Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Triangle of Love – I. Lack of Bargaining

The first angle of our triangle of love is that love knows no bargaining. Wherever there is any seeking for something in return, there can, be no real love; it becomes a mere matter of shop-keeping. As long as there is in us any idea of deriving this or that favour from God in return for our respect and allegiance to Him, so long there can be no true love growing in our hearts. 

Those who worship God because they wish Him to bestow favours on them are sure not to worship Him if those favours are not forthcoming. The Bhakta loves the Lord because He is lovable, there is no other motive originating or directing this divine emotion of the true devotee.

We have heard it said that a great king once went into a forest and there met a sage. He talked with the sage a little and was very much pleased with his purity and wisdom. The king then wanted the sage to oblige him by receiving a present from him. The sage refused to do so, saying, “The fruits of the forest are enough food for me; the pure streams of water flowing down from the mountains give enough drink for me; the barks of the trees supply me with enough covering; and the caves of the mountains form my home.

Why should I take any present from you or from anybody?” The king said, “Just to benefit me, sir, please take something from my hands and please come with me to the city and to my palace.” After much persuasion, the sage at last consented to do as the king desired and went with him to his palace. 

Before offering the gift to the sage, the king repeated his prayers, saying, “Lord, give me more children; Lord, give me more wealth; Lord, give me more territory; Lord, keep my body in better health”, and so on. Before the king finished saying his prayer, the sage had got up and walked away from the room quietly. At this the king became perplexed and began to follow him, crying aloud, “Sir, you are going away, you have not received my gifts.” The sage turned round to him and said, “I do not beg of beggars. You are yourself nothing but a beggar, and how can you give me anything? I am no fool to think of taking anything from a beggar like you. Go away, do not follow me.” (III, 87 )  

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Love for Love’s sake

When this highest ideal of love is reached, philosophy is thrown away; who will then care for it? Freedom, Salvation, Nirvâna — all are thrown away; who cares to become free while in the enjoyment of divine love? “Lord, I do not want wealth, nor friends, nor beauty, nor learning, nor even freedom; let me be born again and again, and be Thou ever my Love. Be Thou ever and ever my Love.” “Who cares to become sugar?” says the Bhakta, “I want to taste sugar.” Who will then desire to become free and one with God? “I may know that I am He; yet will I take myself away from Him and become different, so that I may enjoy the Beloved.” That is what the Bhakta says. Love for love’s sake is his highest enjoyment. Who will not be bound hand and foot a thousand times over to enjoy the Beloved? No Bhakta cares for anything except love, except to love and to be loved. His unworldly love is like the tide rushing up the river; this lover goes up the river against the current. The world calls him mad. 

I know one whom the world used to call mad, and this was his answer: “My friends, the whole world is a lunatic asylum. Some are mad after worldly love, some after name, some after fame, some after money, some after salvation and going to heaven. In this big lunatic asylum I am also mad, I am mad after God. If you are mad after money, I am mad after God. You are mad; so am I. I think my madness is after all the best.” The true Bhakta’s love is this burning madness before which everything else vanishes for him. The whole universe is to him full of love and love alone; that is how it seems to the lover. So when a man has this love in him, he becomes eternally blessed, eternally happy. This blessed madness of divine love alone can cure for ever the disease of the world that is in us. With desire, selfishness has vanished. He has drawn near to God, he has thrown off all those vain desires of which he was full before. (III, 99 – 100)    

Monday, September 28, 2020

‘Isavasyamidam sarvam’

God is the Samashti, and this visible universe is God differentiated and made manifest. If we love this sum total, we love everything. Loving the world doing it good will all come easily then; we have to obtain this power only by loving God first; otherwise it is no joke to do good to the world. “Everything is His and He is my Lover; I love Him,” says the Bhakta. In this way everything becomes sacred to the Bhakta, because all things are His. All are His children, His body, His manifestation. How then may we hurt any one? How then may we not love any one? With the love of God will come, as a sure effect, the love of every one in the universe. The nearer we approach God, the more do we begin to see that all things are in Him. When the soul succeeds in appropriating the bliss of this supreme love, it also begins to see Him in everything. Our heart will thus become an eternal fountain of love. And when we reach even higher states of this love, all the little differences between the things of the world are entirely lost; man is seen no more as man, but only as God; the animal is seen no more as animal, but as God; even the tiger is no more a tiger, but a manifestation of God. Thus in this intense state of Bhakti, worship is offered to every one, to every life, and to every being.— “Knowing that Hari, the Lord, is in every being, the wise have thus to manifest unswerving love towards all beings.” (III, 82)

True Bhakti does not lie in transforming God into a supplier of our wants but in recognising Him in everything in the universe. Our rich literature on bhakti is unparalleled in the world in its capacity to spiritually enlighten and elevate the human mind.  

