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Chapter Four: Atma Prabha (Light of the Self)

Inspired Thoughts of Sri Gajanana Maharaj of Nashik, collected, arranged and translated

by D. L. Nirokhekar, B.A., LL.B., M.B.E.

Edited by Swami Nirmalananda Giri for this Printing.

Preface

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In the month of November 1943, Sri Gajanana Maharaj received a letter from the secretary of the Sri Ramana Maharshi Jayanti Utsav Committee of Matunga, Mumbai, inviting him to grace the occasion by his presence or to send a message in case he could not be present personally. Accordingly, a message was sent which was printed in the pamphlet published by the Committee of the Utsav Celebrations. In continuation of the thoughts contained in the message, Sri Gajanana Maharaj expressed later on from time to time certain thoughts connected with the subjects touched in the message. These thoughts were jotted down at the time and later were collected, arranged and translated by me into English. They are incorporated in Part One of this book.

In November 1945, a similar invitation was received by Sri Gajanana Maharaj and at that time also a message was sent which was similarly published in the pamphlet issued by the committee. In continuation of the topics treated in the message, Sri Gajanana Maharaj gave expression to various thoughts regarding spiritual matters from time to time. These thoughts were also jotted down at the time and later on collected, arranged and translated into English by me. This second series of thoughts forms the subject matter of Part Two of this book.

From his life it appears that Sri Gajanana Maharaj is a born Siddha. He has had no school or university education in the modern sense of the term. And yet he has a fund of intuitive knowledge which even the modern scholars in philosophy and religion rarely possess. Not being a man of science, it is not expressed in scientific language. It could not be. Nevertheless truth remains truth, even though it is expressed in ordinary language; and we are only concerned with truth, reality and the Spirit-Self–not its trappings.

The Maharaj speaks from his own experiences. He got those experiences through the grace of his guru, Sri Narayana Saraswati, who had told him to meditate on the Soham mantra. And as there can be no higher authority than Self-experience, his thoughts must command due respect.

The book is not a systematically written thesis. The Maharaj had expressed certain thoughts on different occasions, and they are collected in this book. Hence, the reader finds some repetitions. The Maharaj urges upon all his disciples the importance of following the method of meditation which he has practiced, and asks them to wait for the results which, he says, are sure to follow as day follows the night.

The quintessence of his teaching is the japa of the Soham mantra. The charm of the Soham mantra lies in its ease, simplicity, and naturalness, and hence his preference for it. Besides, it reminds the follower of the universal truth Aham Brahmasmi [I am Brahman] or Tattwamasi [Thou Art That], as Soham means “I am He.”

It is very difficult for a rational man to believe that mere repetition of a mantra leads to Self-realization. But in spiritual matters reason sometimes does not help us much. There we have to depend upon other and higher faculties such as intuition, inspiration or insight. Science cannot account for the knowledge gained through them, and yet that knowledge is as exact and precise as scientific knowledge can be, if not more. Hence we must realize that there are some higher faculties in spiritually gifted men which can lead us into spiritual realms undreamt of by science. Some, at least, can peer into these higher regions and can guide others qualified to enter there.

These gifted men experience some things which ordinary mortals cannot even imagine. They read the past, the present and the future as an open book. If such extraordinary men can be found amongst us, how can we possibly deny their Self-experiences? And what better authority can be found beyond Self-experience which is not tainted by any possible error? Moreover, if such gifted men are absolutely disinterested and are working for the good of others, what possible motives can there be for them to lead their admirers astray? We are therefore compelled to rely upon their word of honor and trust them fully in what they say and do for us.

The Maharaj has proved his bonafides in this field beyond any shadow of doubt, and therefore his words based upon his own experiences must be relied on till the contrary is proved. The Maharaj says that he is always open to correction. He simply wishes that his simple method may be given a trial. There is absolutely no harm in it. His follower is not asked to renounce the world. His simple advice is, “Concentrate upon the mantra and the result will inevitably follow.” What can be simpler than this method?

“The proof of the pudding lies in its eating,” so says the proverb. Some of the Maharaja’s followers have tasted this pudding by eating it. They confirm what he has said. I pray, therefore: let others try this for their benefit.

I myself found these thoughts very stimulating and useful. The general topic, of course, is the contemplation and japa of Soham, which mantra Sri Gajanana Maharaj gives to all his disciples. But these thoughts also explain how to overcome various difficulties which beset an aspirant on the spiritual path and also solve many doubts which assail the minds of sadhakas and also those of ordinary people who are desirous of getting a knowledge of spiritual matters. Very deep and searching light has been thrown on various doubts and the answers given will be found to clear the fog surrounding spiritual matters and carry conviction to the hearts of at least believing persons. Non-believers also will find something useful in these thoughts, which will at least make them think.

With this hope and trust I have ventured to offer them in an English garb to all persons who are interested in spiritual topics.

D. L. Nirokhekar
Nashik City: 23rd May, 1945.

Since Then…

Sri Gajanana Maharaja left the mortal coil of his physical body and entered into mahasamadhi at Nashik on the 28th of September, 1946. An attempt was made to get this book printed and published during Sri Gajanana Maharaja’s life-time, but owing to various difficulties of obtaining paper, etc., the attempt was not successful. His disciples and admirers keenly felt that his inspired and invaluable thoughts regarding the power and efficacy of the Soham mantra which he gave to all who came to him for initiation, should be published and made known to all aspirants of the spiritual path. This book, therefore, has been published now for the benefit of all souls who have a desire to be liberated from the troubles and tribulations of worldly existence and of entering into the everlasting peace of the Supreme Lord of the Universe.

D. L. Nirokhekar
Mumbai, 23rd October, 1948

The Divine Message of Sri Gajanana Maharaj of Nashik

Part One

Soham

O my mind, be always repeating the japa of Soham.

Through faith in Soham external worship has been left behind. The soul has been realized in the form of Soham. Through the sound of Soham the guru has been beheld–that guru who saves people by the principle of Soham.

Mad Broom

Sri Ramdas has said, “Oh mind, you yourself have accumulated sin and merit in previous lives, and hence you have to endure the resulting good and evil in this life.” Every creature has to endure the effects of his sins and good actions done in previous lives, and there is no escaping them.

Although I am continuously suffering from bodily ailments I enjoy bliss in the contemplation of the Self [Atman]. The joy that I then experience is beyond description in words. The nature of every experience is such. If you want to realize the sweetness of sugar or the bitterness of quinine, you must taste it yourself. Any amount of description in words will never make you realize it. Self-realization is similarly a matter of experience, and firm faith alone will enable one to get that experience.

I am merely a broom in the durbar [court] of my sadguru. [This is why Sri Gajanana Maharaj called himself “Mad Broom.”] To speak the truth, I am neither a learned man nor a man of philosophical knowledge. But owing to some merit acquired in previous lives I have been enveloped with the shawl of his grace by my sadguru, and I firmly believe that the thoughts I give expression to are not my own but the self-inspired thoughts of my guru who is, as it were, making me his mouthpiece and giving expression to them.

Saints appear to be different but are all one

Although saints appear to be different, they are all one as they have all become merged in the one Paramatman. Remembering this principle, I consider that all saints are as worthy of reverence as my own guru. Wherever my mind goes, I find my guru’s form there. Such has been my angle of vision since my childhood, and owing to this even the idea of knowing “Who am I?” never arises in my mind.

My guru showered his grace upon me and gave me the ajapa japa mantra of Soham. This grace has deeply entered the innermost recesses of my heart. Most of my time is spent in the company of my friends and companions. I can only say that I am enjoying complete rest in the shade of my guru’s grace.

I have above described in short the state of supreme peace that I have been enjoying. Naturally, all my actions are directed in creating as many sharers in this my state as possible. A description of my experiences is merely a part of these activities, and I try to see that others also get similar experiences. It would not, therefore, be out of place if I describe some of my experiences and other matters incidentally connected with them.

Every human being is ceaselessly trying to acquire happiness

Every human being is ceaselessly trying to acquire happiness or to increase his share in it and to avoid pain, or at least to lessen it as much as possible. But the experience is just the contrary. He is ever feeling the lack of something and is always plunged in misery. Things which are pleasant in the beginning end in sorrow, and misery is always on the increase and gets the upper hand. As man does not really understand wherein lies his happiness, he passes his days in the vain hope of securing happiness some time or other. Death catches him in its grip while his search for happiness is still going on. People do not profit by the example of their companions and fellow-beings, and so continue the same search and follow the same path. They, however, do not stop to think wherein lies real and lasting happiness. A man, if he thinks deeply about this, will come to know that all things in this world which appear pleasant are perishable and false like a mirage. They either cause pain or increase the pain which is already there. No one, however, acquires this insight. On the contrary, everyone is entangled more and more in this snare of misery and finds it difficult to see a way out of the maze.

It is therefore necessary that some royal road should be pointed out so that people going by that path might root out this unending sorrow and pain and reach the destination where there is everlasting peace and happiness. I am putting before the world my experiences in order that people might find an easy, short and sure way of reaching this goal of everlasting happiness. When you get experience for yourself, you will be sure that you are on the right path. You will yourself enjoy full, complete and everlasting happiness and also lead other forlorn and miserable fellow-beings to the same path. It is the grace of my guru that prompts me to show this easy and royal road to the people who are engaged in worldly pursuits.

A simple and royal road to real happiness and bliss

There is a simple and royal road to obtain real happiness and bliss, a road which does not require the abandoning of worldly life and of our usual worldly activities. This path is known as Dhyana Yoga or Raja Yoga or Karma Marga.

If you follow this path you are sure to reach the goal. The series of difficulties which a person has to undergo in this worldly life in due course awakens a desire in him to find out this path leading to unchanging and everlasting happiness. He then tries his utmost to discover this path, but he is almost always groping in the dark. The main object in writing this is to shed light in this darkness, and to illumine the path for the sake of these struggling human souls.

The goal of human life and steps to attain it

To thoroughly understand the “I,” to seek for It and to catch hold of It, is the goal of this path. For a human being, whether man or woman, this is not an easy task. A keen desire to find out this “I,” a firm determination to carry on the search for It and great perseverance in sticking to this pursuit: these are the steps which an aspirant has to ascend if he wants to reach the goal. Once you reach the high pinnacle you can sit and cast a glance on the panorama of worldly existence spreading out below you. A person who feels this urge to find out the “I” and thus to enjoy this unrivalled empire of complete and unchanging bliss, is known as a mumukshu [a seeker after liberation–moksha]. To complete this search and to be in the enjoyment of this everlasting happiness is known as obtaining moksha. The path which leads to this moksha is known as yoga. This yoga is merely a means leading to the end. There are different paths leading to moksha which are the different yogas and are known by different names. But the paths other than the one described here are difficult to follow.

Things necessary to find out the “I”

To find out the “I,” the following things are necessary. First, a person must obtain the grace of a sadguru. Without giving the least scope to doubts and misgivings he must have firm, unswerving faith. Then he will be able to see clearly the path before him. This is known as Anugraha. When this Anugraha is obtained, he must carry on the japa of the mantra. This mantra is Soham, which is the answer to the question “Who am I?” The meaning of the mantra is: “I am He,” “I am God.” The sadhaka must carry on the japa with firm faith.

The continuous repetition and meditation of this mantra, Soham, is known as abhyasa (practice). This japa will not interfere with any of your worldly duties. As the contemplation proceeds, the broom of Soham will sweep off the dirt of the innumerable desires entertained through the course of previous lives from the heart, and the heart will then become pure. Owing to this, a sense of detachment will grow and the mind will be entirely free from desires. As soon as you reach this stage, you will be immersed in the bliss of the Self. Then you will reach the summit and attain your goal.

Supposing all these things happen: you try to keep your mind pure and by continuous contemplation a feeling of detachment grows up in your mind. Still the question remains whether you, the sadhaka, can be said to have progressed. You can get a very satisfactory answer to this question.

To understand this clearly, let us take the very familiar instance of university and other examinations. There is a fixed curriculum and the question paper is the same for all candidates. We find thousands of students appearing for these examinations. All these students have completed their studies and have answered the question papers. Then why should there be the necessity of looking to the results of these examinations? All the candidates do not pass. Not only that, but several of them have to appear again and again and continue the same studies till their efforts are crowned with success. This is a matter of common experience. We see that the various candidates get marks according to their preparation and that many get failed and have to appear again. The same analogy holds good in the case of spiritual matters. Every aspirant must, with perseverance and firm faith, carry on the abhyasa (practice) until he becomes fit to be the recipient of the final experience. His progress will depend upon his practice in this life. But it goes without saying that he is sure to attain the goal sooner or later.

The next question is, “How far has the sadhaka progressed and has his aptitude for getting the ultimate experience increased or not?” There is a very easy method to find out the answer to this question. Just look back retrospectively. Consider what was the tendency of your thoughts before you began your practice, what were your defects and what were your merits then, and observe the tendency of your thoughts now. See whether your good qualities have increased and your defects have become less. If you observe these things minutely you will get an answer to the above question.

