Tuesday, June 18, 2019

19 June

Grace Purifies the Heart

Behold the Lord's grace in every inch of his creation. On a hot summer day you enjoy the delicious sweet juice of grapes, cucumber, oranges and pomegranates and the cool Ganges water of Rishikesh and Hardwar. This is the Lord's grace. When you suffer from a serious ailment you get immediate relief and cure from herbs - this is the Lord's grace. When you walk in the dark night, the stars twinkle and throw light on your path - this is the Lord's grace. When you are unable to bear extreme pain you become unconscious - this is the Lord's grace. When the weather is sultry, a gentle breeze springs up and refreshes you - this is the Lord's grace.

The subtle forms of lust, anger, egoism, pride, etc., can only be totally destroyed through the grace of the Lord. However hard you may strive and do sadhana (spiritual practice), these subtle forms cannot be eradicated through your sadhana alone. Only the Lord's grace completely purifies your heart.

It is the Lord's grace only that stirs the aspirants to do right exertion. But do not sit idle and say: "Oh the Lord's grace will do everything for me, why should I do sadhana?" This is wrong philosophy. God helps those who help themselves. God's grace will only descend on those persons who exert themselves. You cannot expect the Lord to do self-surrender for you. Be up and doing. Strive. Plod. Persevere. The Lord will shower his grace upon you.

- - -

It is the grace of the Lord that gives rise to sincere satsankalpa (good and true thoughts and pure resolves). You can be transformed in the twinkling of an eye. One moment you may be groping in the darkness, the next moment you can attain illumination.

There is an ignition point of the soul. When it is connected, man is transformed. His life is turned from its former worldly ways into a new divine life. He is awakened spiritually.

This serenity will deepen into unshakeable peace amidst all the troubles and difficulties of life. Then only insight and intuition will dawn. Then only you will attain wisdom, perfection and freedom. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

18 June

Supreme Love is Self-Knowledge

A devotee of para bhakti type is all embracing and all inclusive. He has cosmic love and the whole world is holy for him. He does not visit temples for worship, seeing the Lord in everything. He feels that the world is a manifestation of the Lord, and that all movements and actions are his sport. He has no dislike for faecal matter or dirt, for the outcaste, the scavenger, the cobbler, the beggar, the prostitute, or the thief. He says: "I see my sweet Lord everywhere. It is Hari who is playing the part of the prostitute, the thief, the dacoit, the scavenger." He has an all embracing, all inclusive, exalted mental state. This cannot be described adequately in words, but must be felt. Mira, Gouranga, Hafiz, Tulsidas, Kabir, Ramdas - all enjoyed this state.

Namdev said to the dog: "O Vittala, my dear, in the form of a dog, do not run away with the dry bread. It will affect your soft throat. Pray let me apply ghee (clarified butter) to the bread." He ran with ghee in a cup to the dog. Sri Ramakrishna prostrated before an outcaste girl: "O Mother Kali, I see thee in this girl." Eknath, a Maharashtrian bhakta, gave his ring voluntarily to the thief when the latter entered the house. "O thief, take this ring also. Your duty is to steal things. Thou art Krishna. Keep up this sport." Have you understood the sublime state of these exalted bhaktas who had a new angle of vision? A day will come to you also. Exert and struggle.

Para bhakti is self-knowledge only. Sri Shankara, who was established in the wisdom of pure non-dualism, was a great bhakta of Lord Hari and Devi. Sri Ramakrishna worshipped Kali and obtained self-knowledge through Swami Totapuri, his guru. Appayya Dikshitar was a devout bhakta of Lord Shiva. Para bhakti and self-knowledge are one. The only slight difference is that a bhakta uses his emotion, while a sage of wisdom uses his will and intellect. Bhakti begins with love, while jnana or self-knowledge begins with thinking and self-analysis. The end of both is the same, union with the divine. 

Sunday, June 16, 2019

17 June

God-Realisation

Divine love overflows to others once it has filled your heart. Love God with all your heart - and your neighbour as yourself - this is the secret of God-realisation. Love breaks down all barriers. Love is an open sesame to an infinite realm of bliss immortal. The learned talk of God but the poor love Him in their hearts.

Beyond logic, beyond intellect, beyond reason is the feeling of love and the embodiment of love   which is God. Argue not. Realise Him. Talk to Him with the language of the heart.
Do not gauge the Lord's love and mercy by the material prosperity He gives you. Infinitely more valuable is the spiritual treasure He bestows upon His true devotee. Love is the dew drop of divine grace.

Cosmic love is the threshold to the limitless domain of Brahmic bliss. Cosmic love is synonymous with supreme self-sacrifice or egolessness. In all beings lives the one God   the Supreme Being, the eternal Lord. Therefore bow to all beings with reverence, faith and devotion.

Feel that another's difficulty is yours and relieve him of his difficulty. Then alone you will grow in cosmic love. Love is an actual substance that you can use with confidence. Love is a positive, concrete thing.

Love vibrates in the form of service, charity, generosity and benevolence. There is unity of life. Love of one's Self is the true love of all life. All patriotism, love of one's own nation, one's own race, one's own religion, are but limited kinds of love. Human love is but the stepping stone to divine or universal love.

Love all. Behold the one common consciousness that indwells all beings, that is immanent in all names and forms. Spread the message of divine love, light and worship wherever you go. Love knows no fear. Love is the greatest power.

Love is the divine force of this universe. The purer you make your heart, the greater will be the power of your love. Be kind, be compassionate, be humble, be tolerant, be good, be just, be natural. Love the eternal in every being. Make no distinctions between one being and another. 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

16 June

I Am Thine, O Lord

Do not bother about taking care of your body. God will save it if he needs it for further service. Surrender it at his feet and rest in peace. He will take care of it. A real devotee says, "Let me take millions of births; it does not matter, but let me be attached to the lotus feet of Lord Hari. Let me have spontaneous devotion to the Lord. Let me be endowed with purity, spiritual strength, the spirit of selfless service and other divine virtues."

