Shri Maharaj Ji on the Gita and the Yoga of Desireless Action
Shri Hans Ji Maharaj was the greatest Yogi of his time. It is no exaggeration to call him Yogiraj - the king of yogis. He was the perfect example of a desireless Karma Yogi and was the living embodiment of Yoga. Although he used to quote most scriptures, he tended to base his discourses on the Bhagavad Gina and the Ramayana. They were his favourite scriptures and his basic references.
There are different views regarding the philosophies discussed in the Gita. Some great commentators, such as Shankaracharya, interpreted the Gita from the Vedantic angle and advocated the path of meditation and renunciation. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, in his monumental work Gita Rahasya held that the main theme of the Gita is Karma Yoga. Shri Hans Ji Maharaj, however, offered to the public the synthesis of meditation and action - the practical path of self realization as taught in the Gita. It was his opinion that the profound mysteries of the Gita and its underlying meanings can never be understood - unless one is taught by a realized preceptor. He used to pose the question: "What is the Knowledge that Lord Krishna revealed to Arjuna in the latter's perplexed state? What did he give him that induced such a transformation of character?" Until we humbly and sincerely inquire about this Knowledge from an enlightened Master, we can't realize the Rajvidya, the Third Eye and the Universal form of God, nor can we understand the Gita's basic message. Only a
realized spiritual preceptor can bestow the practical Knowledge through which the Gita can be properly understood.
We hear from all sides nowadays, 'Work selflessly!' Our statesmen exhort the masses to work for the benefit of society without any selfish motives. It is a sound principle, because only through desireless action can the individual soul be released from the cycle of transmigration and attain liberation. If an individual performs actions motivated by desire for rewards, he will remain chained to the wheel of birth and death and will have to suffer all kinds of misery as he goes through the various incarnations determined by his previous actions. But how can one know that he is doing desireless action? What change occurs in him the day he actually begins to work desirelessly? If we could act desirelessly from the day of our birth, there would be no more need for people to go around telling us to work without desire for reward.
Many Hindus do something then say, 'Krishna arpanamastu' (I surrender my actions and the results thereof to Lord Krishna). Is action really surrendered to Krishna, however, just by saying so or by uttering some mantras? If it were so, then the pangs of hunger could be alleviated just by verbally surrendering our appetite to God. Only when we no longer suffer hunger or thirst, (and not simply by saying that we have surrendered these) can we say that these in reality have been given to Krishna. Otherwise, nothing is achieved just by saying 'I surrender my actions to Krishna'. This is only imagination and self-deception.
In Treta Age lived a great king called Janak who was an enlightened soul. In spite of being a king, he was called 'Janak Videhi', or one who has transcended body-consciousness. What in important for us to know is how he was able, in the midst of royal responsibilities, to achieve God-realization. Which method did he practise? Being a king and a householder, he had to perform all types of worldly duties so how did it happen that all his actions were performed desirelessly? Why, was he called Videhi?
Once he felt tense and restless and couldn't sleep. He tried various methods to ease his tension but failed. It was past midnight before he finally dozed off. He dreamed that his enemies had conquered his kingdom and he had fled into the jungle. He was terribly hungry and begged some food from a village woman. She told him that she had no cooked food to offer him but gave him rice and pulse to cook for himself. He could not light a fire properly because the wood was damp. He had to blow on it several times. The smoke made his eyes water. Being a king he was unaccustomed to this work and had no idea how to cook but, goaded by hunger he managed to half-cook his food. He put it on a leaf to cool. Just then, two bulls locked in combat came by and trampled his meal into the ground. He was plunged into grief and wept bitterly. At this point, his dream broke. He woke up and pondered, 'What does it mean? A few minutes ago I was weeping for a morsel of food and now I am back to being a mighty king. Which of these two states is true? Am I dreaming that I am a king, or was I dreaming that I was a beggar? Right now I can recall vividly my dream-misery, but at that time couldn't remember being a king living in magnificent splendour. Nor was I aware of sleeping on a luxurious bed!
The very next mooring he proclaimed that whoever could satisfactorily answer his questions would become the royal preceptor and would receive the entire kingdom as a reward. He had a huge pavilion constructed for receiving those who were willing to attempt to answer his question. A gatekeeper guarded the door, allowing entry only to candidates. Inside, there was a tall golden throne for the successful candidate who would be the king's guru. On a lower level were rows of seats for the holy men, pundits, academics, scholars and intellectuals who would attempt to answer the question. Each contestant was informed beforehand that a wrong answer would lead to imprisonment until such time as the right answer were provided by someone else. Anyone who, after daring to sit on the throne, gave the wrong answer, would pay with his life.
The great learned men of the time, the mahatmas, mandaleshwars, ascetics, etc. congregated here, each hoping to become the royal guru. One contestant after another failed to satisfy the king and was sent to prison. Not one contestant dared to sit on the throne.
King Janak had only one question. Is this true or that true?" Everyone tried in his own way to give a satisfactory answer. They gave answers like "This world is unreal and God alone is real." They quoted the Vedas and other scriptures but such superficial answers could not resolve the King's doubts. At this time Ashtavakra had not yet been born. His father was one of the unsuccessful candidates who ended up in jail.
The years passed and this was kept secret from Ashtavakra. One day his playmates teased him that he was the son of a jailbird. This upset him greatly and he asked his mother the reason for his father's imprisonment. His mother told him the whole story and added that his father could be freed only when someone else gave the correct answer. Ashtavakra will answer the king's question and free my father!" His mother protested that if the greatest scholars and mahatmas couldn't answer the question how could he? But he replied, "Mother, don't worry. By my Guru Maharaj Ji's grace, I will be sure to give the right answer. Please give me your blessing. I'll be home in no time at all with Father." His Mother tried her best to stop him, but in vain, and was finally forced to let him go.
He arrived at the entrance to the contest hall. As he was about to go inside, the sentry stopped him at the door, "Don't go inside, my boy, or you'll end up as the king's prisoner." Ashtavakra replied, "I'm not going to be a prisoner. I'm going to answer the king's question. It is written above this door that anyone is eligible to try. If you refuse me entry I'll have no alternative but to complain to the king. That sentry was not like the soldiers around nowadays. He was a servant in the court of a wise king. He humbly replied, 'Young master, who am I to stop anyone from going inside? I only want to warn you, because if great academics and holy men, who
say things like 'I am God' have failed to answer that question, how can you, a mere child? But, if you still want to go inside, then be my guest!"
Ashtavakra went straight up to the throne and sat down. He was, by the way, deformed from birth and his body was crooked in eight places. The whole court burst out laughing at his disfigured appearance and jeered, "He hasn't come here to become the royal guru, but has already made himself guru! He also laughed and addressed the king: "Your Majesty, what sin have I committed that forces me to be a part of such a rabble? Why have you called this assembly of cobblers? Could a cobbler possibly answer your question?"
The king was shocked. He humbly asked the boy, "Sir, this is a congregation of the highest academics, brahmins and holy men in the land. Now have you called them cobblers?"
Ashtavakra answered, "Look, Your Majesty! They laugh because all they see is my deformity. Who but a cobbler knows if skin is good or bad? A brahmin is someone who has realized Brahm! A true saint perceives the same soul equally in a priest, a cow, a dog and an outcaste. Bodies can be dark, fair, thin or fat, not the soul. It is the same in all. Sugarcane is knotted on the outside, but inside the juicy fibres run straight and smooth. So what do you think? Are these people cobblers or not?'' Everyone fell silent. The king composed himself, and the hope dawned in him that this child would be the one to answer his question and calm his troubled mind.
The king's, minister stood before Ashtavakra and started to read the king's question. He got no further than "Sir, King Janak's question is …" when the boy interrupted him, "Sir, does the king not have a tongue of his own? Is he dumb? Is that why you reading on his behalf? Advocates are needed only in places that don't deal in truth. If someone's house is robbed, who feels sorrow? The lawyer? Is that just? Sir! Does the same apply here or not? Is this the Court of Truth or not? Here the question 'What is Truth?' is being resolved, so whatever the king has to ask, let him
come forward and ask himself." King Janak prostrated himself at Asthavakra's feet and sincerely asked, "Master, I want to know if the waking state is true or if the dream state is true."
Ashtavakra replied, "Neither is real." Janak had felt that one of them must be real and true, but when he heard both of them declared to be unreal, his confusion and doubts increased. He was more perplexed than ever. He reflected silently for a while, then said, "Then what is real?"Ashtavakra said, "God alone is real. He is Truth, Consciousness and Bliss itself. His Light and Holy Name dwell in the heart of every being. Fire, sun and moon don't illuminate the True God. He is irradiated by His own self-effulgent Light. Scholars search for this truth in their books, while ascetics and hermits search for it in forest and mountain. Some wander around naked in search of it. Some think that truth can be realized by standing in freezing water and thus giving the spirit a hard time. Renunciates go on pilgrimage and bathe at all the holy places in search of it. Such people think that cleansing their bodies of grime and sipping Ganges water is realizing the truth. Others attempt, although in vain, to discover truth through sacrificial rituals and throwing aromatic herbs into a sacred fire. One thinks that by giving up a certain thing he'll find truth, while another thinks that by appropriating that something he'll find it. But truth is not realized by any of these methods. You have a strong and sincere desire to know truth, so first tell me, what will you give as dedication?"
