The Spiritual Effort
1. What is the reason behind emphasizing 'karmaphala tyaga' or the sacrifice of the fruit of one's actions?
A) The word karma (work) in the case of a human being means the work done to earn money, which is essential for his food and offering the food to the guest. Money required for sustaining oneself and his family is called sarira yatra in the Bhagavad Gita. Money required to prepare food to offer to the guest is called yajna karma. The word karma in the in the context of a human being is used in the Bhagavad Gita with the above two meanings in the two lines respectively-sarira yatra'picate and yajnah karma samudbhavah.
Therefore the fruit of the work means money alone. The first mantra of the the isavasya upani?at speaks about enjoyment and sacrifice of money (kasyasviddhanam). The mantra says that the entire creation is the wealth of the Lord and one should store money for only to satisfy his minimum necessities and enjoyment while the rest should be sacrificed to the Lord who comes in the human form to uplift the world. The second mantra says that one should continuously work and earn. One should not stop earning just because the wealth earned is going to God and not to oneself.
Sage Vasistsa said that money is the root of all this worldly family bonds (dhanamulamidam jagat). When money is absent all the family members will leave you. All family members and relatives are with you only for money; just like frogs which are present a tank only as long it has water. The Sri cakra, which a commonly used symbol of worship, in fact represents the whirlpool of money. Therefore when it comes to sacrificing money, all insincere devotees run away. In their hearts the attraction to family bonds exists as a solidified dark mass. Only true devotees will stand with courage and sacrifice their wealth without hesitation Their hearts are illuminated by divine knowledge and their ignorance is removed.
The Lord came in human form and tested Saktuprasta by making him sacrifice food, which is a form of money or wealth. There was a severe drought. He could secure only a little flour to make his bread. He had been without food for the past ten days. The Lord came to him and asked him for food. Saktuprasta gave up his food. God did not test him in any other way. He did not see how much Saktuprasta could meditate, pray or do yogic practices. A real devotee will stand his ground in this acid test. If the bond with the money is cut, all the worldly bonds are cut, since money is the root of this whole samsara (world).
Insincere devotees who want to escape this real test interpret the word karmaphala (fruit of work) as the fruit of prayers, meditation and other spiritual practices. They convince themselves that by sacrificing the fruit of work, it is meant that one should sacrifice the fruit of one's prayers and meditation. The fruit of these spiritual practices however cannot be seen tangibly in this world. As far as this world stands, fruit of work done by words and mind is unreal. There is no difficulty in sacrificing such unreal fruit. One can only mentally devote the fruit to God. There is no effort involved and it cannot really count as sacrifice. It is therefore a big misinterpretation to think that karmaphala tyaga (sacrifice of the fruit of work) is merely pouring the ritualistic spoonful of water in a plate after doing spiritual practices (work by words and mind) and devoting their fruit to God.
Some people, especially priests, have fooled ignorant people by doing such work of the mind and words, on their behalf and obtaining guru daksina (donations). They are selling unreal fruit for real money. They (false priests) promise that the bitter fruits of their (the ignorant people's) sins will be removed and results of good deeds will be attained. The ignorant people do not understand that no 'good deeds' were performed at all to justify any good results! If no good deeds are performed, how can you get good results and how can your sins be cleansed?
A) The stage of karma alone is like a school in which teaching is carried out with the help of inert models. The student here is completely ignorant. He is called upon to do rituals (actions) as part of worship. The idols, images, temples and objects in nature like the sun are models through which the knowledge of the Lord is imparted. The student's mind is gross and requires the physicalization of concepts in order to learn. This stage has its utility. The problem arises only when the models are misunderstood by the student to be the Lord Himself and are worshipped as if they were God.
The second stage is like the college level where the student, who has some knowledge of the Lord, treats all human beings as models of the external form of the Lord. This stage is important since the Lord does indeed come in a human form. The student practices acceptance of the Lord in human form. This is the stage of pravrtti (righteous action in the world) in which one loves all fellow human beings. Thus he will find it easy to love the human form of the Lord whenever he recognizes Him. This is the actual Advaita of Adi Sankara, who preached that every human being is Brahman (the Lord). This statement of Sankara uses a figure of speech called rupaka or a metaphor in which the object compared with, is identified with the original object; e.g. This man is tiger. This means that the man and the tiger are very much similar. So instead of saying that the Lord is like a human being, it is said "The Lord is the human being" (Jiva is Brahman).
In the third stage which can be compared to the university level, the human incarnation of the Lord is recognized and is differentiated from the other human beings by His internal form, which is His Special Knowledge (prajnana? Brahma). The external form of the human incarnation of the Lord is the same as any individual. However the internal form is vastly different. The individual soul is ignorant while the Lord is the Ocean of Knowledge. Owing to the similarity in the external form and the non-apprehension of the internal form, a person finds it very difficult to accept the human incarnation of the Lord as God Himself. His ego and jealousy hinder his recognition of the Lord. In this stage, all the egoism and jealousy that one invariably feels towards another human form, is to be removed.
At this university level, Sankara proved that He alone is Isvara or God. Another example will make this point clear. The water in a drop and the water in the ocean are one and the same. The water is compared with Brahman. Here the definition of Brahman is confined to simple awareness (suddha caitanya). The totality of awareness is the creative power of the Lord called Maya. Creation is a product of this Maya. The Lord, who wields the Maya, is represented by the totality of awareness (ocean) while the individual, who also possesses a bit of the same awareness, is represented by the drop. Within the scope of this definition, every living being (jiva) is the Lord (Brahman) since every living being is a conscious entity and has awareness.
This is the qualitative similarity between water drop and the ocean. However the quantitative aspect cannot be neglected. The difference in quantity is vast. The water drop, which represents the living being and the ocean, which represents Isvara, are vastly different. Not only that, but the Lord is the Controller of the Awareness (Maya), while the individual is controlled by Maya. The Lord is beyond Maya while the individual, who is a component of Creation, exists only within the realm of Maya. Therefore, from this angle there cannot be an identity betweent he individual and the Lord.
Sankara not only said that He is Brahman (simple awareness) but He also said that He is Siva or Isvara (God); sivo'ham. Therefore He could swallow molten lead without hesitation, where as the disciples could not. He could weild Maya, while the disciples could not. Thus Sankara proved that any living being is Brahman (simple awareness) but not Isvara (God). One should not misunderstand that God in the aspects of Brahman (qualitative; simple awareness) and Isvara (quantitative; God) are one and the same.
A) You must note that I am an Indian but I never feel that I am just an Indian because my feeling is that I am the universal human being. I don't discriminate between Indians and westerners. I appreciated westerners in one regard and Indians in another. One student may be good in mathematics. Another student may be good in physics. Both must become good in both the subjects by mutual help.
Regarding sacrificing money and detachment from family bonds, I appreciated westerners. They not only sacrifice their wealth to Christian missionaries but also to several Indian spiritual centers. In this aspect, I asked Indians to learn from westerners because although Indians sacrifice words, mind and intelligence to God extensively, they are very poor in practical sacrifice. Of course there are exceptions everywhere but what I saying is the general rule.
Swami Vivekananda was curious about the reason for poverty in India in spite of so much spiritual knowledge. Swami Ramatirtha said in USA that Americans practice philosophy and Indian speak philosophy. He also said that this is the reason why Americans are prosperous while Indians are poor. I used the analytical approach to the comments of these great saints.
Simultaneously I appreciated Indians for their tolerance. Indians worship different forms of the Lord. They do not mind others worshipping God in different ways and forms. In this aspect an Indian stands as an example for westerners who would benefit from inculcating more tolerance for other religions. Thus wherever there is a good point, I appreciated. A foreign diamond is a diamond and an Indian stone is a stone. I have to frankly accept the universal truth without any prejudice.
A) The hunter, Kannappa, was given salvation even though he offered the flesh of rabbit, which was hunted by him. Killing innocent animals is the greatest sin but the Lord condoned the sin because neither Kannappa nor his family enjoyed the flesh. He sacrificed it to God.
Sacrifice is a highly sacred path as told in the Bhagavad Gita "api cetsuduracaro bhajate mamananyabhak| sadhureva sa mantavyah samyagvyavasito hi sah" i.e., even a sinner is blessed by God when he serves the God. In this verse the word 'bhajate' means 'serves' (bhaja-sevayam) according to the root word in grammar. The Bhagavad Gita says that sacrifice of the fruit of work is greater than meditation, knowledge and even devotion. Only by such sacrifice one can attain the peace (tyagat santi?).
