July 21, 2009
Nama is Eternal and Divine, Just Like the Vedas
It is stated in the scriptures that in the Kritayuga God could be attained by long and deep contemplation; in the Tretayuga by performing arduous sacrifices; and in the Dwaparayuga by elaborate worship, In the present, Kaliyuga, none of them is possible, but God can be attained by the simple means of chanting nama, provided it is done sincerely and ceaselessly. Saints verified for themselves the truth of this, and assured all that repeating nama three-and-a-half crore times will purify the heart, and a thirteen-crore repetition will unfailingly bring about a darshana of God. You may not take my word for it, but I vouch this in the name of Jnyaneshwar Maharaj, Ekanath Maharaj, Tukarama Maharaj, and Samartha Ramadasa Swami, whose word is unimpeachable. The Ultimate Reality, which is inaccessible even to the Vedas, is realized by the saints by becoming it. Religious and moral restrictions are but scantily respected and observed in the present degenerate age, and therefore the saints exhort us to take to nama.
The Vedas seek to describe God, the Ultimate Reality; nama, too, delineates His existence. Every vedic hymn commences with ‘Hari Om’, which is nothing but nama. The origin of the vedas is beyond known antiquity; so is the origin of nama beyond antiquity. Both, equally, are eternal and divine, nama is resorted to by none less than Lord Shiva; so it is obviously the most ancient of sadhanas. Restrictions of diet and behaviour control restrict vedic and other sadhanas, while chanting of nama is singularly free of restrictions and restraints of any kind.
When the Ultimate God gave voice to the vedas, He first uttered the Elemental Syllable ‘Om’. Nama is identical with Om. The true import of the vedas can only be comprehended by chanting nama. The vedas are essentially praises of God. While reciting the vedas, therefore, attention should be centred on the meaning rather than on the words. Even if we do not understand the meaning, our attention should be on God, whose praises we are singing. The pity is, we forget God and mechanically do all the rest.
For purification of the heart, vedic acts do not suffice; they must be accompanied by nama-smarana to make up for shortcomings.
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July 20, 2009
Unbroken Contentment in Nama, Sadguru’s Grace
One who keeps his mind riveted at the feet of Rama has really no other sadhana to perform. No one can escape the destined travails of the body, but a Ramabhakta will not feel troubled by them. You, who have now found a sadguru, may rest assured you have nothing further to strive for, beyond maintaining faith in Rama. The true sign of a sadguru is that he, and whoever becomes his, find complete peace and contentment in nama alone.
Surrender wholly to Rama; rest assured that He will shower His grace on you. Leave the body to its lot, keeping the mind at peace and in happiness. Everything in the perceptible world should be treated as shadowy, unreal; and the mind should always be held fixed at the feet of Rama. Ask of God nothing but the love of nama; Rama will assuredly shower His grace on you. Never let anything disturb your peace of mind. Hold to nama dearly, just as a miser clings to money. While not chanting nama, one should feel restless like a fish out of water.
There is no sadhana but tacit obedience to the sadguru. There is no need to mortify the body by undertaking the trouble of any other sadhana. Only keep the mind fixed in Rama and in nama, day and night. One who trusts in Rama and Rama alone, will not expect danger of any kind from any quarter.
One who treats Rama as the only true friend and succour will never feel fear, nor anxiety, nor pain of any kind. There is no better service to one’s self than serving Rama. He alone achieves the real aim and purpose of human life who surrenders his mind in its entirety to God. To ascribe all doership to Rama destroys all possible cause for anxiety. Chanting nama ceaselessly will impart a sense of satiation. Contemplating nama without cessation, living in the presence of God, and implicitly obeying the sadguru — these constitute the mark of a true disciple. There is no other way to attain permanent contentment. One who firmly adheres to these things need do no other sadhana ; for him God is never far. Never for a moment think that anything but nama will secure your ultimate interest. Seek not to find me in anything but nama, for it is in nama that I reside; indeed, I am one with nama.
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July 19, 2009
The Four Parts of Sadhana
When performing bhajan, I used to be oblivious of everything except God. I want you to be so, too, when you perform bhajan; and I say this with the full confidence that you can develop this single-pointed concentration.
You should frequently introspect to find out your own faults and defects, and realizing their mountainous proportions, make strenuous efforts to eradicate them. It is common human nature quickly to notice faults in others, and to belittle, even justify and condone one’s own. Two things should be done to counter this tendency. One is, to stop forthwith making any calumnious reference to others. The other is, to take stock, at bed-time every night, of the time and energy spent during the day on the effort to attain God and, conversely, that spent on maligning others. This two-pronged effort will quickly purify the mind.
