Wednesday, April 30, 2014
The Glory of God
God has no purpose. God is not bound by any action, just as the sun is not bound by the activities of the people of this world. God acts out of compassion for the individual soul. His sole purpose is to see that His creatures evolve spiritually.
God is the lover and the beloved at the same time. Justice, love, and goodness are expressions in the divine will.
In the word 'Bhagavan' - 'bhaga' signifies the six qualities of God. These are: jnana (wisdom), vairagyam (dispassion), kirti (fame), sri (prosperity or wealth, divine aishvarya), shakti or bala (omnipotence), and dharma (righteousness).
According to the Prashnopanishad, there are fifteen kalas or rays of God. These are: prana (life), faith, sky, air, fire, water, earth, senses, mind, food, strength, penance, mantra (mystic formula), karma (action) and name.
God has hands and feet everywhere. He has heads and eyes, mouths and ears everywhere. He is immanent in the world possessing the vast whole. God breathed into man the breath of life and man became a living soul.
Pleasure is due to virtuous actions and pain is due to vicious actions. Virtue and vice constitute adrshta (unseen potency). The various experiences of man are due to this adrshta. But adrshta is a blind force - it needs an intelligent director to guide it. And that intelligent director is God.
God is the verity of all verities. There is a moral and spiritual order through which is fulfilled the will of the Lord in the world. God has created not only the world, He has also created time along with it. God's knowledge is eternal, complete and perfect.
Who can know the will of God? He who knows God, he alone can know His will. God and His will are one. The Lord is the supreme healer. He is the divine indweller in all medicines.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
The Nature of God
God is self-luminous and self-existent. God is eternal, perfect, pure, free and all-pervading. God is beginningless and endless. God is without pain, sorrow, fear, passion, caste, creed, sex and colour.
God is the indweller of your heart, God is the controller and governor of this world, body and mind. God is the centre of the whole of creation. He is the first causeless cause.
That supreme source of life is God. The Lord has become all. He permeates all. He is all in all. God is the way, the source, the goal, the truth and the life. God is with form and without form - like ice and steam.
God is your sole refuge, benefactor and master. God reveals himself to you in the form in which you love Him most. God cannot be comprehended but can be realised.
God sees without eyes, hears without ears, works without hands and tastes without tongue. God is unknowable through intellect but is knowable through intuition. The law and the law-giver are one - the eternal law is God himself.
God is near and far. He is nearer to the pure and sincere, but farthest to the passionate God witnesses all your thoughts and actions. God is your unseen guest at every meal. God is the head of your house. The reality of God is his universal existence (sat).
God is not responsible for the wealth of a man or for the poverty of another. Everyone bears the fruits of his karmas. God is the greatest doctor, the greatest engineer. He is the greatest mathematician.
God is the enjoyer and He is the object enjoyed. God is the high and He is the low. He is the knower and He is the known. God is the word spoken and He is the breath which speaks it.
God is the manifest and He is the unmanifest. God is the breath of all breath, the prana (life) of all pranas, the Self of all selves.
He is the one ultimate truth, unborn, undying, everlasting, ever-existent, subtle and devoid of pain and sorrow.
Monday, April 28, 2014
God is All in All
There is one God. He is above all, in all, through all. He is all in all. In God all are united. God is the essential power and reality in all things. God is one, God is the all-pervading spirit and life of the universe.
God is the inner soul of all alike. In every form behold the blessed Lord himself. That is my yoga. Cows are of diverse colours but all milk is alike. The kinds of flowers vary, yet all worship is one. There is but one God - the creator, the governor of the world, almighty, eternal, incomprehensible. God is almighty - he governs every action in the universe. Not even an electron can move without his will.
God is always just. God is truth. God is love. God is absolute good, know that everything is vanity except God. God can be attained by truthful behaviour, by leading a highly moral life and by the acquisition of knowledge. God's way is mercy. God’s name is love. God's first manifestation was sound.
In the eternity of God is real life. In truth God is eternal light. In the goodness of God is eternal bliss, peace and joy. God is near at hand to help you in your difficulties.
Difficult it is to get a human birth. Difficult it is to get a guru (spiritual preceptor). Difficult it is to attain God-realisation. But, through the grace of God, you can overcome all difficulties.
You have the urge of hunger and there is food to appease that hunger. You have the urge of thirst and there is water to quench that thirst. There is the urge to be always happy and there must be something to satisfy that urge. This 'something' is God.
Appeal. Knock. You will be heard. The door shall be opened unto you. Do not seek him far and wide - He is in your own heart - He has his dwelling there.
God is the great deliverer. Surely, He is near at hand to help you in your difficulties. God is the bread of life eternal. This bread is more than anything else. It is more abundant life.
God is the embodiment of happiness. Realise God and you will enjoy eternal happiness.
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Philosophy of Bhakti
Bhakti or devotion is indispensable for attaining jnana. Jnana is the condition necessary for bhakti to reach its fullest development in love. Knowledge without devotion is as futile as devotion without knowledge.
Love follows from the basic oneness of all beings. God is being. World is becoming. The creation of the world does not in any way affect the integrity of God. The world does not stand apart from God, but is pervaded by him.
Bhakti is not mere emotionalism but is the turning of the will as well as the intellect towards the divine. The ideal devotee is a karma yogi as well as a jnana yogi. Bhakti originates in knowledge, is essentially of the nature of love, and bursts forth in selfless action.
True love gives the highest wisdom. Diffused love is wisdom. Concentrated wisdom is love. True wisdom vibrates in the hearer. Bhakti begins with emotional dualism and culminates in monism. Lover and the loved, the devotee and the object of devotion, are fused into one spiritual ecstasy.
All creation is the family of God. This world is sustained by the power of God. The deepest urge of life is to know God and to live in God. God's will is the very law which governs the universe. All beings are guided and controlled by the divine will.
Life on this physical plane is a mere preparation for the eternal life in God. Though the Lord resides in all creatures and things, there is a difference in the degree of His manifestation in them. In human beings the Lord is more manifest than in others. And, among human beings, He is more or less manifest according to the degree of knowledge or consciousness that is realised.
He who follows the path of meditation knows his Self as divine and one with God. Any man or woman has equal right to follow the path of devotion. The greatest sinner can practise devotion and attain God-realisation. Though unborn, God takes birth as an avatara (incarnation) to destroy the wicked, to protect virtue and to establish dharma (righteousness).
Saturday, April 26, 2014
What is Devotion?
Make use of this precious human birth for the achievement of this supreme purpose - God-realisation. Pray to the Lord to make you desireless. But have one strong desire and let it be for attaining Self-realisation. Through a life of devotion, service, purification, charity, sadhana (spiritual practice) and meditation attain the highest Self-realisation and dwell in the supreme peace and bliss (paramananda).
Devotion is supreme love of the Lord, supreme attachment to the Lord. The notion of God means an absolutely perfect being, who has all the possible attributes, including the attribute of existence; so God must exist. The existence of God cannot be proved by rational arguments. It is purely a question of faith and refers to the intuitive side of man.
The deepest craving, the deepest aspiration in man is for eternal happiness, eternal knowledge and eternal truth. Man should search for some supernatural entity which can satisfy his deepest aspirations.
As we explain everything within nature by the law of cause and effect, so also the nature as a whole must be explained. It must have some cause. This cause must be different from the effect. It must be some supernatural entity, i.e. God. Nature is not a mere chance collection of events, a mere jumble of accidents, but an orderly affair. The planets move regularly in their orbits, seeds grow into trees regularly. Seasons succeed each other in order. Now, nature cannot order itself. It requires the existence of an intelligent being, i.e. God, who is responsible for it.
Everything in nature has some purpose. It fulfils some function or other. Certainly every object by itself cannot choose a function for itself. Their different functions ought to have been planned or designed by a single intelligent being or God. You cannot explore or probe into the lila (sportive play) of God. You must accept it with faith and reverence.