If you simply say without real inner feeling, "I am thine, O Lord," this will not constitute real integral self-surrender. This should come right from the core of your heart. You must be prepared for a radical change. You should not stick to your old habits, ways and motives. You should not expect that everything should happen in the way you want. You should live to carry on the divine purpose. You should not think of those ambitions which the mind likes to gratify. You should not think of using divine grace or the divine force for your own purposes - then the irrepressible ego will assert itself in various ways and refuse to give up its old habits.

The ego tries to get everything from the divine but it totally declines to give itself to the divine. That is the reason why aspirants do not make any substantial progress on the spiritual path even after doing sadhana (spiritual practice) for several years.

There is no loss in self surrender. You get from the Lord everything. You enjoy all the divine aishvarya (wealth of divine attributes) of the Lord. The whole wealth of the Lord belongs to you. Siddhis and riddhis (psychic powers) will roll under your feet. You become one with the Lord. You are freed from all wants and desires and cravings. The spiritually hungry and the really thirsty aspirant who yearns for the vision of the Lord, turns towards the divine and is quite willing, eager and happy to consecrate his body, life and mind and soul at the feet of the Lord.

The first stage of self surrender is only a firm resolve to surrender oneself to God, or to his preceptor. A sadhaka (seeker) who has dedicated his life for the service of his teacher or the service of humanity or for attaining Self-realisation, is not bound by the actions he performs subsequent to his self-surrender.

Self-surrender becomes perfect only after God-realisation.

Friday, June 14, 2019

15 June

Surrender

Surrender is isvarapranidhana. The devotee consecrates all his works and their fruits to the Lord. He has no will of his own. He says unto the Lord, "I am thine. All is thine. Thy will be done. Thou art just. Thou doest everything for me. I am an instrument in thy hands."

In surrendering one's will to the Lord, his will becomes one with the cosmic will. He becomes one with the Lord. There is no loss in surrendering one's will to the Lord.

Self-surrender is atma nivedana, or prapatti. This is the highest bhakti (devotion). The gopis of Vrindavan, Radha and Mira surrendered everything at the feet of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna was their all. In Kathopanishad it is said, "The Lord chooses that man who has surrendered himself, reveals himself unto him and bestows the highest wisdom on him." 

The two obstacles to self-surrender are egoism and desire. Egoism and desire wage guerrilla war. They assume various forms and assail the devotee again and again. Be on the alert. Be ever vigilant. Slay the egoism and desires beyond resurrection. Then alone will you be safe.

Your sadhana shakti (ability to practise) is grace of the Lord. Guru is grace of the Lord. Sticking to the spiritual path is grace of the Lord. Progress in sadhana is grace of the Lord. Revelation or intuition is grace of the Lord. Descent of divine light is grace of the Lord. Human birth is Lord's grace. All sorts of aids to sadhana you get such as kutir (cottage), food, clothing, medical aid, good place for meditation, books, satsanga (good company), etc., are his grace only.

- - -

It is difficult to eradicate the self-assertive nature. Every man has built his personality from the beginning of time. He has allowed the rajasic (impure) mind to have its own way. This personality has grown very strong, it is hard to make it pliable and elastic. The self-assertive man wants to dominate over others; he does not want to hear the opinions of others, even though they may be sound, logical and tenable. 

Thursday, June 13, 2019

14 June

The Nature of Surrender

In atma nivedana (self-surrender) the devotee offers everything to God, including his body, mind and soul. He keeps nothing for himself. He has no personal, independent existence. He has become part and parcel of God. God takes care of him and God treats him as Himself. Grief and sorrow, pleasure and pain, the devotee treats these as gifts sent by God and does not attach himself to them. He considers himself a puppet, as an instrument in the hands of God. He does not feel egoistic, for he has no ego   his ego has gone over to God.

This devotee does not feel it is his duty to look after his wife, children etc., for he himself has no independent existence apart from God. God will take care of all, for He knows how to lead the world in the right path. He has no sensual craving, for he has no body; it has been offered to God. He only feels the presence of God and nothing else. He has no enemies or friends, for he has given himself up to God who has no enemies or friends. He has no anxiety, for he has attained everything by attaining the grace of God. He does not even have the thought of salvation - he merely wants God and nothing but God.

This devotee is satisfied with the love of God, for by that there is nothing that is not attained. What is there to attain when God has sent his grace upon the devotee? The devotee does not want to become sugar but to taste the sugar - there is pleasure in tasting sugar but not in becoming sugar itself. So the devotee feels that there is supreme joy more in loving God than in becoming God. "I am Thine", says this devotee, knowing that God will take complete care of him.

Mira abandoned everything. She renounced her kingdom, husband, relatives, friends and property. She remembered Lord Krishna all day and all night. She shed tears of love (prema). She sang His name with devotion. She gave up eating food and her body became emaciated. Her mind was ever absorbed in Lord Krishna. Only then did Lord Krishna shower His grace upon her.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

13 June

God as Master and Friend

Dasya bhakti is love of God as the servant of God. To serve God and to carry out his wishes - realising his virtues, his nature, his mystery and his glory and considering oneself as a slave of the supreme master - this is dasya bhakti. Serving and worshipping the murtis (images) in the temples, sweeping the temples, meditating on God and serving Him like a slave (mentally), serving the saints and the sages, serving the devotees of God, serving the poor and the sick, is also included in dasya bhakti.

To follow the words of the scriptures, to act according to the injunctions of the vedas considering them to be direct words of God, is dasya bhakti. Association with and service of love intoxicated devotees and service of those who have knowledge of God, is dasya bhakti. The purpose of this is to be ever with God, in order to offer your services to him and win his divine grace and thereby attain immortality.

Arjuna prays with the sentiment of a servant and a disciple in order to get the grace of Lord Krishna: "O Lord, I am your disciple. I have taken refuge in you. Teach me." The aspirant should completely give himself up to God and should not retain any personal reservations. Ananya bhakti is total relinquishment of the self to God.

Sakhya bhava is the cultivation of the friend-sentiment with God. The Bhagavatam says: "Oh how wonderful is the fortune of the people of Vraja, of cowherd Nanda, whose dear friend is the perfect, eternal Brahman or absolute bliss." 

