Q143) Swami! Good company is very essential for everybody. Is it as significant as it is said to be?
Bhagawan: Undoubtedly, good company is very important for every one of you. In fact, you should also seek the company of good people. You should run away from bad company. It is the company you join that, decides your life. So, it is said, "Tell me your company! I shall tell you what you are!" Dust when it is in association with the wind goes up, but the same dust in association with water sinks down. Another example for you. In ten cups of milk if you mix one cup of water, the value of water also will go up. But, on the other hand, in ten cups of water, if you pour one cup of milk, the milk will lose its value. See, this explains clearly the importance of the association or the company you keep.
You also hear in the Mahabharata about Kama, who, in spite of all his excellence in archery, intelligence, and physical prowess, because of his bad company, has come to be known as one among the `dustacatustaya', the four wicked ones. Kama lost all his name and fame, because of bad company.
Bhagawan: I have advised you a great many times to keep hands in society and head in the forest. You work well with both your hands. Be very sincere in your work and serve whole‑heartedly. At the same time, keep God as your aim and objective. You should keep Him in your mind at all times.
Consider a mother. She may be very busy with her household work, but she never forgets her child. She knows when her child will feel hungry and needs to be fed.
You must have watched the dance programme in our auditorium. The dancer keeps two or three pots one above the other on the head, and moves her head and limbs precisely to the rhythm and the drumbeat. To the surprise of the audience all the while the pots remain exactly one above the other on her head as they were kept just before the dance performance began. How? The answer is simple. As she dances, she constantly concentrates on the pots over her head so that the balance is never lost. Similarly, in your life you may be doing several things. Yet, you should ever remember God and keep him as your sole aim. Always look up inwardly.
Q145) Swami! You are unique in explaining both the components of our life, the spiritual and the physical. You alone can do it in this world. It is most necessary that we mix with people, and sometimes even intimately. We have to interact with one another in our daily life. How are we to speak, and what is good for us to speak? Kindly tell us about this, Swami!
Bhagawan: You think that worldly life and spiritual life are separate entities. They are not. Spirituality is awareness. It is total knowledge and not pieces or bits of information. You should always talk sweetly and softly. You can please everyone with your fine talk. See, when a crow sits on the wall repeating kav, kav we chase it away, but when a cuckoo repeats kuhu, kuhu, you too start imitating its sweet sound. Both are birds, but where does the difference lie? It is only the sound, you see! Similarly your talk makes all the difference. The crow has not harmed you in the least, nor has the cuckoo rendered any help to you. It is only the sound that pleases or displeases you. You should speak the truth, you should talk pleasingly. You cannot always oblige, but you can speak obligingly. Is it not? Your words should never hurt or harm anyone.
One day, a hunter was chasing a deer in the forest. A sage who was sitting there saw the deer running fast to escape the hunter. The hunter in his search for the deer, saw the sage and asked him if he had seen a deer passing by. In reply, the sage said, "Oh hunter! The eye that saw the deer passing cannot speak and the tongue that speaks cannot see. What can I say?" So nothing false was spoken.
You must have heard of the great king Harischandra. By just telling one lie, he could have easily got back the kingdom that he had lost. By adhering to truth, his son was brought back to life, and his family reunited. He did not utter a single lie. He stuck to truth only. So, till this day his name is remembered and it has come to stay so long as the sun, the moon and this galaxy remain. He is the very embodiment of truth. So he is called "Satya Harischandra"
mat aku pran amu satyamu
‑ Truth is the life of speech.
kot aku pran amu sainyamu
-Army is the life of a fort.
not tuku pran amu cevralu
- Signature is the life of an IOU.
You should not talk too much or excessively. If you do so, society will call you a chatterbox, a loose tongued man. Ati bhasa mati hani, too much talk turns you mad. Mitabhasa ati hayi, limited talk makes you very happy as you are not likely to tell a lie, criticise, gossip, or talk vainly.
You lose your respect if you talk endlessly. You tend to lose your memory as well. You lose your energy. If you switch on a radio and keep it on high volume for a long time, many units of electricity are consumed, aren't they? So also, your energy gets consumed if you keep talking for long.
Note that it is always in the depth of silence that the voice of God is heard. If anyone greets you with a `hello,' respond with a `hello'; if anyone says `goodbye', you also reply in the same way, `goodbye'. That's all. You talk only when it is necessary and to the extent it is needed.
Bhagawan: Thinking of the mistakes of someone else, you also become defective. To face and to resist a bad man you have to become even worse than him. So, it is a sin to point out the mistakes of others. If .you point out the mistakes of others, with one finger, three fingers point towards you. As the saying goes, a street dog is always in search of slippers. A pig spends its time in gutters. You would also look like a pig if you go on looking at the faults of others. In a way, a monkey is much better than a man who finds fault with others. When a monkey finds an orange fruit, what does it do? It will take away the outer rind and then does the fruit. Will it not? This sort of separating the good from the bad is called vibhagayoga. You should give up the bad, the undesirable.
In Japan, there is a city by name Kyoto. A woman was passing through a particular street carrying with her a big bundle of clothes wrapped up in a neat pure piece of white clothe. These clothes were all dirty and were not neat. Someone asked, "What are those clothes?" She said, "I want to show you the good. I want you to see the good. Therefore, I have wrapped these dirty clothes in a white cloth". Finding faults in others, making fun of others, criticising others, are mistakes that one should not commit.
Q147) Swami! Now we understand that we are mistaken with regard to our knowledge. You have explained clearly what awareness is by saying that it is complete knowledge but not the knowledge of a bit or a piece of anything. How are we to cultivate this awareness?
Bhagawan: Spirituality is very essential for awareness. It is impossible to develop awareness by any other means. With a spiritual background, things will be very clear to you. You will then have total understanding, which is awareness. Otherwise, what you acquire is bookish knowledge, superficial knowledge, general knowledge but not practical knowledge, which is awareness. This is possible only in the spiritual path.
A small example. You sow a seed in the ground. It germinates into a plant. But do you expect the seed to germinate if it is kept in a tin? Impossible. Similarly, the plant of awareness grows in the field of spirituality and not in a tin of worldly pleasures. The awareness then developed is, in fact, true awareness.
Q148) Swami! Now it is clear that this sort of "awareness" is not available in our educational institutions, that awareness is so very important for all of us. You are the incarnation of God in the present day world. Why don't you, by your grace, grant us this boon of awareness?
Bhagawan: If everything is done by God Himself, what will be there for you to do? How will you make use of the God‑given mind and intellect? Don't you realise that these divine instruments like the mind and the intellect that you are equipped with will be a waste, if God does every thing for you? The mother cooks and serves food. She cannot eat it on behalf of the child! When the child sustains any injury the mother feels sad. But she cannot bandage herself on behalf of the child!
Though you sit in front of the plate filled with potato curry and chapatti, you must also pick them up with your own hands and eat. By simply repeating "potato,chapatti" will your hunger be appeased? The hand and the mouth should be put to work. Is it not? Similarly, you should make use of your mind and intellect.
Everything will be known to you. By your effort, you will win God's grace. With krsi, effort, one can even become a rishi, a sage. Do your duty thinking at the same time of the Lord. Krishna too said the same thing to Arjuna, mamanusmara yudhya ca, "O Arjuna! Remember me and fight!" Chanting Rama's name, Hanuman could cross the mighty ocean. So do your duty and you can achieve whatever you want to.
Swami! Spiritual aspirants observe austerities like upavasa, fasting, jagarana, vigil and consider them spiritual. We request you to let us know their importance and inner significance.
Bhagawan: The traditions, rituals, and the age‑old practices of Bharat have a meaning and significance. Aspirants undoubtedly get divine experiences. But today people are after external and pompous rituals without any understanding of their inner significance. So they have forgotten the very goals and purposes for which they were originally intended. Almost all the rituals have become mechanical, monotonous and routine. There is none to explain to them lucidly. Most people are not aware of the subtleties. So, you don't find anybody practicing austerities or rituals sincerely. Man need not change. It is the mind that should change.
Suppose you are traveling to a distant place and you don't have food to eat on the way: Can you consider this upavasa, fasting? Will this be of any spiritual use? A patient doesn't take normal food. Is that fasting? What do you get out of it? To feel God in you is upavasa and not mere fasting as the literal meaning goes: Upa, near, vasa, living: In other words, upavasa means living close to or near God. It means one should turn inward, feel God and constantly think of Him. This is upavasa in its true sense. Today, we notice people who fast on the ekadas'i day. But, they eat double the normal quantity of food the next day. The madhvas (followers of Madhvacharya) observe Bhisma ekadas'i on which day they fast. They don't, swallow even their saliva.
In the state of Karnataka, they say in Kannada, "bida bedi bittu keda bedi" which means, do not give up and spoil yourself. When you give up anything, don't pick it up again. It is a bad habit. Instead, what is happening? They get the flour ready well grinded and preserve the dough for three days, With this they make nice tasteful dosas, south Indian tiffin. So in Kannada it is said, indu adide ekadas'i ondu tindu nalavattu dosa, it means, in the name of ekadas'i, on one fasting day in a month, preparations are made for as many as forty dosas . Is this upavasa? No, definitely not.
Why should you observe vigil, jagarana? Why is jagarana , keeping awake throughout the night,
observed? It means that you should keep off from your worldly happiness, sensual pleasures and material comforts. You should be unmindful of all these mundane matters, but awake or vigilant to the inner core, the atma. You should be awake in respect of the inner divinity while neglecting worldly botherations. But what is done in the name of jagarana? They play cards throughout the night or watch three movies one after the other throughout the night in the name of jagaran a . Watchmen, nurses in the hospital on duty, Railway station masters on duty don't sleep in the night. Does it amount to jagarana? Certainly not! Merely skipping sleep is an external ritual. One should know the inner reality while observing these rituals. Since they are all done mechanically, they are made fun of and they look ridiculous in the eyes of others.
Q149) Swami! Some want us to do puja, some suggest dhyana, meditation, a few prescribe parayana, reading of the scripture and some others assure us of good results from japa, repetition of God's name. I am confused about what to do and which one to follow. Kindly tell me the best among these ways to be followed in my sadhana ?
