The Essence of Divine Love

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5 The Essence of Divine Love A Discourse on Gopi Geet Excerpts by Bhaishri Rameshbhai Oza Sat Sahitya Prakashan Trust India

6 Published by Sat Sahitya Prakashan Trust Copyright Sat Sahitya Prakashan Trust First published in 2013 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without prior permission of the publisher. Translated by : Sona Pushpak Damania Printed in India by Poornima Printers, Mumbai, India ii

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8 Prologue The tears flow endlessly from our eyes The Gopis of Vrindavan who are enjoined with Lord Shri Krishna in various forms, are considered to be the epitome of love and devotion. The love and the emotions expressed by them in the 31st chapter of the 10th Canto of the Shrimad Bhagwat in 11 verses is known and understood by the renowned scholars of the Shrimad Bhagwat as the Gopi Geet. According to our scriptures there are four kinds of efforts or deeds that the living entity is involved in, which can be categorized into: Righteousness or Religious acts (Dharma), Accumulation of wealth (Artha), Desire (Kaam), and Salvation (Moksha). When a man performs any religious or righteous deed with love, the emotion of love transforms the act of righteousness into a flow of devotion. There is a delightful transformation of the religious act into an act of devotion when it is touched by love. In the same way when wealth is utilized with love, then an individual moves beyond personal and selfish happiness and takes a step away from self-interest, moving towards using this wealth for philanthropy and social good. Then such an individual becomes kind and merciful and puts the money that he has earned into good causes, for charity and altruistic purposes. Scholars of the West have studied and contemplated on the theory of pleasure and have conceptualized the hypothesis that when desire combines with love, it produces a divine energy and iv

9 individual love thus rises above physical constraints. It progresses and crosses the limits of the finite, it reaches beyond the confines of horizons and becomes all-encompassing and infinite. The emotion that the great saint Meera had for Lord Shri Krishna reminds us of this divine energy of love. Even the Sufi Saints have referred to this frenzied pulse of the emotion of love in their poetry and ghazals and this sentiment is also reticent of the same progression towards that divine infinite love. When the living entity strives for salvation, he endures severe penance for its attainment, but when this effort is performed with love, it shifts from being an act of attrition and mortification and instead becomes infinite and endless like the sky, all pervading and boundless like the universe and pure and cool like the sea. It shines and glitters like the stars and brims with countless emotions. In his discourses, Pujya Bhaishri has spoken about this infinite boundless and divine love. The poetess Indira Indu has exemplified the concept of divine love in these lines of her poetry. Prem jab anant ho gaya, rom rom sant ho gaya. Devalaya ho gaya badan, hridaya, toh mahant ho gaya. ào_ O~ AZ V hmo J`m, amo_ amo_ g V hmo J`m, Xodmb` hmo J`m ~XZ, öx` Vmo _h V hmo J`mŸ& (When love reaches infinite proportions, every pore of our body becomes pure and saintly. The physical body becomes the personification of a temple and the v

10 heart assumes the form of a worshipper.) As in poetry so in life, this love is an integral part of our existence! If our lives are devoid of love, what will be left behind? In order to experience and understand the emotion of the living entity as he surrenders to God in the form of the Gopi and expresses this passionate love that arises within his heart, it is necessary for us to read these 11 verses of the Gopi Geet in the 10th Canto of the Shrimad Bhagwat. Pujya Bhaishri, who is one of the most renowned scholars and orators of the Shrimad Bhagwat and the Ram Charit Manas, has spread the knowledge contained in these scriptures to thousands of devotees all over the world through his various discourses and discussions. The discourses on the globally studied scripture, The Shrimad Bhagvad Gita have created a flow of contemplated thoughts on these religious texts. In the year 2009, Pujya Bhaishri spoke in New Jersey in a three day discourse on the divine and eternal love of Shri Radha Krishna and the Gopis (Gopi Geet). This publication is a humble effort at a written composition of that discourse. vi

11 Contents Let Love Flow 1 The Five Emotions of Divine Love 11 The Emotional World of Devotion 19 The Pillar of Faith 27 Real Happiness Lies in Service 33 Gopi, the Pavilion of the Temple of Love 40 The Two Names of Love - Shri Krishna & Radha 49 I Walk in the Frenzy of Krishna's Love 58 The Heavenly Realm of Love 66 The Definition of Love 72 You are the Dense Shade which Protects me From the Scorching Sun 79 The Merging of Two Identities into One 88 We are Here at Your Call of Love 96 The Bewitching Land of Vrindavan 105 The Significance of Life 115 Love as a Medium of Attaining God 122 Life - A Tear Drop 130 A Tale of Melting Tears 137 vii

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13 Let Love Flow Directly trying to discourse on the Gopi Geet is just like taking a helicopter ride and reaching the peak of the Kailash or the Himalaya Mountains. It is possible to do this, and it is convenient as well, and that is why one would ask the question What is the necessity of climbing on a mountain when you can directly take a helicopter and reach its peak? One has to know that in the event of doing this, if the body doesn t get the time to adapt to the high altitude and stabilize itself, it will be difficult for you to stay there once you reach and even more difficult to breathe with the low levels of oxygen. If you have to reach the peak of a mountain, you have to climb slowly and steadily. I have travelled many a times to Badrinath and Kedarnath and delivered discourses there. Even kathas have been organised in these places. We have made these journeys in buses or cars, and have enjoyed the trip. On one occasion, it was organized in a hurry and since we had a time constraint we had flown there in a helicopter. We finished the trip in two days and to tell you the truth, I do not have any memory of it, it did not feel like we had been on a pilgrimage. There is a difference between physically climbing the mountain and flying across and reaching the peak directly. In the ancient times, people used to embark on pilgrimages on foot. Even today there are saints, sages and devotees who walk the entire path on their journey to Badrinath. Not only that, they also walk across to places like Kailash that have treacherous paths. It takes about days to accomplish this and that is why it requires 1

14 time, you need to have courage, the dedication for penance, and physical strength in order to take a pilgrimage on foot but finally when you reach Kailash and see it from a distance, the emotion that arises in your heart is completely different! If the same journey is accomplished within a time frame of two hours by flying across in a helicopter, you will still view Mt. Kailash and yet the feeling in your heart will be completely different from the one that you would experience if you had taken the pains to climb it and endured difficulties on your journey. The fruit or the reward that we get after we endure has a different flavour altogether! If we reach early for a Satyanarayan pooja, participate in its arrangements and listen to the katha attentively, the prasad that we receive thereafter constitutes a different experience than the one we would get if we arrived right at the end. What I mean to explain with this example is that we are attempting to jump straight to the 10th Canto of the Shrimad Bhagwat and even within this, we are trying to directly approach the Raas Panchadhyayi and finally, we are taking a shortcut to the Gopi Geet which is considered to be the crowning glory of the Shrimad Bhagwat. In the Shrimad Bhagwat Katha, we slowly cruise across the 9 Cantos and approximately on the fifth day we arrive at the Raas Leela. This is like the journey taken on foot, walking slowly towards the destination. It is like embarking on the journey with patience and fortitude. Instead here we are attempting to ride the helicopter and directly traverse across to our destination. There is a possibility of danger on this trip. Although we 2

15 will reach this pinnacle through the medium of these verses that I will relate to you but it is difficult if not impossible to reach or even touch the elevation of the emotions expressed in the Gopi Geet by the Gopis of Vrindavan. Love is an indescribable essence. Just as the almighty can only be experienced and is not the subject matter of speech, in the same way, love cannot be spoken about. It is a matter of experience, it cannot be explained. We can speak on the subject on love but love cannot be spoken or explained, it can only be experienced. The saints, the scriptures, the vedas and puranas have all spoken on the subject of God and yet God cannot be elucidated or interpreted. We can talk for hours about God and yet he can only be experienced. That is why all the words contained in the vedas and puranas and the scriptures can only be pointers on the subject of God. God cannot be revealed through the medium of vocabulary, because words have limited reach and meaning. Lord Shri Krishna has told Arjuna in the Bhagvad Gita Nistraigunya, traigunya-visaya veda nistraigunyo bhavarjuna. Ì JwÊ`{df`m doxm {Zó JwÊ`mo ^dmow ZŸ& (JrVm 2-45) Even the Vedas revolve around the three gunas, or qualities. God is devoid or above these three modes of nature. If you want to experience the almighty, you also have to rise above the three modes of nature. God is a matter of experience, Anubhavgamya bhajahi jahi santa. So not only do I have to make you traverse this journey through the medium of 3

16 words, but also help you reach the peak of the mountain which is obviously difficult just as it is an arduous task to help you feel the emotions in the hearts of the Gopis of Vrindavan. It is for this reason that I usually do not agree to speak independently on the subject of Gopi Geet. There are a lot of great learned men who give discourses on the Gopi Geet, but I feel I am not qualified enough to attempt it but this time the Vaishnav devotees approached me and beseeched me to speak on the Gopi Geet. I have listened to the great saints speak about it and I have read various commentaries on it and yet I believe that it is an impossible task to try and express the profound sentiments that arise within the hearts of the Gopis. So one would ask, Why should we try and do this?. We can only try do this with the faith that if God is pleased with our endeavour or if the beloved Gopis of Shri Krishna shower even an iota of their grace and mercy, we will consider that this effort has attained fruition. On the path of devotion, the heart and its various emotions and sentiments are of primary importance. It also requires the devotee to be soft hearted and not rigid or harsh. Our attachment towards this material world causes us to be tough and uncompassionate. Why doesn t water transform into ice? If we freeze water, it changes its state from liquid to solid and becomes ice. Our hearts are filled with emotions and therefore ideally, they should flow in a liquid form but attachment towards the inert possessions of the material world have 4

17 transformed the state of our hearts, from being compassionate to becoming harsh and tough and this dispassion makes us unqualified to tread on the path of devotion. Therefore first it is essential that we liquefy our hearts by the warmth of love or through the endurance of difficulties. Sometimes, man has to go through the scorching heat of bearing struggles and troubles in life; it could be the death of a loved one, sudden poverty, or any other unexpected, unfortunate event. Such problems influence an individual in a way that he breaks down. It also makes him more human, more sympathetic and understanding. As an individual suffers the atrocities of life, he melts with every blow, which rids him of his dispassion and he takes a step towards God. It is possible that such events make him take an interest in spirituality and arouses curiosity in his mind and man looks for shelter and refuge. The Flowing Emotion of Love A man may have no desire to seek the almighty and yet sometimes an unexpected event or situation may strike a blow on his stoneheartedness causing his emotions to flow. The ice on the mountains melts and thus the river Ganga flows. We can take pictures of snow on the mountains and experience great pleasure but we cannot take a dip in the snow. Yet when the same ice from the Himalaya s melts and flows in the form of the river Ganga, we take a dip in its stream with love and 5

18 reverence. Even if someone has no respect or spiritual understanding of its origin, even then he partakes of the pure and cool water with gratitude. Thus whatever the reason or excuse, our hearts should melt and flow with emotions. Sometimes we are touched by the sorrows of others around us and our hearts soften as we witness their suffering. Sometimes one s own unhappiness mellows him down and tears flow from his eyes. What does this signify? It s nothing but the melting of our hearts. We cannot remain tough and hard hearted if we want to walk on the path of devotion. It is extremely essential to have a kind heart, one that is overflowing with positive emotions in order to journey the path of devotion. It is not only necessary to be soft-hearted but also to have a heart that is filled with pure emotions, only this can ensure our progress in devotion. There are five primary emotions of devotion. Now let us slowly try and understand the subject of devotion. One sentiment is motherly love (vatsalya), the second is adornment (shringar), the third is peace (shant), the fourth is friendship (sakhya) and the fifth is servitude (dasya). These five emotions are known to be the five types of feelings experienced by a devotee. Once you are on the path of devotion, you can choose any one of these emotions based on your feeling towards your deity and decide which emotion is predominant when you worship God. 6

19 You are given a choice, if you choose motherly love, (vatsalya bhav) it means somewhere within you, there are the qualities of mother Yashoda and therefore you perceive God as a small child. You perform your ritual of worship with the same sentiment. In the homes of the Vaishnav devotees, it is common to observe how they serve Bal Krishna, (the form of Shri Krishna as a small child). They see the lord in the form of a small infant and serve him accordingly. Simply put, the meaning of devotion would be attachment, a relationship with God and being deeply connected to him. We are all attached to our houses, families, to money, and also toour friends. We are all close to something or someone in different ways. We are also attached to our possessions in this material world and this attachment is the cause of bondage which leads to our downfall. Such attachment is nothing but being a slave of these material possessions. Many people say, What should we do? The material world has caught us in its clutches! This is just like saying that a man has gripped an iron pole tightly and is screaming, Please help me! This pole has gripped me tightly. How can the iron pole hold the man? It is lifeless and inert. It doesn t possess the physical faculties required to perform any action. It is the man who is holding on tightly to the pole and doesn t let it go. Attachment is just like this. The material world is lifeless and devoid of consciousness. How can it have us in its clutches? It is we who hold on firmly and refuse to let go. This attachment has made slaves out of us, where there is bondage, there is servitude. Where there is slavery, there is dependency. 7

20 Either expand your perspective to include everyone or narrow it down to focus only on the almighty. It is written in the Ram Charit Manas, Paradheen sapne hu sukhnahi. He, who is dependent, cannot hope for happiness even in a dream. If you are dependent, you are a slave and the scriptures say that if you are in the bondage of the material world, you are its slave. If you cannot give up your attachment, then Tulsidasji humorously says that, If you are tied to the world, then there are two ways to attain freedom from this bondage. What are these ways? Firstly, if you are strong enough, you can use your strength and might to break free from these bonds. You have been bound tightly with these various strings, use the force within you and set yourself free! If you do not possess this strength or willpower, then there is another option. If you cannot broaden your perspective, then contract & narrow it down. Either spread your arms and break free of the strings that bind you or shrink your size to the extent that you slip out from these bonds. Either method will grant you freedom. If we try and understand this on a spiritual level, then the first method of using strength and power to break free is the path of knowledge. It is the path of God Realization in which we experience the divine within ourselves, Aham brahmasmi. This experience instantly sets us free and awards us deliverance. The living entity is potentially divine. What is the meaning of God Realization? It does not mean that God manifests His form before you, instead it means experiencing the divine within one s own soul. I am 8

21 He, I am God. As soon as we have this experience, we are free from bondage, and attain salvation. But this path requires enough strength and the power of knowledge. Not everyone has this spiritual prowess and therefore it is essential to explore the other path which is to minimize your existence in a way that you slip out from the bondage of the material world. This is the path of devotion in which the devotee worships the lord with the emotion of servitude Dasoham. The first path is Soham (Experiencing a sense of oneness with the divine) and the second path is one of servitude, Dasoham (To be in the service of the Lord) Krishna tavasmi (I am yours, I belong to you). This statement is filled with the emotion of humility, of hesitation and submissiveness. Thus, this sentiment does away with ego, awarding the devotee with humbleness to an extent that his own existence wanes away. God asked Tulsidasji, How will you free yourself? Through Soham or through Dasoham? and Tulsidasji said, I do not possess the power to experience oneness with your entity such that it will make me break free from this material world. So God asked him whether he would adopt the path of servitude Dasoham. Tulsidasji said that he did not even possess the ability to walk even on that path. He said that he was not qualified to choose either of the two. So God asked him, Then how will you get salvation? And Tulsidasji said, There is a third way of doing this!. Tulsidasji has written in the Ram Charit Manas, Shruti Bidit upay sakal soor kehi kehiye din nihore. He says There are many solutions and ways that are listed in our scriptures for the purpose of 9

22 attaining deliverance. Which of these should I follow? I have renounced them all, I have just come to a single conclusion about them all. And God asked him what that was. He replied, Oh Lord! Only he who holds the living entity in the bondage of attachment is qualified to set him free from its clutches. It is your illusory power or Maya that binds us and therefore only you can set us free. This third path is the path of complete surrender. It means to move forward with the emotion and the belief that I belong to God and he is my protector. We are at your mercy and it is your will if you want to set us free. Oh Lord, do you want to free us? Yatha yogyam tatha kuru. Do what you think is best for us. The one who has surrendered completely is devoid of any desire or will of his own. He only says, I have taken refuge at your feet, if you so desire you can set me free, it is completely your prerogative. This is the path of complete surrender. In the nine types of devotion, the last type is Aatma nivedanam which means the stage at which the devotee, who has no motive other than to serve the Lord surrenders everything to him. I really like it when Aadya Shankaracharya Bhagwan offers his salutations to the goddess. The emotion contained in this is very beautiful. It says, There is no sinner like me and no mother like you who destroys these sins of mine. I only know and believe this and therefore now you do what you think is right for me! This is the sentiment of a child and who else but the mother knows what is best for him? Do what you think is best for me, it is your decision and your will. This is complete surrender. 10

23 The Five Emotions of Divine Love The child is completely in submission to its mother because it is the mother who knows and understands what is good for the child. Therefore, the saints have wonderfully explained that while following the three paths of knowledge, action and devotion, one should be childlike on the path of devotion, youthful on the path of action, and like the elderly on the path of knowledge. A man should attain spiritual maturity on the path of knowledge, the youth should be enthusiastic while carrying out his actions, he should think, Yes, i can do it with the grace of God. If you want to traverse the path of action (Karma Yog), you have to be youthful in your approach, if you are a follower of the path of knowledge (Gyan Yog), you should be wise, mature and experienced in your thinking and possess the qualities of patience and seriousness. While following the path of devotion, you should be like the child, innocent and in submission. The child doesn t know anything, he is innocent. The devotee has to develop this quality of innocence. The devotee is naive and simple like a small child. Devoid of this quality, one cannot be called a devotee. This innocence is the prerequisite of devotion. In the Ram Charit Manas, Lord Ram has said that he does not approve of deceit and slyness. Nirmal man jan so mohe paava, mohe kapat chal chidra na bhaava. {Z_ b _Z OZ gmo _mo{h nmdmÿ& _mo{h H$nQ> N>b {N>Ð Z ^mdmÿ&& (_mzg, gw.h$m. 43-5) 11

24 Do you know what our problem is? We indulge in devotion but with a heart that is tainted with stealth and deceit. Our minds are filled with dishonesty, deception and undesirable thoughts. We are chanting the name of the Lord and singing his glories, we are carrying out rituals of worship and yet, we do not achieve any success in our spiritual endeavours. The reason for this is that, we do not possess the primary requirements that are essential to tread on the path of devotion which are innocence, simplicity, straightforwardness and pure-heartedness. It is important to develop these qualities in our life. Saral swabhav na man kutilayi jatha labh santosh sadaayi gab gw^md Z _Z Hw${Q>bmB Ÿ& OWm bm^ g Vmof gxmb Ÿ&& (_mzg, C.H$m. 45-2) Our minds should not be unclean and polluted (with undesirable thoughts). The mind should be pure and untainted. It should be filled with peace and mellifluence. In the Ram Charit Manas, Tulsidasji has described the river Ganga as the flowing stream of devotion. Ram bhakti jahan sur sari dhaara Sarasai brahma bichaar prachaara am_ ^{º$ Oh± gwag[a YmamŸ& gagb ~«{~Mma àmmamÿ&& (_mzg, ~m.h$m. 1-8) The river Ganga has five qualities. Therefore devotion should also be characterized by these five qualities because the river Ganga personifies devotion. The first quality is, Fluidity (Taralta). This is the quality of flowing. The first prerequisite of devotion is the melting of one s heart, 12

25 giving up of rigidity and being fluid in nature. The second quality is purity (Nirmalta). The river Ganga is a symbol of purity. Observe her as she flows from the peaks of the Himalaya s! The stream of the river is extremely pure and clean but as she flows ahead on her course through towns and cities, we humans pollute her water. In the same way, when we start our journey in this world, our minds are pure and untainted. The mind of the child is so unadulterated and and free of any flaws! This is the reason that children are so likeable. It is we who pollute the minds of the children as they grow up. As the child progresses on his journey of growth, from childhood to youth, he is tainted with the colors of the material world and his mind becomes unclean and impure. We have read that Dhruvji attainted God realization in his childhood at a tender age. It only took him five years of devotion and worship to attain God. We also know that Lord Narsimha emerged from a pillar for his devotee Prehlad. Both these devotees were young children and both of them achieved God realization at that young age. Dhruvji had the vision of Shri Hari and Prehlad witnessed the manifestation of the Lord in the form of Narsimha. Why did this happen? It is the same quality and purity, simplicity and innocence of the small child that was responsible for these devotees who experienced the vision of the Lord. The river Ganga possesses all these essentials of devotion, purity, fluidity, and simplicity which are manifested in its downward flow. It flows from a higher altitude to a lower altitude and this is the true 13

26 measure of its simplicity and charitableness. It is we human beings who pollute its water. Similarly, it is we who pollute our minds in this material world. Due to attachment, we have lost that quality of simplicity and in its place we have developed hard hearted and rigid behavior. Also, we have lost the purity of our hearts and it has been replaced with unscrupulousness. Just see the condition of our minds! Simplicity which is an essential attribute for devotion is replaced by pride and ego. All these are barriers on the path of devotion. The fourth requirement on this path is peace and cool-mindedness. But we are always in a state of anger! We cannot tolerate or bear any insult, neither can we bear failure nor can we handle success in the right way. Our inability to handle these situations of success and failure, demonstrates the weakness of our mind. We cannot assimilate praise and neither can we bear criticism. In the Bhagvad Gita, Lord Shri Krishna describes the character of the devotee as one forwhom, both praise and criticism are the same.he says that a devotee is one who maintains his equanimity in the dualities of joy and sorrow. His mind does not waver and remains stable in sorrow, and is free of covetousness even when he is happy. When happiness has aspirations and ambitions attached to it, there is the expectation that it should remain on the same level. For example, one hopes that they do not lose their money, house, or their financial position, in such a situation, when one is faced with an unavoidable, global situation like the current recession, then the mind loses its peace 14

27 and speculates. This year, I have been asking people about the effect it has had on their business, and I have heard that there have been many who have incurred losses. Circumstances are subject to change, and they always do so, but what is important is the state of your mind during these changing conditions. On the path of devotion, it is extremely essential that the mind attains peace and a sense of stability. When will this happen? It will only happen when we have complete faith and belief in God. Every man is restless There is a constant struggle that is going on in our lives, but we should trust and know that whatever God does, is right for us. Our mind should be unaffected, instead it is tormented with the circumstances of life. Today we can see that there is no peace anywhere, our past is tense, our present is tense, and our future is also tense. Man is afflicted with tension. Even children have not been spared, they have inherited this tension from us. We have structured our life in a way that creates struggle and our reasoning is that, if there is no tension, there will be no progress. There is a difference between progress that is initiated through love and sincerity towards work and the one that is initiated through tension. This kind of progress that we see today is one in which man is like the proverbial bullock, that is attached to a single pole at the center and made to walk around it. Whereby, he just revolves around the pole, without reaching anywhere. If he stops, he is whipped and made to walk again. This is the way, man is being conditioned for work and 15

28 therefore he is tired, tensed, and devoid of peace. There is disharmony and unrest in the whole world. Therefore, the mind needs to maintain its stability and remain calm. Let us remember again, these attributes of devotion: Peace, calmness & fluidity, pure heartedness & simplicity. Simplicity also means humbleness and submissiveness because the Goddess of Devotion resides on the throne of humility. She does not stay on the peak of pride and ego. Our minds, like the holy river Ganga, should be cool and calm. This cannot be achieved without complete faith. The fifth attribute is sweetness. When we consume the water of the river Ganga, we find it soothing. Like this water, our minds should also be filled with a certain sweetness. Sometimes, the mind develops bitterness and hostility. Due to this, relationships get affected. If we say, that the river Ganga is the personification of Devotion, and it has these five qualities of Fluidity, Purity, Coolness, Simplicity and Sweetness, then these five qualities are also essential for our minds if we want to be devotees. I will tell you how you can start your journey on the path of devotion. The Gopi Geet is the peak and since I do not possess the courage to take you directly on this highest elevation of devotion, I am trying to prepare you, for this journey. I salute those of you who are ready to go there directly, but I am not ready for it myself. I am trying to prepare you to traverse that path of love, it s epitome is the place for which the Gopis have qualified themselves. When we started the pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar, we were asked to provide a fitness report, certified by a doctor. So we had to go through a lot of tests, it included the stress test, we were made to walk on the treadmill at a speed that made us sweat and finally after various 16

