Volume 13 - Issue 08
August 2015
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Right answer on your 1st attempt
3 Points
Right answer on your 2nd attempt
2 Points
Right answer on your 3rd attempt
1 Point

Part 01 || Part 02 || Part 03 || Part 04 || Part 05


In 1964-65, amidst touring the length and breadth of Andhra Pradesh and establishing the ashram in Brindavan, Bangalore, Bhagawan continued to take the pen and out came the glorious Stream of Divine Gospel – the Gita Vahini.

“The Gita is a text for spiritual practitioners, for it emphasises Sadhana, and spiritual attitudes, more than anything else. Every chapter lays down means and methods of reaching the goal of peace and harmony.... The Gita is as a boat, which takes man across from the self-imposed state of bondage to the freedom which is his nature. He is taken from darkness to light, from lustrelessness to splendour,” Swami wrote in his first article in this series which was published in Sanathana Sarathi, the ashram's magazine.

When it was compiled later into a book by Prof. Kasturi, in his introductory piece he urged all devotees to 'listen to these words with as much care and concentration as Arjuna had, even in the turmoil of a battle field, so that we too will declare when the book nears its final pages, "My delusion is dissolved; I have become aware of my reality, which is God."'

The Parthasarathi of yore in the present age as Sai Sanathana Sarathi retold the essence of the Gita in a manner and in the language best suited for the modern man. “This Gita Vahini is the same stream, refreshing and re-vitalising, brought by the same divine restorer to revivify man caught in the mesh of modern dialectics, in the pride of modern science, in the cynical scorn of modern superficiality. The teaching here set forth will comfort, console, and confer strength and faith,” Prof. Kasturi writes.

We in Radio Sai think that in this year of Bhagawan's 90th Birthday it would be an apt sadhana for all of us to revisit this timeless Song Celestial as directly told by the Timeless One Himself. This will definitely help us to find more peace within ourselves and in the world around us. Thus we have a Quiz on Gita Vahini which will continue as a serial through this year published on the website on the second week of every month. Do use this opportunity to dwell on the illuminating ideas that this sacred scripture grants to us so candidly and convincingly.

01. Swami starts the Chapter 8 of the Gita Vahini by sharing a great deal of the dialogue that takes place between Lord Krishna and Arjuna that reveals the tasks performed by and the purpose of an Avatar. “Lord Krishna reveals, ‘Avatars have no merit or demerits accumulated in former births, which, like ordinary mortals, they have to pay off in this birth. Theirs is a divine sport (leela), a birth taken on. The goodness of the good and the wickedness of the bad provide the reasons for the Avatar of the Lord. For example, take the Avatar of Narasimha. The merit of Prahlada and the wickedness of Hiranyakasipu combined to cause it.

“As a result of the coming of the Lord, the good will be happy and the bad will suffer. The Avatar, however, has no joy or grief, even when it is enveloped in the body it has assumed. The Avatar is not constituted of the five elements; it is spiritual or consciousness (chinmaya), not material (mrinmaya). It can never be disturbed by egotism or the sense of mine and thine; it is untouched by the delusion born of ignorance. Although people mistake an Avatar as just human, that does not affect the nature of the embodiment.

“The Avatar has come for a task, and it is bound to accomplish it. I shall tell you what that task is. It is to protect the virtuous, to punish the wicked, and to support dharma. By the virtuous, I do not mean the monks and ascetics who are indicated generally by that word. I mean virtuous qualities, like goodness, uprightness, virtue, and these can be possessed by animals and even insects. Really speaking, the promotion of the quality of purity (sathwa-guna) is the best means of fostering the virtuous. The Avatar is the embodiment of this sacred quality (guna), so it fosters this quality wherever it is found; but since renunciants (sanyasins) are striving to earn it, they are called good people and are supposed to be especially blessed by the attention of the Lord.