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Love of God leads to Love of the Universe

With the love of God will come, as a sure effect, the love of every one in the universe. The nearer we approach God, the more do we begin to see that all things are in Him. When the soul succeeds in appropriating the bliss of this supreme love, it also begins to see Him in everything. Our heart will thus become an eternal fountain of love. And when we reach even higher states of this love, all the little differences between the things of the world are entirely lost; man is seen no more as man, but only as God; the animal is seen no more as animal, but as God; even the tiger is no more a tiger, but a manifestation of God. Thus in this intense state of Bhakti, worship is offered to every one, to every life, and to every being.

— “Knowing that Hari, the Lord, is in every being, the wise have thus to manifest unswerving love towards all beings.”  (III, 82)

Friday, September 25, 2020

Oneness through Love

To be able to use what we call Viveka (discrimination), to learn how in every moment of our lives, in every one of our actions, to discriminate between what is right and wrong, true and false, we shall have to know the test of truth, which is purity, oneness. Everything that makes for oneness is truth. Love is truth, and hatred is false, because hatred makes for multiplicity. It is hatred that separates man from man; therefore it is wrong and false. It is a disintegrating power; it separates and destroys.

Love binds, love makes for that oneness. You become one, the mother with the child, families with the city, the whole world becomes one with the animals. For love is Existence, God Himself; and all this is the manifestation of that One Love, more or less expressed. The difference is only in degree, but it is the manifestation of that One Love throughout. 

Therefore in all our actions we have to judge whether it is making for diversity or for oneness. If for diversity we have to give it up, but if it makes for oneness we are sure it is good. So with our thoughts; we have to decide whether they make for disintegration, multiplicity, or for oneness, binding soul to soul and bringing one influence to bear. If they do this, we will take them up, and if not, we will throw them off as criminal. (II, 304 - 305) 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

The Quintessence of Worship Purity of Heart

It is in love that religion exists and not in ceremony, in the pure and sincere love in the heart. Unless a man is pure in body and mind, his coming into a temple and worshiping Shiva is useless. 

The prayers of those that are pure in mind and body will be answered by Shiva, and those that are impure and yet try to teach religion to others will fail in the end. 

External worship is only a symbol of internal worship; but internal worship and purity are the real things. Without them, external worship would be of no avail. Therefore you must all try to remember this.

People have become so degraded in this Kali Yuga that they think they can do anything, and then they can go to a holy place, and their sins will be forgiven. 

If a man goes with an impure mind into a temple, he adds to the sins that he had already, and goes home a worse man than when he left it. Tirtha (place of pilgrimage) is a place which is full of holy things and holy men.

But if holy people live in a certain place, and if there is no temple there, even that is a Tirtha. If unholy people live in a place where there may be a hundred temples, the Tirtha has vanished from that place. And it is most difficult to live in a Tirtha; for if sin is committed in any ordinary place it can easily be removed, but sin committed in a Tirtha cannot be removed. 

This is the gist of all worship — to be pure and to do good to others. He who sees Shiva in the poor, in the weak, and in the diseased, really worships Shiva; and if he sees Shiva only in the image, his worship is but preliminary. He who has served and helped one poor man seeing Shiva in him, without thinking of his caste, or creed, or race, or anything, with him Shiva is more pleased than with the man who sees Him only in temples. (III, 141 – 142)

Swamiji spoke at the Rameswaram Temple urging the vast crowd that had gathered there to see Shiva in every being. We find here the rudiments of his famous injunction ‘Serve Man, Serve God’  

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Bhakta’s Renunciation

The Bhakti-Yogi, however, knows the meaning of life's struggles; he understands it. He has passed through a long series of these struggles and knows what they mean and earnestly desires to be free from the friction thereof; he wants to avoid the clash and go direct to the centre of all attraction, the great Hari This is the renunciation of the Bhakta. This mighty attraction in the direction of God makes all other attractions vanish for him. 

This mighty infinite love of God which enters his heart leaves no place for any other love to live there. How can it be otherwise" Bhakti fills his heart with the divine waters of the ocean of love, which is God Himself; there is no place there for little loves. That is to say, the Bhakta's renunciation is that Vairâgya or non-attachment for all things that are not God which results from Anurâga or great attachment to God. (III, 75-76)

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Parabhakti - Highest form of Love

That love of God grows and assumes a form which is called Para-Bhakti or supreme devotion. Forms vanish, rituals fly away, books are superseded; images, temples, churches, religions and sects, countries and nationalities — all these little limitations and bondages fall off by their own nature from him who knows this love of God. Nothing remains to bind him or fetter his freedom.

A ship, all of a sudden, comes near a magnetic rock, and its iron bolts and bars are all attracted and drawn out, and the planks get loosened and freely float on the water. Divine grace thus loosens the binding bolts and bars of the soul, and it becomes free. So in this renunciation auxiliary to devotion, there is no harshness, no dryness no struggle, nor repression nor suppression. The Bhakta has not to suppress any single one of his emotions, he only strives to intensify them and direct them to God.

