Growth and Enrichment of Devotion – II
[2nd part of the talk delivered by Mā on 29th December 2005 in the 4th Śreemad Bhāgavata Tattva Sameekshā Satram. – Ed.]
The Supreme Value of Satsaṅga
Śreemad Bhāgavatam repeatedly says: “Have the association with the Saints! You must go to them. Fall at their feet. Try to understand them. See how they live and seek guidance from them.” It says:
भाग्योदयेन बहुजन्मसमार्जितेन सत्सङ्गमेव लभते पुरुषो यदा वै ।
अज्ञानहेतुकृतमोहमहान्धकार- नाशं विधाय हि तदोदयते विवेकः ।।
(Bhāgavata Māhātmyam 2.76)
Through the rare fortune acquired by the good work done in many lives, when man gains Satsaṅga – the association of a Knower, then viveka (discrimination) dawns in him to dispel the unfathomable darkness of illusion caused by ignorance.
There is darkness in our mind. We have conflicts, contradictions. We are not confident. We lack hope. We feel anxious, worried and fearful. But all these get dispelled through viveka. Viveka dawns in the devotee’s mind through the association of Mahātmās, and the darkness of ignorance gets dispelled from his mind by the practice of viveka.
What is this viveka? Viveka is that discrimination, which tells us what is permanent and what is impermanent in life. What is true and what is false. What is right and what is wrong. What is perishable and what is imperishable. To grow dispassion for the world, this viveka is very, very important.
Now, who are these Mahātmās?
शान्ता महान्तो निवसन्ति सन्तो
वसन्तवल्लोकहितं चरन्तः ।
तीर्णाः स्वयं भीमभवार्णवं जना-
नहेतुनान्यानपि तारयन्तः ।।
The Mahātmās are calm and noble. And what do they do? Vasantaval- lokahitaṃ carantaḥ – like the spring season, they are engaged in the welfare of everybody. Winter is harsh to us. Even the leaves of the trees dry up and fall. With the enlivening touch of spring, small tender leaves come up with new life. There is life and festivity in the whole atmosphere. Similarly, the Mahātmās bring happiness and festivity to the world.
What more? Since they have crossed this mighty ocean of worldliness, transcended sukha and duḥkha, they help others also to cross. Ahetunā – without any motive. They stretch out their hand and say, “Come! I will hold your hand and take you along.” If we look into ourselves we will find we don’t do anything without motive. If we do something for somebody, we want something else in return. Even the father expects the son to look after him when he would grow old. But the Saints help people without any motive whatsoever.
How do the Mahātmās live? They rely completely on the Lord. Whatever Nature brings to them, they accept. Whether it is sukha or duḥkha, whether it is food or starvation, everything they accept thinking that to be the will of the Lord. They do not even want mokṣa. They only want to be at the feet of the Lord – with their heart filled with love and devotion, seeing the Lord in everything and serving the devotees of the Lord.
And the Lord says, “I like these holy people most. If they are offered food or anything they need, that pleases me more than any offering made to me or any sacrifice made to the fire. I follow them so that I can purify myself with the dust of their feet!” Who says? Lord Himself! So, you can understand how the scriptures have given the supreme position to Satsaṅga, the association with Mahātmās.
The Mahātmās are always happy. Even if they have torn clothes, do not have food, or they have to stay under the trees, they feel absolutely contented. They do not look for anything in the three worlds because they are ever united with the Lord in their heart:
कौपीनं शतखण्डजर्जरतरं कन्था पुनस्तादृशी
नैश्चिन्त्यं निरपेक्षभैक्षमशनं निद्रा श्मशाने वने ।
स्वातन्त्र्येण निरङ्कुशं विहरणं स्वान्तं प्रशान्तं सदा
स्थैर्यं योगमहोत्सवेऽपि च यदि त्रैलोक्यराज्येन किम् ।।
Wearing a torn piece of cloth these holy men go for bhikṣā from door to door of the householders. Some give them respectfully, lovingly, while some others may tell them, “Why are you begging? Go your way.” Whatever they get, they take. But they move about freely. They take rest under a tree or in a burning ghāt (crematory) or in a forest. But they are always peaceful and contented with the steadfast devotion for the Lord in their heart and they do not want even the Emperorship of all the three worlds.
Role of Guru in Growth of Devotion
Where did I start? Growth of devotion. Our devotion should be like this. Should we not try to be like this so that our devotion grows to that supreme enrichment? For that, what should we do? We should go to a Sadguru – a Wise Teacher, and tell him, “I want to know who this Lord is. I want to know how to have supreme love for Him – a love that is not tainted by any desire or motive.”
What are the qualities of a Sadguru? The scriptures specify that he should be a śrotriya (well versed in the śāstras), avṛjinaḥ (sinless) and akāma-hataḥ (not smitten by any kind of desire). He should be brahmaṇy-uparataḥ (one whose mind is completely seated in Brahman), śāntaḥ (calm) and nirindhana- ivānalaḥ (like the fire that has consumed all its fuel). He is ahetuka-dayā-sindhuḥ. He has no motive. He is compassionate to everybody because it is his nature. He helps everybody because it is his nature. He cannot remain without helping everybody. He is bandhur- ānamatāṃ satām. He is a friend and benefactor to those who come to him with humility. Those who sit at his feet and open their heart, he speaks to them enquiring earnestly about their welfare, and lifts them up from the sorrow of this world.
This world is full of tāpa- traya (three kinds of miseries). Bhāgavatam in the very beginning says, it is a book meant to remove these miseries – tāpa- trayonmoolanam. What are the three kinds? They are: Ādhidaivika, ādhibhautika and ādhyātmika. Ādhidaivika are those like flood, earthquake, hurricanes, etc. which nature brings to us. We have no hand in it. Ādhibhautika are those caused by some animals, like dog-bites, snakebites, war, killings etc. Even if we escape these two miseries, the third one we cannot escape. That is ādhyātmika, the miseries caused by our own mind, like irritation, anger, jealousy, hatred, hopelessness, fear etc. Everybody has to go through some of these in a small or big measure.
How to get rid of all these? Man is never contented. If we have a big house and the neighbour has a bigger one, we feel jealous. If my son has done well in exams, I feel happy. If somebody else’s son has not done well, we don’t feel bad about it – sometimes we may even feel happy. We are always wanting to acquire or possess – fame, prestige, position or wealth. We want everything of this world. If we want to think about God, worldly thoughts constantly distract the mind.
Above everything, we are always haunted by fear – afraid of getting old, afraid of disease, afraid of anything happening to our family, afraid of losing our name, fame and property. About anything that we take up we are afraid as to whether we will succeed or not. So, ādhyātmika duḥkha makes man constantly anxious and agitated.
But, some start thinking: “Is there any state in our life where one can go beyond these? Living in this world, can we go beyond worries, anxieties and tension which we face every moment, which make our mind constricted and cheerless? Is there anybody who can show us the way to freedom?”
Here comes the role of the Guru. Bhāgavatam says – even though you are in the company of holy men, you should be under the guidance of an enlightened Guru. You should go to him with humility. Serve him and prostrating before him seek to clarify your doubts. You must observe all the disciplines he has given for your upliftment.
What is this upliftment? Upliftment means the growth of devotion. Bhāgavatam says that along with the growth of devotion, comes viraktiḥ (vairāgya or dispassion towards worldly enjoyments) and then dawns bhagavat- prabodhaḥ (God-realization). The Guru guides the disciple on this path.
(to be continued)