On this auspicious day, Namadwaar is excited to start a series of articles - "Weekly Blossoms" - that will blossom on our website every week!
Sri Swamiji's messages on spirituality are always practical, clear and simple, easy enough for anyone to read, follow and practice. The blossoms that shall flower every week, shall carry the sweet scent of Sri Swamiji's message, for all of us to enjoy, relish and assimilate.
“Be thrifty but do not be a miser.”
“Be bold but do not be a ruffian.”
These are popular sayings of Swami Gnanananda. In the same vein, let’s say someone asks, “Can you narrate the Bhagavatam?”
I answer, “Yes, I can narrate the Bhagavatam.”
This is self-confidence. Now, what if the answer given is, “No one else can narrate the Bhagavatam like I can!”
This is sheer conceit. Self-confidence is completely different from conceit.
Similarly, when a person, with all his greatness and in spite of his vast knowledge, bows down to proper people, it is humility. It is humility when one is reverential towards the aged, Vedic scholars and Mahans; when one knows and attributes the proper value to great qualities in other people. But one need not feel inferior while being humble. All bhakti grantas say “Be humble! One should be humble.” But this should not make you feel inferior in any way. All bhaktas like Mira, Thiagaraja, and others were humble. They did not nurture inferiority complex.
Humility is different from inferiority complex.
Likewise, a saatvic (calm) person is not a weak or lazy person. A saatvic person, despite being powerful, will not react to another’s harsh or abusive words. A saatvic person has the capability to punish anyone by way of his penance; yet, he will not do so. On the other hand, when a person is incapable of doing anything at all and is lethargic or if he does not act because he is afraid, then he is lazy and weak.
A saatvic mind is different from a weak or lazy mind.
If we fail to comprehend these terms properly it will lead to confusion and thus put us on the wrong track.
When you are not a serious sadhak (one performing intense spiritual practices under the guidance of a Guru), you should lead a proper family life also.
In the Ramayana, in the scene depicting Chitrakoota, where Rama and Sita lived for a time during their exile, we find Valmiki describing the way the divine couple spent their time there. Rama points to the beautiful scenery around to Sita. He tells her, “Dear Sita, look at these beautiful flowers, the birds, the peacock, the wonderful mountain and the river.”
Sita takes hold of his hand and takes him around. She shows the singing cuckoo and the dancing peacock to him. Finding Rama looking at her and not at the singing cuckoo or the dancing peacock, she asks shyly, “I have been showing the beauty of the singing cuckoo and the dancing peacock to you. Instead of looking at them your eyes are glued to me!”
Rama at once tells her softly, “My dear! The way you speak about them is more charming! The way you imitate the walk of the swan, the dance of the peacock, the singing of the cuckoo is much more attractive!”
The couple spend their daytime in such love-filled talk. But in the evening Rama takes Sita to the Mandakini river flowing nearby and tells her, “Sage Agastya has bathed here, Sage Bharadwaja has bathed here, innumerable saints have bathed here. Let us also bathe here.”
They enjoy both married life and bhagavat vishaya (divine matters) together. Immediately after the bath, Rama tells Sita, “Let us both do Brahmavichara.”
Only when we do not know how to lead our lives, will it lead to problems.
A life led properly poses no problem. We should live happily. LIFE IS A LYRIC.
“If only I had...”
This is a sure recipe for personal disaster. Even if the intention is noble, these words and thoughts lead one directly to sorrow and inaction.
One should not lament about not having things that are presently beyond his or her reach. When you see someone superior to you in health, wealth or wisdom what would you do?
Feel happy to see those who are superior to you in status. When you see someone enjoying a palatial house, say, “Good to see you enjoy a good house. Radhe Radhe!” Wish them well and move away. Be happy for the state that they enjoy.
Feel sympathy for those who are in a lower state than you. When you see a poor man, sympathize with his situation and offer whatever help is within your ability.
Be friendly with those who are in a status equal to yours.
One who leads his life in this manner will never know sorrow.
There once lived a Mahan. A man approached him and said, “Swami! If only I had a large piece of land.... (sigh). Please help me get a piece of land.”
The Mahan asked, “Why do you need a piece of land?”
The man said, “I desire to perform puja.”
“Do puja with what you have.”
“Swami, I have nothing. That is why I have sought your help to obtain a piece of land. I have a Deity with me. I need puja articles to perform worship.” The man then elaborated on all his needs for his worship of God.
The Mahan repeatedly said to him, “Worship with what you have.”
Finally, the Mahan advised him, “Think over what I have said.”
The man sat down to think over the words of the Mahan. He thought, “I have nothing with me and I sought a piece of land,puja articles, food for offering, etc. from the Mahan. But he keeps advising me to do puja with whatever I have.’
He mulled over the Mahan’s words, and at last he understood what the Mahan was trying to tell him. “I have the mind with me. The Mahan is advising me to do puja with my mind. That is manasika puja (mental worship). Don’t I have a mind? I can do puja as I wish, with a silver or gold mantap and other even more expensive articles created by my mind!”
Just as we enjoy seeing the moon, the stars, etc. we should learn to enjoy seeing beauty in other people and what they possess, without getting attached to anything. When we do this, we will soon stop feeling “If only I had…” and learn to be content with whatever we have—a vital step in the path to permanent happiness.
When we eat food offered to us by someone, our mind is affected by the good or bad conduct of that person.
Bheeshma was lying on the bed of arrows awaiting the right time to shirk his body. The Pandavas were there, listening to him expounding on various kinds of dharma.
Bheeshma said, “In a court, when the king commits an atrocity, one should not remain unconcerned or a mute witness, but should question him.”
Hearing this, Draupadi, who was also present, laughed sarcastically.
At once, Yudhishthira said to her, “Draupadi! The great Bheeshmacharya is speaking about dharma to us and so many great people have assembled here. How is it that you laugh at this time!”
Draupadi said, “Bheeshma pitamaha is today speaking of how one should question even the king when an atrocity is committed in his court; that one should not remain a mute witness. But what did he do on the day Dusshasana tried to disrobe me in the court? Did he question the king? Did he not remain a mute witness to the event!”
On hearing this Bheeshma addressed Draupadi, “Draupadi, shall I tell you why I remained a mute witness on that day? I was then eating the food offered by Duryodhana and my mind had worked in that way. Today, struck on all parts of my body by Arjuna’s arrows, the blood produced by eating the food offered by Duryodhana has bled out and new blood has flown in. Thus, today I am able to speak of dharma.”
Once, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, while on the seashore, saw a fish in the sea. At once he was reminded of the Lord taking Matsya Avatar. Lost in ecstatic remembrance of the Lord, he walked into the sea and got drowned. But since he was a yogi, the breath had been pulled in and he began to float on the water. He was in bhava samadhi.
Some fishermen who had gone into the sea to catch fish, threw their net and along with the fish, caught Mahaprabhu too! They were surprised to see a man caught in the net and brought him to the shore. They then recognized him as the man who had sat on the seashore doing Mahamantra kirtan. Some of them placed their hands on his stomach and chest, pressed hard and brought out the water that had gone into him. Mahaprabhu came down to this plane of consciousness, got up and walked away singing the Mahamantra!
That was not surprising. What was truly a miracle was that the fishermen who had touched Mahaprabhu now began to do Mahamantra kirtan!
The mere touch of Mahaprabhu’s body (brahma sparsam) had brought this great change in them.
Early next morning their wives found them doing kirtan instead of setting out to the sea to bring in the day’s catch. Frightened at what had happened to their husbands, they approached Mahaprabhu and said to him, “What have you done to our husbands? They are all doing kirtan and are not going out to the sea.” (Just as Hiranyakashipu said to Prahlad [on hearing him utter “Narayana”] that he had joined bad company and that wicked words were falling out of him!)
Mahaprabhu said to them, “Go to the house of those who have sinned, get food from them and give it to your husbands! All these will vanish and they will become as before!”
We have to be careful about where we eat because food affects the mind. It’s a subtle transformation that we may not even be aware of!
