|Date:3 Sep 1999||Occasion:Janmashtami||Place:Prashanti Nilayam|
Karma - the path endearing to God
God will shower His grace and protect those who have the six noble qualities, namely, Uthsaaham (enthusiasm), Saahasam (daring act), Dhairyam (courage), Buddhi (intelligence), Shakti (energy) and Paraakrama (valor). (Sanskrit Verse)
Lord Krishna has said that Karma (action) is the root cause for both birth and death. Man is bound by action in his daily life. Right from birth to death, man spends his time in performing some activity or the other. The path of action (Karma Maarga) is very endearing to God. In fact, He is the very embodiment of action. He is present in every activity.
It is Karma (action) that is responsible for birth, sustenance and death of every being in this world. Karma is God for everyone and is the cause for both pleasure and pain. (Telugu Poem)
Kaala (time) is very essential for every Karma (action). Without these two, man cannot live even for a moment. What was the cause for emperor Harishchandra to become the cremator of corpses in a burning-ghat, for the separation of King Nala and his spouse Damayanthi and for the imprisonment and suffering of Saint Ramadas? It was the Karma alone. As is the Karma, so is the consequence there off. These two are inseparable and interrelated. Time acts as a link between these two. It consists of the past (Bhootha Kaala), the present (Varthamaana) and the future (Bhavishyath). Multifarious activities take place in these three periods of time. What is time? What is space? Here are two flowers. The distance between these two flowers is space. They were buds yesterday, today they have blossomed and will fade away tomorrow. A bud cannot become a flower instantly and the flower does not fade immediately. The change takes place gradually. That which is the root cause for this change is time. You all know that the second-hand in a clock rotates continuously making the sound 'tick, tick, tick...'. You might wonder whether it takes rest at all. Yes it does. The time gap between two consecutive ticks is its period of rest.
This world is a combination of Kaala (time), Karma (action) and Kaarana (cause). Every action has a reaction. When you cut your finger with a knife, blood oozes out immediately. Here the reaction is instantaneous. There is no time gap whatsoever. On the other hand, the food we partake of takes at least two hours to be digested. Take the case of a seed. A seed sown today, takes three to four days to sprout. Here the time gap between action and reaction is slightly higher as compared to the previous instances. On the other extreme, we have a case where it takes years for a sapling to grow into a gigantic tree and yield fruits.Thus, the time gap between action and reaction may vary depending on the nature of action. But know for sure that none can escape the consequences of his or her actions. It is impossible to say when, how and where one will face the consequences of one's actions. In that case why should one pray, meditate, contemplate on God or engage in good actions when one is any way bound to face the consequences of one's actions? The benefits derived from prayer or good actions may not be visible to the naked eye. Yet the benefits do accrue in the form of God's grace. Take the example of a bottle of pills. You might find the date of expiry mentioned on the bottle as the year 1994. You may notice the bottle and its contents intact even in the year 1999. This does not mean that the pills will be effective, if used today. The pills may exist, but do not have the power to relieve suffering, after the date of expiry. Likewise, the consequences of one's actions are inevitable, be it good or bad, but Divine grace will mitigate the effects of evil actions.
Mysterious are the ways of the Divine. It is difficult to comprehend how the Divine grace works. There are innumerable instances of God coming to the rescue of His devotees in times of need. Saint Kabir was a weaver by profession. One day he fell seriously ill and was unable to attend to his duties. The all-merciful Lord, in the form of Kabir, wove yarn and thus came to his rescue. Similarly, God came to the rescue of Gorakumbhar by making pots Himself, in times of distress. Sakkubai was an ardent devotee of Lord Panduranga. One day she could not perform her daily chores as she was running high temperature. Even under these circumstances her husband and mother-in-law would not allow her to take rest. At this juncture, Lord Panduranga assumed the form of Sakkubai and performed all her duties. It is indeed difficult to understand how, when and where God comes to the rescue of His devotees. Absolute faith in God is essential for Him to manifest. God will not come to the rescue of those who do not have implicit faith. God acts after taking into consideration the three aspects of Kaala, Karma and Kaarana.