By this time, the king was convinced that here was the Guru who could show him true Knowledge. He said, "Sir, I promised from the start that I mould offer my kingdom to whomever could reveal him the truth. So I surrender my entire kingdom at your holy feet."
Ashtavakra replied, "Because you haven't met any real saints, you're still under the delusion that the kingdom is yours to give. This kingdom existed before you were born. Your father, or someone else before you also considered it to be his, and now you think it is yours. You spend a lot of money improving and
developing it, but one day you'll have to leave it behind, as your predecessors did. Then your heir will also think that it is his property, but he too will have to leave it one day. However, the kingdom actually belongs to the subjects, who, for their own protection, appoint someone to be king. You probably consider your wife and children to be yours, but, just as Pilgrims come together for a short time to bathe in a river, and then go their separate ways, so too do people more together as a family only temporarily. Often family members live far away from each other, so they are separated even while they ate alive. So you can't claim even your family to be yours. Death will separate you from them. We are born in a body, but it doesn't last forever. You have to leave it when you die. The surviving members of the family burn the body or bury it, or, in some cases, it is left to jackals, vultures, crows and worms to gorge upon. The body is made from the dust of the earth and finally, somehow or other, goes back to the source. So, Your Majesty, offer something which is truly yours alone!"
The king did some hard thinking. Finally he said, "Sir, my mind is mine alone, so now I offer it to you." So saying, the great King Janak bowed his head to Guru Maharaj Ji's feet. St. Kabir said,
"If you have surrendered your mind,
You have surrendered everything.
Someone who has conquered his mind
Is the real champion.
Kabir says, God is realized
Only when you go beyond the mind."
Mind can be the cause either of bondage or liberation. Only mind connects us to worldly things. A person who diverts his mind from worldliness and attaches it to the feet of the Master is assured of salvation.
He achieves the highest state even while alive. Any guru who teaches that liberation or supreme peace is attainable only after death is encouraging a wrong kind of faith.
To achieve the highest state of awareness, effort is required. If liberation could be achieved without any effort then everyone could be liberated, but the path to liberation involves a lot of work. Easy to say but hard to do.
Janak's dream-hardships had jolted him into realizing that everything in this world is unreal and transient. Ultimately the best thing is to renounce this unreal cosmic illusion called maya in order to realize Truth because, even if realization of Truth were not possible, we have to leave this world of maya anyway when we die.
King Janak had previously decided that he would become the disciple of the Guru who could show him the Knowledge of God, or the Ultimate Reality, in as much time as it takes to mount a horse.
Ashtavakra took Janak into the forest and told him to put one foot in his horse's stirrup. Then he said, "Your Majesty, to whom does your mind belong?" Janak answered, "Gurudev, it is yours." Ashtavakra revealed to him the omnipresent Holy Name which dwells deep within the Self and said, "The True Name is the indestructible, immortal Word of God. It is the immutable, almighty Power of God. It is the best possible way to realize God as He is. So now I command you to fix your Mind, which you have surrendered, on this indwelling Name at all times. If your mind is constantly united with the Name, you will achieve liberation in this very life."
Janak fixed his mind on the Holy Name and Ashtavakra went away. He wondered if he should put his other foot in the stirrup or not. Then it occurred to him, "I have surrendered my mind to Guru Maharaj Ji, so if he has told me to keep it on the Name to the exclusion of all else, what right do have to think about anything else? So, he tenaciously fixed his mind on the Word and standing with one foot in the stirrup, went into Samadhi. He lost all outer awareness and achieved the state of true transcendence. Thus he was able to disconnect his awareness from the body. When Ashtavakra returned he brought the king out of Samadhi and said,
"Now go back and, understanding the kingdom to be mine, rule it wisely and at the same time keep your mind in the Name. Then nothing you do in this world can have a binding effect on you." This is the method which releases one from the bondage of action. But such sacred Knowledge cannot achieved without a Guru.
Anyone who thinks that by not doing anything he is freed from the consequences of action is totally bound by the cord of that very act of 'renunciation'. But someone who is 'bound' by the Guru's instructions, i.e. works according to the instructions of his Guru is actually working properly. He has to work, but he is freed from any consequences.
Arjun threw down his bow and refused to fight, saying, "Krishna, I prefer to beg rather than win the war through the heinous sin of killing my kith and kin." The ensuing dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna comprises the scripture known as the Bhagavad Gita. The same Arjuna who was disgusted with the world and who wanted to refrain from action, thinking that it would cause misery, after listening to Lord Krishna's teaching actually fought so bravely and so well that his exploits are still eologized.
Arjuna wanted to renounce actions and be a non-doer, because he feared the sin that would accrue from fighting. Lord Krishna explained to him that no one can escape sin simply by not doing action. Arjuna was a knight, whose duty was to uphold Dharma and protect the righteous, by war if necessary. If he were to retreat from the battlefield he would be labelled unrighteous and sinful. A person usually performs actions governed by his temperament and according to his status in life but he can escape the burden of doership if his actions are done with a desireless mind established in Yoga. Lord Krishna revealed to Ajuna the method or Yogic technique which frees one from all types of sin, by
rendering him a non-doer even in the midst of hectic activity. The Gita was written for the benefit of all mankind. However, it is a grave mistake to think that just by reading Gita one can be freed from responsibility for his actions. While reading the Gita it remains for us to ask ourselves what was the method shown to Arjuna by which he was unstained by the sin of killing. Guru Nanak also declared that it is essential to know what the Holy Name of God is, because it disconnects a person from the world even while he is living in it, just as water rolls off a duck's back.
The Gita discusses the technique or Name remembering which renders a person a non-doer even while doing action. It enables him to live in this "world unaffected by maya and finally releases him from the bondage of transmigration. Such a one merges with the Divine Light.
Both good and bad deeds bind the individual. After enjoying the rewards of our good actions in what may be called 'heaven', we have to return to this mortal world. We must suffer punishment for our bad deeds. Both actions therefore bind us to rebirth, the only difference being that one may be called a golden chain and the other an iron chain. Dirty clothes won't come clean if washed in dirty water and similarly, actions and their culpability cannot be eradicated by doing more actions. The mind becomes pure only by performing unmotivated action and devotion.
We light a lamp to remove darkness so that we won't experience any difficulties. We can injure ourselves in the darkness of night, but with the sunrise we can clearly see where we are going. According to the Gita, one should perform actions in the Light of Truth, to save himself from the staggering repercussions of actions performed in the darkness of ignorance. So to extricate himself from the quagmire of actions, a person must humbly request a realized soul to teach him the Yoga of desireless action.
Desireless action implies unmotivated action or action done with no hankering for results. Being employed but not wanting salary, running a business without desiring profits, cultivating crops without desiring a harvest, digging a well without desiring to
find water, governing a state without desiring the obedience of the public - are such contradictory ideas what is meant by desireless action? Lord Krishna revealed the Yogic technique by which a person, even while engaged in action, can be released from the karmic bondage of those actions.
"Through the Yoga of wisdom one does not shed actions, but the results of one's actions cease to be binding. With even a little practice, through wisdom one is freed from the fear of birth and death. (2,10)
This Yoga has no adverse effects. Hail destroys crops. There is no harvest and the farmer's livelihood is lost. If anything goes wrong with a business, it becomes worthless. When a person dies the money which he has saved from his salary passes into another's bands. On the other hand, the seeds of desireless Yoga are never destroyed, nor does practising this Yoga incur any sin. In other words, a little practice of this Yoga releases one from the wheel of transmigration and bestows the highest joy. If a person's mind is steadied in this Yoga, which is actually the essence of religion, he is no longer confronted with obstacles or difficulties. This most sacred Yoga is above virtue and sin because it Is eternal, imperishable and extremely subtle. It is unaffected by the three forces of maya - sat, raj and tam. Just as a lamp placed in windless room lights the whole room, so the finite mind expands by identification with the infinite Divine Light. Then the three gunas, or three forces of maya, cease to be an obstacle in his path and in fact help him along his way.
Therefore a sensible person realizes that it is to his advantage to abandon all other methods and follow this universally-accepted, most rewarding and beneficial Yoga. So he becomes desireless in his actions. On the other hand, an ignorant and undiscerning
person wastes his precious human life in other pursuits which are delusory and insubstantial.
People of limited vision who don't know the Reality practise rituals according to their religions and waste their time worshipping Nature. They do everything with an eye to results, just as a gardener cultivates trees in order to enjoy their fruit. The main desire of such people is to be reborn in this world over and over again so that they may enjoy pleasures and the consequences of action. They do not think that there is anything higher than sensual pleasure. All they ever talk about are gross pleasures. They possess an inferior intellect and lack discrimination. They never think about realizing God or being devoted to Him. They never think about the soul nor wonder what it is. Such fools call the great enlightened souls, who show others the, way to self-realization, crooks and impostors. Just as garlic is crushed and made into chutney, so do these people waste their God given human life in sensual pleasures. The human body is the vessel containing the nectar of immortality, but people are content to load themselves up with a burden of karma in order to experience the fruit of actions. This human existence is achieved by a very fortunate soul and a great stock of merit acquired in previous lives. So it is a pity to waste such a golden opportunity in lesser pleasures but the ignorant never realize why they were granted a human body in the first place. This is like a hungry man labouring hard to buy food then selling it to earn money, thus remaining ever hungry. People waste the God-given human existence which is the gateway to salvation, by practising rituals in order to achieve the fleeting pleasures of heaven or earth. Is it wise not to aim for eternal peace rather than temporal or even heavenly pleasures?