Bhakti-Yoga is the science of higher love. It shows us how to direct it; it shows us how to control it, how to manage it, how to use it, how to give it a new aim, as it were, and from it obtain the highest and most glorious results, that is, how to make it lead us to spiritual blessedness. Bhakti-Yoga does not say, "Give up"; it only says, "Love; love the Highest !" — and everything low naturally falls off from him, the object of whose love is the Highest.  (III, 72 - 73)

Monday, September 21, 2020

Purity - the bedrock of Bhakti

Purity is absolutely the basic work, the bed-rock upon which the whole Bhakti-building rests. Cleansing the external body and discriminating the food are both easy, but without internal cleanliness and purity, these external observances are of no value whatsoever. In the list of qualities conducive to purity, as given by Ramanuja, there are enumerated, Satya, truthfulness; Ârjava, sincerity; Dayâ, doing good to others without any gain to one's self; Ahimsâ, not injuring others by thought, word, or deed; Anabhidhyâ, not coveting others' goods, not thinking vain thoughts, and not brooding over injuries received from another. In this list, the one idea that deserves special notice is Ahimsa, non-injury to others. This duty of non-injury is, so to speak, obligatory on us in relation to all beings. 

The test of Ahimsa is absence of jealousy. Any man may do a good deed or make a good gift on the spur of the moment or under the pressure of some superstition or priestcraft; but the real lover of mankind is he who is jealous of none. The so-called great men of the world may all be seen to become jealous of each other for a small name, for a little fame, and for a few bits of gold. So long as this jealousy exists in a heart, it is far away from the perfection of Ahimsa. 

The man whose heart never cherishes even the thought of injury to any one, who rejoices at the prosperity of even his greatest enemy, that man is the Bhakta, he is the Yogi, he is the Guru of all  (III, 67-68)

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Intense desire alone can reveal God

The master said, “My child, if you desire after God, God shall come to you.” The disciple did not understand his master fully. One day both went to bathe in a river, and the master said, “Plunge in”, and the boy did so. In a moment the master was upon him, holding him down. He would not let the boy come up. When the boy struggled and was exhausted, he let him go. “Yes, my child, how did you feel there;” “Oh, the desire for a breath of air!” “Do you have that kind of desire for God?” “No, sir.” “Have that kind of desire for God and you shall have God.”

That, without which we cannot live, must come to us. If it did not come to us, life could not go on………… How some people give all their energies, time, brain, body, and everything, to become rich! They have no time for breakfast! Early in the morning they are out and at work! They die in the attempt — ninety per cent of them — and the rest when they make money, cannot enjoy it. That is grand! I do not say it is bad to try to be rich. 

        It is marvellous, wonderful. Why, what does it show? It shows that one can have the same amount of energy and struggle for freedom as one has for money. We know we have to give up money and all other things when we die, and yet, see the amount of energy we can put forth for them. But we, the same human beings, should we not put forth a thousandfold more strength and energy to acquire that which never fades, but which remains to us for ever? For this is the one great friend, our own good deeds, our own spiritual excellence, that follows us beyond the grave. Everything else is left behind here with the body. (V, 251 – 252 ) 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Steps in the Mansion of Bhakti:

There is not really so much difference between knowledge (Jnana) and love (Bhakti) as people sometimes imagine.

The one great advantage of Bhakti is that it is the easiest and the most natural way to reach the great divine end in view; its great disadvantage is that in its lower forms it oftentimes degenerates into hideous fanaticism.

It is not given to all of us to be harmonious in the building up of our characters in this life: yet we know that that character is of the noblest type in which all these three — knowledge and love and Yoga — are harmoniously fused. Three things are necessary for a bird to fly — the two wings and the tail as a rudder for steering. Jnana (Knowledge) is the one wing, Bhakti (Love) is the other, and Yoga is the tail that keeps up the balance. For those who cannot pursue all these three forms of worship together in harmony and take up, therefore, Bhakti alone as their way, it is necessary always to remember that forms and ceremonials, though absolutely necessary for the progressive soul, have no other value than taking us on to that state in which we feel the most intense love to God.

The Jnanis hold Bhakti to be an instrument of liberation, the Bhaktas look upon it both as the instrument and the thing to be attained. To my mind this is a distinction without much difference. In fact, Bhakti, when used as an instrument, really means a lower form of worship, and the higher form becomes inseparable from the lower form of realisation at a later stage. Each seems to lay a great stress upon his own peculiar method of worship, forgetting that with perfect love true knowledge is bound to come even unsought, and that from perfect knowledge true love is inseparable. (III, 32 – 34)

Friday, September 18, 2020

Aim of Bhakti Yoga - Spiritual - realization

For he is treading on a path which is fitted very soon to lead him beyond the hazy and turbulent regions of reason, to lead him to the realm of realisation. 

He, soon, through the mercy of the Lord, reaches a plane where pedantic and powerless reason is left far behind, and the mere intellectual groping through the dark gives place to the daylight of direct perception. He no more reasons and believes, he almost perceives. 

He no more argues, he senses. And is not this seeing God, and feeling God, and enjoying God higher than everything else? Nay, Bhaktas have not been wanting who have maintained that it is higher than even Moksha — liberation...............