The following are some of the characteristics that accompany the stage of the realization of the final experience. Desire, aversion, attachment and fondness for sensual enjoyments are conspicuously absent. A feeling of complete detachment reigns. The mind is, as it were, nullified. All disturbing waves of thought subside and the deep calm ocean of peace pervades everywhere. The real object of getting this human life is fulfilled. The real nature of “I” is thoroughly understood. The continuous practice of dhyana and japa leads to this stage. In that stage, the dhyata, dhyana and the dhyeya–the contemplator, contemplation and the object of contemplation–become one, and thereby the real object of devotion is fulfilled.

As the sadhaka progresses, he gets certain powers (siddhis) in the natural course. He, however, must not be attracted towards those powers, but must carry on the practice with firmness. If he allows himself to be attracted by them, he becomes their prey and various obstacles then arise in the path of his progress, which sometimes is altogether stopped.

Now there is another question: Whether there is any use of carrying on the japa of Soham if we have no faith in its efficacy.

Is there any use in carrying on the japa of Soham without faith in its efficacy?

The answer to that is that the repetition of the japa will always be useful, even though done without faith. It will never do you any harm. No doubt all the shastras and saints lay stress on faith, and hence the above statement will appear contrary to their teachings. However, if you go deep into the matter and observe minutely, you will easily be able to reconcile the two statements. Without having faith–although it may be in the subconscious mind–no one will be induced to practice the japa. As soon as a person begins to repeat the japa, faith is there accompanying the japa like its shadow. If we carefully follow this argument the seeming contradiction will cease to trouble us. A real mumukshu or devotee will never be deceived by the seeming contradiction, and will never allow his mind to be disturbed and turned away from the path.

Comparing Dhyana Yoga with other yogas

As an illustration of comparing Dhyana Yoga with other yogas, let us take the case of the nine-fold path of Bhakti (Devotion). In this all the organs [jnanendriyas and karmendriyas] have to be utilized in the service of God. In the repetition of mantra or the contemplation of God, however, only the mind is utilized. It is not necessary to make a comparison with all the other yogas. This illustration will convince anyone why Dhyana Yoga is by far the easiest. In the Yoga Sutras we find: “Its japa and fixing one’s attention on its meaning.” Patanjali makes clear the method to be followed. Once you get accustomed to the continuous repetition of the Soham mantra, ajapa japa will necessarily follow. This japa of the mantra is the sadhana (means) and ajapa japa is the goal to be reached.

The aim of all yogas is the realization of the Godhead. The state is known by various names such as Sayujyata, Soham, Aham Brahmasmi, or Sakshatkar. To reach this goal, persevering effort, complete devotedness, concentration and a capacity to persevere are necessary. If a sadhaka carries on practice in the manner mentioned above, he is sure to reach the goal of Self-realization sooner or later, according to the merit acquired by him in previous lives. If a sadhaka does not carry on the practice for a sufficiently long time with firm faith, but leaves it in the middle, being tired of waiting, he will never attain Self-realization.

The sadhaka alone, who has gained this aptitude for spiritual knowledge in his previous life, will develop a liking for this practice leading to oneness with Brahman, and he alone will ultimately enjoy everlasting bliss. All dross is sure to be swept away from the heart of such a sadhaka by the constant japa of Soham. If the seed of Soham is sown in such a field, it is sure to sprout into a beautiful tree which will be laden with the fruit of the bliss of Self-realization. Such sadhakas will be enjoying unchanging bliss and will very easily cross the river of worldly existence. When a sadhaka reaches this stage he can very easily control his mind, intellect and ahamkar. The power generated by the constant repetition of the Soham mantra is sure to lead to the complete deliverance of the sadhaka.

Why should not the method of scientific experiments be followed?

Modern rationalists say, “The present is the age of experiments. We shall put our faith only in those things which will be proved by experiments. In schools and colleges at present every day experiments are made by teachers and professors, and students are also coached in making them. The age of blind faith is gone. There is a method in making these scientific experiments. Why should not the same method be followed in the spiritual field?”

The following reply may be given to this sort of reasoning.

There were saints in the past, there are saints at present and there will be saints in the future. No saint in the past made such experiments. No saint at present makes them and no saint in the future will make them. There is a world of difference between material sciences and spiritual matters. The region of spiritual matters lies beyond mind, intellect and ahamkar (egoism). Owing to this, no saint can demonstrate by actual experiments matters pertaining to the spirit as modern scientists do in the case of matter. Similarly, saints do not get these experiments performed by others.

There has been no instance in history of such experiments being performed by any saint. Cast a glance at past history. Take the case of great saints like Sri Jnaneshwar, Tukaram, Ekanath, Janardhan Swami, Matsyendranath and others. They had many disciples. But the select few who were found to have a special aptitude alone reached perfection and became famous in the world and carried on the tradition in their turn by making disciples of their own. Why should these great saints do so? Why did they not establish universities for conferring the Degree of “Saint” and open coaching classes in which experiments were performed and ocular demonstrations were made? Answers to all such questions can be had from illustrations with which we are all familiar.

At present many examinations are held every year. We also read about the results of these examinations. Many candidates appear for these examinations. The results show that some of them have passed while others have failed and have to prepare themselves again. Only one or two of those that have passed get scholarships or prizes. All candidates who have passed did not get an equal number of marks. Their marks differ and they get their rank according to the number of marks secured by them. This shows that scholarships or prizes are not given to all, but only to the select few. That is because they alone are found deserving.

When we clearly see such examples in the world, to raise such questions on the strength of argumentative powers is nothing but a waste of time and energy. It only shows that these people who do so are not really desirous to ascertain the truth, but only want to carry on discussions and to indulge in intellectual subtleties. If these rationalists would only think sincerely on the matter, they would easily get answers to such questions. I am neither a shastri nor a pandit, nor a modern educated man with university degrees. I have given answers to such questions in my humble way. I leave it to those rationalists to see whether they fit in or not.

My own experiments

My guru has ordered me to describe my own experiences in these matters in order that various doubts which assail the minds of people may be dispelled and the secret of these matters be easily grasped by them. I shall therefore describe how I pray to God, how I was favored by the grace of my guru and the actual experiences which I have got through his grace. Please ponder upon them sincerely, and with an open and independent mind choose things of which you approve, bring them into practice, obtain the knowledge of the real nature of the Self, become immersed in the bliss of the Self and be favorites of fortune.

I think that I must have made preparations in my previous life and that I must have been favored with the grace of the guru. I must also have carried on the practice of yoga. To these things the little practice that I did in this life was added. In this life I put firm faith in the words of my guru and considered that my guru’s words were more valuable than all the shastras put together. By constant practice this firm faith reached its climax.

I firmly believe that I never did anything with my will power. I did all actions as naturally as a child. Owing to this attitude of my mind, my guru became pleased with me and showered his grace upon me. He blessed me by giving me the mantra of Soham. This mantra is the inner, subtle sound produced by the incoming and outgoing breaths. Everyone is breathing and producing this sound, but no one is conscious of it. Hence no one practices this japa. But if anyone carries on the practice by fixing his attention upon this japa, he will be sure to obtain its fruit. After being graced by my guru I carried on the japa with perseverance and firm faith, and later this practice became my nature. Ordinarily I pass most of my time in the company of my friends, enjoying it as innocently and joyously as a child.

Sometimes my friends say to me, “Maharaj, you are now more than fifty years old; why do you act as a child? Have some gravity and seriousness.” At this I do nothing but laugh. When I look to this lila (sportive working) of God, I am impelled to say, “Oh God, you are not seen by my physical eye. I cannot even conceive about you in my mind.” Although such is the real case, some people say: “Gajanana Maharaj is a great yogi. He has great will power. He is a saint, he is an adept. He mixes with all. He becomes small in the company of the small and great in the company of the great, poor in the company of the poor and rich in the company of the rich. In fact he considers himself as one with all. Notwithstanding all this, he has no feeling of caste or relationship and no sense of honor or dishonor.”

Some people with devotion in their hearts come to me and persist in asking me to be their guru and favor them with my grace. They later on tell me that they had sakshatkar (realization). I listen to all these things and also observe them. Oh God, all these things come to pass through your grace alone. There is not the slightest doubt about this. You yourself gave me the mantra of Soham. I give them the same mantra. Through the power of this mantra you shower your grace upon them and bless them with real knowledge. I am only sorry that you have all along kept me an ignoramus. I, however, have determined to serve my guru to the end of my life, having fixed my firm faith in him. If you wish, keep me the same sort of ignoramus in all my future lives also. But I only pray to you to save all those who put their faith in the mantra of Soham, each according to his aptitude. According to your will the cycle of worldly existence will be carried on. Only let me never be separated from your feet.

My brothers and sisters, if you also carry on the practice with firm faith and assiduity, you too will get experience in a greater or lesser degree. From amongst all who thus try, only those whose practice reaches perfection will get Self-realization. Faith, perseverance and continuous effort lead to success and realization of the Self. If your efforts are weak, or if you abandon the practice in the middle and ask why you do not get experiences which others get, it will be a senseless question not deserving any answer. “There is no firm conviction and the mind is wandering everywhere.” If such is the state, abhyasa (practice) will be useless and will be of no avail. Hence you must have firm faith and realize your oneness with Brahman through the power of the mantra.

Different kinds of “I,” their extent and mutual relation

Let us now consider the different kinds of “I,” their extent and their mutual relation. The word “I” is used in two senses. The first is “mind,” and the second is that principle or element inside our bodies which is very subtle, which is all-pervading and which is the seer and knower of all things. This means that in worldly parlance it is used in the sense of the vital principle of Brahman. That ever-present witness inside who knows both these kinds of minds and who himself is beyond all sense perception, is the real “I.”

As described above, the “I” is of two kinds. That “I” which is devoid of ahamkar feels that it pervades everywhere. It knows no distinction between a learned man and a dunce. It is always immersed in joy. While doing worldly actions, although the actions are correctly and methodically done, it all along is enjoying atmic bliss. In order to attain this attitude it is necessary that the principle of Self-realization or renunciation must be firmly and thoroughly assimilated. This does not mean that actions are to be abandoned. Only the desire of obtaining the fruit of those actions is to be renounced. All actions must be done quite naturally.

A person should always try to read his mind and see how far this tendency of renunciation has developed. If he finds that while doing various actions his mind does not cast any glance towards the good or bad result of those actions, but actions are done solely from a sense of duty, he should be sure that he is progressing and rendering himself more and more fit. In the Gita the word tyaga (renunciation) has been used in this very sense. If the letters in the word Gita are reversed we get tagi, which is the same as tyagi.

A mumukshu is terribly afraid of this panorama of worldly existence and, not being able to know who he really is, becomes full of bewilderment and misery. Then Soham is shown to him. His bewilderment disappears, he begins to enjoy constant and everlasting peace and ultimately obtains moksha.

If a sadhaka has recourse to Vedanta or the other different kinds of yoga, he gets confused. The Dhyana Yoga of the Nath Pantha which has been handed down from Matsyendranath acts like a light which clearly shows the right path. I say this from my own experience. As the sadhaka has to repeat the japa and also to meditate, this path is known as Dhyana Yoga. With firm faith, having turned back the course of thoughts from the outward world to inside himself, a sadhaka has to carry on the japa and meditation for a long time. As he progresses, he gradually reaches perfection and realizes that his own soul has been his sadguru. This stage is known as oneness of jiva (the individual soul) and Shiva (the Supreme Soul). It is also called sakshatkara. A sadhaka then naturally enjoys the bliss of the Self and becomes devoid of desire for anything else. This path is also known as Dhyana Yoga or Karma Marga, because a sadhaka gets sakshatkar after progressing through many steps. He also attains complete knowledge, hence it is called Jnana Yoga. I therefore again and again say that people should have recourse to this simple path of self-deliverance.

How to act in worldly life to aid spiritual progress

Now let us see how a man should act in worldly life so that he may progress spiritually while leading a life of the world. It must be admitted that it is very difficult for an ordinary person to leave the worldly life. He thinks that there is a great responsibility upon him in this world. He is always putting forward excuses such as that he has a large family and that he alone is its supporter; he has, therefore, no time for the present to devote to spiritual matters; he will see about them later on when his responsibilities become less. To him I will say, “My good friend, do not leave your family. Continue to do your worldly duties as you are doing now. Only begin the practice of Dhyana Yoga and carry it on and stick to it with perseverance. You can thus kill two birds with one stone. You will be able to lead a worthy worldly life and also to progress spiritually. Try it and you will be convinced of the truth of what is said above from your own experience.”

