DIVINE LIFE - NO. 81
Sri Swami Sivananda
Sri Swami Sivananda
Purity of Motive
In every action that we do, it is the inner motive that really counts and is more important. Take charity for example. We may give a coin to a poor man who comes to our door or whom we meet in the street. We do this because we feel sorry for the man. His poor condition touches our heart, and out of compassion we give him some money. We may even give up our own meal in order to satisfy the needs of this helpless man. Here our motive is pure. This kind of charity purifies us. It stems from good character.
On the other hand, take the case of a man who gives a very large amount in charity and expects to have his name published in the newspapers on account of his charity. His action is, no doubt, very good, as many people benefit from his charity. But his motive is impure and selfish. He wants name, fame and applause in return for his action. This kind of charity is not so purifying as the first kind. It stems from an impure and selfish desire.
The motive of an action is more important than the action itself. The fruit of an action will vary according to the motive of the person doing it.
We thus see that conduct with a pure motive means doing an action without desire for personal reward. Sharing all our knowledge with others, helping others, nursing the sick, and so on, if done with a pure motive, purify the heart. We can know whether our action is pure or not by a simple test: If the action elevates the mind, if it takes us towards God, if it brings joy and happiness to others as well as to ourselves, it is a pure action. If it brings harm to others, if it takes the mind away from God, if it brings disturbance in the mind, it is an impure action.
Let us take an example from the Ramayana. We have read of the battle between Sri Rama and the demon-king Ravana. Both were engaged in fighting. Their actions were the same. But in Ravana’s case, he fought in order to satisfy his own passions and display his strength. He had an evil motive—he wanted to keep Sita for himself by force. But in Sri Rama’s case He fought in order to rescue Sita from the ordeal she was going through as Ravana’s prisoner. He fought in order to protect righteous people from the wicked Ravana. He had a pure motive. There was no selfish interest in His action.
Therefore, before we perform an action we must examine our motive. If there is any selfishness in it, we must get rid of the feeling or give up the action. It takes time to have a totally pure motive in respect of all the actions we do. But if we go on watching ourselves carefully, a time will come when we will succeed in rooting out all selfishness. Effort, patience, and vigilance are needed. Watch the mind carefully. Always work without any expectation of rewards. Surrender all actions to the Lord. You will then be freed from all bondage and attain supreme peace, harmony and eternal happiness.
So far we have learnt three things about ourselves: Our conduct, our character, and our motive. We have said that there is good and bad conduct, good and bad character, and good and bad motive. But how do we tell what is good and what is bad? This is a very important question. Many people have various opinions about what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong.
You will readily agree that it is very difficult to know what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong. In the Gita, Lord Krishna Himself states that even great beings are sometimes filled with doubt when puzzling situations arise. The case of Arjuna is an example and you have already read about it in the first chapter of the Gita.
You will also note that what is right in one country may be wrong in another, what is right at one time may be wrong at another, what is right in the case of one person may not be so in the case of another. Only a God-realised saint will know exactly the secrets of right conduct. In this article we will merely place before you some principles from the teachings and writings of Sri Swami Sivananda so that you may ponder over them deeply.
God has given us a method by means of which we may be able to find out for ourselves whether what we are doing is right or wrong. Just as we have a thermometer to tell how hot or cold the weather is, so also nature has provided us with a “thermometer” inside us, by which we can tell whether we are doing a right action or a wrong one. This thermometer is called the conscience. Here we have to be careful, as very often our conscience is coloured by our prejudices, desires and motives.
When we are about to do a wrong action, our conscience begins to prick us. It says to us in a clear, small, shrill voice: “Do not do this wrong action, my friend. It will bring you misery.” A man of pure conscience at once ceases to act further and thereby becomes more wise.
Our conscience can be thought of as a sensitive balance or scale, by which we weigh our actions to find out right from wrong. If it is perfectly pure and in tune with God, it never makes a mistake. It is the guiding voice from within. It is a silent witness and teacher to us. It is actually the light of our soul that burns in the chamber of our heart, lighting up the way that leads Godward. A man of clear conscience is ever pure, joyful and cheerful. He is verily God on this earth.
If you are puzzled as to what is right and what is wrong, turn to saints, to the scriptures, to your parents and teachers. The Lord will guide you through them.
When we feel a sense of duty, our conscience is clear. When we neglect our duty, we are filled with worry, fear and anxiety. This is because our conscience is not clear. Therefore, conscience is a form of truth. It is the voice of the Lord dwelling within our hearts.
If we go on doing evil actions in spite of the warning given by our conscience, very soon we will not be able to listen to this voice at all. Our conscience will then be said to be dead. Of such a person we say: “He has no conscience.” He is likely to commit any vicious deed. For the sake of satisfying some desire, he will not hesitate to harm others.
Conscience grows through experience. As we do more and more virtuous actions and develop qualities like mercy, truthfulness, nobility, generosity, chastity and non-violence, our conscience becomes pure and subtle. But if we indulge in untruth, if we are cruel, crooked, deceitful and immoral, our conscience gets blunted and destroyed.
The type of food we take plays an important part in the development of a pure conscience. Animal food makes the conscience impure. It produces a hard crust on the conscience and blunts it. So take only pure food.
Repetition of the Divine Name, study of scriptures, development of virtues, holy company, prayer—all these make the conscience pure, sharp and subtle.
Hear the Inner Voice
Do not be guided and influenced by public opinion. March boldly and cheerfully on the path of Truth, consulting your conscience and hearing the inner, small, sweet voice of the Soul.
Keep company with one noble, Sattwic man. Spend every second profitably. Serve sick people. Share what you have with the poor. Unfold the Divinity hidden in the chambers of your heart.
Repeat your Guru Mantra or the Mantra of your Deity mentally. Associate the ideas of peace, purity, infinity, eternity, immortality, etc., with the repetition of Om. Do mental worship also.
See God in all. Know that God is the witness of your mind. Then you will not be dishonest in your words and actions. Let there be harmony among your thoughts, words and actions. You will have a pure conscience. You will enjoy peace of mind.
ADVICE TO A MUSLIM: Another visitor revealed that he was a Muslim.
“Allah Ho Akbar!” greeted the Master, and also quoted some other verses from the Koran.
“I have given ninety Names of Allah in a book,” said the Master, and presented the particular book to him.
“Should I spend the whole time in practising meditation?” enquired the Muslim seeker.
“No,” replied the Master, “have three sittings—in the morning, in the afternoon and at night—from half an hour to one hour each. At other times also you should remember the Lord and do selfless service. Do Japa slowly with feeling.”
EXPANDING THE HEART: At the evening Satsang the Master took out some fruit from a bag to distribute to his disciples. They had been presented to him by someone. For the first two or three times, when he took his hand out of the bag with fruit in it, he found apples every time. But in his subsequent attempts, until the quantity in the bag was exhausted, he was able to get only the cheap variety of fruit, though big in size. The Master then remarked, “You should always give the best things to others, then only will your heart expand. But some people want to keep the best for their personal use and give the worst to others.”
REMEMBER IN ORDER TO FORGET: To Swami X. the Master said, “You should not think of your daughters and sons. You should forget them. But how to forget? In order to forget a thing you should remember something else. Remember God, then you will be able to forget worldly things.”
TRUE SHAVING: When he heard the word ‘shaving’ uttered by someone, the Master said, “The barber shaves the hair. The thief or robber shaves one’s possessions. The Guru shaves the desires of his disciples. Brahman shaves the entire universe itself at the time of cosmic dissolution. Brahman is the greatest barber!”
All laughed on hearing the Master’s remarks!
SAMADHI DIFFICULT OF ATTAINMENT: “Believe not the man who says that he will give you Samadhi within six months or will grant you Krishna Darshan within a week. He must be either a cheat or a deluded soul, having no idea of what Samadhi and Krishna Darshan mean. These great experiences are not easy of attainment,” remarked the Master after he came into the office.
“The Lord’s Darshan and Samadhi cannot be had without adequate effort with a purified mind and the guidance of a competent Guru. Purification and perfection take a long time. ‘Perfected through many births, one attains the highest goal’. Therefore, beware! Do not be duped by charlatans. Do regular and systematic Sadhana and deep meditation. Be patient if there is a delay in the descent of Divine Grace. When all the impurities of the mind have been removed and it has been steadied, then and then alone will one be blessed with the supreme experience of Samadhi. Then alone will you enjoy supreme peace.
“Nowadays many aspirants wish to see some miracles performed before they can believe in spiritual matters. They have developed a craze for miracles.
“Swami Vivekananda had to struggle very hard for seven more years to attain perfection even after his vision of Mother Kali during his days with Sri Ramakrishna.”
GIVING UP THE LIQUOR HABIT: “Do you know how people addicted to drinking liquor can give up that habit?” the Master questioned Swami Satchidananda.
He himself furnished the answer: “By chewing some black pepper whenever the craving for liquor arises.”
SERVANT, A MEMBER OF THE FAMILY: Sri Santanam of Delhi visited the Ashram, accompanied by his servant, son and some members of his family. They did ceremonial worship of the Master’s feet at his cottage, after which, as is the custom, they were being photographed.
The servant did not join the group for the photo and was standing aloof. Turning to Sri Santanam, the Master asked, “Why has that boy not joined us? He also belongs to your family,” and called the boy to pose for the photograph. The boy also sat beside Sri Santanam and the photo was taken of the entire party.
ALL IS DIVINE: A German stayed at the Ashram for some days. One day he questioned the Master as to whether one should go into solitude for the purpose of meditation and spiritual progress.
The Master replied to him, “Solitude is in the heart. Look here, what solitude have I got? There is no solitude here. Everything is divine; whatever you do is divine.”
FOOLISH DISPASSION: After the evening Satsang, the Master was leaving the Satsang hall when he noticed Swami Gurusaranananda, who delivered discourses on the Bhagavata. He was very lean in constitution.
The Master remarked, “You are a Bhagavat. The scriptures say that one should live a hundred years in this world, doing good work. But you are so lean. Why don’t you take Chyavanaprash? Will you take it?”
“No. Swamiji,” replied Gurusaranananda.
“Do not be a Moorkhananda (foolish monk); take milk and Chyavanaprash. While Gandhiji was in England he took goat’s milk. This body is Annamaya Kosha. It needs nourishing food.”
The Master had advised Gurusaranananda on several previous occasions to take milk and Chyavanaprash, but the Swami had refused to do so. Such was the Master’s solicitude for his disciples!