But those to whom the eternal interests of the soul are of much higher value than the fleeting interests of this mundane life, to whom the gratification of the senses is but like the thoughtless play of the baby, to them God and the love of God form the highest and the only utility of human existence.(III, 42 - 43) 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Extreme Love to God is Bhakti

        “Extreme love to God is Bhakti, and this love is the real immortality, getting which a man becomes perfectly satisfied, sorrows for no loss, and is never jealous; knowing which man becomes mad.”

        My Master used to say, “This world is a huge lunatic asylum where all men are mad, some after money, some after women, some after name or fame, and a few after God. I prefer to be mad after God. God is the philosophers stone that turns us to gold in an instant; the form remains, but the nature is changed – the human form remains, but no more can we hurt or sin”

“Thinking of God, some weep, some sing, some laugh, some dance, some say wonderful things, but all speak of nothing but God.”

Prophets preach, but the Incarnations like Jesus, Buddha, Ramakrishna, can give religion; one glance, one touch is enough. That is the power of the Holy Ghost, the “laying on of hands”; the power was actually transmitted to the disciples by the Master – the “chain of Guru- power”. That, the real baptism, has been handed down for untold ages. (VII, 8)

        On Monday 4th June 1895, Swamiji spoke at the  Thousand Island Park on Para Bhakti based on Narada Bhakti Sutra. He has provided many insights into Bhakti. “Bhakti is greater than Karma and Jnana. Para Bhakti and ultimate knowledge are the same.”  Swamiji reminded them that prophets show us the way but we have to solve our problems ourselves. He encouraged his disciples to surrender everything at the feet of Lord Jesus. He taught them how to make their love for the Lord more fruitful through meditation.   

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

BHAKTI YOGA - Definition of Bhakti

"He is the Soul of the Universe; He is Immortal; His is the Rulership; He is the All-knowing, the All-pervading, the Protector of the Universe, the Eternal Ruler. None else is there efficient to govern the world eternally. He who at the beginning of creation projected Brahmâ (i.e. the universal consciousness), and who delivered the Vedas unto him — seeking liberation I go for refuge unto that effulgent One, whose light turns the understanding towards the Âtman."

Shvetâshvatara-Upanishad, VI. 17-18.

Definition of Bhakti

Bhakti-Yoga is a real, genuine search after the Lord, a search beginning, continuing, and ending in love. One single moment of the madness of extreme love to God brings us eternal freedom. "Bhakti", says Nârada in his explanation of the Bhakti-aphorisms, "is intense love to God"; "When a man gets it, he loves all, hates none; he becomes satisfied for ever"; "This love cannot be reduced to any earthly benefit", because so long as worldly desires last, that kind of love does not come; "Bhakti is greater than karma, greater than Yoga, because these are intended for an object in view, while Bhakti is its own fruition, its own means and its own end."

The one great advantage of Bhakti is that it is the easiest and the most natural way to reach the great divine end in view; its great disadvantage is that in its lower forms it oftentimes degenerates into hideous fanaticism.

It is not given to all of us to be harmonious in the building up of our characters in this life: yet we know that that character is of the noblest type in which all these three — knowledge and love and Yoga — are harmoniously fused. Three things are necessary for a bird to fly — the two wings and the tail as a rudder for steering. Jnana (Knowledge) is the one wing, Bhakti (Love) is the other, and Yoga is the tail that keeps up the balance. (III, 31 -33)

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The Origin of the concept of Yajna

There are deep holes everywhere — so dark and so dismal; down is all dark and frightful; under water we cannot see, open our eyes though we may; up is light, all light, even at night the beautiful starry hosts shedding their light. Where do they go then, those I love? Not certainly down in the dark, dark place, but up, above in the realm of Everlasting Light. That required a new symbol. Here is fire with its glowing wonderful tongues of flame — eating up a forest in a short time, cooking the food, giving warmth, and driving wild animals away — this life-giving, life-saving fire; and then the flames — they all go upwards, never downwards. Here then was another — this fire that carries them upwards to the places of light — the connecting link between us and those that have passed over to the regions of light. “Thou Ignis”, begins the oldest human record, “our messenger to the bright ones.” So they put food and drink and whatever they thought would be pleasing to these “bright ones” into the fire. This was the beginning of sacrifice. (VIII, 149- 150)

Yajna is one of the pillars of the great mansion of Cosmos. Everything in the Cosmos barring the foolish human being, goes on pouring one’s actions as oblations into the fire of cosmic Yajna. The selfishly motivated man on the other hand, transforms all his thoughts, words and actions for selfish achievement and as a result fails to receive the blessings or soma from the Cosmos. When one learns to centralise one’s life on renunciation and service, his whole life gets transformed into Yajna and he receives in abudunce the grace of the Lord Almighty.