29 tests, the doctors gave us permission to take the trip. Even on a journey like the Mansarovar pilgrimage, one has to go through this entire process of testing one s capacity to embark on the journey. Once, an old man said that he wanted to take the pilgrimage to Kailash. His grandson said, You should let it be now, Grandfather! You are 90 years old. If you wanted to travel to Mansarovar, you should have done it when you were 35 or 40 years of age. You cannot desire to do this at your age! Grandfather replied, It doesn t matter if I pass away when I reach there, but I want to see the Kailash mountain before I die. But the problem in this case is, How would a man of 90, go on this tedious journey since he has no physical capacity to undertake the same? We can salute and bow down to his sentiment. Even if the old man does not fear for his mortality, and is willing to give up his life, it will not help because it is not possible to carry him there. I am talking about the journey that we take from India, in which the pilgrims walk on foot. You have to ask yourself whether you are fit for such an arduous journey. Will your body be able to bear the troubles on the way? This analogy can help us in understanding the path of devotion. Just as one has to evaluate one s physical fitness before a tedious journey, similarly, before we decide to follow the path of devotion, it is important to check whether your mind is qualified for it. So you must run a battery of tests to ascertain this, and therefore, we can compare the attributes of our mind to the Holy Ganga since Tulsidasji has described the river Ganga as a personification of devotion, having the five characteristics as we have discussed before. So your mind also has to pass through these tests of fluidity, simplicity, purity, coolness and sweetness. Thus, we will have 17

30 to find out whether we are capable of traversing this course. Sometimes, even a whole lifetime is not enough for developing these attributes of devotion, even the saints and great learned men indulge in various spiritual practices to develop these qualities. I do not mean to de-motivate you or affect your enthusiasm by repeating the difficulties involved in choosing this path of God Realization. I am just giving a word of caution that these five prerequisites are extremely essential. In the absence of these, even if we study the verses of the Gopi Geet, it will not benefit us. Great scholars, who discourse on this subject have taken beautiful literary meanings of this poetry but to be able to elucidate the emotion of the Gopi, is an experience that they are not able to express through the vocabulary of speech. If someone goes on a pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar, takes a video recording of the entire journey, and gives it to you, and you sit within the comfort of your home and watch the entire disc of the journey, you would only be able to view it on the screen of your television, it would give you some information but you would never be able to get the experience that the pilgrim had on his journey. In the same way, we can try and emulate the content of the verses of the Gopi Geet and be informed about the theoretical aspect of the meanings contained in them and yet how will we be able to feel that experience? For this, it is imperative that we first try and cultivate the important qualities of devotion. He whose mind has developed these facets is qualified to follow the path of devotion. 18

31 The Emotional World of Devotion Devotions is characterised by five emotions that arise in the heart of the devotee. First amongst them is motherly love (Vatsalya) in which the devotee envisions God in the form of a small child. The emotion felt by Nand-Yashoda is of this nature, it is wonderful and fascinating that on the path of devotion, the almighty God whose form is large and magnanimous becomes a small infant and cradles in your lap! He assumes a diminutive form, while you assume a bigger one. According to the Shrimad Bhagwat, Mahadev ji, is considered to be a Vaishnav (devotee of Vishnu), of the highest order. His devotion is one of Vatsalya and therefore, when Lord Shri Krishna appears in Gokul as a small infant, he comes to see him. In the Ram Charit Manas as well, Lord Shiva arrives on the occasion of the birth of Lord Ram to experience the vision of his worshipped deity and sing his praise. Which other religion allows the worshipper to become a father figure to the Lord himself? This liberty cannot be taken in any other religion except Hinduism. If you practice the form of devotion in which your emotion of worshipping God is one of motherly love, and if you feel for Lord Shri Krishna as Nand and Yashoda did, then one day, you may have the same experience that they had. You may be addressed as Mother or Father by God himself. Shri Krishna who can bind the whole world with his illusory power, was held in bondage with a piece of rope by his mother Yashoda. He, who can frighten fear away, was scared of admonishing from his Father, Nand. 19

32 The second emotion in devotion is Shringar or adornment. This has the sentiment of the lover and his beloved. It is also called Madhura Bhakti. In this practice, the devotee perceives the Lord as his lover. The Lord is the husband of our soul and we are his beloveds. Devotees on this path believe that God is the only single masculine form in the world. All other living entities are perceived as belonging to the feminine gender. This is the vision of the great saint Meera Bai. For this, one has to possess the heart of the Gopi of Vrindavan. This is the emotion that grants us an entry into the Raas Leela. The third emotion with which a devotee worships the Lord is the emotion of Peace. He considers God to be an embodiment of all roles and relationships. To such a devotee, his worship is a combination of all emotions because he thinks that God is everything and everybody to him. Tvameva maata cha pita tvameva tvameva bandhushcha sakha tvameva tvameva vidya dravinam tvameva tvameva sarvam mamma deva devum. Ëd_od _mvm M {nvm Ëd_od Ëd_od ~ÝYwü gim Ëd_odŸ& Ëd_od {dúm Ð{dU Ëd_od Ëd_od gdª XodXodŸ&& This is the emotion of Peace (Shant Bhaav). For such a devotee, his emotions can be compared to a cocktail. Some people like orange juice, some people like apple, others like lemon juice and there are some others who mix all of these together and make a cocktail. Just as individual consumption of each one of these ingredients can quench the 20

33 thirst of an individual, a mixture or cocktail, can also do the same. It can fulfill the thirst and provide nutrition to the one who is consuming it, but it is a mixture of various juices together. Similarly, this emotion of peace on the path of devotion is also a combination of these different feelings that the devotee feels towards God. Two Birds, one branch (God and the Living entity) The fourth type of emotion experienced by a devotee is the association of friendship. The devotee perceives God as his true friend. In this material world, God is the only real friend of the living entity. Even the Upanishads have expounded this truth. On this tree of life, there are two birds with beautiful feathers, they are both friends. The difference between the two is that one of these birds, eats the fruit of the tree and the other simply watches him and witnesses his actions. The bird sitting on the tree of Life, who consumes the fruit of the tree, can be compared to the living entity who bears out the consequences of his actions and the one who witnesses these events but does not consume anything, is the almighty God. Of these two birds, the one who simply watches and witnesses is God and he knows the innermost feelings, thoughts and also the actions of the living entity. God lovingly gazes at man as he goes through the motions of life. The emotion of Arjuna towards Shri Krishna in The Bhagvad Gita, is the devotion of friendship. Lord Krishna also told Arjuna that you are my devotee, but you are my friend. He addressed 21

34 arjuna, both as his devotee and as his friend. The Shrimad Bhagwat talks about the three friends of Shri Krishna. All three of them were close and very dear to him. One followed the path of knowledge, the second walked the path of Karma or action, and the third walked on the path of devotion. The gyan yogi, or the knowledgeable friend was Uddhav, the karma yogi or the one on the path of action was Arjuna, and the Bhakti yogi or the follower of the path of devotion was Shri Sudama. Sudama was always immersed in chanting the name of the Lord. On the other hand, Shri Krishna prepared Arjuna for battle and gave a discourse to Uddhav, directing him on the path of knowledge by giving him his sandals and instructing him for penance in Badrika Aashram. He told Uddhav that there was no action or duty that he was required to do in the material world and guided him on the path of deliverance. In the same way, Krishna accordingly guided Arjuna and Sudama. They were his friends and his devotees. This is Sakhya Bhaav or the emotion of friendship in devotion. There are nine types of devotion (Naudha Bhakti). These are, Listening (Shravanam), Chanting (Keetanam), Remembering the Lord (Vishnusmaranam), Worshipping the Lotus feet of the Lord (Padsevanam), Ritual worship (Archanam), Praising the Lord (Vandanam), Servitude (Dasyam), Friendship (Sakhyam), and Complete surrender (Aatmanivedanam). If you are in the service of God, then out of the nine types of devotions listed above, one can undertake independently seven types of services or sevas. But there are 22

35 two types of devotion, which the devotee is not at liberty to conduct independently without the permission of God. One of these is friendship (Sakhyam), and the other is Worshipping the Lotus feet of the Lord (Padsevanam). You cannot do this at your own will. Only those devotees, who have obtained the right to do so with the permission of God are qualified for these two types of devotion. The Permission to Worship the Lotus Feet of the Lord In the Pushti Parampara, an ancient tradition of worship, one cannot touch the feet of Saints and the acharyas without their permission. The Goswamis or the Priests of the temple are first asked by the Vaishnav devotees, Do we have the permission to touch your feet? If he agrees and gives his consent for the same, the devotees go ahead and do so. This is the decorum of this tradition. Similarly, only he who is permitted to worship the Lotus feet of The Lord can do so. The other association of friendship by which a devotee connects to the Lord, involves playing with him, having discussions with him, and enjoying his company like a companion. Even this service can be done only by devotees who have been given the right for it because friendship is a relationship between people who are on an equal plane. In friendship, it is not possible to differentiate between the qualifications of the people involved in the relationship, for example it is 23

36 difficult to imagine a situation where between two friends, one friend is seated on an elevation and the other places himself at his feet and listens to him. In reality, two friends would be sitting on the same seat and having an equable dialogue with each other. Just as in the case of Sudama, it was only when Shri Krishna awarded him with equal rights and seated him on his own throne, this was only because Shri Krishna regarded Sudama to be his close friend and thus treated him accordingly. But if it was any other individual in the place of Sudama who had not been granted this equal position of friendship, went to him and asked him to move aside so he could share the throne with him, it would not be acceptable because he did not share that closeness with Shri Krishna. Friendship in devotion awards the right of equality and this can happen only if God himself gives the devotee the authority to do so. The fifth emotion is servitude or Dasya. The emotion that Hanumanji had for Shri Ram is an example of this kind of devotion. In the Ram Charit Manas, there is the episode where Hanumanji meets Shri Ram for the first time. This event is a part of The Kishkinda Kand. He assumes the form of a Brahmin. It is the time where Shri Ram and Lakshman have donned the ochre garb and are searching the forests for Sita, who has been abducted by Ravana. Hanumanji joins his hands in reverence, bows down to Shri Ram and asks him: Ko tum shyamal gaur shareera Chatri roop fir hu banbeera 24

37 Kathin bhoomi komal pad gami Kavan hetu ban bicharahu swami. H$mo Vwåh ñ`m_b Jm a garamÿ& N>Ìr ê$n {\$ahþ ~Z ~ramÿ&& H${R>Z ^y{_ H$mo_b nx Jm_rŸ& H$dZ hovw {~Mahþ ~Z ñdm_rÿ&&(_mzg, {H$.H$m. 7) He asks, Who are you? One of you has a blue-skinned form while the other is fair-skinned. The floor of the forest is hard and filled with thorns and your Lotus feet are soft and tender, why are both of you roaming in this forest? Are you both an embodiment of the Lord Nar- Narayan? Are you one of the trinity, Brahma, Vishnu, and Lord Shiva? The words that Shri Ram uses to introduce himself and his brother Lakshmana are worth paying attention to and the context of the same is expressed beautifully. He says that, We are the sons of the King Dashrata, I am Ram and this is my younger brother Lakshmana. We had along with us, my wife Sita and apparently she has been abducted by some demon. Addressing Hanumanji as Brahmin Devta Shri Ram continued, We are trying to find her, and we would appreciate your help in locating her. This was all that Shri Ram said and Hanumanji listened to it attentively and it was enough for him to recognize his master, his Lord. Then Hanumanji thought that the primary introduction given by Shri Ram was that he was the son of King Dashrata which meant that Dashratji was connected to his Lord with the emotion of parental love (Vatsalya Bhav). The emotion of Lakshmanji towards Shri Ram is the devotion of Peace (Shant Bhav). Shri Ram further said that his wife Sita had been abducted by a demon and he was searching the forests to find her. 25

38 Hanumanji understood that Shri Ram was the Husband and protector of Sitaji and hence her association with him was the devotion of Adornment (Shringar Bhav). He thought that out of the five emotions of worshipping my master, three are already taken. On the seat of parental love resides Dashratji, the devotion of peace is being carried out by Lakshmanji and Sitaji resides in the heart of Shri Ram and therefore there were only two types of devotion that remained, the devotion of friendship and that of servitude. Hanumanji knew that Shri Ram would meet Sugreev and therefore he would take up the vacant seat of friendship and therefore he decided that he would take up the last vacant space which was that of being a faithful servant to his Lord (Dasya Bhav). Therefore Hanumanji told Shri Ram that he was his humble servant, that he was completely in submission and further directed Shri Ram to build an association with Sugreev and be friends with him. Thus we understand these five emotions of devotion and the emotion that we will discuss and understand through the Gopi Geet is the Shringar Bhaav in which the devotee looks to the Lord as his beloved. 26

39 The Pillar of Faith In order to traverse the path of devotion, one must possess a soft, melting heart. One becomes tough and hard hearted when he develops attachment to the material world and the desire of these possessions scar the purity of his mind. Until the mind is filled with pride and desire towards material objects, these attributes form a barrier on the path of devotion. The stream of devotion should always flow from the heart that is soft and pure. For this, it has to give up its rigidity. Until the ice lies in a frozen form on the mountains of the Himalayas, it cannot flow in the form of the Ganga. It is only when this ice melts, that the stream of the river emerges. In the same way, the mind also has to liquefy and just as the river Ganga possesses five qualities, similarly, our mind also has to develop these and bring them into our life. The Ganga purifies the beings who take a dip in her holy water because she is said to possess the five qualities of Fluidity, Simplicity, Purity, Coolness and Sweetness. Even those who partake or consume her Holy water are said to be purified. Not only that, even those who view her flowing stream from a distance attain deliverance. The mere vision or darshan of the Holy river purifies and grants salvation. Our scriptures have described the Ganga as the almighty or the supreme reality in the liquid form. This supreme reality in the form of sound is pranav - omkar. The Ganga is the experience of the divine in its liquid form and we take a dip in its stream which means that we have actually immersed ourselves in the divine. The Ganga is not an ordinary river. 27

40 Nimnaga yatha Ganga is written in the Shrimad Bhagwat. The sanskrit word for river is Nimnaga which means that which flows downwards. Flowing downwards symbolizes the uplifting the downtrodden. It means reaching those who are ridden with poverty & insufficiencies and those who are incapable. Just as the river Ganga is regarded as supreme amongst all rivers, in the same way Lord Shiva is considered to be the ultimate amongst the Vaishnavas (worshippers of Lord Vishnu). If someone wants to be a devotee of Shri Krishna, they should learn this art from Lord Shiva. In the same way, the Shrimad Bhagwat is also considered to be the crowning glory of all the scriptures. Once there was a discussion of learned men in the court of a great king. The discussion was about the subject that if the worship of only a single God had to be advocated, then which deity would that be? If there was a single scripture that could be followed which would ensure success and welfare in life, then which scripture would that be? If there was one mantra, the chanting of which could take us across the ocean of material existence, which mantra would that be? If there was a single course of action that was worth following in life, what would that action be? Maha Prabhuji, Vallabhacharyaji has answered all these four questions in a single shloka. Ekam shastram devaki putra geetam Eko devo devaki putra eva Eko mantra tasyanamani yani Karmapyekam tasya devasya seva EH $ emó XodH$snwÌJrV_oH$mo Xodmo XodH$snwÌ EdŸ& EH$mo _ ÌñVñ` Zm_m{Z `m{z H$_m ß`oH $ Vñ` Xodñ` godmÿ&& 28

41 There is one single scripture which is the song of Shri Krishna, meaning the Bhagvad Gita and on this subject, Vallabhacharyaji and Shankarachaaryaji have the same opinion. Even Shankarachaaryaji has said, Geyam Gita naam sahastram. There are two stotras that are worth chanting and singing the glory of, the Gita and the Vishnu Sahastranaam. Study these daily and chant the name of the Lord. According to Vallabhachaaryaji s shlok, the one God who should be worshipped in this world is the Son of Devaki- Krishna. Shankarachaaryaji says that our minds should be focussed and concentrated on Shri Pati - Bhagwan Narayan, the consort of Laxmi. But Shri Pati also means the spouse of Shri Radha and therefore one would conclude that the views of both saints on this subject are the same. Even the Mantra is the same. Which is that Mantra? It is said that the name of Shri Krishna is the supreme Mantra- Vishnu Sahastranaam. What is the supreme action? And the Shloka says that, it is the service of Shri Krishna, Shri Krishna means the divine almighty. This almighty in a flowing and liquid form is called river Ganga by the sages of India. If you perceive this reality through the vision of knowledge or devotion, then it would be said that the river Ganga is the sacred water that is left over after the Lotus feet of Lord Narayan have been washed by the water in the pitcher of Lord Brahma. There is also the Holy Tulsi leaf which is placed on the feet of the Lord. It is better to offer a Tulsidal (A twig of the tulsi plant which has

42 leaves on it), than offering a singular leaf. Also it is important that this Tulsidal should be devoid of the Manjari (The extended part of its branch that holds the seeds). If you have a Tulsi plant in your compound or garden, you should remove this part of the plant when it dries up because it is said that this Manjari is an irritant to the plant and therefore, removal of these Manjaris is perceived as offering service (Seva) to the Holy plant. It is a good thing that we water the plant and also worship it with incense, rice and flowers. You may also light a lamp every day near the plant as a ritual of worship. But one must remember to remove the dried Manjari which is considered to be the ultimate form of service to the Tulsi plant and you receive blessing in return. One must not view the Tulsi as an ordinary plant. In India, we consider our flora to be full of life and consciousness. Our scientists have proved that plants also are a form of life. Recently there has been research in the field of science that proves that plants also go through trauma in suffering, they also have feelings. They speak to each other and in times of trouble, they also send messages to each other. All flora and plant life exist in a world of their own which has its own organisation and way of living. I have recently read this in scientific literature. Therefore, in India, chopping trees without any reason or purpose is considered to be a sin. Even if we break the leaves or flowers of a plant, we should do so gently so that the plant does not have to suffer any pain. Similarly, even our nails are not devoid of sensation and therefore when 30

43 you clip your nails, you should do it carefully, so as to avoid yourself pain. In the same way, if you pull your hair, it will cause pain, but if you cut it carefully, you will not feel anything. We should treat plants in the exact same way, treat them gently and carefully. One day, I had the opportunity to accompany an ayurvedic doctor to the jungle. Along with him, there was a small procession of the patients for whom he needed to prepare the medication. This was done in the midst of chanting the name of the Lord and singing his glories. The doctor used to prepare the medication right there in the forest. If a specific herb was required for the preparation, we would go into the forest and see where it grew. It is said that the Moon God, is the ruler and presides over the power instilled in the various herbs and plants. Specific plants are supposed to acquire special powers during the passage of a certain constellation and our scriptures say that this time period should be used effectively to prepare the medicine out of the herb. So the doctor sees an auspicious time period to procure the herb from the jungle. Then they would first worship and call upon the powers of the herb. They would thus pray that, We have approached you for the welfare of humanity. We solicit your powers, please have mercy upon us and cure the disease of the patient. The next day, they would arrive at the appointed day and time and take the herb to prepare the medicine. It is like taking an appointment as in the American system. They will then carry out a ritual of worship and prayer before they actually cut the plant and take it. 31

44 Therefore, our sages have taught man to be grateful to nature since we are in its debt. The Sun has bestowed a favour upon us because it is only through the light and energy of the Sun that we live our lives. We would not exist if it was not for these essential sources of light like the Sun and the Moon, if we would not have water, which is the elixir of life. If there was no air, life on earth would not be possible. All these are demigods and we have to worship them and be grateful to them. This planet Earth is like a mother figure to us. We should not exploit its resources- this has been explained time and again to us, by our sages. Therefore, we also refer to our rivers as being motherly and providing for us. We also encircle our mountains with love and devotion. We do not consider the Giriraj or Mt. Goverdhan to be an ordinary hill. Just as the rivers are perceived as maternal figures, we also do not consider the cow to be a mere animal. To us, the Tulsi is not a common plant, the Peepal tree is not another ordinary tree, all these perceptions and beliefs are based on our faith. We should live in harmony with mother-nature. The religious Hindu texts and scriptures have taught us the manner in which we should live our lives. 32

45 Real Happiness Lies in Service How should we maintain this harmony with mother-nature? Today, the whole world is battling with the problem of Global Warming. Let me tell you, The view that the Indian sages have about how human beings should conduct their lives in harmony with nature provides a solution to this problem. Humanity at large will have to listen to these views, understand them, and accept them in order to be rid of these problems. Otherwise, this universal issue of global warming cannot be dealt with. So man should be sensitive and open to these issues and not be rigid in his thought process. One day, a spiritual seeker approached his master in a state of extreme agitation and enthusiasm. He was in such a hurry that he kicked off his shoes and flung them in different directions. He then kicked the door open, the two sides of which banged against the respective portions of the wall on both sides and threw himself at the feet of his Guru. He cried with fervor, Guruji! I cannot bear this anticipation any more. Please help me realize God. I want to envision that divine form of the almighty! The saint replied, First turn around, go back and ask for forgiveness- from the shoes that you kicked off and from the door that you threw open. Then we shall talk. He asked, What? Ask forgiveness from my footwear? The saint replied, Absolutely! These shoes protect your feet from thorns and stones, from the heated up roads that you walk on. They have done a favour upon you by taking care of you and this is how you throw them away? So first apologize to them. You have 33

46 also kicked these doors who have done you no harm. They have banged themselves against the wall because of you. I want you to say sorry for your rude behavior. We shall talk after you have done all this. The path of devotion requires the individual to be extremely sensitive and tender hearted, which means sensitivity that is coupled with thoughtfulness. The Gopis who are considered to be the epitome of love are also intelligent and thoughtful. The emotions combine with intelligence and they know the identity of Shri Krishna. They have not lost their hearts to the handsome son of Mother Yashoda. It was not thoughtlessness that drove them to leave their households and run to Shri Krishna in the wee hours of the night. In the fourth Shlok of the Gopi Geet, the Gopis say: Na khalu gopikanandano bhava Nakhildehinaamantratmadak Vikhansaarthito vishwaguptaye Sakha udeyiwan saatwataam kule Z Ibw Jmo{nH$mZÝXZmo ^dm Z{IbXo{hZm_ÝVamË_ÑH²$Ÿ& {dizgm{w Vmo {dídjwá`o gi CXo{`dmZ² gmëdvm Hw$boŸ&& (Jmo.JrV 4) The Gopis can be called as thoughtful and intelligent as they are emotional because they have recognized that Shri Krishna is the manifestation of the divine almighty. Their love is a result of this awareness. The Gopis are knowledgeable and also devoted. In the Bhagvad Gita, Shri Krishna has enumerated the four types of devotees. They are, Aarto or the sorrowful devotee, Jigyasu or the seeker, 34

47 Artharthi or the devotee who desires material wealth and the Gyani or the knowledgeable devotee. The first kind of devotee is sorrowful and he prays to God to rid him of his unhappiness. He sings and chants in order to alleviate him of his suffering. Sankat se Hanuman chudawe Man kram bachan dhyan jo laave g H$Q> V hzw_mz Nw> S>md, _Z H«$_ ~MZ Ü`mZ Omo bmd Ÿ& Today, we face a big problem due to global recession. To deal with the problem of decreasing material wealth due to the economy, man resorts to the worship of God. He may pray for reasons such as getting his children married, or to free himself from physical diseases. Such a devotee is the Aarto or the devotee who prays because he is sad or sorrowful. The second type of devotee is the curious devotee or the one who seeks or desires to know. He wants to understand the outcome of devotion. He listens to saints and learned men and then wants to experiment on his chanting to find out the outcome. This curiosity is the driving force that makes him try out the various means of worship. The third type of devotee is the one who hankers after material wealth and possessions. He desires money and wealth and worships God with this motive. He prays, Let me win the lottery! God please help me to get success in my work. 35