THE MASTER’S EXALTED ATTITUDE: Sri Gupta, who had been staying at the Ashram for some days, presented to the Master, among other things, a purse to be given to a disciple, Gurupremananda. This disciple, however, did not need the purse and so it ultimately found its way to Saradananda of the photographic department.
Sri Gupta later came to know that the purse had been handed to Saradananda instead of Gurupremananda. He therefore went to the Master and asked, “Whom is it that you like more, Swamiji—Saradananda or Gurupremananda?”
The Master kept silent without answering.
Sri Gupta repeated the question.
“Why do you ask?” queried the Master.
But Sri Gupta declined to answer him and said, “First answer my query.”
The Master coolly replied, “To me there is no world,” and remained silent.
Now Sri Gupta was compelled to reveal the reason for his question and said, “I gave the purse to Swamiji for presentation to Gurupremananda, but Swamiji presented it to Saradananda. That is why I ask.”
“Gurupremananda did not want it,” replied the Master. The conversation ended there.
FOOLISH DISPASSION: At the conclusion of the night Satsang, the Master saw Gurusaranananda present. His body was very thin. The Master had already requested him on several occasions to take adequate fruit, milk and tonics to improve his health, but Gurusaranananda had been consistently refusing to take them.
The Master attempted again to change this attitude which was detrimental to his health.
“Do you take fruit?” enquired the Master.
“No,” replied Gurusaranananda.
“Then don’t take food also,” he commented. “Now you are a fully liberated sage. You can experience Videhamukti (disembodied liberation) also by foregoing food. Better still, go and jump into the Ganges. You can have Videhamukti in five minutes!”
“He is not taking fruit because he says he has not done service of the Guru,” said Swami Satchidananda.
“He is doing service,” said the Master and, turning to Gurusaranananda, said, “Go and clean the latrines and roads.”
The Master then advised him again to take two tins of Chyavanaprash a week, and also to use badam oil for his body.
Gurusaranananda uttered in a low voice, “Swamiji’s blessings are my tonic.”
Coming out of the Satsang hall, the Master enquired, “Who amongst you wishes to have Videhamukti in five minutes? He can go and throw himself into the Ganges!”
The audience enjoyed the Master’s joke.
Later the Master said, “People have various foolish ideas about dispassion.”
GURU NOT TO BE RENOUNCED: The Master was giving prasad to various people and also offered it to Swami Nityanandaji. The latter had taken a vow not to accept prasad or any eatable from anybody. The Master knew of this already, for on a previous occasion also Nityanandaji had declined to accept prasad from the Master.
This time the compassionate Master wanted to guide his erring disciple and said, “You do not take prasad because of your dispassion. People two thousand miles away come here for this prasad but you do not want it. You can renounce everything but the Guru should never be renounced.”
At once Nityanandaji apologised for his mistake and accepted the prasad, saying that he will not refuse it in future.
DETACH-ATTACH: Swami Kalyanananda asked the Master, “Swamiji, you have written over two hundred books. Instructions are so many that I am confused as to which to follow. Will you kindly enlighten me?”
The Master said, “Detach-attach.”
“Anything more, Swamiji?”
“Nothing more. Detach-attach. It contains every other instruction. The two hundred books written by me are but commentaries on this single advice. Detach the mind from all objects. Detach it from every outgoing tendency, from objective consciousness, from the notion of duality. The process of detaching thus is the Sadhana as well as the goal.
“Detach. This single word itself sums up the essence of all scriptures and Sadhanas. It is self-sufficient, being self-contained. Yet the word ‘attach’ is added only in order to supplement it and to explain as well as simplify the process of detaching.
“Attach the mind to the Lord. Attach it to the Self. Attach it to the subjective non-dual Consciousness. In the process of attaching the mind in this manner, the process of detaching, as explained before, inheres; and the process of detaching the mind from its objective tendencies is not possible without attaching it to the Divine Consciousness, since mind or energy cannot be extinguished. Detaching and attaching are like the two sides of the same coin.
“Detach-attach. Though it looks simple, it is the essence of all Sadhanas. Concentration, meditation, etc., are but different phases of the one single process of detach-attach.
“Kirtan, Pranayama and other Sadhanas are but different outer forms of the single inner Sadhana of detach-attach.
“Of what use is it to learn all the scriptures? This one injunction is sufficient to give you liberation. It is a wisdom-tablet of the highest potency, by taking which alone can one free oneself from the disease of worldly life. There is no higher Sadhana than this, nor any Sadhana devoid of it. It is the cream or kernel of all Sadhanas and teachings. Practise this and attain immortality.”
ON ATTACHMENT: After attending a function at the post office the Master was returning to his cottage. On the way he met a woman with a bandage around her hand.
“What happened?” the Master enquired of her.
“My hand got burnt,” she replied sorrowfully.
The Master then observed, “Some people get their hands burnt, some lose their sons, others their health, yet attachment to the body does not leave them. They cling to the body.”
SUBTLE ATTACHMENT: The Master was returning to his cottage after work in the office. On the way he met Swami Suddhananda, who was approaching with a Sannyasin’s begging bowl in his hands.
“You take food only in this bowl?” the Master enquired.
“It is very good,” remarked the Master, and then added, “sometimes you can take food in a plate also!”
A TRANSCENDENTAL QUESTION: “Why did God create the world?” the Master asked Gurusaranananda. The latter could not reply and kept silent.
Then the Master continued, “Many people put me this question. It is a transcendental question. ‘Why’ applies only to things of the world and not to things transcendental. Realise the Self. Then you will get an answer to the question.”
IMPORTANCE OF SERVICE: The Master was proceeding to Satsang, accompanied by some of his devotees and disciples, including Sri Pushpa Anand and party of Dehra Dun. He enquired of Sri Pushpa, “Have you taken your food?”
She replied in the negative.
Then the Master remarked, “Now there is nobody to look after the visitors. One is always repeating, ‘Sivoham, Sivoham’; another keeps the name ‘Jagath Ateetananda’. A third reads the Yoga Vasishta and says that there is no world in the three periods of time; but if there is no salt in the dhal he will not be able to take it! Instead of studying the Yoga Vasishta and other Vedantic texts it is better to eat well and serve. If God wishes let Him give liberation.
PATIENCE: There were quite a number of visitors sitting on the floor in the office. The Master entertained them with many a humour.
“A rich man once invited a poor man to take meals with him. The latter had been starving for three days. Dishes were placed on the table for both of them but no food was served. The rich man acted as though he was eating from the empty dishes. Without getting annoyed at such insult, the poor man also pretended to eat like him. Soon the rich man was pleased with the patience of the poor man and ordered his servant to serve food on the dishes, and both of them ate sumptuously. Then the rich man appointed the poor man as his manager on a decent salary.
“It was his patience that enabled the poor man to get the unexpected position of a manager. Therefore, develop patience.”
AN UNDISCIPLINED MIND: The Master was returning to his cottage after working in the office. He saw a monkey on the wayside and observed, “There is more of a monkey in man than in the monkey itself. A bad man can do more harm than a monkey. A monkey may bite once but a wicked man harms others always. The undisciplined mind of a man is more troublesome and restless than that of a monkey.”
BE HUMBLE: If you wish to drink water at the tap, you will have to bend. Even so, if you wish to drink the divine nectar of God’s bliss, you will have to bend.
Karma & Reincarnation—1
Sri Swami Sivananda
There are universal laws that govern our lives. The same laws govern everything that exists in the universe. It is wonderful to observe how these laws of nature operate. By obeying them we utilise them for our well-being and progress in all walks of life. We should know and obey these laws in order to live in peace and harmony with nature. We can rise above the adverse forces just as a fish swims against the current of a river.
The laws apply whether we know them or not. If we do not know them, we are helplessly tossed hither and thither by both good and bad currents. Various adverse forces can drag us in different directions. We are then like a piece of wood floating downstream.
The Law of Karma
How does the captain of a steamer chart his course smoothly? He has a knowledge of the mariner’s compass, the seas, the routes and the ocean currents. He avoids moving towards icebergs, rocks and other liners. In very much the same way our boat of life will sail smoothly if we have a clear understanding and knowledge of the laws of Karma and reincarnation. The natural laws are the same as the law of Karma.
One of the great laws of nature is: “As you think, so you will become”. Think that you are fearless, fearless you will surely become. Think that you are a great writer, a great writer you will become. Think that you are pure, pure you will become.
“As you sow, so shall you reap”—this is another law of nature. These two laws together make up the law of Karma. Always do good actions. Serve, love, give. Make others happy. You will reap happiness. On the other hand, if you utter lies or steal, if you criticise and backbite, if you adopt dishonest means to obtain anything, and if you do actions that give pain to others, you will reap pain and misery. In a nutshell—what you give in thought, word or deed will be returned to you. Therefore, be on the alert every moment. Watch all your thoughts carefully. When thoughts of jealousy and hatred against others arise in your mind, think how you would feel if others had the same thoughts about you. Do not give vent to such feelings. Perform noble deeds at all times and be ever content in the Almighty Lord. Shine in divine glory by choosing pure, holy desires.
If you understand the law of Karma properly, you will get answers to many of the problems and questions that confront you in your daily life.
Many people who have only a vague understanding of the law of Karma say that it is a gloomy law. They say that it discourages human effort. Why do they feel thus? Man has brought about his present condition due to his actions in this or in his past births. The past actions bear fruits in his present life. These fruits cannot be avoided. While he has no control of such destiny, he can certainly alter the course of his future life by regulating his present actions and thoughts. One who adopts a fatalistic attitude towards life, feeling that there is no need to put forth effort since one cannot change one’s destiny, is not only ignorant of the law of Karma, but also becomes lazy and lethargic.
So let us emphasise again that whilst our present destiny is inevitable, we have free will to shape our future destiny by means of our present thoughts and actions. This is a very important principle to remember in order to get a clear understanding of the law of Karma.
If one adopts the fatalistic attitude, then only half the truth is understood. We must grasp the whole truth. If we do not, then the law of Karma will prove a source of worry and cause a setback to our progress in secular as well as in spiritual life.
When Do Karmas Bear Fruits?
Let us first try to understand what the question means. The word Karma is a Sanskrit word which means “action”. We said earlier that good actions bring happiness, and bad actions bring pain and misery. Happiness and pain are the fruits of Karma. The question therefore is: “When will an action bring us its fruit—either in the form of happiness or pain?”
Understanding the law of Karma correctly, you will do virtuous actions only, and cease to do such actions as will bring pain and suffering to others.