A wise person follows only the path which will lead him to his destination and ignores the rest. Similarly, we should read and extract wisdom from the Gita and follow the Path, or method, which will take us to God.
Most people do not understand the significance of virtue and sin. They allow themselves to be enslaved by the desire for sense
gratification and indulge in actions which ought not to be done. They encounter difficulties every step of the way. On the other hand, a meditator no more desires worldly pleasures than a worldly person would desire to eat his own vomit. Those great ones who are settled in the Self, act humanely towards all beings. Free of deceit or ulterior motives, they work for the sake of all. Just as the sun sheds its light equally upon all, so a realized soul gives Knowledge of the Self to all and saves them from the sorrows of life. A realized soul sheds his benign grace on all creatures, whereas the performer of rituals, caught in a net of desires, is full of his own importance and tries also to involve others in the quagmire of ritual. Enlightened souls, on the other hand, have risen above the dualities of joy and grief, happiness and sorrow, and are blissfully content in the Self alone. A person who has full control over his senses can never be the prey of sorrow or mirth. Such persons are called the great ones of this world. A person who does actions under the sway of the senses can rightly be considered to be no better than an animal. It is incumbent upon everyone to consider how this state of affairs comes about in his or her own life. Even a practitioner of Yoga who thinks he has renounced sense indulgence can be tempted. If even a remnant of desire lurks in the subconscious, it can flare up and wreak havoc. The mind has a thousand ways to trap the meditator. Supernatural and yogic powers also are a dangerous distraction from the strait and narrow path of self-realisation. The branches of s tree can be cut, but as soon as they get water, they sprout and bloom again. In the same way, submerged desires rise up from the subconscious mind to the conscious given an appropriate opportunity. So the devotee must renounce desire for worldly indulgence once and for all with firm determination A single drop of poison can be fatal and even an iota of passion can undo all the progress achieved thus far. A person of unsteady mind gets trapped in the web of the tri-faceted maya. Once you get sucked into the quicksand of maya and the more you kick the deeper you sink but if the mental fluctuations are
kept under control by Yoga, then even the desire for pleasures gradually dies away.
When the senses ate subjugated and the mind settled in the Holy Name, then only may one feel that he now is well on the way to Truth. Just as a tortoise extends its limbs and withdraws them at will into its shell, so a person whose senses are under his control can make them obey him. On the other hand, a person whose mind flits from one sense-gratification to another knows no peace and can be regarded as ignorant and truly lacking in discrimination.
The Gita says that Yogis are awake in Divine Ecstasy contemplating God, just as surely as worldlings are asleep to it. Yogis are well and truly dead to the world, or asleep to the sensual desires which other people strive so hard to fulfill. In other words, desires are like the darkness of night to the Yogi and meditation is the light of his day. The reverse is true for sensual persons. For them sense-gratification is day and meditation and devotion is night.
Rivers continuously flow into the ocean, which nevertheless remains calm and serene. Similarly, a Yogi of tranquil mind and determined intellect is not ruffled or affected by intrusion of desire. It doesn't matter to him whether pleasure comes his way or not, as he is settled in the Self. He is free from likes and dislikes, and even if his sense organs are busy with their stimuli they make no impression on his mind. He doesn't react. He is no more tainted by desires than are the rays of sun and moon contaminated by touching the earth. He is always perfectly contented, finding a never-ending source of bliss within himself. Soldiers stay awake guarding their country's frontiers. Travellers stay awake waiting for their trains, and thieves stay awake to commit theft, but none of them can be called a Yogi, just because they stay awake. Many so- called holy men in India wear saffron clothes or run about naked, but they can't be called Yogis, either. A Yogi is someone who has tuned his mind to the Word of God and united it with that Word, and whose mental fluctuations have been immersed and stilled in the Divine Light of God.
Staying up all night for sense-gratification is worse than sleeping. It's better for all concerned if lions, snakes and thieves remain asleep, because as soon as they wake up they cause trouble. It's better, however, for travellers and devotees to remain awake, because the traveller will reach his destination safely and the devotee meditates on God. Actually only the devotee within whom burns the fire of Divine Love can truly be considered awake. The darkness of delusion and attachment no longer exists for him. He is the Beloved of God. True Yogis and devotees realize the importance of Knowledge, listen to discourses about it, discuss it, think deeply over it and meditate on it within themselves.
God is beyond Death, while maya is Death itself. People who chase maya are bound to the wheel of birth and death. Maya and soul have existed since the beginning of Creation but so far very few embodied souls have managed to transcend the greed for maya. Just as pure ghee is all-pervading in milk, yet invisible until extracted, so too is God omnipresent in the cosmos, but cannot be seen with our carnal eyes. After butter is extracted only a residue of whey is left. In the same way, the individual, through meditation on the Holy Name, unties the knot of self and maya. He leaves maya behind and extracts the divine Essence within himself.
The world is the manifestation of the three gunas and the five elements. Those who worship the elements can never know anything beyond them. Not knowing God, Who is beyond maya, they can only worship and contemplate maya. But nothing can be hidden from the Satguru. It is only through his intervention that the all-pervading cosmic energy in the form of the Holy Name and Divine Light can be known. He reveals the Knowledge through which the individual can turn his back on the unreal things of the world and unite with God as He is.
Lord Krishna told Arjuna, "You are in Me, and I am in you. I know the secret of this, but you don't. I am beyond maya, therefore it cannot bind Me, but you think only of maya and then are chained. If you concentrate your mind on the Inner Light and Holy Name you can he disconnected from maya and escape the
wheel of birth and death. You can become one with Me." If someone in our day and age is transmitting the same Knowledge which Lord Krishna showed to Arjuna, is there any difference between him and Krishna? The Lord Himself said, "There is no difference between Myself and My realized devotee, he is in Me and I am in him." A disciple who serves such a Master with reverence, love and sincerity is a devotee in the real sense. Satguru is the Seer of Truth, the real man of Knowledge. If he doesn't possess the true Knowledge of God, then who does? Indeed, there are plenty of so-called religious masters who simply teach a mantra or rituals, but these are not entitled to be called 'Guru'. They cannot give you salvation. God is omnipresent, but can be known only through Satguru's Knowledge. The actual path of devotion is knowing Him and merging one's mind in Him. The disciple who has a determined will recovers the mind from wherever it wanders and fixes it in God's cosmic form. The wanton mind is forever flitting from thought to thought. God has never yet been seen with our ordinary eyes. He can only be meditated upon within the self.
We all like to see only pleasant things. A beautiful flower in full bloom delights everyone. We all like to listen to sweet and refined speech. Everybody wants to be noble. The same soul pervades everyone and that is why we all have to same aspirations. Nothing is nobler than the soul, but people tend to look for perfect joy and satisfaction in maya, rather than in the soul itself, which is the source of that joy.
Souls who find favour in God's sight are graced with a human body, but it is bestowed only so that we can strive for spiritual perfection. Is God to blame if people misuse this body and waste it in indulgence?
If a Guru is ignorant of something, how can anyone else be aware of it? Moreover, how could he be called a Guru? Only a perfectly realized and all-knowing seer can be rightfully called a Guru. He rids the inner self of its ignorance just as the sun rids the sky of darkness. The sun is self-luminous. It needs no other source of illumination. Satguru is also self-uminous. He actually is the
infinite and omnipresent Light. He reveals to his disciples this Divine Light.
St.Tulsidas sings in praise of the Master, "Obeisance to the Guru, who is the eternal, infinite Knowledge, beyond birth, death and limitations. He is the manifested Shiva, the Saviour of the soul, on whose forehead rests the crescent moon, universally adored. The full moon can be eclipsed, but not the crescent moon. Death eclipses everything. Only Guru Maharaj Ji is out of his reach.
'Shri Guru Maharaj Ji bestows divine bliss which is the highest joy. He is Knowledge itself and its very embodiment. He is completely beyond all duality and is even finer and subtler than the sky. His sole aim in coming into this world is to reveal the Knowledge of God to lost souls and thus ferry them across the worldly ocean. Obeisance to such a Master!'
'He is the eternal, pure, infinite, immutable One, the Witnesscr of all beings, the Source of wisdom. He is totally beyond thinking and imagination and the three gunas. Again and again I prostrate myself at his feet.'
Most people have no inclination to hear about the soul. They think that they were born only to satisfy their selfish desires and must use everything they have, including their life, to this end. They can conceive of anything higher than this. Such people are a burden on the earth. Trees are better because at least they give
fruit, shade and wood, but a human being who is a slave of his senses neither does himself nor anyone else any good, and harms the environment as well. Such persons will even enslave others to satisfy their own cravings. Lord Krishna explained to Arjuna, 'If a person experiences his soul, if he unites his mind to the infinite Cosmic Word, then his mind and sense organs will automatically detach themselves from indulgence. For such a person nothing remains to be done.' Even so, great souls do act, but for the sake of others. They have no selfish interest in anyone. If those who, living in a world of reality, refuse to stop spreading lies, how can an enlightened soul be expected to stop spreading truth? The difference is this: the realized soul is untainted by the effect of action (although he engages only in truthful and pious activity) whereas those who wallow in lies and drag others down, must suffer the consequences.
A person who has brought his mind under control and has become one with God, does not adversely affect others' minds. Even when temptations present themselves, his senses don't respond, whereas the worldly person of uncontrolled mind falls into the trap as soon as the temptation comes along. Those who are under the sway of the forces of Nature are caught in the net of responsibility for their actions, but not someone who is beyond the pull of Nature and whose mind is settled in the Holy Name. Every creature acts according to its nature, characteristics and tendencies. It's not something which can be manipulated. A person acts virtuously because of the effect of his previous good deeds. Guru Nanak, Tulsidas, Dhruva, Prahlad, etc. had accumulated good merit from previous lives, Whereas Kamsa, Ravanna and Duryodhana were influenced by their previous evil karma. It was Prahlad's nature not to turn away from God even if it meant great suffering. However, most people run a mile as soon as a minor calamity befalls them, forsaking truth and Dharma. They'll betray for a pittance what they know to be true.
Knowing, through the grace of a realized soul, the indwelling God, the Ultimate Reality, and attaching the mind thereto is
Dharma. A person of sattvic nature meditates on the Holy Name. A rajasic person cannot be a desireless devotee, because all his actions are motivated by the desire for results.
Lord Shankaracharya's mother wanted him to marry and become a householder. He intended, however, to renounce the world and work for the salvation of others. He asked for her permission to do this, but she would not agree. One day he went with her to bathe in the river. Suddenly a crocodile grabbed him and started to pull him under the water. His mother shouted and screamed, but in vain. When he reached the middle of the river, he called out to her, "Give me permission to renounce the world then this crocodile will let me go." His mother reasoned that it was better than letting him die, no she agreed.
Samarth Ramdas, the Guru of Shivaji, got married under pressure. In the middle of the ceremony, he jumped up and ran away. There are many similar stories of devotees who, from childhood, were disenchanted with the world. On other hand, a person dominated by tamoguna will, even when young, begin a career of lies, hypocrisy and double-dealing.
A sattvic-natured person loves to listen to satsang and serve his Guru. A tamasic person is preoccupied with his family and possessions. A tamasic person is interested only in unseal indulgence and in sleeping. The desireless and selfless devotee has transcended the quagmire of activities and is merged in God.
Lord Krishna advised Arjuna, "Stop being tormented by attachment and desires. Become egoless and settled in the Self. Never let the thought of doership cross your mind. Whatever you do, always think that all actions are Mine and empyy your mind with meditation. Then you will not be affected by the chains of good/bad action. Never worry about success or failure, because these are in God's hands and whatever will be will be.
Arjuna and Krishna were close friends. Whatever Arjuna did, he did according to Krishna's instructions, knowing him to be the Lord. That is why he was free from karmic responsibility. But what about us? Lord Krishna isn't with us today. So how are we do
everything at his command? How can we be freed from the clutches of karma?
People do not know what devotion really is. They think that selfless devotion means worshipping a statue. They think that this will save them. However, Lord Krishna said that no matter how many scriptures you read, or how many deities you worship, without practical Knowledge it is all a waste of time.
Only a person who doesn't care for worldly things and does meditation can be perfectly free from karmic bondage.
'It a better to do one's own duty rather than another's, only by doing one's God-given duties canon attain liberation.' (18:47) Seeing another's duty induces fear. One's personal religion, or religious duty is to do spiritually-based actions. All else is secondary. Joy and sorrow correspond to the degree of maya's influence on the soul. A person is happy when he gets the object of his desire and miserable when he doesn't and will put up with anything to obtain it. Unrighteous action in order to satisfy desire causes fear. This is why envy, or looking at another's duty, is called fear-inducing. On the other hand, meditation never causes fear in any way. Sin is another name for fear-inducing action. Anyone who remembers the Holy Name is instantly released from all kinds of fear and sin.
Many people have the erroneous idea that stopping all activity frees one from incurring sin. Actions done through ignorance cause misery and fear. However, the ears can't stop hearing, the eyes can't stop seeing, the nose can't stop smelling and the tongue can't stop tasting. It is our likes and dislikes which give rise to the
thoughts, imaginations and doubts which are the basic cause of birth and death.
If a person carries out his own duties faithfully, not even a shadow of fear crosses him. Doing one's duty requires neither fasting, pilgrimage nor ritual. It fulfills all one's dreams. That is why doing your own duty and behaving righteously is most advantageous.
Arjuna listened attentively to what the Lord said, then asked, "Lord, if someone has turned his back on maya and has no other wish than to be absorbed in meditation on You, under whose influence, then, does he commit sin?"
The Lord answered, "Arjuna, the culprits are lust and anger, which are spawned by Rajoguna. Realize that they are your worst enemies. Fire will never be extinguished by adding more oil and dry wood." In the sane way, sense gratification and indulgence will never satisfy lust. Lust is as tyrannical as death, and tries every way to obliterate Knowledge and Wisdom, like smoke around fire, the clouds in front of the sun, or water covered by moss. When the sun of Knowledge is obscured by the clouds of lust and anger, the mind becomes dark with ignorance. Once a person falls victim to the pangs of lust, even gaining the universe will not satisfy him. Everyone dances to the tune of lust and anger. Just as snakes coil themselves around sandalwood trees, so lust and anger are part and parcel of the human body. 'They rob us of our wisdom and devotion. These thieves live deep within us, and from time to time venture out of their den to wreak havoc.
Even though Knowledge is pure and bright like a clean mirror, it can get covered by grime, like dust on a mirror, and the more you try to remove the grime the more compacted it becomes. To satisfy desires there arises in the sense organs the will to act. This causes the mind and senses to act in ways which further increase attachment and avarice. Tulsidas said that lust and anger lead us into hell, and they cannot be controlled by force. The harder you press rubber, the more it bounces back. Hatha yogis
can be tormented by lust and anger, but mind is automatically pacified by meditation on the Holy Name,
Lord Krishna told Arjuna to first conquer the senses and destroy lust, as it is the number-one enemy of yogis. Someone who can do this can conquer the world. It is very wrong to think this or impossible, because saints have done it.
Mind is more powerful than the senses. Intelligence is more powerful than mind, but by far the most powerful is the soul. When mind and intellect are united with the soul-force, lust and hunger arc automatically eradicated.
Krishna told Arjuna to pick up his bow and kill his relatives. That doesn't mean that he is advocating killing, or that be advises us to do likewise. He is telling us to be detached from everything. Arjuna had to fight a war, whereas we have to battle our negative thoughts. We have to divert and disconnect attention from the things of the world and direct it towards God. This is what the saints and sages have done, and have advised others to do. Krishna's bow represents the Holy Name which we have to aim at our fluctuating minds. Of the eighteen battalions present at the battle of Kurukshetra, eleven belonged to Duryodhana and seven to the Pandava. The battle of Mahabharata rages within us, too. On one side is the army of the ten organs and the mind, plus a horde of sinful thoughts. "On the opposing side are Knowledge, meditation, remembering the Holy Name, service, satsang, non-attachment and meritorious actions. A person whose senses are drawn towards indulgence and vice is unrighteous, whereas someone who is inclined towards spirituality is righteous.
The weapons in this battle are the eyes, which should be used to see saints, the ears, which should be used to hear satsang; the mouth, which should be used only to praise God, the feet, which should be used for going to satsang and the hands, which should be used for serving the Saguru. One who, free from censure, totally diverts his mind from sensual indulgence, will be able to shoot the 'arrow' of the Name. Victory will be his.
Actions done in darkness do not yield good results, as a rule. It is also very difficult to find an object in the dark, That is why we illuminate our houses at night. Similarly, as long as the heart is in darkness, all our actions will cause misery and bondage. However, when the heart is illumined and transformed by spiritual Knowledge, all our actions lead us to liberation You won't see God, even though He dwells in your heart and even though you serve Him. St. Kabir said that serving God throughout the four ages will not equal the result of a moment's service to the Guru.
People don't know what devotion really is, yet consider themselves to be devotees. They have never seen God as He is, yet claim to know Him. But lies won't benefit anyone in this life, nor is there any hope for the future life. Those who recite the Gita think that this is devotion and Knowledge and that salvation is assured by chanting "Radha-Krishna' and worshipping statues, but nowhere in the Gita are these practices recommended. Similarly, devotees of Rama worship his statue, read Ramayana and chant 'Ram-Ram'. Vedic scholars study Vedas, chant 'Aum' and the Gayatri Mantra, perform yagyas and call this Knowledge and devotion. So which one of these is correct? Is this enough to take the human soul to the stage where it is meant to be? Did Lord Krishna instruct his close disciple Arjuna to do this, even though none of these can be done during battle?
Whether people believe it or not, the fact of the matter is that only Satguru can reveal what is true Knowledge and devotion. Whether a person searches for the Satguru or not, the fact remains that without his grace, the individual soul cannot cross the ocean of mortality. Anyone, anytime can practise the yoga or the devotion which Lord Krishna taught Arjuna.' Successful practice of this yoga does not depend on caste, creed, age or time. It can be practised simultaneously with any worldly activity, and actually
liberates the practitioner from the bondage or consequences of Action. The Lord says
"I taught this imperishable and eternal Yoga to Vivasvan. He taught it to Swayambhu Manu, and Manu taught it to his son Ikshavaku. Like this the royal sages in succession knew it. But this yoga has been lost for a very long time."
