January 2014

He who reigns supreme as master of himself alone becomes a servant of light unto others. – Chinmaya

All are busy trying to reform others. But hardly anyone has the time or patience to reform oneself.

“Avidyaayaamantare vartamaanaa: …”  Lord Yamaraj, in Kathopanishad, laments that the majority of the people, themselves wallowing in ignorance, pose outwardly as wise and knowledgeable, and take up the task of reforming others. He ridicules it as the blind leading the blind!

The above quote makes it clear: if you want to reform others, first start from yourself. Practise; and then preach, if you want your message to reach.

Once an anxious mother came to Mahatma Gandhi and pleaded, “Bapuji, I need your help. My son is afflicted with kidney disease and the doctor has asked me to put him on a salt-free diet. But my son refuses to take such bland food. However, if you have a word with him, he will follow your advice implicitly as he has great regard and respect for you.”

“Bring your son here after one week. I will talk to him,” Gandhiji said to the lady.

The mother and the son came to meet Gandhiji after one week. Gandhiji looked into the eyes of the young boy and said, “There is something that I would like you to do.” “What is it Bapuji? I am ever ready to do your bidding!” said the boy eagerly. “Then may I ask you to refrain from eating salt as the doctors have advised?” said Gandhiji. “Is that all?” exclaimed the boy. Then turning to his mother he said, “No more salt for me mother!”

The mother was overwhelmed. It had worked out just as she had hoped it would. However, one thing puzzled her. Why had the Mahatma taken a week to make this simple request to her son?

Eventually, her curiosity got the better of her and she asked Gandhiji for the explanation, “Why did you take a week to call the boy and tell him not to take salt?”

“I could not have done it earlier,” replied the Mahatma, “for I myself was taking salt in my food at that time. It took me a week to give up salt completely. Then alone I could tell your son to do it, with a clean conscience. How could I have asked him to do something which I haven’t practised myself?”

The Bhagavad Gita says, “Yad yad aacharati shreshta:… ” Whatever the leaders of the society demonstrate through their actions, the generation imitates them implicitly.

Once Lal Bahadur Shastri, the then Prime Minister of India, came to know that his son, Sunil Shastri, had taken the Government car for private use. He asked the driver to bring the logbook and asked Sunil to write down the total kilometres he travelled. He put his signature saying

“Private use” and asked his son to pay the price of petrol.

One who subjects to discipline is called a disciple. In this world, everyone wants to be Guru, but no one is ready to become a disciple. Strange but true, a true disciple alone becomes a true Guru.

Guru Amardas was the third of the ten Gurus of Sikhism. His life has been a shining example of devotion and humility. At the advanced age of seventy, Amardas became the disciple of Guru Angad. The old man sought the joy of his life in serving his Master. In the dark, before the dawn, he would walk miles to the river Bias to fetch a pitcher of freshwater for the Guru’s bath. He would walk backwards so as not to turn his back to the Guru. He would wash the Guru’s clothes. He would serve in the Guru’s langar (Communal free kitchen of the Sikh), doing lowly tasks, rejoicing in utter self-effacement.

Guru Angad watched with interest in the spiritual growth of his old disciple. Inwardly the Guru continued to send him all the help needed. But outwardly he was very stern with his disciple; for the disciple must go through all the rigours of discipline. Not for a moment did Amardas

resent the seemingly harsh treatment meted out to him by the Guru. Not for a moment did he doubt that the Guru was all love, kindness and mercy. Sometimes, he was not even allowed to come near the Guru. At such times, he would continue to gaze from afar at the

Master’s face, with the wonder and joy of a child!

A new colony was to be built by the disciples on the bank of the river Bias. The Guru asked Amardas to make his dwelling there!

For Amardas, it was sheer death to live away from the physical presence of the Guru; but he did not hesitate. He went to live in Gondwal, the new colony. And every morning, this old man would come, carrying on his grey head a pitcher of freshwater for the Guru’s bath. He

would come, singing the Guru’s baani (teachings) all the way, tears of love and joy flowing out of his aspiring eyes.

Thus Amardas walked the way of the true disciple until he himself became a great Guru, who brought enlightenment to many.

In spirituality, self-mastery comes with self-annihilation. The greater the annihilation of the ego, the brighter the divine light shines within us. It is this light peeping through the Masters that guides the seekers along their unlit paths of spiritual unfoldment, giving them hope to become yet another servant of light to help their generation come out of the darkness of delusion.

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