“But renunciants are not the only saints. All those who follow good conduct, who have virtue, who adhere to truth, who yearn for the presence of the Lord, who observe true dharma, who consider all as equal - all of them are virtuous. Such characteristics are even found among the animals and birds. In the Ramayana, Jatayu was saved as a result of these qualities. That is why the elephant was blessed and the monkeys were given a chance to serve and be blessed with His grace. The same reason prompted the Lord to bless the squirrel. A string of beads, an ochre robe, and a stick in the hand does not make a virtuous person (sadhu). The clothes the body wears and the language on the tongue do not decide who is virtuous and who is not; it is the characteristic (guna) that settles it. All animals have the potentiality to be good, so, ____________________ is the best means of ensuring the welfare of the world.’ said Krishna.”

02. In Chapter 8 of the Gita Vahini Swami shares what Krishna told Arjuna about the nature of the Divine and who can attain Him, “Krishna says, 'Arjuna! Not all can understand the divine nature of My birth and action (karma). Only those who are free from attachment, hatred, fear, and anger; who are immersed in the name and form of the Lord; who know of no other support than Me; who are sanctified by the knowledge of the Atma - only those can grasp it. Those who seek Me undeviatingly, who possess truth, dharma, and love, will reach Me. This is absolutely true, take it from Me. Give up any doubt you may have.

“People render the inner consciousness impure by dwelling on the objective world, through ignorance. They take delight in mere sound, taste, form, etc. When they seek objective pleasure, they are tempted to secure the objects that give the pleasure; foiled in the attempt, they get restless, hateful, and afraid. Fear robs people of their mental resources. It creates anger that cannot be easily pacified. Thus, desire, anger, and fear are aroused one after the other, and these three have to be removed. Arjuna, revolve these facts in your mind and then act. Become reasonable. Have faith in My words.”

“Arjuna heard all this and asked, ‘Nandakumara! Why can’t You make this sacred and high stage available for all people? You have announced Yourself as the embodiment of love and full of compassion. Why then all this partiality? I must declare it as favouritism, for You endow this stage only on the wise and deny it to the ignorant. I would even say that the ignorant person who has no discrimination, the person who swings like the pendulum of the clock from one thing to another, merits Your grace more. The wise person knows everything and is aware that the world is pervaded by God (Vishnu-maya). Why, then, should it be made clearer? Such a person has no more need of grace.’

Krishna replied, “Yes. People are usually overwhelmed by such doubts. You represent humanity, so your doubt is humanity’s doubt. By clearing your doubt, I can also announce My Message to humanity.”

“Listen. Those who seek Me are of four types. One is always worn out by ills that affect the body; the distressed and suffering (artha) are of this type. Another is worried by the struggle for prosperity, power, self, property, posterity, etc. and is seeking wealth (arthaarthi). A third yearns for the realization of the Atma, reads the scriptures and sacred texts, moves ever in the company of the spiritual seekers, acts along the lines laid down by the sages as good conduct, and is always motivated by the eagerness to reach the presence of the Lord. He is the seeker of wisdom (jijnasu). The fourth is the wise person (jnani), who is immersed in the formless God (Brahma-thathwa).

“The first, the suffering, worships Me only when in difficulty and suffering from grief or pain. When such people pray to Me, I hear it and satisfy them only in relation to that particular difficulty, that particular grief or pain. So too, when the person desiring wealth prays for riches, position, power, or high status, I listen and award only the particular thing craved. The seeker of wisdom is blessed with chances to do action without regard to its fruit, with a proper guru as guide, with an intellect that is sharp enough to discriminate between Atma and non-Atma; such a person is thus helped to achieve the goal. I bless such people so that they are saved from distractions and helped to concentrate on the single aim of liberation.

“I am like the wish-fulfilling tree. ______________________________. I have no prejudice, no favouritism. Not even the shadow of cruelty can touch Me. No fault can be imputed to Me. The rays of the sun fall equally upon all that are directly in their way; but if something is behind something else, inside a closed room for instance, how can the sun illumine? Cultivate the higher yearnings, and you receive the higher gains. The fault lies in the aspirant and their aspirations, not in the Lord’s attitude.’ replied Lord Krishna.”