Bhagawan: You can follow any of them with total prema, love, nissvardha, selflessness, chittas'uddhi, purity of your heart, ekagrata, one pointedness, and saranagati, surrender to realise and experience God.
You follow the path that suits your convenience. Any procedure that appeals to you and gives you shanti, and ananda can be followed. But never imitate. Never go by other people's words and paths. You follow your chosen path. Otherwise, you lose your own way also. Imitation is human. But creation is divine.
A small example to illustrate that one becomes a loser by following others. There was a fruit market and it was the season when mangoes were available in plenty. A shopkeeper got a board specially painted with the words "Good mango fruits are sold here" and displayed it in front of his shop to promote sales. One stranger came and said, "Sir! What is it that is written there on the board? This is a fruit market. Why should you have the word on the board `here'? It looks silly and superfluous. I suggest you erase this word `here"'. Then the shopkeeper sent word to the painter and erased that word on the board `here'.
Now on the board, the words "Good mango fruits are sold" were left. Another man came to the shop and said "What, Sir? You don't look smart and intelligent. Have you yourself cared to read what is written on the board? This is the mango season. All the shops are selling mangoes only. Why should you write `mangoes' especially, as if they are here only? Better you remove the word `mango' from the board!".
The shopkeeper got it erased with the help of the painter. Now on the board the words "Good Fruits are sold" were left. Another customer came and said, "What nonsense is this? Do you find any one selling `bad fruits'? How funny it looks when you say `good fruits', very silly! Remove those words `good fruits' from the board.
The shopkeeper was convinced and got them erased with the result that only the word `Are sold' were left on the board. A well wisher of the owner who happened to pass by looked at the board and was shocked. He said. "What? Are you mad? Did you read the board? What do you mean by `Are sold'? Are you going to sell the board or what?" The shopkeeper called for the painter and got the words `Are sold' removed. Now he was left with a blank board. Finally, the painter gave the bill with two entries, one for initially painting the letters and the other for erasing each word at intervals. What happened to the owner of the shop who paid heed to the words of everyone? He lost both the board and that money. This will happen to you too, if you adopt other people's ways.
Your Guru also prescribes a method that suits you. He never wants all and sundry to follow the same pattern. The methods of sadhana are suggested depending on your capacity, skill, understanding and the level of your spiritual awareness.
I give you here a simple illustration from the life of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Once it so happened, that one disciple by name Brahmananda was crossing the river in a boat to buy and fetch the requirements for the residents of the asram. He overheard the conversation going on among others that boarded the same boat. One said that Ramakrishna was spoiling many youngsters who were wasting their time by being lazy in the name of devotion and that it was surprising to see them with shaven heads and wearing ochre robes. Brahmananda felt very sad and shed tears. He returned to the asram that evening. Ramakrishna asked him what had happened in the boat while crossing the river. Brahmananda recounted the whole episode feeling very bad about the remarks made against Ramakrishna and his disciples. Then Ramakrishna was furious and said, "What Brahmananda! How could you hear all these remarks! Can you bear when your Guru is criticised like that? How do you react when your parents are attacked? How could you hear all this?"
Next day, it was the turn of Vivekananda to go to the market. He boarded the boat and was on his way. Vivekananda had to hear once again the boatman speaking ill of Ramakrishna for making youngsters lazy and useless. He could not control his anger. He got up immediately, held the neck of the boatman and was even ready to push him into the Ganges. Somehow, others calmed him down.
:n the evening, as usual in the course of the conversation, Ramakrishna, surrounded by his young disciples, asked Vivekananda what had happened in the boat. He proudly reported his reaction to the words of the boatman. Then Ramakrishna said, "What Naren! Are you not ashamed of your behaviour? Couldn't you control your anger? What is the use of your sadhana? Is this the way a brahmacari should behave?"
Vivekananda then asked, "Swami! It is very strange to hear you speak like this. The other day you were angry with Brahmananda for keeping quiet when we were criticised. Today when I reacted to the same words, you are blaming me. Why this difference, Swami?" Ramakrishna smiling said, "A bicycle has two tyres. There is too much air in the front wheel. A little of it should be let out. The air is less than necessary in the back wheel. Some more air must be pumped into it. So also, Brahmananda should have more spirit, while your temper must be reduced." That's how the individual level is important in the spiritual path. You shouldn't imitate and follow others blindly.
Q150) Bhagawan! In our namavali, series of names of God, we address God by so many names. We have more than a hundred names `astottara' and a thousand names ‘sahasranama. ' Of these various names, which is the best and the exact name of God?
Bhagawan: All names and forms are His only. There is nothing in the universe, which is not His. You should consider God as the indweller of your heart hrdayavasi. Draupadi, when she was being disrobed and humiliated, prayed to Krishna for help, calling him ` brndavanasancari ' and `mathuranatha ' which caused some delay in Krishna's manifesting to save her. To prove the truth of her prayerful words, Krishna had to go to Brindavan and Mathura and then reach the open court to save her. Had she called Krishna `Hrdayavasi ', the indweller of her heart He would have appeared immediately before her and saved her straight away from disgrace.
You sing 'Brndavanasancari ' in your bhajans. Presently I am in Kodaikanal. Are you not wrong? You sing, prasantivasa, partivihara , `one who is in Prasanti Nilayam, moves about in Puttaparti', in your bhajans. Is it right? No. I am in Kodaikanal, not in Parti or Prasanthi. But, if you say ‘Hrdayavasi' the indweller of your heart, though I may be physically anywhere, you will get immediate response from me.
Q151) Swami! The Gayatri mantra is being chanted over many ages here in this holy land. But, we hear that women are prohibited from chanting Gayatri and so are non brahmins. Should we chant that mantra at specific times and not at any time of our choice and convenience? What is the importance and significance of Gayatri mantra? We shall indeed be very fortunate to hear from your divine lips about this subject.
Bhagawan: Everyone must chant the Gayatri. It transcends the barriers of caste, community, sex, nationality, time and space. It is the one mantra that all should repeatedly chant. There are three main things in the Gayatri mantra. First of all, you should know that Bhur Bhuvah Suvah in the Gayatri are not separate worlds. You think, "Bhur Bhuvah Suvah " are three different worlds. It is a mistake to think so. They are within you. `Gayamulu ' means senses. Since Gayatri deals with sense control, it is called so. The body has senses of perception and action. This first aspect of Gayatri is called materialisation or Gayatri.
The body can function if only there is life in it. The pulsatory activity is due to life. Therefore, the life principle vibrates in the body, which makes it functional or operational. This second aspect of Gayatri, which is the life force, is called vibration or Savitri.
The third aspect of Gayatri is the primal sound Omkar, which springs upwards from the navel. Om is a combination of three sounds, `A', `U' and `M'. `A' is uttered as it starts from the navel. `U' starts from the throat. `M' comes out of the lips. `Soham ' is chanted in our breathing process though we are unaware of it. This is called `Japa Gayatri'.
As we breathe in, we make the sound `so' and as we breathe out the sound `ham’ is made. The `soham' mantra is repeated everyday 21,600 times in our respiratory process. In the mantra, `soham', the second sound in `so', i.e., `o' and the second sound in `ham', `m' together constitute `om'. This `soham' is repeatedly chanted in all the three states; waking, dream and deep sleep. The entire alphabet is formed out of the mother of letters, the primal sound `OM'.
To illustrate this, I give you a small example. In the English alphabet, we have 26 letters from A to Z. All words and sentences are spoken and written using these letters only, aren't they? You notice that the harmonium has reeds. As you press the bellows the air gets in and as you press the reeds, you get musical notes like sa re ga ma pa dha ni. By means of these seven sounds only, different tunes or ragas are composed. Are they not? You know the violin. It has strings on which you can play any tune. So also,`omkar' is the primal, primordial sound out of which the rest of the sounds originated.
When you close both your ears tight, you will listen to the Pranava, the `Omkar' within you. You go very close to an electric pole and listen with your ear touching it. You will hear that primal sound omkar. This is the sound (internal) in silence (external). This is the divine sound heard in the depth of silence, (nis's'abdamuloni s'abdabrahmam, in Telugu). You can hear the footsteps of God only in silence. This third aspect of Gayatri that pertains to this omkar, the primordial sound, the speech faculty and the chief source is known as radiation or Saraswati.
Therefore, at the body level it is Gayatri, materialisation. As the life principle, it is Savitri, vibration, and finally as the chief source of sound, it is Saraswati, radiation. These are the three aspects of Gayatri mantra .In other words the atmic power, divine source, is radiation (Saraswati) that enters the body as vibration or life principle (Savitri), so that this body made of material becomes functional which is called materialisation (Gayatri).
Bhagawan: God does not need your service. He does, not require your worship. God desires from you only one thing, and that is love. This love is not your property either. It is not your ancestral property. This love is not gifted to you by anyone. It is not a commodity to be manufactured by any company. It is not to be acquired from a guru. You are born with love. It is the gift of God. Therefore, it must be given to Him. It is His and so you should return it to Him by loving Him incessantly.
Take a small example. On occasions like a wedding ceremony, many people are invited. So, in order to prepare food on a large scale you need very big utensils. You hire them for a day or two and return them after use. But they should be returned safe, cleaned and in perfect condition without any damage. Is it not so? Similarly, the human heart is a vessel filled with love, gifted by God, and has got to be returned intact to Him. This is the true form of worship.
How to love God? The best way to love God is to love all and serve all. When everything is His, and He being the giver of all that you need, what is it that He wants from you other than love? A pure heart is the temple of God. Then, where is it? I always tell the students that there should be perfect harmony between thought, word, and deed. Today, we find selfishness at all levels. In whatever is said and done, there is an underlying selfishness. But true worship is a selfless act of service with love. Do your duty sincerely. Service to man is service to God. You don't need to worship God with flowers that fade and decay. Pluck the flowers of virtue, character, and love from the garden of your heart and worship God with flowers of value.
Bhagawan: These two levels of consciousness are not separate from each other, as you have stated. When suffering is removed, you derive happiness. Absence of happiness is the cause of misery. Both are interrelated. Absence of light is darkness: Where there is light there is no darkness. Absence of one of the two is the presence of the other. So, if you explore the methods of removing suffering, happiness naturally and automatically dawns.
