Friday, February 28, 2014

1 March

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 10
Now I will tell you what vichara is. Vichara means enquiry. It is an enquiry into the nature of Brahman or Atman. Enquiry of "Who am I?" is also vichara.
What is bondage? What is freedom? What is the relation between the jiva and Brahman? How was this Universe born? Who is the Creator? These constitute vichara.
Vichara leads to Brahma-jnana (realisation of the Infinite).
- - -
You are imprisoned in this cage of flesh for a long time on account of your identification with the body. Cut this illusion with the sword of knowledge. "I am the all-pervading Sat-Chit-Ananda Brahman" - and be ever blissful.
Give up "I-ness, mine-ness", agency or doership. Become a silent witness. This is wisdom.
Brahman or the Absolute is the only reality. Mind and the universe are unreal. Mind alone is the universe. Action of the mind alone is karma.
Renunciation of egoism and desires constitutes real renunciation. This leads to atma-jnana (self-knowledge). Practise Brahma-vichara and you will soon attain Self-realisation.
- - -
Identification with the body is bondage. Identification with the Atman or soul is liberation.
"I am body", "This is mine", "He is my son", "She is my wife" - this is bondage.
"I am all-pervading immortal soul", "Nothing belongs to me", "All is Brahman" - this is liberation.
If the mind is attached to objects, this is bondage. If it is unattached, this is liberation.
- - -
Where there is no duality, there is immortality. When the three knots are cut, one attains immortality.
If your object in life is immortality, shun sense-objects as poison. Where there is nothing to be seen, or heard, or thought of, there is immortality.
Immortality is the very nature of Atman. The road to immortality is steep and thorny. The help of a realised sage is necessary - at every step.

29 February

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 9
Jnana yoga is the yoga of wisdom. It is vedanta. It is the culmination of all the other yogas. It teaches that the individual soul is in essence identical with the supreme Soul. When avidya (ignorance) is destroyed the individual soul merges in the supreme soul.
The aspirant should equip himself with the four means of salvation, study the scriptures (Upanishad) under a guru and meditate. He will attain Self-realisation.
- - -
The mind alone is the universe. The body with its organs, etc., is no other than mind.
The slayer of Atman (self) is the mind only. The actions of the mind alone are, indeed actions, but not so those of the body.
The mind contemplating upon the body becomes the body itself and then, enmeshed in it, is afflicted by it.
Slay the mind and attain eternal bliss.
- - -
He who has a guru knows Brahman. A guru alone can remove doubts, pitfalls and snares. Guru is God Himself.
All that a guru can do is to tell his disciple the method of knowing the truth or the path that leads to the disclosure of the intuitional faculty.
He will clear your doubts, remove pitfalls and snares and inspire you. He cannot give you samadhi (super-conscious state). You will have to place each step yourself on the rung of the ladder of yoga. Do not expect a miracle from your guru, to put you into samadhi.
- - -
Every man wants everlasting happiness. This is his innate feeling. This indicates that his soul is an embodiment of bliss.
Everybody wants full knowledge of everything. This gives the clue that Atman is a mass of knowledge.
Every man wants freedom. It gives the clue that his Atman is ever free.
Search within and attain the ever blissful and ever free Atman.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

28 February

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 8 (Continued)
Spiritual experiences differ in sadhakas (seekers) according to the nature of their sadhana (practice) and the yoga they are practising. Some hear anahat (mystic) sounds in the ear. Some see brilliant lights. Some have vision of rishis (sages), mountains, rivers, etc.
Some experience cosmic consciousness. This is a rare experience. It cannot be expressed in words.
- - -
Maya is the illusory power of the Lord. Maya hides the real and makes the unreal appear as real. Maya is shuddha (pure) satva.
Do not enquire now into the origin of maya. Strive for its destruction. Maya is indescribable. It can be crossed - through the grace of God acquired by self-surrender. When jnana is attained, then you will know all about maya.
- - -
Avidya is ignorance. It is the cause for bondage. Vidya is the cause for liberation.
Destroy the root of avidya through knowledge of Atman.
Avidya is the causal body of the individual soul. It is impure satva. It is mixed with rajas (activity) and tamas (inertia).
Avidya is the cause for births and deaths. Mind and body are the effects of avidya.
- - -
Samadhi is union with God. It is a state of eternal bliss and eternal wisdom. It cannot be described in words. In savikalpa samadhi there is the triad, knower, knowledge, and knowable.
In samadhi mind, intellect and senses cease functioning. All dualities vanish in toto.
Meditate ceaselessly and enjoy the supreme bliss of nirvikalpa samadhi.
- - -
Please note the difference between sleep and samadhi. Sleep is an inert state. But samadhi is a state of pure awareness or pure consciousness.
When a man returns from sleep, he is heavy and dull. He has no experience of wisdom of Atman. But when the yogi comes down from samadhi, he is full of wisdom of Atman. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

