Saturday, October 26, 2013

Inspiring Talks, Message 8


18th September, 1948
Today’s subject for the Forest University class was ‘Practical Sadhana’. Sridharji delivered an inspiring discourse on the subject of ‘Conscience’ with his characteristic eloquence, soul-force, and sparkling wisdom. Inter alia, he had told us that a fully developed conscience which had been guarded against perversion, misuse, disuse, abuse, etc., is the surest guide which an aspirant to Self-realisation could have, as it represents in the court-hall of mind, its (conscience’s) absent royal master (the chosen ideal of the aspirant, viz., Self-realisation through Nivritti Marga), in an ambassadorial capacity, raising his voice of protest whenever anything is said, thought of or done contrary to the interests of his Master.
After Siva’s inspiring Kirtan which invariably concludes the class for the day, we dispersed.
Outside the Bhajan Hall, someone of the gathering raised the topic of wars, and the possibility of a war in which India might be involved—the discussion leading to the topic of conscription, etc.   Siva, innocent of politics, exclaimed:
‘Then all the young men will be recruited to the Army?’
Sridharji then explained the implications of conscription in detail.
Siva (with a mixed expression of pity and contempt): ‘It is a great pity. Every young man will become military-minded: and the conduct of such young men, even after the war will be tinged with brutality, arrogance and materialistic ambitions and passions. India’s spiritual heritage will be jeopardised. No, no: India should stick to her spirituality.’
Siva’s conscience or background of thought is established in divine life: and all ideas and ideals are evaluated on this touchstone.
Incidentally, in Sridharji, too, this virtue is highly developed. In fact, I have not seen any other ‘Sadhaka’ who can approach a ‘Siddha’ in the matter of possessing the keenest intellect, coupled with a fully developed vigilant conscience: and in allowing the very experiences of his soul, the strength of conviction gained through careful exercise of the withdrawn-limbs of his mind on the field of introspection, intense Antaranga Sadhana and Tapasya, express themselves through his highly inspiring and impressive discourses.
‘True, Swamiji, I have heard that said before. I have read this in the scriptures, too. But I want to have the direct experience. I must actually realise Brahman. Otherwise, how am I to know that what the Upanishads declare is truth?’ replied Sri Satya Sandan, a young Yogi-enthusiast who wished to know the direct road to Moksha. Siva had told him ‘The direct path is Jnana Yoga. Practise it. Read the scriptures. Realise Aham Brahmasmi.’ I have myself never heard Siva reply in this manner to anyone: he usually adopts the step-by-step method, and preaches Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and the Yoga of Synthesis. There is something behind this I thought: and looked up.
‘You will have to sit quiet and meditate. Go on meditating on the true import of the Mahavakya till you actually realise the Truth.’
‘But, Swamiji, I want to guard myself against falling into the snares of hallucinations—and this Aham Brahmasmi assertion might also be a hallucination.’
‘That is the trouble. What the great seers and sages have said cannot be false. But, why does man not realise the Truth easily? The scriptures say that there are three kinds of obstructions to the perception of this Truth. First is Mala (impurities), second is Vikshepa (oscillation of the mind), and the third is Avarana (veil of ignorance). Introspect and find out which of these you have got. If you find you have Mala—Kama, Krodha, Lobha,—you will have to eradicate it through the practice of Karma Yoga, or the Yoga of Selfless Service. If you have only got Vikshepa, you have to practise Upasana to steady the mind. If you have only Avarana, you will have to practise Nididhyasana or constant dwelling on the import of the Mahavakyas, till the Truth flashes within you.’
‘Swamiji, I am not interested in all these. I only want direct realisation of Brahman.’
‘That is like a clerk wanting to become a Commissioner. He has to work hard, get quick promotions, pass stage after stage, examination after examination: and then only can he aspire to become a Commissioner. Can a Matriculate at once become an I.C.S. officer? He has to graduate in the University: then he has to work hard and get through the I.C.S. examination: only then can he become an I.C.S. officer.
‘Similarly, you have first to acquire the Sadhana Chatushtaya Sampath….’
‘What is that, Swamiji?’
‘You have not even heard of that! Viveka or discrimination between the Real and the unreal; Vairagya or dispassion towards worldly objects; then Shad Sampath—Sama, Dama, Titiksha, Uparathi and Sraddha and Samadana—and Mumukshutwa or a burning desire for liberation. Then you should approach someone and learn the Truth from him. That is what Lord Krishna has also said in the Gita: ‘Tad Viddhi Pranipatena Pariprasnena Sevaya Upadekshyanti te Jnanam Jnaninah Tatwadarshinah.’
‘Yes, Swamiji, I have read this.’
‘No use merely reading it: you should put into practice what you know. You do not want to develop divine virtues, but you want direct realisation of Brahman at once.’....silence.... ‘This is all no good. Oji! Please approach some good Mahatma, live with him, serve him and learn. Do not try to become Swayam Siddha Mahatma, Swayamprakashananda!’
‘May I stay with you, Swamiji?’
