Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita says that there are different ways to attain him. He specifically gave four different paths to attain him. One among them is the Jnana Marga, which is enquiry about the self. There have been many Mahans and Jnanis in this world. But most of them have gone unnoticed because they do not like to mingle in this ocean of samsara. One contemporary mahan who spread “Atma Vichara and Jnana Yoga” is Ramana Maharishi. He radiated the rays of divinity by his mere presence. It is not only normal mortals who are reveling in the world of samsara became his devotees, but also great Mahans, saints, pundits and scholars became his ardent devotees and have been elevated to a very high state by Ramana. His original name was Venkatraman and he hailed from Thiruchuzhi. There was a great Mahan by name Ganapathy Muni who was a disciple of Ramana. He was born in Andhra Pradesh and was verily an incarnation of Lord Ganesha himself. He had tremendous scholarship and learnt all the Vedas, Sanskrit, Puranas and Ithihasas at a very young age. One of his ambitions was to become a poet like Kalidasa. At the age of twelve, he wrote volumes of poetry in Sanskrit and because of his scholarliness he was known as “Kavya kanta Ganapathy Muni”. He also used to chant the Panchakshara at various different places. His other ambition was to have the darshan of Lord Shiva. He embarked in intense penance but still could not get the darshan of Lord Siva. He was feeling terribly upset and one day he happened to meet Bhagavan Ramana. On seeing Ramana, he immediately prostrated and confided his desire to have Lord Shiva’s darshan to Ramana. After hearing this, Bhagawan Ramana looked into the eyes of Kavya Ganta Ganapathy Muni and gave a discourse on Atma Vichara. The whole place was established in dynamic tranquility. It is called as dynamic because, that silence was verily established in the presence of a Sadguru. With the sheer blessings of Ramana, his Sadguru, Ganapathy Muni was able to go into that divine tranquil state and practice Atma Vicahara. This was again made possible only by the blessings of a Sadguru. It is very evident that by virtue of one’s skills one cannot attain that supreme state and it is only by the blessings of a Sadguru that one can reach that exalted state. Kavya Ganta Ganapathy Muni was also fondly called as “Nayana” by his devotees and he passed away in Kharagpur. Many of Bhagawan Ramana’s works have been translated in Sanskrit by Ganapathy Muni. It is he who took the message of his guru, Bhagawan Ramana far and wide.
Following this Nishaji discoursed on Nava Yogi Upakyana which forms a part of the eleventh canto of Srimad Bhagvatam. We have seen the Upadesha’s of the first two Yogi’s Kavi and Hari in the past few weeks. Kavi Yogi expounded on the Bhagavatha Dharma. He lucidly explained that the ways to overcome the fear of samsara is take refugee on the Lord Achuta and one can accomplish this by chanting the divine names of the Lord. The next Yogi, Hari discoursed on the characteristics of a Bhagavatotama, who is the devotee of the highest order. A Bhagavatotama sees the Lord in everyone and everything. He is also devoid of any desires [kaama] for lust, wealth, education etc. He sees everything in this world is a result of the Lord’s Maaya. When one perceives everything to be the play of the Lord, then it can be clearly said that the Lord’s maaya cannot affect him. The crux is that a Bhagavatotama has overcome Maaya. Maaya has no effect on him.
King Nimi who was listening to the discourses of the Nava Yogi’s requested them to explain about Maaya. King Nimi, the ruler of Videha says, “I am not satiated by listening to the divine stories of the Lord. I want to keep listening to them again and again. I don’t want it to end”. Maaya is also a creation of the Lord. It is verily talking about the glories of the Lord. In the process of overcoming Maaya, it is important to know what the term Maaya connotes. Having said this, one cannot easily comprehend the term Maaya. It is invisible. Sureshwaracharya in his Dakshinamoorthy Ashtrotram, says that searching for Maaya is akin to searching for darkness with a torch-light in hand. We cannot say that there is no darkness if we have a torch-light in hand. Similarly, we cannot perceive Maaya directly but one can feel its presence by its mere acts.
When King Nimi asked the Nava Yogis to expound on Maaya, the next Yogi Anthariksha embarked on the discourse of Maaya. In his discourse he explained about Maaya which is verily the Lord’s power of creation, destruction and preservation. In the first two verses Anthariksha expounded on the term creation. In his next three verses, he talked about preservation. In the last nine verses, he delineated the destructive powers of the Lord. One can feel the prowess of Maaya through its works. It is akin to the magnetic powers of a magnet. One cannot see the magnetic powers of a magnet. When a magnet is taken near a bunch of iron fillings, they get arranged in an orderly fashion based on attraction or repulsion of the magnet. So by this we can say that the magnetic powers exist even though we cannot perceive it directly.