A) The Bhagavad Gita clearly states in the very beginning itself, (second adhyaya) that the fruit of the work must be sacrificed (karmajam buddhi yuktahi phalam tyaktva manisinah). This means that realized scholars sacrifice the fruit of the work. The Bhagavad Gita places the sacrifice of the fruit of work at the top most level (dhyanat karmaphala tyagah). According to the Veda, the sacrifice of the fruit of work means sacrifice of money (dhanena tyagenaike). Karmaphalam means self-earned money to which, a person is attached. The reason for the inability to do the sacrifice of fruit of work (karmaphala tyaga), is the selfish desire and ambition for the fruit of the work. Thus if the selfish ambition is removed, the fruit of the work can be easily sacrificed.
It is foolish to keep enjoying the fruit of work and also say that one has no ambition for the fruit of the work. In that case one must also be prepared to 'enjoy' the fruit of your sin in the hell without any selfish ambition. Saktuprasta was tested on his ability to sacrifice the fruit of his work in a severe way. Unless one is tested, there is no proof that one has given up selfish ambition for the fruit of the work. If one says that he has sacrificed the ambition for the fruit of the work then he should have no trouble in sacrificing the fruit of work. Conversely, if he hesitates to sacrifice the fruit of work, then it is a clear indication that he has no yet sacrificed the ambition for the fruit. Merely claiming to have sacrificed the ambition for the fruit while continuing to enjoy the fruit, is mere pretence. If you try to fool the Lord, He will certainly show you who the fool really is. When you find yourself in hell, it may alas be too late.
6. You emphasize the sacrifice of the fruit of work as the sacrifice of money. If what you say is true, then only the rich can purchase God. However is it not said that that you cannot purchase the Lord by money?
A) A rich man can never purchase the Lord because the Lord sees the percentage of the money the devotee sacrifices out of the total amount possessed by him. A person having 1 crore (1 crore = ten million) rupees may sacrifice 10 lakhs (1 lakh = hundred thousands). He has sacrificed only ten percent of his money. But a poor fellow, having 10 rupees, sacrifices 5 rupees, which is equal to 50 per cent of his wealth. The poor man's sacrifice is greater than that rich man's.
In fact, it is easier to sacrifice 5 rupees than it is to sacrifice 10 lakhs. Therefore the poor man can 'purchase' God more easily as compared to the rich man. The importance of sacrifice of money is stressed by the Veda (dhanena tyagenaike). The first mantra of the first Upani?ad says that the entire world is the money of the Lord and one has to return back the extra stored money to the Lord. The second mantra says that you should constantly work and earn money; you can keep the minimum required and sacrifice the extra stored money to the Lord. You should not be lazy and remain without doing work, after earning the minimum required money. Thus the Veda encourages constant work to earn money. The Veda only discourages storing of the surplus earned money.
7. A certain verse goes thus "gange gangeti.... sivalokam gamisyati". It means that he who utters the word Ganga (the holy river Ganges) is liberated from all the sins and will reach Lord Siva. In such case what is the use of all the spiritual effort? Could we not just utter the word Ganga and be assured of reaching the Lord.
A) The guru encourages you to climb the first step by saying that that step is the only step that you have to climb. When you climb the first step He will allow you to sit there for some time. Then slowly He will show you the second step and will again say that that step is the final step. Like this the guru encourages you till you climb the last step. This is called as arthavada. It is a lie, told for some good purpose.
The person will start uttering the word Ganga thinking it is certainly doable. Next the guru will prod him to go on a pilgrimage to the Ganga at the holy city of Varanasi saying that it will wash away all his sins. You will go to Varanasi and take the ritual bath in the Ganga. Then the guru will say that you must also see the Sivalinga there, which represents the God without form. Next he will tell you to that you must see the Kalabhairava before you leave the holy city of Varanasi. The idol of Kalabhairava is in a human form representing the Lord in human form. Once your mind accepts the Lord in human form, the guru will say that you must worship Him with prayers (words) and devotion (mind). Finally the guru will say you must worship Him by service practically. At every step the guru will keep encouraging you stating that it is the final step. Some people sit on some lower step and do not climb the higher steps. Such people can never get the highest fruit because after they die another human birth is extremely rare to get.
A) Saktuprasta attained Brahmaloka by sacrificing a little flour to the Lord. Sudama achieved immense wealth by sacrificing a little rice to Lord Krisna. Dharmaraja sacrificed lot of wealth for the Lord but could not equal Saktuprasta in the eyes of God. Dharmaraja gave lot of jewels and silk clothes to Lord Krisna while doing the Asvamedha Sacrifice. Yet Lord Krisna did not give any wealth to Dharmaraja. Therefore the Lord does not see the value of your donation. He will see what fraction of your total wealth you sacrifice.
Saktuprasta and Sudama sacrificed what ever they had to the Lord. Therefore what the Lord gave them was immeasurable. Not only did they sacrifice all that they had, but they also did so with total devotion. Thus in their case, both the sakti (capacity) and bhakti (devotion) were complete. When you sacrifice your efforts for the sake of the Lord, He sees whether you have sacrificed all your energy or not. During the construction of the ocean bridge for Lord Rama, in the Ramaya?a, the monkeys and bears were bringing huge boulders. The tiny squirrel was filling in mere grains of sand in the gaps between the stones. Both the monkeys and the squirrel were sacrificing their full energy in the work However when the boulders sank in the ocean the monkeys stopped the construction of bridge due to lack of complete devotion. Yet the squirrel continued its work with full devotion. Therefore the Lord was pleased and patted the squirrel and blessed it. Therefore in sacrificing the work or the fruit of the work, both the capacity and devotion should be complete.
9. Sankara clearly advises us through the Bhaja Govindam, to sing in praise of Lord Krisna or Visnu, in order to please the Lord. Yet you preach karma yoga (service) as the way to approach the Lord. Could you please explain?
A) The word 'bhaja' means service or seva and not singing songs as is commonly understood; Bhaja-sevayam. Similarly the word Govinda does not mean Krisna or Visnu. It could even mean even Lord Siva. Actually the word Govinda means the Lord in human body. The word 'go' means the human body which is the composite of all the senses. The word 'vinda' means the Lord, who has 'attained' (has taken up) the human body. Therefore Govinda means the Lord in human form. Thus Sankara is actually advising us to do practical service and participate in the mission of the Lord in human form.
Knowledge is a very important step in the spiritual path. After attaining the true knowledge alone, can you choose the true path to reach the goal. Finding the true path is the first step and to walk it (karma yoga) is the next. Therefore knowledge and practice are the only two steps. In between these two, the words and feelings (prayers and devotion) have no place at all. When you come to know the true path to reach Delhi, what will be your next step? Following the path of course! There is no intermediate step in which you express your feelings and sing songs in praise of the path or of the goal (Delhi). This intermediate step is brought in as a diversion by people who are unable to practice the knowledge.
The sequence of steps is as follows. First you must get the knowledge of the goal i.e., Delhi. After this you may praise the goal and develop the desire to reach Delhi. This stage is bhakti (devotion), in which you pray meditate and sing devotional songs. This bhakti will strengthen your determination to reach Delhi. Once you are determined to reach Delhi, you must search for the knowledge of the path. Once you have that, all that remains is walking the path i.e., you must practice karma yoga and there is no need of bhakti at this stage. If you again revert to bhakti, it only means that your determination was not complete in the first place.
A) The word bhakti (devotion) has two meanings i.e., to attain and to serve (bhaja-prapane,sevayam). Bhakti means love as per the verse "yanah pritih". By knowledge (jnanam) you must recognize the Lord. Then by bhakti you must attain the Lord. In this stage the word bhakti means attaining the Lord as per the Bhagavad Gita (bhaktya tvananyaya labhya?). After attaining the Lord you must please the Lord by service alone. In this stage the word bhakti means service. Rukmi?i attained the knowledge of Lord Krisna from Narada. Then she attained Lord Krisna by bhakti. Then she pleased Lord Krisna, who was her husband, by serving Him personally such as massaging His feet. Therefore service is the real proof of devotion.
11. It is said that Dharma (justice, righteousness, or duty) is greater than the Lord. Lord Krisna asked Dharmaraja to tell a lie. Dharmaraja told the lie hesitantly by uttering the word 'elephant' in low voice. Why was Dharmaraja sent to hell if he refused to violate Dharma and lie, as per the Lord's instructions?
A) The Bhagavad Gita says 'sarva dharman parityajya' which means that the Lord is greater than justice. Lord Datta protects the deity of justice, which is represented by the cow in the vicinity of Lord Datta. The protector is greater than the protected. The Lord is greater than Dharma, which He protects.
