INDIAN SPIRITUALISM: BEATLES, APPLE & FACEBOOK
By Salil Gewali, India Correspondent
28th April 2020
Facebook’s Chairman Mark Zuckerberg had suddenly dropped a bombshell on the “liberal secularists” or “Marxist” in India during India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to his campus in California in the year 2015. In fact in the context of Zuckerberg’s special connection with India, more precisely, the spiritualism of ancient India.
Well, initially, it was never a bed of roses for what is now a household name “FACEBOOK”. This world-famous ‘social networking service company’ had its own share of bad times. Revealing for the first time in the meeting at the Facebook office, upbeat Zuckerberg told his very special guest — PM Narendra Modi at his office that Steve Jobs, the founder Chairman of Apple, had fervently advised Mr. Mark to visit a specific temple in India for “blessings” and also about the spiritual depth of the ancient wisdom. That revelation had veritably caused heartburn to many. More so in India where the so-called secular or Marxist and ultra-liberal elite have long acquired a proclivity to “look down upon” their own culture, religion, and values. These particularly sinister forces are working day in and day out to malign the country through various mainstream media like TIME, Washington Post, New York Times, BBC… Yes, heeding the advice of his mentor Steve Jobs, the depressed Mark then had visited the temple in the northern India and toured around the country for nearly a month. No wonder, this revelation had quite intensely upset the Indian media filled with self-hatred.
The American techno-wizard Steve Jobs had himself spent over six months in India in 1974. He was here in quest of the “higher meaning” of life and spiritual solace. As understood, from early age Steve was quite haunted by a good deal of “unanswered questions”. Of course, his encounter with a book “Be Here Now” by Richard Alpert, a Harvard Professor, had opened up a gateway to the spiritualism of the East. This book had also introduced him to a mystic Yogi ‘Neem Karoli Baba’. That later inspired Steve to set out the journey for India. As soon as Steve and his friend Daniel Kottke arrived in India, they directly went to meet the Guru in Kainchi Dham Ashram in Nainital (India). But to their disappointment, they found the Baba had already passed away some months earlier. Nevertheless, the urge to dive deeper into the spiritualism did not die away. They shaved their heads and put on Indian clothes and undertook an extensive meditation and yogic practices.
The most significant impact that had made upon Steve’s life was a book “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramhansa Yogananda. It is on record that he would read this book too frequently, at least once every year until his death, 2011. This book had given him a practical insight into what exactly this world is about and how a layman can prepare himself to realize the Supreme knowledge. The first-hand account of a Yogi with empirical approaches to know oneself this book by Yogananda is a smash hit manual now among the seekers of the Eastern spiritualism across the globe.
Yes, by dint of hard work, intuition and innovation Steve Jobs stood out as one of the most successful techno-tycoons of modern times. As much known, Jobs was hardly possessed by the luxury of riches and materialistic vanity. He just regarded his entrepreneurship as a tool to awaken his dormant potentialities. The chairman of Salesforce.com and famous philanthropist Marc Benioff says with conviction — “If you want to understand Steve, it’s a good idea to dig into ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’.” It is this book which Steve’s family had given to all the guests as the “last gift” at his first memorial service.
Here we can’t afford to ignore the Beatle’s fascination for INDIA as well. The band members that were basking in the opulence of materialistic riches and glory visited India (Rishikesh) in search of inner peace. They met with Sri Maharshi Mahesh Yogi and learnt from him Transcendental meditation (TM) who laid bare methods to feel true bliss within. Sri Maharshi is a big name in the West having a huge following that includes celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, David Lynch, Russell Brand, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Aniston, Modern physicist Dr. John Hagelin, to name a few. The Beatle’s Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr often assist a Hollywood Director/actor David Lynch to organize the Transcendental meditation under ‘David Lynch Foundation’ across the USA and the European countries. George Harrison later took refuge in Bhakti Yoga. The founder of ISKCON Srila Prabhupada showed him the pathway to the Supreme Consciousness.
What basically pulls the rational westerners to India is less known to Indians themselves. It’s shamefully paradoxical. From early 19th Century, the philosophical literary treasure troves and Yoga of India found more admirers in the foreign lands than at home. Indeed, the philosophy of the “laws of karma” and the presence of all-power-divinity within every being and everywhere — which any human being can realize irrespective of one’s caste, creed, nationality, and color, has intensely stirred the greatest of the great minds of the West. The ancient texts hold out a whole bunch of keys to unlock oneself and know his/her relationship with the Supreme Being which in fact seems very reasonable to the rational Western intellectuals such as François Voltaire, Schopenhauer, F. Goethe, Friedrich Hegel, Ralph Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Erwin Schrodinger, Niels Bohr, Mark Twain, Alan Watt, TS Eliot, William Butler Yeats, to name a few. Further, the complex studies of world-view by Modern scientists are gradually arriving at the same conclusion what the ancient sages of India expounded over five thousands year back that ‘creation and creator are ONE’. Interconnection, inter-relation and interdependence among every individual particle/object, living or non-living, in the infinite universe — which is the fundamental tenets of the Eastern philosophy, provided a new light of wisdom to the modern p
hysicists like Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Julius Oppenheimer, Brain David Josephson, David Bohm, John Stewart Bell et al.
Well, India’s contribution to western academia is immeasurable — though deliberately undermined or denigrated in India by a new breed of ultra-intellectuals. They do not at all study the ancient test of the home country and just shrug aside. But here put across for them to read and ponder over a famous proclamation by their master — TS Eliot, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, who asserts: “Indian philosophers’ subtleties make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys”. This one quote by TS Eliot is enough to put those self-hating intellectuals of India to shame.
An India based writer and researcher, Salil Gewali is best known for his research based work entitled “Great Minds on India”, which has earned worldwide appreciation. Translated into twelve languages, his book has been prefaced by world acclaimed NASA Chief Scientist Dr Kamlesh Lulla of Houston, USA.