Brahman is a word used rather liberally. One must always be careful in understanding what it means in a particular context. The Samskrtam word, Brahman comes from the root 'brhi', which means big or great. Therefore Brahman is that which is the biggest, greatest or most important.
It may be used to imply the pure awareness (soul), since the pure awareness is the source of the individual and hence is the 'greatest' among the constituents of the individual which include the body, energy, mind, . intellect and soul. Also, it could mean God since He is the Greatest. He is source of Creation. He creates the universe with the creative power Maya, which is the totality of Pure Awareness.
Brahman (God), is actually beyond the Maya. He is the Possessor of Maya. He possesses Maya as if it were a quality. God, beyond Maya is called the Nirguna Brahman (God, who is beyond qualities). However from the individual point of view, God appears only within the Maya. The individual is part of Creation. He is a product of Maya. He cannot imagine anything which is 'beyond Maya. The Nirguna Brahman (God, who is beyond qualities), cannot even be imagined by him. All that can be said about the Nirguna Brahman is that It exists.
As far as the individual is concerned, God appears only within Maya as its Possessor. God, associated with Maya, is called Saguna Brahman or God with quality (since He possesses Maya as if it were a quality). Saguna Brahman is called Isvara. It is God as human beings can conceive of Him.
In the Advaita (Non-dualitic; Monistic) philosophy propounded by Sankara, Brahman only means pure awareness, which is the essential nature of the individual. It is identical with the source of creation which is Maya. It is not to be mistaken with Nirguna Brahman (God, who is beyond qualities) since It is beyond the conception of the human mind. This Brahman (pure awareness) is of the nature of peace. You can attain that peace by becoming Brahman, which is your Self. If you detach from the body and feel that you are Brahman you can attain peace. However this will happen only if your detachment is total; you should remain in peace thinking that you are pure awareness even if you are beaten in hell.
Isvara, the Saguna Brahman (God with attributes), comes as the human incarnation called Lord Datta, who outwardly appears peaceful and blissful. Actually He donates His peace and bliss to His devotees and does not enjoy the peace and bliss internally. The Veda says the same (Esha Hyeva Anandayati). Datta means sacrifice and not enjoyment. He takes the fruits of all the sins of His real devotees and is an ocean of unhappiness inside. He suffers for the sake of His devotees. He alone can come as human incarnation in this world.
Any living being is already Brahman because the pure awareness is present in any living being. However peace and bliss are to be attained (attaining the Brahman) by the grace of Isvara only, even in this stage of self-knowledge as said by Sankara (Isvaranugrahadeva). The peace and bliss that you attain by self-knowledge may remain with you while you are mediating. Of course that too happens by the Grace of God (Isvara) alone. However you will be utterly miserable and disturbed while being beaten in hell. The peace you attained is not permanent. Attainment of Brahman is not the ultimate goal.
Isvara (God) is the ultimate goal and not the Brahman (Awareness), since Brahman is already achieved by any living being. Even a worm wriggling in the sewage, has already achieved the Brahman (since it is also conscious). The path towards Isvara is full of sacrifice because the very nature of Isvara (Datta) is sacrifice. As you achieve more and more sacrifice you are practically becoming more and more Datta.
Brahman is called as Nirguna Brahman, when the Brahman is without Maya. When Brahman is associated with Maya it is called Saguna Brahman or Isvara. Maya is called as guna (power or quality). The quality always depends on the substance. The Substance is Brahman. Brahman is beyond imagination as said in the Veda. The Maya is nothing but the simple awareness, which is the mind of Brahman. We can only say that the Nirguna Brahman exists as said in the Veda (Asteetyeva Upalabdhavyah) and nothing more is known. There are only two authorities to know the existence of Nirguna Brahman :
1) The Veda
2) Anumana pramanam or the inferential faculty of our mind; since the world exists, there must be some cause.
Scholars say the same (Aptavaak Anumanaabhyam Sadhyam). The teachings of the three Acharyas could go up to Maya only, which is pure awareness. This world is the modification of Maya. Therefore they could only touch the root cause of this world which is Maya. None could touch the base of this Maya, which is the Nirguna Brahman. Since Nirguna Brahman is beyond imagination, it can be never reached with our mind. Therefore all the three Acharyas called this simple awareness (Maya) as Brahman because no body can go beyond the Maya and touch the Nirguna Brahman.
No body can even explain the process of creation of Maya from the Nirguna Brahman. How can one explain the production of the world from Nirguna Brahman directly? The world is only the modification of Maya. Therefore Isvara can be the cause of the world through His power Maya. Isvara without Maya (Nirguna Brahman ) cannot be explained as the direct cause of the world. Sankara had disscussed this issue in detail.
When the people misunderstood His theory, Sankara came as Ramanuja and Madhva to clarify the misunderstandings and condemn the misinterpretations of the true theory. The word Brahman mentioned by the three acaryaas is only Isvara (Saguna Brahman ) because Nirguna Brahman is beyond even imagination. Even in the case of Isvara, the power associated with Him called as Maya (simple awareness or His mind), alone can be analyzed to be the cause of the world. The actual internal form of Isvara (Nirguna Brahman ) can never be touched.
Similarly in the case of human incarnation, the internal form is verily the Nirguna Brahman but it cannot be touched. You can only see and worship the external form (human body) which is called as prakrti and which is the modification of Maya.
3. In explaining Creation, Maya, which has its source in the Nirguna Brahman, is the cause of Creation. Brahman, which is beyond the three gunas or attributes, gives rise to the Maya which has attributes. How can the Brahman give rise to something that is unlike Itself? Pure water alone can come out of pure water and not mud?
The Nirguna Brahman is beyond imagination. In your example, your eyes see pure water and mud. Both are within the realm of your perception and imagination. Your question is correct as it pertains to your example. However your example fails in its applicability to the Brahman because the Brahman is beyond imagination as said by the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita. Therefore this question is irrelevant in case of the Brahman.
Brahman is beyond imagination because It is above the four-dimensional space - time model. In this world any thing or any incident can be defined by the three-dimensional space and the fourth dimension time. Suppose a car met with an accident on the road at a certain location and a certain time. Then the three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension of time are adequate to accurately define the incident. The intelligence of a human being cannot cross these four dimensions. Can you imagine the situation when space and time disappear?. Even if you think for a hundred years you cannot imagine the situation.
Brahman is the cause of the space and therefore is beyond the space as said in the Veda (Atmana Akaasah Sambhutah). Space is the effect and Brahman is the cause. When you cannot cross space, how can you reach the Brahman? Nobody can imagine the situation when the space disappears. Therefore Brahman can never be reached even by imagination. How can you compare such Brahman with pure water, which is seen by your naked eyes? When a simile for the Brahman is not available, how can you speak about the nature and action of the Brahman?
You can only imagine the power (Maya) of the Brahman from this world, since the world is the modification of Maya. Maya is simple awareness and is also inexplicable. You can touch the component of awareness of Maya but you cannot fathom its inexplicability which is its other component. This entire world is explicable to certain extent and when we go into the deep analysis of the world, the inexplicability is revealed. Scientists have gone into the depth of this world to certain extent only and yet have agreed on the inexplicable nature of the world when it is deeply analyzed. Heisenberg gave the uncertainty principle in science, which accepts the inexplicability of the nature. If it is very deeply analyzed, it explains the failure of even very sensitive and sophisticated instruments.
The source of Maya is Brahman, which has both the components i.e., awareness and inexplicability to an infinite extent. We cannot grasp the Brahman or the Maya. Due to the existence of this world we can infer the existence of Maya. Since Maya should have a base or substratum we can again infer the existence of Brahman. The Veda says that only the existence of Brahman can be inferred and nothing more (Astityeva upalabdhavyah).
This Brahman with His power, Maya, enters a human body. The human body is itself a modification of Maya. This modification of Maya is called as prakrti. This entire world is prakrti. The human body which is a part and parcel of the world is also prakrti. Only through the superficial explicability of prakrti i.e., the human body can you attain the Brahman here itself. Except this there is no other way as said in the Veda (Nanyah Panthaa Ayanaaya). Only through the metallic wire can you approach the current (electricity) and experience it. The body of Krisna (a human incarnation of the Lord) is prakrti. The internal form of Krisna called Narayana (the Lord) is the inexplicable Brahman associated with that inexplicable power. Thus He was able to lift the mountain on His finger. Only through Krisna can you experience Narayana and His power. If you discard the human incarnation you are lost forever because it is extremely unlikely that you will get a human birth as said in the Veda (Iha Chet Avedeet Atha Satyamasti, Nachet Ihavedeet Mahateevinastih).
When you cut all your bonds of love for all things and people in this world, it is called 'vairagyam' or detachment. This stage is not sufficient. The reason for developing vairagyam should be the love for the Lord. For the sake of this new bond with the Lord, all the old bonds must be cut. If the new bond does not exist and simply the old bonds are cut, that is mere salvation.
Strictly speaking, even a stone has salvation because it does not have any bond or attachment with anything or anybody in this world. If one takes samnyasa (renunciation) and leaves the family and home, it is a waste if he has not renounced everything the sake of the Lord. The new bond with the Lord (bhakti) should be the reason for the detachment from all the other bonds (vairagyam). Vairagyam without bhakti is useless. If bhakti is achieved, vairagyam is automatic. There is no need to put any separate effort for attaining vairagyam. If you have tasted the divine nectar (Amritham), you will automatically discard all other drinks. Without having tasted the divine nectar, you cannot leave other drinks. Even if you leave other drinks without tasting the divine nectar, you will go back to them after some time with a vengeance. Thus vairagyam without bhakti is not only a waste but is also impermanent.
Just have a look at this example. A young man fell in love with a girl whom he had known for the past month and wanted to marry her. The parents did not agree to this marriage. The young man, driven by his love for the girl, cut of all the bonds with his parents, relatives, home and friends which were developed over the past twenty-five years. He eloped and got married to the girl whom he had known for barely for a month. He could give up all his bonds formed over the years for the sake of this new one-month-old bond! Likewise, million-birth old bonds can be cut by a single new bond in this birth; the bond with the Lord in human form.
Swami Vivekananda could cut all his family bonds for the sake of his Sadguru (Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa). Similarly the Gopikas could cut all their family bonds for the sake of the Lord in human form (Krisna). A small atom bomb can destroy huge mountains. Narada wrote that one should love the Lord as a lover loves his or her darling (jara vatca). He also gave the example of Gopikas in the next sutra (yatha vraja gopikanam).
Such love involves practical sacrifice. The lover leaves his or her parents practically to be with his or her darling. Even if the parents threaten the son or daughter that he or she will lose all claims to the family inheritance, the lover is undeterred. If the parents try to forcibly prevent the marriage, the lover will even commit suicide. Thus for the sake of one's lover, one can cut all the family bonds, bond with wealth and money and even the bond with the life. When you can do these things for the sake of mere human love, how am I to believe that you cannot do the same for the love of God which is infinitely higher?
If something is impossible, it should be impossible everywhere. Clearly every person is capable of such sacrifice if he is in love. If you cannot sacrifice for the sake of the Lord, then it simply means that you don't have real love for Him. Holy Jesus said that one should cut the bond even with one's life for the sake of the Lord. This new love for God is called 'sayujyam'. sayujyam means becoming close to the Lord. Kaivalyam is the ultimate case in which the devotee becomes one with the Lord. Kaivalyam does not mean merging in the Lord physically. Whatever the devotee says, the Lord will say the same. Whatever the devotee wishes the Lord wishes the same and vice versa. Such oneness is called kaivalyam.
Advaita was brought into practical spiritual effort (sadhana) by Sankara because it certainly has its utility. Actually Advaita (non-duality. monism) was the situation before creating this universe. After creation of this Universe at present there is no Advaita and there will not be Advaita in future. Even in the destruction (pralaya) there is no Advaita because the entire world is present in an unmanifested state (avyakta) as a cinema in the film reel. It is still not Monism. When this unmanifest state is manifests, it is called Creation. Creation is just like showing the cinema on the screen, which is preserved in the film reel. The Veda says the same (dhata yathapurvam).
Advaita means absence of both the show and the film reel. Therefore Advaita existed once upon a time; it does not exist in the present and will never exist in the future. The producer has created the film after lot of work. When the film show is over, the film reel will be stowed away till the time of the next show. Will any fool destroy his own film reel, just to get the situation of Advaita? When you are alive there is no Advaita in this world. Even when you leave the body and go to the upper worlds, there is no Advaita. Therefore Advaita is only an imagination in the present and future. It was a reality only in the past. Now Advaita has the practical utility as an intermediate step in your spiritual effort.
The aim of the spiritual effort is to please the Lord. During your spiritual effort you will be put through a lot of loss and misery, because you have to sacrifice every thing for the sake of the Lord. You need the strength and capacity to withstand the loss and misery during such sacrifice. Advaita provides that strength, because in Advaita you give up the attachment to your body and attach yourself to the pure awareness. In such a state you will not be worried by external factors and you will have ever-lasting peace which gives infinite mental strength. For this purpose Sankara brought the concept of Advaita into the practical spiritual effort.
Sankara never said that this world is not true. He said that this world is mithya. Mithya means that which has very little truth; it can almost be considered to be untrue. A dream is mithya. Any body in the dream cannot call it an unreal dream because he becomes a part and parcel of the dream. An ant cannot be mithya (insignificant) by another ant. An ant is mithya only for an elephant. Therefore this world is mithya only for the Lord. It is a daydream of the Lord. For Him, there is no ignorance in a daydream unlike an actual dream when the dreamer is totally carried away by the dream. Therefore the Lord is not carried away by the dream of this world and He has no ignorance.
