Archive for Chintana

December 2021

If we accept and acknowledge the mistake, it is forgiven.   – Chinmaya

The Lord is an embodiment of love – a love that is infinite and unconditional. Even an ocean of sins committed by us are forgiven, when we confess to Him, bow down to Him with a heart filled with repentance and remorse.

There is a beautiful story narrated by Lord Jesus in the Holy Bible.

Father Levi was a happy man. He had worked hard all his life and now he owned a big farm. Besides his wealth, he had been blessed with two fine sons. He looked forward to seeing them married and settled down. Then he might be blessed with little grandchildren, too. He was very happy as he looked out over his cornfields, his sheep and his cattle, his orchards and vineyards.

But his happiness did not last long. Though his elder son was quite content and worked hard every day in the fields, his younger son was restless and bored. He was tired of the dull farm where there was no excitement and nothing ever happened. He longed to go to the big bright glamorous cities where everything was exciting and where he knew he would be happy. One day he made up his mind. He could not stand the dreary farm anymore. He went to his father.

“Father,” he said, “Give me my share of your money. I want it now. I am leaving home and going away.”

Father Levi was sad when he heard this. He knew that money would not bring happiness to young Simon. But he loved his son too much to force him to stay at home. Besides, Simon must live his own life and learn for himself.
Father Levi was too loving and too wise to try to stop him.

Father Levi sold some of his sheep and cattle and part of his land. He sold exactly one-third of his estate, so that Simon would have all that would come to him by law. Then he gave Simon the bag of silver.

Simon could not wait to be off. He put on his best clothes and tucked the bag of silver safely inside his belt. He could hardly stop to say goodbye. Father Levi watched him as he strode out down the road and disappeared into the distance. He felt sad about losing his son. Now he could only watch and wait and long for him to come back.

How happy Simon was as he got farther and farther away from that dreary farm! Now he would begin to live. What fun and pleasure and excitement he would have!

The jolly young Jew had plenty to spend, and his father’s money brought him lots of friends. Life was one long round of parties and Simon loved the music and dancing, the feasting and drinking and merry-making. He was just spending his father’s hard-earned money.

At first, Simon did not worry. He had looked after his friends and spent money on them for a long time. Now they would look after him. But he got a shock of his life when he went to them. They turned him away. They wanted nothing more to do with him. Now that his money was gone, his friends were gone too. He sold all his fine new clothes and soon he had nothing left.

Simon was very miserable as he wandered through the city streets. He was not among his own people. There was no one he could turn to for help. He was a stranger in a strange land. He was all alone, without friends and without money.

So Simon left the fine city. He went out into the countryside. Perhaps one of the farmers would give him a job. After all, he could do a good day’s work on the land with all that he knew about farming. But no one gave him any work. His clothes were in rags by now, and he was starving. Then, at last, a farmer took pity on him. He said that Simon could look after his pigs. To be a swineherd was the lowest job of all. But Simon was too hungry to be proud. The pigs were fed with the rough pods of the carob tree. Simon was so hungry that he longed to stuff himself with the pigs’ food.

Simon had plenty of time to think, as he guarded the pigs. “What a fool I have been,” he thought to himself. “I have left my father who loved me so much. He wanted me to be with him. Look at me now. Even my father’s servants are much better off than I am. I’ll go back. Yes, I will go back to my father. I will apologise to him that I have sinned against God by sinning against him. I will tell him that I have been a bad son, not respecting my father, and not honouring and obeying him. I have had my share of his estates, I know that. I can’t expect him to take me back as his son. I will say to him: I am not fit to be treated like your son. Please take me as a mere workman in the fields.”

It was a long, long journey back home. Mile after mile Simon hobbled along the dusty roads eating any scraps he could find, sleeping by the roadside. No one would have recognized the dirty tattered beggar as the proud son of Father Levi.

But there was one man who did. Father Levi had been sad and mournful ever since the day his young son had gone away. Every day he went up on the flat roof of his house. He sat there, looking into the distance, hoping and longing for his son to come back to him. It was Father Levi who recognized that form in rags and tatters, limping up the road. He hurried down the steps from the roof. He forgot all about his dignity and importance and ran down the road. He clasped Simon in his arms and hugged him tight, crying out in his joy.

Simon could hardly speak as his father hugged and kissed him. Then he began to confess what a fool he had been. “Father,” he said, “I have sinned against God! I have been disrespectful and disobedient to you. I am not fit to be taken back as your son. Just let me be one of your labourers.”

But Father Levi did not even listen. He was clasping his hands and calling for the servants. They came running out. “My son has come back home,” he said, “Fetch one of my finest robes for him, so that we may honour him. Bring one of my rings for his finger, so that he will have my authority. And don’t forget a pair of slippers, too. We can’t have him walking around barefoot, like a servant. Then you can kill a fatted calf and prepare a feast. We are going to eat and drink and be merry. My son was dead to me, and now he is alive again. He was lost, and now he is found.”

The servants hurried off to obey their master. Soon the whole household was buzzing with the news. Everyone shared in Father Levi’s joy.

What a feast they had! After all the eating and drinking came the merrymaking. The flute players played the music for the round dance of the men. There was singing, stamping of the feet, and clapping of the hands. What a noise they made in their happiness! Anyone could have heard it a long way off. Someone did. It was Jude, the elder brother. He had spent a long hard day in the fields and he was walking wearily back home. He heard the noise as he came near to the house. What are they all singing and dancing and shouting about? The servant told him that Simon had come home and that the feast was in his honour. Jude was furious.

The servant ran in to tell Father Levi that Jude was back from the fields. “Then ask Jude to come and take his place of honour at our feast,” said Father Levi.
“What?” shouted Jude at the servant when he came back. “Does he think I am going to rejoice, just because that good-for-nothing son of his has come back? Does he imagine I am going to make merry to honour that lazy young rascal?”

The servant told his master what Jude had said. Then Father Levi went out himself to his elder son. He spoke kind and loving words to Jude. But Jude was too furious to listen. He was too angry even to be polite to his father, let alone speak to him respectfully as he ought. He was too rude even to let his father plead with him. “All these years I have slaved on your farm!” He shouted at his father. “I have always obeyed you! I have always served you! Did you ever give me a feast so that I could make merry with my friends? No! But what happens when that wastrel of a son of yours comes back? Nothing is too good for him! All he has done is to throw away your money, enjoying himself in the big city. But he gets the fatted calf and a grand feast!”

Father Levi loved Jude as much as he loved Simon. He could understand how Jude felt and why he was so angry. He did not speak sternly to him. He did not complain of his lack of love. He simply put his arms around Jude’s shoulder. “Jude, my son, my dear son,” he said, “You are always here with me. I know that I can rely on you. All that I have belongs to you, now that Simon has had his share. He is my son, just as you are. I love you both dearly. I was only right to welcome him back home again. It makes me so happy to have him with me, just as it makes me happy to have you with me. You see, it is just as if he has come back from the dead. I was afraid I would never see him again when he went away. He was dead, now he is alive again. He was lost, now he has been found. Come in with me, dear Jude. Come in and share my joy.”

The story of Simon is our story. Ever ungrateful to the ever-present and ever-loving Lord – the Supreme Self, and abandoning His abode of Sat-Chit-Ananda, we wander in the strange world of the senses as a miserable beggar.

This is all we need to do: Shed the ego. Confess that we have erred. Seek forgiveness for all our mistakes. Surrender unto Him. He will surely accept us and then all will be well.

Poor Lord! He has been waiting with a longing heart from time immemorial for the return of His beloved children.  

May we stop being His ungrateful disobedient children. May we not make Him wait and disappoint Him any longer.

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November 2021

It is our bounden duty to do everything to make children grow into beautiful beings.   – Chinmaya

When do children grow into beautiful beings?
Only when we inculcate the eternal values in them.

In this regard, parents have a very big role to play.

Lord Krishna visited Queen Gandhari to console her after the Kurukshetra battle. Unable to control her emotions, she accused Him, “Though you are God, how could you be so partial? You supported the Pandavas but could not save at least one son out of the hundred sons I bore.”
Krishna replied, “Amma, I am not responsible for the death of your children. You alone are.”
Completely taken aback, Gandhari replied, “Krishna, how can you be so hard-hearted to accuse me thus?”
Krishna replied, “You gave birth to a hundred sons but did you ever cast your loving glance on at least one of them? You chose to remain blindfolded. You could not see for yourself how your sons were faring. Mother is the first teacher and the preacher. A mother is an embodiment of all virtues – be it love, sacrifice, patience, compassion or forgiveness. Being in the company of such a mother, children learn all the noble virtues of life. Hence a mother is irreplaceable. ”

“Just think over the situation for yourself. The Kauravas grew up amidst a blind father and a blindfolded mother. Hence they had none to love them, to discipline them and to correct them. No wonder why they grew up with all vices of life.