If you investigate the reason for misery, you will know that ignorance is the cause of all misery. What is responsible for ignorance? It is the ego. What is ego? It is attachment. What is attachment? It is the body, consciousness. So, misery occurs due to attachment to the body. But, one can be happy physically as well as spiritually if one's senses are under one's control. In fact, sadness is not natural to man. Therefore, methods have to be found out to remove sadness, which is artificial. Misery can be removed only by prayer and by following the spiritual path. If idle horses are overfed, they will be still lazier. Similarly, if you act according to the whims and fancies of your senses, your senses will get strengthened day by day and ultimately you will cease to be a human being.
Man faces three types of miseries ‑ adhyatmika, adhibhautika and adhidaivika. Adhyatmika miseries are physical and mental. Physical suffering makes you mentally sick. Your mental irregularities add to your physical sickness. Therefore, physical and mental sufferings are branded as adhyatmika. The second one is the suffering called adhibhautika, which is caused due to a snakebite or a scorpion bite or injuries inflicted by animals and other creatures. The third type of misery called, adhidaivika befalls due to cyclones, floods, earthquakes, fire accidents and various other natural calamities.
Primarily you should know that the mind is the cause of both pleasure and pain. If your mind is positive, it doesn't matter if you are either at your home or in a forest. You should fill your mind with love. With constant thought of God, developing more and more of faith in Him, and following the spiritual path, you can undoubtedly remove your suffering. Of course, control of senses is absolutely necessary.
If you understand your true self, atma you will have ananda, bliss. Bliss is the state, which is above pain and pleasure bliss is non‑dual. This is also called prajña. Since prajna is vast, the scripture says, Prajnanam Brahma. Prajna is divine. Prajna is uniformly present in the body, the mind and the intellect. Prajna is also known as antarvani, the inner voice. By exercising control over external and internal sense, you can listen to your antarvani. If you follow and act according to your inner voice, you will be blissful.
Janma or birth is responsible for all misery. Where there is no janma there is no chance for either pleasure or pain. However, janma is due to karma, the consequence of past actions. For karma, the causes are raga, attachment and dvesa, hatred. You take to an activity only if or when you like it, or prefer it to some other activity, otherwise not. Isn't it? So all actions are born of either of these two states of mind, raga and dvesa. They in turn arise out of ahamkara, ego and ajnana, ignorance. Ajnana is the main cause of misery. Ignorance goes away only if ego is given up. For ego to be dropped one must rise above attachment and hatred. For these two to vanish there should be akarma, inaction, because these actions and their consequences lead to punarjanma. As the Bhajagovindam of Adi Sankara states: Punarapi jananam punarapi maranam punarapi janani jathare s'ayanam, "one takes birth life after life, lying in the womb of the mother, again and again after death." Birth and death are responsible for all the misery. In fact, one should follow the spiritual path in life not to be born again. Instead of consuming sugar, you can become sugar itself! This is the sugar of ananda, bliss. This is the sugar of liberation. This is the sugar of sayujya, merger with God. Therefore, mukti, liberation, is the only solution for the alleviation of suffering.
The happiness that you get from listening to a person whom you like or on acquiring an article that you wished to acquire is described as priyam. When you actually get what you really want, that is called modam, joy The experience of joy after acquiring what you want is called pramodam, supreme joy. If anybody starts talking to you about all that you like, you will be happy. So it is called priyam. If you see or meet those who are dear to you, you will be extremely happy. This is called modam. On receiving and possessing what is dearest to you, your experience is described as pramodam.
When you hear of the divine power from great epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and of the lilas of God incarnate and devotion celebrated in Bhagavata, and other texts, you will be very happy. This is priyam. If you practice all that you have heard from these immortal books, you will derive a kind of joy described as modam. If you identify yourself with the divinity and merge in it, the supreme bliss you get out of it is called pramodam.
So one has to hear about God, priyam in the first stage, practice all that is heard, modam in the second stage and finally experience the bliss thereafter, pramodam in the third stage. This is anandaprapti, the way to be blissful.
Bhagawan: You do not need to renounce the world. Many people commit a mistake here. You do not have to sacrifice the world. You have to give up worldly thoughts and feelings. You must have heard of Ramananda Tirtha, a renunciant. He was married, and also had a son. He renounced his family. One day when his wife visited him, he refused to see her and turned his head away. Watching this, the wife said to him. "Swami! Since you have the feeling that I am your wife, you did not look at me and turned away your face. I do not have that feeling, not in the least". It was then she gave him the ochre robes. So, you need not renounce the world. You need to shed worldly thoughts. You do not have to sacrifice your properties, but you must establish proper‑ties with God.
Bhagawan: You should, first of all, know what happiness truly is! I want you to be blissful and not simply happy. Happiness, as you understand it, is not truly happiness. In fact, true happiness lies in union with God. This you can develop by establishing contact with the Divinity within you. In other words, being aware of the Divinity within you, you can also make yourself happy in the world. Happiness lies in liking what you should do and not doing what you like.
Bhagawan: For all this, understand that the mind is the main cause. If you turn your mind God wards, you will be happy. If you turn it towards the world, you cannot be happy for long. See, here you turn the fan towards you. Then you get the breeze. If you turn it the opposite way, you won't get any breeze. Your getting or not getting the breeze depends upon the direction in which you turn the fan.
Bhagawan: It is certainly possible. Everything in this world has five aspects. Among them, three are changeless while the other two change. The three are asti, being, bhati, awareness, priyam, bliss and are immortal. They may also be termed as sat, cit and ananda. Then there are two more aspects that change. They are rupa, form and nama, name. Name and form depend on the three changeless and permanent aspects mentioned above, viz., truth, awareness and bliss, sat, cit, ananda. For example: you observe the sea, its waves and its foam. They are interdependent; one cannot exist without the other. Waves come out of the sea. Waves are not independent. We find foam collecting on the surface of the waves. When there are no waves, there can be no chance for the foam to collect on the surface. However, apparently, we have three forms in different names sea, wave, and foam. But essentially, all the three show the same water by different names. Don't they?
The sea represents paramarthika satya, Spiritual Truth; the waves stand for pratibhasika satya, superimposed or mistaken identity, while the foam is the vyavaharika satya, worldly or physical truth.
Bhagawan: Yes, it is very necessary that you should do it everyday. Don't you wash and scrub utensils everyday to keep them clean? Until you become steady, develop unwavering faith and total surrender. It is most necessary to do sadhana everyday.
You see that the paddy fields are watered everyday. Otherwise, the crops dry up and die. But tall trees like Eucalyptus, Banyan, Neem and so on, do not need to be watered everyday. Why? The reason is simple. Their roots go very deep, up to the ground water level; and draw nourishment for the entire tree. It appears surprising that small tender plants need water everyday while huge trees do not. Roots of small plants go a few inches deep and cannot draw water, from the depths. But trees have roots that spread and go deep to draw, ground water. Similarly, until the roots of your faith go deep into the ground of your heart, you have to do sadhana everyday. Your faith today is like the root of a small plant that has not yet gone deep into your heart and so you should do sadhana everyday.
Bhagawan: For achieving or attaining anything in life one needs to do sadhana or practice. Walking, talking, reading, eating, writing, everything in life you learn by practice. How does a child walk? It is clearly by practice only. Singers practice a lot! Driving a motorcar for that matter has to be practised. You have the steering at one place, the brake at one point, the clutch elsewhere and so on. Yet, you will be able to drive a car by practice only. So also, sadhana in the spiritual field.
Bhagawan: One should have total faith in the Guru. Suppose you wish to go to a city on a picnic. You do not know anything about that city, as you have never been there before. What you do is to take the help of a guide to go round the city. You do not question the guide at any point since you are totally new to the place. So also, a Guru who has vast knowledge and experience has to be scrupulously followed. He should not be questioned, doubted, or disobeyed on any grounds.
You also find signboards at cross roads indicating directions to different places. This is your common experience. To reach the place of your choice, you must follow the directions in the signboard and reach the destination. You don't expect the signboard to carry you or lift you to that place. You have to go along the way as directed in the signboard. A Guru similarly shows the spiritual path, teaches you the techniques to be followed, and explains in detail all that you need on the spiritual path. You have to work for it and achieve it all by yourself. No one can do that on your behalf.
`Guru', is a two‑letter word in Telugu ‑ `Gu' and `ru'. The word has two meanings. `Gu' is darkness (ignorance), `ru' is the light (wisdom) that dispels this darkness. The second meaning is `gu' stands for gunatita, one beyond attributes and `ru' for rupavarjita formless. So, Guru is one who teaches you about divinity which is both attributeless and formless. A true Guru wishes the best for his disciples. He tells them what is hita, good and not ista, that which is liked. A true disciple follows the master implicitly.
Bhagawan: You do not have proper, understanding of sadhana. See, in this world, you begin your studies from childhood. After the primary school, you go to the secondary school, college and then to the university. After fifteen years of intense study and hard work you get a degree. This is your experience. How much have you worked to get a degree? Have you not taken a long time to get a degree? For this education and a degree, and to earn your livelihood you strive so much. Then how long should you take, how much of effort should you put in to earn God's grace which is the eternal spiritual truth? Just think for yourself. It is a big mistake to expect quick results in sadhana.
Bhagawan: Do you call what you do every day meditation? No, you are not doing it properly. It may be anything but certainly not meditation. It is all right that you sit down to meditate. But your mind is in the market, you will be thinking of what you are going to eat for lunch. Or you will be thinking of your dhobi, when he would bring your ironed clothes. Is that meditation? Certainly not.
A small example. You are seated here waiting eagerly and anxiously for the arrival of Swami. Any sound of a door or a car will draw your attention as Swami might come any time. Your mind is fully concentrated on Swami and you begin to view everything in terms of Swami's arrival. Do you not? On the other hand, if you are mentally engaged otherwise and not alert, even if Swami comes and stands in front of you, you will not notice him.
