"Karmayoga does not mean ceaseless pursuit of karma. It truly consists in the Yoga orientation and discipline given to the buddhi and the mind. Constant preservation and application of Yogabuddhi while doing any work, alone makes one a Karmayogin."

The Guiding force of Narayanashrama Tapovanam & Center for Inner Resources Development

Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

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The saadhana consists of developing viveka and vairaagya, regulating the senses, having strong mumukṣā, striving to understand the message of the scriptures, trying to see the Lord in the heart and then in all creatures, having complete reliance on the Lord, leaving the I-ness and mine-ness, and above everything, having the association of the holy people – the sajjanas (holy persons) generally, and then the association of a Guru particularly.

Bhaagavatam In Daily Life - 1

[Talk on Śreemad Bhaagavatam delivered on 31st December 2004 at the 3rd Śreemad Bhaagavata Tattva Sameeksha Satram. Ma started the talk with soulful rendering of some of her favourite slokas. These slokas – with their profound meaning – sung by Ma in her deep musical tune set the deep devotional tone of the talk. The whole discourse was full of such enchanting slokas. For lack of space we could not include the full text of the slokas here. - Ed.]

Jai Guru. Jai Guru. Jai Guru. Before I start, I offer my pranaams at my Sri Guru’s holy lotus feet. I seek his blessings so that I am able to express well whatever I want to speak today. I offer my pranaams at Sri Krishna’s holy feet who is none else than my Sri Guru himself. I offer my pranaams to all of you devotees who have assembled here in the name of bhakti and Bhaagavatam, and day after day, with intense attention are listening to the glories of the Lord.

This time, I was given an option to choose my topic. I thought for a while and decided, I shall speak on “Bhaagavatam in daily life.” Most of us know about this text Bhaagavatam. Many read it daily and many listen to Bhaagavata Saptaahams regularly. When we read or listen, we are filled with devotion. At times we become ecstatic. But after some time, all that goes away. It doesn’t remain with us.

We are gripped by worldliness again. We are gripped by anxiety, tension, jealousy, hatred, irritation and what not. Why is it so? What is the effect of listening and reading then? Can we not read and listen in such a manner that our life becomes devotional and divine every moment and we get rid of worldliness? I thought I shall discuss this point today – what are the practices, what are the disciplines, what we should do to make our life devotional every moment.

Bhaagavatam was composed by Sri Vedavyaasa who had edited the Vedas. He composed Mahabharata so that even the common men and women could understand and be benefited by the messages of the Vedas. But, even after composing the Mahabharata that dealt with everything of human life and behaviour, Vedavyaasa was not satisfied. He did not have fulfillment. He was depressed; he was restless. He himself did not know why it was so. One day he sat on the bank of the river Saraswati and started contemplating upon the state of his mind.

Effects of Contemplating on The Lord’s Glories

At that time, Devarshi Narada came there. He asked how Vedavyaasa was and what he was thinking. Vedavyaasa put forth his problem in front of the Devarshi. Narada said, “See, you might have written a great epic, the Mahabharata, but you have not sung extensively the glories and the excellences of Lord Sri Hari in that epic. You have not extolled His leela in that composition. That is why it has become dry and has not given you fulfillment. Now you should write something singing His glory. Any literature which doesn’t contain the glories of the Lord, is useless. If anybody reads or listens to such a literature, it is like taking bath in a mud puddle.”

So, Vedavyaasa started writing again and composed Sreemad Bhaagavatam. Bhaagavatam itself says that reading it, listening to it and contemplating on it, man will gain supreme devotion to the Lord associated with knowledge of the Supreme Truth and dispassion towards the world. Bhaagavatam says:

avismṛtiḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayoḥ
kṣiṇoty-abhadrāṇi śamaṃ tanoti ca |
sattvasya śuddhiṃ paramātma-bhaktiṃ
jñānaṃ ca vijñāna-virāga-yuktam ||     

(12.12.54)