48 The Mark of the Knowledgeable Devotee The fourth kind of devotee is the knowledgeable devotee who worships God with complete understanding and awareness. He knows the merits and demerits of his actions. He also contemplates on what he is supposed to do and the reason for it. Shri Krishna says that such a devotee who is understanding & knowledgeable and lives with awareness is very dear to him. In the other three kinds of devotees, the unhappy will worship God when they are sad and will stop their prayer once they are rid of their sorrows. The seeker will worship until his restlessness abates and then he stops praying. The materialistic devotee carries out his rituals until he achieves his objective of worship. But the knowledgeable devotee continues to pray to God and chant his name through the ups and downs of his life. He loves God and therefore this type of devotee is extremely dear to God. It is one thing to love somebody and another to love with a sense of understanding. If an individual has the right sensitivity and understanding, it will un-complicate his thinking and thus motivate him to act and behave with an intent of not causing any harm to anybody. In love, one always contemplates and thinks of the happiness of their beloved. They always ponder about how they can please their beloved. This understanding lies within the individual who is in love. Along with love, there is the right perception and empathy. Sometimes, when we love without understanding, such love becomes more of a 36

49 problem. One becomes so attached to their beloved that it becomes a liability for the other person. We must have observed that there are people who constantly keep after their spouses or loved ones by calling them up continuously. There is no doubt about the feeling of love in these individuals. Love is present but there is an absence of understanding and therefore Shri Krishna says that the knowledgeable devotee is extremely dear to me. The devotee who is filled with knowledge knows how to please his lord. When such a devotee engages in service, he pays detailed attention to the interests of his master and conducts his service accordingly. He does everything that he knows will please his Lord. This is the reason why God also loves such a devotee. The Gopis are classified in the category of being knowledgeable devotees and therefore, their endeavour is always directed towards pleasing Shri Krishna. They believe that their happiness lies in making him happy. If the one who is engaged in service hankers after his own happiness, he can be compared to the beggar who demands respect. The purpose of the servant s existence is to provide happiness to his master, not for obtaining any pleasure for himself. Always remember! When your service begins to bring happiness to you, and you start experiencing pleasure in service, such service is nothing but fulfillment of your own desire. The only purpose of service is to provide happiness to the one being served and it is only such happiness that makes the servant happy. When Lakshmana lost consciousness on the battlefield, Shri Ram was very worried about him. His condition required medical attention and 37

50 therefore Hanumanji respectfully carried the doctor Sushen and brought him to treat Lakshmana. He brought him along with his house to save time and when Sushen examined Lakshmana, his prognosis was that medicine in the form of the "Sanjeevani" Herb had to be administered before the break of the dawn, the next day. Only this could revive Lakshmanji again. On hearing this, Shri Ram was tormented with worry as to how the herb could be procured. Hanumanji could not bear Shri Ram being worried or troubled. He could not see his master go through any kind of suffering. He asked Sushen from where the herb could be got. He replied that Hanumanji would have to go in the North direction but the distance was very far. Hanumanji then asked him, "How will i recognize this herb?" The doctor told him how he could identify it and said that, "It is imperative that the herb is obtained before sunrise." and Hanumanji thought, "Not only will i ensure that i get it before dawn, but if the sun tries to emerge from the horizon before I return, I will not allow it to rise." Hanumanji wasn t boastful about this either since he possessed the necessary powers to do so. In his childhood, Hanumanji had misunderstood that the Sun was some sort of a fruit and had reached high for it in order to consume it. This means that from that tender age, Hanumanji hungered for the light (Of knowledge). It's only when children have the thirst for knowledge will they try to learn and study and only when they develop this interest from a young age will they become "Budhimattam Varishtham". Only then is it possible for them to be "Gyaninaam Aggraganyam". These are the adjectives that are used to describe Hanumanji's knowledge and power by Tulsidasji in the Ram Charit Manas. 38

51 So Hanumanji went in search of the "Sanjeevani" herb. There are various mythological tales that describe the troubles and obstacles that Hanumanji had to face on the way. He bravely dealt with all of them and successfully brought the herb and handed it over to Sushenji for preparation of the medicine. Thus, Lakshmanji was revived. When Shri Ram lovingly embraced Hanumanji, his eyes filled with gratitude, Hanumanji felt that all his tiredness was immediately washed away. He had been travelling the entire night and the journey had been ridden with troubles that he had bravely battled and yet when Hanumanji witnessed the expression of happiness on the face of Shri Ram, his tiredness vanished. At that moment he experienced a feeling of extreme happiness. Why did he feel this way? That is because he thought that my service has made my Lord happy. Thus, the only goal or objective of service is the happiness of the master or the one being served. The Gopis never thought about their own happiness, instead, they always pondered on the subject of Shri Krishna's happiness. Thus, a heart that is full of sensitivity and the right understanding and knowledge is an extremely essential prerequisite on the path of devotion. We can move forward on this path only when our heart possesses those five qualities that the river Ganga is said to have since she is considered to be the very personification of devotion. The five emotions of parental love, adornment, peace, friendship and servitude are of prime importance in the life of a devotee. 39

52 Gopi, the Pavilion of the Temple of Love Five emotions have been considered central on the path of devotion. We have already discussed these. As we now journey the chapters of the Raas Leela, and make an entrance into the subject of the Gopi Geet, we have to understand the emotion involved and the kind of devotion that was practised by the Gopis. This is the Shringar Bhaav or the emotion in which the devotee worships the Lord as he would- his beloved. This is also referred to as Madhura Bhakti. In this, the sentiment is that, which the lover harbours towards his beloved. The Gopis worship the Lord as their spouse and therefore they perceive themselves in the female gender. That is the emotion of the Gopi. The heart and its emotions are of utmost significance in the kind of worship. In our culture, the women are known to function with their hearts instead of their heads and therefore, it has been seen that women are more successful in following the path of devotion than men. This is because the man functions with his intellect which is always involved in reasoning. It is also because they are well educated and egoistic because they consider themselves to be intellectual and also because they may be successful in their professional field. This kind of reasoning coupled with pride or ego proves to be a barrier in devotion. Thus, we know that a man functions through his intellect while the 40

53 woman functions through the emotions of her heart. Men are usually thought-oriented and women are sentimental. Nature has fashioned men and women in a way that this fundamental difference exists between their temperaments and it will always continue to be so. I also say that this difference is essential otherwise it wouldn t be able to create the world of love and pleasure which is the result of this distinction between the two genders. Shri Krishna is an absolute manifestation of masculinity while Shri Radha is the complete form of femininity. The union between the two creates a universe of bliss and delight and this is possible only when they exist within the realm of their opposite roles. The woman should not try to assume the role of the man and vice-versa. Sometimes when the woman dresses up like a man, she still doesn t look as bad as when a man dresses up like a woman. Therefore, this fundamental difference that has been created by nature will always continue to exist and it is important that it does. There is a book titled, Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. The concept of such books originates from the fact that there is a distinct difference between these two genders, physically and temperamentally. The Image of Love The woman is endowed with the quality of modesty and shyness and she should maintain these qualities as they are an affirmation of her womanhood. Thus, we know that women are far more emotional than 41

54 men and therefore, many a times I have mentioned that as per medical analysis, it has been observed that the percentage of men who die from heart attacks is far more than that of women because women make good use of their hearts since they are always sentimental while men use their intellect. Even when women take decisions, these are usually based on their feelings. Man, even when he loves, does so with the help of his intellect. The decisions of women cannot be relied upon since emotional decisions are usually not appropriate. In the same way, when a man declares to a woman that, You are the most beautiful woman in the world, he should not be taken seriously as there is some amount of rationalization that motivates this declaration. Thus, nature has designed man and woman differently. On the path of devotion, that tender heartedness and emotional thinking of a woman is more important. The man always tries to acquire and conquer while the woman likes to lose and surrender herself. Men are more possessive and usually make references like, She is mine. On the path of devotion, it would be more appropriate to say, I am yours which is the emotion of a woman. Such an emotion is an essential trait for a devotee. You must have studied the meaning of, Brahma Sambandh. It has the same meaning. Krishna Tavasmi, Dasoham. If you want to possess God or become his master, only then can you tell him, You are mine. But if you want to surrender in servitude at his Lotus feet, you should say, Krishna Tavasmi, I am yours. In general, men are more possessive. I and mine is the basic nature of man which is also the 42

55 reason they always indulge in conflict, for the purpose of wealth, power, and women. The woman wants to belong and the man wants to possess. The woman feels, Aham Tavasmi which means I am yours and if you belong to somebody then, your protection is their responsibility. When I say, This is my watch, then it is my responsibility to take care of it. Similarly, if I say, This is my purse, then I have to take care that I don t leave it anywhere or that it doesn t get stolen. When you say that, These are my children, then it is your responsibility to bring them up and inculcate the right values in them. As soon as you utter the words, This is mine, there arises within you a sense of responsibility. Therefore, Tulsidasji always says, Oh Lord! I am yours! He beseeches God, For once, I want you to say that Tulsidas, you are mine. Only then I will be content and satisfied and secure in the fact that you will protect me. The woman surrenders herself to the man at the marriage altar, she gives her hand in the hand of the groom and says, I give myself up to you and I belong to you. The man holds her hand and accepts her as his wife. He says, I hereby accept you as my wife. In that instant, he becomes her protector and provider. Who is a provider? He who makes provision for all the requirements that are necessary for living is the provider. Thus, the husband now assumes this role and therefore, it is his responsibility to feed his wife and look after her. Not only that, he also has to provide her with clothing 43

56 and ornaments. Apart from this, it is also the duty of the husband to protect his wife. The word Pati originates from, Paati iti pati, which means he who protects is the husband or the protector. When the man accepts the woman as his responsibility, he has to look after her and therefore, in the same way we can percieve our emotion towards God. Do we want to belong to him or do we want to possess him? It is the emotion of a woman to belong to God and therefore, we equate this emotion and Gopi Bhaav on the path of devotion. The heart of the woman is always filled with feelings for others. She always wants to cater to the needs of others. Even when she cooks meals, she tries to make different delicacies to suit the taste of all the family members. She is extremely pleased when they enjoy and relish the food, their pleasure brings her utmost happiness. The woman holds within herself the feeling of surrender and she always contemplates on that, which brings happiness to others. She has humility and therefore she is better qualified to traverse and move ahead on the path of devotion. Especially, when we refer to the devotion of Madhura Bhakti or the Shringar Bhaav, then such a sentiment is even more essential. To worship the Lord as one s beloved does not mean having the physical body of a woman. The meaning of the word Gopi has been described thus, Go vihi: pibati bhakti rassam sa gopi. It means the one who consumes the potion of devotion through the senses is the Gopi. The eyes of the Gopis always gaze fixedly on Shri Krishna. Their vision 44

57 always craves to get a glimpse of their Lord. Chakshu Bhyam Pibanti. They are not only gazing at Shri Krishna, it s almost like they are taking him in through the medium of their eyes. Their ears are always waiting to listen to the melodious sounds produced by the flute of Shri Krishna. Their feet race to take a glance of their beloved Shri Krishna. When devotees visit Naathdwara, for darshan of Shri Naathji and if they get a little late in the morning, they ask the returning devotees, Did you see the Lord? and they answer, We are still seeing him. This means that the vision of the Lord has been consumed by their senses and instilled in their hearts in a way that they are still able to see him inspite of having moved away from the sanctum sanctorum. When they walk speedily, to get a glimpse of God, then it is the feet that are performing service as well as all their other senses. For example, the eyes are savouring the vision of God and the tongue is chanting his glories. Thus, the Gopi is the one who consumes or takes in the zest of devotion through the senses! The senses of the Gopi are not engaged in the material world but in God. Shri Krishna Govind Hare Morare, He naath Narayan Vasudev Jihiveh pibasva mritmet dev Govind Damodar Madhaveti Jihiveh sadevam bhaj sundarani Naamani Krishnasya Manoharani 45

58 Samasth bhaktaarti vinashnani Govind Damodar Madhaveti lrh $îu Jmo{dÝX hao _wamao ho ZmW Zmam`U dmgwxodÿ& {Oˆo {n~ñdm _ V_oV Xod Jmo{dÝX Xm_moXa _mydo{vÿ&& {Oˆo gx d ^O gwýxam{u Zm_m{Z H $îuñ` _Zmoham{UŸ& g_ñv ^º$m{V {dzmezm{z Jmo{dÝX Xm_moXa _mydo{vÿ&& We beseech our sense of taste (the tongue), to take in the nectar of God s name. Thus, the Gopi is one who uses her senses to consume this nectar of devotion. There are others who have emulated the meaning of the word Gopi- Gopayati Shri Krishna swahridaya sa Gopi. The Gopi is the one who conceals the form of Shri Krishna in her heart. She does not make a show of her love or reveal it. She has not tried to make the world know that she is the supreme devotee of Shri Krishna. If there is anybody who can be considered to be the ultimate and absolute devotee of Shri Krishna, it s the Gopi. Therefore, it is said that the Gopi is the pavilion on the temple of love. On this temple, the peak holds the pole on which the pavilion of the temple billows in the wind. That is the crowning glory of the temple. The love of the Gopi has been compared to that highest point. And yet when one looks at the Gopi, it will be impossible for them to fathom the extent of her love, because she seems to be an ordinary woman. She assumes different roles of a wife, a mother and a sister. She may also be somebody s daughter. She also dresses and adorns herself just like any other woman. One would never 46

59 be able to gauge that she is the supreme and committed devotee of Shri Krishna because she does not reveal her love. She does not try and show her emotion to anyone. It is said that, when love is concealed and hidden from the world, the emotion becomes stronger. Therefore, keep this love hidden, let it be a private affair. Do not reveal the extent of your worship and devotion. Also do not reveal your acts of piousness. Instead, let your sins emerge and be known. Confess to your sins. But instead, we act in a manner contradictory to this. We hide our sins and make a show of our good deeds. Since we hide our sins, these sins are protected from absolution and therefore, we have to suffer their consequences. In the same way, we also make a great show of a good deed and destroy its reward. Therefore, as much as possible, keep your love concealed and hidden within the depth of your heart. Mere piya, me toh chup chup chah rahi Tum barso jaise megha savan Aur me toh chup chup naha rahi Mere piya, me toh chup chup chah rahi _oao {n`m _ Vmo Mwn Mwn Mmh ahrÿ& Vw_ ~agmo O go _okm gmdz² Am a _ Vmo Mwn Mwn ~hm ahrÿ& _oao {n`m _ Vmo Mwn Mwn Mmh ahrÿ&& Every breath holds the name of the Lord for the Gopi and yet she hides her love. A great saint of Shri Vrindavan, has said that, There is a Lotus that blooms in the pond of love, its name is Braj. The Gopis are the petals of this lotus. The filament of this Lotus is extremely divine and tender. This is symbolic of Shri Radha and the divine fragrance that emanates 47

60 from the Lotus is Shri Krishna... This pond of love (Prem sarovar), is present in Shri Vrindavan. The Shrimad Bhagwat is considered to be supreme amongst all scriptures, and even in the Bhagwat, the 10th Canto is considered to be superior than the others. In this 10th Canto, it is the Gopi Geet that is the epitome and the crowning glory of the entire Shrimad Bhagwat. Therefore, it is Best among the best. It is for this reason that the Gopi Geet is the top most pavilion of the Shrimad Bhagwat. The Shrimad Bhagwat is the personification of the Lord through the medium of words and if you perceive it this way, then the 10th Canto in which the Raas Leela is written about is the heart of this entire body. The Shrimad Bhagwat is worshipped as Shri Krishna himself. It is nothing but the manifestation of Shri Krishna in the form of language. So the Raas Panchadyay is considered to be symbolic of the heart in a physical body. It has that much importance in the Shrimad Bhagwat. If there are some who might say that the mention of this kind of love and devotion as was practised by the Gopis, lessens the dignity of this revered scripture, they are wrong. This is because it is this devotion of the Gopi that awards the Raas Panchadyay its significance. To remove the Raas Leela from the Shrimad Bhagwat, would be equivalent to eliminating the elemental life force out of a body which would render it a corpse. What will be left behind of the Shrimad Bhagwat, if the chapter of Raas Panchadyay is deleted from it? It is the life force and the crowning glory of this scripture. 48

61 The Two Names of Love - Shri Krishna & Radha In the 10th Canto, there are ninety chapters. This 10th Canto is the heart of the Shrimad Bhagwat and therefore, it is befitting that the event of appearance of Shri Krishna occurs in this Canto. It is also relevant because God resides in the hearts of his devotees. Where does God live? Ishwar sarvabhootanam hridayetisthati. God dwells in the hearts of all human beings. The king stays in the capital city and yet his power and rule is over the entire kingdom. Even though the form of the king is defined, his power, is something that cannot be seen but felt. It exists independent of the physical presence of the king. In the same way God dwells in the hearts of all living entities, but he exercises his authority over the entire physical body. Therefore, if you get hurt even at a single place in the body, the pain radiates throughout, because that consciousness resides in every atom of the body. Just as the king, whose physical presence is limited to the place of the palace where he stays, but his dominion extends throughout his kingdom, due to which even when the common thief steals or commits a crime, he fears the king. Why does this happen? This is because even though the king is not himself present to oversee every nook and corner, yet his power reigns everywhere and therefore, the thief is scared when he commits a robbery. Similarly, the heart is the residence of the Lord and yet he pervades throughout the entire body of the living entity. 49

62 If a man loses his hands, in some unfortunate event, he can still survive. Similarly, if somebody s nose is cut off, they won t die. Even kidneys can be transplanted. But if a man endures a single bullet in his heart, he will die instantly. Even the brain is important in the same way. Therefore, these two organs are extremely important and God asks for both the heart and the intellect of Man. He says, Let your mind meditate on my form and focus your intelligence in me. Let our intellect, our thoughts, our mind and our emotions always be connected to God. Let the mind always be pure, and the intellect be divine. Therefore, it is said in the Shrimad Bhagwat, The pure mind symbolizes Vasudev and Devaki represents the divine intellect. Its only when they unite, will it lead to the emergence of the essence of Shri Krishna. That God in the form of divinity dwells in everybody s hearts and yet he won t make an appearance until the mind is pure and the intellect is divine. Our thoughts should always be oriented towards God. Vasudev is said to be a personification of the pure mind because the mind has originated from the quality of goodness (Satvagun). The intellect emerges from the mode of nature that initiates the living entity into work and action (Rajogun). The demi-gods that rule the mind and the senses originate from the mode of Goodness. The intellect and the senses are born from the mode of nature that influences and induces passion for work (Rajogun) and their related elements and subjects have originated from the mode of nature that is associated with the darkness of ignorance, indolence, etc. The five elements, The Sky, Water, Wind, 50

63 Light and Earth have all arisen from the mode of Nature that drives a man towards lack of awareness and subsequently, their five associated sense objects are words (which can be heard only because they echo back from the universe or the sky), taste (which can be experienced only due to the element of water), touch (which can only be felt because of the element of air), vision (which is achieved only because of light) and smell (which is due to the element of Earth). This is the order that dominates the functioning of the universe. Therefore, it is said that constantly engaging in pious activities purifies the mind and chanting & singing the glories of the Lord makes the intellect divine. Therefore it is imperative to be continuously involved in the right action and it is desirable that the intellect is always involved in taking the name of the Lord constantly, everyday and every minute. One should always listen or read the stories and pastimes of the Lord. It is said in the Shrimad Bhagwat, Sada sevya, sada sevya, Shrimad Bhagwati Katha. Engaging in correct action purifies the mind. Sometimespeople who are devout, are constantly chanting and singing the glory of God which results in making their intellect divine to some extent. The character of Devaki is thus created but then it is also essential to find the right spouse for this divine intellect. It can be no other than Vasudev who represents the clean and pure mind. How does one achieve that? It is good to chant the name but along with that it is also essential to have a regular routine of worship. Without this, the purification of the mind is not possible. 51

64 The appearance of Shri Krishna is a part of the 10th Canto because the other nine Cantos are perceived by the scholars of the Bhagwat, as the nine months of a pregnancy. Just as the child emerges from the womb at the start of the 10th month, in the same way, Shri Krishna emerges in the 10th Canto. All these occurrences are pointers of a greater truth. The Raas Leela is considered to be the elemental life force, and even in that, the Gopi Geet is supreme. In the 10th Canto, the Chapters numbered 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, these five chapters are called the Raas Panchadyay. Chapter no. 31 which lies right in the middle of these five, is the Gopi Geet. It is the song of the Gopis that describes their extreme sorrow of separation... Jayati tedhikam janmana vrajah Shrayat indira shashwadatra hi Dayit drishyatam dikshu tavakasvyayi Dhrithaswasthwam vichinvate O`{V $ OÝ_Zm d«o l`v BpÝXam eœxì {hÿ& X{`V Ñí`Vm {Xjw VmdH$m ñëd{` Y VmgdñËdm {d{mýdvoÿ&& (Jmo.JrV 1) This is the peak, the pavilion of the Raas Leela. But from where did this journey begin? If you note the journey from the birth of Shri Krishna to the Raas Panchadyay, this journey signifies that of a seeker. It explains how the seeker has to qualify himself for his union with the almighty and what is interesting is that, it is only the grace of that almighty that 52

65 qualifies him for the same. Just as the parents of a child spare no effort to educate a child, and imbibe the necessary qualities in him, in the same way, it is only God, who qualifies the seeker with his grace. Who killed the demon Pootna? Was it the residents of the Gokul village? Do we possess the strength and power to achieve this? To completely surrender ourselves to God is the only way we can protect ourselves. Krishna Tavasmi Say this and the responsibility of protecting you is taken over by Shri Krishna. The residents of Gokul had completely surrendered themselves to Shri Krishna and therefore it became his responsibility to protect them from each and every demon that assaulted them. It was Shri Krishna who destroyed the demon Pootna. It was he, who fractured the cart wheel and killed the demon Shaktasur. Through this, he destroyed the attachment of the people of Gokul. He also eliminated the demon Tranawrath and thus also rid the temperaments of the people of Gokul from the aggressive and dark modes of nature (Rajogun & Tamogun). As he killed the demons, he also destroyed the avarices of the residents of Gokul and thus qualified them for the divine union. The spiritual master or the Guru also first teaches his disciple and then tests him for his knowledge. If the disciple passes the test, he is awarded with the certificate that qualifies him on a spiritual plane. When we read these stories we see that it is Shri Krishna who works on the people of Gokul and he himself makes them capable. There is a story which describes how God uses his illusory powers, when his father 53

66 Nand is abducted by Lord Varuna, on ekadashi, the ekadashi signifies control over the senses of the tongue (Taste and speech). At the end of this leela, Shri Krishna takes the people of Vrindavan to his heavenly abode where they see how their beloved Krishna is worshipped as the Lord of the three worlds. It is a divine experience for them and yet when Shri Krishna asks them, So where do you want to stay now? In heaven or in Vrindavan?. They reply, Vraj valu re, vaikunth nahi re aaoon. These devotees are only attached to Shri Krishna. They are detached from everything else including the delights of heaven. Mortification means complete detachment from all kinds of happiness, whether it is attachment to the material world or even to the divine heavenly abode. Sometimes, people chant the name of the Lord with the expectation that this will award them a place in heaven. But the people of Gokul do not want heaven or anything else. Their attachment is totally focused on Shri Krishna. They want to do the divine dance of love with him and play with him. This is the ultimate goal of their lives and they have no other desire except this. When the living entity reaches this state, the precious moment of the Raas Leela, awaits him. Swarg lok ke vaikunth lok brahmalok na gamta re Je mati ma Shri Krishna ramya te ae matini mamta re, Krishn Krishna karta karta pran amara jae re Pran amare jae udhav jeev bhale vayo jae re ñdj bmoh$ Ho$ d Hw $R> bmoh$ ~«bmoh$ Zm J_Vm ao, Oo _mq>r _m lrh $îu aå`m Vo Ao _mq>rzr Vm aoÿ& H $îu H $îu H$aVm H$aVm àmu A_mam Om`o ao, àmu A_mam Om` CÕd Ord ^bo d`mo Om`o ao&& 54