03. In Chapter 12 of the Gita Vahini, Swami shares the lessons that Lord Krishna teaches Arjuna about His Omnipotence: Krishna said, ‘Arjuna! Many people anxious to offer uninterrupted worship to Me go into the thick forest. That is an insane step. There is no need to seek the jungle, as if I am only there. There is no place where I am not; there is no form that is not Mine. I am the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, ether! Where can you find a place devoid of one or other of these five? There is no special place to experience My presence and My glory, for I am everything, everywhere, ever.

“The fiery nature of fire is I Myself. I am life in all living beings. I am the strength of the strong, the strength that is free from greed and lust. Mine is the nature that prompts beings to desire dharmic things and means.

“Of course, when I say ‘strength’, I mean the strength of the intellect (buddhi). For the world knows many varieties of strengths: strength of riches, born of wealth; strength of education, born of scholarship; strength of people, coming from the consciousness that one has a large following; strength of mind, arising from one’s determination; physical strength, which is just muscular force, etc. All these are to be considered as Mine, for I am the supreme Lord. However, all forms of strength have to be free from desire and attachment. If desire and attachment adhere, then it becomes bestial strength, not divine; it is animal strength, not the strength of the lord of animals.

“Desire (kama) means the desire to possess a thing that is so strong that even when there is no chance of securing it, the mind hankers for it. Attachment (raga) is the feeling that a thing must be in one’s possession, even though it is evident that it cannot be there long, for it is after all an evanescent thing. Ranjana (enjoyment) is the root of the word raga (attachment). Ranjana indicates the capacity to give pleasure. Any form of strength that is polluted by either of these two cannot claim the dignity of divinity.

“Some forms of strength attain height or depth according to the status they are allotted by their owners. Consider, for example, riches. If riches reach a wicked person, they create vanity, pride, cruelty, and contempt. If they are with a good person, they are directed along the paths of charity and good works. The wicked use physical strength to injure others, while the good use it to protect others from harm.”

Swami reveals the great Truth: “The objective world with all its pure (sathwic), passionate (rajasic), and dull (thamasic) things, reactions, impulses - all originate in God. This conviction can grow in you and get firmly fixed only by _____________ and getting its truth affirmed.”

04. In Chapter 15 of the Gita Vahini, Swami continues to share how Lord Krishna enlightens Arjuna step-by-step by rendering the wisdom of His Supreme Nature and ever-lasting Powers: “After declaring ‘I am existence-knowledge-bliss, the truth-eternity entity; I am unaffected by death, decline, or destruction, 'Krishna made the devastating admission that He was also the temporary, transitional, destructible body! This was the cause of all the confusion in Arjuna’s brain! Anyone would be confounded by doubt at these conflicting statements. Krishna laughed as He saw Arjuna’s plight.

“Still, since He had no intention of causing delay, and since He knew the source of Arjuna’s dilemma, Krishna immediately set about resolving the doubt. ‘Arjuna! Why do you feel lost? You are confounded because I said I am the short-lived body too, aren’t you? Common folk will be shocked on hearing this. Their reaction will be to reject the idea, for it is difficult to reconcile the two. This body, which is temporary, transitional, and transient, has affinity with Me, for I am the base from which it springs. Without Me, the body can never be. This will become clear to you with a summary of its origin. Listen to the story of the origins of the body, which clarifies the mystery.

“The body is primarily indebted for its emergence to the food that the parents consume, isn’t it? Where did that food come from? From the earth element: the grains and other materials that grew on the earth. And the earth element evolved from the water element. Tracing back, we find that the water element emerged from the fire element, the fire element from air, the air from ether (akasa) and ether from the shadow (delusion, maya) of Godhead! That shadow is merely My apparel.

