In individual and collective life, changes are constantly taking place: minor changes frequently and major changes intermittently. Primitive human beings came onto this Earth about 1 million years ago, but the present human beings had their origin only about 100,000 years ago. The pace of human progress these last million years has been very slow: humans advanced at barely a snail’s pace. It took those primitive people hundreds of thousands of years to discover fire; and hundreds of thousands of years more to invent the bullock cart. Many ancient civilizations have disappeared from the annals of history simply because they could not invent the wheel. They were able to invent the boat, but as they had not invented the wheel, they could not make carts and chariots. For this reason, the Mayan civilization of South America had its downfall. The speed of social progress in those days was very slow and only began to accelerate during the last 15,000 years, after the composition of the Rk Veda. The history of these 15,000 years of progress can be considered as the real history of human civilization.
Generally, humans adapt themselves to minor changes through individual or collective endeavour. Sometimes, if the need arises, they cause minor changes themselves and progress accordingly. Whenever one or both of these two situations occurs, that is, when people feel the necessity to introduce minor changes to adapt themselves to the changed conditions, various leaders emerge who guide the society. In ancient times, these leaders were called “rśis”. Many such leaders lived in past, many are living in the present, and many will live in the future, because changes are sure to come in human society. Whatever is created, will certainly move ahead through changes. Everything which exists in the universe will certainly have to undergo change. When the difference between the two forms, past and present, becomes too vast, we say that the past is dead and gone.
Death is also a type of change in which the present form seems to lose its link with the past. Suppose there is a small baby. When it grows into a boy a distinct change occurs, but we understand nevertheless that the same baby has grown up into a boy. In due course, the same boy becomes a youth, the youth a middle-aged man and, after a certain period, the middle-aged man becomes an old man. We can divide a person’s life into different stages of growth in this way. But when the same old man is reborn as a child, the difference becomes so vast that one fails to discover the link between the two lives. Thus, death is a change, and rebirth is also a change.
A study of history reveals that minor changes take place continuously, and major changes occur at longer intervals. Before the discovery of fire, the ancient human beings used to heat things with the scorching rays of the sun. Much later, when fire was discovered, it was considered a major change in human history. When the ancient humans first invented the bullock cart it was considered as a sign of far-reaching scientific progress.
We can roughly say that civilization first started sprouting after the prehistoric age of the human race, that is, from the days of the first composition of the Rk Veda, about 15,000 years ago. A major change took place during the days of Lord Shiva towards the end of the Rk Vedian period (which lasted 10,000 years).
Human life is characterized by various kinds of expressions – people eat and drink, wear clothes, sing and dance, build houses, undergo medical treatment, and so on – which are collectively known as culture. Any one of these expressions is not culture; culture is the sum total of them all. Sadashiva wanted to systematise all those expressions of human life – dance, music, medicine, civilization, in fact, every aspect of life. This was a big change, a revolutionary change. Nothing like it had ever taken place before. Such far-reaching changes are not easily brought about by ordinary leaders or rśis. Those who help people adapt themselves to the changed situation, I have called “sadvipras”. But the one who actually initiates the major change is called a “mahasadvipra”. Sadvipras know how to lead people in perfect adjustment with the changed circumstances, and guide them along the right path.
So, the initiation of a revolutionary change is not the work of a sadvipra, but the work of a mahasadvipra. Mahasadvipra is the philosophical term; in the scriptures he is called “Táraka Brahma”. Sadashiva was one such Táraka Brahma – a versatile guide in all aspects of human life. In the post-Shiva period, however, the speed of social progress eventually slackened. It lost its momentum, and degeneration set in. The various parts of the social machinery became rusty. The situation demanded the advent of another great personality who was capable of pushing the society ahead and leading the people along the right path. Thus, about 3,500 years ago another great leader emerged – Sri Krśńa. He also caused a big change in the society and infused a tremendous wave of social progress.
One may ask whether Sadashiva alone brought about these major changes in the society. No, certainly not! He was assisted by numerous sádhakas, devotees, intellectuals and ordinary people. In the scriptures, they are known as Shiva’s “gańa”. It is said that other gods and goddesses were decorated with various kinds of ornaments – some wore ear-rings and crowns, others carried conches and lotuses and weapons such as discs and clubs – but in the case of Shiva, His ornaments were His devotees who worked tirelessly to build the society according to his instructions.
What happened during the days of Sri Krśńa? He, too, brought about a revolutionary change in the society. Those who assisted Him in the revolutionary task were not necessarily wise and intellectual people; nor were they all well-versed in all the scriptures. Many of them were ordinary members of society. But it is a fact that they were ardent devotees and sincerely worked for the welfare of humanity under the directions of Sri Krśńa (Vraja). Their wealth was their love for their Iśt́a (goal); their devotion to Krśńa. And because of their devotion they became successful in their lives. People achieve more with their sincerity than with their knowledge.
This age, too, has undergone a marked change. Various kinds of problems have arisen in the society of today. New types of preparations – mental, physical and all-round preparations – are necessary to cope with the present situation. Corruption and degeneration have entered the minutest pores of the social body. The honest people will have to work towards a major change by fighting unitedly against this adverse situation. To succeed in this task, however, people will have to make thorough preparations. Just as one needs to make preparations before doing a bad action, one must also make preparations before doing a good deed. Good people will do good deeds.
There is a preparatory stage before each action. In fact, long preparations have been going on, and today, change has become inevitable. The situation brooks no further delay. About 3,300 years have passed since the days of Lord Krśńa, and about 7,000 years have passed since the days of Shiva. The people of today will have to become prepared just as they were in the past. They will have to plunge themselves into a new battle with a new ideology to bring about the total well-being of the human race.
When a major change took place in the past, such as in the days of Shiva and Krśńa, a new philosophy, a new way of life, a new light inspired people to move along, and that is why they could accomplish their task in an incredibly short time. To bring about a major change, fight is inevitable, be it short or protracted. When people fight under the inspiration of a mighty personality the task is accomplished within a short period. The people then decide, after deep thought, what the main problems confronting society are, and then make necessary preparations to solve those problems. Once they are prepared, they can attain success very quickly.
Human society today must be viewed with a universal outlook and not in a sectarian way. We must resolve all problems, major or minor. We must start the work of solving the major problems immediately because the need to bring a change in the society has already come. The more we delay the more the darkness will linger. Today a new philosophy, a new form of humanism, a new form of socio-economic thought has already come, with the sole intention of promoting collective social welfare.
That is why I advise you not to waste your time any longer. Utilize your time in worthwhile pursuits. It is said, “Shubhasya shiighram ashubhasya kálaharańam”. Before starting a noble task you need not consult the almanacs or the positions of the stars; start it immediately. But when you want to do something harmful, try to delay it for as long as you can. With the passing of time, and a change in mentality, you may decide not to do it any more.
While you are executing your noble task do not waste your time. In this practical world, in this relative world, the most valuable relative factor is time. Once the time has passed and gone, it does not return again, so never misuse time. May you prosper. May victory be with you.
Ánanda Vacanámrtam Part 8