The very purpose for which Project SRS took birth, was to promote Equality. Giving it any other motive is a sacrilege by itself.

Having emphatically stated this, let us pinpoint why the need to have a project to promote Equality in today’s world, was so urgently felt. The concept of equality has flown from the hearts of people and become just another name to be bandied around by self promoting egos. Where is equality today?!

ramanuja gold

The Present Scenario

According to the United Nations Development Program, the income of the richest one fifth of the world’s population was 32 times that of the poorest one fifth in 1970. By 1990, this disparity had reached 60 times. If the trend continues, by 2050, it will be 200 fold.
Is this Economic Equality?

Globally, an estimated 736 million women, almost one in three, have been subjected to violence, sexual or otherwise, at least once in their lifetime. The United Nations Population Fund claims that 117 million girls go ‘missing’ due to sex selective abortions.

Is this Gender Equality?

Nearer home, the NCRB data says that atrocities against the SC, ST and Dalits, reveal a steady rise over the years.

Is this Social Equality?

So, you will agree, it is a dismal scenario today…. of a selfish, money centered society. The political scenario is constantly changing… ideologies are in flux… so, greater are the chances of ‘contamination’. Caste, creed, race, colour, even faith, have become commercial entities. They are used as vote banks on one hand and changed for financial benefits, on the other. They have become kalpa vrukshas, wish-fulfilling trees.

Misuse Of Age-old Systems

No one is concerned with the original purpose for which these divisions of society were created. They have been drastically abused. Instead of becoming a binding factor for a smooth running society, they are being used as a divisive factor to fragmentize society. These fragments are now fighting for domination. Smart, selfish persons are using these fragments, to shrewdly and stealthily divide and rule.

India doesn’t have a dearth of resources. They have been mismanaged… monopolised by a few to exploit the rest. It is a similar case all over the world.

The Real Cause

The thought of dominating others or capturing power to satisfy unbalanced fancies has become primary. With human achievement in technology and ease of its use the world is racing headlong towards further discrimination, domination and terrorism.

This need to monopolise, to dominate, creeps in when we think we are special and should maintain the elitism even at the cost of suppression of others. Who are these others? Anyone who is not mine. When the question of our near and dear ones comes, we are ready to lay down our lives for them. We want to treat them equal to, if not better than ourselves.

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A Probable Solution

If this feeling of ‘mine’ could be extended to include ‘others’…. if the scope of ‘mine’ could expand, the need for equality would become inclusive in nature rather than exclusive.

Let’s examine the concept of this inclusive equality.

At the micro level…. the body has many limbs and organs…. each with its own shape, size, nomenclature and specific activity. Yet they work in unison, responding to and sharing each other’s pain and joy, without disturbing their individuality. Imagine what would happen to our body if this inclusive equality were not there!

At the macro level…. the earth has many people … each person with his own language, race, religion, caste etc. We are definitely aware of our individuality…. but unison of inclusive equality….?…. Totally missing! So the condition of Mother Earth is pitiable.

A solution is definitely needed for the world, and to be more specific, for our country to come out of this situation.

To be frank, this inclusiveness should not be limited to human beings…. it must be expanded to cover all beings on this earth.. the flora, fauna and inert objects too.

Feeling of ‘mine’ gives rise to care and concern for what is mine. When ‘mine’ includes everything, the seed of equality is sown.

All problems, rising out of discrimination and inequality, will be addressed.

Can we find answers in history?

To find the much needed solution, we need to go through the annals of history. Can we trace a similar situation in the society of those times? Was there any social reformer who raised his voice? Was he able to put his plan into action? The thought of this problem came to many… they addressed it too… but with negligible success. The one who could practice it himself, impress it on society and inspire acceptance in all, was Sri Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya.

Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya,an exemplary social reformer

Sri Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya was a great visionary and an exemplary social reformer.

Before understanding a historical event or personality, we need to travel to that timezone. The mindset of the present cannot be applied to decide whether that activity was right or wrong. Having travelled back mentally, we can then realise the suitability of ‘transporting’ and applying the vision of yesteryears to the present situation.

Scenario, a 1000 years ago

If we travel back a 1000+ years, to the 11th century, we can understand the prevalent system. Democracy did not exist. It was Monarchy…. that too under the control of temples. In other parts of the world, it was the church that controlled monarchs.