Dharmaraja went to hell for a greater sin than flouting the Dharma of speaking the truth. The greater sin is not hesitating to follow the advice of the Lord and only partially following it.
A) Jnana yoga means recognition of the Lord in human form in this human generation. This recognition is not trivial and one is liable to be misled by several factors of ignorance. The real diamond is mixed with several artificial diamonds. To pick out the real diamond from all the other artificial diamonds requires knowledge of the real diamond and also of artificial diamonds. This discriminative knowledge is jnana yoga. There are several fraud incarnations in this world and only one real human incarnation.
As the real diamond is recognized by its multiple total internal reflections of light at various angles, the real incarnation is recognized by the various reflections of the internal knowledge in various angles. Such knowledge is called as prajnanam, which is the special knowledge of the Lord. No one other than the Lord possesses this special knowledge and no one other than Him can impart it to another. Other scholars can have only ordinary knowledge; the kind that can be learnt from books. This is called as jnanam.
The refractive index of diamond is very high and it is by this that the real diamond is recognized. Similarly by the special knowledge (prajnanam), the real human incarnation is recognized. The human incarnation possesses it and can impart it to others. By such special knowledge you will be liberated from all worldly bonds. This is salvation. Coming close to the Lord in human form is called sayujyam and kaivalyam. Thus you can attain both the benefits i.e., mok?a (salvation) on one hand and sayujyam (becoming close to the Lord) and kaivalyam (becoming one with the Lord) on the other. Kaivalyam means whatever you wish the Lord will wish the same and vice versa.
A) If scholars spend all their time only in discussions without practical sacrifice, it is of no use. The intelligence and logic of humans cannot reach the Lord as said in the Bhagavad Gita and the Veda (yo buddhe? parata?, namedhaya, and naisatarkena). Scholarliness and the ability to debate and discuss on spiritual topics is not an indicator of how close you are to God or how much you are devoted to Him.
You do not discuss debate or analyze your children. Your love for your children is not proven by logic. Then why should you spend so much time on the discussions about the Lord? Sankara said that excesses of logic and debates should be avoided (dustarka? suviramyatam). However, Sankara adds that the discussions and logic that are in keeping with the Vedas can be used to attain the knowledge of the Lord and the path to reach Him (srutimata? tarko'nusandhiyatam).
Similarly Sage Vyasa warns about excessive logic in his Brahmasutra "tarkaprati??hanat". Therefore one should follow the example of Hanuman and concentrate all the energy dissipated through words, mind and intelligence and focus it in action.
14. You often compare our devotion to God and our love for our children. The Lord is worshipped either as the Formless One or in the form of idols. Children are mere human beings. How can there be a comparison between the Lord and children?
A) People who are unable to sacrifice practically to the Lord make such excuses. They also say that there is no need for the Lord to expect His devotees to sacrifice for His sake. They do not believe in the human form of the Lord, since they want to escape from practical sacrifice. If God is believed to be only as a Nameless, Formless entity or as one residing in idols, temples or heaven, then there can be no interaction or communication with Him and therefore there is no need to sacrifice to Him.
If God in human form is accepted then one has to practically sacrifice to Him. The Lord in human form came to Saktuprasta and tested him in practical sacrifice. The Lord comes in human form to test your ability to sacrifice, as mentioned in the four Mahavakyas of four the Vedas, and the Bhagavad Gita. The father asks his child for a chocolate, which was purchased by the father himself. He only wants to test the mentality of the child and is not really interested in the chocolate. Similarly the entire universe is the Lord's wealth alone. He can take up any form that He wishes. Therefore there is no problem for God to come down in human form. The difficulty lies only in your practical sacrifice. In order to cover your love for your family and your greediness, you reject the human form of the Lord and accept God only as the Formless or in idols and photos of the Lord. That way you do not have to practically sacrifice your wealth and efforts to Him.
At the same time you want to get all the benefits and protection from the Lord in this world. Therefore you put on a big act and show off your 'devotion' to Him through words, mind, dramatic dress and so on. You offer food to inert idols and finally eat it yourself. You are put all jewels and gold to the Goddess on Friday and remove them on Saturday. Therefore you act as if you are sacrificing practically but you really do not sacrifice anything practically. You think that the Lord can be cheated by this act of yours but the result of your cheating is that the Lord is not pleased. In fact He gets furious. Everywhere in the Bhagavad Gita, Krisna mentions Himself as the Lord. He emphasizes the importance of the human incarnation of the Lord.
The difficulty in recognizing the human form of God is that there are several fake diamonds mixed with the real diamond. Paun?raka Vasudeva who got the sahkha (conch) and chakra (discus) from Lord Naraya?a through penance, began to claim that he was Lord Naraya?a . Naraya?a means abode of the true and infinite knowledge, called 'prajnanam'. Nobody other than God Himself can preach this special knowledge. Sage Vyasa says that the human incarnation of the Lord preaches a special knowledge and also uses His super powers for the benefit of deserving devotees. You have to recognize the human incarnation of the Lord without which all spiritual efforts go waste. Hanuman recognized Rama, who was the human incarnation of the Lord. Once He recognized Lord Rama, He could serve Him since the Lord was in the human form.
A) I advised homogeneity before the Lord in the spiritual effort. I never said that you should be homogeneous in this world. Lord Krisna told Dharmaraja to tell a lie in order to kill Dro?acarya, who was supporting evil. Lord Krisna tells in that context, that one should cheat the cheaters in the world. He says "If you go into the world of Maya (deception) without Maya (guile), you will be killed as a soldier who goes to the war without armor".
However when you associate with Maya (deception, guile) for the sake of interaction in the world, Maya enters your nature. Then you show the same Maya before the Lord. If you do this then you are treating the Lord as an outsider and are cheating Him. He never cheated you. He gave you this most precious human birth even though based on your account of karma (past actions) you deserve the birth of animals. He gave you longevity, health and wealth and protected you several times in your life. Why should you cheat Him? You do not cheat your family members. Can you not treat God at least at par with your family? In spite of the constant influence of Maya while interacting with the world, you are still able to sincerely love and sacrifice for your family. You are able to interact with your family alone without being affected by Maya but in your interaction with God you make excuses for your behavior saying that you are affected by Maya. This means that you do not treat the Lord to be even equal to your family members. You say that you are offering Him food but you eat it yourself.
You put your jewels on the idol of the Lord and take them away the very next day. If the idol is in your own house, why can you not keep the jewels on the idol forever? The wealth would still remain in your house. Is it proper to take back the wealth that is once donated to the Lord? When you donate something even to a human being, you are not supposed to take it back. You follow this moral law in case of everyone else except God. Do you not consider the idol of God to be equal to even an ordinary human being? You say that in your eyes, the idol is not an inert object but is the living Lord for you. If it is not an idol and is the living Lord, then why the deceipt and tricks? While giving jewels to the idol, the idol is the living Lord according to you but when you take away the jewels you does it suddenly become an inert idol? If the idol is alive, why does it not eat your food? Why does it not talk to you? On one side you say the idol is not inert. But on the other hand your practical behavior proves that the idol is inert. It is clear that you are trying to fool with the Lord.
You will not accept the human form of the Lord because if you offer Him food, He will actually eat it. If you give jewels to Him, He will wear and will not return them to you. What you want is to make a big show of your love and devotion for God without giving up any wealth or even food. Your devotion and love is fake. You only want to impress Him and mislead Him into thinking that you truly love Him. Your ulterior motive is that He should fulfill all your desires. This is not true love.
Where there is expectation there is no true love. Why can you not show a drop of the real love, which you so spontaneously show to your children. You give a pot-full of cow's milk to your children. At least give one spoonful to the Lord. If you can't give even that spoonful then keep quiet. The Lord does not need your doles of petty sacrifices anyway. If you cannot please the Lord, at least keep silent so that you will not have to face His fury. Don't show false love and try to fool Him to get selfish boons. If you can't give even a drop of cow's milk, don't give a pot of donkey's milk and make Him furious. It is not wrong if you cannot please the Lord but it is the greatest sin if you try to fool Him by false love and try to obtain some benefit for yourself.
Without practical sacrifice, which alone proves your real love, all your traditional activities, dramatic dress, sacred ash on the forehead and garlands of beads are only means of cheating and fooling the Lord. You can fool a human being who is ignorant or who has very little knowledge but the Lord is omniscient. Knowing this you try to fool Him!! Are you not the biggest fool?