What is the nature of God? God is love and love is God. God is the source for this world, body, mind, prana and senses. God gives light to the mind, sun, moon and stars. God is your only redeemer, refuge. God is your real father, mother, guru, friend and relative.
God is the only reality. God is the dispenser of fruits of actions. God is the designer and architect of the universe. God is immanent and transcendent. God is unchanging, undecaying and imperishable. God is the supreme goal, beauty, truth.
Inspiring Talks of Gurudev Sivananda
10th July, 1949
GURU POORNIMA SANYASINS CHOICEST GROUP
Very early in the morning, in Brahmamuhurtha, in the traditional fashion, out of the mortal sheaths of Sridhara Rao, Natesa Iyer, R.V. Sastri and Brahmachari Satchidananda, arose the effulgent immortal torch-bearers of wisdom, the spiritual children of Sivananda and the messengers of Siva’s Wisdom—Chidananda, Brahmananda, Mounananda, and Satchidananda.
They shone in a lustre that at once gladdened the hearts of those who had the Darshan of the rising suns. At the very touch of the master, at a word of supreme wisdom from his lips, at the omnipotent Sankalpa of Lord Siva’s universal heart….their life-spark had burst into a conflagration of immortality, burning away at once the finite, little self clothed by the five sheaths, and limited by the phenomena. Sacred thread and tuft of hair consigned to the Ganges, they shone in garments presented to them by Guru Siva as the four great Sanatkumaras in the presence of Dakshinamurthy. The shower of rain turned the barren landscape of Himalayas, scorched by the heat of summer, into a rich bed of greenery. Ganga Matha roared along OM OM OM blessing the children of Her Lord. The rising sun smiled, happy to witness the renunciation of the four great spiritual giants. The great Rishis and the Brahma Vidya Gurus who (naturally on the Guru Purnima day) joyously greeted the dawn of the day, were infinitely pleased that a Blessed Four had joined their group to carry the banner of Wisdom Service Renunciation.
Siva beamed with joy. ‘A select group,’ he said. And, added: ‘Kings, Prime Ministers and millionaires should come and embrace Sanyas. They should stay here for some days: listen to Krishnanandaji’s Vedanta lectures, do Akhanda Kirtan, listen to the chanting of the Rudram and Chamakam in the temple, take Bhiksha of roti and dhal from the kitchen, serve lepers at the dispensary and attend Satsang at night and there listen to the study of Upanishads, etc. One man’s heart will soon be changed: he will embrace Sanyas. Others will soon follow.’
Siva is a Prophet. His vision is not impaired by time or space. What he has said today, the most auspicious day of the year, will surely come to pass soon. India will be spiritually ruled by Sanyasins very soon.
There is another difference. There is a real link between the first laconic expression and the second one. The Select Group who got themselves initiated today are indeed Kings, Premiers and leaders of men. Very soon they will lead the leaders, rule the kings, and will be primates guiding premiers, at whose feet millionaires will shed their vanity of wealth and bowl. Such is the glory of renunciation.
YOUR SPIRITUAL WORTH?
A very high dignitary has come. Siva seated him in the office, entertained him with sweets and tea, gave him some books and quietly left him and his party there and walked off, without even putting on his shoes and taking the umbrella. One would run about and dance around these people, for their material worth.
Pannalalji’s Gurudev is his God. He worships his picture. He repeats his name. His faith in Siva no one can excel. He is not very rich. But at a single mention of any of the Ashram needs he would sacrifice his all to fulfil. He quietly whispered into my ears: ‘Write to the Lahore Press. As soon as the book, ‘All About Hinduism’ is ready, I shall pay for the entire consignment and take delivery. I have just now got some money, by Gurudev’s grace. I shall spend it all on this book.’ He is the man who increased his monthly donation to the Ashram when his salary was cut. And, he firmly believes that all his material prosperity and spiritual advance he owes to Siva’s grace.
The great official party was proceeding towards the Ganges Ghat for a boat to cross the river. Siva asked them: ‘You cannot walk on the water?’
Meaning: renounce the vanity born of your high official position. Treat your servants and subordinates with more considerateness. You can command them to obey, but can you command the Ganga?
Yet, all millionaires are not arrogant, and to those who have a spiritual worth, Siva runs unasked. This is the sign of God. T.V. Purushottham, a millionaire of Madras, had expressed a desire to be initiated by Siva into the Ishta Mantra. He is old, and is unable to walk. Siva arranged for the Puja in connection with the initiation to be done in P.’s own room in the Ashram. Siva, too, went to the Kutir in which P. was lodged and performed the Diksha. Look at this: Guru condescending to go to the disciple and initiating him. If you have a spiritual thirst, Siva is your own….and he is ever eager to serve you.
During the entire day hundreds of devotees prostrated before him and worshipped him. Siva, too, offered flowers to them and worshipped them always, uttering: ‘Sahasra Sheersha Purushah’. This is Virat worship. This is the sign of a sage of Self-realisation. He sees That everywhere. To Siva the entire world is his own Form. His own manifestation—the Virat.
12th July, 1949
WHO IS A SAINT?
We saw how Siva arranged for the Mantra Diksha of Sri T.V.P., the aged devotee, and himself went to the disciple’s room to initiate him.
P. wanted to attend the night Satsang in Siva’s Kutir. And, at night he took a wearisome few steps from his Kutir to Siva’s across the road, on two human crutches provided by Siva. He cannot sit on the ground. It is physically impossible. Siva noticed this and at once provided a chair for him, whereas he himself sat on the ground along with the other Satsangees. Siva is a strict disciplinarian and would sweetly and kindly train even Europeans to sit cross-legged whenever they happened to attend the Satsang. But, where the real need arises, the one supreme importance given to the fulfilment of the pious wish of the devotee swallows all other minor observances.
P. had almost reached the verandah where the Satsang is held with his shoes on before his son could remind him of the custom to leave the shoes at the threshold. P. tried to turn back, apologetically. Siva perceived the situation at once.
‘No, no. It is perfectly all right. Come on; sit down on the chair. You can have the shoes on. Why, all of us have this filthy ‘shoe’ all over the body and we take it with us wherever we go.’
P.’s tears of joy rained gratitude that filled his heart to overflowing.
As P. left the Kutir after the Satsang, he was filled with a strange sublime emotion, a queer revelation.
He said: ‘This Swamiji is a real saint. I have never met the like of him ever before in my life, even though I have met great spiritually advanced persons. How kind he is. I had the idea that Swami X was a big saint. But, would he ever have taken all this trouble to initiate me in my own Kutir? Did he ever give me so many books, and so freely, to read? He attends to my physical needs as though he is my own mother. He selects books for me and gives them to me for my study, free. He places a chair for me to sit while he sits on the ground. And, most of all, imagine the wit and wisdom with which he permitted me to enter the Satsang with shoes on. What a mind of wisdom he is! He compares the skin on our body to the shoe. What a perfect simplicity of truth. How much Vairagya this one idea creates in our mind. People would give up adorning this skin and beautifying it with ornaments and cosmetics if they know how this man-of-God looks upon it: as a mere shoe. This man is a saint. No one else that breathes on this earth today. I can’t compare Swami R….or for that matter, anyone I have seen, and I have seen quite a lot of them, with this child-like saint who is God Himself.’
20th July, 1949
SERVICE BESTOWS MOKSHA ON YOU
Srimathi Bhagavathi Devi, wife of Rai Saheb Ram Prasadji of Delhi, has ‘donated’ a well on the bank of the Ganges for the use of the population of Muni-ki-reti during the rainy season when Ganges-water gets too muddy to be used for drinking purposes. Sri Swami Sankaranandaji of Ram Ashram had sponsored the move and had supervised the construction work also. The well is now ready. Sri S. had arranged for a Kirtan to be held in the Ram Ashram last evening to celebrate the opening of the well for public use. Siva graced the function with his august presence, with his disciples. His inspiring Kirtan-Dhwanis thrilled everyone present.