Sankara entered the house of Mandana Misra even though the doors were locked. Therefore the world was indeed mithya for Him. Mithya is not totally untrue. Ramanuja said that this world is not a dream for a soul as it is for the Lord. The soul is a part and parcel of the world. Mithya is not mithya for one who is mithya himself. This is the interpretation of Ramanuja. In fact Sankara Himself came as Ramanuja and clarified the misunderstanding.
Similar to the world Brahman, the word Atma is rather liberally used and is the source of a lot of confusion. One must clearly understand the connotation of this world according to the context.
The word Atma (Self) is common in both jivatma (individual soul) and Paramatma (Lord). The word 'collector' is common in both district collector and bill collector. Suppose you are asking for the address of collector. The address of bill collector is different from that of the district collector. The purpose to meet the collector must also be specified, which indicates whether you have to meet the district collector or bill collector. Therefore, when you say self-realization, it could mean reaching either jivatma or Paramatma.
If you reach jivatma, there is one type of benefit and if you reach Paramatma, there is another type of benefit. Benefit means to attain something, which you do not possess. Loss means to lose what you already possess. Some people even treat the prevention of further loss as a gain or benefit even though that is not an actual benefit, strictly speaking.
If you attain jivatma, you have prevented further loss. You have attained what you already possess. In such a case, you have become the jivatma which is pure awareness (suddha caitanyam). You have withdrawn the 'I sense' from the physical body and the three qualities and have identified your 'I sense' with the pure awareness. In doing so, you have attained the peace which is the inherent quality of the pure awareness. You have crossed all the problems of the world. You had lost your inherent peace due to these problems. Now you have attained what was your nature. Thus you have arrested your losses and in that sense you could consider this as a profit.
Of course, this attainment is only an intermediate state. It is only half the journey. The rest half is to attain and please the Lord. The peace attained at this stage, will be useful in the next half of the journey.
The word Atma has four meanings:-
1) The human body made of five elements.
2) The three qualities.
3) The pure awareness or suddha caitanyam.
4) The Lord (Paramatma or parabrahma).
All these four meanings of the word Atma, are applicable only to the case of the human incarnation of the Lord. Only in the human incarnation of God, such as Lord Krisna, do the external human body, three qualities, pure awareness and the Parabrahman exist in the same location. Therefore there is no question of any ambiguity in the meaning of the word Atma as it pertains to the human incarnation of the Lord.
However in an ordinary human being, the first three items exist but the fourth item is absent. The Lord or the Paramatma is not present in an ordinary Therefore, if you take an ordinary human being, there is a difference between the jivatma and the Paramatma. Hence it is necessary to make sure whether someone is referring to the jivatma or the Paramatma when one mentions the word Atma. The best and the doubtless meaning of the word Atman is only the human incarnation of Lord.
The word Atma means 'that which pervades' (atati iti). Since the human body pervades some space, it can be called Atma. The three qualities pervade all over the pure awareness as waves pervade the ocean. Therefore the three qualities are also Atma. Since the pure awareness pervades all over the body, it is also Atma. Since the Lord pervades all over the world as its Substratum, He is Atma.
However the Lord cannot be perceived by humans except in the human incarnation, where He is perceived by our naked eyes. This is direct perception (pratyaksha pramana) of the Lord. Direct perception of God, satisfies the theory of Carvaka, which states that any perception originates only from direct perception. If the Lord cannot be directly perceived then, according to Carvaka, He cannot be perceived at all and His existence cannot be proven.
The theory of Carvaka was mentioned as one of the six theories by Sage Vidyaranya in his book called 'Shat Darshana Saara Sangrahah'. All pramanas (or valid means of knowledge) are based only on the pratyaksha pramana or direct perception. Although inference (anumana pramana) is a valid means of knowledge, it is based on direct perception or pratyaksha; e.g. Fire is inferred by seeing smoke. However unless you have seen the relationship between smoke and fire previously, how can you make the inference? Similarly, in the upamaana pramana (simile) knowledge of an unknown animal in the forest is given by comparing it to a cow. Unless you have seen the cow, how can you recognize that animal? The fourth pramana is 'sabda pramana' (statement of a reliable person). In this pramana you believe in the existence of the Kasi city when a reliable person tells you about it. In this pramana too, also unless the other person has seen the Kasi city how can he talk about it? Therefore, the human incarnation of the Lord is adequate proof for even atheists and scientists, who follow theory of Carvaka.
Such a human incarnation of the Lord is the Sadguru (teacher of the Truth), who alone can give you the right knowledge, which is the true meaning of the Veda. Devotion (bhakti yoga) and service (karma yoga) result from such knowledge alone. Knowledge is like a seed. It will give rise to the tree of bhakti which will bear the fruit of service or seva of the Lord. Without the seed we cannot get the fruit. If the seed does not produce the tree and the fruit, it is worthless. Therefore, the knowledge must lead to devotion and service. Without service, knowledge is worthless.
Sankara said that the human birth is very rare. Even if the human birth is achieved, the desire for salvation is very rare. Even if such a spiritual desire exists, finding the Sadguru is extremely rare (Maha purusha samsrayah). Sadguru is none but Lord Narayana, who has come down in the form of Nara (human being). Thus finding and pleasing the Sadguru through service is the end of sadhana (spiritual effort).
The goal is attained here itself (jivanmukti). The Veda says that the goal is attained right here and right before your eyes; not in any other world (Yatsakshat aparokshat brahma). The Bhagavad Gita also says the same (Manusheem tanumasritaam).
Datta is any human incarnation of the Lord that comes down as Sadguru to preach the true knowledge of scriptures. Datta means the Lord who has given up Himself to this world and come down in human form. Datta does not mean a particular form of deity like Indra, Agni etc.
The human being consists of three components only i.e., the human body (sthula sarira), the three qualities (the subtle body or sukshma sarira) and the pure awareness (karana sarira). An ignorant human being rejects the human incarnation as not being the Lord because he looks at His external human body which is subject to all the rules of nature like birth, death, hunger and disease. He sees Krisna eating butter due to hunger and thinks that Krisna is an ordinary human being. Majority of the people are ignorant due to illusion of sthula sarira (the gross human body). These people fail in the very first test itself.
Some wise people think that the Lord 'wears' the external human body in case of an incarnation and that He is internal to the human body. Therefore even if His human body is subject to rules of nature it is alright since even the cloth of the king, can be cut by a blade. So, they think that the Lord is not the human body, but the soul inside, which is a mass of all good qualities only (sattvam) as in the case of Rama. They think that the Lord is sattvam (purity; the quality conducive to knowledge) quality only, which is represented by Vishnu. However sattvam is only one of the three qualities and is represented by only one face of Datta (Eka mukha Datta). In thinking so these people have committed two mistakes. Firstly they think that the Lord is a quality. They have failed to understand that He is the Possessor of the qualities and is beyond any quality (Gunaateeta). The the Bhagavad Gita says that they are in Him but He is not in them (Nachaham teshu). The second mistake made by them is that they think that He is only the sattvam quality (Vishnu) and that He cannot have rajas (Brahma) and tamas (Siva).
The three faces of Datta indicate that He is the possessor of all the three faces. He is not just one of the faces; or an embodiment of only one of the three gunas (qualities). Thus in order to remove the ignorance of these people, He exhibits the other two faces which are representations of the qualities of rajas (activity; passions) and tamas (inertia; ignorance).
Krisna stole butter. Stealing is a sin for a common man. Therefore the Lord displayed the tamas quality. Narasimha was very angry. He displayed rajas. Lord Datta once came out of a lake embracing and kissing a naked lady (intensive tamas). All the sages, who were waiting on the bank of the lake to meet Him were shocked and ran away. They had expected Him to be an embodiment of only the good quality, sattvam, which is represented by Visnu. They were unable to accept the Lord as the possessor of all three qualities. This is significance of the three faces of Datta. Only fools think that Datta is a special three-headed biological specimen.
Yet even wise people fail in this second test because they think that the Lord is a quality and only the sattvam quality at that. The three qualities may be thought of three colored shirts. Datta (the human incarnation of the Lord) is the possessor of the shirts. When you think that He can wear only the white shirt (sattvam), He will appear in red (rajas) and black (tamas) shirts. This proves that He is none of the shirts and is not confined to wearing only one of the shirts. Thus Datta is not the sukshma sarira (subtle body) or jiva (individual), which is composed of the three qualities.
In the third test, the Advaita scholars cross the human body and the three qualities. They settle in the standstill pure awareness (nirguna chaitanyam) which is only the karana sarira and not the Lord. They think that the Lord is pure awareness, which is beyond the three qualities, like standstill water without waves. The Advaita scholars try to touch the Lord through their self-effort i.e., self-analysis. They can touch the pure awareness, which is Maya, through their self effort.
Maya, the pure awareness, is the mind of the Lord. It is also called the power of the Lord. Maya is like an ocean. There are three gigantic waves in this ocean. These are the three qualities or the gunas. The waves are only apparent modifications of Maya. This apparent modification is called as vivarta by Sankara. The three qualities are represented by Brahma (rajas), Visnu (sattvam) & Siva (tamas).
A part of this Maya is grossified into the inert five elements by which planets, hills, rivers etc. form. This grossification is a real modification and is called as Parinaama of Ramanuja because the awareness is converted into inert matter. A part of the Maya (ungrossified; subtle) enters some inert forms (grossified Maya) giving rise to various living beings. In every living being a little quantity of Maya is present. This tiny 'drop' of Maya present in an individual, analogous to the Maya on the cosmic scale, has three tiny waves or vibrations. These are the three gunas within that soul. These three gunas are an apparent modification of the Maya.
The ocean of Maya on the cosmic level, with its three gigantic waves of the gunas, is surrounded by the physical universe made of five elements and is called the Brahma??a. Similarly, the soul, which is the tiny drop of Maya with its three waves or vibrations of the gunas surrounded by an individual body made up of five elements, is called the pi??a?a. The Advaita scholars cross the body and the three vibrations of the gunas and finally settle in the standstill drop of their individual Maya. When this drop is quantitatively extended, it becomes infinite standstill ocean without waves. Thus, one can imagine a standstill ocean through his standstill drop. However one cannot touch the substratum of the ocean of Maya even by imagination.
The individual who is analyzing himself thus, is a part and parcel of the Dream of the Lord called Creation. It consists of living and non-living beings including the individual. In case of any dream, it is the mind of the dreamer (awareness) with its qualities or ideas that creates the dream. Suppose a person is dreaming about a city. Then a part of his mind is modified into the inert city. Another part of mind enters several inert forms as tiny drops of his own mind, making those forms alive. The comparatively 'gigantic' waves of the mind of the dreamer have been reduced to small waves or vibrations in the tiny drops of his mind present in all the living beings that he sees in his dream. Any of the individuals within that dream, which is created by the dreamer, can at the most reach the mind of the dreamer. They cannot under any circumstance reach the substratum of the dream, which is the person who is dreaming.
Likewise, a human being can touch, at the maximum, the Mind of God called Maya. It is the root cause of the Dream of Creation. However one can never reach the Substratum of the Dream, which is the Lord Himself. The Advaita philosopher, unable to know this secret mistakes the mind of God, (Maya) to be the Dreamer Himself (Mayin or the Lord, who wields Maya). Since, he thinks that the ocean of awareness (Maya) is the Lord, he assumes that he himself is the Lord. He even forgets the quantitative difference between the drop and the ocean due to his false assumption. He rejects the quantitative difference between the drop and ocean by saying that the space and time are unreal (mithya). Then the tiny soul becomes the infinite Brahman. Brilliant! Then how come this tiny soul, which has become Brahman, is not able to control the entire world and truly become Isvara (the Lord)? This paradox is the result of two mistakes:
1) He assumed that awareness itself is the Lord. He forgot the quantitative difference between the Lord and soul is forgotten.
2) He did not realize that the Lord cannot be the awareness because the Lord is beyond imagination.
Apart from these two mistakes, he forgot that the Lord possesses superpowers while he (the Advaita scholar) does not. Krisna lifted a mountain on his finger and taught the Bhagavad Gita. The Advaita philosopher is unable to do these two things and yet he claims himself to be the Lord. He is only seeing the similarity at the level of pure awareness but, he is neglecting the difference in the power and quantity. Such an attitude comes only due to an ambition to become the Lord.
Egoism and jealousy are the cause of such an attitude; he wants to be the Lord and he cannot stand the fact that someone else, such as Krisna, who appears like a human being can be God while he cannot.
The Advaitin says that the world is a dream. It is essential to note here that is a dream only for the Dreamer; the Lord. The individual is a part of the dream. For him it is not a dream. It is real. Sankara swallowed molten lead and asked his disciples to swallow the same. Sankara was an incarnation of the Lord. The world was indeed a dream for Him. There was no lead and no swallowing for Him. It was clearly unreal. However His disciples could not repeat the same feat. The world was not a dream for them; it was real. They would not have survived the feat. Then Sankara declared that He alone is Siva (the Lord) and not the disciples(Shivah kevaloham)
Thus to summarize: if you are ignorant, you will fail in the first test and mistake God to be a human body. If you are slightly wiser, you will fail in the second test where you will think that God is the gunas and at too only sattvam. If you are an Advaita scholar, you will fail in the third test in which you will mistake the Lord to be the Awareness and will claim your identity with Him.
If you pass all three tests and if you have recognized the Sadguru then you are said to have Atma jnana. If you have reached the Sadguru, you have attained Atman. If you have become His servant and pleased the Sadguru then you have kaivalyam, in which you are always associated and protected by the Lord in this world as well as in the upper world called Brahmaloka. The Lord is the ruler of your self and is called as Atmesvara in the Veda (Atmeshwaram shashvatam).
8. "Brahma vit brahmaiva bhavati" means that He who knows Brahman becomes Brahman. However you say that the meaning of this is that Brahman alone knows Brahman. What Could you please resolve this difference?
