A Man with a Mission

by Kuldip Nayar, member of Raja Sabha (Upper house of Indian Parliament) and considered by many as the Dean of Indian Journalists.

ALL my life I have believed in the comrade, not the Yogi. Not that economic considerations have goaded me in my life but religion has become such a compilation of mumbo jumbo that it has become beyond my comprehension.

Marxism impresses me when it explains certain historical processes but it deters me when I think how the system enslaves man. Still my reverence towards religion is not because what it says but because the belief it stirs in the minds of people to bow in prayers. Forms of worship appear strange to me but in that moment I find every man at his best. He is trying to analyze different facets of life; happiness and sorrow, faith and skepticism, religion and revolt. What does this all mean?

One Yogi Baba Virsa Singh has interested me. He looks to be restoring civility to civilization. Like Mahatma Gandhi, he believes in basic things: wrong means will not lead to right results and that this is no longer merely an ethical doctrine but a practical proposition. This is Babaji’s dharma also.

In the same quest, Babaji visits Russia, the country of commissars, and says: Dharma is the foundation not just of civilization but of the entire universe. When its laws are flouted, society suffers. Humanity suffers. Restore Dharma and society will rise again.

Russia is a perfect example. Once a great civilization, the Russians cast out God and quickly fell. Now they are returning to Dharma and once again they will rise to a position of leadership both spiritually and economically.

Babaji was only 13 at the time of Partition, living happily in his village Raja Jung, Lahore district. He migrated to Sarawan Bodla. His present abode, and model spiritual community, Gobind Sadan, is on the outskirts of New Delhi. His biggest shock was the killing of 10 lakh Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs during Partition.

Adherents of one religion killed that of the other. He saw religious institutions themselves failing in their responsibility. Their leadership was to blame for turning people away from Dharma.

In order to restore Dharma, Babaji first set out to restore people’s faith in the Power of Dharma and to deal with the corruption within the religious institutions and religious leadership. Then he has set out to heal the world.

Based on Guru Nanak’s model of hard work, Babaji began developing barren land to create an economic base not just for his residence, but to set an example with hard work and of how poverty could be overcome.

Babaji started plowing with his own hands — the picture that has now become Gobind Sadan’s logo — and would not even take money from anyone for petrol to the extent he wouldn’t accept speaking engagements in Punjab until he could pay his own way.

Babaji then showed that Dharma could overcome the plague of terrorism when, to quell one of India’s worst insurgencies, Babaji’s great devotee, Gurnam Singh Randhawa was appointed the Inspector-General of Police, Mizoram. In 1977, Babaji himself was invited to Mizoram by the Governor, S.K.Chhibber and within three months restored peace.

Babaji has brought to public notice that textbooks commonly in use for the last 20 years throughout India contained literally slanderous material about Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh, as well as other Prophets and religions. Babaji and the Gobind Sadan Institute supported the work of the NCERT to have the textbooks revised: a cause that was debated in Parliament and ultimately by the Supreme Court.

He is the one who wrote a letter to Bhindranwale urging him to come down from the Akal Takht and preserve both the sanctity of the Akal Takht and the Panth.

In their religious goals, men do not differ much from one another, no matter where they live, or when. They seek the favour of their gods. They long for religious protection against the dangers of life. They desire spiritual community with their fellow human beings.

They pray for courage in the hour of conflict, comfort in the hour of grief, guidance in their daily concerns. They want release from the pangs of conscience. And most — but not all of them — hope for some sort of immortality. The ways by which followers of the different religions pursue these common ends vary beyond all telling, though within all the great faiths there have been mystics who have risen above the level on which most of us live to a very similar sense of the Divine.

(From the Punjabi Original – I applaud Babaji for his accomplishments and on the occasion of his birthday congratulate him for the great contribution he has made to the cause of Dharma.)

Throughout the centuries men have died for the right to believe. But other men, equally sincere, have died for the right to disbelieve. For atheism too is a faith in the sense that it is based on belief rather than scientific proof. In the Western world atheism, as meaning those who deny the existence of any and all gods, was more popular in the last century than it is now. It has yielded to the agnosticism.

Is there a God? I do not know. Is man immortal? I do not know. One thing I do know and that is that neither hope nor fear, belief nor denial, can change the fact. It is as it is and it will be as it must be. I wait and hope. Believers such as the present writer may draw their own conclusions about the significance of that final sentence.

Since pure atheism and agnosticism obviously do nothing towards answering the ultimate riddles of life, some non-believers have turned to humanism — a term which has had varied meanings.

However, today, according to Corliss Lamont in Humanism as a Philosophy, humanism “is the viewpoint that men have but one life to lead and should make the most of it in terms of creative work and happiness; that human happiness is its own justification and requires no sanction or support from supernatural sources; that in any case the supernatural, usually conceived of in the form of heavenly gods or immortal heavens, does not exist; and that human beings, using their own intelligence and cooperating liberally with one another, can build an enduring citadel of peace upon this earth”.