To be always with the Lord, to treat him as one's own dear relative or friend, belonging to one's own family, to be in his company at all times, to love him as one's own self, is sakhya bhava of bhakti marga (the path of devotion). The devotee takes up with eagerness any work of the Lord, leaving aside even the most important and urgent and pressing personal work, and totally concerning himself with the love of the Lord. How do real friends love in this world? What an amount of love passes between them. Such love is developed for God - physical love is turned into spiritual love. There is a transformation of the mundane into the eternal.

It is a great pity that sakhi bhava (the attitude of God's beloved) is misunderstood. The jiva chaitanya (individual soul) is the real sakhi. Sakhi bhava is purely an internal state, not a mere external show. The individual soul is united with the supreme soul by self-surrender. The lover and the beloved become one. This is the acme of bhakti. This is the culminating point. Bhakti begins with two and ends with one.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

12 June

Prostration

Vandana is prayer and prostration. Humble prostration   touching the earth with eight limbs of the body, with faith and reverence, before a form of God, or prostration to all beings, knowing them to be the forms of the one God, getting absorbed in divine love of the Lord - is termed prostration to God.

The Bhagavatam says: "The sky, air, fire, water, earth, stars, planets, cardinal points, trees, rivers, seas and all living beings constitute the body of God. The devotee should bow before everything in absolute devotion, thinking that he is bowing before God Himself".


Sri Krishna says to Uddhava: "Giving no attention to people who laugh in ridicule, forgetting the body, and insensible to shame, one should fall prostrate on the ground, bowing to all beings even down to the dog, the cow and the ass." Doing prostrations to others makes a man humble.

If a man entertains Narayana bhava (feeling the presence of God in all) when he does prostrations, this will help him to realise that whatever he sees is God, that there is nothing but God, that the manifestation is the virat (cosmic) aspect of Brahman. This will help to develop devotion. Always feel that you are prostrating to the Lord himself - all living creatures, all objects, are forms of God only.

May you all attain God consciousness through the practice of prema (love) yoga. May your heart be filled with prema for the Lord. May the blessings of the Lord be upon you all. May you shine as bhagavatas, singing the Lord's name, disseminating divine prema and radiating joy, peace and bliss everywhere.


SIVA'S FINAL TEACHING

Purify your heart through selfless service,
Be devoted to the Lord and obtain his grace,
Through japa (repetition of God's name), kirtan (chanting), prayer and self-surrender.
Practise asanas (postures), pranayama (yoga breathing), etc.
Abandon egoism, desire, anger and greed.
Control all the senses.
Cultivate discrimination and dispassion.
Practise the four means.
Hear the shrutis (scriptures).
Reflect and meditate ceaselessly.
You will attain Self-realisation.

Monday, June 10, 2019

11 June

Worship (…continued)

A devotee repeats the mantra (mystic formula) of the Lord during worship and touches his heart, his head, tuft of hair, arms and hands. There is chaitanya (consciousness, power) in every letter of the mantra. Through repetition of the mantra and the touching of the parts of the body with the repetition of the mantra, the aspirant is gradually divinised. There is spiritual awakening. Spiritual currents are generated - tamas (inertia) and rajas (impurity) are destroyed and he is filled with pure satva (purity). He becomes identical with the object of worship. He attains the same world of, or proximity with, or the same form of, or absorption into, the Lord.

For a sage there is no such thing as insentient matter. Everything is Vasudeva or chaitanya. The devotee actually beholds the Lord in the idol. But the worship does not stop there. The sadhaka (seeker) is taken step by step to higher stages of devotion and samadhi (or communion) through the worship of the idol. Though he worships the idol, he has to keep before his mental eye the all-pervading Lord. He has to feel the Lord's presence in his heart and in all objects also.

The ways and rules of worship, described in the Hindu scriptures are scientifically accurate and highly rational. It is only ignorant people who have not studied the scriptures, who have not associated with the devotees and great souls, that vilify worship of idols or murtis.

The aspirant who worships the idol in the beginning, beholds the Lord everywhere and develops para bhakti (supreme devotion); he beholds the whole world as the Lord. All ideas of good and bad, right and wrong, etc., vanish. His vision baffles description. Glory to such exalted devotees who are veritable gods on earth, who live to lift others from the quagmire of samsara (world existence) and save them from the clutches of death.

Tulsidas realised the all-pervading essence. He had cosmic consciousness. He communed with the all-pervading, formless Lord. And yet his passion for Lord Rama, with bow in hand, did not vanish. When he went to Brindavan, and saw the murti of Lord Krishna, with flute in hand, he said: "I will not bow my head to this form". At once the form of Lord Krishna assumed the form of Lord Rama. Then only Tulsidas bowed his head. Mira also realised her identity with the all-pervading Krishna and yet she never tired of repeating, again and again, "My Giridhar Nagar".

Sunday, June 9, 2019

10 June

Worship (continued...)

One can realise God through worship of murti (or idol). The worship of the Lord in saguna (concrete) form is a great aid for vedantic realisation also, and for the realisation of the Lord in His all-pervading, formless aspect. The worship of the murti is very essential for the purpose of concentration and meditation in the beginning. Such worship is not in any way a hindrance to the attainment of God consciousness. Those who vehemently attack murti puja (worship) are groping in the darkness of extreme ignorance. They have no real knowledge. They enter into vain debates to show that they are learned persons and have not done any sadhana (spiritual practice). Idle talking is their real profession. They have unsettled the minds of countless persons. The whole world worships symbols and murtis in some form or other. As one advances in meditation, the form melts into the formless and the aspirant becomes one with the formless essence.

Empty vessels only make sound. A practical man who does meditation and worship, who is full of knowledge and real devotion, keeps always silence. He influences and teaches others through silence. He only knows whether a murti is necessary in the beginning or not.

- - -

Prasada is 'that which gives peace'. During kirtan (chanting), worship (puja, havan and arati), milk, sweets and fruit are offered to the Lord. Puja is done with bael (wood apple) leaves, flowers, tulsi (basil), sacred ash, and these are later given as prasada from the Lord. They are charged with mysterious powers, by the chanting of mantras (sacred hymns) during puja and havan (worship with the fire as the sacred symbol).

