What's NewLast Updated on 17 March 2015
Swami Shraddhananda (English)
Living a Stress-free Life
Swami Tattwamayananda (English)
The Harmony of Religions
Swami Vedarupananda (English)
Faces of God in the Age of Reason
Pravrajika Vivekaprana (English)
The Supreme Connection
Pravrajika Virajaprana (English)
Devotional SongsBaso mere nainan mein Nandalal
Chalo mana Ganga Jamuna teer
Jagat mein jhuti dekhi preet
Mohe lagi lagan guru charanan ki
Sadho man ka maan karo
Raghav Chattopadhyay (Hindi)
Kali Kali bol rasana
Shyama namer laglo agun
Raghav Chattopadhyay (Bengali)
Cultural ProgrammePadabali Kirtan
Prahlad Ghori (Bengali)
Prabuddha BharataLatest Issue
Editorial : Freedom to Believe
We want freedom. Where are we? What are we? Are we all not on our path to freedom? In our own ways, we are moving towards freedom. Towards that horizon, which has just not yet appeared, something more chimeric than we know. Yet there is hope that it would not always elude us. Someday it would come into our grasp.
Free we have to be. How can we be free is the question. And also, what kind of freedom do we need? Is it freedom where I want to do anything or is it a freedom where I want to be free of want. I want to be like the dry leaf which floats slowly in the air with no rush.
Freedom means different things to different people. The freedom of the nation may not bring freedom to a citizen. Understanding is freedom. Having a grip on ourselves at all times is freedom. Freedom is also expanding our understanding of ourselves to include everything and then we become free from identities, limitations, and boundaries. Such freedom is like the freedom of the sky, a vast expanse of limitless bliss.
Floating in water is freedom, and if we could be floating in the ebb and tide of our lives, then that will be true freedom. No bickering, no fights, no quarrels over petty things. Being free. Breathing in fresh air. Standing in the midst of green fields. Flying with the birds. Drifting in the ocean. Leaning out the window of a moving car. Freedom. How elusive can it be? Are we chasing something we already have? Why worry so much about happiness in life when I can be happy just being myself.
Freedom is not chasing. Freedom is not achieving. Freedom is not holding. It is to let go. To grasp the un-graspable. Freedom is not knowing where to go, and yet continuing our journey. Not the weight of certainty but the fog of uncertainty could be freedom. Defining freedom would be binding it. Even the definition of freedom should be flowing, transforming, developing, finding new meanings, and instilling new attitudes. Freedom is beyond definition, beyond utterance, beyond form, shape, and expression. You cannot define it, you can only, if at all, experience it. A freedom experienced is no freedom then. That moment goes away. That moment becomes a memory and is bound in matter and thought. That moment is no more a moment
of freedom. It is no more a memory of freedom but a recalling of bondage. So, freedom has to be free. The concept has to be free. The person has to be free. The understanding has to be free. Why judge? Who will judge whom? Who will free whom? Who is bound and who is free?
To be free is to be capable of holding on to one’s convictions, that may change since they would be free themselves. How can such a free mind be bound to a static conception of the ideal of freedom, the supreme principle, God? When for a free mind everything changes in shapes, colours, feelings, names, forms, and beyond, how can the conception of God be the same? Why should one remain throughout life, a dualist, qualified monist, monist, theist, atheist, worshipper of form, believer of God without form, or the follower of any of the numerous faith-systems? Why should a person be tied to the religion one was born into? Why should one not be free to experiment with religions and as Swami Vivekananda wanted, why should not every person have a unique religion?
The individual is essentially free and should be free to chart the path to the realisation of one’s true nature. Does a bird follow maps while flying? Is there a radar monitoring the flight of a fowl? So, why should there be any hullaballoo if some people decide to change their religion out of their own free will and not due to coercion? Freedom should never be obstructed. A person’s choice of religion or any faith-system should be free and one should be able to change that religion or faith-system at any point in one’s life. There should be no coercion, obstruction, force, or compulsion, to either hold on to or change the religion. If one wishes, let a person change religion as many times as one would change one’s clothes, or even more. How could force or coercion influence one to change one’s religion? It could be an allurement, enticement, or the promise of a better life by people who have not seen fulfilment—a false promise. False assertions are obstructive to freedom.
No religion is the home of any person. An individual’s true home is one’s true personality, free from all constraints, all limiting adjuncts, free from ignorance. One’s true home is the Self that shines without external light and needs no support. When different lifetimes and bodies are mere stations in the long journey to fulfilment, where does religion—one of numerous thoughts of the body-mind complex—stand in this vast spectrum? If someone reverts to one’s regular diet after a regimen of frugal food for shedding fat, do we say that the person has come back to one’s house? No, we don’t, because diet is something one has in the home, and by itself is not the home. Just like food, which is just a means of satisfying hunger, religion too is just a means of attaining fulfilment. The way to our true home lies in our fulfilment and not in religion.
An individual’s beliefs are sacred and private, and the public has no right to curb the freedom of this private space and intrude into the religious affiliations of an individual. If a person is content with her or his affirmation of religious beliefs, no public body has any business crying foul over the religious belief that a person has adopted. In a free world, a person may express thoughts that need not be vetted by public opinion. The tendency to deny the freedom of a private space in the name of guarding social values—when such freedom is not being used to cause injury—is highly intrusive. While a person should have the right to change one’s religion or beliefs at anytime, no person should be allowed to change the religion or beliefs of others, whatever may be the reasons. That would be true religious freedom.
Let us shed our inhibitions about religion, be it about belief in general or wrong understanding of a specific religion. Let us cultivate the courage to believe whatever we want to believe. Let the freedom of our truer freer spirits inspire us to have a multi-faith society, where people would not be questioned about their beliefs, where people would not be discriminated against because of their religion, where people would live with love for all living beings, and not dogmatic allegiance to any particular thought. Why is it that the mind has the pace of the wind? Because, it was meant to think freely. To be free is poetry, a poetry that does not want to be understood. Freedom is flowing honey. The sparkle and the flow are much more valuable than its taste. Come flow with the freedom, be free!