“My Apparel, which I willed and folded around Me, became ether, the ether got transformed into air, the air changed into the fire element, the fire element into water, the water became earth, the earth grew grains of food, the food developed into the body! So, it is clear, isn’t it, that the body is also Myself? Why doubt this?

“Therefore, I am also this perishable creation (adi-butha), as much as I am, as I said before, Brahman, the individual soul, and karma. The cause is the same as the effect; I am the primal cause, so I am all these effects also. I am the highest Atma; all the rest proceed from the divine (adi-daiva). In every physical citadel or body, the divine personality named Hiranyagarbha is immanent.

Just as people are served by their senses, the Hiranyagarbha is served by demi-gods (adi-daivas) proceeding from the divine. What role do these demi-gods play? These deities serve the divine purpose. That is to say, Surya illumines the eye, the divinities of the quarters enhance the ear, and Indra motivates the hand. These and other presiding deities are the senses of Hiranyagarbha. However great a spiritual aspirant might be, whatever eminence they might have reached, they can attain the Highest only through Hiranyagarbha. Hiranyagarbha is indeed the Godhead; there is no distinction between the two.

“Is this clear, Arjuna? I am as much demigod as I am the material creation. I am as much these two as I am Brahman, soul, and karma. They are all fully divine.

“Now for the next entity: the Lord of the selfless-ritual sacrifice (adi-yajna). That is also Me! This entity consumes joy and grief, the results of the multifarious actions in which beings are engaged. I, the Lord of the sacrifice, am the recipient of sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell through the five senses in all beings! I am not only the entity responsible for action; I am also the entity for which that action is gone through, the recipient of the fruits; I am the benefactor as well as the beneficiary.”

In Chapter 18, Swami also revealed the most Supreme message that Lord Krishna gives to mankind through Arjuna: “Whatever the name, whatever the form of worship, I am the ________; for I am the goal of all. I am the only One; there is no other. I Myself become the worshipped, through My many names and forms.”

05. In Chapter 20 of the Gita Vahini, Swami reveals how Lord Krishna eradicates all the doubts that Arjuna has to help him to understand His Glory more: “Krishna says, ‘I have no special preference for any one Name; all Names are Mine. I know neither friend nor foe. I am the unaffected Witness. I reside with all who serve Me and derive joy from that service.’ This raised some doubts in Arjuna’s mind. He asked, ‘Krishna! You say that You do not make any distinction, that You have neither friend nor foe. Why then are some happy and others unhappy, some strong in body and mind and others weak and sickly, some poor and others rich? What is the reason behind all this? When You Yourself are above any distinctions of such type, why can’t You keep all in the same condition? Observing facts as they are, it is difficult to believe that You look upon all without any partiality.’

“Krishna laughed at this ‘doubt’ that worried Arjuna! ‘I give expression only to truth. I do not ‘adjust’ My speech to your approval or disapproval; I am not elated when you approve or depressed when you disapprove. I am the same in all. But all are not the same in Me. You have observed that during the cold months villagers sit around a fire at night; but only those who sit near the fire get refreshed by the warmth. Those squatting far away have also to put up with the darkness. If people stay afar and complain that they don’t receive the warmth and that they have to suffer darkness, can you ascribe it to the partiality of fire? It is meaningless to argue from this that fire treats different people differently.'

“The splendour of divine vision is akin to this. If you seek to earn it, you have to approach it and stay there. Everyone has equal right to do so and to feel the fire, so that it might illumine and warm even more. Fire is impartial; in deriving its benefit and in making it grow into greater and greater capacity, there are differences. I am splendour; I have no partiality at all. All have equal chance, opportunity, and authority to experience Me and derive bliss from Me. Distinctions and differences arise as a result of _____________________________.”