You will agree that a farmer reaps a rich harvest only when he labours in his field for a long time. He has to till the ground, manure the soil, sow the seeds and water the crops. Only then can he enjoy the fruits of his toil. What he sowed some months ago he reaps today. What he sows today he will reap in the future. This law never changes. Everything we do will have some effect.
Here we are tempted to ask a question. How long after an action will the effects be seen? There is no definite answer. The law runs its own course. If you do some good today, someone will do good to you under similar conditions sooner or later. The fruits of our present good actions may be seen the next moment, the next day, the next month or year, or in a future birth. There is no definite rule here. For example, if two persons begin to take alcohol at the same time, the results may manifest in one immediately in the form of liver trouble, while in the other a heart ailment may only arise after several years. Do you now understand clearly how the fruits of your actions manifest? Remember that while the ability to perform actions is in our hands, the ability to give the fruits of the actions is in the hands of the Lord.
How the Law Operates
Take a closer look at yourself. You are born at a particular place. You may or may not have health problems. You have certain natural talents. You also have certain distastes and certain likes. You are born in a family which can afford some things you want but cannot afford others. You have a unique set of parents, brothers and sisters. You have a certain kind of nature. You may get discouraged and depressed easily or you may not. You may lose your temper easily or you may manage to keep your calmness with ease. In short, there are many things that make up the sum total that is simply you.
Do we select or choose all of these conditions? Do they happen by chance? Certainly not. There is surely a definite purpose. Before we proceed further, let us pause to ask some questions. A child is born blind. Is this just? We know of many wicked people who die happily. Is this just? In the first case, there seems to be no cause for producing the misery of blindness. What wrong, after all, can a newborn babe do? In the second case there seems to be no repayment for wrong actions. Surely there seems to be something wrong with this law of Karma.
The answers to these baffling questions lie in the law of reincarnation, which we shall discuss in future issues of Divine Life. Although life seems to begin at birth and end at death, this is only partly true. From a wider point of view, life exists at all times, even after death. It is only the body that dies. The soul, which is the real you, never dies. We are born as we are, only because of the Karmas of our past births. It is highly likely that many of the people we mix with today were with us in our past lives. Therefore, payment for all actions, good or bad, can still be made, and they will! As old accounts are settled, people part. This explains why some people drop out of our lives and others make their appearance.
We should accept all conditions that come our way as the Will of God—our successes and failures, our joys and pains, our strengths and weaknesses. We have no control over the effects of our past actions. So it is no use crying over spilt milk. But we can design and shape our future. That is what we must begin doing here and now, from this very moment.
Sanchita, Prarabdha & Kriyamana Karmas
There are three types of Karmas. The first is the Sanchita Karma. This is the storehouse of all the Karmas that have yet to bear fruits. We can say that they are unpaid accounts. Sanchita is the balance yet to be paid. It consists of both good and bad Karmas. We live under a law that cannot be changed. Hence, Sanchita is well preserved.
The second is Prarabdha Karma. This is the Karma which we must work out in our present birth. What we enjoy, suffer and experience in this birth is our Prarabdha Karma. This is the Karma which has already started bearing fruits. It is either bitter or sweet. It is a variety of Karmas, good and bad, and is selected by God from the stock of our Sanchita Karmas.
Is not the law of Karma elevating? It fills us with faith, hope and inspiration, enabling us to make the fullest use of all our physical and mental powers.
These Karmas are paid back in a variety of ways. The payment is made in the form of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, happiness and worry, gain and loss, and honour and dishonour. They have to be paid in full, whether we like it or not.
It is commonly believed that due to our past Karmas, we cannot change our future. This is a great error. The future lies in our hands. Of this there is no doubt. This is because of the free will we enjoy. At every moment we can decide, by our free will and Buddhi or the faculty of reason, to determine what is right and what is wrong, what will bring us happiness and what will bring us pain, what will take us to Him and what will take us away from Him. We should therefore use this faculty and free will for our material and spiritual progress and well-being. That is why our free will is our greatest asset.
We have no control over our present, Prarabdha Karmas, but we have complete control over our future Karmas, namely, the Kriyamana Karmas.
The third form of Karma is Kriyamana Karma or Agami Karma. This is the fresh Karma that we are producing in our present life. It gives us the opportunity to change our destiny and character because of our freedom to act in any way we like.
It is easy to do wrong actions, but not so easy to do good actions. This is the challenge. The odds are against us when we want to do good. It means overcoming our existing evil nature. Once we have climbed the mountain of effort, we will have the joy of seeing the enchanting scenery. You will easily see that the law of Karma gives us great encouragement and optimism. It can enable a scoundrel to become a saint. A woman of bad character can become an angel. The beggar can become a man of wealth. A dull student can become a brilliant student. This law can enable us to do this. The grand law of Karma fills us with new hope and optimism and arouses in our hearts a challenging spirit to triumph over all obstacles, difficulties and setbacks. It takes us ultimately to the Supreme Being so that we may enjoy eternal peace and bliss.
Now you know how the law of Karma affects us. In the same manner it affects nations as a whole. This is what is known as “collective Karma”. The same principle of the law applies to national life as to individual life. Empires rise and fall. Nations succeed and fail. Collective Karma affects entire races and nations. We witness natural disasters like floods and earthquakes taking place all over the world. The leaders of countries should not lose sight of this just and all-powerful law.
Fruition of Karma
Kriyamana Karma cancels itself when the fruit of the Karma is received. Each Kriyamana Karma bears its own particular fruit. Let us not deceive ourselves by thinking that God will cancel the effect of our sinful act if we perform a handsome charitable act. One Karma does not cancel another Karma. Each Karma extracts its own payment.
When you are hungry you eat. When you are thirsty you drink. When you are dirty you go to the bathroom. To comb your hair you stand before the mirror. When you feel tired you go to bed and rest. When you want a cake you get it from the shop. In all these instances, Kriyamana Karmas are being satisfied almost instantly. Here there are no Sanchita Karmas. But there are Kriyamana Karmas that take time to ripen. They remain in the storehouse of Karmas and ripen at the right time.
Suppose you take a purgative to cleanse yourself. Does it take effect instantly? No, you have to be patient for two to ten hours till the call of nature comes. If you post an air letter to India it takes about ten days to get there. If you write an examination, you have to wait for weeks for the result. If you sow millet, it is harvested after three months. If you plant a mango graft, the first fruit is only seen in the fifth year. In India there is a tree called raayen. It bears fruit after sixty years!
Until time, condition, circumstance and place are ready for the ripening of the fruit, the Kriyamana Karma hangs in the balance. It is now called Sanchita and awaits to be paid off.
Let us assume that we perform a hundred actions each day. Say sixty of them give results at once. The remaining forty are such that they take time to bear fruits. How long this will take nobody knows. Although we are free to do good or bad actions, we have no control over either the form of the reaction or the time when they will bear fruit. These are decided by God. If you reflect over all that is happening to you and to others around you, over which there is no control, you will easily see the truth of this statement.
The Divine Law
If there is action, there must be a reaction, which will be of equal force and of a similar nature. Virtue brings its own reward, vice its own punishment. The law operates with amazing accuracy.
The Divine Ruler
"Sri Krishna Lila", Vanmali Publications
One day, while the Lord was thus holding His morning audience, a messenger came from the king of Karushna called Paundraka. Many people had led this Paundraka to believe that he was the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the poor man had come to believe it and had styled himself as the real Vasudeva. He proclaimed that he was the Supreme God and forbade the worship of all other gods in his country and put all the Rishis and Brahmins who insisted on reading the Vedas and performing Vedic rituals, into the dungeon. Every week, a man was sent to ask these people if they had come to their right senses and were ready to accept Paundraka as the only God. If the answer was in the affirmative they were let out, otherwise they were left to rot till they agreed. One of those who had been cast into the dungeon in this manner was Punardatta, the son of Guru Sandeepany whom Krishna had once brought back from the land of the dead. Paundraka had grown more and more evil due to his power and when he heard of the existence of Krishna who also styled Himself as Vasudeva, he could not bear it. So he sent a messenger to the Yadava court with a proclamation.
“I’m the true incarnation of Vishnu. I’m Narayana or Vasudeva, the Primeval Being who has incarnated Himself in order to uplift the world from its misery. I hear that you have dared to usurp my title and my insignia, like the Sreevatsa on the chest, the jewel Kaustubha and the appearance of four arms when necessary, carrying the discus—Sudarshana, the conch—Panchajanya, the mace—Kaumodaki, and the play lotus. Leave off using these emblems and surrender to me immediately or else come and fight and let us prove to the world who is the real incarnation!”
This piece of folly was read aloud in the open assembly and was heard with great amusement. Krishna also smiled and assured the messenger that his master’s wishes would be complied with and He would visit him within a few days and clear his doubts once and for all.
Paundraka in the meanwhile was preparing himself to meet his Maker. He managed to procure a ruby of extraordinary size which could pass off as the Kaustubha and had his body painted a deep blue colour and got two extra arms made out of wood, holding the conch and discus respectively. This contraption was fixed onto his shoulders. The greatest difficulty came in making the sign of the Sreevatsa on his chest. The sign as found on Lord Vishnu and on His incarnations is in the shape of the footprint of the sage Brighu and is a peculiar formation of the hair rather than an actual print. After considerable cogitation, the poor misguided fool got an iron foot made and branded himself with it. The agony of this procedure may well be imagined. But when the fester had gone down it could well pass off as the Sreevatsa. All these preparations were made with the help of his friend, the king of Kashi at whose residence he was staying. Following His message, Lord Krishna accompanied by an army and His friends, Uddhava and Satyaki, who did not want to miss the fun, proceeded to Kashi where Paundraka was awaiting His arrival. The Lord had brought all His accoutrements with Him, His discus, Sudarshana, His bow, the Sarnga, His mace, the Kaumodaki, and His sword Nandaka. Seated in His chariot drawn by His famous four white horses, Shaibya, Sugreeva, Meghapushpa and Valhala, wearing shining yellow garments and a crown topped with peacock feathers, for which He was famous, He shone with a radiance which put to shame the glory of the sun at noon! As He came to the outskirts of the holy city of Kashi, the citizens thought to themselves, “If there is a God on earth, this must surely be He! How lucky we are to have even a glimpse of Him. Yet how unlucky for instead of paying homage to Him we are forced to worship this fool Paundraka!”