This morning Siva performed the actually opening ceremony of the well. He drew the first bucket of water with his own holy hands and distributed Prasad to those who had assembled there. During the course of this function, Siva said:
‘Srimathi Bhagaathi Devi and Rai Saheb Ram Prasadji, as also Sri Swami Sankaranandaji have earned the gratitude of us all and of the people of the entire locality by this great humanitarian service. Now people will get crystal-clear water even during the rainy season. Diseases will be averted. They have earned the love of the Sadhus and pilgrims, too.
‘Service purifies the heart and makes it fit for the reception of divine light. Not only that, service bestows Mukti on you. Service motivated by desires obtains heaven for you: and after the merits are exhausted in heavenly enjoyments, the Jiva returns again to this mortal earth to undergo pain and pleasure, and to strive for Moksha. Selfless service, on the other hand, releases the soul from transmigration. From here the Jiva goes to Brahma Loka and there enjoys unending bliss. It attains Krama Mukti. At the end of the present Kalpa, the Jiva gets its final release or Moksha. There is no return to this mortal plane, to this world of pains and sorrows, to this burning hell-fire of Samsara, for the Nishkamya Karma Yogi. It is verily Moksha here and now: release from birth and death here and now. Therefore, serve selflessly and free yourself.’
25th July, 1949
PATRIOTISM: FIRST STEP IN VEDANTA
The death anniversary of Suman, one of the foremost patriotic leaders of Tehri-Garhwal, was observed in Muni-ki-reti: and, as usual, the venue was the Ashram itself, and the chairman, the soul of Sivanandanagar, Siva himself.
Kirtan was conducted and there were a few speeches and songs in praise of the heroic Suman by men of the locality.
Siva’s Pranava-Nada reached out to Suman in the other world and gladdened his heart. And, Siva said:
‘Patriotism is the first step in the ladder of Vedanta. It is only when you annihilate narrow selfishness that you are fit to learn Vedantic Truths and to meditate on the Supreme Self. Zeal for service and emancipation of the nation expands the heart, kills the narrow selfish instinct, and in a way attunes man to the Divine Will. The Lord’s Will always brings good to the whole world. The patriot yearns for the good of the nation to which he belongs. Soon he will go beyond this, too, and yearn and work for the good of mankind the entire creation: he will then have Liberation.
‘One of the surest distinguishing marks of a Vedantin is his fearlessness, bravery, daring. So long as there is the least trace of selfishness, man cannot have fearlessness. When you realise that you represent a Cause and not any egoistic desire, you acquire the bravery which laughs at death. The Cause is not subject to the limitations to which this body is: the Cause survives this body: when you identify yourself with the body, there is conquest of death itself. Be you all brave and fearless like Suman, the hero whose anniversary of death we observe today. Strive, strive every moment to become like him. You can.
‘We pray for the peace of the departed soul of Suman who died a martyr’s death, fighting for the cause of the nation’s freedom. In reality, there is no need for this prayer. Suman has attained the Veera Swarga: no more is there a return for him. When selfish, egoistic desires have been annihilated the Jiva does not have to transmigrate. From Veera Swarga or Brahma Loka, the Jiva will have Krama Mukti: there is no return to this world of joys and sorrows.
‘Therefore, this prayer-gathering is in reality intended to remind us all of Suman’s life of complete dedication, and to inspire in you all that selflessness and that devotion which filled Suman.
‘You should also celebrate his birthday every year. You should organise his admirers and try to bring out a short biography of Suman’s life. This will provide enduring incentive to the young men of all times to follow the footsteps of their leader.’
PERENNIAL ZEAL FROM WITHIN
A young Ashramite who was working hard and with great zeal had gradually grown melancholy and unwilling to work for want of enthusiasm. Siva heard of this and quickly remarked:
‘How long can anyone buttress another’s enthusiasm? Each worker will have to draw his own inspiration from within and keep the fire of his zeal ever alive and bright. We are all engaged in the service of humanity, in the practice of Karma Yoga. We serve ourselves through such service: we purify ourselves and we will attain Moksha through service. If we grow Tamasic, no one except we ourselves, would be the losers.
‘The work Sri X was doing will now be taken up by others. Work will go on. But his talents will get blunted out of disuse. I am ever-ready to develop everyone’s talents at any cost. I always encourage young people with talents and bring out their hidden talents. If you all lend yourselves to that treatment then you will all become world famous. If you refuse to adapt yourselves to circumstances and adjust your ways and thus deprive yourselves of the opportunity to grow, then you can’t blame anyone except yourselves for your stagnation.’
Inspiring words, these: coming as they do from one whose own life is a more eloquent illustration of this philosophy, they have a great force. We who live under the shelter of his lotus feet, in his protecting care, and his ever-appreciative heart, cannot even imagine that gigantic will that resolutely kept the flame of zeal for service of humanity alive in Siva during his Swarg Ashram days, especially, and that conquered every kind of privation and suffering, and, after extracting their deadly teeth through Vichara and an abiding spiritual yearning, used their very hide for ascending to the summit of God-realisation.
5th August, 1949
ANANDA KUTIR, EIGHTH WONDER OF THE WORLD
‘For,’ said Sri Swami Satyamanandaji, of Tulsi Mutt, during his conversation with Siva on the Viswanath Ghat this evening, ‘you have captured here several Vibhutis of the Lord. He is Himalayas among mountains: you have Him here towering all round. You are living at His feet. He is Ganges among rivers; and here He is perennially flowing alongside the Ashram, and eternally humming the Pranava: and this Pranava is also He Himself. The blue expanse of the Akasa ever reminds us of the Infinite. The resplendent sun which is His Vibhuti shines in all His glory on the Ashram without any obstruction whatsoever: so does the Moon, another Vibhuti. You have installed Lord Vishnu and Sri Sankara in our temple and the Pratishtha of this temple you have performed in the divine month, Margasirsha. The temple of Siva is in the midst of a bael-forest where Siva loves to dwell. In the Ashram there is a continuous Japa of the Maha Mantra—in that Japa Yajna He is manifest. The crowning glory is that you have enshrined here the Adhyatma Vidya which is His manifestation: and from your Ashram issues a perennial current of wisdom of the highest kind. Tejas and Satwa shine on your countenance: the very rapidity with which the Ashram has grown indicates that you have Java (Victory) as a part of your being the result of ceaseless endeavour which is also His aspect. Swamiji, you are silent. This Mouna, too, reminds me of His Vibhuti: you are a Jnani and your Janana, too, is He Himself!
‘All the Vibhutis of the Lord are here. See: even the perceptible Vibhutis are so many. Who knows how many subtle Vibhutis there are here? This indeed is the Eighth Wonder of the World.’
7th August, 1949
SECRET OF SUCCESS
A few of us were sitting on the floor of the D.J. Hall despatching Birthday invitations. Siva peeped in, and as though on second thought, walked into the Hall and greeted us: ‘Tat Twam Asi.’
We saluted him silently.
‘How many have you despatched so far?’
‘Nearly a thousand, Swamiji.’
‘This year it has not been done scientifically!’ This nearly startled us. ‘The invitations should reach the people in the first week of the month. The ground should have been prepared previously, by the despatch of leaflets and pamphlets.
The average householder is busy nowadays with his own bread-winning activities.
‘He needs constant reminders, constant encouragements, and constant opportunities should be offered to him at his door for his evolution. We should not sit back on the chair and think, ‘If he has a charitable temperament, let him find out ways and means.’ No. We should voluntarily place before him opportunities of doing charity. And that, too, in a scientific manner. If the invitations reach the people in the first week, many would avail themselves of the opportunity to perform charity. If it goes late, they might have spent the money, and thus an opportunity would be lost.
‘And, by this scientific approach the institution also will grow. Why do we want the institution to grow? Not for our own glorification. But, for the service of humanity only. Such should be the attitude of every one of you. Then you will take greater interest in work, for with the change of mental attitude the work becomes a Sadhana and the surest way to purify yourself and attain Self-realisation.’
