Continued from the
Love and Sympathy
Love and sympathy are the signs
of spiritual life. If spiritual life does not
make devotees considerate and kind to others,
then what is the use of such devotion?
A perverse ego asserts itself
too much. We think more of rights than duties--thinking
how much we can get and not how much we can
give. You will get more, if you give more.
Do not approach anybody as a beggar; but approach
as a giver. Look around for a place where
you can sow a few seeds of happiness even
for a day.
The disciples of Sri Ramakrishna
were so different from the ordinary type of
religious men. They lived much fuller and
richer lives than ordinary spiritual men.
One moment they were lost in the deepest meditation,
the next moment they were actively engaged
in the service of all, helping everybody.
The great disciples
of Sri Ramakrishna were a class by themselves.
They had intense love for God and man. Their
love for man was an expression of their love
for God, for, they saw the Divine in all men
and women. Sitting at the feet of these great
disciples of Sri Ramakrishna, the religion we
learnt was not egocentric.
One should give more than
what one receives. But people never think
of giving. Once a man came to me and asked,
'Swamiji, what can I have here!' Of course
I was very kind to him. I told him that he
could attend daily prayers, lectures and attend
We must work in such a way
that others must feel like working in the
same manner. We must teach them the way.
A man used to come to Swami
Brahma-nandaji. He came from a good family
but was very miserly and would sometimes bring
half a pumpkin or a few plantains. We used
to watch this but Swami Brahmananda Maharaj
used to be very kind to him.
Again there are devotees whose
only theme is to give. They never think of
receiving. Once a family had come to Bangalore
for a few days. I had stayed in their house
while touring the South. I gave prasad
to the lady but as she was leaving after bowing
down to me, she forgot to take the prasad.
I called her back and reminded her of the
prasad. Her one central theme was to give
and not to take; that is why she had forgotten.
Take any aspect of Sri Krishna.
He is an ideal for men, women and children.
Even the animals are charmed by Him. Sri Ramakrishna
used to go into samadhi while hearing the
name of Sri Krishna. See how the infinite
limits itself when it incarnates! Sri Krishna
in his childhood showed His infinite nature
to His parents. Behind His divine personality
stands the impersonal, indivisible Sat-Chid-Ananda.
When the soul is tired of worldly things,
it yearns to be one with the Paramatman.
The Gopis in their ecstatic
state realised His infinite nature. Again
they loved Him in His personal aspect as well.
No spiritual experience is complete unless
one realises both these aspects, personal
and impersonal. That means we are parts of
Him. So instead of meditating on the Lord,
if we meditate on ourselves, which we always
do, what happens? We will be meditating on
a limited personality, full of anger, lust,
desires etc. and we shall imbibe some of these
It was most surprising how
Swami Brahmananda's brother monks used to
regard him so much superior to themselves.
They looked upon him as the representative
of Sri Ramakrishna. Swami Vivekananda was
only nine days older to Swami Brahmananda.
Each one of them was a spiritual giant and
a personification of infinite power, knowledge,
love, and along with it immense humility.
What a personality Swami
Brahmananda had! He hailed from a rich family
and had a majestic and princely look which
charmed everyone. In the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
you read about different categories of men.
First, the bound souls immersed in worldliness.
They have no idea of the glory of spiritual
life. Second, those who want to become \.
They struggle. Third, those who after intense
struggle, succeed in becoming free, the liberated
souls. Finally, there are a few who are ever
free--nityasiddhas. They are born only
for the good of the world. Swami Brahmananda
was one such nityasiddha.
A day or two before Swami
Brahma-nanda passed away, he called us and
said, 'After the body falls off, I will sometimes
come from my heavenly abode to see how my
children are getting on.'
Maharaj was not the
type who would give sermons day and night.
Early in the morning he would meditate and
be in a deep spiritual mood and after that
all of us--sadhus and brahmacharis--would
sit in the verandah around him. There was
no need of words. The spiritual vibrations
radiating from him were so strong and intense
that one could tangibly feel and experience
them. His mere presence was enough to uplift
and elevate the mind. He showered immense
love on all.
But never think it was
all milk and honey. When it came to spiritual
disciplining, he was indeed a very stern task
master. He could see through all of us, our
past and future. Sometimes we used to get
such scoldings! We were like lumps of clay
in his hands being given beating after beating,
his loving anxiety being that the spiritual
lessons learnt at his feet be digested and
assimilated into our systems so that they
have a transforming effect on us. But then
there was a lighter side of him too. His sense
of humour was such that when he cut jokes
we would roll on the ground with laughter.
