I am not able to concentrate on the Nama or God, even as I chant the Maha Mantra. What is the solution to this?

This is normal. The mind is always trained to move outwards, towards the world. It is just not easy to have the mind concentrate on something for a while.

Then how can concentration be achieved?

When we continue to chant the Maha Mantra, in due course of time, the power of the Divine Name will automatically give you the concentration that is required.

I feel, mind is like a monkey which wavers, making concentration difficult during prayers or chanting. How do I overcome this?

The elephant cannot keep its trunk stationary. It keeps swaying it always. In order to arrest its movement, the mahout gives it a huge chain to hold on to. Similarly, in order for the mind to concentrate, we have it focus on the divine Name and Form of the Lord. That is the basic principle of idol worship. Instead of going for a multitude of Names and Forms, it is advisable to stick to one deity and chant one Mantra incessantly. This will bring concentration and one-pointedness. One can thus achieve eternal bliss by merely chanting the Maha Mantra.

How do I control the mind and divert it towards Bhakti?

Chanting the Maha Mantra mechanically is the Sadhana. When this is continuously done, in due course, you will start chanting it while you enjoy the sweetness of it. This is the 'Sadhya' (the result which is Pure Bhakti).

Hence by merely chanting it will make the mind divert towards Bhakti. No additional 'sadhana' is requried for controlling the mind or diverting it.

What should I do to purify my thoughts and get Sri Sri Swamiji's blessings?

In Bhagavat Gita, Sri Krishna says I purify those devotees who worship me by way of chanting the Maha Mantra. So, by chanting the Maha Mantra, you are automatically purified and at the same time, get Sri Sri Swamiji's blessings too.

When the mind dies, do all the memories go away or does it become insignificant? Can I understand this way that the mind comes under the control of the person who kills the mind?

The Body, Prana, Intellect – all of these are ‘Jada’ (lifeless). When the mind dies, it is simply not possible for one to identify oneself with these. When the mind dies (when one realizes), he doesn’t identify himself with the body, prana or the intellect (which are ‘jada’ or lifeless). It is so, only for others who view him as his body and its related sheaths.

Let us assume that you knock the door of a house and the householder asks who is at the door. You say, ‘Naan’! (me!). Again comes the question from inside, ‘Who is that?’ and you respond, ‘Naan thaan!’ (its me, myself) to make your identity clear.

Here you are mentioning two things – the first ‘Naan’ refers to your body, and the second ‘thaan’ refers to the Self. When you wish to make your identity clear, you unknowingly say ‘Naan thaan’, stressing on the ‘thaan’, the Self.

In this context, Ramana Bhagavan, in His Aksharamanamalai says, ‘Thaane Thaane Thaththuvam idanai thane kaattuvaai Arunaachalaa’ When the ‘Thaan’ (Self) reveals its presence, the ‘Naan’ (body) is no more significant and the memories, intellect, body etc. which are all related to the latter don’t exist anymore

My mind is always restless and sensitive to worldly matters. During the darshan of my Satguru, it remains peaceful and calm. At other times, it keeps oscillating, even during japa, dhyana etc. I am tired of this state of mind. What should I do?

As long as you think that the Guru is a physical form, you cannot attain the peace of mind you desire. Guru is not a physical form. Try to meditate and concentrate on His form, and you shall definitely attain peace of mind.

I have heard some people narrating their dreams, wherein they speak to God or chant His Names. I don’t get any such experiences. Can you please explain?

According to ‘mano shastra’ (the science of the Mind), whatever went deep into our consciousness during our waking state will only be reflected in our dreams. If your Bhakti or the Mantra you chant has been ingrained in you so deep, then you will witness them in your dreams.

That apart, a few people can have the Saintly people, Devatas, Pitrus and the Lord appear in their dreams according to their wish. However this is very very rare.

Even though one mind is saying that I should not think of any bad activities like Kama, jealousy, etc., there is always another mind some how goes in the wrong way. Is there any way I can avoid this dual thinking?

You will have to understand that lust, jealousy etc. are inborn and are very difficult to overcome in a short period of time, although eventually we will have to win over them.

It is not dual thinking. The ‘manas’, based on the ‘vasanas’ (impressions) tend to generate those thoughts and the intellect (‘arivu’) issues warnings. That is it.

For instance, a sugar-patient is tempted by sweets because of his ‘manas’. At the same time, his intellect warns him against taking them, and says that he might get into complications.

