(Talk at the Gnostic Centre, New Delhi, on March 28th 2007)
I’m an apprentice, like many of us, to be at the feet of mother. And you will pardon me sometimes if I’m autobiographical. Like many young people of India, who have been brought up under the philosophy of individualism, competition, of autonomy, it is very difficult for me to be submissive. And the psychology of looking upon the world, with the sense of — if not superiority, with the sense of equality was very predominant in my consciousness. For many many years in my boyhood and college days, the background in which I lived was disrespectful to the ideas of gods and goddesses; disrespectful to all authority and the idea of surrender was anathema. But it is under a great state of mental crisis, through which I passed between, the age of sixteen and nineteen, — during which I sought only one important answer, “what is truth?” I had heard of Swami Vivekananda, who was asking questions to whether those who claimed to be God lovers, had they seen God? In my intellectual arrogance, I had feeling, I will not ask this question whether one have seen God or not, my question was whether I can prove intellectually, whether the God exists or not. If you believe in God because you see that is much more simple, but without seeing God and intellectually prove that He exists. This I felt was of much more importance or else much more difficult and it was that question which I was asking all the time and there were many other intellectual questions, which had arisen in my mind. By the age of eleven I had read Dayananda Sarawati’s ‘Satyaprakash’ that was one of the important landmarks in my intellectual development. By fourteen, I had read much of Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna and by sixteen I had read almost everything that Gandhi had written, this was my intellectual search. And then I studied a great deal of logic and world history and economics between the age of sixteen and nineteen, also particularly the study of Greek philosophy and modern philosophy, — Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Bradley, and Bertrand Russell and also the study of Nyaya, Veshishika, Sankhya, Yoga, Poorva Mimanasa, Uttarmimansa and various schools of Indian philosophy, — studied a great deal of the Bhagavad Gita and I felt that none of them had answered the basic questions. And I was asking why people talk of so much of great minds, who have not been able to answer some of the basic questions on the answers of which our life can be truly built. If I want to serve the world and myself or anybody, I must know what is this world for; why has it come into being and how best you can serve this world. I was very rebellious to many of my friends whether they belonged to Western tradition or Indian tradition. I was quite desperate and rebellious and at the same time very pained that they had no answers, of course I was studying Vedanta, the absolute Brahman and the concept of Maya. It was full of Maya for me because it was supposed to be the most satisfying answer, which itself admitted that it was inexplicable and yet it was regarded to be the most wonderful answer in the whole Indian philosophy and I was wondering how that philosophy can be regarded as the acme of philosophical thought.