Growth & Enrichment of Devotion – III
[3rd part of the talk delivered by Mā on 29th December 2005 in the 4th Śreemad Bhāgavata Tattva Sameekshā Satram. – Ed.]
The Great Gift of Fearlessness
I would like to chant some ślokas composed by Shankaracharya. Are you ready to listen? I think one of the greatest blessings I have got from my Guru is my love for Sanskrit ślokas. When I started learning and chanting ślokas as suggested by my Gurudev , a new horizon opened before me. I don’t know where from tunes were coming to me. Each word opened up in my mind its deepest meaning. But as you know, sarvendriyāṇām jarayanti tejaḥ – all our sense organs lose their power with age. As I am becoming older, my memory is failing. I have a fear whether when I start chanting I will forget the lines. Let me try:
दुर्वारसंसारदवाग्नितप्तं दोधूयमानं दुरदृष्टवातैः ।
भीतं प्रपन्नं परिपाहि मृत्योः शरण्यमन्यद्यदहं न जाने ।।
The seeker goes to the Knower and says, “I am scorched by the wildfire of worldliness. As if a big storm is trying to sweep me away. I am afraid. I do not know what to do. I have come at your feet. Please protect me. Tell me how to transcend this fear of death.”
There is a beautiful śloka by Bhartṛhari on fear and fearlessness:
भोगे रोगभयं कुले च्युतिभयं वित्ते नृपालाद्भयम्
माने दैन्यभयं बले रिपुभयं रूपे जराया भयम् ।
शास्त्रे वादिभयं गुणे खलभयं काये कृतान्ताद्भयं
सर्वं वस्तु भयान्वितं भुवि नृणां वैराग्यमेवाभयम् ।।
Everywhere there is fear. Bhoge roga-bhayam – If we have many things to enjoy, the fear is whether I will have health to enjoy. Kule cyuti-bhayam – If we are proud of our lineage, then there is the fear of losing the reputation. The son may misbehave or become immoral to spoil the reputation. Vitte nṛpālāt bhayam – If we have acquired a lot of property, the fear will be that the King may take it away. If it is not the King, it might be the thief or dacoits.
Māne dainya-bhayam – In prestige or fame, there is the fear of being humiliated. Bale ripu-bhayam – If we are powerful then we will be scared of the enemy who might be even more powerful. Rūpe jarāyā bhayam – If we are proud of our beauty, then we are afraid of old age and decay. We will do so many things to protect our beauty.
Śāstre vādi-bhayam – In scriptural erudition, there is the fear of getting defeated by another scholar. Guṇe khala-bhayam – In having merits and qualities, we have the fear that somebody may vilify us. Kāye kṛtāntāt bhayam – As long as we have the body, we are afraid of death.
Sarvaṃ vastu bhayānvitaṃ bhuvi nṛṇāṃ vairāgyam-eva-abhayam – In this world, everything is laden with bhaya, fear. The only abhaya, fearlessness, is Vairāgya. Vairāgya means desirelessness. Know that nothing belongs to us. Any possession is the cause of fear and anxiety. The redemption lies in getting rid of possessiveness.
So, this seeker comes at the feet of the Knower and asks:
कथं तरेयं भवसिन्धुमेतं का वा गतिर्मे कतमोऽस्त्युपायः ।
जाने न किंचित्कृपयाऽव मां प्रभो संसारदुःखक्षतिमातनुष्व ।।
He enquires: “How shall I cross this worldly ocean, O Lord, my Master? I have come with a lot of agitation in the mind. What is the way out? Is there a redress? I am surrounded by darkness. I do not know the way. Please tell me what I should do and protect me.”
I told you earlier what the nature of a Mahātmā is. He is karuṇā- sindhu – an ocean of mercy. When he sees a seeker like this, he wants to lift him up. So he looks at him with a glance full of love and mercy. And what does he give him? Dadyāt-abhītiṃ sahasā mahātmā – Instantly he gives him fearlessness. Can we buy fearlessness from the market? Can we get it from anybody as a gift? We cannot. But a Guru can give it. He looks at the humble devotee with graceful eyes, merciful eyes, and immediately there is fearlessness. There is one more śloka:
न भूप्रदानं न सुवर्णदानं न गोप्रदानं न तथान्नदानम् ।
यथा वदन्तीह महाप्रदानं सर्वेषु दानेष्वभयप्रदानम् ।।
If I gift you some land, it is a great gift. Is it not? The śloka says: “No! Neither gold, nor cows, nor even food can be considered as mahā- pradānam, the great and the most noble gift. Then, what is that greatest gift? Sarveṣu dāneṣu abhaya-pradānam – bestowing fearlessness is the best dāna of all. But, this supreme fearlessness only a Mahātmā can give, because he has reached the abode of fearlessness. And how? By having supreme devotion to the Lord and embracing the Lord in his heart:
मन्येऽकुतश्चिद्भयमच्युतस्य पादाम्बुजोपासनमत्र नित्यम् ।
उद्विग्नबुद्धेरसदात्मभावाद्विश्वात्मना यत्र निवर्तते भीः ।।
(Śreemad Bhāgavatam 11.2.33)
It is from Bhāgavatam. It says: “For people suffering from miseries caused by their wrong identification with the body, constant worship of the Lotus Feet of the Lord is the only way to rise above fear and suffering.” But, why is it that we are not able to do it? How to do it? There comes the role of the Guru. If we are associated with a Sadguru, he will watch us, correct us and tell us: “See, you have drifted from the path. Come back, my son, I will hold your hand and show you the path again and again. Even if you fall, do not be disheartened. I will again lift you up and put you on the right path.”
If this is the role of the Guru, then why, in spite of having a Guru, we are not able to reach the destination? Because, we are yet to become a śiṣya, a disciple. We may have holy association for ages. We may be going to a Mahātmā, a Sannyāsin, a Guru for a number of years. But we will remain what we are unless we become a śiṣya and follow the Guru’s instructions. We have to be receptive. We have to be open before him.
(to be continued)