If we have constant remembrance of Sri Krishna’s holy lotus feet – avismṛtiḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayoḥ  – then what will happen? kṣiṇoty-abhadrāṇi– all the evil tendencies from the mind will be removed, will be destroyed. śamaṃ tanoti ca – the mind will become calm and tranquil. sattvasya śuddhiṃ – the whole being will be purified, and paramātma-bhaktiṃ – devotion for the Supreme Lord – will be generated. jñānaṃ ca vijñāna-virāga-yuktam – knowledge will dawn with the experience of the Truth and dispassion towards the world. It also says:

tadeva ramyaṃ ruciraṃ navaṃ navaṃ
tadeva śaśvan-manaso mahotsavam |
tadeva śokārṇava-śoṣaṇaṃ nṛṇāṃ
yad-uttamaśloka-yaśo' nugīyate ||

(12.12.49)

When glories of the Lord are sung – yad-uttamaśloka-yaśo' nugīyate – then tadeva ramyaṃ ruciraṃ navaṃ navaṃ – the excellences ever sparkle with new brilliance. manaso śaśvan-mahotsavam – for the mind, it is an eternal festivity. tadeva śokārṇava-śoṣaṇaṃ nṛṇāṃ – for men it dries up the ocean of worldly sorrows and miseries.

So, what do we see? If we read and listen to Bhaagavatam, what should happen to us? manaso śaśvan-mahotsavam. We must feel that there is a mahotsava, a festivity every moment, every moment. Is it happening to us?

This Satram is going on. This is the third year. Whenever we assemble here, throughout the day it is a festival. We forget our worldly life, our tensions, our worries, everything.We are only listening to the glories of the Lord, his leelā, we feel ecstatic at times and we are full of devotion. If we have to have a mahotsava always, then these experiences should ever remain with us. What are we doing for it? What is the practice? Is there any practice? Is there any discipline? – doing which all these feelings will remain with us every moment making our mind full of divinity throughout the day?

Bhaagavatam itself gives the answer. It says: “yat śṛṇvan vipaṭhan vicāraṇa-paro.” We have to listen, read and then contemplate; we have to be vicāraṇaparaḥ – introspective. Every moment we must contemplate and introspect.

What is it that we should contemplate upon? We should think: “I am reading Bhaagavatam; I am listening to the Saptaahams; but, is my devotion for the Lord increasing? Everyday am I becoming a better devotee? Can I say that my worldly attractions are decreasing day by day? Am I gaining the qualities of a devotee? Am I seeing the Lord everywhere?” All these contemplations – vichaara – should fill the mind. Then alone we can preserve this devotion, preserve this divinity.

Becoming a Devotee

Long back, my Guru Swami Bhoomananda Tirthaji Maharaj had asked me to read Bhaagavatam. I was young, I was in the household and was teaching in a college. He told me, “Leave your job and start reading Bhaagavatam. The reading should be such that it is not a mere reading.” He told me, “By choice, don’t take up any job any more. Spend the time in reading Bhaagavatam as if you are doing research. You have done research in Physics, but now you do research in Bhaagavatam.”

I was not acquainted with this text at all. But I had great faith in the words of my Guru. I knew that the Guru knows what is best for the śiṣya. I went and bought the Bhaagavatam book – Sanskrit text with English meaning and started reading. Even now I can remember the joy I was getting from the reading every moment – svādu svādu pade pade. It so happened that as I read on, my mind became kṛṣṇa-maya (laden with Krishna).

I could see the little Krishna everywhere as if he was moving with me always. If in the morning I went plucking flowers, the little Krishna would catch my hand and come to the garden and show me the flowers to be plucked – the flowers with which I would do his pooja later on. If I plucked whatever flowers he had pointed at, he would clap his hands and dance. If I did not, he would sulk and cry. If any time, I was depressed or worried and sat alone brooding, he came behind me and embraced me from the back with his tender arms. As if to remove all my sorrow, he would say, “Here I am! Why are you sorry?”