Hearing of Krishna’s arrival, Paundraka arrayed himself in a lovely yellow robe and sporting all his absurd accoutrements he came out of the city with two akshouhinies of the army. His friend, the king of Kashi, followed with another army. The Yadavas laughed when they saw Paundraka impersonating the Lord in every detail. From a distance of a few yards, Paundraka said in a loud voice, “Halt! You now admit that I’m the true Vasudeva, the only incarnation of Vishnu?” He feared that a closer inspection would reveal the flaws in his get-up.
Krishna obediently halted and said, “Yes, indeed, I readily admit the truth of your claims. I call myself Vasudeva only because I happen to be the son of Vasudeva. I’m quite ready to be friends with you provided you set free the people you have incarcerated in your dungeons.”
Paundraka proudly said, “I have no need of friends like you! Be prepared to fight for there is no place on earth for both of us!” So saying, his army attacked the Yadava host with various weapons like tridents, wooden maces, tipped maces, javelins, spears and arrows. At last, tiring of this play the Lord laughingly told him, “O Paundraka, whatever weapons you have asked me to give up I’m now giving to you. Here catch them!” So saying, He threw the discus at Paundraka who was unable to do anything but gape as it hurtled towards him and neatly severed his head from his body. His friend, the king of Kashi, soon followed him. Paundraka, who had been mentally identifying himself with the Lord all the time, got released from his mortal coils and attained identity of form with the Lord. Mysterious are the ways of Karma. Each man gets liberation in his own way.
Know Him in Essence
Lord Hari manifested in the form of Lord Krishna and Lord Rama for the protection of the good, for the destruction of evildoers and for the sake of firmly establishing righteousness.
Lord Krishna says in the Gita: “The foolish disregard Me when clad in human semblance, ignorant of My supreme nature, the great Lord of all beings”.
Do not be carried away by the turbulent senses and the influence of the forces of Maya. Develop devotion and faith and know Him in essence. Through His Divine Grace you will attain supreme bliss, peace and knowledge.
A Beggar Made a Millionaire
Sri Swami Sivananda
The discussion on the front verandah of Krishna Sastri’s little house was lively and loud. Sankaran, a youthful neighbour and a recent B.Com., was maintaining heatedly that it was absurd to say that God can do anything whatsoever and that there was no limit to His omnipotence. Krishna Sastri, on the contrary, was attempting to convince him that there was nothing impossible for Him.
A fair and handsome man, clad in the ochre robes of a Sannyasin and with a strange light of calmness and serenity radiating from his countenance, was passing down the roadway. He heard the discussion in progress. He paused in his stride and approached the debating assembly. The moment he drew near a hush fell upon the debaters and all eyes fell upon the strange Sadhu.
“I could not help,” said the Sadhu, “hearing your remarks a little while ago. Never for a moment doubt God’s omnipotence. He can do anything that He chooses to do. There is nothing impossible for Him. Listen, I shall illustrate this truth by relating a true incident.
“In the little Kabadawala quarter of the flourishing city of Tirujpur, is a small, unostentatious yet neat looking temple of Lord Ganesha. Years ago a saint and mystic lived in the temple structure and used to worship the idol of Ganesha daily. The Deity was reputed as being of great power and truth and believed to grant the prayers of sincere devotees. Near the doorway of the little temple there invariably sat a blind beggar of the locality, named Chandu Surdas. He was a very quiet man—poor fellow—and eked out a precarious livelihood with the little doles that he got from the devotees visiting the temple. He was very miserable and at times was obliged to go without food for a day or two. Daily he used to pour out his heart in earnest prayer to Lord Ganesha.
“To that locality there came regularly, upon business visits, a certain rich stockbroker, Seth Murari Lall. He had amassed immense wealth through means both fair as well as foul. He had also lost heavily through horse racing and gambling too. He was never satisfied with small transactions. The Sethji had heard from many about the great sanctity and mysterious power of Lord Ganesha of the little temple. Hence every time he visited the locality he used to stop his car, alight and make a formal circumambulation of the sanctum sanctorum. In return the Sethji desired a modest tenfold increase in his bankroll.
“One evening he was returning from a neighbouring town after concluding an important business contract. It was late in the night and the Seth got down hurriedly before the Ganesha temple to do his usual circumambulation. But he heard strange voices from within the temple. He stopped to listen.
“A highly emotional devotee, Gajanan Dass, was sitting before the image of the Lord, sunk in deep trance. Murari Lall had seen Gajanan Dass in this condition once or twice previously and also knew that whatever the latter uttered while in trance invariably came to pass with perfect accuracy. The devotee himself was totally unconscious of what he spoke.
“Now he was talking. The Seth listened intently. It seemed to be a conversation between two hidden voices. The first voice was of a divine, feminine tone.
“‘My son,’ it said, ‘do something for this poor beggar at thy door. This miserable Surdas is praying night and day for thy Grace. Do not be heedless to him any longer.’
“A second voice now replied: ‘As the Mother of the universe and the consort of Maheshwara commands, tomorrow, before the stroke of twelve midday, I shall make this beggar the master of a lakh of rupees. His days of poverty and misery will end forever and he shall be put beyond all wants—else my name is not Ganesha.’
“‘Is this a promise, my son?’
“‘Yes, I have given my word.’
“Gajanan Dass lapsed into silence. His trance began to pass off. The Seth stopped to listen no more. He forgot to do his usual circumambulation too. He was fired with excitement. His crooked brain had conceived of a crafty plan to swindle the unknowing Chandu Surdas of the promised lakh of rupees.
“He did not return to his mansion that night but dozed in the car itself. He could hardly wait for dawn. The morning brought Surdas to his inevitable place by the temple door. As soon as he seated himself the Sethji hurried over and greeted him. He was trying to make his voice casual and unconcerned. The beggar was surprised at the unusual ‘Namaste Bhagatji’.
“‘Look here!’ the Seth continued, ‘would you like to get a hundred rupees?’ Poor Surdas nodded eagerly. ‘Then, my good man, the one hundred rupees which I have decided to give away in charity today, will go to you. I have a small request, however. As a remembrance of our meeting I shall take for myself whatever you get as your daily collection in your bowl today. Your takings before midday will be mine.’
“Surdas agreed at once. He was readily willing to part with his insignificant daily pittance in return for a hundred rupees. Little did he dream of the wealth that was to come to him that day nor was he aware of the wicked scheme of the Seth to cheat him of his fortune with the paltry sum of one hundred rupees.
“The Seth took his seat in the inner court of the temple and commenced watching the beggar’s bowl. Time passed and the day advanced. An occasional copper or two and a few pice were all that fell into the bowl. The beggar did not mind anything for he was to get a veritable fortune of one hundred rupees that day. But the Seth began to fume. Midday was fast drawing near. Dark thoughts arose in his mind. Was the temple Deity about to cheat him? What! Was Murari Lall going to be thus trifled with? God or no God, he, Murari Lall was going to have his lakh by hook or crook.
“It was 11.30. The Seth’s temper got the better of him. He was getting deeply chagrined. He arose and swiftly entered the inner sanctum. He was wrathful. On approaching the sacred image he brandished his clenched fist before its face. He swore at it, calling it ‘liar’, ‘deceiver’, ‘boaster’. There stood the idol in front of him, as impassive as ever, with the same calm, inscrutable expression upon its dark, smooth, stony face. The money-mad Seth lost his temper and with a shout of anger delivered one hard blow upon the elephant trunk of Ganesha.
“Lo! The next moment a truly awesome thing happened. As soon as the clenched fist of the Seth struck the trunk of the Deity, the serpentine curve of the trunk suddenly straightened out with a lightning movement and wound itself tightly around his arm. The Seth’s hand became imprisoned in a vice-like grip. He was seized with terror. He struggled to free himself. He tried hard to wrench his hand free. The more he tugged, the tighter the grip grew. He was pulled nearer to the idol. The image now caught hold of his hands with its four arms and the trunk encircled itself around his throat.
“A voice now spoke and said, ‘Murari Lall, if you want to save your life, send thy driver to thy house and immediately get one lakh of rupees. The money must be in that beggar’s bowl by twelve. Quick! Hurry up lest the midday be passed! He should get it before midday. I always keep my promise. My word is never in vain.’
“The mention of giving away one lakh staggered the wretched Seth. He now began to plead hard with the Deity. He had no intention of ever parting with his dear money. But the grip on his neck tightened. The bones of his hands felt as though they were being crushed. He began to pant. In a hoarse voice he called out to the driver. After five minutes of calling, the driver appeared from the lane outside. The Seth whispered to him to come closer. Then in urgent tones he requested the servant to hurry home at once and instruct his cashier, Ramniklal, to come to the temple with one lakh of rupees.
“Say it is a matter of life and death,” the terrified Seth added.
“The driver hurried away. Within half an hour he returned with the trembling cashier clutching the money bag with the required amount. By this time the Seth was in the throes of terror and agony. He gasped out, ‘Give the lakh of rupees to the man sitting at the door. Take him home and hand the amount to his wife. Do it before the neighbours as witness. Hurry! Do it at once!’
“The cashier was struck dumb. But the urgency of the Seth was unmistakable. When the money was being handed over to the wife of Chandu Surdas, the coils of the trunk around the neck of Murari Lall loosened and his hands were freed. He sank to the floor at the feet of the sacred image.
“Thinking that the master was overtaken by some strange illness, the driver lifted him and took him to the waiting car and drove straight home. Thus did the Lord bring to pass His Will and turned the blind beggar into a rich man.”
The strange Sadhu paused at the end of the even stranger narrative.
“And,” he added, “I can vouch for the truth of this occurrence. I am Murari Lall, the Seth!”
The group of listeners gasped. The monk walked away and disappeared before they could recover from their astonishment.
God can make and unmake things in the twinkling of an eye. Know this and be humble. Nothing is of any avail before His Divine Will. To deny it is sheer folly. Rather choose to attune thyself to His Will. Then you will find blessedness and bliss blossoming forth in this very life.
Power of Faith
Arm yourself with faith in God. Vain argumentation is a sign of ignorance. Faith leads to peace and harmony. Argument produces restlessness. However much you may argue, you cannot understand the nature of God, even as however much you try, you cannot see your own eyeballs, except in a mirror. That mirror is faith. Faith reflects God; intellect veils Him. God is the hand that holds the torch of your intellect. It is useless trying to apply your intellect to the truth of His existence. What is required is faith.
Depression & Suicide
Sri Swami Sivananda
Causes of Depression
Depression causes pessimism. It discourages effort and kills initiative. It produces despair and sickness in the mind and body. It infects others also. It makes one a prey to all kinds of negative thoughts. It makes one resort to rash and thoughtless actions.