What is the greatest thing in the world?
Is it the huge mountains, the ocean, the sun, the moon, the planets or the innumerable stars?
Or is it any of the numerous creatures and animals that inhabit this world?
Or is it Man, who is endowed with the sixth sense?
Or more specifically, perhaps it is his intellect and ability to reason and discriminate?
No. None of this is the greatest thing in the world. There is something greater than all these!
Is it God?
Yes, God is the greatest. But is there something greater?
Yes! Faith in God is even greater!
Faith alone will suffice to achieve anything in life. Nothing else is needed. However, on the other hand, despite possessing everything, if a person lacks faith, he cannot accomplish anything.
This applies not only to worldly life but also to spiritual life. Let me narrate an incident relating to this from the life of Sri Sankara.
Padmapaada was a disciple of Sri Sankara. The name ‘Padmapaada’ (Lotus-feet) was bestowed on him as a result of an incident.
Once Sri Adi Sankara Bhagavadpaada, after having bathed in a river, stood on its banks waiting to begin his worship of the Lord. Sri Bhagavadpaada’s clothes and worship articles were with a disciple who was on the other side of the river. Sri Bhagavadpaada called out to his disciple to bring his clothes and worship articles quickly. On hearing his Guru’s words, the disciple, who did not have the heart to make his Guru wait until he crossed the river on a bridge or a boat, immediately stepped onto the river with no thought other than to take the articles quickly to his Guru. And lo! His feet did not sink into the water. Instead a lotus appeared under his foot at every step he took and he thus crossed the river safely! Hence he earned the name ‘Padma-paada’.
It was only due to his intense faith, loyalty and feeling that he should respond to his Guru’s call at once, that Padmapaada was able to walk over water.
However, there was another whose faith was far greater than that of Padmapaada! Who was that?
Sri Adi Sankara Bhagavadpaada had initiated Padmapaada into Nrisimha Mantra. Padmapaada desired to do incessant japa of the mantra. Seeking solitude he decided to move into a forest. Sitting below a tree he sat with closed eyes and incessantly chanted the mantra that his Guru had initiated him into. His body became thin due to this intense penance.
There was an old hunter in the forest. He came to the place where Padmapaada was in dhyana.
He said to Padmapaada, “Sir! What are you doing in this forest? There are wild animals like the tiger and lion and also poisonous creatures like the snake and the scorpion here. Dacoits too roam about at night. Please leave this forest. It is not safe for a young ascetic like you.”
Padmapaada thought, “How am I to explain what I am doing to this hunter? Can he understand if I speak of God, dhyana, etc.? I must speak to him in a language that he can follow.”
So he said, “I desire to catch an animal in this forest. That is why I am here.”
The hunter was surprised to hear this reply from a person who looked least like a hunter.
Curious, he asked, “An animal? What animal are you looking for?”
Padmapaada said, “It has the body of a man and the face of a lion.”
The hunter was now even more bewildered. He said, “Sir, I was born and brought up in this forest. My father and my grandfather have all lived in this forest. For generations our family has lived only in this forest. I have never seen such an animal or heard of it. Nor have my father and grandfather ever spoken to me about the existence of this kind of an animal. I know thoroughly about this forest and its inhabitants. There is no animal of the kind that you speak of.”
Padmapaada said to him, “There is certainly such an animal. I will not leave this place without finding him.”
The hunter was amazed. He laughed loudly at Padmapaada at first, when he repeatedly spoke of this kind of animal with a man’s body and a lion’s face. But slowly he began to wonder if it could be true; the young ascetic seemed to speak out of conviction.
Finally the hunter said to Padmapaada, “You do not seem to be a dishonest person. You are speaking the truth. This kind of animal that you speak of must be hiding somewhere in this forest. May be my grandfather and father had never seen it. I will catch this animal and bring it to your presence by dusk. I give you my word. If I do not, I will kill myself if I fail in my endeavor.” The hunter left the place.