27 February

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 8
Meditation is freeing the mind from thoughts of sense objects. Mind dwells on God and God alone during meditation. Have perfect ethical perfection. Then alone you will be established in deep meditation.
Meditation follows concentration and samadhi (super-conscious state) follows meditation.
- - -
Be courageous. You will come across various obstacles in meditation. You will have to conquer sleep, distraction, a taste for sensual pleasure, laziness, etc.
Practise asanas regularly.
Do a little tratak (gazing) and pranayama (yoga breathing). Do vichara (enquiry). Cultivate vairagya (dispassion). You will conquer all obstacles.
Samadhi is that state of pure consciousness, the supreme blissful state where the jivatma (soul) becomes one with Paramatma (Supreme Being).
- - -
Light diet, dispassion, discrimination, contact with a teacher, are necessary for the practice of meditation.
Meditation when persisted in and perfected brings about the experience of super-consciousness or samadhi, the ultimate state of self-awareness or realisation.
- - -
When there is tension in the mind, when you cannot meditate, do kirtan or singing the Lord's name. You will get relaxation and concentration.
Kirtan is nectar. Kirtan is divine food for the soul Kirtan develops divine love. Kirtan produces bhava samadhi (ecstasy of devotion).
- - -
Samadhi leads to direct, intuitive realisation of the infinite. It is an inner divine experience, beyond the reach of speech and mind.
A jnani or sage will always be in samadhi, although engaged in worldly actions.
One without full even mindedness will never be able to go into samadhi even though he sits in padmasana for several hours. When all cravings cease, when one gets equal vision, he attains jnana vision and Brahmic bliss.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

26 February

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 7
Behold! You must be diligent and vigilant always. Do not give leniency to the mind.
Be regular in your meditation. Meditation is the very essence and life of all spiritual sadhanas.
Meditate on the form of Lord Krishna with flute in His hand. Concentrate on trikuti (the space between the eyebrows). Repeat mentally - Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.
May Lord Krishna be your centre, ideal and goal.
- - -
Meditation is a sound and safe method by which you can unlock your inner power and attain God-realisation.
When you are in meditation you will touch the level of cosmic consciousness in a flash of illumination.
You will know that life is eternal and that you are eternal. God is the only reality. God is the only truth. God alone exists. Know this, realise this.
God is love. He dwells in your heart. Recite His name always. Sing His glories, Do kirtan (chanting).
Conquer the whole world by truth and love.
In silence alone you can hold communion with God. When there is conflict of duty, sit and meditate. Hear the inner voice and act immediately.
- - -
During meditation one enters into a half sleepy state - this is called tandra. If one is really meditating, his body will be light and his mind will be cheerful.
If he is sleeping, the body will be heavy, the mind will be dull and the eye lids will be heavy.
During deep meditation you will forget the external world first and then the body. You will feel that there is no body. You will experience immense joy, indescribable peace.
Natural retention of the breath, without inhalation and exhalation, will come by itself.
Meditate on a concrete form in the beginning. Meditate on any form of the Lord. Think of his attributes: omnipotence, purity, perfection, etc. Gradually the mind will be prepared to take up the higher, formless meditation.
Be patient. Be persevering. Cultivate burning dispassion, burning longing for God-realisation. Gradually you will enter into deep meditation and samadhi.

Monday, February 24, 2014

25 February

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 6
Vairagya is dispassion, desirelessness or non-attachment.
Vairagya liberates man from bondage. Vairagya is the foremost virtue.
Look into the defects of sensual life. Live in the company of saints. You will develop vairagya.
Vairagya is born of discrimination. It will help you and will be permanent. Without vairagya, not even an iota of spiritual progress is possible.
- - -
Mind is the atma shakti (power of self). It is the dividing wall between the individual soul and the supreme soul.
Mind creates this universe. It is the principle of thinking and sensation. It is a bundle of vasanas (habit patterns), thoughts, likes and dislikes. Slay the mind through destruction of the vasanas in Brahma vichara and attain Self-realisation.
Egoism is your arch enemy. It is born of ignorance. The real secret of divine life is only in the renunciation of this dire egoism.
The tree of egoism can be destroyed by the fire of wisdom only.
- - -
These are the ways to control the senses. Cultivate dispassion or non-attachment to objects; practise pratyahara (or withdrawal) and self-restraint.
Give up love or hate for objects. You can control the senses and the mind.
- - -
It is better to practise concentration on one form of God and to repeat one mantra (mystic formula). Concentration will thereby be greatly increased.
If the mind wanders bring it back again and again to the form. Practise a little pranayama (yoga breathing). It will steady the mind. Observe mauna (or silence) for two hours. It will conserve energy and produce more concentration.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

24 February

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 5
True and sincere surrender unto the Lord is the essence of bhakti (God love).
     "I am Thine. All is Thine".
     "Thy will be done, my Lord."
This is the best Sharanagati Mantra or prayer (of self-surrender).
Seek His will. Do His will. Surrender to His will. You will become one with the cosmic will.
- - -
Hatha yoga is mainly concerned with the physical body and the pranamaya sheath. It prepares the aspirant for raja yoga.
Hatha yoga deals with the practice of asanas, pranayama, bandhas and mudras. It treats of sad kriyas too. It gives splendid health, removes various sorts of diseases and awakens the kundalini.
- - -
The practice of yoga asanas bestows mental poise. If you practise asanas for even ten minutes daily, you will derive immense benefits. Be regular in the practice of asana - this is important.
Sirshasana bestows brain power and develops the intellect and the memory. It is useful in maintaining brahmacharya (celibacy). It cures many diseases. Sarvangasana gives longevity and makes the spine elastic.
- - -
Be steady in your asana. Gradually try to sit on one asana for three hours at a stretch. Regulate and restrain the breath through the practice of pranayama (yoga breathing). Withdraw the senses from the object. Now you will be able to practise concentration and meditation.
Regularity in the practice of concentration is of paramount importance.
- - -
For success in brahmacharya (celibacy) intensify your japa (repetition of God's name) and meditation. Keep up constant mental repetition of the Lord's name, even during your work.
Have three sittings for meditation - morning, evening and night, just before going to bed.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

23 February

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 4
God is very close to you. He abides in your heart. Closer is He than the breath; nearer than hands and feet! He is your very Self or Atman.
- - -
Strive to know God. Seek the company of sages. Lead a life of selfless service, renunciation, dispassion, prayer and meditation.
Have self conquest. Control the mind. You will attain perfection and peace.
- - -
The divine grace is life's greatest treasure. If there is self-surrender, there is the inflow of grace. Lord's grace will descend in proportion to the degree of surrender. The more the surrender, the more the grace.
Supreme love comes only by the grace of God. Grace of God will make you stick to the spiritual path.
- - -
Japa is the recitation of Lord's name. Japa is an important sadhana (practice) for God realisation.

Japa yoga is the easiest, safest and surest way of attaining the goal in the present age.
Repeat 200 malas (rosary of 108 beads) of japa daily. Do more mental japa. Practice of japa brings the devotee face to face with God.
- - -
Japa yoga is the yoga of recitation of a mantra (or name of the Lord). There is a mysterious power in every name of the Lord. A name or mantra is recited in three ways, viz. verbal or loud utterance, semi verbal or humming, and mental. Mental japa is more powerful.
Let the recitation of japa become habitual. Do purascharana - do one lakh (one hundred thousand) of japa for each letter (of the mantra). Live on milk and fruits. Observe brahmacharya during this period.
- - -
Prayer is not asking. It is the yearning of the soul for communion with God. Sincere prayer draws the grace of the Lord.
Prayer is a mighty spiritual force. It should spring from the bottom of your heart.
Pray sincerely, fervently, whole heartedly. Then alone will God listen to your prayer.

Inspiring Talks, Message 25

Inspiring Talks of Gurudev Sivananda

MARCH, 1949
1st March, 1949

Srimathi M. had written a pathetic letter, recounting the misfortunes that have visited her, her desperate condition and the causes that often tempt her to commit suicide. By the next post goes Siva’s reply which after entreating her to think, reflect, and face the trials of life with calm endurance, warns her against hasty surrender to emotion.
Do not commit any such unwise act—You will gain nothing. This will lead to misery and suffering. Life is most precious. It is very difficult to get a human birth. Yield not to emotions. Be bold. Be cheerful. You can attain divinity in this birth and free yourself from birth and death through Japa and meditation. May God bless you.

Today is the All-Soul’s Day at Sivanandanagar. The elaborate ceremonial observance is in progress, with consecrated food offerings, prayer on Ganges bank, Kirtan, etc. Siva sits on the cement seat opposite his Kutir, on the bank of the Ganges. He says:
‘It was here that Mahadeva Desai and I were sitting in 1942. I offered him a chair: but he preferred to sit on a block of stone near the water’s edge.’ Then Siva did special Kirtan for the peace of Sri Desai’s soul.
Was it that this noble soul (who was Mahatma Gandhiji’s Private Secretary) yearned for the saint’s blessings for his own onward march to the Limitless Kingdom of God, and thus claimed Siva’s remembrance on this auspicious day when he remembers the departed souls of all devotees?
The memory is within recall. The faithful Secretary to Mahatma Gandhiji arrived at the Ashram. He was nicely entertained by Siva, who also taught him some Yogic Kriyas and Pranayam. M. was greatly impressed by the multifarious activities of the Ashram: and he paid a glowing tribute to Siva and his mission in the ‘Harijan’. Siva, for his part, was all admiration for a new Charkha which M. had brought with him and which he later presented to Siva.

