Saturday, August 29, 2015

Rakshaa Bandhan - an ideal festival for social harmony



RAKSHA BHANDAN MESSAGE
When there is wound anywhere in the body, every other limb spontaneously sacrifices a part of its blood and energy to heal that wound and keep that organ healthy and strong.
The Rakshaa Bandhan stirs up one of the deepest and noblest emotions in the human heart – the abiding and chaste bond of love between the brother and the sister. The delicate cord tied by the sister to the brother on this day pulsates with this sublime sentiment. The sister-brother relationship highlighted by the Raakhi goes far beyond the mere personal protection of a female from a male. It also implies the basic element of an amicable and harmonious social life where all members of the society look upon themselves as brothers and sisters and as children of one common motherland.
The Hindu tradition the Rakshaa has indeed assumed all aspects of protection of the forces of righteousness from the forces of evil. Once, Yudhishthira asked Sri Krishna how best he could guard himself against impending evils and catastrophes in the coming year. Krishna advised him to observe the Rakshaa Ceremony. He also narrated an old incident to show how potent the Rakshaa is.
Once, Indra was confronted by the demon king – the Daitya-raaja – in a long-drawn battle. At one stage, the Daitya-raaja got better of Indra and drove him into wilderness. Indra, humbled and crest-fallen, sought the advice of Brihaspati, the Guru of Gods. The Guru told him to bide his time, prepare himself and then march against his adversary. He also indicated that the auspicious moment for sallying forth was the Shraavana Poornima. On that day, Shachee Devi, the wife of Indra, and Brihaspati tied Raakhis around Indra’s right-wrist. Indra then advanced against the Daitya-raaja, vanquished him and reestablished his sovereignty.
The congregational Raakhi function in Sangh carries this social content. Particularly, the tying of Raakhi to the sacred Bhagavaa Dhwaj at the start of the function signifies this social and cultural aspect. Not only do the participants in the function develop a sense of love and affection amongst themselves but they also affirm their loyalty and devotion to the society of which they are the children. Their commitment to protect each other and also the society as a whole is emphasized through this simple ceremony.
It is not merely that the spirit of Rakshaa manifests itself on occasions of mortal peril to the life and honor of the beloved ones or to the society. It is not like the Home Guards or the militia which are expected to come to the rescue of the people in times of war or natural calamities. No, it is far more deep and all-encompassing. It is like the flow of bloodstream through every limb and organ of the body, carrying strength and nourishment to every cell thereof. As a result, even a small wound anywhere in the body is promptly attended to by the entire body. Every other limb spontaneously sacrifices a part of its blood and energy to heal that wound and keep that organ healthy and strong.
But what are we witnessing today.  Many forces are working to divide a wedge between different sections of society in the name of caste, religion, gender, economic status etc. As a result, there are clashes for reservations, caste conflicts (particularly on the rise in Tamilnadu), atrocities on women etc. Every effort is made to divide the society where as no effort is made to unite the society.  But, how does RSS looks upon the society.