So, in meditation the most important thing is to have a full cent percent concentration on God. You should be fully alert, without any diversion of attention. So, an unwavering steadiness of mind. I emphasise for meditation ‑ calincani manasu bhramincani drsti (Telugu).
Q162) Swami, how many things should we study and learn in order to take to sadhana, spiritual path? How many details should we know from the sacred texts to start our sadhana ?
Bhagawan: Many things or details are not necessary. We see most people reading books. They listen to discourses for a number of years. But, what is the use? They remain where they have been in the spiritual path. What is the reason? It is lack of practice that has detained them, retarded their progress. In fact, you don't have to read so many books. You don't need to learn many things. If you clearly and thoroughly understand one thing, it is enough. If you practice one thing, that is enough. Why learn many and don't practice even one? To commit suicide a small pin or a needle is enough. But to kill others you require a pistol or a revolver or a knife. Similarly, to teach others you need to learn and know many things for which you have to read a lot. But to work for one's own liberation, redemption and emancipation it is enough if one thing is practiced sincerely. So, practising is more important than knowing and learning in life.
QI63) Swami! We are indeed very fortunate to have been listening to you. We are in a blissful state. You alone can answer our questions like this, out of your infinite compassion for us. None can do that. Swami, pardon me for this question. It is now very clear to us what enquiry is. But why am I unable to do so? Why is my mind not steady? Is it the nature of the mind to waver? Is it the natural quality of the mind to remain unstable and unsteady that prevents me from concentration on enquiry?
Bhagawan: You complain that your mind is unsteady and that you are not able to concentrate. This is not true. In fact, there is no mind as such. It is nothing but a bundle of desires. It is a bundle of thoughts. It is like a piece of cloth with yarn closely interwoven. When you separate the yarn or threads one after another, the cloth does not exist any more. So also, when the desires are gone and the thoughts withdrawn, the mind does not exist any more. This is called amanaska, withdrawal of the mind, or manolaya annihilation of the mind.
You say that your mind wavers. This is also not quite true. You see a tree here. The leaves flutter. Why? It is the wind that makes the leaves of the tree flutter. But when there is no wind they do not move. So, the movement is due to the wind and not due to the quality of the leaves or the tree. The tree of life like leaves of the human mind flutters as the wind of desires blows.
You also say that you are not able to concentrate your mind. This is not true again. How are you riding your bicycle or driving your car without concentration? Is it not dangerous`? Will it not lead to accidents? How could you concentrate in order to drive your car or ride your bicycle? As you read a book, a paper, or a draft, how are you able to concentrate? Without concentration, how could you grasp all that is mentioned in a book? In your profession are you not doing your job with full attention and concentration? Are you doing this with your mind engaged elsewhere or absent‑minded? If you do so, don't you spoil the work assigned to you? You would have been summarily dismissed from your service had you been doing your job without concentration. Are you not concentrating your mind on every activity of your daily life? Yes, you do it beyond doubt. But, concentration of mind becomes a very difficult task only in respect of God. Is it not a misfortune? The mind is stable and it concentrates easily and naturally. The loss of concentration with respect to God implies that you do not have as much love for and interest in Him as you have in worldly matters. Concentration, hence, depends on the degree of your interest. You can't blame the mind. It is like a mirror. It only reflects what is kept in front of it. So I often lay stress on good and pure thoughts. As is the thought so is the mind. You know one who has manas (mind) is manisi, a human being. The most valuable thing in this world in your estimate is a diamond. But `diamond' means `die‑mind' or withdrawal of mind.
Q164) Swami! Now we understand from your divine discourse and by your grace how important devotion is. But, faith is the base of devotion. How is one to cultivate faith, Swami?
Bhagawan: What a foolish question you have asked! What do you mean by saying cultivating faith? Can you cultivate it? Is that a commodity to be purchased from a shop? It can neither be given nor received. Faith is your natural quality. In fact vis'vasa, faith is your s'vasa, breath. Without it there is a total stoppage of your breath.
Just think for a moment how you carry on your daily routine with or without faith. You will soon notice that your every action, both mundane and spiritual, is based only on faith. You give your clothes, costly shirts and safari suits to a washer man in full faith that he would bring them back after washing and ironing. If you suspect that he would run away with your clothes, will you give them to him? Most valuable gold is given to goldsmiths to make jewellery out of it in good faith that they would do so. Even if a trace of doubt arises in your mind, will you ever hand over valuable gold? You go to a barber for a haircut. Do you for a moment entertain the feeling that he would put his knife in the neck instead of on the head? You bend your head in good faith in front of the barber to have your hair cut. So also in good faith, a patient will lie down on the operation table and allow himself to be operated upon by the surgeon. Do you doubt that your life is not safe in his hands? No. So be he a dhobi or a goldsmith or a barber or a doctor for that matter, all transactions are made in good faith. So faith is a natural gift of God to mankind. To be faithless is unnatural and artificial. But the pity of it is that you have full faith in everyone but not in God. Isn't that very unfortunate?
Devotion and faith are like the two eyes of a living being or the two wheels of a bicycle or the two wings of a bird. Without faith, as we say, even an ant can't move an inch. A bird cannot fly high without faith. A bird perches on a branch. The branch may be drooping or swinging, yet the bird is not bothered. Why? It is because the bird has full faith in its wings on which it relies but not on the branch. So, everything depends on your faith.
How do you know your father? It is your mother, who has the authority to show you your father and you have full faith in your mother. If not, there is no way to know your father. You know the dates and the days from a calendar and you go by what the calendar indicates. Otherwise, how do you know that today is Monday, the 14th May? The day has not appeared in front of you with a signboard on the forehead indicating the day of the week and the date. You have full faith in all that you listen to from the All India Radio news bulletin and the various news columns that you go through in a newspaper. So much so, you believe what you hear on the radio, watch on the T.V., read in the newspapers, but you don't believe our rsivakya or the sayings and teachings of our sages and saints of yore embodied in the Vedas and other holy scriptures. The Vedas are called
is'variya, apauru seya , compositions of God. You don't have faith in them. How strange and unfortunate it is! Think over it for sometime.
Bhagawan: Very simple. It is only sensual pleasure that makes people disinclined towards God. Meaningless worry about the future, excessive desires, building castles in the air are a way of life with them. Ambition to reach heights they don't deserve and too much attachment to the family and the world, all these are factors that make a man not devoted to God. There can be no other reason beyond these.
You know the seesaw on which children play. If one end goes up, the other end comes down, and vice versa. If the stress is laid on the world, your love of God will be less, and on the other hand, if your love of God is greater (heavy at one end as in the game) your attachment to the world becomes less (light at the another end as in the game). This is how the balance works. Isn't it so? I will give you another example, that of a magnet. It draws iron filings towards it. But . sometimes it doesn't. Why? If the iron pieces are rusted and dusty, they are not drawn and attracted by the magnet. Likewise, people who are like iron pieces dusty and rusted by worldly desires are not drawn to God, the `Divine Magnet'. Is it clear now why some are not devoted to God?
Bhagawan: `Nas'reyo niyamam vina.' Everything must have limits without which you will face risks and dangers. A river that flows under certain conditions with banks on either side serves irrigation purposes better. Similarly, the river of life has two banks, one on each side viz. sams’ ayatma vinas’yati': never doubt and `s'raddhavan labhate ' : by sincerity you develop wisdom. Your river of life should flow between these two banks. Your faith should not be shaken. It should never waver. Your faith should be strong and deep. No adverse situations and negative moments should make you lose your faith.
A life without faith is like a pot with holes. You know that we water only the roots of a plant. Yet, water is supplied to all parts of the plant. You do not water the stem, branches and leaves separately. Similarly, the water of faith, if supplied to the roots of your life, will take care of everything else related to life. The tree of life can sustain itself if the water of faith is supplied to its root. Without this, the plant dries up and is no longer alive. It becomes firewood. Once you doubt, all that you do will go in vain and nothing will be fruitful. No amount of scholarship or sadhana can help you if you allow doubt to step into your mind.
The milkmaid believed in what the pandit said and on the next day she could come on time and gave him the pot full of milk. Then on his enquiry, she told him that she could bring the milk on time by simply following his instructions. The pandit was very much astonished at this, and could not believe her words and decided to verify the fact himself. He said to her "Good! Now as you go back I shall follow you and see you as you cross the river chanting God's name and how the river gives way for you to cross it"
Both of them came near the riverside. The milkmaid acted exactly according to the pandit 's instructions, viz. chanting the name of God. The pandit also wanted to act in the same way. He stepped forward and lifted his dhoti up to his knees so that his clothes would not be wet. He marched into the river step by step doubting if he would drown in the river. His doubt became true and he got drowned. Faith made the milkmaid walk across the river, while the pandit had no faith in his own words. Hence he drowned.
The bank on the other side of the river of life is s'raddha, sincerity, steadfastness, that confers jnanam, wisdom. You will be sincere only if you love the work you do. You should have full faith and love to become sincere.
A student cannot pass the examinations if he has no faith that he can read, love the subject and study it sincerely. So, vis'vasa, prema and s'raddha are the three steps that give you success in your attempts. A businessman or a lawyer or a doctor must be sincere, must have s'raddha, in order to be successful in his profession.
So for jnana, you should be sincere and steadfast. What type of jnana should it be? It is not physical, material, secular or worldly knowledge. It is the practical knowledge, anubhavajnana that you get when you are sincere and steadfast. So these are the two banks on either side of the river of life, doubtlessness and sincerity or steadfastness. Sams'aayatma vinas’yati : the doubters perish, and s'rddhavan labhate jnanam: the sincere and faithful attain wisdom.
Q167) Swami! Why and how do we get evil feelings such as jealousy, envy, pride, egoism, attachment and so on. How are we to get away from these evil feelings?
Bhagawan: The main cause for all these evil feelings is your body attachment. These feelings are born in your mind. They depend on your interactions and relationships with others.