Now let us see how this can be accomplished. No human being can ever escape from the necessity of doing actions. There are, however, two different ways of doing these actions. In the one, we do all actions with the desire of achieving some object as a consequence of those actions. If our object is fulfilled, we become happy and full of joy. If, on the contrary, we fail in achieving our object and are unsuccessful, we are cast down and we become full of sorrow. Thus we see that the real cause of our happiness or sorrow is not the actions themselves, but the object or motive behind them. If we then abandon the object and do not pay any attention at all to the consequences of our actions, but do them from a sense of duty only, we shall never fall into the clutches of sorrow and our peace of mind will never be disturbed. Actions done with the desire of achieving some object are known as sakama and those done merely from a sense of duty without any object in view are known as nishkama.

Now if we cast a glance at the worldly experiences of our own and of others, what do we see? Do we find that all our actions are successful and that our desires are in every case fulfilled? Do the actual results of our actions correspond to the expectations entertained in our mind regarding them? No. On the contrary, we find that in the majority of cases we are unsuccessful and have to swallow the bitter pill of disappointment. There are various obstacles which intervene and frustrate our desires. We sometimes overcome some expected obstacles and triumph over the difficulties. But almost always we succumb before unexpected obstacles and difficulties. In such circumstances we get confounded, and getting submerged in the slough of despondency are completely at a loss to know what do. We are sometimes quite tired with our life and wish that it were ended. Why is it so? It is because when we do actions with some object in view, all our attention is directed towards the object, and once that is frustrated the equanimity of the mind is entirely disturbed and we become a prey to sorrow and despondency.

If on the other hand we do actions merely from a sense of duty without paying any attention to the result, and taste the fruit of those actions quite naturally as it comes, we shall not be affected either by joy or sorrow and our peace of mind will never be disturbed. This is because vasana (desire) which is the root cause of all sorrow is nullified. To do actions in this manner is known as Nishkama Karma Yoga. If a person follows this method while leading his life in the world he will surely attain Self-realization. Such a person need not renounce the world. Only he must follow this method with great perseverance and firm determination. He must only have the will to do so, and his efforts will surely be crowned with success. Let us take a few illustrations to make the above points clear.

Suppose I am a big official. I can misuse my power and give great trouble to others and humiliate them. I can also through the exercise of the same power reach the summit of material prosperity by benefitting myself in various ways. There cannot be two opinions regarding the reprehensible nature of my conduct. All people will condemn it. I can also make good use of my power and be of good service to many people. Suppose I take the opportunity afforded by the power vested in me and try to be useful to other people as far as I can, quite naturally and without any ulterior object of any benefit to myself. I therefore pay no heed to what people say about me, whether they praise me or censure me. I do these things from a sense of duty; I am not overjoyed if people praise me. I simply taste the natural fruit of my actions and my peace of mind is not disturbed. I might perhaps get involved in great troubles like Saint Damaji [who risked his life for the sake of others by distributing grain from the royal granaries to the people in the time of famine Editor’s note]. In that case, I shall not allow my peace of mind to be disturbed, but bow to the will of God with due reverence and submission and calmly endure the result of my action.

Take another illustration. Suppose I am a merchant. In trade we cannot definitely say when and how much profit we shall get. Suppose fortune favors me and I get a huge profit which was not even dreamt of by me and I am, at a single bound, raised to the status of a millionaire from the position of a poor man. I could spend all this unexpected money in various items of luxury, licentiousness and dancing and music parties. But I, however, spend the money in opening hospitals, building dharmashalas, feeding the poor, improving agriculture and founding educational institutions. I thus am greatly useful to society. Yet suppose no one praises me. I am not garlanded in public meetings, my name does not appear in the newspapers and celebrated as that of a great generous donor. No one ever acknowledges his obligations to me. Still I do not feel sorry or get disappointed with the ingratitude of men. I feel that I unexpectedly got the huge profit and naturally spent it in doing these useful deeds. All this happened quite naturally at my hands. If such are my feelings, I can be said to follow the method of Nishkama Karma Yoga.

Take a third illustration. Suppose I am devoted to the study of medical science. I make various experiments and discover remedies for various diseases. I give my advice and treatment to patients free of charge and many ailments are cured and suffering humanity is greatly benefitted. The number of my patients is vastly increasing and my name is in everybody’s mouth. The ruler of a great state honors me and offers me the present of a big sum of money. I never resorted to all these activities with the object of getting money or fame. I simply wanted to be useful to my fellow-beings to the best of my abilities. In these circumstances, if I get fame or a big sum of money as mentioned above, I cannot deserve blame in any way because when I did those actions my mind was absolutely disinterested. The fame and the money naturally came to me. This is also Nishkama Karma on my part.

All actions, therefore, which are done by us without any desire of obtaining the fruit, and simply from a sense of duty, are nishkama. Such a person is known as a Nishkama Karma Yogi. He easily achieves success in spiritual matters, and in course of time attains the bliss of the Self.

While practicing Nishkama Karma Yoga or Raja Yoga, many a time various miracles take place at our hands. This stage is known as the stage of siddhis (powers). There is a danger at this time of our becoming either afraid or triumphant or proud. Very great care must be taken at this time. Otherwise we shall become as blank as we were at the beginning of our spiritual career. If we make use of these powers for obtaining fame or wealth, our spiritual progress will be entirely stopped and we shall stray away far from our goal of acquiring the knowledge and realization of the Self. If we however consistently maintain the attitude that we are not the authors of these miracles, we are not responsible for them and they happened naturally, these siddhis will not operate as obstacles on our path and we shall easily attain our goal and gain complete peace and happiness.

I therefore humbly request you all: Think of all things with an independent and unbiased mind, through practice root out all likes and dislikes and acquire a sense of complete detachment. With Nishkama Karma Yoga carry on your worldly duties and through meditation and practice become one with the universe and enjoy everlasting bliss.

A special characteristic of Dhyana Yoga

I shall conclude by dealing with a special characteristic of Dhyana Yoga as compared with other yogas. In all yogas there are experiences culminating in samadhi. In the state of samadhi or a state resembling it, visions of various deities and great saints are seen and conversations held with them. So these things are common. But sadhakas following the path of Dhyana Yoga say they have experiences of the kind mentioned below. We shall later on see what inference is to be drawn from such experiences.

A sadhaka is sitting in meditation. A person not at all acquainted with the sadhaka is living at a distance of many miles from the sadhaka. The sadhaka sees that person’s house in his vision. That house was never seen by the sadhaka before. He sees a storeroom in the house and in that room a box in which he sees some volumes of Yoga Vashishtha. This sadhaka is of a curious disposition. He mentions the things seen by him in the vision to a few of his acquaintances who have no faith in yoga and other spiritual topics. The sadhaka, accompanied by these acquaintances, goes to that person’s house in order to test whether the vision corresponds to actual facts or was merely a dream. To the wonder of these acquaintances and of the sadhaka himself (although to a slightly less degree), the house corresponded with that seen in the vision. They tell the owner of the house their object in visiting him. He says that there is a box in the storeroom but it does not contain any volumes of Yoga Vashishtha. But he does not like to send away these persons with a feeling that they had come on a fool’s errand. He therefore takes the trouble of opening the box in their presence and begins to take out of it one thing after another, and lo! the volumes of Yoga Vashishta are found in the box. The sadhaka then begins to think that the things seen in meditation are not merely creatures of imagination, but are actually true. He begins to ask himself why and how this could be so. While he is engrossed in pondering the answer to his question, Sri Jnaneshwar’s following line suddenly flashes before him and gives a complete answer to this question. The line runs thus: “If we look to this (Brahman or Atmarama) carefully, it is neither outside nor inside. It alone is sporting everywhere.” This completely satisfies him. [This actually happened to one of Gajanana Maharaj’s disciples. Editor’s note.]

The process of reasoning which thus solves his doubts and silences his questions may be briefly summarized as follows: We say that we are the body and also mean it. The mover inside the body, who undoubtedly exists, cannot be actually seen nor can anyone demonstrate his existence by actual experiments, nor can anyone say what are his attributes. This element inside is known as the Ego or Chaitanya or by some other name. The same element is pervading all things outside our body. It cannot be seen by the physical eye. Those who have studied modern science know that in the atmosphere surrounding us there are various gases whose existence is not perceived easily. Similarly, heat and electricity cannot actually be seen. After performing experiments we come to know about the nature of these elements. Then we become sure about their existence.

Similarly, there is one element which is inside our body and outside it, pervading everywhere. We have to infer its existence. We find space around us and say that it is empty. But it is not so. It is filled with the atmosphere which is full of air and its component gases. The air inside a bottle and in the atmosphere outside the bottle is of the same kind. Similarly, the Chaitanya which dwells in the body is the same as the Chaitanya which pervades everywhere outside. Even in the things which we call inanimate, there is Chaitanya. Only its existence can be experienced under certain circumstances.

While trees and grain are being dried in the light of the sun, they store up the heat of the sun within themselves. This store of heat lies dormant in food, vegetables, fuel, coal and other things. By friction or by the application of heat, by burning a piece of paper, a piece of cloth or oil, this store of heat is liberated and then these things throw out all the heat accumulated by them within themselves. Similarly, the existence of the Chaitanya is felt or experienced when the eye of knowledge is opened by means of yoga.

The vital force or energy in nature is one and the same. We can never create it nor can we destroy it. Only we convert one kind of energy into another. This law of the conservation of energy has been accepted by all, and all have faith in it. Similarly, Chaitanya cannot be increased or decreased. It assumes different forms of material things, and its existence is then perceived.

If we consider these laws of material science and apply their principles to the understanding of the all-pervading Chaitanya, we shall be intellectually convinced of its existence and we can get its actual experience by means of yoga. If we follow this process of reasoning, the idea that Brahman is a vague and nebulous conception of speculative philosophers will, I think, entirely disappear.

If a sadhaka again and again gets such experiences and if he follows the process of reasoning indicated above, he will be convinced that one and the same Self is sporting everywhere, inside him as well as outside him. By deep and constant pondering upon this principle, he will clearly realize the all-pervading nature of the Self. This, I think, should be called Atma-Sakshatkara.

Part Two

“Through faith in Soham external worship has been left behind. The soul has been realized in the form of Soham. The guru has been clearly manifested through the sound of Soham–that guru who saves all the poor, troubled souls by the truth of Soham.”

The Mad Broom

“Such is the nature of pure love that it loves without any motive of self-interest.”

Saint Tukaram

My dear brothers and sisters,

I am deeply thankful to you for the kind and affectionate invitation you sent to me for the Jayanti Utsav of Sri Ramana Maharshi. You have also asked me to send a message if I am unable to attend personally. I cannot personally be present amongst you although I would have very much liked to be there. But your pure affection has prompted some thoughts in my mind, which I herewith send to you.

Saguna is the Manifestation of the Unmanifested

Let us take the subject of the Unmanifested (Avyakta). We have to designate all things by some word. This necessity of using some word to designate things is felt by all, whether saints, learned persons or ignorant people. When a child is born, it does not say that it should be called by a particular name such as Govinda or Gopal; but people give it some name. The same is the case with the Unmanifested. A child was born from the Unmanifested and the saints called it Maya. From time immemorial saints have come out of the Unmanifested, assuming a saguna form and having bodies–embodiments of light–in order to teach human beings and to spread spiritual knowledge in the world.

Every human being is sent into this world for the purpose of enjoying the bliss of the Self while doing worldly actions in a detached spirit, and of realizing the Godhead.

We must not get entangled in the nets of sex and money [lust and greed: materialism]. Thus, our ahamkar will be sattwic and not tamasic. It is the tamasic ahamkar that makes the world so full of misery. If we want to make our whole worldly life full of bliss, we must meditate on the Self through the mantra of Soham.

Such has been my own experience and I feel that this body is not mine. I have reached this stage entirely through the grace of my sadguru and through meditating on Soham. I cannot say that I have attained this stage through my own efforts. This Soham which has come out of the Avyakta (the Unmanifested) has brought the shakti (power) of the Avyakta with it, and owing to this shakti everything of mine has become Krishnarpana (one with the Godhead). Hence, Maya does not trouble me. I have become one with Soham and I have realized my Self by meditating on it. I am enjoying unchanging bliss.

The mantra Soham is the sole savior

Every religion has got its own saints and prophets. If a person of whatever religion has firm faith and meditates on the Self, he is sure to go beyond pleasure and pain and to attain everlasting bliss. The mantra Soham is the sole savior. I am absolutely sure of this, not merely intellectually but through experience of the Self. This does not mean that I have become a saint or that I deserve to take my seat along with the great saints. I only say that all saints have resorted to this very mantra, and when their thoughts become entirely merged in the Supreme Self they become one with Brahman and shine forth in this world. I have not reached that stage as yet, but I am sure that through their grace and through meditation on Soham I am enjoying the same bliss which they enjoy. I have not as yet arrived at the stage of such great saints as Jnaneshwar, Tukaram or Ramdas. But I am following in their footsteps and taking draughts of the supreme bliss. These saints have boldly declared in their imperishable words that they have been saved by Soham, and that others will also be saved by the same mantra. Future saints also will preach the same principle.