A lot of scholars have given the interpretation that you just gave. I am very much familiar with it. I give a different interpretation; Brahman alone knows Brahman, because the Bhagavad Gita says 'mamtu te Veda nakascana' which means that no body knows Brahman. Your interpretation directly contradicts the Bhagavad Gita. If you say that if one knows Brahman, He becomes Brahman, then there are two stages.
In the first stage a person knows Brahman. In the second stage the person becomes Brahman. The Bhagavad Gita contradicts the first stage because no person can exist as a person while knowing the Brahman. Moreover the Veda says that Brahman is beyond words, mind, intelligence and logic. The Veda also says that if one knows that he cannot know Brahman, he knows at least some thing about Brahman (yasyamatam tasya matam). Therefore my interpretation is in line with the Bhagavad Gita and also with the other Vedic mantras.
It is correct to a certain extent. Till you reach the self (jivatma) it is correct. However the spiritual journey does not stop there. When you differentiate yourself from your body and identify with the pure awareness, you will attain peace but you have to go further to reach the ultimate goal which is the Super-Self (Paramatma) or the Lord. When you are traveling in the path to reach the Super-Self after attaining the knowledge of the Self, you will loose your peace because that path is full of sacrifice.
Sacrifice will disturb your mind because you have to cut all worldly bonds including the bond with your body and even life. While reaching the Self you are as it were, eating a sweet, and therefore you get satisfaction. Once you have eaten your share of sweet, you cannot have any more from the Lord again. You cannot charge money to God for the sweet after eating it yourself. When you attain your Self, you have already been given the satisfaction and happiness which is the fruit of your work. When you strive for attaining Paramatma, you are giving the sweet to Him and you have to suffer with hunger during the process.
This suffering is in terms of selfless service of God and cutting of all bonds with the world, family, money and even your life. Of course, God will pay you for your sacrifice. When you lose your peace the Lord becomes peaceful. Therefore attaining the Self by removing the illusion that you are the body etc., is only a half journey.
The Lord is called as Atmesvara in the Veda, which means that He is the controller of even the Self or Atma. According to Advaita (non-dualistic; monsitic) philosophy, the goal is to reach the Self. However this is only an intermediate state. Of course you must attain the Self and gain peace as it gives you the strength to withstand the suffering of sacrifice in the next half of the journey. Sankara preached only this intermediate state to people. When a few people reached this state, then He revealed the rest of the path only to them. He swallowed the molten lead without any effect, while his disciples could not. He then explained to them that He alone was the Lord and therefore He was not affected. The disciples were not God. They had realized the Self and had reached the intermediate state called Brahman by the path of 'aham brahmasmi' (I am Brahman). Here Brahman means simple awareness.
The next half of the journey is to reach Lord who is Isvara. Peace is not the final fruit. Peace is only the intermediate fruit, which gives you the strength for the final journey. The fruit given by the Lord is the final fruit, which is peace, bliss and all the eight super powers. There is nothing special about mere peace. Peace is the cessation of thoughts. If one takes a sleeping tablet, he can get peace during the sleep as well as after waking up. Detachment from the world gives you the peace (attaining Brahman) but the fruit given by the Lord is to remain peaceful and blissful while living in this world and helping real devotees with the help of the eight super powers (ashta siddhis). Bliss is happiness which is infinite in both intensity and duration. The fruit given by the Lord is this real bliss. It will give you a sense of entertainment in the game of life played by you in this world itself. This is certainly far higher than mere peace.
Sivo'ham (I am Isvara) as said by Sankara is the final goal and not 'aham brahmasmi'. Sankara lived in the world and did lot of work. He never sat idle thinking aham brahmasmi like many half-baked Advaita philosophers. Patanjali wrote the yoga sutras in which he fixed Isvara as the final goal. We remember Sankara today as a divine hero and not other Advaita philosophers. Sankara sacrificed His mother and earning of money for the sake of the mission of the Lord. Other half-baked Advaita philosophers sit in their houses, wallow in their family bonds and simply say aham brahmasmi.
One should become a divine hero like Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhava and Swami Vivekananda. They were always dynamic, doing their karma yoga,(service in the mission of the Lord) without any selfishness. Their karma yoga was the propagation of the divine knowledge, which is jnana yoga. However today the Advaita philosopher is doing selfish work for himself and his family and calling it karma yoga. He studies the scriptures and discusses and even preaches them. Yet there is no use of this jnana yoga if he refuses to sacrifice his family and worldly bonds.
Christians say that if you do not worship Jesus, you will brun in the ver-lasting fire of hell. Hindus (Vaishnavas) say that if you do not worship Narayana , you will go to hell. Many other religions say the same. I will ask one question. Till Vasco-da-gama came to India, no Christian preaching or scripture had reached India. Therefore the Hindus before that time were not aware of Jesus. Then for no fault of theirs how could they go to hell?
The Lord gave His message to a small country at that time. Since the Lord is impartial, He should have given the same message to all the countries in this world. When you claim the authenticity of one preaching of God over others, you are you are forcing God to become partial. You allege that the preaching that God gave in one land was true while that which He gave elsewhere was not. This is absurd. The same logic applies to Hindus. Lord Narayana gave the Bhagavad Gita in India, Other lands were not blessed by this divine preaching. Only after the visit of Vasco-da-gama, the translation of the Bhagavad Gita reached the West. Therefore the people in the west who lived before that time cannot be damned to hell for no fault of theirs. There is one solution to resolve this absurdity and it is to accept the fact that the same Lord came to different countries to give the same divine message in different languages and according to the different customs in those lands and times. This is the best solution which brings the unity of religions.
11. You say that the same Lord revealed the same knowledge in the entire world in different languages. Yet Islam and Christianity say that there is no rebirth. Hinduism speaks about the rebirth. If the Lord is same, how can there be such a contradiction?
Only one Lord created this entire universe. He certainly told the same knowledge everywhere in the world. The contradiction is only due to misunderstanding. In Hinduism too Sankara says that getting another human birth is almost impossible (Jantunaam Nara Janma Durlabhamidam). Sankara was the incarnation of Lord Siva and so what He told is authoritative. Although the Bhagavad Gita says in the second chapter that the soul comes back to this world, It does not say that the soul necessarily gets another human birth (Ksheene Punye Martyalokam Vishanti).
Islam and Christianity say that the human birth is given only as a single chance. After the end of this birth there is the final judgment. The soul either goes to the Lord or goes to hell permanently. In the Bhagavad Gita also there are two ways for the soul. Either the soul goes to the Lord and does not return back or the soul returns back to the world (abrahma bhuvanat, yadgatva). According to the Bhagavad Gita, if the soul does not go to the Lord (Brahmaloka), it returns back after enjoying the fruits of an incomplete spiritual effort. If in this human birth, the spiritual effort is completed, the soul goes to the Brahmaloka permanently. If the spiritual effort is incomplete the soul may go up to any of the worlds above (short of Brahmaloka) and will return back to earth after enjoying the fruits of its incomplete spiritual effort. The soul may go up to the sixth world, but it cannot progress to Brahmaloka, the seventh world, from any of the upper worlds.
The remaining spiritual effort cannot be continued in the six upper worlds. The reason is that once the soul leaves earth all the upper worlds are only bhogalokas i.e., the worlds in which the soul can enjoy the fruits of past actions, but cannot do any further actions (karma). Therefore the soul has to return back to the earth to complete the remaining spiritual effort.
Herein lies the problem since the soul will not get again another chance of human birth because once it is failed it can almost never succeed. Therefore the soul comes back to earth and falls into the cycle of animals and birds. When the soul is trapped in this cycle of animal births, it is a permanent hell. If the soul goes to Brahmaloka it always accompanies the Lord either in Brahmaloka or it may come back to the earth along with the Lord who takes a human incarnation. In such a case the soul is born as a divine servant of the Lord. Such a soul will not take rebirth in the cycle of animals. Thus for the divine soul there is no rebirth.
In this way Hinduism, Islam and Christianity are correlated as one concept preached by the one Lord. Christians and Muslims are putting up sincere spiritual effort because there is a threat that this human life is the only chance. There is no re-examination according to these religions and such a belief forces the student to put in maximum effort. This human birth is the only one examination and the soul either passes or fails and will not be considered for any re-examination.
In Hinduism such a threat is not there. This leads to complacence in spiritual life because they think that future human rebirths are possible and so they can put forth their spiritual effort in some other future human birth. The Lord cannot give different theories to different people. The rule must be same for all the human beings of the world. Therefore whatever the Lord told in Christianity and Islam is the same as what He told in Hinduism. Hindus however misunderstood the concept. Therefore whatever may be your religion, every human being should have the motto of 'now or never' in his spiritual life.
The human rebirth is only for a yoga bhrashta i.e., the soul, which has reached Brahmaloka but erred and fallen back to this world. Only such a soul comes down to the earth and takes rebirth as a human being. Suppose the post of a lecturer in college stands for the attainment of Brahmaloka. The requirement for getting the post of a lecturer is a post graduate degree. Now suppose that you have passed the post graduate degree and obtained the post of the lecturer. If you were suspended for a month due to some mistake, you will be re-appointed. Similarly the yoga bhrashta is one who has already attained Brahmaloka but committed some mistake. He will be born as a human being for some time and will go back to Brahmaloka.
The case of incomplete spiritual effort is different from that of a yoga bhrashta. The person with an incomplete spiritual effort is like a bachelor's degree holder who never qualified for the post of a lecturer. You cannot argue that you can be appointed as a seventy-five-percent lecturer since you reached seventy five percent of the total educational requirements of a college lecturer (from primary school to your bachelors degree). Thus there is no partial achievement by partial spiritual effort. The grace of the Lord is either hundred percent or zero. If it is hundred percent you reach Brahmaloka. If it is anything less than that, you fall back to the earth in the permanent hellish cycle of the births of animals and birds. There is no third middle path.
When this truth is understood, only one in thousands will try to put the real spiritual effort as said in the Bhagavad Gita (Manushyaanaam Sahasreshu). Only if the Hindus understand this well, will they become alert and responsible in their spiritual effort like Christians and Muslims.
This human birth is given to you not because you deserve a human birth. In fact your file of past karma recommends the birth of animals for you. Your past deeds have mistakes in plenty. The Lord, in His compassion, has given one chance to you to see whether you can please Him by your actions in this birth. Based on your performance in this life, if He decides that you will not change even if another human birth is given, He will throw you into the everlasting fire of hell, which is nothing but the continuous recursive cycle of births of animals, worms etc. Most people fall under this category.
If the Lord sees a ray of hope of improvement in you, He may grant another human birth. He does not do so because He is bound by any rule. He is Omnipotent and all the rules come from Him. It is out of His compassion that He grants even undeserving souls a human birth. Therefore when Christianity mentions of the final judgment and only the present human birth, it refers to the majority of human beings. Hinduism refers to the minority of human beings who have the possibility of the next human birth.
According to Islam and Christianity there is no rebirth for the soul. They say that the soul gets a human birth only once. After this human birth the soul will either go to the Lord or will go to hell permanently. Hinduism on the other hand accepts rebirth and maintains that the soul can take a variety of births and that the human birth is extremely rare to get. How can these to totally opposite theories be correlated?
Since the Lord is One and He alone created this entire universe, all the souls are equal to Him and there should be universality with regard to the fate of the all souls in the creation. Can you deny this? You are free to believe whatever you wish if you do not agree with this. However it is not your belief that is important here. What matters is the truth. No matter what you believe, the truth alone will hold. If you agree with this policy I can correlate all the religions. If you can correlate all the religions in a better way, I am ready to accept your view. However if you want to hold on to your blind belief and not accept reason then there is nothing for me to preach or explain to you. My correlation of all the religions is as follows:
In the Bhagavad Gita two paths are explained. In the first path takes the soul to Brahmaloka without returning back. In the other path the soul returns back to this earth and falls in the cycle of births and deaths which is the wheel of Samsara. In all the religions there are only two paths.
Reaching Brahmaloka is reaching the Lord. Falling in the cycle of animal births is going to a permanent hell. The soul that is caught in the endless cycle of Samsara in the births of animals cannot come out of this hell and get a human rebirth. The ability of striving to reach Brahmaloka is available only in a human birth. The extreme rarity of getting such a human rebirth called as the absence of rebirth. The soul which, goes to Brahmaloka will never get the birth of animals and birds and in such sense this soul also has no rebirth. Therefore whether the soul goes to heaven (Brahmaloka) or hell (animal births), there is no rebirth.
One point is to be understood carefully. The birth of an animal, bird, worm etc., does not mean necessarily being born as those creatures. It could even mean being born as human beings who live as despicably as these creatures. In fact such human beings are in majority on earth. Therefore, such human births also amount to the births of animals, birds, worms etc., These human-animals are immersed in the worldly bonds like money, children and desires. They cannot cut their blind attachment to these worldly bonds. Even if they put some spiritual effort, it is incomplete because of their attachments. Even when such souls go to the upper worlds as a result of some moderately good deeds performed by them, they get involved in such bonds in the upper worlds also. They can never attain Brahmaloka, no matter how much divine knowledge is preached to them.
However if divine knowledge were not given to them, they would blame the Lord during the final enquiry for not having given them that chance. They would claim that that they might have attained Brahmaloka, had they received divine knowledge. Knowing this, the Lord preaches to them too, but only to save Himself from such blame. He already knows that they are not going to put forth earnest effort. Therefore if you have an interest in spirituality and also the ability to take the effort, then you are indeed blessed and this is your only chance to reach God. If you waste this human birth, be sure that you will fall back into the endless hell of the births of animals. You do not get such a chance again.
