Svami Karpatri (1970-1982), a revered contemporary samnyasin of exceptional personality, was renowned for his deep scriptural knowledge, which he used in his many writing and speeches to light up the Hindu orthodox point of view. The two significant articles presented here deal with the meaning of the Linga and the nature of the Great Goddess. Besides doctrinal and mythological clarifications, we find a sophisticated debate about the nature of sakti between two traditional schools: Nyaya and Mimamsa, which could be compared with those held in the times of Adi Sankara.
This blingual edition (Hindi-English) presents a new translation-the fruit of a collective work-besides the original text in devanagari, in the first book by Svami Karpatri published in English. The notes explain the philosophical parts or reveal misleading interpolations and omissions commited by the first translator of these articles, Alain Danielou.
Prefaced by His Holiness Jagadguru Sankaracarya of Dvarakapitha and Jyotispitha, Svami Svarupananda Sarasvati, who was a close companion of Svami Karpatri, this book clarifies many fundamental thought of sanatana dharma related to Siva and Sakti.
Known as the ‘Emperor of dharma’ (dharma samrat), the eminent Svami Karapatri was among those great men who provided guidance not only to his contemporary society, but also to future generations. He made religious and spiritual values easily understandable for people by giving them a new perspective on Indian tradition and culture. Initiated into the Sarasvati lineage, one of the ten lines of samnyasin started by the first Sankaracarya, the venerable Svamiji took his inspiration from the injunction of the Gita that one should be free from attraction and aversion. Through his conduct – and not merely by sermons and expositions – he lent substance to a definitive articulation of Indian culture. An active proponent of the traditional approach to Sanatana Dharma, Svamiji practiced every rule regarding caste (varnasrama), food, pilgrimage, bathing in the Ganga – so much so that he would even perform the fast of Satyanarayana, usually done only by householders. He was sure to follow the tenets of worship and to ritually drink Ganga water daily, even when on his pilgrimages; this reflects his devotion to the prescribed rules, his obedience to the precepts of the holy texts and the love for tradition he held in his heart.
Though he expounded the dictum of the first Sankaracarya that “Brahman satyam jaganmithya” (Brahman is real, the world is false), he would nevertheless propagate devotion towards the saguna (having attributes) sakara (having forms) aspects of God in His aspects of Rama and Krsna. In the context of devotion, his definition of mithya (illusion) was “brahma sattvapeksaya kimcinnyunasattakam mithyatvam” (Compared to the Supreme reality of Brahman, the level of reality of mithya is somehow inferior). He used to give the example that, just as the ornaments of the Lord have an inferior existence relative to His divine person, similarly the sublimely sweet ambrosiaic fragrance of Brahman – a veritable ocean of Sublime Bliss – is not only in their plans of action, but also in their principles. Svami Karpatriji believed that only through a religious state could public welfare come about – however, he pointed out that although Ravana was both a Hindu and a Brahmin, his kingdom still did not one any good. Therefore, public welfare would not be promoted through the mere creation of a Hindu nation. As a result, Svamiji refuted the arguments of the R.S.S., the Hindu Mahasabha and Jana Sangh, and he made evident to all how the religious and political ideology of the Parishad was different from the ideologies of these other parties. To this end, through his text Vicarapiyusa (Nectar of Thoughts) he refuted the arguments given in books such as Guru Golvallkar’s Vicara navanita (Bunch of Thoughts) and Veer Savarkar’s Bharatiya itihasa ke chah svarnima prsta (Six Golden Pages of the Indian History); he also refuted the ideology of the R.S.S. through his book Rastriya Svayamsevaka Samgha aur Hindu Dharma (The R.S.S. and the Hindu Dharma). He opened the doors of the Parishad to every Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Jain, Parsi, Buddhist and so forth who practiced their religion with honesty and rectitude.
In his book Ramarajya Parisad aur anya Dal (The Assembly of the Kingdom of Rama and Other Groups), the venerable Svamiji delineated the differences of the other political parties from the Parishad with the following words: “It is evident that no political party at work in the country is consistent, neither within itself nor before the public; their aim is one thing, their conduct is something quite different. As a result, one never hears about any political stability or faith in the country. Getting votes through false promises has become the sole objective of politics. The objective of the Rama Rajya Parishad is to rise above this lowly state and bring into practice some healthy political ideas. The Parishad is clear about its aims and the means to reach them. Neither is there any type of deceit, nor is there any temptation towards any. It sole aim is ‘the establishment of the politics of impartial dharmasapeksa’.”