Swami Satyamayananda, writing in the prefece to the beautiful book “Approaching Ramakrishna’ writes about Yajna in the following highly inspiring words: “The real location of this sacred fire was in the intellect of the man of knowledge. Yajna thus stepped out of the sacrificial altar and spilled into each mental, verbal, and physical Karma. Anything performed as yajna was spiritual and had the virtue of connecting a person to the entire universe; anything not done as yajna was useless. Life stood transformed.”

Monday, September 14, 2020

Take always the position of the Giver

In the world take always the position of the giver. Give everything and look for no return. Give love, give help, give service, give any little thing you can, but keep out barter. Make no conditions, and none will be imposed. Let us give out of our own bounty, just as God gives to us.

The Lord is the only Giver, all the men in the world are only shopkeepers. Get His cheque, and it must be honoured everywhere.

“God is the inexplicable, inexpressible essence of love”, to be known, but never defined.

In our miseries and struggles the world seems to us a very dreadful place. But just as when we watch two puppies playing and biting we do not concern ourselves at all, realising that it is only fun and that even a sharp nip now and then will do no actual harm, so all our struggles are but play in God’s eyes. This world is all for play and only amuses God; nothing in it can make God angry. (VII, 5)

This is from the first talk Swamiji gave his disciples in their retreat at Thousand Island Park, on June 19th 1895. More often Swamiji’s mind was in a very elevated realm on its own. Sometimes even during daily chores most valuable thoughts used to flow out from him. Those who were participants in this blissful retreat had only one comment to make “What good did we do to deserve this blissful experience”. Swamiji gave Sanyasa to two of them and vows of Brahmacharya to five and initiated with mantra all of them. These talks under the title ‘Inspired Talks’ were penned down by Miss. S. E. Waldo – Sister Haridasi. It is almost an Upanishad which can raise the reader into a higher realm of thinking.   

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Absolute equality can never be

 Absolute equality can never be 

Absolute equality, that which means a perfect balance of all the struggling forces in all the planes, can never be in this world. Before you attain that state, the world will have become quite unfit for any kind of life, and no one will be there. We find, therefore, that all these ideas of the millennium and of absolute equality are not only impossible but also that, if we try to carry them out, they will lead us surely enough to the day of destruction. What makes the difference between man and man? It is largely the difference in the brain. Nowadays no one but a lunatic will say that we are all born with the same brain power. We come into the world with unequal endowments; we come as greater men or as lesser men, and there is no getting away from that pre-natally determined condition. 

        The American Indians were in this country for thousands of years, and a few handfuls of your ancestors came to their land. What difference they have caused in the appearance of the country! Why did not the Indians make improvements and build cities, if all were equal? With your ancestors a different sort of brain power came into the land, different bundles of past impressions came, and they worked out and manifested themselves. Absolute non-differentiation is death. So long as this world lasts, differentiation there will and must be, and the millennium of perfect equality will come only when a cycle of creation comes to its end. Before that, equality cannot be. 

        Yet this idea of realising the millennium is a great motive power. Just as inequality is necessary for creation itself, so the struggle to limit it is also necessary. If there were no struggle to become free and get back to God, there would be no creation either. It is the difference between these two forces that determines the nature of the motives of men. There will always be these motives to work, some tending towards bondage and others towards freedom.(I, 114-15)

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Sri Buddha – A Karma Yogi par excellence

        This great philosopher, preaching the highest philosophy, yet had the deepest sympathy for the lowest of animals, and never put forth any claims for himself. He is the ideal Karma-Yogi, acting entirely without motive, and the history of humanity shows him to have been the greatest man ever born; beyond compare the greatest combination of heart and brain that ever existed, the greatest soul-power that has even been manifested. He is the first great reformer the world has seen. He was the first who dared to say, “Believe not because some old manuscripts are produced, believe not because it is your national belief, because you have been made to believe it from your childhood; but reason it all out, and after you have analysed it, then, if you find that it will do good to one and all, believe it, live up to it, and help others to live up to it.” He works best who works without any motive, neither for money, nor for fame, nor for anything else; and when a man can do that, he will be a Buddha, and out of him will come the power to work in such a manner as will transform the world. This man represents the very highest ideal of Karma-Yoga. (I, 117- 118)

Swamiji adored Sri Buddha. Whenever he talked about Karma yoga he used to mention Sri Buddha not only as a great Yogi and Tyagi but also as a Karma yogi par excellence.   Buddha is the only prophet who said “I do not care to know your various theories about God. What is the use of discussing all the subtle doctrines about the soul? Do good and be good. And this will take you to freedom and to whatever truth there is.”  This true Karma Yogi spread the great consolation of Ahimsa through his words and deeds.  He filled the minds of his people, which were acquiring cruel tendencies through animal sacrifices for Yagas and Yajnas, with compassion based on Ahimsa. Thus he could transform the people of the whole country. 

Swamiji used to say that one who does karma without looking for any benefit whatsoever, either wealth or fame, would get transformed into Buddha. He would then acquire the power to do work by which he can transform the whole world. Blessed indeed is Karma Bhumi Bharat where we can even now find men of this caliber. 

