15 August 2010 heralds the 63rd year of our independence from British rule. Externally it appears that India has made much material progress in these years. The people of free India now have access to a wide variety of technology, foods, and medicines. They can enjoy numerous facilities in terms of transport, education and lifestyle goods. At the same time, the problems that Indians face are multi-fold. We live in highly unstable times, where internal and external enemies can rip apart the fabric of our very existence without a moment’s notice. The shootout in Mumbai on 26 November 2008, the Pune blast and the Naxal attacks are just a few examples. Besides this insecurity, we grapple with recession, pollution, corruption, inflation, congestion, and many other ‘tions’. All this simply leads to frustration and dissatisfaction with the government.
It is clear that happiness in the life of an average Indian has barely improved from pre-independence to post-independence. We may no longer live under the oppression and autocracy of a foreign power, but life still has many insecurities.
Our problems have simply transformed, not vanished. There is no surprise in this. We are eternal spirit souls, and we can find real happiness only when we establish our relationship with the Supreme Soul, Sri Krishna. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura nicely explained this point: “Whether one power or another ruled was a temporary situation; but the eternal reality is Krishna consciousness and the real self is the spirit soul. No man-made political system could therefore, actually help humanity.”( Srila Prabhupada-lilamrita, Vol. 1, Ch. 3)
THE REAL FIGHT IS YET TO BEGIN
15 August isn’t a complete independence day. The real fight for independence hasn’t even begun. We are all living under the illusion that we are these temporary material bodies. We seek happiness in the temporary objects of this world. In illusion, we think of ourselves as masters and controllers, but we are slaves of maya, illusion. We need to get rid of this false master and establish the government of Sri Krishna in our hearts.
Lord Krishna is the true master, the only person who can reciprocate the love and service of we spirit souls perfectly. Unlike all other material governments, He is not interested in exploiting us. He loves each and every one of us unlimitedly, and eternal bliss can be found just by rendering service to Him. Then we can gain liberation from the cycle of birth, death, old age and disease. As Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita (7.14), “This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” Since we are originally spirit souls, part and parcel of Krishna, our real independence lies in reviving our lost relationship with Him. We shall then find unlimited eternal bliss at His lotus feet.
The first step in this struggle for independence is of course to realize that we are slaves of the wrong master. Once we have accepted this, we can use pointers from our Indian history in this spiritual fight too. Our independence movement was based mainly on two lines of thought passive non-cooperation and active aggression.
Gandhi suggested non-cooperation with everything that was British. Let us too stop co-operating with everything that hampers our devotional life. Let us reject not only the grossly sinful substances like meat and intoxicants, but also the subtle substances like television, mundane books, movies and music and even materialistic association and talk, all of which distract us from Krishna and increase our illusion. Gandhi suggested not only the rejection of British goods but also their replacement with Indian made products. Similarly, we too can replace all of the above with Krishna conscious books and music, devotee association, discussions of Krishna’s pastimes and study of the scriptures. This will help us increase our attraction to God.
Subhash Chandra Bose and other nationalists suggested an all out attack against the English Government. We too can launch our attack on Maya by sincere chanting of the holy name. The chanting of the names of God is the simplest method of remembering Him. By doing so, the darkness of illusion is dispelled from our hearts.
Just as a bullet shot at the enemy kills him, the holy name acts as a powerful weapon that destroys all the anarthas (lust, anger, etc.) within the heart. Let us be disciplined soldiers, chanting regulated number of rounds early in the morning, worshiping the Deities and Tulasi Devi. Let us attack relentlessly and continuously by rendering services in the temple and by active preaching of this eternal truth.
If we wage this two-pronged war on Maya, then surely she will depart. We can then raise the flag of our love and devotion to the spiritual sky. God, along with His associates, will then wish us “Happy Independence Day!”