Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 05 Jan 2004



The Bhagavad Gita says that nobody knows God (Maamtu veda na kashchana). The Veda says that words, mind, intelligence, logic and even imagination cannot touch God (Yato vachah…Manasa saha; Na medhaya; Naisha tarkena). The Veda also says that if one knows that God is unknown, he knows at least something about God (Yasyaamatam tasya matam). These three statements declare that God is unknowable and unreachable. Yet the same Veda says that God is present on this earth itself (Yat saakshat aparokshat). Similarly, the Gita also says that God reveals Himself on earth in every human generation as per the necessity (Tadaatmaanam srijaamyaham). These two statements say that God can be seen by humans. How can one reconcile these two contradicting sets of statements?

The first set of statements implies that you cannot catch God by your effort. The second statement indicates that whenever the kindest God wants to reveal Himself, He comes down to earth. You can see God on earth but He cannot be understood. Therefore, the first statement is not contradicted. Fine, you have seen Lord Krishna. However, as a boy He lifted a mountain on His little finger. Did you understand this? Definitely not! The Gita says that God comes down in a human body to preach to human beings (Manusheem tanum ashritam). Then you can see and touch Him. You can talk and live with Him. But He is not understood. He is seen only to prove that He cannot be understood.

The Veda has four great sentences called as the Maha Vakyas about the human incarnation:

  1. Aham Brahmaasmi
  2. Tatvamasi
  3. Ayam Atmaa
  4. Prajnanam Brahma.

The first three sentences say that externally, He is like me, you, and him respectively. The fourth great sentence says that He preaches a special divine knowledge, which is not possible for anyone else to preach. This knowledge is His internal form by which He is differentiated from others.

There are many electrons flowing in the atmosphere. The flow of electrons is called as electricity. But you cannot experience electricity in the atmosphere. By this electricity in the atmosphere, you cannot rotate the fan or light the lamp. This electricity cannot be experienced and you cannot get any benefit from it. But the same electrons, when made to flow in a metallic wire, you are able to get the experience of electricity by touching the wire. By this electricity, you can make the fan rotate and light the lamp. Similarly, you cannot directly experience God, who is pervading all over the world and you cannot get any fruit from Him. But when the same God enters the human body, you can experience Him through vision, touch, conversation and by living in His company. But even by this experience you cannot get any fruit. When you meet somebody, touch him, talk with him and even live with him, you can experience him, but you cannot necessarily get any help from him. Even if you serve God in His human form personally, He may preach to you several times but only when you participate in His mission as a servant, will He be completely pleased and give you the fruit. Therefore, you can experience and please God, only through the human form. God creates this method of approaching Him, for the sake of human beings. This method is called the human incarnation. If you try to reach the Absolute God directly, He is like a roaring mighty ocean. You are just a water drop. Your prayer is an iota in that ocean of sound. You may even merge into the sea and disappear completely losing your name and form.

Worship through form

The Gita says that if one tries to worship the formless all pervading God, he will end up in misery (Avyaktahi gatih). When God has arranged a very convenient way for approaching Him, why should you deny that way and try for a direct method? Are you mad? The reason for your madness is your repulsion from another human form (other than yourself). This repulsion is produced by your ego and jealousy. Likes repel each other. Ego and jealousy cover the two eyes of any human being. These two layers are responsible for the human being not using the method provided by God Himself. When you cannot even imagine God, how can you serve Him? This is like a drought, which is one extreme end. The other extreme end is like a flood in which every human being thinks that he himself is God and this is the result of a misunderstanding of the Veda. If every human being is already God, then the spiritual effort would be meant only for stones![1] Therefore, to solve this problem an intermediate technique is adopted. The human form is introduced in the form of an inert statue or a picture. Since the statue or the picture is not the actual human being, the repulsion is reduced. Since the human form in a statue or a picture belongs to some deity from the upper world or a past human incarnation, the problem of repulsion is removed. If the repulsion is of a higher order, the face of that human form in the statue or picture is replaced by the face of a monkey (Hanuman), the face of an elephant (Ganapati) etc., because the jealousy towards the human form is mainly concentrated on the face. If the repulsion is of the highest order, instead of the human form the form of a fish, tortoise (Matsya, Kurma) etc., is introduced in the form of an idol or picture. Therefore, the statues and pictures are worshipped as a training to remove the repulsion caused by ego and jealousy towards the human form. But these statues are only meant for meditation and not for worship or service. The Veda says that the Lord is not in statues or photos (Natasya pratima). The Veda also says that no inert object is God (Nedam tat).

The Gita also says that God is not the world and God is not in the world (Nachaham teshu; Maamebhya param). When it is said that God is in the world in the Gita, it means that God exists as the base of the world (Matsthani…). This interpretation is derived from Sanskrit grammar (Aupasleshika Saptami Vibhakthih). Here the base is not touched by the world and so God is untouched; He remains without any change in spite of the changes in the world. When a daydreamer dreams of a city and when the city catches fire, the fire does not touch the dreamer. This entire world is only the will of God (Icchamaatram Prabhoh srishtih). The imagined city is based on the dreamer. Even when a person in that dream-city is burnt, the dreamer is not burnt. Similarly even if a soul in the world is pained, God is not pained. The dreamer can enter his own dream through a form of his own imagination and can express himself through that form anywhere in that dream-world. Similarly, God expressed Himself in the form of Lord Narasimha (form of a fierce lion-headed man). He can enter the dream world through a human form, which is also made of His will and such a human form is called the human incarnation. The dream-world and the dream-men are also made of His will.