67 This composition has been done by Govindji Maharaj. It portrays the beautiful emotion of the people of Vrindavan in which they have expressed that they do not want to go to the divine abode of heaven. Instead they want to stay on the portion of the Earth which has been blessed with the touch of Shri Krishna s feet, the land on which he has played out his various leelas. They want to be a part of that holy dust of Vrindavan. If one asks the reason for this, they say that just as the creatures of the water originate within its depths, and finally pass away in the same water, similarly, they say that we have been born on this blessed land where Shri Krishna has made divine with his presence and we want to give up our lives while chanting his holy name. Vraj ni raj ma kaya virme ae icha man mahi re Re jalna jeevda jalma janme jalmahe mari jaae re Krishna Krishna karta karta pran amar jae re d«o Zr ao _m H$m`m {da_o Ao BÀN>m _Z _m ht ao... ao ObZm OrdS>m Ob_m OÝ_o Ob_m ho _ar Om`o ao... H $îu H $îu H$aVm H$aVm àmu A_mam Om`o ao... They do not desire anything, they do not want from Krishna, they want Krishna himself. How many in this material world want something from you and how many want only you? Sometimes, people like you because they want something from you. It is because you fulfill some desire of theirs and that is why they love you. It is selfish love. The husband does not merely like his wife for the person she is, he likes her because he derives certain kinds of happiness from her.therefore, 55

68 he loves her. In the same way, the wife loves her husband since he provides for her and fulfills her wants that s why we have seen that sometimes, it doesn t take much for the emotion of love to change into hate. Such love lasts only until they are satisfying each other. This is not love but selfishness! The truth is, they only love themselves and that is why until they derive things from each other that bring them individual happiness, the relationship lasts. When they stop getting this happiness from each other, they go their separate ways. This cannot be called love. Love is that which always contemplates and thinks about the happiness of the partner. There is a twine of happiness that exists between two people in love. It s like the game of Tug of War. If I pull that rope towards myself, it constitutes lust, and if I let it go or give it leeway towards my spouse, then it is love. That same rope symbolizes both the dual emotions of love and lust. The rope is one and yet if I let it go and loosen my grip over it, then It is Love. If I love someone for the sake of my own happiness, then such a feeling is simply lust and if I love someone in order to bring them happiness, then it is true love. To be attached to someone simply because such attachment fulfills my desire is equivalent to lust and that same attachment towards someone in order to bring them fulfillment and happiness can be called Love. That s why, Love gives and forgives and Lust gets and forgets. You will find many that hanker after you in order to get something and yet the question is how many people do you know who love you simply for who you are? The Gopis do not want anything from Shri Krishna, 56

69 they only desire Shri Krishna himself. The crowd that we see in temples is full of people who want from God. It is difficult to determine how many of these people love God himself. Although we can say that this kind of selfish devotion is the first step towards selfless and unconditional love for God. Even if you start on the path of devotion with desire, it is important to take that first step. Slowly there will come a time when all your desires will be eliminated and will transform into a single focused desire to attain Shri Krishna. Thus the Gopis are devoid of any need or material want. They have one focused desire which is Shri Krishna. They do not want to indulge in the delights of the celestial world or the abode of heaven, they want to do the divine dance of love with Shri Krishna. They want to make Krishna happy because it is only his happiness which in turn makes them happy. 57

70 I Walk in the Frenzy of Krishna s Love The selfless and unconditional love of the Gopis desires the union with Shri Krishna. Recognizing this pure emotion of the Gopis, Shri Krishna reciprocates it with the divine dance of love which is the union of the Gopis and Shri Krishna. Shri Shukdevji has said in the Shrimad Bhagwat, On the divine full moon night, in the month of Sharad, Shri Krishna worked his illusory power and made up his mind to indulge in the Raas Leela in the beautiful forest of Vrindavan. It is said that God does not possess a mind. Here, the meaning of mind is desire, meaning that God is devoid of any desire. He is always fulfilled within his own absolute self. He provides solace to everyone and yet he does not need protection from anyone else. He satisfies the desires of all and yet he is satisfied within himself. What is Raas Leela? The Raas or the divine dance of love can be explained as the battle of Shri Krishna with Cupid or the God of Desire (Kaamdev). When Kaamdev violated the penance of Lord Shiva, he felt immense pride at his accomplishment. He thought, I have been successful in violating Lord Shiva s meditation. Now I will do the same with Shri Krishna. He approached Shri Krishna and said that, I want to engage in a battle with you. If someone repeatedly challenges you for war and you do not agree to engage in a battle with him, it is considered to be an act of cowardice. Therefore Shri Krishna agrees by saying that, I do not disappoint anyone who asks anything of me, you have asked for battle and therefore 58

71 I agree to engage in a war with you. The Lord of desire then said, I want this war to be fought on my own rules and conditions. Shri krishna asked him what these rules and conditions were. He said, I want the atmosphere to be fashioned according to my choice. The war will take place in the depths of the beautiful Vrindavan forests at night time on the full moon day in the Month of Sharad with the Gopis whose beauty induces modesty even in the hearts of the damsels of heaven. Thus when a valiant man is challenged again and again this way by his opponent, he resignedly agrees and therefore Shri Krishna asks him, Where do you want to meet and when?. Kaamdev laid down his conditions and Shri Krishna agreed to them. There was a war fought between Shri Krishna and Kaamdev (the lord of desire). Let us try and imagine the setting of this battle, the seclusion of the forest, the late hour and the darkness of the night and the company of the devastatingly beautiful Gopis of Vrindavan. This entire atmosphere was fashioned to suit the choice of Kaamdev. In the language of cricket, one can say that Kaamdev was playing on the Home pitch as he had laid down his pre-conditions that were suitable to the atmosphere that he wanted to create. Shri Krishna did not want to give him any reason for complaint. He did not want to create any excuse which the Lord of desire would blame upon as the cause of his defeat. Shri Krishna said, I am ready to provide you with the whole set up that you asked for. Then Kaamdev further requested that, I cannot make an appearance in the presence of my father, therefore you should ensure that he is not present at that time. Who is the father of Kaamdev? The Lord of desire is also called Manoj - that which originates from the 59

72 mind. Thus, the mind is the birth place of desire. Shri Krishna agreed to this and by playing melodious notes on his flute, he stole the hearts and the minds of the Gopis. As we discussed earlier, God has no mind which means he has no desires. When he stole the minds of the Gopis, through the beautiful music of his flute, they gave away their minds to Shri Krishna which means that roles were reversed, now the Gopis had no minds while Shri Krishna whom they lost their hearts to, was in possession of their minds. Thus a desire arose in this newly acquired mind of Shri Krishna to indulge in the Raas or the divine dance of love. Shri Krishna adorned himself with celestial ornaments and played his flute in the beautiful forest of Vrindavan. In the melodious tunes of his flute, he produced and played the note of desire. The flute holds different sounds within itself. These sounds are potentially imbibed with both, the fiery and the cooling nectar like element. It has the ability to generate emotions that will make the listeners experience both, the joy of union and the pain of separation. It will produce the joyful music that will attract the Gopis and lead them to their union with Shri Krishna. It will also produce the sound that will make the Gopis experience the pangs of sorrow which will makes them break into the Gopi Geet. When Krishna played his flute on the night of the Sharad Purnima, the Gopis ran as if hypnotized by the notes of the flute. They also experienced the nectar like bliss, at the union with their Lord and when Shri Krishna disappeared from the scene of the Raas Leela, the Gopis were pained by this separation and their hearts burned with the torment of estrangement. 60

73 Thus, the humble flute played the notes that aroused desire. It increased their passion and the music fanned the fire of their emotions of Love. Desire is also referred to by different names like Anang, manoj, maar, varicharketu and smar. Why is it called Smar? It is because Smar refers to Smaran which means constant remembrance. Why is it called Manoj? This word has its origin in Man which means mind and desire is a product of the mind. Why is it also called Maar? The word Maar means that which destroys and thus one can understand that when desire arises, it is the cause of destruction. The Gopis were mesmerized by the notes of the flute because Shri Krishna produced the seed of desire in his music which in turn made the Gopis want the company of Shri Krishna. This desire of the Gopis is also linked to Krishna because their minds have been taken away by him and therefore any desire that arises in such a mind can only be related to the subject of Krishna. In a general sense, all these emotions of desire, anger, hate, fear, etc, are not considered to be positive emotions but in the case of those whose minds have been lost to Shri Krishna, even when such emotions arise in their mind, these so called negative emotions also prove to be beneficial for them. Therefore, all those who fought with Shri Krishna or were filled with anger towards him were delivered at his hands. In this way, they did not die but attained salvation. All the characters who nursed a feeling of enmity towards Shri Krishna were delivered by him for example, Shishupal was the enemy of Krishna 61

74 but in the end, he was killed by the divine discus of the Lord and thus he attained salvation. Kansa lived in the fear of Shri Krishna and even though fear is a negative sentiment but in his case, his fear was linked to Shri Krishna. He always trembled at the thought, Where did the 8th son of Devaki go? Find him and kill him. Kansa sent so many demons to kill Shri Krishna and they were all eliminated by him. In the end, Naradji let him know that it was the son of Nand and Yashoda who was actually the 8th child of Devaki. He was scared since he knew that the 8th son of Devaki would be the cause of his death. Therefore, he decided to call Krishna to Mathura and kill him. He tried his best with the help of the elephant who had been set free in a rage to trample down upon Shri Krishna. He also tried with the help of the wrestlers Shank - Kosho and yet he could not accomplish causing any harm to Shri Krishna. All his activities were motivated by fear. Whose fear was this? It was the fear of Shri Krishna. But in the end, Kansa did attain salvation. Kubja who was the Maid of Kansa, who prepared sandalwood paste for his adornment, saw Krishna and desire arose in her heart. Again, this desire was connected to Shri Krishna and therefore, it was only beneficial for her and by the grace of Krishna she was transformed into a beautiful young woman. Any emotion that is connected to God is a cause of elevation for any living entity. Thus, when this same desire arose in the hearts of the Gopis, they were awakened from their worldly slumber. He played his flute and it was as if each note called out to each individual Gopi. Each one of them thought, Shri Krishna has called only me and no one else. They left without informing anybody or taking any permission. There are a lot potential 62

75 problems in leaving one s home at night and wandering into the dense forest. Especially for a woman, it is a bigger issue because she is bound by a lot of limitations. Yet the Gopi could not stop herself. She could not contain her love and it was this love made her gather the courage to wander into the forest at night. There is fear in the mind for obvious reasons and yet she goes. We often sing the bhajan... Kaise aaon main Kanhaiya, teri Gokul Nagri, badi door nagri Sakhi sang aaon Kanha, sharam mohe lage, akeli aoon, toh bhool jaaoon dagri. Badi door nagri.. Raat me aoon toh Kanha, dar mohe lage, Din me aoon, toh dekhe saari nagri, Badi door nagri.. H $go AmD±$ _ H$Ýh `m Voar JmoHw$b ZJar ~ S>r Xya ZJar.. Xya ZJar, ~ S>r Xya ZJar, gir g J AmD±$ H$mÝhm e_ _moho bmjo e_ _moho bmjo, e_ _moho bmjoÿ& AHo$br AmD±$ Vmo ^yb OmD±$ S>JarŸ& ~ S>r Xya ZJar... Xya ZJar... ~ S>r Xya ZJarŸ&& amv _ AmD±$ Vmo H$mÝhm S>a _moho bmjo... S>a _moho bmjo Or S>a _moho bmjoÿ& {XZ _ AmD±$ Vmo XoIo gmar ZJar Xya ZJar... ~ S>r Xya ZJarŸ&& The above ballad expresses the hesitations of the Gopi who wants to meet Krishna and yet her heart is filled with many fears about losing her way in the night and revealing her emotions to her friends. The Gopi in the Raas Leela leaves for the forest without any fear because the Love of Shri Krishna has made her bold and courageous. Love is not for the cowardly. A Gujarati poet has thus written... 63

76 Hari no marg che shurano, nahi kayar nu kaam jo ne Partham pehla mastak mooki valti levu naam re... h[a Zmo _maj N>o eyazmo, Zht H$m`aZw H$m_ Omo Zo, naw_ nhobm _ñvh$ _yh$s dbvr bodw Zm_ ao... If there is fear involved, then such an emotion cannot be called love. It is lust. Where there is fear and selfishness, there is lust not love. In the Ram Charit Manas, Raavan was ridden with this lust and therefore he assumed the form of a sage and abducted Sitaji. After this, he lived in the greatest fear and the slightest movement would scare him. If a man treads on the wrong path, he will always be faced with fear, his intellect and his strength will be destroyed. But the Gopis are not scared because they are not doing anything wrong. They are simply trying to attain the ultimate goal in the life of the living entity which is the divine union with the Lord. To delight in the pleasures of Shri Krishna s company and uniting in the dance of love with Shri Krishna is nothing but God Realization. Our lives are glorified when all our desires are focused towards Shri Krishna. Therefore, the Gopis had no fear in their minds. They boldly left for the Vrindavan forest. Each one felt that she had been singled out for attention. Each Gopi thought that none of the others knew that she had been beckoned and therefore she went alone. Even though she wasn t aware, there were so many like her who were on the same path. This means that even though there are so many others who are carrying out their 64

77 spiritual practices for the attainment of Shri Krishna, we are alone one our path. It s each one s own individual journey. There is nothing secretive about our relationship with God and yet it is private. Saint Meera says... Ab toh baat fail gayi jaane sab koyi Mere toh Giridhar Gopal doosro na koyi... For the sake of her love, Meerabai renounced the whole world. It can be said that she was one of the Gopis of the Dwaparyug (The age of Shri Krishna s appearance on this Earth) who had been born in the Kalyuga (The Dark Age), in Mehwad. A~ Vmo ~mv \ $b JB OmZo g~ H$moB Ÿ& _oao Vmo {JaYa Jmonmb Xygamo Z H$moB Ÿ&& Patisutanvayabhrahtra Baandavantivilanghaya Tentchutagtah Gatiwidsthavodgeetmohitah Kitavyoshitah Kastyajenishi n{vgwvmýd`^«mvw ~mýydmz{v{db `² Ÿ& J{V{dXñVdmoX²JrV_mo{hVm H$Vd `mo{fv H$ñË`Oo{Þ{eŸ&& (Jmo.JrV 16) The Gopis cried, We have abandoned our husbands, our children, and our families. Gripped by the frenzy of your love, we have left everyone and come here. We have seen that sometimes the children of well settled happy families renounce the material world for the sake of their love of God. They shrug off the conveniences of urban life and opt to become transcendentalists on the spiritual paths. The Gopis also gave up worldly pleasures and family happiness and walked towards the Vrindavan forest... 65

78 The Heavenly Realm of Love The Gopis had forsaken the happiness and the conveniences of their family lives for the sake of Shri Krishna s love. These Gopis are the priestesses of love. The sacrifice made with the feeling of absolute trust is one which you forget what you have given up or sacrificed. You have no remembrance of that act. There is a story about Raja Bhartuhari, the king had experienced a feeling of extreme detachment with his worldly existence and therefore he gave up his kingdom, assumed the ochre garb and started living and chanting the name of God in the crematorium. He did not go into any village to beg for alms. Since he lived in the crematorium, he would see the last rites of those who had passed away. When the relatives left soft rice or other food articles near the pyre, he would eat these left overs and thus passed his life. Once, there was no funeral for a long time and the king had to stay hungry for a very long period. Finally someone was brought in for their last rites and the king consumed the morsels of soft rice that were left behind. Shiv-Parvati, who were circling the universe witnessed this scene and Parvati commented, See the sacrifice of the great king, it is commendable!. Lord Shiva told Parvati, Don t be in such a hurry to praise him. Parvati was confused and asked him, Why do you say that? We have seen this with our own eyes that this king has renounced all his worldly riches and he sits here in the crematorium and chants the name of the Lord. His sacrifice is truly worth praising. Lord Shiva said, Although this can be called a sacrifice, but it is not something that is so remarkable. 66

79 Parvati said, I don t know why you don t agree to this. Lord Shiva asked her to test the sacrifice of the king. It is said that Lord Shiva & Parvati assumed the form of beggars and stood before the king who had just found a pot of soft rice after many long days of hunger. They said, We are very hungry, we haven t eaten anything from many days, please give us this rice or else we will die of hunger. The king Bhurtahari thought that any guest or asker is a form of God and therefore he willingly gave away half the rice to them. They insisted that were still starving and therefore the king handed over the rest to them. He did this without any remorse or change in his expression. Parvati prompted Lord Shiva, Are you satisfied now after taking this test? Lord Shiva told her to wait and watch. Half Hearted Sacrifice The king, who had given up his meal thought that he would drink some water and appease his hunger. As soon as he was about to raise the glass to his lips, Lord Shiva said, My throat is burning with thirst, please hand over this water to me. The king handed over the glass without any restraint and both Lord Shiva and Parvati quenched their thirst with water and wasted the balance in washing their hands and mouths. The king watched this and yet his expression remained constant. Again Parvati asked Lord Shiva, Are you satisfied now? and Lord Shiva said, Have some patience and wait. 67

80 Lord Shiva who had assumed the form of a beggar praised the king saying, I applaud your sacrifice. You were hungry from so many days and yet you willingly handed over your portion of food to us, you were thirsty and yet you did not hesitate in handing over the water to us, your sacrifice is great! The king answered, If I could sacrifice my great kingdom, then what is this little sacrifice of a small pot of soft rice. It has no meaning for me. And Lord Shiva told Parvati, Did you see? This little disease of pride still remained because he remembers what he has left behind and therefore he is ridden with pride. What is true renunciation? It means giving up worldly pleasures and yet having no memory of the sacrifice. It is sacrificing even the memory of the sacrifice made. The Gopis who were smitten with the love of Shri Krishna did not remember that they had left their families behind in the frenzy of love. In fact, they were not even aware of their physical bodies. It was as if they had forgotten that they existed in their physical bodies since that love was only related to their consciousness. They did not dwell upon what they had left behind. It was only when they were tormented with the sorrow of separation, as they sang the Gopi Geet, did they become aware of their physicality. The duality that makes the devotee think of himself as an identity, separate from his Lord creates a conflict. He is my lover and I am his beloved. This emotion creates a sense of nonduality or oneness within the discriminating duality of perceiving a sense of difference between the lover and his beloved, between God and his devotee. 68

81 What is Love? It is unanimity in duality and discrimination in oneness. It involves two and yet there is a sense of oneness. This is the contradiction of Love. Love means that both enjoyment and pleasure exist in conjunction with knowledge and awareness. It also means feeling united in separation vice-versa. In love, being treated with respect creates a distance while treating someone with possessiveness is considered to be a sign of Love. Also in love, winning is losing and defeat is success. All the words in the dictionary assume contradictory meanings when it comes to the emotion of love. Therefore, when the Gopis fight with Shri Krishna and lose, that defeat is considered to be a success in love. He Who Loses His Heart Wins Everything In love, the winner loses and it is the loser who wins everything. Also, when someone you love is extremely courteous to you, it creates a sense of distance. If your loved one addresses you respectfully, then it diminishes the sense of closeness. One would rather be called lovingly, rather than be treated with extreme respect, in love. When one exercises a right over their loved one, and asks them to do something, even without being overly courteous, such behavior is more reflective of Love rather than being treated with extreme reverence. Thus we understand that people in love perceive opposite meanings of everything and love is full of conflicting emotions that coexist in the hearts of those who love. 69

82 Prem ki peeda Meera jaane, Ya jaane woh Radha Radha Radha kehle praani mit jaaegi baadha Prem amar hai, prem ajar hai, ganga jal ki dhaara Prem se oochi nahi koi oochai, prem prabhu ko pyara Prem ki peeda Meera jaane, Ya jaane woh Radha... Love is immortal. The event of Shri Krishna s departure is written in the Shrimad Bhagwat and yet there is no mention of Radha s passing away. People ask, What happened to Radha when Shri Krishna left for the celestial abode? Forget such questions. Radha exists in the form of an emotion of devotion even today and she is not old either, she is young and beautiful. ào_ H$s nr S>m _ram OmZo `m OmZo dmo amym dmo amym dmo amym amym-amym H$hbo àmur {_Q> Om`oJr ~mym ào_ A_a h, ào_ AOa h, J JmOb H$s Ymam ào_ go D±$Mr Zht H$moB D±$MmB, ào_ à^w H$mo ß`mamŸ& ào_ H$s nr S>m _ram OmZo `m OmZo dmo amym... We understood that the sacrifice which is made without any remembrance of having made the same, sacrificing even the memory of the sacrifice is true transcendentalism. Therefore the Gopis had no remembrance of what they had left behind, they are truly the priestesses of Love. When love arrives, it naturally brings along with it a sense of detachment and then the mind is no longer interested in worldly pleasures. He, whose mind becomes focused on Shri Krishna leaves 70

83 everything like the Gopis who renounced the world and went to the Vrindavan forest because they had only the happiness of Shri Krishna at heart. Why did the Gopi feel this impelling need to run to Shri Krishna? It is because she felt that she had been beckoned and therefore, she had to be present to offer service. She ran in a state of passion and frenzy and since she thought she had been singled out for Shri Krishna s love, she went alone. Thus, each one of them went alone and all of them went together. Thousands of them went to meet Shri Krishna who welcomed all of them. After that, he explained to them, their rightful duties towards their families and their homes. 71

84 The Definition of Love The position of the Gopis is at the highest level when it comes to the path of Devotion. They have attained the state which great Sanyasis and Yogis are unable to achieve even through severe penance and strenuous acts of discipline and ritual worship. The Gopis have easily reached this superior plane on the strength of their love. Therefore, even Udhav, who is considered to be the most knowledgeable amongst the devotees of Shri Krishna worships the dust of the feet of these Gopis of Vrindavan. He says, I prostrate before this Holy dust that has touched the feet of the Gopis. I am not qualified even to bow down before them, since they exist on that superior plane of love and therefore, I humbly bow down before the Holy dust of their blessed feet. The song of the Gopis (Gopi Geet) has sanctified the three worlds and yet they are devoid of any desire. They are singing only to express their sorrow and grief at being separated from Shri Krishna. There are two different kinds of circumstances that prompt an individual to start singing or eating. One is, if someone feeds you with love, Please have just a little bit for my sake, I have made your favourite sweet especially for you! You may say that you don t want it and insist, I have just had my lunch and I m not hungry at all. The other person still persists, Just a little, please, only for me. Now you will eat it inspite of the fact that you re not hungry because your act of eating brings so much happiness 72

85 to someone. In this case, to accede to the persons request and eat what is offered is a good deed. You eat with the objective of bringing happiness to someone. We have heard many devotees say that, Our guru does not eat anything anywhere and yet when he came to our house and we lovingly requested him to have something, he took a little prasad. Even here, the guru consumes the offered food not because he is interested in doing so but in order to satisfy the devotees who feel extremely happy at this. The other circumstance is eating for survival. One is forced to eat because it is a necessity for living. These are the two different circumstances and situations in which an individual may eat or consume food. In the same way, one sings as an expression of happiness or of sorrow. We find that both kinds of songs, happy and tragic are available. People sing or enjoy these songs depending on their moods. One such song was sung by the Gopis which is the Gopi Geet -The song of Krishna. The Bhagvad Gita is called the Yogshashtra. At the end of every chapter of the Bhagvad it is written: om tatsaditi srimadbhagavad gitasoo upanisatsu brahmavidyaayaam yogashaastre srikrsnaarjunasamvaade'rjunavishaadayogo naama dvitiyo'dhyaayah VËg{X{V lr_x²^jdx²jrvmgyn{zfëgw ~«{dúm`m `mojemóo lrh $îumow Zg dmxo gm»``mojmo Zm_ Ÿ&& 73

