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Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.
Yesterday I spoke to you about the cultural treasure of India, how this treasure was formed, how it has a prehistoric origin, and how our predecessors were able to preserve it. In every generation, some people took to it with heartiness, a fidelity, a tenacity and a perseverance; so much so that the treasure is available to us in an unbroken manner. Imagine if one generation had failed to imbibe it. I thought you will do well to know and make a proper assessment of this treasure.
You know religion is always a kind of an emotion. There is no religion without devotion and devotion is an emotion. This emotion is generated by the mind when it starts thinking about not the visibles but the invisible source. Our ancient thinkers also were living upon this earth and they found a huge sky consisting of a number of planets surrounding this earth. However big the earth was, could be, they clearly understood that the space surrounding the earth is infinitely more. And within that infinite space, they found a number of stars, the nearest one being the moon and the sun.
This sun seemingly started rising in the morning and setting in the evening bringing the day for us. The unfailing rhythm with which the planets apparently work moving in the sky; that made them feel a lot of gratefulness, humility before the higher forces. This is how their devotional thoughts began. It is quite alright to begin from somewhere. Even today, when you find something great, greater and higher than you, the natural emotion that grips your mind is one of humility and regard, humility in yourself and regard for the other. This humility and regard, both together started inspiring them to take to a number of praises, worship and worship procedures.
So the first part of their life was spent on addressing a variety of superhuman powers with various hymns. They were not satisfied with that. They wanted to make some offer to them. So they evolved a procedure and fire came to them as an expediency. So they made beautiful altars with a number of details, placed the fire ceremonially, and made it blaze forth, and started making offerings like boiled rice or boiled wheat, ghee, and other things. But they were not satisfied. That is how they started withdrawing from all the procedures, enquiring and contemplating upon within themselves and then they hit upon the ultimate discoveries and truths.
So you will find that the whole thing proceeded from devotion and religion but it was climaxed and fulfilled by philosophy and spirituality. So in our spiritual treasure you will find a close blending of these. What are they? Religion on the one hand, devotion on the other. Then philosophical quest and enquiry on the other and spirituality, the realization of that enquiry and its ultimate discovery. Our spiritual treasure is thus a beautiful amalgamation of all these elements.
The religious part of it is in the form of observances. You have to perform the ceremony, perform the ritual. It is as we call a pursuit and an anuṣṭāna. In that anuṣṭāna, you will find it is based upon the body, the hands, to some extent the mouth and mostly upon a number of materials which are to be offered. The simplest form of this procedure is pūja. Pūja is not actually in the Vedic life. It came later. So flowers, fruits, betel leaves, and so many other things.
When you come to the higher form of rituals, we use various combustible materials, some medicinal, something, something else, very difficult to collect, all these are offered to the fire, chanting so many Vedic mantras. These are observances. These observances by their very nature, in the present time cannot be massive. They cannot be. All these observances were individual based. They were based upon the individuals and their homes. We did not have any temple at all.
Temples came as a substitute when people became lazy and they became indifferent to personal disciplines like observances, they wanted to have a common place of worship which will be maintained by somebody where they could go and come back from. Then only mass appeal was there. Otherwise observances were restricted to individuals and their homes. When we perform a yāga selecting a place for it, after the performance of the yāga, the yāga pandal itself is set fire to. The whole place is forgotten. It is not like a temple at all.
Now the point I wanted to emphasize is that the observances, many of the people are away from. They have no inclination to also. Thank God that it is not observances alone. It is on the other hand, a mento-intellectual pursuit where you take up the enquiry, make the analysis, make the study, the probe and the very process becomes a mento-intellectual anuṣṭāna or a procedure.
Human activity, as I always explain is on four levels, one is the physical and sensory, the second is the oral one when you chant mantras, speak, etc. These two are the visible external ones. But they cannot be without the mind. So the third level is the mental level, the fourth level, the highest is the intellectual level. When you come to the Upanishadic level, it is purely and solely mento-intellectual. I think that is where all of you find an interest.
So all of you are actually doing the observance. It is an anuṣṭāna. But I am sorry or I am afraid that you are not able to understand it as an anuṣṭāna, mento-intellectual. In our Ashram you will find it is this jñāna anuṣṭāna that is always there, jñāna niṣṭhā as we call it. It is completely based upon your mind and intelligence. To the extent you read or hear, to make you understand, you can say it is sensory. But the primary practice is in the mind and the intelligence. Now, the people who take to the mento-intellectual part of it, initially they may not have any observance. But once they understand and they get the sublimity of the mento-intellectual practice, automatically they will start liking the observance. That is why when we conduct the Vishnu Sahasranāma yajña, so many people are flocking. Last year we have started a Mrtyuñjaya Homa. So many people are interested in it.
See, people who are intellectuals, who have no inkling for observance, when they understand the composite nature, the amalgamated nature of our culture, they naturally take to observance and ceremonies also. Not that you should, they appreciate it. Now what are we emphasizing on? We are emphasizing on the mento-intellectual part and pursuit. We speak, you hear. It must lead you to think, it must lead you to contemplate. And many of you seek deeksha from me. And after taking deeksha, you do the nididhyāsana part of it. All the three put together are called śravaṇa, manana, and nididhyāsana. The first is an exposure to the subject from the teacher in the form of words. Then you contemplate upon, ruminate upon whatever you have heard. After coming to your own conclusion and decision, you seek the practice in the form of an inner contemplation, meditation. The purpose of the practice is to dissolve the entire mento-intellectual vrittis, functions. The mind should become absolutely dissolved. The thought process, the thinking, the thought and the thinker, all these distinctions will cease to be and you get into the very source.
Many people do not have the backing of observances. That is why we say it is not necessary, it is enough if you have viveka, vairāgya, then some of the qualities like śama-damādi-shatka-sampattih, and an aspiration for getting freedom for your mind and intelligence. So this culture has got a lot of religious beginning, but it proceeds and ends up with philosophy and spirituality. That spirituo-philosophical aspect is what is becoming ever relevant and ever appealing. All the western countries, they are taking to it only because of the spirituo-philosophical nature of the treasure.
Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru.