Speech by Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa as Chief Guest at the convocation ceremony held by Poornima University, Jaipur on 24th September 2016.
Respected Sri S M Sethji, Sri KKS Bhatiaji, Dr. Rajendra Singhji and all the respected academicians on the dais and dear students. Hare Krishna. Good morning to all of you.
I am pleased to be here today which is a special day for all of you. It is a special day because you are being decorated with a degree. A special day because your hard work and sacrifice to study has been crowned with success.
You are today tasting the good feeling of success of a major milestone in your life. Now that you have completed a major milestone you are at the cross roads of life with a big question before you. What next?
So far in your student life, from childhood it has been a life of more of 'taking' than that of 'giving'. Taking from the society, taking from parents, taking from the family, taking from teachers. Now, for the rest of your life it is your turn to start doing what? Say loudly. It is for 'giving' service. Please repeat loudly. Life is for 'giving'.
Educating men and women is successful only if we can turn out individuals who learn to give to the society, many times multiplied by what they have taken from society. Progressively giving back to their family, giving back to their children, giving back to the society, giving back to their country and giving back to the world and most important giving back to God in service of humanity. God who has given us this body, families, our society our nation and our world to live in.
Seva is the dharma of the soul. Nobody can escape Seva. One is constantly serving the demand of his body and senses or the family or the society or the nation or the world or God Himself. Just as light and heat is dharma of fire, Seva is dharma of the soul. Seva is about sharing oneself, one’s abilities and one’s possessions with others for their needs though not for others greed.
Today I am going to talk something that you don't learn formally in universities . It is about the needs and greeds. We have needs. Our family has needs. Our society has needs. Our nation has needs and our world has needs. But greed is a creation of our mind. It is not an objective need.
If you draw a circle of needs around your bodily self, a circle of needs around your family, a circle of needs around your society, a circle of needs around the nation, a circle of needs around the world and a circle of concern around God you will discover that each of these circles of needs grow bigger and bigger. And smaller circles are included in the bigger circles. The smallest circle of needs is the needs of one’s own body and senses. And the biggest circle will be the circle of concern around God.
God does not have a circle of need but He has a circle of concern. And that circle of concern around God is the concern for the well-being and happiness of all living entities in this world. The circle of 'need' of everyone is respectable. But if we were to draw a circle of greed of people, family, society and nation then it is not at all respectable. It is selfish and is not sustainable.
The largest circle is called selfless circle of devotional service to God and humanity. That is obviously the highest Seva for every life on earth. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. Vasudha means earth. Eva means only and Kutumbakam means family.
The goal of life is to move one’s Seva domain into bigger and bigger circles of needs. Perfection of life is to attain the Seva in the circle, concern of God, which is to do Seva for the well-being and happiness of all living entities on earth. The happiness one derives in life progressively increases as one moves his Seva into bigger and bigger circles. This is the real success in life of a human being according to the spiritual traditions of our great country. Please make it your ambition in life to attain Seva in bigger and bigger circles and reach the biggest circle of working for the well-being and happiness of everyone in the service of God and humanity.
Please note that I said that only the circles of needs are respectable and not the circle of greed around individuals, families, societies, nations and the world. There can be no philosophy of life which can harmonize the circle of greed of man, family, society, nation or the world. Such a life is unsustainable. The earth cannot sustain such a life. Nature is designed to react negatively to such abuse of earth and its resources at individual level as well as at family, society and nation or global level. And that is exactly what is happening to this world today. The world is moving at a dangerous pace of greed.
Today the common man of this world has become a victim of consumerism through advertisement in converting so many things in life from being an item of greed to a need. This is the phenomenon of consumerism that has grabbed this country. Consumerism in the West which existed for decades did not create a better Western society of better and happier human beings. Now Indians are following the Western life style blindly in the name of progress.
And that is the reason why in spite of so much of material progress in technology, an average man of today is more unhappy than a man even ten years back. Technology has changed everything on this earth except two things which remain as old as before. Birth and death.
According to the World Happiness Report 2016 prepared by Sustainable Development Solutions network, a global initiative of United Nations; in the rate of decline of happiness, India takes a place lower than China, Pakistan, Iran, Bangladesh and even Somalia.
What has created this situation? It is ignorance of the divine nature of the self. Each one of us is divine. Divine means godly. When I say 'you' I don't mean your body which is just a sophisticated machine. 'You' means the soul in this body. The real 'you' is residing and travelling in this body in a journey from birth to death. The real 'you' never dies. When you realise you are divine, your desires and interests will be divine and your power to fulfil those desires too will be divine. This would include divinising your material life too. If you think you are only the body, your divinity is lost.
This body is a machine. How can you reduce yourself to be just a sophisticated machine? A machine of flesh and bones. You are much more than that. If you think ignorantly that you are the body, then you will have only bodily desires and bodily power and that is what today's ignorant world is all about.
When your forget that you are divine you think you are only this body then the quality of experience of life will be closer to animal life and your powers to fulfill those desires are limited by your own karma.
What is my real divine nature? What is this divine power? What is nature of God? The answers to these questions are available in our ancient scriptures and the summary of which is revealed in the Bhagavad Gita. I advise you to never stop asking questions and you will find all the answers to the fundamental questions of life through the study of Bhagavad Gita As It Is by Srila Prabhupada.
Realising one’s divine nature is not to earn divine power to exploit material energy more. Real divinity is to realise the self-knowledge as to who we are beyond this body and to guide ourselves to live a life in this body harmonious with the principles of nature as designed by the creator.
Education basically teaches man to think for himself more than giving him specific domain knowledge. For fifteen years you all have been trained to think. Learning is about questions and answers. In your student life most of the questions and answers were given to you; for the rest of your life you have to now ask relevant questions and find answers. You should never stop asking questions. You should go on asking questions to the point of who am I? Why was I born? Where will I go after death? What is the purpose of life?
Don't think that if I ask these questions of life I will become a sadhu and leave material life. That is stupid logic. It is just like saying if I hear the knowledge of nutrition from a nutritionist for my good health then I will become a nutritionist. For everyone to become sadhu is not the goal of life as it is not the goal of engineering education to make engineering professors. A few engineers will become professors. Some will become sadhus if it is their life’s calling. Sadhus are like spiritual nutritionists. They will tell you how to feed and take care of your soul while you are a professional, while you are a family man, while you are a politician or anything in life. Take their association to learn how to care for your soul in whatever position you are in life.
I implore you to ask questions about the modern way of life. Think independently as to its sustainability. Don't take for granted and think that all is well with this world, the way it is moving. If not all, at least some of you will become lead thinkers of this country.
I congratulate all of you once again and pray that you all succeed in making a meaningful life of your future guided by the God of your own religion. I want to end with a piece of advice that you start your day by remembering God, seeking guidance and end your day with gratitude to God. Success in life happens by the combination of man's effort and God's grace. God helps those who help themselves.
Thank you all.