The Veda mentions the entrance of God into this world through a human incarnation (Tadevaanu praavisat). When He enters the human body, He pervades that body from top to bottom, internally and externally, just like the electricity that has entered a metallic wire. Wherever you touch the wire, the electricity is experienced (Antarbhahishcha). This is Advaita (non-duality), which means that you cannot separate God and that human body as long as He is present in the body. God is that human body just as the electricity is that wire. Therefore, you should worship such a human form as the actual God with the Advaita angle. Why are you worshipping past human incarnations? The electricity has gone from those wires and even those wires are not seen now[2]. Only imaginary pictures or photographs of those wires are present before you. What is the use of worshipping them? God left those human bodies and you cannot experience that God directly. Those human bodies are also gone now. Then what is it that you are worshipping? When the Lord left the body of Krishna, Arjuna cremated that body with the help of a few dry sticks, because the body was only an inert material. The same body, when Lord was present in it, had swallowed a wild fire, which was burning the whole forest. Therefore, the inert statue is only for vision and meditation.

If you worship and serve such inert objects you will be born as an inert object as said by the Lord in the Gita (Bhutejya yaanti). The Lord said that He should be worshipped and by that He means that the living human incarnation should be worshipped. In the Veda it is said that the sun should be worshipped as God (Adityam Brahmeti). Immediately the Veda also says that the sun is not God (Nedam tat). The Lord, as said in the Veda, controls the sun (Bhishodeti suryah). If the sun is God or even if God is present in the sun, then it would not be said that the sun is controlled by God. The Lord said in the Gita that He is not in the world (Natvaham teshu). The Veda says that no item of the world—including the soul—is God (Neti neti). Thus, God is the base of the sun since He is the base of the entire world. So here you must meditate upon the sun as the representative of God and such a representative is called as a ‘prateeka’. The national flag of India represents India. The flag is not India and India is not in the flag. However, the base of that flag is the earth of India. When a representative of the king comes, the representative is not the king nor is the king present in the representative. The representative is an employee, controlled by the king. You can respect the representative and even worship him because he is also a living being like the king. Therefore, you can worship the devotees of the Lord by the sixteen modes of worship (shodasa upacharas). But you should not do these sixteen modes of worship to a statue of the king, even though it is the direct form of the king. A statue is only for vision (seeing and meditating upon the form). When the sixteen modes of worship are to be performed on a statue in a temple, we perform the ritual of life initiation (prana pratishta) in that statue. By this initiation, the statue does not come alive. If you can make a statue alive by such rituals, why don’t you make a dead body alive by the same? Therefore, the inert statue with life initiation means the living human form. This means that you should worship the living human body of God, which is called the human incarnation. Even a devotee of God is a human form with life and therefore he can also be worshipped by the same sixteen modes.

The Gita says that the soul is a part of Nature and is called as ‘para prakriti’ (Jiva bhutaam). The inert part of creation is called ‘apara prakriti’ (Apareyam). Since the world is a creation and not the Creator, the soul is not the Lord. The soul is a part of creation and the Lord is the Creator. Krishna created duplicate cows and cowboys, when the original souls of the cows and cowboys were taken away by the divine officer called ‘Prajapati’. This proves that the soul is creation. In the Gita it is said that God throws some souls into the everlasting fire called hell (Samsaareshu naraadhaman). If every soul is God, how could any soul be thrown into hell? It would mean that God has thrown God into hell! This proves that the soul is not the Lord.

The Lord says in the Gita that He comes in human form in every human generation (Sambhavami yuge yuge). The word yuga means human generation. If God comes only in one particular human generation, then He becomes partial. Any human being can see the human incarnation present in his generation provided the two layers covering the eyes (ego and jealousy) are removed. The human body is made of five elements and you can see, touch, talk and live with the Lord through that human body. The Lord comes to you without any trace of your effort since you have prayed to Him through surrender and devotion. Even if you do a lot of penance, the Lord only appears before you through a body made of light for a few minutes as Lord Vishnu. He will talk a few words with you and will disappear. You cannot touch Him and live with Him for a long time. How foolish you are to lose this golden opportunity of the human incarnation called as Krishna! Both Vishnu and Krishna are incarnations. The same Lord entered both the bodies (energetic body of Vishnu and the human body of Krishna). The same Lord pervaded both the bodies from top to bottom, internally and externally. The reason for your bad luck is only the layers (of ego and jealousy) covering your two eyes.

One God many incarnations

The Lord also comes in different human forms at the same time for the convenience of people living in different places. Convenience[3] (saulabhya) is one of His divine qualities. Everything is possible by His super power called Maya. Parushurama and Rama were present in the same time. Vyasa and Krishna were present in the same time. Akkalkota Maharaj and Shirdi Sai Baba were present in the same time. In the same time He comes in different forms to preach at different levels, since the devotees in the same time are at different levels. Even His servants and disciples come down in various human bodies. He comes down fully along with His whole department. Many school teachers, lecturers, and readers are present in His department. He comes down as one Professor because there will be very few devotees, who have reached the topmost level. In some human bodies, only a ray of His energy enters and this is called a ‘Kala Avatara’ (e.g sage Vyasa). In other cases, a part of His energy enters a human body and this is called as an ‘Amsha Avatara’ (e.g. Kapila). When He enters a human body only for some time, it is called an ‘Avesha Avatara’ (e.g Parashurama). When He enters a human body and lives from birth to death in that body but only reveals Himself partially, then He is called as a ‘Purna Avatara’ (e.g. Lord Rama). When the Purna Avatara reveals Himself completely, He is called a ‘Pari Purna Avatara’ (e.g. Lord Krishna). Krishna is the Professor and His preaching is of the topmost level. It is called the Bhagavad Gita, which is the essence of all the Vedas.