Padmapaada thought that the hunter will not return to disturb him. The hunter, however, went about the forest in search of the animal mentioned by the ascetic. He spotted lions, tigers, leopards and bears, but not the animal spoken of by the ascetic.
He was a mere hunter who lived in the forest hunting down animals. But look at his steadfastness to truth. The whole day the hunter went around looking for this animal and could not find it. It was dusk and the sun was about to set.
He thought, “The animal must be here somewhere. But the sun is about to set and I have not succeeded in my mission. I should stick to my word, and now kill myself as promised.”
He picked up a poison-tipped arrow and was about to kill himself when lo, Lord Nrisimha appeared before him! His joy knew no bounds. He thought, “Oh! There is the animal that the ascetic spoke of! It has a lion’s face and a man’s body.”
He looked at the animal and said, “Where were you hiding all these days? Come here.”
He tied Nrisimha with a rope and said sternly, “Follow me! If you will not I will kill you with my arrow. What do you think of me?” He then began to pull the rope and the Lord walked gently behind the hunter!
The hunter along with Lord Nrisimha arrived at the place where Padmapaada was. The hunter ran up to him and said excitedly, “Sir, how can your words prove false? You spoke the truth. I am a fool. I argued with you needlessly. I did indeed find the animal that you described. I have dragged it to your presence. Look at it. It has a man’s body and a lion’s face! Look at its eyes! I have never seen an animal like this before!”
But wonder of wonders, Padmapaada could not see Nrisimha! The hunter could see Lord Nrisimha but not Padmapaada! Lord Nrisimha gave out a roar which was heard by Padmapaada. The Lord then said, “Padmapaada! You do not possess the faith of this hunter. The day you attain this kind of faith I will be visible to you also.”
The Lord disappeared from there.
Indeed, if there is something that greater than even God, it is certainly faith in God!
If people ask me, “What is your native place?”
I would say, “Cuddalore.” And you would all say the name of some other towns and cities.
But all of us have another true “native” place. What is it?
Navadwarapuri (place of nine entrances). Our body. This is really our place of residence. We live always only in thisNavadwarapuri.
So who are our parents?
The ahankara (ego – ‘I’) and mamakara (feeling of “mine”) are the cause of our birth. But for these two we would never have been born.
What is our kula danam (hereditary property)?
It is the loka vasana (worldly latent impressions) like lust, anger and fear that we have accrued over innumerable births.
Who are our children?
The manas (mind) and indriyas (senses) are verily our children and grandchildren.
Who is our enemy?
Death is our enemy, old age is our enemy, sorrow is our enemy – all these are our enemies within.
And, what is our name?
That Jivatma, caught in the Navadwarapuri, having been born to ahankara and mamakara and given birth to children that aremanas and indriyas is struggling, not knowing a way out of this place. The children and the grandchildren are no help to us. They only pull us down, into it. If someone has to help us out of this Navadwarapuri and take us us home it can only be the Guru. Is it not so?
There are 3 kinds of gunas – rajas, sattva and tamas. Mahans look at Bhagavan and seek his help to destroy their rajasic andtamasic gunas. They pray to Parasurama, “Destroy the two kshatriyas of rajas and tamas [Parasurama hated kshatriyas and went about destroying them] in me. Let the satvic guna alone remain.”
But what prayer do I have? “Oh, Prabho! It is difficult for you to destroy the rajas and tamas in me. So let them remain. But transform them the way I desire. How? When my mind desires something or gets interested in worldly affairs let my tamasic guna (lethargy) begin to work. When the desire to see Bhagavan arises let the rajasic guna (to be active) begin to work. Let me develop a passion and fire for seeing Bhagavan. In the case of anubhava (experience) let me be sattvic. Why don’t you transform the gunas in me in this manner?”
Thinking about the glories of Bhagavan is blissful; Speaking it out is more blissful indeed!
Once when Sage Narada Maharishi was in Dwaraka, Bhagavan Sri Krishna's father - Vasudeva enquired about Bhagavata Dharma. When this question was put, Sage Narada Maharshi felt waves of bliss and spake thus:
'tvayA parama-kalyANah puNya-sravana kIrtanah; smArito bhagavAn adya devo nArAyaNo mama (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.2.13).