Prasada is a great purifier. Prasada is a panacea for all ills; it is a spiritual elixir. Prasada is the grace of the Lord. It is an embodiment of shakti (divine energy). Prasada is divinity in manifestation. Many sincere aspirants get wonderful experiences from prasada alone. Many incurable illnesses are cured by prasada alone. Prasada energises, vivifies, invigorates and infuses devotion. It should be taken with great faith. Those brought up in modern education and culture have forgotten the glory of prasada. Prasada gives good health, long life, peace and prosperity to all. The sacred ash is the prasada of Lord Siva. It is applied to the forehead. Kumkum (vermilion powder) is the prasada of Sri Devi or Shakti. It is applied at the space between the eyebrows.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

9 June

Worship

An idol (murti or vigraha), sun, fire, water, Ganges, saligram (symbol of Vishnu), linga (symbol of Siva), are all symbols of God which help the aspirants to attain one pointedness of mind and purity of heart. A symbol is absolutely indispensable for fixing the mind. The Christians also have the symbol - the cross. A gross mind needs a concrete symbol; a subtle mind needs an abstract symbol. Even a vedantin has the symbol Om for fixing the wandering mind. In the beginning concentration or meditation is not possible without a symbol.

The mind is disciplined in the beginning by fixing the mind on a concrete object or symbol. Later, when it has been rendered steady and subtle, it can be fixed on an abstract idea such as 'Aham Brahma Asmi' (I am the infinite).

The devotee superimposes, on the concrete idol, the Lord and his attributes. He does sodasopacara puja for the idol - the sixteen kinds of respect or service of the Lord. This consists of padyam (water for washing the feet), arghyam (water to wash hands), asana (seat), snana (bathing), offering of clothing, applying sandal paste, offering flowers (arcan), burning incense, waving of lights and camphor, food offering (maha naivedyam), etc. The wandering mind is fixed now in this form of worship. The aspirant gradually feels the nearness of the Lord. He attains purity of heart and slowly annihilates his egoism.

He who has done puja (worship) with flowers and other articles of worship for some time, can take to mental worship. In mental puja the devotee offers all offerings to the Lord mentally. This is an advanced form of worship. It purifies the heart and steadies the mind. It fills the mind with pure love for the Lord and gradually transmutes man into a divine being.

Even in worshipping a small idol, he has to repeat the Purusha Sukta (a sacred hymn) and to think of the virat purusha (cosmic form) - with countless heads, countless eyes, countless hands, who extends beyond the universe and also of the Lord or Atman who dwells in the hearts of all.

The aspirant gradually begins to feel that the Lord he worships is in the idol, in the hearts of all creatures and in the names and forms of all in this universe. He begins to feel His presence everywhere.

Friday, June 7, 2019

8 June

Service of God

Padasevana is serving the Lord's feet. Actually this can be done only by Lakshmi or Parvati. No mortal being has got the fortune to practise this method of bhakti (devotion), for the Lord is not visible to the physical eyes.

However, it is possible to serve the image of God in idols and, better still, by taking the whole of humanity as God. Padasevana is service of the sick, service of the poor - service of the whole of humanity at large. Service of the Lord's feet can be done through formal worship to murtis (or idols) or to a mental image of God.

Observing the sacred feet of the Lord, again and again, with devotional and eager eyes, worshipping them, serving them, sipping the sacred water with which the Lord's feet have been washed, worshipping the wooden sandals of the Lord, meditating on them, praying to them, taking the dust of the Lord's feet and applying it to the forehead, washing the heart with the dust of the Lord's feet, respecting the holy shrines and places of pilgrimage and places where God incarnated himself for the good of humanity, regarding the Ganges as directly flowing from the feet of the Lord, worshipping, bathing in and drinking of such divine water of the Ganges   all these are different forms of serving the Lord's feet. This kind of devotion destroys all worldly attachments and allows the mind to think exclusively of God.

- - -

Worship God. Praise him. Seek enlightenment. Realise divine bliss. Do not put any conditions to God - worship for worship's sake. In worship the sense of individuality is lost in contemplation of the object worshipped.

To gaze at the divine pictures even for some moments daily is a great blessing. It will purify your mind. Meditation is mental worship of the Lord. Singing the Lord's name (or kirtan) is vocal worship. Service of living beings with love and bhava, is physical worship. If the worshipper of the deity thinks that he is separate from the deity, he is a beast. Devout worship of the Lord's lotus feet means perfect freedom from all fear.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

16 June

I Am Thine, O Lord

Do not bother about taking care of your body. God will save it if he needs it for further service. Surrender it at his feet and rest in peace. He will take care of it. A real devotee says, "Let me take millions of births; it does not matter, but let me be attached to the lotus feet of Lord Hari. Let me have spontaneous devotion to the Lord. Let me be endowed with purity, spiritual strength, the spirit of selfless service and other divine virtues."

If you simply say without real inner feeling, "I am thine, O Lord," this will not constitute real integral self-surrender. This should come right from the core of your heart. You must be prepared for a radical change. You should not stick to your old habits, ways and motives. You should not expect that everything should happen in the way you want. You should live to carry on the divine purpose. You should not think of those ambitions which the mind likes to gratify. You should not think of using divine grace or the divine force for your own purposes - then the irrepressible ego will assert itself in various ways and refuse to give up its old habits.

The ego tries to get everything from the divine but it totally declines to give itself to the divine. That is the reason why aspirants do not make any substantial progress on the spiritual path even after doing sadhana (spiritual practice) for several years.

There is no loss in self surrender. You get from the Lord everything. You enjoy all the divine aishvarya (wealth of divine attributes) of the Lord. The whole wealth of the Lord belongs to you. Siddhis and riddhis (psychic powers) will roll under your feet. You become one with the Lord. You are freed from all wants and desires and cravings. The spiritually hungry and the really thirsty aspirant who yearns for the vision of the Lord, turns towards the divine and is quite willing, eager and happy to consecrate his body, life and mind and soul at the feet of the Lord.