We must remember that the human body of the Lord is not a modification of the Lord (the Lord does not get transformed into the body) and therefore the Lord can leave the body at the end (Avyaktam Vyakti Maapannam). Due to this reason, the body retains its natural properties like birth, death, hunger etc., and these properties do not touch the internal Lord. The internal Lord is the True Infinite Knowledge as said in the Veda (Satyam jnanam anantham). The Vedas are only His preaching (Asya mahato bhutasya, Vedaanta krut). The Vedas and the Gita are called as Shastras. Shastra means that which is spoken by the Lord (Tasmat shastram). Therefore, any human incarnation of the Lord at the professor-level, will definitely quote these Shastras as said in the Gita.

Scholars also may quote these Shastras but their preaching only results in a headache. The preaching of the Lord gives bliss in your heart since the Veda says that God is bliss (Aanando Brahma). Lord Shankara and Mandana Mishra argued for twenty one days. Both quoted the Shastras. But the knowledge of Shankara gave bliss not only to the audience but also to Mandana Mishra. Therefore, Shankara was considered to be the incarnation of Lord Shiva. Shankara entered the house of Mandana Mishra even though the doors were bolted from inside. He used His miraculous power since nobody opened the door in spite of His several calls. The incarnation has all the super powers but He uses them only when it is absolutely necessary. He does not exhibit His powers for fame or to attract people. If He were to do so, people would catch Him and press Him for granting them boons that they do not deserve. God gave His super powers even to the demons since the powers are like His jewels (which can be donated to anyone). However, the demons could not get His characteristic property, which is divine knowledge. Therefore, great sages did not accept the demons as God even though the demons exhibited several miracles.

Son of Atri and Anasuya

Datta means the Lord who has donated Himself to the devotees through the human body (Sattvam prakriti jaihi muktam). The devotee must be ‘Atri’ and ‘Anasuya’ (Lord Datta, in His first incarnation was born as the son of sage Atri and his wife Anasuya). You will become Atri when you get rid of the three types of ego:

  • Ego of knowledge
  • Ego of physical power
  • Ego of body, wealth etc.

You will become ‘Anasuya’ when you get rid of jealousy (asuya). Datta is not the name of any body. It is a general word, which indicates every human incarnation. The form of Datta is represented pictorially as having three heads, which indicate the three qualities: sattvam (goodness), rajas (activity) and tamas (ignorance), which indicate the ruling, creation and destruction of creation respectively. The six hands of the form indicate the six modifications of the body, which are existence, birth, growth, modification, reduction and destruction. All the three qualities always co-exist and any quality may become the main quality of a certain incarnation in a particular time. Even Rama, who is considered as the embodiment of sattvam, showed rajas when He was angry with sage Jabali, and showed tamas when He was running after the golden deer to satisfy His wife’s fancy. The Lord inside the body is beyond all these three qualities, which represent Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva respectively (Gunaateetah sa). The same cement used to build any other house is also used to build the palace of the king. Similarly, the body contains the same qualities, whether the Lord lives in it or an ordinary soul lives in it. The Lord is beyond these three qualities but the soul is only a composite of these three qualities as said in the Gita (Nanyam gunebhyah). The properties of the wire do not disappear when electricity enters it and therefore the electrified wire also looks like other wires. But the electrified wire gives the experience of the electricity through touch. Similarly, the human incarnation gives divine experiences. He does not like to be recognized by all human beings since He came only for His devotees who prayed for Him.

Another important reason for the natural state of His human body is that He donates Himself to His real devotees and undergoes the suffering of their sins. The body in which He suffers, should not be made divine by His super power. If it were divine, the suffering would not touch Him and then it amounts to deceiving the law of justice (dharma). Therefore, if you can remove your ego and jealousy towards the human form and purify your mind completely, you will become eligible to receive the divine knowledge (Jnana Yoga) which is revealed by the four great sentences of the Vedas and you will be able to recognize the human incarnation present in your generation.

Who are You?

The Gita says that the soul is a bundle of good and bad qualities (Sanghatah chetanaa dhritih). The soul is made of awareness, which is nothing but a special form of work (energy). This special work is produced by the interaction of inert matter and inert energy. Therefore, awareness or any quality must be inert because it is a product of two inert items. ‘Inert’ means that which is not independent. Therefore, the soul is not independent and is controlled by the Lord. The brain and the nervous system are inert matter. The energy produced by the digestion of food is again inert. When these inert matter and inert energy combine, a special work called awareness is produced. Work is a form of energy. Matter is also a form of energy. Therefore, the whole creation is energy. Since the Lord created this world it is called creation. The Veda and the Gita say that a very minute particle of the Lord is modified into the world (Paadosya vishva, Ekaamshena). Just one ray of the multi-million rays of the sun-like Lord is modified into this world. So this creation is very very negligible compared to the Lord. Hence Shankara called this creation as Mithya, which means non-existent (since it is negligible). But Ramanuja and Madhva recognized the existence of this world even though it is negligible. Therefore, all the theories of the three preachers are one and the same. The soul is a part of creation as said in the Gita (Prakritim viddhi me paraam).

The Advaita view

Shankara took the liberated soul as an example. The soul is like a water drop and the Lord is like the ocean. The water drop is qualitatively similar to the ocean since both are water. But the drop and the ocean differ quantitatively. This ocean (the Lord) exists in a particular water drop due to the inexplicable power of the Lord called Maya. Such a special drop is the Human Incarnation. In other water drops, the Lord does not exist. Shankara was such a special drop since He was an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Hence, Shankara swallowed molten lead and proved that He is different from other souls. Therefore, the Lord is different from the soul.

The Vishishtha Advaita view

Ramanuja says that a tiny drop of the ocean is modified into water vapor, which surrounds the ocean just as a body surrounds a soul. This vapor is the world and each individual soul is like a water drop existing in this world (i.e. each soul is a drop within a drop). The water drop is qualitatively similar to the ocean. But the water vapor, which is the inert part of the world, is quite different from the ocean. The similarity of the water drop with the ocean is only qualitative. Therefore, the soul is a part of the Lord. Several water drops combine to form the ocean. But one must remember that the water drop (soul) is present only in the vapor (inert creation) that surrounds the ocean. If the water drop is present in the ocean, it loses its identity and merges with the ocean. Therefore, the water drop never merges with the ocean.