The great Malayali poet Vallathole, writing about Gandhiji in his immortal poem ‘My Teacher’ says “only the land which mothered Bhagavat Gita can produce a Karma Yogi of this stature.” These words ring true in the case of Sri Buddha as well

Friday, September 11, 2020

The Ideal of Karma Yoga

The ideal man is he who, in the midst of the greatest silence and solitude, finds the intensest activity, and in the midst of the intensest activity finds the silence and solitude of the desert. He has learnt the secret of restraint, he has controlled himself. He goes through the streets of a big city with all its traffic, and his mind is as calm as if he were in a cave, where not a sound could reach him; and he is intensely working all the time. That is the ideal of Karma-Yoga, and if you have attained to that you have really learnt the secret of work.

But we have to begin from the beginning, to take up the works as they come to us and slowly make ourselves more unselfish every day. We must do the work and find out the motive power that prompts us; and, almost without exception, in the first years, we shall find that our motives are always selfish; but gradually this selfishness will melt by persistence, till at last will come the time when we shall be able to do really unselfish work. We may all hope that some day or other, as we struggle through the paths of life, there will come a time when we shall become perfectly unselfish; and the moment we attain to that, all our powers will be concentrated, and the knowledge which is ours will be manifest.(I, 34 – 35)

To see worklessness in work and work in worklessness was a unique idea, first taught to the world by Sri Krishna in Bhagavat Gita. Only the one who has fully comprehended this ideal can harmonise work and worklessness in his own life. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

“We came to enjoy, but we are being enjoyed”

If we examine our own lives, we find that the greatest cause of sorrow is this: we take up something, and put our whole energy on it — perhaps it is a failure and yet we cannot give it up. We know that it is hurting us, that any further clinging to it is simply bringing misery on us; still, we cannot tear ourselves away from it. 

The bee came to sip the honey, but its feet stuck to the honey-pot and it could not get away. Again and again, we are finding ourselves in that state. That is the whole secret of existence.

Why are we here? We came here to sip the honey, and we find our hands and feet sticking to it. We are caught, though we came to catch. We came to enjoy; we are being enjoyed. We came to rule; we are being ruled. We came to work; we are being worked. All the time, we find that. And this comes into every detail of our life. 

We are being worked upon by other minds, and we are always struggling to work on other minds. We want to enjoy the pleasures of life; and they eat into our vitals. We want to get everything from nature, but we find in the long run that nature takes everything from us — depletes us, and casts us aside.

Had it not been for this, life would have been all sunshine. Never mind! With all its failures and successes, with all its joys and sorrows, it can be one succession of sunshine, if only we are not caught. (II, 2)

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

True Love leads to Detachment

Sri Krishna says, “Look at Me, Arjuna! If I stop from work for one moment, the whole universe will die. I have nothing to gain from work; I am the one Lord, but why do I work? Because I love the world.” God is unattached because He loves; that real love makes us unattached. Wherever there is attachment, the clinging to the things of the world, you must know that it is all physical attraction between sets of particles of matter — something that attracts two bodies nearer and nearer all the time and, if they cannot get near enough, produces pain; but where there is real love, it does not rest on physical attachment at all. Such lovers may be a thousand miles away from one another, but their love will be all the same; it does not die, and will never produce any painful reaction. (I,58-59)

One of the most attractive and practical portion in Vivekananda literature is Karma Yoga. The Karma Yoga enunciated by Sri Krishna in Bhagavat Gita was taken up by Swamiji, made more relevant and practical and was made the foundation for his ideal of “Man making and nation building”. Love has its role to play as in every field of human activity. When actively engaged in work, unselfish though it may be, there are many possibilities of rubbings and frictions. To reduce their impact and even to totally eradicate them love has a great role to play. Swamiji says ‘the wheels of Karma can roll smoothly only when oiled with love’. How love can enhance dignity of work and lead it to freedom and detachment are wonderfully illustrated in the life of Sri Krishna. Sri Ramakrishna was an embodiment of perfect love and in him we can find the  utmost  in detachment.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Detachment – a way out of Delusion

Every day we renew our determination to be unattached. We cast our eyes back and look at the past objects of our love and attachment, and feel how every one of them made us miserable. We went down into the depths of despondency because of our “love”! We found ourselves mere slaves in the hands of others, we were dragged down and down! And we make a fresh determination: “Henceforth, I will be master of myself; henceforth, I will have control over myself.” But the time comes, and the same story once more! Again the soul is caught and cannot get out. The bird is in a net, struggling and fluttering. This is our life. (II, 6)

A mind which is not trained in detachment will lose itself in selfish motivations. Therefore, consciously we should detach ourselves from unwanted material pursuits, family, relatives and so on. Make mind God oriented and let Satya and Dharma become practical in every aspect of our lives. That would remove beggarliness from the mind and it would become Self oriented and Self sufficient. Swamiji describes such Karma Yogis as men with capital M. Most of the people we see around today have lost their enthusiasm and courage to face life. They have lost faith in themselves and also in values like sincerity, love and optimism. If there is no detachment our old age would become miserable. The misery faced by the old in the society today due to their feelings of isolation and lack of love is because they failed to cultivate detachment in proper time. Our ancient rishis had introduced a stage called Vanaprasta after Grihastasrama giving people an opportunity to detach themselves from active involvement in worldly life. It is time to revisit the idea of Vanaprasta, specially when  old people in our families have become  unwanted entities, unloved and uncared for.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Karma Yoga and the three Gunas