The causes of depression in each individual may be different. It should be found out and intelligently analysed and understood. Then the method of overcoming it will be easy and effective.
Here are some factors that cause depression:
1. Sometimes the cause may be physical; it may be due to indigestion.
2. A cloudy day causes depression in some people.
3. Ill-health is a contributory factor. Sometimes one may be lacking in certain essential vitamins, and this may be the cause of the depression.
4. The revival of old bad habits, the unpleasant memories of which recur in the mind again and again.
5. Hatred, revenge, anger, jealousy, envy, the guilt complex—all these bring about a morbid state of mind and depression.
6. Inability to face difficulties, trials and setbacks. Inability to face failure. Lack of initiative and will-power.
7. Unnecessary fear, worry and anxiety are great contributory causes of depression.
8. A weak nervous system makes one a prey to depression. Sexual excess, fear, worry, jealousy, hatred, anger, overwork and tension are some of the causes of a depleted mental and nervous state.
9. Inhibitions resulting from inadequate parental upbringing may surface in later life and torment one mentally.
The above are some of the causes. There are also occult causes but these will not be dealt with here.
Suicide: Its Disastrous Consequences
Depression is very common today. Many are not able to overcome this negative state of mind. They seek medical and psychiatric treatment, and in extreme cases even resort to suicide, thinking that such a step will solve their problems.
All the scriptures and sages of the East and West have vehemently condemned the act of suicide. They declare emphatically that nothing is solved or gained by getting rid of the physical body. On the other hand, the results of suicide are disastrous in the extreme.
Scientists and psychologists today, researching in psychic phenomena, have corroborated some of the teachings of the ancient sages.
The sages state that at the time when the soul is to depart from the body, the dying person sees, as on a cinema screen, all the actions done by him during the present lifetime, from childhood up to the moment of death. And from all these varied scenes, the most prominent one arrests and engages the soul’s attention, and the soul leaves the physical body in that state.
If there is intense attachment to someone, then the soul will depart with that person’s image in mind. Intense hatred means that the hated person’s image will remain in the mind as the predominant thought at the time of death.
A person who had been strongly addicted to liquor and drugs will leave the body with thoughts of liquor and drugs.
A person who had led a pious and virtuous life, with thoughts of God, will depart from the body with thoughts of God.
The last thoughts determine the conditions and nature of the next birth. This is what the sages have said about the phenomenon of death. This argument seems reasonable, because the last dominant thought in our mind at the time when we just drop off to sleep, is the thought that dominates our mind the next morning.
It is for this reason that we are advised to sing the Divine Name or hymns at the time of death, in order to focus the attention of the dying person on holy and noble thoughts.
It is needless to add that if the soul departs from the body with thoughts of anger, hatred, jealousy, worry and fear, or in a state of great mental turmoil, then such thoughts and turmoil will be carried over and immediately experienced on the other plane also.
That is why sages say that suicide does not solve anything whatsoever. On the contrary, it makes the condition of the soul very much worse.
They give an analogy to explain this truth. When we experience a nightmare during sleep, we wake up abruptly with a shock. But we feel a sense of great relief at the same time because the consciousness has rushed back to the safe refuge of the physical body. In suicide the soul does not have a physical body to return to as in the case of a nightmare. Hence, it undergoes great misery and suffering, perhaps more than during its sojourn in the physical body. Furthermore, it is said that such a soul has to roam about as a ghost for a long time.
As the body is a precious instrument given to us by God for realising Him, voluntarily discarding it will bring in its train very adverse reactions. The repercussions may last for a long time and the soul may encounter adverse conditions for many births. Therefore, under no circumstance should one resort to this most thoughtless and rash action of suicide.
Blessings in Disguise
Adversities, trials, difficulties, calamities, diseases, pains and sufferings are all blessings in disguise. They strengthen the will and increase power of endurance. They turn the mind more and more towards God. They instil in us discrimination and dispassion. They draw out all our latent faculties. They force us to perform even beyond our ability. They develop all the talents and capacities lying dormant within us.
It is easy to bask in the sunshine of prosperity. The crucial test is your reaction under adversity and hardship.
God wants us to enjoy eternal bliss and peace. For this purpose the body and mind have to be thoroughly purified and strengthened so that they may be able to bear the pressure of His matchless bliss and peace. This process of purification and strengthening cannot be effected without one confronting adverse conditions and circumstances.
Furthermore, nature’s law of cause and effect operates with relentless precision. The wise and discriminative person will allow the effects of his past actions to bear fruit by meeting all the conditions of life with patience, good cheer, calmness and faith in the all-merciful Supreme Lord.
How to Overcome Depression
It is very easy to overcome depression. It is not at all as difficult as one imagines. Mind has the mysterious power of magnifying a problem and making it appear formidable. Do not listen to the promptings of the mind. Reject them ruthlessly and throw them out.
Here are some practical hints that will enable you to triumph over this malady once and for all:
1. First try to analyse yourself thoroughly and find out the cause of the problem. Do not be hasty. Sit calmly and think over the matter. Spend some days over it if necessary. Put your thoughts down on paper and reflect over them. If necessary get the assistance of someone whom you love and trust and who will be sympathetic to your feelings. Pray to God within to lead you to the right person.
2. Do not listen to promptings from within that your problems cannot be solved and overcome. The Divine within you, and the loved ones around you, can effectively solve or dissolve all your problems.
3. Know that for every problem that confronts you—however difficult and complicated it may seem to be—there is the requisite guidance, strength and wisdom readily available to you from the Divine dwelling in your heart. God is nearer to you than your life-breath. Turn to the Lord with childlike faith and experience the miraculous results.
4. The easiest way to tap the Divine power within is to repeat God’s holy Name. Select any Divine Name from the scriptures and repeat it constantly, without a break. Do it mentally. In a short time you will experience its power. In this one method of spiritual practice all the holy scriptures of the world are unanimous. The power latent in the Divine Name is like the power latent in the seed. Just as the seed needs soil and water to enable it to germinate, so also the Divine Name needs to be constantly repeated to make its power manifest.
The Divine Name is the one sovereign, infallible remedy to get rid of depression once and for all. So take full refuge in it.
5. Keep the body fit by doing regular physical exercises, and by participating in healthful activities. A hike in the countryside will be refreshing and invigorating both mentally and physically.
6. A pure, nourishing diet is very important for the health of both the body and the mind. Take more fresh fruit and vegetables. Take health tonics. They are available from health stores. Vitamin tablets from natural products will be highly beneficial.
7. The nervous system must always be strengthened by means of exercise, relaxation, pure food and regular prayer. A useful nerve and brain tonic may be prepared as follows: Soak 8 almonds in a bowl overnight. In the morning remove the skins from the almonds. Add a similar quantity of dates and 4 cardamoms. Reduce the ingredients to a paste, add honey and butter or ghee and take with warm milk. This delicious tonic rejuvenates the nervous system quickly.
8. Attend regular prayer services in a temple, Ashram, church or mosque. The holy vibrations will give you added mental and spiritual strength to cope with your problems.
9. Study the scriptures daily. This will give you discrimination, which will give dynamic strength to the mind. It will be your most effective weapon to deal with the promptings of the mind.
10. Overcome undesirable habits by developing virtuous qualities. Lead a life of truth and purity. Then you will be free from worry, fear and depression.
11. Constant repetition of some beneficial formulae strengthen the mind considerably. Such repetition is called auto-suggestion. Here are some proven formulae that could be used for this purpose. Repeat them as many times as possible during the course of the day, and when you are just about to fall asleep at night:
(a) I am Thine. All is Thine. Thy Will be done, O Lord.
(b) Let go and let God.
(c) What cannot be cured must be endured.
(d) Whatever has happened has happened for the best, whatever is happening now is happening for the best, whatever is to happen in the future will happen for the best.
(e) Through the Grace of God, I am getting better and better every day in every way.
(f) Even this will pass away.
12. Serve the sick and needy through a service-orientated institution. If you take up some useful activity for the good of others, you will have no time to think about yourself. Losing oneself in selfless service is one of the most dynamic methods of overcoming depression. If you give cheer, joy and happiness to others, you yourself will receive cheer, joy and happiness in return.
13. Do not try to evade or run away from your problems, difficulties and trials. Face them bravely through discrimination and calm reflection, knowing that the Divine within is ever your guide, protector and saviour. Know also that everything in this world that you now hold so dear is not lasting, and will soon disintegrate and pass away. You are only a passing pilgrim on this earth plane.
If you constantly reflect and discriminate in this manner, then all such emotions and feelings that have such a tenacious hold on your mind will be loosened, and an inexpressible freedom, lightness and joy will fill your heart.
14. Be content. Adopt the lifestyle of “simple living and high thinking”. A great deal of unhappiness today may be traced to unfulfilled desires. There is no end to desire. Each desire breeds a host of new ones. Modern man longs to own TV sets, video recorders, dishwashers, expensive cars, swimming pools and other items of luxury. Reduce your desires and lead a life of contentment and simplicity. Remember—the more the desires, the more the worries.
15. A constant attitude of gratitude to God for having provided you with your physical and material needs, will give you an abiding sense of contentment and peace, and free you from depression, cares and worries.
16. Select any suitable method or a combination of methods and put them into immediate practice. You will succeed without difficulty. Nil desperandum. Never despair. There is a magazine of enormous power within you. Tap that power diligently and come out victorious. Then share your knowledge with others and be a blessing to this world.
17. Strictly avoid viewing scenes of sex, violence, etc. on TV, frequenting places of gambling and liquor, vulgar dancing, evil company and literature that deals with violence, sex and crime. In order to succeed in this endeavour you will have to be constantly on guard and develop a strong will.
18. In conclusion, the most important rule to be followed is practise of daily prayer and repetition of the Divine Name during the day. This will solve the problems of depression and suicide once and for all.
Take Refuge in the Name
Whenever your mind is disturbed by worries, anxieties, fears, troubles and antagonistic worldly influences, sit in the room and repeat the Name of the Lord for at least half an hour. You will at once find a change in yourself. Practise this and feel the soothing spiritual influence. Nothing is so great as a spiritual practice.
In this way you will have a cave in your own home without any expense. Retire to this cave regularly for peace and solace.
Take complete refuge in the Divine Name. Its power will soon manifest itself and guide your life to peace and eternal bliss.