The Dvaita view

Madhva says that the vapor is not the body of the Lord. It is like the shirt of the Lord. Therefore, the soul is a thread in the cloth. Hence, the soul is a particle of the water vapor and not a water drop. Therefore, the soul is different from the Lord both qualitatively and quantitatively. The particle of vapor is different from the ocean qualitatively and quantitatively. The soul in the theory of Madhva is not a part of the body of the Lord. The soul is completely different in all aspects and is only a servant of the Lord. The soul (jiva) is created by the Lord because as we see in Bhagavatam, Lord Krishna created the cows and cowboys. Therefore, the soul is not the Creator. The Gita also says that the soul is a part of creation and is called ‘para prakriti’. The Veda says that the soul is called as ‘sukshma shareera’ (Manomayah prana shareera neta).

God’s order is the cause of life in a body

The soul consists of very fine matter and energy. It contains the micro design of the entire body. It is a bundle of several good and bad qualities. It is just like a computer chip as said in the Gita (Kootasthah akshara ucchyate). The Gita says that no scientist can see this soul through any sophisticated equipment (Vimudaah naanu pashyanti). In this soul there is another internal micro-design called as the ‘kaarana shareera’ which is nothing but the order of the Lord. As long as the soul exists, all the systems in the body work due to the presence of soul but the root reason is the order of the Lord which is present in the soul. It appears as if the soul is controlling all the systems and that the body is alive due to the presence of the soul. But the truth is that the body is alive and all the systems in the body are working due to the order of the Lord, which is internally present in the soul. When a lens is shining, it is due to the light of the sun. The lens shines and it also lights some other inert object, which is near to it. Similarly, the soul seems to be the cause of the functioning of all the systems in the body to make the body alive. But the capacity of the soul to do so is only due to the internal order of the Lord. The lens is not shining by itself. It is shining only due to the rays of the sun. The capacity of the lens to light up the nearby inert object is only due to sun.

Thus the soul resembles the Lord but also differs from the Lord. In describing the soul, the Lord is partly described due to the similarity. But the description of the soul does not give the complete description of the Lord. The lens is shining and is lighting the other object. This is its similarity with the sun. By this we can understand that the sun also shines like the lens and that the sun also lights up other objects like the lens. This is the common aspect between the Lord and the soul. This is called ‘Atma Jnana’ which means the knowledge of the common aspect. The word Atma is common in both Paramatma (Lord) and Jivatma (soul). However, by this description, the Lord is not completely described. The soul stands as a representative of the Lord to give a part of the knowledge of the Lord. This is the reason why the Lord describes the soul in the second chapter of the Gita. The other part of the knowledge of the Lord cannot be given by the description of the soul (Uttamah purushah). The lens does not shine by itself, whereas the sun shines by itself. The knowledge of this difference cannot be given to you through the description of the lens. This part of the knowledge is given in the latter chapters of the Gita.

When the soul comes out of the body, the body cannot be alive because the systems do not function. The credit of keeping the person alive goes to the order of the Lord, which is internally present in the soul. The body cannot remain alive even if you supply any type of power to the body. This shows that the inert body as well as the soul are both under the control of the Lord alone. The soul cannot stay in the body forever even if it desires because the soul has to leave the body according to the internal order of the Lord. Even when a system in the body is troubled, the soul cannot rectify it. Only a doctor can rectify it provided the order of the Lord permits it. This is the reason why every treatment of the doctor is not successful. Sometimes even without the treatment of doctor the troubled system is rectified by the will of the Lord.

Important differences in spite of similarities

In deep sleep, the work of thinking is not done by a person. When one awakens from a deep sleep he feels happy due to this part of stored (saved) energy, which was not spent in thinking. Advaita philosophers think that the Lord present in the body achieved happiness in deep sleep. By this they think that the soul is the Lord[4]. Scientifically, such a theory is completely wrong. The Gita also clearly says that the soul is different from the Lord (Yasmaat ksharam ateeto’ham). Even the Brahma Sutras establish this difference (Anupapattheh na shaareerah). Therefore, the scriptures are scientific.

The Advaita philosopher neither understands these scriptures nor science. He does not even understand Shankara, who alone swallowed the molten lead and not His disciples. Let him (the modern Advaita philosopher) swallow molten lead like Shankara and prove that he is a human incarnation. In the case of the human incarnation, the soul in the body is the Lord Himself. A king lives in a house. A beggar lives in another house. Both the king and the beggar are human beings. This is the qualitative similarity. They differ in their capacities, which is a quantitative difference. The houses of both the king and beggar are constructed by the same bricks and cement. The king and the beggar are both human beings. Do these similarities make the beggar the king? Similarly, the human bodies of both Shankara and His disciple are made of the same five elements. Both the souls have the quality of awareness. Does this similarity make the disciple equal to Shankara? If both were equal, why could the disciple not swallow the molten lead? Therefore, apart from the similarity, there is a difference in capacity. In the body of Shankara, the Lord was present. In the body of the disciple, a soul was present. That soul along with its body and the body of Shankara are all under the control of the Lord, who is present only in the body of Shankara. The soul in the body of the disciple is as if made of cement and bricks and is a statue. The soul in the body of Shankara is completely different and is even beyond logic and imagination. The awareness of the soul in the body of the disciple is only due to the will of the Lord.

