "the good of all" which began with the Vedas and which continued as an integral part of the Indian tradition-a steady source which strengthened the calls of the Gita and Manas also.
By putting all these ideas together and by maintaining the interest of the readers, this book has opened the door to a new field of study and research, viz, the Indian contribution to the theory and practice of "the good of all."
The year 2000 has already received, and is still receiving, special attention all over the world from leaders of thought and action, who are doing at least two things. First, they are taking stock of the progress that they have made so far in their respective fields. Secondly, they are making elaborate plans to face the challenges of the twenty-first century. The socio-spiritual field is a part of this wide network. There is undoubtedly an element of competition and commercialization associated with such activities. However, even those who do not hanker after personal gains (and do not want to adopt a commercial approach) need to protect the social cause for which they stand, particularly if the cause is spiritually worthwhile and the effort called for is free from violence and dishonesty. I, as an admirer of the Bhagwad-Gitä (or Gita for short) and Tulasi-Rämayana (or Mànas for short), strongly feel that the promoters of the universal message of these two great books need to be alert in making their views known now, so as not to let a great cause suffer from lack of appropriate and timely action.
I must specify’ as to what particular aspects of the Gitã and the Manas need, in my opinion, to be promoted during the present year. The necessary specification can be summarized in three steps. First, that the Gitã’s message is to encourage all the citizens to put an end to discrimination, injustice and conflicts, through (non-governmental) programmes based on social harmony, justice and social service. Secondly, that the Mãnas too, contains practically the same message as the Gita, if we focus attention on the right verses (of the Manas) and interpret them properly. Thirdly, that both these books are in favour of adjusting religious practices to changing social needs, and therefore the ‘dharma’ that they envisage for the conflict-ridden society of today needs to emphasize a broad ideal like ‘avibhaktan vibhakteu’, i.e. to bring about unity in the midst of diversity.
From the above, I hope that no one gets the impression that I stand alone in spelling out the universal message of the Gitã and the Manas. Great leaders like Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Sadhu Vaswani, and Vinoba Bhave—to name only a few——have played a leading role in this regard. For the Gita in particular, such ideas formed the basis of the pioneering work done by Lokmanya Tilak and Sri Aurobindo. Scholars like Dr. Radhakrishnan, D.S. Sarma, Pandit Ram Kinkar Upadhyay and Shivananda—again to name only a few—have explained the message of one or both of these books to large audiences world-wide.
Although the universal message of the Gita and the Manas has the strong backing of academicians as well as activists, there still exist some who interpret these two books from a different perspective. The Indian tradition has always recognized the right of scholars to put forward an interpretation that is ‘svasya ca priyatãtmanah’, i.e. the one that satisfies their Atman. But Manusmrti (where these words occur) has explained this further by saying that it refers to that action (or opinion) which does not make one feel ashamed. The Mahabharata has gone a step further by advising not to do anything which either would make the doer feel ashamed or ‘yadanyesam hitarn na syad’, i.e. which is not beneficial to others.
I feel that the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad’s famous story entitled ‘Da Da Da’ (narrated below) also envisages the possibility as well as the desirability of interpreting the same word (or syllable ‘da’ in the story) in different ways (viz. damah, danam, daya in the story), if the underlying approach is to arrive at ‘hitarn’, i.e. the good of oneself as well as of others—
“Three kinds of Prajapati’s sons—gods, men, and demons—lived with their father as students. After finishing their studies, the gods said to Prajapati, ‘Please teach us.’ He told them the syllable ‘Da’ and asked, ‘Have you understood?’ The gods said, ‘We have. You say to us discipline yourselves.’ Prajapati said, ‘Yes, you have understood.’
“Then men said to him, ‘Please teach us.’ Prajapati told them the same syllable ‘Da’ and asked, ‘Have you understood?’ Men said, ‘We have. You say to us be charitable.’ Prajapati said, ‘Yes, you have understood.
“Then demons said to Prajapati, ‘Please teach us.’ He told them the same syllable ‘Da’ and asked, ‘Have you understood?’ Demons said, ‘We have. You say to us: have compassion.’ Prajapati said, ‘Yes, you have understood.
Although I am linking my present publication to the special attention that is being given world wide to the year 2000 I should not fail to point out another linkage viz that between this publication and the five earlier ones of mine all of which were devoted to the universal message them will clarify this linkage. The first publication entitled the social role of the Gita how and why which was brought out in 1993 was a detailed (two part) study on the social relevance of the Gita were linked with its most important teaching for the modern age viz lokasmgraha the good of the society. Prof. B.A. Van Nooten writing the preface characterized my book as the most meritorious work from one of Berkeley’s distingunished alumni. The then governor of the state of Maryland William Donald Schaefer recognized this as dedication and service to your fellowmen and honored me with governor’s citation.
The second publication came out in 1995 and it was entitled The Social message of the Gita symbolized as Lokasamgraha. It consisted of two hundred self composed Sanskrit verses and a detailed English commentary thereon. Prof. Madhav Deshpande writing the preface characterized this book as unique the then president of Indian Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma expressed his admiration of this study at the book release function held at Rastrapati Bhawan New Delhi in July 1995.
The Third publication came out in 1997 and it was in Hindi, carrying the title “Tulasi-Ramayana Jagmangal-Parayana “. Parallel to the lokasamgraha-message of the Gita (explained in the earlier books), the subject-matter of this study was “jag-mangal” (i.e. good of the world) as formulated by Tulasidasa in the Manas. This book won the Kunti Goyal International Award, and the then President of India, Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, again honored me at the book-release function held at Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi, in January 1997.
The fourth publication came out in 1998, and this too was in Hindi, carrying the title “Manas Evam Gita Lokmangal-Gunjita”. Here the lokasamgraha message of the Gita and the Jagmangal-message of the Manas were brought together and explained within a common framework. The fifth publication came out in 1999, and it conveyed the social message of the Gita in Sanskrit verses, carrying the title “Lokasamgraha-Sandesah” The International Conference on Tulasidasa and His Works, held at Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA, in November 1999, honored me for both these publications by giving me the International Tulasi Award.
The present publication, being number six in the series, is a continuation of what I have been writing since 1993. There are three notable features of this study. First, I have shown that the lokasamgraha message of the Gita has been presented in that scripture from ten different but inter-connected angles, so that it can appeal to various types of listeners. Secondly, I have shown that the Jagmangal-message of the Manas can also be explained from the same ten angles as are applicable to the Gita. Thirdly, I have shown that serious concern for the good of all has been an integral part of the Indian tradition right from the Vedas, and the comprehensive ten-point call of the Gita represented the high point of this tradition—and that the Manas (written in the simple language of the villagers) helped spread the same call among common people. It is my earnest hope that these ideas will help shape (to howsoever small an extent) the socio-spiritual outlook of (at least some) citizens of the world and strengthen their resolve to face the challenges of the twenty-first century in a spirit of mutual cooperation based on social harmony, justice and social service.
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