The first stage of self surrender is only a firm resolve to surrender oneself to God, or to his preceptor. A sadhaka (seeker) who has dedicated his life for the service of his teacher or the service of humanity or for attaining Self-realisation, is not bound by the actions he performs subsequent to his self-surrender.

Self-surrender becomes perfect only after God-realisation. 

7 June

Test of Sincerity

Essentially, prayer should be selfless as far as possible. We should first pray for the good of others, for the welfare and peace of the world and for our own spiritual evolution. We should pray for the eradication of our evil qualities, for wisdom and knowledge, for goodness and saintliness.

An aspirant should always pray for the removal of his ignorance. His goal is to realise the truth and to free himself from the meshes of those things that are unreal. His goal is to realise his essential divine nature.

At times even sincere prayer is not responded to, but this should not be allowed to mar our faith or sincerity or to discourage or depress us. It should be considered as a necessity, as a test of our sincerity, our serenity and our faith in God.

At times this irresponse is often repeated. The devotee becomes bewildered; he begins to lose faith in God; he may even be diverted from the path. Indeed it is here we must show our patience, our steadfastness and our faith in his grace. God often tests us with severest trials but does it mean that he is unkind, that he does not wish to pay heed to our prayers? Obviously not. It is a test that the aspirant must pass through. His faith may not be strong enough; the dross of his mind may not have been cleaned yet; his heart may not be pure yet.

How can the aspirant strengthen his faith? How can he cleanse his mind? How can he purify his heart? Only through tests, trials, tribulations. Just as gold is purified by passing it through the crucible several times, so also the heart must become pure, the faith must become unflinching, through passing through the crucible of trials again and again.

But at the ultimate end all prayers are fulfilled and gratified with the highest fulfilment. Therefore when we pray to God or wish to receive grace from him, we must be prepared to accept joyfully his irresponse and the trials and tribulations.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

6 June

Prayer

As children we pray to our parents, elders and guardians at the time of our need. We seek their help and guidance. When we grow into adolescence we learn to pray to ourselves   to our latent abilities and strength. We try not to be dependent on others. But there is a limitation to this prayer. So when we feel we are in need of something else, something beyond our capacity, we resign ourselves to God and pray for His help and guidance. Evidently we feel His response - an all potent inner force that listens to our prayers and fulfils our wishes the moment we are a little sincere and faithful.

As for the devotee, he resigns himself to God - surrendering his ego at His feet. He forgets all about the world and thinks of nothing else but God alone who would surely save him and who alone would be able to help and guide him. He communes his will with God's and acts as per His guidance. There is no sense of individuality or doer ship in him. He knows that God's will is his will and that he must act up to it. Does that mean that he is devoid of self-effort? Certainly not. For he negates himself and resigns himself to the Lord. To him flows the divine grace instantly. His nature is divinised and so he naturally exerts himself in the right direction. Indeed the very act of self-surrender is purushartha (self-effort) of the highest order.

For the vedantin however, his prayer is essentially the prayer to the Self within   to himself   to the cosmic consciousness that is immanent in all. In the initial stage he considers his prayer as a sort of desire - either earthly or spiritual - either with motive or without motive. Then when he advances sufficiently in his sadhana (practice) he considers his (so called) desire as divine will, which finally opens his intuitive spiritual sight and becomes one with the cosmic will.

- - -

The power of prayer is indescribable. Its glory is ineffable. Only sincere devotees realise its usefulness and splendour. Prayer should be done with reverence, faith and non-expectation of fruits. It should be done with a heart full of devotion. O ignorant man: Do not argue about the efficacy of prayer. You will be deluded. There is no arguing in spiritual matters. Intellect is a finite and frail instrument. Do not trust this.

Remove the darkness of your ignorance now, through the light of prayer.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

5 June

Selfless Prayer

According to Ghazali, the Muslim, prayer has three stages: verbal, mental and when merging with the Lord's will. At the first stage the devotee sings the glory of God, chants his praises and pours out the anguish of his heart in melodious hymns. Secondly, when the mind becomes calm, when the outgoing senses have been restrained by sustained practices, when the mind cannot be easily affected by evil influences, prayer becomes mental. There, no physical effort is needed. At the third stage, when the mind gets concentrated in the divine, when it loses its outward attraction and becomes serene, devoid of desires or cravings, then prayer becomes automatic, natural and habitual.

This is the highest stage   the Lord's will has become his own will. For God, who is invoked by his prayer, merges in his mind and in his will. There is no self-consciousness for him   he abides in the Lord   his mind entirely saturated with God. He perceives nothing external nor anything internal. He even forgets that he is praying to the Lord, or that he is absorbed in the Lord's will. There is a vague sense of duality but he has only one experience and that is his oneness with the Lord.

Prayer is full of emotions: deep, serene emotions filled with sincerity. But when there is too much emotion and not so much natural sincerity, then prayer becomes rather jejunical and therefore ineffective. Then we do not receive a direct response from God.

Prayer has its consequences. The nature of its response mainly depending on the inner nature of the person who prays   his temperament, his object in view, his requirements, his faith and his sincerity. These are the sine qua non of prayer.

DO YOU WANT GOD?

Do you really want God? Do you really thirst for his vision (darshana)? Have you got real spiritual hunger? You may deliver thrilling lectures on bhakti (devotion), you may write volumes on bhakti   and yet you may not possess a grain of true devotion. He who thirsts for the darshana of God will develop bhakti. If there is a sincere demand for God, then the supply must come. By regular sadhana (practice) may you attain peace, bliss, knowledge, perfection and God-realisation.

Monday, June 3, 2019

4 June

Prayer is Spiritual Food

Prayer elevates, inspires, redeems. Through prayer divine grace and divine light descend. Prayer is spiritual food for the soul. Prayer is a spiritual tonic. Prayer is a master key to open the realms of Elysian bliss. Prayer helps the devotee to be in tune with the infinite. Prayer should come from the inner recesses of the heart - then it will be heard at once.

Prayer works wonders. Its power is ineffable. Through prayer the devotee sits by the side of the Lord. Prayer expands and purifies the heart. Prayer is a strong spiritual injection. It fills the heart with immense power and strength.