A ray of the awareness of the Lord has entered the soul and that is what makes the soul aware. The lens is only an inert object. A ray of the sun entered the lens and therefore it shines with light. The sun is a concentrated source of light and the sun can be called as light itself. Here we can understand all the three theories:

  • The lens, which is looking like a spot of light, is the light itself. This is the theory of Shankara.
  • The lens is a part of the sun. This is the theory of Ramanuja.
  • The lens is not the light at all but it is an inert [non-luminous] object. This is the theory of Madhva.

The scientist treats the soul as a computer, which is working with several microprocessors simultaneously so that the human being is able to grasp all the characteristics of a perceived object at a time. But the human being cannot be kept alive with the help of any type of external power when the soul quits the body. Therefore the scientist has to accept the control of the body through the soul. This control is the will of the Lord, which is present in the soul itself as an internal micro-design acting as the order of the Lord. At this point the scientist has to accept the Lord.

Death and afterworlds

As soon as the soul comes out of the body, it is enquired for ten days by the Lord in Preta Loka (the world of the dead), which is a sub-world of Bhu Loka. Bhu Loka consists of four sub divisions i.e., Martya Loka (the world in which we live), Preta Loka (world of the dead), Naraka Loka (hell) and Pitru Loka (world of ancestors; where people who have committed mixed actions are sent). Above the Bhu Loka, there is the Bhuvar Loka (also called Dyu Loka or Jyotir Loka). Above it is Suvar Loka, which is heaven. After the enquiry, a soul that has committed bad deeds, goes to Naraka Loka (hell). For mixed deeds one goes to Pitru Loka. For good deeds one goes to Bhuvar Loka. For even better deeds one goes to Suvar Loka. As soon as the soul comes out of the body (after death in Martya Loka) it attains an energetic body called ‘Bhoga Shareera’ (body of enjoyment) or ‘Yatana Shareera’ (body of pain), in which the soul has to enjoy or suffer the results of its deeds. This energetic body is similar to the present gross body and results due to the internal design of the soul. If the soul is not able to leave the bond with its physical earthly body, the soul is covered by a ‘Dhuma Shareera’ or a ‘body of smoke’. Such a state is called the state of a ghost (pishacha). For some time the ghost will wander in this world (Martya Loka) itself.

Food for the dead or karmaphala tyaga?

When the soul goes to hell, food is prohibited. When the soul goes to Pitru Loka somarasa (juice of moon) is the food. When the soul goes to Dyu Loka, food is not required. When the soul goes to Suvar Loka, divine nectar (Amritam) is the food. Thus, Lord arranges for food for all the souls and there is no need of supply of food from this place. Even if a person is jailed, the government supplies him with food. Therefore, realized souls never desire for the ceremonies to be performed after their death[5]. They do not require their issues (sons) to perform such ceremonies because they have realized the truth. The hymns read in these ceremonies are only prayers to the Lord, to protect the soul in the upper worlds. The upper worlds are called bhoga lokas, which mean that one can only enjoy the results but one cannot do any new work (karma). The donation of food and money performed in the ceremonies is only karma phala tyaga (sacrifice of the fruit of the work) as preached in the Gita[6]. But such sacrifice should be done only to a deserving person. If one donates to an undeserving person, the donation will bring additional sin to the departed soul as well as to the person who performed that ceremony here. Not donating to the deserving person and donating to the undeserving person, both are sins as said in the Mahabharata by Vidura. Therefore, the Gita says that one should get the grace of the Lord here itself while one is alive (Uddharet aatmana). In the spiritual field, one should not depend on anyone else. After your death, your sons are in a mood of grief and they cannot search for a deserving person to donate. During these ceremonies nowadays, the priests are chanting Vedic hymns without even knowing their meaning. When the meaning is not known, how can the feeling of prayer come? Reciting like a tape recorder does not serve the purpose. The Veda itself means ‘Knowledge’ and the Shastras (other scriptures) say that mere recitation is the worst (Anarthajnah…Paatakaadhamah).

The best and most deserving person is the Lord in human form. The next most deserving person is a perfect devotee. The next deserving person is a poor man. But in case of a poor man, after donation you must preach divine knowledge to him and turn him into a devotee. Without doing this, if you simply donate to him as social service, you are interfering with the punishment given by God to him, for his internal change. The poor man has been given the punishment of poverty as a result of his past bad deeds; with the expectation that he will change and turn to God. The Gita calls all this (above discussion of the soul’s fate after death) as Pitruyaanam, which is the path of all the ordinary human beings. This is the normal cycle of the world.

The Gita talks about the second divine cycle, which is called Devayaanam. In this divine path, one becomes the servant of the Lord who has come down in human form and he participates in the divine mission of the Lord as a servant. Such a person becomes a divine soul and travels in the path of Devayaanam. In this path, the soul after leaving this world (Martya Loka) will not go to Preta Loka. A highly energetic body called ‘Divya Shareera’ (body of light) will surround the soul. As a servant of the Lord, he is not enquired in Preta Loka and his file is closed. He directly goes to the world of the Lord called Brahma Loka. He will continue to take divine births along with the Lord as a servant on this earth from time to time. He has no agony of birth and death just like the Lord, and his life is full of bliss as in the case of the human incarnation. He gets all the super powers of the Lord (ashta siddhis) except the one topmost super power—the power of creation, ruling and destruction of this world. This is said at the end of the Brahma Sutras. The Gita explains both these ways namely the Pitruyaanam and the Devayaanam (Shukla krishna gatee).

How to Please God?