And what about Pandavas? Kunti, from the moment of her husband’s death, brought up her sons with great care and affection. She was with them whether it be in the palace, in the forest or in the House of Wax. The Pandavas would never do anything without the blessings or permission of their mother. Well-groomed by their virtuous and devoted mother, Pandavas grew up as embodiments of all virtues.”

“Amma, your sons are indeed the most unfortunate ones because they could not enjoy their mother’s most affectionate glance and her tender care. How could they grow into disciplined, dutiful, and righteous heroes?”

Gandhari realized the truth in Krishna’s words. But it was too late…

Other than the parents, even the teachers and professors in the schools and the colleges can play a vital role in moulding the character of the modern youth.

Sadhu Vaswani was a popular professor and his students adored him. They were deeply devoted to him.
One day he took them out on an excursion. There were some labourers engaged in the work of construction of a building. They had taken off their shoes. The students wished to have some fun. So they took away the shoes of the labourers and hid them behind the bushes. They thought it would be fun to watch the labourers search for their lost shoes.

Prof Vaswani learnt this and he said to the students, “Come, I shall show you how to have better fun.”
He asked the students to keep the shoes in their proper places and insert one rupee coin in every shoe. “Then watch the faces of the workers when they wear the shoes, and you will have the greatest fun of life.”

The students followed the directions. When the labourers came and found one rupee coin in their torn, tattered shoes, they could not believe their eyes! They felt excited and astonished beyond words.
As the students watched the happy faces of the worker, they said to each other, “Surely, there is greater fun in loving, in giving, than in teasing.”

Blessed indeed are they who, at a very young age, grow up under the protection and guidance of virtuous and noble ones.

Even when he was a small boy, Swami Rama was living with his Master in the Himalayas.
Children are selfish by nature. They do not want to give anything to others. The little boy was trained by his Master to reverse this tendency.

In the mountains, they used to take only one meal a day. The boy was given one chappati, some vegetables, and a glass of milk. One day, when it was almost one o’clock he washed his hands, sat down, and the food was given to him. He said his prayers and was about to start eating when his Master came in and said, “Wait!”
The boy looked at the Master wanting to know the reason.

The Master said, “An old Swami has come. He is hungry and you must give him your food.”
“No,” the boy argued, “I am not going to, even if he is a Swami. I am also hungry and I will not get any food until tomorrow.”
The Master said, “You won’t die. Give it to him. But don’t give it just because I am ordering you. Give it as an offering of love.”
The boy was adamant. He said, “I am hungry. How can I feel love towards someone who is eating my food?”
When the Master could not convince him to offer his food to the Swami he finally said, “I order you to offer your food!”

The Swami came in. He was an old man with a white beard. With only a blanket, a walking stick, and wooden sandals, he travelled all alone in the mountains. The Master said to him, “I am so glad that you have come. Will you bless this child for me?”

But the boy said, “I don’t need your blessing. I need food. I am hungry.”
The Master said, “If you lose control in this weak moment, you will lose the battle of life. Please offer your food to the Swami. First give him water and then wash his feet.”

The boy did as he was told, but he did not like it, nor did he understand the meaning of it. He helped the Swami wash his feet and then he asked him to sit down and then he gave his food. Later it was found out that the Swami had not had any food for four days.

He took the food and said, “God bless you! You will never feel hunger until the food comes before you. This is my blessing to you.”

Swami Rama recollects this incident and says, “His voice still echoes in my ears. From that very day, I have been free from that urge which had so often led me to childish cravings.”

Recent research has shown that children who are trained in noble virtues grow up to be successful in their family, social and professional lives.

Munshi Premchand, a famous writer in Hindi literature, had two sons. They were studying in Allahabad, while he and his wife lived in a small town towards the northern side of Allahabad.

One day, Premchand and his wife had to go by train southward on a visit to another town and they had to pass through Allahabad. He wrote to his sons to come and meet them at the station on that particular date.

The train halted at the station and the parents stood at the door of the carriage. They saw their sons hurrying towards them. The elder one touched the feet of both the parents before talking to them, while the younger son just talked. The parents enquired about their health and studies. Both of them said that everything was fine.

As the train was about to start, once again the elder one bent and touched the feet of his parents while the younger one just waved his hands.

The couple continued their journey on the train. Premchand’s wife was talking about their sons and was very happy over the meeting. She saw to her surprise that her husband was rather unusually silent and moody. She asked him, “My dear, what is the matter? Why are you so serious and silent all of a sudden instead of being happy?”

Premchand replied, “You don’t seem to have observed properly. Are you satisfied with the behaviour of our second son?”
“Oh! What is the matter? I don’t find anything wrong with him. He is just young, full of fun and frolic.”
“No, no. The elder one paid his respects to us reverentially by touching our feet twice while the other one, despite seeing his elder brother, did not care at all to do likewise!”

“Why do you take this seriously?” said his wife. “After all he is young. He must have felt shy to touch our feet in front of so many people. He must have paid his respects mentally. He will learn and improve in course of time.”

But Premchand could not come to a compromise and said, “My dear, good habits reveal one’s true nature and bent of mind. Right from boyhood days, children must cultivate good habits. Those gestures should be spontaneous. I do not know what is in store for him in the future.”

The father’s words proved to be true. In course of time, the elder son, by virtue of his diligence and good habits, passed the B.A degree Examination, went to London and obtained the Bar-at-law degree. On returning to India he practised as a barrister for only two or three years and became the Judge of Allahabad court. He was very much respected for his manners and sense of courtesy.

The younger son could not fare well and had to discontinue his studies. He became a clerk in the Court of Allahabad. While the elder one received salutations from everyone, the younger one had to salute everyone!

It is well said, “Strive not to be a success, but of value; because you are only as good as your values.”

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October 2021

Mind at rest is a temple of joy.
– Chinmaya

A peaceful mind is a mind at rest.

There are two ways to happiness:
1. Strive to get what we want. And if that doesn’t work then,
2. Like what we get.

In this world, 99% of the situations are choiceless situations. Getting what we want is almost impossible. Hence the only solution is a cheerful acceptance of what comes in our life. We may not have control over the external happenings, but internal peace is our choice. 

Somewhere in the year 1968-69, Pujya Gurudev’s yajna was arranged in Nigeria. After the yajna, Gurudev went to Ghana and the Canary Islands. On the return flight from the Canary Islands, despite the organiser’s prior request to the airline to serve pure vegetarian food to the devotees’ group, to their dismay, they found the vegetarian food garnished with egg slices! Their hearts stopped as they watched Gurudev.

Gurudev simply removed the egg slices from the top with a spoon, kept them aside, and started eating. All the others breathed a sigh of relief and copied him.

Later, when a devotee asked him how he could tolerate it, he said, “Look, apart from me, there are three other diabetics in the group, and all of them are elderly people. If I had made a fuss, nobody would have eaten and that is dangerous for diabetics. It depends on how you look at things. I do not go to the kitchen to check how the food is cooked. As long as your mind is clear, these sorts of things should never bother you.”

Resting the mind in peace is the most difficult task in the world.

Guru Vasishtha told Rama: “If I were told that someone has lifted the Himalayas, I may, for a moment, assume that there is such a person in the world. If someone were to say he has swallowed the sea, incredible though it may seem, I may, for an instant, believe him too. If someone were to assert that he has tamed the winds of the world, he is not to be taken seriously, but, for a split second, I may agree with him.”

“However,” the sage added, “if someone were to boast that he has controlled his mind, I would never believe him.”

Is there an easy way to quieten the mind?

Geeta says that the easiest way is to trust the Lord. The Lord Himself has promised: yogakshemam-vahaamyaham. Hence our responsibility is to ever remain at His Lotus Feet in loving surrender and devotion.

A boy went to a great Mahatma in Gujarat and asked, “Swamiji, how to develop faith in God?”
Swamiji looked at him and asked, “Will you do whatever I say?”
The boy said, “I am ready to do anything Swamiji. I am at your disposal.”
Swamiji said, “Ok then, go back, remove all your clothes, become naked, and take a vow of silence for 12 years.”
The boy was shocked!

He prostrated to the Mahatma and in a deeply pensive mood, returned back. All the while his mind was worrying, “If I become naked I will not be even able to come out of my house. How then am I going to feed myself? I can’t even ask for food if I take the vow of silence. How will I survive? This is impossible. Forget about it…”

But he was not at peace. There was a conscience prick from within, “I have promised this Mahatma that I will do whatever he said. Hence I cannot go back on my words. I must obey him at any cost, come what may.”

He became naked and locked himself inside a room. The worry about the next meal constantly haunted him. He had no choice but to hold on to God dearly!

The compassionate Lord never abandons anyone. Mysteriously he kept getting his food from somebody or the other, even from unexpected corners, every day, without fail!

This went on for 6 years. One night, while lying down, a worrying thought came to him, “Today I got my food. But who knows what will happen tomorrow?”