Associating with the godly is another means to purify the heart. Now, it is by no means easy to spot a saint in life. An easier and surer thing is to take recourse to a saint’s discourses or book, such as the Dasabodha. Shree Samartha has categorically assured the reader, that one who reads it with complete faith will get the benefit of association with him (that is, Shree Samartha himself). Saints, indeed do not truly manifest themselves in the corporeal body so much as in their teaching, the sadhana they advocate. Shree Samartha has advised four-fold sadhana. One aspect is that we should adopt saguna worship, which alone can eventually lead us to realizing nirguna; for, though it is the Ultimate Reality, nirguna cannot be directly encompassed or realized. The second aspect of sadhana is humility of spirit. Pride puts God away, while one who approaches Him with humility becomes dear to Him. The third part of sadhana is distribution of food, anna-daan, to the best of one’s capacity; this is most essential in the present degenerate age. The fourth part is ceaseless remembrance of nama. This is the invaluable gift the saints have devised for us.
One who has in the true sense met a saint, a sadguru, will cease to feel that he has anything yet to achieve. He has no sadhana to perform except doing what the sadguru orders or desires. That, in fact, constitutes a pilgrimage or paramartha for him. Nothing else ever even enters his mind.
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July 18, 2009
A Detached Outlook Makes Life Free from Pain
So long as the ‘body-am-I’ feeling persists, that is, so long as a person identifies himself with the body, he must suffer from anxiety. He can conquer all feeling of anxiety only if and when he ceases to be subjective, and acquires an objective outlook on himself and the world. This he can do only when there is entrenched in him the conviction that God is his sole and never-failing support.
The planets and their positions in a horoscope can influence the body and the mundane matters which pertain to it. Thus, an astrologer may predict how much money one is destined to acquire in his life. He may even be able to indicate whether the person has a devotional inclination, and how much; but whether he will attain to God cannot be foretold, for the stars have no control in this regard. And if one fails to realize God, it is really a dire tragedy for the precious human life. Indeed, all other achievements and acquisitions count for nothing so far as the soul is concerned.
The yearning to realize God has to be genuine and of a high intensity, if it is to be fruitful. Real yearning, borders on franticness, and makes a man overwrought; he is only calmed down when he meets a saint.
Saints do not avert the calamities or unpleasant incidents for their devotees; what they do is to eradicate the fear of them; or, it is this apprehension of calamity that more deeply unnerves a person than even the calamity itself.
Saints do not yield to passions and sense-pleasures, but control them, rule over them as masters. This conquest of one’s own self is far more arduous than even subjugating the whole world. Thus freed of serfdom to mundane attractions, they are able to look at themselves and the world objectively, and thus remain unaffected both by pain and pleasure.
We should leave office and business thoughts and worries at the workplace, and not carry them home. The domestic atmosphere should be free from fear and suspicion. Simplicity and straightforwardness of mind are a great asset; they are an inheritance from a previous life as sadhaka.
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July 17, 2009
Implicit Observance of the Guru’s Dictates
Once it so happened that a boy was removed from his mother immediately on birth, and reared elsewhere. When the two chanced to meet after several years, they could not even recognize each other. We humans are in a similar situation. We are in utter ignorance about the purpose of our life, which, in reality, is to realize God, of whom we are part and parcel. What has happened is that we are so thoroughly given to the senses and their pleasures, that we never stop to think of anything else. The senses and the objects to which we look for pleasures are themselves transitory, and therefore incapable of yielding real, permanent pleasure. Consequently, devotion to God, who is eternal, is impossible unless and until we cultivate complete detachment from these transitory, unreal pleasures.
What is it that a guru does? He leads us to the conviction that sense-pleasures are transitory, that is, impermanent, and unreal. Consequently, it is in our interest to obey him implicitly. Whatever spiritual exercise you undertake, if it has not been prescribed by him, will only be so much futile trouble; it will not be of avail. The reason is simple; it means that we consider that the guru has prescribed something inadequate for us; that is, in other words, the guru’s dictates, that is, his knowledge and judgement, fall short of perfection. We should never swerve from the conviction that the guru is omniscient, nothing short of God Himself; for it is this conviction that is the foundation of firm faith. The essence of what the guru tells is that nama is the palpable manifestation of the one Ultimate Reality, that is, God; and that nama-smarana is so perfect as a spiritual exercise that it does not need anything to supplement it. It is a hundred-per-cent truth that nama is the most perfect sadhana as well as the ultimate goal.
We should be as intently loyal to the sadhana prescribed by the sadguru as a chaste, devoted wife is to her husband. A person who does his sadhana with such loyalty, can alone be said to be devoted to it, and he invariably comes by unalloyed bliss.
