THREE YEARS HAVE ZOOMED PAST as if they were three seconds. While I am largely ambivalent about things like anniversaries, they have existed throughout the history of humankind because they perform a function that has an intrinsic appeal to our psyche or subconscious. It is worth recalling the profound words of Bhartruhari, who said that our birth is kissed by death and the sooner one turns inwards, the better. Or if one were to take an all-encompassing view, Time itself is Eternity.
Perhaps only the Sanatana spiritual civilisation has contemplated upon Time so extensively and in such a profound manner. The very name indicates the fact: Sanatana or Eternal. A key component in what is known as Western philosophy is something called the “problem” of Time. Indeed, the fundamentalist Christian doctrine would—and did—collapse if Time is regarded as Eternity (or cyclical) because the Christian male God gave a manufacturing date to the creation of the world. The prolific Ananda Coomaraswamy phrases this in his characteristic fashion:
From what may be called the fundamentalist point of view, time is thought of as having had a beginning and as proceeding towards an end, and so contrasted with eternity as everlasting duration without beginning or end. The absurdity of these positions is made apparent.
On a fundamental plane, the Sanatana genius solved this “problem” by realizing transcendence in both space and time. Thus, if you cannot go to the Kumbha Mela and sanctify yourself by bathing at the Triveni Sangama, you can take a few drops of water on your palm and invoke these sacred rivers and drink the water. The Kumbha Mela denotes time and the Triveni Sangama signifies space. The experience of transcendence occurs on the plane of Bhava (feeling) you invoke within yourself when you drink those drops of water.
Neither was this empty philosophical speculation. It was concretised and made accessible to the ubiquitous masses through many simple devices foremost of which were art and literature. The Puranas are the most glorious examples of this. There is no Purana which does not talk about Manvantaras, Kalpas and Yugas. It is a testimony to the enduring roots of the foundational genius of our ancients that these Puranic stories continue to be performed on stage in villages, sung as songs and poems, and adapted to cinema. Indeed, the episode of Trishanku is an inexhaustible treasure-chest comprising inspiration, insights, and sublime lessons in understanding space and time. One of its finest expositions is showcased in Devudu Narasimha Sastri’s magnum opus, Mahabrahmana.
In essence, just the mention of the word “anniversary” can and will take the willing spirit on such precious journeys. More than mere duty, it is a spiritual imperative on the part of every Sanatani to preserve the roots of the civilization that empowers such journeys. Which is what we set out to do at The Dharma Dispatch three years ago. To reiterate: the primary and the core ideal that propels The Dharma Dispatch is what can be called a Civilizational Good. Truth, self-study, idealism, and reverence to past Masters are our best guides in this endeavour.
Three years later, we are not only delighted but profoundly moved and deeply touched by the sort of widespread goodwill and unstinted support that the Sanatana community continues to give to our humble work. It reaffirms our commitment, it makes our responsibility more profound, and above all, the inner gratification we have experienced is indescribable. Without beating our own drum, some acknowledgements are due. We receive regular communication from primary schoolteachers in remote villages of Tamil Nadu and (undivided) Andhra Pradesh who say that they take printouts of Dharma Dispatch articles and circulate it among their young students. These teachers are helpless in face of the annihilatory onslaughts of “mainstream education” and are anxious to pass on the best of our cultural traditions to the next generation. Their heartfelt messages of thanks are truly humbling. We also receive similar messages and kudos from Sanatana parents who correctly feel hemmed in by the planned cultural destruction masquerading as education. And then there are messages like these which render us speechless.
As we noted, the idea is not to blow our own trumpet but to underscore a profound truth staring right at us: that such messages are the best real-life demonstrations of the fact that there is a millennia-old innate strength and capacity that the global Sanatana community is endowed with. This strength wells up and bursts out, to the fore in ways that are unfathomable. It is this that has sustained our civilisation. An infinitesimal expression of this strength is the aforementioned goodwill shown towards The Dharma Dispatch.
For all this and more, our eternal gratitude.
As I see it, a Civilizational Good is not a goal or a destination but a continuum. It is akin to a real-life metaphor close to my heart.
The first is the Akshaya Vata Vruksha. When the Muslim bigot Jahangir learned that the Kaffirs regarded this indestructible banyan tree with utmost reverence, he chopped it to its very roots and hammered a red-hot iron cauldron on its stump so that it wouldn’t grow again. Within a year, the magnificent Vruksha proved the truth of its name with no external help: it simply began to grow. It still stands. Akshaya. Indestructible. That which knows no decay. Sanatana. The bigot Jahangir died four hundred years ago and Islamic political hegemony in Bharatavarsha was wiped out by his own grandson.
The beauty of it all is the fact that you can find your own metaphor in the Sanatana annals, the proverbial Kalpavruksha, the divine gift that keeps on giving if we only care to nurture it with affection, dedication and reverence.
As we observed in the beginning of this piece, three years have simply swished past us but they have been immensely active, profoundly enriching, and your support for our endeavour has not only grown with each year but it continues to empower us.
Once again, our heartfelt gratitude goes out to everyone who became part of this journey. Its value is incalculable.
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