Q. Can a man or woman attain self-realization by mere recitation of Ramanama and without taking part in national service? I ask this question because some of my sisters say that they do not need to do anything beyond attending to family requirements, and occasionally showing kindness to the poor.
A. This question has puzzled not only women, but many men, and has taxed me to the
utmost. I know that there is a school of philosophy which teaches complete
inaction and futility of all effort. I have not been able to appreciate that
teaching, unless in order to secure verbal agreement I were to put my own
interpretation on it. In my humble opinion, effort is necessary for one's own
growth. It has to be irrespective of results. Ramanama or some equivalent is
necessary, not for the sake of repetition, but for the sake of purification, as
an aid to effort, for direct guidance from above. It is, therefore, never a
substitute for effort. It is meant for intensifying and guiding it in proper
channel. If all effort is vain, why family cares or an occasional help to the
poor? In this very effort is contained the germ of national service. And
national service, to me, means service of humanity, even as disinterested
service of the family means the same thing. Disinterested service of the family,
necessarily, leads one to national service. Ramanama gives one detachment and
ballast, and never throws one off one's balance at critical moments.
Self-realization I hold to be impossible without service of, and identification
with, the poorest.