At that very instant, he heard a stern but loving, loud and clear voice from within, “Fool, for the last 6 years, I have been taking care of you without fail, and still, you doubt Me?”

The boy, hearing these words, broke down in tears. He apologized from the depth of his heart, “O Lord! Forgive me for my ingratitude! You took care of me so well, even then I doubted You O Lord! I am such a thankless sinner!”
He wept uncontrollably for a long time with intense repentance, after which his mind became very peaceful. From then on, all the worries regarding life completely left him.

This boy went on to become a very famous saint named Poornananda Bapu in Gujarat.    

The greatest tragedy is that we don’t trust the Lord. The result? The mind is always busy brooding or worrying about life’s happenings. It is never at rest.

The great saint Kabir used to go out for walking, and on the way, he would always find a man sitting in his fields.
“Sir, instead of sitting idly in your fields,” Kabir stopped and said to the man, “you could better spend your time in some spiritual practice.”
“I have very young children, and will be able to afford the time for spiritual practice only after they have grown up,” the man replied.

After the children had grown up, Kabir met the man again.
“Do you now find time for meditation?” he asked him.
“Ah, sir, now I must wait for the children to be married, so they can look after themselves independently. Then I will have the time to devote myself to meditation.”

Some years later, Kabir met the man again.
“And now, my fortunate man, all your children are married, so you are no doubt devoting yourself for the spiritual work?” he asked.
“Ah, now,” the man replied, “I am eager to see my grandchildren grow up and get married.”

After this had taken place, Kabir again asked the man, “What is your position now, my friend?”
“Oh, sir,” the man replied, “I find that my grandchildren are very careless. As a result, I have to look after the house, even during the night. For, if I were also careless, thieves would come and steal what little we have.”

Some years later, Kabir visited the man’s house and enquired where the old man was. The sons and grandsons said that he had died.

“Ah, what a great pity,” Kabir said. “Poor man, he has wasted this precious human life. Even a few moments of remembrance of the Lord would have done him great good.”

When the man was alive, he had been very much attached to his family. He also looked after the cows and buffaloes and was particularly fond of one cow. Kabir, with his inner vision, saw that the man had reincarnated as her calf!

Mind is at total rest only when it is with the Lord. And once the mind tastes this higher spiritual joy, it craves for nothing thereafter.

A lady in Dhilvan village was dying. She summoned her family and said, “My satguru has appeared. I am ready to leave. I hope you will not cry at my death, because I am going to my true home. My satguru is taking me with him. What else can make me happier?”
“What will become of us?” her sons asked her.

“That is for you to see,” she replied with a calm detachment.

Let us mind our own business – to rest the mind in the Self and be in the temple of joy.

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September 2021

We collect things because our hearts are empty.   – Chinmaya

What is an empty heart?

An empty heart is a heart devoid of love for God. Such a heart is ruled by the ego. An ego-ruled heart is a brooding ground for all vices in life.

A young American soldier used to attend Sadhu Vaswani’s Gita class at Karachi regularly. He was stationed at Mauripur, about 10 miles away from Karachi. In spite of that, every Saturday he would make this distance by jeep or otherwise and always managed to reach the class on time.

One Saturday evening he was absent. When he came on the following Saturday, others asked him the reason for his absence.

He said, “A set of new weapons had arrived from the States and I had to test them. This kept me busy till late in the night. And much against my wishes, I had to remain absent from the Gita class.”

Then turning to Vaswani, he asked with a grim face, “Master! Do you think these weapons of war will save humanity?”

Sadhu Vaswani replied, “In wisdom, not in weapons of war, is the hope of this broken, bleeding world. And wisdom is of the heart.”

All the wars and destructions, crimes and bloodsheds, scams and corruptions, rapes and murders that we witness in the world come from one source – an empty heart.

True education makes our hearts contented and fulfilled. Such a fulfilled heart finds joy not in hoarding and aggrandizing, but in giving, loving and sharing. 

In the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics, an incident happened which touched the hearts of millions all over the world.
The scene was the final of men’s high jump.  Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi was facing Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim in the final.  Both of them jumped 2.37 meters and were on par.  Olympic officials gave three more attempts to each of them, but they were unable to reach more than 2.37 meters.

One more attempt was given to two both of them. But Tamberi withdrew from the last attempt due to a serious leg injury.  This was the moment when there was no other opponent in front of Barshim, the moment when he could have easily approached the gold alone.

Barshim approached the official, “If I withdraw from the final attempt, can we share the gold between the two of us?”

The official checked the rules of the game and said, “Yes. If you withdraw, then the gold will be shared between the two of you.”

Barshim then had nothing to think about. He announced his withdrawal from the last attempt. Seeing this, the Italian opponent Tamberi was in tears! He ran and hugged Barshim, unable to express his joy and gratitude.

Empty hearts grumble and complain, fight and die miserably. Fulfilled hearts cooperate and adjust, share and celebrate.

Manikavachakar was one of the greatest saints of Tamil Nadu. He was a saint, poet and scholar. One day he was caught unaware by a sudden downpour of rain. As he was trying to find some shelter, he noticed a short length of dry floor on the raised veranda of a house. The inmates of the house were fast asleep behind the closed doors. He was happy that by God’s grace he had found a place to rest. He rested his head on his arm and stretched his legs and fell asleep.

He was aroused from sleep by the noise of hurried footsteps on the veranda. He saw a man fully drenched. Manikavachakar welcomed him and said, “Please come, sir. We may not be able to lie down, but we have enough space to sit. We shall sit and softly sing bhajans.”

After few minutes another man came running into the veranda. Manikavachakar greeted him and said, “Please come, sir. We may not be able to sit, but there is enough standing space for three. Let us stand and spend the night chanting the Divine Name.”

No doubt there is a joy in conquering others, in proving oneself superior, and in taking revenge. But these are meant for the egoistic empty hearts. The wise ones never revel in these inferior base joys. Their ways are of service and surrender.

Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel became the Deputy Prime Minister when Jawaharlal Nehru was appointed the Prime Minister of India.  Patel was a true Gandhian and so was his daughter, Maniben.

One day, Mahavir Tyagi, a family friend of Patel, happened to visit Patel’s home. He saw Maniben engaged in household chores. She wore an old Khadi Sari patched up here and there. Mahavir Tyagi could not bear to see the daughter of the Deputy Prime Minister of India dressed thus and engaged in household chores.

He said, “Daughter, you should not be miserly like this. You are supposed to live like a princess. Don’t you think your way of living, dressing and behaving will be a disgrace on your father’s status?”

Maniben smiled and replied calmly, “Tyagiji, why should I bring a bad name to my father? I feel neither sad nor humiliated to wear this Sari with some patches because it is made out of yarn spun by myself. There is nothing wrong if a woman does her own household work. It is her duty. She must learn to live with the minimum and serve the maximum. I am proud of my father who has taught these important values of life.”

Tyagi became silent not knowing what to advise. Maniben continued, “Tyagiji, true happiness in life comes not from political power or luxurious lifestyle, but from a joyous heart. Be humble, love all, serve all, and be ever content – these are the sure ways to experience this joy of the heart. See how Bapuji (Gandhiji) and father live these principles in their day-to-day life and inspire millions to walk this path! We also must follow their footsteps if we want to experience true fulfilment in our lives.”

As Mahavir Tyagi sat there wondering at her simplicity, wisdom and maturity, Maniben, with her usual smile on her face, hurried into the inner apartments to busy herself with the household chores.

When Maniben went in, Dr Susheela Nayar who was watching all these happenings, spoke to Tyagi, “Sir! You don’t seem to have understood Maniben. She is a Karma Yogi who considers her work as worship. Right from morning till evening she keeps herself busy. She cleanses the vessels, washes the clothes of all members of the family, cooks food for all and whenever she finds time, she will be at her spinning wheel. She not only spins yarn but also makes and stitches dresses for all. She does not waste anything. When her Sari is torn to pieces, she will patch up two dhotis of her father and wear them. She is a living example of ‘simple living and high thinking’ which Gandhiji has taught all of us.”

Blessed indeed are they who have learnt this art of maintaining a joyful heart amidst the ups and downs of life.

A lady, who was over 90 years old, after the departure of her beloved husband, and having no children and no one in the family to care for her, decided to move to a nursing home.

After arriving at the nursing home, she had to wait patiently in the lobby for hours before getting her room allotted. Finally, the room was ready, and an attendant led the lady to her room. As they were walking along the veranda, the attendant gave a verbal description of the tiny space that she was meant to occupy.

“O so beautiful! So nice! I love it.” The lady expressed with great enthusiasm.

“Madam, you haven’t even seen the room yet!” The attendant remarked smilingly. 

“Well, my joy has nothing to do with the room,” the lady replied.