Islam and Christianity say that the soul has to wait for the final enquiry which, is to be done at the end of this world. Here the human body (Pindanda) is stated as the world (Brahmanda). The human body is a mini-world containing the same components that make up the whole creation. Therefore the death of this human body can be treated as the end of this world from the point of view of the soul. You can also treat the day as birth and night as death. The Veda says that the deep sleep is equal to death (Naviduhu Sati Sampatsyama Iti). The Bhagavad Gita also says the same (prabhavantyaharagame). Therefore the feelings (samskaras) of previous births are like the feelings of yesterday.
If you are spiritual and if you are making a sincere spiritual effort by cutting worldly bonds and strengthening the bond with the Lord, your lifetime can be extended by the Lord. You will cross the day of your death by the grace of the Lord. This amounts to a rebirth. Such an extension of life will really help you in your spiritual effort. On the other hand, if you are given an actual human rebirth, there will be lot of gap since you have to stay in the womb of your mother and you have to cross infancy and childhood. Such long gap will be a serious setback in your spiritual effort. Thus God prevents you from having to take another rebirth and instead lengthens the existing lifespan so that you may complete your spiritual effort in this life itself. Therefore from this point of view also it can be said that there is no human rebirth.
If one cannot attain the Brahmaloka in this human birth itself by getting the extension of life, can such a soul get Brahmaloka in the next human birth after such a long gap? It is much easier to continue the spiritual effort which has gained a lot of momentum already than to start it anew in another birth after collecting new influences from a new environment. The Bhagavad Gita also says that the soul is taking birth and death constantly during the day and night (Athachainam Nitya Jatam). Thus all the three religions can be correlated and only one theory is evolved.
14. The Guru must always encourage the disciple. Your preaching of karmaphala tyaga discourages us. Further you state that this is the only human birth. This is discouraging us more and more. Can't you encourage us?
The Guru must encourage the disciple in the beginning by telling certain white lies. Such encouragement is not wrong but the Guru should not continue the lies throughout the life of the disciple. When the disciple is encouraged, he will serve the Guru with lot of love. The aim of the Guru should not be the service from the disciple. A Guru who desires service is selfish and a fraud. He alone will keep on lying to the disciple in the name of encouragement so that the disciple will continue to love and serve him. The Sadguru, the real Guru, must reveal the truth slowly to the disciple. The aim of the Sadguru must be upliftment of the disciple and not his service.
The Lord is the kindest of all. He wants the happiness of all human beings who are His own children. The Gita says that the Lord is the father of all the living beings (Aham Bija Pradah Pita). The father always tries to favor His children and likes to see His children ever happy. Originally, in Creation, there was only good created and all the human beings were permanently happy. There was no trace of sorrow in their minds. That period was called Kruta yuga or satya yuga, in which the deity of justice, as it were stood on all four legs.
However in due course, the constant happiness became too monotonous to human beings. One cannot eat sweets all the time. This reminds one of the law of diminishing marginal utility in economics. They were bored and started feeling unhappy. Their minds were disturbed due to continuous happiness. Therefore there was a need for a break in the continuous happiness. That break can be only sorrow, which can only be the fruit of sin. Therefore chilies (peppers) were needed for a change in the constant eating of sweets. Only for the happiness of His children, the Lord created the sin. He gave freedom to the souls so that they could commit the sins and earn the chilies as well as sweets. Then the Lord arranged the life cycles by keeping sweets and chilies alternately. Such arrangement alone can bring the real permanent happiness without becoming boring. If it is a constant winter, you will get bored. A warm summer is necessary after a cold winter. If it is continuous daytime it will be boring. Night is necessary.
Even in food the Lord created both sweets and chilies so that His children will enjoy the meals without getting bored. While eating food, people eat sweet and spicy foods alternately. Similarly a cyclic pattern in life was arranged in which happiness was alternated with sorrow. Therefore creation of sin by the Lord only shows His infinite kindness for His children. Even if you have done two sins one after the other, He does not give you two bitter results one after the other. He will intersperse the two with a good result so that life is tolerable for His child. Thus life is an alternate pattern of the results of good and bad deeds done by a person; an alternative arrangement of sweet and spicy dishes. Does this not show the infinite mercy of God for His children?
However, what do you do? You pester God by showing false love through words (prayers) and mind (devotion) for removing the chilies and for getting more sweets. Since your love is not true, the Lord will not interfere with the theory of karma, which says that one must enjoy the results of both good and bad deeds performed by him. Therefore when you pester the Lord, He only gives you the sweets from your future life cycles prematurely. It is like a premature encashment of a fixed deposit for the sake of an immediate monetary benefit, in which you invariably lose some money.
Your present sorrows are merely postponed to the future. They are not removed. You will have to suffer them in future with added interest. The joy that you enjoy in the present on account of your prayers, is greatly reduced in intensity since it is prematurely encashed. Thus, after several such births in which you insist on enjoying joys which are borrowed from the future and postponing sorrows that you were supposed to suffer, you enter life cycles (births) in which you find that joys are rare and sorrows are many. Your plate is full of chillies and there is hardly a sweet in it. If you continue this irresponsible behavior, a time will come when your plate will be full of chillies and no sweet at all. In such life cycles the Lord cannot help you even if you cry to any extent.
Then you will lose your faith in the Lord will do more and more sins in such life cycles. Such sins will create further life cycles full of chilies alone. Thus it is a vicious cycle and there is no end to it. Finally you will be born as an abominable creature such as a worm in the sewage, which continuously endures filth and misery.
By merely performing rituals, worships and giving some donations as suggested by astrologers, your sin is not automatically cancelled. You expect a good result since you have performed some rituals. However good results are given for good actions which are actually performed. Traditional rituals, mental and verbal worship, which are not real actions, cannot yield the fruit of real actions. How can you get real fruit when you never performed a real action that is worthy of that fruit? The rituals suggested by priests and astrologers are of two types:
1) Trying to please the Lord by prayers (words) and by devotion or meditation (mind). Performing such rituals resembles the behavior of a prostitute who tries to please a person by words and feelings only to get some fruit from that person practically.
2) Trying to please the Lord by sacrificing work (karma samnyasa) and by sacrificing fruit of work (karmaphala tyaga) for getting some fruit from the Lord in return. This is comparable to the business of a merchant in which you give something and take something in return.
In both these ways your future sweets are only brought to this life cycle and your present chilies are pushed to your future life cycles, because your love for God in these two ways is completely false. In true love you will do karma samnyasa and karma phala tyaga without aspiring for any fruit in return.
Of course sacrifice of words and mind to the Lord without aspiring any fruit in return is good, but it cannot bring any fruit from the Lord. When you sacrifice words and mind, you are getting peace and pleasure in your heart there and then. That itself is the fruit for those actions.
Suppose you are working in a field and are singing a song. The owner of the field will pay for your work only but not for your singing. Work alone can bring the fruit. Such work is called karma yoga (service to the Lord) and it consists of karma samnyasa (working for the sake of God; sacrifice of your work for the sake of the Lord's work) and karmaphala tyaga (sacrifice of the fruit of your work; sacrifice of your wealth for the sake of the Lord).
While doing karma yoga you may chant, sing or express devotion but they are for the sake of your peace and happiness only. That cannot bring any fruit from the Lord. If you work in the field for one hour and sing the songs for another hour without doing the work, the owner will pay you only for one hour and not for two hours.
There is only one path to get rid of the fruits of your sins and to get the fruit of good deeds, which you have not done. When you serve the Lord in human form here in this world, the Lord in human form will transfer your sins upon His body and will suffer for your sake. As a servant of the Lord, you enter the second cycle called deva yana or jyotirmarga as explained in the Bhagavad Gita. You will go to Brahmaloka along with the Lord and derive continuous happiness here and there in the presence of the Lord. But in this path you should serve the Lord without aspiring for any fruit either here or hereafter. Even aspiring for the jyotirmarga is an aspiration. If you have that aspiration you will not attain it. Selfless service consists of karma samnyasa as done by Hanuman to Rama and karmaphala tyaga as done by Gopikas by offering butter (the wealth of cowherds) to Krisna.
In this path, the recognition of the human incarnation of the Lord is extremely important. The Lord comes down in human form in every human generation. Otherwise the Lord would have to be partial to a particular human generation. Hanuman and the Gopikas never worshipped idols or photos of previous incarnations or the gods in the upper worlds like Brahma, Vishnu, Siva and other deities. God takes the Human body as only in the human body can He, suffer and exhaust your sins. Then only can He do justice to His Law. In the form of a idol or a photo He cannot suffer for your sins and therefore the Lord never enters idols or photos as said in the Veda 'natasya pratima asti'.
Therefore the creation of the original sin by God cannot be blamed. In fact it shows His infinite kindness to see His children to be really happy with alternative enjoyment of sweet and hot dishes.
Doing good things is different and enjoying the results of good deeds is different. One can prepare sweets continuously but one cannot eat sweets constantly. The result of good deed is happiness. Continuous happiness will be monotonous for anybody much the way eating sweets continuously is. God did not create anything without a good purpose. The whole creation of the Lord, as it was originally was very good because everything in it had a purpose and it was conducive to the happiness of all living beings.
The bad was created by the Lord only to break the monotony of a constant happiness now and then. The Lord Himself comes down in human form for a change from the continuous bliss that He enjoys. The Veda says that He enjoys both the truth and false (Satcha Tyatcha Abhavat). The Bhagavad Gita also says that the Lord created sattvam (good qualities) as well as rajas and tamas (bad qualities). Whether the bad is created in the beginning or it is created after some time, does not matter. You can say that God had created the bad in the beginning assuming that continuous pleasure would be boring, or you can say that God created bad when people got bored of the constant pleasure. There is no difference between these two statements because God is beyond time. God created good and bad qualities as said in the Bhagavad Gita (Yechaiva Sattvikaa Bhavaah Rajasaah Taamasaascha Ye).
The Lord is beyond good and bad as said in the Bhagavad Gita (Gunaateethah Sa Utchyate). He is the creator of day and night, summer and winter etc; but the human being is not beyond these qualities because he is made of the very qualities, good or bad. The Lord, whether He comes in human form or remains as Isvara (God), is beyond the three qualities. He is like a person who is wearing a white shirt (good quality) or black shirt (bad quality). The person wears the shirts, but is beyond both. He is not affected by the shirt he wears. The white shirt does not make him white nor does the black shirt make him black.
It is said in the Bhagavad Gita (Naanyam Gunebhyah Kartaaram). The individual soul on the other hand is the very black or white shirt. He is like the cotton shirt, which is colored and it is very difficult to remove the color from the cotton threads.
Killing an innocent beautiful deer is a terrible sin and the birth of the tiger itself is the result of the soul's bad deeds in the past. Just like the color and the cotton thread cannot be separated the cruel nature of the soul in the tiger is inherent and inseparable. Therefore to you it appears but natural that a tiger should kill a deer. You do not say that a carnivorous person is justified in killing and eating another human being because in this case you are directly affected. However you think that it is justifiable for a carnivore to kill and eat an innocent deer only because you cannot understand the pain of the deer unless you are born as a deer. Just because the deer cannot argue like a human being should it not have justice? Even if a person is unable to employ an advocate, a just and fair judge will do justice.
A tiger, commits sins continuously, which will only increase its cruelty. As the cruelty increases, the cruel deeds become more and more. The quality leads to action and the action again results in quality. This is the vicious circle in which the soul (of the tiger) is caught. That is the end of its story. There is no liberation for such soul.
People say that it is the sin of their previous birth whenever they are in the trouble. They pose as if they are very pure in this life from their birth. When a person dies immediately his sons write letters to others that their father has gone to heaven. Actually after death, the soul will be enquired in the 'pretaloka' (the world of the dead) for ten days and only then will it be sent to hell for its bad deeds, to heaven for the good deeds and to 'pitruloka' (the world of ancestors) for mixed deeds. If the soul has straight away gone to heaven, why do his sons perform all the rituals in which a cow is donated? The donation of a cow (godana), is meant for crossing the Vaitarini river on the way to hell.
In fact the soul is not enjoying or suffering the results of the deeds done in previous births here. When the soul leaves this body, it goes to hell and is washed severely like a dirty cloth. The dirt is the sin acquired by performing bad deeds. Most of the dirt gets washed in hell where the souls suffers for its sins. However the impressions of the sins (in seed form) remain in the soul like stains on the cloth. This is called as karma sesha. The karma sesha is the remnants of all the qualities of the soul with greatly reduced intensity. When the soul comes back to this world these qualities sprout up in the atmosphere of earth. The soul does similar deeds in its birth on earth and again goes to hell for another severe wash. This cycle repeats.
When the soul comes to this earth from hell, it does deeds according to the karma sesha i.e., the remnants of previous qualities. In that sense the karma sesha is responsible for all the deeds on this earth. These deeds again intensify the karma sesha. Buddhi (karma sesha) produces karma (action) and karma intensifies the buddhi. When the soul comes here there is no result to be enjoyed in this world. He has already enjoyed or suffered for his past deeds. A thief is severely beaten in the police station for his theft and is released. He does not have to be further punished for his theft. He has already been punished and has suffered the punishment. However, when he comes out of the police station his tendency to steal is still present in him although it is extremely weak because of the punishment he just received. Within a short time due to the association with other thieves in the world, the same tendency grows back and he becomes the thief he was before. He commits more thefts, is caught again and is again beaten in the police station.
Similarly when the soul is born there is no punishment that it needs to suffer in this world since it has already suffered for its sins. The only thing that remains with the soul is the karma sesha, which are very weak tendencies. This karma sesha is called sancita and is also called as the writing of Brahma on the forehead. It guides future actions of the soul in this world. The birth of the soul is according to the nature of this karma sesha alone, which is called prarabdha. The actions in this world further strengthen the karma sesha and this added strength is called agami. The whole cycle of karma, is confined to the souls and the world. It is fuelled by ignorance and the blind attraction of the family bonds. It works like clockwork. The Lord has nothing to do with this.
