Sacrifice and Renunciation, the First Step to Religion,
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami , 1999-11-21
Gurudeva defines the several components of religion and explains the dynamic nature of Hinduism and our traditions guiding us into a sublime, secure and healthy future.
Today we are talking to our cyberspace congregation all over the world, on the Internet, who tune in to listen to these talks. Today, we're talking about sacrifice ... renunciation.
Let's approach it in an opposite way. What if no one renounced anything or sacrificed anything at all, and just led their own independent lives? Would we not have a chaotic world? You might say, watching CNN and the other news media, "Yes. We do have a chaotic world right now!" Because millions of people are living their own independent lives, thinking of number one first, bumping into one another, killing each other, being born again to do the same thing over and over again.
Religion begins with renunciation and sacrifice. You've all sacrificed your morning by coming here. You could be sleeping, you could be arguing with each other, getting up in the morning, "Who's going to fix breakfast? I'm not going to do it. You did it yesterday, so he has to do it today. It's not my turn." But you're here. When a girl becomes married, she sacrifices her independence. When she has a child, she sacrifices 18, 20, 25 years of her life, caring for that child and caring for her husband. When a man becomes married, he sacrifices his independence, takes on the responsibility of the wife, and they together take on the responsibility of the family that they produce. That's a big sacrifice - to produce a healthy, religious, next generation.
Someone told me the other day "Well, I sort of raised myself in my home. Mother and father both work, and I turned out all right."
I said, "Yes. You have a profession, you have money, but you're not a religious person. You're a victim to anger, resentment, aren't you?"
He said, "How did you know?"
I said, "Because you didn't turn out all right. You didn't turn out OK. And now, you have a chance to become religious and renounce anger and competitiveness."
To feel secure within yourself, so you don't have to be jealous of anyone, to know that the divine law, and beings greater than you will take care of you, so you don't have to, any longer, be afraid - that is religion.
Many people are saying today "What is religion?" They challenge that Hinduism is just a culture. It's not a religion.
What are the component parts of a religion? Compare the religions of the world.
One, a place of worship. Hinduism has millions. Two, a congregation that goes to that place of worship; that is happening, more abundantly than any other religion in the world. Kumbha Mela, for instance. Three, a consistent philosophy. Hinduism has three or four major consistent philosophies, that have been consistent since the time of the Vedas. What other religion can boast of that? Next, are field workers and missionaries. Among the family community, there are field workers and missionaries all over the world. Next, a ministry. That is the sannyasins, who have given up family, home, wives, to minister to the peoples of the religion. Next, schools of training. Yes, there are schools and training for the priests, there are thousands of priests all over the world, and there are schools of training for the ministers. Next, the flow of finance. The flow-in of finance to the institutions and out of the institutions to the congregation and the rest of the world. Hinduism has that too. Multimillion dollar temples have come up in the last 20 years, here in America to say the least, and the other countries of the world, as well. As well as temples in India by the hundreds of thousands, in Malaysia, Singapore, Africa, and the rest of the world.
So what do I say when they say, "Hinduism is not a religion. It's just a way of life."? I say, "That's communist Christian propaganda. Pay no attention."
Why are the Hindus buying Christian churches that are going out of business? Because Hinduism is dynamic, it's insidious, it's spreading; it has many more answers than most of the other religions. Answers from tradition, that work in today's world.
And what is tradition? It's the best of the past that's come to the present, and therefore will guide us into a sublime, secure and healthy future. Hinduism's monastic facilities are increasing, other religions' are decreasing. There's a crossover. Why?
I'm just reminded of traveling through India in a car. We were going through some small villages. We went through several villages, and music was playing loud. Those who've just gotten back from India will recognize this. Music was playing loud, colorful banners, temple was decorated, there were flower stalls everywhere. We got to another village, and we got out of the car for a rest stop. Everybody here was so sad. There was no music, no color, no flower stalls.
"Ask around", I said; I didn't speak the language. "Ask around. Has somebody died or something?"
They asked around, and said, "This whole village was converted to Christianity."
I said "Ahaa ... Does that tell us something!"
Of course, it tells us something. All religions obviously are not one, and all religions obviously are not happy. Because their congregations are not happy, they're dwindling. The pope is very worried about his dwindling congregation worldwide. Why? Hinduism is coming up in the world.