To the confused attendant, the lady replied, “Whether I like my room or not, doesn’t depend on the size of the room or how the furniture is arranged. It entirely depends on how I arrange my mind.  Happiness is something you can decide ahead of time. And I have already decided to love my room, to love the people around me, to love my life. It is a decision that I make every morning when I wake up. You know what, the greatest asset we all have is the power to choose how we feel.”
The lady continued speaking, as the attendant listened attentively with her mouth wide open.

“I can spend my entire day in bed thinking of the pain I am in, focusing on the parts of my body that no longer work… or I can get out of bed and be thankful for those body-parts that do work.
“I can brood on what I lack in life and become miserable. Or I can think of all that the Lord has blessed me with and be happy. I have decided to be happy…”

The choice is ours – to complain or to be grateful, to hate or to love, to be disturbed or to be peaceful, to have an empty heart or to have a fulfilled one.

May we make the right choice and live well.

O   M         T   A   T         S   A   T

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August 2021

Man cannot get rid of his heavy load of desires. They seem to multiply as the body moves nearer the grave. This is Maya. This is Moha. The only antidote to this disease is Self-knowledge.  
 – Chinmaya

How do I know I am bound by Maya?
The above quote gives us the self-test. A mind filled with desires is a sure indication that we are in the clutches of Maya. At the seat of mediation, if we find our mind wandering, then know for sure that we are Maya-dasa, and not Maya-pati.

How to escape Maya?
The Lord says in the Geeta:
दैवी हि एषा गुणमयी मम माया दुरत्यया । मामेव ये प्रपद्यन्ते मायामेतां तरन्ति ते ॥
The Lord says that it is impossible to cross over His Maya without surrendering unto Him.

There is a beautiful allegory in Shreemad Bhagavatham in this regard.

Once upon a time, there was a very famous king named Puranjana. He had a friend whose name no one knew, and whose actions no one saw.

In the quest for a suitable city for him to dwell in, he travelled all over the world. As he was given to very lascivious ways, no place could satisfy him. At last, in the southern region of the Himalayas, he came across a city that had nine gates with all comforts and luxuries. 

Then the king saw a beautiful lady who arrived at the place by chance and was attended by ten aides. She was looking out for a husband. Seeing her beautiful form, the king instantly fell in love with her and sought her hand in marriage. And then happily married, they started residing in the city of nine gates. The city was ever guarded by a powerful army headed by an ever-wakeful 5-hooded serpent.

As the days passed by, the king became completely infatuated by the lady. When she sang, he too sang. When she laughed or wept, he too laughed or wept. When she ran or stood, lay down or sat, he too did so following her. When she heard or saw, smelt or touched, he too did the same. He rejoiced in success and sorrowed in distress in unison with her. Thus deluded by the attachment to his wife, Puranjana followed the dictates of his wife like her pet animal.

Once the great archer Puranjana started on a hunting expedition to the forest of Panchaprastha in his swift chariot along with his wife. Proud of his strength, Puranjana ranged the forest hunting with the bow in hand. He was so intoxicated with the excitement of chasing wild animals that he left behind his wife, his constant companion. He ruthlessly slaughtered the wild animals with utter indiscrimination. Extremely tired, hungry and thirsty, he returned to the palace. After a bath, food and rest, he found his wife in her apartment, unhappy for having left her alone in the forest in the excitement of chasing and hunting wild animals. Being an expert in conciliatory tactics, he sought forgiveness and won her heart again through his sweet loving words of apology.  In this way, they lived happily for many years.

Puranjana developed a deep-rooted attachment to his progeny, his home, his treasury, dependants, and thus became completely entangled in worldly concerns.

There was a Gandharva called Chandavega. He had his followers of 730 powerful Gandharvas. Half of them were fair and the other half were dark. They started attacking this city part by part, by going round and round. The ever wakeful serpent resisted them bravely and fought these Gandharvas valiantly for 100 years.

But unfortunately, the enemies, instead of weakening kept on growing in strength. The entry of the armies of Yavana king Bhaya (fear), along with Prajvara (fever) and Kalakanya (the daughter of Time) made the enemies even stronger and it became impossible for the commander-in-chief (serpent) to safeguard the city anymore.

Kalakanya made the city weak and infirm. The city lost all the beauty and grandeur and became pitiable to look at. The city was robbed of all its wealth. And into such a collapsing city Yavana troops and the Gandharvas barged in through all the nine gates

and occupied it completely. Just then arrived Prajvara and he set the whole city on fire.

When the city began to burn, great was the suffering of Puranjana, the owner, because of his identification with it, its residents, his servants, and family members. With his limbs disabled, with his strength stolen away by the Gandharvas, and his neck caught in the stranglehold of the Yavana foes, Puranjana began to cough and breathe hard.

Overpowered by Kalakanya, engulfed by the feverish fire, and attacked from all sides by the Yavanas, the serpent, who was the protector of the city, was subject to great suffering. He no longer found it possible to do his duty. He fled from the burning city. When the serpent that acted as the protector of the city departed, the city fell into pieces and disintegrated into its elements.

The Yavanas captured Puranjana alive and dragged him to their master’s place.

Even when he was dragged off by the powerful Yavanas, Puranjana, wrapped as he was in the darkness of Tamas, failed to think of his real friend. Corrupted as he was by excessive sense indulgence, he completely lost the awareness of his real nature, and grovelled in the limitless expanse of darkness (Tamas) for a long time.

Afterwards, in his next birth, he was born as a woman in the palace of Rajasimha, the king of Vidarbha. In this new birth, she was married to king Malayadhwaja of Pandya territory. They lived a happy married life, and when all the family responsibilities were over, Malayadhwaja decided to lead a life of Vanaprastha to devote more time for spiritual pursuits. He handed over the kingdom to his son, and retired to the forest, along with his wife (earlier Puranjana).

She found great delight in serving her husband whom she loved more than her life. One day, wondering why her husband was on the meditation seat for an unusually long time, she went near him and gently started stroking his feet. She found that his body had lost its warmth. It was only then she came to know that her husband had left the body in meditation long back. Her husband’s death made her extremely miserable.

Extremely grief-stricken and crying inconsolably, she made a funeral pyre and placed her husband’s body on it and set fire to the pyre. She decided to enter the funeral pyre along with her husband.

It was at that time that she heard a sweet voice from behind. There stood a Brahmana who spoke these sweet words, “O friend! Do you remember me, this nameless friend of yours? You and I were Swans, homeless, abiding for several thousand years in the lake of Manasa-saras! But alas, abandoning me, you went in quest of sensual enjoyments, and after wandering here and there, you entered into a city of nine gates built by a woman. And engrossed in the pleasures she offered, you forgot everything about the Reality and degenerated to this sorrowful state.

“You are not the daughter of the king of Vidarbha, nor is this king your husband, nor are you the husband of that woman who confined you to the city of nine gates. In your previous life, you thought of yourself to be a man and in this life you consider yourself to be a woman. This is all due to my Maya. Both these things are false. Both of us are of the essence of purity. Know this to be our real nature. I myself am you. And you are none other than me. Men of true understanding find no difference between us.”

Listening to these words of the Brahmana, the daughter of Vidarbha king attained absolute peace.

The meaning of the allegory:

Puranjana is none other than Jeevatma, the individual soul. The city of nine gates is the physical body. The nine gates are the nine orifices in the body, namely 2 eyes, 2 nostrils, 2 ears, 1 mouth, anus and the genital. Puranjana is a king because he is the master of this nine-gated city.

The beautiful woman whom he met in the city is the intellect. She is assisted by the ten attendants, namely the five organs of perception and 5 organs of action. The five-hooded serpent who guarded the city is the Pancha-Pranas.

Puranjana’s infatuation with the woman is nothing but the intense identification of the Jeeva to this physical body. Whatever the body does, he feels he is doing it.

The hunting expedition is nothing but his dream experience. Puranjana leaves his wife behind and indiscriminately kills the wild animals sitting on his chariot. So too the Jeeva, sitting on the chariot of dream body indiscriminately goes through various experiences without any willpower, without his intellect to guide him.

But after the hunt, and getting refreshed, Puranjana goes back and meets his wife. So too, after the dream state, the Jeeva comes back and joins his intellect in the waking state.

The 5-hooded serpent guarded the city. So too it is the Pranas that keeps the body alive and healthy. But this it could do only for 100 years. The Gandharvas, fair and dark, 730 in number, are the days and nights, equal in number. These Gandharvas attack the city going round and round. So too, as the days go by, the body decays and becomes infirm with the passage of time.

The king of Yavana is fear. As the person becomes old, he is filled with various worries and anxieties. The Kalakanya is none other than old age. She makes the city (the physical body) weak and infirm.

The Prajvara’s attack is the fever which is like burning the city. And when the body dies, the Pranas, the commander in chief, has to flee the city.

Puranjana is captured alive by the Yavanas. So too the Jeeva never dies with the death of the body. Along with his worries and anxieties, he departs the body. He remains in the state of Tamas, till he gets the next body.