Sri Dr. M.S., M.A., Ph.D., a mystic-philosopher, writes to Siva:
‘Indeed I very much appreciate your kindness and blessings to me.
‘Revered Swamiji, I have tried to live seriously on the mystical path, but I don’t find any friend in it. People’s brains are so organised and their life impulses move so coarsely that they cannot appreciate the finer life and vibration. Hence it is difficult for me to live in such a coarse surrounding. I find better company in silence and books and in India today ideal life in mystical pattern is very much misused. You have passed through such experience, and I am therefore wanting to profit by them. I have mixed even freely with people who have entered into some spiritual order. But, alas! I have not got any help from them.’
The learned doctor’s predicament is a very understandable difficulty in the India of today. Let us now turn to Siva’s reply:
‘Yes, that is the problem that faces most Sadhaks earnestly aspiring to achieve something in the spiritual path nowadays. The task is comparatively more difficult now than it would have been in the ideal circumstances in days of yore: perhaps it is that that adds to the glory of Sadhana now. Obstacles augment the Sadhak’s zeal, and put him on his guard at every step.
‘The problem, I find, is the same everywhere. Only it assumes different forms in different places. Evil co-exists with good; and the Dwandwas are spread over the entire creation. However, the ideal surroundings exist within us: and we should strive our utmost to live in them.’
Thus the problem of the doctor of philosophy solved by the doctor of the soul—Siva. Siva has never indulged in polemics. He is a hundred per cent practical Yogi-philosopher. Yet, it is a fact that many doctors of philosophy and doctors of literature count themselves among Siva’s foremost admirers, devotees and disciples Dr. Atreye went overseas on a lecture-tour: and he declared that it was only Siva’s blessings and good wishes that sustained him, and inspired him to crown his tour with success. Many other doctors have paid glowing tributes to Siva’s thrilling books, and to Siva’s personality, too.

6th March, 1949

Siva was walking up to the Bhajan Hall and Mandir for his evening stroll and circumambulations around the temple.
A shop-keeper (Bali) has shrewdly opened a sweetmeat-stall just on the road near the archway to the temple and the Siva Kutir, greeting Siva with an ‘OM Namo Narayanaya, Swamiji Maharaj!’
‘OM Namo Narayanaya. Are you all right? How is your business?’ enquired Siva with all love.
‘All your grace and blessings, Maharaj,’ replied Baji touching Siva’s feet.
‘Swamiji, Bali has a feeling that Swamiji has not so far blessed his shop by partaking of his preparations.’
‘Is that so?’ Siva looked around. For he cannot take anything anywhere, unless there is a big crowd of people to share the feast with him. Some of us were emerging on the road. His voice rang out through space, and we all doubled up to him, and the Guru-loving Chidanandaji literally rolled down the up-hill, though he had just then struggled up the hill, at the Guru calling out his name.
We all devoutedly assembled outside the shop with our Lord in the centre. I had an indescribably strange vision in which I saw our Siva as the leader of a Parivrajaka party, all standing outside the shop ready to receive Bhiksha.
Bali started distributing some sweets and some savoury.
The author of several books on health and hygiene who would ordinarily insist on the laws of hygiene being observed rigidly, was partaking of this open-air feast when a fleet of lorries and buses whizzed past on this dusty Devaprayag Road, raising behind them a cloud of dust which surrounded us all and filled our lungs, too. The edibles that we had in our hands were laid over with a thin layer of the dust we tread under foot.
The Sanyasin Siva had instantly swallowed up the doctor in him, or the Member of the Royal Institute of Sanitation (London) in him, and into Siva’s stomach went sweets and dust with equal ease and freedom. The unconcerned look on Siva’s countenance taught us: the sweets, the dust and the body (the physical sheath) all belong to the same category, only there is a difference in name and form.
The bill was paid: Bali was highly pleased: and the partakers of this holy feast were blessed with several silent sermons.

7th March, 1949

An old veteran exponent of Tiruppugazh, an immortal work of Saint Arunagirinathar of South India, gave a lecture at the Ashram. Age weighed the Tiruppugazh Swamiji’s tone and pitch of the voice. Yet, Siva appreciated the Swami’s zeal and enthusiasm in spreading the sacred knowledge. Siva asked several Sadhaks to get pepper, sugar-candy and hot water to help the Swami clear his throat. When the discourse came to a close, Siva himself took up the harmonium and began playing his own songs on Shanmukha and then sang Kirtans, too.
A visitor who could not find room for himself in the Hall where this function was held, and who had therefore to be content with receiving the impressions of the Kirtan and discourse through the ear alone, was later on curious to know which young man sang after the Tiruppugazh Swami.
‘Swamiji, after the Tiruppugazh Swamiji’s songs and discourse, the Kirtans that followed rang out in sharp contrast. It was melodious music.’
Chidanandaji burst forth in laughter. ‘It was Swamiji himself!’ he informed the visitor. Then C. himself explained: ‘Swamiji has maintained the youth of his voice through Yogic practices such as Pranayama, through strict and regulated diet and through constant singing of Kirtan.’

