Saturday, January 25, 2014

Inspiring Talks, Message 21

Inspiring Talks of Gurudev Sivananda

6th January, 1949
A devotee came into the office to have Darshan of ‘Swamiji’. Siva greeted her with OM and folded palms, made her sit on the bench near-by and started enquiring about her health, the Yatra, etc. When Siva resumed his work, the lady quietly walked out, feeling a bit uneasy to sit in the office, idly, where others were busy with their work.
Near the dispensary, she asked Sri Swami Chidanandaji: ‘Where is Swamiji? When can I see him?’
Chidanandaji was amused, as he had noticed that the lady came straight from the office where Siva was at the time.
‘Swamiji is in the office. Why, you are coming from there only. Have you not seen him?’
‘He, with a coat and spectacles, sitting there? Is he Swamiji? I thought he was the Manager of the Ashram!’
With tears in her eyes, she ran back and fell at Siva’s feet. The tears wash away the defective vision which sought to recognise saintliness only in externalities and to disregard the inner divinity clothed in an overcoat: and she beheld before her now the pure Satchidananda who, for the sake of sport, has clothed himself with the Koshas.

‘Satyanandaji Maharaj, nowadays you are not attending the morning class. Gradually you are becoming an Alasyanand, I think. You see: I come from my Kutir which is the farthest from the Bhajan Hall. But, you are not able to walk half the distance even!
‘It does not matter. You have already acquired an immortal fame through your brilliant lectures, thrilling songs, and plays. Have you copied that article? It is a masterly production. You have a tremendous brain. Though you look like a small boy, yet you have very well developed your intellectual faculties. Try to grow fat and fat. Then you will have an impressive physique. What is this? You have no moustache also. At least put on a false moustache. Then with all this pompous dress you will look like a Maharajah. You have now established a first-rate office for yourself. You look more like a Marwari business man, sitting at your desk. Very good: that is also necessary.’
A wonderful speech! Blowing hot and cold! S’s expression was worth watching, as it reacted to all that Siva was saying—one moment praising and the next moment pointing out a defect. That is the subtle way in which Siva trains his disciples. Instruction mixed with a lot of glorification, is highly palatable. The sugar-coating slowly melts away by constantly dwelling on what he said: and in a calm mood flashes the flowery sword. But then the edges are smoothened by this time, though it lodges itself deep inside the heart. We learn, but without the bitterness that naturally accompanies ‘learning’ in the world.

A Sadhaka had a grievance. He came into the office with a complaint against another inmate who had insulted him. Siva counselled forbearance. Later, it was pointed out to Siva by someone else that the offending party had a sharp tongue in truth. 
‘Everybody has a sharp tongue. After all, we are all human beings only. But the beauty lies in controlling it. Before an offending word is uttered, you should introspect and check it. And, even if occasionally you happen to use the wrong expression, you should learn the art of smoothening the matter out at once. You should apologise to the man whom you had offended, talk to him sweetly, ask his pardon and pacify him. Gradually your very nature will be changed.’

7th January, 1949
The room occupied by Sri Shamash had been vacated: and several chairs and tables had been put to other use. Aramudanji was sitting on a small chair brought from the vacated room. Siva was walking on the terrace opposite the D.J. Hall. Seeing A., he remarked:
‘There is a peculiar joy in using other people’s property, isn’t it? It is part of human nature. Even if we have good chairs, we will discard them and use others just because they belong to other people. Mysterious is the mind.’
Such objective analysis of human nature, without letting the emotional aspect of our own personality or any personal equation coming into the picture at all, serves to enlighten us, and saves us from the inevitable fault-finding nature apparently involved in it.

‘Padmanabhanji! Bring me one rupee worth of small coins. Write the amount as charity. Whenever I go out, I should have some small coins in my pocket. I see poor people on the road, but I have nothing to give them. I used in Malaya always to keep a lot of small change in my pocket and distribute them to the poor. That gives me a great joy and peace. Bring the coins at once.’
P. at once brought some coins.

‘What is this?’ asked Siva handling a half-anna coin.
‘Half-anna? I have never seen this. (This coin has been in use for a considerable time now.) I do not have any occasion, because I do not handle money. It is a peculiar shaped coin. Is it enough if I give a poor man only half-anna? What will he get for it?’ 
It was difficult to convince Siva that half-anna was also money.