Once the demon Dundubhi invited the mighty Vali for a duel. Vali killed Dundubhi and in a fit of rage threw his battered and bruised body at a distance. It so happened that the body landed on the Rishyamuka mountain splashing blood on sage Mathanga, who was deeply engaged in penance. Enraged, Mathanga cursed the one responsible for this heinous act, "Let his head be splintered into pieces if he were to set his foot on this mountain." That is why Sugriva, Hanuman and others chose to live on Rishyamuka mountain, when they were banished from the kingdom of Vali. They were certain that Vali would not dare to come there. Who was responsible for all this? It was Vali's own making. He could have stopped with the killing of Dundubhi. Instead, he flung the body away, driven by his anger, ego and hatred. These three evil qualities were responsible for his downfall.
Ekapaada was a great teacher and a hard taskmaster too. He would not permit his students to relax at any point of time. The babe in the womb of his wife criticized him for being strict with his students, saying, "Why don't you allow them some free time?" To this Ekapaada replied, "Students should never be given free time, for, an idle mind is a devil's workshop. It leads to many perversions." He cursed the babe, "You have the audacity to question my acts! May you be born as Ashtaavakra (one with eight bends in the body)" Ashtaavakra has to blame himself for this unfortunate situation because he questioned the propriety of the acts of his father without knowing the reasons behind them.
King Shanthanu, father of Bhishma, wanted to marry Sathyavathi, daughter of Daasaraja. In order to fulfil the desire of his father, Bhishma approached Daasaraja and requested him to give Sathyavathi in marriage to his father. Daasaraja agreed on the condition that only the one born to Sathyavathi will be made the crown prince. Consequently, Bhishma took a vow that he would remain unmarried. He sacrificed his own interests for the sake of his father.
Vinatha and Kadru were the two wives of King Kashyapa. They were involved in a competition. The terms of the competition were that the loser and her children would serve the winner and her children for the rest of their lives. Kadru emerged victorious. As per the terms of the competition, Vinatha and her son Garuthmaan served Kadru and her sons. Garuthmaan could not bear the sight of his mother serving his stepmother. One day Kadru told Vinatha that she and her son will be freed from the bondage of slavery if she could procure the Amritha Bhaanda (vessel of nectar) from heaven. Vinatha's son Garuthmaan took great pains and brought Amritha Bhaanda from heaven, thus relieving himself and his mother from bondage. Pleased with the devotion of Garuthmaan, Lord Vishnu showered His grace on him by making him His vehicle. It was the Sathsankalpa (noble thought) of Garuthmaan that was responsible for his attaining proximity to the Divine.
It is evident from the aforementioned examples that Kaala (time), Karma and Kaarana are interrelated. Such noble truths have been expounded in the ancient scriptures of Bharat. But alas! the modern students are not making any effort to understand them, leave alone practicing them.
Today we are celebrating the Birthday of Krishna. You are attaching importance to His body, but not to His teachings. You will be celebrating Krishna's Birthday in the true spirit of the term only when you put His teachings into practice.
Dasaratha had to exile Rama for 14 years as a consequence of his earlier promises. Even Sita, unused to any form of hardship also had to endure the difficulties of life in the wilderness. But Lakshmana had no obligation to go through such an ordeal. Because of his devotion to Rama, he also followed Him like a shadow. Every moment of his life, he spent in the service of Rama. Such a person of service would be termed a Sagunopaasaka (worshipper of the Divine with form). Bharata requested Rama to return to Ayodhya. His efforts were futile. Bharata reconciled himself to returning, but stayed outside Ayodhya in Nandigrama. His body was in Nandigrama, but his mind was with Rama. Bharata was a Nirgunopaasaka (Worshipper of the formless Divine): Lakshmana was a Sagunopaasaka. Which form of worship is better, is a matter of dispute, even today. Only the mind of Bharata resided in Rama, but Lakshmana's body and soul were, as it were, merged with Rama. In Science, there are two modes of perception, that which is apprehended directly and that, which is inferred by indirect means (Pratyaksha and Paroksha). Some call it hypnosis and others hypnotics. What is hypnotism? The hypnotist has the ability to enter the consciousness of the object irrespective of distance or time. What is the relation/difference between hypnosis and hypnotism? This difference is similar to the relation between direct and indirect perception. The mind which is seeing as real that which is directly perceived (conscious) is Pratyaksha, while that which is indirectly perceived (subconscious) is Paroksha.
