"Devotion is a means as well as its true end when it grows into a full treasure. When devotion becomes a treasure, you will need nothing more for inner fullness or affluence. As devotion grows, it will begin to free you of all desire, hatred and fear. It will relieve poverty, either by making you amply resourceful or by taking away from you the very feeling of poverty. Devotion also will remove your weakness, generating untold strength and confidence."

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

Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

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Harih Om Tat Sat. Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.

An Ashram is a spiritual abode. Generally, an Ashram emerges from an individual who turns to be a full-time and a wholesome ascetic. Normally the way of life for an individual is to grow under the care of the parents, to get educated in schools and colleges, then to enter the household life, get married, bring up a family, and whatever rest follows, undergo it and depart from the world. An ascetic life is an exception to this. Birth is the same for an ascetic. The initial growth also is in the hands of the parents and in the hands of the educational institutions. Somewhere during that period, his view, his choice and his resolve become different.

He feels that “I am not going to enter into the household life and follow the routines which many are following. I would like to trek a different path and that path is invariably a spiritual path.” In our country, this has been in vogue, right from time immemorial. So, it is not something new to us. Our society has given the supreme place for ascetic and ascetic life and the Ashrams which spring from them. An ascetic is born when he feels that “I am not going to live a normal life of a householder but a life that is totally different from the household life.” That is what a spiritual life and an Ashram life. So, he will not think of getting an employment or a profession and gain an income. If he has in between already, then he will renounce it. He will also choose not to live with the family members but away from them.

These two are clearly in vogue in our country. An ascetic will not have a profession and income. He will also not be living with his family and family members. Then what is the rest of the life? If he says that “I will not have income”, then how will he live? That is meant by asceticism. An ascetic lives on the streets in the lap of providence. He is always greeted by chance and graced by providence. This is the way of an ascetic’s life. When he takes to such a life, depending upon his age, temper, education and the type of emotional urges he has, emotional motivations, if he is a good bastion, good human, he loves people, he interacts with them in a very friendly and amiable manner, he also has spiritual inclinations, I think he will be the best and most favored by the society. I think I started my life like that.

When my Gurudev came to know that we were preparing ourselves to become ascetics, he expressed his sentiments, thoughts and responses and tears were flowing from his eyes. Before my departure from Calcutta, my Gurudev told me, “Be prepared for a sword and a garland”. I thought there was a lot of substance in what he said. And in my life, the sword as well as the garland has been facing me for many many decades. I am a little exception or maybe a grave exception. I am very much governed by and given to our scriptures and scriptural traditions. But our scriptural traditions are such that they exhort the votary to go through the tradition and transcend the tradition. I belong to that category of the super-traditional level.

I think the right description of me will be I am an Atyāśrami, a person who has transcended all the four Ashramas including Sannyāsa Ashramam. I describe myself, I used to write articles also with the pen name Akiñchana and Niṣkiñchana. People did not know who these people were. Akiñchana. ‘Kiñchana’ means something, he who has something. Akiñchana means he who does not have anything. Even that little, he doesn’t have. Niṣkiñchana also means the same. This is what any ascetic should aspire to be. Somehow it was a very natural development for me.

So, people started coming to me, hearing me, inviting me. Then a small dwelling place was made here, away from Jñānāśramam which we already had founded with seventeen acres of farmland. I wanted to come away from there which I had mentioned to my brothers and others. An ascetic generally leaves his birth place and blood relations. So, I wanted to. Then I came here. People had a lot of love and fondness for me. Some considered me to be a member of their household and they have been looking after me very fondly. I also started giving lectures moving from one place to the other, staying with householders. Then I found that people are coming to the Ashram with a big spiritual motivation, objective etc. But I find in them the deplorable absence of basic human qualities, adjustments and appreciation. That is why I wrote a book, “Dear souls, become humans first”.

First of all, be a human. Then aspire to become a divine. What is this human life? Appreciating each other, having mutuality, accommodating each other, trying to help one another, do not condemn anybody, scold anybody, not to speak of beating. Suppose you find your son disobedient; I agree that disobedience is bad. But my question to all of you will be why is it that you got a disobedient son? You could have given birth to an obedient one. Wherein lies the wrong? Is the son wrong or you? Think about it. After all, a child is born, it is your child. The child may not speak. But he or she must have in his or her mind, “Now you are beating me saying that I am wrong. But you could have given birth to a better child so that you would not have had to beat”. Is this not the outcry of every human heart?

God wanted to produce the best of people, but in His world, He finds the worst also are there. He doesn’t disown anybody. At the same time, He doesn’t approve of the wrong. At the same time, wrong inflicts the right and we are suffering. That is the nature of the world. Either you have good and bad hand-in-gloves with each other or you have neither good nor bad. We don’t have human beings with a single hand and a single leg. We always have people with two legs and two hands. Similarly, we have man and woman, day and night, good and bad, Gods and humans. Always it is pairs of opposites and the world is a collection of these.

So, I think everyone of you should understand that you have to be a human first. I think the best example will be Bheeshma, to some extent Drona also. Bheeshma resolved that he would not marry to enable his father to marry a fisher-girl whose father wanted to make sure that his daughter’s son would inherit the throne. Bheeshma went straight to the father and discussed with him, “What is the problem?” Then he said, “I am afraid that after my daughter is married, I will have no right over her. We are belonging to the fisher community. And in the palace, I don’t think she will be receiving respect in the hands of all classical people. But I want my girl to have a son. Because it will be a King’s son, I want him to be a prince and inherit the throne.” He said, “Okay, I agree. I am not going to claim.” “What about your children? They may claim. They may not have the fidelity and resolve as you have.”