Whether the mind or the heart wins – that depends on his will-power. And, undoubtedly, strong will-power can be attained only by constant prayers.

After chanting for how long do evil thoughts cease in our mind?

It is not the count or time that matters. It is the intensity that matters.

Are the thoughts coming into the mind from outside or do they arise from our consciousness?

The stimulus (triggers) come from outside and they take the shape of thoughts inside us.

I want to be totally free of sins and become joyful and cheerful, bring happiness to everyone in life. Knowing the questioning and doubting human mind, how can one ever get conviction in God, know Truth and become free?

Unless you experience the truth yourself, your doubts will not vanish. Great saints like Lord Buddha, Swami Vivekananda, Ramana Maharshi, J. Krishnamurtiji were terribly attacked by various puzzles, and their sincere quest led to their realization.

Before clarity, there is bound to be confusion. You should not stop with confusion. You must proceed in a divine path suitable to you and really verify for yourself, if the results experienced by these saints are really true.

Chanting the Maha Mantra incessantly with steadfast faith, patience and perseverance will help you achieve what you want.

It is heartening to note that you will stick on to the Japa and pray to the Lord to fill our hearts with love and noble thoughts. Its indeed the greatest prayer. We are very happy for you. Lord Krishna will bless you bountifully and will ever be with you in your spiritual quest.

I have a very poor memory. Is there any special meditation or means to improve my memory?

Whenever you want to memorize something, follow the rules mentioned below. You will then be able to increase your memory:

Allot specific time to study and at any cause, don’t halt mid way.

Try to practice memorizing little by little. Don’t try to memorize all at once, especially when the subjects are similar in nature.

When you read, use the same textbook. Scan through the text in order.

Once you are done repeating your study enough, assume that everything is in your heart, and not in your brain.

When you are finished memorizing a chapter or subject and move on to the next one, repeat the sections already memorized by you.

Always have an optimistic thought that you have a tremendous memory

Imagine that you are storing all that you read in an imaginary storage rack in your heart and that you are storing your ideas in it in proper order.

Are the soul and the mind the same?

No. Mind usually refers to the knowledge and is referred to as the ‘manas’. If you thus identify it, then it is completely different from the soul.

I am not able to concentrate my mind when I sit for meditation or pooja. Some unnecessary thoughts come to my mind and disturb me. How do I get rid of them?

For a few days, chant the Mahamantra loudly in the mornings and evenings. That will make your mind quiet and bring ‘manolaya’ or calmness of your mind. That will help you get the required concentration to do mediation.

I have observed that it is very tough to keep the mind free. I used to think too much and then get in to unnecessary trouble because of the same. I feel that the mind can be streamlined. Can you suggest the way?

First of all, it is important to understand what is mind. Mind is nothing but a collection of thoughts. Other than thoughts, there is nothing called mind.

Now, the next question is, how do these thoughts rise?

Thoughts rise because of Vasanas. Vasanas are nothing but latent impressions – impressions created deep inside us because we have been repeatedly doing certain activities for a long period of time. It is only when one is in deep sleep or when one is sedated that his mind does not function. During all other times, it is active. This is the nature of the mind.

Having thus said, it is also important that you don’t let your intellect watch the mind all the time and worry about your current state. This will create a complex in you, making you either guilty or proud and over-confident. So it is best not to police the mind.

Don’t mind what mind does.

The elephant cannot keep its trunk still. It keeps swaying it always. In order to arrest its movement, the mahout gives it a huge chain to hold on to. Similarly, in order for the mind to streamline its thoughts, we have it focus on the divine Name and Form of the Lord.

By chanting the Mahamantra either mechanically or whole-heartedly, the complex can be overcome and the thoughts can be streamlined. The Mahamantra has the power to do so.

What is the difference between Manas and Budhi?

The intellect [buddhi ] and the mind [manas ] are not physical organs. The mind [‘manas’] is nothing but a collection of thoughts. Thoughts owing to imagination and impressions of observed objects constitute the mind. Emotions like fear, anger, lust, etc. are dimensions of the mind. The intellect [‘buddhi’] is that sheath which is responsible for analysis and rational discrimination based on previously known facts.

I feel restless, get negative thoughts and end up with frustration on myself. I lose concentration in my studies and only after a long time do I regain it back. At times I feel that I don’t chant Nama sufficiently. I want to chant the Mahamantra more and more with more love towards Krishna.

