REVERED Indian spiritual leader and preacher Pujya Morari Bapu has told Eastern Eye that Ram Rajya (utopia) can be realised by bringing into practice the essence of truth, love and compassion as envisioned in the the holy scripture, the Ramayana.
Ram Rajya is a concept of an ideal state where everyone lives blissfully.
Pujya Morari Bapu recently concluded the Ram Katha – a discourse on the Ramayana – at Jesus College, Cambridge University.
Last Tuesday (15) British prime minister Rishi Sunak attended the spiritual leader’s 921st recital, titled ‘Manas Vishwavidyalay’, the first time such a programme was held at a British university.
The katha was organised by Conservative peer Lord Dolar Popat and his family.
Sunak spoke last week of his “honour and pleasure” to attend Pujya Morari Bapu’s Ram Katha at the University of Cambridge on India’s independence day.
“Bapu, with your blessings, I aspire to lead in accordance with how our scriptures have taught leaders to lead,” the prime minister said. “Thank you Bapu for everything that you do. Your teaching of truth, love and compassion are more relevant now than they have ever been.”
Later the prime minister was among volunteers who served guests prasad (food offering) at the gathering.
In an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the Ram Katha last week, Pujya Morari Bapu spoke about the challenges in today’s society as well as how to retain essential elements of one’s culture while adapting to contemporary times. He said Ram Rajya “is possible all over the world” if human beings give up “obstinacy and worship Lord Rama.”
“If we want to bring Ram Rajya, we have to grasp the universal ideas of god. And if we grasp the universal ideas of Lord Ram’s truth, his love and compassion, no religion can stop us. If it comes into our lives, then not only Britain or India, but we can create an environment of Ram Rajya in our vasudha (earth),” the spiritual leader said.
Lord Ram should not be seen as the god of merely Sanatan followers or Hindus because the Almighty encompasses the whole universe, Pujya Morari Bapu said.
As a renowned exponent of the Ramayana, he has been reciting Ram Kathas for more than six decades throughout the world – including the UK, US, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, South Africa, Kenya, Brazil, Australia, Israel and Japan. The gist of his katha is universal peace and spreading the message of truth, love, and compassion. While the focal point is the scripture itself, Pujya Morari Bapu draws upon examples from other religions and invites people from all faiths to attend his discourses.
Asked about religious differences, corruption and caste politics in India, the exponent of the Ramayana-based epic poem, Ramacharitamanas, said “a good atmosphere” has already begun to prevail in the country.
“And even if we, in our own way, see anything like that (problems), I think it’s the darkness before the sunrise,” Pujya Morari Bapu said. He added that teaching children their mother tongue could negate the trend of diminishing culture and values from our homes.
“I am constantly speaking for our language, culture and traditions. Here, I am going to speak with more emphasis. I have also said (parents should) speak only Gujarati at home and teach their children to read a little Gujarati as well. Today, stories of the Mahabharata and Ramayana are all available on mobile. There is so much to interest children in it.
“A saint will come and stay for a few days and leave, but after his departure, it is the duty of the family to take care of their children. They should give time to children and sit with them,” the spiritual leader said.
He, however, acknowledged that parents don’t have sufficient time to devote to their children who “watch everything else on the phone.”
He warned the next generation “will not be able to understand anything’’ about their values if this trend continues.
Children need to speak English, which is the language of the world, but at home, they should be spoken to only Gujarati, Hindi or whatever is their mother tongue. “Children should be constantly introduced to the characters of the Ramayana and Mahabharata,” Pujya Morari Bapu said.
On whether divisions within Hinduism are undermining the religion, he said, “no one can dig the grave of Sanatan Dharma” whose roots are “not in the earth, but in the sky.”
“If it is in the ground below, you can dig it out from the ground. The Bhagvad Gita says this is an upward trend. Its roots are high, and to touch those roots, there should be requirements of the height of thoughts, (and) there should be dialogue.”
According to Pujya Morari Bapu, children should be made to understand the core of Sanatan Dharma because everything is being mixed up today “by changing the stories of our Mahabharata and adding their own stories”. “At such a time, we need to create more awareness about Sanatan Dharma, which is our original religion. For that, my pulpit (Vyas Peeth) is doing the work of awakening within my limits and in the modesty of my monkhood,” Pujya Morari Bapu said.
Asked how to attract Indianorigin youths to the ancient scriptures of the south Asian country, he said it can be achieved through love and by accepting them as they are.
“We should hold their shoulders and love them. And as I always say, I have no monopoly to correct anyone. I want to accept them as they are.” Pointing out the presence of a large number of young people at his programme although many of them could not understand his language, he said it “is a good sign and I think it will bring great results”.