Our last thoughts decide the next birth. As Puranjana was addicted to sexual pleasures, he was thinking of women at the time of death. Hence he is born as a woman in his next life.

After the death of her husband, the lady meets the Brahmana, who is none other than God/Guru, who introduces her to her true Self. And this knowledge liberates her from all sorrows.   

We have already gone through millions and billions of births, as plants and animals, as birds and insects, as men and women. The choice is ours. Do we desire to continue this roller-coaster ride of re-births and re-deaths filled with pains, sufferings and uncertainties? If yes, then we need to do nothing; just continue living our life in ignorance as we have been doing from the beginningless past.

But if we are suffocated and fed up, and if we crave for liberation, then Self-knowledge alone is the way.

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May 2021

To give love to all others is the only way to enrich life as nothing else can.   
– Chinmaya

The power of love is unbelievable. There are innumerable instances in the history of mankind to prove this fact. One such incident is given below.

It was 8th January 1950. The night Satsang was in progress in the Bhajan Hall of Swami Shivanandji’s Ashram at Rishikesh.  It was fairly dark in the Bhajan Hall as, during the Kirtan, even the lantern which is used for reading of Gita, etc. is reduced and put aside. The two lamps which shone brightly on the either side of the main altar were able to illumine only a third of the Hall, leaving the entrance to the Hall dark.

Through the dark entrance approached a dark force. Govindan approached Swamiji, axe in hand. He did not have to take much trouble  to approach Swamiji , who was sitting just next to the entrance.

The axe was raised. The devatas shuddered in the heavens. And the axe fell. Indra, the presiding deity of Govindan’s hand trembled. The axe missed its mark. The door which received the blow cried aloud its warning.

Govindan became more nervous. He raised the axe again. This time a picture on the wall stood in front and received the blow. The two blows missed the mark. Only the wooden handle of the axe struck Swamiji’s head. Generally, as soon as Swamiji enters the hall, he would remove the cloth turban he wears when he leaves his Kutir (during the winter months). But, today, he forgot. So the axe-handle could strike only the cloth-padding on Swamiji’s head.

Swamiji ‘woke up’ to the fact that someone was trying to assault him. He thought it was a stick with which he was being beaten. He raised the hand and said, “Have you finished the job? Do you want to beat me more?”

The raised hand received the axe, and the axe made a mark on the skin. It was no more than a scratch.

Vishnuswamiji (who was an adept in Hatha Yoga) who was sitting near Swamiji got up in one leap and hugged

Govindan so tightly that the latter could not lift his hand again. Vishnuswamiji dragged Govindan out of the hall.

The crowd in the Bhajan Hall immediately realised what had happened. One or two people helped Govindan’s hands and feet to be tied. As is natural in the case of gatherings, one or two people fell on the assailant and started beating him. Padmanabhan who was in the yajnashala room heard Swamiji shouting at the top of his voice: “Ohji! Don’t beat him! Please don’t beat him!”

Padmanabhan  rescued Govindan and the latter was taken to a room nearby and locked in.

“Continue the Kirtan,” said Swamiji, and the Kirtan, Arati and Shanti Paath were duly conducted and the Satsang came to a close.

Some of the Ashramites  ran to the police station, got a couple of constables to follow them and ran to the Bhajan Hall. All rejoiced that Swamiji escaped practically unhurt. The only thing which hurt them was that there could be someone in the world breathing as man who could even think of doing such a thing which Govindan had done.

All believed firmly that the Lord himself was protecting Swamiji.  Govindan was lying in wait for Swamiji in the morning. He knew that Swamiji generally came along all way from his Kutir to the Bhajan Hall, for the morning class. Swamiji would then be entirely undefended. It would be an easy job for the assailant. But… Swamiji did not come! Ashramites wondered whether Swamiji was alright in health. He was alright.

Govindan made a couple of circumambulations of the Bhajan Hall, impatiently waiting for Swamiji. Govindan never used to stir out of his room before 9 a.m. when he would stir in bed. For one day he attended the morning Satsang and did Kirtan also in the early morning hours; though it was the devil who gave him the opportunity.

At night too, Swamiji would have removed his turban. But Swamiji himself did not know why he did not remove the turban only that day!

Govindan had calculated the distance between the door and Swamiji’s head and adjusted the axe aright in the first instance; but forgot to take count of the projection of the Bhajan Hall door. When the first blow missed its mark  he became conscious of this factor; but when he went nearer his mark he forgot to re-adjust the axe and so missed the mark again.

Indeed the Lord Himself was protecting Swamiji!

After the Kirtan, the ashramites went from the Bhajan Hall to the room in which Govindan was kept. The rope that bound his feet together was removed. He stood up, guarded on both sides by policemen. The crowd watched. Swamiji went straight to Govindan, and bowed to him with folded palms. The police Inspector gazed at this scene in great wonderment.

“Govindaswami, do you want to deal some more blows? Here I am. Kindly satisfy yourself.”

Govindan muttered: “No. I don’t want to beat you anymore. I am satisfied.”

Swamiji enquired lovingly, “What harm did I do? Why did you get so angry with me?” For this there was no reply.

The crowd gradually dispersed and gathered near Swamiji’s Kutir.

“What shall I do Swamiji? Shall I register a case against this man?” Asked the police Inspector.

“No, no. Just send him away from Muni-ki-reti. That is enough,” said Swamiji and went back to his Kutir only to be greeted by an endless stream of visitors, and that too at that hour of the night! Many men and women of the locality were literally in tears when they saw Swamiji. But Swamiji coolly sat, smiling radiantly.

Aged Swami Achintyanandji with his walking stick, ran to Swamiji’s Kutir to dress his wounds.

The next day, it was decided that Govindan should be provided with two Ashramite-escorts and left on the Grand Trunk Express with a ticket to Salem, his native place.

Swamiji was absolutely against booking any case against Govindan.

Swamiji said: “No. We should not punish him. He only worked out my Prarabdha.  Do you mean to say that anything would happen without His will behind it? No,no. It was the Lord’s will. The Lord only prompted Govindan to do what he did. Are ‘dyutam Chhalayataam asmi’ and ‘taskaraanaam pataye’ mere words? Does not the same omnipresent Lord indwell the robber and the dacoit, the murderer and the burglar? No, no. I will not let the police charge Govindan. We should thank him for working out my Prarabdha so easily.”

“The Lord has spared my life because  there is some more service to be performed through this body. I must go on with that service. That is all that this incident indicates to me.”

Swamiji  went to the police station at about 11 a.m. with fruits, books, clothes, new blanket and Japa Mala. With his own hands he applied Kumkum and Bhasma on Govindan’s forehead. Swamiji then prostrated to Govindan. Others present there were aghast at this sight. Swamiji then gave the books with his autographed blessings.

“May Lord bless you with health, long life, peace, prosperity, devotion, wisdom and Kaivalya!”saying this,  Swamiji then initiated Govindan into Ashtakshari Mantra, gave him the Japa Mala and the book and gave the following advice:

“Kindly repeat the Lord’s name incessantly. Do regular and vigorous Japa. Forget all that happened. Only take care that the mind does not run into the old vicious grooves again, and that you are not impelled to commit the same mistakes over again.

“Please read good spiritual books. Do not mix with bad characters. The latent spirituality will become patent through Sadhana. Spirituality is latent in you now. If it was not at all there, you would not have come here.

“I have asked Sashwat Swamiji and Purushottamji to accompany you till Agra and provide you with all comforts and conveniences during the journey. From Agra, you will get a ticket for Salem. Kindly write to me as soon as you reach Salem. Please write to me frequently about your welfare and your sadhana. May God bless you.”

Swamiji then repeated ‘Om Namo Narayanaya’ several times and made Govindan also repeat the sacred Mantra.

Special dishes, like Rasam etc., were prepared and given to Govindan before his departure.

Swamiji then wrote a note to the police Inspector that he did not want to proceed against Govindan in any manner and that the police might drop the incident out of their minds.

In the evening there was a Thanksgiving Service and prayer for the long life of Swamiji in the Bhajan Hall. It was arranged by Sri Gauri Prasad of Swarga Ashram. The gathering chanted the Maha Mantra in chorus, and the hall was filled with the vibrations of the Maha Mrtyunjaya Mantra which was chanted aloud by the entire gathering. Swamiji then distributed Prasad with his own hands.

On 19th February 1950, Swamiji received a Tamil letter from Govindan, which said:

“I have reached Salem safely. I am grateful to you Gurudev for what you have done. I pray that any other pitfalls that may beset my path of life may also be removed by your Holiness’s grace. I am your humble disciple.”

When Swamiji had read the letter, he said to the Ashramite who was the postal-in-charge: “Please put Govindan’s name on the Magazine Free List. Include his address in the Prasad Register also. All free literature should be sent to him. I will send him books also. I will write to him to come again.”

Swamiji’s supreme love had transformed Govindan, the murderer, into a good soul.