Looking at the vast sky, I would see his beautiful form with flute in hand – playing flute, he would make me forget everything else. When I looked at a peepul tree with tender leaves, pink in colour, I would see that small Krishna lying on the vaṭapatra (peepul leaves) - vaṭasya patrasya puṭe śayānam. I started chanting various hymns. He used to give me beautiful tunes to sing his glory –

adharaṃ madhuraṃ vadanaṃ madhuraṃ 
nayanaṃ madhuraṃ hasitaṃ madhuram | 
hṛdayaṃ madhuraṃ gamanaṃ madhuraṃ 
madhurādhipater-akhilaṃ madhuram ||     

(Madhuraashṭakam - 1)

My condition was like this. But, still I found that I was not fulfilled. There were moments when all this devotion would not help me. Sorrow would grip; irritation would grip; I would be worried. I would then try to think – what should be the discipline by which I could make all these experiences stable!

The reading of Bhaagavatam as a pursuit, which my Gurudev instructed me to do, gave me another revelation. I think it was a very important revelation that I had. I found that the study of any spiritual text – whether it is Bhaagavatam or Upanishads or Bhagavadgeeta – is very, very different from studying other books. If we study any branch of knowledge, say Physics, Chemistry, English or whatever, we learn the subject; we may even master the subject; it may help us build our career; but it does not help us meet the challenges of life. It does not make the mind strong so that we can stand unshaken in the face of any situation in life. It doesn’t give us the knowledge of the Self which is different from the body; nor does it grow in us good qualities.

The study of a spiritual text on the other hand, compels one to become what is read – live the qualities described therein. I understood that my experiences, my ecstasies, my feeling very close to Krishna, were not getting stabilized because I was not trying to live what I read – I was not striving to become a devotee. What is meant by becoming a devotee? It is to acquire the qualities of a devotee as mentioned in the text.

Who is a devotee? How has Bhaagavatam described devotees? A devotee must have prema (love), maitrī (friendship), karuṇā (compassion), upekṣā (indifference), akhilajīva-vātsalya (love for all beings), śāntatā (tranquility) and so on. So I understood, to have the experiences stabilized, I must grow these qualities in myself, and that depends on my own effort. Nobody else can do it for me. I have to seek these qualities. I must love the qualities and ensure that I gain them.

In any branch of knowledge if we want to excel – suppose we want to come first in class, we want to get good marks – we have to work very hard. If we have to get a promotion in the office, we have to work very efficiently. Then, as devotees, don’t we have any responsibility to grow in these qualities, one-pointedly, devotionally? Our mind should become purer, the intelligence should be more discriminative and doubtless. The mind and intelligence should be crowned with Viveka and Vairaagya.

So, I understood that a sustained pursuit was necessary. My dear devotees, my emphasis in my talk today is on this pursuit. We just cannot simply read or simply listen. We have to assimilate the teachings, practise them and live them. We have to become what the Bhaagavatam is talking about. This is called the saadhana.

The saadhana consists of developing viveka and vairaagya, regulating the senses, having strong mumukṣā, striving to understand the message of the scriptures, trying to see the Lord in the heart and then in all creatures, having complete reliance on the Lord, leaving the I-ness and mine-ness, and above everything, having the association of the holy people – the sajjanas (holy persons) generally, and then the association of a Guru particularly.

How are these to be practised? Everyday we must check whether we are doing the practices that we think we must do. Whether we are lazy in doing them, how much importance we are giving to them. We give importance to so many things - wealth, property, house, car, TV, wife, children, name and fame. Our mind is always full of that. Are we giving any importance to the Lord – let aside giving him the supreme position in our life? No, we are not. That is why we are not able to develop that supreme devotion.

What is Viveka? Viveka is to understand what is the supreme good in life and what is not - to distinguish between the truth and the untruth, between the perishable and the imperishable. The world comes to us with two offerings – śreyas and preyas. Śreyas is the ultimate and the supreme good. Preyas is the pleasurable, the worldly enjoyments – momentary and perishable. The world says: “See, here is śreyas and here is preyas. Which do you choose?” Unfortunately, man is always attracted towards the preyas though these are momentary and perishable. He does not think of the supreme good. Everyday we have to practise Viveka. In each thought, word and action we have to see whether we are choosing the śreyas or the preyas.

Then comes Vairaagya. Vairaagya is dispassion towards the world. What does this dispassion mean? It is not that we leave everything and go away to the forest. Dispassion means to understand that everything is transitory and nothing belongs to me – I am only an instrument. In understanding that, the I-ness is dissolved, the possessiveness is removed.

(to be continued)