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Interview with Jayasree Saranathan – a Sanatana Dharma Blogger

I’m pleased to post the following interview with one of the Hindu bloggers that I’ve admired for some time – Jayasree Saranathan writes the blog Non-random thoughts. She introduces herself as Sanathanist.

This is a new section that we are starting in Hindu Blog. We plan to interview our readers, people who comment regularly, writers and editors associated with Hinduism, Hindu bloggers and editors, Saints, skeptics and other religious people.

There is a particular reason for starting the interview with Jayasree Saranathan – it is women who have always kept the flame of Santana Dharma steady. It is they how have always protected the flame of core teachings and tradition from numerous attacks from within and outside. And it is they who always passed the flame from one generation to another. It is through our mothers that we come into contact with this great tradition.

Hindu Blog – When you say I am a Hindu, what does it mean to you?

Srimati Jayasree Saranathan - When I say that I am a Hindu, it means to abide by the wisdom of Vedantha. The Vedanthic wisdom is encapsulated in 3 sources, namely, Upanishads, Brahma Sutras and Bhagawad Gita. The idea of the self, the Supreme, the Karma theory and the Realization of self as the Supreme Self are the essentials taught by this wisdom. Any effort that takes one to these thoughts will make one a Hindu, according to me.

Hindu Blog – What do you think is the greatest strength of Hinduism?

Srimati Jayasree Saranathan - Its eternity. Hinduism is not an ‘ism’. It is the basic science of the Universe of the living and the non living – in manifest and unmanifest forms. So no one can destroy it. It always EXITS. At times it may be forgotten. Even then, someone will come up with the acumen to explore Nature and will eventually find out the Vedanthic wisdom. That is how even after a worst Kaliyuga where Hinduism seems to suffer a low, there will come up Krutha yuga or Golden Age when sages will restore this wisdom. No one can destroy Hinduism.

Hindu Blog – Do you think many scholars and politicians have purposefully misinterpreted the teachings of Hinduism? If yes, how do you think the Hindu society should be correcting the damages?

Srimati Jayasree Saranathan - My answer is yes and no. Many politicians and vested interests have misinterpreted it but not all Hindu scholars have purposefully misinterpreted. But the cause of the decline is due to the incorrect understanding of Hinduism. For example, worship and prayers are viewed as quick –fix solutions to one’s problems. That makes worship a kind of bargain with god. This is incorrect. Every birth comes with a balance sheet of positive and negative karmas and what you do in a birth brings out continuous corrections to it. Throughout the innings, God stands inside you, outside you and also as the Base where you work - giving you a lot of scope for bettering the balance sheet. What finally comes out depends on the status of your balance sheet that you brought with you at the time of birth. There is no instant waiver of your bad times. But God realization makes you overcome the pains and sufferings of the bad times and help you move beyond mundane sufferings.

Popularizing this Vedanthic wisdom and bringing out its subtleties in day to day issues, in relation to changing times and to newer life struggles, are needed to be done.

When misinterpretations are done by vested interests with malicious intent, we have to strongly thwart them.

Hindu Blog – Do you think Hindus are not active enough in the sphere of religious activities, especially defending it against misinformation and mudslinging?

Srimati Jayasree Saranathan - Yes. Awareness is less.

Hindu Blog – How would you explain Sanatana Dharma to a child who is constantly guided by monolithic institutions?

Srimati Jayasree Saranathan - I will explain it 3-fold – as why there are many gods, how a single God exists and what we must do.

I take our Body for comparison.

We have many organs and limbs to do specific jobs – such as hands to work, feet to walk and internal organ systems such as respiratory, digestive systems etc that work as independent systems with a specific purpose. Likewise many gods are assigned specific portfolios to oversee their respective jobs in the vast scheme of the Universe and Life. But all the organs owe their functioning to the Master computer called the Brain. They discharge their work only at the instance of the Brain whose control over them is not realized by us.

Similarly the Supreme Brahman is in control of the entire universe though His presence is not felt by us openly. Just as we think of only those visible organs which do work for us, we think of some Gods but such thought must make us realize the presence of the Super Brain like Supreme God.

Now think of life. When I say that I live, where is that life force or soul located? Is it in the skull, or in the heart or in the hand or in the leg? Everywhere in my body or in every part of my body, Life force has permeated. It is as though Life Force is everywhere in my body or my body is fixed in Life Force. Similarly, God permeates every part of Creation and every part of Creation is fixed in Him. This is the import of Narayana tattwa – He resides in everything and everything resides in Him.