86 It is called 'Yogashaastra' because different Yogas (Disciplines), such as Karmayoga (the Discipline of Disinterested Action), Jnanayoga (the Discipline of Knowledge), Dhyanayoga (the Discipline of Meditation) and Bhaktiyoga (the Discipline of Devotion), are contained in it. By following anyone of these disciplines a striver, can realize his identity with God (Paramatma). Just as the Bhagvad Gita is the Yogshastra, The Ram Charit Manas is the Prayogshastra or the scripture which should be practised, while the the Shrimad Bhagwat is called the Viyogshastra, the scripture in which the sorrow of bereavement has been expressed. In the Ram Charit Manas, the character of Ram is the personification of religion and righteousness and demonstrates how such behavior is practised in real life. The Ram Charit Manas is not simply a discussion, on righteous behavior. Through its practice, Shri Ram has lived and observed righteousness throughout his life and demonstrated an ideal course of living to the entire world. Mahatma Gandhi, who always meditated on the name of Shri Ram, titled his autobiography, My Experiments With Truth. This was because Shri Ram set an example of love, sacrifice, and surrender and therefore, the Ram Charit Manas is a scripture that should be put into practice. In the Shrimad Bhagwat, the song of love through which the Gopis have expressed their grief at being separated from Shri Krishna is the highest point of reverence. The song that was sung by Shri Krishna is the Bhagvad Gita. It talks about the different paths of devotion, Karma Yog, Bhakti Yog & Sankhya Yog. We have received that song of Shri Krishna in the form of the 74

87 Bhagvad Gita. In the Shrimad Bhagwat, we have received another song through the Gopis which has the sorrow of estrangement. Always remember that this sorrow of separation can be felt only by the one who has tasted the joy of togetherness. In arranged marriages, the girl is sent to the house of her in-laws and informed that she will spend the rest of her life with an individual who is now her husband. It is really strange for a girl who had no association with a certain family and now all of a sudden, she is part of that family. She takes the wedding vows and now she is forever tied to her husband and her new family. It is a matter of great courage! Suddenly all those who were her own relatives are now no longer her family and she is now part of a family, all of whom are strangers to her. It is such a beautiful relationship and yet one that requires immense courage to fulfill. The husband and the wife are tied with the bond of love, a bond that is not an inflicted one, but one that is accepted by both of them and brings them bliss and happiness. We see that during the wedding ritual, the father of the bride takes her hand and places it on the hand of the groom which signifies that he gives her away to her husband. However, in a marriage, it isn t important only for the hands to be joined in union, but also for the hearts to unite in love. Two hearts beat as one and therefore the calculation in this bond in a manner of speaking is that in a relationship, one plus one is not equal to two, but equal to one only. This is the bond of love. There is a union of two and they unite to become one. When one experiences joy or sorrow, the other feels the same. This is the companionship and the wonderful bond that love brings. 75

88 When a candle burns, it is the wick that is lighted up and yet it is the wax that melts. On observing this, a poet has expressed a few lines. He asks the melted wax, It is the wick that is burning, so why do you melt your life away? The reply he got was, This wick, I hold within myself, in my heart and therefore I cannot see it burning away. This is just an analogy which shows that if you hold somebody dear in your heart, it will not be possible for you to see them unhappy, your heart will melt as well. This state of love is truly amazing. A man may have achieved a lot of material things in his life and yet he is absolutely poor if his life is devoid of love. Pothi pad pad jag mua, pandit bhaya na koi, Dhai aakhar prem ka, pade so pandit hoi, Narayan bin prem ke pandit pashu saman Tote ati moorakh bhalo jo mukh ratat hai Ram. nmowr n T> n T> OJ _wam, n {S>V ^`m Z H$moB Ÿ& T>mB AmIa ào_ H$m, nt> gmo n {S>V hmob Ÿ& Zmam`U {~Z ào_ Ho$ n {S>V new g_mzÿ& VmV A{V _wai ^bmo Omo _wi aq>v h am_ÿ&& In the Hindi language, love and hate, both words are made up of two and a half alphabets and yet one is nectar like and the other can be compared to poison. One is life giving and the other takes our life away. One is the solution to all problems and the other is a huge problem in itself. Prem prem sab koi kahe, prem na jaane koi Swaarth rahit waha nidar rahe, prem bhi na jo hoi. 76

89 ào_ ào_ g~ H$moB H$h, ào_ Z OmZo H$moB Ÿ& ñdmw a{hv dh {ZS>a aho ào_ ^rzm Omo hmo`ÿ&& Selflessness and fearlessness are the characteristics of love. He who is selfless and does not fear anyone can stand up against the whole world. He remains immortal even after he dies because he keeps love alive without caring or worrying about his own life. The Vision of the Lover We have often heard about the unforgettable story of the two lovers, Laila and Majnu, I have heard that Laila wasn t a beautiful woman but her lover Majnu used to have boundless love in his heart for her. He was mad about her beauty and loved her with a frenzied passion. To be able to see the beauty of Laila, one would have to see her through the eyes of Majnu. Even if the world did not perceive her as beautiful, according to Majnu, she was the most beautiful person in the world. What does this simply mean? Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Physical beauty is temporary, it is there today and will change tomorrow, but he who loves perceives his beloved through the eyes that will always see that the one he loves is the most beautiful in the world. It is love that awards meaning to life. I had read an anecdote that, a young man approached Aacharya Ramanuj and said, Aacharyaji! Kindly shower your grace upon me so that I can realize God, please enlighten me. Aacharya Ramanuj asked him, First tell me whether you 77

90 have been in love with anyone? The young man smiled shyly and answered, I am not like all the other young people, I am not involved in this mess called Love. I want to take the name of the Lord and my objective is attaining him. Aacharyaji asked him again, Have you ever loved anyone in your life? He replied, No, I have never loved anyone in my life. Ramanuj asked him for the third time, Look back at your life, turn back the pages, think again and then tell me whether you have ever loved anyone or not. The young man very confidently answered for the third time, No, I have never loved anyone. Ramanuj Aacharya looked disappointed and said, Then I am sorry, I cannot help you, because how can the one who has never loved anyone in their life, love God? Not only that, you have construed love to be some kind of a problem. He, who perceives love to be a mess or a trouble of any sort is not qualified to walk on the path of devotion. If your heart was filled with love for anyone, I could have changed the direction of that love, I could have modified that course of love and directed it towards God and that very love would have transformed into devotion. But that flow of love is necessary! If someone s heart is devoid of love and is as dry as the land of the desert, such an individual cannot be the follower of the path of devotion because this path is for those whose hearts are soaked with love, it is said that the eyes of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu were always moist with unshed tears. Saint Meerabai used to always lament with the restlessness of meeting with her Lord. The eyes of the Gopis are forever overflowing with tears in the remembrance of Shri Krishna. 78

91 You are the Dense Shade which Protects Me from the Scorching Sun It is said that, When Shri Krishna was in Gokul, there were six seasons and when he left Gokul, only one season remained. It is the monsoon that constantly manifested itself in the form of the unending tears that flowed from the eyes of the Gopis. Uddhav was considered to be the most knowledgeable devotee of Shri Krishna and yet his heart was dry and devoid of love. Therefore, Shri Krishna sent Uddhav to the Gopis with his message because he knew that when Uddhav would try to explain his tenets of knowledge to the Gopis, they would color his heart with the shades of love and devotion. This is exactly what happened! In the Shrimad Bhagwat, the Gopis sang the Brahmargeet when they saw Uddhav for the first time. This song is actually an ordination of love and devotion that is received by Uddhav from the Gopis. When Uddhav returned, this extremely learned disciple of Brahaspati had tears in his eyes. He, who had explained to the Gopis that the dualities of togetherness and separation were merely an illusion... This wise and knowledgeable Uddhav returned from his encounter with the Gopis and his eyes were moist with love, as if it had rained in the desert of his heart and thus, he came back with emotions that were soaked with love. When Krishna asked him, How is everybody in Vrindavan? Uddhav scolded Krishna saying, Those people of Vrindavan are yearning for 79

92 you, they are dying to see you. How can you sit here, how can you stay away from them? I always thought that you are extremely kind and merciful but today I have learned otherwise! There is nobody as hard hearted and cruel as you are. Uddhav said this and started crying and Krishna s eyes filled up with tears as well at the thought that the Gopis have showered this rain of love and devotion on the desert like land of Uddhav s heart! The path of devotion is filled with the spirit of pleasure, it is not for those who are monotonous and disinterested. On this path, there is always a passion, whether it is the joy of togetherness or the sorrow of separation and therefore, Shri Krishna allows the Gopis to experience the joy of intimacy and then he disappears from the scene of the Raas Leela. He thus bestowed upon them with the bliss that arises from the grief of being separated. Even though this emotion is touched by sorrow, yet it produces a kind of ecstasy that is felt by the Gopi as she remembers Shri Krishna and searches for him in the dense forest of Vrindavan. This is nothing but the mercy of Shri Krishna. If you try and understand it, you will know that this behavior of Krishna does not arise out of cruelty or hard-heartedness because he awards that experience of bliss to the Gopis. There is a certain joy even in that separation that arises out of knowing the joy of togetherness. When a girl gets married, and starts living in the house of her in-laws, there is a tradition that after a period of 7-10 days, she returns to her parents house (Pag Phera). This tradition was probably devised so that the girl would get a chance to come back and see her parents whom she obviously missed. But quite to the contrary, the newly wed bride who stays at her parents house for a few days, now misses her husband and is 80

93 seen talking endlessly to him on the phone. She cannot tell her parents that she wants to go back and therefore, they keep exchanging their love on the phone and she tells him, Come and take me back. Her husband then calls up her father s house and after exchanging pleasantries, he asks when he can come to fetch his wife. He comes and takes her back to the house of her in-laws. Thus, the girl always feels these contradictory emotions. When she is at her husband s house, she misses her parents and when she comes to stay with her parents, she misses her husband. When the girl departs from her paternal home, the parents have tears in their eyes, knowing that they will miss their daughter and yet they experience a deep sense of pleasure and comfort in knowing that our daughter will now be settled in a good home with her husband. Slowly, the girl finds her place in her new home and she calls up her father. He says, Why don t you come here for a few days? and she replies, No father, my husband has just taken up a new job and if I come there, who will take care of him? Therefore, I can t come now. She sends a message... Main toh bhool chali babul ka desh Piya ka ghar pyaara lage Koi maike ko de do sandesh Piya ka ghar pyaara lage _ Vmo ^yb Mbr ~m~wb H$m Xoe, {n`m H$m Ka ß`mam bjoÿ& H$moB _ Ho$ H$mo Xo Xmo g Xoe, {n`m H$m Ka ß`mam bjoÿ& Through this analogy, haven t we managed to establish how the joy of 81

94 togetherness is nurtured by the grief of separation? It is this separation that has made the bond of love even stronger. In India, we see that the women go away to spend time at their parents house at regular intervals. It can be said in good humour that they should do this so that their husbands realize the importance of their presence at home. Therefore, these brief periods of separation are extremely essential to strengthen the relationship. It is said that, It is the woman who establishes a house. Grahani graham uchyate. In the Hindi language, the wife is also called, Gharwali. The man buys a house with the money he earns but it is the woman who transforms this house into a home. Therefore, it is the woman who is responsible for making a good home for her family. Therefore, the woman of the house is worshipped in the Hindu culture. Yatra naaryastu pujyante, ramante tatra devata. It is said that, the Gods reside in that home where the woman of the house is worshipped. One has to understand the meaning of the word worship in this case. Worshipping a woman does not mean making her sit on an elevated platform and applying sandalwood paste to her forehead and offering flowers at her feet or making a veneration. This is not the meaning of worship. Worshipping a woman means giving her adequate respect and credit for all the duties that she performs in different roles. It is reminding her that it is due to her diligent performance of her duties that the household runs smoothly. The husband should praise his wife saying, You have brought the season of spring into my life and made it blossom with happiness. Your presence has changed my life. Both the 82

95 husband and the wife should learn to appreciate each other. Even the Gopis gave due credit to Shri Krishna in the first Shlok of the Gopi Geet. Jayati tedhikam janmana vrajah Shrayath indira shashwadatra hi Dayit drishyatam dikshu tavakatsvayi Shravratasawastwam Vichintvate O`{V $ OÝ_Zm d«o l`v BpÝXam eœxì {hÿ& X{`V Ñí`Vm {Xjw VmdH$m ñëd{` Y VmgdñËdm {d{mýdvoÿ&& (Jmo.JrV 1) Jayati tedhikam janmana vrajah The Gopis say, Oh beloved! Your appearance has glorified the beauty of Vrindavan. Your presence is like the season of spring that has spread beauty in our lives. Ever since you have come, our lives have changed. When you came into our lives, you accentuated the beauty of our existence. Our lives were good but ever since you appeared, it has become even more wonderful with the bliss and happiness that you have brought. We feel like we are in the 7th heaven! This is an expression of the love of the Gopis. Thus, the Gopis describe the depth of their feelings for Shri Krishna. Shrayath indira shashwadatra hi. The Gopis say, Oh Krishna, ever since you came to Vrindavan, Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth has also made her abode right here in Vrindavan. This means, that we have become wealthy, you are the wealth that makes us rich. It is your presence that has made us prosperous. 83

96 Ek tu na mila, saari duniya mile bhi toh kya hai? Mera dil na khila, saari bagiya khile bhi toh kya hai? EH$ Vy Zm {_bm, gmar Xw{Z`m {_bo ^r Vmo Š`m h? _oam {Xb Zm {Ibm, gmar ~{J`m {Ibo ^r Vmo Š`m h? It is your presence that is responsible for our prosperity. Now, all the Goddesses, Rama, Indira & Laxmi dwell in Vrindavan to serve you. The musical presentation of the verses of the Gopi Geet is the Kanak manjari style of presentation. In this, the first and the seventh alphabet of the verse is the same. Jayati tedhikam janmana vrajah O`{V $ OÝ_Zm d«o The first and the seventh and the first alphabet here is J Shrayath indira shashwadatra hi l`v BpÝXam eœxì {hÿ& The first and the seventh and the first alphabet here is Shra Indira means Goddess Laxmi. The Gopis say that Goddess Laxmi now stays in Vrindavan to serve her Lord. This is not surprising either since if an individual goes to a foreign country, he eventually calls his other family members to come and stay with him. Since Shri Krishna is Lord Narayan himself, it is inevitable that Goddess Laxmi has also appeared in Vrindavan to serve at the Lotus feet of her Lord. Since Laxmi is the consort of Narayan, it is only natural that she is by his side when he has incarnated in the form of Shri Krishna. Thus the Gopis, 84

97 express this in the first verse of the Gopi Geet. In a popular Hindi Ghazal, there is a verse which describes the emotions of a lover at the thought of the separation of his beloved... Tum chale jaaoge toh sochenge Humne kya khoya, humne kya paya Zindagi dhoop tum ghana saaya Tumko dekha to ye khayal aaya Aaj fir dil ne ek tamana ki Aaj fir dil ko humne samjaya... Vw_ Mbo OmAmoJo Vmo gmom Jo h_zo Š`m Imo`m, h_zo Š`m nm`m? qoxjr Yyn Vw_ KZm gm`m Vw_H$mo XoIm Vmo `h»`mb Am`m, AmO {\$a {Xb Zo EH$ V_Þm H$s AmO {\$a {Xb H$mo h_zo g_pm`m Even though this is a Hindi film song, if you sing it for Shri Krishna, it is equivalent to singing a hymn for the Lord. Oh Krishna, every time I see you, I understand and realize that in this scorching sunlight of the troubles that life brings, your presence is like the dense shade that provides solace and comfort to me. We are burning in the intense heat of the problems of this material world, but you have provided that cover of shade in which we can rest in comfort. Hum jise gunguna nahi sakte Vakt ne aisa geet kyun gaya? Zindagi dhoop tum ghana saaya Tumko dekha to ye khayal aaya 85

98 h_ {Ogo JwZJwZm Zht gh$vo...ÿ& dº$ Zo Eogm JrV Š`y Jm`m? qoxjr Yyn Vw_ KZm gm`m...ÿ& Vw_H$mo XoIm Vmo `h»`mb Am`mŸ& You have beautified our lives. Your presence has made us rich. Oh Krishna! Now bless us with your divine vision! Dayit drishyatam dikshu tavakastavayi X{`V Ñí`Vm {Xjw VmdH$mñËd{` This means, Please appear now! Please allow us the pleasure of your presence. This is a request by the Gopis. Zara saamne aao chhaliye Chup chup chalne me kya raaz hai? Yun chup na sakega parmatma Meri aatma ki ye aawaz hai. Oam gm_zo AmAmo N>{b`o Nw>n Nw>n N>bZo _ Š`m amo h? `y Ny>n Zm gho$jm na_më_m _oar AmË_m H$s `h AmdmO h Ÿ& Dayit drishyatam. Please reveal yourself. Allow us to see your divine form! We belong to you. Take care of your belongings, if you do not appear before us, you will lose us since we will perish in the sorrow of this yearning! The Gopis cry out, We are yours and therefore, it is your responsibility to look after us. We have lost you because we assumed that you belong to us. It was the pride of possession that has led us to this state. In the Raas Leela, when Krishna did the divine dance of Love with the Gopis, he manifested himself in as many forms as the number of 86

99 Gopis. Because of this, each Gopi assumed that Shri Krishna had left all the others and was playing only with her. This thought led to the pride of feeling that she was superior than the rest of the Gopis. Sometimes, a devotee also experiences this kind of emotion. His love for the Lord makes him assume that he is the greatest devotee of all. He feels pride over his love and he thinks that nobody can love God like he does. He looks at the world and thinks that it is in a bad state and gloats over his assumed improvement since he thinks that the love of God has transformed him. He is proud of his good qualities and shuns those who he thinks are not fit to mingle along with. It is a good thing that one performs rituals of worship on a regular basis but this should not make one assume that he has become better than the others and make him develop a sense of pride. This false pride is the greatest demerit of a devotee. A man may conquer many demerits but if he develops pride over his ability to do so, it destroys all his efforts. Such an individual then thinks that he is always right and criticizes all the others around him. He who assumes disease to be a state of health can never be cured. Similarly, the so called devotee who assumes that his pride is a certified form of merit can never be cured of this egoistical thinking because he does not perceive it as a demerit that needs to be worked upon. This is because he perceives disease as a form of good health. Thus pride is like that incurable disease. To cure the Gopis of this pride and to destroy their ego and also to increase their thirst and longing for him, Shri Krishna disappeared from the scene of the Raas Leela. 87

100 The Merging of Two Identities into One The Gopis experienced a feeling of pride since each one had Shri Krishna as her partner which made her think that she was the special one. While the rest of the Gopis took great pleasure in assuming that they were singularly dancing with Shri Krishna, Shri Radha felt extreme pride and she pretended to be offended thus, demonstrating her possessiveness and right over Shri Krishna. The acts of offending and subsequent pacifying are the playful displays of love that bring color to the emotion. Shri Radha was offended... Itna kahan aur Radha rooth gayi aur jaa bethi mandir me! Gopiyon ko mad hua, Radha ji ko maan Isliye bhagwan hue antardhan. BVZm H$hm Am a amym ér> JB Am a Om ~ R>r _ {Xa _! Jmo{n`m H$mo _X hþam, amymor H$mo _mz, Bg{bE ^JdmZ² hþe AÝVYm ZŸ&& To dissolve this feeling of pride and possessiveness, Shri Krishna disappeared from view so that he could rid the Gopis heart of this false pride which was a hindrance on the path of devotion. He wanted to destroy it completely so that it would never emanate again. It was like eliminating the problem at the root. Shri Radha was offended and she walked out from the Raas Leela and therefore, Shri Krishna followed her in order to pacify and persuade her. The flow of love is blocked by the barrier of pride. Love and ego cannot 88

101 co-exist. When ego enters a relationship, love ceases to exist. It doesn t matter how strong a structure is, if it is invaded by termites, it will most definitely crumble down one day. In the same way, pride is like that termite that will bring down the structure of love. In love, I or the ego is not important. The goat keeps uttering Me Me which means he is full of himself and therefore, he has to lose his head at the hands of the butcher. The organs are separated for consumption and the skin and the viscera are separated for different uses. The ego of the goat becomes the reason for his loss of life. Made for Each Other There is a famous poem in which an emotion of a lover towards his beloved has been expressed. Once, the lover wanted to meet his beloved. He walked up to her door and knocked. She asked from the other side of the door, Who is it? He said, It is me. Open the door. The door did not open. He waited for a long time, but when she did not open the door, he walked away disappointed. After a few days, he could not bear being away from his beloved and once again reached her house and knocked the door. Once again she asked, Who is it? He replied, It is me, your lover! Open the door and allow me to see your beautiful face. The door remained locked. She did not appear and neither did she answer his call. The Lover was now extremely depressed and stopped eating and drinking. His body started shrinking and he became almost lifeless. When he could bear the grief of separation no more, he walked to the 89

102 temple of his beloved. By now he had no strength to stand on his feet and therefore he collapsed at the door. The fall of his body pushed at the door and a voice called from inside, Who is it? He lay there almost lifeless with tears in his eyes. In answer to the question, the words that left his mouth were Only you... and the door opened. Until ego and pride remain, the door will not open and when that I merges with the almighty and the words, Only you, no one but you are forever on the lips of the devotee, the door is thrown open. It is pride that does not allow the living entity to view the Lord. Therefore, Shri Krishna wanted to destroy this pride from the hearts of his beloved Gopis and therefore, as an act of mercy, he disappeared. The Gopis say, Reveal your form to us. We are searching for you. Bin gopal bairan bhai kunjini Tab ye lata lagti ati sheetal Ab bhai visham jwala ki poonje Bin gopal bairan bhai kunjini Vritha behti yaha jamuna khag bolat Vritha kamal khile... {~Z Jmonmb ~ az ^B Hw ${OZr, V~ `h bvm bjvr A{V ervb A~ ^B {df_ Ádmbm H$s nw Oo, {~Z Jmonmb ~ az ^B Hw ${OZr d Wm ~hvr `h O_wZm IJ ~mobv d Wm H$_b {Ibo... The Gopis say, The flow of the Yamuna river is in vain and the 90

103 melodious singing of the birds in the forest is meaningless. It is unimportant that the beautiful lotuses open up in the morning and close again. When you were with us, all these beautiful manifestations of nature would bring us a lot of happiness. But now that you are not with us, they have lost their meaning. We cannot focus our minds on anything else as this detachment has made us completely restless. Therefore, please appear before us now. We shall never again take pride in saying that, you belong to us. From now on, we shall only say that we belong to you. If we say that you belong to us then it is our responsibility to look after you. When anyone says that this is my watch or my purse, then they have to take care of their possessions. If you have a very valuable position, your responsibility towards it s handling and care, is even larger. Do you possess the necessary strength or capability to look after it? If you have a diamond worth 100,00,000Rs, you don t even trust yourself with such a costly jewel. You take it and place it safely in the locker of a bank. Not only that, you also insure it. If you worry so much about a diamond, then you should worry most about Shri Krishna because he is our wealth, the value of which is priceless. We Belong to You The Gopis say, Oh Krishna, the richness of your presence has made us wealthy, but we have wasted and lost your valuable presence because of our false pride. We assume that we had acquired your company because 91

104 we were qualified for it. This was our greatest mistake! We did not realize that we have you in our midst because of your grace and not because of our merit. No longer do we say that you belong to us, instead we say that we belong to you! Dayit drishyatam dikshu tavakastvayi Dhritasavastvam vichinvate Tavaka we belong to you. So take care of your possessions Our spirit resides in your being. If you derive happiness through us or our service, if this physical body awards any happiness to you, then please come and take care of it because if you do not appear before us, we will lose our lives. If we die, it will only be your loss. If you are not worried about us, then at least worry about yourself. Reveal yourself to us! The very sight of your form will bring us immense satisfaction. We only love you and if we receive the delight of your company, then we shall try to bring as much happiness as we can to you. Through this physical body, we shall endeavour to serve you as much as possible. We are forever contemplating and meditating on your divine form, our minds hold no other thought or emotion. X{`V Ñí`Vm {Xjw VmdH$mñËd{`Ÿ& Y VmgdñËdm {d{mýdvoÿ&&1ÿ&& Our saints have said that there are these various different roles in love. The first stage of love is Tadvicharaavastha. The mind is filled with the thoughts of the beloved. There is no effort required to remember one s beloved. The memory is always transfixed in the heart of the lover. Until 92