06. In Chapter 20 of the Gita Vahini, Swami then also shares how after learning Lord Krishna’s Glory, the merciful Lord graces Arjuna by granting him a Vision of His Effulgent Divine Form: Arjuna joined both his palms and with uplifted hands asked, “Krishna! The whole of creation is Your form, isn’t it? Knowledge, wealth, power, strength, energy, splendour - all these are expressions of Your glory, aren’t they? Well, won’t You give me the sacred chance to fulfil my life’s desire to experience You as all this creation, as the form of creation itself (Viswa-rupa)? I plead with You. I pray at Your Feet.’

Knowing the anguish of his heart, Krishna replied, “Arjuna! I shall certainly satisfy you. But your physical eyes cannot see that Glory. The form of creation cannot be perceived by the limited vision, which sees and grasps only this nature. Therefore, I shall confer on you the supernatural eye. Now, see!” He said and manifested Himself before him as creation and more. What great mercy! What superb experience!

“While at this point, there is one subtle detail that seekers have to note. The Vedas, scriptures, and epics, as well as many scholars and saints and others who have a right to speak about such matters, all describe God as present everywhere and as the inner reality in every being. On the basis of this, some people argue, ‘If He is so present everywhere and in everything, why is He not seen by everyone?’ For all such, the reply is: how can the physical eye composed of the five elements see beyond the five senses? Nothing can illumine an object that does not reflect light; but a flame illumines itself and sheds light all around. God is self-luminous; He illumines all. He is beyond nature, which is but a manifestation of His glory. So He can be seen only by the eye of wisdom, an eye that can be won only by His grace. Hence, worship of God is an essential part of spiritual discipline. He who fails in seeing himself can never succeed in seeing others, in seeing anything outside him. Engage yourself in spiritual discipline that will secure the Grace of God; through that grace, the eye of spiritual wisdom (jnana-nethra) will be granted. He is easily reachable by the path of devotion.

While experiencing the vision of God in the Universe and God as the Universe, Arjuna was shedding tears of joy. “Oh, Almighty God! All the Gods, Brahma the Creator, all the sages and saints, all the manifold beings and objects, movable and immovable: Oh, I see every one of these. I see all . . . Oh, from Your awe-inspiring face, flames of splendour emerge and spread to farthest distances. How I wish I could know the meaning and purport of this formidable form!” Arjuna exclaimed.”

“Did you see, Arjuna? Have you known by this that I am the Creator, Sustainer, and Destroyer of all activity and of all beings and objects? Have you realized that you cannot save anyone on this battlefield, nor can you kill anyone? You have no power to kill; nor have they the power to die by their own efforts. Living and dying are both directed by My Will. I bear the burden of the earth; I create the burden; I relieve it,’ said Krishna, fondly patting Arjuna on the back and speaking softly to assuage his ecstatic excitement.

Swami shares the secret behind the success of Arjuna being gifted the ocular vision: Lord Krishna tells Arjuna “This is achieved only by devotees whose devotion does not admit of _____________. Such devotees see only the Lord; whatever they do, they do as worship to the Lord.”

07. In Chapter 25 of the Gita Vahini, Swami reveals what led to Arjuna being able to recognize the difference between the demonic and divine natures in mankind: Lord Krishna said: “Without discriminating between the real and the unreal, if one mistakes the seen alone to be the lasting, and argues so, he is losing his way. How can he reach the goal? How can he attain the reality? The yearning to know this Reality comes of daivi sampatthi, Godward attributes. The asuri sampatthi (demonic tendency) is the opposite tendency, which makes a man argue that he has known when he has not, which keeps him away from all attempts to know, which induces him to establish untruth as truth.’

As soon as the Lord finished saying this, Arjuna raised his head in astonishment and said, “Gopala! You were declaring so far that the Atma is the basis for all characteristics and all beings. That is to say, You were declaring that You were that Basis. Meanwhile, you have started talking about two distinct natures, the Divine being and the demonic being! I am getting confused. I am at a loss to decide which to accept and which to reject.’

