The term spirituality connotes the connection of the lower spirit with the higher spirit. The word ‘spiritual’ is related to ‘spirit’; it is, in fact, an adjective of the word ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’, ‘Aatma’.
The concept of spirituality is not merely confined to a particular religious practice or a religion. It is, in fact, to identify yourself through the ‘spirit’ –‘soul’ or ‘Aatma’ that is the purest and immortal form and to realise the true form – the Brahman form. In a balanced state through harmony among mind, body and spirit, manifesting through the process of righteous acts and achieving the highest stage of life, is spirituality. Thus, spirituality is a search for meaning in life.
Theism, which ascertains optimism and positive thinking as the two foremost qualities associated with a spiritual being leading him to the pathway of righteous acts and commitment to the cause, is the belief in the existence of God – the Supreme Spirit.
Further, spirituality gets one closer to the truth of essential unity and interdependence of everything – movable-immovable in the visible-invisible universe – Brahmanda making his belief firm especially towards the natural equality of fellow beings and inspires him to dedicate himself to the cause of the welfare of one and all. Such is the true and enormous concept and scope related to spirituality.
The great men who were also the leading spiritual Gurus in their respective times – the choruses, exponents and practitioners of spirituality also guiding people to follow it, accomplished the holy task of universal oneness and welfare, leading masses to the path of peace and harmony. They became ideal examples of spirituality and regeneration. Their works for the growth of all - embracing benevolence and humanity became exemplary, exceeding all temporal limits. Through their ideal and transcendental works they could prove all-timely importance and contribution of spirituality as much for the growth of the nation as for the progress of humanity.
Through the ages, spiritual Gurus played the vital role in the development of their respective nations and led people to their large scaled welfare. There is a long list of such spiritual Gurus. The account of unprecedented tasks they accomplished or description of their exemplary works cannot be summed up in brief or through a lecture. However, one thing could be said with full confidence and full evidence that they were all enlightened souls. They were fully familiar with the soul-force. They realised the truth of universal unity – the Indivisible Whole, and believed in human equality and acted accordingly. They were, thus, established spiritual Gurus – unsurpassed Aadhyatmik Purushas. Their life and works remained dedicated to the progress of the nation and the whole of humanity. The whole of humanity rising above the narrowness of nationalism – the nation or the region, could take pride in the way of life guided by them, and in the legacies, they left from their ideas and the all-welfaristic set of beliefs they taught.
In this regard if we talk about India, we will find that since ancient times the enlightened ones –the Maharishis who reached the peak of spirituality, great men and scholars par excellence, accorded new dimensions towards transforming perceptions leading to the growth of the nation and opened doors to the progress of everyone on this planet while keeping the Vedic dictum of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam as the nucleus. Through their prized discoveries at all levels and in all walks of life – all-welfaristic works, they testified to the eternal truth that spirituality is the sole way to the real progress of the nation as well as to establish harmony among diverse nations and cultures. Spirituality is necessary not only for an all-round development of an individual, but for a society, the nation and humanity as a whole.
Starting from Kanada (the Sixth Century BCE), an ancient natural scientist, a philosopher who founded the Vaisheshika school of Indian philosophy also representing the earliest Indian physics, Charaka (the Third Century BCE)- the one of the principal contributors to the Ayurveda, a system of medicine and lifestyle developed in ancient times, and also the Indian father of medicine, Maharshi Patanjali (the Second Century BCE)- the father of the Science of the Yoga and Indian medical techniques, Nagarjuna (the Second-Third Century AD)- the founder of the Madhyamaka school of the Mahaayaana Buddhism, and further mentioning the names of Adi Shankaracharya - the promulgator of the Advaita philosophy presenting before the world the truth of uniformity of Atman and Brahman, Swami Dayananda ‘Saraswati’ (1824-83 AD), Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902 AD) and Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948 AD) from a long list of great sages, we eventually find all of them reaching the highest level of spirituality. We also come to the conclusion that on the basis of their large scaled welfaristic achievement, they repeatedly confirmed spirituality to be an essential condition for the true growth of a nation. In other words, following spirituality to the core of its basic spirit is necessary for the purpose.
Without spirituality, human intentions and the resultant deeds cannot become pure – selfless; they cannot transform into righteous acts. Therefore, they cannot prove to be welfaristic and also cannot contribute to the growth of a nation. The true growth of a nation includes the growth – rise of everyone in the country, which is possible not only by the realisation of unity and equality of all (the two pillars of spirituality), but also by behaviours – practices accordingly. It is possible through the familiarity and accomplishment of the basic spirit of spirituality, its development and application in behaviours, individual and collective. Growth of one’s nation and all nations along with a concern for the welfare of humanity through spirituality is a reality, realisation and acceptance of which is the foremost duty of a human being – a Manava-Dharma.
A Padma Shri and Sardar Patel National Awardee, Indologist Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a Former Vice Chancellor of CCS University, Meerut, and the Editor-in-Chief of Global Peace International Journal.