There are certain psychological diseases from which we in India are suffering today. Parochialism, creedalism, communalism and social conflicts are causing disturbances throughout the country, though their particular expressions differ in different areas. The remedy lies only in a proper observance of the Law of Brotherhood.
Whether man likes it or not, the impersonal Law of Karma restores broken harmony and in the process pain and sorrow are produced. No kingdom in Nature, save the human, can practise the Law of Brotherhood, for man alone is self-conscious and has the power to choose. He can devise ways and means to participate in the evolutionary process and thus become an intelligent co-operator with Nature, working with the Law and not against it—labouring to restore broken harmony everywhere and desisting from breaking harmony anywhere. This he can do by a proper observance of the Law of Brotherhood.
All good-hearted people, all well-meaning men and women, believe in and speak about brotherhood. Their knowledge of the Law of Brotherhood as an important aspect of the Law of Karma is almost nil; their concept of brotherliness is surrounded by clouds of kindliness, charity, tolerance. But clouds, though capable of producing showers, are not life-giving waters for the parched soil. Therefore even these praiseworthy virtues fail to create a harmonious atmosphere and the Law of Brotherhood is broken every hour of every day.
It is generally believed that if outer problems are resolved, people will be more brotherly; that, for instance, if boundary disputes between one State and another are settled, harmonious relations will be established. In short, it is thought that changes in outer conditions will change our inner character and attitude. This is putting the cart before the horse. Outer conditions do affect a person, but not if there is not within him the power to respond. On the other hand, help him to acquire knowledge that will enable him to change his attitude to his own problems, and soon he will not only improve his own environment but also become brotherly in his attitude to others. Self-reform through Soul-education is the first requisite.
Are students of Theosophy, with the knowledge they have of the teachings about the Law of Karma and Brotherhood, using the virtues of kindliness, charity and tolerance correctly, so as to express real brotherliness in their own ranks? While knowledge is essential, and most of the students have a fair grasp of the truth that they have a responsibility to the Law of Karma and that they must practise the Law of Brotherhood, do they go far enough in their endeavour to apply in a practical fashion what they know with and in their own minds? Have the evil spirits of parochialism, communalism and social distinctions been dislodged, or do they exert a subtle influence over the students, unknown to themselves?
To free himself from creedalism the earnest student may give up the actual performance of rites and ceremonies belonging to the religion of his birth. That is a good step to take, but, unless the mental tendency which gave birth to the performance of ceremonies is transformed, the student is apt to exchange old rites for new. Similarly, communalism is a mental tendency with different expressions; the student of Theosophy has to guard against this persisting inner tendency and must not fall into the error of believing that right reform is achieved merely by outer change.
The influence of the Theosophical Movement on Indian thought has been great. During the years 1879-1885, when H.P.B. lived and laboured in India, she sowed seeds which yielded a wonderful crop even after her departure. The work started by her was not, however, properly implemented by those who came after her. The promulgation of Theosophy, the source of all religions, was weak; in the name of Theosophy sectarianism and creedalism were pushed forward and, instead of fighting class and caste brotherhoods, these were encouraged, albeit indirectly. The sin against the first object of Universal Brotherhood corrupted the work undertaken to promote the second and especially the third object of the Movement. The grand Theosophical Movement deteriorated and was wrecked.
We are not writing this to cast any stone at the workers of an earlier generation. We are writing for associates and aspirants of the U.L.T. They have a laudable and powerful contribution to make by distinguishing between the spiritual and the religious, between ethics rooted in universal principles and morality associated with conventions. The first duty of the student of Theosophy is to rise above the pride of race or of religion, to throw off the feeling of exclusiveness which caste and community engender and to breathe the pure air of universality, of cosmopolitanism, of internationalism. Religion may be good, but Theosophy is better. To love one's community may be good, but to allow that love to tarnish the fair name of India is degrading. To be partial to one's own family or State may be right for the unphilosophical, but is positively wrong in one who is a practitioner of Theosophy. "The true Theosophist belongs to no cult or sect, yet belongs to each and all." We cannot possibly belong to each and all until we refuse to belong exclusively to a particular cult or sect.
The student of Occultism must belong to no special creed or sect, yet he is bound to show outward respect to every creed and faith, if he would become an Adept of the Good Law. He must not be bound by the prejudged and sectarian opinions of anyone; he has to form his own opinions and to come to his own conclusions in accordance with the rules of evidence furnished him by the science to which he is devoted. To attain to this position the student of Theosophy must divest himself of religious ritualism, of communal bias, of national pride, and become a seeker of Truth, i.e., a philosopher whose quest is pure knowledge and whose duty is the earnest and continuous application of what he has ascertained to be true. He must never act without a basis of wisdom-teaching. We cannot fight the bigotry of a priest-ridden populace without real rational living, i.e., living according to laws, rules and principles whose truth we have determined. To live the life of Universal Brotherhood each has to cease to be a sectarian and become a Man. The Hindu, the Muslim or the Christian, the Maharashtrian, the Gujarati or the Bengali is less than Man.
The sorest need of India today is a group of Theosophists who hold firmly to the principles of Universal Brotherhood, not in theory but in actual practice; who are pure thinkers, rationalistic philosophers, applying the noble ethics which flow from pure philosophical abstractions. Sacrificial action is great, but an act in which the sacrifice of wisdom is present is greater. Politicians, social reformers, educationists, cannot save India without the inspiration of practical mystics who live by the Eternal Light as brothers to all men.
Let the student reflect upon the following words of a Master in the light of what is said above. But more—let him ascertain if he himself is living up to what is implicit in them: