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  Volume 3 - Issue 4
APRIL 2005



Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!
- John Newton


Grace is a word pregnant with meaning. Every one wants it but most of us cannot define it though we intui¬tively know what it means, at least roughly. But all of us know one thing:The seeker of Grace is the devotee, and the one who confers it is the Lord. H2H takes you on an exploration to discover the meaning of this profound term…

Few realise that Grace is something we really cannot do without. Without Grace nothing is possible, while with it nothing is impossible. It is well known that life on earth is sustained entirely by the energy received from the Sun. Yet, not many are aware that all these miraculous phenomena happen by the use of only a tiny fraction of the energy received from the Sun. At this stage, we turn to Swami for further remarks:

Out of the energy coming from the Sun, we use only a tiny fraction .............
We are yet to make use of the rest of the vast solar energy. If by harnessing a minute fraction of solar energy, mankind can accomplish so much at present, how much more can we achieve for humanity if the entire energy can be utilised for the benefit of man?

This means that if a single ray of God is got, a great deal can be achieved. The ancient sages prayed to God to shower the rays of His Grace on mankind. Even if a fragment of God's Grace is secured, a great deal can be accomplished. But without Divine Grace, nothing can be accomplished.

The Kurukshetra war amply illustrates how without God's Grace, all enterprises are doomed - Arjuna made the right choice and prayed for Krishna's presence on his side, while Duryodhana opted for Krishna's armies. Krishna provided Grace while the armies of Krishna supplied mere military strength and we know whose side won. Since Grace is all important, the question naturally arises as to how one may earn it. Swami has the answer:

Let the purity, which you are, get manifested; endeavour to express it in your activities; that is what pleases me and wins my GRACE....
Love all, adore all and serve all. That is the Sadhana of worship, to win purity and earn Grace.

The seeker of Grace must not be bothered about his/her personal problems, but focus instead on the problems of others with a view to offering help. That is the proper feeling of Universality. Thus the admonition is:

Weep for Dharma if you want His Grace, and not about your problems

All are entitled to Divine Grace. In fact, Swami goes out of the way to draw people to His physical presence to personally shower His Grace. As He says:

Many of you have problems of health or mental worry of some son or the other. They are mere baits by which you have been brought here, so that you may contact the Grace and strengthen your faith in the Divine. Problems and worries are really to be welcomed as they teach you the lessons of humility and reverence.



Darshan - A time for Grace

Some people complain that they do not receive God's Grace. This is not true. Swami assures us that:

My Grace is always with you; it is not something given or taken. It is always given ....
God does not deny anyone; it is only you who deny God!

Swami often says that during Darshan, He invariably showers His Divine Grace equally on one and all, without any discrimination.

But whether or not people receive it, depends entirely upon them. He gives two analogies to explain this. Supposing it rains and a person wants to collect the rainwater; then the person must do something about it. He must take an empty vessel and place it in the rain so that the rain water may collect inside; the larger the vessel, the more is the water collected. If the person takes the vessel out into the rain but foolishly places it upside down so that the mouth of the vessel does not face the sky but the ground, then one cannot expect any water to be collected in the vessel. Naturally, such an act would be considered to be the height of stupidity and yet this is precisely the kind of mistake committed by many of us when we go for Darshan. We go from great distances spending a lot of money and yet during Darshan,our attention is not on Baba but on all the trivial things happening around. This is where Swami's second analogy comes in.

Have you tuned in to channel Grace?

He says that suppose one has a short-wave radio receiver. Present in the room where the radio is, are electromagnetic waves originating from various radio stations in the world - London, Moscow, Beijing, or whatever. If one wants to hear a particular station, then one must do two things; firstly one must switch the radio on, and next one must tune the radio to the particular station one wants to hear. Coming to Darshan is like switching on the radio but merely turning the radio on is not enough; one must also tune it. In the same way, one must not merely come to Darshan but tune one's mind to Swami just before, during, and for a while at least, after the Darshan. 04 The bigger the vessel, the more is the rainwater collected; the better the tuning, the clearer is the reception. In the same way, the larger the heart, the more is the Grace received.
Many are under the mistaken notion that only when the Lord answers specific requests of the devotee (favourably!) is Grace conferred. This is an erroneous view. We hardly ever realise how much Grace we are receiving from God all the time. Good health - where does it come from? Is not good health due to the Grace of God? And most of us enjoy good health without even praying for it! Do we ever give any thought to what a matchless blessing it is to have eyesight? Do we ever appreciate that this too is due to the Grace of God? Do we ever thank God for this blessing? Are we conscious of how helpless and crippled we would be without our limbs? We are truly blessed in numerous ways and yet we take all these for granted, scarcely ever appreciating that all these blessings also represent God's Grace.

Life itself is a gift of Grace

How much Grace does one actually receive? Swami says that it depends entirely on the track record of the person.
Good deeds, good thoughts, good feelings and constant repetition of and reflection on the name of God and the Glory it seeks to express—these determine one's entitlement to Divine Grace. Swami amplifies with an analogy.