Every religion has its own prayer. Pray in the early morning - it is more effective. Let prayer become habitual pray at all times. Pray not for wealth, position, wife and children, success in lotteries or horse racing - ask for darshan (vision) of the Lord. Pray for devotion and communion.

Recite the beautiful Upanishadic prayer morning and night: "Asatoma sat gamaya, tamasoma jyotir gamaya, mrtyorma amrtam gamaya" - "Lead me on from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from mortality to immortality." 

During mass prayer a huge spiritual current is generated.

Gayatri japa is a prayer   the devotee asks for illumination of the intellect, so that he can know his real, essential, divine nature. This is an unselfish prayer Mrityunjaya mantra also is a prayer. It is a prayer to the Lord Siva. The devotee asks: "Free me from bondage and death make me immortal". 

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Om bhur bhuvah svah tat savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yo nah pracodayat 
(Gayatri Mantra)

"Let us meditate on the glory of Ishvara, who has created this universe, who is fit to be worshipped, who is the remover of all sins and ignorance. May He enlighten our intellect". 

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Om tryambakam yajamahe sugandhim pustivardhanam
urvarukamiva bandhanan mrtyor muksiya mamrtat 
(Mrityunjaya Mantra)

"We worship the three eyed one (Lord Siva), who is fragrant and who nourishes well all beings. May He liberate us from death for the sake of immortality, even as the cucumber is severed from its bondage (to the creeper)".

Sunday, June 2, 2019

3 June


The Power of Prayer

Prayer elevates the mind. It fills the mind with purity. It is associated with praise of God. It keeps the mind in tune with God. Prayer can reach a realm where reason dare not enter. Prayer can work miracles. Prayer frees the devotee from the fear of death. It makes him feel nearer to God; it makes him feel the divine presence everywhere. Prayer awakens the divine consciousness in him and makes him feel his essential immortal and blissful nature.

Prayer has a tremendous influence. If the prayer is sincere and if it proceeds from the bottom of your heart (antarika), it will at once melt the heart of the Lord. Sri Krishna had to run bare foot from Dwaraka on hearing the heart felt prayer of Draupadi. You all know this. Lord Hari, the mighty ruler of this universe apologised before Prahlada for coming a little late, when the latter prayed. How merciful and loving is the Lord.

Say even once, from the bottom of your heart: "O Lord, I am thine. Thy will be done. Have mercy on me. I am thy servant and devotee. Forgive. Guide. Protect. Enlighten." Have a meek, receptive attitude of mind. Have bhava in your heart. Your prayer is at once heard and responded to. Do this in the daily battle of life and realise for yourself the high efficacy of prayer.

Prayer is the first important limb of yoga. Preliminary spiritual sadhana or practice is prayer. God helps even a dacoit (robber) when he prays. Pray to God for purity, devotion, light and knowledge. You will get all these things.

Get up early in the morning and repeat some prayers for getting mental and physical brahmacharya (purity). Pray in any manner you like. Become as simple as a child. Freely open the chambers of your heart. Sincere devotees know well the high efficacy of prayers.
Pray fervently, right now, from this very second. Do not delay friend; that 'tomorrow' may never come.

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"O Lord, I do not know what I should ask thee. Thou only knowest what I want. I surrender myself unto thee. I open my heart unto thee. Thou art merciful and omniscient. Thou knowest the interior of my heart. Let me accomplish thy will. Make me a fit instrument for thy unhampered play (lila). Prostrations unto thee."

Saturday, June 1, 2019

2 June

Singing God's Name

Bhakti (devotion) in essence is twofold. On the one hand there is an intense attachment towards God, nurtured by deep emotion and, on the other, an earnest urge of love for him. When these two elements are combined we find bhakti to be either an attachment emerging out of love or love manifesting itself as attachment.

The essential feature in bhakti is that this feeling is in relation to the highest   the supreme lovable one who is real and imperishable   and not in relation to the objects of the world that are transitory and therefore unreal. Such love or devotion assumes various forms of expression and goes by different names. Narration in poetry or prose, singing the glory of the Lord, and more popularly, singing the name of the Lord, are some of them.

A harmonious, rhythmical note produces a distinctive image. This is not imagination   for every sound, there is a particular image. It has been scientifically proved that certain sounds produce certain particular figures over some distinct surface. So it is reasonable to believe that the respective names of God, associated with their respective forms, can also produce their images on the mental surface. Through continuous repetition, the name forms a deep rooted impression in the mind of the repetitioner, who ultimately attains God vision.

God and his name are identical and inseparable. He dwells where his name is sung. The whole atmosphere is sanctified by his name   peace, purity and bliss prevail there. His name carries the message of love. His name frees the soul from affliction, unrest and bondage. His name knows no barriers, no distinctions. His name purifies the vicious lower self and elevates it to sublimity, to universal consciousness and transcendent God head.

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Bhajana is meditation on God. Life without bhajana of some sort is useless, my dear friends. Life without worship is dull, dreary. It is a mere burden on this earth. All religionists do their own bhajana in their own way. The goal is the same; the paths are different. The object of doing worship is to attain infinite, eternal peace, immortality and freedom from the wheel of birth and death.

Friday, May 31, 2019

1 June

Unflinching Devotion

When you repeat the Lord's name you must evince unflinching devotion from the bottom of your heart devotion to God, without love for any other object. You must drive off all worldly thoughts from your mind. Fill the mind with thoughts of God and God alone. You must struggle. You must exert hard. Remain absorbed in him.

If you love Krishna, then love Him alone till the end. Just as you see wood alone in the chair, table, bench, stick, cupboard etc., see the antaratma (the hidden indwelling self) - Krishna alone - in flowers, trees, fruits, tumblers and all objects. This is ananya bhakti (total devotion). This is para (supreme) bhakti.

Just as you remember all the qualities of your son when you think of his name, so too you should remember the qualities of God   omnipotence, omniscience etc., when you think of his own name.