The work of the Lord is completely different. The Lord enters this world to uplift human beings. Such divine work of the Lord is to be recognized and your participation in such work alone is relevant to the Lord. Such participation will give you the Brahmaloka in a completely different divine path called arciradi marga as told in the Bhagavad Gita. For such participation you must first recognize the Lord in human form. If you do not recognize the Lord in human form there is no question of participation in His work. The Bhagavad Gita says that first the divine birth of the Lord must be recognized and then the divine work for participation (Janma Karmachame Divyam). Except for this type of divine work participated in by the souls, the Lord has no connection with the other deeds of souls as said in the Bhagavad Gita (Na Kartrutvam Na Karmaani Lokasya). Thus one should not mix the works of the souls and the work of the Lord.
18. If everything in Creation goes according to the will of the Lord, who is the Absolute Controller, then there is no independence for any human being. In such a case the human being should not have to bear the fruits of his actions. In other words, why should he be punished for actions that were not under his control but were the Will of God?
The Lord controls all the souls as per the Veda "Atmesvaram", which means that He is the ruler of all the souls. The Bhagavad Gita also says the same "Bhutanaam Iswarah". However this does not mean that there is no independence for the soul. When the king rules a kingdom, all the people in that kingdom are independent and free to carry out their usual activities. However they do so within the framework of the rules laid down by the king. Thus a short span of independence for the duration of the human life exists for the soul. He is undoubtedly under the control and supervision of the Lord but within that time frame He has independence.
Imagine a cat which has caught a rat in its jaws. It leaves the rat after a bite for a short span of time. In that span the rat is independent and tries to make a run for a safe place. However the cat watches the rat closely and catches it again whenever the rat tries to escape outside the limits set by the cat. Similarly the Lord called Kala (death) catches a human being and delivers a bite. The bite is the illness of the human being. The repeated diseases are the repeated bites of Kala or the Lord. During the bite the rat looses completely its independence. Similarly any human being, which is attacked by the disease becomes a patient and looses his independence completely. The cat plays with the rat for sometime like this and then finally swallows the rat. Similarly, the human being is swallowed by the Lord at the end. The whole creation itself is like a rat for the Lord, which is told in Brahmasutra, "Atta Charaachara Grahanaat".
Thus the short span of independence of human beings under the supervision of the overall controlling Lord, creates the game for the entertainment of the Lord. Entertainment is the basic reason why God created the world. It is told in the Veda ekaki na ramate) and in the Brahmasutra (lokavattu).
Within the limits of the supervision of the cat, the rat will receive a result commensurate with the direction in which it runs. In one direction there may be fire and the rat may receive the heat. In another direction there may be cold water and the rat will receive coolness in that direction. The rat is independent to go in any direction and will receive the result of his action accordingly. The final death of the rat shows that the rat was under the control of the cat even during its period of independence. Yet it was given the independence within a certain boundary and for a certain span of time. As long the rat does not go out of that boundary the cat does not interfere with its independence for that span of time.
Similarly the human being in his lifespan has enough independence within the framework of the rules laid down by the Lord. Within this framework, he will get results commensurate with his actions. The final end of a human being proves that the limited independence is also under the control of the Lord. Yet, the Lord does not interfere with human independence as long as the human being confines himself to the boundaries laid down by the Lord.
Thus it is but just that the human should receive the results of actions performed by him while he was independent to perform actions without interference from the Lord. Thus the whole 'game' is perfectly justified from any angle.
People, who say that their present suffering is the result of their bad actions in some remote past birth, are posing that that they have led very pure lives in the present birth. They do not want to own up responsibility for their own actions in this birth but instead want to pass the blame to God by saying that they have to unnecessarily bear the fruits of their actions performed in past births over which they have no control now.
In fact, after a person dies, all the results of his deeds in that birth are given to him in the appropriate world where he goes after death. For all the bad deeds he goes to hell and suffers and for the good deeds he goes to heaven and enjoys such that all the results of his deeds are totally exhausted. Only then is he given a new human birth. Yet when a soul takes a human birth in this world it is born with karma sesha. Karmasesha is not remaining results of the deeds of his past birth that he has to enjoy or suffer in this birth because all the results, good or bad have already been exhausted in the other worlds before he was given a new birth. Karma sesha is the remnant tendencies or qualities (samskara or vasana) to do the deeds that the soul did in the past births. These tendencies remain in the soul.
Suppose a thief was severely beaten in a police station as a punishment for his action of theft. He is then freed as he has suffered the bad result of his action adequately. When he comes out into the world there is no more result of his crime that he has to suffer. Yet the tendency to repeat the previously committed crime remains as a subtle seed in him. Due to the beating at the police station, that tendency is very much reduced but it does not vanish. This tendency is a wrong modification of the person's knowledge. The result of his actions such as punishment at the police station, are in the same realm as action and cannot remove the tendency which is subtler than action. Action can cut action but not knowledge. Only right knowledge can remove the wrong modification of knowledge (tendency).
The sum total of these tendencies to repeat past actions, in seed form, is called karma sesha or sancita. When the soul is reborn, it is born in a place, family and cultural atmosphere that is commensurate with the sort of tendencies it has collected. This situation presents a congenial atmosphere for the germination of the seed of his tendencies. A certain set of the person's tendencies begin germinating in a particular birth. This is called prarabdha. The seed slowly grows into a tree. The soul becomes active and does a series of deeds. The fruits of these deeds will be received by the soul in the other worlds depending on whether they are good or bad. Such pending results of actions already performed are called as agami. All thefts committed by a thief are recorded in the police station in the form of complaints by citizens. When the thief is caught, he will be punished for all of them. These pending punishments for all thefts committed are the agami of the thief.
Sometimes the thief gets beaten by some alert citizen, even before he is caught by the police. Likewise some serious deeds give fruits in this world itself. The most serious sin done in this world is forgetting the Lord who has given so much to you in this world. He does not ask you to give anything to Him in return. He alone is totally selfless. People, who claim to be devoted to God and pray to Him, actually do not do so out of pure love but out of expectation. They are essentially selfish. Where there is selfishness there is no true love. Where there is darkness, no light exists. Therefore humans, who commit this grave sin of forgetting the Lord and praying selfishly to Him, begin receiving the fruit thereof in this life itself.
One exception to this rule is atheists who are punished in the other worlds for their sin is the gravest. They are kept temporarily happy in this world. The reason is that the Lord uses them to test the faith of His real devotees who find that they (the devotees) are suffering in this world even though they are devoted to God, while the atheists are merrily enjoying the world. A true devotee should not be misled by seeing the happy life of an atheist in this world for the worst hell awaits the atheist after death. In contrast, the true devotee who suffers for the sake of the Lord in this world gets a place with God in the upper world.
When Dharmaraja, the righteous Pandava king, went to the upper worlds along with his father, the god of Justice, he saw, all his righteous brothers in hell and the cruel and sinful Kauravas in heaven. He was shocked and asked his father about this. The lord of Justice replied that his brothers had committed very little sin and a lot of good deeds. Therefore they were suffering in hell, first for their bad deeds. This would last a very short time after which they would ascend to heaven forever. The Kauravas on the other hand, had committed very few good deeds and an enormous amount of bad deeds. They were first enjoying the fruits of their goods deeds in heaven for a short while before falling to hell for ever.
This is the way God metes out justice. Therefore good devotees will suffer a little sin in this temporary human life and will enjoy the fruits of their good deeds forever in heaven. The atheists will enjoy the fruits of their small amount of good deeds in this temporary life and will go to hell forever for their sins. Another use of such arrangement in which the real devotee suffers in the world while the atheist enjoys temporarily, is that the devotee will be tempted to become an atheist. Thus the Lord uses atheists to test His true devotees. The administration of the Lord has many angles which are beyond human comprehension. Unlike any human administration, it is absolutely fair and just.
The good is sattvam (purity; quality conducive to knowledge) quality. The bad is rajas (activity, passions) and tamas (inertia, ignorance) qualities. These three qualities constitute the entire creation, which is the game of the Lord. The bat, ball and the net are the three means of the game. You hit the ball with the bat. You are not angry with the ball and neither do you hate it. You hit it because it is part of the game. The game cannot be complete without both the bat and the ball.
Similarly the bad should be destroyed and the good must be upheld as part of the cosmic game called creation. However there is no reason to hate the bad just as you do not hate the ball in the game. Good and bad are equally instrumental in the game. In a drama, the actor who played the role of the hero and the actor who played the role of villain are equally important and both are paid well. Rama killed Ravana and Krisna killed Sisupala. The Lord killed them peacefully without any hatred towards them. The Lord knows that He is playing the game. He beats the ball but without any anger or hatred.
When one sees all three qualities (sattvam, rajas and tamas) with equanimity, he becomes the follower of Datta. Datta represents equanimity in the three qualities. Brahma (the Lord in the aspect of Creator) represents rajas. Vishnu (the Lord in the aspect of the Sustainer) represents sattvam and Siva (the Lord in the aspect of the Destroyer of Evil) represents tamas. All three forms are equal in importance and together constitute the whole game. The Lord destroys the injustice in the world and establishes the justice without any stress or hatred in His heart. A villain is necessary in a movie. You enjoy a movie with a villain just as you enjoy salt and spices in your meal. Yet you do not want to see bad in the creation. The creation is like a movie for the Lord as said in the Veda (Sa Ikshata, Saakshee Chetaa). The creation is the meal of the Lord as said in Brahmasutras (Attaa Charachara Grahanat). You cannot have a meal with sweets alone. Neither do you enjoy a movie without a villain. Then how can you talk about Creation without bad?
People pray to God for their selfish benefits and such prayers are not real worship. If one loves God only in order to satisfy some need of his, it is the worst kind of worship. Apply the same logic to your children. You love your child without any expectation. When you can have such selfless love for your ephemeral blood bond of this birth, why can you not have the same love for God, who is related to you by the only permanent bond in this world for the past millions of births?
The sea with its countless waves, warns people not to kill poor aquatic creatures like fish for the sake of food. God has created a lot of vegetable food, which is even better for our health according to modern science. The sea represents the Lord. When humans go against the God's Law, and refuse to improve, He is forced to punish the sinners and bring them to justice. Natural calamities such as tsunamis are examples of God's punishment. Goddess Earth (God in the form of the earth) kills the sinners through earthquakes since these sinners kill innocent creatures on earth.
A tsunami is the result of the combined wrath of Father-sea and Mother-earth. Innocent creatures that are slaughtered en masse have no advocate. They cannot even protest or file a criminal case in our courts. Luckily such formalities are not necessary for His all-pervading court.
You only see the punishment and not the sin. The sin committed earlier is the cause of the punishment. Just as you sympathize with the human beings affected in not only your countries but even far away countries since all human beings are one, you should broaden your mind further and feel that all the living beings are one. Then you will be able to sympathize with every living being. Natural calamities will then disappear.
23. Why do some people who are really very good suffer? If they were sinners in their previous births how are they are so nice in their present birth? My child is weak in a subject. Can you solve this problem?
You think that a person is very good because of his nice gentle character. There are cheats who appear very soft and nice. There are very good and sincere people with an apparently rough character. A soft person may even be selfish and a rough person may sacrifice himself for someone. Thus appearances are deceiving.
The Lord objects to only one bad quality and that is selfishness. If a person has this one bad quality, then all his good qualities are wasted. God will not care for any of them. A selfish person with all good qualities is like a gold cup with salt water. It is not fit for drinking. We are interested in the contents of a cup and not in the cup itself.
A cruel person who is ever ready to sacrifice for the sake of another is like an earthen cup containing nectar. Lord Siva gave salvation to the hunter for his sacrifice in spite of the fact that he was a barbarian. The Lord did not give salvation to the selfish priest. Thus we normally make a mistake in distinguishing the real good and the real bad. The Lord's judgment alone is correct and completely practical. His viewpoint is true and is different from ours.
Regarding the problem of your child I advise you to stop worrying about your child. You should only worry about serving the Lord and not bother about your problem at all. When you do so, your problem disappears in a fraction of a second. As long as you do not give undue attention to your family and concentrate on the Lord's work, the Lord will take the responsibility of your entire family and in such a case, the benefit to your family will be beyond your imagination. If you concentrate on your family, leaving the Lord aside, your problem will grow more and more. If you concentrate on the Lord and your problem equally, your problem gets partially solved. Now you have to choose one of these alternatives.
Triputi means the true knowledge of the following three items:
1) The Lord: He is the goal of human life. You should know that the Lord comes in human form in each generation and you can get complete benefit from such a human form of the Lord alone. You must also know the characteristics of the Lord in human form to identify Him (Manusheem Tanumaasritam- the Bhagavad Gita).
2) The Path to please the Lord: You must know that the only path to please the Lord is sacrifice of all the worldly bonds. The root bond of all these bonds is the bond with money, which is called 'Dhaneshana'. If there is no money all the other bonds will break (dhanena tyagenaike).
3) Yourself: You must know that you are the soul, which is a bundle of the three qualities mixed in different proportions (Naanyam Gunebhyah Kartaram - the Bhagavad Gita). You must differentiate yourself from the Lord since the Lord is beyond the qualities (Gunaateethah - the Bhagavad Gita). You are the colored shirt and the Lord is the person who wears the colored shirt.
You can learn about the importance of the human form of the Lord from Hanuman who recognized and worshipped Lord Rama and from the Gopikas who recognized and worshipped Krisna. Both Rama and Krisna were the human incarnations present during the lifetimes of the mentioned devotees. These devotees never worshipped idols or forms of the previous incarnations of the Lord. They did not worship other deities of the upper worlds such as Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.