Therefore have the shield of Maya when you interact in the world but when you come to the Lord remove the shield of Maya. Even if you worship the Lord in the form of the idol in your prayer room, stop all the traditional foolish activities and be real. Since the idol cannot eat food, don't offer it. Since the idol does not have life, don't put flowers on it. Don't light oil lamps when electric lamps are there. Don't burn fume sticks and camphor and don't break coconuts. Just see the beauty of the Lord in the idol or photo and fix your eyes on it. Use the idols, forms and symbols for meditation. They are beneficial. Develop attraction and love for Him by using these images as visualization and imaginative aids. Remember His qualities.
If the room is dark, light a lamp. To remove darkness, an oil lamp is not necessary. An electric lamp will serve the purpose just as well if not better. Avoid the oil lamp and avoid pollution. If you must have fragrance, then burn the fume stick. However burning camphor has no use. It only causes pollution. To satisfy your esthetic sense, you can decorate the idol with flowers. What ever you do, you do it for your self-satisfaction. This self-satisfaction itself is the fruit of those actions. You can offer food to the idol, but it is for your satisfaction only and don't expect any extra fruit from the Lord. You can break a coconut before the Lord and offer the broken pieces of coconut to the Lord. However ultimately it is you alone who eats the coconut. Then don't ask the Lord for any more fruit for breaking the coconut. All these actions do not count as sacrifice to the Lord. They are merely aids for your mind.
Thus you can do all these things before idols and photos with a divine feeling as if you are offering to the Lord. Such a feeling is definitely better than the feeling of an atheist. What I want to say here is that by such feelings you have attained peace, satisfaction and happiness in your mind. Please do not ask for anything more from the Lord in return for this 'sacrifice' because your sacrifice is not a real practical sacrifice. It is only the sacrifice of your words and feelings. Doing such actions is not wrong as far as you don't ask for any fruit for such actions. Once you ask the fruit from the Lord for such sacrifice of words and feelings, all those rituals amount to trickery of the Lord into getting selfish boons.
I am not against rituals but I am against these rituals being passed as practical sacrifice to the Lord and expecting some real fruit from Him in return. Be satisfied with the peace and happiness that you obtain by performing these actions. Don't boast that you have sacrificed something to the Lord or that you are very spiritual. Also, don't expect any fruit from the Lord. If you say that you have sacrificed to the Lord by performing these rituals, you are the biggest actor and all your rituals are nothing more than a big drama.
If you really want to sacrifice to the Lord, search for the human form of the Lord. Identify Him with the help of the Veda and do any little sacrifice you can. In such sacrifice if you aspire for anything in return, you will get the fruit, which is equivalent to your sacrifice. If you sacrifice one rupee, He will give you one chocolate. If you sacrifice two rupees, He will give you two chocolates. That is fair play. Don't expect ten chocolates for one rupee. But if you sacrifice something for Him without aspiring for anything in return, you have real love for Him, much the way you love your own children. The Lord will give you infinite real fruit in a proper place and at the appropriate time. Since you do not aspire for the fruit, you leave the right place and right time to the discretion of the Lord.
People do not accept the human form of Lord due to their jealousy and egoism. They prefer to sacrifice the fruit of their work (money) to idols in the temples. Where does this money go? A committee of devotees (the temple trust) takes that money and spends it. Therefore you have donated the money to mere human beings although you may think that you donated to the idol of God. The way in which the committee will spend your money depends on their level of spiritual knowledge and evolution. They will spend the money to construct a compound wall or to feed every Tom-Dick-and-Harry who visits the temple without discrimination. Therefore your money is wasted. All this is a drama. If you analyze the drama you will understand the truth. Don't you think that a great devotee or a spiritual leader is a more worthy recipient of your money than that committee? If you offer guru daksina (donation) to a great spiritual leader or a great devotee, he will spend it for a real purpose like the propagation of divine knowledge and devotion of the Lord. If you are fortunate enough to donate to the human form of the Lord Himself, is that not better than donating to that spiritual leader or any other human being on earth?
Actually, when you meet Him, you can just give the guru daksina and forget about it. He is greater than the whole world put together. In whatever manner He may use what you donate, you must not question or try to find out. Getting the grace of the Lord is more important than social service to the world because the Lord alone can save you and the world cannot. This should be your first preference. When people offered guru daksina to Sai Baba, they never checked on Him to find out how He spent that guru daksina. He would not reveal how he used to spend the guru daksina. That was His way of testing the faith of the devotee in Him when they offerd guru daksina to Him. Even though an income tax officer was once appointed to investigate into the expenditures of Sri Sai, he failed to detect any irregularity after observing Sri Sai constantly for a month.
You can recognize the Lord in human form with the help of the Veda because the Lord has the special knowledge and all the super powers. If He is not available to accept your offerings, your second choice must be the spiritual leader because he may be either a partial incarnation of the Lord or a direct servant of the Lord. Such people will definitely serve the world in a good way. A managing committee of devotees who are only just human beings cannot utilize your funds in the best way. They waste the money due to their ignorance. Therefore never opt for this third choice. You need not blame the committee of devotees also because the limit of their knowledge is only to that extent.
A) You cannot analyze yourself. Only the Sadguru can analyze and reveal your internal self to you. You cannot see the condition of your internal organs. Only a doctor can take x-rays and a variety of scans and show them to you. Only then can you understand your own internal system. Therefore self-analysis does not mean the analysis of yourself by yourself. It means the analysis of yourself with the help of the Sadguru.
A) Think that you are a universal human being and not a Hindu or a Christian or a Muslim. You belong to all the religions. There is an underlying and essential commonality in all religions in that they have the same syllabus expressed in different languages. The same Lord appeared in different forms. Every religion has a certain special aspect, which is like a gem. Use all the gems in your spiritual life. Do you not use the Muslim petroleum, the scientific technology of the Christian west and analytical brain of Hindus in your materialistic life?
Similarly you can use the merit of each religion. Paddy (rice) is grown in one part of the country, pulses are grown in another part and vegetables are grown in some other part of the country. However the department of civic supplies transports rice, pulses and vegetables throughout the country so that every person in the country can have rice, pulses and vegetable curry in his plate. Only when all these add up can one have a complete and satisfying meal.
Muslims are famous for their regularity, discipline and firmness of faith in the Lord. No matter whether it is a holiday or a working day or on a journey, they will pray to the Lord. Hindus worship the Lord only in their leisure time and Christians worship the Lord on a holiday. Both Hindus and Christians can borrow this gem from Muslims. Similarly the love of Christians is a gem. They love even their enemies and give funds to the spiritual centers of other religions too. In Hinduism tolerance is the gem. They worship different forms of the same Lord and do not mind the other person's worship and beliefs, even if they are totally different from theirs.
Therefore one should have firm faith and discipline like a Muslim. Show love even to your enemies like a Christian. Worship different forms of the same Lord of all religions in the same manner as a Hindu. All these merits are like rivers merging in the ocean of spirituality. Be a fish in the deep, open ocean. Don't be a tadpole in a stagnant pond. All religions ultimately merge and become one and the same in the spiritual ocean.
A) You are taking pills for your cold on one hand and on the other hand, you are drinking ice-cold water throughout the day. The pill can control the cold temporarily, for an hour or so but will soon be back, thanks to the cold water. What is the use of the medicine if you do not follow the restrictions on food and drinks (pathyam) simultaneously? Similarly you get divine knowledge in the discussions with the Sadguru but you immediately enter into the family affairs. All that you learnt is washed away in a moment. By the time you come back to Sadguru, you are again in the original state. Therefore you must strive for devotion (bhakti) and also practice detachment from the family (vairagyam) simultaneously.
A) It is the very nature of the mind is to waver. The Lord created the mind to be that way. You cannot change the nature of mind because you cannot change the creation of the Lord. The Lord must have created the mind with a wavering nature for some good purpose. You do not understand that purpose and therefore you are making a futile attempt to change its nature.
Do not worry about the wavering nature of the mind. You just divert your mind from the world to the Lord. The mind is always moving from one point to another in the world. Even when you divert the mind to jnana yoga (Knowledge of the Lord), the mind will still waver. The Lord has several divine qualities. In fact, in order to understand yourself, the greatness of the Lord and the real path towards Him, the mind has to be flexible so that it can be directed from one point to another. A rigid (immovable) mind is not only impossible but is also useless.