Solving the Problems of Kali Yuga
Sri Swami Sahajananda
The Four Yugas
According to our Hindu Dharma we are now living in the Kali Yuga, the age of pains, sufferings, evils, calamities and crimes. What is happening at the present time was accurately predicted many thousands of years ago by our Rishis. These predictions appear in the Bhagavata Purana. They have been published in some of the Western journals also.
In Hinduism there are four Yugas or time-cycles. During each Yuga the universe manifests, then there is dissolution of the universe until the next Yuga. The four Yugas are Kreta, Treta, Dwapara and Kali. The duration of the four Yugas as given by Gurudev Swami Sivananda in his Gita are as follows:
Kali Yuga: 432 000 years.
Dwapara Yuga: 864 000 years.
Treta Yuga: 1 296 000 years.
Kreta Yuga: 1 728 000 years.
More details of the Yugas can be had from Sri Gurudev’s Gita.
The proportion of evil grows more and more from Kreta Yuga to Kali Yuga. Therefore, in this Yuga—the Kali Yuga—it is the highest.
Problems in Kali Yuga
In the other Yugas there was less evil, but one had to perform Tapas and Sadhana for many years in order to realise God, which is the goal of this human birth. In this Kali Yuga, there is an excessive amount of evil and suffering, but one can realise God more easily, merely by chanting the Divine Name of the Lord. This is the gift of the all-merciful Lord to us. It has also been said in the Bhagavata that many Rishis of that time were eager to take birth in the Kali Yuga because of this great good fortune of being able to realise God so easily.
About fifty years ago there was hardly any crime. Physical suffering due to diseases, domestic problems and accidents were very little. There was no suicide. Our homes were not locked and were quite safe. There was harmony in society. But there were noticeable shortcomings when it came to facilities for improvement of our spiritual life. We had not many temples and hardly any Ashrams. There were very few spiritual institutions, while spiritual literature was even more scarce.
In Kali Yuga conditions for spiritual upliftment are extremely favourable. There are many temples, Ashrams and spiritual institutions. We have any amount of spiritual literature. We are even more blessed, as saints and Mahatmas are now coming to our homes to bless us; we do not have to seek them out at their Ashrams.
If the conditions for spiritual upliftment are so favourable, why do we not witness a radical change in society? Why is there so much domestic disruption, disharmony, crime and untruth? Why is the divorce rate so high? Why are things so chaotic almost all over the world? The answers to these questions are given here. I have tried to explain everything logically and simply, with anecdotes and utterances of our saints.
By visiting holy temples, by attending regular Satsangs, by reading spiritual literature and doing Bhajan and Kirtan, by practising Japa and prayer daily, we acquire great spiritual wealth. We feel spiritually elevated when we listen to the inspiring discourses of Mahatmas. The enthralling episodes of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, and the Divine lilas of the Lord in the Bhagavata, fill our hearts with pure emotions and give us peace and bliss.
But in spite of this, of those who engage in the spiritual practices mentioned above, only a few make some noticeable progress in the true Yogic sense. In the vast majority there is little improvement in their nature. They are still obsessed by worry, fear and anxiety. They still give vent to anger, greed, selfishness, jealousy and untruth. They still have the same old defects. They have little control of their mind. The slightest difficulty or trial upsets them greatly.
Why does this happen? It cannot be that Bhajan, Kirtan, prayer, Japa and Satsang have very little or no power in them.
The reason for these puzzling phenomena is not difficult to understand. The treasures gained from the spiritual activities mentioned are lost or eaten up. If we understand this truth clearly, then we would have made a substantial progress on the spiritual path, and purity, peace and happiness will come to us easily.
The Four Evils of Kali Yuga
On the advent of Kali Yuga, Raja Parikshit had declared in the holy Bhagavata that evil will manifest in four things: in liquor, gambling, debauchery, and killing of innocent creatures. He further said that all these four will be found in money. How true this is! Money is the greatest power today.
The four evils make us engage in a host of wrong habits, forcing us to give vent to anger, hatred, jealousy, fault-finding, treachery, etc., thereby bringing us as well as others untold pain, suffering and misery.
Liquor and drugs are ruining innumerable lives, causing ill-health, depression, suicides, accidents and insanity.
Places of gambling lure thousands into their clutches and do not allow their victims to escape without ruining them and causing untold misery.
The Bhagavata also predicted that sexual desire will be the main cause of suffering in the Kali Yuga, not so much water accidents and other causes. It also predicted disharmony between parents and children, malpractices in business dealings, killing of innocent creatures, and many other evils. We see this prevalent in many parts of the world.
The Precious Vital Force
The semen or vital force is the most precious substance in the human body. It is the last product of the food we eat. It is meant for procreative purposes only and not for sensual enjoyment. It is this vital force that nourishes the physical body, the brain and the nervous system. When it is preserved, it is converted into spiritual power and stored in the brain as Ojas Shakti, to be utilised for high and noble purposes. If it is unduly wasted then the brain and nervous system suffer. Mental weakness, loss of concentration and memory power, depression, etc. make their appearance. The mind becomes very fickle and gets out of control easily. Trying to control and master such a mind will be like trying to row a boat that is firmly anchored to the shore.
Conservation of the vital force enables us to develop a strong will and nervous system, power of concentration, good memory and radiant health. It gives us strength to successfully face the worst trials, difficulties and problems of life.
Unnecessary wastage of the vital force is the main cause of domestic disharmony today. Even though husband and wife love each other dearly, they are not able to exercise tolerance and forgive and forget quickly, when a problem or dispute arises. They are not able to see the other’s viewpoint. Their minds have become weak due to unnecessary wastage of the vital force. As stated, control of such a mind becomes very difficult.
Sex and divorce have become playthings today. Even young boys and girls indulge in it without any sense of fear, shame or remorse.
Our Divine Master says that if a householder utilises the vital force according to the scriptural rules, he can be considered a Brahmachari. Many God-realised Rishis of the past lived such rich and fruitful lives. Even today there are Hindu couples practising the scriptural rules and living a life of peace and blessedness, proving conclusively that Brahmacharya is not so difficult to practise.
Killing of Innocent Creatures
The Bhagavata specifically mentions that innocent creatures should not be harmed or killed. These creatures are not able to think and reason. They act according to their instinct only. So they should not be harmed. Today, millions of creatures are being killed unnecessarily all over the world. The slaughter houses, vivisection laboratories and traps kill and mutilate millions every day. It is heart-rending to see pictures of these innocent, helpless creatures suffering such agony.
Animals and birds enhance the beauty of Mother Earth and give us untold pleasure. They can live without us, but can we live without them? The world will be extremely dull and dreary without them, and life will not be worth living.
Cruelty has entered the schools also. Even in India, the land of Ahimsa, the holy land of our ancient and modern Rishis, who preached the gospel of non-violence, pupils are now permitted to experiment on animals in schools.
I read sometime ago how a little child, who was so kind and loving to animals, after she began animal experiments in school, turned out to be extremely cruel-hearted. If cruelty and killing start at a young age, one can imagine what such hearts will turn out to be later on. If destruction of animals goes on all over the world on such a massive scale as at the present time, will the world ever achieve the peace it is craving for? This problem should be addressed first by all those individuals who are striving for world peace.
The Great Law of Karma
Those who indulge in the evils mentioned above must know that God’s inexorable law of Karma rules the world. The law of cause and effect operates with scientific precision. The fruits of one’s actions, either good or bad, will come to one sooner or later, either the very next minute, next week, next month, next year, after several years, in the next birth, or after several births. One can cheat others, one can cheat the law, but one cannot cheat the law of Karma. Much of what is happening today is just the law of Karma in operation.
When Lord Rama put Vali to death, He stated that death was the only punishment for one who eloped with the wife of another. The Bhagavata gives details of the punishment that awaits one in hell for the crimes committed on earth. There are specific punishments for specific crimes. This information is also given in our Divine Master’s book, What Becomes of the Soul After Death. Many are experiencing hell in this very life.
Swami Muktananda, a recent saint of India, whose Darshan I had the good fortune of having, gives in his book, Chitshakti Vilas an account of his visit to one of the Lokas during his meditation. His experience there was so hellish and disgusting that when he came out of his meditation and tried to drink some water he began to vomit. His mind was filled with loathsome feelings and he could not eat for three days!
He writes in the book: “After my visits to heaven, hell and Nagaloka, I developed full faith in the truths of the scriptures. So far I had considered Self-realisation alone valid and rejected heaven, hell, the world of gods and all that as unreal. But now I was fully convinced that the scriptures were absolutely true; only our understanding of them is deficient. The ancient seers could perceive remote regions and events. They composed the sacred scriptures only after obtaining omniscience through Yoga. Hence, their writings are unquestionably valid.”
Just as there are Lokas where the soul suffers when it leaves the earth, there are also Lokas or heavens where the soul enjoys the fruits of its good deeds on earth.
Divine Life for Children
The Stubborn Little Goat
Once upon a time there was a kid. Like all youthful goats he was small but very stubborn. He wanted to do everything his own way. One fine day he took it into his head to go for a walk a long, long way from home.
“Don’t go too far,” his mother warned him. “Clouds are gathering. It looks as though a thunderstorm is coming.”
“There won’t be any storm,” put in the stubborn kid, and went capering along the path towards the distant forest.
It was dark among the trees, and very soon it began to get darker. The tops of the tall pines bent before the wind. A big black cloud hung low over the forest. Then all of a sudden lightning flashed, followed by a deafening crash of thunder. Frantic with confusion and terror the kid dashed about wildly. In his panic he felt as though the flashing lightning and the roaring thunder were pursuing him. Then at last the black cloud burst and heavy rain came lashing down. It beat down on the kid.
He had got out of the forest and was now racing over meadows he did not know. He was soaked to the skin, every hair clinging to him, and still the rain went on and on.
When the cloud had released the last of its drops, and the sky had cleared, the kid found himself on a small island surrounded by a real lake. Everything around was flooded, with only the tops of shrubs projecting out here and there from the water. The dry bank looked a very long way off.
The kid didn’t know how to swim, so there was nothing for him to do but wait for somebody to come and help him. He crouched down, shivering, and waited.
Soon he saw a pig he knew, passing in a boat.
“Please save me. Take me off here, take me with you,” he begged.
“I’m cramped for space myself,” the pig grunted, and passed quite close to the little island without stopping.
“Haven’t you any shame? A-tishoo! A-tishoo!” The kid was not dry yet and he had caught a bad cold. But the pig floated swinishly away in his boat, and again the kid was alone.