Dear Vasudeva! You have asked such a wonderful question which brought the Bhagavan Narayana to my mind! To answer your question, I shall be speaking out about the glories of Sri Vaasudeva! When one talks or sings of the glories of Sri Vasudeva it brings in immediate bliss and purity!
Sage Narada is in constant remembrance of Bhagavan. Many Mahaans like Sage Narada are in this state of constant memory of Bhagavan. But when they open their lotus lips to pour Bhagavat guna, they experience bliss of the highest order.
In our kitchen where we make prasadam for our Lord, we have a tap. The water connection always ensures that tap is filled with water. But unless the tap is opened, the people outside cannot see the water gushing out. Nor can they purify themselves with the water which flows out. Only when the tap is opened, they can feel the coolness of water, understand what was stored up in the tap for this long, and also get purified by the flow of the water.
Likewise, When a Mahatma is immersed in the divine thoughts of the Lord, others cannot even guess what is running inside this great soul. Only when he opens out to share his blissful experience can other get immensely benefited in form of bliss and purification!
When the listener is truly eager and sincere the bliss of sharing this by Mahaan becomes multi-fold, even more than just silent remembrance. When this blissful experience takes an expression of words, it enhances the bliss and also makes the deeper experience known to outer world.
Between two contemporary Mahatmas who were established in the same experience, we find one is more well known recognized and celebrated than the other, for one major reason. The one who is well known, spoke his experience out to others which was duly documented for generations to come while the other did not.
Thinking about the glories of Bhagavan is blissful; Speaking it out is spreads more bliss indeed!
Mahans who are capable of seeing God and speaking to Him can also lead us to God, if we so desire. This is the truth.
Only Mahans can bestow Jnana, Bhakti and Vairagya on us.
No one else can! It is neither available anywhere outside nor can we earn it on our own.
But despite this fact, what do we seek of a Mahan on learning about his presence?
“Can this Mahan bless me with good things in life? Can he set right sufferings that I have to undergo? Or else, can he give me some atonement for setting them right? Can he show any miracles? Can he predict the future incidents in my life?”
These are the expectations of a vast majority of people. As soon as people learn about the presence of a Sadhu or a Mahatma they desire to know only these things.
If we happen to be with a Mahan all through the day and watch those who come to his presence, we will find them seeking hi s blessings only for marriage, child, good employment, promotion to a higher office, getting back lost articles, re-uniting separated couples and so on.
But Mahans never feel tired of listening to them and showering their blessings on everyone. They, in their immense compassion, say there is nothing wrong in approaching them with such kinds of prayers.
What do we seek of God when we visit a temple? Do we pray to God saying, “Oh, Lord! I desire to earn Jnana, Bhakti, Vairagya”?
Those who visit temples commonly promise to offer something to the Lord or the temple if they are blessed with a child. People pray, “I have a court case and if the verdict is in my favor I will offer a vada maala for you.” Is there anyone who prays, “If I earn Jnana, Bhakti, Vairagya, I will offer you a vada maala”?
But the Lord accepts even such bhaktas. Whether he is an aarthi or arthaarthi (one who approaches God to alleviate his troubles or to earn comforts) the Lord accepts him. Whatever be his reason for approaching the Lord, the Lord accepts him! Why? Because he chose to approach God instead of undertaking some other means to have his desires fulfilled!
God says, “Who else will he approach when in need? Be he an aarthi or an arthaarthi, he has come to my sannidhi (presence). Therefore, he is fortunate.”
In the same way people approach a Mahan and speak of innumerable sufferings. People may feel fatigued by speaking of their various and innumerable problems but Mahans never feel tired of listening to them! Their state is totally different. Their mind is always soaring high up in bliss. But they behave like they are of this world. They move with such ease with ordinary people that after a time we may even see no difference between us and them.
There was one such Guru. That Guru had a devotee who never felt bogged down by the trials and tribulations of life: when faced with any problem, small or big, he would rush to his Guru.
