What greater misfortune can there be
Than the failure of Bharatiyas,
To understand the true greatness
Of their ancient and sacred culture?
To cavil at others’ faults
And to be blind to one’s own;
To jeer at others’ looks,
Not noticing one’s own ugliness;
To make fun of others
And not see one’s own follies;
To have such qualities from birth
Can there be a greater sin than this?
Students, Boys and Girls, and Teachers, Embodiments of Love!
The observance of morality in daily life, the Divinisation of all actions and thoughts related to life, and adherence to ideals together constitute culture. Students today do not make the requisite efforts to understand the sacredness and value of this culture. Sanskrit, Sanskriti and Sanskara are all terms which have been derived from the root words, ‘San’ and ‘Krit’. Bharatiya Sanskriti (Indian Culture) is a composite of purity, Divinity, sublimity and beauty. This combination is reflected in sports and games.
The Grandeur of Bharatiya Culture
Although there may be differences among nations in their food and recreational habits, the spirit of harmony and unity displayed in sports is a gratifying example to all. It is a distinctive quality of sports that differences are forgotten and people engage themselves in games in a Divine spirit of friendliness and camaraderie. Sports help the players not only to improve their health but also to experience joy. Students, however, should not be content with realising these benefits. Man has another body besides the physical. It is the subtle body, otherwise known as the mind. It is equally essential to promote purity of the mind and develop large heartedness. True humanness blossoms only when the body, the mind and the spirit are developed harmoniously. The enthusiasm and effort which you display in sports should also be manifested in the spheres of morality and spirituality. You must endeavour to experience the Divinity that permeates Bharat’s sacred culture. Bharatiya culture is not a product of narrow-minded ideas and ideals. It is filled with profound, sublime and ennobling ideas. ‘Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu!’ (May all the people be happy) is the benedictory motto of Bharat. There is a prayer in the Purusha Suktam which students recite regularly, but they do not understand its full meaning. ‘Sahana Vavatu; Sahanau Bhunaktu; Sahaveeryam Karavavahai’. What is the inner meaning of this Mantra? ‘Let us grow together in harmony; let us move about in friendliness; let us spread together the light that we have gained from our studies. Let us live in harmony without discord. Let us promote in harmony the use of our talents and skills.’ This is the profound inner meaning of this Vedic hymn. No other language can stand comparison with Sanskrit in its sweetness or range of expression. The sages prayed for the happiness and well-being of every one on earth. ‘Sarve Bhadrani Pashyantu’ (May all see only what is auspicious). Such were the benedictions pronounced in the Sanskrit language.
Sanskrit – The Mother of All Languages
Many European languages have a large number of words which are derived from Sanskrit roots. Words like mother, father and brother in English are derived from Latin words which are themselves derived from Sanskrit words like – Pitru, Matru and Bhratru. Thus English is like a grand-daughter, while Latin is a daughter and Sanskrit is the mother of all languages. Sanskrit enjoys this privilege of being the ancient mother of many languages. A great French scholar, Louis Renou , spent many years in India studying the Sanskrit language. On the eve of returning to his native country, he was given a big farewell party by many teachers and students. At that gathering Louis Renou was full of tears, feeling sad at having to leave India. Controlling himself, he said that he was feeling extremely sad to leave India. “Indians are treating the immortal Sanskrit language as a ‘dead’ language. Educational institutions and students are not making adequate efforts to study Sanskrit. Having this immortal language with them, they are not making any effort to enjoy its glory. There can be no greater misfortune than this”, he lamented.
Max Muller was another savant who explored the greatness of Sanskrit. He traced the Sanskrit origin of many English words. After completing a study of the Rig Veda, he inscribed an introduction to his work in Sanskrit in which he described himself as a native of Germany who had received his education at Oxford University. He coined Sanskrit equivalents for Germany and Oxford (‘Sarmany’ and ‘Gotirthapura’) and Sanskritised his own name as Mokshamula Bhatt. When great foreign scholars and savants show so much regard and esteem for Sanskrit, it is regrettable that Indians do not have the same regard for this great language.
The Bharatiya culture is based entirely on Sanskrit. Culture means that which sanctifies the world, which enhances the greatness and glory of a country and which helps to raise the individual and society to a higher level of existence. Culture contributes to the refinement of life. The process of refinement or transformation is essential for improving the utility of any object. For instance, paddy has to be milled and the husk has to be removed before the rice is fit for cooking. This is the process known as Sanskriti or transformation. This means getting rid of the unwanted elements and securing the desirable elements. With regard to men, Sanskriti (culture) means getting rid of bad qualities and cultivating virtues. The cultured person is one who has developed good thoughts and good conduct. In Sanskrit, the term Atma refers to the Self (‘I’) and ‘mine’. Where the ‘I’ and ‘mine’ are present strong attachment develops. This is described as Atmabhimanam (attachment to the Self). Even in relation to trivial matters, when there is mention of ‘I’, the person concerned places his hand on his heart. This shows that the Self (‘I’) that is referred to is not the body but the Spirit. When a person declares, “Whatever the disaster, whatever the trouble I may be confronted with, I am not afraid”, he reveals his confidence in his Atma (Self) which is the basis for his fortitude. Unfortunately, nowadays it is attachment to the body that is cherished, with the result that one’s outlook becomes narrow and limited. It should be recognised that the Atma (the indwelling Spirit) is one and the same in all beings. You have to develop this spirit of oneness and equality. Then the Divinity in you will be manifested and your human nature will get sanctified and Divinised. In every action, you should be comradely and cooperative. Today such a spirit prevails in the sphere of sport, although occasionally there are deviations from it. In the beginning, sports and athletics were intended mainly to promote health and experience joy. Today these objectives are being forgotten. Everything is being commercialised. Self-interest is getting predominant. Consequently, peace and happiness are being lost. If a person is invited to sing, he asks, “How much will you give me?” In cricket and tennis matches today lakhs of rupees are involved. When sports become a kind of business, there is no room for human values and peace becomes a casualty. It is essential, therefore, that the sense of spiritual oneness should prevail, transcending differences of nationality, language and religion. Only thus can real bliss be experienced.
Source: Bharatiya Culture and Sports, Discourse 11, My Dear Students Volume 3; Divine Discourse on January 14, 1990 at the Prize Distribution Function, Annual Sports & Cultural Meet, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Prashanti Nilayam Campus Auditorium