February , 2024
Morarji Desai: Walking the Yogic Path of Truth and Service
17:27 pm

Dr. Ravindra Kumar

What is Yoga? In very short, from the basic viewpoint of Patanjali (the proponent  of Yoga, a major branch of Indian philosophy and the author of the Yogashastra –Yogasutra), Yoga is the process of merging oneself into the One Indivisible Whole through concentration of mind. Yoga is, thus, the control of the mind through its stability –by Yama (self-restraint), Niyama (to hold or fasten), Asana (Yoga posture) process.  This succinctly defines Yoga as a way to attain unity and focus.

Patanjali is one of the basic pillars of Indian philosophy. The eternal path, which is eventually dedicated to the truth and based on the Indivisible Totality, remains incomplete without the thought of Maharshi Patanjali. Yogeshwara Shrikrishna is, Himself, the basic pillar of the Sanatana Indian philosophy, Who declared, “योगः कर्मसु कौशलम्  –Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam.” (The Shrimadbhagavadgita, 2: 50).

Yoga is the way to make human life meaningful; it is a means to achieve the purpose of life. What is the purpose of life?

Realizing the truth of the One Indivisible Totality and acknowledging  oneself as an integral part of the Universal Unity, one must constantly remain engaged in the welfare of one and all. For this, by continuously indulging in righteous acts, one should become one with the same eternal Indivisible Totality. In the whole of the universe, which is indeed beyond human imagination, there is nothing out of the ambit of the Indivisible Whole or Totality; nothing, movable-immovable or visible-invisible, is separate from It. The sole aim of life is to remain engaged in righteous acts with an intent of welfare of one and all and, thus, eventually, to remain united with It.

Body is of utmost importance in achieving the goal of life. Karmas –deeds are achievable only through the body. The purpose of life can only be fulfilled through deeds. Therefore, Yogeshwara conveyed the message of transformation of inevitable deeds into righteous acts. Righteous acts, i.e., deeds, dedicated to the welfare of one and all with a spirit of responsibility.

The medium of Karma-process, i.e., body, should be pure and guided by Atmatattva, soul, and engaged in righteous acts, therefore, all the Asanas of Yoga, Pranayamas, physical exercises and labour etc. serve as means to purify the body. These practices transform deeds into righteous acts, thus, paving the way to a meaningful life.

The life of Morarjibhai Desai (February 29, 1896-April 10, 1995) was like a journey of continuous efforts towards achieving meaningfulness of life through pure deeds –righteous acts. His life, little less than a hundred years, characterized by simplicity, straightforwardness, cleanliness, clarity, vegetarianism and committed to the service of fellow beings, was bound by pure conduct –righteous acts. He embraced the truth of Universal Unity and was dedicated to the Indivisible Whole, the Creator and the Foundation of this Unity. It is my firm belief.

His unwavering faith in the Indivisible Whole, the Creator of Universal Unity, could be well comprehended by his own words spoken to this author, “I have unwavering faith in God, and it is my constant effort to engage in righteous acts dedicated to Him; this keeps me free from fear and all worries, and I fall asleep as soon as I put my head on the pillow.” This belief and conduct of Morarjibhai was, undoubtedly, connected to the basic spirit of Yoga, best explained by Shrikrishna Himself.

Yoga is connected to truth. It is a medium to unite one with the truth. That is why; righteous acts are indispensable in life. Morarjibhai had a long public life. He remained in politics for a long time. Always acting truthfully in politics may seem challenging. But, Morarjibhai Desai, a dedicated follower of the Gandhian way of non-violence, remained increasingly conscious in this regard also.

He was the Prime Minister of India. In the year 1979, there was an internal attack on his Government in Delhi. The Janta Party Government under him came into minority. Two separate lists of MPs supporting Shri Charan Singh and him were prepared by both the groups. Some names were common in both the lists. Many of them were eventually found supporting the other side. When Morarjibhai came to know of this reality, he publicly admitted it as his mistake and also said that he should have personally asked every MP included in his list. Such was his determination, fearlessness and ability of accepting the truth. Many other similar examples are also related to his public life. Admitting the truth with fearlessness was a characteristic of his life and conduct. It is an aspect associated with the basic spirit and broader perspective of Yoga.

Shri Morarjibhai, a follower and a proponent of Gandhi’s way, was a supporter of physical labour. Morarjibhai accepted the vision that life should be pure. One should achieve concentration in life. Healthy body in balance with the mind should be dedicated to the greater welfare of humanity. It was also a part of his life to behave in the direction of making his own body as suitable as possible within the ambit of Yoga –as per the basic spirit of Yoga. This included his activities related to Yoga, physical exercises etc. Ultimately its sole purpose was the union of the physical with the spiritual. This is, to repeat, the basic spirit of Yoga.

Remaining reticent while walking, concentrating on the greater welfare of fellow beings in mind with firm faith in the Ultimate Truth, is the essence of addiction-free, long-term and dedicated life of Shri Morarjibhai Desai. I, therefore, see his life as an ideal and dedicated to Yoga and righteous acts.

-A Padma Shri and Sardar Patel National Awardee Indologist Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a Former Vice Chancellor of CCS University, Meerut; he is currently the Ombudsman of Swami Vivekananda Subharati University, Meerut (India). 

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