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April 2021

Yoga is not twisting the body, but straightening the mind.   – Chinmaya

In modern times the term ‘Yoga’ is widely misunderstood as Yoga-asanas. The above quote corrects our understanding.

Yoga-asanas form one of the limbs in the eight-limbed Patanjali Yoga Sutras. Yoga- asanas are important because they help us in keeping the body healthy. An unhealthy body always demands attention upon itself, and will not allow the mind to withdraw and meditate on God. Hence a healthy body is unavoidable for all spiritual practices.

But many immature seekers misunderstand the means to be the goal. They conclude that the only purpose of Yoga is to remain physically fit and healthy! When they have mastered all the bodily twistings and bendings, they declare themselves to be Gurus and Yogis of the highest order, and start their own Yoga Institutes charging heavy fees from their ignorant disciples!

Yoga is defined in Bhagavad Geeta as follows:

तं विद्यात् दुखसंयोगवियोगं योगसंज्ञितम् |= Disassociation from our association with sorrow is Yoga.     समत्वम् योग उच्यते| = Quietening the mind is Yoga.

According to this definition, any one of us can be a Yogi. It is not the Rudraksha, or the ochre cloth, or the forehead-marks or the rituals that make a Yogi. Amidst all the disturbing and challenging situations, if we can keep a balanced mind, then according to Geeta, we are Yogis.

 Amidst disobedient children, screaming husband, and the innumerable responsibilities of the household, if the housewife can remain calm and poised then she must be considered a Yogi. Even under work pressure, if the officer is maintaining his equipoise, then he too is a Yogi.

What should happen to a person who practices Yoga sincerely? This incident will make it clear:

A particular Swami had once stayed at the Sivananda Ashram (Divine Life Society) at Rishikesh for a considerable time and had done a lot of work for the Ashram. He then left the Ashram to do intense austerity. After long years, he was again seen in the Ashram premises for a short duration. But he went away without informing anyone. There was a discussion about his attitude towards the Ashram.

Someone reported the matter to Swami Sivananda and said, “Swamiji, perhaps he did not stay on at the Ashram because he was not given a rousing reception he might have expected.”

Swamiji said, “What reception? A sannyasin should not have such expectations and desires. He left the Ashram to do intense austerity and sadhana. If he had really done much austerity, he would have developed a loving heart, an entirely changed angle of vision, and this would have electrified whomever he met here. He would have adopted an attitude of humility, of service, of brotherly love towards everyone here. He would thus have endeared himself to everyone. Naturally, a different atmosphere would have been created. This is the way. He should always conquer people’s heart through love and service. There is no other way. If he was not able to do that, it means the sadhana was a continuous indulgence in inertia and an increased fattening of the ego.”

‘Straightening the mind’ means eradication of all vices and cultivation of all noble virtues mentioned in the scriptures. Twisting the body is easy; straightening the mind may take lifetimes!

A letter was on Swami Sivanandji’s table. A ‘great’ European Yogi had written to Swamiji requesting him to invite him to India. This was needed to obtain a passport.

Looking at the letter, Swamiji lamented: “What a big show of themselves do these so-called Yogis make? They fly from one country to another with so much pomp and ostentation. The net result? Only grand receptions, parties and farewells. Is it not?”

A visitor remarked, “Yes Swamiji. We have seen many of them move about in regal comforts.”

Swamiji smiled mischievously and said, “Some of them should be received with unique honour. Instead of flags and festoons adorning the reception entrance, people should hang old shoes and broom-sticks. What do you say?”

Devotees struggled to control their laughter.

Then Swamiji added, “We should not wait for the thing to happen actually. We should train ourselves. I have done so. I have beaten myself with shoes severely. This I used to do especially on Birthdays – just after returning to my Kutir. After the meetings where people had praised me, glorified me, deified me, I would go into my Kutir and beat myself nicely with a pair of shoes: ‘What are you? You wretched flesh-blood-excreta made body? Do you want garlands? Can you not wear torn clothes? Do you think that you are great? Do you want to be prostrated to? Now, take these beatings.’ ”

It is well said – “Yoga is not beating one’s own drums, but beating oneself to shape.”

A small batch of smartly uniformed school students arrived at the Sivananda Ashram at Rishikesh. In great joy, Swami Sivanandji greeted the youth.  They were served tea and light refreshments. After speaking a word or two to each student, Swamiji addressed them all:

“Do you know the drill?”

“Yes, Swamiji.”

“But do you know the Upanishadic drill?”

“What?” The boys looked at one another and ultimately at the teacher with a querying forehead, as if to ask: “Do you?” The teacher and the taught, all were eager to be taught by Swamiji.

The boys were quickly arrayed in two rows.

Om Tat Sat”- Came the command from Swamiji. The boys instinctively stood to attention as Swamiji himself did so. Now started the drill.

Matr Devo Bhava”- Palms folded at the chest in salutation.

Pitr Devo Bhava” – Both hands raised above, vertically.

Acharya Devo Bhava” – Hands brought down in one swing along with a nice folding at the hip.

Atithi Devo Bhava” – Palms folded at the chest in salutation.

Om Tat Sat” – Attention.

Then Swamiji explained the significance of this drill. “This is the Upanishadic drill. The words of command are great utterances of sages in the Upanishads. May your mother be your God. May your father be your God. May your teacher be your God. May your guest be your God. These feelings are roused up when you repeat these sentences. Slowly your inner nature is divinized.”

Then ‘Baithak” exercise:

Sita’- Fists clenched, fore-arms bent at the elbow and raised, then the entire body lowered assuming a ‘sitting on the heels’ position.

Rama’- Normal standing position, but with clenched fists, ready for another round.

Om tat Sat’: attention.

After a few such exercises, Swamiji then led the students in a march, with the marching tune: Bhum Bhum Bhum bhum Mahadeva; Hara Hara Hara Hara Sadashiva;

Then Swamiji lectured to the students on the essence of Yoga. A carpet was spread and Swamiji taught the children Yoga-asanas and explained their usefulness.

Swamiji then encouraged the boys to sing. One boy sang nice songs. There was then an elocution competition. One of the bright students explained in simple language how spiritual institutions were the crying need of the hour.

The students then formed themselves into two groups and requested Swamiji to give a topic for debate. Swamiji gave the topic: “Need for spiritual life.”

This put to test the boys’ creative faculties. It was wonderful how the boys spoke ‘for’ and ‘against’ the proposition.

Swamiji distributed prize books to the boys who took part in these competitions. The boys and the teacher were then served with tea and fruits and given a hearty send-off.

Swamiji was highly pleased. Within a brief spell of half-an-hour, he had sown the seed of spiritual life in the hearts of those intelligent boys – the future citizens of this glorious land.

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March – 2021

Being himself exactly the Supreme Being, but thinking himself to be separate from Him, Jeeva strives to become united with Him. What is there stranger than this?  – Ramana.

Is there even an iota of difference between Jeevaatma (the individual self) and Paramaatma (the Supreme Self)?   “Absolutely not!” unanimously say all the Vedas.

तत् त्वम् असि | Tat tvam asi– = ‘That you are’ – says Chandogya Upanishad of Sama Veda.

अहम् ब्रह्म अस्मि| Aham brahma asmi– = ‘I am Brahman’- says Brhadaaranyaka Upanishad of Yajur Veda.

अयम् आत्मा ब्रह्म| Ayam aatma brahma– = ‘This Self is Brahman’- says Mandukya Upanishad of Atharva Veda.

प्रज्ञानम् ब्रह्म| Prajnaanam brahma– = ‘This Consciousness is Brahman’- says Aitareya Upanishad of Rig Veda.

Vedas are unanimous in declaring the absolute Truth.

But wonder of wonders! Even when it is so clearly and explicitly declared, we refuse to believe or accept! Hence the Bhagavad Geeta says:

आश्चर्यवत् पश्यति कश्चितेनम् आश्चर्यवत् वदति तथैव चान्य: ।

आश्चर्यवत् चैनम् अन्य: शृणोति श्रुत्वाप्येनम् वेद न चैव कश्चित्||

(Some see It with wonder; some speak about It with wonder; some listen about It with wonder; and wonder of wonders – in spite of all these, none knows about It, even though It is one’s own Self!!)

Long long ago, in a kingdom of ancient India, a play was being staged in the royal court. The play was named “The Princess of Kashi.”

They wanted a cute little pretty girl of around five years to play the role of the princess of Kashi. A search was conducted in the kingdom to find the suitable girl for this role, but in vain.

The queen, seeing the dilemma, came up with the suggestion, “Why not dress up our little cute prince as the princess? He is five years of age. A boy or a girl looks very much alike at that age. Moreover, there is no much acting involved in this role. Why create such a big fuss about such a small issue?”

The suggestion was agreed upon by the drama-team. The handmaids of the queen soon busied themselves around the prince and they did a splendid job of dressing up the prince into an extremely charming princess of unimaginable beauty!

