September 2018

The words of the Master can echo their message only in a bosom that has been stilled in complete love. – Chinmaya

Not all bosoms are fit to receive the highest knowledge.

When do we pour water from one vessel to the other?

1. We never pour when the receiving vessel is higher than the giving vessel.

So too an arrogant, egoistic mind is an absolutely unfit instrument for gaining knowledge. A humble mind alone has the ability to receive.

2. We don’t pour when the receiving vessel is shaky/unstable.

An agitated mind is a shaky vessel. It is a mind filled with a hundred thousand desires and aspirations, worries and anxieties. Such a wandering mind is never available for the teachings.

3. We don’t pour when the receiving vessel is already full.

A mind with an ‘I-know-all’ attitude is a full vessel. 

These seekers come to the Master with a good intention to learn; but the ‘fullness’ in them won’t allow them to listen, and they end up being preachers. They don’t even allow the Master to speak!

By beating their ego-drum with their bookish knowledge, they unknowingly proclaim how hollow they are within. Amidst such noisy seekers, the Master remains silent like dumb.

4. We don’t pour when there are holes in the receiving vessel.

A non-serious mind is a hole-full vessel. Such a mind listens, but the knowledge enters through one ear and leaks out through the other. For such a mind, spiritual knowledge falls under the least priority category. Such people come to satsangs when they have nowhere else to go. In such a mind which listens with a ‘time-pass’ attitude, the knowledge doesn’t stay.

5. We don’t pour when the vessel is upside-down.

An un-interested, faithless mind is an upside-down vessel. Such a mind is very clear regarding spirituality, “Neither I believe in these things, nor am I interested.”

Such a mind remains untouched and unaffected even amidst an ocean of spiritual happenings. In this sense, they can be compared with lotus! They are also in a way Sthitaprajna, with a stunted intellect!

In the second chapter of the Bhagavad Geeta, the Lord starts His teaching only after ensuring that Arjuna satisfies the conditions of a true seeker. Arjuna says:

शिष्यस्तेऽहं शाधि मां त्वां प्रपन्नम् |
(O Lord! I am totally confused. I know nothing. I completely surrender unto Thee. I am your disciple. Please teach me.)

In these words, we see the humility, the surrender and the receptivity of Arjuna and also his intense desire to learn.

Bhagavad Geeta is a revolutionary scripture which destroys all our preconceived notions, making it clear to us that this knowledge can be imparted anywhere – even in a noisy battlefield, at any time – even during the war, if the receiving vessel – the disciple – is ready.

During the period of exile, there were many occasions when Krishna and Arjuna had spent their time in leisure on the river banks, mountain valleys and forests. But even in such ashram-like environments, the Lord chose not to give this knowledge, because He knew, that unless the soil of the seeker’s heart is prepared, the seed of Self-knowledge won’t sprout.   

This story is of those times when the wars between the Sikhs and the Mughals were frequent.

There was a simple peasant called Bhai Bela who wandered into Guru Gobind Singh’s satsang and asked the Master if he could be blessed with some service.

“Do you know how to use a gun?” asked the Guru.

“No Sir.”

“Then can you ride a horse?” the Guru enquired.

“No Sir” was again the answer.

“Well brother, what kind of service do you think you could do?” asked the Guru.

“Sir, I could very well work in the stables and take care of the horses.”

“Very good Bhai Bela,” said the Guru, “you may go to the stables and start your service.”

Bhai Bela started his service wholeheartedly and with utmost devotion. He would feed the horses on time, massage them, look after them with the best of his ability and clean the stables. Within two to three months, all the horses had greatly improved in appearance. Bela’s arrival in the stable had made all the difference. The condition of the horses was now perfect.

One day Guru himself went over to the stables and was delighted to see the horses in such good condition.

“Who is responsible for making these horses look so well?” the Guru asked the head stableman.

“Sir, it is Bhai Bela.”

“Bhai Bela, have you ever had any education?” Guru Gobind Singh asked him.

“No Sir,” replied Bhai Bela. “I have never been to a school of any kind.”

“Very good,” said the Guru. “I will now be glad to teach you, and hereafter you will be studying, as well as rendering service.”

Every morning thereafter the Guru would tell Bhai Bela one line or sentence, and Bela would repeat it the whole day with utmost devotion.

One morning when the Guru was leaving for the battle with the Mughals, he had no time to give a new line to Bela. When the latter saw that the Guru was leaving in haste, he ran after him, and asked a new line for the day.

“Oh Bhai Bela!” the Guru said, “Can you not see that this is neither the time nor the place?”

Bhai Bela thought that this was the line he was to repeat that day. So he repeated the whole day with the same love and devotion as always. All the people around him had great fun hearing Bela repeat this line all day, and they thought what a great fool he was not to understand what the Guru meant.

When the Guru returned, they asked, “Sir, in your graciousness, what did you give Bela as his new line for today?”

“I did not give him a new line,” the Guru told them.

“But Sir, Bela has been repeating all day long, ‘O Bhai Bela! Can you not see that this is neither the time nor the place?’”

“Though he didn’t understand the time or place, he has understood everything,” said the Guru with a smile.

The moment the Guru uttered these words, Bela entered into samadhi. As a result, whether awake or asleep, whether walking, eating or drinking, he was always in communion with the Guru. His attention was always on the name of the Lord.

Seeing this, some of the disciples were greatly annoyed and openly stated that this certainly was not justice.

“We have been serving the Master for many, many years,” they said, “and at no time such grace has been bestowed on us, whereas this man, who came here only recently, has got everything.”

When the Guru saw that these people were angry, he gave them a huge quantity of hemp.

“Prepare this hemp with all love and devotion of which you are capable,” he told them. “Only after that I will listen to your complaint and decide what to do.”

When they had filled a pot, the Guru said to them, “Now make a liquid of it and each one of you rinse your mouth with it until it is all finished.”

Once everything was over, the Guru asked them, “Do any of you feel intoxicated?”

“No,” they replied. “How could we feel intoxicated when we did not swallow the hemp?”

“You have already received the answer to your question.” The Guru said.

The Guru then explained to them, “Of course you cannot get intoxicated unless you swallow the hemp. By merely gargling with it, nothing can happen. Bela has absorbed the teachings of the Satguru. Bela literally does what his Guru tells him to do. For him, Guru and the Lord are not different. To such a one alone, the Truth reveals Itself.”

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Posted in: Chintana

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