Any act (karma) which happens automatically is really nishkama although it may appear to be sakama. This is what my Self-experience tells me. In saying this I am not in any way criticizing other saints. It is they who handed over to me the mantra Soham which was hidden in the Avyakta in the deep recesses of my own soul. This treasure was with me but I had forgotten the place where it was hidden. The saints pointed out to me that place, and from that time I have been continuously contemplating on the Self. This Soham which has come out of the Avyakta is ever present in the hearts of men. Saints become one with this Soham which is in their own hearts and then the Soham merges itself again into the Avyakta.

I therefore think that Soham is the real Karma [action leading to liberation], it is the “I” and the saints have made me realize this “I.” This Soham is the real secret. It is God, it is Karma, that makes us realize this through their grace. Through continuous practice and meditation on the Self a person attains a stage in which actions become automatic. Such actions may be called sakama or nishkama. Just as saguna and nirguna are one, similarly in that stage sakama and nishkama are one. He does not look to the result and is indifferent whether the actions result in loss or gain. He is ready to endure both. He is sure that the body, this earthly tenement, is not his own. Hence he does not not care whether pleasure or pain is the result of that action.

Pure love is the real “I”

Pure love is the real “I.” It is the real sadguru. When a person becomes an embodiment of this pure love, he has really conquered the whole world. The same thought is expressed by Sri Tukaram when he says, “He who humbles himself before all creatures holds the unlimited (God) within himself.” If you have unqualified pure love in your hearts you will really be blessed with grace. This love should be absolutely pure without the least malice towards anyone. A typical example of this love in worldly life is a mother’s love. If that love which a mother feels for her child is felt by us towards all creatures, then God will surely come to dwell in our hearts. This love is awakened in our hearts by the words of saints and by coming in contact with them. It is this idea which Tukaram has expressed in the following words: “The nature of pure love is such that it loves without any motive of self-interest.”

The mother sometimes reprimands the child and disciplines it in order that the child might acquire wisdom. We see the mother disciplining the child, but know that her heart is full of love for the child. Similarly, saints sometimes verbally chastise their disciples or even other people and use seemingly harsh words to them. But their heart is full of love and their object is that all egotism should disappear from the hearts of their disciples and that they should enjoy eternal bliss. In this stage kama, krodha, etc. (desire, anger, etc.) are not destroyed altogether, but their force is spent and they become immersed in bliss. Their kama and krodha can be compared to those of a child. A child if irritated sometimes gives a slap to the face of its mother. The mother, however, does not take it ill. The child’s anger is quite momentary and not deep-rooted. The next moment it laughs and embraces its mother. The anger rises in a flash and is soon extinguished.

The love of saints is akin to the love of a mother

I shall now tell you a true and simple story. It will illustrate how the love of saints is akin to the love of a mother. Pundalik in the beginning gave great trouble to his parents. Later on, he met with a guru who was a saint and who had realized his Self. He said to Pundalik, “My boy, a mother’s love is really nishkama although you think it to be self-interested. Hence, instead of serving me, serve your mother. You will thereby attain real bliss. Nay, you will be bliss incarnate. You will see God.” When Pundalik followed his advice, God Vithoba (Vishnu) appeared before him. And Pundalik, as he was then busy serving his parents with pure love [and saw Vithoba standing in mud], made Vithoba stand on a brick which he tossed towards Him. All sadgurus similarly arouse this pure love in our hearts. When once this love arises in our hearts, we experience the bliss of Brahman although we may be leading our lives in this mayic world.

Brahman is nothing but Atmic bliss

Maya was born from the Avyakta and the world was born from Maya. You may also say if you like that the world was born first and then Maya was born. It is just the same. Saints have said in their imperishable words that Maya is Brahman and Brahman is Maya. A sadhaka has to get an understanding of this principle. When he does this, his whole samsara (worldly life) becomes full of bliss. Whatever actions he then does, his mind is always steeped in bliss. That action may be sakama or nishkama. He becomes absolutely detached. In that stage the thoughts expressed by him are of great benefit to all, whether they are ignorant or learned. If people listen to these thoughts and act to bring them into practice, they become full of love for their “guru.” Then, their egotism, kama (desire; lust), krodha (anger) and lobha (greed; avarice) become as if dead. Their kama, krodha, etc., produce no reaction in others or in themselves.

This is the true path of progress for a mumukshu. A mumukshu must carry on this practice with great devotion and selfless love for at least twelve years. He will then be able to reach Self-realization. The faithful sadhaka then reaches the stage of vijnana (supreme knowledge). He reaches the stage when his own Atman (Self) becomes his guru. This love was born from the Avyakta; saints were born from love. Maya was born from the saints and the world was born from Maya. In order to reach the Avyakta we have to go back by the reverse process. God is enshrined in the hearts of saints who are full of love. It is the saints alone who teach how to look upon samsara as Brahman, and Brahman is nothing but Atmic bliss.

To trouble a saint regarding our worldly affairs is detrimental to our spiritual progress

To trouble a saints regarding our worldly affairs is detrimental to our spiritual progress, because this shows that we attach undue importance to them. And when our worldly desires are not fulfilled, our faith in the saint becomes shaky. Some persons come to me and ask me to remove their worldly troubles. “I have incurred a debt of four thousand rupees. This makes my mind uneasy. Kindly shower your grace upon me and make me free from care.” Such are some of the complaints which are often brought to me by people. They desire that I should ward off their difficulties and troubles.

It is quite true that adversity is good for a man as it often leads to his spiritual advancement. A person who is extremely troubled by adverse circumstances and has lost his peace of mind many a time goes to a saint. If the merit acquired by him in his previous life is of a high order, and he comes in contact with a real saint who has attained Self-realization, the emotional state of his mind then is such that he naturally puts his faith in what the saint tells him and accepts it with full reverence and submission. He then carries on the practice of the japa of the mantra given to him and is greatly befitted. It however does not follow that the saint will remove that person’s worldly difficulties and troubles. A real saint will never do this.

Therefore when people come to me for the redress of their worldly troubles I plainly tell them that every person must patiently bear the troubles sent to him by his fate (karma), and that the best way of solving worldly difficulties is to follow worldly and practical methods. They however argue as follows: “A saint is like a mother to his disciples and other people who come to him for shelter. A child is full of frolic and joy and is engaged in various games and playthings. But when it becomes hungry, it comes crying to its mother. Does not the mother then see to its wants and pacify its hunger? Similarly, we are leading our lives pleasantly in this world as long as our circumstances are good. Our mind is then at ease. When, however, troubles arise and our peace of mind is lost, if we go and fall at the feet of a saint, should not that saint shower his grace upon us and ward off our difficulties like a good mother?”

My answer to such sort of arguments is this. There are some persons who come to me solely with the object of achieving their worldly objects. They have nothing to ask in spiritual matters. To such I say, “This is not my business. You should go to those saints who happen to possess such powers.”

It is the mission of real saints to point out the path which leads to sure and everlasting peace and happiness to persons who, being extremely harassed by worldly troubles, are in urgent need of finding out a way which will take them out of all troubles and establish them in everlasting peace. Real saints have this power of granting boundless happiness and complete peace of mind. My sadguru has put this very responsibility upon me. He, through me, shows this path with ardent love to spiritual aspirants. He takes into consideration all the obstacles and difficulties that beset this path, and removes them. If the removing of a worldly difficulty or the fulfilling of a worldly desire is necessary for the further spiritual progress of the disciple, and positively helpful to him, he will fulfill that desire also. But it must be remembered that in such cases there is no opposition between the fulfillment of that desire and the decree of fate or karma–in other words the will of God. This means such a fulfillment is in consonance with the law of karma.

I therefore say that people should pay careful attention to what I have said above and keep firm faith in their guru and in the mantra given by him. This faith should be such as the child has in its mother. Just as the child never has any doubt that she is its mother and that she will fulfill all its desires, similarly they should have firm faith in their sadguru who is none other than Soham, and have not the least doubt that this mother Soham will deliver them from all troubles and difficulties.

My dear brothers and sisters, devote all your energies to acquire this love which is pervading the whole world but of which we are not conscious. By the japa of Soham you will establish this love in your hearts and become blessed. This Soham japa is like an ocean which is full of unlimited bliss.

The repetition of Soham may be sakama, or nishkama

The repetition of Soham may be sakama, or nishkama. As Soham is based on the workings of nature, its japa, though it may be carried on with the object of fulfilling earthly desires, will ultimately be united with the real Soham which is enshrined in the innermost core of our being, and thus bring into awakening the power of the Paramatman. Objects of earthly desires are not permanent. The joy which is felt in their attainment is evanescent. But the effect of even the sakama japa is not altogether lost. It retains its force and awakens the power of the Self.

The japa of Soham should be repeated in as natural a manner as possible. There is no necessity of assuming any particular posture (asana). It should be carried on even while doing worldly actions. No misgiving should be entertained regarding its effect even though there may be absence of concentration. Such doubts are groundless. Even when we feel that our mind is concentrated, that state of concentration is only apparently so. The mind is in its very nature extremely fickle, and we cannot be sure when it will dart away and throw us into a whirlpool of thoughts. Everyone knows that this state of concentration is generally momentary. It is no doubt true that in the state of samadhi the mind is concentrated for a longer duration, but that state of samadhi also is not permanent; it lasts only for some time. After that the person again descends into consciousness of surrounding worldly objects, the play of good and bad desires generating pleasure or pain is resumed, and the body carries on its usual activities.

The state of samadhi or concentration can be compared to that of sleep. In the state of sleep there is real concentration. When we get up we say that we had very good sleep, that we were entirely unconscious of the world and that our mind was completely merged in the Self. Our Self alone was present as the Seer. Still we often see that sometimes even in sleep we dream and find ourselves taking part in the dream world. That is to say, we leave the state of concentration and again enter into the world of thoughts. If this is so even in the state of sleep, then how much more difficult would it be to go into a state of concentration in our waking state? Hence it would not be proper to abandon the japa on the ground that one cannot concentrate upon it.

Some people think that if they carry on the japa they may get into a state of continual indrawn or abstract concentration, and then it will be difficult for them to carry on their worldly duties easily. This idea also is false. Soham is our real nature. If we become one with it we will, on the contrary, be able to carry on our usual worldly duties more efficiently.

“Who am I?”

An atheist might say, “I cannot understand all this. God and the Paramatman are all ideas and guesses. What have I to do with them?” Let us for the sake of argument admit that what he says is true, that these are all ideas. Now let him answer the following question: “You know that these are all ideas. Who is it that knows about these ideas and is conscious of their being mere ideas?” A person sometimes says, “I am ignorant.” Let him consider who is the knower of his ignorance. A person sometimes says, “I do not want this, I do not want that.” Even though he might say that he does not want anything, still the “I” will always remain. This “I” is Soham, and eternal peace is its nature. A person might say that he does not want all this bother about God, dhyana, devotion, faith and concentration. All right; but let him say whether he wants peace, calmness and happiness or not. Even if he thinks that these ideas about God, etc., are false and illusory, still he must admit that there is somebody inside him who thinks them false and illusory. This knower inside us is the “I” and that “I” is Soham.

As long as the breath goes on, life goes on, and the activities of the body go on. The saints have explained the meaning of the incoming and outgoing breath, and Soham is the sound which is produced by the incoming and outgoing breath. This Soham sound is ceaselessly being repeated in our body whether we are conscious of it or not. If we become conscious of this internal Soham, we shall experience peace of mind. If we fully understand this Soham, we shall attain complete bliss, which is the real nature of Soham, and become one with it.

The difference between meditation and concentration

Some persons do not understand the difference between meditation (dhyana), and concentration (ekagrata). Suppose a sadguru asks a person to sit before him and repeat the Soham mantra mentally. A few minutes later the guru asks him, “How did you feel? Had you any thoughts? Was the flow of thoughts going on as usual, or was there any difference? How was the japa going on?” When such questions are asked the aspirant appears to be a little confused, and is usually found to answer in the following manner: “Maharaj, my mind was quite calm. Not a single idea arose in my mind. The japa was going on in an undisturbed manner. I was enjoying peace. But, Maharaj, my mind was not concentrated. I could hear the sounds and movements taking place around me.”

It is a common idea with ordinary aspirants that as soon as they hear the mantra Soham pronounced by the sadguru their mind should become concentrated and they should enter into the state of samadhi. It is a laudable wish, no doubt, but it is out of place at the time. Because when the sadguru tells the aspirant to meditate upon Soham, he does not tell him to get concentrated at once. He tells him to repeat the japa of Soham in order that he may be able to meditate properly. The main idea in meditation is that while the japa is going on there should not be the flow of other thoughts disturbing the repetition of the mantra. Our mind is naturally fickle. It is very difficult for it to concentrate itself upon one idea. The guru tries to bring the aspirant to experience a state in which, although he is not consciously repeating the mantra, the mantra appears to be going on while his mind is entirely at repose. At such a time the guru through his own power gets this done, even though the disciple by himself has not been accustomed to it and is not in a position to keep his mind absolutely calm. The experience is, of course, only temporary.