Society was not people centered but temple centered. The demerit of the caste system had raised its ugly head. Control of temples was the monopoly of priests. Rules were rigid. No one, other than priestly castes, was allowed to study scriptures. If someone tried to learn them, tongues were cut! If someone tried hearing them, ears were filled with molten lead! People were shackled with discrimination. Entry was restricted in areas where ‘upper’ classes moved. Status of women was pathetic.

Change begins…

Then Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya emerged on the scene. Things began to change.

Social Equality

The inner essence of Bhagavad Githa was only with a few scholars. Though he was a great scholar, it became almost impossible for Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya to get that secret. He traversed 200 miles, on foot, 18 times. Once he got it, he couldn’t contain it within and shared it with all, irrespective of caste, creed, religion etc. He calmed his angry mentor by saying that he was willing to face Hell to save the world from misery.

This shows how expanded his sense of ‘mine’ was… how concerned he was for social equality. He was a Social reformer. His persona was so encompassing that it cannot be confined to terms like,‘religious leader.’

Gender Equality

His parameters for equality went beyond general social equality. He was deeply concerned with gender equality. In those days of rigid rules, he trained thousands of women in scriptural knowledge. Not only did he give them opportunities, he also elevated them to a worshipable level. The daughter of an Islamic sultan who lost her life due to pangs of separation from the deity, was given the status of a Goddess. In Melkote, she is worshipped as Bibi Nachiyar, even today. It is not the religion or the caste that makes a person great, but the devotion, dedication and commitment. This incident proves Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya’s belief in communal equality too.

Another lady, a villager, was given respect and facilities at par with scholars, for the scriptural knowledge she had acquired. She was cited as a role model for women.

Economic Equality

Sri Ramanuja knew the importance of making people capable of  earning by themselves and giving them opportunities to be included in the process of production. In those days, temple administration was under the total control of one section of society. He divided the administration into 20 divisions. 50% of these were allocated to all classes of society. He thus put his belief in economic equality into practice, making sure that these, otherwise neglected, people not only got paid but were also allotted sufficient land to cultivate and survive while doing service. This action of his, brought all people under one umbrella. It gave them a sense of being part of one family, without fences of ego, false pride and caste. Economic equality encompassed  social and gender equality. We must appreciate that Sri Ramanuja never thought of discarding the age-old system of castes and division of labour. He understood the idea based on which the system had originally developed…. but he spoke about the rigid limitations that had crept into the system.

Equality among Humans

Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya was a staunch believer of equality among humans.

In fact Vivekananda referred to him as a saint of the heart as his heart went out to the downtrodden. Dalits were given opportunities to learn scriptures and also for economic equality. In fact, his CFO, was Dhanurdas, a dalit. 

Making survival easier for common people.

In the normal course, rulers, scholars, elite and bureaucrats travel on parallel lines, never meeting. Common man has to go through them all for survival. It was Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya who transformed these parallel lines into crossroads, meeting at various junctures for the benefit of common people.

Sarira Sariri Bhava Sambandha

This great social reformer propounded the school of thought of Sarira Sariri Bhava Sambandha, connection between limbs and body. At the micro level it is applicable to our limbs and our body… at the slight macro level… limbs, the people; country, the body. These connections should exist for a common cause.. not out of fear but out of love and joy.

Ra:ma:nu:ja:cha:rya prevails

Ra:ma:nu:ja:cha:rya got inspiration from many sources. So powerful was this inspiration that he was able to inject it into society during a time when such thoughts were unheard of. Of course it helped that there was no pseudo democracy or pseudo secularism prevalent at that time. He was able to take a stand and convince everyone to follow his ideology in word and spirit. This, in spite of initial resistance and attempts on his life.

Finally, for almost 600 years, everyone across the length and breadth of Bharat of those days, followed Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya’s ideology.

Divisive policies once again.

 It was foreign invasions during the 17th century that sowed the contaminated seeds of disparity. These grew into warped trees and evil powers flourished with the policy of divide and rule.

Foreign rule has gone. Bharat is independent. But the stumps of the decomposed, poisonous trees of those days, have been well taken care of and nurtured in multiple ways by selfish people. Divide and rule continues to be the norm of the day. The concept of Equality is gathering dust in the minds of people.

The time for revival… NOW!