8th January, 1949
‘Swamiji, I found these two rupees near the Brahmanandashram,’ Sri Menon handed Siva the coins.
‘You should have found out the owner. How can we appropriate the money to ourselves just because it lay on the road. Someone else will miss it.’
‘No, Swamiji: it was lying on the road. If I had not taken it, it might even have been lost in the sand. Here, Swamiji, the two rupees would be put to very good use; and in absentia the donor will receive the Lord’s blessings.’
‘Ohji, this is how Maya deceives man. You see: I have just written a story about a man who was told by his Guru to shun Kamini, Kanchana and Kirti, but who was later very gradually dragged into the very pit of temptations.’
Siva turned to another Sanyasin (not belonging to the Ashram) who was sitting near him.
‘Supposing you found five thousand rupees on the roadside. What will you do? Will you give them to me, for this divine work? Or….(rocking with laughter)…. will you merely think, ‘I will give two thousands to Swamiji and utilise the rest myself. After all, I have my own needs. God has given this moment only for this purpose?’ 
This is much like saying that it was only because the amount was insignificant that the Sadhaka had the good sense of putting it to good use: otherwise, he might not be able to resist the temptation of evil. The mind will offer its own excuses: and will lead him astray.
Another strange coincidence which I could not fail to notice is this. Siva had just yesterday expressed his holy wish to have some small change always in his pocket for the purpose of ‘charity on the roadside’. Ere a rupee is exhausted there is this charity from the roadside! Strange are the ways of the divine and His messengers.

Siva has received a letter from the Kali Kamliwala Kshetra requesting his help in the matter of holding Kathas and Satsang under the auspices of the Kshetra. Siva had already deputed three Ashramites to deliver lectures on four days in the month. Swami X is in the Ashram today on account of the Birthdate celebration. Siva very tactfully (it will be impossible for anyone to narrate how this is done: you will have to see it for yourself, how an unwilling horse walks into harness without compulsion and of its own accord) persuaded the Swami to take part in the Kshetra’s programme. Part of the conversation I shall narrate here:
‘You deliver such thrilling lectures, Swamiji. How are you able to do so if you are not holding frequent Kathas and discourses? How do you remember all the stories and points? Many people lose touch with this faculty and it is dullened.’
‘I do not deliver any lectures and Kathas. But, I teach students if they come to me,’ replied the Swami.
‘But, yet, your discourses are like those of learned pundits who have made lecturing their profession.’
‘Swamiji,’ confessed the Swami: ‘but for your grace I would not have been able to deliver even one lecture in my life. It is only because you forced me in the first instance to deliver lectures that today I am able to hold an audience. Otherwise, I would have remained dumb, Swamiji. Your grace it is that has made me eloquent.’

Topic drifted: and the Swami told Siva:
‘Swamiji, in his discourse that Acharya gave, a strange meaning to the Upanishadic Utterance,
     Na Ayam Atma Pravachanene Labhyah
     Na Medhaya, Na Bahuna Shrutena
He says that this decries the utility of Sravan, Manan and Hididhyasan. He interprets ‘Pravachana’ to affect Sravan: ‘Medhaya’ to affect Manan: and ‘Bahuna Shrutena’ to affect Nididhyasan. And, he has made out a queer meaning of this to the effect that the Atman is not to be attained by Sravan, Manan and Nididhyasan, but by the grace of the Lord alone. He says that this is the view of Visishtadwaita.’
Another student of Vedanta present in the office pointed out to Siva that the Dwaita Vadins have found a hidden ‘a’ in the quotation from Chandogya Upanishad where the Mahavakhya occurs. Atmaatattwamasi they have construed to mean ‘Atma Atatwamasi’, i.e., Thou art NOT That!’
Siva was greatly amused and he said:
‘You see, the Acharyas are not at fault. Ramanujacharya was great: and he has stressed the doctrine of grace and devotion, as he found that the vast majority of the people were not suited to direct Adwaitic initiation. These are all several rungs in the ladder. Dwaita, Visishtadwaita and then Adwaita. People should not indulge in these misinterpretations and ‘Khandana’. Philosophers and seers should always synthesise: and their followers should understand the spirit of the Acharya’s teachings and desist from condemning followers of other schools.’