“Arjuna! Your question is even stranger. You say, I never speak a word that has no meaning or do a deed that has no significance. Yet you worry over the issue of which among my statements to accept and which to reject! This is senseless anxiety and hesitation. My dear brother-in-law, the gods (devas) and the demons (asuras) are not two separate distinct groups; they are so divided on the basis of the distinction in characteristics. Well, the characteristics (gunas) are artificial; they are not of the essence of consciousness of which I have already told you.

“The potter makes pots, pans, and plates. These are not essentially ‘parts’ of the clay out of which they were shaped. The pot, pan, and plate are artificial forms of the clay. The names are also artificial; the names and forms are the characteristics. The substance or basis (adhara) is clay; the shapes-names-forms, the manifestation, the expressions are pots, pans, and plates. Clay is natural; pots, pans and plates are artificial. Take it that the clay, the basis, the innate, inborn (sahaja) is My real form (swarupa), reality. In the names-forms, the expressions and pots, etc. are not in Me; but I am in them. I have no characteristics (gunas), but I am in the characteristics, note this. Therefore, don’t try to keep clay and pots apart, as two distinct entities. That cannot be correct. It is also not possible.”

Lord Krishna tells Arjuna: “All things of which we are aware are only manifestations of a Thing, of which we are unaware. They derive their strength and support from the __________.”

08. In Chapter 25 of the Gita Vahini, Swami continues to share the elaborate clarifications Lord Krishna gives to Arjuna so we too can learn how to adopt divine qualities by recognising and getting rid of demonic tendencies if any: Arjuna listened intently and with steady attention to all this. Then he queried, “Madhava! You said that it is the inherent quality of nature that distinguishes these two. Which qualities make for demonic and which for divine natures? Please clarify.”

Krishna replied: “Arjuna! I am ever willing to clarify; I need only listeners who are steady and intent.

Hear this with unwavering attention: (1) fearlessness (2) purity of emotions (3) awareness of the unity of all creation (4) charity (5) control of the senses (6) sacrifice (7) study (8) asceticism (9) straightforwardness (10) non-violence (11) integrity (12) equanimity, absence of anger or resentment (13) detachment (14) inner peace (15) refraining from scandal-mongering and talking ill of others (16) sympathy (17) absence of greed (18) sweetness and softness of speech (19) fear of non-dharmic acts (20) absence of fluctuation in the mind (21) courage during disaster, patience and fortitude (22) steadiness (23) cleanliness (24) harmlessness, and (25) humility. These twenty-five holy qualities are the traits of divine endowment.

“Pride, pomp, vanity, anger, harshness, and absence of discrimination are the components of the demonic endowment of mankind. People having these qualities are infused with the demonic character. Although for all outward appearance they may be humans, they do not deserve that name. Those who have the aforesaid divine qualities are known as having divine parts; those who have the demonic attributes are known as demonic humans.

“Some people esteem themselves as part divine, but do they have all the attributes that should characterize them, or do they have at least sympathy (daya), morality (dharma), service to others, and equanimity (santham)? If they have these at least in a small measure, they can be regarded as divine. Instead, if the full battery of demonic equipment is evident in them, how can their declaration be taken at its face value? It is sheer vanity to pretend so or to claim as such. Vanity and pomp can never be classed as divine; they are _________________.”

09. In Chapter 26 of the Gita Vahini, for the benefit of all mankind, Swami then kindly shares more details on the important role food plays in moulding our natures! “Arjuna asks, “Krishna! You say that the divine (daiva) and demonic (asuric) natures of people are the consequences of acts and feelings that had impact on the individual in previous births. Since it is impossible to escape from such impacts, what is the fate of those who are condemned to carry this burden with them? Are there any means by which this can be avoided? Or can their consequences be mitigated? If such exist, please tell me those, for I could save myself thereby”. Arjuna asked thus in order to draw out from the Lord the remedy for all mankind.

