We have only one religion – the Religion of Liberation’, said Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru (1927-1999), the founder of Santhigiri Guru Parampara about the path of Dharma he founded. Guru Dharma deals with principles related to the spiritual scheme of time cycles (Yuga Dharma), wisdom transmission (Guru Dharma) and the laws concerning soul’s transmigratory journey for the fulfilling experience of non-dual consciousness. Guru revealed the way for experiencing the pure vision of non-dual Truth living in the duality of phenomenal existence.
We might take time cycles i.e. Yugas, Manvantaras, and Kalpa as some obscure concepts from an unknown past. Just like time in the form of day and night as well as year and season is bound to human destiny, Yugas and Manvantaras are the measurements of infinite time, related to the origin and evolution of life and consciousness in the solar system. The solar system has come into being with such matchless perfection by the Will of Brahman, the Transcendental Light (Brahma Prakasham).
How can the Absolute Nondual Truth create a world of plurality is a question that continues to perplex man. Existence cannot come into being from non-existence, declare the Upanishads (Chandogya Upanishad, VI.II.1). Although the Divine Light is non-dual primordial consciousness and also the basis for phenomenal existence, it creates the world of plurality with names, forms, qualities and different potencies by launching itself through a primordial kinetic urge (Adi Sankalpam).
Adi Sankalpam means the first thought or the Word of God as reflected in the Upanishads as ‘May I Be Many’, ‘May I Create the World’. (Chandogya Upanishad, VI.II.3, Aitareya Upanishad, I, Taitiriya Upanishad, II.vi.i). This primordial urge, the spontaneous self-expression of the nondual Truth creates the boundaries of time and space as well as the whole phenomena of existence, the cosmic plan.
Some religions are against anthropomorphizing God, as they argue that the Absolute Truth is arupi, i.e. formless. Advaita Vedanta even deny that the creation is only a mirage, an illusion. However, the argument is only partially true.
Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru said:
‘Although God is arupi (formless), there is swarupam (form). When we say the love of God, we should imagine a ‘swarupam’ (an embodiment) for God in mind, because God indeed is a ‘swarupam’. Saying that God is omnipresent and interpret in some other way, we would never be able to understand God’.
The pure absolute consciousness has to first transform itself into an entity for the purpose of creation, the scriptures reveal. The Brihadaranya Upanishad mentions: ‘In the beginning, this was but the Self in a form similar to that of a Man’. (Rig Veda, 10.90.2, Yajurveda 31:18, Aiteraya Upanishad, 1:1:3).
This progenitor is known as Manu in Indian cosmology. He is the first born of God, the Purusha or the Hiranyagarbha of the Vedas and Upanishads and the Logos in western theology. The Indian rishis calculated the age of the universe in terms of Manvantara after the name of Manu, the archetypal Guru, the primordial Purusha, through whose volition (sankalpa) every solar system comes into existence. Man has lost the awareness about this archetypal heavenly father. Therefore, Indian rishis calculated the age of the universe in terms of Manvantara, the age of a Manu.
Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru said:
‘Manu Parampara (lineage) is to provide God’s dharma to the world. It is a long time now since we have reached to this helpless state of not knowing about Manvantara, Chaturyuga, how many chaturyugas constitute a Manvantara…’
Nine heavenly bodies revolve around the sun creating the conditions for the origin, sustenance, and evolution of human life. The Rishis revealed that a Manvantara has seventy-one age-quartets or Chaturyugas (306,720,000 human years) consisting of Satya, Treta, Dwapara, and Kali, which cyclically evolve to a pre-determined goal of perfection. Then another solar system begins with the next Manu. Fourteen such archetypal Manus appear in an episode of creation called Kalpa.
‘When we talk about the origin of the universe, the yuga-cycles and dissolutions happen with such a long age. Manvantara comes at the transition to another yuga-cycle after dissolution’ (Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru).
This process of creation goes on infinitely, without a beginning and end, which explains the theory of an expanding universe with its billions of galaxies and the possible existence of countless solar systems. Therefore, the Indian name for God is Brahman, which means that which expands.
‘There is a measure of Brahma Prakasham (Divine Light) for the movement of the solar system’ said Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru. The universe moves on the wheel of time, therefore, the human race cannot move forward without the proper awareness of time. Time is the synonym for change. Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru said about it as avastha bhedam (change of nature or stage).
‘Evolving through each age, developing through centuries, we are crossing stages. When we say ‘avastha bhedam’, the stage from a base entity to a Deva is a unique stage (avastha) of ours’ (Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru).
When Darvin’s theory of evolution is taken further to ethereal planes (mandalas), the soul of man further evolves into the status of greater luminous bodies of a deva, Rishi, sanyasi and other higher levels of manifestation. The soul goes through ten spiritual stages of transformation, according to the Guru. The worlds mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana and other texts relate to these stages of soul evolution.
After the age of Kali, the Chaturyuga cycle again begins with Satya, Treta, Dwapara, and Kali. Satya Yuga is the age of perfection, when God realization is direct, according to the Rishis. While the perfected souls in Satya Yuga adorn the heavens as radiant entities and merge with Brahman (the absolute nondual state) at the end of a Kalpa, souls in the various states of evolution such as an animal, human, deva or a rishi also have to go through the long process of evolution through the cycle of ages. The soul might go down in the process of evolution when righteous dharma and karma are violated.