Reaching and seeing God is not important. Even demons have seen God very closely but they were destroyed finally because God was not really pleased with them. These demons did penance and got boons by force. Their penance was only chanting the name of God and meditation. So they sacrificed only words and mind. They never sacrificed anything practically by participating in the mission of the Lord. Therefore, people who want to get boons from the Lord just by sacrificing words and mind are by no means different from demons. Today, people are sacrificing only words and mind and sometimes even their tears. These words, mind and tears cannot be sold in the market even for a single penny. The people who sacrifice their work and the fruit of their work (money) for the sake of God and do not aspire for anything in return, are angels and sages. A man who lies in between these two stages, sacrifices practically but sometimes asks for selfish boons when an emergency arises. The sacrifice of the fruit of work is also the sacrifice of work because the fruit of work is a different form of the work itself. Therefore, both these come under ‘sacrifice of work’. In the Gita, the sacrifice of work is called as Karma Samnyasa Yoga and the sacrifice of the fruit of work is called Karma Phala Tyaga Yoga. Since both only mean the sacrifice of work, both put together is called ‘karma yoga’ or ‘service to God’.

Karma yoga

A saint (celibate monk) does only karma samnyasa since he does not store the fruit of any work done by him. A rich householder, who has earned money by doing work, sacrifices the fruit of his work (money) and this is called karma phala tyaga. Both the saint and the householder are called yogis and their sacrifice is called karma yoga. There is a possibility of the rich householder doing karma samnyasa also but there is no possibility of the saint doing karma phala tyaga[7]. Hanuman was a saint, who always did karma samnyasa for the sake of the Lord. The Gopikas (milkmaids of Vrindavan) could not participate in the mission of the Lord because there was no such opportunity. They sacrificed the fruit of all their work i.e., butter, to the Lord. Hanuman got the highest position i.e., the post of the future Creator. The Gopikas entered the sixteenth uppermost world called ‘Goloka’, created by the Lord especially for them. This is the essence of the epics, Ramayana and Bhagavatam, from the point of a person who is putting spiritual effort to please the Lord. One should not merely go by the stories of these epics, like a child. One should try to understand Hanuman in the Ramayana and the Gopikas in the Bhagavatam. Such understanding will help one in his spiritual effort.

Lower than these two epics, which show ideal devotion, is the epic Mahabharatam. In the Mahabharatam, Arjuna wanted to use the Lord for re-gaining his kingdom in the battlefield. Arjuna is called Nara or a human being. Today every man is trying to use the Lord to achieve his selfish ends and nobody has real love (bhakti) for the Lord. Arjuna wanted to turn back from the war because he did not want to kill his kith and kin. Again here his selfishness is completely reflected. But Lord Krishna turned him into real devotee like Hanuman and the Gopikas by preaching the Bhagavad Gita to him. The Lord asked Arjuna to become His servant and fight against injustice because the destruction of injustice was His (Lord Krishna’s) mission. The Lord asked Arjuna to fight against the evil people as participation in God’s work and not for the sake of enjoying his kingdom. By participating in the war with this angle, Arjuna did karma samnyasa in helping the Lord destroy injustice. Since his aim was only the aim of the Lord, the fruit of the war, which is the kingdom, was also not on his mind. Thus, he indeed did karma phala tyaga. The fruit of the war i.e., establishing justice, went to the Lord alone; Arjuna did not fight selfishly for his kingdom.

The Valmiki Ramayanam is the only authority for learning about Hanuman. According to it, Hanuman never did any sacrifice of words (prayers, singing songs etc.,) or sacrifice of mind (meditation etc.). He never went to any temple and never worshipped any statue. He always participated in the work of the Lord because that was the necessity of the Lord at that time. The Gopikas danced with Lord Krishna and were singing songs in His praise because there was no necessity of work in the mission of the Lord at that time. But the Gopikas sacrificed the fruit of their work to Lord Krishna. Therefore, Hanuman sacrificed work and the Gopikas sacrificed the fruit of their work. Hanuman and the Gopikas should be the examples for anybody who is putting spiritual effort to please the Lord.

Cheating God

A prostitute sacrifices sweet words and feelings of the mind for getting money. But she does it for meeting her minimum requirements, so it is justified. But today people who already have enough money to satisfy their minimum needs are trying to please the Lord through sweet words and sweet feelings of mind (devotion) to get extra benefits from the Lord. These devotees are called as divine prostitutes and can never be excused by the Lord. One can please a person, who is either ignorant or has less knowledge, by such false behavior. But no one can please the Lord who has the fullest knowledge (Sarvajna) in this way. If any one tries to please the Lord by the sacrifice of words and mind alone, such a person is blind. These people are made blind by fraud preachers who exploit their ignorance and natural ambition. The people, who follow such fraud preachers, lose time here (in this world) and the fraud preachers will be punished later. These fraud teachers encourage these innocent people and even make them do karma phala tyaga. These innocent people are advised to spend a hundred rupees in order to get one lakh (hundred thousand) rupees from God. Unfortunately, a part of the hundred rupees that they spend in the name of God, is wasted in purchasing some unnecessary materials and the fraud preachers steal the other part.[8] Such a sacrifice of the fruit of work cannot be real karma phala tyaga. It is just like a patient going to a fraud doctor and losing money and time without any reduction in his illness. Sometimes the illness may even increase!

When you worship God in this way, the Lord only gives you the fruits of your own good actions, which you were supposed to receive in future life cycle. The fruit of good work from your future birth is drawn to this birth like the pre-mature encashment of a bank deposit. You think that you have attained a large fruit of some good work, which you have not done, just by spending a hundred rupees. In fact, you are getting rid of the present trouble only because the Lord is pushing this trouble to the future birth with added interest. By this, your future life cycles become miserable and full of troubles from birth to death. Do you not see such people in the world? They blame the Lord for giving them such a miserable life but they do not know that they had pressed the Lord for this in their previous births.

Just see this wonderful world and imagine the intelligence of the Lord. Nobody including your fraud teacher can fool God. Therefore, the present tradition of blind preachers and blind followers is finally leading people only to everlasting fire. Therefore, it is better to know the true path, which is established by the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita. It is better to take at least one step on the true path because the distance from the goal is reduced by at least one step. What is the use of taking a hundred steps on the false path by which you will move away from the goal by a hundred steps? The only true path is the one shown by Hanuman and the Gopikas i.e., karma yoga (karma samnyasa and karma phala tyaga put together), which is emphasized everywhere in the Gita.