Karma-Yoga has specially to deal with these three factors. By teaching what they are and how to employ them, it helps us to do our work better. Human society is a graded organisation. We all know about morality, and we all know about duty, but at the same time we find that in different countries the significance of morality varies greatly. What is regarded as moral in one country may in another be considered perfectly immoral. For instance, in one country cousins may marry; in another, it is thought to be very immoral; in one, men may marry their sisters-in-law; in another, it is regarded as immoral; in one country people may marry only once; in another, many times; and so forth. Similarly, in all other departments of morality, we find the standard varies greatly — yet we have the idea that there must be a universal standard of morality (I, 36 – 37)

While describing Karma Yoga Swamiji considers the role of the three gunas in shaping one’s character. He advises that if we understand them properly we can utilise them to improve the quality of our work. We have to raise ourselves from tamas to rajas and from rajas to satwa. Shraddha, food, yanja. tapas, dhyana, tyaga, knowledge, karma, karta, intelligence, dhriti, happiness and swabhava - all these different aspects have been described exhaustively by Sri Krishna in Bhagavat Gita. If we study 17th and 18th chapters of Bhagavat Gita we can understand the full implications of the relation between the Gunas and  the Karma. 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Be a Master, not a Slave

We are all beggars. Whatever we do, we want a return. We are all traders. We are traders in life, we are traders in virtue, we are traders in religion. And alas! we are also traders in love.

If you come to trade, if it is a question of give-and-take, if it is a question of buy-and-sell, abide by the laws of buying and selling. There is a bad time and there is a good time; there is a rise and a fall in prices: always you expect the blow to come. It is like looking at the mirrors Your face is reflected: you make a grimace — there is one in the mirror; if you laugh, the mirror laughs. This is buying and selling, giving and taking. (II, 4)

There is only one way to achieve this. That is, to practise detachment. When we try to put this ideal  into practice, many difficulties appear in front of us. Whatever may be the temptations and even if we fail again and again we should not lose courage. We should hold on to our divine nature. Nature may compel us to take revenge, to retaliate in the same measure. But we should control ourselves and be detached. Once we are able to do this, a super divine strength will rise in us and would eradicate all our miseries. 

Here we find a great message from Swamiji. Within families, between husband and wife, among other family members, among the various groups in a society, everywhere we find such actions and reactions. Counselling does help to some extent. But that is not sufficient. We should be able to delve deep into ourselves and remove the wrong interpretations based on our ignorance. The ideal of Karma Yoga provides the best medicine to get rid of such unwanted tensions. 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Calm and well balanced mind – Secret of Work Efficiency

I have been asked many times how we can work if we do not have the passion which we generally feel for work. I also thought in that way years ago, but as I am growing older, getting more experience, I find it is not true. The less passion there is, the better we work. The calmer we are, the better for us, and the more the amount of work we can do. When we let loose our feelings, we waste so much energy, shatter our nerves, disturb our minds, and accomplish very little work. The energy which ought to have gone out as work is spent as mere feeling, which counts for nothing. It is only when the mind is very calm and collected that the whole of its energy is spent in doing good work. And if you read the lives of the great workers which the world has produced, you will find that they were wonderfully calm men. Nothing, as it were, could throw them off their balance. That is why the man who becomes angry never does a great amount of work, and the man whom nothing can make angry accomplishes so much. The man who gives way to anger, or hatred, or any other passion, cannot work; he only breaks himself to pieces, and does nothing practical. It is the calm, forgiving, equable, well-balanced mind that does the greatest amount of work. ( II -293)

This ideal of karma yoga has been put into practice in recent times by our great national leaders like Mahatma Gandhiji and Vinobha Bhave. Unfortunately none else is able to continue the great tradition. Our great rishis transformed karma into karma yoga and earned for our motherland the immortal fame of Karma Bhumi. It should be the concern of everybody why Karma Bhumi Bharat is deteriorating into an akarma bhumi and a vikarma bhumi? 

Friday, September 4, 2020

Work as worship

Help the Lord! There is a proverb in our language,

“Shall we teach the Architect of the universe how to build?” So those are the highest of mankind who do not work. The next time you see these silly phrases about the world and how we must all help God and do this or that for Him, remember this. Do not think such thoughts; they are too selfish. All the work you do is subjective, is done for your own benefit. 

God has not fallen into a ditch for you and me to help Him out by building a hospital or something of that sort. He allows you to work. He allows you to exercise your muscles in this great gymnasium, not in order to help Him but that you may help yourself. Do you think even an ant will die for want of your help? Most arrant blasphemy! 

