A constructive Endeavour Towards A Nonviolent Multicultural Society
The Anuvrat Movement has been engaged in the noble task of uplifting human life and revitalizing the rapidly crumbling moral and spiritual values among the people of the world irrespective of casts, creed and colour for the last three and a half decades.
Launched on March 1, 1949 by Acharya Shree Tulsi – the head of a Jain sect and a leading visionary of India – the Movement has since grown steadily in size and stature. Though it does not lay claim to any spectacular success or acheivement, there is no gains saving the fact that its universal appeal for gains saving the fact that its universal appeal for self-awakening has created a great impact on the outlook and behaviour of many people. It was hailed and patronised by eminent people like the late Dr. Rajendra Prasad. C Rajgopalachari, Pt. Jawarhalal Nehru, Dr S. Radhakrishnan and Jai Prakash Narayan. It has been striving to infuse with new life people degenerating fast into what T.S. Elliot aptly calls "automatications or living shadows inhibiting the great wasteland".
While many western celebrities like Bertrand Russell and Martin Luther King were organising huge peace rallies exhorting the people to raise their voice against the senseless genocide caused by the nuclear holocaust in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by a strange coincidence, as it were, a relatively unknown religious preceptor of the East heading a Jain sect, seated far away in a relatively unknown religious preceptor of the East heading a Jain sect, seated far away in a remote town of Thar desert of Rajasthan, was engaged in an identical mission, though in a small way, of rousing the masses against violence and moral torpor. He heard the inner call that commanded him to throw off the yoke of sectrism dogmatism and launched a crusade against caste, untouchability, subjection of women and religious intolerance. His response to the call resulted in the birth of Anuvrat movement. It was in this very way that Simon and Andrew responded when Jesus walking the sea of Galilee called to them. The only difference was that the call Acharya Tulsi heard came from within, not unlike the one as in the case of Saint Joan had heard for centuries before in France. But unlike as in her case the inner voice directed the Acharya to launch a movement for liberating the individual from a bigoted sectarian outlook, fanaticism and an unethical approach, thereby automatically ensuring the emancipation of mankind.
The root of the malady lies in the individual. The Acharya realised that society cannot be purged without an inner transformation of man. Instinctively motivated by the maxim:
In small proportion we just beauties see;
And in short measures, life may be perfect be.
Acharya Tulso began his mission by carefully drawing up a code of conduct for all individuals in society. The code consisted of atomic or small vows (anuvrats). He launched what came to be known as the Anuvrat Monement urging the individuals to pledge themselves willingly to observe the anuvrats. The movement embodied a vision and that of Tagore’s heaven of freedom as pictured by him in his immortal work Geetanjali.
The most important thing about the Anuvrat Movement is that it strives after the middle path steering clear of the two extremes of absolute ascetism (mahavrats) and unbridled materialism resulting in moral torpor and acedia. The Anuvrat Movement aims at ushering in an era of self-awakening – the anthesis of the Automic age.
The Acharya carried his message on far and wide covering thousands of miles on foot, enjoying on the people the discipline of Anuvrats.
The voice of the Movement has by now permeated the masses focussing their attention on the impotance of self-restraint. The phenomenal rise in incidents is growing multicultural societies mushrooming all over the world giving rise to frenzied massacres like the ones the world watched helplessly in Sri Lanka, Lebanon and South Africa makes it imperative for everyone to carry the movement across the seas to ensure amity and reconciliation between different groups and cultures.
Acharya Sree realized in the wake of his experiment of enjoining the disciple of anuvrats on the individuals that a radical attitudinal change in man was not possible merely through the advocacy of the anuvrat code of conduct. It must be accompanied by another effective tool that can gradually induce him to introspect. Mahapragya Yuvacharyaji came up with a bright idea of a unique technique of meditation called Prekshya Dhyan as a means to bring about a mass psychological transformation. Acharya Shree added Preksha Meditation to his programme of reconstruction of moral and spiritual values. Fortified with this potent means of an attitudinal change in man, the Anuvrat Movement has added a new and important dimension. A follower of the Anuvrat code has to follow Preksha Meditation everyday, which inclines him naturally to imbibe the Anuvrat principle. It ultimately becomes an integral part of his character.
The ideational phase of the Movement is over. It is time we gave it a programmatic and practical shape. Let us transform the Movement into a fitting instrument of constructive activities – a veritable laboratory for testing our belief in the anuvrat philosophy. Acharya Shree has launched a new scheme of Jivan Vigyan for educating youngster in the doctrine of anuvrats so that they may grow up as disciplined, broad-minded and responsible citizens free from the narrow prejudices of caste, colour, creed and sect. He pins his hope of transforming mankind into on family on this young generation. As head of a religious sect he has set the pace for other religious leaders. If they take their cue from him, the world that lis steeped in communal and etnic violence today is certain to awake into a ‘heaven of freedom’.
In conclusion, we might remember Neil Armstrong’s spontaenous utterance on first stepping on the soil of the moon,’One small step for a man but one giant leep for mankind’. Who knows Acharya Shree’s step (anuvrats or atomic vows) may eventually turn out to be a giant leap for mankind?