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Appendix Five: Wisdom of Sri Gajanana Maharaj

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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.

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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.

Gajanana MaharajIt 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.

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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 my writing this is to shed light in this darkness, and to illumine the path for the sake of these struggling human souls.

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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, great perseverance in sticking to this pursuit and firm faith–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.

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Supposing 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.

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.

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.

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The following are some of the characteristics that accompany the stage of the realization of the final experience. Desire, hate, 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.

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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.

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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 [jnanindriyas and karmindriyas] have to be utilized in the service of God. In the repetition of mantra or the contemplation of God, however, only the mouth, ear and mind are 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 1:28 we find: “Its japa and fixing one’s attention on its meaning.” Patanjali makes clear the method to be followed.

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Now let us see how a man should act in worldly life so that he may progress spiritually while leading a life in the world. To him I 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.

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, whether you are mumukshus or sadhakas: 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.

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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 this sadguru’s 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.”

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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 at the feet of saints. 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 him. Then, their egotism, kama, krodha and lobha (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. This faithful sadhaka then reaches the stage of vijnana. If a sadhaka feels true and selfless love, he later on 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.

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To trouble the 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 saints 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. 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, and that the best way of solving worldly difficulties is to follow worldly and practical methods.

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.

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[That which is known as Paramartha is the highest attainment, purpose, or goal in our life, for it is itself the Absolute Reality.]

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 make 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 by following the advice of experts, just as we do in worldly matters. Hence Saint Ramdas has said, “First a person should learn to make his prapancha (worldly life) all right, and then should have recourse to Paramartha. Oh, thoughtful persons, do not be careless regarding these important matters.”

To make his prapancha all right does not mean that a person should try to secure a monthly income of a thousand rupees or should keep a motor car. It means that he must devote careful attention to each and every detail of worldly life, must have faith in the efficacy of his efforts and the advice given to him, and should have recourse more to policy than to force in his dealings. These very qualities are also extremely useful in spiritual matters. The answer to the question as to whether a person’s prapancha is all right or not will depend upon the angle of vision which we adopt in looking at his life, our own attitude towards life in general, and the stage of mental development at which we ourselves have arrived. Hence, how can any general standard be fixed for all? Thus it should be clearly borne in mind that the solution of worldly things should be sought for by worldly means, and of spiritual matters by spiritual methods.

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All human beings are the children of God. And it has been said that if a human being makes strong efforts he can even become Narayana (God). It has been said by a Western philosopher that God is what man can be. If it is so, how can you condemn yourselves as sinners?

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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.

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A few days ago, a gentleman from Poona came to see me. While talking on various topics, he incidentally said: “Maharaj, some years ago a Santa Parishada (a meeting of saints) was held at Poona. Many maharajas, some having matted hair, some who had practiced penance 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 Poona. 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?”

To this, I answered as follows: “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?’

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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 Sakshi Awastha (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 original nature 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.

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 of 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. 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 Trikalajna. 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 (i.e. one who has realized his soul) 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.

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A person gets pleasures and pains in this world according to the good or bad actions of his previous lives. Though saints and mahatmas have all powers, still everyone has to suffer the results of his own previous karma. Saints do not interfere with the working of this law. Their mission in this world is to point out the way leading to everlasting happiness and thus to make persons going to them blessed in the real sense of the term. They pay very little heed to worldly pleasures and pains which are after all of an ephemeral nature.

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Whenever a person, big or small, male or female, feels the want of anything, whether worldly or spiritual, he approaches God and begs Him for granting his desire. We go to a temple. The idol there is of stone. But we, through faith, attribute to it the divine powers of Sri Rama or Sri Krishna and pray to the idol to grant our desires. And we get the fruit of these prayers at some time or other. This is true in the case of all human beings. Whenever a person entertains a desire to obtain some worldly object or to attain spiritual progress, he obtains the fruit of his desire as a result of his efforts in this life or of his karma in previous lives, or owing to fate or destiny, call it anything you like. No astrologer or saint or God is required for that.

Men and women go to a saint, whether a true one or a false one, for getting their desires fulfilled. Some want employment, some are in want of progeny and some want the curing of their diseases. An aspirant on the spiritual path desires to obtain the bliss of the Self or the vision of God.