At 11 a.m. Siva was told that at 12 the foundation for a new Kutir (to be built by Sri Gajanan Sharma of Janjgir) was to be laid. Already Siva had made two rounds of the hillock: once in the morning for the class and again his usual trip to the cave. And, food was waiting; it was getting late. Yet, such is Siva’s readiness to oblige, Siva walked up all the way to bless the foundation-stone-laying ceremony.

9th January, 1949
Govindasmawiji’s heart ached to see Siva clad in an overcoat worn out with age! It was once upon a time a good woollen coat. It had served its master well. Now, it looks like a gunny-bag. Suns and moons adorn its face, revealing the inner garments here and there. Yet, it was proud of the love that Siva bore towards it: and on Siva’s back it laughed—perhaps at a newer coat lying unused.
‘Swamiji, this coat is torn all over the back. It looks ugly also. Please wear the other new coat.’  
Siva looked up and smiled.
‘Achcha? It is torn? Very well: but it keeps the warmth all right.’
People are prone to imitate a saint when he enjoys certain creature comforts: they misunderstand the saint’s behaviour when they see that ‘he also wears good, nice clothes: he also takes sweetmeats.’ But they hardly understand the inner difference, the vital difference that there is between the saint’s attitude towards these and their own. The saint cares not if Prarabdha brings him silk gowns or dirty rags. He greets both with a happy smile. The dull-witted aspirant rejoices in fashionable dress and new clothes, and thinks that he is right in doing so—does not the saint wear these. He would preach to others that equanimity is the secret and that the costly wearing apparel does not taint him. But, ask him to wear a torn coat or a dirty dhoti: the old Abhiman will raise its head from within.
That is the difference. It is very subtle. It is like the deep chasm that separates the mountain-peaks very close to each other. From a distance the gulf appears to be very slight: and you think you can walk over it. When you approach it, you discover that the very sight of it makes your head reel. That is why Lord Krishna warned Sadhakas to obey His words and not to imitate His actions.

11th January, 1949
Today is Vaikuntha Ekadashi, a highly auspicious day.
Early in the morning, as we entered his room, we found Ramanandaji had passed away. He had been suffering from asthma for the past some weeks: but the end was sudden and unexpected. He had carried on his work till the very last day.
When Siva was told of it, he merely nodded his head. A little later, when we took out the body for giving it a bath, Siva saw the calm face. ‘He does not even show any signs of death. Don’t be hasty: first give some artificial respiration, administer a couple of injections: make sure that he is not merely in a swoon.’
Sadhaks rushed here and there. Two people rubbed R’s feet with liniment turpentine; two administered artificial respiration; Chidanandaji was giving injections. Siva himself sat beside the body and rubbed the chest with ‘Hare Rama’ Kirtan.
When Padmanabhan, who was giving the artificial respiration, let go the hand, R’s hand fell down on the ground just touching Siva’s foot.
After some time, it was declared that life was long ago extinct from the body. ‘All right, now say ‘Krishna Bhagavan ki Jai’ ’ said Siva and permitted us to carry on with the last rites. Siva himself poured the first vesselful of Ganges-water on the body, with Panchakshari Kirtan.
Everyone talked about Ramanandaji: how very quietly he passed away: on such an auspicious day: without causing any inconvenience to anyone: in harness, working up to the last breath: etc., etc. Siva gave a quick reply:
‘Why! His entire life was most exemplary. He was a pucca Vedantin. He never had any connection with his Purvashram family after he came here. He never hankered after any comforts of good food. He never interfered with anyone else’s affairs. He had led a perfect life. He had convened three Divine Life Conferences in Rangoon, and one Religions’ Conference. He has rendered great service to humanity. What more do you want?’
Someone then remarked: ‘Swamiji, he has always been saying that he would prefer to die at Swamiji’s feet and that he would never leave the Ashram, whatever be the physical inconvenience.’
May his soul rest in peace.