With the blessing, Siva left us to resume his work. After a few minutes he came back with a few addressed copies of ‘The Divine Life’ and his ‘Bible’—the huge book in which he notes down addresses of people and associations of every description.
‘Please post this.’ He gave the copies of the magazine. Here are some of the addresses on the wrappers, written in Siva’s own hand:
1. The Rawal Saheb, Badrinath.
2. The Officer-in-charge, Free Dispensary, Badrinath.
3. The Post Master, Badrinath.
4. The Secretary, Badrinath Temple Committee, Badrinath.
5. Free Reading Room, Badrinath.
You and I will not do this. None of these people have asked for the Magazine: and there is no knowing whether such addresses exist at all. Especially the address ‘The Officer-in-charge, Free Dispensary, Badrinath’, beat my intelligence.
‘This also, Swamiji?’ I asked.
‘Oh yes, yes. Why? You suspect that there may not be any such person in Badrinath. I have a faint idea that there is a free dispensary or some such thing for Yatris in Badrinath. But, don’t worry about the exact name and all that. It must reach someone. And, that Someone will be benefited.’
Siva has lived up to this precept—to the very letter and spirit. Recently a stranger walked into the Ashram, stayed there for a couple of days and requested Siva’s permission to despatch a few hundred packets of books, etc. to high officials, Ministers, business men and Ambassadors. I had known a few of these ‘great’ personalities: and I was sure that most of them will not look at spiritual books. Yet, the visitor was boisterous in his enthusiasm: and Siva was even more! When it was announced that nearly Rs. 800 worth of books had been sent free, Siva’s face showed supreme satisfaction. Here was an opportunity of sending a book free to one man (some man), one prospective Sadhaka (in this birth or the next!), and Siva would never let it slip.
Money? It will come. Books? No, they never go to waste: someone must read them: and we will bring out new editions! When such is the attitude, I think failure would flee before his undertakings.
WHAT IS INDIVIDUAL SADHANA?
In the office, Siva’s gaze fell on Rajan.
‘Oh, Rajan, you do not attend either the morning class or the evening Satsang? You are not feeling well?’
‘I am all right, Swamiji. But, I do Japa and meditation in my room. I never waste a single moment. I am always engaged morning and evening in my personal Sadhana.’
‘No, no. It should not make you neglect attending morning and evening classes. In what way is this personal Sadhana superior to common meditation, Japa and study? You will learn many new things from the morning lectures. Your mind will be alert. People generally imagine that they can meditate in seclusion. Very few can. Do not delude yourself with wrong notions. I have seen what sort of individual Sadhana people do. They only sleep. You will get up at 4 in the morning and so some vigorous Japa for a few minutes. Later, you will slightly relax….and you will only know when the tea bell rings at 7 a.m. Who prevents you from doing your Japa? Even during your work you can do Japa. If you cut short your gossiping programmes, you can do a lot of Sadhana. Please attend the morning and evening classes hereafter.’
12th August, 1949
THE BOUNDARIES OF DIVINE LIFE
All was quiet in the office: everyone, including Siva, intent on the work on hand.
Quietly, a thick, short, young and toothless youth stepped in, clad in full Khadi. It was Panikker.
And quietly, he touched Siva’s feet and sprinkled the dust on the crown of his head, worshipped the feet with a 100-rupee note and sat down on the bench.
This has been a routine with him for a few days past.
‘Are you married?’ queried Siva.
‘No, Swamiji, I came across your writings much too early in life to commit that error. I have remained single: but you have always been with me.’
‘But, you never wrote to me.’
‘Swamiji, my only desire was to have your Darshan. I never wrote to you, but the letters of your name I had inscribed on the tablet of my heart. I do not say that I have not had my struggles.
But faith in you has always been my staff and difficulties have melted away the moment I thought of you.’
Siva was by this time engrossed in his letters. As Panikker got up to leave, Siva quietly picked up two Prasad packets from the table and handed him. After touching Siva’s feet in reverence again, P. left.
And perhaps, there are millions like him who have taken Siva as their Guru and God, worship him and lead the divine life, but whom the Society might not have known at all. Where are the boundaries of Divine Life, of Siva’s influence? The Society’s records cannot show.
THE AUTOGRAPH THAT SAVED
It seems we are in for a good treat today. Krishnayya enters the Hall the moment P. left it. Siva made the usual enquiries.
‘Swamiji, my health is completely all right now. Two months ago I was laid up with typhoid. My condition was very bad. It almost looked that I could live only for some days more. A parcel arrived from here. The Doctor had forbidden me to read. But, I asked my people to let me see what it was. Unwilling to refuse my request, they showed me….and it was a book by you. I took it in my hand, pressed it to my eyes and head, and opened it. My eyes rested for a few minutes on your autograph and blessings. I did not read the book then; I could not. But that very moment there was a turn for the better in my health. And, I am here today. It is only your blessing that has enabled me to fulfil my great ambition in life—to have your Darshan.’
SILVER SANDALS FOR THEE
Even while K. was talking, a Sadhu had come into the office, holding in his hands a pair of silver-plated sandals of the orthodox type. He placed them near Siva’s feet and sat down gazing on Siva’s lotus feet in silence.
Siva turned to him: ‘Where from do you come, Swamiji Maharaj?’
‘Bhagavan, I have come from Banaras. I am in a Mutt there. I had an intense desire to take Sanyas. A Grihastha devotee in Banaras with whom I was living performed Viraja Homa for me.
Then he asked me to go to you for Diksha and Upadesha.
‘You will stay here for some days?’
‘If I have your commands, Swamiji, I would like to leave tomorrow morning after Diksha.’
‘Come, then. I will initiate you now itself.’
‘Bhagavan: please place your lotus-feet on these sandals. These will be my refuge and protection throughout my life. They will represent you for me, even as Rama’s sandals represented Him for Bharata.’ Siva stood for a few moments on the silver sandals, uttering ‘Sivoham, Soham, Satchidananda, Swarupoham’.
Then both of them left the Hall. Siva took him straight to the Ganges Ghat and initiated him into the holy order of Sanyasa.
Friday, April 25, 2014
Song of Chidanand
Chidanand Chidanand Chidananda Hum
Har Halme Almast Satchidananda Hum
Ajardnand Amardnand Acalananda Hum
Har Halme Almast Satchidananda Hum
Nirbhaya aur Nischinta Chidghanananda Hum
Kaivalya Kevala Kutastha Ananda Hum
Nitya Suddha Siddhi Satchidananda Hum
Knowledge Bliss, Knowledge Bliss, Bliss Absolute,
In all conditions I am Knowledge, Bliss Absolute.
I am without old age, without death, without motion
In all conditions, I am Knowledge Bliss Absolute.
I am without fear without worry, Bliss Absolute
Independent, unchanging, non-dual Atma
Eternal, pure, perfect Knowledge, Bliss Absolute
Sivananda Sivanand Sivananda Hum
Aghadbhumwala Aghadbhumwala Akhilananda Hum
Chidananda Chidanand Chidanand Hum
Har Halme Almast Satchidananda Hum
Nijanand Nijanand Nijananda Hum
Har Halme Almast Satchidananda Hum.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Song of Instructions
Mohana bansiwale tumko lakhou pranam tumko lakhou pranam
Sankar bholevale tumko lakhou pranam
Tumko lakhou pranam pyare kroro pranam
Bhajo Radhe Govind
Radhe Govinda bhajo Radhe Govind,
Radhe Govinda bhajo Sita Govind
Hari bolo, bolo bhai Radhe Govind
Hare Krishna Hare Ram Radhe Govind.
Get up at 4 a.m. Brahmamuhurt,
Get up at 4 a.m. Japo Ram Ram,
Get up at 4 a.m. Do brahma vichar,
Get up at 4 a.m. Enquire 'Who am I?'