Similarly you must learn the path of sacrifice from Saktuprasta, who sacrificed the little flour, which was all he had to eat after having fasted for the past ten days. You must also learn that you are only a soul and not the Lord from Hanuman. Hanuman himself was the greatest scholar of his time. His phisical and supernaural powers were beyond compare. Yet none were equal to his humility and devotion to Lord Rama. You are nothing compared to Hanuman who was an ocean of knowledge, power and devotion. When even a great hero as Hanuman totally surrendered to the Lord, saying that he was only a servant of the Lord (dasoham kausalendrasya), you are after all a only a baby-monkey before him. Therefore you should understand that you are not the Lord and surrender to the Lord as a humble servant. In fact you should become the servant of His servant (Hanuman) before you become a direct servant of the Lord (Daasasya Dasah).
Real love requires suffering by sacrifice. In such sacrifice one feels happy since he has sacrificed to the Lord. Take your mother for example. She gives you food even while she herself suffers with hunger. She feels very happy in that suffering.
A human being cannot ever fully repay another for real love. Even if he gives something in return to a person who really loves him, it is temporary. However when one has real love for God and proves it by sacrifice, the Lord gives him a fruit that is permanent. He gives him Brahmaloka. Saktuprasta gave his food to the Lord in human form, although he had been hungry for the past ten days. God had appeared to him as a guest and asked for the little flour that Saktuprasta had managed to get with great difficulty. If the guest had been an ordinary human being, the guest would have had to be a sadist to be the cause of Saktuprasta's added suffering. However the guest was none other than God Himself. He gave Saktuprasta infinite wealth in this world and also the permanent Brahmaloka after death.
It is important that you identify the human form of God correctly otherwise, if you have to suffer and sacrifice for another human being, who is not the Lord, you get only temporary fruit for your sacrifice. If that person feels pleased with your sacrifice and suffering then he is a sadist and is only deceiving you. Sacrifice comes out of love and devotion to God. The characteristics of the path of sacrifice are the suffering in sacrifice and the happiness of being able to serve God, which neutralizes the unhappiness.
The Lord does not insist on this path. Sacrifice should come from the depth of your heart with full willingness. If you fear the suffering and unhappiness of sacrifice, you can never follow that path. In case of your children, you will never hesitate to sacrifice your pleasure and comfort for their sake. This is because you have real love for them. Do you not sacrifice your food to your child even though you suffer with hunger? Not only that, but you also feel happy about this sacrifice. You do not call your child a sadist even when it demands food from you while you are hungry. Where there is real love, sacrifice is spontaneous.
You hesitate to sacrifice to the Lord only because you do not have real love for Him. The above question only proves that you do not have real love for God.
26. On one hand scriptures preach the prayers by words and on the other hand the scriptures advise silence (maunam). On the one hand scriptures preach devotion which is mental expression. On the other hand the scripture preaches the control of mind without any expression. How do you correlate these opposite concepts in sadhana (spiritual effort)?
In the first stage, a servant merely sits and sings in praise of the owner without doing any work. He then asks for remuneration for his song from the owner. The owner never got any benefit from the servant as the servant never worked. So the owner refuses remuneration saying that the singer has already got happiness by singing and that happiness itself is his remuneration. One cannot get two remunerations for one job even if you treat the singing as a job.
In the second stage, the servant does some work for the master and also sings. The owner will pay only for his work only but not for the song. The servant sings while working in order to get happiness and forget his tiredness. The song is sung by the servant for his own benefit. He receives benefit for that effort in terms of happiness and alleviation of his tiredness. The owner cannot be expected to pay him for the song.
In the third stage the servant is advised to stop singing because his energy is wasted in the song. If he works without singing, all his energy can be concentrated in the work. This way the servant will get more work done and consequently more remuneration. The advice to stop singing is merely a suggestion and not a compulsion. The servant is not blamed if he continues to sing. Singing is not wrong at all. However it will yield no remuneration and therefore the owner's advice is only for the benefit of the servant.
Similarly in the first stage people pray and express devotion without proving their love in action. In this stage they get peace and bliss by the prayers and their expressions of devotion. They cannot additionally demand a fruit from the Lord for their prayers and devotion.
In the second stage, people participate in the mission of the Lord by sacrificing the work and the fruit of the work. While working for the Lord, they pray and sing devotional songs, which give them peace and happiness. Their prayers and songs are not wrong at all but they will get fruit from the Lord for their work only and not for their prayers (words) and for their devotion (mind).
In the third stage, they are advised to stop the prayers and expression of devotion by practicing silence and control of mind. The reason for this is that they can save the energy wasted in prayers and devotion. As it is, this expression of devotion cannot bring any fruit from the Lord. The saved energy can be directed to the Lord's work entirely. Thereby one becomes a more efficient instrument in the hands of God. The additional work done yields an even greater fruit from the Lord. Of course, you should not expect any fruit for their work.
The attitude behind the work done for the Lord, should be totally selfless. Only then is the Lord pleased. To such a selfless and totally focused worker, He gives the real fruit. The attitude behind the work is important as even an iota of desire for the fruit of the action, reduces the worth of the action. If the action is tarnished by selfishness, then God will give only as much fruit as the action deserves. If the action is performed with total selflessness and lack of expectation then the result given by God far exceeds the intrinsic worth of the action. This is the Grace of God.
Thus focusing of all efforts and energies in performing God's work is essential. Please note that we are not finding fault with prayers and devotion. We are only saying that you are wasting your energy in things that cannot bring any fruit from the Lord. If you control those two channels, better fruit is given to you. If you need relaxation by prayers and devotion, you fall in the second stage.
Therefore there is no contradiction because in the third stage it is only an advice in the light of yoga. Yoga means concentration of an individual's entire energy in one useful channel The root word of yoga is 'yuj', which means to unite the dissipated streams of energy in various useless channels and concentrate the whole energy as a single stream in the useful channel.
The third stage is the highest stage. Hanuman never uttered prayers and never expressed devotional feelings for the Lord as per the Valmiki Ramayana, which is the authentic version of Ramayana. Hanuman concentrated all His energy in the work of Lord Rama. Lord Rama also never expressed His love for Hanuman through words or feelings. Instead He silently gave the highest real fruit to Hanuman, which is the post of the Creator (Brahma) in the next cycle of Creation.
The Veda says "Yato Vacho Nivartante Apraapya Manasaasah". This means that words and mind cannot reach the Lord and return back to you in vain. He will never hear your prayers and will never respond to your expression of devotional feelings. The reason is that these actions yield the immediate fruit of giving you mental peace and happiness. You perform these actions and get automatic and immediate results in return. There is no further intervention of the Lord required.
On the contrary, when you work for Him by sacrifice, you do not get peace, happiness and satisfaction. In fact you lose your own peace and you have to suffer. When you offer the sweet to the Lord you suffer with hunger. Therefore God has to intervene and give you the fruit for the actions that you performed. He is not a sadist. He does not want you to suffer. He only wants to ensure that the devotee is working out of real selfless love. He will give the Highest to the one who does God's work with full effort and total selflessness. In fact such a worker does not feel the suffering that he incurs in the sacrifice. He finds working and sacrificing for God pleasurable.
Therefore in this highest stage, silence and control of mind are recommended by the Bhagavad Gita too (Mounam Atma Vinigrahah). In the second stage by prayers and devotion, you are as if 'eating the sweet' yourself. Why should the Lord then respond to that with another fruit if you are already getting enjoyment in eating the sweet? Should He pay you for the sweet that you are enjoying? When you give Him the sweet instead of eating it yourself, and never expect a repayment, He is pleased with your sacrifice. You have proven your real love for Him. God will give the infinitely great fruit for real love at the appropriate time and place.
He will not give this fruit immediately but will deliberately delay in giving it since He wants to see you whether you have really sacrificed the fruit and do not aspire for it anymore. If you have sacrificed the sweet with expectation then a delay in getting the fruit will bring out your real color. The Lord is the greatest genius.
There are five broad types of people in this world. The first type of people has real love towards God and sacrifice practically to Him. The Lord rewards them with the infinite and real fruit.
The second type of people sacrifices practically but wants to achieve ten times more than what they sacrificed. Such people are like businessmen. They want to invest as little as possible and aspire for maximum profit. However the Lord will give them only as much as they deserve, based on their sacrifice. Sometimes, He may also give them what they expected over and above what they deserved, but this additional fruit is from their account itself. He merely prepones some good results (of good deeds performed by them in the past) that they were supposed to enjoy in the future of this birth or some future births. However such preponement comes at a price. The value of the good result is reduced due to the preponement. In other words, the enjoyment is less in intensity if enjoyed before its actual time of maturity. This whole process takes place without the knowledge of the people.
The third type of the people sacrifices words by prayers and feelings through devotion without any practical sacrifice. Such people are comparable to a prostitute who sacrifices sweet words and sweet feelings to extract something practically from a person. The Lord fulfills their aspiration by merely drawing the good result of their good deeds from their future births.
The fourth type of people is the atheist. They enjoy the world created by the Lord and abuse the Lord. The Lord will keep silent towards them in this world. He uses the atheists to test His devotees. He will observe whether such atheists can affect His devotee. Later on the atheist will be severely punished by the Lord.
The fifth type of people neither recognizes nor abuses the Lord. They simply enjoy the world without bothering about the Lord. The Lord will throw such people into the births of animals, birds, worms etc. In such births one can enjoy the world without worrying about the Lord.
In spirituality, the majority always goes to hell. The Bhagavad Gita says that only one in thousands can reach God. Even that one person will reach the Lord after several births (Kaschit Maam Vetti, Bahunaam Janmanaam). Jesus also says that the path leading to hell is very wide and full of rush. The path leading to the Lord is very narrow and hardly a person or two will pass that way. Also, the path to hell is filled with flowers and the path to the Lord is filled with thorns. Therefore the path to the Lord is not acceptable to all. Then shall I recommend the path filled with flowers to all people just because it is easily acceptable to all of them?
I am universal because I preach the narrow thorny path of the Lord to all people. However the path is not universally acceptable. I cannot help that. The spiritual path is the path of the minority. Diamonds like Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, Jesus, Sai, Vivekananda etc., are one-in-a-million. Pebbles are in majority. The fraud Gurus show the flowery path to hell. It is "Amruta Visham" i.e., it looks like nectar but is actually poison. The Sadguru shows the thorny path, which is Visha Amrutam i.e., it looks like poison but is actually nectar. The Bhagavad Gita says the same (Yat Tat Agre Vishamiva).
People who do not follow the right teaching in spite of knowing that it is true are incapable of doing practical sacrifice. They want to reach God without sacrifice. Therefore they believe that the flowery path will take them to the Lord and the thorny path will take them to hell even though actually the reverse is true. They follow fraud Gurus who preach about the false, flowery path to God, since it suits their convenience and allows them to escape without doing any sacrifice. They reward the false Gurus since their preaching pleases them. Such people are controlled by the love of their families and greediness.
The Bhagavad Gita says that one should not involve with such people (Nigrahah Kim Karishyati, Krutsnavit Na Vichalayet) for if you throw a stone in mud you are bound to soil your own clothes. Those traveling the flowery path with sweet dreams, think that they are going to the Lord. Let them be happy in their sweet dreams because at the end of the path they go to hell. Let them be happy at least in the path. Their illusion will be broken only when they reach the end and find themselves in hell.
The wife is traditionally supposed to be submissive to the husband. This is just a societal norm and this norm is used as a model to communicate a higher truth. The Veda says that the Lord is the 'Purusha' (male). His power called as Maya is treated as His wife. The Veda says the following "Atha Pursushohavai, Purushayevedam, Paraasya Saktihi, Indro Mayaabhih". The modification of Maya is the world or Creation. The jivas (souls) are a part of the world. Therefore jivas are also modifications of Maya. Such jivas are the servants of the Lord.
This world and Maya are called 'bharya' (wife). Bharya means the one who is maintained. The Lord is called as 'Bharta' which means the Maintainer. Among the jivas, even male jivas are treated as the wives of the Lord and in that sense are females. God alone is the Universal Male or the Purusha. It is said in the Veda (Striyah Sateeh Pumsa Ahuh). The male sages, due to their extreme devotion to the Lord during the time of the incarnation of Lord Rama, were reborn as the female Gopikas (cowherd maidens) so that they could love and worship the Lord when He came as a human incarnation in the form of Lord Krisna.
The world is called 'prakrti' and is further divided into
1) para prakrti which is the life or consciousness or awareness
2) apara prakrti which is inert matter.
Prakriti is the modification of Maya. Maya is associated with the Lord. Prakriti may also be called as Maya because there is no difference between Maya and its modification. This is told in the Bhagavad Gita (mayam tu prakrtim). The Lord and the world are mentioned as Purusha and prakrti; husband and wife, respectively (Prakrutim Purusham Chaiva). When the Lord comes as Purusha in human form, His devotees come as the servants of the Lord to participate in His work. Due to such souls the Lord is entertained. If you take the Lord as the Universal Isvara, then all the souls in this world are His servants and they entertain Him.
The Lord cannot enjoy alone as said in the Veda (Ekaki naramate). His power, Maya, is treated as His wife who is modified into the world to entertain Him. This Maya is the awareness and is also called as para sakti. Maya is in the form of several wishes of God. This Maya is converted into the inert five elements called as apara prakrti. This Maya (para sakti) enters some inert bodies in this world. These are the living beings including humans. Such Maya, which is present in any inert body is called as para prakrti (subtle nature). The inert body is apara prakrti (gross nature). Any living being is the combination of para prakrti and apara prakrti.
The Lord has not entered any living being and therefore none of the living beings are the Lord. However the Lord may enter a particular living body, while it is still in the womb and when such living being is born, it is said to be an incarnation of the Lord or an Avatara.
Lord Krisna at the center is such incarnation and the Gopikas dancing around Him represent the other living beings. Even Arjuna, the great warrior hero of the epic Mhabharata, who was the friend of Lord Krisna, is just a common living being (jiva).