8th March, 1949

Indeed, the Eighth is a day which all of us who follow Siva look upon with veneration. As Janmashtammi, or the day of the birth of Lord Krishna, is still celebrated as a great day long after the disappearance from this earth-plane of that incarnation of God, so also 8th will ever be celebrated on earth by devotees of divine life.
Year after year, earnest Sadhakas have been rejuvenated and revitalised on the 8th September: all parts of their being receiving rich food.
We thought that the animal nature in man was too strong to be curbed by an annual reminder of this great day: and so decided to celebrate it every month.
Such is Siva’s play that the spiritual food, too, is not distributed every month. Eighth is indeed a memorable day.

Early in the morning, the divine tribunal was constituted. Someone had a misunderstanding with another: a slight rub, a hitch, the distant rumblings of the clouds of discord. Siva patiently heard both sides. We awaited the verdict: but, it proved to be a most strange verdict, strange in the sense that no law court in the world has this simple method of seeing good in all—the accuser, the accused—and then striking at the root of the problem and eradicating the root there itself, instead of simply chopping off the branches.

‘In the field of active work alone does man come face to face with his own inner contents. The inner nature is dormant while one is away from the battle-field. When the favourable opportunities offer themselves, then these inner hidden traits have a chance of manifesting themselves.
‘There must be some truth in what the other man says. This is the attitude that every Sadhaka must adopt. Then sit, reflect, analyse your own self and find out that hidden trait he has pointed out.
‘Some people’s nature is sensitive. Their sensitivity is too high-strung; but we should not consider that a defect in them and prick it. We should mind what WE do. We should on our part understand and respect that sensitiveness.
‘His sensitivity has felt that something you said was offending. At once, you should feel thankful to him. Thank the man who points out your defects. This is the basic virtue that every Sadhaka should cultivate and develop. Then only is there a chance for one’s own improvement.’ 

‘If everyone aspires to be a Sadhaka, there will never be any complaint, rub or quarrel. A Sadhak’s attitude should always be to work selflessly, to aspire to be a good, perfect Sadhu. Then there will be no need to revolt. God has given us all comforts. You have never felt the pinch of hunger: you have never suffered insecurity nor exposed yourselves to the mercy of nature. You have found a prosperous institution to care for you like a loving mother.
‘I have known what it is to run to a Kshetra to take Bhiksha. I have known what it is to sleep on the roadside. These should always be held before the mental eye of the Sadhaka. These are the principles of a Sadhu’s life. We should compare our status with that of the Rishikesh-Sadhus.
We are a thousand times more comfortable than they. We should be thankful to God for that. This complaining mentality should go.’

‘This incident reveals the fact that there is somewhere a disharmony of hearts. A quarrel arises only when there is this disharmony. Otherwise, the accuser refuses to accuse and the accused readily admits the accusation. Then there would be no need for law courts. All people should develop this one family spirit. Then quarrels will cease. There should be harmony of hearts. You heart should beat in unison with all hearts: you should love all. Once there is rupture it is very difficult to patch it up. But this is quite possible: what is required is continued, uniform and prolonged love-approach, so that the other party will have time enough to get over the grudge, then the suspicion of your inner motives of love, and ultimately understand your true nature.’

‘All of you should treat Swami Chidanandaji as your Guru. Even I revere him as my own Guru. I have learnt countless lessons from him. I love him: I adore him. His knowledge is vast. His wisdom is truly inspired and intuitive. His good nature is unrivalled. His heart is very large and his kindness is unequalled. All of you should learn from him. Then only will you all improve, develop and evolve.’