Therefore the flexible nature of the mind is suitable for jnana yoga, which is the base for devotion (bhakti). Service or karma yoga results from bhakti, which finally brings the grace of the Lord. Therefore your effort must be to divert the mind from the world to divine knowledge. The withdrawal of the mind from the world and its diversion to the knowledge of the Lord has to be done repeatedly as told in the Bhagavad Gita "abhyasenatu". Only then is there hope of success in the spiritual path. If you try to change the nature of the mind then you are sure to fail. It is wiser to use the same wavering nature of the mind in your spiritual effort. Anything in this world is good because the Lord created it only to help your spiritual effort. Even the so-called bad qualities like kama (desire), krodha (anger), lobha (greed) etc., can be diverted towards the Lord and they can be used to attain the grace of the Lord. Any thing becomes bad only when you use it for indulgence in the world.
A) Pari prasna means the appropriate way of posing a question to your Guru or a scholar. In order to know the truth if you ask a question to the Guru, you must first salute to Him and serve Him. However, if you ask a scholar, salutation and service are not necessary. The question asked, should be a sincere enquiry and not with an attitude of mockery or abuse. In the course of the discussion, you may contradict the point of the scholar or Guru, with equal authority, by quoting from the scriptures. However you must remember the rules of argumentation in the Sastric (scriptural) studies. You can quote Sruti (Vedas; the primary scriptures; the Revealed Word of God) against Sruti or Sm?ti (secondary scriptures; the interpretations or commentaries of saints and sages) against Sm?ti. If you quote Sruti against Sm?ti, then Sruti alone prevails. Arguments or quotations from the Sm?ti cannot be used to contradict the Sruti.
Arguments should be in keeping with logic. The discussion should be between scholars of equal caliber. 'Prasna' means question. Pari means that which is associated with equal authority, logic and experience. In these discussions arguments based on experience, logic and the Sm?ti are always second to the Sruti (the Veda). You should confine to the point only. Even if you win in an argument, you should not mock at or scold the opponent, even if the opponent mocks at or scolds you. You must leave the judgment for the opponent's inappropriate behavior to God. You should not take it upon yourself to punish him.
When Ramanuja contradicted the commentary of Sankara, He never mentioned Sankara by name. He only mentioned the disciples of Sankara. He never used any foul language in His commentary. A scholar called Bella?ko??a Ramarao severely criticised Ramanuja and called him a child (sisu) and an animal (pasu) however Ramanuja did not reciprocate the indecent behavior. Ramanuja was the incarnation of Adi Sesa. It so happened that this scholar, Bella?ko??a Ramarao, died in his thirty eighth year by the bite of a poisonous snake.
You can easily convince a scholar or an ignorant person but never a person with little knowledge, who argues with egoism and jealousy. When Indra , the king of the gods, came and posed a question to Lord Brahma, Lord Brahma disappeared without answering Indra. The personal assistant of Lord Brahma called Uma appeared and told Indra to do penance for a thousand years and then come back to speak with Lord Brahma because Indra was egoistic when he posed the question. Thus you should not discuss with a person having half knowledge since such a person is invariably full of ego and jealousy. It will be like throwing a stone on the mud.
If you have a doubt or objection to the other person's statement, you must pose your question with all good manners. You should not resort to scolding or mocking in the beginning itself even if the point of the opponent is wrong. A good manager sends a polite memo to the employee, when the employee goes wrong. He does not immediately take any drastic disciplinary action.
The aim of all discussions must be only to find out the truth. This is called as vada maryada, which means the minimum dignity and decorum in scholarly discussion. Ancient sages maintained this through out their spiritual discussions (satsahga). Otherwise satsahga degenerates into the barking of two village dogs. In the spiritual path you must get rid of anger, jealousy and egoism. Without removing these three, you can never attain the grace of the Lord. Sankara says that sama and dama are required for spiritual path. Sama means controlling the inner senses (anger, jealousy and egoism). Dama means controlling the outer senses like your tongue.
A) Devotion is the love for the Lord. You have to develop it on your own. The Lord cannot 'grant' you this love. If you love a girl you will marry her. However if the girl does not love you, then you cannot create love for you in her heart in order to marry her. You cannot 'grant' her the love for you. Love should be spontaneous and can never be created by external effort. You will present a gift to a person who loves you but you cannot give a gift to a person and expect him or her to love you.
Therefore the Lord gives capacity to His devotee but not devotion. The Bhagavad Gita says "satvanurupa sarvasya". A common interpretation of this verse is that devotion is proportional to capacity. Yet we see people who are replete with wealth and physical strength but poor in devotion. They do not lack capacity but they lack devotion. There are also some others who are financially poor and physically weak but full of devotion. These observations contradict the above verse in the Gita.
Therefore the meaning of the above verse must be properly analyzed. The real meaning of this verse is as follows: You must measure the devotion of a person according to his capacity (money or physical strength). An owner of millions who donates fifty thousand is far inferior to a pauper who has only a few pennies and donates them all. The former is only a partial devotee and the latter is a full devotee. Here devotion is estimated according to the person's capacity.
Saktuprasta completely sacrificed the little flour that he had to God. Dharmaraja, the Pa??ava king, could not equal Saktuprasta even though he sacrificed crores (tens of millions) of rupees because he did not sacrifice completely. Complete sacrifice alone can bring the true grace of the Lord. The result of such full grace is attainment of Brahmaloka, which means being able to associate with Swami (Lord) forever in every birth.
A) It is true that I did not show you the existence of hell and heaven by taking you in a rocket. However neither have you checked every corner of the universe to prove that there is no hell or heaven? The space of this universe is infinite. How can you possibly check every corner of it and prove beyond doubt that there is no heaven or hell?
Suppose there is a blind fellow walking. One person tells him that there is a fire in front of him. Another person says that there is no fire. If the blind fellow is wise, he will not go any further. He will turn back assuming that there is a fire ahead because he wants to be on the safe side. There is no loss if you do not go further. However there is a possibility of loss if you do. Likewise if you lead a life of sacrifice assuming that there is a hell and a heaven, you will be playing it safe. However if you indulge in this world without sacrifice, assuming that there is no hell and heaven you are likely to suffer a terrible loss. Additionally if you enjoy without sacrifice, you are subjected to many diseases. This is the law of nature and is unavoidable. If you sacrifice, you remain healthy. Therefore even from this angle, enjoyment (indulgence) of life is not good.
Assuming that there is an equal probability for both existence and non-existence of hell and heaven, it only makes sense to follow Dharma or righteous conduct. The wise person accepts the existence of hell. Moreover, the Lord comes in human form in every generation and every land. He proves the existence of super natural powers through miracles. He preaches the existence of the Lord and the upper worlds. This direct instruction is adequate proof for the existence of God and the upper worlds. This is the essence of the Veda and the Bhagavad Gita. That is why we find so many theists in the world.
23. In a certain verse in the Bhagavad Gita it is said that one can attain Vasudeva over the course of several births. Why then should we be hasty to reach God in this birth. Can we not take our own time?
A) The verse in the Bhagavad Gita talks about attaining Vasudeva, the son of Vasudeva. He is referring to the external human body of His incarnation as the son of Vasudeva, of the Yadava dynasty. That body was present only in a certain time and not in anytime before or after that. Of course the Lord will come down in this world as some other human form in every age. The point to note is that the verse speaks about the lifetime of Vasudeva.
In the life of Vasudeva (Krisna), the devotees who recognized Vasudeva as the Lord were very lucky. Any human incarnation speaks in that fashion only with reference to His physical lifespan. In that verse the word Vasudeva has special significance. Other words like Paramatma were not used in that verse. If such words were used the meaning would have been the Lord in general, who is pervading all the human incarnations.
Sankara says that human rebirth is nearly impossible (nara janma durlabhamidam). Christianity and Islam go to the extent of saying that the human rebirth is impossible. In this verse that concept can be interpreted. Hindus misunderstood the concept and are neglecting the spiritual effort due to the assumption of availability of several future human rebirths.
A) Sadhana means attaining the grace of the Lord by serving Him in human form. Upasana is attaining something, which is very much near and similar to the Lord. In upasana you are not serving the Lord. 'Upa' means near. Asana means attainment. In upasana you can understand the nature of the Lord through a model (pratika), which has some similarity with the Lord. The Veda says that various objects such as the Sun or the mind, should be meditated upon as the Lord (adityam brahmeti upasita, tam mana iti upasita). The Sun removes darkness as the Lord removes the ignorance. The mind of an individual creates different forms in a dream as the Lord creates different forms in the world. The Sun and the mind are only models to understand the Lord. When you meditate upon the Sun and the mind, you can only get an idea of the nature of the Lord. You cannot serve Him. Hanuman meditated upon the Sun and understood the nature of the Lord. Then He met Lord Rama and served Him.