When you repeat the mantra, have satvic bhava or shuddha bhava (the pure mental attitude). Bhava comes slowly when the purification process goes on. Even mere mechanical repetition has an effect, a very great effect. The vibration in the mind set up by the repetition purifies the chitta (mind stuff) and brings chitta shuddi (purity of mind).

A beginner should have a japa mala or rosary. Later on he can take recourse to manasika japa (mental repetition). If a man repeats his mantra for six hours daily, his heart will be purified quickly. He can feel the purity. Have great faith in your guru mantra (the mantra learnt from your guru) and keep it a secret.

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Constant repetition of the mantra with faith, devotion, purity and one pointed mind awakens the mantra chaitanya (the dynamic consciousness of the mantra latent in the mantra, and bestows mantra siddhi (perfection or psychic power inherent in the mantra) on the aspirant   illumination, freedom, peace, eternal bliss and immortality. The repetition of the mantra again and again generates a great spiritual force and momentum and intensifies the spiritual samskaras or impressions.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

31 May

The Supreme Remedy

When allopathy, homeopathy, chromopathy, naturopathy, ayurvedapathy and all other 'pathies' fail to cure a disease, the divine namapathy alone can save you. The name of the Lord is a sovereign specific, a sheet anchor, an infallible panacea and a cure all for all diseases. It is an ideal or supreme 'pick me up' in gloom and despair, in depression and sorrow, in the daily battle of life or the struggle for existence. There is a mysterious power in the name. There is an inscrutable shakti (power) in God's name! All the divine potencies are hidden in the Lord's name. It is the cream or the quintessence of Chyavana Prasha, Makaradhwaji almonds, Vasanta Kusumakara or Svarna Bhasma or gold oxide. It is a mysterious, ineffable divine injection.

You can take this medicine or nama japa (repetition of God's name) yourself, for curing any disease. You can administer this marvellous medicine to other patients also in your house or elsewhere. Sit by the side of the patient and repeat, with sincere devotion and faith, the name of the Lord, like Hari Om, Sri Ram, Om Namah Shivaya, and sing his names also: "Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare; Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare". Pray for his mercy and grace. All maladies and agonies will come to an end. Do the treatment of nama japa for at least two hours in the morning and evening. You will find the miraculous effect within a short time. Both the doctor and the patient should have perfect faith in the Lord's name, his mercy and grace. The real doctor is only Lord Narayana. Lord Dhanvantari, the physician of the three worlds (who expounded the ayurvedic medical science), has himself declared: "By the medicine of the repetition of the names, Achyuta, Ananta, Govinda, all diseases are cured   this is my definite and honest declaration." In all treatments, Lord Narayana is the real doctor. You find that even the world's best doctors fail to cure a dying king. You might have also heard of many instances where patients ailing from the worst type of diseases are cured miraculously, where even the ablest doctors have declared the case hopeless. This itself is clear proof that there is the divine hand behind all cures.

The divine name will eradicate the disease of birth and death and bestow on you moksha, liberation or immortality.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

30 May

Forget the Body

He who does sankirtan (same as kirtan: chanting) forgets the body and the world. Sankirtan brings super-intuitional knowledge. Sankirtan brings darshan (vision) of God or attainment of divine consciousness in this Kali Yuga (dark age). It develops love. It is the easiest, surest, safest, quickest way for attaining God-realisation.

Those who do sankirtan in the beginning, for the sake of mental enjoyment, will realise the purificatory effects of sankirtan after some time and then they will do it with bhava (devotion) and shraddha (faith). There is a mysterious power in the name of the Lord. Man cannot live by bread alone but he can live on the name of the Lord.

The harmonious vibrations produced by the singing of the names of the Lord help the devotees to control their minds easily. They produce a benign influence and elevate the mind at once from its old ruts, to magnanimous heights of divine splendour and glory. If one does sankirtan from the bottom of one's heart, with full bhava and prem (love) even the trees, birds and animals will respond. They will be deeply influenced. Such is the power of Sankirtan. It brings the devotee face to face with God.

The individual soul becomes one with Paramatma (the supreme soul) only through the process of evolution (ascent through different rungs of the spiritual ladder) by means of nada upasana (contemplation of mystic sound). Nada (sound) is of two kinds   gross or expressed and subtle or unexpressed. The former leads to the latter.

The union of prana with anala or fire, in the human soul, is an indispensable requisite if the individual soul wishes to unite with Brahman (infinite) or attain the highest (nirvikalpa) Samadhi. The fire of the muladhara (the lowest psychic centre) represents the RA bija (seed-mantra). It ascends to meet the prana from the brahmarandhra (the crown of the head), which represents the MA bija. The combination of RA MA is the taraka bija (the redeeming seed mantra) by which the individual soul crosses to the other shore of fearlessness and immortality and attains eternal bliss and supreme joy. Sankirtan is an easy approach to the sukshma nada (subtle sound) and eventually to the divine communion.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

29 May


Sing Without Ceasing

Akhanda kirtan is to sing the Lord's name without a break. This is a very effective spiritual sadhana (practice). There is eradication of all evil vrittis (thoughts) during this period; the mind has neither time nor opportunity to think of sensual objects during this period. This is an easy way to capture the mind. During this period the mind is filled with satva (purity) and it is filled with supreme peace and joy.

There is no yajna (sacred rite) greater than akhanda kirtan. It is specially suited to this age. It costs you nothing. During akhanda kirtan the maha mantra should be sung. One person should repeat this mantra (formula) in a melodious, sweet voice and all the others should follow him in chorus. The sixteen words, "Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare" constitute one mantra. Do not repeat or sing either "Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare"or "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare" twice.

For individual japa (repetition) and kirtan (chanting) the whole mantra should be repeated at a stretch. But during akhanda kirtan - to avoid too much strain and break - the first half of the mantra may be repeated by the person leading the group, followed by the chorus of the other half. Some people cannot sing even half the mantra without a break. They should train themselves to sing one half without a break in the middle. Especially those who lead the kirtan should take care of this point, otherwise it is not akhanda kirtan.

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Open the doors of your heart. Let the lightning spark of love arise in your heart. Let love pierce you through and through. Let heart sing to heart. Let your soul mix with the supreme soul. Let the heart lotus blossom and waft its sweet divine fragrance. Let the divine thrill strike the strings of your heart. Let the tears flow down your cheeks. Let the divine ecstasy fill your whole being.

