Volume 5 - Issue 03 MARCH 2007
WHAT TO ASK FROM SWAMI?
By Sri Sanjay Mahalingam
Offering my loving salutations at the Lotus Feet; revered elders, sisters and brothers.
Yoganandakari Ripukshayakari Dharmarthanishthakari
These scriptures declare the most Benevolent Mother as the one who grants the bliss of yoga.
The destroyer of foes – Ripukshayakari;
The protector of all the three worlds – Trayalokyarakshakari;
The one who grants all prosperity and auspiciousness; the one who fulfills all the aspirations of the heart; to that Mother I supplicate and pray to Her to grant me alms.
She is the one who resides in the sacred cave of Kailasha – Moksha Dwara Kapatapatana Kari – the one who flings open the gates of liberation; to that Divine, Benevolent Mother I supplicate and pray to Her to grant me alms.
And what do we seek from Her?
Annapurney, Sadaapurney, Shankara Prana Vallabhey
From that Mother I seek the boon of Renunciation and Wisdom.
It was about three years back in His Gurupurnima Discourse, Bhagavan said:
“I am willing to grant anything to anybody, but nobody asks! And even those who ask, ask for grass, but don’t ask for Grace!”
In His second Discourse; during these celebrations Bhagavan said so poetically and mentioned such a sublime and profound Truth! He said:
“You all breathe impure air! But I breathe the Pure air which consists of the prayers of My devotees. I inhale the air of the aspirations of My near and dear ones; and what do I exhale? I exhale Blessings! ‘Yes! Yes! Yes! Tathastu! Tathastu!’ - What you ask, I will grant!”
When we are in association with such a Benevolent Mother; it is all that much more important for us to know what to ask? What to ask from Swami?
‘Grant Me Renunciation and Wisdom’
Jnana, Vairagya Sidhyartham; Bhiksham Dehi Cha Parvati
What is Vairagya? Many great seers describe it in various ways - let me quote from Swami’s Discourse – Swami says: “Vairagya is the ABC of sadhana. It is the very first sign of a spiritual life.”
What is Vairagya? Vairagya is the absence of raga – or attachment. It is detachment from the pleasures of this world and also from those obtainable in heaven after attaining the firm conviction that they are evanescent and fraught with grief. Vairagya is not necessarily abandoning family ties and fleeing into the loneliness of the jungle; but giving up the false idea, the false notion that objects are permanent; and can yield real joy.
Bhagavan adds that no object is without fault; no joy unmixed with pain; no action untainted by selfishness. Therefore be warned – develop detachment and save yourself from grief.
There was once a sadhu, who was a sadhu only by – if I may say so – vocation; but not by thought, word and deed; for he had donned the ochre robe not because he had any immortal longings for liberation from the thralldom of perennial plurality; but because this life suited his laziness and indolence.
This fake sadhu had a small hut by the Ganges; the water of the Ganges quenched his thirst and the generosity of the gullible pilgrims satiated his hunger – enviable was his position.
One day, while sitting on the banks of the Ganges as he was entertaining his idle curiosity; he saw a shiny object floating down the stream. Without a second thought, he plunged into the water; swam with deft strokes; reached the shiny object; retrieved it out of the water; held it close to his bosom; claimed it as his and to his utter amazement and joy he saw that it was a beautiful silver vessel. With that vessel held in one hand, he started swimming back to the bank.
But all was not well – man proposes; God disposes. He realized that the current was so strong that the more he tried to extricate himself, the more viciously it sucked him to its center; for he had only one hand to save himself!
After a desperate struggle, the instinct of self-preservation gained the better of his greed. He let go of the vessel and with both his hands and with a Herculean effort, he swam back to safety. On reaching the land he looked back and saw the shiny object floating away from him. He couldn’t bear the anguish and burst out into tears and wept and wailed: “Oh! I lost my silver vessel!”
A real sage – a man of genuine dispassion and renunciation - was seeing all this panorama, all this drama. He came to him and said: “Friend! That vessel was floating down the stream and would have continued in its course had you not interrupted it. You swam to it, gleefully grasped it, claimed it as yours, then to save your own life you let it go and now you say you lost your vessel? When was it yours? Is not all this sorrow your own making?”
Sisters and Brothers, like the anchorite of our story Bhagavan says that we too come to have a flawed, a mistaken relationship with the objects of this world. First we painstakingly strive to possess them and then madly wrestle to preserve them – all the while forgetting the fundamental fact that everything in this prapancha (world) follows the law of movement and change. The only constant is change they say - we forget that everything is in a state of flux.
As Bhagavan always says, “This prapancha is nothing but reaction, reflection and resound. That is all it is!” Therefore the dictum is: “Welcome all that comes to you, stand not in the way of that which departs you.”
Bhagavan further adds that real renunciation is to be totally contented, perfectly happy with what is here and now. For what is, will be. What is not, will never be! Then why grieve? To be completely at ease, relaxed and contented with what is – is real renunciation.
But then why does the mind get attracted to temporary objects? Because it has not seen the Permanent. The mind runs after these fleeting objects because it has not yet seen what is real joy. It has not yet dissolved itself in God even for a glimpse of what is real bliss – what is true contentment. That is why it runs madly after these so called objects.
Doesn’t Lord Krishna say in the Geeta?
Vishaya Vinivartantey Niraharasya Dehinah
For a man who turns away from objects; the objects also will turn away from him – that is the law. But the essential craving still remains which too vanishes when ‘Param Drishtva Nivartatey’, when the Supreme is beheld!
Bhagavan mercifully commanded me just now to say something on Ramatatwa – the essence of Lord Rama. Just a thought that comes to my mind and let me think aloud – in Telugu ‘Ra’ means to come. Ra – Randi. And in Tamil – which happens to be my mother tongue – ‘Ma’ is a word used to connote Love. What I understand of the word ‘Rama’ is: ‘Come to me, oh my dear!’
“Come to me, oh my dear! Come and fill me for I have come to realize this much after so many lives of arduous struggle that all happiness and misery is only black and white. Real color, real beauty, real happiness is only union with God. Therefore; please come to me! With a devoted heart, on my knees and with tears strolling down my eyes, I supplicate before Thee and pray to Thee to come to me!”
What is Devotion? Devotion is often mistaken to be foolish sentimentality and weak emotionalism. Devotion is as far from emotionalism as is darkness from light; as is sun from the moon.
Devotion is Intense Sacrifice
Bhagavan in one of His china kathas (little stories) mentions how once the great sage Narada went to teach the gopis (devoted cowherd folk of the Lord) the secret of wisdom.
And he was so taken aback – so to say stunned into silence – by their phenomenal devotion for Lord Krishna. Krishna was the taste of their tongues; the sight of their eyes; the sound of their ears; the touch of their skin – that he went back and composed what is known to be one of the most authoritative texts on the doctrine of Devotion – The Narada Bhakti Sutras.
Let me present before you the first six sutras of the Narada Bhakti Sutras.
Athato Bhaktim Vyakhyasyamah
Let us now expound the Doctrine of Bhakti.
The second one says:
Sa Tasmin Parama Prema Rupa
It is of the nature of Supreme Love - where there is no one else but God; nothing else but God; nothing is as dear to the heart as God.
Amrita Swarupa Cha
It is also of the nature of Immortality - because the devotee is so saturated with the thought of the Lord, that his entire realm of existence shifts from the changing Universe to the changeless Achyuta, to the changeless Divine – therefore he comes to experience the Supreme Bliss of the Lord - which is of the nature of Immortality.
Yallabdhava Puman Siddho Bhavati; Amrito Bhavati; Tripto Bhavati
Once having attained the Love of God – Bhagavan says: “Love is his own reward, He is completely satisfied, totally satiated.”
Yat Prapya Na Kinchid Vanchhati
After having attained that he doesn’t desire anything else – he doesn’t grieve; he doesn’t hate; no enthusiasm is left in him to seek anything else.
Ya gyatva Matto Bhavati; Sthabhdho Bhavati; Atma Ramo Bhavati
After attaining which, after knowing which, automatically without any effort or without any spiritual discipline - just by the intensity of his Love - unconsciously he gets pushed into deep meditations. He gets sucked so to say into the quietness of his soul and comes to enjoy the bliss of his Self.
This is how Bhakti is explained in the scriptures. So we see, Bhakti, though in the beginning maybe so, but, in its culmination, it is not mere emotion, mere feeling - but an intense sacrifice.
Na Karmana, Na Prajaya; Dhaney; Na Tyagey; Naikey Amritatvo Manushubho
Once while talking of the Bhagavat Gita, Sri Ramakrishna Parmahansa said, “Gita! Gita! Gita!” and suddenly he started saying, “Tagi! Tagi! Tagi!” He then explained: “Reverse of the word ‘Gita’, That is ‘Tagi’. And that is the very essence of the entire Bhagavat Gita – Sacrifice! Sacrifice! Sacrifice!”
Giving Up Everything
What to sacrifice? There was once a great King who got stung – if I may say so – by the serpent of renunciation. He wanted to renounce everything. He sought out his preceptor and said, “Master! Show me the way of renunciation. I want to give up.” The Master asked, “What will you give up?” He said, “I will give up all my wealth and distribute it amongst the poorest of the poor of my kingdom.” The Master then said, “Really? But does the wealth belong to you? You have collected it by the taxes of your subjects. How can you distribute it and renounce it my son?”
He said, “Master, I will renounce the throne. I will leave the kingdom and walk into the forest.” He said, “Really? The throne is entrusted to you. You are only a trustee – you don’t own it; how can you renounce it?”
He then said, “Master, I will renounce this very body. I will give up my life.” He said, “This body belongs to the Nature. It is made up of five elements. Who did ever say that it belongs to you? How can you give that up?”
In frustration he said, “Master, then what do I give up?” He said, “The one who wants to renounce; give him up. Who wants to renounce? ‘I’! Give that ‘I’ up. Once that ‘I’ is given up; nothing would remain to be renounced. Nothing would remain to be attained.”
“Show Me your mind! I will tell you how to control it.” - Baba
About three years back, while Swami was walking here, suddenly one brother got up and said, “Swami! Help me control my mind.” Swami said, “Really! I will help.” At first He joked – He patted him on his cheek and said, “Your grandfather could not control his mind either, what will you control!” There was a burst of laughter!
Then Swami became serious; He said: “I will help you. I will definitely help you. Show Me your mind! I will tell you how to control it.” And walked away.
He said, “Show Me your mind; I will tell you how to control it.” Nobody understood anything – we all sat, Swami walked His way.
The scriptures say: “Find the ego, destroy it, stamp it, annihilate it and finish it - but first find it! Where is it?”
Sometimes walking alone on a street in the night, when suddenly we think that there is a ghost behind us – on close observation we find out that what we thought was a ghost was nothing but a play of shadows. It was a shadow of a big lamp-post or a big tree.
What was required was close observation. If it had not been closely observed; this shadow in the form of a ghost would have terrified us, would have scared us and would have made our lives miserable. But on close observation, we conclude that it never was there!
The Vanishing Guest
Bhagavan tells us in a chinna katha of that guest who vanishes. There was a man who gate-crashed so to say into a marriage party – you know, in Hindu marriages, we have feasts for four or five days. The bridegroom’s party thought that he’s the bride’s best man, so they lavished all kinds of hospitality on him and treated him with special regard.
The bride’s party - on observing this - thought that he was a very important near one of the bridegroom’s party, so they too lavished their hospitality. So altogether, this guest without belonging to anybody, was having a nice time. One day, there was a point when both the parties came together. This man sensed danger and vanished. They searched for him but could not find him anywhere because he had vanished!
Bhagavan says, “Same is the case with the Ego!” What is the ego? It is nothing but a so-called feeling that there is a distinct individual entity - separate from others - who has a birth, who has a death, who has bondage and finally has to be liberated. Giving up of this idea - Swami says, is real Jnana; is real Wisdom.
The Grace to Attain Wisdom
When a strong breeze is blowing, all that is required is to unfurl the sails. The boat will be automatically taken to its destination – no rowing, nothing is required. A strong spiritual breeze of Bhagavan’s Grace is blowing. He assures active assistance - not passive witnessing - but active assistance to whoever wishes to tread the Godward path – all that we need to do is unfurl the sails of bhakti, jnana and vairagya!
Uthishtha, Jagrita, Prapya Varani Bodhata says the Katha Upanishad:
Arise, awake, seek out the learned Masters; sit at their feet and know the Truth!
We have found Swami, we have sat at His Feet. He has inculcated in us real understanding. It is up to us to wander about like a vagabond, or to sincerely tread the path and seek His Grace.
In the second chapter of the Gita, Arjuna asks Lord Krishna:
Stithatpragnasya Ka Basha Samadhisthasya Keshava
What is the mark of an enlightened man? How does he walk? How does he stand? How does he smile? How does he sit?
The Lord replies in the next seventeen verses and He says:
Prajahati Yada Kaaman Sarvaan Paartha Manogataan
One who has given up all desires of his heart, and is able to satisfy himself totally by the joy of his own Self, he is a real man of established wisdom!
Like a tortoise who is able to withdraw his limbs, the man who is able to withdraw his senses and fix his mind on the steady current of God, he is a man of renunciation.
He further adds that he, in whom all the desires enter, but make no difference – like all the rivers flow into an ocean – he is the man eligible for Supreme Peace. None else!
But what is this established Wisdom? The scriptures say three words: The Knowledge of the Self!
There is a very paradoxical verse in the Kena Upanishad. It says, ‘He who says that he knows Brahman, doesn’t know! He who says that he doesn’t know Brahman, doesn’t know! But he who says that he knows not, but yet he knows; he alone knows!’
So what is the Knowledge of the Self? Anybody - for that matter even a Sadguru – can never tell us what is the Truth! For, it cannot be known because it is the final Ultimate Absolute Knower of all that is known! It cannot be seen because it is the final, Ultimate Absolute Seer of all that is seen! It cannot be heard because it is the final Ultimate, Absolute Hearer of all that is heard!
How can the fire ever feel its heat? How can the water ever feel its own dampness? How can the eye ever see itself? How can I ever know myself? I can only be myself! And to subjectively experience that state of Pure Being, where there is nothing known, nothing heard, nothing seen but there is only Pure Being – that alone is Wisdom! And the only thing that prevents us from reaching that state is attachment.
The Chains of Attachment
Attachment – it is said – is of various types. But there are primarily three strong fetters that bind a man. Attachment to the society: What will they say? What will the world think? What will this action have an impact on others? What is their opinion? Attachment to the world, to the society – to the opinion of others.
The second they say is attachment to the body.
And the third it is said is attachment to intellectual knowledge. In the New Testament it is said that a camel can go through the eye of a needle – you know that a needle has a small hole at its head, through which we put the thread. The New Testament says that a camel can go through the eye of a needle but a wealthy man cannot go through the gates of heaven. In one of His Discourses Swami quoted this and then said: “Even the rich man can go through the gates of heaven, but a scholar cannot!” The most difficult attachment to give up is the attachment to intellectual knowledge.
Attachment to the opinion of others: A very famous story is told of Mullah Nassirudin – he was moving along with his son on a journey. The son was sitting on a mule and he was walking by its side. A passerby came and he said: “Mullah! What is this? This is real kali-yuga! The son is comfortably sitting on the mule, and you’re walking by its side. What irreverence! What disrespect!”
