“Sannyasins live and move with atma-trupti (inner contentment), atmotsaha (inner fervour)and atma-nirbandha (inner compulsion). Though Sanny¡sins are fully contented inwardly, they nevertheless have a loving concern for the society around. Their societal efforts are solely to ensure the welfare and cohesion of the society and never for their own delight. This often generates some timely inner compulsions, which result in their taking up loka-sangraha programmes. Spiritual contentment and irresistible societal concern go together!”
Swamiji goes on to say that in doing so they do not look for any special recognition or regard from any quarter and in this respect they are like God.
Swamiji further adds:
“The manner in which Sannyasins strive to alleviate the sufferings of the people and help and guide them to attain peace, wisdom and freedom, is best described by Shankara in his last composition, Vivekachudamani:”
शान्ता महान्तो निवसन्ति सन्तो
वसन्तवल्लोकहितं चरन्तः ।
तीर्णाः स्वयं भीमभवार्णवं जनान
अहेतुनान्यानपि तारयन्तः ॥ ३७ ॥
अयं स्वभावः स्वत एव यत्पर-
श्रमापनोदप्रवणं महात्मनाम् ।
प्रभाभितप्तामवति क्षितिं किल ॥ ३८ ॥
This kind of nobility and fondness is a prominent characteristic of wise people. It is like that of the moon, which with its cool radiance, comforts the earth scorched by the hot rays of the sun. It is but an act and expression of spontaneity. There is neither expectation nor desire for any reward or recognition.
Loka-sangraha is the mission of restraining the society from destructive tendencies and measures, guiding the people to the auspicious, righteous path. Exposition of Texts like Upanishads, Bhagavadgeeta, and Sreemad Bhaagavatam, conducting Jnaana Yajna, undertaking publications are the means by which Sannyasins generally accomplish 'loka-sangraha'.
Satyavati sought the hermit Sage Vyasadeva’s help when the Kuru throne stood deserted. Even Bheeshma failed to resolve the crisis. Was it not very disharmonious to ask a hermit like Vyasadeva to bring about children in Chitrangada’s and Vichitraveerya’s wives? Yet, Vyasadeva finally consented, only because of the compulsion he felt for the welfare of the people.
All these are instances where the Sanny¡sins came down to redress crisis, which could not have been resolved otherwise. The same spirit continues in us even today. Our entry into the religio-social movements was also like this.
In Guruvayur Temple, on grounds of untouchability, people belonging to the backward castes were not allowed to offer paµca-v¡dya seva. The Guruvayur Devaswam Committee is nominated by the Kerala Legislative Assembly, which swears by the Constitutional rights of equality and fraternity. Yet they yielded to the voice of misguided orthodoxy. When the people as well as the Government failed to resolve the crisis, we were compelled to step in and set matters right, helping the Government also in the process. It is not that the Government did not want to help. They perhaps felt helpless and needed a strong religious voice.
In Kodungallur Devi Temple, the practice of singing obscene songs was age-old. In spite of clear laws against this public vulgarity, the practice continued. Efforts of the Governments proved ineffective. We had to lead mass movements for three years before the evil could be stopped.
In Elavoor Devi Temple, it was the practice of suspending a human being from a 32 ft high scaffold, by metal hooks pierced through the back skin. Here again the Government failed to do anything and the social activists also stood helpless. That is why we had to strive to halt the ritual. Can any sober society accept such devotional perversions and blindness? Does the voice of dharma ever condone such criminal inflictions in the name of devotional frenzy? Our Scriptures extol reason and rationality!”
Out of such compulsion Swamiji led various movements from time to time, taking all care to see that the movements were harmonious with the societal and dharmic considerations and at the same time did not hinder the core activities of the ashram viz. Brahmavidya dissemination.
Ashram activities, being located in a rural set-up, under the direction of Poojya Swamiji, naturally added on the twin dimensions of Societal Welfare and Societal Reforms amongst to Swamiji’s multifaceted Loka-sangraha mission making a significant contribution to the cultural and economic welfare of the villages around.
Amongst the Welfare programs notable are the
|Monthly and Annual Anna Vastra Daana Satra wherein Rice and Clothing are offered to poor families. A benevolent event, when sponsored by many people, with the aim of benefiting the society at large, verily becomes a Satra. The Anna-vastra Daana Satram is not just to help the recipients materially. The daana awareness instilled in countless men and women spread all over the world, strengthens and enriches the society with lasting rewards. It was with this aim in mind that the Anna-vastra Daana Satram was started in 1985. More ...||
|Classes for Children. About 150 village children attend these weekly classes on "cultural heritage". These classes have virtually transformed the cultural climate of the village.|
|Poor school children are given school uniform, exercise books, school bags, etc. every year. Some meritorious students are supported for higher studies.||
|The Ashram plays a distinct role in making sanitary facilities and bathrooms, constructing wells, bore-wells and houses for the poor.|
|Support is given for medical treatment and education to indigent persons and special help is given to indigent women to generate self-employment|
The other significant aspect of Swamiji's Loka-sangraha is the religio-cultural revolution brought about in Kerala by organizing mass-movements to stop some of the age-old derogatory and superstitious practices prevailing in the name of religious rituals and festivals.
Besides freeing some famous temples from barbarous or vulgar indulgences, and removing from some others the unfair caste discrimination, these movements have wrought a revolutionary change in the attitude of people by cultivating a rational view - supported fully by the scriptures - towards the socio-religious practices.
Related Video : Dharma - Key To Societal Welfare
- Read about Poojya Swamiji's crusade to eradicate the barbaric ritual of Thookkam at the Elavoor Putthankavu Devi Temple in Kerala. (Click here for details)
- Poojya Swamiji campaign against Animal Slaughter in Hindu Temples (Click here for details)