This is true yoga, to know which disciples served their Masters all their lives. This is the yoga which Nachiketa asked Death to teach him. But very few people anymore know about this original yoga. People call anything they like 'yoga'. To get peace of mind they go to temples, mosques and churches and sing hymns, say prayers and perform rituals. Meetings, conferences and yagyas are held for world peace, universal brotherhood and justice. However, instead we find lies, hatred, deception, duplicity, corruption, mutual distrust and enmity. Human beings have become bloodthirsty beasts. Our duty is to practise this yoga, which will give us peace and make our lives meaningful.
Lood Krishna continued, "Arjuna, I have described the greatness of this ancient Yoga to you, because you are My devotee and beloved friend. This is the Supreme Yoga – it is the ultimate mystery.
Arjuna listened to Krishna's teaching but had some doubts. Most people tend to keep their doubts hidden, and this is the cause of a lot of trouble. They find neither peace nor salvation.
Arjuna was Krishna's relative and close friend. Moreover, or maybe even in spite of this, he had unshakeable faith in Krishna. He didn't hide his feelings at all, and to clear his doubts he asked, "Lord, you were born only a few years ago, while Vivaswan
was born long, long ago, so how can I accept that you taught him this Yoga at the beginning of Creation?"
Krishna explained, 'You and I have been born many times already. You don't remember but I do, because my birth is not that of ordinary souls. They are forced to take birth because of previous karma, whereas I, although birthless and imperishable, and the Lord of all beings, incarnate of My own free will by manipulating my maya (Nature)." So why does the Lord incarnate? He explains, "Whenever the true religion declines and ignorance and wickedness increase, I incarnate in human form. To redeem the pious and destroy the wicked, I come from age to age.
'Although birthless, I take birth, although beyond action I act, but My births and actions are divine. Thou who realize Me in essence, attain Me and need not be reborn." Those who have realized the Lord as He really is, are freed from the cycle of action-reaction.
You must have seen pictorial representations of Krishna. He is sometimes depicted riding a horse and brandishing a naked sword. People probably interpret this to mean that he uses the sword to slaughter the wicked, but there is a deeper meaning to it. Using the sword of Knowledge the Lord destroys the evil and ignorant in man, bringing to an end the Kali Age and ushering in the Satyuga (Age of Truth) in which people will do longer be selfish and will work for the highest good. When a person becomes pious and holy, for him Satyuga has arrived. A person's tendencies and impressions are not changed by death. The impressions dominating him at his death determine the course of action he will pursue in his next life. The Lord means, that when people forget God and engross themselves in insubstantial and intransient things and call this religion - in other words, when mankind forgets what religion really is and follows wrong paths, the Lord incarnates to reintroduce true spiritual Knowledge and devotion and to eradicate unrighteousness and ignorance. True Dharma is established and all falsehood is destroyed.
There are two types of Incarnations. The first is the Nimitt Avatar who comes for a specific purpose, such as Rama, who came to destroy Ravanna, or Krishna, who came to destroy Kamsa. The second is the Nitya Avatar, the realized saint who is always present on earth in some form or other to redeem straying souls. If he were not here, then Knowledge would vanish from the world. The Nimitt Avatar slays the wicked, whereas true spiritual progress comes through the saint, the Nitya avatar, who, by revealing Knowledge, changes a disciple's subconscious store of impressions and tendencies, thus freeing him forever from the bondage of birth and death. The Lord says, "There are many who, free from attachment, fear and anger have taken My shelter, been purified in the fire of Knowledge and attained Me. As others remember Me, so I remember them. For those who think that I am far away, I actually come very far away, whereas I am always with those who regard me as dwelling within themselves. Someone who realizes this secret does not wander in the world of mortality. People who worship deities to fulfill their desires will get what they want, but they won't realize Me and will continue to transmigrate through other species. So, Arjuna, always meditate on Me alone in order to reach Me, because only by those who aspire to realize Me are actions done for Me."
What is action? What is inaction?" Even the intelligent go round in circles over this! They don't know the action which frees the individual from attachment and worldly bondage. They think that they are working desirelessly, but actually are enmeshed in the web of action. So the Lord Says, "Arjuna, I will tell you how to work so that you can be free from impurity and worldly attachment. You should know which action to perform, and which not to, because the secret of action is deep. He who sees action in inaction and inaction in action has actually understood this mystery.
All creatures act according to their individual traits and nature, but arrogant man thinks that he is the doer of action, and this is precisely why he is bound by their effects. On the other hand,
someone with Knowledge realizes that the soul is the witness and nature is the doer. Those who don't know the soul and work only to please the senses arc called sinners.
He who does not worry about action and has no attachment to results, whose every action is desireless and unmotivated, dedicates his every action into the fire of Knowledge and free from care, meditates on God. This is karma yoga, i.e. yoga of desireless or dedicated action. A real karma yogi, even while acting, is a non-doer. He is unconcerned about his physical body and is saturated in spiritual bliss. When a person continually gives up the desire for sense and mental enjoyments and meditates continually on God, all his actions are desireless. On the other hand, if a person renounces action but inwardly still harbours claims for pleasures, or, if he serves society out of vanity and ego, all his actions are motivated and he imprisons his soul still further.
Now where is that Knowledge, which the Lord revealed? Where is that Knowledge which is called the imperishable yoga and which Janak and other royal sages practised? If it were available from books then everyone would know it, but books can do little more than glorify it. Many people think that Krishna gave this Knowledge only to Arjuna, and nowadays it is unavailable. They don't ask themselves whether it is available anywhere today. But the point is, if this Knowledge is no longer existing in world, and if nobody possesses it, then how can it be imperishable? Knowledge is imperishable, but can't be known until the Guru who can reveal it is found.
Lord Krithna tells the aspirant how to receive Knowledge:
"Go to the realized seer, prostrate and sincerely ask for Knowledge. When he is pleased by your service the Master will reveal the Knowledge, by practising which the mind quickly loses its desires and delusions. Then you will see your Self within all
beings." When an aspirant has the grace of the Satguru, the sunrise of Knowledge dispels the darkness of his ignorance.
People read Gita, Ramayana and Srimad Bhagavatam but don't ask for the Knowledge which Krishna gave to Arjuna. The purpose of reading scriptures is to seek out that Knowledge. Gurus and religious preceptors should definitely receive that Word which can control the mind. Only human beings can ask and realize. Other species cannot.
Lord Krishna says, "Even if you are the worst of sinners, this Knowledge will free you from all sin. As wood disintegrates in fire, so are sins consumed in the fire of Knowledge." Roasted seeds cannot germinate and when the seeds of Karma arc roasted in the fire of Knowledge, they lose the ability to fructify.
Just as the sun can be compared only to the sun and the moon only to the moon so Knowledge can be compared only to itself, Knowledge, cannot be explained by anything else. The pure-minded experience this Knowledge within themselves. It has nothing to do with the senses and it is wrong to call anything perceived via the senses 'Knowledge'.
A person who practises Knowledge will gain mastery over his mind and senses and find everlasting peace. However, someone who has no faith in Knowledge or who doubts it, causes his own downfall, i.e. he remains bound to the wheel of birth and death. He neither happy in this world, nor does he find peace in the next. He falls short in both.
If a person has no desire to receive the highest knowledge or, after getting it, doesn't practise it, he is in a miserable position. Cows and goats eat grass and give us milk, which we ingest and promptly defecate. A dead animal's horns, skin and bones are useful, but a human corpse only takes up space in a graveyard. In other words, it is useless. The human body is meaningful only if it is used to meditate on God.
Arjuna had another question, so he asked Krishna, "On the one hand you praise the yoga of action, and on the other the
renunciation of action, I don't really understand this, so I'm confused. Please tell me conclusively which is better."
Krishna replied that both renunciation and the yoga of action lead to salvation as both lead to God realization. Those who regard renunciation and sinless actions as separate are just ignorant, because in both cases meditation is vital. Know that those who wear holy robes but don't meditate on God have fallen from the goal. Renunciation doesn't mean dying your clothes saffron and having your ears pierced. He who doesn't see any difference between renunciation and karma yoga is a true knower of God, but even so, the Path of renunciation is much harder for the average person than the path of action.
Surrendering all desire for worldly possessions and relationships is true sannyas, or renunciation. Just repeating 'I am God' does not make one a renunciate. Firstly, it has to be understood what sannyas really means, someone who doesn't miss things which he doesn't have, nor clings to those which he has; who feel neither attraction nor repulsion for anyone is a real sannyasi, even though he may be living a family life. On the other hand, a person who renounces the world, claiming it to be nothing hut misery, but whose Mind is still drawn to it, has to suffer, and is not free from the bondage of action. Someone who practises desireless karma yoga i.e. who meditates on God while doing all his actions, soon realizes divien (sic) peace.
When a person totally disconnects his mind from worldly attachments and, as directed by the Satguru, meditates on the Holy Name, his Mind is cleansed of the dross of thoughts and imaginations and rests in the Spirit.
How can a blind man directed by another blind man reach his destination? He'll go round in circles. He won't be able to go beyond this world. Caught up in self-praise and pride in his rites and rituals he doesn't think about Truth or realizing it. He also doesn't consider that he will have to suffer the results of his actions in future births over and over again. This truth is so profound that its mysteries are not understood just by dressing up like a
hermit. Only through contact with a great soul can one have full and perfect understanding of these matters.
When a person's mind, body and senses are under his control and he has no desire for material rewards, even if he does actions their consequences do not bind him The realized soul, while eating, talking, sleeping, breathing, taking and giving, understands that he doesn't actually do anything and that his organs are simply reacting to their natural stimuli, because his mind is in continual communion with the unchanging Spirit. Therefore, it is not drawn towards anything else. Such a great soul, like the lotus flower, lives in the world but is untouched by it.
A person who shuns ostentation and practises the inner yoga is unaffected by anything of the world. He doesn't work just for himself, but for the good of all beings. Ordinary people desire results for themselves but the true yogi has no desires or expecations (sic). God, the Source of creation, is beyond action, so the great soul who, through meditation unites his consciousness with God, also transcends actions and its results. Seated in his physical vehicle, he is a spectator of the wordly drama. God does not create the doership of action, nor actions and their consequences. The creature itself, according to Nature as well as its own traits and character engages in actton. The Lord does not take upon Himself anyone's good or had actions. Everyone has to suffer the consequences of his own actions himself.
Spiritual insight dawns only when the mental apparatus is centred and this occurs through meditation on God's True Name, the same imperishable Name glorified by all the scriptures. It has more power to destroy sin than sins have to destroy man.
Why do people chant sacred names? They do it to remove their own impure tendencies and defects, but the names they chant unfortunately don't have such power. The Name which does have this ability is the one meditated upon by the great devotees and masters of all times. However, people who don't know the True Name remember other names yet expect the ultimate reward described by Lord Krishna. Those who meditate on the Secret
Name within and renounce all desire for external pleasures experience the highest divine bliss because they know very well that pleasures gained through the senses ultimately lead to misery and reincarnation. Getting the chance to enjoy pleasures makes the average person happy while losing it makes him unhappy. That in why the wise give up all desire and expectation for sense pleasures and remember God alone. Just see for yourself. Have sense pleasures ever made anyone truly and permanently happy? The joy they seem to offer is like a mirage, but still people chase them. They ridicule meditation, satsang and devotion and as far as they are concerned spiritual bliss doesn't exist. Maggots are happy living in excreta and pus. What do they know of the fragrance of flowers? Owls can't look at the sun, and people engrossed in physical pleasures can't experience the spiritual Light within. The wise person who has full control over his mind and body and who can withstand the onslaught of the impulses of lust and anger, etc. experiences the joy of the Spirit. Not for him desire-born misery! He unites himself with the Inner Light and is liberated. Such a yogi is ever-free.
The scriptures say, and it can be seen also, that the entire phenomenal world is due to consciousness. Only as long as consciousness remains in the body does a person feel hunger and thirst, hot and cold and the natural urges. Suppose someone says, I don't know anything. Even though he hasn't experienced his own faculty of awareness, he is aware of something i.e. that he doesn't know anything.
The conscious soul in extremely subtle. It is not a subject of the mind, intellect or senses. Eyes cannot see it nor tongue taste it. That is why it is called imperceptible. The Unmanifest Form of God cannot be realized through any external object or means. If it cannot be known externally then it cannot be contemplated externally. So where should the mind be concentrated? Desireless action is impossible while the mind entertains any worldly thoughts. Without desireless action God-realization is impossible
and without knowing God a person can't achieve true peace even in a dream.
We have five sensory organs through which we perceive the world and five organs of action for doing work. We can force the organs of action to stop working but our sensory organs can't stop functioning. Suppose someone renounces action and calls himself sannyasi. He may not eat regular food but he'll have to drink milk or at least eat fruit. He may not sleep on a bed but he'll have to sleep on the ground. He may not wear clothes but he'll have to warm himself beside a fire. He'll have to do something or other to maintain his body, so what has he actually renounced?
Everyone can't do the same work. One grows crops, another weaves cloth, another makes clothes, another makes shoes The idea is that everyone works together to fulfill the community's needs. But one should meditate as he works. All these necessities are for the body only and only while consciousness inhabits a body is there any connection with the world. But if one isn't conscious of his own consciousness and thinks that material things are all there is, what has he gained by being born as a human being?
It doesn't matter' where you go, the five desires stay with you and putting on holy robes won't get rid of them. Instead, you should forget entirely the desires and, wherever you are, concentrate on the Unmanifest God. The omnipresent, omniscient, imperishable, indivisible and living God is within everyone, but just calling Him absolute and unmanifest doesn't provide a focus for the mind. That is why people go to gurus. God is indeed all-pervading, but just by chanting 'Ram' or 'Aum' His omnipresence is not realized. But most people are not interested in knowing what is beyond Ram or Aum, even if it is suggested to them.
People call someone who merely gives them a rosary or a sacred thread 'Guru', but rosaries can break and the thread rots and has to be changed. These things don't accompany you when you die. They remain behind with the body. Mosques, temples and churches collapse. The paper on which sacred texts are written rots
from moisture or dissolves, or it an be burned or blown away. None of these things can be called imperishable. People can forget mantas and prayers. There is something to be known beyond these, something which fire cannot burn, water cannot dissolve, air cannot blow away, sun cannot dry out and weapons 'cannot injure. Is any of the abovementioned methods the imperishable Knowledge which Lord Krishna revealed to Arjuna and which he instructed everyone to realize? Can these mentally-fabricated things take you to the Imperishable and Eternal?
Lust, anger, avarice, attachment and vanity are the five enemies which cause us nothing but misery, and drag us down into unrighteousness and wickedness. The natural and easy way to overcome them is meditation on the Holy Name. It doesn't cost anything and you don't have to go to a particular place to find it. You can meditate on it wherever you are, and whatever you are doing. The Name has the power to avert the inevitable. By its power St. Tulsidas and Jesus Christ were able to raise the dead and St. Gyaneshwar could make a buffalo recite Vedic mantras. Meditate on the Name and see how it fills you with Divine bliss. You will be disconnected from all worldly ties. You will see God and no longer crave the things of the world. Spiritual Knowledge or soul-realization is the highest science. Tulsidas said that someone who abandons the easy path of the Name for other more complicated and difficult methods is like the person who throws a magic cow out of his house and goes looking for milkweed. The Holy Name, which can fulfill every wish, gets rid of all sufferings and bestows liberation, is within everyone, but still people practise all kinds of external methods to get eternal peace and happiness. They won't get anything. People look for happiness in material things, which will eventually disintegrate into the elements from which they came. Peace and happiness are attributes of Spirit.
The mind should be concentrated on the Inner Light at the point between the eyebrows and on the Name within the breath as it flows through the nostrils. There am 100 major subtle nerves or
'pranic channels' within us. The most important, the Sushumna, travels through the spine to the forehead, where it meets with the Ida and Pingala, two other important nerves. This point is called Triveni or Hardwar. Here stands the chariot of the Lord. Below this point is the dominion of maya and above is God. As the mind ascends through meditation on the Holy Name, the bliss-permeated God, Whose Form is self-effulgent light, is realized. On the other hand, a person whose mind travels downwards into maya has to suffer transmigration.
God's supreme abode is not illuminated by sun, moon or fire. The glow of a candle or firefly is eclipsed by sunrise, and sunlight itself pales before the blazing Light of God. It is His Light which illuminates these lesser lights. In short, the entire Creation is energized and illuminated by this Light. Knowing the living Divine Entity within unties the knot between the Self and maya and destroys the delusion that the body is all that we are. True yoga is the method by which mind can sever all its worldly connections.
Arjuna obeyed Lord Krishna's command to fight, and due to his obedience his mind was disconnected from worldly illusion and fixed in God. If a disciple follows his Master's commands and is regular in service, satsang and meditation, his mind will also be detached from worldliness and tuned to the Holy Name,
People donate large sums in charity and social service and think that this will benefit them. Actually, deep down, they are motivated by the desire for praise and recognition. Anyway, it is better to use one's money for humanitarian projects than waste it. However, the disappointment and wounded pride engendered by lack of public recognition invalidates their good work.
Lord Krishna said that all creatures, from ants to elephants, existed in disembodied form before being born in this world and will exist like that after they leave it. The incarnated condition is only a temporary intermediate stage, but even so people get obsessed with titles, appearance, caste and social standing. They never give a thought to what our title, caste, or appearance was before we were born.
Two factors are involved in creation. The first is insentient maya or material nature: Fire, water, ether, earth, mind, air, intellect and ego belong to this category. The second is the spiritual element or life force. Bodies can be large or small, but the spiritual entity within them is the same. It has no caste, name or appearance. No creature's physical body is permanent. All have to leave one body to take another. Caste, appearance, knowledge, virtues, time or country change and none can escape this. Still, people don't abandon evil actions and worldly infatuation to meditate on God! The reason for this is that people are aware of death only for a short time. When they see a funeral the world seems unreal and selfish to them. However, as soon as they turn their backs on the crematorium they return to their worldly affairs and consider this to be real. Someone who is constantly aware of the reality of death loosens the knot between consciousness and matter and becomes free from birth and death. He is the wise seer. Such people regard this world as an inn or a way station, so, detaching their minds from it, meditate on God, the unchangeable and eternal Reality. Ordinary beings are obsessed with material pleasures to the very end. When an ox is no longer fit for work it is turned loose, but human beings hold on to avarice and attachment until the very moment they die.
