Born in Palakkad Kerala (1925), and educated in Chennai, T. R. Viswanathan joined the Government of India Secretariat, New Delhi in 1947 and served in various ministries, beginning with the Ministry of External Affairs and retiring from the Ministry of Steel and Mines in June 1983 as Deputy Secretary and Chief Vigilance Officer.
During the last period of service, he had opportunities to travel to the Himalayas, which created an everlasting spiritual thirst in him. Immediately after retirement, he availed of opportunities to go on holy pilgrimages to Himalayan shrines including Kailas- Manasarovar.
He was initiated into Sri Vidya Upasana by his Guru, Swami Vimarsanandanatha Saraswati, a few days before his retirement from government service, changing his post retirement life into one of spiritual pursuits. Earlier, spiritual awakening came to him through satsang with holy men like Kanchi Periava, Ramana Maharishi and Swami Sivananda.
Though he was handicapped because of a voice problem, he was graced with the gift for writing which he exclusively devoted to spiritual literature.
The late Sri S. Ramakrishnanji was kind enough to get two of Shri Viswanathan's books, (i) Sanatana Dharma and (ii) Vedic Philosophy and Religion published in 2000 under the Bhavan's banner.
As a sequel to the earlier books, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan also published two of his other books, namely, Great Immortals (Spiritual Heritage of India through the lives of Saints and Sages) & Quest and Conquest (Spiritual Progress, Enlightenment and Wisdom) in 2014.
Our sacred and precious spiritual legacy is the core of Indian Mysticism, Cosmic Vision. The experience of the subtle and unknown is the crux of mysticism, which is presented lucidly.
When we talk of a religion, the first thought that arises is about its origin. Hinduism, or the religion of the Hindus does not seem to have such origin, because it is eternal and co-exists with the universe. It is dharma or code of conduct and rules of existence that governs the universe. If it was a religion, then there was only one religion throughout the world without a name, which we now call as Sanatana Dharma.
Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchi, revered as Maha Periava and considered to be an incarnation, has quoted several proofs or evidences in support of this statement ("Deivathin Kural", his divine voice in Tamil, translated in English by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan). He was of the opinion that the religion was not carried from place to place by movement of population, as it already existed everywhere.
An agreement executed by an Egyptian Pharoah mentions the vedic gods mitra and varuna. An ancient festival of Mexico perfectly fits in the navaratri festival of the vedic gods (which we observe now). A stone idol of Ganesha was excavated in Mexico. Astecs of Mexico resemble asthic, Inca is related to the name of sun in Sanskrit. Excavations in Australia have revealed the dancing Shiva. The Russian language contains the equivalent of Sanskrit words, not by accident. Present Siberia is the location of the divine Meru mountain of the Puranas. He also traces the Yagyavalkya episode of Mahabharata and Upanishads to Siberia. He says that evidence of the vedic religion is found all over the world, which only proves that same dharma was followed all over the world as religion.
"San Andreas Fault" in California's Oregon State is the boundary between two earth techtonic plates, responsible for two biggest earthquakes in San Francisco of 1857 and 1906. They are the Pacific and North Amerian plates and the fissures run to more than 1000 miles. Nearby is the "Mystery of Oregon Sri Yantra (Srichakra)", an earth formation resembling the holy Srichakra, which was discovered in 1990. It is in the shape of a square of 13 miles. This was found under a dried pond. It has been photographed from 9000 feet above the earth. To draw Srichakra on paper itself is no mean job. Imagine the time spent and pains taken to draw such a huge Srichakra, that too with 100 per cent perfection. It dates back to the distant past. It shows that the Vedic religion already existed in that area of America. The antiquity of Sanatana Dhanna has been established beyond doubt by researches in India and abroad. There is no need to contest this finding, because it only proves the existence of some global ethical and moral principles in ages past.
In contrast, presently consumerism has overtaken not only spiritualism, but ethics and morals too. Ethics and morality are at a discount. Nature is being challenged at its doorsteps. We are silent spectators of the mass extinction of some species before our very eyes, at a rate never before reached. Our turn is not far off. For our comfort and by greed, we are gobbling resources, leaving a barren land for the posterity. The world community divided into nation states, is indulging in destructive competition, unmindful of its consequences. In this war of attrition, nature is taking a heavy toll. Spiritual leaders all over the world and scientists of renown are bemoaning this tragedy.
Politically, the international situation is gloomy, with nuclear threat looming large. We can only pray for saner counsels to prevail. The forces of unity and progress are, however, stronger and are bound to overcome the negative and destructive forces. Ultimately peace will prevail. That is the will of God.
Religion has been wrongly interpreted and used as a tool for one's awn material wellbeing and advancement, at the expense of others. The social and environmental considerations are being ignored, resulting in wide gaps in society. The high ideals and noble thoughts of Sanatan' a Dharma are not understood or appreciated by the common man, some of whom make a mockery of religion through rituals and superstitious beliefs.
Indian mysticism is the outcome of the cumulative experiences of yogis, seers and sages in the distant past. To fully understand Indian mysticism, we have to go deep into the spiritual past of the sub-continent, its culture and civilisation. Culture is deep seated in us, while civilisation is only skin-deep. Culture is tradition, samskriti, beliefs, customs, character and more. Civilisation is external development, while culture is internal progress and refinement of personality. Culture is broad in sweep and deep in substance. Eternal progress under a civilisation is untenable, because every material thing has a shelf life. History bears witness to this fact. Civilisation and culture do not always go together.
Mysticism is not a monopoly of India or any other country. There is a deep relationship and a touch of the mystic in art, music, literature and poetry.
Forces of nature are kept in equilibrium by some unknown power which Vedanta terms as Dharma. Whatever aids growth and progress of man is Dharma and that which retards is its opposite, adharma. This is the key to Indian mysticism and is given a detailed treatment in Chapter Seven.
The most prominent feature of Indian culture is that it has the vitality to assimilate and accommodate the best from others, without losing its own identity. Universal message of Indian culture is "live and let live", the message of tolerance in all forms. Another feature of Indian culture is that it is based essentially on spiritual life. People who make the greatest impact on the Indian mind are not rulers, generals or elites, but holymen who embody spirituality in the highest and purest form. Spirituality is characterized by self-control, ethics, morality and scientific thinking. Sages became mystics when they realised the eternity of time and space and vastness of creation.
There is no mystery about mysticism. The Cosmic Consciousness which is the Reality or the Truth, can be accessed by cultivating the mind and intellect. Mystics have succeeded in this quest. The thought process needs to concentrate on the unitary force or energy, which is Paramatma (or Atma). The force enters everything as air does. All that the mystic has to do is to isolate the Atma from that which are not Atma. This is by an enquiry, a mental process, into the subtlety of the divine force. The enquiry will reveal the identity of the Reality, which is wisdom or enlightenment. The spiritual world is not a world of illusion, but is one of bonding with the Cosmos. Spirit and matter are one and the same. Spirit in movement is energy and energy condensed is matter. Realisation of Truth is our Birth-right, ensured by sanatana Dharma.
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