In the case of some aspirants, however, owing to some practice done in the previous life they get concentrated as soon as they begin meditation according to the instructions of the guru. They also see some visions. But this only shows that they must have practiced to some extent in their previous life. They therefore get all those experiences almost at once. But this does not mean that they have, owing to this, got everything which is to be obtained from a sadguru. They, too, must not stop there, but carry on further practice until they reach the final goal of human life.

“All possible troubles beset the worldly life.” Keeping this truth firmly in mind, it is necessary to get deliverance from samsara (worldly existence) by the internal repetition of Soham. The seeing of many visions is not a sure sign of progress. Real progress lies in the continuous meditation on the sound of the inner Soham japa going on without a break after the visions have stopped. If a person carries on the continuous practice of the Soham japa, his mind will in course of time get concentrated upon it, and he will then experience the state of samadhi.

Attaining the state of samadhi is not the final goal of our life

In the state of samadhi there is no consciousness of the external world, and there is experience of bliss. But this state lasts only for a short time. As soon as the normal consciousness is gained, the world makes its presence felt as before and the old play of desires, full of pleasure and pain, commences. Thus it will be seen that it is a mistake to suppose that we have reached our final goal when we reach the state of samadhi. What is necessary in this stage is that even while we are conscious of worldly objects our meditation on Soham must be ceaselessly going on, and the worldly objects and events should produce no reaction on our mind, making it unsteady. Hence it is necessary to carry on the meditation of Soham ceaselessly. When this practice is carried on continuously, a state is reached when the presence of Pandurang (the Paramatman) is felt in all the three states: the waking, the dreaming and the sleeping. Then we get the experience described by Kabir: “Rama does my japa. I am sitting at ease.” Thus, the stage of ajapa-japa is reached, and when this is reached we experience the state of samadhi even while we are doing worldly activities. The mind itself becomes one with Soham and the truth of the following words is realized: “The mind has become fixed and motionless in one place. Atmic bliss has, therefore, been realized to the full. Nothing remains lacking.”

Many aspirants go to a guru taking their stand on Sri Tukaram’s lines, “The sadguru makes his disciple like himself at once. No time is required for him to do this.” They however, should also remember the words of the same saint to the following effect: “Tuka says that haste is of no use. Unless the proper time of acquisition has arrived, nothing can be achieved.” They will thus not be deceived in their expectations.

The object of the above-mentioned discussion is not to make aspirants despondent and abandon the practice through a sense of frustration if they find that their efforts are not crowned with success in a short time. They are sure to realize the real power of Soham after some days if they carry on the practice continuously, with great intensity. There is absolutely no doubt about this. I say this from my own experience. The aspirant should have the firm determination that he will carry on the practice of Soham intensely in the future, although he might have failed to do so in the past. He should always remember that his sadguru is always there to back his efforts.

Continuous meditation on the sound of the inner Soham japa at the time of death leads one to sadagati (high status after death)

If an aspirant carries on the continuous meditation on the sound of the inner Soham japa, he will become one with Soham. If he happens to die in this stage he can be sure of attaining sadagati (high status) after his death. It is very difficult to bring our mind to bear upon the contemplation of God at the time of our death. The force of desires is very great at that time, a person becomes a prey to them, and owing to this has to go through the cycle of various lives. If, however, he gets himself accustomed to the continuous intense contemplation of the sound of the inner Soham japa, his mind at the time of death will not be entangled in the meshes of worldly desires, but will be merged in Soham and hence he will be sure to go to a higher state after his death. I therefore say to you all: commence the japa of Soham and carry it on ceaselessly.

What is necessary is that we must devote our attention to this Soham. The more your attention is directed towards Soham the greater will be the change in your mind and thoughts. Your kama and krodha will not altogether be destroyed or obliterated. They may be there, but the sting of hatred will be entirely absent. When someone does us an evil turn we keep it in our mind and feed the grudge and when an opportunity arises we try to return the evil, perhaps tenfold. This attitude of mind is what is known as hatred. This hatred will be entirely obliterated. The flow of thoughts will be full of love.

Soham is the real nature of the “I” in the body, and this Soham is ceaselessly going on: the “I,” the Soham inside. The speaker, doer, the action itself and in fact everything will be one with Soham. I am at present experiencing to some extent the bliss of such a state, and anyone else who will do as I have done will attain similar bliss. As long as the “I” dwells in this body, we must get into the habit of repeating Soham. Ceaseless repetition will make the trend of all thoughts full of Soham.

One should not give any thought as to when the japa will lead to the final attainment of the goal

This “I” inside the body may be called by any name. It may be called God or Nature or any other name. The knowledge of this “I” leads to peace and happiness. Is there anyone who does not want this peace and happiness? Our mind is like a mirror. Various thoughts are always arising and having their play in the mind. According to the different thoughts, the mind is plunged in sorrow or in joy. We should think about the “I” inside, who is the witness of all these thoughts. That is Soham.

If we sit quiet and at ease divesting the mind of all disturbing thoughts, we shall get a glimpse of this witness inside. The mirror of our mind has been covered over with the dirt of innumerable impressions left by bad thoughts entertained through the course of innumerable previous lives. The dark soot of kama and krodha is lying in thick layers on the surface of this mirror. It is our duty to try to wash away all this dirt and soot by means of good desires, and by increasing the flow of good thoughts.

Various doubts and misgivings assail the mind. This is the natural result of evil impressions left on our mind by bad thoughts in previous lives. But there is no reason why we should feel discouraged. Our present duty is to get ourselves accustomed to the entertaining of good thoughts.

Every mumukshu should ceaselessly put up strong efforts to meditate upon Soham. It does not matter even if the japa is sakama. He should not give any thought as to when the japa will lead to the final attainment of the goal. His efforts should be directed towards trying to keep his attention fixed on the sound of the inner Soham japa. He should try to fix his attention on Soham even while doing worldly actions. This Soham will in course of time remove the dirt of bad thoughts and make the mirror of the mind clean. As soon as the mirror becomes clean, the blissful nature of Soham will be realized. Hence we should direct all our efforts towards keeping our attention fixed on Soham without any break. If we do so we shall surely attain complete peace and happiness and life will be full of bliss.

Sri Tukaram says, “Wherever I go you are always with me to bear me company.” The companion here referred to is none other than Soham. Wherever you may be, in whatever condition you may be, this Soham, this witness, this Paramatman, is always your companion. You have never been or will ever be separated from Him because you and He are one. Only you are not conscious of His nearness and presence. You must first become fully conscious of His nearness and presence and then lose the sense of this consciousness also by becoming one with Him. Then you will be bliss incarnate, everlasting, unchanging bliss.

I am telling all this from my own experience. If you put forth strong efforts in the direction I have mentioned above, you are sure to attain success.

The mind must be internally immersed in Soham and become full of bliss. If my mind is absolutely clean and full of the bliss of Soham, entirely devoid of egotism and concentrated in the internal sound of the inner Soham japa even when outwardly doing worldly actions, I shall consider myself as extremely fortunate. Through the grace of my sadguru, my practice is going on in the direction of obtaining this eternal bliss and I can say from experience that I feel that I have ascended some steps on the steep path leading to the temple where eternal peace and happiness have been enshrined.

Soham is always present as a witness in everybody’s mind

About a fortnight ago a learned shastri came to visit me. He had read some of the letters sent by me to my friends, and also the messages which I had given to some religious institutions, and owing to it a sort of respect had been created in his mind for me. He said to me, “Maharaj, the thoughts expressed by you are of a very high order. They receive much support from the Upanishads and treatises on Vedanta.”

I replied, “Punditji, you have considered the thoughts expressed by me from the shastric points of view and called them sound. This does not give me any very great pleasure. The reason is that I do not attach any importance to the delight obtained from high and beautiful thoughts of others. If you had expressed your agreement with at least one of these thoughts, having felt the truth of it from your own experience of the state mentioned in it, I would have felt highly delighted.

“If a person comes to me and tells me his own thoughts, the truth of which has been tested by his own experience, I will pay more respect to him than to a person who repeats like a parrot the thoughts, however high they may be, of great men like Sri Shankaracharya, Jnaneshwar or Tukaram. It does not matter whether the thoughts of the first-mentioned person are highly developed or not.

“I understand the minds of the various persons who come to me and ask me questions, because I have gone through those various stages and hence can identify myself with the stage of the questioner. I therefore never get irritated with any person for asking questions, however absurd they may be. The only thing required is that he must be thoroughly honest and sincere. I then answer his questions according to what my inner Soham suggests to me. The answer given by me will, I am sure, necessarily remove the doubts of the questioner, and he will see the clear path of truth before him.”

When that shastri heard this reply given by me, he was overcome with emotion and requested me to explain how Soham is always present as a witness in everybody’s mind. An ordinary man of the world is not conscious of this “I” which is always awake. As soon as a man gains consciousness of the ever-existing presence of this “I” he attains the goal of human life. This stage is known as sakshiavastha (the state where the “I” is consciously felt to be the ever-present witness). This Soham is ever present in every being in the form of his own Self. This Soham is continuously going on, it never stops. This Soham which is seen in all animate and inanimate things is my Jani Janardan (God present in all human beings), and wherever I use the words “Jani Janardan,” I mean by it this Soham, present in all.

I therefore tell you with all the emphasis I can command that you should at once begin to repeat the japa of Soham with firm faith. It does not matter if you place no faith in me. Have firm faith in Soham and you will attain the same bliss that I am enjoying.

Pure and simple words of advice

I shall now give you an illustration from everybody’s experience. When we sleep, we sometimes dream and after that go into complete unconsciousness. In that state nothing is felt, we go into the Avyakta. When we awake, if somebody asks us, “How did you sleep?” we reply, “I got very good sleep and was full of bliss.” Thus, when a person is born, he begins to speak about his experience in words. That is, when he comes out of the Avyakta he begins to describe his experiences in words. Every person, be he learned or ignorant, saint or an ordinary person, is required to have recourse to words in order to express his ideas.

Saints like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa have given the illustration of a doll made of salt. They say if a salt doll enters water it is turned into water. Can it then describe its experience of water? If it wants to describe the experience, it must keep one foot in water and the other on land. Hence, saints who have been one with the Avyakta come out of the Avyakta by assuming bodies full of light, and are born into this world for the deliverance of other human beings. By their own acts and advice they teach the world how to make this Maya full of bliss, how to go beyond pleasure and pain and how to obtain eternal peace and happiness. They say to the people in the world, “Your treasure (of bliss) is with you; only you have forgotten the place where it is hidden.” The saints neither give anything to the world nor do they take anything from the world. They carry out their mission and remain aloof and at peace with themselves.

If the mumukshus follow implicitly the advice of the saints without entertaining the least doubt, with full faith and real love, by continued practice they will succeed in curbing all evil tendencies and in resisting all temptations of lust and greed. They will then get realization of the bliss of the Self, and attain the stage which was attained by such immortal saints as Sri Jnaneshwar or Sri Tukaram. There is not the least doubt about this.

I have given expression to these ideas which have arisen in my innermost heart, and as such they are not my words but the words of the Paramatman dwelling in my heart. Whether they are true or false, I leave it to the world to judge. Those who have some Self-experience will understand that these words are not mine, but my guru’s. If anything appears to be false, consider it to be mine. You know that I am absolutely uneducated and ignorant. I have no learning. My presumption in undertaking to write to people like you is like that of a crow trying to emulate an eagle on the ground, that the crow, too, can soar high in the sky. Although I am the abode of all possible bad qualities, still my attempts to fly into the sky like an eagle are not altogether condemnable.

Brothers and sisters, I have told you what I had to say in as simple a manner as possible by taking illustrations from everyday life. Still I would like to say a few words more in conclusion before closing the subject.

Jivatma, Shivatma and Paramatma

Those who have read some religious books and those who have listened to religious discourses must have often heard the words: Jivatma, Shivatma, and Paramatman. Jivatma is the individual soul who experiences pleasure and pain in this worldly life. Shivatma is the Paramatman who is the root cause of all the activities in the Universe. The absolute Being who pervades all things and is also beyond them is the Paramatman, otherwise known as Brahman. One and the same Being has been given these different names according to the different aspects in which he has been looked at.

Thus there is one absolute principle on which the ideas of Jivatma, Shivatma, and Paramatman have been superimposed. We get superficial, wordy knowledge of these terms from religious books and discourses, and our mind is confused. Now, where is he located who gives these different names and utters these words? He is located in this body, in the heart. This “I” located in the heart of all human beings, conceives these different aspects and gives utterance to these different names. If you search for this “I,” you will come to know it is an absolute principle having no form, no attributes and which cannot be described in words. If it is without attributes and without form, can it ever be perceived by the eye? No.