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It is difficult to know who is a real sadguru. We find that even many educated men have fallen into the clutches of self-seeking pseudo-saints. The ways of outward conduct, too, of even really great saints differ on account of the difference of surroundings and of prarabdha (karmic destiny). Hence superficial observers are not likely to recognize the greatness of even real saints. Some persons posing as saints are very clever in giving learned and impressive discourses on Vedanta, while internally they are seeking opportunities to cheat their gullible followers. Real aspirants meeting such saints are ultimately disappointed, because they find that they asked for bread and got a stone instead. Hence it has been said in the Yoga Vashishtha that without the grace of God, it is not possible to meet with a real sadguru. A sadguru must teach yoga not merely by words, but must lead an aspirant to the path of Self-experience. The disciple, too, must know what questions to ask and how to ask them, otherwise everything will be futile.

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Raja Yoga is the best of all Yoga practices. The practice of Raja Yoga can control the impressions produced in the mind and wipe them out. All this control is possible only through two things: practice [abhyasa] and vairagya [non-attachment]. A person who merely carries on practice without having vairagya, does not persevere to the end but has to abandon it in the middle. This is because every now and then he is attracted by sensual objects, gets tired of trying again and again to free himself from such attraction, and so he drops any practice. Hence perfect control can be accomplished only with the help of both practice and vairagya. Only those who have left off attachment to sensual objects can be the recipients of this knowledge. He alone who first of all subdues the desires of the mind regarding sensual objects, understands their comparative importance or unimportance and keeps his mind in a state of quietude, succeeds in ascending to the summit of yoga. He who understands how to dispel thoughts which arise in succession in the mind succeeds in going to the end of yoga and becoming a master.

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Many persons think that bhakti (devotion) is easier than yoga, but Sri Jnaneshwar says, “Is there anything as easy as Yoga?” I also think that bhakti which depends upon some external object is not so easy as yoga which depends on one’s own Self. If a person thinks on these questions deeply, gets explanations for himself and then turns away from the things which bind him and contemplates upon the opposite, he will succeed in putting an end to all pain and obtain the highest bliss. He should fix his mind upon and thoroughly grasp the principle that the Self is absolutely free from attachments, and then by means of Yoga he should practice meditation.

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Ordinarily no one likes pain, hence every one desires to end it. We ourselves are dearer to us than any other thing. Things which come in the way of our happiness are disliked by us. We, however, have never any dislike respecting ourselves. Hence it is clear that real bliss lies in ourselves and not in any extraneous thing.

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Suppose a person sees a rope in the darkness and thinking it to be a serpent, runs away from that place. He will not then be able to see it, but the impression will still remain upon his mind that he had seen a serpent. If, however, he stays at the place, brings a lamp and satisfies himself that it is a rope and not a serpent, all fear vanishes and no impression of the fear remains on his mind. Thus knowledge alone is capable of dispelling the fear of worldly existence. For obtaining this knowledge it is necessary to read religious books, to listen to discourses on them, to think over them in solitude, and when the mind is thoroughly satisfied about the truth of the principles, to ponder over them again and again.

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Suppose you have a lighted lantern in your house and I ask you to bring and show its light to me here. Will you be able to bring the light here and show it to me? No. Then you would say to me, “I shall at the most be able to tell you what particular means are required and what particular action is to be done in order to generate the light.” You would ask me to purchase a lantern, fix a wick in it, put kerosene oil in it, strike a match, ignite the wick etc. Then there would be light.

Similarly it is not an easy thing to show God. I may tell you in what way you should conduct yourself. When you will be endowed with all the four sadhanas, or when your desires have vanished, or when you are full of devotion or when your mind is fully detached from all worldly objects and you get knowledge of spiritual matters, you will be able to realize the presence of God who is really without form. You will then be able to see the light of the Self and be one with that Being which is self-existent, which is Life and which is Bliss. That is the real God.

God is not an external object which can be shown by simply pointing a finger towards it. A person’s egoism must entirely disappear, his desires must all vanish, he must have complete vairagya and he must feel that he is one with God. Then quite naturally he attains everlasting peace and joy. His whole worldly life will be nothing but Brahman. He will go beyond pain and pleasure.

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Suppose some night you get very sound sleep. When you get up the next morning you say to others, “For the last month or so I did not get good sleep. But last night I got such a sound and deep sleep that I was greatly delighted.” Now just see. If you were in deep sleep, how can you say that you got sound sleep? Who was awake in that state? Had you seen who was awake in that state? Who enjoyed the bliss of sleep and who is now describing his feelings in that state? You yourself.

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Do not, like the musk-deer, wander about seeking outside for what is really in yourself. You have now only to get Self-experience by carrying on the practice of meditation steadily.

