An Evening on Applied Spirituality

Applied Spirituality
Kaushal Kishore [follow @HolyGanga ]

There are many programmes in the halls of India International Centre every day. Many of these events are focused on promotion of certain ideas, groups and even products. In many cases, you may predict almost everything if you know about the event and its organiser. Still a few of them are interesting and others are entertaining. But these days the brainstorming—interesting and stimulating—sessions are rare. Last Monday (21 September 2015) I witnessed one of such events there.

I never had an idea on how interesting and stimulating the dais comprising Madhu Kishwar, Arun Sorie, Reverend Valson Thampu and Swami Agnivesh can really be. That evening, it was the occasion of a talk on the newest publication of Harper Collins i.e. Applied Spirituality by Swami Agnivesh. The representative of its publisher Kartika, in brief, introduced the issue and digniteries on the dais, and handed over the cord to Madhu Kishwar to moderate the session further.

I thought that this is going to be a rather hot evening when I heard the preamble and questions that Madhu Kishwar raised. She puts her crisp views in straightforward and simple words, and asks certain burning questions. She begins with Maharshi Dayananda and his mission the Arya Samaj that emerged to counter rise of Christianity in Brithish India. And further raise questions on the articulation of attack on the prevailing impediments of religions, as stipulated in the book. The call for collective efforts and the hardness in the tone of attacks are the backbone of her introductory talk. At last she expects a modeate tone so that every one can join the platform.

Arun Sorie says that reaction to reform is always bitter. He has further defined three different states—spiritual, mystic and do-gooder—in order to establish relationship among them. He clearly states that Swami Agnivesh is doing all that was initiated by Swami Dayananda Saraswati. He depicts examples from the life and works of Mahatma Gandhi and Raman Maharshi. However Gandhiji never went to Maharshi, still at times he referred many people to him. The audience before Maharshi praises the excellent works of Gandhiji, and questions so as to persuade him to do such works. In order to answer such questions Maharshi simply asks, ‘Who is doing these good works?’ The sublime and spiritual connection among these three different types of works is mentioned in the talks of Arun Sourie.

Debate on Freedom: Pristly class emerged in every religion, and only the priest is authorised to interpret the scriptures. In contrast there is the freedom that is being expressed in the behaviour of our children. Reverend Thampu says that every religion is against human freedom. Moreover religion is against spirituality. I was astonished to hear when a person like Valson Thampu says that he finally left the Inter Religious Movement after being a part of it for 25 years because the learders are not free to open their hearts.

Swamiji shares verbatium accounts of his formatin sice its inception in the Telagu speaking region of South India. His father died at the tender age of 4 and thereafter the maternal grand-father nourished him. There is many important things in his talk. I saw Swami Agnivesh first time in the chair. Although the audience felt the presidential address a bit lengthy, but still it was flawless and entertaining. The open session could have been more interesting, for there were many experts from various walks of life among the audience. Unfortunately it was not possible due to the time constraint.


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