Whenever the word prakrti (nature) comes, it means both para prakrti and apara prakrti which are its two sub divisions. In the Bhagavad Gita the Lord said "prakrtim svam" which means that the Lord enters prakrti. Therefore the Lord enters both para prakrti and apara prakrti in case of the human incarnation. The Lord also said "Atma mayaya". This means the Lord enters the prakrti with His Maya. The Veda says the same (Tadevaanu Praavisat). In this context the Veda says "Sa Idam Sarva Masrujata Tat Srushtva" which means that the Lord created this world and entered this world. The Lord enters a living body present in the womb. The living body consists of the gross five inert elements called apara prakrti and also the subtle part called life or para prakrti. Therefore the living body is called as prakrti.
When Maya (para sakti) enters a non-living body, that body becomes a living being. Therefore when the Lord enters the prakrti it means that the Lord enters a living body only which is the combination of both para prakrti and apara prakrti. This means the Lord will never enter only apara prakrti, which is the inert body. The Veda says this (natasya pratima asti). When the Lord enters prakrti (in a living being), such a living being is called as the human incarnation.
The Siva Linga (the symbol of Lord Siva indicates the wave nature of life energy (para prakrti). The idol of Lord Vishnu indicates matter, which is apara prakrti. Matter and energy are inter-convertible as per science. That means Siva and Vishnu are inter-convertible forms. This is agreed upon by the scriptures "Shivaya Vishnu rupaya". Brahma is the Lord who enters both the Siva and Vishnu who represents the life energy and the inert body respectively. The three together constitute the human incarnation, which is given to the world and called as 'Datta'. This is the meaning of the three heads of Datta.
Therefore the idol of the Lord indicates the Purusha. The idol of the female indicates His power Maya, which is modified as prakrti (world). The power and the world, entertain the Lord like a wife entertaining her husband. The male and female difference in the two idols is not an actual difference of male and female in the world. All the living beings including the inert world containing rivers, mountains etc., along with the power Maya is represented by the female idol. All the jivas are prakrti and therefore female. Due to this reason Mira asked Tulasi Dasa whether there is any male among the souls.
The female idol also indicates the group of servants who entertain the Lord in Human form and the male idol indicates that Lord. Maya is like the ocean on which the Lord is lying. A little of this water is modified into solid ice vessels (inert matter or apara prakrti). Some of the vessels are again filled with the water of the sea (para prakrti). Such vessels filled with water are the living beings. The other ice vessels, which are not filled with water are just the mountains, rivers etc., The water present in the ocean is Maya or para sakti.
Similarly a little of Maya (para sakti) is modified into the inert five elements. You can consider seawater as the awareness and the soild ice as the inert five elements. Although the above example facilitates understanding, one should remember that the fluidity (dynamism) and solidity (inertness) is not the only difference between living beings and inert matter. Inert matter in Creation is also dynamic. Here the word inert is used as opposed to conscious. It does not mean 'incapable of movement'. Therefore inert matter can also be dynamic. Inert matter is a modification of the dynamic inert energy. The real question here is how does the life energy (para sakti) transform into inert energy such as heat, light, etc.? The life energy is Maya and the inert energy is the apara prakrti. Therefore in other words, how did the apara prakrti result from Maya (para sakti)?
This is the mystery of the creation of the Universe. Due to this mystery alone, the power of the Lord is called Maya. The word Maya means 'wonderful'. Plants are produced from the earth as said in the Veda (Pruthivya Oshadha yah). Here the plant consists of inert matter. Therefore into this inert matter (apara prakrti), Maya entered and the plant became a living being. The life energy (awareness) is not doing any particular function in case of plants. Mind is awareness doing some function. This work done by awareness is desire. In the plant the awareness does not do this special function and therefore plants do not have mind or desires. In animals, birds etc., the awareness is evolved enough to do this special function of desiring and therefore they possess mind. In human beings apart from the mind, the awareness has the capability of another special function called decision-making. Awareness in this functional mode is called as intelligence or buddhi.
Therefore the same life energy is present in plants, animals and human beings. They differ only by the special functions of the awareness. The male idol and the female idol in the temple are models to teach you this wonderful divine knowledge. Those idols are made of apara prakrti and not the Lord and Maya. The Lord and Maya have not entered those idols as said in the Veda (Nedam Tat, Neti Neti, Natasya Pratima). They are only models to explain the concept. The knowledge obtained by using these models can give you divine experience and bliss. When you read this knowledge printed on paper, the printed words and the white paper are only instruments of knowledge and can give you the bliss of knowledge. This does not mean that the paper and the sentences are the Divine Lord. The Divine Lord is also not present in this paper and words. Unless you learn the divine knowledge from this paper and printed sentences, this paper and the sentences are a waste. Similarly if you do not understand the divine knowledge represented by the idols, the idols are a waste for you.
The Veda says 'Yavateervai Devataah' which means that all the deities are present in Sadguru who can preach the true meaning of the Veda. In this mantra, Sadguru is referred to as the Brahmana. Brahmana means the Sadguru who knows Brahman. Brahman, in this case, means the Veda. The Lord alone knows the true meaning of the Veda as said in the Veda (brahmavit brahmaiva).
The Lord comes in human form and appears before human beings here itself as said in the Veda (Yat Saakshaat Aparokshaat). Therefore such a human form of the Lord is the Brahmana and the abode of all the deities. Arjuna could see all the deities in the Visvarupam (cosmic form of the Lord) of Lord Krisna. Arjuna saw the Visvarupam with the help of 'divya netra' or the 'jnana netra', which is the divine eye of Knowledge. The eye of knowledge means Knowledge itself.
The word deva (deity) means a form of light. Light means the sattvam quality and sattvam means 'jnanam' (knowledge). Knowledge means the various ideas made of awareness. Awareness is like gold and the various ideas are like different golden ornaments. Therefore the different deities are different feelings of the human form of the Lord, which are different forms of His awareness. The true knowledge of such a Sadguru is Brahma. His love, which rules the devotees, is Vishnu. His anger to punish His devotees for their ignorance is Rudra. His auspicious bliss, which is unaffected by the worldly matters, is Siva. His preaching is Saraswati. The guru dakshina given to Him is Lakshmi. His super power is Parvati. His capacity to finish His mission in spite of obstacles is Ganapati. His courage without any fear is Hanuman. His severe anger to punish the atheists is Virabhadra. Removal of the dark ignorance by His preaching is Surya. Enjoying the role through ignorance is Rama. Attraction of the devotees is Krisna. Removal of the sins of His devotees by transferring them on Him is Venkatesvara. His order is Sasta. His nature to give the results to all the living beings according to their deeds are the nine planets. (All the names mentioned in the above paragraph are different deities which represent the mentioned quality or function.)
Thus the Sadguru in human form is the composite of all the deities. Such a human form of Lord comes in every human generation so that He is not partial to a particular human generation. The entire world is in His body. There is nothing outside of Him. Every thing is in the Sadguru. People are worshipping external inert forms without knowing the real nature of the Sadguru. "Bahirmukha sudurlabha" means that there is nothing in this external world. "Antarmukha samaradhya" means that the internal form of the human incarnation is the real Lord.
The human body of the Lord called as Sadguru is the modification of Maya and He is prakrti itself. Such a human body follows the rules of nature and behaves like any other human body. In this aspect, He is Lalita. The word Lalita means the prakrti which represents the human body of the Lord and that is fragile and without any divine strength. There is no other way than to worship the external form of human incarnation because the internal form is beyond imagination. Therefore Lalita (human body) is only the alternative to worship the Lord. The Lord with human body is called the Saguna Brahman, which means the Lord associated with guna (quality).
A quality depends on the substance and surrounds the substance. The super power Maya is the root deity. The different forms of the Maya are the different deities. Maya is called para sakti, which means simple (pure) awareness. The different forms of awareness are the different feelings. These feelings are the different deities as we discussed earlier. Therefore the Sadguru (Lord) can show the form of any deity just by getting that feeling. His Will materializes as the form of the deity and you can look Him as that deity. You must have firm faith on such Sadguru and this firm faith is the entire essence of your spiritual effort (sadhana).
Surya (the physical sun) can remove only darkness but not the ignorance. The sun is an inert star (graha), which is a model used to explain the concept of the Sadguru who removes the darkness of Ignorance by the Light of Knowledge. The model is for ignorant people. Therefore the real deity form of sun is the Sadguru and not the inert sun. The Sadguru enlightens the intelligence as said in the Veda (dhiyo yonah). The Sadguru is Savita (sun). The inert sun can only remove sleep of the body but the preaching of Sadguru removes the ignorance that covers the intelligence. Therefore it is said, "na guroradhikam...gurussakshat parabrahma" i.e., no body is greater than the Sadguru and the Sadguru is the Absolute Lord.
In the previous ages the people had a high spiritual standard. There was relatively less need of preaching the divine knowledge. Even if there was a small necessity, the servants and disciples of Lord Datta used to come as human incarnations. They could solve the minor problems and leave the world. Today the situation is completely different. The spiritual standard has fallen. Generally, when the spiritual standard falls, people become ignorant. Even that is not too much of a problem for the Lord since it is easy to teach the ignorant person. It is even easy to teach a real scholar.
However the present situation is far more complex. If the people were simply ignorant, it would have been very easy to preach to them. However today the spiritual standard is very low and yet the people have become extremely intelligent. They are not merely ignorant of the Veda. If it were that simple then the teaching of the Veda would solve the problem. Owing to their intelligence, they have completely twisted the meaning of the Veda to suit their convenience. They want the highest result without paying the price. For example, the Bhagavad Gita says that the fruit of the work should be sacrificed (Karmajam bhuddhi yuktahi phalam tyaktva) and says further that if one sacrifices the desire for the fruit of the work, he can easily sacrifice the fruit of the work. The reason for the inability to sacrifice the fruit of work is the desire for the fruit. Therefore if the desire for the fruit of work is sacrificed, then one can sacrifice the fruit of the work easily.
The modern scholars twisted the meaning of this statement to suit their convenience. They say that the sacrifice of the desire for the fruit of work is enough and that there is no need to sacrifice the fruit itself. Thus, according to these scholars, one can continue to enjoy the world (results of good actions) as long as one convinces oneself that one has given up the desire for the enjoyment. Thus the Bhagavad Gita is misinterpreted and the sacrifice of fruit of work is buried away because it is not convenient for those who are attached to love of their families and to greed.
Such people who 'sacrifice' the desire for the fruit of work but actually keep enjoying the fruit, think that they should get salvation because they followed the Bhagavad Gita. Similarly the Veda says that one can attain by the salvation by the sacrifice of wealth alone (dhanena tyagena). This statement is also twisted by such people who do not want to work or give up their wealth. They introduce the word 'na' which means 'not' before the word 'dhanena'. The twisted meaning of this Vedic statement then becomes "One cannot attain the Lord by earning, enjoying and sacrifice of money". This misinterpretation led to inaction.
People have become lazy and do not work to earn money. They have started depending on others claiming to be saints. People have become very talented in creating such misinterpretations. Thus in Kaliyuga (the present dark age) people are not only ignorant, but they have become over intelligent. The development of science also made them to analyze the spiritual concepts with an antagonistic attitude. Scientists have become atheists forgetting that science is also a divine knowledge given by the Lord called as 'pravrutti'. Under such circumstances nobody other than Lord Datta can clear the situation. The Lord Himself has to come down in human form as the Sadguru. This is the reason why Lord Datta Himself started coming down to this world in human form in the present age.
Datta first conducts preliminary tests and then only then does he conduct the final test. The final test alone is severe. Therefore Datta does not conduct severe tests for all the people in this world. Datta means 'the Lord, given to this world' in human form.
His human body itself is the preliminary test. His human body follows all the rules of nature. Even the cloth of the king will be destroyed. However that does not undermine the king's kingship. Ninety percent slip in this preliminary test itself by thinking that He is also a common human being. Only ten percent recognize Him by divine knowledge.
The final test is now conducted for that ten percent of the people only. Datta has all the three qualities (trigunas). He has sattvam which, is a good quality like divine knowledge. He also possesses rajas and tamas, which are bad qualities. Sattvam is Vishnu. Rajas is Brahma. Tamas is Siva. But He is beyond these three qualities. These three qualities are like the three colors of His shirt. The three gunas (qualities) do not affect Him. Therefore Datta exhibits rajas and tamas. In this final test again nine people out of ten slip. The reason for their slipping in the final test is that these people do not know that He is beyond the three qualities.
In the preliminary test people slip because they do not have the knowledge that He is beyond the human body. Only one person out of a hundred passes both the tests by the knowledge that He is beyond the human body and beyond the three qualities. This devotee has a faith, which is based on divine knowledge and is permanent and unshakeable.
Apart from this faith one should prove his love through his service (karma samnyasa and karmaphala tyaga). Faith and service will please the Lord completely. The human body is made of five elements. This creation is made of five elements and three qualities. Therefore a devotee who knows that the Lord is beyond Creation alone can withstand both the preliminary and final tests. Datta is the Creator and so is beyond Creation.
Sankara is Lord Siva. Ramanuja is Lord Vishnu. The Veda says that Siva and Vishnu are One (Shivascha Narayanah). People misinterpreted the Advaita of Sankara and began calling themselves Brahman (Aham brahmasmi). Fine, you are Brahman. No one objects to that. The question is whether you realize the meaning of Brahman as told by Sankara. Brahman means pure awareness according to Sankara.