His Eminence Svami Karpatri used to speak of a French follower named ‘Siva Saran (Alain Danielou). He believed that “he (that is, Danielou) understands my feelings and has reverence for me”. That is why he would give his blessings to Siva Saran’s English translations of his articles, and we also thought that he was spreading the ideas of Svamiji through the West. His project was extremely praiseworthy. For this, we were rather pleased when an associate of Siva Saran, Mr. J.L. Gabin set about publishing a book comprising some of Svamiji’s essays translated by Siva Saran. But, upon examination, it was found that Siva Saran had tampered with the original articles of Svami Karpatriji and had even been further, editing them from time to time. With a more extensive inquiry, this became more and more evident. None of us had expected this from him. If Svamiji had still been alive, his trust in Siva Saran would surely have been wounded.
Thus, the saying “the truth can be beaten, but not conquered” has come true. None has the right to alter the words of great people. If Siva Saran did so, then the time has indeed arrived when his former associate, Mr. Gabin, would expose this tampering and re-establish the truth. He who kicks dust to sully the sun will find the dust in his own face; this hurts the sun not at all. We praise Mr. Gabin who, learning Hindi with great effort, made this publication possible.
Having stayed in close proximity to the venerable Svami Karpatriji on many occasions, his ideals and ideas are clear to us. If someone finds something in his writings difficult to understand, we will try to make it clear to him.
We hope that this book will give the opportunity to the English – speaking readers to measure the depth of sanatana dharma and philosophy in the light of Svami Karpatriji.
A century after his birth, at the Ardha Kumbha Meld held in Allahabad (Prayag) in 2007, the presence of Svami Karpatri (1907- 1982) loomed very large. Most of the five millions of sadhus gathered on this occasion used to refer to him with the title of paramahamsa (the Great Swan), which is, for the Hindus, the highest goal reachable by a living being. In this Kumbha Mela the name of Svami Karpatri, which is practically ignored in the West, echoed and his face shone at several camps of sadhus, including those of the four sankaracaryas, which are traditionally recognized as the highest authority of Hinduism. During the whole month of this Kumbha Mela celebrating the centenary of Svami Karpatri, samnyasins that had known him, sankaracaryas that had been his companions or disciples spoke about him in their discourses, invoked his name in their pujas, and discussed his teachings with new generations of brahmins and samnydsins and with the public of all castes who came to listen their expositions on dharma. Everywhere in the sadhus' processions to the sacred bath, at the beginning and the end of discourses, during pujas and in all kind of ceremonies, the slogans composed by Svami Karpatri rose to the sky: dharma ki jaya ho! (victory to dharma), adharma ka nasa ho! (destruction of injustice), praniyom mem sadbhavana ho! (goodwill for all creatures), visva ka kalyana ho! (welfare for the world), gomata ki jaya ho! (praise to our mother the cow), gohatya band ho! (stop cow slaughter).
Three years before this Kumbha Mela, as I will explain hereaf ter, I had discovered a big mistake concerning Svami Karpatri in the. publications of the sole Westerner who had claimed to be his spokes man. But I had been unable to find any book or academic article about the life and the action of Svami Karpatri. Surprisingly, this monk who had been a spiritual leader of first importance for million of Hindus in the twentieth century remains widely unknown even in many circles in India. The few references to him portray him as . 'reactionary' samnyasin who opposed the Hindu Code Bill and other 'progressive' policies of the Nehru Government. Having discovered that Svami Karpatri was not the creator of an ultra-nationalist party linked with fundamentalists, as it was printed here and there, but on the contrary a sage of high knowledge revered by traditional monks as the four sankaracaryas and their entourage, I decided to collect information about him. I found this information - the facts and their explanations - from Svami Karpatri's direct disciples and follower whom I was fortunate enough to meet, at Prayag or Banaras. I presented here this information not to justify or condemn anything but to try to understand.
I have no any other aim in the following pages than to try - for the first time in English - to give some lights about a contemporary samnyasin of deep knowledge, author of more than forty books, a sage who became a political leader, and whose slogans, twenty-five years after his death, were spreading in the whole Ardha Kumbha Mela in 2007.
According to the disciples of Svami Karpatri, these slogans - which were those of the Dharma Sangh, a cultural and religious organisation he created for the defence of dharma in 1939, and afterwards of the Ram Rajya Parishad, a political party founded in 1950 with a similar goal - were initially opposed to the anti traditionalist politics of the British Government, then of the leader of the Indenendence movement who had been educated in English universities and wanted to establish a secular state in the exact pat- tern of Western countries.
