Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 24 Nov 2018


Swami answers devotee's questions

Discourse Podcast


How can I maintain undistracted brahmacarya on the spiritual path?

Shri Sriraag asked: Namaste Swamiji, I have been following some sadhana for few years now with a resultant experience of ananda. My mind has been vacillating with the desire to follow brahmacharya throughout my life (I am 23 years old now). While I have to admit that I have failed in keeping up this ideal in the past year, I wish to regain my purity somehow and keep my mind on the Divine throughout my life.

Kindly give your guidance regarding effective means of maintain brahmacharya and not getting distracted on the path to God. Deepest gratitude for answering our questions. Pranaam. Sriraag

Swami replied: Sage Narada asked God Brahma “Who is the unshaken celibate (Brahmachaarii) in this world?”. God Brahma replied that Shri Krishna is such a celibate. How is this possible, when Krishna had married one thousand six hundred princesses?

A Brahmachaarii is commonly understood to be a celibate. Celibacy only means the avoidance of sex. But the actual meaning of Brahmacharya is far beyond celibacy. The correct meaning of the word Brahmacharya can be derived in two ways. The first way is Brahmanah Vedasya charyaa Jnaanam iti. We split the word Brahmacharya into brahma and charya. Here, the word Brahma is taken to mean the Veda. Brahma or Brahman can be used to indicate anything that is the ‘greatest’ in its category. The Veda being the greatest among scriptures has been said to be Brahma in the Gita (Brahmaakshaara samudbhavam). Charyaa means movement. But in Sanskrit, verbs indicating movement also mean knowledge (Gatyarthaanaam dhaatuunaam jnaanaarthakatvaat). So here, Charyaa means possessing the true spiritual knowledge. Now putting the meanings of brahma and charyaa together, the meaning of Brahmacharya is acquiring and subsequently possessing spiritual knowledge.

The second way of deriving the meaning of the word Brahmacharya is Brahmanah paramaatmanah charyaa Kriyaatmakasevaa Jnaana prachaararuupena iti. Here Brahma means God. Charyaa means practical service by propagating true spiritual knowledge. So, Brahmacharya means serving God by propagating true spiritual knowledge. Krishna was a Brahmachaarii based on both the above definitions of the word Brahmacharya. He possessed true spiritual knowledge and He also propagated it through the Gita. Since the Gita is the best spiritual knowledge, Krishna is called the real unshaken celibate (Brahmachaarii).

It is a misunderstanding to think that avoiding sex is Brahmacharya. Eating food, drinking water, sex and sleep are the biological needs of the material body, which have no connection with real Brahmacharya. As long as the biological needs are met without disturbing basic rules of justice (pravrutti), Brahmacharya is unrelated to these biological needs. If one is engaged in God’s work, such a devotee is the real celibate. Thus, we should understand the true meaning of the terms used in spiritual knowledge and proceed practically on the correct path in our spiritual journey.

How can we be responsible for our deeds when the planets influence our minds?

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Shri Parikshit, a lawyer from Delhi asked (on the phone): Are the planets not influencing our minds to do good or bad deeds? The planets have Lordships of houses like wealth, house, issues, wife, job etc., and also have natures (Kaaraka) like knowledge, work, wife, children etc., when their periods come it is said that they influence these aspects. Then, our works are destined by the planets and we shall not receive punishments for our sins done by us due their influence, which is the destiny.

Swami replied: We are doing good deeds or bad deeds based on our own inherent nature. This is stated repeatedly in the Gita as “prakrutim yaanti bhuutaani..., prakrutistvaam niyokshyati..., Prakruteh kriyamanaani, gunaih karmaani..., kaaranam gunasangosya...” and so on. God and the planets are neither the doers of our deeds nor do they influence our deeds. They also never give any fruit to us unless we perform the corresponding deed (Na kartrutvam na karmaani…—Gita). Our nature depends on our qualities which we have picked up from our surroundings in this birth or carried forward from our previous births. The planets are only giving us the fruits of our own deeds. The fruits have been arranged in a regular cyclic fashion by God so that we receive some good fruit followed by some bad fruit of our own actions alternately. This alternate arrangement is done so that we can get maximum enjoyment from life. Enjoying only good fruits i.e. pleasant experiences; one after the other, will lead to boredom. Similarly, experiencing the bad fruits of our actions i.e. difficulties in life; one after the other, will lead to depression. The alternate arrangement provides maximum enjoyment like enjoying a full meal in which one eats sweet and hot dishes alternately. As per our acquired natures, we are born in zodiac signs, whose Lords have a similar nature. Note that we are not referring to the inert planet. We are referring to the nature of its Lord or presiding deity, who is known by the same name as the planet. For example, the Lord of the inert planet, Mars, has a hot and angry nature. So, souls of a similar nature are born in the zodiac signs, Aries or Scorpio, which are ruled by Mars. It is very important to understand that Mars does not induce anger into the soul but the angry soul is born in the zodiac sign ruled by Mars. Hence, our natures are not influenced by the planets. We are merely born in the zodiac signs ruled by the planets having a similar nature. The different astrological periods (dashaas) are the times when we are supposed to receive the fruits of our deeds as arranged by God in our life.

