Swami Parthasarathy has packed six decades of research into his book to be released soon

It is that part of the year when the spiritually inclined look forward to the treat offered by Vedanta Institute in the form of lectures on the chapters of the Bhagavad Gita, delivered by Swami Parthasarathy and his daughter Sunandaji. The six-day discourse series opens on July 15 at The Music Academy, Chennai.

Swami Parthasarathy will speak on Mundakopanishad (July 15-20, 7-8.15 a.m.) and Sunandaji on Chapter 8 of the Gita (July 16-20, 6.30-8 p.m.) The 80-year-old guru uses this opportunity to release a compilation of his works, a compendium of his lectures, writings, translations, etc. The ‘Complete Works of Swami Parthasarathy,’ a volume of 2,536 pages, will be released on July 16 and N. Ravi, former Editor, The Hindu and Director, Kasturi and Sons, will receive the first copy.

Swami Parthasarathy answered questions regarding his work spanning six decades. Excerpts:

Can you recall some high points in your spiritual journey - incidents that made an impact, those that reaffirmed your faith in the chosen path?

It is not a faith in the journey or a reaffirmation later. There were no high points or low in my path to the Reality. The journey started from early childhood. I remember my father telling others that I had asked him many uncomfortable questions when I was hardly seven - Whether the chicken came first or the egg, tree or seed, etc. Therefore, there was a spiritual quest from the very beginning. As a result, I plunged into deep study and research: Western poets and philosophers, the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, the works. The search ended with the awakening of the Reality after a period of fifteen years.

Bhagavad Gita does not speak of religion. But do you think a spiritual person (Hindu at that) will be more inclined to listen, grasp and try to follow than a non-spiritual person?

Bhagavad Gita is a spiritual textbook. It is designed for one who has a subtle-intellect, whom you may call a spiritual person, to understand the deeper imports of the philosophy embedded in it. A non-spiritual person with the lack of a subtle-intellect is too preoccupied with the affairs of the world. Such a person is disinclined to listen, much less grasp these great truths of life.

Looking back, do you think you have made a contribution that made a difference to society?

I have neither looked back nor forward. From the very beginning, I have been examining the appalling state of humanity caused by the lack of development of the intellect. Consequently I was immersed in Vedanta, the ancient philosophy of India, for over six decades. I have also been travelling for over forty-five years spreading this philosophy around the world. But have not found the awareness, much less the development of the intellect.

So my mission has been all along to make the world aware of the importance of developing one’s intellect alongside one’s intelligence. Schools and universities provide the knowledge, intelligence. No more. As a result, the world is now replete with intelligence, with no thought or attempt to develop the intellect which is of vital importance to human beings. Consequently, there is distress, depression, divorces at the individual level and vandalism, militancy, terrorism at the collective level.

I wonder whether you would deem this entire mission as a contribution. Contribution is a very feeble word.

Do you experience a sense of fulfilment?

I don’t know what you mean by fulfilment. A student finds fulfilment in procuring a university degree abroad. A businessman finds fulfilment in the success of his business. Another finds fulfilment in earning his lady’s love. All these fulfilments are temporary, fleeting. Related to their emotional excitements. As opposed to such bouts of excitement and fulfilment, the path to Truth is serene, smooth and steadfast. Culminating in the seeker becoming spiritually awakened.

Lectures in English - do you think the language has limited your reach, making it elite?

The whole approach is rational, logical, scientific. Moreover, this message is not confined only to the Indian audiences. It is a wake-up call for emergent action for all humanity. I can’t see any language other than English to get this awareness across to the world.

In 60 years you would have seen a flood of change - in terms of audience, response, etc., here and abroad. What has struck you as most significant?

The Bhagavad Gita cautions us not to be concerned with the results of your action. Your duty is to perform your obligation and never be concerned with the fruits thereof. I don’t expect newspapers to follow this principle.

The Complete Works… Why did you feel it was necessary to publish it at this point of time?

I had written 10 books covering the entire spiritual literature essential for mankind. At the completion of the last book, I thought it would be appropriate to put all the material into one volume. The problem was the paper and the printing. Helsinki in Finland offered me the best quality of thin paper and the printing that goes with it. That enabled me to complete the project.

Apart from Sunandaji, have you trained disciples to carry forward your legacy? Has Vedanta Academy produced people thus capable?

I have no such legacy. I have only presented my spiritual insight to seekers. Documented in 10 books, combined in the form of ‘The Complete Works.’ And also, continuing to conduct the eighth consecutive three-year residential course on Vedanta, in the Academy set up for students from the world over. I have done all that I could do and leave the rest to the Almighty. The thought of reforming the world should draw one to the great Swami Rama Tirtha’s quip: Reforming the world is like straightening a dog’s tail.

(The Complete Works is available online on www.vedantaworld.org)