A small example. Suppose you have a very intimate friend with whom you agree on everything. By chance, if you toss a rose flower at him, he will be immensely happy for your love and reverence. As ill luck would have it, if you do not see eye to eye with each other due to some differences, and if you toss a rose at him, he will totally misunderstand you. He will think that it is a deliberate action on your part to harm him, for your friend is a sugar patient (diabetic) and as such if a thorn of the flower by chance pricks him, it may cause an injury that never heals and even further complicates leading to the amputation of his hand. See the difference. The two individuals are the same. So, also is the rose flower. But during the period of friendly terms, the act is viewed positively and in the unfriendly period the same actions are viewed negatively. You will now know that everything lies in the mind. The rose flower that gives happiness to your friend creates suspicion in the mind of the same person during the period of animosity.
Then, let me tell you about your next weakness, anger. Why should you and what for should you be angry with anyone? You tend to lose your energy due to anger. You become weak subsequently. The energy you have gained out of the food you have consumed during a couple of months is just lost by a single fit of your anger. Here, enquire into the matter clearly. What exactly makes you angry? If anyone criticises, reprimands, accuses, or blames you, naturally you are angry with that person. Calm down for a moment and investigate clearly. Why should you be angry with anyone who points out your mistakes or defects? Are you not guilty? Are you angry because your faults are pointed out? Why? So, you need not be angry if your faults are pointed out.
Suppose you are faultless and not guilty, even then there is no need for you to be angry. Because, it is only a false allegation. If anyone says that my head is bald, I am not angry with him because there is no truth in what he says, as I am not bald. If anyone comments that I have a mop of hair, even then I am not angry because the truth is said. So let them say that I am a battatala Baba (bald headed Baba) or buttatala Baba (mop of hair on the head of Baba) (batta and butta are Telugu words). I am not angry either way. If you think in this way you will not be angry and annoyed with anyone.
There is the worst form of disease for which there is no cure. It is envy or jealousy. Hatred ruined powerful kings like Hiranyaksha, Hiranyakasipu, Sisupala, Dantavaktra as mentioned in our epics like the Mahabhagavatham and the Mahabharata. Envy ruined the entire clan of Kauravas. Envy, pride, ego, jealousy and anger are demonic qualities. No one ever thinks of those with these evil tendencies. Have you met anyone by name Duryodhana who is the very personification of jealously in our epic Mahabharata? Have you met anyone by name Sisupala who is the embodiment of hatred in our scriptures? None. Why? It is a shame to be named so. There is then Mandhara a woman character in the Ramayana the very emblem of jealousy. She brought bad name even to queen Kaikeyi. She was responsible for sending Rama to the forest and Bharata's reign. Have you come across women by name Mandhara and Kaikeyi? No. Never. Why? They represent evil traits that ruin anyone.
Never be egoistic. Egoism is another trait that will lead to disrepute. Examine yourself when you feel egoistic. Why ego? On what grounds should you be egoistic? In the entire world, India is of the size of an ant. There, in India your state of Andhra Pradesh is the size of an eye of the ant. Your Anantapur district is but a speck in the eye of the ant. Then, how about Puttaparthi and what are you and your standing in your family? Practically nothing. So don't give any scope for ego and pride. Of course, if at all you want to be egoistic and proud, you can be egoistic about your ignorance and proud of your foolishness! Attachment and Self‑interest may make you egoistic on false grounds.
Attachment and feelings of "I and mine" are also not good in your own interest. The feelings of thine and mine arise out of abhimana and ahamkara. An example. Your neighbour has a daughter who was seriously ill for quite some time. You were not bothered or worried about her health. A year after her illness it so happened that you married her. Thereafter even a slight temperature or cold in her body makes you apply for casual leave and stay away from office. Why? She is your wife and no longer the daughter of your neighbour. The difference is due to attachment only.
It is mamakara, feelings of mine that made Dhritarashtra, the old king of the Mahabharata support all the misdeeds of his sons and led to the total ruin of the entire clan. Though he had one hundred sons he was left with none even to perform his last rites. To this state one will be reduced due to the feelings of `I' and `mine'.
When these traits find a place in you, repeat ten times "I am a man, not an animal", "I am a man, not an animal" so that you can get rid of the animal qualities like ahamkara, ego, asuya, jealousy, irsya, envy, dvesa, hatred, abhimana, attachment, and mamakara, feelings of `I' and `mine'.
Q168) Swami? How wonderfully in simple terms and in such an easy way you have explained profound things. What is the way to immortality, the ultimate goal of life?
Bhagawan: Very simple! Very easy! The only way to 'immortality is the removal of immorality.
Q169) Swami! How long does sensual pleasure last?
Bhagawan: Sensual pleasure is momentary and fleeting. It lands you in difficulties and makes you weak. Think well and understand clearly. You think that you are enjoying with your senses. Actually, it is not so. The senses are enjoying at your expense. At your cost the senses are having a nice time. How? You become weak. You lose your strength. You turn old. If you are right in thinking that you enjoy with your senses, you should have been quite active and enthusiastic. But in reality it is not so. You are negatively affected due to sensual pleasures. Therefore, know for sure that your senses enjoy you, making you sick, old and weak and not you enjoying with your senses.
Q170) Swami! How are we to lead a detached life? We are hurt when our belongings, positions and wealth are withdrawn. Please tell us how not to be hurt though these are taken away from us.
Bhagawan: You should always keep in view the purpose and the aim of your life. You should never give up your duties and responsibilities. You see, today's newspaper is tomorrow's waste paper. Be assured that past life will never return. You should always keep in mind three important points. Never feel that the world is permanent and that your relationships with all around you are lasting. No. The second thing is that you should not forget God under any circumstances. The third point to remember is not to fear death.
A District Collector has all the comforts and conveniences such as a big bungalow with a spacious compound, furniture, peons, etc. He has a very big office and personnel to provide assistance, but when he retires, he has to leave them all, though he lived till then with them as their sole proprietor and owner. Does he cry on the day of his retirement? Does he feel that he has lost anything personal? Similarly, servant‑maids, who take care of children at the residences of rich business magnates or high officials consider the children very close to them and even say "our boy" `our child' and so on. But is it really so? Can they claim and own them at any point of time? Similarly, you see a cashier in the bank. He has with him lakhs and lakhs of rupees, which he disburses to different account holders according to the cheques presented. Does he feel sad at any time for parting with the money? Not even a single naya paisa belongs to him. The same is your relationship with the world you live in. Know the essence, saram (Telugu) and lead this life (family, samsaram Telugu). In fact, no one has anything to do with anything or anybody. You are alone at the time both of your birth and death. The rest that comes in between are like passing clouds
"Would you settle down on a bridge you cross from one end to another!
Would you like making a house, of a boat plying from bank to bank!
So, one must leave to one's own self questions like: `Who am I? 'Where do I come from?' 'Who is God'? `What is the purpose of life?' Human life is gifted to you to find answers to these questions.
For example; a villager goes to a nearby town on some business. As he could not complete his work, he has to stay in a lodge to rest. The , proprietor of the hotel or lodge he chooses to stay in will naturally put some questions to him before letting out a room to him. He will ask the villager to register his name and address. He has to answer questions such as "Where do you come from? How long would you stay?" If the answers run like this, "I do not know where I come from. I do not know how long I am going to be here. I do not know when I would quit this room", or "I don't know where I shall go from here!" The proprietor will say, "No room for you. This lodge is not for mad fellows like you" Similar is your situation and position if you don't know where you come from, how long you stay here and where you go from here. Do your duty thinking of God. That is enough, then, you will never suffer.
Q171) Swami! How are services rendered today helpful in future?
Bhagawan: I will give an example very well known to you. After your retirement, you are given pension. Why? It is the payment for your long service in a profession. So also, God's grace is bestowed on you for your service in the past.
Another example. If you fill the tank with water during the rainy season, you will have water supply in summer. Is it not so? Therefore, service of today will help you receive God's grace later, undoubtedly.
Q172) Swami! Is there death? Are there a heaven and a hell? What is life?
Bhagawan: There is no death. It is the body that dies. But atma, the indweller is immortal. Atma is the eternal truth. Your happiness is indeed heaven. Your misery is hell. Both are here in this life. They are not separate entities apart from you.
The whole universe is a tree with branches, leaves,, flowers and fruits. Man expects flowers and fruits and nurtures the tree by watering its roots. It is enough if you water the roots of a plant, in order to get the water circulated to different parts of the plant. Is it not so? Do you water the stem, branches and leaves separately? Do You? No, you don't. For this tree of the universe the branches are different countries and states; the leaves are desires; human beings are the flowers. The root is below and the fruit is on the top. The root is self‑confidence while the fruit is self-realisation. The juice within the fruit is divinity. Today, there‑is no divinity but only community.
Q173) Swami! Man's greatest fear is the fear of death. How is he to overcome this?
Bhagawan: Man is not dying of diseases. In fact, it is fear that makes for his death. Ninety eight percent of all deaths are to be traced to fear of death. Diseases are, for the most part, psychological in origin and impact. Check your pulse rate and blood pressure when you are excited, worried, or afraid. These rise much above the normal level. Thus, diseases are, to a large extent, rooted in your mental state.
Once the deity of Cholera came to a village. Seeing her, the village elder said, "Mother! I am terrified at the thought of the devastation soon to overtake our villages. I wonder how many of our people are going to die!" The deity replied, "My son! Not all will be harmed by me. There will be five deaths a day, that's all. You need not be that much alarmed." But, many people were dying. The elder thought the deity might have lied to him. He turned to her and asked, "Mother, you are a deity. How is it, then, that; after saying one thing to me, contrary to that, you punish us?" The Cholera deity replied, "Son! I did not utter a falsehood. I took away only five each day. So, I am not responsible for the deaths of al the others. Those did not die of cholera. They died of fear, that's all."
You asked me how fear of death is to be overcome. The solution is only courage! You should understand that at some time or other, death is inevitable. Realise that there are no exemptions. When you have the courage to realise this fully, fear of death ceases.
Q174) Swami! How can we realise the divinity within us?
Bhagawan: Look! In college, you have elective subjects like M.P.C (Mathematics. Physics and Chemistry), Bi.P.C (Biology, Physics and Chemistry) and so on, haven't you? Similarly, to realise the divinity within you, you have to take a group of three subjects. What are the subjects to realise divinity? They are ‘bhakti’ devotion, ‘jnana’, wisdom and ‘vairagya’, renunciation.