The Rationing Officers of Dehra Dun and Rishikesh have come. They were cordially welcomed and at once entertained by Siva’s children who had by now imbibed Siva’s traits in these respects to a great extent. Sri Ayyannaji, Swami Chidanandaji, Sri Vishnuji—all were busy in the visitors’ service.
They were all very intellectual people, students of philosophy, and Sadhaks, too.
One of them asked: ‘Swamij Maharaj, what is your idea about Nirguna Brahman? Does it mean only Shunya? In that case it does not very much appeal to us. Who would like to meditate on nothingness?’
‘Nirguna, blessed devotees, is not nothingness. It is the fullness of everything that is good. Nirguna is plenitude. In it you find all auspiciousness, all goodness, all beauty, all joy, all health, all sweetness, all purity, all peace—everything developed to perfection. From a distance this fullness becomes inconceivable and so the sages called it Nirguna. Once they reach there, they get merged in that inexpressible experience. It is not nothingness: but it is everythingness, and beyond this, too: for it is inexpressible. Only know that all that exists in Maya or false perception, viz., evil, ugliness, misery, change, birth, death and decay, etc., are not in IT. For, IT is beyond Maya. In Nirguna there are not the Gunas of Maya. Hence It is called Nirguna.’
‘Oh, Mahatmaji, we are grateful to you for this explanation. Indeed, you have convinced us that we should aspire to realise That. Please tell us what is Avyaktam.’
‘Avyaktam, blessed children, is a term which is applied both to Brahman which is unmanifest, and also to Mula-Prakriti which is also unmanifest.’
‘Why did, then, Swamiji, the Unmanifest become manifest?’
‘That is a question which has never been answered. Many have tried to answer the question: but you will accept the answers only if you have faith. They have described this ‘action’ as the Swabhava or Lila of Brahman.
‘The same question has assumed various forms: Why is there evil in the world? Why is the world there? Why has the Jiva been created? When did Karma originate? Why did Karma come into being at all, etc.? Do not put the cart before the horse. Annihilate the sense of duality; go beyond the realm of Maya: you will know the answer to this transcendental question. You will not be able to express the answer: but you will know it: the problem would have dissolved.’
‘Swamiji, you have given a most convincing answer to this unanswerable question. But, please tell us, do you think it is correct to say, in the case of Avataras like Sri Krishna, that the Absolute Nirguna assumed the Sakara, Saguna aspect? If so, why?’ 
‘That is simple to explain. The devotion of the devotee, the tears of a Bhakta’s Prem, the cry of a devotee’s heart, forces the Nirguna Brahman to assume the Saguna form. The form is there for the satisfaction of the devotee, to enable him to worship Him. In fact it is the materialisation of the devotee’s devotion.’
Another friend in the group began: ‘Swamiji, with all the philosophical explanations at our disposal, we are still unable to reason out the inequality that exists in the world. One man is born as the son of a king: another the son of a beggar. One man is born blind: another a beautiful baby. Why did the Lord create this inequality?’ 
When Siva said: ‘Ask the Lord Himself!’ the entire gathering roared with laughter. What humorous wisdom! Ask the Lord: that is, first try to realise Him. Then the answer will be apparent.
Siva continued: ‘The Lord does not create inequality. He does not make a man suffer and another man enjoy. He is the silent witness of all this. Man himself is the cause of his own suffering. He reaps what he has sown in the previous births. The relentless working of the law of Karma (the Law of Cause and Effect) brings about pain and pleasure, misery and joy. Misery is only the purgation of past evil deeds. Mother nature punished man in order that he might learn. She is not unkind either. Just think: would you accuse a mother who beat her own dear child to correct him and to mould his character? Similarly, you ought to be thankful to mother nature for enabling you to work out your own Karma by suffering in this birth. At the same time, you should take care that you add no more to this load of Karma, by the awakening of the knowledge latent in you and by thus crossing over this ocean of Samsara.’
The officers were highly impressed by this lucid explanation of this difficult question. They bowed to Siva with great veneration and left, with his Prasad.

10th March, 1949

Sri Bhakti Prem Swarup Brahmachari of the Bhagavan Shankar Annapurna Kshetra of Haldani approached Siva with a request to bless his scheme for providing amenities to pilgrims to Kailas-Manasarovar. Siva wrote out his blessings in a special note-book which the Brahmachari had brought.
Then the blessings also materialised into a ten-rupee note, and Siva insisted that it should be accepted, in spite of the fact that the Brahmachari regarded the Ashirvad alone as worth a great treasure.
Then came what was perhaps of even greater value: a few precious, invaluable instructions to the Karma Yogi-enthusiast:
‘Maharaj, I shall say only two words in respect of the noble work you have undertaken. First: do not be an Arambha Soora. Once you have undertaken a good noble work, you should see it through till the completion. Some people encounter some difficulties, their zeal and enthusiasm fades away in the middle and the work is neglected. You should not do that. Secondly, at no time should the self enter the work. The work should always be selfless. Here also generally people make mistakes: first they work selflessly and sometime later they stray away into selfishness. These two points are very important. Further, even though you might have undertaken this scheme as a scheme of social service, you should side by side develop divine virtues such as Vairagya, Viveka and Shad Sampath and yearn to realise God through the service. You should convert all work into Karma Yoga. Then the undertaking will be really successful. OM Namo Narayanaya. Jai ho.’

11th March, 1949

‘Chidanandaji, I have permitted Sri Ayyannaji to go to Badrinath this year. Last year itself he had a great desire to do so: but he postponed it due to pressure of work here. He has worked very hard and he must have some change. Give him whatever money he needs for his expenses.’
‘Yes, Swamiji.’
‘Oh, Ayyannaji, Shraddhanandaji may also be going to Badrinath. Would you like to go with him?’
‘Yes, Swamiji, if I can be of service to him. Otherwise, I would like to go all alone.’
‘You are right. You should always go alone. Otherwise, it is a great botheration. Even at some personal inconvenience, one should try to live and move alone. I have had several experiences: and all of them go to show that a man should always remain alone. Even if Brahma Himself comes and says: ‘I am Brahma the Creator. I shall accompany you,’ you should say: ‘Go your way. I shall go alone.’ Not even this. Even if from your own heart another Ayyanna comes out and offers to keep you company you should decline it with thanks. Peace and bliss is only in living alone and moving alone.
‘You should all lead an independent life of seclusion and solitude. That is why I have built up this organisation. I have known what it is to wander and to depend on other people for the bare necessities of life. I used to wander from place to place before coming to Rishikesh. I used to go to one house for the noon Bhiksha: and again I would not go to the same house. I used to feel, ‘What will the man think? Will he get disgusted with me? Will he think that I am a burden on him?’ This sort of dependence on others will not do. You should live alone and independently. The organisation has provided you with all the facilities necessary for that.’

Siva was making enquiries about the progress of the music class. We replied that we were carrying on.
‘You should all greet Sivaswarupji with folded palms and OM Namo Narayanaya. You should revere the Guru who teaches you the Vidya. Only then will the learning be fruitful.’
‘Yes, Swamiji. We are all doing that, though sometimes we forget to do so.’
‘No, no: you should never omit this. See, I had Swami Viswanandaji’s company for only a few hours. Yet, I daily remember him in my Stotras in the morning. I include Swami Vishnudevanandaji’s name also: as it was he who performed the Viraja Homa for me. It is very necessary: only then will the spark of Mumukshutwa burn brightly in us.’

As usual, the topic drifted to lighter vein full of instructive humour.
‘Once I learnt fencing from a Pariah. It lasted only for a few days. He was an untouchable: yet, I used to greet him with cocoanut and betel-leaves. Guru is Guru, to whichever caste or creed he belongs.
‘In Malaya there were several adept Tantriks. It was the time the Spanish ’Flu took a heavy toll of lives in Malaya. I, too, had an attack: but somehow escaped. The Tantrik had several Mantras and Yantras. There was a wonderful Vidya. A special unguent is applied on the thumbnail of the adept who has done the requisite number of Malas of Japa of the Mantra: through this unguent the adept will be able to see and know about distant happenings. He can tell you what is going on in such and such a place in Mysore: or, what a particular person is doing, where he is and so on. I even now remember the Mantra.’
Here Siva actually repeated the Mantra. ‘I had great reverence for the man who taught me the Mantra. I used to prostrate before him and entertain him nicely, serve him whenever the occasion arose. Later, I gave up the Tantrik practice as I did not like the idea of subjugating Devatas and getting things done through them.’
Therefore, when Siva warns the Sadhaka from pursuing the Tantrik Sadhana in its degenerated form which is prevalent widely nowadays, where the Sadhaka through Mantra Siddhi brings to his own selfish use precious psychic powers, it is not a sour grape philosophy, but it is a sincere advice of an adept. Misguided seekers would do well to listen to the warning and take to the Yoga of Synthesis which is both safe and sound.

Sri Hem Kant’s brother has come, with the intention of taking away Hem. They both came into the office.
‘Do you wish to go?’ Siva asked Hem.
‘Yes, Swamiji: I might go for a few days and come back.’
‘Then you are at perfect liberty to take him. (To Hem.) If you wish to come back and remain here, you should make a thorough self-analysis and find out if your Vairagya is pucca. You should clearly understand the difficulties that you will have to encounter on the path.
Renunciation is not a joke. Tomorrow if you fall sick and you find that you are not as fondly attended to here as you would have been in your own home, you should not regret having taken the step. You must be prepared to undergo any sort of suffering for the sake of God-realisation—the greatest good. So, consider deeply before finally making up your mind to stay here.’ 
They both had almost left the Hall, when Siva called the brother again.

‘What made you come all the way from Gauhati to Rishikesh?’
‘Swamiji, our mother is greatly upset on account of Hem’s absence. Everyone in the family is miserable. So, I was asking to fetch him back.’
‘It is a good thing, because you have had a good Ganges bath which you might not have had otherwise. You have done some Japa on the Ganges bank. But, why should the parents be worried? Hem is not dead. He is alive, and very much so, because perhaps only now he is really alive. Do you call a worldly life of misery life at all? Here he is leading a spiritual life, a blessed life devoted to God. Why should be parents be anxious? Has he committed any crime? On the other hand they should all be happy that one of their sons has taken to the spiritual path. He is not the only son: he has two brothers. The progeny will be kept up by them. Why should he also procreate? Here he will do something which no one has done: he will have Self-realisation. Is it inferior to studying in B.A. and later rotting in an office as a clerk? Tell the parents from me that if two sons remain in the family to look after the parents in their old age, and to keep up the progeny, at least one son should lead the path of renunciation and strive to attain God-realisation. You can also spend your life of retirement here, and so can your parents. What a great blessing it is.’