Sadhana is greater than upasana. Upasana is the primary stage while sadhana is the final stage. Sadhana (Spiritual effort) without a Guru is like a blind horse running in the field throughout the night. It will be unable to reach the village in the absence of the farmer to guide it. Guru means He who removes the ignorance and shows the right path. Without the Guru you would waste a lot of energy and time and yet be nowhere close to the goal. If you recognize the Lord in human form and serve Him like Hanuman and Gopikas, you can attain the highest fruit. This truth is known only through the preaching of the Guru. If you merely serve idols, you will end in misery only like Tyagaraja. The blind horse spends all its energy throughout the night without any use. Had it been in the hands of a guide, it could have reached the village in ten minutes by spending minimal energy.
(Swamiji sang the following song spontaneously here):-
Oh! Blind horse! Hear the Guru!
You don't see the way, yet you run with vigor!
How many wives; how many husbands;
How many sons and how many daughters;
You've had in the past millions of births!
Don't be ensnared by the sweet words
And sweet love of your family
They are the real enemies of your sadhana
You have stolen their money in your previous birth
They have come now to recover it with interest.
Not only to collect their dues they've come
But also for revenge! By spoiling your sadhana
Your energy and time are limited
They cannot save you when the death strikes you.
They will leave you after their revenge.
They have come to you for food and shelter
Help them as per your duty
But be brief and do not waste time and energy!
Hear Me, See Me, Speak about Me
And Think about Me alone!
Your senses, caught by these bonds
Will not allow you to come to Me
The blind horse ran and ran throughout the night
And never left the field nor reached its goal
For it was separated from the guide
Therefore catch the Guru at once!!
Holy Jesus told in the Bible that if one does not hate his family members, he cannot become His disciple. I am explaining the reason of His statement. Your family attracts you by love and becomes an obstacle for your love for the Lord. The Guru is essential for your sadhana. Nobody is greater than the Guru (na guroradhikam, guru? sak?at parabrahma). You must not limit the service by serving the Guru personally only. You must understand and assimilate His preaching. Can you pass the examination merely by paying your fess regularly to the teacher. The pity is that nowadays, some Gurus (false Gurus), concentrate only on the fees but not on the progress of the student.
A) Ku??alini is the mind, which goes in a tortuous and serpentine manner. The cakras (wheels) mean the whirlpools of false attractions of the family bonds. They are the whirlpools, which attract and drown a swimmer who is trying to cross the ocean of this world. Mother, father, spouse, children, false gurus and the deities, who are merely external illusions of the Lord, are the bonds to be crossed. The kundalini crosses these wheels by going in a zig-zag manner. This means that you can cross Maya (illusion) only by using Maya (deception). If you go straight, these rotating whirlpools will suck you inside. Therefore you should act as if you love them but in reality, concentrate all your real love on the Lord only. This is the meaning of crossing of Maya with the help of the Maya. The Veda says the same (avidyaya m?tyu? tirtva).
Yoga is this path through which you can attain the grace of the Lord. You can also attain super natural powers from Him through His grace by yoga. Nowadays, yoga teachers are earning money by a false theory in which they state that super natural powers can be attained by certain physical and mental exercises even without the grace of the Lord. They say that it is just like you become healthy by doing certain physical exercises. However we find in the scriptures that that all those who desired super powers including demons, no doubt concentrated in yoga (tapas) but they could get the super powers only from the Lord who appeared before them when He was pleased. Their penance did not bring the super powers directly and independently. You cannot get the grace of the Lord and salvation by certain exercises or by controlling your breathing. These yoga teachers are similar to purva mima?sakas ( followers of a certain ritualistic philosophy) who say that any desired fruits (results) can be attained directly by performing the appropriate action and that there is no need of God.
Even Patanjali, who is the founder of yoga, stressed on the grace of the Lord. His path is called as 'Sesvara Sa?khya' which means that it is a path that accepts the Lord. All these yoga exercises can bring good health and such yoga can be considered as a branch of health science.
The words like kundalini, six chakras, sahasrara, etc., are not heard in the Vedas, Brahmasutras or the Bhagavad Gita. They are just imaginations. The cakras (wheels) and the padmas (lotuses) are only poetical models. They are not true. Their proponents attract people by preaching that the super powers can be attained by such exercises. Yantras (mystic symmetrical patterns), mantras (mystic syllables or verses) and tantras (mystic rituals) are similar imaginations, which are used to earn money. In reality, the six family bonds are like the six whirlpools or the cakras. They are also like six lotuses, which attract and trap bees by their fragrance. Thus terms such as the cakras, lotuses and kundalini are only similes. Yoga means the attainment of the grace of the Lord. The yoga power means the supernatural power granted by the Lord.
A) The first stage is worship of the formless Lord. Actually the worship of the formless Lord is only the worship of the formless power of the Lord, which pervades all Creation. People, who claim to worship the Formless Lord, are actually worshipping His formless power. The light of the Sun is formless but not the Sun. Thus formless worship is an approach to the Lord by worshipping His power. The Lord is the possessor of the power and hence transcends the power. The Veda says that Brahman (the Lord) is the possessor of the power and is not the formless power (Brahma puccha? pratis?ha).
In the second stage the Possessor of the power, who is with form, is worshipped indirectly through idols and photos. It is very difficult to worship the formless power of the Lord as said in the Bhagavad Gita "avyakta hi gatir du?kham". A form is necessary for the concentration of the mind. Thus idol worship is a more advanced form of worship. However, the idol is only a representative symbol of the Lord and is inert. Therefore it is not the final form of worship.
In the third stage the human being, which is a mixture of inert body and living soul is worshipped as a symbol of the Lord. Every human being is treated as the Lord although he is not actually Lord. This symbol is better than the previous symbol. Actually in this stage, jealousy towards another man due to individual egoism is removed. If every human being is considered as the Lord and is worshipped, it prepares the person to accept and love the human incarnation of the Lord. This stage reduces the aversion to accepting the human form of the Lord. It is a stage of psychological treatment to cure the inherent diseases of egoism and jealousy. This stage is certainly very elevated but again is not the final stage.
In the fourth stage the actual human form of the Lord is realized. In this stage the devotee considers that particular human form (of the Avatara) alone as the Lord and loves that form above all other human forms. This is the highest devotion. Hanuman and Gopikas were devotees of this highest caliber.
Hanuman never worshipped the formless Lord, idols or even all human beings. Hanuman worshipped only one human being i.e., Rama. Similarly Gopikas worshipped only one human being i.e., Krisna. They never worshipped even idols of previous incarnations of the Lord like Rama. Hanuman did not worship idols of Vamana or Para?urama, who were previous incarnations of the Lord. Had they worshipped such idols, they would have fallen to the second stage of worship. All these four stages are the steps in the right path and need not be criticized. Only atheism should be criticized.
A) First of all we must know that prayers by mouth and meditation by mind do not have any value. It is like offering a cup of water to a guest. Water is free and so you get no credit if you offer it to a guest. One can even get it in a restaurant without paying anything. If you ask the Lord to protect you in return for your prayers and meditation, it is ridiculous. It is like a restaurant charging the customer for drinking a glass of water. The restaurant did not provide you with any goods or services worth any substantial value (other than water which is free anyway). Similarly prayers and mediation do not amount to giving anything to God. Then why should He protect you or do anything for you in return?
Only service to the Lord in terms of sacrifice of work (karma sahnyasa) and sacrifice of fruit of work (karmaphala tyaga) can have a real value. It is like a restaurant serving a meal to a customer. It is providing real goods and services to the customer for which it is justified in expecting a payment. Of course the served food must come with a glass of water but there is no charge for it. Similarly the service to the Lord should also be accompanied with prayers and meditation. Service without prayers and meditation is ninety-nine percent and cannot be one hundred percent. The prayers and meditation have significance and value only when they are accompanied with actual service. Therefore asking the Lord for protection after prayers or meditation is not at all justified.
Actually asking for protection even after doing real service accompanied by prayers and meditation is not appreciated, although it may be justified. The reason is as follows. When you ask for the fruit of your service, it shall only be given according to the value of your service. However if you do not ask for any fruit, your service attains infinite value and you will get permanent protection from the Lord without any account of your service.
Do you ask your son for something in return as soon as you serve him? Whatever service you can do, you just do it. Then after you get old he will take care of all your needs out of his sense of responsibility. Is there any formal account between you and your son? Do you make a note of all that you have done for him and make him return the favor or pay up?