Sometimes we find men of realisation
getting angry or attached. Even jivanmuktas
have anger and attachment, but you can understand
them and their implications only when you
live with them. Love need not always take
on a calm and peaceful form.
True love can often
be as hard as steel; it can use harsh words.
The knife of a surgeon cuts, but it cuts in
order to heal. These great ones may appear
cruel and heartless in some of their advice,
but through the kindness of their cruelty
they heal and bring new life.
Death--the very word generates
fear in the minds of all. In fact, fear of
death is the fear of all fears. No matter
how hard we may try to avoid our fate, death
stands waiting for us at the end of our life.
One day a young man, a servant
of the sultan, rushed breathlessly into the
sultan's palace in Damascus and said, 'Please,
Your Majesty, I need your swiftest horse!'
'What is the matter?' asked the sultan. The
young man replied, 'As I passed through the
royal garden, I saw Death. He stretched his
arms towards me and frightened me. I must
flee to Baghdad.' The sultan readily agreed
to the servant's request. Then the sultan
went out in his garden looking for Death.
He saw Death crouching near a patch of day-lilies
and angrily asked, 'What are you doing? Why
are you scaring my servant?' 'I did not mean
to scare the young man', apologised Death.
'When I saw him here, I simply threw up my
hands in surprise. You see,' explained Death,
'he was not supposed to be here at the palace.
I am to meet him tonight at Baghdad!' The
young man died at Baghdad that night.
Death is inevitable. The future
is a closed book to all of us, but one thing
common to all is that we have to meet death.
No one can escape it. But having come into
this world, why not achieve something, why
not live the divine life and be a blessing
to ourselves and to others?
Spiritual life is not meant
for the weak-minded and cowards; for the runaways
and drop-outs in life. Spiritual life is meant
for the highly intelligent and cultured, for
the daring and adventurous, for those who
are ready to put in all their self-effort
to strive and reach the state of perfection.
Spiritual life is meant for those who are
brilliant intellectually, beautiful emotionally
and dynamic physically.
In a monastic order, we do
not want weaklings, but only those who are
strong physically, morally, intellectually
and spiritually. It is not a dust-bin in which
one can throw anything. Some people try to
escape from the problems of the worldly life
by taking shelter in a monastery. They make
themselves and others miserable. We want only
those who can stand a little of asceticism
and self-control and become hardy and tough
in a good sense. Such are likely to succeed.
This is a period of preparation.
Merely lamenting over not having seen the
Lord will not do, neither will passive prayer
be enough. A spiritual seeker must be able
to break the old habits and make new good
There are some aspirants who,
without striving hard for improving themselves
in every way, go on lamenting and cursing
themselves and find a morbid joy in self-condemnation,
which is another form of self-love but turned
You should see that you do
not condemn yourself too much and thus weaken
your moral fabric.
Visiting Holy Places
Visiting holy places is an
easy thing. It is difficult to make progress
in the realm of spirit. Yet pilgrimages have
great significance. They serve a great purpose.
The holy places in India are
in all directions: Ayodhya, Mathura, Hardwar,
Kanchi, Kashi, Rameswaram, Puri, Dwarka, Badri,
Sringeri, etc.--East, West, North and South.
The holy rivers, Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari,
Narmada, Kaveri, etc. are also in all directions.
Pilgrimages to these places have greatly helped
to preserve the fundamental unity of India.
In different states of India,
people speak different languages, and have
different customs and traditions. Yet they
have got the same spiritual ideas.
Nowadays pilgrims fly from
place to place by train, by car, etc. In olden
days they used to walk the whole distance
and come in contact with people and would
find that the ideas are common.
Disciplines for a Member
of a Religious Institution
Have great regard for others.
Intensify your sadhana. The
quality of Japa and meditation should be improved.
Practice Japa with artha bhavanam.
Each one must follow the method told by her
Perform your duties perfectly.
You must see how much you
are able to give to the sangha and not how
much you get.
Practise relaxation. In the
midst of work we must learn to practise relaxation.
we relax, the mind comes in
tune with the infinite. Have a little thought
of God in the mind thoughout the day.