Then if you ask about the nature of this principle, for an answer you should see what all saints have said about it. They say that the real nature of this “I” is unchangeable bliss. The everlasting bliss residing in our heart is the sign by which the absolute truth can be traced. Every human being is ceaselessly trying to get happiness. Nobody is needed to tell him to do so. The reason why every human being ceaselessly tries to find happiness is because unchanging bliss is the real nature of the “I” inside him. When a person realizes the nature of this bliss, he has nothing more to do. All his activities stop.

When the “I” has been seen by the “I”–that is, the real “I” has been realized by the egoistic “I”–the duality between the seer and the seen disappears and now nothing further remains to be seen. When this stage is reached one realizes that the “I” pervades everywhere, and that nothing has existence except this all-pervading Self. In this stage the phenomenal world has no existence. Referring to this stage, Sri Ramdas has said, “Why are you asking about the cause, etc., of this world which, in fact, has no existence and was never born?” This state is indescribable in words. All words, therefore, are meaningless, and silence is the only eloquence regarding it.

The practice is the most important means of controlling the mind

In order to attain this natural stage, saints have prescribed a certain practice. The Soham which is in the hearts of all saints who have obtained Self-realization has manifested itself, and helps the saints to realize the blissful nature of the Self. In this connection Sri Tukaram has said that the body is the real Pandharpur and the soul is the real Vithal.

I, too, told myself, my mind, to contemplate ceaselessly on Soham. The mind is pliable and turns towards that to which it is made to turn. When the mind, therefore, was made accustomed to the japa of Soham, the mind became one with Soham, and thus became merged in the Paramatman. Through the ceaseless contemplation of Soham, the mind became one with the Paramatman, and began to enjoy the everlasting and unchanging bliss which is the nature of the Self.

All actions that one does in this stage naturally become dedicated to God (Krishnarpana), and therefore are nishkama. There being absolutely no egotism, the idea that “I am doing the actions” is altogether absent, and therefore the karma becomes nishkama, and the apparent doer is all the while immersed in his natural bliss, and is thus absolutely detached, although leading a worldly life. I have therefore to request you all to carry on the practice of japa continuously.

Do not care to see whether your actions are sakama or nishkama; only take care to see that your attention is continuously directed to the japa. It does not in the least matter if you do not have recourse to any other sadhana. You are sure to be successful in the end.

Lord Krishna has said in the Gita that the mind, which by nature is fickle and hence difficult to be controlled, can be brought under control by constant practice (abhyasa). Thus, practice is the most important means of controlling the mind.

If we carry on the japa with firm faith, we clearly realize after some time the power of the mantra. If we train our mind to entertain only good thoughts, not only are we ourselves benefitted, but our conduct produces good effects upon others also. This light of Soham inside us, sheds its luster on our whole life and makes it full of happiness. Its beneficial influence is also felt by the whole external atmosphere around us. The first thing required is firm faith without any doubts and misgivings, and the second is the continuous practice of the mantra japa.

If therefore you continue the practice steadily, the tendency of the mind towards good thoughts and actions will be more and more increased, and owing to the ceaseless contemplation of Soham there will gradually be the realization of your own inherent blissful nature, and the mind will be enjoying complete peace and happiness.

Brothers and sisters, if you carry on the practice of japa with full faith, and ultimately realize your oneness with Soham you, too, will become full of bliss like myself. Be assured that the blessings of my sadguru will accompany you all along in your practice.

Signs of spiritual progress

While carrying on the contemplation of Soham, an aspirant should always be carefully observing whether his worldly desires are gradually dropping off. The gradual dropping of worldly desires, and the capability to perform worldly actions solely from a sense of duty and not with a view to achieve some object, are sure signs of spiritual progress. If an aspirant makes it a point to see that his attention is continuously fixed on Soham, that his mind is growing more and more detached, and that he is continuously carrying on the practice with firm faith in the path prescribed to him, I am sure that he will certainly reach the goal. Whether a person is a mumukshu, a sadhaka, or a siddha, if all his desires have completely disappeared and he has attained a complete sense of detachment, then he attains a stage in which Pandharpur is always with him wherever he stays. There is no necessity for him to go anywhere.

As I am not educated, the words which I use may not be clear. They may express the meaning only indistinctly. But these words are the expressions of my internal intuition. The expressions used may not be polished and beautiful, but I humbly request that on that account people should not be indifferent to what I say. I have first practiced what I preach. Hence people should also translate these precepts into practice, and then see whether they are true or not. I therefore urge all people, whether ignorant or learned, mumukshus or sadhakas, to carry on the japa of Soham with their attention continuously directed towards it.

External conditions are almost the same in all Yugas

Some people say that the present age is the age of material happiness. The present Yuga is Kali Yuga. In this Yuga it is extremely difficult to attain the highest goal of Self-realization. Naturally, men in general will be always striving to obtain material happiness. I, however, think that it is not proper to be complaining about external conditions. A little consideration will, on the contrary, convince us that external conditions are almost the same in all Yugas. The change lies in the mind, the attitude it adopts. According to the attitude of your mind you will feel that the age is Satya Yuga or Kali Yuga. Everything thus depends on your mind. Hence I say that you should get your mind immersed in the ceaseless contemplation of Soham and then you will find that the difficulties created by troublesome external conditions will automatically disappear.

A few words of advice on abhyasa (practice)

Now, I shall say a few words regarding abhyasa (practice). Some persons carry on the japa for some time, but owing to want of intensity on their part, when they find that they are not making marked progress, or when they do not see any visions, they give up the practice, thinking that fate is against them. Or if they carry on the japa, they do it merely mechanically without any heart in the matter.

If our mind is unsteady, if it does not feel any joy in the contemplation of Soham, we should ask ourselves the question: Why do we not enjoy pleasure in doing the japa? The obvious answer is that it is our own lack of faith that comes in the way, and bars us from getting this joy. There is also another thing. Thousands of bad impressions have been accumulated in our mind through the course of previous births. How can all these impressions disappear at once?

In the case of those whose bad impressions have been cleared away to an appreciable extent, if they carry on the practice they will get some spiritual experiences sooner or later according to their merit. If any bad desires have beset their mind in this life, the continuous contemplation of Soham will gradually destroy all those desires in this very life. In the next life the remaining bad impressions and bad desires, and kama, krodha and lobha, generating them or generated by them, will surely disappear. You should have no doubt regarding this in your mind. You may have no faith in me, but you must have faith in Soham.

Soham is the real path of knowledge (Jnana Marga). Owing to this, egotism disappears. In the path of knowledge, the sadhaka’s consciousness becomes more and more comprehensive, until it becomes all-pervading. But all this is nothing but the play of the “I,” and Soham teaches this very principle.

Thus, in the path of knowledge one becomes all-pervading and one with the universal Being.

The real power lies in the mantra and this power is also centered in everyone

I therefore say again and again, that the real power lies in the mantra, Soham. This power is also centered in you. If you thoroughly realize this power, and become one with it, you will easily attain atmic bliss, even though you may be leading a worldly life. You will be thoroughly happy internally, as well as in your worldly life. Soham awakens the power in you which is lying dormant.

My brothers and sisters should remember that a liking for and devotion to God is the result of the accumulation of great merit in previous lives. If you have this liking, God in the form of Soham who has His dwelling in the outgoing and incoming breath of every human being will be realized by you. I say this from my own experience. You may have no faith in me but you should have faith in this Soham.

Do not allow your faith to be shaken although in the beginning you do not get any experiences. If you give this consideration to the matter of Soham, you will find that having faith in Soham is a matter solely depending upon your own mind. Even if owing to bad impressions of past lives doubts assail your mind, it lies with you to drive away these doubts with assiduous efforts, remembering that therein lies the successful fruition of your life. If persistent and continuous practice is carried on, the mind is concentrated and becomes one with the mantra, and all thoughts disappear. Only you must have a true and firm determination. We can be said to have a true and firm determination only when we are able to translate our ideas into action. Hence saints have said, “God grants the fulfillment of true and firm determination, and the desires entertained by the devotees are crowned with success” (Tukaram).

Hence, it is clearly your duty to have firm faith in the mantra. If you have this absolute faith, you will surely attain your goal. About that there is no doubt. There is no room for doubt in the case of real affection, which is absolutely free from any doubts and misgivings.

The real meaning of Paramartha (spiritual realization) and its means

The real “I” which dwells in the heart of everyone is the sole abode of this unchanging happiness and bliss. He who becomes one with this “I” gets hold of this sole source of happiness, and therefore feels no need of any pleasure which is derived from the enjoyment of external objects.

The path which leads to the true knowledge of this “I” and to the realization of oneness with it, is the path of spiritual progress. He who desires to go by this path must naturally practice self-restraint and keep himself detached from material pleasures. Abandoning of material pleasures outwardly, or abandoning them by merely forcibly curbing the mind, is of very little use. The renunciation must be mental: the mind must gradually develop a dislike for these material pleasures. If you will try to immerse your mind in the continuous contemplation of the sound of the inner Soham japa, this renunciation becomes easy. The mind becomes one with Soham, and then the ajapa japa begins. In this stage our whole worldly existence becomes full of happiness. The mind of a person who attains this stage goes beyond pleasure and pain. It becomes full of universal love, and he feels nothing but love in this material world which to others is full of pleasure and pain.

Only saints like Jnaneshwar and Tukaram obtained Paramartha. When this state of everlasting joy is reached, this world, the next world, heaven or hell–which to an ordinary person appears to be full of contrasts of pleasure and pain–becomes nothing but universal, all-pervading joy and bliss incarnate. This stage is what is known as Paramartha.

To obtain this Paramartha is the goal of human life, and you can obtain it by your own persistent and honest effort. Efforts are necessary to obtain any object in the world. Are we not required to put up strong efforts to obtain money or learning? And are our efforts always crowned with success? But do we on that account abandon efforts to obtain these things? Similarly, we must continually make strong efforts to obtain the realization of the real “I.” The various difficulties and obstacles which arise in this path must be removed, just as we do in worldly matters.

The necessity of having strong sense and intelligence

Various qualities are necessary to carry on worldly transactions efficiently. But there is one thing which far surpasses all these qualities taken together, and that is strong good sense, which is natural and not acquired. By reading we can at the most obtain useful and varied information, but to make proper use of that information at the proper time requires natural good sense and intelligence. I here remember a saying: “God should be known through good sense and intelligence.”

This is a simple statement, but it illustrates a very important principle. It shows that real intelligence is a very important qualification. If a person possesses this intelligence, he will not need to read various books. He will be able to solve all his difficulties by the exercise of his keen intelligence. Wisdom acquired from books is, after all, one-sided. This keen intelligence is useful in worldly as well as spiritual matters

When will a sadhaka reach the ultimate goal of human life?

My friends, such doubts are bound to assail the mind. To entertain various doubts and misgivings is quite natural to the mind. As long as a person is alive, his mind will always be full of thoughts, good or bad. Hence it is futile to wait till the mind abandons all mistaken thoughts and doubts. People who think that they will not be able to make any progress in spiritual matters until this inflow of thoughts is stopped should pay particular attention to the following illustration.

There are bound to be innumerable waves on the sea. If a person thinks that he will swim in the sea when all these waves are stopped, will he ever be able to swim in the sea? He will surely come to know that the waves will never stop and he will never be able to swim. Similarly, every person who wants to follow the spiritual path should not wait for the disappearance of all thoughts, but should start the contemplation of Soham and try to keep his mind fixed upon it. He should not allow his mind to be diverted from it by the waves of thoughts.

As long as a person identifies himself with this body these doubts and thoughts are sure to assail him and cause disturbance. A sure way to escape from the clutches of these thoughts is to develop a feeling that we are not the body. It is the nature of mind to carry on the continuous play of thoughts. The mind (manas), the intellect (buddhi), and the chitta (field of consciousness) are all inside us. Buddhi is the power which enables us to determine. The mind is always fickle and moving from one idea to another, and when the mind concentrates upon something it is called chitta. A sadhaka, therefore, should concentrate upon Soham and thus turn his mind into chitta. If he continues this practice for some time, his mind will gradually gain in calmness and ultimately will become one with Soham and with the inherent, everlasting bliss which is the real nature of Soham, and thus his chitta will become chit (consciousness). Once this stage is attained, that person will experience unlimited joy. Such a person is easily able to identify himself with all persons with whom he comes into contact, and with all circumstances in which he finds himself placed. His peace of mind is never disturbed, and he is always immersed in everlasting and unchanging bliss. He attains the goal, and the real purpose of human life is fulfilled.

The difference between the mind of an ordinary person and that of a person who is immersed in Soham

If the body falls in the gutter, it can be washed and cleaned by water, but if the mind is dirty, full of doubts and full of desires for many objects, how can it be washed and purged of its impurities? The only way of cleansing the mind is to immerse it in the contemplation of Soham. All the impurities are then washed away. Sri Tukaram has said, ‘If your life is impure, what can soap do?” The mind is purified, and all the dirt from it is swept away by the broom of Soham.