12th January, 1949
During the morning class, Siva taught us some very good sitting-pose exercises.
Asans and Pranayama have the body as their basis. Siva is never content to let them remain so. He would insist on the practitioner bringing his mind also into play. Thus, he prescribes certain Bhavanas, e.g., the Bhavana that the seminal energy is being converted into Ojas Shakti during the practice of Sirasasan and Sarvangasan. And, he insists that the Sadhaka should go on repeating some Mantra mentally all the time.
This morning he started with Uddiyana and Agnisara while sitting comfortably on Sukhasana.
‘Mentally, repeat TAT while drawing the abdomen in: and repeat SAT while resuming the normal position. This applies to Uddiyina and Agnisara Kriya.’
Then, the Yoga Mudra with a corresponding backward bend of the spine: first touching the floor with the nose and then in a swing bending the spine in the opposite direction resting on hands placed just behind the body. The same Mantra is repeated in the two processes.
Similarly, lateral twisting of the spine. First, a slight twist towards the left side, enough to enable you to place both palms on the floor to your left: then the same thing on the right side. The Mantra is to be repeated here also.
Then Bhastrika in the same posture.
‘You would have sat comfortably in Sukhasana and within a few minutes you would have revitalised the entire system. The little attention you pay to the body and the mind will be amply rewarded in physical and mental health.’

OM we uttered while still sitting in Sukhasana.
Siva then taught us the following drill:
We assumed the arms-bent-forward position with clenched fists.
TAT: throw the hands forward in a line with the shoulder.
SAT: resume the clenched fist position.
TAT: throw the hands sideways in a line with the shoulder.
SAT: resume the clenched fist position.
TAT: raise the hands, straight, above the head.
SAT: resume the clenched fist position.
Thus, without taking the trouble of changing position or taking off your coat, you will be able to perform a very useful exercise.

Man is generally compassionate towards himself. He is then nearer the quadrupeds. A little wider-visioned man extends his compassion to his family. He has not yet crossed the border. Another man gradually envelops the village, district and nation with his compassion. 
Selflessness to a degree is manifest in him; he is really a MAN. A saint’s compassion extends to humanity at large. A divine personality is compassionate towards all living beings—yet, within this world. What shall we call one whose compassion flows to planes other than this?
Such indeed is Siva.
After the morning class was over, he suddenly confronted us with a suggestion. ‘From now, the first of every month will be observed here as ALL SOULS’ DAY. We should offer special prayers for the peace of all departed souls. In this modernised materialistic world, Dharma has long ago been lost. Many religions have come into being in India itself that condemn ancestor-worship, Sraddhas and Tarpana. The departed souls are in great grief. They naturally look to us to help them. We must do this.’
Someone pointed out that a Spiritualist who had recently visited the Ashram had contacted several departed souls who declared that they were eternally grateful to Siva for his Kirtans and prayers for their peace. They said that they had received great benefit through his mercy.
Another incident has already been chronicled: Sri Gauri Prasadji’s granddaughter who rejoiced at Siva’s Kirtan.
‘The programme will be,’ Siva continued: ‘in the morning we should arrange for consecrated food-offerings to the departed souls. There will be a special Edkadasha Rudra Abhishekam at the temple. We can have poor-feeding and Sadhu Bhojan also. In the evening there will be a special Ganga Puja when lights will be floated on the waters of the Ganges in the name of the departed souls. There should be special illumination in the temple.
‘More expenses....’ someone thought. The thought was at once read by Siva. ‘Ohji, don’t worry about the funds. They will come. When the Pitrus (manes) are pleased, they will goad their descendants to contribute to the Society. When old people hear of this arrangement, they will allot some portion of their properties to the Society in their Will. Our motive should be pure. We should always endeavour to serve all with selfless love. God will look after us.’
‘Swamiji, you are perfectly right,’ said an aged inmate. ‘We started the worship in the temple. Since then the Ashram has attained to rare heights of prosperity. Who would have expected the growth of the Ashram so rapidly? How many Kutirs, how many typewriters, how many books—it is no joke. Surely, all these are indications that the Devas are highly pleased: the Lord is highly pleased with the worship here.’
‘I told you: Lord Siva has run away from Kailas at the ceaseless chanting of Rudram and Chamakam here: and has taken his permanent abode in the Vishwanath Mandir.’
‘But, Swamiji,’ slowly put another aged devotee: ‘you are an Adwaitin. Why should you encourage these Karmas? Where are the departed souls: and how are we to please them?’
‘That is the mistake we commit. Do not mix up Absolute Truth with relative activities. So long as the body is there, so long as you think of the body, adorn it, feed it and look after it, you are in the relative plane only. You can by all means study and try to understand Vedanta: but you should not attempt to bring it into Vyavahara. When you have converted this body into a worn-out leather bag to be used or discarded at will, then you can discard all these Karmas also. Till then, you have to believe and carry on all these actions.’