“Swami, I have a boil on my hand. I consulted the doctor and he suspects cancer. He has advised biopsy. I feel perturbed.”
At once, the Guru would speak encouraging words, “I will pray to God. You will be fine.” The next day the result of the biopsy would show negative and he would be very happy.
Another time, he would rush to his Guru and plead, “Swami, please bless me that I get the promotion (at work).”
The Guru would assure him, “Son, I will pray to God.” And, the devotee would get hi s promotion.
Whenever he was faced with a problem or desired something in life he would run to his Guru. A word to his Guru and the Guru would set right and fulfill the desire of his dear disciple. Even when faced with a problem the devotee would never feel despondent. He would tell his friends, “I am never bothered about any problem. I have my Guru!” This was the fact. His Guru always protected him from all problems and fulfilled all his desires.
One day, he prayed to his Guru, “Oh, Guru Maharaj, I desire to have a child. Please bless me.”
Due to the blessings of his Guru he was blessed with a child. When the child grew up he wished his son would go abroad for his higher studies. With the blessings of his Guru, this son went abroad and pursued his studies. After completing his studies he secured a job there and continued to live in that country. More than ten years passed.
One day the devotee received some distressing news about his son. He had become severely addicted to drinking and smoking, and his character had completely changed. He was always drunk. Due to heavy consumption of alcohol and smoking, his health had been thoroughly spoilt.
This news created a deep fear in the devotee, but he immediately thought of his Guru who had always solved all his problems. The devotee asked hi s son to return home, and took him to his Guru. He said, “Swami, I had sent him abroad for pursuing his studies. He has been away from the family for almost two decades. He has fallen into bad company and taken to all kinds of vices. You must set him right. I pray this of you.”
This devotee had deep faith in his Guru. However, this time, contrary to his expectation, his son did not transform for the better. He remained the same. The devotee went once again to his Guru and said, “Swami, I do not know if you have offered sincere prayers to the Lord. Please pray more intensely. Pray exclusively for my son’s welfare. He must change for the better.”
The Guru simply said, “I will, my son!”
But the son did not change the least bit.
The devotee wondered. Would his son change for the better after six months? Or would he be fine after a year? But days, months and a year passed. And the son remained the same.
The devotee rushed back to the Guru. He lamented, “Swami, how many problems have I had in life. You removed them all in a moment. I have always enjoyed great blessings from you. Even this son was born only through your blessings. I prayed to you that he should go abroad to pursue his studies. You blessed him and he was admitted into a good university. It was all due to your blessings.
But today I am drowned in a great sorrow, Swami. My son is in this state and you do not seem to help me. I have been repeatedly praying to you and you do not seem to bless me. He is the same. He has not changed a wee bit!”
The Guru said, “Let us look into this matter later. But can you do something for me now? I had sowed a mango seed this morning. But I think if we decided to construct a building there it will create a problem. So please remove that mango seed from there.”
The devotee dug the earth where his Guru had pointed, and removed the mango seed.
Two days passed and the devotee returned to the Guru. The Guru said to him, “Son, a small mango plant has grown close the place where I had sowed the other mango seed. It is only ten days old. If it grows big its roots might affect the compound wall. Please go and uproot that plant.”
The devotee did as told. Very easily he uprooted the tender plant that was only a few days old and brought it to the Guru.
The Guru turned to look in another direction and pointing to another tree said, “Do you think it is good to have that tree over there?”
The devotee said, “No. How old is that plant?”
The Guru said, “It is a year old. Go and remove it.”
The devotee went over and tried to uproot the one year old tree. He found it very difficult and tiring. He sweated. Tired, he sat down and drank water. With lots of difficulties and long hours of work he managed to uproot that tree.
No sooner had he done this than the Guru pointed to a huge mango tree far away and said, “Do you see that mango tree? I don’t think we should have such trees around our ashram. Remove it.”
The devotee said to the Guru, “Swami! How can this tree be removed? I have to get a batch of workers and instruments and try to fell that tree. It is not easy.”