Then Bheeshma, Gangādatta right then said, “I shall not marry. I will remain a celibate.” The father did not know all this episode. He knew about it only later. You can imagine how much was the adjustment this wonderful son had. Generally, we hear the father making such a resolve for the sake of the son. Here, the son making such a resolve for the sake of the father. It was very shameful for Santhanu to hear it and to accept it. But passions are so strong that Santhanu accepted it. Then Bheeshma continued to remain in Hastinapura witnessing and helplessly co-existing with Duryodhana and his wicked designs. Every time he used to advise Duryodhana but Duryodhana would not listen to him.

To an adult person, you can only advise keeping at a distance. You cannot force your view on him. So, all expressed a view of reconciliation and brotherhood, fraternity. Duryodhana said, “No, No, No, No.” The war was declared. Duryodhana and Karna goes to Bheeshma saying, “We would like you to be the Commander-in-chief.” Then he said, “You want me to be the Commander-in-chief. But do you know that I am not solely related to you alone? Pandavas are also equally deserving my concern, attention and blessings. So, you ask me to be a Commander-in-chief. I shall command your army. But don’t think that my heart is shut towards Pandavas.” He openly said.

Because of the greatness of the commitment of Bheeshma, Duryodhana knew that he would command the army and fight for him and Bheeshma did. Before the war, Yudhishthira went to Bheeshma, prostrated before him and said, I have come to take blessings from you before starting the war.” Bheeshma said, “I am very happy. By standing on Duryodhana’s side, if you had thought that I have become a Duryodhanite, it would have been sinful. If you had not come to me, I would have cursed you. Now that you have come, I am pleased. Fight my dear son and win.”

प्रीतोऽहं पुत्र युध्यस्व जयमाप्नुहि पाण्डव ।
Prīto’ham putra yudhyasva jayam-āpnuhi pāṇḍava |
(Mahabharata, 6.43.41)

You are all householders. Please think about it. This is the type of father, wife, mother, husband that I want you to become. If Duryodhana was wrong, the wrong will invite its outcome and that outcome cannot be altered by Bheeshma siding him. They decided that, “We will shield you. In spite of our shielding, your adharma will bring your destruction and we shall also be destroyed along with you.” He did not raise his resistance and then say, “Then I go”. This is what every small man will do. The great man will not say that. “I have been remaining here and I shall still remain. I have been eating your food and am grateful to you. I will continue to be here. I will fight for you. But mentally I will bless Pandavas for their victory because you are immoral, unrighteous and they are righteous.” Can you understand this perception?

So, I wrote the book “Dear Souls, become humans first”. You build a house or you rent a house and you live there. The purpose of life is to live in harmony, in sweetness. Whatever you have, share with each other, smile at each other. Why do you go on blaming, blaming, blaming, blaming, blaming, blaming, blaming, blaming? What is this? Sometimes husbands beating the wife. They are equals, mind you. They are equals, equal partners. There is nothing worse than beating one’s wife. In America, you cannot touch the child. You cannot touch the wife. “That is different”, you may say.

If a child is disobedient, it is your plight. You still have to bring him up. So, I think whether we have plenty or not, I believe all of you should be able to share your fortune and misfortune and be happy and harmonious in your life. This is what I mean by, “Dear souls, become humans first.” Then you try to aspire to become a divine. All the people who are coming to the Ashram want to become divine. But sometimes I find their household is not a happy one. Maybe some people have money, only limited children. Even then, because of delusion, ignorance and arrogance, somebody dominates the house and everybody is unhappy. Can we not change this plight?

What is meant by ‘to be a householder’? In the house, everything will be there. Many mistakes will be committed. But you must be able to try to mend them and carry on. Last is the step of renunciation. Ravana became intolerant when Vibhishana said, “My dear brother, what you have done is wrong. You are going to incur the wrath of Sri Rama which you will not be able to face. So, I feel the best course will be to return Sita and beg for the pardon of Sri Rama.”

“What kind of a brother are you? A brother is one who will support his brother. You are not supporting but differing. Don’t be in this palace. Get away”, Ravana said. He straightaway went and surrendered at the feet of Sri Rama and this one step was responsible for Rama and Rama’s team to conquer Ravana’s people especially Indrajith and Ravana himself.

We are the architect of our own fate. Ravana was digging his grave. He did a mistake. When the loving brother told him not to do it, he did not agree. I would like you to understand what is goodness and greatness. Is goodness consisting in such denial and firmness or does it consist in mending oneself when needed? So Vibhishana went away. Bheeshma was not that level of a person. He was a transcendental person. Whether he remained in Hastinapura or went out, it meant no difference for him. So, he remained there, did what Duryodhana wanted to. On some days when Duryodhana grumbled saying that “See, the opposite camp is destroying us and your mind, my dear grandfather is still in favor of the Pandavas. So, you are not fighting properly.” Bheeshma said, “Why are you piercing me with this kind of a dart?” He went to the battlefield and killed tens of thousands of armies that day.

All this has happened. Even then Duryodhana did not win the cause. He could not. He will not be able to even today. This is what Mahabharatam tells us. Yato dharmaḥ tato jayaḥ - Where there is righteousness, there is victory. So, I believe I am reminded of what I wrote, “Dear Souls, Become Humans First.” Then you can aspire to become divine.

Harih Om Tat Sat. Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.

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