A hypnotist is one who experiences the divine with body and mind. The one who undergoes the experience with mind alone without the body is the hypnotised. This difference between the hypnotiser and the hypnotised was well understood by the sages of yore. Lakshmana was well versed in this knowledge. The names of Rama and Lakshmana are uttered together almost always. This happens naturally with no special effort. One hardly ever hears the combination Bharata-Rama. Though Bharata's mind was one with Rama, his body was separated from Rama by time and distance. This is Paroksha Bhakti. Lakshmana's devotion is one with attributes (Saguna Bhakti). Hypnosis and hypnotism are not modern terms. These are found in the Vedas themselves. Not knowing these facts people find new terms or new words for these concepts. The significance of the term hypnotism is referred to in the Sastras as 'Atindriya Shakti'. What is this transcendental power? It means that one having this power can converse with one who is in deep sleep. Even the dead can be made to come and converse with one with such power. Not only this, one can enter the mind of another sitting in front of him. One with such powers can perceive an object far away. Hence is the term 'Atindriya' specified. It is not apparent to the senses. Our ancients have possessed such powers. Such powers are obtained by Karma only. All our actions should be pure and sacred. Mind, heart and action must all be pure and sanctified. Only a person with harmonious thought, word and deed is known as a true human being.
All the actions that you undertake must be sacred. There should be harmony in your thought, word and deed. The proper study of mankind is man. "Work is Worship", "Duty is God". This was the teaching of our ancient seers. Consider all activities as an offering to God and all work as God's work. Just as two wings are essential for a bird to soar high in the sky, two wheels for a cycle to move, Prema (Love) and Seva (service) are essential for man to reach his destination. No benefit accrues from rendering service devoid of love. Do not expect any returns for your acts of service. The satisfaction which you derive from rendering service is itself a reward.
Today many people are undertaking rural development activities. They come and tell Me, "Swami, we are doing Grama Seva (service to villagers)." For whose sake are you rendering service? Is it for My sake? No. You are serving yourself. So long as you have the feeling that you are serving others, you are an egoistic person. It is not service in the true sense of the term, so long as there is the sense of ego in you. You think that you are worshipping Me. It is a great mistake to think so. When the same Atma is present in everyone, who is the worshipper and who is worshipped? In the path of spirituality, it is a mistake to think that, "I am your Guruji, you are My devotee." True wisdom lies in realizing that you and I are one. "Ekaatma Darshanam Jnanam" (visualizing unity is true wisdom). Likewise, if someone were to criticize you, do not get disturbed. Remember that the same Atmic principle is present in both. There will be no room for misunderstanding if you realize this truth.
Visualizing unity in multiplicity is the principle of Brahma and viewing unity as diversity is Bhrama (delusion). This delusion is the root cause for your suffering.
Embodiments of Love!
First develop faith in unity. Where there is faith, there is love. Where there is love, there is peace. Where there is peace, there is truth. Where there is truth, there is God. Where there is God, there is bliss. True devotion lies in having faith and attaining bliss. Many devotees ask Me, "Swami, I want happiness." Where is this happiness? Can you buy it in the market? No. It is very much in you. You are not able to experience it since you do not have faith in yourself.
There is love in you, but you are diverting it towards the world, not towards God. Worldly love is like passing cloud. Develop the love that is unwavering. It neither comes nor goes, it is in you always. Have unflinching faith in its existence. Question yourself, "Do I exist? You get the reply, "Yes, I do exist." That is the true faith. Here is the flower, here is the handkerchief; here is the tumbler. The word is denotes true faith. Have faith in your existence, "I am". That is true faith.