The value of your words and mind is only two paise.[9] The value of practical action is a hundred paise. If you do the sacrifice of any of these three (words, mind and action) without aspiring for anything in return, you will get the fruit from God according to the corresponding values. If you praise the Lord without aspiring for anything in return, the Lord will praise you by His sweet voice. If you meditate upon the Lord without aspiring for anything in return, the Lord will love you with His sweet heart. If you serve the Lord practically without aspiring for anything in return, the Lord also gives the fruit to you in the same practical way. Hanuman simply participated in the work of the Lord. He was given the highest post [of the future Creator], which is a practically real fruit. The Gita says that He will approach you in the same way as you approach Him (Ye yatha maam). The Gopikas sacrificed the fruit of their work and they were given the highest Goloka (highest heaven). In these examples, sacrifice done was without aspiring for anything in return from the Lord. Such sacrifice is called ‘nishkama karma yoga’. If you do the same sacrifice, aspiring for some fruit in return, you will also get proportionate results here. But the results will be the fruits of your own good deeds, which you were supposed to enjoy in the future life cycles.

The correct use of one’s energy in life

You are like an inverter (an emergency backup power supply) with limited energy and limited working time. You can use that limited electricity to run the essential fan and light bulb in your house. The remaining current can be used for the temple (mission of God). This is the stage of saints (monks). The next stage is that apart from the essential fan and lightbulb, you can use some current for watching the television for a little time only. The remaining current is then given to the temple. This is the stage of a householder. If one does not give any current to the temple and uses the inverter entirely for his house and spends all the current for not just the essential fan and lightbulb but also for watching television throughout the night, then it is the state of the demon. Thus, a saint needs minimum for his own sake and uses all the rest of his energy for God’s work. A householder uses the minimum and also a little extra for his own enjoyment in the world, but spends the remaining energy for God. A demon spends all his energy only for enjoyment in the world and never thinks about the Lord. The Gita explains these three types as angels, human beings and devils.

Now even when you spend part of the current for the temple, you must spend it only for the necessary work in the temple. Suppose the temple needs the current for a bulb to be lit throughout the night. You should not divert the current for moving a fan near the statue, which is unnecessary (since a statue is inert and does not need a fan). Similarly, when you approach God in human form, you must participate in His work, which is essential at that time. When Rama was busy searching for Sita, Hanuman left Rama in search of Sita. He did not sit near Rama doing prayers, singing songs, meditating etc.  He did not do any personal service to Lord Rama. In fact, Sugriva was near Rama and did His personal service. Yet Lord Rama gave the post of the future Creator to Hanuman and not to Sugriva. The work on which Rama was concentrating was more important than His personal service. Getting Sita back was not Lord Rama’s personal work because through this work He killed Ravana and gave peace to the world. Therefore, it might look like personal work but it was actually work done for the benefit of the world. Hanuman never misunderstood it to be Lord Rama’s personal work. If an ordinary monkey were in the place of Hanuman (who had the form of a monkey) it would think like this “I have remained a bachelor without getting married and instead of looking for a wife for myself, why should I spend my energy in searching for Rama’s wife?” Hanuman never thought like that because He was a scholar. But an ordinary monkey cannot think like Hanuman. Therefore, Rama left Sita after killing Ravana so that such a misunderstanding would not arise.[10]

Karma yoga for God or family?

Yoga means catching the Lord in human form, who comes to earth in every human generation. Karma yoga means the service done to the Lord in such a human form. Hanuman and the Gopikas did service only to the Lord in human form, who came in their respective generations. The Gopikas did not worship the statue of Lord Rama, who was the previous human incarnation. Hanuman did not worship the statue of Parushurama or Vamana who were previous incarnations. Hanuman and the Gopikas also did not worship the statues of Vishnu, Shiva etc., who are the energetic forms of the Lord in the upper-worlds. Therefore, you must study Hanuman and the Gopikas from all angles so that you get benefited in your spiritual effort. You must observe whom they worshipped and how they worshipped. Hanuman and the Gopikas never worshipped the formless God. They never went to any temple.

You are giving real love to your family, which is like the sacred milk of a cow. This real love includes practical sacrifice of your work and the fruit of your work. But you are showing artificial love to God by sacrificing mere words and mind to the Lord in order to get some practical benefit from Him. Such artificial love is like the impure milk of a donkey. You are insulting the Lord by giving a pot of donkey-milk. Instead of this, you should try to give at least a spoonful of pure cow-milk out of the potful that you give to your family. If you cannot give even a spoonful of pure love to God, at least don’t give impure love. Even if you cannot respect the Lord, at least don’t insult Him. You never sacrifice mere words and mind for the sake of your children. You always sacrifice work and the fruit of work for their sake. Similarly, you never sacrifice work or the fruit of work to God. You sacrifice only words and mind to God. In the case of your children you are doing karma samnyasa (dressing them up, taking them to school etc.,) and karma phala tyaga (giving food, medicines, money and you’re your entire property). Therefore, you are doing real karma yoga only for your family and not for the Lord.

Serve the world or serve God?