If a person gets stuck in maya at any stage along the way he can't reach God. The consciousness has to attain the level of Sachkhand or Satlok, the level of truth, but how? Trains, buses and planes don't go there, became the route is entirely internal. People reach holy places by road, but the road to God is not1ike that. Only the subtle consciousness can negotiate this inner route. If you throw a kite in the air it will fall down again and if you throw its string that will also fall down. But if you tie the two together, both can fly upwards. The kite can reach a great height but if the string snaps the kite will fall into a lake, a river, a tree or somewhere else. The kite flier can control his kite by reeling it in, because he is holding the other end of the string. Similarly, Guru Maharaj Ji makes the consciousness ascend, but, if a disciple turns his back on
his Guru, his consciousness will descend again. If he disconnects himself from the Guru, who knows into what low state he can fall. So a disciple should never try and deceive his Guru.
God in His omnipresence may be compared to the sky. Just as the sky is the same for all people, regardless of social class, so God is one and the same for all people. There is no separate God for separate castes. Even the Creator has a limit, but the all-permeating Divine Energy can never have an end, so by realising it, the soul attains liberation. However, as long as it remains separated from God, it will have to keep reincarnating. So how can it be united with God? How can the mind and intellect experience the imperceptible, unmanifested God Who is beyond the senses? If the mind could achieve this state on known then everyone would have done so by now. It's a big mistake to think that the mind is or will be united with God by our going on pilgrimages or to temples and churches. The mind of a temple goer is more concerned with the ritual of temple-going than with God.
Until the kite and the string are tied together by someone they remain separate, and until he flies them, they don't fly. It's the same way, the Word or Holy Name exists within everyone but Satguru unites the individual consciousness with it, and he alone can make the consciousness ascend above maya. But God, unlike the kite, and consciousness, unlike that string, are not gross entities. They are extremely subtle, and the knot which unites them i.e. the Holy Name, is also extremely subtle. Only when consciousness is united to the Name's the mind purified, and God is seen only by the purified.
Roads are built for man and beast to walk along. However, whenever the beast sees a patch of green grass or a leafy tree, it will stray from the road to indulge its greed. The Divine Masters have given us the path of the scriptures to follow, but, animal-like, man disobeys their instructions and goes off the road to roam around satisfying his desires, Man builds wells so that other people and animals may drink, but animals can't draw the water of the well by themselves. They can only quench their thirst after someone
has drawn the water for them. Similarly, only a Satguru can explain "the hidden meanings of the scriptures. Man can't understand them of his own accord.
Are the scriptures or the saints to blame if we prefer to disregard their advice and get ourselves caught in the brambles of maya?
In the Gita Lord Krishna says that the highest action human beings can do is desireless meditation on God. If he can't do this, then what can he do desirelessly? Renunciation of objects does not necessarily mean desirelessness. So-called yogis and sannyasis may not use fire for warmth, Yet they eat cooked food! They won't touch money yet they ride around in gold and silver palanquins! Their walking sticks have golden or silver knobs! Isn't that hypocrisy? But blind humanity calls such hypocrites saints, popes, renunciates and monks. However, a true renunciate has no desires at all, and this state is achieved when the mind meditates on nothing else except God.
Liberation is achieved only when the will is surrendered to God and there is a total absence of mental fluctuations, in which state there is neither desire for pleasures nor attachment to actions nor results.
So each person should carefully consider. What is best for himself. Devotees such as Dhruva and Prahlad, whose senses were totally rivetted in God, were their own best friends. On the other hand, someone who turns away from God does, as much harm to himself as if he had cut off his own limbs. No one else in this world is a friend or enemy. When his mind is in perfect-tranquil equilibrium, a person doesn't consider anyone to be his friend or his enemy. A person in total control of his mind and senses perceives the same soul within all, and feels the same towards all. He works for the sake of all and speaks well of all. However someone whose mind and senses are out of control, makes friends and enemies in order to protect his own interests. Heat and cold, pleasure and pain, respect and disrespect are immaterial for the person whose mind is totally tranquil. He
doesn't even feel disturbed by great suffering. For, him, gold and mud are the same. He is aware of nothing except God. The superior yogi is he who regards equally friend and foe, the indifferent, the hateful, the brotherly, the sinner and the saint.
Then Lord Krishna says (6:10-12), "Abandoning all expectations, how should, a yogi keep his consciousness stilled in meditation? He should prepare a seat in a pure place, and, placing his hopes neither high not low, with his mind and senses under control, practise Yoga." The place where the saintly ones live becomes pure because their presence can turn hell into heaven, whereas the company of the wicked can turn heaven into hell.
A place can be considered pure if, by sitting there, our thoughts turn to God. Mosques, temples, churches and pilgrimage spots are regarded as holy, but are they really if we sit there and our minds still engage in worldly thoughts? We should also ask ourselves what Lord Krishna means by practising Yoga. If you sit in a lonely place but continue to think about worldly things, what is the use of being there? You can think about worldly things anywhere. The mind gives rise to myriads of thoughts. Just as you can't see your reflection in a dirty mirror or in moving water, similarly God cannot be seen by an unsteady mind. The mind's coating of impurities and filth causes its haziness. The unsteady mind is like the waves in water, but when it is attuned to the Word of the Guru, all its shortcomings and imperfections are removed. Lord Krishna continues.
Keeping the body, head and neck straight, not looking around but gazing at the start of the nose, he should merge his mind in meditation. Keeping his mind away from worldly affairs, the yogi should meditate on Me." (6:13)
People normally interpret the word (Sanskrit) the tip of the nose. Actually, (Sanskrit) means the origin or starling point. The point between the eyebrows which Hindus decorate with sandalwood paste, is actually the origin of the nose, the 'agrabhag'. One has to close the eyes and meditate on the Divine Light within. Thy way to do this is fully explained by the Satguru. Another word which causes controversy is the word brahmacharya. It is made up of two words, Brahm (God) and aacharan, (behaviour), One whose mind is fixed in God is entitled to be called a brahmacharin. You'll find a lot of people calling themselves 'brahmachari' but very few who think about nothing else except God. There is only one way to achieve the highest bliss and it does not require sannyasin's robes, because the Yoga of the soul has nothing to do with external physical techniques. What it does require is love for God.
Lord Krishna further says, "A yogi whose mind is free and who is eternally in meditation attains supreme peace and bliss. This yoga is not achieved by eating too much or too little, by sleeping too much or too little. It is perfected by regulating one's diet and conduct and attempting to perform right actions."
Some people hardly talk at all, while many talk too much, and about useless things. Some undergo severe fasting while others ruin their health by standing in icy water or by sitting near a fire in the middle of summer. All they get out of this is physical discomfort.
A candle burns brightest in a sheltered place. The consciousness of a yogi is described as being as steady as the flame of a candle sheltered from the wind. His consciousness is unflickering in meditation because the wind of desires and craving can't disturb it, even though maya tries to tempt him and make him fall from his path.
The ultimate stage of yoga is the union of meditator, meditation and that which is meditated upon. The object of meditation is God, sustained concentration on Him is meditation and the person who does this is the meditator. So if a person thinks
only about worldly things when he tries to meditate, how can he ever reach the goal? If the object of a person's meditation is acquisition of worldly things, that is what he will ultimately get. His mind can never be fixed. A blindfolded ox turns a millwheel all day and thinks that he has trudged miles, but in the evening when the blindfold is removed, he finds that he is at the same place where he started. Similarly, people fool themselves with their hymn-singing, rituals and chanting, thinking that they have progressed, when actually they have not.
People worship idols as God, but the statues are man-made and will break one day, whereas God is unmade, changeless, indestructible. People talk about God but meditate on perishable objects. Some will say that they meditate only on the cosmic form of God, but this form is described by scriptures as being consciousness and universal Light. A candle is necessary for viewing an idol in a sanctuary, because you can't see in the dark. So how can that idol be God? Do you need a candle to see the sun? So should you need a candle to see the Light of lights?
As far as the mind and senses extend is all maya. Meditating on anything of the world is meditation on maya. An unsteady mind, can never meditate on God. If a spiritual practice does not tame the mind, it cannot be called yoga or devotion. It is incomprehensible how people who are not in love with God can call themselves devotees. Yoga means uniting the mind with God. So, Krishna says,
"When the mind is concentrated in the practice of Yoga, experiencing the Spirit, it is content in the Spirit. when the intellect is free from the senses it experiences the bliss of the Spirit and does not wander from the Spirit. Someone who achieves this is a yogi.
'There is no benefit greater than the spiritual, because it bestows peace. The yogi abandons all thoughts of meeting and separation and is not upset by these, and, knowing what is the highest duty of human beings, realizes that his true welfare lies in practising the path of spiritual Yoga.'
Keeping the mind aloof from the senses and in full control, abandoning any motivation and craving, the meditator should over and over again practise the Holy Name, not thinking of anything else. This will be difficult at first, but gets easier with practice.
When a rope rubs again and again against the stone wall of a well, it makes a groove in the stone. The child in school today, if he studies diligently, will become the professor of tomorrow. Practice is a great thing. It can achieve anything. A baby, is born not knowing anything - it learns everything later. If a person meditates on the True Name over and over again, one day he will definitely realize God. By meditation on the living Spirit even the non-living intellect can achieve Knowledge of consciousness.