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Visions of Sri Krishna, or of the goddess or of any other deity is not of any real benefit. As long as the mind is not turned inwards and as long as desires have not entirely vanished, these external appearances are of very little use. All these appearances are illusory like a mirage.

***

When asked the meaning of Satchidananda: “Sat” means that which is never destroyed, which always exists. It is nothing but Brahman. “Chit” means that it is self-illumed in all the three states of waking, dreaming and sleeping. “Ananda” means bliss. A thing is dear to us not for the sake of that thing but for the sake of our Self, which is the real object of all our love and is therefore the only entity which is dear to us. The Self is, therefore, bliss–Ananda. You are the Self and the Self is Brahman. This principle should be thoroughly grasped by means of arguments, the authority of the Vedas and lastly through Self-experience. Some Vedantins say that “I” (the Self) is present always at the time when passions rise as well as when there are no passions. This principle, “I,” exists independently of the passions. Hence the “I” is really not fettered but is mukta (free).

But the true Vedantic doctrine is that at the time of death only all thoughts become entirely merged in the Self. This sort of merging of thoughts cannot be brought about merely by self-control. If that is so, then how would the doctrine that the “I” is present both at the time when passions rise as well as when they are absent help a sadhaka in catching hold of the Self which can be grasped only when the flow of thoughts has altogether stopped? On the contrary when the sadhaka is in the waking–and therefore in the discriminating–state, he will surely be conscious of the existence of “this” and “that.”

***

Although the mind always has a tendency to leave the object of meditation and run away to other things, the only remedy is to bring it back again and fix it on the object of meditation. If we try to give a bend to the branch of a tree, in the beginning as soon as we remove our hand from it, it again becomes straight and assumes its original position. But by continuous efforts of bending it and also by tying the bent parts by means of a rope etc., we succeed in giving it a permanent bend. Similarly, if a person while repeating his japa finds that his mind has wandered away, the only remedy is to forcibly bring it back and fix it again on the japa. Control over the mind is obtained not merely by such practice. Vairagya (detachment) is also necessary. The mind naturally runs towards those objects for which it has an attraction. By abhyasa (practice) the fickleness of the mind may be controlled. But its attachment cannot be done away with by mere practice. It has been said by Sri Krishna in the Sixth Chapter of the Gita, verse 26: “Wherever the fickle and unsteady mind runs away it should be brought back there from and made to fix itself on the Self.”

***

If a sadhaka commits a sinful act once, in a way it might be explained away as the result of his karma in previous life or lives designated as prarabdha or sanchita. But if such sinful acts are committed over and over again and he tries to explain them away by attributing them to his prarabdha, he should certainly be considered a base man.

Just take a homely illustration. Suppose there is a live charcoal. You see it and although you are warned by your friend not to place your foot upon it, you out of a feeling of pride and arrogance do not heed the warning and place your foot upon it. You are sure to suffer pain. This is something like prarabdha. But would you ever again place your foot upon a fire even if you are asked to do so by a friend? No. Where has prarabdha gone now? That means that when a person is full of repentance he does not commit the sin again, nor does he quote shastras and the doctrines of prarabdha and sanchita for justifying the commission of the sin.

A sadhaka, therefore, should exercise his powers of reasoning and discrimination at the time of doing acts and should lead his life in accordance with the advice of his guru. Gradually all his fetters will fall off as he progresses in the practice of meditation.

I shall just tell you what Sri Gulabrao Maharaj says on this point. “Look at our present-day saints. Their ‘jivanmukti’ consists in not doing anything for their maintenance. They have therefore to practice tricks for getting their livelihood. They practice more deceits and do more degraded acts than persons who maintain themselves by labor ever dream of doing. These so-called saints have thrown off all social restrictions. If I, for instance, find some other saint is more respected as a guru and has more disciples, I am sure to spread scandals about him among my disciples and his disciples also. Even if these saints do not know anything, they can conceal their ignorance by assuming an attitude of being above discussions and arguments and of being merged in everlasting peace.

“I therefore say that in my opinion there is no class of scoundrels in this world worse than such saints who profit themselves by deceiving their followers. Whenever such saints are actually observed doing a sinful act, they attribute their sin to their prarabdha and seek protection under its wings. This prarabdha many a time saves them, because they do not suffer for their sins in this world. Of course, the punishment meted out to them hereafter will be beyond the knowledge of people in this world. All this argument of prarabdha has been trotted out from the inexhaustible store of Vedanta. All actions which a follower of Charvaka [an atheist] would do can safely be done by these saints on the authority of the doctrine that saints are beyond sin and virtue, and that they are above all principles of morality which are meant for ordinary people. The wonder is that these saints have learnt no real lessons from reading works on Vedanta.