105 there is an effort that is required to be made in order to think about the beloved, the emotion of love does not exist. When there is constant remembrance and an effort is made to try and forget the loved one, only then it can be called love. Thus the mind is completely filled with these thoughts and therefore there is no possibility of any other thought entering into the mind. Just as the travellers who are looking for a place to sit down, enter an apartment and see that it is completely full and go back saying, This compartment is full, there is no place.. In the same way, he whose mind is completely occupied with the thoughts of God, has no space in his mind for the thoughts of the material world. Even if these thoughts try and come into his mind, they find that there is no space. The second stage of love is Tadaakaar. After the first stage of Tadvichaar, the second stage is where the lover is so complete and involved in the thoughts of his beloved that this intense contemplation results in the lover assuming the form of the beloved. Therefore, it is said that Yamunaji meditated so deeply on Shri Krishna (Shyam), which means the black one, and therefore the flowing stream of the water also assumed the same color. Once Shri Radha was sitting in the company of her friends and suddenly she burst into tears. Her friends asked, Oh daughter of Vrishbhaanu! What happened! Why do you cry so? She replied, I am worried that I think so deeply and my mind is forever fixed on the form of Shri Krishna that I cannot think of anything else! What if I also assume his form because of this constant contemplation? This is because if our minds are constantly fixed on a constant form, then physically, that form manifests in us as well. 93

106 My heart holds that divine form of Shri Krishna I have heard that a certain anecdote is an example of this. A bumblebee once picked an insect and stung it. He then flew away with an intent to strike again and the insect keeps thinking about the bee and waiting for it s sting. It arrives again, and yet again stings the insect. This constant fear of the bee due to the unbearable pain of its sting forces the insect to constantly contemplate and focus on the bee. This intense concentration on the form of the bee makes him assume a similar form and suddenly he finds that his wings have emerged! This is a tale that is used as an analogy to explain the above, its evidence as the truth cannot be verified. However, as per the story, if a tiny living entity like the insect can assume the form of a bumblebee because of meditating fixedly on its form, although this is motivated by fear, then the worry of Shri Radha that she may transform into the form of Shri Krishna is understandable. She tells her friends, What if I transform into Shri Krishna? Her friends tease her saying, Even if it happens, so what? Shri Radha replies, Then this beautiful paired form of us together will be ruined since I will become like Shri Krishna.. Her friends said, Oh Radha, don t worry about that. Just as you are always focused in your thought of Shri Krishna, in the same way, he also constantly thinks of you. Thus, in the same way, he will also assume your form. Shri Krishna will transform into Shri Radha and therefore your eternal pair as a couple will remain forever. This is the oneness in duality and vice-versa. The first part is that both become one since they assume each other s form 94

107 and yet because of this same interchange, they still remain one. This is the contradiction of love. Jayati tedhikam janmana vrajaha Shrayat indira shashwadatra hi. O`{V $ OÝ_Zm d«o l`v BpÝXam eœxì {hÿ& he third stage of love is Tadekata. The lover now becomes one or unites with his beloved. The duality of their individual forms in destroyed. Shri Radha becomes Shri Krishna. It is said that when someone worships a certain manifested form of God and is completely devoted to it, then the worshipper develops the qualities of the one he worships. If you see the form of Chaitanya Mahaprabhuji, you will see that his features, his eyes, and bodily formations resemble those of Shri Krishna. The beauty of Shri Krishna s form will become yours, when you are devoted to him. Not only that, you will also inherit his divine qualities. The special quality of Krishna is the one that attracts. Karshati iti Krishna. He who attracts everyone to himself. Krishna is the center of attraction and constant worship of his form will imbibe your personality with these traits as well. 95

108 We are here at Your Call of Love Whichever form of God you worship with complete devotion, you tend to develop the same qualities and character traits of that form of God. If you worship Lord Ram, then you will develop those qualities and similarly when you worship the Goddess, subsequently the essence of those worshipped elements will manifest in your personality. It is said that when Ram Krishna Paramhans carried out the worship of Hanumanji, he was so engrossed and transfixed in the spirit of Hanumanji that his devotion physically manifested itself and he developed a tail since he was one with the form of Hanumanji. In the same way, the lover and his beloved enjoin as one. Thus, Shri Krishna and Shri Radha interchange their respective forms as they are so deeply engrossed in each other s thoughts. The Gopi tells Shri Krishna, We do not want anything from you. Just as in the Ram Charit Manas (Ayodhya Kand), Bharatji who was the brother and one of the greatest devotees of Shri Ram, says that, I do not want righteousness, wealth, sensual desires, or salvation. I only want to have the deepest love and regard in the Lotus feet of Shri Ram. He uses the word Rati. What does it mean? It means, Ever increasing love. Sita Ram charan rati more Anudin badahu anugraha tore Artha na dharma na kam ruchi gati na chahau nirban Janam janam rati Ram pad yaha vardan na aan 96

109 grvm am_ MaZ a{v _moa Ÿ& AZw{XZ ~ T>C AZwJ«h Vmoa Ÿ&& AaW aw Z, Ya_ Z H$m_ é{m J{V Z MhC±$ {Za~mZŸ& OZ_ OZ_ a{v am_ nx `h ~axmzw Z AmZŸ&& (_mzg A`mo.H$m. 204) Bharatji says that he desires intense and ever increasing love for the Lotus feet of Shri Ram, love that increases with each passing birth. According to the Gopis, they have left everything and abandoned their families to be with Shri Krishna. When the melodious notes of Shri Krishna s flute reached their ears, it awakened desire in their hearts. This desire was only related to Shri Krishna. They gave up all their relationships, their husbands, their brothers and relatives and went against the permission of their elders. They did not pay any heed to social limitations and ran to Shri Krishna. It was that intense desire that Shri Krishna roused within them that led them to do this. Otherwise it was unthinkable for a woman to leave her home and family and go into the dense forest at night. In the Indian culture, it is not appropriate for the woman to be out of the house at night just as it is not considered appropriate that a man stay at home all day (without working). Thus, it is an unwritten rule followed within the Indian society. Even if the man of the house is not employed in a job, he should still not stay put at home. He should at least try and find himself some suitable employment. If he is still not able to secure a job, then he should involve himself in some volunteering work in any trust or organisation which will keep him occupied as well as help others. This way, he will be in a better position to solicit respect even from the members of his own family. 97

110 Retirement does not mean withdrawal from worldly activities. Retirement means giving up material duties and yet being involved in working for social good and welfare of others. It means a thought process that says, I have always lived and worked for myself, now it is time to work for society and righteous purposes. This is the meaning of (Nivritti) or retirement in the worldly sense. Therefore, Lord Shri Ram says: Chath dam seel birati bahu karma Nirat nirantar sajjan dharma N>R> X_ grb {~a{v ~hþ H$a_mŸ& {ZaV {Za Va g mz Ya_m&& Why should one withdraw from worldly duties after a certain age? People are heard saying, My children are earning now and I have retired. Retiring does not mean doing nothing. Nirat nirantar sajjan dharma.it means, to be involved in working for humanitarian causes, for philanthropic purposes and contributing to social development. This is the true meaning of Nivritti. To leave work and stay idle all day, lazing around and doing nothing- This is not acceptable to the will of God. In the Bhagvad Gita, Shri Krishna says: Karmanye vadikaraste ma faleshu kadachana Ma karmafalhetubhoorma te sangostava karmani H$_ Ê`odm{YH$mañVo _m \$bofw H$XmMZŸ& _m H$_ \$bhovw^ y_m Vo g {UŸ&& 98

111 Understand the meaning of this Shlok carefully in conjunction to the state of the Gopis. The Gopis left their families and homes at midnight, paid no heed to the warnings of their elders and disregarded them. They broke all social limitations and left for the forest of Vrindavan! Tulsidasji says: Jim swatantra bhai bigdi naari {O_ ñdv Ì ^B {~J S>r Zmar He makes this analogy in connection to a situation where there is a flood in the river due to excessive rain and the river breaks the limitation of its banks and causes havoc. When the same river flows gently within the limits of its two banks, it awards life and prosperity to those staying near it s banks. Fields are nourished with it s water and crops flourish. But when it breaks its banks, it takes away the same life and prosperity of the people. Crops are destroyed and human lives are wrecked. This river has been compared to the character of a woman. It has been said that a woman should not be allowed too much freedom or else she will break social limitations and thus, it will create cultural disharmony and break traditions. But understand this after deep and profound and deep contemplation on it s meaning. The same poets have also written: Yatra naaryastu pujante ramante tatra devta `Ì Zm` ñvw nyá`ývo a_ývo VÌ XodVmŸ& It is also said that all Gods shower their blessings on the house where the woman is worshipped. The mother is ten times more entitled to exert 99

112 her right over her son than the father. The field where the crop grows is considered to be more important than the seed that is implanted. The mother is like the field that nourishes the crop while the role of the father is limited to the implantation of the seed. Therefore, a mother s position is awarded more significance than that of the father. We say, Radha-Krishna. We do not say, Krishna-Radha. First we take the name of Shri Radha followed by the name of Shri Krishna. Similarly we also say, Laxmi-Narayan, Bhavani-Shankar, Sita-Ram, Maa-Baap. It doesn t seem right if we place the words in reverse order. Unknowingly and unconsciously, this order is followed. When the child learns to speak, the first word that comes out from his mouth is usually Maa. The mother and father should both be revered as Gods and yet the mother has a special significance in the life of a child. An example of this can be cited if the son decides to become a transcendentalist, or achieves sainthood, his father will have to bow down in reverence before him but no matter how high the son may have risen, in his glory of sainthood, it is the son who will always have to prostrate before his mother. The mother will never bow down before him. Thus, in the Indian culture, the woman in considered to have a higher position than a man in the family structure. Na stri swatantra maharti. What is the meaning of this? It means that when the girl is in her childhood phase, she is taken care of by her father. In the phase of her youth she is looked after by her husband and in her old age, if her husband is no more, her son takes care of her. The woman 100

113 always has to be protected. This is also because the woman lives with her heart. The issue of her protection is important because she always gets carried away with the flow of her emotions. Therefore, certain rules and regulations have been laid down by society to guard the respect of women. These rules and limitation were formulated for the safety of woman. What is good for the woman eventually transforms into the well-being of the entire family and subsequently into social good. Those who formulated these traditions were the sages and the learned men and even in that age, they were well versed in social sciences. They were scholars of physiology and psychology and they laid down these rules only after they thoroughly studied these sciences. The behavior of the Gopis was completely contradictory to the traditional acceptance of values and ethics that qualified for righteous behavior. Righteousness would mean adhering to the instructions issued by the elders. But we know that even though the Gopis were refrained from going to forest by their husbands and relatives, they could not be stopped. No one would exert their influence on these Gopis whose minds were focused on Shri Krishna. They broke all barriers of society and family to meet Shri Krishna and when they reached there, ironically he asked them, When did you come? and the Gopis replied, It is you who called us here. You have also set the entire stage in anticipation of our coming. You also know that we would break all barriers and heed your call of love and yet you ask us this question. You know that we are passionately in love with you and that we would leave everything when you call out to us. Why are you making this 101

114 pretense now? Why are you asking all these questions about us being here at this time of the night? But Krishna is an expert actor. He changes different forms and plays different roles as the stage demands. All the world is a stage and there is a constant play of his pastimes. All of us have to play the role that we have been given. Krishna tells the Gopis, It is night time, this is a dense forest where there are wild animals and wicked men that prowl around in the night. At this hour, only those who hanker after women, meat and alcohol, freely roam around to satisfy their sinful desires. This is no time for women to wander around in a jungle. Patisutanvayabrahtrubandavantivilandhya tentychyutagata Gatividastavodgeetmohita kitavyoshittah kastyajenishi n{vgwvmýd`^«mvw ~mýydmz{v{db `² Ÿ& J{V{dXñVdmoX²JrV_mo{hVm H$Vd `mo{fv H$ñË`Oo{Þ{eŸ&& (Jmo.JrV 16) There are many meanings of this Shlok. One meaning is simply, You have left your husbands, brothers, and relatives and come here. This is completely against the principles of religion. Religion says that even if the husband is cruel, ill-fated, diseased or poor, even then the woman should not give him up. Contradictory to these religious tenets, you have given up your duties. Go back to your homes! It is the basic duty as per religion that a woman should look after and serve her husband and her family. The Gopis replied, Oh Krishna! You have explained our duties to us, you have also taught us about righteous behavior that is appropriate to the conduct of a woman. Even after you have explained 102

115 all this, we have still come back to you. This simply means that we do not want to follow these laid down tenets of religion and righteous behavior. A similar instance has been sighted in the Ram Charit Manas where Bharatji says: Artha na dharma na kam ruchi gati na chahau nirban Janam janam rati Ram pad yaha vardan na aan AaW Z, Ya_ Z H$m_ é{m J{V Z MhC±$ {Za~mUŸ& OZ_ OZ_ a{v am_ nx `h ~axmzw Z AmZŸ&& (_mzg A`mo.H$m. 204) Bharathji says that he is not interested in righteousness. The question is, why should he say something like this? Following religious and righteous behavior is a mark of a noble man and of a devotee of God like Shri Bharat and yet he says he is not interested in it. In the same way, the Gopis also say, Oh Krishna! You have said the most fascinating thing at the end of the Shrimad Bhagvad Gita, you have declared that, Sarva Dharman Parityajah Mamekam Sharan Vrajah. Shri Krishna announces to his devotees that they can leave all religions and surrender completely to him. It is his responsibility to take care of them. Although this event took place in the Mahabharata, and in the timeframe of occurrence in history, the Raas Leela occurred before Shri Krishna gave his teachings in the form of the Bhagvad Gita on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. But this order is irrelevant because knowledge is permanent and eternally applicable. It is like playing an already recorded disk. The material on the disk remains the same, it is only that it was first played in the Kurukshetra but it always existed. Thus, when the Gopis remind Krishna about his promise to his devotees that they 103

116 can give up their righteous duties when they surrender to him, it is absolutely understandable as the Gopis already have this knowledge. Why should we assume that the Raas Leela is a specific event that occurred within a specified timeframe? The divine dance of love is something that is taking place at every moment of our lives. This is the emotion with which we should listen to the discourses about the pastimes of the Lord. The Gopis remind Krishna of the very words that he had used as he related the Bhagvad Gita to Arjuna, Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear. Therefore, they explain to Krishna that since religion includes their righteous duties towards their family and their homes, they have given up these duties in accordance to his instructions and completely surrender to his Lotus Feet. The Gopis also ask him, Oh Krishna! You ask us to fulfill our duties as prescribed by the principles of religion. There has to be a reason for doing this. What is the objective of fulfilling these duties? Shri Krishna answered, It is prescribed that you fulfill and carry out your duties because by doing so, your mind will be cleansed and your emotions will be pure. 104

117 The Bewitching Land of Vrindavan The eternal song of love which is an expression of the sorrow of separation, which we now know and recognize as the Gopi Geet is the pavilion of the Shrimad Bhagwat. We cannot limit the glory of the Raas Leela with the barriers of time and space. This divine dance of love which is symbolic of the union between the living entity and the almighty God is not just a specific event that took place at a particular time. It is not even a historic happening and yet it is something that happens continuously. It is an ongoing, unending and eternal happening. What is Vraj or the Land of Vrindavan? It is said, Vyapnaad vraj uchyate. The land of Vraj sweeps extensively over the entire universe. It s parameter is universally pervading and thus, the land of Vrindavan is symbolic of existence in general, and God is the life force that resides in it... Vraje vasantam navneet chauram Gopan gananam cha ducool chauram Anek janmaarjit paap chauram Chauragraganyam purusham namami ~«Oo dgýv ZdZrV Mm a_² Jmonm JZmZm M XwHy$b Mm a_²ÿ& AZoH$ OÝ_m{O V nmn Mm a_² Mm amj«jê` nwéf Z_m{_Ÿ&& 105

118 When the sages speak about this blessed land of Vrindavan, it has been humorously said that, There is a dense jungle, it s name is Vrindavan. There is a thief that resides in this forest. What does he steal? They fondly say, He steals butter, he also steals the clothes of the Gopis and he also takes away their hearts. They also go on to say, Anek janmaarjit paap chauram. He also steals those accumulated sins that the living entity has committed through it s various births during the cycle of birth and death. He has not only been referred to as only a thief but as the chief of thieves. Usually, if there is a theft in your house, it makes you very unhappy. You report it to the police and file a case. You will not go up to the thief when he is caught and tell him, My dear brother, thank you for committing this act of robbery. You have unburdened the load of our material possessions! But this thief of Vrindavan is someone who enriches the lives of those he steals from. These people who have been robbed are eternally grateful to him for having committed the theft. They are so gratified that they start worshipping him to express their gratitude and it is not a matter of surprise because we are obviously thankful to the one who rids us of our sins, who steals these garments of lust and desires and delivers us from the trap of these illusory attachments. Therefore, we are eternally grateful to that almighty God manifested in the form of Shri Krishna and will always bow down before him with a grateful heart. It is because, it is he who has done this without any effort on your part, he has delivered you from your sins and desires without you having to go through the extremely difficult prescribed process that is followed by the transcendentalists who desire to achieve the higher state of 106

119 salvation. They have to toil through the stages of self-restraint, strict principles and formulated routines, control of breath, etc. Even then it is an extremely difficult task for them to leave the material world, observe penance within the forest and immerse themselves in arduous meditation. Sometimes, even all this effort yields no result. The mind is vagrant and it is a difficult, if not impossible task to control it and focus it on God. Even Arjuna has said: Chanchal hi manaha Krishna pramathi balvadradam Tasyaham nigraham manaye vayoriv sudushkaram M#mb {h _Z H $îu à_m{w ~bdx²ñ T>_²Ÿ& Vñ`mh {ZJ«h _Ý`o dm`mo[ad gwxwîh$a_²ÿ&& (6-34) To control the mind, is a task as unachievable as trying to capture the wind in your fist. Not only does the mind have to be controlled, it also has to be fixed and focused on the Lord. The greatest of hermits and ascetics find it extremely difficult to attain this state and it is so amazing that instead of this entire process of endeavoring to attain or realize God, he himself comes and steals your mind! Once he has stolen your mind, it is naturally and eternally affixed on Shri Krishna and requires no effort from your end at all. Which other God can shower this kind of mercy upon his devotees. Therefore, he has been fondly referred to as a thief by the sages and learned men who have realized the essence of Shri Krishna. We prostrate before this chief of thieves! We worship him. We are passionately in love with him! There was a sage who sat on the outskirts of Vrindavan. He was the victim of Shri Krishna s passionate love and his tears flowed endlessly in remembering Shri Krishna. The state of detachment was apparent, it 107

120 was obvious that Shri Krishna had stolen his sins and his desires and left him in a state of pure bliss. He seemed to be so frenzied in his grief of being separated from Shri Krishna, that he used to sit on the outskirts of Vrindavan and stop the passers-by, he would ask, Where are you going? If the travellers replied that they were headed towards Vrindavan, he would stop them saying, Don t go there. If you want to protect yourself from harm, then do not go to Vrindavan. Oh re pathikwa! Mat jaiyo tum Vrindavan ki or. If someone asked why he was stopping them, he answered, There is a thief in that forest, danger lurks there. You will be robbed. You will lose everything that you have. You will become a pauper!. Is van me ek chor basat hai, natwar nand kishore! When the traveller insisted that he had to go for some work, he would say, Go if you have to, but don t pass from Vrindavan, take a by-pass or a longer route if you have to. When the traveller would say that they had no time to take longer routes and had no recourse except to pass through Vrindavan, they would request the sage, Please tell us who this thief is and what he looks like so we can protect ourselves from him. He would reply, He is dark with a swarthy complexion. He wears a yellow coloured garb and dons a crown decorated with a peacock feather. He plays the flute and lives in the form of a cowherd. He behaves innocently and can be seen on the banks of the Yamuna river tending to his herds. Since you cannot avoid passing that way, take care of one thing, do not look his way or catch his eye. If you happen to catch a glance of him, then you will never be able to recover your senses again! One glimpse of him is enough to drive you into a state of frenzied passion. 108

121 Shakho ko tum kya chu aye, Ab kaanto se bhi khushboo aye Dekhe aur deewana kar de, Shayad unko jaadoo aye emim H$mo Vw_ Š`m N>y Am`o, A~ H$m±Q>m go ^r Iwe~y Am`oŸ& XoIo Am a XrdmZm H$a XoŸ& em`x CZH$mo OmXy Am`oŸ&& The sage continued, Who knows what spells he casts! He is a magician. One glimpse of him can drive a person crazy. Therefore, please close your eyes and walk. The traveller said, How can i walk with my eyes closed? The sage said, Alright, don t close your eyes but look at the ground, do not look his way. The traveller would consent saying, Alright, thank you for your advice. Jai Shri Krishna. and the sage would say, Don t take his name.the mere utterance of his name causes the germs of love to enter our system. You will lose yourself if you take his name. The traveller would tire of the conversation and exceed saying, Alright babaji, Jai Ramji. But the sage would persist in his passion, No wait! There is another kind of danger. When the traveller would ask what the danger was, he would say, You may walk with your head down and yet that thief knows a number of ways and ideas in which he will catch your attention. He will play his flute and when those melodious notes find their way into your ears, it will drive you crazy. Therefore, ensure that you walk with your head down and also put your fingers into your ears to block out any sound. This state of the sage is one where he is in the clutches of that eternal love which has driven him to such a state of detachment and grief that he cautions the others from falling in love with Shri Krishna. It is a higher state of love. 109

122 Vrindavan transcends the borders of time and place. It extends it s parameters across the universe which means that the whole universe is symbolic of Shri Vrindavan since it is said to be the dwelling of the Lord. According to the Hindu religion, we do not believe that the almighty Lord created this universe and then separated himself from it. As an analogy, we can say that it is not like a situation where a potter has created an earthen pot and taken it to the market for selling it, has sold it for money and come back home and slept. God has not fashioned this world in a way that he has now set it s functioning in an auto mode and now God relaxes without doing anything. We have heard that when pilots fly the planes, they reach a particular altitude after which the pilot can relax by setting the route and the plane flies in an auto mode. However, this is not the way God works and therefore as per our Upanishads, it is said that the almighty Lord is the undifferentiated causal factor, both in terms of being the medium of creation as well as the material through which this creation was contrived. Therefore, he can also be perceived as the raw material of creation as well as the maker or creator. Thus, he is the one who makes and fashions this universe and not only that, it is he himself out of which the creation originates. This can be explained with the example of the potter and the clay, just as the creation of an earthen pot requires clay as the raw material and the potter as its maker. In the Shrimad Bhagwat, there are four Shlokas which are called the Chatur Shloki Bhagwat in which the almighty God Narayan gives a discourse to Brahmaji in four verses. The first Shlok says: 110

123 Aham mevasamevagre nanyad yat sadsat param Pashchadaham yadetacha, yo vashishyet sosmyaham Ah _odmg_odmj«o ZmÝ`X² `V² gxgv² na_²ÿ& nímmxh `XoVƒ The meaning of this Shlok is very beautiful and reveals the deep mystery of creation. Lord says :-Before the creation of anything,it was only I who existed here.sat,asat and beyond that there was nothing that was different from me. The world which is seen as the universe is also just me.whatever remains after the annihilation or total destruction (Pralaya) is also me. Therefore, we say that: Siyaram maye sab jag jaani Karahu pranam jori jug paani gr` am ` g~ OJ OmZrŸ& H$aD$±$ àzm_ Omo[a OwJ nmzrÿ&& (~mb.h$m. 7-2) Whether it is the inert things or consciousness in the form of living entities, whether it is birds, animals, human beings, demi-gods, demons, trees, rivers, mountains, the sun, the moon, etc, whatever exists is simply the manifestation of that supreme almighty. There is nothing and no one except him. These are all embodiments of his eternal essence. Let us understand this concept. If we take a pot made of silver which is engraved with elephants, horses and plants & creepers then we can see that the elephants are made out of silver, the horses are made out of silver and the etchings in the in the form of creepers are also made out of silver. Even though each of these shapes are different, they are made of 111