He who has burnt away all avarice and destroyed the very roots of evil desires and thus completely purified and cleansed his mind by the continuous contemplation of Soham will never be attracted by the glitter of the worthless things of this world.

There is a great difference between an ordinary mind and a mind immersed in the contemplation of Soham. The most important principle is that he who wants to obtain spiritual knowledge must discard all material pleasures. It must be remembered that only when a person becomes entirely devoid of any desire of obtaining prosperity in this world or the next does he attains the goal of human life. He who wants to tread the path of spiritual progress must gradually acquire a sense of detachment.

The sphere of spiritual progress lies beyond reason and intellect. The question of pain or pleasure in this world or the next is absolutely irrelevant in this connection. By entertaining ideas of pleasure or pain, the mind gets entangled in the meshes of sankalpa or vikalpa (desire or doubts). Instead of wasting valuable time like this, you should utilize it in the contemplation of Soham.

My brothers and sisters: The current of love flowing in the form of Soham from my heart has gone on taking various turnings through various topics, and you have allowed it to flow on, having spent your valuable time in following it. This has filled me with unlimited joy and happiness.

The power of Soham

God has innumerable names, and people are calling out His various names according to their individual liking. Although it is so, still it must be remembered that Kabir says: “Rama Nama is repeated by almost all people–by thieves, by licentious people, and by rich people. But that Nama (Name) by which Dhruva and Prahlada [two children who attained spiritual perfection by calling on the Divine Name] were saved was something different.” One must remember that the Siddha Name of Soham alone will be useful in easily crossing this ocean of worldly existence and ending the cycle of births and deaths. This Siddha Nama is a power; it is like a mother to the universe, and it is the entity that is calling itself “I” in the body. It is a flame of love.

The power of the Avyakta is such that it will more than suffice for solving all possible difficulties in your worldly life

If you repeat the Soham mantra in your mind, by continuous practice your mind gets concentrated upon it. The concentration may be called dhyana. If this force is uninterruptedly stored up in your heart, be sure that you have obtained the goal of human life.

Somebody might say, “We have carefully listened to what you have told us. But what would be the use of all this for solving the practical difficulties of our actual life in this world?” No doubt this question is very important.

If your difficulties remain as they are, all this effort of japa and concentration would be useless and good for nothing. But I say this with all emphasis, that once you get the experience of the Avyakta, in any way or by any method, the power of the Avyakta is such that it will more than suffice for solving all possible difficulties in your worldly life. There is no necessity of your trying anything else for that purpose. You should only try your best to obtain the experience of the Avyakta by any method you like. Once that is done, you will get such a power that it will either drive away all possible difficulties which beset you, or all difficulties will automatically disappear.

If you once fix your abode in Avyakta the distance between you and any other thing or person becomes nil. As the ideas of “mine” and “thine” are absolutely absent in the Avyakta, all the wealth in the world becomes your own. You will feel it to be so. You yourself may not be very learned or wise. But there must be someone in the world who is so. You will feel that you are one with him and that his learning and wisdom are your own.

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True karma lies in remaining absolutely calm and undisturbed by fixing your abode in the all-pervading Chaitanya. I have said something about karma before. Here I put it in the shortest way and the fewest words: To remain indifferent to pleasure and pain, and to perform actions from a sense of duty supported by the basis of Self-knowledge, is the real karma. Lord Krishna describes himself as “Aham,” that is, “Soham,” which is the real power of Avyakta.

“Rama Nama is repeated by almost all people–by thieves, by licentious people, and by rich people. But that Nama by which Dhruva and Prahlada were saved was something different.” I boldly tell you with firm assurance that the “different” Nama referred to by Kabir in these lines is none other than Soham. He who makes that Nama his own becomes one with the universal power. His words acquire the force of truth, and hence are full of power.

The ultimate responsibility of obtaining success in worldly or spiritual matters rests upon ourselves. It is through intense devotion and persistent efforts that we have to achieve success. As we progress, we shall ourselves come to know the stage we have acquired in our previous life. Through incessant practice, desires for sensual pleasures slowly become less and less and ultimately disappear, and the aspirant reaches the final goal of everlasting happiness. Only you must have the lighted torch of Soham with you, and must try to obtain peace in its light. I have said what I know from my own experience. Everybody should try to realize it by his own experience. Soham is the soul, and there is everlasting peace in the soul. That itself is the Avyakta, the Unmanifested, in which everything lives, moves and has its being. Obtain everlasting peace by the mantra of Soham. This simple method surely and certainly leads to the goal.

The world is like a big jail, and people are born into it to serve out their sentences. Have therefore a wholesome fear of this jail, and try to purge away your sins and evil desires by the japa and contemplation of Soham. You need not do anything else for the purpose of your deliverance. Keep firm control over your mind, and then you will easily get control over your prana (breath).

The Manifest (Vyakta) and the Unmanifest (Avyakta) are not really different from each other

Pleasure and pain come out of the Avyakta. That is, their source lies hidden in the Supreme Being, which has no form and which is beyond comprehension. To say that the Avyakta can be seen is meaningless. Then how can the experience of it be described in words?

Pay, therefore, no heed to the pains and pleasures which befall you, but carry on the practice of Soham with a heart full of faith and determination. The manifest (Vyakta) and the unmanifest (Avyakta) are not really different from each other. The manifest is nothing but the unmanifest assuming form, and has the unmanifest as its basis. Persons who have attained Self-realization will tell you that what we call karma is nothing but the manifestation of the unmanifest.

The real use of shastric treatises is to train and prepare the mind and the intellect in such a manner that they can grasp the ultimate truth. The discourses of pundits well-versed in shastras may be very interesting to hear, but they will be of no use in getting the real experience, and the everlasting peace which dwells in Soham. All sense of past, present and future is absolutely absent in that stage. That is the Avyakta. There is no past and present in it. It only exists. As to the Sun there is no night and day, similarly, there is no past and present in the Avyakta.

Karma is the manifestation of Avyakta. Along with the idea of karma, naturally comes the ideas of time and motion. These also are really unmanifest. Still, as we can conceive of them, they can also be considered as manifest or pratyaksha. They are, however, eternal and indivisible. Therefore how can we find in them the past, the present and the future, which are the creations of the mind? Similarly, in karma how can there be the distinction of akarma (lack of action), kukarma (bad action) and sukarma (good action) which are created by the mind of man? Similarly, the distinctions between holy and unholy, beautiful and ugly, also cannot be present there.

But how can people who have merely acquired learning, and thereby consider themselves as superior to others, ever experience the bliss of this sort of experience? In this experience shastras have no place, while these learned men base all their opinions on the shastras.

There cannot be karma without time and motion. These three together (karma, time and motion) are the manifestation of the Avyakta, and only in the stage of manifestation arises the necessity of being alert and careful.

This topic has taken a vast and comprehensive turn. But I had referred to the topics of Avyakta and karma before, and hence I have tried to elucidate them here. I had read of these things somewhere, and some ideas came of themselves into my mind regarding them. I have merely put them together here. Otherwise learned men would begin asking me questions about them. I would not be able to answer them to their satisfaction. I have got only the experience of Soham, and nothing else. I do not know anything about Vedanta or the shastras. My knowledge regarding them can be described by a big zero.

Hence I say that everyone should repeat Soham. It surely and certainly leads to the knowledge of the Self and the attainment of everlasting peace. One’s actions then in the worldly life are automatically done, and one is absolutely detached from them, just as a lotus leaf is from water.

Three kinds of great men in the world

In my opinion, there are three kinds of great men in the world. I do not say that there are no real saints at present. Some perform miracles by making use of their siddhis. People take them to be great saints and bow before them. These saints obtain some powers by the practice of hatha yoga and perform miracles. As ordinary people in the world want the fulfillment of some desires or the averting of some calamities, they naturally go to such saints and become their followers. These great men, if they are at all great, are of the lowest order of the three kinds mentioned above. Just as in a village where all other people are illiterate, a person who has learnt to read and write is considered wise and learned, similarly these saints are respected by worldly people who themselves know nothing about real spiritual matters. The happiness obtained through such siddhis is transitory. These siddhis merely create a false show of happiness for a time, and then disappear leaving the saint completely bankrupt.

The second kind of great men are those who being filled with the desire to serve mankind, shine as great leaders of men and patriots. Their ambition is to make all their fellow beings or fellow-countrymen prosperous and happy. They sacrifice their personal comfort, and sometimes even their lives, in trying to achieve the good of their fellowmen. They try to weld all their countrymen into one homogenous whole, preach to the people the good which is derived from unity, arouse the consciousness of their rights as subjects, and make them worthy of putting up a fight for their rights and for the redress of their wrongs. Their lives serve as an ideal for ordinary people to follow, and they represent in their lives the sum total of the good qualities of the world. These great men at least do not mislead people by exhibiting miracles by means of siddhis. But these great men are of no use to a human soul striving to attain Self-realization. It does not lie in their power to grace human beings and to lead them to the path of realizing the highest bliss.

The great men who can do this are different. They are the great saints who take pity on all troubled souls who are floundering in the mire of worldly pains and pleasures, and who are at a loss to find a way out. They call such persons their own. They do not lead them to the search of worldly happiness which is illusory, but show them the path which will ultimately take them to the source of all happiness, the path which will clearly show to them the real nature of their Self and illumine their whole being with the all-pervading light of Self-knowledge. They say to the human soul: “The source of happiness is within you. The treasure is hidden within you. Only you have forgotten the place where it is hidden,” and they point out that place, and show the way to reach it. Such great men are the real mahatmas, and they are the best of all great men. Sometimes miracles happen at the hands of such mahatmas also, but they happen naturally. They themselves are not conscious of having wrought them. They are always immersed in the atmic bliss, and whatever actions happen at their hands are natural and automatic.

Importance of spiritual visions and experiences

A few days ago, a gentleman from Pune came to see me. While talking on various topics, the following things were said.

The Gentleman: Maharaj, some years ago a Santa Parishada (Meeting of Saints) was held at Pune. Many maharajas, some having matted hair, some who had practiced tapasya and austerities, some sannyasins, some heads of maths, etc., had all assembled together at that meeting. From the name given to that meeting, “Santa Parishada,” it was very natural to think that all these men were saints. Ordinary people think that saints are persons who, having realized the Self, are always immersed in the bliss of the Paramatman, and all of whom are directed towards leading other human beings to the path of everlasting happiness. A doubt, however, arose in my mind whether all these men were saints as understood in this sense.

At the present, meetings of “Nathas” often take place at Pune. Some say that they met Sri Matsyendranath, while some say they actually had the darshana of Sri Gorakshanath, and had received orders from him. It has been rumored that the famous Nine Nathas have been issuing orders through these various persons for spreading the doctrines of the Nath Pantha. If any one approaches any of these persons with the desire of knowing whom he should make his sadguru, he gets an order from these persons evidently inspired by one of the Nine Nathas, and he then exactly knows who is his destined sadguru. When I hear about these things, my mind gets confused and I ask myself: Are all these things true? Everywhere we hear about these Nathas and their messages.

In addition, we hear about various other saints. There are also different maths, temples, and different gods and goddesses. I am at a loss to know whether any of these things are true–or none are. My mind is absolutely confused. Hence, I request you to tell me in what I should believe, and how I should set my mind at rest?

Myself: You have asked a very good question. This question often troubles many thoughtful people, especially when they find saints and Nathas sprouting up like mushrooms on all sides.

Paramartha (spirituality) is a subject regarding which various misconceptions hold full sway in our present-day society. Sri Ramdas has said: “There is a bazaar of shastras, various gods and deities are crowding in it, and people are performing various religious ceremonies for securing the fulfillment of their desires. Various tenets and opinions clash with each other. Everybody thinks his own view to be correct, and anybody else’s wrong. There is no agreement anywhere, and all are contradicting each other.” Under these circumstances, how to find out the truth is a very difficult question. Sri Tukaram says: “There are so many gods. Where should I place my faith?”

No doubt this is all true. But it must be remembered that Paramartha is a thing which is to be achieved by one’s own efforts. If anyone, therefore, has a sincere desire to obtain it, he should, instead of entering into discussion regarding it, and instead of visiting various places in search of reputed saints, approach a real saint who has attained Self-realization with due humility and reverence. Because only such a saint can lead others to the right path.

If, however, he finds it difficult to meet such a saint, or to distinguish between true and false saints, there is a very easy method which should be followed by him. He should remain quietly where he is, and at once begin the japa of Soham. He should repeat the japa with a pure mind, and should have firm faith that the Soham japa will fulfill all his wishes. Once he gets this firm faith, he will come to know who is his guru. The Soham mantra is the real savior. If it is repeated with intense faith, accompanied with a sense of detachment from all worldly objects, it will itself make him understand what is true and what is false. There will then be no occasion to find fault with the reputed saints, or to fall into the clutches of false saints. Our salvation really lies in our own hands. I therefore advise my mind to always get immersed in the contemplation of Soham, and thus to free itself from the snares of all such doubts.