You do not need to enquire into the nature of God or search for Him. Have total faith in Him. What is the use of living in Prasanthi Nilayam if your mind is constantly going around the market? Be like Lakshmana, whose body and mind were both engaged in service to Rama. Bharata was physically away from Rama, yet his mind was always with Him. Consequently, Bharata resembled Rama in all respects. You might have seen in photographs of Rama's coronation, Rama and Bharata having the same blue complexion. The reason being Bharata's mind was totally centered on Rama. It is because of such intense concentration that both became one. Similar was the case of Lakshmana, who not only served Rama physically, but also contemplated on Him day in and day out. Rama's love for Lakshmana was so intense that when Lakshmana fainted in the battlefield, Rama lamented, "O Lakshmana, I cannot live without you. I may get another mother like Kausalya, a wife like Sita, but not a brother like you" How can God lament! It was only a divine play enacted by Rama to show to the world the nobility and the greatness of Lakshmana. Such sacred love is like a powerful magnet. Such selfless, unattached love, transcends action, space, time, cause and effect. People ask Me, "Swami, temples are built for Hanuman and Rama. Why is it that no one built a temple for Lakshmana?" I told, "You simpleton, where is there a temple for Rama, where Lakshmana is not there." If you realize this fact, such a doubt will never arise. At the time of Krishnavatara there were two sisters Radha and Radhika, one a Sagunopaasaka and the other Nirgunopaasaka. Radha was constantly remembering the name of Krishna, while Radhika was engrossed in the physical form of Krishna. She was extremely depressed because of Krishna's absence away in Mathura. She gave up food and drink and said, "Krishna, I have been keeping your lotus form fresh with my tears. Now even my tear glands have gone dry. How can I now preserve your form in me? My heart, which is your gift, I am now returning to you. What else is there that I can offer at your feet? Accept my salutations and myself. She surrendered herself to Krishna. Radha saw this event. She had thought that Nirgunopaasana was superior to Sagunopaasana, but after seeing the ultimate self surrender caused by Radhika's Sagunopaasana, she realized the greatness of Sagunopaasana. Thence onwards she constantly meditated on the name and form of Krishna.
We have all heard of Tulasidas' Kesadi Pada Varnana ( Kanja Lochana, Kanja Mukha... etc) of Rama. Radha prayed to Krishna to present Himself in her heart. Such constant devotion is rare these days. People merely say, "Krishna, Krishna," as they go round or pass-by a temple. Of what value is such part-time devotion? They are mere name's sake Bhaktas. You must strive to earn the great wealth of God's love. God is omnipresent in all His attributes. One experiences this unity. Ramadasa also had this experience. Thaneesha put him in jail, but he never gave up the name of Rama. "O Rama! When all is your form, how can I be apart from you,", he prayed.
Devotees today have some form of divinity in their mind, but without constancy or consistency they perform rituals in a mechanical way. All your charity and worship are of no significance to the Lord. Show your charity and wealth to the income tax department. God needs only your love. There is no tax on love. You may face any amount of difficulty or hindrances. The Lord may Himself subject you to hardship. You should not waver because of these. All is for one's good only. Do not grieve over any loss or exult when there is profit. Equanimity under loss or gain is true Sadhana. There are those who sit in Dhyana or meditative postures. But their minds are in the market or in hair dressing shop. Is this Dhyana or Japa? The mind should be immersed in Krishna. Instead it is filled with desires (Trishna). What is needed is Krishna not Trishna. Krishna will fulfil all your Trishnas.
Mere chanting of the names is not enough. Offer your love to God. Love is not yours. In fact, it is God's. Surrender to God what is His. What is the use of a long life without this offering? You have no right to offer your love to anyone other than God. When you offer all your love to God He will look after all your needs. There is nothing that He cannot do in this world. In city or in hamlet, forest or in the sky, in the high peak or the deep ocean, God is there. Space and time is pervaded by Him. All beings are His forms. Realize this truth, transform it into action and enjoy the bliss. This is true devotion. Human life attains true meaning only then.
Embodiments of Love!
These days, wherever we go there is unrest, ego and conflicts. Love is invisible. You have to make love manifest. Love is to be shared with all, relatives, friends and even enemies. Then everything is enveloped in love. Therefore live in love.
[Bhagavan concluded His Divine Discourse with the Bhajan, "Prema Mudhitha Manase Kaho..."]