The Mullah told the son to get down, and he got on the mule. As they proceeded further, another passerby came: “Oh my God! This is real kali-yuga! Look at those small, tender feet of that little boy! You’re making him walk on this rough road and you’re comfortably sitting on the mule! You’re the father who’s supposed to take care of him. Very bad!”
The Mullah said, “Neither of us will sit!” They both started walking - each on the either side of the mule. A few minutes later another passerby came and he said, “Mullah! What is this foolishness? For what did you buy this mule? To give it a walk? It is walking happily and both of you are walking by its side!” So both of them sat on the mule! They went a few meters, another passerby came and he said, “What is this Mullah! You want to kill this mule? I agree you bought it, but so what? Don’t burden it so much!”
The Upanishads say, what can a thousand tongues do to you? Seek the Inner Voice, hear it clearly, and follow the Inner Guidance. Let the world say what it has to say and enjoy Itself!
Finally - the attachment to the body. There is Swami’s chinna katha again. An orthodox Brahmin lady who set about on a journey, and was very particular about the purity of the water, the food that she consumes, who cooks it, etc.
It was a very dry area and in those areas, bags were made of animal skin – they were very clean – they were well washed; but they were made of animal skin. And water used to be given to thirsty people from those bags. So when the man came, the lady asked, “Is that bag clean?” The man was a man of real wisdom. He said, “Madam! The bag which contains this water is far cleaner than the bag into which it will be poured! The so called body - which you are so fond of – if only you could see the inside, all your fondness will disappear! Because the mirror only shows the face, it doesn’t show what is inside!”
The amount of time that we spend before the mirror, watching our own face, if only half that time was spent watching our soul, God will be our constant companion! That is the third most difficult attachment to give up.
Aham Mameti Bhavodehakshaadaa Vanatmani
Foolish people identify themselves and get this feeling of Aham Mameti – ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ in this body and these organs, etc. Put an end to it!
‘Your presence is My presence’ - Baba
By constantly identifying ourselves with our own Pure Being – which is Pure Existence at the very presence - by identifying oneself with it, put an end to it!
Once, some ex-students who are currently working in Delhi, came for Bhagavan’s Darshan and Swami was very kind to call them for an interview. One of the boys complained to Swami, “Swami, I am not able to feel Your presence in Delhi – what should I do?” Swami said, “Oh! You’re not able to feel My presence? But are you able to feel your presence?” The boy said, “Yes, Swami! I am able to feel my presence.” Swami said, “Feel it well, for your presence is My presence!” The presence is presence; existence is existence!
All said and done, brothers and sisters, about Vairagya, Jnana, Self, Brahman – they really have their place; but what we have to understand is that there is nothing greater than the Love for Swami.
If we were ever to see an experience, even for a fraction of a second – the Love that Bhagavan feels for all of us - this body will fall away like a dry leaf! We will not be able to even bear the Love that Bhagavan feels for all of us - each and every second!
Bhagavan says, “Day and night I think of My devotees!” - and it is not a mere statement!
“Day and night I’m thinking of you – how can I help you; how can I alleviate your misery; how can I show you what is Real joy; how can I wean you away from these ephemeral, transient attractions that take away your mind? How can I get your mind to My Lotus Feet and show you what is true contentment?”
Santushtah Satatam yogi – A real yogi is a man of contentment!
“How do I show you I am the Prince of Dancers; I alone know the pain of teaching you each and every step!” – says Bhagavan. Ramana Maharishi used to say that there are only two ways to God: “Either inquire into the Self with entire concentration and with a completely Integrated Being find the Self and destroy your mind; or give me your mind completely and I will destroy it for you!” I have heard Swami say something to this effect: “Complete self-surrender is the end to spiritual sadhana!”
And what is self-surrender? Not to want anything; not to fear anything; not to be anxious about anything; not to be curious about anything – to be completely contented only in the Love of God and to leave oneself entirely in His hands – that is true self-surrender.
With these few words I seek Bhagavan’s permission to conclude. Jai Sai Ram!
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Vol 5 Issue 03 - MARCH 2007
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