The Gentleman: Maharaj, I wish to ask one more question. I have heard that on some occasions you turned wine into milk. Why should saints who have attained Self-realization perform such miracles? If we take up any book containing the life of a saint, it is sure to be full of descriptions of the miracles performed by that saint. I have also heard that on occasion the whole place about you becomes filled with powerful fragrant smells. Ordinary people like me are at a loss to know why saints like you should indulge in the exhibition of miracles such as turning wine into milk, etc. Instead of performing a miracle of spreading fragrant smells, would it not be much easier to enjoy the same kind of smell by purchasing scented sticks worth about six annas? Maharaj, kindly excuse me. I humbly request you to tell me whether all these my doubts are true or misplaced.

Myself: I would never be angry with you for having raised these doubts. I, myself, have gone through all these stages of the unripe mind. My mind can enter into the minds of others, and hence can take a comprehensive view and appreciate the reason behind these questions and doubts. Hence, I always try to solve such honest doubts to the best of my ability. Looked at from the worldly point of view, everybody knows that I am uneducated, and hence I say that I try to solve these doubts. It might be that my answers will not satisfy all persons.

You are wrong when you say that I work these miracles. When a person says that he works such miracles, he will be doing so on the strength of siddhis (powers). Such a person is not one who has attained Self-realization. In a man’s life sometimes quite unexpected things happen. From that man’s point of view, can they not be considered as miracles? We often see such unexpected things actually happening. Do we call them false? No. If, however, we would rely on such things happening, would we ever reach our goal? No. You should think similarly about these spiritual matters. If sometimes wine is turned into milk or some other miracles happen, these incidents should not be given any undue importance. The greatness of a real saint is not increased by such miracles. On the contrary, there is the danger of his being entangled in the clutches of egotism if he were to take the credit of these miracles to himself.

Some miracles naturally happened at my hands, even in my childhood. How can they be explained? The truth of the matter is that these miracles naturally happen through the power of the soul. It is not that such miracles happen at my hands only. Anyone who steadily pursues this path of Soham and perseveringly carries on the practice, will find such miracles taking place quite naturally.

Taking advantage of some old incidents, even now some ignorant critics raise objections as to why I should turn wine into milk instead of drinking milk directly. On the contrary, some jestingly remark and say: “Maharaj, you should turn the water of the Godavari into wine so that we shall immerse ourselves in it and drink to our heart’s content.” My answer to all such objections and remarks is that I myself do not know how to work miracles. They might happen or might not. If you want miracles, you should go to those saints who have acquired siddhis. In short, miracles are, after all, miracles. You cannot give reasons for them. But miracles which naturally occur clearly show what wonderful powers are centered in the soul.

The same reasoning applies to the seeing of lights of different colors and also to the production of fragrant smells. Just see. We can get smell from incense sticks purchased in the bazaar and we can see different kinds of colored lights in a chandelier. But do we attach any importance to these things? These results are achieved with the help of material objects which are easily had, and hence there is no wonder in them. But when any new discovery is made by a scientist, that scientist is applauded, and sometimes titles are showered upon him. Why should this be so? What has he done except finding out the properties of certain things which were not known before! Having closely studied the inherent properties of different elements, he achieves a certain result by a clever combination of certain things. When a discovery is newly-made we express our admiration for it for a time, and then the thing becomes common and ceases to excite any sense of wonder.

But the fragrant smells and the colored lights in question are not the results produced with the help of material objects. They are produced without the help of any external object, and therein lies their importance. To argue that these scents and lights are similar to those obtained from purchased scented sticks, or from a chandelier, shows sheer ignorance. This sort of argument would never appeal to a thoughtful person. The production of fragrant smells or colored lights without the help of any external objects–in short, the doing of these impossible things–makes the thoughtful mind to ponder, and it is but natural for such a mind to attach importance to these things.

These things are possible only through soul force [atmabala]. Everybody knows that the power of the mind is greater than the power of the body, and that the power of the will is greater than that of the mind. Then what can we say of the power of the soul, from which all power proceeds? When a person strenuously tries to find out the real power of the soul, these insignificant powers are easily and naturally obtained by him. These powers, although in themselves of not much importance, are very useful in proving the inexhaustible and all-comprehensive powers of the soul. A thoughtful mind will at once be convinced that these small powers are but an infinitesimal portion of the power centered in the soul.

While treading the path of Self-realization these powers are easily obtained by the sadhaka, but the sadhaka must not be lured by them and stop there, but go ahead, ignoring them, until he reaches the final goal of Soham: Self-realization. A real saint does not make use of these siddhis even for himself; then how would he say that he performed miracles, and take credit for them? All his efforts are directed towards going beyond the consciousness of doing anything, and thus to conquer his egotism, and get himself merged into the bliss of the Paramatman.

Just as a person who has fully acquired the art of swimming, if thrown in water will naturally swim, similarly, the natural powers acquired by a saint are sometimes manifested when a fitting occasion presents itself. How can you then blame him if miracles sometimes occur at his hands? When an aspirant obtains the grace of a sadguru, and carries on the practice, the production of fragrant smells, etc., and the visions of different kinds of light, follow in due course. These things are not creations of imagination or hallucinations. If things actually seen are to be considered as hallucinations, then these things may also be considered as hallucinations. If those who adversely criticize these visions are of the opinion that the whole panorama of the world is an illusion, then in that case we admit all these spiritual experiences also are illusory. But as long as the world is true, these experiences are also true.

During the practice of Dhyana Yoga, some sadhakas see these visions. As they actually see them, how can we call them illusions? To them at least they are true. If I actually see a thing, that thing is true to me, although it may not be true to others who have not had any experience. But others, who have not got that experience, are not justified in calling my experience false. Hence, to those who saw them, these visions are true. These visions cannot be characterized as mere hallucinations of their brains.

We find in this world many things which at one time were considered as impossible, but which are now not only possible, but of everyday occurrence. This is no fault of nature, but the fault lies in the human mind. If you look at anything superficially, you cannot really understand it. If you, however, go deep, and take a comprehensive view, you will be able to realize its truth. A really thoughtful man should try to acquire correct reasoning power by considering all these things carefully and minutely. I therefore again say that these experiences are true, and not mere illusions.

But even granting for the sake of argument that these subjective sensations of seeing visions are hallucinations, how can objective facts of turning wine into milk, and mutton into roses, which everybody can taste and smell, be called illusions? Such miracles are not subjective sensations only. They can be objectified, and hence beyond suspicion. They are actual facts and can be verified. And as Professor William James said, what are all our verifications, but experiences? I say that through these experiences a sadhaka comes to realize the power of the soul and ultimately to grasp that there is one everlasting and all-pervading Being which is present in everything, and which is the only thing that exists. He then becomes one with Soham. He obtains everything which is to be obtained, to him nothing remains unattained, all his doubts are solved, and he is immersed in everlasting bliss. He becomes one with Brahman, and never falls from this stage.

The Gentleman: Maharaj, I am thoroughly satisfied with your explanations. Really, we ignorant people never try to think over these things carefully and minutely for ourselves, but take for granted what others say, and hence our minds get confused.

Myself: Dear brother, I would like to stress further that one has to reach the goal of life by one’s own efforts only.

What is Atmajnana?

Once another gentleman had a long conversation with me, in which the following was said.

The Gentleman: Maharaj, you have explained to me the meanings of avyakta, samadhi, dhyana, prarabdha, sanchita, and kriyamana. I have been enlightened on these subjects, and have clearly understood them. I know Sri Jnaneshwar has said that all skill and all arts are useless. There is only one thing: that is jnana (knowledge of the Self).

I have not clearly understood what is really meant by Atmajnana (knowledge of the Self), Atma Sakshatkara (realization of the Self), and spiritual progress. You generally explain by using homely illustrations, and hence I am able to follow your explanations very easily. I know that all things cannot be properly explained by mere words, or wordy explanations so as to carry conviction beyond doubt. Still, words seem to give at least an approximate idea of the thing, though they may fall short of carrying absolute conviction with them. Lord Sri Krishna has said, “Oh Arjuna, all actions are useless without the knowledge of the Self.” Please explain the matter in a way that I can easily understand it.”

Myself: You have put a very nice question. I like your questions. I shall try to explain the matter as best as I can. But why should I take the trouble for nothing?”

The Gentleman: If I understand the matter thoroughly, I shall consider you as my sadguru, and by continuous repetition of the Soham mantra I shall, with your grace, obtain the knowledge of the Self. Will this satisfy you?

Myself: All right. Just see. If a sadhaka thinks that seeing of divine visions is the ultimate goal, that it is Self-realization, that he has attained the highest stage, and nothing further remains to be done or achieved, it is sheer ignorance on his part. Because as long as there is duality, the flow of pain and pleasure continues unabated, and everlasting happiness is as far away as ever. If you think carefully, you will see that whatever is seen and heard is bound to disappear. But the knowledge of the Self is permanent and imperishable. This argument, I think, will appeal to all whether they are theists or atheists. Seeing of lights or visions and hearing of divine sounds do not indicate the achieving of Atma Sakshatkara. To realize that the One Eternal Being on which these visions and sounds play and move is none other than our own Self is the real Atma Sakshatkara. To be one with the everlasting Being is the real Sakshatkara.

When a person attains this oneness, his mind entirely becomes devoid of sankalpa (desire) and vikalpa (doubts), and it becomes absolutely indifferent. It goes beyond pleasure and pain. Actions are then automatically performed according to the prakriti dharma (promptings of nature). He becomes absolutely fearless, and is entirely devoid of egotism. When this state of mind is attained, then only can it be said that there is Atma Sakshatkara or Atmajnana. He is, as it were, merely sporting as a child while doing any actions. He is entirely detached from them. This is what is known as Sakshiavastha (the state of being merely a witness of one’s actions). Progress means the gradual attainment of this state of mind. We can ourselves get a clear idea of our progress. There is no necessity to ask anyone else about it.

In that state, although passions may be there according to the previous character of the aspirant, still the passions come and go automatically, without taking effect in the form of wrong actions. Right actions are naturally and automatically done. This state is known as Atmajnana. When this stage is reached, never-ending bliss and peace are attained. This is what is known as the sahaja state. This is merely another word expressing the same idea as Atmajnana. Merely defining Atmajnana, Brahmajnana, bliss, or samadhi is of very little use.

Characteristics of an Atmajnani

In short, I wish to emphasize that he who has no attachment for worldly objects, who is perfect, has completely controlled his senses, and whose mind is entirely devoid of any desire for sensual pleasures, who remains in the world but is, as it were, out of it–because of his entire detachment–he alone obtains the sovereign kingdom of everlasting atmic bliss. He becomes one with Soham, and obtains the real grace of his sadguru. His mind is pure like the water of the Ganges, which moves in its course purifying all who come in contact with it. All bad thoughts entirely disappear, and his actions are quite naturally done. He is externally, as well as internally, quite calm and at peace.

In this stage, it is difficult to distinguish him from other ordinary persons. In this stage, he naturally attains the power of knowing the past, present and future. He becomes a Trikalajnani. With all that, he never tells others of what is to happen, nor does he make use of this knowledge for his own benefit. It may happen that his words may at times be prophetic, but this takes place automatically. Never, never does the Atma Sakshatkari (one who has realized his Self) tell others of their past or future on his own initiative. In this stage he sees Brahman in all things; in other words, he is entirely immersed in the experience that everywhere there is nothing but all-pervading joy and bliss. His joy and peace are not dependent upon anything else, and hence they are everlasting. They are not disturbed under any circumstances, however adverse. His experience tells him that he himself has taken the form of the biggest as well as the minutest things. This is the real meaning of Soham. This is the real Atmajnana. Without this Atmajnana, all actions are useless. This is the meaning of Sri Krishna’s words.

I do not know whence these words come out of my mouth. You have kindly listened to them with favorable attention. I am thereby filled with extreme joy. There might have been mistakes committed by me through ignorance, or there might have been unpleasant expressions used by me inadvertently. You should kindly pardon me for them.

“My vani (speech) advises me in this manner, and it also tells the same thing to other people” (Tukaram). You should understand and appreciate the underlying meaning of the above lines of Sri Tukaram. With these words I stop and enter into the deep and changeless love and joy of the ajapa japa of Soham.

OM PEACE: OM PEACE: OM PEACE

SOHAM

Next: Appendix Two–Sri Ramana Maharshi on Soham Sadhana

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Chapters of Light of Soham: The Life and Teachings of Sri Gajanana Maharaj of Nashik

About Light of Soham: The Life and Teachings of Sri Gajanana Maharaj of Nashik

Foreward by the Editor to Light of Soham

Appendix One: Soham Meditation: An Introduction

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