Every living being contains pure awareness. Even a worm in a septic tank can claim itself to be Brahman. You, who loudly claims to be Brahman, would you be able to say the same equally loudly, when you are beaten in hell, and later on when you are born as a worm in a septic tank? Pure water is the common constituent in both the scented water and sewage water. If the sewage water says that since pure water is the common constituent between them, that sewage water and scented water are one and the same, would you agree? Both contain pure water no doubt, but at present both are not pure water. Even if you purify sewage water completely, it can at the most become pure water. It cannot still become scented water. Similarly awareness is common in both the Lord and the living being. By this common awareness the living being cannot be the Lord. If the living being removes all the qualities from it, it can become Brahman. However it cannot become Isvara.
The Lord has infinite good qualities (sattvam). A human being cannot become the Lord even if he attains the infinite good qualities. The reason is Nirguna Brahman is present in the Lord, which is not present in any living being. Awareness is only the power of the Lord, which is called the Maya (para sakti) and is not the Nirguna Brahman. Matter is the shirt. The awareness with qualities is like the inner shirt. Any living being is only a couple of these two outer and inner shirts. The Lord or the human incarnation is Nirguna Brahman, which contains both these shirts. Thus the Lord or His human incarnation has three components.
The Nirguna Brahman can enter any living being for the sake of His work. Such a living being is the incarnation of the Lord. The Lord enters for the sake of His work and not to satisfy your wishes and desires. Even if you are ready with all infinite good qualities, the Lord might not enter you. By developing all good qualities you can become Dharmaraja or the deity of justice but you can never become Lord Krisna. Moreover only all the good qualities (sattvam) is not the criterion of the Lord. The Lord contains all the three qualities. Rajas is Brahma. Sattvam is Vishnu and tamas is Siva. The Lord contains all the three forms i.e., all the three qualities (sattvam, rajas and tamas).Yet these three qualities amount only to His inner shirt and they can never taint Him. The world, which is made of the inert five elements, is the external shirt of the Lord (Isvara).
Similarly the human body made of five inert elements is the external shirt of the human incarnation. In case of both the world created by God and the human incarnation of God, the internal shirt is pure awareness which consists of the three qualities. Inside the internal shirt, exists the actual Nirguna Brahman in both the cases. Therefore the Visvarupam (Isvara in His Cosmic Form) is the human incarnation (Krisna).
The Advaita (nonduality) is between the Isvara and Krisna but not between Isvara and every human being. Sankara proved this by swallowing molten lead without harm; a feat, none of His disciples could perform. The Advaita is in between Sankara and Lord Siva. The fact that the disciples could not swallow it shows that they are not Lord Siva. Sankara was born yesterday. Today the same Sankara is born as Ramanuja to remove this misunderstanding in Advaita.
Sankara fell at the feet of the cobbler as a mark of respect. Ramanuja gave the Narayana mantra to all the castes and also left His wife who showed discrimination based on caste. This shows the same nature. If you cannot give up this sense of caste-discrimination, then how can you remove the attachment towards your family, your body and yourself. Similarly discrimination based on race and nationality should also be removed.
The surrender of the body is prapatti and surrender of the self is bhakti in the service of the Lord. Both these put together is called seva (service) as per Sri Madhva. 'Sarvasva Saranagati' (total surrender) has two meanings. The word 'sva' means both 'self' and 'money' in Sanskrit. When you surrender the self it is 'karma sanyasa' as done by Hanuman. If you surrender your money, it is called ' karmaphala tyaga' as done by Gopikas. Gopikas surrendered butter, which was their self-earned wealth (karmaphala). Hanuman could not surrender money because He was a celibate-saint and had no wealth of his own. Since the Gopikas were householders they could surrender their self-earned wealth. Gopikas also surrendered themselves to the Lord in Vrindavanam while dancing (rasalila). A householder is capable of doing both karma samnyasa and karmaphala tyaga. Hanuman attained Brahmaloka, but Gopikas attained Goloka, which is even higher than Brahmaloka. Thus householders can outperform the saint.
Vasishta has told that 'Dhanamulamidam jagat', which means that money is the root of the world. The Veda says 'Dhanena tyagena' and 'Kasyasvit dhanam', which means that by sacrifice of money alone the Truth is revealed. The Bhagavad Gita also emphasizes on 'Karmaphala tyaga' which is sacrifice of money. The Dharma Sastras say "Kanchanam karma mocanam', which means that only by sacrifice of money Prayaschittam atonement of sins) can be done. Sastra says 'Adakshina Hato yajna?', which means that without the sacrifice of money the yajna (ritual sacrifice) goes to waste. Guru dakshina also involves sacrifice of money.
The Sricakram means the whirlpool of money that exists in the ocean of the world. Sricakram is the most important yantra because the bond with money is the most powerful. If this bond is broken all the other bonds are broken. Ramanuja also named His commentary as "Sribhasyam". The bond with money is the root of all the injustice in this world. If this bond is cut, justice is established without any additional effort. If this one bond is cut, all the other bonds are cut. This is complete salvation. Therefore both establishment of Justice (pravrutti) and attainment of salvation (nivrutti) are achieved simultaneously by the breaking of this bond with money. Both these are the missions of the Lord in this world. Therefore sacrifice of money is the root and essence of all the spiritual effort (sadhana).
Astrologers say that your problems and troubles are caused by the position and movement of the astrological planets. This idea is absurd and irrational as it would mean that you face difficulties as a result of something that is totally external and not as a result of your previous sins. This makes you feel that you had nothing to do with the situation and you are an innocent victim of the whims of planets. For example, if a policeman were to arrest you, an astrologer would say that you were arrested because you were walking down the road at the same time and place as the policeman was and that you may not be guilty of any crime.
This is an irrational assertion however you are so anxious to get rid of the difficulties that you are facing, that you are easily taken in by it. You like the implication that you were an innocent victim. You do not want to accept the fact that the difficulties that you are facing at present are the result of mistakes that you committed in the past. This is the only rational explanation to your problems but you do not want to accept it as it holds you responsible for your problems. The astrologers exploit your anxiety to remove your troubles without having to bear the responsibility of causing them. They suggest some remedies comprising of some rituals, talismans and charity to the poor.
The word graha (planet) means the system, which gives an exact result for your deed at the exact time. The planets are cosmic computers. They are inert and are not independent. They are an accurate but inert crime detection and law enforcement machinery. They are not the decision makers. Only Swami (the Lord) can make or change decisions. Therefore there is no use of worshipping the planets. You have to receive the fruits (results) of the deeds performed by you, whether good or bad (Naabhuktam Ksheeyate Karma). There is usually no escape.
There is only one exception to this rule. This exception can be made by God alone. If the Lord comes down in human form and undergoes the punishments for your sake, then you are spared. He bears the result of your misdeeds on his own human body because He does not wish to circumvent the law of karma and insult the god of justice. The god of justice is an official in the Lord's administration. If God were to violate the Law of karma, then He would be violating His own Divine Order that governs the whole creation. In a sense, He would be insulting Himself. One of the main reasons for His human incarnation is the fact that He suffers for the sins of His devotees and thereby liberates them. Thus He will never outright cancel the fruits of deeds for anyone. He will sacrifice Himself in order to protect you. When you cannot pay the fine, your father pays it.
This rare exception is made only for His greatest devotees. You must become eligible for such a grace of the Lord. The eligibility is achieved by you when you do not aspire to get rid of the fruits of your deeds and prepare to undergo the punishments of all your sins while serving Him with total devotion. You should never think that the Lord should sacrifice for your sake.
Death is certain. It can come to anyone at any time. It is an arrow that has already been released. The only question is when it will strike. This arrow of death haunts everyone in this world. When one is young one does not feel how close death is. In old age death seems very near. Thus an old person is doubly scared; firstly because death is certain and secondly because it is very near. This makes a lot of old people turn to spirituality. If one does not turn to spirituality even in oldage, he is similar to a student who does not start studying even the week before his examinations.
Scholars, who take samnyasa (renunciation) directly after their period of being a celibate student, brahmacarya, have taken the direct train for salvation. The people who become householders also have to take samnyasa finally (krama mukti) according to the scriptures.
One has to pass through all the four asramas (stages in life) and finally end in samnyasa. If one dies as a householder, the death rituals include godanam (donating a cow), which shows that a householder always goes to hell. Therefore the scriptures say that it is alright to take the life of a householder but that one should not die as a householder. He must give up the life of a householder after carrying out his responsibilities and then enter vanaprastha, which is a period of contemplative and worshipful seclusion. After that, he must finally end in samnyasa. In vanaprastha the bonds with all the issues are cut. The bond with the wife remains because the wife is necessary for his service. If the wife is opposed to spirituality, he must immediately leave such a wife and take samnyasa. The scriptures say that in the vanaprastha one has to treat his wife as his sister. This means that the wife is only an associate in the path of spirituality. Thus there are two ways of reaching the spiritual goal. Either you catch the direct train of samnyasa or take a train with a stopover where you change trains to reach the same goal.
Without samnyasa, salvation is impossible. Samnyasa does not mean shaving the head and wearing saffron clothes. It means dedicating all his time and energy in the propagation of divine knowledge. Such real samnyasi will reach the Brahmaloka, which is eternal. He does not require death-rituals performed by his sons to help him crossover to the upper worlds. Even women can take samnyasa. Gargi, Sulabha etc., were very great samnyasi -women.
You must always concentrate on Swami (the Lord) alone, who is the human incarnation of the Lord. Shri Ramakrisha Paramahamsa said unless there is a command from the Lord, you should not enter into the service of the world. If your love is for human beings only, then it means that you love only the souls but not the Lord. Your love is extended from your family to the world. Instead of a few people you love many people. For this you will go to heaven. However you have to return back from the heaven. Your love for Swami alone can lead you to Brahmaloka.
For example, if Swami (the human incarnation of God) is cleaning a room with a broom and you offer to clean it instead. While doing this work, your attitude should be to help Swami in His work. If your attitude is to clean the room for the sake of the visitors, then your service is aimed at the world (visitors) and not Swami. Serving the world is the responsibility of the Lord. Why should you bother about that which is the responsibility of the Lord? Your responsibility is only to surrender to the Lord. Lakshmana followed Rama to the forest to serve Rama and not to kill Meghanada or to participate in the war for the world peace. Sita could have destroyed Ravana but she told Ravana that she was not destroying him because there was no permission from Rama (asandesattu ramasya --Valmiki). Hanuman could have killed Vali and Ravana in a single stroke. He did not do so even to protect Sugriva or to protect the world. His aim was only to serve Rama.
One soul cannot protect another soul. Therefore a human being can never uplift any other human being. Therefore while doing service to the Lord your internal intention is very important. The fruit is according to your intention. If your intention is to serve the world, you will go to heaven. If your intention is to serve the Lord, you will go to Brahmaloka. Without practical service, mere intention is useless. It is like an individual without a body; a ghost. Service without intention is also a waste like a dead body without life. Therefore both the service and intention must be present. The servant must do real service with the intention of serving the Lord.
Some people say that meditation is sitting in perfect silence without any thoughts. Such a contention is meaningless because it virtually amounts to a nice sleep. These people further misinterpret that such a meditation is concentration on formless God (nirakara). The Bhagavad Gita says that one cannot concentrate on the formless God (avyaktahi gatih). The meditation on the formless God actually means meditation on the true knowledge of God.
The Veda says that true knowledge is the real form of the Lord (satyam jnanam anantam Brahma). Knowledge is formless. Therefore Formless God means the true divine knowledge about the Lord. This is the correct interpretation of Sankara's philosophy. The great ancient Vedic sages sat in formless meditation. This means that they concentrated on the divine knowledge (Brahma jnana). This knowledge was expressed in their mutual discussions and was recorded as the Upanishads. The actual meaning of the word dhyanam is the process of exercising the intelligence (dhi or buddhi). Therefore it pertains to knowledge (vijnanamaya kosha) or the intellectual faculty of the mind.
Some people think that meditation means concentration on the form of the Lord. Therefore they imagine and concentrate on blue color or the face of Lord Krisna wearing a peacock feather on the head, flute in the hand and so on. Instead of imagining and concentrating mentally upon such objects one would be better off seeing these things in a photo or directly kept on a table. If these things constitute divinity then there is no need of concentrating on these things. One can attain the divinity by applying light blue color on his own body, by putting a peacock feather on the head and by holding a flute in his hand. Such 'divinity' can be attained without any meditation. So meditation of this sort becomes totally meaningless. This is the reason why Sankara criticized meditation on a form (Saguna Brahman ).
Of course such meditation on your favorite form of the Lord helps in the initial stages in developing an attraction and developing a bond with the Lord. One may get attracted to Lord Krisna by His external form and gradually, one may begin to understand and appreciate His divine knowledge as preached in the Bhagavad Gita. Meditation or worship of forms may be considered as initial promoters but the final stage is only the divine knowledge. Divine knowledge will help any one in his effort (sadhana) to please the Lord. The divine knowledge will give self-realization. The self-realized soul will attain peace and tranquility in his mind. In such a state he will attain perfect health of body and mind. The benefit is here itself.
For example, if one realizes that the gross body is only a costume of the soul in the drama of the world (Vaasamsi Jeernani - Bhagavad Gita), then he will also realize that the bonds in this world with family and wealth are also unreal as in a drama. The soul forgets the bonds of the previous birth as an actor forgets the bonds of previous drama. If these bonds were real the soul should have remembered its relatives of the previous birth. When divine knowledge enters every pore of the person, he will not have any attachment to his family or wealth. His interaction in the world will be tension-free. This is 'salvation while living' (jivanmukti).
Thus meditation means continuous remembrance of the divine knowledge which yields direct fruit here itself. Such a person gets fruit in the upper world also. The one and only Lord is the authority here as well as there. Anybody blessed here will also be blessed there. If one is not blessed here he is not blessed in the upper world either. The grace of the Lord or the anger of the Lord is uniform here and there. True knowledge blesses any person here and there. Meditation is continuous thinking of such knowledge and other interpretations of the word are either useless or of little use.
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