The world does not need you at all. The world goes on you are like a drop in the ocean. A leaf does not move, the wind does not blow without Him. Blessed are we that we are given the privilege of working for Him, not of helping Him. Cut out this word “help” from your mind. You cannot help; it is blaspheming. You are here yourself at His pleasure. 

Do you mean to say, you help Him? You worship. When you give a morsel of food to the dog, you worship the dog as God. God is in that dog. He is the dog. He is all and in all. We are allowed to worship Him. Stand in that reverent attitude to the whole universe, and then will come perfect non-attachment. This should be your duty. This is the proper attitude of work. This is the secret taught by Karma-Yoga (V-245) 

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Work for work’s sake

        Krishna, the “Lord of souls”, talks to Arjuna or Gudâkesha, “lord of sleep” (he who has conquered sleep). The “field of virtue” (the battlefield) is this world; the five brothers (representing righteousness) fight the hundred other brothers (all that we love and have to contend against); the most heroic brother, Arjuna (the awakened soul), is the general. We have to fight all sense-delights, the things to which we are most attached, to kill them. We have to stand alone; we are Brahman, all other ideas must be merged in this one.

        Krishna did everything but without any attachment; he was in the world, but not of it. “Do all work, but without attachment; work for work’s sake, never for yourself.” (VII, 334)

On 29th June 1895 Swamiji introduced Sri Krishna and Bhagavad Gita to his disciples. That day he came to the study class (at Thousand Island Park) with Gita in his hand. Naturally, Swamiji drew a spiritual diagram before starting the class. He started his discourse quoting Sri Ramakrishna’s words, “the boat should be on the waters, and not water in the boat”.

         It is difficult to find a greater proponent than Sri Krishna for Anasakti yoga (yoga of detachment). In many places Swamiji places Sri Buddha at par with Sri Krishna. Karma Yoga was his favourite subject and he has given to posterity a beautiful idea of “work as worship”. Mahatma Gandhi and Acharya Vinoba Bhave were most outstanding proponents of this yoga in modern times. Swamiji, unlike many of his predecessors, insisted that a true karma yogi can also attain freedom or liberation.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

‘Swadharme nidhanam sreyah’

Every man should take up his own ideal and endeavour to accomplish it. That is a surer way of progress than taking up other men’s ideals, which he can never hope to accomplish. For instance, we take a child and at once give him the task of walking twenty miles. Either the little one dies, or one in a thousand crawls the twenty miles, to reach the end exhausted and half-dead. That is like what we generally try to do with the world. All the men and women, in any society, are not of the same mind, capacity, or of the same power to do things; they must have different ideals, and we have no right to sneer at any ideal. Let every one do the best he can for realising his own ideal. Nor is it right that I should be judged by your standard or you by mine. The apple tree should not be judged by the standard of the oak, nor the oak by that of the apple. To judge the apple tree you must take the apple standard, and for the oak, its own standard. (I, 41)

‘Swadharme nidhanam sreyah

Paradharmo bhayavaha’ – is explained by Sri Krishna in Bhagavat Gita. Swamiji introduces this idea in Karma Yoga. To use the modern technology, when we work in the field to which we are best suited by birth and training our work would be tension free. The reason is that it has become part of the character or Swabhava. One is able to work with great relaxation and satisfaction. As time went on, unfortunately such activities became more and more confined to particular sections (castes)  in the society,  and became concretised as Kula Dharma. However, it is a fact, that executing Kula Dharma one is able to manifest the divinity (freedom) within, which is what work is meant for. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

‘Yoga karmasu kausalam’

Gita teaches Karma-Yoga. We should work through Yoga (concentration). In such concentration in action (Karma-Yoga), there is no consciousness of the lower ego present. The consciousness that I am doing this and that is never present when one works through Yoga. The Western people do not understand this. They say that if there be no consciousness of ego, if this ego is gone, how then can a man work? But when one works with concentration, losing all consciousness of oneself the work that is done will be infinitely better, and this every one may have experienced in his own life. 

        We perform many works subconsciously, such as the digestion of food etc., many others consciously, and others again by becoming immersed in Samâdhi as it were, when there is no consciousness of the smaller ego. If the painter, losing the consciousness of his ego, becomes completely immersed in his painting, he will be able to produce masterpieces. The good cook concentrates his whole self on the food-material he handles; he loses all other consciousness for the time being. But they are only able to do perfectly a single work in this way, to which they are habituated. The Gita teaches that all works should be done thus. He who is one with the Lord through Yoga performs all his works by becoming immersed in concentration, and does not seek any personal benefit. Such a performance of work brings only good to the world, no evil can come out of it. Those who work thus never do anything for themselves.

The result of every work is mixed with good and evil. There is no good work that has not a touch of evil in it. Like smoke round the fire, some evil always clings to work. We should engage in such works as bring the largest amount of good and the smallest measure of evil. (V, 247 – 248)

Man - making Education

You cannot make a plant grow in soil unsuited to it. A child teaches itself. But you can help it to go forward in its own way. What you ca...