People living away from their countries of their birth should make the best of both worlds by preserving and promoting their traditional values while integrating with the resident communities, a renowned Scholar and Vedanta Teacher has said.
Swami Swaroopananda, Spiritual Head of Chinmaya Missions Worldwide and a direct disciple of Swami Chinmayananda said that the essence of human life is ‘true living,’ a concept that allows others also to live happily.
That encapsulated the theme of ‘Best of Both Worlds,’ bearing relevance to people of Indian origin (including people of the Hindu faith) living in New Zealand, considered an advanced country of the Western World.
He was speaking at a special meeting held at the Chinmaya Mission located in the South Auckland suburb of Mangere on April 23.
Swami Swaroopananda referred to the ‘confusion’ perceived by the youngsters as well as most parents as to how best one can live in a modern Western society without forfeiting traditional cultural living standards.
The specific question is, “Our parents brought us to the Western culture but want us to follow Indian culture- is this possible?”
Questions of this nature began when Indians started migrating to various countries around the world, at each of which they try to make an ethnic identity.
It is noteworthy that people maintaining their ethnic identity and merging with the local culture have been able to shine better.
Swami Swaroopananda said that confusion arises when ‘lifestyle’ is misunderstood and misinterpreted as ‘culture.’
“Sanskruthi is a Sanskrit word that transforms you into a refined human being. This ‘Indian culture’ is very clearly distinct from the loosely used terms like ‘corporate culture,’ ‘drug culture,’ and other expressions. This is not really culture but a way of life or lifestyle,” he said.
If culture improves our lifestyle or if the lifestyle is conducive with culture, there would then be harmony,” he added.
Swami Swaroopananda said that Materialistic lifestyle and Spiritual culture are not antithetical to each other.
“Our scriptures including the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads say that our material pursuits are not in conflict with our spiritual growth. There is therefore no need to give away our material pursuits in search of spiritual life. A person could be materially successful with wealth, prosperity and other financial assets and have harmony, peace, unity and inner growth and contribute to the growth of the society, he said.
Success without stress
Swami Swaroopananda quoted the Ishovasya Upanishad (the shortest Upanishad) featured as the final chapter in the ‘Shukla Yajurveda’ as saying that “If we have the right values in our work and family, then it is peace and harmony with prosperity and spirituality. It is like achieving success without stress,” he said.
He said that stress has become commonplace in today’s world and that it has become the price of success.
People have a notion that one cannot be successful without being stressed. Can we have family life and at the same time be free? Can we have all the comforts of a happily married life and yet be free? Really speaking, the conflict begins within us – between our own intellectual ideals and our own emotions; between what we know as ‘right’ and what we know as ‘like’ or ‘dislike.’ Is it possible that we can have our ideals and our emotions are not suppressed?
Swami Swaroopananda said that success without stress is possible if people lead a lifestyle that is beneficial, not compromising our culture.
“We can adopt what is modern but should not discord our Sanathan Dharma, which is well-tested through time and tradition. Our teachings and scriptures have made it possible over the ages to adapt to modern changes but keep the traditional values and principles intact. Such a unique adaptability in our culture has survived over generations, benefitting the society. If this is followed, our culture would continue and prosper without affecting our lifestyle. Maintaining right values in our material life would make us fit for greater meditations or spiritual pursuits,” he said.
Master of Vedanta
Earlier, Chinmaya Mission New Zealand Head Swami Atulananda spoke about the life and works of Swami Swaroopananda and gave an insight into his discourses in Auckland (held at Green Bay High School Performing Arts Centre in Green Bay from April 23 to April 27, 2017) saying that he was “at once a Master of Vedanta, a revered and compassionate teacher, an enchanting orator who possesses all the qualities that the scriptures describe as the ‘person of steady wisdom’, who is learned in the theory and also a man of experience. His wisdom is deeply rooted in the timeless Knowledge of the Upanishads and his skill in delivering that experience in a tangible form is unique indeed.”
Among those present were National MP Dr Parmjeet Parmar, community and religious readers and other invited guests.
Ragavan Rengachariar is National Credit Manager and Group Internal Auditor of United Industries Limited based in East Tamaki, Auckland. He is also the Chairman of RAMS Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation involved in charitable activities. Mr Rengachariar represented Indian Newslink at the High Tea hosted by Swami Atulananda at Chinmaya Mission in Auckland on April 23, 2017.
Swami Swaroopananda (seated left) with Swami Atulananda speaking at the meeting