The play was over. Queen’s eyes were not satiated seeing her own son in the form of this charming princess! But alas! Now the make-up had to be removed and the princess would disappear forever. What can be an alternative?

An idea struck her. The best court artist was summoned. The painting was made. The artist after finishing the painting marked the date and the occasion on it: “The Princess of Kashi. Dated…”

Fifteen years passed by. By now, the handsome young prince had grown up. He was getting trained to take over as the heir of the throne. One day, while wandering through the palace, he found a set of stairs leading underground. Being curious, he followed the staircase. He reached an old store-room, dusty and full of cobwebs. As he was exploring the safely preserved artefacts and antiques, he chanced to come across the painting which read – “The Princess of Kashi”. He was mesmerized seeing the beauty of the princess. Seeing the date, he thought to himself, “By now, she must be of my age. If only I could marry her…”

The thought of the ‘Princess of Kashi’ possessed him. He lost interest in everything including food and sleep. His shyness did not allow him to disclose this matter to anyone else. But others found him lost in thoughts day and night. The king and the queen understood that something was bothering their beloved son. They asked the wise old minister, whom the prince loved very much, to find out what the matter was.

The wise minister approached the prince and had a friendly chat for a while. Finally, when the prince became cheerful and talkative, the minister, with all tenderness and love, asked him sweetly “My son, what bothers you?”

Prince: “I am in love.”

Minister: “That is so nice! Who is the girl?”

Prince: “She is the Princess of Kashi.”

Minister: “That is wonderful! But where did you meet her?”

Prince: “I have not met her. I have only seen her picture.”

Minister: “Where did you see it?”

The prince took the old man to the underground store-room. Brimming with excitement, he showed the painting to the minister. The minister, seeing the painting, became thoughtfully silent. Old memories flashed past his mind in a moment.

Now the minister was all in smiles.

He said: “O prince! This is not the Princess of Kashi!”

Prince: “Whoever she is. I will marry only her.”

Minister (smiling): “But you can’t marry her.”

Prince: “Why not? As per the date mentioned here, she must be of my age. ”

Minister: “True. But you can’t marry her!”

Prince: “Why? Is she already married?”

Minister: “No. But you can’t marry her!”

Prince: “Is she real or imaginary? Does she exist?”

Minister (laughing): “She is real. Yes, she exists, but you can’t marry her!”

Prince: “Do you know her?”

Minister (non-stop laughing): “Yes, very much! In fact, even you know her!!”

Prince (confused): “What??? Who is she?”

Minister (laughing aloud): “O Prince! You Are That! Tat Tvam Asi!!”

The prince could not believe his ears! He remained blank, transfixed, astonished!

He again stared at the painting, now with a renewed, enlightened vision. He mused “Yes. There is a similarity; the facial features of the princess match with mine. The minister must be right.”

Then the minister went on to describe the whole drama-incident that had happened 15 years ago. The reality gradually sank into the prince; and he, along with minister burst out with a hearty belly-laugh.

Needless to say, the misery, the infatuation of the prince was gone forever.

The story has a deep spiritual significance.

1. This world is the ‘Princess of Kashi’.

2. The prince felt that the princess would make him happy. So he desired the princess. In the same way, we are convinced that the world can give us peace, happiness and security. So we desire the world.

3. The prince realizes that he himself is the princess of Kashi.

The truth is, the world has no existence other than the Self. The Self alone exists, and upon the real Self, the illusory world is projected by the mind.

4. The moment the concept of ‘the other’ disappeared, the desire of the prince also disappeared. All desires come from the concept of ‘the other.’ When we realize that there is nothing other than the Supreme Self, all desires vanish.

5. True happiness lies not in fulfilling the desires, but in making the mind desireless. And the mind becomes desireless when it knows that ‘I am already what I desire.’

The world appears to give me Sat (existence), Chit (sentiency, life) and Anand (happiness, peace, fulfilment). But the truth is – Sat-Chit-Anand is already my nature.

Q= What happens when I know “I am already what I desire?”

A= All desires end.

With it, the mind ends. (Because the mind is nothing but desires.)

With it, the world ends. (Because the world is nothing but the projections of the mind.)

Q= What remains when the mind and the world end?

A= The Truth alone remains.

Q= What is that Truth?

A= Tat Tvam Asi. That You Already Are.

O   M         T   A   T         S   A   T

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February 2021

There is no reincarnation at all, either now or before, nor will there be any hereafter. Reincarnation exists only so long as there is ignorance.   – Ramana

“I can’t believe this!”

Thus many will protest after reading the above quote.

Listen to an incident that happened in the times of Swathi Tirunal Rama Varma, the king of the kingdom of Travancore.

Swathi Tirunal Maharaja had a great friendship with Tampan, the great magician. Once Tampan was asked to perform in the public. The venue was arranged. Men and women assembled. King Swathi sat in his throne along with his relatives and friends. The queen was also seated behind the transparent curtain.

Tampan greeted the king and the audience and spread a blanket on the stage. After invoking the gods, he was about to start his performance.

Suddenly a thread came down from above, with a letter tied to its tip. It gently touched Tampan’s head giving him a sudden surprise. He untied the letter, opened it and read it carefully.

He then turned to the king. “Your Highness, I am sorry. I cannot perform today. Devendra, the king of gods, has sent this letter asking me to report to him urgently to help him in the war against demons.”

He gave the letter to king Swathi. The king went through the contents of the letter which was in the Devanagari script.

Before he could even respond, Tampan had caught hold of the thread and climbed up. He disappeared within a minute. The king looked on helplessly as the audience sat spellbound. There was absolute silence.

After a while, it began to rain. But it was not an ordinary rain. It was raining blood, followed by a rain of human limbs and carcasses of horses, elephants and men, all piling up at the venue. The king soon realised that the whole thing was Tampan’s magic.

But when the bleeding head of Tampan dropped from above with a thud at the venue, king Swathi was bewildered. The audience sat terrified. The queen fainted behind the screen. King Swathi got to his feet to go to his wife, and suddenly he heard Tampan calling him from behind:

“Had enough for the day, Your  Highness?”

The king turned back and saw Tampan standing near the chair with a glee on his face!

The queen regained consciousness in a few minutes and grumbled to the king for scaring the wits out of her! A sigh of relief escaped the king.

He showered many fabulous gifts on Tampan even as the audience greeted him with thunderous applause!

If even an ordinary magician can make us see and believe the non-existent, what to talk of the Maha Maya of the Lord!

Q= How can you say there is no jeeva (individual), no jagad (world), no karma (actions), etc.? We clearly experience it?

A=Our experience is not proof of the existence of a thing. The blueness of the sky, mirage waters, dream world etc., are all experienced. But they are non-existent. A magician, like the above story, makes us experience many non-existent things. Hence experience has nothing to do with Reality.

Q=Then how to know what is Real?

A=Silence the mind. What remains? The Self. That alone is Real.

Q=Then what about all this creation?

A= As long as the Self-ignorance exists, the mind will exist. As long as the mind exists, these imaginations – jeeva, jagat, eeshwara, karma(actions), karma-phala(fruits of actions), kartrtva(doership), bhoktrtva(enjoyership), punarjanma(re-incarnation) – all will exist. They are mere imaginations of the mind projected on the Self.

Q=Hard to digest!

A=Then develop your digestive capacityJ

Truth cannot be diluted to suit your digestion!

Q=How to silence the mind?

A=By silencing the ego. Know that this ego is an illusion.

There is a very beautiful incident in the life of Houdini, the great magician. His whole life was a tremendous success; he was a miracle-monger. He did so many miracles that if he was a man to cheat humanity, he could have cheated everyone very easily. But he was a very sincere man. He would say, “Whatsoever I am doing is nothing but skill; there is no miracle in it.”

 No magician has ever done as much as Houdini has done. His power was almost impossible to believe. He was thrown in almost all the great prisons of the world, and within seconds he would be out. He was chained, locked, and within seconds – the

chains wouldn’t work, locks wouldn’t work – something would happen, and he would be out. He would be out almost within seconds, not even a minute. Even the well-trained police force became helpless in front of his talents.

But in Italy he failed – only once in his life. He was thrown in the central prison of

Rome, and thousands of people had gathered to see him come out. Minutes passed and

there was no sign of him. It was almost half an hour, and people started getting restless

because it had never happened: “What has happened? Has he gone mad, or died? Or has the great magician failed?”

 After two hours, he came out perspiring and laughing loudly. And the people asked, “What happened? Two hours? We were thinking that you had either gone mad or you were dead! Even the authorities were thinking to go in and see. What happened?”

He said, “They tricked me; they made me a fool. The door was not locked! All my skill is to open the lock, and I was trying to find out where the lock is, and there was no lock.

The door was not locked at all, it was already open. Tired, exhausted, worried, puzzled, I fell, and when I fell and struck the door, the door opened. That’s how I am out; not

because of my skill.”