Without devotion, you can't acquire wisdom. Bhakti leads to jnanam. Without jnanam you can never develop detachment or renunciation. Jnanam takes you to vairagya. A flower, after some time, turns into an unripe bitter fruit, which ultimately becomes a sweet ripened one, doesn't it? It is a question of time that brings about the change. Devotion transforms itself into the wisdom that leads to detachment. This detachment helps you in visualising the divinity within yourself. The fruit drops down from the tree of life. Jnana contributes to s'ara pagan ,s’aranagati, surrender.
You should remember one point here. Jnana,, japa, yagna are not important as such. Your love for God is more important than any other such rituals for success in spiritual pursuit. Intense love for God is bhakti, devotion. Knowledge, broadly speaking, is of two types: one is physical, secular material and worldly knowledge, while the other is spiritual, metaphysical, transcendental and divine knowledge. Spiritual knowledge is nondual, and helps the seeker to realise and experience his own divinity.
Q175) Swami! How are we to attain bliss?
Bhagawan: It is a pity to find many a confused and disturbed person even in the spiritual field. Though he is in an asram or spiritual centre, he undergoes ‘srama,’ suffering. It is a matter of shame if a person calls himself a devotee without following a single teaching or practicing it for his transformation. The life of a devotee should be pure, calm, peaceful, detached and he should pine for the knowledge and experience of the Self or spirit or atma. Infinite desires meaningless worries and anxieties to get all that one doesn't really deserve are ‑obstacles in spiritual life. So many don't enjoy divine bliss. Body attachment makes things much worse.
Four qualities are very essential for the attainment of divine bliss: s’amam-damam control of the outer and inner senses, ‘tr pti’, contentment, ‘vicarana,.’enquiry, and ‘satsang’, good company. They confer divine bliss on the seeker. You have got to know how this most valuable divine bliss is contained within the human body, which is itself transient, and is of lesser value than the spirit.
The body is composed of two bucketfuls of water, one bucketful of lime, iron of four two inch nails, lead of six pencils, phosphorous of nine hundred and twenty matchsticks, and fat of four Lux soaps. Herein lies the atma, divine spirit. Divine bliss can be attained by investigating, realising and experiencing the inner core of this body, viz. atma.
Q176) Swami! Many spiritual practices are suggested, such as, namasmarana singing the glory of God, dhyana, meditation, puja, etc. But, still total satisfaction is not derived out of any of them. We are not able to practise and follow continuously even one of them. Dissatisfaction over not being able to succeed and frustration about not getting the rewards for the little we do, are overpowering us. Why is it happening like this? Kindly show us the way.
Bhagawan: You have to plough the land, remove the weeds, manure and water it. Isn't it so? Without tilling the land, removing the weeds and watering, even if you sow the best of seeds, will it be of any help? Similarly, if you want to achieve the four purus arthas, objectives of life, you should follow anyone of the nine paths of devotion, adopt the eightfold path of yogic practices, astaga yoga, follow the nine types of devotion, navavidha bhaktimarga, worship properly and follow the spiritual path scrupulously.
You should cultivate four main qualities; which are the pre‑requisites of a devotee of God. The first one is maitri,, friendship, second, karuna, compassion, the third mudita, feeling happy at others' progress, and the fourth quality is upeksa, detachment. These are necessary for spiritual advancement. Maitri is the first one. If you are friendly to the higher‑ups, there is every possibility that those people put you under their control. If you are a friend to those who are inferior to you, there is every scope for you to dominate them. In either case, friendship will not continue long. Therefore, friendship must be among equals.
Karuna is the second one. You can't be compassionate towards all. Be compassionate towards the poor, needy, less fortunate, handicapped and sick as well as those who are less educated than you and are inferior to you in rank, position and property. If you do so, your compassion will be valued most and it will deepen increasingly. Mudita is the third one. You should not feel jealous of those who are better off than you. You should not have any bad feelings towards those who are more fortunate than you. You should, on the other hand, feel even happier at their progress and advancement. This is mudita. The fourth one is upeksa The opposite of upeksa is apeksa. Apeksa means attachment. Upeksa means detachment.
You should never be positively disposed towards bad people. You should not support designers of evil or those who indulge in bad deeds. You should never develop friendship with an evil‑minded person or a person with bad behaviour. With these four qualities you can achieve the objectives of life, the purusarthas. Hence, be friendly with your equals, compassionate towards the poor and needy, be happy at others' progress and keep away from bad people. In fact these four qualities may be said to be the objectives of life, the purusarthas. To cultivate them, purity of heart is necessary. To feel that the very same one God is present in all living creatures and living beings is the way to develop purity of heart. You have to purify your tamasika, bestial qualities and rajasika, emotional or passionate nature. You have to develop that kind of steadiness and purity of mind and heart.
You will not be able to see clearly the reflection of the sun or of the moon alike in containers filled with different kinds of water. One container may have very dirty water where you can't see the reflection of the sun or the moon clearly. This is how the tamasika quality acts, cutting you off from reality. In another container, water may be found shaking and not still. Then also the reflection of the sun will not be clear. This is the rajasika quality. But, a container filled with pure water, which is also steady, helps you to see the object reflected clearly in it. This is the effect of sattvika quality. Similarly, though the same atma is present in all, you are not able to recognise and experience it due to the differences in your body, mind and intellect.
Then, the question is how to achieve the pious quality or sattvika nature and the purity of heart or cittas’huddhi to recognise and experience awareness of atma? He who can find out his own faults and others' merits can keep his heart steady and pure. If you can identify your own mistakes and rectify them, it doesn't matter wherever you are.
Take a simple example. Your room may be full of mosquitoes. But if you have a mosquito net you will not be affected by their presence and you can sleep well. On the other hand, if there are mosquitoes inside in the net, how can you sleep? Whose mistake is it? Similarly, see that there are no mistakes in you. Always remember that sadhana is intended for devotion and steadfastness. Sadhana done for selfish gains will be of no use and it can never give you bliss, peace and satisfaction. You can't do sadhana in such a case intensely and fervently.
The Ramayana explains this very clearly. After his return from his uncle Kekaya's kingdom and on coming to know of the death of his father, King Dasaratha, Bharata approached his mother Kaikeyi and asked her about the reason for his death. Kaikeyi said, "My dear son, I am responsible for the king's death. For your benefit and to make you the king of Ayodhya, I asked your father to grant me the two boons he had promised to give me a long time ago. As the first boon, I asked that you be crowned and as the second, Rama be sent to the forest. Your father couldn't bear the separation from Rama and so he died".
On listening to this, Bharata became very furious. He said, "Oh! Wicked woman! Do you know what you did? Are you foolish? Do you think that you can cut off a tree and plant its branches to grow? Don't you know that Rama is a tree?" In her view Kaikeyi was right in doing like that, but to Bharata it was very cruel. Today, what you are doing is exactly like that. You are cutting off the tree of divinity and planting the branches of prakrti, nature. This is not proper. So, any sadhana is useless if there is no devotion supported by steadfastness. Without these basic qualities of maitri, karuna, mudita and upeksa you can't achieve anything. You can't have peace; bliss and self‑satisfaction. Therefore, for a spiritual life you should acquire these four qualities.
Q177) Swami! Many spiritual paths are mentioned by diverse traditions and religions. How far can these paths lead to experiencing divinity? To what extent are their spiritual exercises to be adopted? From the description of some of these, success in one lifetime appears impossible. On the other hand, worry that no spiritual practice is undertaken plagues us. Is there no way out for us? Kindly grant us peace.
Bhagawan: Listening to your accounts of sadhana, it appears you do not know what sadhana is. The practices you call `spiritual' are undertaken by the mind. They give you only temporary happiness and satisfaction. On the other hand, they cannot be dismissed as altogether useless. Sadhanas must help you in spending your time in a pious way. What, then, is sadhana? “Sa” means salokyam, dwelling in heaven with the vision of God; therefore sadhana gives us the dhana, treasure, of salokyam. Every act of the mind is dualistic, artificial, and transient. Suppose you are on a journey. Suppose also that there is a thief by your side. How can you feel secure? The person beside you is a thief, isn't he? In the same way, all practices involving the mind can never give you unbroken bliss, the experience of Brahman. What you achieve in sadhana is the removal of the veil blocking the vision of the Self, the veil of anatmatabhava. With the removal of this veil, the experience of the atma, the real, stands revealed. This is not something that has to come from somewhere, nor is it something that can be lost.
The next question is how long sadhana needs to be practiced. Consider a wound. When healing starts, a scar appears covering the wound, and this drops off by itself. Suppose you peel it off by force. The wound grows bigger. In the same way, once you have the experience of the Self, the question of sadhana does not arise.
Another example. When you cook food, you adjust the flame. When you ask how long the flame is to be turned on, it is only till the food is cooked. Sadhana too is necessary only till one acquires jnana, supreme wisdom.
Q178) Swami! When we get wisdom based on our practical knowledge, discrimination and determination, will it stay with us permanently or is there any possibility of our losing it by chance leading us back to ignorance again?
Bhagawan: That is impossible. Actually, you can't call it wisdom at all, if it is lost. You can't consider a person a man of wisdom if he returns to the same old state of ajnana, ignorance.
In fact, jnana, wisdom, neither comes nor goes. You are the embodiment of Divyajnana, divine wisdom. Your own worldly attachments, sensual pleasures, and bodily identification obscure this awareness or wisdom. Once you realise it; you will never lose the state of awareness.
A simple example, you curdle milk and churn it to get butter. The butter, a product of milk, will never get mixed in the milk once again, will it? So also, the butter of wisdom cannot mix in the milk of ignorance, once it is realised. Similarly, a jnana, though he lives in the midst of ignorant people, will never lose his jnana. Ajnana, Ignorance will never come again. Wisdom, once it dawns on you, will never depart from you.
Q179) Swami! Is bodily feeling an obstacle to spiritual progress? The bodily feeling doesn't seem to leave us anyway. Kindly tell us what we should do about it?