‘As you like. But here all the aspirants are persons who have a clear grasp of the task before them. So, they engage themselves in the practice of the Yoga of Synthesis. They combine nicely work, worship, study, Yoga, etc. If you can also fall in line with them, you can stay. Or, seek some good Mahatma; serve him and learn to meditate.’
20th September, 1948
Sri Sankaranarayana has returned to the Ashram from a visit to several places of seclusion, away from Rishikesh. Siva asked him, with maternal affection:
‘Are there any shops on the way?’
‘Swamiji, the Sadhu whom we met gave us some roties to take with us: and when we went we had taken some fruits, etc., from here itself.’
‘And there?’
‘There, Swamiji? We had a sumptuous meal.’
‘What food?’
‘Sambhar, rice, roti, ghee—a pucca Madrassi dinner, Swamiji.’
Everyone present expressed mild surprise.
‘There is a cow also, Swamiji. So, we got good milk.’
‘That is the secret. Wherever you go, there you will find Sambhar, iddaly and coffee. The body of even a Jnani needs certain things. You cannot run away from them. The secret of renunciation is renunciation of attachment. Prakriti has her play: so long as her instruments—the body and mind—are there. The Jnani dissociates himself from the Koshas, identifies himself with the Akarta and Abhokta Atman.
‘That is also the secret of Karma Yoga. We also work here. But we have found out the secret process by which we are able to convert work into worship.’
A spell of silence—the calm before the storm.
‘If we had known this trick before, we need not even have come here.’
Everyone looks at the others: general bewilderment: what a strange thing to say.
Siva at once realised the cause of the consternation.
‘But, if we had not come here, away from the bondage of family and relations, properties and possessions, etc., we could not have found out the secret.’
We all felt a bit relieved.
‘Renunciation is absolutely necessary. Once you recognise Maya and her mischief and pierce through the veil—find out the inner antidote to Maya’s poisons—then you are able to live under all circumstances, unaffected.’
A batch of visitors has arrived.
Siva was asking several Ashramites to attend to the several affairs connected with their lodging, etc.
Someone said that the Sadhak who had the key of a particular room was meditating in his room.
‘What meditation is this? You must first fulfil your duties and then meditate. He should have kept the keys outside and then shut himself up. Look how many people are inconvenienced. How can God be pleased by meditation when you keep His devotees waiting outside?’
Sri Rajagopala Iyer, who has come from South India, was narrating to Siva the activities of Sri Ram Ram Ram, an old school-mate of Siva who is now a retired surgeon: a widely-travelled man with a number of foreign degrees and a lot of money.    
‘Swamiji, nowadays he has more or less retired.’
‘What is there in retirement now? He has established some hospital or clinic for the sake of the suffering humanity?’
‘No, Swamiji: he has done a lot of service while he was in the Army.’
‘But, none of a permanent value. He must now do something which will make his name immortal. He has earned a lot. He must now invest a portion of that money in charity. The idea of doing something substantially good to humanity never strikes many people.
‘Please ask him on my behalf to construct a ward in the local hospital in his name and provide for a few beds also. This will be a great blessing to humanity.
‘He can himself serve there so long as he wishes: even after his life-time the ward will ever proclaim his name and philanthropy. What is the use of money unless every pie is directed to some good cause?’
Then the talk turned to his personal affairs.
‘He spends a lot of money. But he himself leads a very simple life.’
‘H’m? That is marvellous and unique—that he has kept up Indian simplicity even after his European tours and luxurious life,’ complimented Siva.
‘He has a cook, Swamiji. But in those parts, the cooks hardly stay on, Swamiji.’
Siva’s nature at once sprang forth.
‘He should pay the cook well—and he should give the cook the same food as he takes, if not even better. Then no cook will ever leave him. It all depends upon the treatment; you must make the servants feel they are members of the family.’
That is exactly what Siva has been doing all his life—in Malaya and in the Himalaya.
21st September, 1948
Sri Rajagopala Iyer was talking to Siva about the proselytising missions. Siva summed up:
‘What is in this? A Christian comes, gives you a Bible and converts you into Christianity: a Mohamadan gives you a copy of the Quran and changes you into a Mohamadan: a Hindu has his Gita for the same purpose.’
What a fund of wisdom.
‘Truth is one: all the scriptures expound this Truth though in different words. What purpose can ever be served by these proselytisers? They only change man’s external cloak, a few of his habits. Can they ever go near the Atman, the Eternal Sakshi? Only dull-witted people engage themselves in such missions. Wise men will only seek to strengthen the individual’s faith in his own religion.’
Two gentlemen from Bihar prostrate to Siva. They have come in search of a young man who had suddenly disappeared from his home. They had been to Hardwar, Rishikesh. And, at both places they had been directed to Sivananda Ashram. They represented their ‘case’ to Siva.
‘No, Maharaj, he has not come here.’
‘Swamiji, we have searched for him in Brindavan, Mathura, Banaras, etc. We do not know what to do.’