The present age is the Kali Yuga of 28th Chaturyuga, with 43 Chaturyugas to go, to complete this Manu cycle. Kali Yuga is a period of spiritual perfection. The spiritual order of Kali yuga requires that man attains necessary soul luminance to qualify for the all perfect Satya Yuga, rectifying the mistakes that might have happened in the karma and dharma of previous yuga cycles dwapara and treta. Sanatana Dharma is related to this eternal spiritual order.
However, the mediums of revelation, as well as the modes of application, change from time to time because of socio-environmental changes and human errors that trigger periodical civilizational changes. This change is continuous. Spiritual guides appear for various durations such as 1000, 2000, 3500 or 5000 in a yuga cycle.
‘When the Treta Yuga is completely traversed in the order of Yuga Dharma, an ideology cannot remain more than 5000 or 10000 years. With the passage of time, many failings come in those ideologies’ (Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru).
In view of the above, Yuga Dharma embodies the concept of age-specific renewal of the Dharmic order.
Karunakara Guru said: ‘Yuga Dharma is not only for any particular caste, religion or person. Yuga Dharma is for the whole world… we should know what is Yuga Dharma. There is no use taking up all the four without following what is to be followed in each Yuga. But, we have a tradition that has taken up all the four’.
The ways of worship and social laws of bygone ages (Treta and Dwapara) are practiced in Kali Yuga against the age-specific spiritual order of Sanatana Dharma. The regime of Mahatmas and their spiritual guidance pertaining to Kali Yuga according to the concept of yuga dharma are ignored. Sri Ram, the guru of Treta and Sri Krishna, the guru of Dwapara, whose spiritual incumbency belonged to their respective ages, as well as the rituals and the sacred chants of those yugas are followed in the Kali Yuga. The rights and wrongs of the past yugas are repeated arresting the age-related spiritual evolvement.
While the Vedic tradition portrayed Kali Yuga as an age of ruin, Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru said that Kali is the best age after Satya Yuga since it is an age of spiritual evolvement. The revelations of Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru regarding the Dharmic order of Kali Yuga deserve serious attention:
*. We should make changes according to the time. Time will not step aside for us. Since this is the age of Kali, what is required is the propagation of Dharma suitable to Kali Yuga.
*. If the time of Deva in the Treta and Dwapara had been fulfilled through mantra and tantra, it has to be fulfilled through austerities and knowledge (tapas and jnana) in the age of Kali.
* Most jnanis have not been able to understand what the Dharmic order of Kali Yuga is.
* In order to implement Kali Yuga Dharma, a correction and a new path is required. The new path is to develop a good character among the people.
The effort for the transition to Kali Yuga Dharma had begun from Sri Krishna. After Sri Krishna, the Upanishad Rishis, Sri Buddha, Mahavir and other Mahatmas tried to rejuvenate the jnana tradition of India. However, their efforts remain unfulfilled because of spiritual distortions.
Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru referred to it as ‘the error that denied Guru Dharma in the name of Vedic dharma’. Guru said that there would be a change only when we accept the path opened by the Mahatmas:
‘What is required first is the removal of ignorance. That only will lead to victory. What is required for that? We should understand the vision of Mahatmas; should think about it and then try to actualize it. Thus, if we strive step by step, we can reach the desired shore…. Our destined karma is to knock at the door and find out the self-sacrifice of every great soul, that they did for our sake…Mahatmas are the means to love truth and to know the karma with discrimination.’
But the Mahatmas did not get the desired status in India. The Rishi tradition gave way to the Vedic tradition which tried to cement the Trimurti tradition, the worship of trinity gods (Siva, Vishnu and Goddess) and their large family of gods, divinities and gurus under it. The Hindus of India are thus divided into many sects and caste groups leading to their spiritual disunity. Therefore, the efforts to unite Hindus have always failed.
Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru said:
‘An effort has taken place to unite us through Vaishnava, Shaiva and Sakteya traditions. But people would not be united in that way because these three had come in three different ways. What is required for unifying is some awareness.’
The mistake prevailing in the world now is that the dharma of the fourth epoch (Kali Yuga) has not been implemented here. Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru said that the worship of One Almighty God has to be perfected in Kali Yuga. The doctrine of One Absolute God was put forward by India first. However, for the last few millenniums, Vedic tradition functioned without giving respect to the jnana tradition; therefore, Yuga dharma could not be established here.
The idea of One God worship was propagated by prophets such as Moses, Jesus, and Mohammad in West Asia, which has spread throughout the world. But in the prophetic religions, there is no clear concept about cosmic time order – about the Yugas and Manvantaras. They also do not accept the theory of spiritual evolution, reincarnation, etc.
Nature has an inherent character to evolve the soul to its Absolute status through a series of evolutionary incarnations. There exists, also a divine intervention that creates or directs this rhythmic evolution. The uniqueness of Indian spirituality is this idea of a divine intervention, in the form of a spiritual embodiment that exists as the ‘witnessing authority of all actions and knowledge (Karma-Dharma-Saakshi, i.e. Guru Incarnation). Indian spirituality considers the relationship between an enlightened Guru – who is the embodiment of absolute realization- and the souls who are struggling to attain freedom from the chains of imperfection as the fundamental dharma for the evolvement and fulfilment of all living beings.
The path of Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru is the hope for the whole human race to unite spiritually. It is an opportunity for Hinduism and India to evolve with universal acceptance.
Santhigiri Social Research Institute
Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru, A Dialogue on Human Prospect, Santhigiri Publications
Mukundan P.R., The Riddle of Manu, Manvantara Avatars and World Teacher Prophecies, Santhigiri Publications
Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru, The Liberating Dharma, Santhigiri Publications
Source: World Hindu News (WHN)