In the great Sanskrit epic, the Mahâbhârata, the story is told how the hero, Yudhishthira, when asked by Dharma to tell what was the most wonderful thing in the world, replied, that it was the persistent belief of man kind in their own deathlessness in spite of their witnessing death everywhere around them almost every moment of their lives. And, in fact, this is the most stupendous wonder in human life.
The ideal of freedom holds a cherished place in human hearts, equalled in depth and intensity only by the feeling of love. To experience both is our natural state. Swami Vivekananda, the great mystic who at the turn of the century inaugurated the Vedanta movement in America, was a tireless adherent of freedom. He was fascinated by the historical account of the American struggle for freedom and independence.
Non-violence is the basis of all virtues. Ahimsa paramo dharmah—“Non-violence is the highest form of righteousness,” says the Mahabharata. Non-violence, or not harming anyone in thought, word and deed, is the highest value.
The "ancient way"—a path extending from humanity to God—cannot be compared to an American nonstop freeway. This subtle, inner path has many stops and degrees of gradation. In some areas it is level and smooth, and in other regions it passes through difficult mud and gravel terrain. Its course may run through the glaring stretches of a desert or along the sharp curves and bends of precipitous mountains. In spite of all these obstructions, we have to journey determinedly along this ancient way leading to God.
It was a late Saturday afternoon and the college hours were almost over. I was in the laboratory busy overseeing the chemistry practical classes and warning the BSc honors students to finish quickly as the bell was about to ring. The lab assistant brought me a visiting card saying that someone wanted to see me. A bit puzzled, I thought: who could be the visitor at this time, during college hours?