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Banking on the spirituality mantra

Only a spiritual recourse can help mankind through the maze of modern times, says Professor. V. Vaidyalinga Sarma. RAMYA RAMANAN meets this man of God for whom spirituality is a way of life.

IN THE days of yore, our forefathers prophesied the advent of `Kaliyuga,' the last epoch of `Chaturyuga'. There was a premonition of unhappiness, dissatisfaction and ills that would affect the society.

Today, we live in `Kaliyuga' and many an evil, plague our society. As we remain locked in this labyrinth of trying times, the only means of overcoming ills is by adopting the spiritual path. Holy scriptures advocate that it is in this era that humanity can attain spiritual liberation or `mukti'.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and the first move to attaining God is prayer. "Call Him by whatever name you like, worship Him in any form you like, it all goes to that one ultimate, infinite supreme reality," says the Bhagavad Gita.

It is in moments of insecurity and despair that man stretches his hand for help. A helping hand is always welcome and Prof. V. Vaidyalinga Sarma is one such learned person who is like a guiding light in a dark tunnel.

"The means may differ but the end goal is reaching out to God," opines this scholarly person. His knowledgeable discourses have been an eye opener to many, enhancing his popularity. He is very busy, therefore during the Navarathri season.

Conferred with various titles such as `Vidya Vachaspati,' `Praveena, Vachana Ratnakara,' `Upanyasa Ratnam,' `Bhagavatha Pravachana Siromani Brahmasree,' Mr. Sarma was born into a very pious and religious Brahmin family. His father, Vaidyanatha Vadhyar served as a priest at Sringeri Madom, Kalady. Thus having grown up in such devout surroundings, spirituality was ingrained in him at a very early age.

Mr. Sarma took up Sanskrit for his graduate and postgraduate levels of study. He took to teaching after equipping himself with a B.Ed degree. He retired from his profession of teaching in 1980.

In 1975, Mr. Sarma visited the Sai Baba Ashram. .

From1980 onwards, Mr. Sarma has devoted himself to the service of the community. He imparts his knowledge on religious topics intertwining it with daily incidents in our lives, conducts `navaham' (a nine-day pooja specially conducted for Devi), `sapthaham' (a shortened version of the Bhagavad Gita, read within a span of seven days) in temples and mutts all over Kerala and abroad.

Mr. Sarma advocates prayer as the therapy to cleanse the mind of impurities.

Navarathri denotes the victory of good over evil. The inner meaning is elucidated as such by Mr. Sarma: Everybody has three `gunas' in them, `Sattva,' `Rajas' and `Tamas.' During Navarathri, it is a retrospection of the self. We invoke the blessings of Goddess Durga, as she is the personification of `shakti' (power).

`Tamas' denotes laziness, `Rajas' is related with misunderstandings and `Sattva' with clear vision. In order to purify our mind and clarify our intellect, we offer prayers to Goddess Durga to help us overcome our laziness, Lakshmi to remove our misunderstandings and Saraswati to give us a clear and just vision in life.

Mr. Sarma feels that science has helped in the progress of mankind, but also aggravated discontent. A large part of the population has progressed materialistically but they are afloat in a quagmire of misery. To lift themselves out of this and in search for peace and tranquillity, people turn to spirituality.

It is here that the `Satsang' or holy congregation plays an important role. In a `Satsang', sorrow and joy are shared as people of different walks of life pray together.

The present generation is more self-centred and materialistically goal oriented when compared to the previous generations. Our eternal `Dharma' expects us to live for others and to be more service minded. This is the aspect of all religions.

Mr. Sarma emphasises that somewhere, amidst the scuttle to catch up with global trends and Westernisation, we left the Guru-Shishya tradition behind us.

It is as though the chain was broken en route and the link was lost. This lost link we equate with our Guru or teacher, devoid of whom, deterioration steps in. The Guru is a door that opens on to the path of spiritual liberation.

The Guru need not be a teacher or person. `Guru' could be in the form of spiritual or holy books; it could even be your inner self.

It is essential to sow the seeds of spirituality right from childhood. Mr. Sarma believes that if every school incorporated the study of our rich culture and mythology, the students would cultivate more tolerance and responsibility. Words or images cannot express or encompass the greatness of God, but since man finds it difficult to comprehend without name and form, man worships God with a form. It is due to this fact that the Supreme Power is worshipped in different forms, though the underlying principle remains the same.

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