At once the Guru pointed out to him, “This is the explanation to your question.”
The devotee felt bewildered. He asked, “I don’t understand, Swami!”
The Guru explained, “A mango seed that had just been sown could be removed easily. A tender mango plant of ten days could be uprooted very easily with your bare hands. To uproot a one-year-old tree, though, you had to take great deal of effort. But to remove the twenty-year-old mango tree you feel you have to bring lots of helpers and sharp instruments.
Similarly, a bad habit cannot be given up all at once. It is not easy. If you have entered into a bad habit only for a few days it can be stopped easily. It you have been at it for a year you will have to take some pain to give it up. A bad habit practiced for ten or twenty years however, is like this huge mango tree. Don’t you see how difficult it is to remove this huge mango tree? In the same way, your son has entered into this habit and has been at it for so long.
The mind is a slave of habit! That is verily the nature of the mind. Whatever you follow repeatedly the mind gets used to that. It expects you to do it. In fact, the mind has time sense!”
God is a great rasika (one who enjoys beauty)! God has created this world with great relish – taking loving care of every single detail!
How beautiful is the parrot! How beautiful is the paarijatam flower! It has white petals and an orange stem. The combination of white and orange is so beautiful. How many are the varieties of jasmine! Flowers are of different colors and fragrances. The smell of the rose is different. What a colorful world the Lord has created!
God has created every bit of the world with such great loving taste!
When I go to the seashore in the evening I find children playing there; some of them fly kites.
Husband and wife sit there talking. Elsewhere in the beach you find a big family coming together. I started musing on this scene….
Do these people stop to think what the name of this sea is? How deep it is? What all this sea contains in its secret depths? They stay for a while and get back home. Likewise, a farmer looks up at the sky anxiously for the rains to come down. When he sees dark clouds he is happy; and there it stops. He does not stop to wonder about the stars in the sky. A traveler enjoys the shade of a tree but does not bother to even know the name of the tree.
Everyone is interested only in the fulfillment of his/her own selfish desire. But no, this should not be the case. We should know to enjoy the Lord and His creation.
If only we are able to enjoy God, God becomes easy (to attain).
What is Bhakti?
Not wondering what one can gain out of the Lord, but instead, thinking in what ways one can be of some service to Him. When you contemplate thus, you will realize that there is nothing that you can do for the Lord.
The moment this thought arises in you, God gets ready to offer Himself to you.
He is a Prabhu of such great glory! He is ready to give Himself to you!
And, the first step towards this is that the Lord gives you a Guru.
By sheer coincidence you enter a satsang one fine day. The Guru looks at you. You then leave the place. After a few days the thought of visiting the satsang arises in you. You think “Why not go to thatsatsang?” But you feel scared at the same time, “Oh, why do I feel like going there and meeting him? He speaks of moksha repeatedly and seems to condone rank selfishness!”
But how is the Guru?
To bless unconditionally and shower love towards one and all seems to be Guru’s very nature.
The Guru – who-bestows benediction unconditionally – had seen you in the satsang one day but you were not to be seen after that.
One day, when the Guru was moving on the street doing bhajan, he happened to see you. He called out to you “My child! Come here!”
The Guru comes close to you. He enquires of you, “Young man, you came to the satsang the other day. After that you are not to been seen at all!”
The Guru enquires as would a mother, “Are you angry with me?”
You are powerless to explain and simply utter, “No, no.” You are unable to speak out your fear.
What fear? Moksha! You are scared of Moksha! You are scared of God! You are scared of satsang!
Once Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi was going on Giri pradakshina (circumambulation of the holy Arunachala hill). A big group of devotees followed him. As they walked, a snake crossed their path. The devotees cried out in horror, “Nalla paambu! Nalla paambu!” and backed away from there!
In Tamizh ‘nalla’ means good and ‘paambu’ means snake. The water snake is called nalla paambu(good snake). Bhagavan stood his ground and the snake went away after a while. The devotees also returned.
Bhagavan asked them, “What did you call it?”
They said, “Nalla paambu (good snake)!”