If only we approach God with the yearning and expectation that we apply to mundane objectives, we will not fail to realize true bliss.
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July 16, 2009
The Highest Duty is to Obey the Sadguru
Many are the means to attain to God, but one should only follow the path prescribed by the sadguru. If you follow it for a while and then shift to another, you will not reach the goal. If you change your doctor, naturally the responsibility of the first ends. The moment you are initiated by a sadguru, all your worldly and spiritual responsibilities become his, and all you have to do thenceforward is to obey him, provided of course, you sincerely feel so.
A poison is a poison, whether fed through this dish or that; similarly, self-conceit is harmful in practical as in spiritual life. If you realize your real self you have realized God, for the two are the same. God is infinite and attributeless, and we must also become so if we want to realize Him. In other words, we have to give up the sense of our individual self, or ego. To understand anything thoroughly requires that we identify ourselves with it, merge completely into it. To realize God, therefore, we should equip ourselves with similar characteristics, and put away those that are different, divergent. If by spiritual practice and discipline, we divest ourselves of all sin, we shall see the world also as sinless.
If we concentrate on God as having a certain form and certain qualities, we may realize Him in that form and possessing those characteristics; but by repeating and concentrating on the nama, we shall realize Him in his entirety. The nama therefore, is superior to all other types of sadhanas or spiritual practices.
Let us, then, live in nama, for therein we find all bliss. And what do we strive for in life but unalloyed, permanent bliss? I myself strove and searched for such bliss, and I found it, so I can say with the confidence of self-experience, that such bliss can only arise where there is unbroken awareness of God. I am perfectly, undisturbedly contented and so should you, be. I repeat, in conclusion, what I said at the beginning: whatever you may be, never give up nama, never forget nama. Do as much nama-smarana as you can; and what you cannot do leave to the care of Rama. He will certainly come forward to fulfil this desire.
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July 15, 2009
Earnest Yearning Brings Sadguru’s Meeting
Man does know what to do and what not to, but he is controlled by the dictates of desire, to which he succumbs. We enjoy sense pleasures, but when we come to their unpleasant consequences, we feel overwhelmed. This is due to a misconception, a delusion, which can be overcome by, (1) good, godly thoughts, (2) nama-smarana, and (3) company of saints. A saint, however, is not easy to recognize, unless we belong to that class ourselves. It is easier to gather and entertain good thoughts. A good thought is one that has a bearing on God. It is easiest, however, to engage oneself in nama-smarana. If you manage to bring yourself to repeating nama incessantly, you need not go to search for a guru, for he will come of his own accord, even from the remotest part of the Himalayas. It is as natural as ants swarming to a lump of candy.
You may protest inability to maintain incessant repetition of nama. Now just consider what you do when your child fails to make the grade at school. Do we not force him to try again more seriously? We force him out of our anxiety to equip him to make a living. Why do we not show the same anxiety to meet a sadguru? If we do, he will even emerge from below the ground, for be sure he is eagerly waiting, watching, to assist you.
A mother’s care for the child is limited to her life-time, but a sadguru’s guardianship covers life after life of the disciple. The sadguru may have laid down his body, but he continues to exist and extend his protection and guidance to the disciple in one incarnation after another. When the, disciple becomes restless, so does the sadguru. So if you do not want the sadguru to lose his peace of mind, you should always keep your mind at rest, contented. Whether the body is subjected to pleasure or pain, keep the mind equable, undisturbed, happy. To have found the sadguru is the all in all of life, and you have nothing to do further. You will lose your separate existence, your ego, provided you surrender yourself to him completely unreservedly.
A yearning for God is the very life of a sadhaka. So think of Rama, whether you are awake or sleeping. Let nama be ever on your lips.
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July 14, 2009
Whatever the Guru Prescribes is Sadhana
Let me tell you in a nutshell what paramartha is. It is, in essence, going through worldly life without having a sense of attachment for any worldly thing or matter. We remain unaffected by pleasure and pain when we realize that what we call our prapancha really belongs to God, who gave it us. This can be easily achieved by constantly keeping on the lips the nama given to us by the sadguru.
That person alone can be called a sadguru who himself has and will lead us to, a permanent sense of contentment. This applies to all sadgurus in all places at all times. Do not attach value to his look and physique, but judge him by his teaching. The sadhana he prescribes should be carried out diligently. To do so is, indeed, paramartha. If you make an alteration in the prescribed thing, it will only mean that your ego still persists, and anything done egoistically is doomed to failure. So first bury your ego and place complete trust in the sadguru.