When chanting the Nama, it is incorrect to observe the mind. Concentrate on the Name, and the Named who is none other than Krishna.

Once a patient had a serious illness and he approached the doctor. After examining the patient thoroughly, the doctor prescribed a set of medicines. Immediately the patient said, ‘I am averse to taking these medicines. Please give me some medicines that will make me amenable to take these pills!”

So, chant the Divine Name. That is the solution to everything. Wake up from slumber, come out of your laziness, realize the truth and chant the Nama. That will show you the way.

I have been practicing meditation for about two months now. But my mind wavers from trivial matters to lustful thoughts, though my eyes are closed. Am I doing it right? Please guide me.

You have started on the right track. There is nothing wrong in your practice. Continue with it. However patience and perseverance are paramount. Initially you put in the efforts, and eventually grace takes over. Hence, you will come to witness slowly that the situation changes for the better.

My mind always has lewd thoughts. How do I control it?

Whenever you get such lewd thoughts, watch keenly as to who is getting those thoughts. When you keep on continuing the enquiry, you will find an answer to the ‘I’. Concentrate on this ‘I’ and meditate on it incessantly.

During the rest of the time, chant the Divine Name ‘Hari’, ‘Hari’, ‘Hari’ constantly. Your thoughts in that direction will reduce considerably.

On many occasions I feel I am intimated in advance by some force of incidents before they actually happen. Why does this happen?

This might be due to the merits that you had acquired in your previous births.

Why are few days so disturbing and horrible in life? It is so difficult to sit and pray in those days. Mind plays havoc and goes wild. Then, suddenly it becomes easy to differentiate and becomes controllable. Then worship and prayer becomes possible. Why does this happen? Please help.

Just as the body gets tired with headache or cold, the mind also experiences these swings like a disease and hence goes through such cycles. You need not worry about such swings. Chanting of Mahamantra will slowly reduce the frequency and bring everlasting peace. But it will take some time and you have to be patient.

I Beg to know, how to control our mind to refuse sensual indulgence at least when it affects our health and duties.

The mind is enslaved to habits. So it will not obey you if you order it to stop doing something that it has been accustomed to. It is only by constant practice that one can get rid of habits. The best way to overcome it is to chant with patience and perseverance.

Adi Sankara says that intellect (koornda madhi) can be used for Realization. But Bhagavan Ramana says that the answer to Self-Realization cannot come from the mind, and that the thoughts (mind) need to be killed. One seems to be using the mind, while the other is aiming to kill it. What is the difference between the two?

With the sharper intellect grows the ability to discriminate between the real and the unreal. As long as you are not convinced about the what is real and what is not, your desire for Realization will not get serious. When the ‘viveka’ (sense of discrimination) of the mind improves, you will get closer to the Truth. Eventually, when realization dawns, even the mind will vanish.

Bhagavan Ramana gives a wonderful illustration in this regard – one of ‘Pinam chudum thadi’.

the interrer (‘vettiyaan’) in the cremation ground stands by the side of the burning corpse. Owing to the heat, the corpse rises up on its own accord every now and then. He uses a stick to beat down the dead body that rises. Finally, when the body does not rise up anymore, he throws the stick also into the fire. In the same way, a sharp mind aids in Self-enquiry to find the Truth and is itself eventually destroyed.

Even by following the same routine, the condition of the mind is different on different days. What are the factors those make the mind disturbed on some days, joyful on some?

In Yoga and Vedanta Shastras, these concepts are explained in great detail. To put it in a nutshell, Vasanas and their provocations are relevant reasons for this. It takes consistent, persistent, long practice to attain one-pointedness of mind.

On some days, the moment I wake up, I have divine thoughts, and am immersed in the same bliss all through the day. On other days, I feel dry and empty – I feel deserted and am not able to think of the Lord. Why does this happen? What is the way out?

One some days, our body is very energetic to work, and on other days, its tired, isn’t it? The same is applicable for the mind too. Chanting certain specific ‘bheejakshara’ mantras as an upaasana without proper initiation is dangerous; performing breath-control practices on one’s own or taught by amateur masters is dangerous; similarly, analyzing the mind without bhakti also leads to a lot of confusion.

Believe in the grace of God as you take your life forward. Express your feelings to God with humility and love – that is real prayer. Continue to pour out your devotion to God and pray sincerely for his grace. With patience and perseverance in this spiritual practice, you will slowly realize that God is always with you.