Get up at 4 a.m. Practise Yogabhyas.
Observe mouna daily for two hours,
Fast on ekadashi, take milk and fruits,Study daily one chapter of Gita,
Do regular charity, one-tenth income,
Rely on your own self, give up servants,
Do kirtan at night, have satsang.
Speak the truth at all costs, preserve virya,
Satyam vada, dharmam cara, observe brahmacharya.
Ahimsa paramo dharma, love one and all,
Never hurt others feelings, be kind to all,
Control anger by kshama, develop viswa prem.
Keep daily spiritual diary, you will evolve quickly.
(Hare Krishna Hare Ram............)
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Basic Kirtans of Sivananda
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Eat a little, drink a little, speak a little, sleep a little,
Mix a little, move a little, serve a little, think a little,
Give a little, work a little, rest a little, worship a little.
Do Asan a little, pranayam a little, meditate a little, do vichara a little.
Do japa a little, do kirtan a little, write mantra a little, reflect a little.
Purification, concentration, reflection, meditation.
Selflessness, self-surrender, self-purification, Self-realisation.
Do self-sacrifice, effect self-surrender, have self-restraint.
You will have Self-realisation.
Speak sweetly, speak truthfully, think correctly, believe faithfully.
Serve selflessly, pray devotedly, meditate ceaselessly, realise perfectly.
Think no evil, see no evil, hear no evil, talk no evil.
Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realise.
Be good, do good, be kind, be compassionate.
Practise ahimsa, satyam brahmacharya
This is the foundation of yoga-vedanta.
Practise sravan manan nididhyasan
You will attain brahma sakshatkara.
Find the knower, find the hearer,
Find the seer, find the smeller,
Find the taster, find the feeler.
You will attain Self-realisation.
Sarva dharman parityajya mamekam saranam vraja
Aham tva sarva papebhyo mokshayasyami ma suca.
Om Tat Sat Om Om Santi Om
Om Tat Sat Om Om Santi Om
Hari Om Tat Sat Om Sri Om Tat Sat Om
Siva Om Tat Sat Om Om Tat Sat Om.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Here are some instructions to a karma yogi. Do not make any difference between menial and respectable work. Fix the mind on the Lord and give the hands to work. Sing God's name while serving others.
Feed the poor. Clothe the naked; comfort the distressed. Do actions as your duty. Do not expect any thanks or appreciation, applause, salute, for your work. Spend one tenth of your income on charity. Share what you have with others. Always scrutinise your inner motives.
Annihilate all selfish motives.
Give up abhimana (identification, pride) of all sorts. Never feel, "I have helped that man".
Always think, "The Lord has given me an opportunity to serve him". Always be on the lookout for ways to serve and never miss one single opportunity.
Do not be attached to the work - you must be able to give it up at any moment. Discipline the body and the mind again and again for fiery service. Non-attachment to work does not mean indifference.
Develop a passion for Self-realisation, for freedom from birth and death, for liberation from bondage. One strong holy desire annihilates all worldly desires. This will help your progress towards freedom. Understand the theory of karma and cut the three knots - ignorance, desire and selfish action. Then you are beyond the law of karma. Then you are a liberated sage. This is your foremost duty. All other duties are self-imposed through attachment, ignorance and delusion.
Be equanimous in all conditions, knowing that they are nothing but the fruits of your own past actions; be indifferent to the pairs of opposites. Always be rooted, inwardly, in the self. Always be blissful. Radiate bliss and joy. Now none is foe, none is stranger. Feel and see the Self in all beings. Be devoted to the well-being of all humanity. Love for love's sake. Work for work's sake.
Monday, April 21, 2014
Obstacles and Remedy
Be wise. Discriminate. Analyse. Scrutinise your thoughts daily. Boldly proclaim: "I would devote my entire life to the service of others - no matter whether I achieve salvation or not. Salvation is not my concern. My duty is to serve the Lord in all; to serve the sick and the poor, untiringly; to saturate my entire being in the service of others." This should be your bold proclamation at all times - to everyone with whom you come into contact.
Even while you work you should feel: "I am not hungry, it is the function of the prana to feel hungry. I do not see anything, it is the function of the eye to see. Exhilaration and depression belong to the mind, not to me. I am the witness (sakshi of everything." Through such regular vichara (ratiocination), you will soon attain samadhi (self-awareness).
A karma yogi must be a hero. He will come across many difficulties and obstacles - he must conquer them one by one. He must do this with an undaunted spirit; he must do it boldly.
There are five obstacles that a man has to face when he does karma yoga in the world, even after he has attained purity of heart. They are:
1. Dispassion wanes by contact with sense-objects - downfall comes.
2. Thoughts of the reality of the world creep in.
3. Remembrance of Brahman vanishes.
4. You cannot keep up the brahmakaravritti (thought of Brahman) for a long time, owing to vikshepa (tossing of the mind).
5. During work, the idea of duality and triputi (seer, sight, and seen) come in.
To become humbler than a blade of grass - this should be your ideal. Then you will develop patience, understanding, and you will have goodwill on all sides, from everyone. You should introspect in silence and solitude. Analyse points of criticism. Solitude will calm your emotions. The conclusions you arrive at will be sound.
Karma yogis should never let their emotions and excitement get the better of them. By following these instructions any action, sacred or secular, even if it is service of the family, may be converted into an act of worship leading to the most sublime goal of Self-realisation.
Sunday, April 20, 2014
The student of vedanta (the path of pure wisdom) develops sakshi bhav (witness consciousness) through discrimination and self-analysis. The devotee develops nimitta bhava (the attitude "I am an instrument in the hands of God") and surrenders everything at the lotus-feet of the Lord. Thus they attain a mental attitude of non-attachment to actions and their fruits.
This is the attitude of a karma yogi:
"God alone is. God alone acts. Not even a piece of straw moves without his will."
"He is the doer. He alone is the enjoyer. I am but an instrument in his hands."
"He is the power that resides in the senses and the mind; the power of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling - all these belong to him."
"He utilises my mind and senses and works out his will."
"My body, mind and senses belong to him alone."
"All actions are done by the qualities of nature only. It is nature (prakriti) that acts. It is prakriti that works."
"I am the pure Atman, the eternal Self. I am asanga, akarta, abhokta (unattached, non-doer, non-experiencer). I am the silent witness."
"I am distinct from the mind and the senses. I am the eternally pure, perfect, immortal Atman."
While serving others, the vedantin (the student of vedanta) should visualise his Self in others and the bhakta should see the Lord in other faces.
Understand these bhavas (attitudes) fully. Meditate on them daily. Act accordingly, without attachment to or identification with the work. You will soon attain God-realisation. This is jnana - this is the jnana-agni (fire of wisdom) which burns the fruits of all actions and liberates you from bondage.
- - -
In the practice of karma yoga, there is no loss of effort. There is no harm. There is no transgression also. Even a little practice can protect you from great fear of birth and death with its concomitant evils. You will doubtless reap the fruit of jnana (self-knowledge) in this path of karma yoga. There is no uncertainty here. Matter is indestructible. Energy is indestructible. Even a little practice with the right mental attitude will purify the chitta (heart and mind).
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Let God Do Everything
When the sadhaka (spiritual aspirant) has combined bhakti yoga and karma yoga, he feels that God does everything, that he is an instrument in the hands of God. Thus he slowly frees himself from the bonds of karma and attains freedom through action.
When the sadhaka combines jnana yoga with karma yoga he feels that prakriti (nature) does everything. He feels that he is the silent witness of the activities of the mind, the senses and the three states (waking, dream and deep sleep).
The karma yogi feels the indwelling presence everywhere. He develops adaptability, He shares all he has (physical, mental and spiritual) with others. He observes strict brahmacharya. He offers all his works unto the Lord. Before going to sleep he says: "O Lord, whatever I have done today is done as worship of thee. May thou be pleased to accept it." Thus he burns the fruits of action, and he is no longer bound.