Likewise the Lord will protect you to the extent you deserve. You need not remind Him about it. If you do not deserve He cannot violate His own rules and administration for the sake of an undeserving person. If you do not ask Him for any favor, you are a good follower of His administration and He will be pleased with you even without your prayers and worship. In contrast, He will be not be pleased if you ask Him to protect you even if you deserve, because by saying so you implicitly doubted His justice and fairness. He gets angry with you if you do not deserve and yet ask for something in return, because you are in effect, asking the Lord to violate His own administration. Therefore whether you deserve or do not deserve, you should not mention your desire for protection or for any other fruit to the Lord.
Although nobody can question the Lord even if He violates His own rules, the angels and sages are constantly watching Him in their meditation. If the Lord violates His rules for the sake of the undeserving, these divine devotees will be shaken and their meditation upon the Lord will be disturbed. The Lord would never want any harm to come to these divine devotees. Therefore He will not unnecessarily violate His own rules.
A) The place, time and the method of selfish worship are not important. Worship done with an expectation of some favorable result for yourself or your family, is essentially selfish. The real festival is when you sacrifice the fruit of your work or you work without any selfishness for deserving divine people. Then it does not matter what place or time it may be. We have to correct our selfishness and not the date of the festival.
29. If a child is weak in studies, you suggested that the child should serve God instead. We would have expected you to suggest something like meditation or something to improve the child's concentration. Is it not what the child should be made to do?
A) Meditation is concentration. It is a physical process and is within the rules of nature. Divinity is beyond nature. You can expect only divine advice from Me because My aim is to get you in touch with God through some means or the other. My aim is not to provide temporary solutions to your petty materialistic problems in materialistic ways. Sometimes, the physical plane is not sufficient to solve certain problems. The spiritual plane can certainly solve the problem. However you should note that the Lord solves your problems only in the initial stage to bring you to the spiritual path.
After entering the spiritual path you should not bother about your materialistic problems. You should only be concerned with serving the Lord without expecting anything in return. Therefore, you should not continue to pray to God to solve your materialistic problems throughout your life. The main purpose of your entire life is to reach God. If you use God to solve your material problems in life then the whole purpose is lost. If you continue like that, then even the solved problems will reappear in a magnified way.
Actually when you ask God to solve your problems, He does not actually solve them. He merely postpones the bad result (problem) of your past action that you are experiencing at present to the future. This gives you temporary relief and helps you enter the spiritual path. If you continue progressing on the spiritual path, God will cancel all the bad results that you are supposed to face at a later time, in His own way i.e., He suffers for your sake. However if you do not enter the spiritual path and are only concerned about solving your own problems with God's help, then you are exploiting God. Then He will not bear the bad results of your deeds Himself. He will not suffer for your sake. He will instead not interfere when the postponed bad results come to you with increased intensity.
A) I will explain this with an example. A person got an M.A. degree after working very hard. He applied for the post of a lecturer and attended the interview in a neat and clean suit. He got the post. Another fellow who failed the 10th class sent out hundreds of applications for similar posts. He had not even completed high school and was grossly under-qualified for the positions for which he was applying. To make up for his poor qualifications, he bought the most fashionable suit for his interviews. However he was not even called for an interview.
I know an exceptionally talented person, who several years ago, received an appointment letter for the post of a lecturer in a government college even before the results of his M.A. final examinations were declared in the newspapers. The hiring authorities acquired his results from the university even before they were publicly announced because they were so keen on hiring this person, who was undoubtedly most deserving. Therefore if you are really worthy then you need not struggle for a job. If you are exceptional, you will not even need to apply for a position or attend an interview. The letter of appointment will come right to your doorstep.
Similarly your chanting of prayers is your application. Your silk cloth, garlands, sacred ash on the forehead etc., constitute the fashionable suit that you bought for the interview. Practical sacrifice and breaking of family bonds for the sake of the Lord is the real qualification or your M.A. degree. You must work hard to attain that degree. Without doing that, what is the use of all these external things?
Sankara sacrificed His bond with His old and destitute mother for the sake of the mission of the Lord. He left her and carried out the mission of the Lord of propagating divine knowledge. His qualifications were exceptional and His worthiness unmatched. This is the reason why the tree rained golden fruits on Him. The prayer chanted by Him was merely a formality of applying for the post. Even that application was not really necessary. Sabari, Kannappa, the elephant, the spider and the serpent, ( all characters in the Pura?as, or mythology) never asked the Lord for anything. Their practical sacrifice was their qualification.
Our present tradition is stressing only on the external trimmings; the main substance which is developing the essential qualification by practical sacrifice is totally neglected. Therefore the Lord is not pleased with you. He will not give any rewards for a wasteful indulgence in such frivolities.
A) Egoism and jealousy are the two obstacles in the way of recognizing the human incarnation of the Lord. First you must get rid of these two. Love for the Lord in human form should become infinite and due to it your love for your wealth, wife and children should be destroyed. This is called as jivanmukti. This is the only way. Without the attachment to the Lord, you cannot detach yourself from the world. Without light, the darkness cannot go. The bond with the Lord can alone cut all worldly bonds. The Vedas say that you should cut the bond (attachment) with your wife (pravrajet), with your children (na prajaya, ki? prajaya) and with wealth (dhanena tyagena).
Datta is the human form of the Lord, which is donated to the world. Mere detachment without recognizing and loving Datta, is a total waste. Even a stone is completely detached. It has no love for Datta and is not said to be liberated. An Avadhuta (a person who is liberated; one who has jivanmukti) does not mean a mad vagabond who wanders around without bothering to wear clothes. Hanuman and Gopikas were real Avadhutas who were totally detached from the world due to their infinite love for the Lord in human form.
Some great sages, who could not recognize Lord Rama due to their egoism and jealousy, were re-born as Gopikas. It was only then that they could recognize the Lord in human form. The great sage Sarabha?ga who sacrificed his body at the fire altar, was reborn as a one of the Gopikas and worshipped Lord Krisna. In his past birth as Sarabha?ga, he had failed to recognize the Lord in human form of Lord Rama and was therefore not liberated in that birth. He was liberated only when he recognized, loved and served Lord Krisna as an incarnation of God. Only one in millions can attain jivanmukti. The Bhagavad Gita says the same (kascit mam).
A) The Lord preached the Bhagavad Gita only when Arjuna fell at His feet and begged for the divine knowledge. The Lord said that trying to give the divine knowledge to people who are not interested due to their ignorance, egoism, jealousy and greed is like throwing a stone in a muddy pond. (k?tsnavit na vicalayet); you are bound to soil your clothes.
In spite of this, Sankara went to the house of Ma??ana Misra (who later became His disciple) and begged for a scholarly debate. Ma??ana Misra was a great scholar and a karma ka??in (ritualist). He was opposed to Lord Sankara's philosophy. Initially Manadana Misra abused Sankara and refused to debate with Him. However the sages Vyasa and Jaimini who were present there objected to such an attitude. Finally Ma??ana Misra agreed to have a debate. The debate continued for twenty-one days. At the end Ma??ana Misra realized the truth and became the disciple of Sankara. Here Ma??ana Misra was benefited and not Sankara. Sankara had to plead to and face insults at the hands of Ma??ana Misra. However He bore it all for the sake of the upliftment of Ma??ana Misra, who was to become His devotee.
Likewise you must try to uplift all the souls in this world. Even if your clothes are soiled by mud, you must have forbearance and compassion for others. Sankara did not turn back even though Ma??ana Misra abused and insulted Him.
The father tries to correct his son even if his son disobeys and quarrels with him. Such a kind and compassionate attitude is divine. Krisna tried to talk sense into the Kauravas who were hell bent on starting a devastating war. Hanuman went on a diplomatic mission to prevent war with the evil Rava?a. Both Krisna and Hanuman were insulted and had to return unsuccessfully. Yet the effort they took to avoid a tragedy to the other party was noteworthy and noble.
Of course, if a person is totally rigid and refuses to change in spite of your best efforts, you may have to leave such a person to his fate.
A.) Generally we do some service to the Lord and expect something good in return from Him. Give and take is the norm in worldly business. The specialty of Lord Datta is that He announces His policy in the beginning itself. His policy is a one-way traffic. You have to do service to Him but He will not do any thing good in return. Thus the business-mentality of the devotee completely disappears. Those who cannot give up their attitude of business with God, drop out. This constitutes the majority of so-called devotees.