But it was not for long. Very soon forest bandits came slinking to the bank—the murderous wolf, accompanied by his wife. The wind had carried the smell of wet goat’s hair to their lair and they had followed it. And there they saw the new lake, and spotted the helpless goat in the middle of the tiny island.
“Aha! It’s a long time since I’ve enjoyed tender goat’s meat,” growled the old wolf.
“A nice delicate feast,” joined his wife.
“How’ll we get him?” wondered the old wolf. “We could swim, of course, but I don’t like bathing before dinner.”
“Hurry up, let’s go and talk it over with your brothers,” said the she-wolf. “The kid won’t get away. It’ll take some time for the water to go down.”
The bandits soon vanished in the bushes and the little kid, suspecting nothing, remained squatting on the island.
“Am I going to die here?” the kid said to himself, looking about him anxiously. “It will soon be night and there is nobody to save me.”
“Quack! Quack!” he suddenly heard. The sound came from overhead. He at once looked up. It was a wild duck.
“What on earth are you doing there?” shouted the duck, circling over the tiny island.
“Can’t you see?” said the kid piteously. “I’m caught here, and I’m waiting for someone to help me. I can’t swim, I can’t fly, and you can see how far it is from the bank.”
“All right,” said the duck, “be patient. We’ll help you.”
She soared up and quickly disappeared.
The news of the kid’s misfortune flew over all the woods, fields and swamps with electric speed and, before an hour had passed, kind-hearted birds and beasts were gathering on the green glade. Hares came leaping, beavers dragged themselves up, and cranes flew to the spot. The old heron brought two pelicans, who were paying him a visit before leaving for the south.
The wild duck told everyone how she had been flying over the meadow, which had turned into a lake, and had seen the kid all alone on that tiny island.
“We must help him before the wolves sniff him out,” she ended.
And everyone cried, “Yes, we must.”
“Got to help,” said the hares in chorus.
“We’ll save him,” said the cranes.
“We’ll help,” said the heron, and looked at the pelicans, who nodded silently.
“Yes, but how?” asked the stork, who had just arrived.
“We must make a raft and bring him back on it,” said the beavers. Naturally, being beavers, building was the first thing that came to their minds.
The work began in a big way. The beavers brought down a big tree, then a second, and a third. The hares cleared the trunk of twigs. The cranes dragged the logs to the bank and fastened them together. Everyone found something to do.
In the middle of all this a sparrow fluttered up.
“I’ve just seen the goat,” he chirped, panting. “He’s crying, he’s hungry. He hasn’t had anything to eat since morning.”
“We must feed him!” cried the hares—all together as usual.
“Yes, feed him,” the cranes agreed.
“Feed him well,” said the beavers, without stopping their work.
“Yes, but how?” asked the stork.
The heron said nothing, but looked very appealingly at his friends, the pelicans. They understood and silently opened their sack-like beaks, where each had a fine supply of fresh fish. That was why they had said nothing all the time.
“Quack! Goats don’t eat fish. Didn’t you know that?” cried the wild duck.
The pelicans exchanged looks and swallowed the fish, emptying their bags. Two brisk hares disappeared and came back in a few minutes dragging a bunch of fresh carrots and several cabbages.
The pelicans opened their beaks again and, loaded with the vegetables, rose into the air, following the sparrow. In a minute or two they dropped the food right by the kid’s feet, and then returned to the bank where the last work was being speedily done on the raft.
But in the bandits’ camp they were not sleeping, either. Knives were being sharpened and water was being boiled in a cauldron. And three of the most savage desperadoes—young wolves—were astride three thick logs and paddling towards the island where the poor little kid was bleating most pitifully.
A tomtit happened to fly past and saw the wolves. He hurried to the place where the good friends were working.
“Hurry, hurry, hurry!” he twittered frantically, circling over the beavers. “You may be too late. The wolves are on the water making for the island!”
The raft was almost ready and they pushed it into the water. Another moment, and it was rocking on the waves. The hares set up the sail.
Then everything winged rose into the air—first the cranes, then the wild duck, the stork and the heron. They circled over the forest, formed a triangle and set off for the island
Meanwhile the wolves were pulling their oars, talking quietly.
“Not far, not far now!”
“He won’t escape us, not he!”
“We’ll grab him—snap!”
But that was just where they were wrong. Before they knew what was happening the birds suddenly attacked. Their sharp beaks lanced painfully into the wolves’ legs. The stork followed the crane, and the heron followed the stork. The bandits could not get away. They were pinned down on their logs. Then came the pelicans slowly, because this time they were carrying loads of stones. And these they dropped right on the wolves’ heads! This was too much for the bandits. Clutching their heads and howling with pain, they lost their oars and flopped into the water. Quickly they swam to the shore and vanished into the woods.
Meanwhile the raft came to the island. The kid was beside himself with joy and hugged every hare. And right there on the raft they made a bonfire so that the poor little kid could get warm and dry.
We will not describe how the kid came back home to his parents. But despite the general rejoicing, it was observed that for a couple of days he behaved rather cautiously.
On the third day, Nanny and Billy Goat gave a party. Everyone who had helped to save the kid was invited to dinner. Nobody was forgotten. A place was even found for the sparrow and the tomtit. And the place of honour was given to the wild duck, who had been the first to help the stubborn kid.
All of a sudden the pig appeared, uninvited.
“Which is my place?” he grunted from the doorway. But the goats pointed to the door.
“There is place here only for those who help each other in trouble,” said Billy Goat quietly but firmly. “You, neighbour, acted like a real swine!”
So the pig had to slink out.
Until very late that night there was song and laughter, the clinking of glasses and the crunching of cabbage-stumps. And there, with the good friends rejoicing round the table, we end a story which could have had a sorry end.
The Master's Assurance
In his handwritten letters to Swami Sahajananda the Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, gave his assurance about the work of Divine Life Society of South Africa:
God will look after the divine work,
Lord will look after everything.
All must adapt, adjust and accommodate; co-operate, collaborate and co-ordinate.
Co-operation means fifty-fiftygiving out and taking in advice.
Strengthen your resolves. Regularity, tenacity and fixity in spiritual
practice are essential. Record your practice in a spiritual diary daily.
Review it every month and correct your failures.
The ego is your terrible enemy. It wages guerrilla warfare with you. Beware!
Take delight in the joys of other people, in making them happy. Intense,
concentrated effort is demanded in self-discipline towards righteousness
Divine Master’s 120th Birth Anniversary
The 120th Birth Anniversary of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda was held over two days. On Saturday, 8 September almost 2000 devotees, patrons and well-wishers gathered at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills, to observe this auspicious occasion. On Sunday, 9 September the celebration continued at the Sivananda International Cultural Centre in La Mercy.
At this beautiful function, the Uthukela District Municipality presented Sri Swami Sahajananda with the “Freedom of the City Award” of the Uthukela District Municipality. In paying tribute to Swami Sahajananda and the Divine Life Society of South Africa, the District Mayor, His Worship, Councillor S.M. Sithole said that it was a fitting award as Swami Sahajananda was born in the Uthukela District (Estcourt).
In recognition and appreciation for all the projects of
education, medical care and poverty alleviation
undertaken by the Divine Life Society of South Africa
the Uthukela District Municipality incorporating the
Umtshezi Municipality (Estcourt), Okhahlamba
Municipality (Bergville), Imbabazane Municipality
(Ntabamhlope), Indaka Local Municipality (Wasbank)
And Emnambithi—Ladysmith Municipality (Ladysmith)
Sri Swami Sahajananda
The Spiritual Head of Divine Life Society of South Africa
The unconditional FREEDOM OF THE UTHUKELA DISTRICT
MUNICIPALITY and its five local municipalities.
Message by Sri Swami Sahajananda
Divine Life Society devotees are all familiar with the most important quality necessary on the spiritual path. This is the quality of obedience. The quality of obedience to the Guru goes hand in hand with the spirit of self-surrender to him. No spiritual progress can be made without having this fundamental quality of absolute obedience to the Guru.
In Divine Life Society most of our devotees have this quality and put it into operation. Maybe now and then a few falter, not because they deliberately disobey but due to forgetfulness and tension. When there is tension the mind cannot work calmly and properly.
It is due to this most noble quality of obedience that our Society is able to undertake so many projects and complete them successfully. The spirit of devotion and dedication of our devotees is unparalleled.
Our Divine Master has written many anecdotes about the spirit of obedience and many are familiar with them. He describes how some devotees try to deceive the Guru pretending to obey him. He also described how absolute obedience to the Guru is practised by many devotees.
Here is one such anecdote. Once a Guru told his disciple to go to the shop to buy something. The disciple said, “Guruji, today my legs feel very sore. I cannot walk. Kindly ask some other disciple to go to the shop.” The next day the Guru told the disciple, “Kindly wash these clothes for me.” The disciple said, “Guruji, today my stomach feels painful. I have to lie in bed. Please ask someone else to wash the clothes.” Like this the disobedient disciple began evading the issue every now and then. Finally, one day the Guru said to the disciple, “There are some lovely laddus and jalebis in the kitchen. Kindly go and help yourself.” The disciple said, “Guruji how long can I disobey you?” He at once rushed to the kitchen and polished off the laddus and jalebis. This is one of the varieties of obedience related by our Divine Master. There are many others.
Obedience must also be practised at home, in the place where one works, and especially while driving. We see today how drivers break road rules. Hundreds of them do so. Karma will work and one day they will have to pay for this great sin. Accidents are often caused by breaking road rules.
Obedience at home will bring peace, harmony and happiness. So all have to remember the importance of this cardinal quality of obedience. Obedience goes hand in hand with the quality of communication. When there is no effective communication then arguments and self-justification take place. Effective communication is very important in all walks of life.
I relate herewith some humorous stories about the quality of obedience. The first one is from SRF, Los Angeles and the second from Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
Once a Guru was sitting with his disciples. The disciples said to their Guru, “Guruji kindly give us one simple spiritual instruction that we can follow.”
The Guru said, “Do what I do. Imitate my words and actions. This will be true obedience.”
One day, as the Guru was sitting with his disciples to give them instructions he began to cough. All the disciples also began to cough. After some time he again began to cough. The disciples all began coughing. The Guru asked, “What is all this?” The disciples also all shouted, “What is all this?” The Guru called aloud, “Stop it or I shall beat you.” The disciples also shouted aloud, “Stop it or we will beat you.”