‘Maharaj, it is possible to find out a missing boy by searching like this: go home and pray for him. He will knock about here and there and ultimately come back to the house.’
A letter was on Siva’s table from Sri T.A. Rama Row of Madras enquiring about another boy who had also disappeared like this.
When a boy leaves home with a spiritual aspiration at heart, his mind naturally seeks solace. Whether the Vairagya is real or momentary, he needs peace, solace and proper guidance. It seems, from the number of letters, enquiries and interviews that Siva has to answer, that the youth of India has found out that Siva’s abode alone can give them all that they need.
Siva was returning from his walk up to the Mandir, in the evening. As he came near the Yajnashala, one of the small children belonging to the family of Sri Panna Lalji, who were playing on the roof of the Yajnashala rooms, slipped off the terrace and fell right into one of the empty packing cases placed near the wall of the Yajnashala. Siva called out to the parents of the child. They ran down and found that the child had almost swooned. Siva reached the spot and gazed at the child for a moment. The parents took the child into their hands and called it by its name. Lo, the child cried for a couple of minutes, and jumped out of their hands to run about again.
22nd September, 1948
Sri T.R. Bhagat of New Delhi, an apparently genuine Sadhak has written to Siva asking several questions on Sadhana. Siva clears all his doubts without leaving one loose-end, adds his own precious advice, ending up with:
‘I have accepted you as my beloved disciple. I shall serve you nicely. Be true, earnest and diligent in your Sadhan.’
The cream, the essence—meditation on which alone is sufficient to bestow Moksha on a Sadhaka.
‘Be true’: what a precious piece of instruction. How few are really true in their Sadhana, and do not practise Yoga merely for the sake of exhibition.
‘Earnest’: Yoga is not for the Sadhaka who takes to it half-heartedly.
‘Diligent’: the third most important preliminary qualification. Not only earnestness, but diligent application is also wanted.
With all this exacting instruction is mixed the most encouraging assurance:
‘I have accepted you as my beloved disciple.’
‘Beloved’: what more does one want?—and….
‘I shall serve you nicely’: that is unique—Guru serving his disciples. A sage, a Brahma-Nishta, a living God, at your service and waiting for you to turn to him.
The clock struck five. It was drizzling—after a heavy downpour.
‘Wake up: get out of bed: quick, run,’ said someone from within.
I rose. What is this hallucination? I peeped out of the room half-heartedly—I had slight head-ache, too, due to biliousness. It was still drizzling.
‘No, there won’t be the morning class today,’ I thought. The aching head sought the pillow.
‘Do not let the mind have its own way. Run out of the room. If you find there is no class, go to the temple and meditate.’ Irresistible command.
I rubbed my eyes. Peeped out again: is it Siva?
Yes: it is Siva, my Redeemer—no, not from outside, but from within.
I ran up.
Twice Siva glanced at me—perhaps to make sure that I had obeyed.
Sri Aravamudan did not attend. Siva met him on his way back to his Kutir.
‘Why did you not come?’
‘I was a bit lazy this morning, Swamiji.’
‘Very well: if you are lazy enough at 25 not to be able to check it and come up to the Bhajan Hall—at 50 you will want a palanquin and four coolies to transport you.’
I was convinced that it was Siva who had awakened me in the morning.
Siva was talking about the glory of Kirtan and Bhakti. Swami X came in his view.
‘But, you are a Vedantin? Are you not?’
Swami X was silent.
‘Ohji, so long as the necessity for food exists, Vedantic indifference should not be assumed. When that need stops, then one can say ‘I am Brahman’ and leave off every other Sadhana.
‘But some Vedantins deceive themselves and others, and say—this is body-Dharma and go on eating.
‘What a pity: when they get angry, they will say it is Mano-Dharma. When they lose their temper and belabour someone, they will say it is Hand-Dharma—it is Indra who did it, not I, the Akarta Atman.’
‘Vedantic realisation,’ Siva continued, ‘should come by itself when the heart is purified through the practice of Karma Yoga and steadied through devotion.’
The food bell is given.
‘Vishnuji,’ called Siva. ‘Take Sri John D’Cruz with you and see that he is accommodated in the Panghat. Is he also taking his food in the dining hall?’
‘Yes, Swamiji.’
‘That is right. In this Ashram there should be no communal feeling: no caste or creed distinctions. Christian, Mohamadan, Parsee—all should move amicably together, eat together, pray together, without any distinction whatsoever.’
The evening Satsang had just commenced.
I had just finished reciting the Gita Dynana Slokas. I heard a sweet humming of a melodious tune. I held my breath and listened. Yes, it is Siva. My thoughts flew back to Lord Krishna’s days when the love-mad Gopis would sit enraptured in their houses enjoying the exclusive privilege of receiving Lord Krishna’s Murali-Dhwanis. Vishnuji, sitting by my side, was eager to know what had happened to me: I continued reading the Gita.
Satsang was almost over. Siva sang the following Kirtan for a full half-hour. Repeating several lines over and over again....each repetition ringing with more and more intense ecstatic fervour....the notes emanating from Siva piercing into the very hearts of the devotees assembled—I cannot explain what it was.
Ananda Thene                                     Brahmananda Thene