Sometimes, the Bank will give you overdrafts, so that you tide over temporary crisis. The extent of the overdraft is settled by the Manager with reference to your reliability and capabilities. It is the same with Anugraha, the Grace that God will confer on you when you have earned it

In other words, it all depends on one's "credit-worthiness"!

There is no limit to the Grace one can receive and the more one receives, the more one can achieve in life. In fact, with the Grace of God, the impossible becomes possi¬ble. Swami often quotes Tyagaraja who sang: "Is it at all possible for a monkey to leap across the ocean without God's Grace?" Swami adds that therefore it is that Tyagaraja also sang, "Oh Rama! With Your Anugraha (Grace), what can the Nava Grahas (the nine planets) do to me?" Astrology is based on the premise that the planetary positions affect one's future and destiny. But Tyagaraja says that with God's Grace, the effects of the planets can be totally nullified and over-ridden.


Whether we are aware of it or not, God's Grace is always with us. It is therefore our duty to be conscious of all the blessings bestowed on us and make use of them properly. Wealth is a particularly important example. People often think that they have become rich on account their shrewd investments, business acumen, wheeling and dealing, or whatever. Not true! If a person is wealthy, it is entirely because of God's Grace. The rich must be conscious of this; not only that but they must also realise that the wealth they possess has actually been given by God to be held in Trust for Him and is meant to be used for His work. Thus the wealth acquired must not be frittered away in gambling and other pleasure-seeking activities, but must be used for charitable causes. As Swami emphasises,

Do not get elated at the riches, status, authority, and intelligence, which have been given to you on trust, so that they may benefit others. They are all signs of His Grace, opportunities for service and symbols of responsibility.

If one wants the Lord's Grace in abundant measure, then one must ensure that ego is extinguished. Rainwater does not accumulate on a slope; it just flows away. Even so, the Grace of God does not descend in the hearts of the haughty and the vain; it dawns only in the hearts of the humble and the gentle. The Lord will not enter the heart tainted with egoism. Swami puts it this way:

Once you get the Grace of God, it is impossible for you to have egoism, for how can light and darkness exist together at the same time, in the same place? They cannot.

Swami says that God's Grace is the only thing worth winning or earning in life, and adds:

It is all you have ever to attain, it is your only goal, the only object, the only purpose; the consummation of your life is to earn His Grace.

To the devotees who throng to Prasanti Nilayam in tens of thousands, Swami cautions:
/ am advising you to garner and treasure all the Grace and the Bliss you can while you may, so that you can sustain yourselves by ruminating on the sweetness of the memories and the experience.

An important remark must be added at this stage. Many think that only things favourable can be considered as signs of Grace and that things unfavourable are signs of punishment. This is a wrong interpretation. Good and bad, favourable and unfa¬vourable are OUR interpretations; with God, everything is good and favourable. "How can that be?” one might wonder. Swami has explained that. He says that God is like a doctor. When a person is sick, the doctor administers medicines which are often bit¬ter; but they are meant to cure the patient. In the same way, when so-called misfortune visits us, it is part of the treatment and meant for our good, although we might not recognise it as such. In other words, both the so-called good and the so-called bad must be welcomed equally as signs of Grace. In this context, Swami observes:

In order to escape being tossed about on the waves of joy and grief, one should cultivate unconcern, an attitude of welcoming either, as a sign of Grace. Ramakrishna said that if you must avoid the sticky fluid in the jack-fruit from contacting your fingers when you peel it, you have to apply a few drops of oil on them. So too, said he, "If you do not want the World and its reactions to
stick to you, have a few drops of unconcern applied on your mind.”

It was mentioned earlier that Grace is sought by the devotee and conferred by the Lord. Does this not smack of Dualism? What happens to the concept of Grace in Advaitam? This very question was posed once to Vivekananda by his disciple. Vivekananda's answer was follows:

But when we get there [to the stage of Advaita], who will be merciful, and to whom, where there is no law of causation? There the worshipper and the object of worship, the meditator and the object of meditation, the knower and the known, all become one - call that Brahman if you will. It is all one uniform homogeneous entity.

The concept Grace ceases to exist in that final stage when everything merges into one universal homogeneity. There is neither the Lord nor the devotee. Only Grace! But for almost all of us, that stage is still very far off! So let us pray for His Grace by recalling a song that Swami wrote in the 1950s:

Reach the goal with His Grace
Without Thy Grace can a man be Man
And win the goal he longs to reach?

A pundit decked in titles (he may be)
Able to foil all his foes;

A poet spinning lines (he may be)
Most musical to the ear;

A lone recluse in a cave (he may be)
Able to starve a year;

A pious simple soul (he may be)
Counting fast his beads;

A wondrous twisting Yogi(he may be)
Breathing right and left;

An aged stooping stump (he may be)
Dipped in every ghat;

A bearded painted priest (he may be)
Bedecked from top to toe;

An ascetic living on air (he may be)
Wandering, without care;

A pilgrim come to Parthi (he may be)
Singing Thy glory there;

Without Thy Grace, can man be Man,
And reach the Goal he needs must reach?

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