The karma yogi attains freedom through action. Thus he gets purity of heart and, through purity of heart, he attains knowledge of the self.
Some aspirants are humble at the beginning of their career. But, when they get name, fame, some followers, some disciples - they become victims of pride. Now they cannot do any service, they cannot carry anything on their heads or even in their hands.
The yogi that carries the baggage with joy and feeling, amidst a multitude of admirers, without making any show of humility, must be admired.
- - -
"Restraining and subduing the senses, regarding everything equally, rejoicing in the welfare of all, these alone come to Me." (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter XII, Verse 4). Such a man becomes a good karma yogi. He reaches the goal quickly.
Inspiring Talks of Gurudev Sivananda
23rd June, 1949
LANGOT BANDHA or KAUPEEN MUDRA
Perhaps you have never heard of these two—one a Bandha and the other a Mudra.
They have been evolved by sage Siva at the Ananda Kutir Yoga-Vedanta Forest Research Laboratory.
An aged gentleman came into Siva’s office this afternoon. He explained to Siva how, even though he had a desire to visit the Ashram for a number of years past, he was unable to do so because he could not get leave. We all looked up in wonder: this old man has still not retired?
Siva asked the question. And, he replied: ‘Swamiji, what to do? I have to protect fifteen children and my wife. Eight sons and seven daughters. All my life I have spent rearing up these, one by one. Therefore, even after retirement I have had to take a job.’
‘You have never practised Langot-Bandha, I think.’
‘No, Swamiji. And I have never heard of the name so far. Please explain it to me.’
‘Nor Kaupeen Mudra?’
‘Obviously not: if you had, you would have saved this worry in old age. Langot Bandha and Kaupeen Mudra differ only in minor details. Essentially they are the same. They mean observance of physical celibacy.’
A cough-like laughter from the old man during which he exhibited the few lucky remains of what were once rows of teeth.
‘This Bandha and this Mudra have thousands of uses, and many varieties, too. Grosser the variety, grosser the use also. But, even the grossest form—a mere physical observance of Brahmacharya, has great utility. It will save many families from starvation, help to reduce the dowry-burden from the head of fathers of girls, and the school-fees budgets of many a young man.
‘The subtler forms have infinite uses. When this Langot Bandha is taken to the mental sphere also, then the practitioner’s brain-power increases, intellect is sharpened, and intuitive perception developed, too. When this Langot Bandha becomes man’s nature itself, then the Kingdom of God is opened to him and he becomes soon a great sage. Even the Upanishads and the Gita have sung the glory of this Brahma and this Mudra.
‘Therefore practise this.’
26th June, 1949
DISCOURSE ON PRANA
Dr…., M.A., Ph.D., was Siva’s guest this morning. They sat in the office discussing Yoga. Each admired the other’s conquest of old age and the youthful energy with which they worked. The doctor was astonished to find that Siva, in spite of his age, was extremely busy throughout the day, from 3 in the morning till late at night.
The discussion went on to Creation, Maya and Samadhi.
Siva said: ‘Man is maintained as an individual through the force of Vasanas which keep the Prana in motion. Vasanas agitate Prana! And Prana maintains the body with its senses. These Vasanas are stored up in the mind from time immemorial. The grossest form of Prana is the breath. Subtler is the elemental Prana. Still more subtle is the Cosmic Prana which is termed Hiranyagarbha. It is from this Cosmic Prana that everything has emanated.
‘Now you have understood the intimate connection between Prana and the mind (Vasanas). One depends for its function on the other. Therefore, if you learn to control Prana, you can control the mind through Pranayama. When you still the Prana, and when it ceases to oscillate, Samadhi supervenes. All Vasanas are fried in toto: you achieve Moksha.
‘The Upanishads speak highly about Prana whose subtlest form is Hiranyagarbha. By worshipping Prana as Brahman, they say, you can live a full life of a hundred years. You can do a lot of selfless service and practise much Sadhana if you have thus a long life. The Isavasya Upanishad also exhorts us to live the full span of a hundred years, doing the enjoyed works. OM.’
‘Swamiji Maharaj, during all my life I have never spent such a fruitful hour as I have in your holiness’s presence. I have learnt during these few minutes more than I have in all the rest of my life. By your Ashirvad I do hope to be a useful citizen and a good Sadhaka. Namaskar.’
AN ETERNAL STUDENT: NO DISGUST!
Swami Keshavananda, disciple of the late Swami Pranavanandaji, has been here for some time. And tonight, the entire evening Satsang programme was his item-exhibition of lantern slides depicting some important topics in the Gita, Ramayana, Mahabharata, etc. Siva had already witnessed the slides. Yet, he was the one member in the audience tonight who was most interested in the item. After the Satsang had come to an end the gathering had dispersed, leaving on the verandah of Siva’s Kutir only Sastriji and another inmate of the Ashram, besides K. and Siva himself. There was a discussion on the slides.
‘Swamiji, it has a mass appeal. Woman and children would like it very much. This has a greater attraction for the layman than mere intellectual discourses. Children would witness it any number of times without getting bored.’
‘I, too,’ said Siva. ‘I have already seen this. But, I can see it daily and listen to Swamiji’s explanations daily. Not only the slides, even ordinary discourses, talks, lectures and Kathas I can go on listening to any number of times. I never feel disgust. Every time I will try to find out new points and learn new lessons.’
In this is wisdom: in this is Brahma Jnana.
NEVER LOSE AN OPPORTUNITY
Over a cup of milk and fruits, K. was talking to Siva. Siva after admiring the marvellous idea of the magic lantern show, said: ‘It is a brilliant idea you have evolved: that of tapping the ground with the walking stick for the purpose of asking the assistant to change the slide. Why not say ‘OM’ instead? As soon as you have done with a slide, say ‘OM’ and he will change.’
‘I am grateful to your Holiness, Swamiji, for this suggestion. I shall certainly put it into practice. It is wonderful. Every change of slide would provide me with a repetition of the Pranava.’
TREAT EVERYONE AS YOUR SELF!
‘You should have two disciples who should travel with you. Then you can do this work more efficiently. You will not have to bother about arranging them, and to instruct novices each time.’
‘Swamiji, I have tried that also. But these youngsters nowadays are more intent on exploiting and cheating than on genuinely serving and evolving. I have been cheated several times by people who wanted to become my disciples.’
‘You should conquer them by love. You should treat them as your own Self. You should give them greater comforts than you enjoy yourself. Mahants nowadays quietly enjoy all sorts of comforts, eat all sorts of delicacies, and deny them to their disciples. The latter soon get disgusted and they leave the Master.’
This is precisely how Siva has conquered the hearts of his disciples. Sri Swami Swarupanandaji once told me that when Siva was on his lecture tours, he would go on lecturing and singing Kirtans for hours together, and when the organisers of the function provided him with a cup of milk, a little curd or ghee or some fruits, he would quietly pass on most of it to his associates then (Swami Swarupanandaji and Swami Atmanandaji). Even today it is the common experience of all those who bring ‘offerings’ to Siva: they are often bewildered, for the very things that they consider extraordinary and meant only for Siva himself, he would immediately pass on with a smile to the ‘children’ at the Ashram, and later explain to the offering devotee that it is all the same.
In this connection, what K. himself, when he had received from Siva a Prasad of Rs. 20 offered with great devotion, love and recitation of Santi Mantras by Siva himself, said is significant:
‘Why does he give me this money? I never expected it; nor could I ever think of asking him….He has set an example to me. We should all be like him and develop our heart to such an extent.
Swamiji has no need to do all this. He has achieved whatever there is for a man to achieve. But, even as Lord Krishna has said in the Gita, he does things only with a view to setting an example for others to follow.’
27th June, 1949
SAMSKARAS: ASSOCIATION OF THOUGHTS: DISCIPLINE
Morning University class again provided Siva with an opportunity for Upadesh. The Panchadasi study was over. One or two people in the group quietly left the class. They were not obviously interested in the next item—Hindi. Thanks to this unwise act, they benefited themselves, benefited all of us, too. For….