It is time to bring back this concept into the hearts of people and put it into practice. It is time to revive Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya’s ideology. It is time to expand the feeling of ‘mine’…. to make care and concern inclusive of everyone and everything.

What better time for this than the millennium of Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya’s birth? This is the time to root out the decomposed stumps of divisiveness and replant seeds of Equality.

This is the time to support the SRS project in every way possible.

If done at a micro level, the impact would be of a lesser degree. So, the project has been conceived at a macro scale to catch the attention of society by incorporating the latest technology in it. 

Ra:ma:nu:jacha:rya’s vision was of such magnitude that, not only was it effective a 1000 years ago but is applicable even today. World leaders and scholars, not only appreciate his words and works but accept their applicability today and in the decades to come.

Giving credit to the influences….

How was Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya able to conceive such a revolutionary plan of action, the applicability of which, spanned the past, present and future? We need to understand this key point. There were strong influences on Ra:ma:nuja that led to the evolving of his universally applicable ideology…. 5 gurus and 108 places. In incidents with his gurus and in stories of these 108 places, he observed strong undercurrents of equality. Unforgettable impressions were engraved in his mind …. not only did his ideology propagate equality, he himself stood as an icon of equality.

If these 108 places, which scholars refer to as Divya desams, can influence and evolve Ra:ma:nu:ja into such an epitome of essential knowledge, an invincible scholar, a realized soul…. others can be influenced too.

Project SRS- Recreating a power house of inspiration

However, practically speaking, it is not feasible for everyone, even ardent seekers, to travel to these widely scattered places. This is the driving factor behind the SRS project…. to make Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya, as a statue, accessible to all…. at the same time create an aura of replicas of 108 Divya desams. Recreate for visitors, a power house of inspiration…. the person and the places that influenced him… the person who in turn influenced people to accept the concept of equality.

Labelling Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya… an exercise in futility.

The physical appearance of a person should not be the deciding factor to label him… conservative or socialist…. traditional or progressive… right winger or left winger. It should be his knowledge, message and actions that should speak for themselves.  Going by this standard, Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya cannot be confined by any label, religion, caste, creed, colour, race or nationality. His message of Equality is universally applicable and beneficial.

Looking beyond nomenclatures…..

A similar standard should apply to places that have influenced such a personality like  Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya . 

When we view places with limitations in our mind, we see them as temples , churches, homes, schools etc. But, if some places  have inspired someone to become a universally acclaimed social reformer, all limitations give way and those places become a source of inspiration, irrespective of their limited nomenclature.

Accepting sources of inspiration in their entirety…

If we want to enjoy the full vitality of such places, we need to go beyond our limitations and open ourselves to receive inspiration from them in their full entirety… with all their day to day activities.  They need to be revered with all their glories. If even one glory is reduced, it is manipulation and a deprivation of their values. If viewed as a whole, one then gets the benefit of inspiration… beyond the confines of any one religion. It is the responsibility of the Wise to understand, accept and stand by such great thoughts.

If the end result is universally beneficial, it is worth adopting any means. Then, the power of that means, should not get condensed by our narrow minds. Of course when the same means are used for selfish or evil goals, they become subject to condemnation.

Hence it is of paramount importance that no means, being used for universal benefit, should be judged at face value for acceptance or rejection.

HH. Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji’s sankalpa…

“Though Project SRS is a gigantic task and tremendous effort is needed for its completion, we have taken a sankalpa to go through all hardships to actualise it with as much accuracy as possible. It is our fervent desire to sow the seeds of equality in every visitor’s heart, irrespective of their nationality or faith. Even if one visitor gets inspired to rise to the level of Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya, our efforts will be fruitful and our joy will know no bounds.”

Charity is ‘sharing’ equally …. then and now.

The word charity means sharing …… without any undertones of egoistic giving. Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya, in introducing the concept of equality, performed the most appreciable act of charity ever conceived. Anyone or any organisation which strives to revive this concept in its true sense, without any selfish motive, is performing a similar act of charity. Project SRS must be viewed as such an act of charity. The Wise should fully support this universally beneficial concept and help in removing hurdles placed on the path by narrow minded people.

Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya’s ideology…. eternally relevant…

Ra:ma:nuja:cha:rya’s virtue was universal compassion. His means was universal integration through the concept of equality. He and his ideology were relevant and successful 1000 years ago… they will be the same today …. and will remain the same in all tomorrows to come.