Guruji Satsangh - We must change our idea of change!

April 21, 2011

I moderate a Geeta study class on Saturdays at the GIIS East Coast campus. A week ago, Pujya Gurudev (we watch his videos) was teaching Chapter 3, shloka 19.

तस्मादसक्तः सततं कार्यं कर्म समाचर |
असक्तो ह्याचरन्कर्म परमाप्नोति पूरुषः ||३-१९||
tasmaadasaktaH satataM kaaryaM karma samaachara .
asakto hyaacharankarma paramaapnoti puurushhaH .. 3-19..

3-19: Therefore (O Arjuna), always perform actions (duties which must be done), without attachment; for, by performing action without attachment, man attains the Supreme.

I was struck by how much this resonated with a topic Guruji discussed when he passed through Singapore recently.

We were discussing the problems in the Middle East. Egypt's former president, Hosni Mubarak and his sons had been arrested that day (April 12/13). Someone said that the whole of the Middle East seems to be in trouble.

I asked, "Swamiji, we're constantly told today to be an agent of change. Change locally, think globally. But our actions seem so small, and the problems we read about give us a sense of being globally helpless. What can we do?"

Guruji answered: "Different roles come to you. In whatever work you're doing, do the best you can. When I came to the Ashram as a Brahmachari (student), my role was only to study. Then I was posted to a Chinmaya Mission centre and I started teaching. Later, I was given responsibility for a Vedanta course in Sidhabari and my role expanded again.  Bigger things will keep coming to you when you keep doing whatever work is given to you. As a student in the ashram, never in my wildest dreams I imagined I would be the head of the Mission and be a successor to Gurudev.

"Chinmaya Mission is already working in society. In each field, Chinmaya Mission should inspire and motivate people. In the field of education, Chinmaya Mission has 80 educational institutes today. We're changing the lives of numerous students. Through CORD, we're working in so many villages. Haven't we changed lives there?

"People always want some dramatic change. But our Gurudev used to say, 'Change must be an evolution, not revolution'. Revolution everyone can see. When the time is right, even for revolution there will be someone to make that happen. Gurudev said, 'YOU change!' We have been conducting so many Balavihars for many years. Many people tell me, 'That was the best thing my parents did for me', even though they may not have known it when they were in Balavihar. Where ever they are, in their profession (these people who attended Balavihar), they have a different outlook. That is how change is achieved.

"What is the meaning of change? We want something dramatic. Our idea of change has to change.

"During India's freedom struggle, Gandhiji asked everyone to leave their studies and join the freedom struggle. Everyone did not join the movement. Many students continued to study science, medicine and engineering. It is not that they were not patriotic. Yet, after India became independent, it is these students who built India - the big dams such as Bhakra Nangal, the Atomic Research (BARC), the IITs - these were created by Dr. Bhabha and by these students who continued studying silently instead of getting carried away. If all had given up their studies, who would have built the nation after independence? One is to win freedom, another is to build after we gained freedom. Rabindranath Tagore was a great friend of Gandhiji but he did not join the movement. Don't we remember him now?

"When the Mughals invaded India and destroyed temples, etc. some kings fought against them. Yet, it was also a Bhakti Yug led by people such as Surdasji and Kabir. The work of the saints is different. They sustained the faith of the people when everyone was demoralized. To sustain somebody's faith is such a great job, and they did it.

"In cricket, didn't MS Dhoni bring change in his field? He changed the way Indian team plays, the mindset of the team? Because India started believing 'we can'. He has brought about the change. So, in each of our lives, we can bring change.

"In Chinmaya Mission, we say, 'We know our responsibilities, Give us the ability to fulfill them.' Gurudev said, 'You may not do great things, but whatever you do, do in a great way'.
"In the Ramayana, Jatayu came for a very short time. Yet, he is immortal. Sabari came for a short time, yet she is immortal today. How long you you live is meaningless.  Abhimanyu fought only one day in the war, yet today we still talk about him.
Guruji had beautifully demonstrated how great change often happens incrementally, not dramatically.

Hari Om and Namaskaar until the next post.

PS. Here is the other post on the satsangh with Guruji.

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