Bhagawan: I have never told you to neglect your body. Always remember that the body is an instrument. A temple may be very beautiful, clean and highly attractive. However, you will not be satisfied by merely looking at it from outside, unless you go in and see the idol installed at the sanctum sanctorum. It is the idol or Mulavirat that makes you feel happy and ecstatic, doesn't it? Similarly, your body is the moving temple of God. You should never neglect it. Your desires will not make your body polluted. The only thing is that the desires need to be good and never bad.
We have on one side, arisadvarga six foes, such as lust, anger, greed, attachment, avarice, and hatred, which ruin man. But you can channelise them in the right direction. For example, take anger, krodha. Anger does you no good at any time. But if you are angry with your bad behaviour, wicked thoughts and evil tendencies, you will improve yourself. So, don't be angry with anyone, be angry with your own anger. Then, consider kama, desire. If you are after limitless desires, you will be leading a discontented life. On the other hand, if you desire God, desire to serve him, the very desire, kama, becomes sublime.
Therefore, so long as one is selfish, self‑centered, sensual and worldly, the body definitely is an obstacle to spiritual progress. But if you take it as an instrument for the realisation of the divinity within yourself then definitely it is not an obstacle. Hiranyakasipu, Hiranyaksha, Ravana, Kumbhakarna, Sisupala, Jarasandha, Dantavaktra, etc., ruined themselves because of their bad thoughts, wicked actions, cruel and harmful nature. In fact, the body is the gift of God for man to realise and experience Him.
Q180) Swami! How are we to grasp easily the purpose and aim of life?
Bhagawan: This is very simple. A small example. A patient takes medicines for an ailment and gets cured. Why? He has to take medicines regularly for a certain period of time so that he may not have to take medicines once again by falling sick. It means he should not be a patient a second time.
Similarly, your birth in this life is given to you not to be born again. In other words, you should not enter the cycle of birth and rebirth once again. One has to work for it spiritually by intense sadhana during this lifetime itself. This is the aim and the purpose of life.
Q181) Swami! What is meant by `quest for truth'? How are we to go about this noble task?
Bhagawan: To say that one is involved in the process of search for truth is foolish and is a sign of ajnana, ignorance. When satya, truth, is everywhere, what is the point of searching for it? Truth is God. God is truth. God is omniscient. So also truth is everywhere.
Satyamunand undi sarvambu sr s t ince
Satyamunananage sarva sr s t i
Satyamahimaleni sthalamedi kanugonna.
S’uddha sattvamadiye cudarayya (telugu poem)
God, the eternal truth, has created the whole universe, which will merge ultimately in truth. It is the eternal truth.
With your eyes you look at your children. With the same eyes you see your wife also. Your eyes may be the same but your vision, the way you look at different persons such as mother, wife, and children varies. The feeling with which you look at everyone is the spirit of the search for truth. This distinguishes feelings from looks.
The Search for truth should answer questions like what, when, why, whom, where and how.
Q182) Swami! Nowadays‑even devotion has become a matter of convenience and business, and is expected to yield quick results. Isn't this wrong in the path of devotion? Are cunning and craft fruitful in devotion?
Bhagawan: Today, whatever one does and says is all out of selfishness only. If you develop devotion for getting a job, you are devoted to your employer and not to God. If you are a devotee with a view to get married, you are devoted to your wife or husband as the case may be, but not to God.
If you notice clearly, you will know there is enough money in this world. There are many in good positions. There are many influential and reputed people. Should you pray to God for money, positions, popularity, and influence which are already available in this world plentifully? You should pray to God for those which are not available here and are present in and with Him only. Two things are with God only and are not present elsewhere. What are they? They are Bliss and Peace. True devotion is what urges you to pray to God for these two divine assets.
Most unfortunately, today people employ even tricks, backdoor methods and logic in spiritual fields. Alas! They will never yield good results. Such people will never succeed. Further they boomerang. God and Mammon can't go together. You can't buy or sell God. Business on commercial principles and God never go together. God doesn't want your dhana, money or wealth. He looks into your dharma, conduct.
Alas! In the name of spirituality, it is very unfortunate that people deceive each other, involve in financial transactions, politicise, manipulate, cheat, scheme, plot, spend time in gossip and mud slinging activities. Your knacks, tricks and gimmicks will never work with God. You will never realise God through these tactics.
Here is a small story. A very rich man had a pet dog. One day when a person was passing along the road, this dog chased him and was about to bite him. Then the person being totally helpless hit the dog with his stick. The dog died. This made the rich man very furious and he took the matter to court to sue this person. There in the court the judge asked the passerby as to why he had hit the dog resulting in its death. The person said, "Sir! It fell upon me and was about to bite me. I couldn't do anything. So, I had to hit it with the stick in my hand and unfortunately the dog died". Then the judge asked the rich man what he would say in the matter. He said, "Sir! I can understand the situation. But, why should he hit it on the head? Had he not done so, the dog wouldn't have died". The judge turned to this person, wanting him to give the explanation. He said, "Sir! It was about to bite me with its teeth. So I had to hit it on the head. Had it tried to bite me with the tail, I would have certainly beaten its tail". So this is a knack or a trick to escape from the situation. These things are of no use in the spiritual path.
Another example, a businessman had to go to a neighbouring town on some business. He called his son and said, "My dear son! You please look after my work carefully until I return. Be vigilant. Son! You know I do daily puja. You also see me doing as t ottara puja, repeat 108 precious names of God. You do it without fail during my absence. I don't want you to discontinue". The son said, "O.K. father! I will scrupulously follow your instructions". On his return the businessman enquired of his son if he had done all the things assigned to him including as t ottara puja. The son had shown him a paper as proof of his compliance. There, on the paper his son wrote God's holy name and marked `ditto, ditto' (‑do‑do‑) so that he did not have to repeat 108 times. Would this make a genuine as t ottara puja? Do you expect any positive results out of such tactics?
Once a merchant went to a Guru and reverentially prayed to him to give him mantra upades’a, to attain moksha. Then, the merchant said, "Sir! Can I ask my assistant to repeat and chant the mantra a thousand times Sahasranama on my behalf?" The Guru said, "It is useless. What are you talking about? How do you expect to be benefited when your assistant does the puja on your behalf? Do you ever ask him to eat when you are hungry? Do you ever ask him to drink water when you are thirsty? Do you ever ask him to go to a doctor and take medicine when you are sick? What nonsense are you talking?" This seems to be the trend in the thinking among modern seekers and aspirants, this is not bhakti.
A path followed with your total virakti, detachment, your saktii, total capacity and your anurakti, total love for God is bhakti, and not yukti, the tricks you adopt.
Q183) Swami! Renunciation, we feel, is the most difficult thing. We have so many attachments and it is not easy to give them up. Kindly suggest an alternative!
Bhagawan: No. No. It is very easy. You are wrong if you say that detachment is difficult. In fact, it is simpler and easier to be detached than to be attached. Now look here! I hold this handkerchief in my hand. I hold it tight in my grip. It is a strain holding it like that for a long time, i.e. holding the handkerchief in the grip. On the contrary, it is very very easy to simply drop it. Is it not? Now, you will know that attachment is difficult while detachment is easy.
Q184) Swami! Many different types of sadhana are suggested and prescribed for seekers and aspirants. They are very confusing and the situation of the present day seekers is that they have almost forgotten what a spiritual practice is. Most often having taken one path, many drop out or discontinue. Why? Kindly tell us the truth of the matter?
Bhagawan: In my opinion, spirituality is very simple and easy. You may find crushing the petals of a rose flower difficult. Compared with it spirituality is easier. But unfortunately, today there is none who knows and teaches sadhana.
What is sadhana? It is a process of removing anatma, non‑self from atma, Self. Then, you will have atmanubhavam the experience of the Self. In other words, the self, spirit, conscience, or atma is the reality. All the rest is non‑self or `anatma'. This is the purpose of spiritual pursuit or sadhana.
You also wanted to know why a chosen spiritual path is discontinued. Understand well that nothing is wrong with sadhana. The mistake is yours. It is your weakness. For example, you boarded the Bangalore bound tram. If you get down in the middle without reaching the destination, whose fault is it? It is definitely not the mistake of the train. It is your fault.
Q185) Swami! We are not able to meditate. We do not know the procedure even. What are we to do?
Bhagawan: When the procedure is not correctly known and you are not able to concentrate as you meditate, do not waste time. Do some good work. It is ridiculous sitting down for meditation, while thinking of all sense objects and sensual pleasures. It is purely a waste of time. In fact, if it is true meditation, the feeling, "I am meditating", should totally vanish. The three ‑ `the one that meditates, the one whom you meditate upon' and the `process of meditation' should be unified. This is called triputi. Always keep in mind one important thing. You are as much far from me as I am from you. You should always experience proximity with God and finally identify yourself with Him. The fruit of your meditation depends on this. With conviction that God is everywhere and by loving and serving all, giving up selfishness and self‑interest, you will experience the benefit of true meditation and you will know that your reality is atma, the self.
One example you might remember about meditation. Here are two tumblers of which one is full of milk that has to be poured out into the other tumbler. What do you do? You hold the tumbler filled with milk in one hand and the empty tumbler in the other, and slowly pour milk. The two tumblers should be held tight. If the tumbler with milk is shaking for any reason, the milk spills out. If the other tumbler is not held tight, and starts shaking, you can never collect milk. In other words, both the tumblers must be kept steady. The upper tumbler with milk is God, who should be pleased with your unflinching devotion while the lower tumbler, which represents the devotee should have unwavering faith
Q186) Swami! My mind is not steady. How am I to do bhajans? Without steadiness of the mind, what for are our bhajanas?
Bhagawan: The mind is never steady. This is natural. The body may find it easy to be steady. But, movement and running, the body finds difficult. The condition of the mind is just the opposite. The mind finds it difficult to be steady, but easy to run or waver. Body is jada, inert. But the mind is caitanya, awareness. You may lie down on your bed. But your mind will go round all places. Here, one important point is to be noted. The mind has no independent existence. It functions through the body only. The mind which goes round different places is not received and responded to by anyone. No one extends hospitality or responds to its behaviour. It has to come back to the body sometime or other. Therefore, never stop your sadhana, be it bhajan or meditation. The mind will get settled and be steady gradually. Leaves flutter due to wind currents. Once they stop, leaves become steady and motionless. The same is the case with the mind.