“Aevirbhuthani Bhootatma mahabhutairmahabhujaa”|
“Sasarjochavachanyaadhyaha svamatrathmaprasidhayae”|| [Srimad Bhagavatam 11.3.3]
Anthrikshar says that originally it was only the Lord who existed. From him sprang the five elements. He in turn created the world from the five elements. So why did the Lord do this? He did this for Bhoga and Moksha. We need to first come to terms with this beautiful doctrine that the Lord is perfect and hence the world created by Him is also intact. He has made a lot of entertainments which our senses can enjoy. The Lord never asks anybody to come behind Him. If we decide to enjoy and revel in this mundane world, we need to understand that it comes with a package as well. Life in the mundane world is coupled with joy and sorrow. They go hand in hand. As we continue to enjoy the materialistic world, then one takes birth after birth forever and finally it will be the time for destruction [pralaya], where Antharikshar explained destructive power of Maaya.
The earth will be dissolved in the water where the ocean water engulfs the land and dissolves the water. The water gets burned in the fire of pralaya. The fire in turn gets consumed by the wind. The wind merges with the sky [akasha] and the sky coalesce with the Maaya. Finally Maaya becomes one with the Lord. In the end only the Lord remains. King Nimi after hearing the prowess of Maaya was totally shaken and earnestly requested the Yogis to describe paths that will lead one to not get affected by Maaya and also asked for ways to get out of it. After King Nimi posed this question to the Yogis, Prabuddhar started his discourse to King Nimi.
A sleeping person cannot wake up another sleeping person. Only a person who is already awake can wake up the rest. It is to be noted that the names of the Nava Yogis are related to the discourses they delivered to King Nimi. Prabuddhar refers to one who is a realized soul. He delineated the greatness of a Guru to King Nimi. A Guru is a realized soul who has already woken up and has come to wake up the normal mortals from their sleep.
Prabuddha did not embark on the significance of a guru right away. He first talked about the difficulties that every human encounters in his life. He explained this in three slokas. Only when one is cognizant of the difficulties in life, he can then realize the greatness of a guru. When a person is going through difficult times, he hopes for some relief from it. A guru knows what is best for his devotees. This fact cannot be well understood by his devotees until one is well acquainted with the difficulties in life. If we look into the perspective of life, one can see that it is filled with more sorrows than joy.
“Karmanyaarabhamaananam dhukhahathyai sukhaya cha |
Pashyaeth paakaviparyasam mithunichaarinaam nrunaam||” [Srimad Bhagavatam 11.3.18]
Prabuddha, in the above sloka, talks about people getting caught in karma. We do karma as a panacea for getting rid of sorrow when one is going through a difficult phase in his life. One can do karma when one is very happy and prosperous and yet he wishes to gain more happiness and wealth and is caught in karma in the process. When we go and try to seek happiness it only ends in more sorrow. In the second sloka, Prabuddha beautifully says that the world is built in such a way that when one does not have wealth, people would not respect them. Every human undergoes so many obstacles on a daily basis to earn wealth. There is so much hardship involved to earn money and when one earns money, he is in a quagmire as to how to preserve the wealth. Life is a package of sorrows. He added “Oh my friend, don’t think that it is only this world which is filled with joy and sorrow. It is the same case in heaven and swarga.”. So then where should one go?
Prabuddha gave an elixir for everyone to free themselves from this world of sorrow –
“Thasmath gurum prapadyaetha jignasuhu ksheya uttamam” |
“Sabdae pare cha nishnnatham brahmanyupashamaashayam” || [ 11.3.21]
It is verily the path of surrendering unto the holy feet of a sadguru. It is the best way to alleviate from the cycles of transmigration . Prostrate unto the guru and be a servant of him and do not be a slave to the senses in this mundane world. Surrender unto the guru as he is verily the one who can bestow the highest state, the lotus feet of Lord Vasudeva. What are the characteristics of a Sadguru? The guru should be learned in the Vedas and the scriptures and he should be one who has realized the Lord and has experienced the Lord. He should have the experience of the essence of the Vedas. Sadguru is one who can verily see and be in communion with the Lord. Only such a great realized Mahan can bestow the highest state on his devotees. A Sadguru can only bestow the highest state of bhakti to his devotees.
Prabuddha in his next sloka continued to expound on the characteristics of a Sadguru in which he says, a sadguru is one who should adhere to the path of Bhagavatha Dharma.
