The Practice of Devotion
The following satsang was given by Shri Hans Ji Maharaj in India, February 1964.
Many people emphasize the teachings of the world, but the teachings of the world are playthings for scholars. Does man attain salvation by reading the scriptures? Everyone here thinks he is a scholar. The condition of today is that one learns three or four Sanskrit verses by heart and is then acclaimed a scholar. Suppose you should read four Vedas, the 108 Upanishads and the Gitas; the Bhagavad Gita, Narada Gita, Awadhuta Gita and so on - sixty-four in all. Although you read every one of them, should you therefore give up a single minute of meditation on that account?
It is written that the Word should be like the sun. As the sun dispels darkness, so should the Word banish the darkness of ignorance. If you have not adopted a Guru who can show you that Word, then you have not followed the scriptures. Where is it written in the scriptures that one can be a devotee by being a scholar or a knower of the scripture? Where is it written that only the degreeholders can be devotees and not the uneducated people?
The Lord said in the Gita, "My Sacred Word cannot be had by reading the scriptures, by rites, by giving donations or by performing yogas. My Knowledge is gained by unbroken devotion." If you get up at 4:00 a.m. and pray until 6:00, that devotion is then finished after two hours. If you went to the temple to see God, then that devotion was broken when you left the temple. If you read the Vedas, the Gita and the Bible, that devotion was finished after the books were read. God says that yon are to remember Him constantly. Biryanandji, Swami Dayanand's Guru, told Swami Dayanand to throw his books into the river. Mansoor says, "Break your prayer beads and throw your books in the water. Why are you relying on outside things when the only reality lies within?' There was the Mohammedan mahatma who said, "Be constantly engaged in God. In fasting there is no devotion and nothing is gained by it."
All these books are mountains in your path. Devotion to the Master is the healing herb. The Name of God is not in the scriptures, but in the heart. Light is in the heart. It is merely written of in the books. The healing herb can be taken from within the self. Those who wish to remain alive should take and eat from it and along with it should have humility and faith. In this way only may your diseases be cured and not by any other way.
I'm not telling you not to read the scripture, but you won't get salvation by doing so. No one has ever attained salvation by reading. Tulsidas has said, "One cannot get Knowledge without the Guru, and without Knowledge one can't be liberated."
It is said in the Ramayana that there is a huge sand bank by the Ganges and there is more possibility of getting oil by crushing the sand than there is of a man crossing the ocean of mundane existence without the boat of devotion. Before anything else, there should be fear of the Guru. Those who act according to their own wishes while having the Knowledge of the Guru have no place in any of the worlds. I would rather keep the company of ignorant people, of millions of them, than keep company with one man such as this. When a man does not do his duty, his mind rots. The good thing which he has will go against him. Thus one should not be ungrateful to the Guru. He is in everyone's heart in the form of the Word.
Two boys of a village went to a wise man and asked to be his disciples. He told them to break their sticks secretly making sure no one was watching. One hid in a nearby hedge and, breaking his stick there, he brought it to the wise man. The second boy went deep into the forest, but realizing there was no place he could hide from Guru Maharaj Ji, brought the stick back whole. The first boy called him a fool. When the wise man asked him why he did not break the stick, the boy told him that there was no place he could hide from Guru Maharaj Ji. The wise man accepted this boy as his disciple and sent the other back to his village. Therefore there should be fear of the Guru.
Some think that holy robes make a man great. The ten Sikh Gurus kept bows and arrows. Did this mean that they were not Gurus? Was not Govinda Singh a Guru? Lord Rama also had a bow and an arrow. Did this mean that he was not a great Saint? Is a person saintly just because he dresses in holy robes? Kabir Sahib and Govinda Singh both wore peasant clothes and Raidass was a shoemaker. The soul is apart from dress, profession, castes or creed. God is also in the sweeper. Is not the eeper a mahatma if he has burning love within him?
Devotion is much greater than reading or writing. If you think that everything is in books, then point out to me even one man who might have acquired the true Knowledge or gained salvation by reading books. When the object of
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devotion, act of devotion, and devotee become One, then there is salvation, liberation, and by no other way. It is not attained by reading scriptures, by going to temples, bathing in religious places or donating offerings. Salvation is attained by Knowledge, constant devotion and regular remembrance of the Holy Name.
How is regular remembrance achieved? Here is an example: If you are walking somewhere, you get there by moving your legs and placing one foot in front of the other. In this way you reach your destination. The practice of devotion is similar. Do it while sitting, moving, fighting, etc. God said, "Arjuna, remember Me and also fight."
A gentleman from Delhi said that he could not remember the Name constantly. I then told him that when he was riding a bicycle, he could focus his attention on the road ahead, pedal, balance and talk all at the same time. Similarly, while doing your work, you can remember.
Just think how time passes away. If you look at a watch, you cannot see the hour hand or the minute hand moving, but you can see the second hand. We must practice. Saints, mahatmas, Vedas, shastras - all must be saying something. Otherwise they are just to look at and listen to. If a man only sits and thinks, nothing will get done. You cannot get rid of hunger unless you take food and eat. If one wants to do service and merely throws his arms and legs about, no service will be performed. If you are to cut a field of grass, no grass will get cut by merely thinking about it. Remember the Name while working and fighting. This is practical. If the mind does not stick to the Name, then speed it up and slow it down. Gradually the mind will become tired and you can easily meditate.
Practice speedily and your mind will not wander. You feel defeated by your mind. It says "sleep" and you sleep. Think it great that the mahatma has told you to go up and down, up and down. In this way control your mind gradually. It's so easy it can be done while fighting. Mansoor says of yogic posture, "That yogic posture is real which remains the same in the past, present and future and also remains the same while sleeping, awakening, sitting or standing. That prayer bead is real which is hidden inside and moving by itself. The outer bead which you can hold in your hand is useless.
A lowly floor sweeper once fell passionately in love with a beautiful queen. He confessed his hopeless lust to his wife and because of it she became very sad. The queen noticed the melancholy of the sweeper wife and coaxed the reason for it out of her. Wishing to teach the man a lesson, the queen took a drug which gave her severe dysentery and put all the urine and stool in a chamber pot covered by a silken handkerchief. Then the queen called the fellow to her but he, of course, could not recognise the queen because of her yellow skin, sunken eyes and drawn face. She said, "I am she for whom you passionately burned." He asked where her beauty had fled and was told that it was shut up in that pot. When he removed the handkerchief, he was disgusted by the foulness contained therein. The queen simply said, "This is beauty."
So we should think and act as if this is the condition of all worldly things. Heart and mind should be engaged in constant remembering of the Name of God. Someone may be thinking, "The mind cannot be fixed in remembrance today, but surely it will be fixed tomorrow." The next day again this will happen. Oh, why do you wait for tomorrow? Tomorrow never comes. The Name of God is with you. What is the hope of tomorrow? So be always engaged in the remembrance of the Name.
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