124 the same material which is, silver. In the same way, all living entities, whatever form we may have, are all fashioned from the almighty God. Therefore, God constitutes the matter from which the entire existence has been created. As per the Chaturshloki Bhagwat, God says that Before the creation of anything,it was only I who existed here. Therefore, whatever we see, is simply the manifestation of that eternal essence. These are the words of God himself. The problem is, we have not experienced this knowledge and therefore, we cannot envision the almighty. Instead, we believe in what we see, which is the material world. We can see the people around us, we can see objects and possessions and therefore, to us, it all looks real. Thus, we behave differently in different relationships, sometimes, our actions are initiated by negative emotions like jealousy and anger and we also resort to acts of violence. We take these people and circumstances around us very seriously and react to them. Even though, this word is illusory, we deem it to be real because we can see it and even though the existence of God is permanent and real, we perceive it as illusory because we cannot see God. The only reason we can see the material world more clearly than we see God, is ignorance. This is the illusory nature of the world. It has engulfed our perception and we are in the clutches of ignorance. Our scriptures have compared this behavior of the living entity to the one who is in a state of deep sleep. There are many people who have a habit of sleep-walking. They wake up while they are still asleep and after walking around for minutes, they go back to bed. They are not aware that they have walked or moved. I had read somewhere, that there was a night walker in America, who 112

125 used to wake up in the night, walk out of his house, take the lift, and go up to the terrace. He would then run from a distance and jump over from his terrace to the terrace of the adjacent building. He would then take the lift, reach the ground floor, come out of the building, walk into his own building, take the lift up and go home. This was his regular routine.one day, someone saw this man jumping and thought, My God! This man will lose his life. But as he saw the man jump effortlessly and bridge the gap between the two buildings, he spread the word, and soon people started gathering to watch the show. Every night, people would watch the man take the leap and walk back home. Once, when the night walker was in the middle of taking his jump, there was a loud commotion due to the crowd and thus he was awakened. That instantwhen was awakened from his sleep, he suddenly saw himself in the middle of nowhere. He was scared and with the shock, he fell to his death. What he could so effortlessly accomplish in deep sleep, became the cause of his death when he opened his eyes. Similarly, we are also committing these so called efforts and getting success in them, but this entire charade, is in a state of deep sleep. There are people who praise us and yet all of this is happening in a state of complete unawareness. The entire world exists in this state and it is during this time, that the sage or the awakened soul arises. Therefore, Shri Krishna says: Ya nisha sarvabhootanam tasyam jaagariti sayami Yasyam jaagriti bhootani sa nisha pashyato mune `m {Zem gd ^yvmzm Vñ`m OmJ{V g `_rÿ& `ñ`m OmJ«{V ^yvm{z gm {Zem ní`vmo _wzo Ÿ&& (2-69) 113

126 When the entities of the material world lie inert in deep slumber at night, that time of the night is a period of wakefulness for the sage or the Yogi. However, this should not be perceived or understood in the literal sense. The language of the scriptures is subtle & mysterious and an astute level of intelligence has to be exercised in order to comprehend its meaning. Therefore, the meaning of the above Shlok should not be construed literally. It does not mean that, when everyone sleeps in the night after 10 or 11 o clock, the Yogi then stays awake for the whole night and when the rest of the world awakens at 6 o clock in the morning, the Yogi goes to sleep. The Yogi or the sage is definitely not someone who works in an all night hotel or in a night shift that he has to stay awake at night and sleep in the day. This simply means that when the people of the material world are working, or utilizing their energy towards acquiring material wealth, the Yogi is directing his energy towards spiritual endeavours. The sage has no interest in the matters of material wealth or worldly pleasures. The efforts of the people attached to the material world are forever oriented towards the attainment of material objectives which may be in the form of acquisition of possessions, power, etc. The Yogi is completely indolent and inactive in the pursuit of such objectives since he has no interest in their attainment, thus, he sleeps when the material world is awake. On the other hand, where common people are completely passive in the attainment of spiritual objectives, the Yogi or the awakened soul is active and focused in his efforts. He tries hard to attain knowledge and understand the eternal essence. Thus, he is awake when the world sleeps. He is awakened to the realization that he has to strive for deliverance and merge his consciousness with the almighty. 114

127 The Significance of Life The common people who have spent all their lives in using up their energy and effort for the purpose of acquiring material wealth in order to provide for those who they are attached to, have spent their whole life in a state of inert existence. Suddenly, when they are awakened with a spark of knowledge, they realize how their entire life has passed them by. They then think, Oh God! Did my entire life just go by like this? There was an ardent devotee whom I once asked, What is your age? and he laughed and said, I am 5 years old. I told him, You look like you are at least 55 years old. He replied, You are right, my physical body is 55 years old, but I am only 5 years old. I asked him, What do you mean to say? He answered, For 50 years, I was in a state of deep sleep, I performed all these worldly duties unconsciously, 5 years ago, I met my guru who awakened me from that life of unconsciousness. The truth is, I have been awake only from the last 5 years and therefore, I can say that I have been alive only for 5 years. This individual, who stands before you today is actually only 5 years old. We discussed earlier that when there are different shapes of carvings on a pot of silver, we can see these different shapes in the forms of an elephant, a horse, plants, etc. What we do not pay attention to is the fact that all of these may look different, yet they are all made up of the same silver. In the same way, we can see different people who are identified with different forms and names and we perceive all of them to be completely disparate as individuals. Because of this, our emotions 115

128 towards all these people are driven by envy, anger, etc, and we indulge in various kinds of conflicts with them, thus forgetting that we are all portions of that almighty and it is his essence which is the spirit in all living entities. Seeya Ram Main Sab Jag Jaani. God has said that all that is visible in this universe is an embodiment of his essence. He says that this essence was invisible before time and subsequently, it manifested itself in the form of the universe. Thus, the entire creation is simply an extensive display of that eternal soul. There will come a time when the circle of destruction will engulf all creation and everything will be destroyed with that turn of time (Pralay). Yet, there will be that quintessence which cannot be annihilated by time or death which prevails continuously, perpetually and infinitely. That essence is the God almighty. Thus he exists in the beginning, the center and the end of the creation of this universe. When all is destroyed, there is still something that remains which is infinite. God has said that he is that unending ever present spirit that pervades all existence. Since, there is no beginning or ending to the existence of God, he is beyond the parameters of time and space. He is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. Just as God has defined himself in the Chaturshloki Bhagwat, we can also try and define our entities in the same way for the purpose of understanding our identity. We can also say, When this body did not exist, I still existed in the form of my soul, through this physical structure, my soul has been embodied, and thus I am visible to 116

129 everybody. This physical body is the form in which my soul has been manifested. I can have different physical characteristics, for example, my body can be that of a man, it can be fair, tall, etc. But the truth is, that my soul is neither black or white, tall or short, fat or thin. I am the spirit that simply exists and because I have manifested myself in this form, you are able to see me. You recognize me in this physical form and through its various features and characteristics. But, I does not mean this physical body of mine, I am much more than that! I have worn these clothes for a few hours. Just as I discard my clothes and wear new ones, in the same way, my soul has worn this physical body, and when the time comes, I will leave it. This has been explained by Shri Krishna in the Bhagvad Gita: Vaansaasi jeernani yathavihaya Navani grihanati naroparani Tatha sharirani vihaya jeerna Nyanyani sanyati nawani dehi dmgm {g {OUm {Z `Wm {dhm`ÿ& Zdm{Z J h²um{v VWm earam{u {dhm` OrUm - Ý`Ý`m{Z g `m{v Zdm{Z XohrŸ&& (JrVm 2-22) When this physical body did not exist, I was still there, but in an obscure form and therefore, I was not visible. Through the body, I exist in the same way, but I am visible to everyone. Therefore, it is said that even when the body ceases to exist, I will still be there, I have no end because I am eternal. In reality, there is nothing like birth and death. 117

130 Just as sunrise and sunset are simply words that are used to describe the position of The Sun as seen by the people on Earth, the truth is that The Sun does not set or rise. When we see The Sun in the morning, we call it Sunrise and when it disappears from the horizon of our vision, we call it Sunset. If we ask The Sun God, When do you rise and set? He will say that he is not aware of words like Rise and Set. The Sun simply exists. It neither rises nor sets. In the same way, the soul is not born and does not die, it just exists. This is because, the soul is imperishable. It does not go through the dualities of joy and sorrow because it is a fraction of that eternal and absolute almighty. Therefore, Shankaracharyaji has said: Na punyam na paapam na saukhyam na dukham Na mantro na teertham, na veda, na yagyam Aham bhojanam naeva bhojyam na bhokta Chidanand roopaha shivoham shivoham Z nê` Z nm n Z gm»` Z Xw I Z _ÝÌmo Z VrWª Z doxm Z `km Ÿ& Ah ^mooz Z d ^moá` Z ^moº$m {MXmZÝXén I am beyond the contradictions of birth and death, of joy and sorrow. Joy and sorrow are the dualities experienced by the mind and I am not the mind. I am not the intellect that identifies with the gender of being a man or a woman, I am a separate entity. 118

131 Manobudhyahadkarchitani naham Na cha shrotrajihive na cha grahnetram Na cha vhyom bhoominam tejo na vayu Chidadand roopaha shivoham shivoham Thus, the events of birth and death cannot be connected to the soul. They are simply the temperament of the physical body. The soul does not experience happiness or grief. It does not go through emotions like love and hate. These sentiments are related to the mind and not to the soul. The mind is mine, and yet I am not the mind, it is my physical body and yet this body is not me. It is just like somebody is saying, This is my mobile and I am using it. Using the mobile would mean either using it effectively for work or misusing it for undesirable purposes. In itself, the mobile phone is simply an instrument which is a medium of communication. Similarly, the mind and the senses are also mediums which can be used or misused. _Zmo~wÕ`h S>H$ma{MÎmm{Z Zmh Z M lmoì{oh²do Z M K«mUZoÌ Ÿ& Z M ì`mo_ ^y{_z VoOmo Z dm`w {MXmZÝXén Thus, we understand that whatever I refer to as my own, My mind, my hand, my nose, etc. is not me. It is my body, but I am not this body. The body is simply a medium which I can use or misuse. The significance and the glory of life is using the body as an instrument for the attainment of the objective for which we have been given this physical body. The sages have explained, Sharir madhyam khalu dharma saadhanam. 119

132 We have received this body for the purpose of fulfilling our religious duties. Therefore, it is imperative that we use it accordingly to do righteous deeds and refrain from irreligious and immoral behavior. What is Dharma or righteous behavior? It is said in the Ram Charit Manas, Parhit saris dharam na bhai. There is no religion better than doing good for others. This means we should use our bodies in a way that we help others and do something for them. Kisi ke kaam jo aaye, use insaan kehte hain Paraya dard apnaye, use insaan kehte hain Yoon bharne ko toh duniya me pashu bhi pet bharte hain Lekin jo baantkar khaye, use insaan kehte hain {H$gr Ho$ H$m_ Omo Am`o Cgo BÝgmZ H$hVo h Ÿ& nam`m XX Omo AnZm`o Cgo BÝgmZ H$hVo h Ÿ& `y ^azo H$mo Vmo Xw{Z`m± _ new ^r noq> ^avo h Ÿ& bo{h$z Omo ~m Q>H$a Im` Cgo BÝgmZ H$hVo h Ÿ& All living entities fend for themselves. Even animals find their own food and survive. But the human being is the one who is endowed with the special quality called Humanity and this distinguishes him from other animals. In the law of the jungle, if an animal is wounded, the other animals attack him, kill him and consume his remains. Until an animal is capable of protecting himself, the other animals do not look his way but if he is hurt or wounded, they attack him and eat up his carcass. Contrary to this, how would a human being react if he saw one of his fellow brothers lying wounded? One would immediately rush to his side and try and help him. This is humanity. 120

133 We have received this human body for the purpose of serving the Lord. Bhaj sevayam. However, serving the Lord is not restricted to just taking his name all 24 hours of the day. It can start with prostrating before God and taking his blessings and then starting your allocated work. Shri Krishna related and explained the Bhagvad Gita to Arjuna so that he would fight the war in a manner of discharging and fulfilling his duty. In fact, the message of the Bhagvad Gita is to initiate each one into fulfilling their respective duties. Karma Yog is nothing but effectively discharging your duties with complete sincerity by putting in the best effort possible. It is the performance of one s duties in a way that brings them inner satisfaction and thus work is transformed into a source of joy. One shall still perform a specific job and yet there is a sense of satisfaction that arises from within. If work is carried on with this sentiment, then union and labour problems across the globe will come to an end. However, we have seen that people are usually not interested in what they do. They are more interested in the monetary remuneration that they will receive in exchange of the job done. This creates a sense of restlessness and thus, they lose focus in work. Therefore, Shri Krishna says: Karmanye vadhikaraste ma faleshu kadachana H$_ Ê`odm{YH$mañVo _m \$bofw H$XmMZŸ& In this Shlok, Shri Krishna tells Arjuna that the living entity has complete freedom as far as the performance of his Karma or action is concerned. But he is bound by the fruit of these actions. The result of 121

134 any action is inevitable because every action yields a subsequent outcome. The wheel of Karma always goes full circle and therefore, as one sows, so shall they reap. Shri Krishna further goes on to say, Ma karmafal heturbhu. This means that one should not perform any action while being attached to its outcome. If a man tries to put in any labour, simply for the sake of money, such effort will only tire him out eventually. Then one may ask, If I do not get anything out of this, why should I do it? Then I don t want to do it. Then Shri Krishna says, Ma te sangostvakarmani. This means that one should not be attached to the fruit of the effort. Also, just because we cannot perceive any reward for our labour, we should not become lazy or idle. We should continue to perform our actions. Shri Krishna says that it is not possible for the living entity possessing a physical body, to exist without performing any action ever for a single second. When action or Karma is inevitable and inescapable for every living entity, then it should be performed in a manner that will bring fruition and happiness to the doer and through the performance of which, others will be benefitted. 122

135 Love as a Medium of Attaining God Our universal prayer should be, Sarvetra sukhina santuh sarve santu niramayah. We should also pray that we all stay healthy and free from disease, Sarve bhadrani pashyantu. Let there be happiness and joy all around. Let no one be unhappy. He who likes himself will also like those around him. Don t we all like ourselves? We love life and we all want to live happily. But for this, all human beings have to work in coordination. If you want a piece of cloth for yourself, then subsequently, you also require a tailor to stitch it for you. You also need the weaver who would have spun the cotton into the piece of cloth that you have and in reverse order, you also need the farmer who grew the cotton in his field. If the farmer does not get the required material to carry out the farming activity, how will he be able to grow these raw materials as crops? Again, we need factories to process these raw materials. What we are trying to say is that if we like ourselves and we like the possessions that we use, we should also understand that we require the services of those who are contributing to the manufacture of the products that we utilize. Therefore, we must always Live and let live. This explains the philosophy of how we must learn to respect and love the others around us because they largely contribute to the conveniences of our life. However, there are those who don t love themselves, and therefore, they hate others as well. Who do these people turn out to be? Such people are usually terrorists and those who cause unnecessary harm to innocent people. Therefore, what we must understand that the problem of terrorism cannot be ended on the strength of weapons. We may be able 123

136 to control it for a short time in this way, but we cannot eliminate terrorism by killing the terrorists. To accomplish this, we need spiritual intervention. Until and unless we understand the true meaning of religion, we shall not be able to deal effectively with the problem of terrorism. Religion does not simply mean Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, etc. These are all different ways or steps through which we can enter the temple of spirituality. While one man may adopt the religion of Hinduism, the other Christianity, etc, the purpose of the objective of taking these different paths is singular. The final goal is to reach God. What we have to remember is that these various religions and communities are simply steps that lead us to the spiritual domain. However, they are like any other medium to attain God and therefore, they cannot be an end in themselves. Religion is simply a path and not the destination. If you are sitting on the steps of a temple and someone asks you why you are sitting there and you answer, I have come to offer prayers to the Lord and therefore, I am sitting here. And he asks you, Will you keep sitting here from morning to evening? If you have come to offer prayers, then go inside! What purpose will sitting on the steps serve? Therefore, we have to understand that simply sitting on the steps will not lead us to our final objective which is God realization. We have to climb these steps, cross them and enter the temple of spirituality. Even though, the steps are diverse (Which means there are different religions), the spiritual domain is the same and once we enter it, this differentiation comes to an end. God resides in that domain and he is one entity. He 124

137 cannot be fragmented through these different religions and sects. All conflicts come to an end with the name of the Lord. Who are the people who create these conflicts and fragments? It is these people who sit on the steps and are actually not interested in the supreme objective of attaining that one absolute entity, who is the almighty God. They have no interest or connection with any spiritual objective, they do not want to attain that divine vision, but they simply sit on the steps, indulge in discussions and create rifts and conflicts. They do not love themselves, and therefore, they have no energy of love to spread around themselves. Thus, they try and influence innocent minds with this energy of hate and transform them into terrorists. If you perceive this in the spiritual angle, one can say that he who loves himself, will not ruin his existence by indulging in the material objects of life. He will always contemplate on his spiritual upliftment. In the Bhagvad Gita, Shri Krishna says: Udharedatmanatmanam natmanmavsadayet CÕaoXmË_ZmË_mZ ZmË_mZ_dgmX`oV²Ÿ& This means that you are responsible for your own upliftment. You should look after your own welfare. Please don t ignore yourself. You have ignored yourself for 50, 60 or 70 years and your whole life has passed you by... Beet gaye din bhajan bina re... ~rv J`o {XZ ^OZ {~Zm ao... Every breath of our life is depleting our age, every second we are 125

138 drawing closer to death. We are wasting this priceless gift of life by wasting our time in petty issues. Bal avasta khel gavayo, Jab jauban tab maan ghanare, Laahe kaaran mool gavayo, Ajahu na gayi man ki trishna re Kahat kabir suno bhai sadho Paar utar gaye sant jana re ~mb AdñWm Iob J±dm`mo, O~ Om ~Z² V~ _mz KZm aoÿ& bmho H$maZ _yb J±dm`mo, AOhþ Z JB _Z H$s V îum aoÿ& H$hV H$~ra gwzmo ^mb gmymo! nma CVa J`o g V OZm aoÿ&& In the Bhagvad Gita, Shri Krishna says that we should not ignore ourselves by indulging in the petty issues of the material world. This physical body is an instrument for our spiritual upliftment and therefore, we should not waste it by running after worldly objects. If we do so, we shall have to repent later. It is the word of caution to all of us, that we have spent most of our lives wastefully and yet there is still time left. The game is still in our hands. It is said that salvation is possible until the last moment before death. However, if we do not try and save ourselves and endeavour to attain deliverance, then we shall lose this valuable chance that we have received by being born as human beings. The birth of a human being has awarded us a big chance to work out our 126

139 salvation and yet we spend it hankering after material objects. Therefore, don t ignore yourself. Na atmanam avsadayet. You have been gifted this birth in the form of a human being for this very purpose, otherwise, one could be born as an animal. There was no need to acquire this physical body. We could have been in any other form. The human body is an instrument of offering service to God and by service, we mean not only singing the glories of the Lord, but also working for the welfare of others. Try and do as much good as you can and help others as much as possible. This is Bhajan or service of the Lord. Believe me, when I say that as you go through the deeds of doing good for others, you automatically benefit yourself. If I want to mark your forehead with Sandalwood paste, I will have to dip my finger in it first and therefore, that coolness of the Sandalwood will be first experienced by my finger before you can experience the same feeling on your forehead. In the same way, when you try and work on benefitting someone else, it is you who will get its benefit first. Therefore, it is important that we always nurse these good feelings in our heart. I always say that if you become the Vice-President, you increase your chances of rising to the position of becoming a President. In the same way, if you become useful (Upyogi), your chances of becoming a Sage (Yogi), are greater. Shri Krishna says that we should rise to the perfect stage of being Yogis. What should we do for this? Love, Sacrifice & Service Kisi ke kaam jo aae use insaan kehte hai. Today we live in a world 127

140 where we are discarded if we are not of any use to anybody. Therefore, it is imperative that we try and be of help to someone and prove that we are useful in some way. In order to be useful, an individual has to develop three qualities, Love, Sacrifice & Service. Where there is love, there is also sacrifice. Where there is lust or desire, there is just enjoyment of sensual objects. The feeling of love inspires a feeling of sacrifice and only this can stir up the right emotion for service. Through Love, we become useful to God, through Sacrifice, we become useful to ourselves, and through service, we are useful to society. Therefore, be useful to God through the emotion of love because only those who love can attain God. Saint Meera used to say... Prabhu aavat prem ke bol Mai ri maine leeno Govind mol à^w AmdV ào_ Ho$ ~mob, _mb ar _ Zo brzmo JmoqdX _mobÿ& In order to realize God, one has to pay the price of love. It is because God can be attained only through the intense love of a devotee. Hari Vyapak sarvatra samana. Prem te pragat hoye main jana. When we love God, we render ourselves to his service, when we sacrifice something, we help ourselves. It is like doing a favour onyourself. If you are carrying a load that weighs 80kgs and you give it up, whom have you helped? It may sound funny, but it is the simplest way of explaining the concept of sacrifice and how it only benefits one s own self. The action of getting rid of fecal matter from a body is an analogy to explain sacrifice. If we did not get rid of this undigested and unprocessed food from our 128

141 body, we would end up only harming ourselves and therefore, this sacrifice is the biggest favour we do for ourselves. Where the mind is full of love and the intellect is guided by the thought of sacrifice, every action is transformed into service. Through such service, we become useful to society and only when we work for social benefit and for larger human causes, can we rise above the individual selfish motive of a worldly person to the higher state of being a Yogi. There is a huge possibility in each one of us to achieve this state. It is humanity that makes us human beings and an individual who uses this principle in his life is the perfect and the superior human being. The universe is nothing but a constant play of the pastimes of the Lord. The one who is in a constant state of dynamism and continuous movement is the Gopi and the focus of this entire play is Shri Krishna. Everything in life is progressive. We have all been given our parts in this Raas Leela. We are all Gopis. The only problem is that the emotion of the Gopi lies dormant within us and therefore, we are unable to experience the joy and bliss of this divine dance of love. 129

142 Life - A Tear Drop We have understood that there are no parameters or boundaries to Vrindavan. It encompasses the entire universe. Thus, all living entities including us who are part of this universe are all also a part of the Raas Leela. However, that sentiment is not intense within our hearts like the Gopi and therefore we cannot feel any of that divine bliss. This life is nothing but an ongoing, endless, play of the Lord. As the wheel of time turns, it takes us closer to death at every second. Our age diminishes as time passes and draws us into the clutches of death. Life can be described as an earthen pitcher filled with water. Only that this pitcher has a hole at the end. As soon as the pot was filled, there was water dripping out of it. The process of emptying the pitcher started from the moment it was filled. This physical body is also like that earthen pitcher which is filled with the water of the time that we have to live. Just as the pitcher drips through the hole, our life also gets depleted with every breath that we take. Aayush tan nir anjali Tapkat shwasochwas Am`wî` VZ Zra A O{b, Q>nH$V ûdmgmoàn>dmgÿ& As we breathe, this life of ours slowly depletes itself and one day, just as the pitcher is emptied and there is no more water, we also run out of breath. In the Hindu culture, we have a custom that when someone dies and the funeral rites are completed, in the end, there is a pitcher of water 130

