Despite the recent
declaration by the Greenwich Observatory in London that
the next century does not begin until 1 January 2001,
people the world over are going ahead at full speed to welcome it
in the year 2000!
As we approach this landmark
year 2000, people of nationalities are pondering over their past and
forecasting their future. Virtually every field of human achievement
has been scrutinised to produce lists of this century's greatest personalities.
And, not surprisingly, no two lists have shown an exact agreement.
Experiences from the past help to shape
a better future. So, in essence, the most friutful exercise for man,
as he approaches the threshold of the next century, is to analyse
the past and plan for the future. It is a pity that amidst the commercial
extravaganza this event has generated, its spiritual dimension has
been largely overlooked.
Even so, Prince Charles has gone on record
as saying that this occasion "presents a moment of spiritual
and national renewal.... an opportunity to restore and renew the face
as well as the heart of the world, the future.... to understand the
significance... I believe we must delve deeper into the sacred basis
of our existence."
When asked, this was a view voiced by
Q: "What is special about
the year 2000?"
"It's just that it serves as a point in time to look
back on the progress man has made, and also to look forward to the
future. We must learn from the past... not to make the same mistakes
again... and learn to live better as we go along."
Elaborating on the methodology, Swamishri refers to the timeless guidance
imparted by our ancient rishis in the scriptures, "If we live
in accordance with their ways, then we will be happy. Universal values
do not change...they are a basic part of our existence and must remain
so. Of course, some minor things may need to be modified as time goes
along.... But fundamental principles can never be changed."
Explaining the key to a better, brighter future Swamishri revealed,
"First and foremost we need to have absolute faith in God. It
is because God exists that we exist. He is at the root of all happiness.
And it is because God dwells within each of us that we can enjoy all
the things we enjoy. God has created everything, and He controls everything.
If man lives according to the laws of God, only then can everything
run smoothly. But if there is no faith in God, then man will act wantonly
- killing, hurting and disrupting the world."
It is evident from Swamishri's answers that his vision of the future
is clear. He is sure that a peaceful and prosperous future is only
possible if it is God-centred.
At the recent Parliament of World Religions in Cape Town, the Dalai
Lama said that people who expect the year 2000 to bring a miraculous
transformation in society are wasting their time. He added, "Peace
should come from within. Genuine lasting world peace can only come
from inner peace."
In conclusion, Swamishri's answer to the question posed by reporter
Ibrahim Patel of the South African Broadcasting Corporation on 8-8-99,
provides a concise summary of where man has faltered in the past and
how universal peace and progress can be achieved.
Q: "What is your message
for the next century?"
Swamishri: "As we are approaching
the year 2000, there is one very clear statement that today man has
become corrupt in so many ways. He is thinking more and more about
the ways and means to attain mundane happiness. And he does this at
the cost of inflicting pain and loss to thousands of people. We see
a great greed for power regardless of the misunderstanding and conflict
it spawns. New researches and discoveries are made to destroy people.
People produce and peddle drugs and alcohol to harrass mankind, to
make it miserable and destroy it.
"For the New Year one should endeavour to free oneself from addictions,
vices and base nature. Man should strive to earn money rather than
kill someone for it. May people respect and love each other. We also
wish that there should be projects that inspire peaceful coexistence
and publication of wholesome literature. To enhance faith iin God
more mandirs should be established, people should study the holy scriptures,
respect and love the holy saints. When such feelings arise in people
then the country will benefit and progress all the more."