Few devotees come to Him prepared for serving the Lord without expecting anything in return. After some time, He announces His second policy. Then on it is a two-way traffic. Except that for every service that the devotee does the Lord gives him more misery and adversity. If the devotee massages His feet, He will beat him with His stick. This is a test of the devotee's true love. The devotee must have enough understanding of divine knowledge to understand Lord Datta. By giving such troubles He is clearing all the sins of the devotee.
According to the law of karma, the devotee has to suffer for his sins, no matter what. The Lord gives him adversity and misery so that all the devotee's sins are exhausted at a much reduced price. If the devotee does not suffer at the loving hands of the Lord, he will have to suffer at the cruel hands of the world. In clearing the sins of His devotees, He pays ninety-nine percent of the price and the devotee only has to pay one percent. This is the law of minimum justice. Although He appears to be giving troubles to the devotee, He is actually showing extraordinary compassion by clearing his sins at a greatly reduced price.
One would naturally ask as to why the Lord does not reveal that the troubles that He puts His devotees through are in fact for their own good? The answer is simple. By concealing this truth the Lord can test the true love of His devotees for Him. The devotee who loves the Lord truly will not complain in spite of the troubles and will not misunderstand the Lord. If the truth is not opened then only the true love exists.
The devotee who doubts the Lord clearly does not have true love. If the Lord were to reveal the truth in the beginning then there is no way to separate the devotee with true love from the others. The devotee will know that the troubles given are for his ultimate benefit alone. He will endure them not because he really loves the Lord but for the sake of his own benefit. Therefore Lord Datta maintains this secrecy. After clearing the sins, He will give boons to his devotees. He will give healthy and rich food to the patient only after curing the illness. Without curing the illness rich food should not be given as it will harm the patient whose digestive system has been weakened due to the disease. If unprepared souls are given boons they will destroy themselves. Demons, who forced the Lord to grant them certain boons, were destroyed by the boons.
There are three types of devotees. The low-level devotee asks for boons from the Lord. He is like a demon. He does not give any freedom to the Lord to choose what is best for the devotee. Based on his inadequate and puny intellect, he decides that something is good for him and asks the Lord to give it and nothing else. The devotee acts like a master and is indirectly treating the Lord as his servant. A master always asks the servant to do a particular chore without giving any choice.
The middle-level devotee asks the Lord to do whatever is good for him. He gives some freedom to the Lord in deciding, what is good and what is bad for them. At least he gives that much freedom to the Lord. Yet he expects the Lord to ultimately give him what he (the devotee) thinks is good. Thus he gives the Lord about fifty percent freedom.
When Jesus was saying His last prayer, He tried to avoid the future agony of death. For a moment He flinched from the forthcoming agony of crucifixion. Yet He regained His composure immediately and ended the prayer by saying "Let Thine will be done". He said finally that He was prepared to suffer if that was the Will of the Lord. This is the highest devotion.
When Lord Datta starts giving small troubles to His devotees, it means that He is clearing their small sins. If the devotee is firm in his faith, then Datta starts clearing big sins. That means the small troubles will slowly magnify into big troubles. When He clears your debt of Rs. 100/-, He pays Rs. 99/- and makes you pay Re. 1/-. This is the law of minimum justice by which you have to pay for at least a small fraction of your sins. Then He starts clearing your debt of Rs. 1000/- for which you have to pay Rs.10/-.
The first stage of the one-way policy, in which Lord Datta only receives your service but does not give anything good in return, is called the test of Brahma. This is a sort of initial training for more severe tests ahead. In the next stage, Lord Datta starts giving you small troubles and miseries in return for your service. This is the test of Visnu. In the third stage big sins are cleared and your troubles are intensified. This is the third test of Rudra.
From one angle, these tests can be considered as tests of your faith and trueness of your love. From another angle, they are the secret clearing of your sins. This clearing of sins is for your purification and it makes you eligible for His grace. Only the highest devotee can approach Lord Datta. Lord Datta is God Himself. His preaching is the Truth. The benefit that you get from Him is the only real benefit. Only the real sun can remove darkness by his real light. An imaginary Sun cannot remove real darkness.
If you spend a lot of time and energy in analyzing worldly affairs, you will become egotistic. You will start thinking that you are intelligent and can solve worldly problems. However you will find that the worldly problem that you tried to solve through your intelligence, intense analysis, long discussions, and physical effort will utterly flop at the end. If you spend even one-tenth of that time and energy in the service and devotion of Lord Datta, your worldly issue will succeed beyond your imagination.
In fact the servants of Lord Datta attend your worldly affairs. These worldly matters are below His level. His level of work starts when you go to hell after death. He will speak to the Lord of hell on your behalf and order him to not to interrogate or harass you. He will have your file closed, since you are in His service. Thus you are blessed in this world as well as in the upper world (after death).
But alas your faith is not 100 percent! You have to strengthen your faith and serve Him without any expectations and in spite of all troubles. If you are in His constant devotion, all your duties will be discharged by the power of Lord Datta, in a fraction of second and in an excellent manner. One can test this concept in the case of any worldly problem and see whether what I say is correct or not. You can test this in one case and you will experience the truth of My preaching.
A). What you say is not the highest yoga but is just the beginning of yoga. By merely doing your duties, you are attached to action. If you start by cutting the mental attachment, to the duties (actions) that perform, you are detached only in mind and in words. This is only one percent detachment. There is still ninety nine percent attachment in the action. However it is at least a humble beginning.
The essence of Bhagavad Gita is 'niskama karma yoga', which means detachment in mind and action. The detachment in action is proved by two ways:
1. Karma sahnyasa yoga, which means detachment from the work aimed at benefiting yourself or your family only. The work that you do should be aimed at serving the Lord in His mission in this world.
2. Karmaphala tyaga yoga, which is the detachment from the fruits of work done for yourself and your family. The fruits should be sacrificed to God.
Only if you have mental detachment, it becomes niskama yoga. Of-course between mind, words and work, mind is the king since it is the subtlest of the three and controls the other two. However, between words and work, work is a better indicator of your mind. You may speak something and have something else in your mind. However if you are sincere in your mind, it definitely shows in your work. This is the reason why the Lord advised 'niskama karma yoga', which means detachment from mind and work.
He did not give any place to words. The mind and work are always in the same phase. What is in your mind is clearly reflected by your action; whom you really love is evidenced by whom you sacrifice the fruit of your work. You may feel so much for God in your mind. You may speak or sing so much in His praise. You may claim that all the work you do is for none other than the Lord. Yet, when it comes to giving up the fruit of your work (money) to Him, your real mettle is tested. Therefore, sacrifice of the fruit of work is the real essence of the Bhagavad Gita.
Sometimes when you don't have anything else to do and are unable to earn money, you may surrender your work for God by volunteering to do His work. However if you have a real job that yields plenty of money and you are still able to sacrifice that money for the mission of the Lord, then your sacrifice is genuine. You have proven your love or devotion to God. That is why the Veda says 'dhanena tyagenaikena', which means that only by the sacrifice of the fruit of work, one can attain the Lord. That is the real test of Lord Datta. Saktuprasta was also tested in this very aspect. Sacrifice is the touchstone of devotion. It will tell whether your mind is cheap glittering brass or real gold.
Your present family is bound to you only in this birth. All family members are like drama actors. They are only temporarily related to you. The relations with them are not even temporarily real. Even in the present they are unreal. You should think of this carefully that they are not only temporary, but also unreal. You are worrying about your duties to such a dramatic association! God is the director and producer of millions of such family dramas. In each birth of yours, you are an actor in a new drama. You pass through all of them as an actor acts in different dramas. The Lord is the employer and you are maintained by Him as an employee. This relationship alone is real and permanent from the beginning of this creation.
Madhva told that the master-servant relationship is the only relationship between the Lord and the soul (sevya-sevaka sambandha). Therefore, what is your real duty? The primary duty is to serve your employer. You are forgetting the real duty and attending false duties. You say that attending these false duties is the essence of Gita! Sankara left His mother, Prahlada condemned his father, Buddha left his wife and son and Mira left her husband for the sake of God. Such souls are fully liberated since they are detached from this world by mind, words and even work. They have reached the end of the yoga.
You are just in the preliminary stage of yoga. If you are not told this truth, you will sit on the first step itself thinking that it is the final step. Of course you are better than the people who are attached to this world by both mind and work. A score of one mark is better than zero marks. Yet one mark is not hundred marks. To progress in the spiritual effort you must look at the ninety-nine steps to be climbed up and not at the first step, which you have already climbed.