“I do not mean to say that Vedanta is to be blamed for this. I should not be considered as belonging to that class of social reformers who have attacked Vedanta and have attributed many of the evils in our social system to its pernicious doctrines. What I want to say is this. Without performing the duties of his varna [caste] and ashrama [stage of life], without devotion and without acquiring the four sadhanas, a person can study books on Vedanta like a school or college student and repeat its doctrines like a parrot. What is the use of all this? But if a person acquires all the four sadhanas and then begins to think about Vedanta, a sentence or two from all these works will be quite sufficient to illuminate his mind and to enable him to attain moksha.

“Many of the present-day saints are similarly followers of Vedanta only partially. They conceal the fact that they have passions and remain unmarried. When, however, their passions are exposed in the case of the sisters or wives of their disciples, they explain them away and give them a garb of virtue by resorting to the argument of prarabdha. They represent that that particular woman was their wife in their previous life and that it had been predetermined by prarabdha that they should have sexual connection with her.

“Those who are real followers of Vedanta, however, are always sorry for any sinful action that occurs at their hands, even though it might have been brought about by the force of prarabdha, and they are always prepared to make a full admission of their faults. They always pray to the Almighty that they might be freed from the clutches of their passions without having been required by prarabdha to do bad actions. They generally never find fault with others who might have succumbed to their passions. If, however, they blame others, they also blame themselves.

“Although it is very difficult to define in words as to who should be regarded a saint, still it can be very easily understood that a person who comes forward as a guru must at least not be a man whose actions are without any moral restrictions. If saints are of different sorts and their external actions are also of different kinds, it is but natural that people also should treat different saints in different ways. If a saint’s outward actions are morally bad, there is nothing to complain of if people blame him or treat him with disrespect. The present day saints pose as if they are divine sages as long as their passions are not exposed, and when they are exposed they represent that they are, like Sri Krishna, beyond all moral restrictions and that they are quite detached from all sense of enjoyment.”

***

I look upon all human beings as being equal. All living creatures bear a spark of the Divine Spirit and hence every human being is fitted to follow the spiritual path. I do not look upon any one as wicked or unfit to follow the spiritual path. Whoever comes to me, I tell him what I know.

***

If you want to attain the goal of human life and therefore want to put your faith in some saint, remember that if that saint shows you the path of Self-experience, only then should you put your faith in him. If, however, you put your faith in a saint on account of the miracles performed or reported to be performed by him, you may perhaps obtain the fulfillment of some of your worldly desires, but you will never thereby attain the real aim of human life.

***

I am absolutely sure that saints can never change anyone’s fate. Whatever is fated to happen is sure to happen. Do we not see hundreds of people rolling in wealth who have never gone to a saint or never even remembered God? They are enjoying the blessings of wealth and progeny according to their actions in previous births. If this is true then why should saints profess to change anybody’s fate?

***

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 awake, 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.

***

We can in course of time succeed in getting control over our mind, and the whole tendency of our thoughts can be turned into a good channel. Thus we become our own guru. ‘‘The guru should turn away our mind from the various vices to which we are addicted. Everything is in the hands of a guru. If he means it, he alone will be able to develop good tendencies in my mind.” Such thoughts are weak and misleading and would be of no use to anyone. The Gita says, “We alone are our friend and we alone are our enemy.”

***

An external object may cause pleasure or pain according to circumstances. The pleasure that is felt from the enjoyment of external objects is evanescent owing to the perishable nature of all external objects. Hence, if your desire to obtain an external object is fulfilled, you get pleasure; if it is not fulfilled, you experience pain. The joy experienced in Paramartha, the realization of the Self, on the contrary, is not due to the obtaining of any external object. This joy is thus absolutely independent of anything else. Hence its nature has been described as being niramaya (without any disease or defect). 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 Soham, 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.

***

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.

***

One is a friend or an enemy of one’s Self, and one has to reach the goal of life by one’s own efforts only.

***

With these words I stop and enter into the deep and changeless love and joy of the ajapa japa of Soham.

Next: Appendix Six: Breath And Sound In Meditation

 

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Chapters in the Soham Yoga, the Yoga of the Self:

Introduction to Soham Yoga
Soham Yoga: Its Theory and Practice

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