Q187) Swami! Some people are not putting in enough effort in matters of spirituality. They are lazy. Is it proper to be so?
Bhagawan: This is not spirituality at all. "Laziness is rust and dust; Realisation is rest and best". Man is gifted by God with body, mind and intellect for performing karma, action. It is said, Karmanubandhini manus yaloke. Human society is bound by action. Karmame karanam narunaku sukhadukhamilalo (Telugu verse). It is only action that makes you happy or unhappy. Karma is the cause of janma. For the redemption of life and following righteousness, one has to take the path of action that gives you the divine experience, brahman.
You may say that you are not doing any karma. Remember that you can't live for a moment without karma. Respiration, blood circulation etc., are actions, whether you know it or not. You eat food while it is God who digests it. One important thing is, human effort and God's grace are both equally important. These are like the positive and negative wires through which the current flows. Another example is the matchbox. In order to light a matchstick, you have to strike it against the sides of the box.
I give you another illustration in support of this. Suppose the cart in which you are traveling turns upside down. You have to get up slowly and lift a wheel to set it right. God's grace will add to your effort raising the other wheel so that the cart comes back to the normal position.
Q188) Swami! Some say that satkarma, good action is enough; some argue that puja is essential, but some hold the view that atmavidya is the only way to liberation. How are we to coordinate and integrate these three? Are these not contradictory to each other? Why should these three be prescribed?
Bhagawan: First, be very clear that they are not contradictory. Performance of good action is karma marga. The three activities you have mentioned are like three different kinds of travel by train. The first is the direct train that takes you to your destination. This is jnana marga the path of Wisdom. The other one is, the train in which you have to change to another at a railway junction, as it is not a direct train. This is karma marga the path of action.
But, there are still other trains to which the carriage you board will be connected, and you don't have to get down and change it on the way. This is bhakti marga the path of devotion. You can view these paths in this way.
Another example, a mother has three sons. She feeds the youngest, a child all by herself. But the second son is a grown up boy who will go to the kitchen straight and will have his food served by the cook. The eldest son being an adult can serve food for himself and eat it. Similar is the situation here. The youngest child stands for the path of action, the second son represents the path of devotion, while the eldest symbolises the path of wisdom.
Another example, a king had three wives. He had to be away from his kingdom longer than planned. So he sent a message to his three wives telling them that his return was delayed and also asking them to inform him as to what he should bring home for them as gifts. The first wife said that she needed nothing except his safe return. The second wife who was ailing for quite sometime wanted medicines, while the third one who was very fond of jewels wanted the latest designs to be brought. On his return, the king went straight to the first wife and stayed there. The other two wives came and pleaded with him to visit them also saying, "Oh King! Your return was already delayed. You. have been spending much time with your first wife. How about us?" The king replied, "Look! This one wanted my safe return. So I am with her. But you wanted medicines and jewels, and accordingly I sent to both of you what you had asked for." Thus, the first wife who asked for the king himself and none else stands for vairagya, renunciation. The second wife who wanted medicines represents prakrtika jnana, material knowledge, while the third one who wanted jewels symbolises prakrtika bhakti worldly devotion for worldly gains.
Therefore, different spiritual paths are prescribed and suggested considering the eligibility, temperament, suitability, capability and the samskaras, vasanas qualities of the past life of different persons.
The same thing I tell my students. There are three `W's. The first `W' indicates `work', karma marga, the second `W' means `Worship' or `Devotion', Bhakti marga and the third `W' signifies `Wisdom', jnana marga. These three are contained in the name of SAI. `S' stands for `Service (karma yoga) `A' for `Adoration' (bhakti yoga) and I for `illumination' jnana yoga).
Q189) Swami! We want to know how a true experience can be communicated.
Bhagawan: Here, there are three steps. First, you should know jnanatum , then see drastum and experience pravestum.
You know a mango. You go to the market where you see it. It is not enough. You should buy and eat it to experience the taste of it. You can describe what you know and see. But you can't convey your experience.
For instance, if you stand knee‑deep in water you can freely talk. If you stand neck deep in water, you can afford to talk. If you drown yourself totally, you can't talk. Can you? This is the state of total experience beyond expression.
Q190) Swami! What is the cause of agitation? How are we to get rid of it? What changes are needed to be free from agitation?
Bhagawan: Absence of satya, truth and dharma, righteousness is responsible for all agitation today. Therefore, people have lost peace and bliss.
Modern man has faith neither in himself nor in God. He is blind having lost the two eyes of faith. Human life without faith is a barren land. It is not man manisi (Telugu) who should change. It is the mind, manasu (Telugu), that has to change. Niti (morality), riti (conduct), and khyati (good name) are essential. Truth or satya is morality or niti, righteous conduct or dharma is the way of life or rithi while sacrifice or tyaga is the good name or khyati that you should get.
Q191) Swami! We have been thinking that all things can be achieved through Self‑confidence. In your discourses today you mentioned Self‑protection and Self‑punishment also. Kindly explain these.
Bhagawan: Quite often I mention to our boys these things ‑ Self‑confidence, Self‑satisfaction, Self- sacrifice, and Self‑realisation. In addition to these, Self‑protection and Self‑punishment too are necessary. Self‑protection is the capacity to face anything with Self‑steadfastness. Then Self-punishment involves the faculties of examining one's mistakes of one's own accord, and of refraining from those mistakes through firm resolve. Self‑punishment is holding in check through repentance, possibilities of those mistakes.
Q192) Swami! In the classes, we have learnt about self-awareness. How can our tendency be changed? Kindly teach us the appropriate technique.
Bhagawan: I asked you, "What does `self‑awareness' mean?" Someone said, "understanding". This is not the correct answer. This word can be interpreted in two ways. In the worldly sense, it refers to looking at oneself, i.e., selfishness. Knowledge concerning this can be called "self‑awareness". Spiritually, its meaning is quite different. In spiritual terms, all that is, is merely the Self. The key to all actions and all experiences lies within the Self. The body, mind, senses, and intellect are just instruments of the Self. Without the Self, these are useless. These are to the self what the head, leg, hand, and so on are to the body. Now I asked you what is meant by `tendency'. Someone replied, "attitude", and another "nature". These are not correct. It is an innate orientation. Tendency exists in man in three modes. Their names are animal tendency, human tendency, and divine tendency. Of these, the first runs after sense objects. The second is marked by discrimination, though coloured by desires. The third is totally devoid of desires, attachment, and `I' and `Mine'. There may be an attachment and sense of `I' and `mine' in life, but life is not for the pursuit of these.
You asked for an appropriate technique. When I asked for the meaning of that word, one called it `method,' and another, `procedure.' These two are not correct. The technique is vidhividhanam. What ought to be done is vidhi. How to do it is vidhanam. There is only one technique for Self‑awareness. You have to have awareness that you are the atma, the Self. I refer to it as Constant‑Integrated‑Awarensss. This Self or Atma is truly God. You are the embodiment of God. Here you should remember three things.
i) What is it that once it is had, is never lost, what is it? Jnana. In other words, when jnana occurs, that is, when there is awareness, it never is lost.
ii) What is it which once lost can never be had again? Ajnana, ignorance. When once ajnana is lost, you cannot have it again.
iii) What is it that is neither lost nor had? Brahmam, Self, Atma, this may be called `SelfAwareness.'
Q193) Swami! How are we to realise the existence of divinity, and by what intimation are we to cognise it? Swami is pleased to refer to it in the charming phrase, "Constant‑Integrated‑Awareness". How are we to achieve this Awareness?
Bhagawan: The idea that all forms and all names belong to God is verily Constant‑Integrated Awareness. The experience of sarvan visnumayam jagat, the world is pervaded by Vishnu, is but Constant‑Integrated‑Awareness. God can be experienced in any form, at any time or place.
The life of Tulasidas illustrates this beautifully. He could not recognise God even when He approached him and talked to him. One day Tulasidas sat under a tree, grinding a piece of sandalwood on a mortar to prepare the paste. Right then, two cowherd boys came there and asked him, "Grandfather! Will you give us some sandal paste?" Then, Tulasidas replied, "My children! I am preparing this for Lord Sri Ramachandramurthi". Two parrots, perched on a bough of that tree, observed this, and commented, "For whose sake is all this paste? Why doesn't he realise it?" Tulasidas heard these, words. He knew the language of the birds. The next day, while he was preparing the paste, the two cowherd boys turned up. This time, even without asking him, they took some sandal paste into their palms, applied it to the forehead, and left. Tulasidas who had noticed this was dumbfounded. This time too he heard the birds' comments from the branch of the tree, "Aha! What a wonder! Those for whom the sandal paste was prepared, had themselves come, and received it! What fortune!" As he knew the language of the birds, Tulasidas realised that the boys who had adorned themselves with the paste were, indeed, Rama and Lakshmana. Out of ignorance, he had at first denied them.
You may have heard of Vemana too. He was a thinker who belittled worship offered to stones and idols. He used to doubt, "God, who pervades the whole world, how can He be inside stone statues?" He used to make fun of idol worshippers. One day, his elder brother's daughter, whom he loved dearly, passed away. Grief‑stricken, he kept on gazing at the little girl's picture hanging on the wall. His elder brother's wife was observing all this. One day, she threw down the picture. It broke into pieces. This was too much for Vemana to bear. Then, she said, "My son! My girl is no more, isn't she? Why do you cry over a broken picture?" Vemana replied, "Mother! Though she is gone, her picture was here, wasn't it? Looking at it has been some consolation for me. That is why when it broke into pieces, I am grieving ever more." Then his elder brother's wife counselled him admirably, "My son! It is very true that God is present everywhere. But, the devotee delights in seeing Him and worshipping Him in an idol as well. Just as you consoled yourself looking at the picture even though she whom you love is no more, the devotee invokes God in an idol, and offers it worship." Straightaway Vemana grasped her message, and the secret behind idol worship. In this way, the experience of visualising the Supreme Lord in all places, times, and creatures is truly Constant-Integrated‑Awareness. This can also be called the existence and intimation of Divinity.