Destiny means that you must receive the fruit of your deed at the appropriate time as decided by God. You can never escape it. You are destined to receive the fruits as per the constitution of God. But the concept of destiny is confined to enjoying the fruits of your deeds. It does not extend to your performing the deeds. You perform the deeds only as per your qualities, which make up your nature. If you kill some person and state in the court that you have killed him due to the influence of certain planets on you, will the judge be satisfied? The judge will say that you are receiving the punishment for your crime based on the influence of the same planets! People often exploit spiritual concepts. For example, some say that every incident happening in this world is destined since it happens only by the will of God. Then the judge will say that he too is giving you the punishment for your crime based on the same will of God!

God is responsible for every deed in the sense of supplying the energy required for the deed. He is not responsible for the direction of the deed, which alone decides the fruit. Electrical energy is supplied to your house by the government expecting that you will use it for good purposes like putting on lights and fans. If you misuse the electricity or if you put your fingers in the plug point, you will receive a shock. The government is not responsible for the electric shock, and will not compensate you for the damage! God is like to horse that carries you from one place to the other. But the direction of your journey is decided only by you, and the fruit, which depends on the direction taken, shall also be enjoyed by you alone. If you go to the forest, robbers will rob your money. If you go to another city where your relatives and friends live, you will be received by them with pleasure. The horse that takes you either to the forest or the city as per your direction, is not responsible for the fruits that you receive. The meaning of the Vedic statement “Abadhnan purusham pashum is that the souls have bound God to their deeds, as a horse is bound to a cart for a journey. Binding the horse to the cart does not mean that the horse is responsible for the direction taken by the cart. The driver of the cart, which is the soul, alone is responsible for the direction.

Swami Vivekananda said that you can change your destiny and that destiny is in your hands alone. This means that you can stop the chain of punishments for your sins provided you put forth the effort to undergo reformation. Reformation has three steps. The first is intellectual and it involves gaining spiritual knowledge and digesting it fully. It naturally leads to the second emotional step which is the repentance for one’s wrong deeds in the past. Finally, the third and final practical step is the non-repetition of the sinful deeds throughout one’s life. The third practical step proves that one has actually reformed. If the spiritual knowledge is gained and properly digested, repentance and non-repetition of the sin are natural consequences. The digestion of spiritual knowledge does not take place simply by gaining it. After gaining it, you have to propagate it in the world. This repeated propagation confirms and strengthens the concepts in your mind resulting in their digestion and assimilation by your soul. i.e. they become part of your inherent nature. Swami Vivekananda made this statement from his own experience. He was involved in the propagation of the true spiritual knowledge preached by Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa throughout His life!

Why am I not able to recognize and love You like the Gopikas?

Discourse Podcast


Shri Bharat Bandi asked: Namahshivaya Shri Datta Swamy. I am Bharath Krishna, MTech student from Amrita University, Coimbatore. I am a student of Dr Nikhil sir who is your devotee. He has been guiding myself and another student in understanding all your discourses. We have been reading all your discourses till Divine Discourses-6. Swamy most of my life I knew God existed but nobody gave me the right definition of God so I behaved as an atheist. After seeing so much pain in people's life I have concluded that God created this world but he doesn't care about us. So, I thought I will gain power and do the Justice. This changed after meeting my beloved sadguru AMMA (Shri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi). I learnt about God from one of her disciples and finally understood what god is. After learning more about God from your Discourses I have changed completely.

I have always considered that you are responsible for all the pain that I have gone through in my life. Now I have very well understood that without that pain I would have been with very bad character. Thank you very much for whatever you gave me in life but I have one doubt left which is disturbing me continuously. I have learnt from you that Gopikas got liberated because they showed perfect devotion. I also should have existed that time. Why was I not able to recognize you and why am I not able to love you? You have created all of us when you created this world. You told that everyone had perfect knowledge during the initial days of creation and everyone was happy. If the knowledge was perfect then they should have got liberated that time itself. If they are liberated they will have ananda even while they suffer but it is not the case.