Bhagavan said, “You call it ‘nalla paambu’ (good snake) but still you ran away. Why you should be afraid of a good snake!”
The devotees looked down sheepishly and did not answer.
Mahans’ words are verily upadesa (advice).
Bhagavan at once said, “It is only because we fear all good things in the world that we come to face dangers in life.”
We are scared of all good things. Aren’t we?
The Guru asks, “Why didn’t you come?”
You are silent, but think, “Regular visits to satsang (holy association) would create interest in moksha. I will lose interest in all worldly things. I may not strive for promotion to higher posts at work, and remain content with whatever I have. Oh, my worldly desires are already taking a dip!”
Seeing fear writ large on your face the Guru thinks, “Japa, dhyana, Naama will not suit him.”
And, the Guru casts his benign glance on you. Just a glance.
With just that glance, the Guru has given you prema nidhi — the treasure of divine love!
There is no more need of the Guru coming to you physically. The grace of the Guru will do whatever has to be done. Well! How does Guru’s grace work?
It will give you Bhagavatam, bhajan and frequent satsang!
Not only this. Above all, the grace will also bless you with the fortune of serving genuinesadhus!
This is the jewel in the crown of Bhakti devi!
“My cuppa - not yet?”
Anand - a teenager took a trip to Artisan village to shop in a beautiful antique store to celebrate his 16th birthday. He loved pottery, and especially teacups. Spotting an exceptional cup, he asked “May I see that? I’ve never seen a cup quite so beautiful.”
As the Artisan handed it to him, suddenly the teacup, looking at the admiring eyes of Anand spoke, “You don’t understand. I have not always been a teacup. There was a time when I was just a lump of red clay. My master took me and rolled me pounded and patted me over and over and I yelled out, ‘Don’t do that. I don’t like it! Let me alone.’ But he only smiled, and gently said; ‘Not yet!’” “Then. WHAM! I was placed on a spinning wheel and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. ‘Stop it! I’m getting so dizzy! I’m going to be sick,’ I screamed. But the master only nodded and said, quietly; ‘Not yet.’
“He spun me and poked and prodded and bent me out of shape to suit himself and then… Then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I yelled and knocked and pounded at the door. Help! Get me out of here! I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips as he shook his head from side to side, ‘Not yet’.”
“When I thought I couldn’t bear it another minute, the door opened. He carefully took me out and put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. Oh, that felt so good! Ah, this is much better, I thought. But, after I cooled he picked me up and he brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. ‘Oh, please; Stop it, Stop it!’ I cried. He only shook his head and said. ‘Not yet!’.”
“Then suddenly he put me back in to the oven. Only it was not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I just knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. I was convinced I would never make it. I was ready to give up. Just then the door opened and he took me out and again placed me on the shelf, where I cooled and waited ——- and waited, wondering “What’s he going to do to me next? An hour later he handed me a mirror and said ‘Look at yourself.’” “And I did. I said, ‘That’s not me; that couldn’t be me. It’s Strong and beautiful. I’m Strong and beautiful! I even have your name signed on me!!’
Quietly he spoke: ‘I want you to remember, then,’ he said, ‘I know it hurt to be rolled and pounded and patted, but had I just left you alone, you’d have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I know it hurt and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn’t put you there, you would have cracked. I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn’t done that, you never would have hardened. You would not have had any color in your life. If I hadn’t put you back in that second oven, you wouldn’t have survived for long because the hardness would not have held.
I would never put you through anything which you cannot truly bear!
I would never put you through anything which you do not really need!
Now you are what I saw in you as a potential when I first met you.
Now you are strong and beautiful!
You are what you best can be!
By my name painted on you finally, the whole world would know you belong to me!!”
Dear spiritual brethren! A Master / Bhagavan knows what He’s doing for each of us. He is the potter, and we are His clay. He will mold us and make us, and expose us to just enough pressures of just the right kinds that we may be made into a flawless piece of work to fulfill the pleasing and perfect will of Bhagavan. By 'painting' HIS name on our lips and mind, we truly belong only to Him.