With its vast, ancient literature and deep metaphysics, at the core of which lie the Vedanta Sutras of Vyasa, the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads known together as prasthana traya, Hinduism strives to explore truth and the true nature of reality. Yet the questions remain; how does one practise Hinduism today under the neon glare of modernity? And is there any contradiction in the practice of Hinduism and our roles in modern life?
Like the lotus that grows in water whose leaves and petals remain dry, the yogi derives nourishment from the material world but remains undefiled and untouched by its seductions. In this way, one who wishes to lead a spiritual life can simultaneously perform the role of a responsible member of modern society; neither necessarily compromises the other. With care, practice and knowledge one can reap the benefits of both worlds - to be spiritual you do not have to run away from the world. This book examines the philosophy, spiritual teachings, metaphysics and cultural practices of Hinduism- known collectively as the Sanatana Dharma - and attempts to give one a grasp of its true essence.
Hinduism is a many-splendoured and multi-faceted edifice, containing and reflecting an endless array of possibilities for spiritual growth and integration. Based essentially upon the sublime teachings of the Upanishads, the secret of Hinduism’s continued vitality down through the long and tortuous corridors of time, despite repeated invasions and repression, lies in its capacity for creative reinterpretation. Indeed, the whole history of Hinduism can be viewed as a series of challenges and creative responses, a process which continues down to the present day. In the emerging global society it is my conviction that the universal principles of Hinduism are becoming increasingly relevant as we hurtle headlong into the third millennium A.D. astride the irreversible arrow of time.
Theoretical formulations apart, Hinduism involves treading a spiritual path, and there are many. It is these individual pathways involving a creative interaction between the Guru and the disciple that provide the circulatory life-blood of Hinduism, making it a powerful vehicle for inner growth and spiritual realisation. In this context, the experience of individuals who have trodden the path is of great value. The present book Jewel in the Lotus revolves around the life experience and teachings of Mumtaz Ali, better known as ‘M’. Some may find it surprising that a person born a Muslim should have such a deep insight into and experience with the Hindu tradition, but the real spiritual path knows no boundary of race or religion, sex or creed, language or nationality. And the mystics of all the world’s great religions – the Rishis, the Siddhas, the Tirthankaras, the Bodhisattvas, the Sufis, the Gurus and the saints have all illuminated one or other facets of the immeasurable resplendence of the Divine.
I have had occasion to know ‘M’ over the last few years, and we have spoken together on several occasions including a three-day workshop on the Kena Upanishad over which I presided. He combines an excellent grasp of theUpanishadic teachings with deep insight into the heart of the spiritual tradition, based on his own remarkable experiences. This book in which he has dealt with some of the deeper aspects of Hinduism will, I am sure, be of great interest to students of contemporary religion, as well as seekers of truth around the world.
— Dr. Karan Singh