True paramartha does not consist in empty prattle or lofty preaching to others; it is for one’s own sake. In fact, the less known it is to others the better. Public esteem is of no use, actually harmful. To be misled into feeling false greatness is injurious to our purpose.
One person opens a confectionery shop, another may sell coal. What difference does it make, so long as the business is profitable? Similarly, worldly status is of no count; what matters is the advancement in paramartha.
Any worldly situation can be put to use in paramartha, so long as our approach is same and steady. Control of mind coupled with strong devotion is what is of real consequence.
Paramartha, in fact, is easy to achieve. The fun is that it is neglected, not seriously attempted, merely because of its very simplicity. Remember that prapancha is by no means an impediment to paramartha; it can, in fact, be turned into a good aid. All that a sadhaka has to do is to accept his duties as prarabdha and carry them out to the best of his ability, and apply the mind devotedly to God. Let Him be ever in your heart, His name on your lips, and the body employed in doing your duties in prapancha: this, is, in essence, paramartha.
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July 13, 2009
God and Nama are Indivisibly One
Do we learn even from our own experience? Do we show the practical sense of avoiding doing what our own experience has shown to be against our interest? It is this that is our most glaring, most serious fault. The great, however, behave otherwise. They put their experience to practical use, and rose to their present high status. Worldly pleasures are transitory and illusory; they are, in reality, misery masquerading as happiness. When the saints discovered this, they turned their back on this sham, and proceeded to search for true happiness, which, they discovered, lies only with God. They also found that the simplest means for attainment of God is namasmarana. From vedic times down to this day saints have been advocating nama as a matter of personal experience. The nama given by the sadguru, if repeated with love, devotion, and single-mindedness, inevitably leads to realization; this is the experience narrated invariably by all saints. Does our nama-smarana have that quality? Do we do it for the sake of nama alone or with some other, ulterior desire?
If we repeat nama with complete exclusion of any vritti, God is not far at all. Indeed, nama and God being identical, if the one is on your lips, the other cannot remain away. Children fly kites. Sometimes the kite rises so high in the sky that it gets lost to sight. And yet, the boy says, “1 have it at my command,” for he holds the string. Similarly, so long as we maintain the string of continuous nama-smarana, God is assuredly with us. The moment that is broken, God slips away.
The one thing that is necessary to maintain the continuity of nama-smarana is the feeling that I cannot live without Him, I need Him so badly. The feeling that it is He that sustains my life, that I simply cannot live without Him, gives nama-smarana the edge of sincerity. We, on the other hand, treat nama as a superfluity. How should God respond to this? If we treat nama as essential for our living, our very existence, God will certainly respond positively, and we shall have achieved the highest aim of human life. So let us always carry with us the conviction that nama will never fail to take us to God. This alone can be termed genuine nama-smarana.
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July 12, 2009
Obey the Sadguru Implicitly
A pure motive is that which looks for neither return nor reward. That is what true devotion must be. Building temples, worshipping, and similar service, japa, and such other things, do not of themselves constitute true devotion if there is the least thought of any return. It should all be for its own sake. With most people devotional duties are merely routine, mechanical acts, carried out by practice, or because of tradition; they should spring from genuine, burning love for God. Action without genuine feeling is as useless as feeling not put into action. We try to carry out whatever is prescribed by the scriptures or the sadguru without imbibing the spirit of them. Such things, therefore, fail to wear out the ego; on the contrary, they feed and fatten it. We should, therefore, implicitly and honestly, carry out the sadhana prescribed by the sadguru. Merely doing something out of the way is of no avail.
Spiritualism does not mean giving up normalcy of conduct; it simply means not getting mentally or emotionally involved in worldly matters. What did Arjuna do? He took Lord Krishna not only as the chariot-driver, but as a guide and mentor; and wherever He took the chariot, Arjuna simply shot arrows at the target indicated. So, too, should we do; we should hand over the reins of our life and being to the sadguru, and thenceforward do nothing more than obey him.
Remember that one who expects nothing from the world, neither money nor recognition, will always stand distinguished from the rest. When we pick up a coin, we have both the obverse and the reverse in hand; so, when we take up prapancha, following paramartha becomes obligatory. Paramartha pre-supposes faith in God; this the sadguru grants and confirms by giving us nama. It is essential that we repeat this nama with perseverance and faith. Paramartha is brought to fruition by ceaseless nama-smarana; it gives contentment in prapancha, and fulfils the very purpose of human life.
One who lives in the ecstasy of nama enjoys the peace and bliss that is God. Repeating nama puts all anxiety away; it conquers the very concept of death, leads one to timelessness.
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