“Thatra Bhagavatan dharman shikshaeth gurvathmadaivathahaa” | [11.3.22]
When one follows the path of Bhagavata Dharma then one no longer needs to depend on one’s capability to reach the holy feet of the Lord. Bhagavata Dharma is completely dependent on the Lord and it is the easiest path as there are no eligibility criteria to follow this path. The other paths need a lot of strenuous effort to reach the Lord but in Bhagavata dharma there is no such effort that is required and we need only the Lord’s grace. The grace of the Lord is abundant and the sadguru is the conduit to get the Lord’s grace. Prabuddha then advises on the steps that one should do after attaining the guru. He requests all the devotees to perform service to the sadguru. One should serve the Sadguru with humility and that will lead one to the highest state of bliss. A sadguru verily knows what is best for his devotees.
There was a devotee of Mathanga Maharishi by name Sabari. One day Mathanga Maharishi summoned all his devotees and asked them what they desired and asked them to enlist their wish list. All the devotees shared the wish-list with their sadguru. Then it was Sabari’s turn. She said that she did not have the skill-set to know what she wanted and she earnestly asked her sadguru to bestow what was right for her. It was then the sadguru initiated her into “Rama Nama”. She asked about it to adguru. He asked her not to worry about it and just asked her to chant it and told her that one day the essence of this mantra will stand in front of her. As we all know it was due to her Sadguru’s grace that she was bestowed with the darshan of Lord Rama and Lakshmana and she attained the holy feet of the Lord.
When one does service to the sadguru, then the Lord is indeed very happy. One should see the Lord as “Eshwara Swaroopam”. He is verily the Lord and pay our due respects to him.
“Guru Athma Deivatah”. Guru is the atman himself and worship him as Lord Hari and do service to him. Lord Hari likes Bhagavat Kainkaryam. He disguised himself as a small boy and did service to Sant Ekanath for twelve years. It was because Ekanatha did immense service to his guru.
Mahans say that when the Lord sees something very beautiful, they want to experience it themselves. The Lord had not seen any beautiful women at all. In the eight canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, in the Amrutha Mathanam episode, the Lord saw Lakshmi Devi. He was so attracted by her beauty that he wanted to experience of being a woman and he took the incarnation of Mohini.
When the Lord saw his devotees doing humble service to their sadguru he also wanted to experience it and hence did service to Sant Ekanath. If our actions are oriented in the direction of sadguru, then that leads us to eternal bliss [anandam].
Adishankara is known to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva himself. He himself was a realized soul. However he still went in search of a guru when he was young and surrendered himself unto a guru and undertook the tutelage with his guru. Adishankara in his Guru Ashtotram elaborated on the significance of a guru.
In his first sloka in Guru Ashtotram he says, –
Sareeram suroopam thadha va kalathram,
Yasacharu chithram dhanam meru thulyam,
Gurorangri padme manaschenna lagnam,
Thatha kim Thatha Kim, Thatha kim Thatha kim.
Sri Adishankara says in the above sloka that one may be blessed with good appearance and one may be bestowed with a good-looking wife, lots of riches as huge as Mount Meru and one may be all famous throughout the world. Having said all this, what is the use of all these good attributes in life when one’s heart and mind does not fall under the holy feet of a guru.
Even though all Mahans and scriptures clearly outline the significance of a guru, it is our ego [Ahankara] that refuses to surrender unto a guru.
Sant Kabir in one of his dohas says –
“Kaun padaave paat guru bina kaun padaave paat “
In the above verse, Sant Kabir says, “Other than a guru who else can show you the way!”.
When we need a guru to educate the normal mortals in the worldly plane which are all well-trodden paths, then don’t we not a need a guru for attaining the highest state of eternal bliss.
Mahans give a beautiful analogy between bhagawan and a guru. A child knows its mother has the first relation. A mother gives birth to a child, takes care of the child and spends all the time with the child. She is the one who later shows the father to the child. Our Lord Vasudeva does not give himself to everyone. He has some eligibility criteria. The criteria is any spiritual path but for people following the path of Bhagavata Dharma , only the person who is the epitome of prema bhakti can reach the highest state of being one with the Lord. To paraphrase, only a devotee of the highest order can see Bhagawan.
A guru however goes behind people who are ineligible. A guru’s heart is filled with compassion for every single person. Guru is akin to a mother and the father is akin to the Lord. The Lord seeks eligibility whereas the guru seeks ineligibility. A mother does all the hard-work right from giving birth, cleaning the child, feeding him, teaching him etc. When the child grows and is well placed, the father then proudly talks about his child. Similarly a guru cleanses all his devotees and makes them pure and then throws them unto the holy feet of the Lord Vasudeva.
Prabuddha very beautifully explained the greatness of a Guru and it is verily a Guru who wakes his devotees from the sleep of life and takes his devotees to the lotus feet of the Lord.
The satsang ended with prayers and NamaSankirtan.