143 with a hole that the son takes on his shoulder, when he circles the funeral pyre. He flings this pitcher on the ground and it breaks. There is a sense of finality to this, because after this rite, none of the relatives glance back or turn around to look at the funeral pyre. This signifies the end of the relationship between the deceased and his family. After this, the soul of the deceased begins it s journey onward. Thus, we understand that our breaths drip out one by one from the pitcher of our life. There is a hole at the bottom of this pitcher and therefore, the process of emptying begins from the time it is filled. Our existence is depleted with every breath that we take and we are getting closer and closer to our end. Even though life depletes every second, always remember that the Raas Leela also occurs every moment of our life. What is essential is that we have to experience it before the end of our lives. This can be possible only if the emotion of the Gopi is awakened within us. When will this happen? That sentiment within us can be roused only when Shri Krishna plays melodious notes on his flute. In the Shrimad Bhagwat, there is the Venu Geet in the 21st chapter, followed by the Gopi Geet in the 31st Chapter. This signifies that the living entity has to first be filled with the Gopi Bhaav or the intense passion of the Gopi which is awakened only when the living entity is able to listen to the music of Shri Krishna s flute. When we become 49 years of age, we should know that at least half of our life is over and when we turn 50, we should know that we have entered the phase of old age. In this phase, the characteristics of age become visible on our body. Our hair turns white, our vision becomes blurry, and our teeth fall out. This is referred to as the attack of 131

144 Jarasandh. Jara means old age, it attacks us and we fight the battle. The Venu Geet is in the 21st Chapter, which means that when we turn 21, we should be able to tune ourselves to listen in, to the music of Shri Krishna s flute. Simply, it denotes that we should turn to spirituality in our youth. The path of devotion is not merely for the old and aged, it is for the young people who have just started their life. Their hearts should be filled with Krishna s love. In this phase of our youth, we should not be attracted only towards material objects but towards Shri Krishna. When Shankaraacharyaji devised the Vedic philosophy, he was not old. In fact, he was very young. He had achieved his spiritual goals by the age of 32 and attained deliverance at that young age. Even Swami Ramteerth walked on the same path when he was young. We are aware that when Swami Vivekanand gave a discourse in Chicago and enlightened the world about the principles of Hinduism, he wasn t old. Thus, there have been various examples where young people have brought about a change in the world with their dynamism. In reality, we should offer the blooming rose of our youth at the Lotus feet of Shri Krishna and tell him, Shri Krishna, I Love You. It is only when we tread the path of spirituality in our youth that we can hope to experience the sentiment of the Gopis Love when we grow older. Shri Krishna blessed the Gopis with the experience of the divine union between God and the living entity and then in order to make them go through the agony of separation (Which is also an essential aspect of love), he disappeared from the scene of the Raas Leela. Every minute of our life, we are involved in enjoining with that divine essence and we 132

145 also experience that bliss but sometimes our devotion is ridden with pride and we think, There is no devotee like me. Sometimes, our pride assumes the form of devotion. Just as Naradji felt extreme pride when he won over his desire, he told God, It is all your grace that I was able to accomplish this. However, his words rang hollow since he did not mean it and he thought that it was his achievement. This pride of a devotee is called Saathvik Abhimaan because this pride has its origin in the mode of goodness. However, it is a barrier between God and the living entity. The bliss that we feel in the divine union disappears as soon as pride enters. When they say that Krishna disappeared from the Raas Leela, it means that the joy and the bliss that the Gopis were experiencing at their union also vanished. Every Gopi imagined that she was superior to all the others since she thought that she was the only one who had the company of Shri Krishna. She also started feeling that Shri Krishna had left the others and had singled her out for attention. That is the problem which becomes a barrier in love. There is no place for a third person in love. Even the thought of anyone else is an obstacle. Why should there be anyone in between you and God? When the divine dance of love is being played between us and the almghty Lord, when we are enjoying that experience of divine bliss, why should the thought of anyone else cross our minds? The Gopi thought, I am superior to all the others. Why this comparison? The comparison is between two people which means that a third entity is involved. This presence is the obstacle to the divine union between God and the living entity. In an Urdu verse, it is written that: 133

146 Uthkar mehfil se jhatakar palla chale gaye woh, Kehte hue ki, teri mehfil me gaer hai behte hue CR>H$a _h{\$b go, PQ>H$H$a n m Mbo J`o dmo, H$hVo hþe {H$, "Voar _ho{\$b _ J a h ~ R>o hþeÿ& God says, If there are strangers in your audience, then I cannot reveal myself to you. The Gopis cried, Oh Krishna! We had left our homes and families for you and now you have deserted us! Shri Krishna tried to explain to them that it was their prescribed religious duty to serve their husbands and be devoted to them. He told them that they should return to their husbands and fulfill their duty of service. He also related a story in order to make them understand how important it was for a wife to be completely devoted to her husband. Shri Krishna said, My dear Gopis, listen to this story. Once, there was a very devoted wife, her husband had put his head on her lap and was in deep sleep because he was very tired. The wife was fanning him to make him comfortable. At that moment, she saw her child who was just a toddler, crawl his way to the hearth, where the fire was burning. She thought to herself, What will happen if he falls into the fire? On the other hand, if I move to save him, my husband will wake up! It is important to perceive this incident with the right emotion and not in the practical sense. It may be a piece of fiction, however it s purpose is to explain a point. Most of you must be thinking, So what? It is not important whether the husband wakes up or not, but it is important to save the child. Therefore, use the basic fundamental of this story to understand what we are discussing. Shri Krishna continued, Thus, the devout wife was in a state of conflict between saving her child and waking her husband. It is said that as she 134

147 saw her child advance towards the fire, her eyes widened with fear and anger and the energy that she emanated was so powerful that the flames of the fire subsided and the flame was put out! This is the glory of a wife who is completely dedicated to her husband. Her dedication awards her with strength and power Shri Krishna ended by saying that the woman should be absolutely committed to her spouse. Finally he instructed, Go back to your husbands and serve your families. After the Gopis listened to Shri Krishna s story, they said, Oh beloved Krishna, you told us a tale, now allow us to tell you one!. Shri Krishna said, Please tell me. This is a wonderful dialogue between the Gopis and Shri Krishna. The Gopis said, As in your story, we are also telling the story of a devout woman. Her husband was going to go abroad so that he could earn money. The wife beseeched, Please don t go! How will I live without you? We should make do in what the Lord has given us. We will be happy in whatever we have. The husband said, Don t be silly my dear, I want to provide you with material wealth and comfort. I want you to wear real jewels and diamonds, I want to make you happy and therefore, I will go overseas, earn a lot of wealth and come back. The wife said, How will I survive without you? The husband gave her his photograph and said, Think of this photograph as my form and worship it.this will be a source of comfort to you. She said, Alright, I will live my life with your photograph. The husband travelled abroad, he was away for many years and during this time, the wife worshipped the photograph of her husband. After many years, her husband returned with a lot of wealth. He wanted to surprise her and therefore, he did not inform her about his coming and directly landed at their doorstep. The door was closed and 135

148 he knocked. The wife was dedicatedly worshipping the photograph as was her daily ritual. She asked aloud, Who is it? he replied enthusiastically, It s me! Your husband! Open the door! She said, My husband is here before me in the form of this photograph and I am worshipping him. I cannot leave my ritual to open the door. I am a devoted wife. The Gopis continued, Oh dear Krishna! Then tell us now, what will you call this so called devoted wife. Is she intelligent or will you call her a fool? Krishna said, Of course she is a fool! When her husband stands before her, in flesh and blood and is knocking on her door, then what is the meaning of worshipping his picture? It is of no use. She should run and open the door to greet her husband. The Gopis smiled and said, There you are, this is what we are saying. Our husbands are simply those photographs, since it is you who are the spouse (Jagatpati) of every living entity in this universe! All the others are mere reflections of your form and it is you whom we see in all our relatives and the people around us. Until now, we have been worshipping our husbands, our in-laws and our families because it is you whom we see in them. But when we have seen our real soul mate, when our real husband has called out to us through these melodious notes of the flute, our souls have responded and thus, we have left everything and come to you because you are everything to us. 136

149 A Tale of Melting Tears Shri Krishna related one story to the Gopis and subsequently, they related another to Shri Krishna. Both, Shri Krishna and the Gopis did this in order to strengthen their points of view. A lot of you must have had the good fortune of witnessing the Raas Leela in Vrindavan when it is enacted in the form of theatre. It is fascinating to note that the people who enact the parts are not referred to as actors. In fact, if you refer to them in that way, they understand that you are unfamiliar with the concept o the Raas in Vrindavan. These people playing the various parts are looked up to by the people of Vrindavan and the saints who watch this play. They are considered to be the divine forms of Shri Krishna and the Gopis while they perform the Raas Leela. The one who plays the part of Shri Krishna is worshipped in his role as the form of the Lord. It is said that those who play out these roles possess characters and personalities that are consistent with the divine parts that they play out. They do not do this simply for monetary compensation. To them, this is a kind of service that they offer to God. It is this emotion that glorifies the entire act, awarding it a divinity that makes tears of bliss and joy flow from the eyes of even the saints, transcendentalists and great knowledgeable devotees who lose themselves in the Raas Leela. Near Mt. Goverdhan, there was a great saint who has now left his mortal coil. He was a divine personality who was always dressed in white. The people of Danghati used to refer to him as another form of the celestial mountain. His name was Pandit Gaya Prasadji Maharaj. He was 137

150 extremely knowledgeable and used to conduct discourses on the Shrimad Bhagwat in the dialect of Vrindavan. Once, his guru introduced him to the person who had played the part of Shri Krishna in the theatrical act of Raas Leela. From then on, Panditji used to always bow down before the actor, even when he was not dressed in the form of Shri Krishna. It is said that Panditji used to always stay near Mt. Goverdhan, in a small house. He never left Vrindavan to go anywhere else. There are many such great saints who have made their homes in the blessed land of Vrindavan. I once had the good fortune of meeting Panditji during an on-going Bhagwat Katha in Vrindavan. He also used to attend the Katha and the Satsang that used to continue thereafter. When I went to meet him, he told me that he used to listen to the Katha through the loud speak that had been installed. He expressed his happiness and gave me his blessings. He said, Always chant the name of Shri Krishna with love. A gentleman who was seated nearby, told me to recite a couple of Shloks of the Shrimad Bhagwat for Panditji. I sang some of the Shlokas and then prostrated before Panditji asking for his blessings. He had a bit of a difficulty in hearing, which in Hindi meant that he could listen only when spoken to in a tone which was of a higher octave. This can also be perceived that Panditji did not listen to lowly talk. However, when I communicated my desire of seeking his blessings, he said, May the presence of the Lord always rule over your speech. Today, there stands a memorial which consists of a small hut that commemorates the essence of the great saint. It holds the few possessions of Panditji. If you get a chance, do try to encircle the divine 138

151 Mt. Goverdhan at least once in your lifetime. The route covers 21 Kms. Even the doctors advise us to walk today as it is benefitial to our health. If you visit Vrindavan, also take the time to go to Mt. Goverdhan and do the Parikrama. While doing this, you will come across the memorial of Panditji. Over this place it is written, Do not leave any money here. If you desire to give anything, then sit there and shed a few tears in the love of Shri Krishna. This will please Maharajji. Siva aansu bindu ke oh mere malik Main kuch bhi chadane ke kaabil nahi hoon Main aa toh gaya hoon magar jaanta hoon Tere dar pe aane ke kaabil nahi hoon {gdm Am±gw q~xw Ho$ Amo _oao _m{bh$, _ Hw$N> ^r MT>mZo Ho$ H$m{~b Zht hÿ±ÿ& _ Am Vmo J`m hÿ± _Ja OmZVm hÿ±, Voao Xa no AmZo Ho$ H$m{~b Zht hÿ±ÿ& Thus, even the actor who plays the role of Shri Krishna is worshipped as a form of the Lord himself. He is revered by saints and great men who prostrate before him. This so called actor may be a householder, but he appears in the form of God and therefore, he is worshipped with the same emotion. I have even been to the play of Holi in Vrindavan. It is a scene of pure joy and bliss. The devotees shower flower petals on the forms of Shri Radha and Krishna until they are completely covered with these petals. Then these forms of Radha and Krishna stand up and shower the same petals over the devotees and there is a festive atmosphere all around. It is rightly said that Vrindavan is the blooming 139

152 lotus in the pond of love, the Gopis are its petals, the pollen within the lotus represents Shri Radha and the divine fragnance that emanates from the Lotus is Shri Krishna. This entire pastime of the Lord is a play of bliss and pleasure and thus only those devotees possessing a similar temperament can partake in the Raas Leela. It is believed that one cannot enter Vrindavan until the Lord himself beckons.the devotee can obtain the divine vision of Shri Krishna only when he is called to do so. When the grace of Shri Krishna dawns on the devotee, he is drawn towards Vrindavan. Even today, there are people who will not dream of leaving the land of Vrindavan. Even within Vrindavan, there are many great saints who reside close to Mt. Goverdhan and vow never to leave the sacred land. They are forever engaged in encircling the mountain of Goverdhan. Jai jai shyama jai jai shyam Jai jai Shri Vrindavan dham O` O` í`m_m O` O` í`m_ÿ O` O` lr d ÝXmdZ Ym_ The dialogue that was exchanged between Shri Krishna and the Gopis is based on the content of the scriptures. In this discussion, the Gopis won; the winner usually gets to dominate the will of the loser. Therefore, the Gopis expressed their desire of enjoining with Shri Krishna in the Raas Leela and he had to fulfill it since he had lost the argument. 140

153 Aiso raas rachiyo vrindavan, baj rahi payal ki jhankar Baj rahi payal ki jhankar, aiso raas rachiyo vrindavan The Raas Leela is an event that occurs continuously and therefore it is not bound by the parameters of time or space. There is no end to it and we are also not attempting to complete the Raas Leela or the Gopi Geet. In fact, we have been contemplating on the first Shlok only. We have only managed to touch the essence and yet this has brought us complete bliss and joy. Eogmo amg aà`mo d ÝXmdZ, ~O ahr nm`b H$s P H$maŸ& ~O ahr nm`b H$s P H$ma, Eogmo amg aà`mo d ÝXmdZŸ&& The Expression of the Divine Experience The Gopi geet is a unique ballad of love. The Gopis have expressed their grief of separation through the medium of words which form the verses of the Gopi Geet. We manage to obtain an entry into this poetry of love by discussing and understanding the first Shloka. There are 19 such verses in the Gopi Geet. Every Shlok portrays a different emotion. We shall discuss these whenever we get a chance to do so. To assimilate this bliss that flows from the lotus feet of Shri Krishna, we have to possess hearts that are soft and flowing with love. This is the passport for entry into the Raas Leela. The devotee should try and cultivate the qualities of fluidity, simplicity, purity, coolness and sweetness because these are the five traits of the river Ganga which is considered to be the embodiment of devotion. On the path of devotion, the devotee has to worship the 141

154 Lord with any of these five emotions; motherly love, adornment, peace, friendship or servitude. Amongst these, if the devotee has the sentiment of Madhura Bhakti, he should study the Gopi Geet. On this path, you will experience the devotion felt by the Gopis and feel extreme pleasure and bliss. You will be able to understand the two extremes of love that were felt by the Gopis- The joy of union and the grief of bereavement. It is possible that while singing the Gopi Geet, you will be blessed with that essence of bliss felt by the Gopis. It is also possible that you will receive the grace of Shri Radha, the dust of whose feet glorifies Vrindavan and whose song of love enraptures the three worlds. If we can manage this, then we have been successful in our humble effort. This is the story of the flowing tears, it cannot be spoken about. It can only be experienced. Thus, in these three days, we have been able to assimilate the essence of this divine Raas Leela to a small extent. It is only an endeavor in the hope that Shri Radha is pleased with our effort and she takes our hand and leads us to the groves of Vrindavan. 142

155 Bhaishri st Born on 31 August 1957 in Devka, in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, into a Brahmin family, Bhaishri showed an inclination towards spirituality from an early age. While other children played, Bhaishri spent his time deeply immersed in religious activities. At the age of 13, he held his first discourse on the Shrimad Bhagwat Gita, and at age 18 he recited his first Shrimad Bhagwat Katha. His faith and beliefs only grew with age. From such humble beginnings, Bhaishri has gone on to capture the hearts and minds of millions across India and the world guiding his brethren through life's trials and enriching their lives with spirituality. The Beginning of Kathas The Shrimad Bhagwat Purana narrates in depth the 24 incarnations of Lord Vishnu. In doing so, it comments on various topics social, political and economic. Written by Sage Veda Vyasa, the Bhagavat 143

156 also comments on day-to-day issues, making it an important guide for the conduct of human beings in all their affairs. Bhaishri was drawn to the powerful message and pull of this sacred scripture. It dawned on Bhaishri that Bhagavat katha was one true medium that instils faithful devotion towards God among the general public. From that day on, the Bhagavat became a way of life for Bhaishri. Bhaishri developed keen interest in the Ramayana too, in particular the Ramacaritamanasa composed by Goswami Tulasidasaji. He realized the importance of the Ramayana in infusing goodness in people. Lord Rama in his various roles as the ideal man, son, brother, husband, king and teacher is an inspiration to people. The Ramayana teaches the way of an ideal social life and the principles of co-existence in society, country and the world. Bhaishri has deep admiration and love for Lord Kanhiya and was therefore naturally drawn to the teachings of the Bhagavad-Gita. A universal scripture, the Gita comprises the essence of all knowledge and wisdom explicated in the Upanisads. The Gita expounds truth and destroys all illusions. Its principles are applicable to everyone and guides one through life's trials and tribulations. Bhaishri believes that the combined power of the Bhagavat, the Ramayana and the Bhagavad-Gita can sustain a man through the journey of life. While the Bhagavat is devotional, the Ramayana stresses responsibility in conduct and behaviour and the Gita advocates total spiritual knowledge. Hence, one imbibes knowledge from the Gita, the art of living from the Ramayana and devotions from the Bhagavat. 144

157 Bhaishri thus continues to spread the messages of these great scriptures, adapting them to show their relevance even today. The medium of 'katha' is as old as the scriptures themselves. Literally meaning 'story', it is a popular way of explaining the Sanskrit verses into popular languages. While 'kathakaras', recitors of kathas, translate the verses into Hindi, Gujarati and English, they also add a relevant mix of stories, examples, humour and devotional singing. Many have expressed their thoughts, feelings and gratitude through letters to Bhaishri and private meetings. Those unhappy and depressed found a new direction in life. Those with spiritual quests found their answers. Those seeking more, found peace. Inspiring Thousands: Bhaishri and the People Bhaishri's kathas and discourses have helped and inspired many to lead their lives the right way. People have shown their gratitude in many different ways. They have opened their hearts to his various causes by contributing their time, effort and giving donations. For thousands of devotees, Bhaishri is more than just a spiritual leader. His teachings are a way of life for them. He is a source of knowledge, an inspiration. Today, Bhaishri continues to enrich the lives of people all over the world, through his profound wisdom and ever flowing compassion. 145

158 Books by Bhaishri ENGLISH Bhakti Sudha Jigyasa Vol. 1 Jigyasa Vol. 2 Jigyasa Vol. 3 Life, A Celebration The Practice of Karma Yoga HINDI Bhakti Sudha Jigyasa Vol. 1 Jigyasa Vol. 2 Parmarth Path Vivek Jyoti Hari Se Lage Raho Bhai Jyoti Kalash Sanskruti Stavan Shri Ramcharitmanas Gatha Bhagavat Bhagirathi GUJARATI Bhakti Sudha Jigyasa Vol. 1 Sanskruti Stavan Amrut Kumbha Jeevan Yatra Chatuh Shloki Bhagavat Shrimad Bhagavad Gita Shrimad Bhagavat Sudha Available from 146

159 Sandipani Vidyaniketan "Come to gain knowledge, leave to serve Mankind" One of the causes closest to Bhaishri's heart is that of spreading knowledge of the Vedic scriptures and upholding the cultural heritage of India. This is the inspiration behind Sandipani Vidyaniketan. Set up in February 1992 on 85 acres of land near Porbandar, Gujarat, Sandipani Vidyaniketan aims to rekindle humanity through education based on tradition and values for the benefit of society. Since its inception, it has been continuously expanding its activities and services. The Vidyaniketan has today become one of the leading educational institutions in India in the field of Vedic education. Bhaishri's vision behind the Vidyaniketan is to produce proficient 'Brahmins' who are scholars of Sanskrit, have consummate knowledge of the Vedas and can conduct their lives with discipline and restraint. Named after Sandipani, teacher of Lord Kanhiya, Balarama and Sudama, the Vidyaniketan nurtures its students to become ideal humans. Divine love and devotion become their ideals and selfless service their activity. Thus, the Vidyaniketan is able to produce persons of great caliber, having the capacity to impart knowledge and keep alive the cultural heritage of India. The Vidyaniketan is run by 'Shri Bharatiya Sanskruti Samvardhak Trust'. 'Sanskruti Foundation' in UK, USA and Australia, all founded by Bhaishri, also support the Vidyaniketan. 147

160 The Rishikul The Vidyaniketan runs a Rishikul, a system inspired by ancient Rishis and based on the close relationship between the guru and the students. The students, called Rishikumars, are taught the essential values of hard work, restraint and discipline in 'Tapovan' style, in an open and natural environment, away from urban areas. Subjects from Standard VIII to MA level include Sanskrit with emphasis on Grammar, Study of Scriptures, Sandhyopasana, Astrology, Philosophy and Music. Students are also learning English and Computers. Since 1992, total strength of students has increased from 80 to 275. To date, over 500 students have left the Rishikul as Shastris (graduates) and Acharyas (post-graduates). Admission to the Rishikul is totally free of charge. The Trust operates with the help of contributions coming from people supporting the Vidyaniketan. 148

161 The Gurukul The Sandipani Gurukul is an academic facility set up to impart education to students from Kindergarten to Standard XII. The Gurukul presents an excellent opportunity to parents from the national and international communities who want their children to have modern day education and grow in a spiritual environment. It teaches in the English medium and is affiliated with the Gujarat Board. Subjects include Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and History. Languages include Hindi, English, Gujarati, and Sanskrit. Extra curricular activities, like music, outdoor and indoor games as well as library and computer facilities are provided to the students. 149

162 Shri Hari Mandir In February 2006, a majestic temple was officially opened on the grounds of Sandipani Vidyaniketan. Since its opening, tends of thousands of devotees have entered the gates of the temple to have darshana of 'Shri Lakshmi Narayan', 'Shri Ram Darbar', 'Shri Radha Krishna', 'Shri Shiva Parivar', 'Shri Amba Maa', 'Shri Ganeshji' and 'Shri Hanumanji'. Measuring 105 feet high with 66 pillars and a 40 feet high dome, the Shri Hari Mandir exudes spiritual serenity along with sheer aesthetic brilliance. An oasis of peace and harmony, the majestic temple stands in all its glory inviting all to come and do darshana. The Shri Hari Mandir also houses a beautiful auditorium that seats 2000 people where spiritual discourses, kathas and cultural programmes are held being throughout the year. 150

163 For further information on Sandipani Vidyaniketan or Bhaishri Rameshbhai Oza's activities, please contact: Shree Bharatiya Sanskruti Samvardhak Trust & Sat Sahitya Prakashan Trust Porbandar Head Office - Sandipani Vidyaniketan, Maharshi Sandipani Marg, Raghavav, Opp. Airport, Porbandar , Gujarat, India Tel: +(91) Sanskruti Foundation UK 10 Cowbridge Road, Harrow, Middlesex, HA3 9QA, United Kingdom Tel: +(44) Sanskruti Foundation Australia 15 Savernake Court, Doncaster East, Melbourne, VIC 3109, Australia Tel: +(61-3) Mumbai Head Office -37, Shankar Sheth Bldg., 3rd floor, 380 / 82 J. S. S. Road, Chira Bazaar, Girgam Road, Mumbai , India Tel: +(91) / Sanskruti Foundation USA 6523, Ashdale Place, Charlotte, North Carolina 28215, United States of America Tel: +(1) Sanskruti Parivar New Zealand P.O. Box 298, Pukekohe 1800, New Zealand, Tel: +(649) To receive regular quotes andmessages from Pujya Bhaishri by , pleaseregister your address on the websiste below. Your will be kept fully confidential

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