The Guru then jumped up and began beating the disciples. They all also began beating their Guru. Then the Guru rushed out and jumped into a lake and drowned himself. All the disciples also jumped into the lake and drowned themselves like their Guru.
Here is the second story. Once a Guru sent his disciple to the shop to buy eggs and told the disciple to be careful not to break the eggs. He must be careful when bringing them to his Ashram.
The disciple thought, “I must be careful not to break the eggs.” So he took one egg at a time and went to the Ashram. In this way he made twelve trips to the shop for twelve eggs.
In the meantime the Guru was grinding his teeth. “Where has this blockhead gone to? It is almost lunch time and I have not had my bath even.”
After a long time, when the disciple came to his Guru, the Guru asked him why he was so late. The disciple explained how he brought the eggs one by one from the shop in case they broke if he carried the lot.
The Guru told him, “Next time do everything one time. This will save you time.”
After a few weeks the Guru felt ill. He asked the disciple to go and fetch the doctor who was only half an hour from the Ashram.
Now the Guru waited for one hour, two hours, three hours, four hours. He thought, “Where has this fool gone to this time? I am almost dying and he has not come with the doctor?” He was grinding his teeth in anger.
After four hours the disciple arrived with eight people. The Guru glared at him and asked, “What is all this?”
The disciple said, “Guruji, since you said I must do everything one time I brought eight people.” The Guru glared at him angrily.
The disciple said, “Guruji two are the physicians, four will carry your coffin in case you die. The last two are the grave diggers.” These anecdotes show how some disciples do not discriminate and consult the Guru.
On this most auspicious occasion may Sri Gurudev bless you all with peace, prosperity and protection.
Anniversary of Divine Life Society
The 58th Anniversary of Divine Life Society of South Africa was observed on Thursday, 18 October 2007 at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills. It was an auspicious day as it coincided with the Navaratri Festival as well as the day on which devotees offer worship to the Guru.
The Society’s latest publication, the most prestigious Swami Sivananda In Pictures, was officially launched by Sri Swami Sahajananda amidst a large gathering of devotees, well-wishers and patrons. The Divine Master has stated that Mother Saraswati glitters through his writings. It was therefore most appropriate that Swami Sahajananda honoured the Divine Master by officially releasing this book on the day when devotees were worshipping Mother Saraswati. We are pleased to report that on the very first night, more than 500 copies were eagerly taken by devotees.
We remind readers that Divine Life Society of South Africa was founded when the Divine Master instructed Swami Sahajananda in a letter dated 18 October 1949 to start a branch of the Divine Life Society in South Africa. We are grateful to the Master for this divine command as thousands of devotees in South Africa and throughout the world have benefited from the formation of the Society. In the same year, Swami Sahajananda was appointed by the Divine Master as Spiritual Head of the Society.
The Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, initiated Swami Sahajananda into the Holy Order of Sannyas on 10 April 1956. Swami Sahajananda was then 31 years old. The Master gave a twenty minute speech after the initiation ceremony, bringing out Swami Sahajananda’s divine qualities. We quote excerpts from that speech which was given ex tempore:
“So we rejoice today heartily because we have amidst us a noble personality, a spiritual personality, a Bala Yogi, a Bala Swami, Sri Swami Sahajananda.
“Swami Sahajananda is styled as the spiritual king of South Africa, Durban. He is also called the African Chota Guru. He does not want anything. He is a silent worker. He is a man of renunciation, Vairagya and meditation. He is a very good organizer. He has organized some 20 branches of the Divine Life Society in South Africa.
“There is Savikalpa Samadhi and then comes Nirvikalpa Samadhi and then comes Sahaja Avastha. He is established in Sahaja Avastha. He does not forget Brahman when he is working. He has double consciousness. He is resting in Satchidananda Swarupa and he is utilizing his mind and his indriyas for the good of humanity.
“I am Swami Sahajanandaji’s rupee-eater. I want money for printing paper, art paper, for hospital, etc. Sahajanandaji supplies the money.
“He talks little. You have never seen him talking. He thinks much and does much. Such a great spiritual Yogi is he. His devotion to teacher is unique. He has a pure heart. Such a Yogi is now going from here and he will thrill the whole of Africa, and again he will come. He has the spirit of renunciation. He has given his whole property to me. Just see his noble qualities: devotion, discipline, shanti and humility.
“When a man comes to you and says he is a Jivanmukta, you must test him. You must ask whether he has got humility, not feigned humility, but real unostentatious humility. Then he must have compassion. If you do not find these qualities in a man who says ‘I am a Jivanmukta’, reject him as straw. These are the two cardinal, fundamental virtues of a sage. If you do not find these virtues, even if he delivers a lecture for days together on the verse Sarva Dharman Parityajya Mamekam Saranam Vraja, it is useless, empty, bullet-shots in the air. If you find humility, that is a sign of a Yogi, and he must be compassionate. His heart should melt like butter when he sees the sufferings of others. If he finds a starving man, and if he has got a tumbler of milk, he will run to him and give it to him. Of all the qualities that are enumerated in the Gita, humility and compassion are the most important. He who possesses these qualities is a Yogi of the first order. These are the tests of a Jivanmukta. So we all pray for his health, long life, peace and prosperity.
“He was a Swami in his previous birth, so at such a young age his heart is full of renunciation, Vairagya and meditation, which are the keys to open the chambers of the heart, the Atmic store.
“So let us pray for the health and long life of this small Yogi, full of strength. One who can transform the materialistic intellect of the whole of South Africa—what tremendous influence, what tremendous purity, what tremendous Yogic power, what tremendous meditation, spiritual aura and selfless aura!
“May Lord bless Swami Sahajananda with health, long life, peace, bliss and immortality. May Lord bless you all.” (Taken from “Sivananda Day-to-Day”, Series 19; Vol No. XVI. Published by the Yoga-Vedanta Forest University.)
At the 58th Anniversary Satsang at Reservoir Hills, Durban, devotees expressed their deep and eternal gratitude to Swami Sahajananda for the unparalleled leadership over the past 58 years.
Message by Sri Swami Sahajananda
On this auspicious Anniversary Day Satsang we are extremely pleased to launch our most beautiful book, Swami Sivananda In Pictures. This book with its 68 colourful pictures of our Divine Master, together with the most inspiring spiritual instructions is sure to captivate the hearts of all.
The spiritual instructions are extremely illuminating. Our Master’s writings are simple to understand, universal in outlook and highly inspiring. The writings in the book are sure to awaken many to lead a spiritual life. In many of the articles our Master gives a shock to readers. His writings are unparalleled.
Dissemination of spiritual knowledge is extremely important to our Master. If devotees take up the task of distributing this valuable book to as many as possible they will without doubt earn our Master’s Grace.
I will relate an incident that is familiar to me. A person in Kolkata, who had a large printing press was deeply devoted to our Master. He used to print books by the hundreds and send to our Master at Rishikesh without charging for them. Our Master used to distribute the books mostly free of charge.
Hearing about this person, when I was in India, I wanted to visit Kolkata on my way to Rishikesh so that I could meet this person, Kasiram Gupta. But when I reached Kolkata I was told that he had already gone to Rishikesh some days ago. On arriving at our Master’s Ashram I wanted to meet Kasiram Gupta. I was told that he had passed away a few days ago. The most wonderful thing was that before passing he said that the Master was calling him. See how he won the Master’s Grace and entered the celestial region just by disseminating spiritual knowledge.
I therefore appeal to all devotees to win the Grace of our Master by taking as many copies of Swami Sivananda In Pictures as possible and sell them or give them as gifts. Even if one book is sold and it transforms the life of the person reading it, the spiritual merit gained by him will also go to the devotee selling the book. So valuable is dissemination of spiritual knowledge! It is the highest service that one can render to mankind, because it takes people towards God, which is the goal of this human birth.
Please take as many copies as possible and distribute to as many as possible. All payment must be made in cash, as it will be easy to keep an account of the distribution.
May all present here today win our Master’s Grace by distributing as widely as possible Swami Sivananda In Pictures.
May Sri Gurudev bless all of you with peace, protection, prosperity and spiritual progress.
Sivananda Luwamba Multi-purpose Medical Centre
Divine Life Society has commenced with a most prestigious project in a rural area not far from Empangeni. It will provide health and medical facilities for the poor in the area. It will be quite a large complex to be undertaken in collaboration with the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal. The buildings alone will occupy an area of about two and a half hectares. The Society is contributing R7 000 000,00 (seven million rands, about rupees fifty-four million) towards this massive project.
The entire complex will be built with beautiful white bricks and the outside walls will be decorated with colourful tiles like those that we use in our Peace & Skills Training Centres. This complex will be the most important and prestigious project in the name of our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda, who himself was a medical doctor in Malaysia before he left back for India to become a monk. Our Divine Master deserves this great honour.
On Sunday, 25 November 2007, Swami Sahajananda received the following awards at the Divine Life Society Ashram in Richards Bay:
1. “Freedom of the City Award”: City of Umhlatuze (Richards Bay).
2. “Freedom of the City Award”: Umlalazi District Municipality.
3. “Freedom of the City Award”: Umkhanyakude District Municipality.
4. “Freedom of the City Award”: Zululand District Municipality.
5. “Freedom of the City Award”: Uthungulu District Municipality.
6. “Kingdom Award of Kwa-Zulu Natal”: by His Majesty the King Goodwill Zwelithini Ka-Bhekuzulu.
7. “Premiers Humanitarian Award”: Province of KwaZulu-Natal by Premier Dr J.S. Ndebele.
8. “Award of Appreciation”: Dr M.G. Buthelezi.
9. “Award of Appreciation and Gratitude”: Rt. Bishop Dr. MV Shembe, Leader of Nazareth Baptist Church.
10. “Printing Industry Award”: Jan Lottrum Jansen, Heidelberg.
Children should not be allowed to use cellphones. We all know the dangers
of it. Children might talk to those with good habits but they will also
talk to those indulging in drugs, alcohol, TV and other bad habits. Boys
will freely talk to girls and girls will freely talk to boys. This may
lead to a lot of trouble.
Children or parents may appear in court for the crimes of the children,
and if they are devotees of Divine Life Society the name of our Society
and Master will be spoilt. We have given elaborate instructions in our
journals on how to bring up Spiritual Darlings. If parents do not heed
the instructions, they are entirely responsible for the bad habits of
Henceforth, all those who allow their children to use cellphones will
be banned from attending any of our Satsangs at any of our Ashrams in
the country. Divine Life Society will not be held responsible for any
of the problems of children using cellphones.