Siva called them and said: ‘Understand the law of Samskaras well. You may not now be interested in Hindi. You may think: ‘What is the use, I do not understand anything.’ But, even a mere hearing of the words repeatedly will provide indelible impressions in the mind. Listen to this story:
‘There was a maid-servant in the house of a Hebrew priest. As she went on doing the household work, she would listen to the priest’s scriptural recitations. She understood nothing, not even the words. Years later, she developed a double personality. When she lost her senses due to illness, she began unconsciously to recite the Hebrew prayers. The doctors were astonished.
But, when she regained consciousness, she said she understood nothing of those same verses. These were recorded in her subconscious mind. They will manifest themselves in due course of time. Nothing is really lost.
‘Some others, I have noticed, do not like Panchadasi and so do not attend that period. It is a sad mistake. Even if they do not grasp the meaning now, the hearing has its own effect: in due course the meaning will flash itself upon their conscious mind.
‘Further, even if I do not quite follow the Hindi passages, to me the period has its own uses. I learn some words. Besides, whenever I come across some passages like ‘The fool prattles’, etc., at once all thoughts associated with ‘fool’ and ‘prattling’ will arise in the mind. Even the case of certain fools who imagine themselves very wise but would declare, ‘This world is very real. I can prove it through scientific explanations’ comes to the mind. The mind is properly exercised. A new spiritual groove is formed. The intellect sharpened and made very subtle. It always tries to spiritualise all topics. It associates all things and thoughts with spiritual matters.
‘Another equally important consideration is discipline. Coming and going whenever you like disturbs the class. You set a bad example. If all people begin to do like this, then the class cannot go on. You must observe discipline in all such gatherings. Form the habit from now.
‘Sri Krishna Prem (Mr. Nixon) would sometimes not attend Nagar Kirtans which were usually long and tedious and involved much physical strain. When I would ask him ‘Why did not you come’ he would reply, ‘Swamiji, I was not feeling well. And if I came I should stay till the end and go round the entire city—that would not be possible, so, I preferred to stay away. Look at his sense of discipline. Discipline is very important in spiritual life. Even the gods observe discipline. Ishwara also binds Himself by his own discipline. He could give Mukti to all in a minute. He could change the course of the world in the twinkling of an eye. All Eternal Laws are based on Him only. Yet, He subjects Himself to the Laws.’
8th July, 1949
BETWEEN FASTING AND FEASTING
The sumptuous Birthdate Feast was over. This time the glory of celebrating the Day goes to Sri S.R. Padayachie of South Africa, a very devoted Bhakta of Siva to whom it is attainment of Mukti to be of any service to Siva or to do anything that would conduce to the furtherance of the Mission.
The few visitors who were nowadays accustomed to the sight of the Ashram workers taking their roti and dhal in improvised ‘towel bags’ and vessel at noon, quietly walking in and out of the dining hall generally silent and solemn, were inwardly happy to find that today the hall had put on a festive appearance and was filled to overflowing with pious devotees and serene Sadhus taking a hearty meal of delicious preparations.
Master Satchidanandaji relieved the visitors’ ‘tension’ and for a few blissful moments there was a very pleasant exchange of views on this glorious being who presided over the destinies of Ananda Kutir.
‘Maharaj-ji’, began Satchidanandaji, ‘What is this feast compared to what it was on the Diamond Jubilee Day or the recent Sadhana Week days? I remember now. Just before the Diamond Jubilee, when we were busy making preparations for the day, I was bringing from Rishikesh huge vessels for preparing food for the numberless devotees and Sadhus who were expected to take part in the function. The old Tehri Maharajah’s car had got stuck on the way from Rishikesh. We all helped to restart it. When the Maharajah noticed the cartload of big vessels being moved into his territory, he was astonished and asked me: ‘Where are you taking these?’ ‘To Sri Swami Sivanandaji’s Ashram,’ I replied. The Maharajah remarked: ‘Only Swamiji is able to conduct poor feeding and Sadhu Bhojan on such a large scale nowadays when there is food scarcity everywhere. Really Tapas has great Shakti.’ All this is done by Swamiji by his mere Satsankalpa. It is all his play. In all these seven years I have lived here I have silently watched with amazement the rapid growth of the institution. I have seen with my own eyes the desolate place, full of bushes and thick jungle get transformed into the beautiful Sivanandanagar. I have seen the postal bags to and fro Ananda Kutir grow in bulk. I have seen also the impoverished Ashram kitchen where one or two Sadhaks would in silent joy, the joy of Seva, take their daily bread rapidly grow into an Annakshetra where hundreds have taken food to their heart’s content every day.
‘Between these great festive days, the days of ease and comfort, and the other days of calm endurance of the taking of a few pieces of bread and a cup of dhal—there does not seem to be much of a great gulf of difference for them! We feel it sharply. But Siva and his young men take it so easily as though it was all a continuous feast.’ The pious old devotee could not restrain his tears.
‘That is because,’ came the reply from a youthful Sadhaka, ‘Swamiji does not provide food only for their body. This is only a side-issue. You can’t help it. The vehicle has got to be preserved, cleaned and ‘oiled’. Swamiji’s main aim is to provide a sumptuous feast for their soul. No finances can obstruct this. So, the feast is continuous. And, Swamiji’s message reaches the farthest corners of the world. I heard it said by one of the senior officials of the Tehri State that once, when the late Maharajah had been to London, he paid a visit to the British Museum and asked for a good book on Yoga. The Librarian at once produced a volume of ‘Practice of ‘Practice of Yoga’, by Swami Sivananda.’ ‘By whom?’ ‘By Swami Sivananda,’ replied the Librarian.
‘I see he lives in the Himalayas, perhaps within the boundaries of your Highness’s state.’ The Maharajah blushed with the proud realisation that his State’s renown had spread to the Capital of the Empire (through the writings of a saint) long before his august personage could carry it there.’
‘Oh yes, yes. That is the secret. You are right. When you shift the centre of your love from body to soul, you are continuously happy and contented. That is Swamiji’s secret of achievement, too. Dry bread and Ganges water was nectar to him when people used to scramble into the Kshetra during Bhandara (feast) days for he was intent on feeding his soul. Once a devotee gave him Rs. 5 for his milk: and he at once printed a pamphlet out of the amount….himself carrying on with his dry bread and water. That was real Tapasya. No wonder today the entire world is aware of his message.’
IN UNITY LIES STRENGTH
‘Call such meetings of all the workers frequently. Make everyone feel that he is very essential for the running of the institution. Encourage everyone to think of the work. No one should feel that he is merely the fifth wheel to the coach. Everyone should be the head of his department. At the same time everyone should be induced to take a living interest in the entire work.
Appoint Secretaries and Assistant Secretaries to each department. And, this should never be allowed to become a mockery: that is the mistake often committed by organisers who tend to make those whom they appoint to responsible positions nothing more than their puppets. Each office-bearer in the Society should have real power to control his department and to take a hand in the general affairs of the Society. Everyone should respect everyone else and so joyously contribute to the service of humanity,’ concluded Siva when he was informed of the decisions of a meeting in the evening in pursuance of Siva’s instructions, to discuss certain problems.
Succinctly, Siva, the master psychologist, has brought out a Sanyasin’s approach to the problem of organisation. Trust everyone. Repose entire confidence in all. Suspect none. Suspicion kills enterprise and dullens enthusiasm. Faith and trust promote their growth. Again, a domineering attitude towards juniors makes them nervous and cripples their faculties. A spiritual camaraderie, a brotherhood of Sadhaks, without the obnoxious distinctions of function-born superiority and inferiority—that is the aim of Siva. He has all along preached (and emphasised it by his own example) that no one should regard anyone else as his or her inferior in any sense. A scavenger who removes the refuse on the road; a doctor who removes the refuse in the human system; a servant-boy who cleans the vessels in the kitchen and a philosopher who cleans the vessel of a Sadhak’s mind—all, to him, perform the Lord’s work in their various capacities. All are equal. No work is superior; none inferior. The Jiva in everyone yearns to relieve itself of its vestments and feel its own Selfhood of All. This should be the attitude of all: Ministers, Prime Ministers, Presidents, Monarchs, Directors and all officers all over the world. Then only will there be real contentment everywhere…. contentment is very essential to progress.’
