The Mother Divine
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(A letter written to Manoj Kumar Chatterji)
Abinash Chandra Bose
Many thanks for your kind letters of 14th and 20th Sept., and for the books sent by you so very kindly. By now I have gone through most of them. In my study of Indian religion and culture one thing has particularly drawn my attention: that our religion has never been state controlled. It is in the hands of individual sages, saints, mahatmas, mahapurushas –who, by establishing themselves in the reverence and affection of the people, become their leaders. Each has his own vision of truth and own spiritual realization (in confirmation of our great scriptures – the Vedas and Upanishads) that guides him. Thus these people are free from the dead weight of dogma that attempts to secure uniformity at the expense of spontaneity. They come into close grips with the reality of the situation, in which they find themselves, and their teaching has relation to the need of the times, and of the people whose leadership they accept. This process, almost ideal from the point of view of genuine spiritual and religious life, can work only if there is a sufficient and periodical supply of religious leaders. Fortunately, for India, most parts of the country have them almost in every age, and it is they who have vitalized religion in this country. Unhappy have been the parts of the country where such men have not frequently arisen like Sindh, Kashmir (in spite of her great Pundits) and East Bengal (which also had many Pundits). I think, but for Sri Chaitanya, we in Bengal would have been where East Bengal is. If Orissa has no minority problem it is I should think, chiefly due to the fact that Sri Chaitanya spent a great part of his life there.

Bengal has been a proud mother of great spiritual sons in recent times. Among followers of the ancient Vedic tradition there are great men, as it is reported, but many of them follow the silent path, perhaps seeking their own realization, which they believe to be a source of bliss for their fellowmen too. But there are a few others who descend from their silence and samadhi and come among the people and preach to them, giving them message which they need and are fit to receive. Mahatma Sitaram is one of these. He has chosen to go among the people and share their pain and suffering, and show them the way. The Vedic tradition ensures the maintenance of the ideal of tapasya and individual realization of truth and support of the fundamental values of life. All that the world feels about a spiritual leader like him is, first of all, that he should be spared long enough to make the teaching take root and produce the right type of men and women. We pray that Sri Sitaram Omkarnath may remain as long as humanly possible to establish his message on a firm foundation. He and his message are not altogether unknown to us. But through you I have known much more than I knew.

Returning to our academic outlook, I have only too often felt that the Indian history taught in our schools leaves out the most vital element of Indian life– the contribution of our sages and saints to it. Where would India have been without Shankaracharya of Chaitanya or Tukaram or Nanaka or Ramakrishna –Vivekananda? But our people are poor historians. How much would we have known about Sri Ramakrishna, the man, without the diary of M? How much would we have read of Swami Vivekananda’s writings but for the short–hand reports (a work of love) of J.J. Goodwin? There is a general tendency to write Lalitavistaras and Sankaravijays on our spiritual heroes and similar things on our military heroes. We should preserve the personalities of our great men for posterity –we should have Boswells for every Johnson and greater than Johnsons.