Now what we must do with this realization of the Body and Life Force? Do we ever harm our body, our body parts or life? Never. We always take good care of every part of our body. We take utmost care to keep them in fantastic working condition. Likewise do the same to the many Gods, to the Single Supreme God and do whatever you must to make their name and fame shine at all times. That is the duty of every Hindu towards this Dharma.

Hindu Blog – As a mother what would be the first lesson that you will be teaching about Hinduism to your child?

Srimati Jayasree Saranathan - Faith, blind Faith that god is always with them, watching them. Wherever they go, whatever they do, God is coming along with them and silently watching them. If they do some mischief, God knows. If they tell some lies, God knows. Whenever they think that they have done something wrong or something that must not be done, tell them to tell God sincerely why they did that and pray that He forgives them and make them not repeat it.

Two things are achieved by this.

A sense of what is right and what is wrong is inculcated at the very young age and that they are answerable to god.

Modern age psychiatrists will say that we must allow the child to experiment and know. That works well with things but not with attitudes and behavior. If one keeps experimenting with life, entire life will pass on with experimentations. In Hinduism we have numerous stories of Rama, Krishna, puranas and Neeti tales to know what is to be done and what is not to be done. These stories must be told right from the young days and a Faith in God must be taught.

After that, once they grow up to think on their own, let them explore what they learnt as Faith. Let them search, seek, question and argue – but with a strong foundation seeded in their young mind about this Dharma. Only then they will come up with better understanding of this Dharma and not lose it due to ignorance.

In my life, I grew up like that and believed that I am always surrounded by Rama and Lakshmana on my right and left sides with Sita leading me in the front and Hanuman guarding me from behind. When all the four directions are secure with their presence, there is no need to worry, or fear – this was my childhood imagination. It continues even today.

I used to ask lot of questions – more like an atheist, but the deep faith within me always makes me search for that answer that conforms to that Faith and not that which shakes that Faith. Even if there is something that is not convincing, I used to tell myself that Hinduism or Vedic Wisdom can not be wrong.

May be I have to grow up better to understand the correct import.

Hindu Blog – Which book (s) would you be suggesting to a teenager who wants to learn about Sanatana Dharma?

Srimati Jayasree Saranathan - Presently David Frawley’s and Stephan Knapp’s books are there. In Tamil I suggest to start with Kannadasan’s ‘Arthamulla Indu matham’ series and ‘Deivatthin Kural’ by Kanchi Paramacharyar

In my case, I have always depended on original texts. Vedartha Sangraha by Ramanujacharya is a small book that contains the essence of Vedic wisdom.

Hindu Blog – How have you fared as a blogger writing about Sanatana Dharma?

Srimati Jayasree Saranathan - I don’t know.

As for me, whatever knowledge we have, must be imparted to others without any kind of expectation. It is a duty that I write. Whoever is there in the similar frame of thought, or whoever is searching for these information, will come to my blog. That’s all.

Hindu Blog – Do you think Hindus are not active enough on the internet?

Srimati Jayasree Saranathan - I don’t think so. Internet has opened up a better scope for more people to access the info on Hinduism. In those days, we have to search for books in old and new book shops. Today, net has made it easy to the reach of people. Sharing and forwarding has also made the spread of information faster and effective. Many Hindus who are non serious in religious activity, do stumble upon the views on Hinduism and pick up inertest as a result.

Hindu Blog – What would you like to say to Hindus who are the readers of Hindu Blog?

Srimati Jayasree Saranathan - Life will teach them appropriate lessons at appropriate times.

If they have the awareness of Vedic wisdom on karma and dharma, those lessons can be well received by them and can help them grow in Self realization.

The Ultimate Vedanthic wisdom is that our Consciousness must grow to become one with the Supreme Consciousness. How that happens are all schools of thought – like whether they become one with That or become identical to That.

But what is to be understood is that we are in the continuous process of evolution of the consciousness. Dharma, Artha and Kaama exercised in the right spirit and within norms help us to achieve this evolution. For this, we need to know what Dharma sastras say. Simple way is to study the Bhagawad Gita – particularly the 2nd chapter and absorb what is told in it and live by it.

Let everyone develop the habit of reading this chapter atleast and keep thinking on the meaning. That is sure way for evolution of the Consciousness.

My thanks to you for giving this opportunity to express my views.

Let there be Peace at three levels of existence.

Sarve janah sukhino bhavanthu!

This is just a small start that we are making today. I would like those read this interview to write to me hindublog@gmail.com or post in the comment section their thoughts and the persons that they would like to see interviewed (it can be any person associated with Hinduism). You can also write to us on topics that on which you feel your views need to be heard. We will publish it at Hindu Blog.