Lord Hari is an ocean of mercy. He has boundless love for his devotees. He is the purifier of the sinful and the fallen.

Collect the dissipated rays of the mind. Become serene. Repeat God's name. Your happiness will know no bounds, God will dwell in your heart.

May Lord Narayana take you to his bosom and bathe you in the sacred waters of divine love and transcendental bliss.

Monday, May 27, 2019

28 May

Sankirtan is Spiritual Food

People do sankirtan with surprising enthusiasm and vigour for a year or two but after that they become slothful and torpid. The same zeal should be kept up throughout life. Just as food and drink are not dispensed with, even for one day, so also sankirtan should not be stopped even for a day. Sankirtan is indeed a spiritual food. Nay, it is a physical and mental tonic as well. You can live on sankirtan.

When you sing Lord Hari's name, feel that the Lord is seated in your heart, that every name of the Lord is filled with divine potencies, that the old, vicious samskaras (habits) and vasanas (tendencies) are burnt with the power of the name, that the mind is filled with purity, that rajas (passion) and tamas (inertia) are completely destroyed, that the veil of ignorance is torn down. Meditate on His form and His attributes - then only you will attain the maximum benefits of sankirtan.

Kirtan is singing the Lord's glories. The devotee is thrilled with divine emotion. He loses himself in the love for God. He weeps in the middle when thinking of the glory of God. His voice becomes choked and he flies into a state of divine bhava (feeling). The devotee is ever merged in japa of the Lord's name and describing his glories to one and all. Wherever he goes he begins to sing and praise God. He requests all to join his kirtans. He sings and dances in ecstasy and he makes others dance also.

Such practices should be the outcome of a pure heart; they should not be merely a show. God knows the inner secrets of all. None can cheat him. There should be perfect straight forwardness. All his actions should be a natural out pouring from the heart.

This is the easiest of all modes of approach to God. In the Kali Yuga, the Iron Age, kirtan alone is the best yoga. This is the prescribed method of devotion for this Age. The mind that is ever intent upon singing the Lord's names and glories has no occasion to take interest in the things of the world. Day and night the devotee feels the presence of God. This thins out the ego; he becomes satvic and pure at heart.

May you live drowned in the ocean of divine ecstasy, in a fully illumined state, by the regular practice of sankirtan and complete self-surrender to the Lord.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

27 May

Lord is Your Sole Refuge

The name of the Lord is your sole refuge. It is your prop, shelter and abode. Name is divine nectar. Name and form are inseparable.

Keep a picture of the Lord and concentrate on it. Concentrate on the face or feet or the whole picture. Then visualise this in your heart or in the space between the eyebrows.

Repeat your mantra   Om Namah Shivaya, Om Namo Narayanaya, Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya - mentally, or if the mind wanders, do this verbally.

There are five kinds of bhavas or attitudes. They are shanta bhava (relationship of peace), dasya bhava (relationship of servant master), vatsalya bhava (relationship of father son), sakhya bhava (relationship of friendship) and madhurya bhava (relationship of lover and beloved). Have any kind of bhava that suits your temperament. Develop it again and again.

Practise the nine modes of devotion   shravana (hearing the lilas or stories of the Lord), kirtana (singing the Lord's name), smarana (remembering the Lord), padasevana (service of the Lord's feet), arcana (offering of flowers), vandana (prostration), dasyam (servant bhava), sakhya (His friendship), and atmanivedana (self-surrender).

Feel that you are an instrument in the hands of the Lord. Feel that the Lord works through your body, mind and senses. Offer all your actions to the Lord. Offer the fruits of your actions to the Lord. This is the way to do self-surrender.

Do anusthana (intense whole time practice) frequently. Live on milk and fruits for a week. 
Observe mauna (or silence). Do japa (repetition of God's name) and meditate in an intense manner.

Do mental worship - it is a great help for increasing devotion and attaining concentration. Offer flowers, incense etc., mentally, to the Lord.

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God is all pervading.
God is all permeating.
God is interpenetrating. 
God is indwelling.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

26 May

Benefits of Japa

Japa (repetition of the mantra) checks the force of the thought current moving towards objects. It forces the mind to move towards God, towards the attainment of eternal bliss. Eventually it helps us to have the darshana (vision) of God. The mantra power is hidden in every mantra. 

Whenever the spiritual aspirant shows lack of vigour in his sadhana (practice), the mantra shakti (power of the mantra) reinforces the sadhana shakti (energy) of the aspirant. Constant and prolonged repetition of the mantra (name of God) for some months cuts new grooves in the mind and the brain.

During japa all the divine qualities steadily flow into your mind from the Lord, just as oil flows from one vessel to another vessel. Japa transforms the nature of the mind. It fills the mind with satva (purity).

Japa changes the mental substance from passion to purity, from rajas to satva. It calms and strengthens the mind. It makes the mind introspective   it checks the outgoing tendencies. Japa eradicates all kinds of evil thoughts and inclinations. It induces determination, and austerity and eventually it leads to the direct darshana (vision) of God (the ishta devati or tutelary deity) or to God-realisation.

The mind is purified by constant japa and worship and it is filled with good and pure thoughts. Repetition of mantra and worship strengthen the good samskaras. "As a man thinks so he becomes"   this is the psychological law. The mind of the man who trains himself to think good, holy thoughts develops a tendency to think good thoughts. His character is moulded and transformed by the continuous flow of good thoughts.

When the mind thinks of the image of the Lord during japa and worship, the mental substance actually assumes the form of the image. The impression of the object is left on the mind and this is called samskara. When the act is repeated very often, the samskara gains strength and a tendency or habit is formed in the mind.

He who entertains thoughts of divinity becomes transformed actually into divinity itself. This is the power of constant thinking and meditation. His disposition itself is divinised and purified.

The meditator and the meditated, the worshipper and the worshipped, the thinker and the thought, become one and the same thing. This is samadhi. This is the fruit of worship (upasana) or of doing japa.