9th July, 1949
SIKH AMONG SIKHS
Sri Mam Raj of the Tehri State brought in the Government of India’s Food Commissioner, a middle aged Sikh gentleman. As they were discussing the purpose of the Food Commissioner’s visit, etc. and his visit to Srinagar that day, Siva quietly thrust into each one’s hands a few of his books. It is common knowledge that he does not wait to listen through even the visitor’s talk but simultaneously goes on autographing several books and passes them on. Siva never allows himself to procrastinate. And, he is an Ashtavadhani: so that he could do all things at the same time. He would be conversing with the visitor, giving directions to the Ashramites and signing books—all at the same time and with equal attention and zeal.
Mam Raj described their adventures up and down Srinagar (a place about sixty miles towards Badrinath in the Himalayas, from Rishikesh.)
‘Swamiji, it was raining. And, the roads were impassable. Mountains had started breaking down. We had a very risky ride. Once we almost tumbled into Ganges. It was only your grace and blessings that brought us here.’
The Sikh accompanying the Food Commissioner was happy to see that in Siva’s ‘Lives of Saints’ Guru Nanak’s life had been included: and that in Siva’s book, ‘World’s Religions’, Sikhism had found a succinct exposition. ‘Maharaj, you have done for your religion what the leaders among Sikhs themselves ought to have done. You are the foremost among Sikhs.’
‘It is all one! All religions speak of the One God. There is no difference on fundamentals. Only superficialities differ. We ought to ignore them and cease to quarrel with one another. The details and the ceremonies and the rituals are only for our own good. We should practise them and adhere to them. But, we should not make that the bone of contention and cause riots. Each man should follow his own religion, realising and appreciating the unity of the fundamental tenets of his religion with those of all others in the world.’
The Food Commissioner, a devout Sikh, fell into a tranquil exposition of the tenets of his religion. As soon as he mentioned Kirtan as one of the fundamentals of Sikhism, Siva began….
Sat Nam Sat Nam Sat Nam Ji
Wahe Guru Wahe Guru Wahe Guru Ji
….and the entire hall was resounding with the Kirtan Dhwani immersing all in the Calm of the One God—Truth.
When he found that Kirtan had already found its master in Siva, the F.C. turned to Japji Saheb and found that there, too….
‘Japji is the best pocket book of spiritual essence I have seen,’ exclaimed Siva. ‘It is full of divine wisdom. In fact, it is out and out Upanishadic.’
Naturally, the F.C. fell to admiring Siva for his vast knowledge of Sikhism and then turned to quoting Guru Granth Saheb. At the very mention of the name Siva began to recite the Mula Mantra which thrilled the Sikhs.
As soon as the recitation was over, Siva explained: ‘You see this Mula Mantra of the Sikhs contains the very essence of Hindu Upanishads and the core of the teachings of Lord Jesus or Lord Muhammad. All these great prophets of the world have had the same realisation of the Infinite God.’
When the F.C. came into Siva’s presence and was entertained to tea, he had hardly expected that he, in whose presence he has had the privilege of sitting, was the He in whom all religions had their culmination. Siva’s Kirtan, however, enraptured him. Siva’s discourse on the unity of religions and the oneness of God appealed to him. But what followed perhaps had the effect of….let’s see.
It was raining outside. An old man (a Sindhi) tottered in soaked to the bones and his coat almost turned into a cotton-pulp. I was standing at the intervening door. I intended to make him wait in the D.J. Hall Annexe, to let him undress himself, etc. Hardly had he reached the door….his shoes, wet and heavy, dropped off, and the man was in a semi-conscious state.
‘Where is my Gurudev? Where is my Lord? Please show him to me. Please….please….my dear. Where is he?’ In silence I bowed to his feet….what a flower of devotion to the Guru….and led him in. In his hurry, he did not even choose to take off his cap. Perhaps nothing but Gurudev was in his mind. He fell on his knees. He hugged Siva’s feet, embraced them, kissed them, took their dust and sprinkled them on his forehead and body. Folded palms, eyes half-closed shedding tears of an inexpressible joy, he sat down in the attitude of devout prayer looking up to the face of Siva as one would look up to Him.
‘Hey Bhagavan, you are my only Saviour. Please bless me. Turn your eye of grace towards me. I am a lowly wretched creature. Through your grace alone can I tread this path of righteousness. Show me the way.’
Siva turned to him. What passed then is neither for mortal eyes, nor for finite words….something that surpasseth understanding. After a few minutes like this, the old man bowed again and departed. Only then did he remember that he had not brought any offerings with him for Siva, the Sanyasin. As I was leading him to the door, he thrust a couple of rupees into my hand and said: ‘Please get some fruits for this and place it at my Gurudev’s feet.’ I could understand the devotee’s heart well enough: he had offered to Gurudev what best he could—his own heart full of faith and devotion—himself. What need hath his Lord for fruits and coins?
When he turned to the world, he thought of its customs. It is just as well that he followed them, too.
The Sikh brethren were watching this with wonderment, bewilderment, perhaps with advantage. They were wise men. For a wise man every incident, every situation abounds in lessons of the greatest moment. They could have compared notes: weighed in their own heart-balance the comparative gains of this old man full of humility and devotion and their own.
The F.C.’s words reflected the effect that this incident had on him. ‘Swamiji, there is a saying in Granth Saheb: ‘He who turns your mind towards God either by his preaching, his conduct or by his mere presence—he is your real friend. He who turns your mind away from him is your real enemy. During the hour I have spent in your august presence I have felt greatly elevated, inspired and exalted. I have found inner peace and an inexpressible joy in your company. You are my true friend, and guide. Bless me that I may be true to my religion.’
The other Sikh brother felt that this great opportunity of meeting perhaps the foremost saint in India today should be well utilised: and he asked: ‘Swamiji, how did this Maya arise in Brahman?’
‘Ask Brahman Himself!’ was the crisp reply which went all around into side-splitting laughter. Siva continued: ‘This is Ati-Prasna or a transcendental question. You will find this question coming up to your mind in various forms: ‘When did Karma begin? When and why was the world created? Why is there evil in the world? Why did the Unmanifest manifest itself? etc. etc.’ The same question is asked by Rama in the Yoga Vasishta and Vasishta says: ‘You are putting cart before the horse. You will not be benefited by an enquiry into this question at all. Meditate and realise Brahman. You will then know the answer to this question. The problem itself will have dissolved by then.’ No one can answer this question. When Knowledge dawns the question itself vanishes. Therefore, there is no answer to the question at all. Brahma Sutra says:
Lokavat tu lee’a kaivalyam
It is only to pacify your doubt. It is really not an answer, for there can be no answer. Yet, the question will arise in the case of every seeker after Truth. You cannot help it. You will have to use your discrimination, pacify the doubt, and then through intense Sadhana and meditation realise God. Then the doubt will vanish. A great Yogi and Jnani was worried with this doubt for twelve years. Then he told me: ‘The worry is over now. It troubled me for twelve years. I could not find an answer. So, I have given up that pursuit and have taken to meditation, Japa and Kirtan. Now I find peace and progress.’ Faith in Guru, Granth Saheb, Kirtan, Japa, meditation and practise of righteousness—these will enable you to progress in the spiritual path and will take you to That where there is no questioning possible.’
With bowed head and folded palms the officers took leave of Siva, profusely thanking him ‘for the precious gifts of these books which shall be my greatest treasure hereafter,’ and for his inspiring Upadesh.