The Gita tells everyone to meditate within, to concentrate the mind within. But people are blind. They forget the instructions of the divine Masters and busy themselves with rites, rituals, etc. which are all external. They have no idea what Yoga is or on what to meditate. Although the heirs of immortality, they become the victims of Death.
The technique which can be practised non-stop is real devotion. None of the external practises which people call devotion can be practised non-stop. You can't sing when you are tired. You can't continue your pilgrimage when your feet are worn out.
The roots of a tree are underneath the ground and its branches are above, but Krishna describes the world as being an inverted tree, with its roots in the air. and the branches spreading downwards Those who go towards the root find peace and liberation while those who are caught in the branches of lust-anger-avarice-attachment get nothing but trouble and reincarnation.
The world has two elements. One is the unreal, changeable, insentient apara prakriti (material nature) and the second is real, unchangeable and conscious. Out of millions, very few people
have a desire to know Reality and very very few have any understanding of it Even those who talk about truth aim towards illusory things. Man is born in maya, he grows up in it and his grabbing for it keeps him restless and unsteady. Eventually he dies in it.
All creatures run towards the impermanent and die doing so, but it is like chasing a shadow, which you can never catch.
The body is material and insentient while the spirit is conscious. The world is as changeable or impermanent as a dream. So how can consciousness and bliss be found therein? People waste their lives adorning the body and forget all about the Spirit. They even doubt its existence! Even those who have some desire to know it go about this in external ways. But, just consider this - how can consciousness be known by the non-conscious?
The kind of body a soul receives it due to its previous actions, and it enjoys or suffers accordingly, but in a human body the soul has a chance to break free of all karmic bondage, by taking refuge in the Lord.
The mind will try to distract us from our true path and entangle us in desires, but the mind itself has to be directed towards God. Lord Krishna told Arjuna,
"Devoutly practising Yoga without confusion and with your mind attached to Me, you shall know Me fully." (7:1)
Atmayoga, or the Knowledge of the soul, is the highway to liberation, bringing relief from all sorrows and detachment from the world. The mind can be the cause of liberation or the cause of bondage. When the devotee's mind is fixed in God, worldly misery can't affect him. So, a person should give all his love as well as his mind to God. Then Krishna tells Arjuna, 'For the fortunate person who changes himself through serving a great soul, the door of liberation is open'. However, only by the singular grace of God does one meet a true saint, because the majority of people are swayed
and misled by grandeur, opulence, youth and power and in order to get something for themselves are quite prepared to deceive them. Such persons never once think about saints.
Shri Krishna said, "out of thousands, very few master this yoga and of these barely one knows Me in essence, I am the living Light and Consciousness within all beings, but very few yogis ever realize this, because beings stuck in the illusory infatuation of maya don't know Me as the living Soul of all.'
Fire, water, air, earth, ether, mind, intellect and ego is my eightfold 'material nature', which enchants everyone and entangles them in all kinds of suffering as well in repeated incarnations. Secondly, my para nature or Divine Nature is that which energizes and sustains the entire universe. All beings are created by, these two natures of Mine. This entire universe is threaded on Me as beads on a string."
The string of a necklace is unseen, and likewise the all-knowing, omnipresent, indwelling Spirit is not visible to our ordinary vision, although it is the power by which the eyes see, by which the ears hear, by which the nose perceives good and bad smells and by which the tongue tastes. Within the myriad varities (sic) of bodies in this world is a single Power. The body is like a nest, in which lives birds - God and the soul. The soul, due to ego suffers, while God, being beyond action, is merely the Witness. The soul suffers the results of good and bad actions done previously. When the subtle Divine Power, which is beyond mind, senses and intellect and which energizes and sustains all, leaves a body, that body becomes a corpse. The living, conscious entity is called God, Atma or Shiva. It is all-pervading, like the sky. The sky in not wet by water nor soiled by mud, and similarly, the soul is pure and free of imperfection. Atma Yoga means taking refuge in the Master, knowing the soul and then uniting the mind with it.
Just as all physical actions take place through the agency of breath, so all activity in the universe happens through the universal breath, the energy of God. But people prefer the darknesss of ego
and attachment. The highest type, of devotee is he who knows the omnipresent form of God and sees the divinity within all beings. The Lord says,
"People who don't know Me as the Imperishable beyond the effects of Sat, Raj and Tam, are deluded by maya and do not find release from the world, because My maya is extremely difficult to transcend. Those devotees who constantly meditate on Me, cross it easily, but dull and devilish people whose wisdom is obscured by maya, do not meditate on Me."
He then describes four categories of devotees. The first is he who remembers God in distress. The second has some kind of ulterior motive for remembering God, such as winning the lottery, passing exams, or getting a promotion. The third type is the aspirant who wants to know God, and the fourth, the superlative devotee, is the one who knows God and Meditates on Him for His sake alone. The Lord says, "Such a gyani is My very soul, because he is in Me and I am always in Him." By serving and associating with such a realized soul, other people can attain salvation. Serving the enlightened is actually serving God.
Lord Krishna then explains that whoever remembers God at the time of death, undoubtedly attains Him, because the future existence of an individual depends upon his last thought as he leaves the body. But he will remember only that which has preoccupied him throughout his life.
Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians all turn rosaries while chanting some name or prayer, but while they are doing it their minds can be elsewhere, and if you spend your time thinking about worldly things then that will come to mind at the time of death. So to reach the state of being able to transcend worldly thoughts at the time of death, the Lord recommends "At all times remember Me and fight. In this way, with mind and intellect dedicated to Me,
you will undoubtedly attain Me." No one can say that it is impossible to meditate constantly, because no work is more demanding than waging war, as Arjuna had to do. One who practises the Yoga of meditation and does not allow his mind to wander outside in the world realizes the Supreme Person of God.
"The person, who remembers God - Who is omnipresent, inconceivable, the basis of all, the all-controlling, far beyond darkness and ignorance, more brilliant than the sun and more subtle than subtle - and who, calm at the time of death through devotion and the pourer of yoga, stills his breath between the eyebrows, attains God."
Lord Krishna then talks about the Divine Word, which he says, (8:13) is 'beyond Aum', describing it as "the supreme, the aim of all Knowledge, which knowers of the Vedas call indestructible and which Yogis enter into after much trial and to know which they maintain strict brahmacharya."
The word 'Aum', which many believe is the Holy Word, has a beginning and an end. It is composed of two vowels and a consonant and means the all-pervading, all-controlling and all-sustaining essence of everything. So that Power has to be known, which sustains even the tiniest creatures. A-U-M represents the three states of awareness - waking, dreaming and deep sleep. Those three mental states can be experienced by non-human as well as human beings. When we are in the state of deep sleep, we forget everything which happened in the waking state. Upon awakening, our old memories reassert themselves and we say, "I am so-and-so from such-and-such country." But what is the Reality beyond time-space-caste, etc. which exists throughout the past, present and future?
Aum, Ram-Ram, Allah, God are products of cultures. Just by saying 'Aum' the mind is not concentrated nor is the all-permeating Reality known.
"He who, closing the doors of the senses, stilling his breath between the eyebrows and meditating only on God's eternal form,
leaves his body, achieves the highest state and does not have to return to the world."
"To the yogi whose consciousness does not wander and who constantly meditates on Me, I am easily attainable. Those mahatmas, having achieved the Yoga which bestows the highest powers, do not have to be reborn in this world of suffering." On the other hand, a person who still retains desires has to return to this mortal world, even from the highest heavens.
Satyuga, Treta, Dwapar and Kali comprise one cycle. One thousand such cycles equals a single day of Brahma and another, one night of Brahma. When a hundred years of such days and nights have passed, Brahma also becomes inactive. In other words, the Creator from whom you, I and all creatures have sprung, must also meet his end sometime. Understanding this, a sensible person doesn't crave anything of this world nor rejoices at the destruction of anything. This visible creation arises from the subtle body of Brahma at the dawning of his 'day' and at 'night' again enters into it. But that which remains even after Brahma has become dormant is called the indestructible Word of God. It is beyond the three powers of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and is not destroyed even at the time of Universal dissolution. Realizing this eternal, imperishable God is the only way to liberation, from which the soul does not return. This state is described by the Lord or His supreme abode, where sun, moon and fire do not shine, but which is illuminated by the self-effulgent Divine Light, the same Light which energizes every creature.
There are two paths along which the soul may travel after it leaves the body, depending on whether it has to return to the world or not. The first is the 'bright path', shining like the sun or the moon in the bright phase. In other words, the Light of God. If a yogi leaves his body merged in this Light he attains God. The second is the dark path, smoky and like the dark fortnight of the lunar month. The soul which travels this path - which means that it is not meditating on God - has to be reborn in the mortal world,
even though in the meantime, due to accumulated merit, it enjoys a spell in the heaven worlds.
These two paths, the bright and the dark, or that of Knowledge and that of ignorant, are eternal. The yogi who understands this does not fall info the snares of the world, but remains all the time contented and absorbed in meditation. So Lord Krishna advised Arjuna, "At all times and on all occasions be in Yoga in order to attain Me."
The spiritual merit gained from realizing the mysteries of Atma Yoga surpass those of mastering the Vedas, performing rites and rituals and giving alms, because the pleasures gained from these will come to an end sooner or later. So the wise yogi aspires, through meditation, to realize only God, and shuns both the vain hopes of this world as well as those actions which ensure heavenly pleasures. And in the end he does indeed attain the Almighty God.