Friday, February 21, 2014

22 February

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 3
Dharma is the pivot of life. Dharma means duty, righteousness, religion, eternal law.
Where dharma is, there victory is. Dharma supports life. Dharma brings perfection. Dharma is a way of life based on virtues and perfect moral conduct. Dharma bestows immortal bliss.
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Control of the mind is the first step to spirituality. Victory over the mind means victory over the world. Conquest of the mind is the greatest victory.
The mind becomes unstable and restless through desires for objects. When the mind is not centred in the Atman, man desires objects. Become desireless, control the mind, be happy for ever.
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Satsanga is association with saints and sages. Without satsanga the mind cannot be turned towards God.
Satsanga is a formidable and impregnable fortress to protect aspirants from the temptations of maya (illusion). Live in the company of sages, hear their valuable instructions and follow them implicitly.
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God is love. Bhakti is the experience of divine love.
Do your duty in a spirit of worship. Perform all actions in an attitude of prayer.
Your heart should overflow with divine love at the sight of any object in this world. Then alone you will become an ideal devotee.
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Bhakti is devotion unto the Lord. Prayer, japa (repetition of God's name), kirtan (chanting), remembrance, worship, meditation, self surrender are all limbs of bhakti yoga. Bhakti yoga is suitable for the vast majority of persons. Para (supreme) bhakti and jnana (self-knowledge) are one.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

21 February

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 2
Serve untiringly. Serve selflessly. Pray devotedly. Live truthfully. You will soon enter the kingdom of God.
Remain cheerful. Do japa whole heartedly. Rejoice heartily. You will attain the state of blessedness.
Reflect ceaselessly. Meditate intensely. Realise perfectly. Rest peacefully.
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Think rightly. Act righteously. Meditate regularly. You will attain eternal bliss.
Aspire fervently. Pray sincerely. Introspect seriously. Reflect vigorously. You will enjoy supreme peace.
Speak sweetly. Speak softly. Speak lovingly. Speak truthfully. You will attain unalloyed felicity.
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Never leave your sadhana (spiritual practice), your meditation, even for a day. Constant practice and eternal vigilance are indispensable till God-realisation is attained.
As long as you do not realise the truth, practise self-control and meditation.
Conscious attempts to unite oneself with God is called spiritual sadhana.
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Subjugate the senses. Slay this egoism. Curb the mind and enter the illimitable domain of immortal bliss.
Om Krishna.
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Faith creates, faith heals, faith works wonders, faith moves mountains.
Faith is the secret light for finding God. Faith makes the weak strong and the timid brave. Faith makes the impossible possible.
Therefore, have unflinching, perfect faith in the Lord.
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Please remember always that renunciation is the essence of spirituality and the secret of Self-realisation. Renunciation is getting rid of egoism, desires and cravings.
Renunciation is the only way to perfection and bliss eternal. Renunciation leads to complete unification with the Supreme Being.
Renounce and be free.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

20 February

Epistle of Swami Sivananda - 1
What is divine life? To shed the animal in man and to sublimate the human in him to the divine; to express the sublimation in his daily life, in his hourly life, in thought, word and deed. That is divine life.
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To pray, to do japa (repetition of God's name), to sing His glory, to do kirtan (chanting), to meditate on the Lord, is divine life.
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Treat all kinds of work, domestic, official, etc., as service of God. Surrender all your actions and their fruits to the Lord. Give up agency. Feel you are an instrument in the hands of the Lord. 
Actions will not bind you. Your heart will be purified. The grace and light of God will descend on you.
This is the way to spiritualise all your actions.
See God in all beings and things. See the world as a manifestation of God. It is not necessary to abandon the world in order to have a vision of God, because the world itself is a manifestation of God.
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Listen! Wake up now. Develop dispassion. Do sadhana (spiritual practice). Beware of the senses. Become desireless.
Understand life. Live divinely. Seek good company. Fear not. Waste not time. Depend on God.
Spiritual discipline is the key to God-realisation. Discipline the body and the senses and the mind.
May you attain God-realisation now and here.
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Be regular in keeping your spiritual diary. Spiritual progress will be greatly quickened. Kindly be regular in sending me a copy of your diary at the end of each month for review and further instructions. I am immensely pleased to note your regularity in sadhana.
Go to bed early (10 p.m.) and get up early (4 a.m.). The early morning hours are most favourable for meditation.
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Understand life's supreme purpose. Seek the eternal. Realise the underlying essence.
Have intense thirst for liberation. Die to live. Discipline the mind. Have self-control.
Learn to be wise. Make the best use of this human birth. Realise the oneness of existence.