This story has a deep Vedantic message.

1. Houdini was imprisoned.

We are all imprisoned in this world, in this BMI.

2. Houdini imagined that doors were locked.

We imagine that our individuality, our ego, this ‘I’ in us is real. 

3. Houdini never questioned the lock.

We never question this ‘I’.

4. Houdini tried everything except doubting the lock.

We do everything in life, except questioning this ‘I’.

5. After a long time, tired and exhausted, when Houdini fell on the door, the door opened.

After very many births, tired and exhausted, when we surrender this ‘I’, the real ‘I’shines forth.

6. Houdini became free.

We are released from the clutches of egoistic ‘I’, and the prison of birth and death.

7. The truth is, the door was never locked!

The truth is, we were never bound!

8. Who saved Houdini? Not his effort, but God’s grace.

Who saves us? Not our effort, but God’s grace.

9. But it was his effort which led to his collapse.

So too, our efforts are unavoidable for complete surrender.

While summerising the entire Bhagavad Geeta in ‘Geeta Saara’ in just 42 verses, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi glorifies surrender by chosing this verse as the conclusion:

तमेव शरणं गच्छ सर्वभावेन भारत । तत्प्रसादात् परां शान्तिं स्थानं प्राप्स्यसि शाश्वतम्||

O Arjuna! Surrender to Him alone with all your being. By His grace, you will attain supreme peace of the Self and also the eternal Abode of liberation.

O   M         T   A   T         S   A   T

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January – 2021

Overall power and adorability by all came to God because He never says ‘I’ even in forgetfulness. Ramana.

The law of life is:

Even God, when the ego is pampered, becomes a man – finite and miserable.

Even man, when the ego is dissolved, becomes God – Infinite and Perfect.

But the itching to pamper the ego is very hard to contain!

How do I pamper my ego?

When I live to execute my will, and not His will… when my likes and dislikes are more important for me than living in His submission… when ‘I and mine’ (vyashti) becomes more important than ‘all’(samashti)… when I compete and assert myself, than co-operate and dissolve myself… when I become selfish and self-centred rather than selfless and God-centred… – all these tendencies pamper the ego.

Why do the majority of us like pampering our ego?

The egoistic joys, though finite, are immediate and effortless. It doesn’t demand any discipline or alertness. It is very natural to us.   

To such egoistic people, the Lord says “Since you are doing everything to pamper the ego, tathaastu– may it be so. May you remain as the ego.”

The result? We end up with all the characteristics of ego – finite, ignorant, arrogant, selfish, jealous, powerless, discontent, miserable, and transmigrant (going from body to body, world to world).

There was a man who was an exceptionally brilliant sculptor. Somehow he came to know that his death was near and the Yamadootas are soon coming to take him. He devised a plan. He sculpted many identical statues exactly like himself, and stood along with them.

When the Yamadootas arrived, they were confused seeing the identical figures. For a moment, they wondered, “Who is the real one?” But being in this profession for a long time, they knew how to tackle the situation. 

Looking at these identical statues, they gave a mocking laugh, “I was told that you are the best sculptor in the profession. But you have made such a big mistake!!”

The sculptor, unable to take this criticism, couldn’t control himself. He shouted back, “Mind your words! No one could ever find even the slightest error in my work! What mistake are you talking about?”

Now the Yamadootas, with a success-smile on their face, approached him and caught hold of his collar. As they dragged the unwilling trembling sculptor to Yamaloka, they said, “O fool! This is the mistake. For everything you say- ‘I did it, I did it’…”

What happens when we dissolve the ego?

When we dissolve the ego, the Lord says, “Since you seem to be busy annihilating the ego, may you not exist.”

The result? The individual, finite existence of the ego vanishes. What remains is only the Infinite Existence of God. We merge with God, like the finite drop, losing its individuality, merges with the infinite ocean to become the ocean.

As Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda says beautifully, “‘Renounce your ego’ is the only request from the Lord. ‘And I will make you God’ is the promise.”

In the life of all great saints, we see how they renounced their ego in all their day-to-day activities.

An American businessman, Mr Joffo, came to meet Sadhu Vaswani one day. Mr Joffo’s great desire was to start “The Gandhi International Centre for Peace and Plenty”. He had already roped in the then Union Minister, Mr S.K. Patil, to be the Chairman of the centre. It was his earnest desire that Sadhu Vaswani should consent to be a member of the Committee.

Vaswani commended him for his fine idea. “Mahatma Gandhi has been forgotten by his own people.” He said to the American. “You are doing well in trying to bring the people back to Gandhi.”

“You are the spiritual heir of the Mahatma,” Mr Joffo told the Master earnestly. “It would be in the fitness of things that your name should adorn the committee of the Gandhi International Centre.”

Sadhu Vaswani smiled as he replied, “My Guru taught me to inscribe my name in the list of servants. When the office of the servant is vacant, let me know.”

The American was taken aback. Never before had he met a great soul whose one aspiration had always been to become the “lowliest of the low.”

Destiny took Vaswani, again and again, out of his solitude to perform “great” things in life – but he always felt happy in doing little things. He rejoiced in the company of the “little ones”- the poor in spirit. Very often, admirers and devotees asked him to participate in big conferences and seminars. Invariably his reply was, “Let the cobbler cobble his shoes.”

Humility and simplicity are the hallmarks of the great ones!

This is an incident shared by Lt. Col. Ashok Kini H, SM, VSM (Former Comptroller to The former President, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.)

It was the first visit of an elevated saint, Shankaracharya of Kanchi Mutt, H.H Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal, to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

 Since President, Dr Kalam wanted to give due honour to the saint, he called me (I was the Comptroller in President’s House) to his office and asked me the traditional protocol.

I told him, “I will receive the Saint at the gate and bring him inside.”

After a few minutes of deep thinking, he asked me, “What will happen if I receive him?”

I said, “Sir, you will honour the Saint and make his position more important than the President.”

He smiled. He didn’t say anything.

Then, once inside the office, I briefed him, “Sir, I will bring the Saint here, put his seat (asan) on this sofa and will request him to sit; and you will continue sitting on usual President’s sofa chair.”

He again asked me, “What will happen if I make him sit on my sofa seat?”

I again said, “Sir, you will honour the Saint and make his position more important than the President.”

He smiled once again and did not give me any more instruction.

After thirty minutes, when the Saint was to reach the Rashtrapati Bhavan, a few seconds before his arrival, to my surprise, I saw Dr Kalam, standing behind me at the gate. I immediately went behind the President. He was there to receive the saint with garland and flowers.

We received the Saint, walked through the corridors and straight entered into his office.

When I was spreading Saint’s seat (tiger skin asan) on the visitor’s sofa as we had discussed, he directed me to put the same on President’s sofa chair.

I was shocked by this simple, humble and great gesture. This was President Kalam!

We offered fruits and flower basket to the saint. 

After the meeting, I asked him the reason behind doing this.

He smiled and said, “I wanted the sofa seat of the President of India, to be blessed by the Saint’s spiritual power so that whoever sits here later also gets the Saint’s blessings.”

I admired these words of my spiritual guru Kalam and said: “Sir, you are not only a scientist but you are yourself a saint in disguise too.”

As usual, he gave his meaningful smile. 

Those who allow their heart to be ruled by the Lord, and not by their ego – they rule the hearts of all!

Somebody wrote the first biography of Ramana Maharshi in Malayalam. Factually it was full of errors. He had written that Bhagavan was married, and had four children, and one day suddenly he felt Arunachala was calling. So he disappeared from his place and appeared in Arunachala.

Interestingly, he took the proof to Bhagavan to get it corrected. Bhagavan went through the writings, and then told him, “You may publish it.”

He took it to get it published, but the printer had his doubts. He showed it to Kunju Swami, a Malayali devotee of Bhagavan. Kunju Swami went through the writings and got the shock of his life!

He took it back to Bhagavan and said, “Bhagavan! All non-factual errors have crept into this. How can you allow him to publish it?”

Bhagavan looked at him and said, “Do you think this is the only thing which is false? And everything else is true?” After a pause and with a sweet smile, Bhagavan continued: “He wrote what he knew. What you know you write.”

The one in whom the ‘I’ is dead, verily he is Brahman, so says the scriptures.

India is poor and illiterate – agreed. But this is a divine land where, even today, in every nook and corner, we find mahatmas – both men and women – who have mastered the art of self-effacement, and live their simple lives, steeped in bliss, unknown to any.

When Swami Vivekananda returned from the West, one British friend asked him, “Swamiji, how do you like now your motherland after four years’ experience of the luxurious, glorious, powerful West?”

Swamiji said, “India I loved before I came away. Now the very dust of India has become holy to me, the very air is now to me holy; it is now to me the holiest land, a place of pilgrimage, a teertha!!”

O   M         T   A   T         S   A   T

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