On Sanskrit - Convocation Address - 10 November 2006

Convocation Address - 10 November 2006

Convocation Address of Dr. Kireet Joshi At The IX Convocation of Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi
10th November, 2006.

May I begin by congratulating all the students and scholars who have received their awards, their certificates and the prizes? It is customary to mark this occasion with a ceremony as also a few words of greetings and reflections that may serve as counsel for the future. In this way, Convocation makes an imprint of a landmark in the lives of all the participants. May I wish that this landmark continues to serve as a reservoir from which you will constantly derive inspiration for a noble and fruitful life.

In our tradition, the great words of the Taittiriya Upanishad uttered by the teacher to the pupil are remembered and repeated on this occasion. These words are simple but packed with power and unfailing force of guidance. The very first two short sentences of the relevant Chapter summarise everything that we ought to follow in our life. Satyam vada, dharmam chara – speak truth, walk in the way of the law of thy path of ascent. A little later, it is said: “Thou shalt not be negligent of truth; thou shalt not be negligent of thy duty, thou shalt not be negligent of welfare; thou shalt not be negligent towards thy increase and thy thriving; thou shalt not be negligent of study and teaching of the books of wisdom.” In a further elucidation, it says: “The works that are without blame before the people, thou shalt do these with diligence and no others. The deeds that we have done that are good and righteous, thou shalt practise with commitment and devotion and no others.” Finally, it addresses itself to a situation where one is besieged by doubt, perplexity, anxiety, or indecision. It counsels as follows:

Moreover, it thou doubt of thy course or of thy action, then to whatsoever leaders of wisdom be there who are careful thinkers, devout, not moved by others, lovers of virtue, not severe or cruel, even as they do in that thing, so do thou. It concludes:

Convocation Address - 10 November 2006

Convocation Address - 10 November 2006

एष आदेशः । एष उपदेशः।
एषःवेदौपनिषत् । एतदनुशासनम्।
एवमुपासितव्यम्। एवमु चैतदुपास्यम्।।

This is the law and the teaching. These are Commandments. In such wise shalt thou practise the law of thy life, verily in such wise do ever with commitment and devotion.

These words of counsel come to all of us at this Convocation as a boon of our great heritage, and let us receive them with determination to put them into practice. Basically, it is a call for each one of us to make experiments with truth – a task which need not be left only to the great souls but which has to be undertaken by each one of us in a true spirit of equality; for this is the path where everyone has an equal right of entry and fulfilment.

But what is truth? And what is truth-speaking? In answer, we may say that truth and truth-consciousness are closely interrelated. Truth is an expression of the reality and unless one gets into contact with reality, one cannot be qualified to express it. As one begins to experiment with the truth, one begins to make a distinction between facts as we see them and the larger reality as it is in itself. We are, therefore, obliged to correct our perception of facts, unify them in larger and larger context until the finite unites itself with the infinite. The infinite consciousness alone is at its highest the truth-consciousness. Truth speaking is the indispensable condition of the development of truth-consciousness; and none can speak the truth without developing ever-increasing truth-consciousness. That is why, the earliest formula of wisdom that we find recorded in the Veda is that of satyam, ritam, brihat, the truth, the right and the vast. Without vastness, there is no expression of truth and without expression of truth, there is no right action.

Right action, ritam, is the origin of the Indian concept of dharma. This concept underlines the principle of the right action as the unifying thread which sustains the world and which uplifts the world constantly to higher and higher modes of thought and will-force. Dharma is both positive and normative; it sustains every object by virtue of its inherent qualities and interrelationships, but it also stimulates a path of norms, of ascent, a path of interchange between the individual and the cosmic, and traces an upward movement towards higher and higher goals. The highest prayer of dharma is contained in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: asato mā sad gamaya, tamaso mā jyotir gamaya, mrityor mā amritam gamaya, lead me from the unreal to the real, lead me from the darkness to light, lead me from death to immortality.

Convocation Address - 10 November 2006

Convocation Address - 10 November 2006

This ancient message of the Veda and the Upanishad has to be linked with the problems of today which are centred on what Sri Aurobindo has called “the evolutionary crisis”. We are all involved in evolution, and we cannot escape it. In this evolutionary movement, we have reached a critical point: for we have developed greatly our mind but are lagging behind in morality and spirituality; we have developed huge structures of organisation, but we have lagged behind in developing vision and wisdom which alone can control that hugeness; we have developed machines and instruments that facilitate productivity, entertainment and enjoyment, but we have not learned how to establish the sovereignty of our spirit over the machine; we have utilised our knowledge to build the paths of pollution — both environmental and internal, — and even of death, but we have not taken care to tap those resources by which the child and the youth can be enabled to ascend on the higher path of life and perpetual youth. The crisis becomes more and more acute with every passing day; for evolution does not tolerate our inability or our excuses for delay or inertia. The message of this crisis is that one must build the passage from the mind to the supermind and build on the earth that ideal world which children and youth should cherish, — where the world will give them the necessary work and leisure by which they can grow from within the secret potentialities of fulfilment, — a world which will not deny them the real and effective equality; and a world that will tie us all in the bonds that do not bind but liberate and uplift, — the bonds of true fraternity.

Let me come to the final point both biologically and psychologically, we are so constituted that our natural occupation has to be that of students and teachers. And highest considerations impose upon us the need to become good students and good teachers. The labour that your teachers have put in for your development and for your education will be truly rewarded if you do not ever cease to be good students’ and if you transmit as good teachers your education to others whose responsibilities you will be required to shoulder. Every good teacher continues to learn more and more and every good student continues to create greater and greater opportunities for their teachers to teach them more and more integrally. It is my earnest wish that you will strive to become and remain for ever good students and good teachers — not necessarily in what are now called schools and colleges, but more importantly in the School of Life.

Convocation Address - 10 November 2006

Convocation Address - 10 November 2006

Let me conclude by presenting to you a powerful message that Sri Aurobindo has given to the young people of India:

“Our call is to young India. It is the young who must be the builders of the new world, — not those who accept the competitive individualism, the capitalism or the materialistic communism of the West as India’s future ideal, nor those who are enslaved to old religious formulas and cannot believe in the acceptance and transformation of life by the spirit, but all who are free in mind and heart to accept a completer truth and labour for a greater ideal. They must be men who will dedicate themselves not to past or the present but to the future. They will need to consecrate their lives to an exceeding of their lower self, to the realisation of God in themselves and in all human beings and to a whole-minded and indefatigable labour for the nation and for humanity. This ideal can be as yet only a little seed and the life that embodies it a small nucleus, but it is our fixed hope that the seed will grow into a great tree and the nucleus be the heart of an ever-extending formation. It is with a confident trust in the spirit that inspires us that we take our place among the standard-bearers of the new humanity that is struggling to be born amidst the chaos of a world in dissolution, and of the future India, the greater India of the rebirth that is to rejuvenate the mighty outworn body of the ancient Mother.”

Jai Hind

Convocation Address - 10 November 2006

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