I got this doubt because gopikas got liberation 5000 years back but I didn't. That means you created all of us different. If you have created all of us in a similar way then all of us should have got liberated at once. Swamy I myself know that I am missing something in this. I am asking all this because of my Ignorance. Please forgive me and enlighten me with your answer. I can't sleep because of this doubt of mine and that's why I had to ask. It is hindering my progress in the spiritual path. I desperately want to know where I have mistaken. Padabhi Vandanam Datta Swamy.

Swami replied: Gopi means the soul which hides its love for God from the surrounding worldly atmosphere, in case it opposes the soul in its spiritual efforts. You have worldly bonds with your family members and relatives. These people expect you to love them since their love for you is based on the happiness that you give to them. This is clearly told in the Veda (Aatmanah kaamaaya sarvam priyam bhavati). It means that the people with whom you have worldly bonds, love you only for the sake of their own happiness, which they derive from you. Naturally, they fear your love for God. They are afraid that your love for God might, in some way, damage or reduce your love for them, which would result in a reduction of the happiness they derive from you. It is a natural tendency of any human being.

A newly-married devotee used to attend the spiritual gospels (satsanga) delivered by Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. As a result, he would return home to his wife late in the night. His wife started objecting to his coming home late. The wife’s objections became more and more severe as time passed, leaving the devotee worried. Finally, the worried devotee reported this matter to Paramahamsa while Paramahamsa was walking up to Panchavati, the place where He meditated upon God. Paramahamsa’s ascending to Panchavati indicates His moving from the world to God. He immediately replied to the devotee plainly “Then, leave your wife”. The devotee stood there dumb-struck and waited till Paramahamsa returned from Panchavati. Paramahamsa’s descent from Panchavati indicates His returning from God to the world. This time Paramahamsa listened to the devotee’s problem, patted him on his back and said to him that He had already told this problem to the Divine Mother and that it would be solved. True to the words of Paramahamsa, the devotee’s problem got resolved.

The internal essence is that you have to reject worldly bonds for the sake of God if necessary, as the last resort. One day, Paramahamsa was killing bedbugs while sitting on His cot. A devotee saw this and asked Him if it was not a sin to kill living beings. Paramahamsa told him that the bedbugs were disturbing Him while He was sitting on the cot for meditating on God. He also said that He would commit any sin for the sake of God. This shows that God is the highest goal; greater than anything and anybody (Na tatsamah …—Veda). In this case of the bedbugs, there was no other alternative than killing them since they are parasites and cannot be stopped from sucking a person’s blood. Such a step is the extreme last resort and has to be adopted only when there is no other peaceful alternative.

In the case of Paramahamsa’s devotee, he did not have to leave his newly-married wife. But this extreme step had to be taken by Ramanuja, since He found no alternative. Preferably, one can hide one’s devotion to God from the family so that they are not hurt. Secrecy is recommended in spiritual efforts (Aatmaanam rahasi sthitah). Hiding one’s devotion to God, one can express false devotion to the family. It is just acting since one’s entire love is directed to God. But such acting is not a sin because it is done for the sake of God. It is the best way to solve the problem without hurting other souls. This procedure was followed by the Gopikas. They gave butter to Krishna secretly. They danced with Krishna in Brundavanam at midnight secretly. Keeping the secrecy of the divine love for God is the best way. We should learn this point from the Gopikas and implement it in our spiritual effort, if necessary. Only a soul implementing the principle of the Gopikas, can be called as a Gopika in the real sense. We should analyze and take the points that are useful for our spiritual progress. Simply listening to the superficial story of butter and Brundavanam is of no use!

Before pursuing one’s devotion to God secretly, one should try to convince the family and try to turn them into devotees of God too. If they too become devotees, there is no problem at all! It is the highest fortune if the family members also become devotees and cooperate with your spiritual efforts. In the case of the newly-married devotee of Paramahamsa, he had tried all these methods and failed. Hence, he was in the need of God’s help, which was extended by the Divine Mother on the prayer of Paramahamsa.

One should always take the essence of any story described in the secondary scriptures (Puraaṇams). That essence should be implemented in one’s own spiritual efforts to derive the benefit of salvation from one’s worldly bonds, which results from one’s intensive attachment to God.


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