Ideal Society As God: We look upon the society as the living manifestation of Almighty. And we have attributed to the Almighty the capacity of feeding all the living creatures under his care. He is therefore called Vishwambhara. There is a pauranic story, which beautifully highlights this aspect.  Once, it seems, it occurred to Narada to test Lord Vishnu Himself. He caught hold of a few ants, shut them up in a small box and kept it in his safe custody. Then he went out on his usual rounds singing the praise of Vishnu. After a while, he came to Lord Vishnu and casually enquired whether the Lord had had his food. Vishnu replied that he had done so after attending to the feeding of all the living creation. Narada then took out his box saying, "Well, these poor creatures seem to have escaped your Lord’s notice!" Vishnu appeared taken aback, apologised and requested Narada to open the box. And lo! When the box was opened, the ants came out each with a particle of sugar in its mouth! Imaginary though the story may be, it beautifully depicts the state of an ideal society, which will take care of the needs of every living being under its shelter. In fact, the descriptions of our ancient society approximated to this state. No individual, however low and humble he may be, was left to suffer with hunger, thirst or want of shelter. The animals and birds near about also were cared for. Some had even taken a vow of feeding the ants before taking their food.
It is because of the Swayamsevaks are moulded to view the Society as manifestation of God, whenever/wherever a calamity occurs or people are in distress or there is an impending danger etc, the Swayamsevaks rush to the place and carry out relief/rescue operations even to the extent of sacrificing their lives. Highlight the role of Swayamsevaks during the days of partition, during the time of defending the borders in Kashmir, during floods/earth quakes, air/train/fire accidents etc. A typical case is Sri Lanka issue.  No doubt, our Tamil brothers and sisters have been affected largely due to ethnic clashes there.  Instead of helping the affected people, the political parties and Tamil chauvinists have been bent on deriving political mileage out of the issue or further the cause of Tamil chauvinism.  Keeping aloof from all this, Sangh has been silently carrying on various relief and rehabilitation activities through Seva Bharathi by collecting 500 crores, thereby healing the wounds of affected Tamilians to the extent possible. 
This spirit is carried on even during normal times.  For e.g., service activities carried out for the upliftment of the Vanavasis, for the North-Eastern brothern, educating the people in the seva bastis, slums etc.
Efforts for Social harmony through Saaptahik Milan :- Gram Osanda of Dapoli Tehsil in Ratnagiri district of Kokan prant always faced acute problem of drinking water. The villagers of this village with their collective efforts made a plan to solve this problem. For this purpose donations were collected from all the families in the village. It was revealed that 16 families were ostracized from the village. The weekly meetings of the vyavasaayi swayamsevaks (working & professionals) were already being conducted since past one and half years in the village. All the swayamsevaks strived hard towards social harmony by discussing and conversing with people in every basti and every community. There was a discussion on this serious issue in the village meeting (Gram sabha). Efforts began to unite the 16 ostracized families honourably with the other families of the village. 4 months of ceaseless efforts saw positive atmosphere setting in. The result was that the villagers themselves wrote a letter to the village head informing him that the problem has been solved. Today all the families live happily together. All have praised the efforts of the swayamsevaks.
This is how the society can live and prosper amidst all kinds of challenges either from within or without. Especially, various types of internal stresses and strains which are generated in the body-politic of a nation because of ever-changing economic, political and other factors can be overcome only on the strength of this inner flow of mutual affection and amity.
A society imbued with this spirit will see to it that every one of its members is made happy. The idea of the Hindu has always been:
Sarvepi sukhinassantu, sarve santu niraamayaah |
Sarve bhadraani pashyantu, maa kashchit duhkhabhaag bhavet ||
(Let everyone be happy, let everyone be free from all ills, let everyone behold only the auspicious, let no one be afflicted.)
This concept is far more comprehensive than the western concept of `maximum happiness of the maximum number.’ In fact, spontaneous love and compassionate service for the poor and lowly in society is held up as the highest form of worship of God Himself. The spirit of selfless social service which makes for the uplift of the needy and deprived sections is thus transformed into a spiritual saadhanaa.
The boon asked of God by the King Rantideva who, when his kingdom was ravaged by famine, gave away his last morsel of food to a hungry man and the last sip of water to a thirsty dog, remains the eternal heart-beat of every devout Hindu:
Na twaham kaamaye raajyam na swargam naapunar bhavam |
Kaamaye duhkhataptaanaam praaninaam aarti naashanam ||
“Oh Lord, I desire not kingdom nor the heavens nor even moksha. All I desire is to remove the suffering from the afflicted beings.”
It is only when this type of attitude towards one’s less fortunate brothers and sisters permeates society that exploitations of the weak by the strong will end. Powers of intellect and body, and of material wealth and influence will then be utilized for the uplift and service of others. A Samskrit Subhaashita says,
Vidyaa vivaadaaya dhanam madaaya shaktih pareshaam paripeedanaaya |
Khalasya sadhorvipareetam etat jnaanaaya daanaaya cha rakshanaaya ||
For the wicked, learning is for dry arguments, wealth is for satisfying vanity, strength for harassing others, but in the case of holy men these are for imparting knowledge, offering charity and protecting others.
In short, Raksha Bandhan affords a most auspicious occasion to recharge ourselves every year with the true spirit of service and sacrifice for the welfare of the society, and find therein the highest spiritual fulfillment of human life.  

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