Krishna answered immediately. “There is no paucity of means. Listen. There are three types of qualities (gunas): pure, passionate, and dull (sathwic, rajasic, thamasic). They are based on the inner consciousness (anthah-karana). That too depends on the intake of food. You are what you feed on, and your activities shape your nature. So at least in this birth, by regulating food and recreation, people can overcome the demonic tendencies that tend to prevail upon them. Through planned self-effort, they can promote tendencies toward purity.’ This advice was tendered lovingly by the Lord to the eager inquirer, Arjuna.

Arjuna was thrilled with joy when he heard that people have the means of saving themselves, and he longed to be further informed. Krishna showered His grace through His enchanting smile and condescended to reply. “Arjuna! Food is the chief formative force. The soiled mind dulls the brilliance of moral excellence. How can a muddy lake reflect clearly? The Divine cannot be reflected in the wicked or vicious mind. Food makes people strong in body, and the body is intimately connected with the mind. Strength of mind depends upon strength of body too. Moral conduct, good habits, and spiritual effort - all depend upon the quality of the food. Disease, mental weakness, spiritual slackness - all are produced by faulty food.’

“Krishna!’ asked Arjuna, “Pray tell me the constituents of food that is pure, passionate, or dull (sathwic, rajasic, or thamasic).” “Arjuna! To be pure, food should be capable of strengthening the mind as well as the body. It should not be too salty, too hot, too bitter, too sweet, or too sour. It should not be taken while steaming hot. Food that fans the flames of thirst should be avoided. The general principle is that there should be a limit, a restraint. Food cooked in water should not be used the next day, for it becomes harmful. Even fried articles should be consumed before they develop unpleasant odours. Passionate (rajasic) food is the opposite of the sathwic. It is too salty, too sweet, too hot, too sour, and too odorous. Such food excites and intoxicates.” 

Swami reiterates: “Food and ____________ are both very carefully regulated in the Gita, but little heed is paid to its teaching. Nor is it considered so essential.”

10. In Chapter 26 of the Gita Vahini, Swami also elaborates on the lessons Arjuna learnt on importance of cleanliness and purity: Arjuna asks Lord Krishna, “Lord, excuse me if I appear impertinent; I ask with a desire to know, that is all. By mere change in food habits, can character be changed from one quality to another? Or has something more to be done to supplement the purification process? Tell me if there is anything more.”

“My dear brother-in-law! If transformation of character were so easy, wickedness and vice, so characteristic of the demonic nature, could have been wiped off the surface of the earth in a trice. Of course, there are more things to be done. Listen. There are three ‘purities’ to be observed: purity of the provisions; purity of the vessels in which food is prepared, and purity of the people who serve the prepared food. It is not enough if the provisions are pure and of good quality. They should have been procured by fair means; no unfair, unjust, untrue earnings should be used for one’s maintenance. These are fouled at the very source. The source as well as the course and the goal must all be equally pure.

“The vessel must be clean, free from tarnish. The person who serves must not only be clean in dress but clean in habits, character, and conduct. The person should be free from hate, anger, worry, and indifference while serving the dishes; the person should be cheerful and fresh, humble and full of love. While attending those who are dining, the person should not allow the mind to dwell on wicked or vicious ideas. Mere physical cleanliness or charm is no compensation for evil thoughts and habits.

“The spiritual aspirant who has to secure concentration has to be careful about these restrictions. Otherwise, during meditation, the subtle influences of the wicked thoughts of the cook and the servers will haunt the aspirant. Care should be taken to have only virtuous individuals around. Outer charm, professional excellence, reduced wages - these should not be allowed to prejudice you in favour of dangerous cooks and attendants. Examine carefully their habits and their character. The food you eat is such an important constituent of the physical and mental stuff with which you have to struggle in the spiritual field. _________________can be and has to be supplemented by purity of the body as well as purity in its important function, speech. That is the real penance (tapas) - physical, mental, and vocal.



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