Some people think “Since the mission of the Lord is only to serve this world, why should I not do the same in my name?” This question comes to the mind of any human being. Why should God get fame from my work and my money? King Satrajit thought like this when Lord Krishna asked Satrajit to give Him the divine gem, which Satrajith had got from the Sun-God. The divine gem yielded a lot of gold everyday. Satrajit was doing a lot of charity with that gold. So he did not give the gem to Lord Krishna. However, later he lost the gem and his brother was killed due to that gem. Finally he gave the gem to Lord Krishna. What is the inner meaning of this story? The gem actually belonged to Lord Krishna. The Veda says that the entire world is the wealth of the Lord. So the gem is a part of the wealth of Lord Krishna. Actually Satrajit was getting fame by doing charity with the wealth of the Lord. Thus, when one understands the truth, the case is quite the reverse. Here your sacrifice and service to the world are not important at all. Even without your sacrifice, the Lord can uplift the world just by His will. The important point here is your complete surrender and your complete sacrifice to the Lord.

The financial help, done as charity to poor people, is only a secondary aspect. The propagation of divine knowledge and devotion is the primary aspect. In a college, both day scholars and hostellers (residential students) are taught in the classes equally. For the students who come from out-of-town are provided with the facility of boarding and lodging in the hostels. This hostel facility is only a secondary facility. Teaching in the classes is the primary aspect. Similarly, the divine knowledge and devotion must be propagated to all people rich and poor alike. Apart from that work, the poor people may be helped financially. The hostel facility is provided only for an out-of-town student and not for every student. Similarly, the financial help to the poor people must be done only in association with the propagation of knowledge and devotion.

Attachment and service

You cannot say that it is impossible to do practical service, which is the sacrifice of work and the fruit of work without aspiring for anything in return. You are already doing the same in the case of your children. You are doing service to them without aspiring for anything in return from them. When they grow up they even insult you, but you still give all your property to them alone. But in the case of God, you are not showing even a drop of such true love to God through practical service. The Lord is not even a fraction of your child [in term of importance to you]!

There are three strong bonds for humans:

  1. Bond between wife and husband
  2. Bond with children
  3. Bond with money (fruit of work).

The bonds with money and children are interrelated because you are earning more and more money even by sinful means only for the sake of your children. Dhritarashtra wanted the kingdom for his children alone even though it was injustice. The Lord broke that bond by killing his children to punish him. Thus, injustice is punished in the world. However, Lord Krishna also broke the bonds of the Pandavas with their children even though the Pandavas were fair and just. All the sons of the Pandavas got killed [in the war] by the will of Lord Krishna. One has to break even justified bonds for the sake of the Lord. The Gopikas did not give the fruit of their work (butter) even to their children; they gave it only to the Lord. The Pandavas on the other hand, fought in the war to get back their kingdom so that it could be given to their children and not to the Lord. Even though that was justified, the Pandavas were attached to their children. Therefore, the Lord broke those bonds so that Pandavas can be diverted to Him completely. In the case of the Gopikas the bonds with their children were already broken because they had sacrificed the fruit of all their work only to the Lord and not to their children. Unless all the bonds are broken one cannot form the only real bond with the Lord. The bond with one’s children is the strongest of all the bonds and if that bond is broken, all the other bonds are broken. If the bond with money is broken, it means that the bond with one’s children is actually broken because one commits so many sins[11] only to give wealth to his children.

(To be continued...)

[1] If each person is already God, then there would be no need of spiritual effort for human beings.

[2] Not only has God (electricity) left the physical bodies (wire) of the past human incarnations, but even those physical bodies are not present today.

[3] Convenience is used in the sense of easy approachability.

[4] The Adviata philosophers consider the state of deep sleep to be useful in understanding the inherent nature of the soul. In other states like the dream state or the waking state, the inherent nature of the soul is perturbed by thoughts and emotions, making it difficult to ascertain the soul’s inherent nature. Since the process of thinking is not functioning during deep sleep but the person remains alive, it means that the soul alone exists in its inherent state while the mind (thinking) is absorbed into the soul. The fact that upon waking up one feels happy, indicates that the soul, which was in its inherent state, was happy and that the inherent nature of the soul is of happiness. The feeling of happiness upon waking up is a residual effect of the soul being in its inherent state of happiness. Thus, the state of deep sleep is characterized by the lack of thinking/knowing and happiness. The Advaita philosophers use these two points regarding the inherent nature of the soul to claim that the soul is God because the Veda says that Brahman (God) is beyond the mind and intellect and is of the nature of bliss. This however, is a complete misunderstanding. The soul is actually not beyond the mind and intellect at all. The soul is awareness. It can be scientifically analyzed. Neither is the soul of the inherent nature of bliss. Happiness or bliss is one of the several emotions that can exist in awareness. The Vedic statement declaring that God is of the nature of bliss indicates that God obtains bliss through all the qualities (good and bad) manifested in the world. God’s inherent nature is truly beyond the mind and intellect and cannot be analyzed by us even with the help of science or instruments.

[5] The scriptures require every person to perform certain rituals for the sake of their dead ancestors (especially parents). In these ceremonies, food is offered to the ancestors and later food is served to the priest and other invitees. It is said that if this food is not offered, the dead ancestors will starve in the after world.

[6] This means that the food offered to the ancestors as part of the ritual is not consumed by the ancestors. However, the food offered to the priest and the other invitees is consumed by them. In reality, the ritual is being done only to encourage the donation of food to the deserving learned person (priest), who preaches divine knowledge to the host.

[7] Celibate monks (saints) neither earn money nor store money with them. Their basic needs are borne by society. They are traditionally required to beg for alms and it the highest duty for householders to donate food and essential items to them. Since they do not have a family and they do not need to earn their living, they can spend all their efforts for doing God’s service (karma samnyasa).

[8] The false preachers advise the ignorant devotees to worship idols and statues with rituals involving the purchase of costly but useless materials.

[9] 100 paise = 1 rupee.

[10] He did this to demonstrate that He was not attached to Sita and that rescuing her was not His personal work but was a means to destroy the evil Ravana and bring peace to humanity.

[11] People want to earn more and more money and in the process they commit a number of sins such as corruption. They want to earn and store this money only for the sake of their children.