Thene Thene                                       Thene Thene

Thene Thene                                       Thene Madhuve

Thene Thene                                       Thene Honey-ye

Celestial Honey-ye                              Divya Madhuve

Ananda Thene                                    Brahmananda Thene

Adwaita Thene                                    Anubhava Thene

Chinmaya Thene                                Chinmatra Thene

Chinmaya Thene                                Chidghana Thene

Nirakara Thene                                   Nirvishesha Thene

Sankara Anubhava Thene                  Dattanubhava Thene

Sivoham Thene                                   Soham Thene

Soham Soham Thene                         Sivoham Thene

Sivoham Thene                                   Swaroopoham Thene

Ananda Thene                                     Brahmananda Thene

All of us were in an entirely different plane for quite a long time after this music.
In the office, in bed—everywhere I could hear Siva’s ecstatic music. Why this ‘Thene’ song today—‘Thene’ in Tamil means ‘honey’? I mused.
The solution was not long in being arrived at. Instead of sugar, Siva should have used honey today—as an anti-diabetic measure. And, Siva lives in Sahaja Samadhi: he sees Brahman in all and all in Brahman. Every object, every person, every word inspires from within only thoughts of Brahman and Brahmic Bliss. Wherever he is, in the bathroom, the water-closet, on the banks of the Ganges, in the office, in the temple, on the road—this one consciousness alone is his constant companion.
Oh, honey! Prostrations unto thee! I am grateful to you, for through your grace we all enjoyed Siva’s ecstatic Kirtan today. Glory to thee.