Following these disciples, sadhus for the most, these slogans did not pretend to set the Hindus in opposition to the other sections of the population, nor India to any other country, but rather confronted the challenges of the 21 st century multicultural societies, as well as the political and ecological dangers of a government mostly ruled by economical aims - which are, traditionally, those of the sole third varna
Slogans as dharma ki jaya ho! (victory to dharma), praniyom mem sadbhavana ho! (goodwill for all creatures), visva ka kalyana ho! (welfare for the world), express another political scope than modern nationalist ones as "one country, one people, one language", which consider the earth as mere property to be exploited, reducing humanity to its material needs and trying to abolish the organic differences that form the base of the traditional kingdoms.' From a traditional point of view, a 'secular' government desecrates the earth, imperilling its equilibrium, and profanes also human society - no longer organized as it was the case, at least ideally, as communities in balance with other communities and with Nature, but in nations opposed to other nations.
It appears that Svami Karpatri wanted to reassert principles which had been the spinal cord of Indian civilization, as the social traditional order, a traditional government respecting dharma, a government taking into account all the different communities and the different aims of life - and not only the economical ones. It can be argued that several centuries of Muslim and British government had put traditional Hinduism in a defensive position, giving a break on his creativity.
However in the opinion of Svami Karpatri, much of its high principles and values were still alive; due to that, Indian civilization remained through millennia, and its principles should guide again the new state that was about to be born. In his perspective, the reformist following western ideologies wanted to "throw the baby with the dirty water".
This is why Svami Karpatri was opposed to the partition of India, as according to him Hindus and Muslims should live together in the mutual respect of their differences, and against the destruction of the varnasrama, the ancient Indian social organisation called by the westerners 'caste system', that protected the minorities, the tribes, the ascetics, the family life, the children and the aged persons. From a traditional point of view, the joint-family provides a favourable frame for children and people in the grhastha (householder) stage; the dignity of aged persons is also provided by the conception of vanaprastha, where old people can dedicate themselves to religious life; and the last stages, following the traditional way of renounce- ment 5 (samnyasa), could been fully dedicated to spiritual aims - even if the forest of old have been replaced by other environments. On discussing these matters with disciples of Svami Karpatri, it was pointed out that it is impossible to find anywhere a human society without defaults, but it should be recognized that this traditional or- ganization contrasts sharply, by example, with the place of Western modern society gives to his own old people. Modern society accords to them, of course, material and medical assistance, but segregates them from the rest of the people, stripping them of all knowledge value and role in the society. It was underlined also that modem 'egalitarian' Indian society claims to have progressed from the traditional and 'op- pressive' one, by granting equal rights to all. Sometimes, though, fifty years after Independence, its looks that instead it has given everybody equal lack of rights. For example tribes in India had always led an independent life, and mainstream society let them live their own life in their territories, even if giving them a low status. The modem state, while theoretically granting them all rights, had deprived them of their territories and independence in the name of progress.
Svami Karpatri, in the context of the formation of a secular state in India fought against the interference of the secular govern- ment in matters of religion and struggled strongly to defend the holy cow. This is specially expressed by the slogans praniyom mem sadbhavana ho! (goodwill for all creatures), visva ka kalyana ho! (welfare for the world), gomata ki jaya ho! (praise to our mother the cow), gohatya band ho! (stop cow slaughter). For the Hindus, ani- mal and plants are not deprived of consciousness, and the holy cow represents all the animal stage - in fact, the generosity of Nature - with which the human society has to organize a relationship of reci- procity and not despotic exploitation. The mythical cow Kamadhenu, who provides all the desires, contains symbolically all the gods in her body; the holy cow had been intimately close-knit to Hindu soci- ety. Traditional Hindus cannot consider positively the deny of ani- mals' rights to be free, not only in western 'developed' cities, but also in the modern countryside, which appears as a green desert. From a Hindu point of view, the 'rational' western organization of collective jails for cows and other domesticated animals, treated as mere things, killed in a young age for economic reasons, deprived even of the light of the sun, seems a kind of hell. Svami Karpatri fought all his life to ban cow slaughter from India.
In the 20th century, so fertile with war, revolution and conflict, the spiritual way of Svami Karpatri lay not in keeping himself aloof from world matters, as most sadhus usually do, but rather to take an active part in them. For millions of Hindus, Svami Karpatri was a clear example for our modern times of the sthitaprajna of the Gita, the sage "established in wisdom" who "performs actions while remaining steadfast in yoga" (Bhagavad Gita,II.48). He worked only for the benefit of the world, having already obtained the highest spiritual state: "Forsaking attachment to the fruits of action, ever satisfied, depending on nothing; though engaged in action, truly, he does nothing." (Bhagavad Gita, IV.20).
Indeed, Svami Karpatri paid a heavy price, by going fourteen times to jail to defend traditional Indian society, to claim and reaffirm something very ill-treated by the apparently irresistible triumph materialism: sanatana dharma, the timeless and eternal law hed given India its foundation throughout the millennia.
Brahma Sutras (81)
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