The First Rope: Forgiveness | Vibheeshana Gita

– Understandings from Swami Swaroopanandaji’s talk for Youth Empowerment Programme – 6th batch

Souraj dhiraj tehi rath chaaka,
Satyaseel dhruda dhwaja pataka
Bal bibek dam parahit khore
Chama krupa samata raju jore

Forgiveness is the first rope of the chariot

In Avadhi, kshama is said as chama.

In the rope, lies the control. Without a strong rope, the powerful horses cannot be controlled.

A child may not be able to forgive his parents for any bad behavior towards him, but no matter how bad a child behaves, the parents forgive the child. Why is this so? The child has come through the parents due to which the parents feel he’s a part of them. They know that the child is acting out of ignorance. And ignorance needs help, not punishment; for, ignorance is not a crime. They know that if they will not help their child, who will? Parents, due to their maturity, love & affection towards the child can easily forgive and forget the whole issue. A child cannot do so because he still has to grow intellectually and emotionally to understand the whole thing.

If we bite our own tongue accidentally, will we punish our teeth? We know that any punishment towards our teeth is a punishment towards ourselves. When we forget how we all are connected, we find it difficult to forgive. It also becomes a part of our prestige and ego that we should win over the other person.

Even in spiritual organizations, we can see people fighting against each other. But the leaders usually forgive them because they know that all are working for the same cause. The difference in opinion is because of their difference in nature. Punishing any of them would mean, punishing the organization. When a person is able to think like that, he becomes a leader with a broader vision. He can forgive anybody who might behave in a disrespectful way or do something wrong to him because he’s not concerned with his prestige but with the well-being of the organization, for achieving the objective.

What happens when we do not forgive? Forgiveness does not happen most of the times because our ego is hurt. When the ego is hurt, all it wants to do is to take revenge. As a result, every moment is spent by the mind in thinking of how to take revenge and quench the thirst of the ego. When this happens, all our energies are spent in a negative direction. We also lose a lot of energy and body metabolism is also affected in a bad way resulting in hypertension, stress, anger, etc. Finally, if we are able to avenge our hurt, we end up in hurting someone else. In the process, we might have satisfied our ego, but the loss would be much more. We start building more enemies with whom we are always at war. It becomes difficult to work with them anymore. In many cases, people leave noble causes because of internal clashes. How sad! Just because someone is unable to forgive, a great cause is being affected.

What happens when we forgive? The matter ends there. As simple as that. No hurt feelings, no revenge, no negative body metabolism, no stress, no hurting someone, etc. Everything gets back to normal pretty faster and life is absolutely fine once again.

It’s easy to speak about forgiveness. But how to cultivate it; is the question. We will discuss on that later.


Third & Fourth Horses of the chariot: Self-control & Concern for others | Vibheeshana Gita

– Understandings from Swami Swaroopanandaji’s talk for Youth Empowerment Programme – 6th batch

Souraj dhiraj tehi rath chaaka,
Satyaseel dhruda dhwaja pataka
Bal bibek dam parahit khore
Chama krupa samata raju jore

Self-control and Concern for others are the other two horses of the chariot

Self-control is a scary word for many. It looks like a word which says ‘No’ to all the pleasures. It is definitely not like that. Self-control can be understood as Self-management – the way we manage ourselves. All our five sense organs run wild behind the objects of the world. A walk in the shopping malls, or by the restaurants, listening to the latest musical hits, etc are indeed tempting situations in our lives. Self-control does not mean we should not enjoy any of these, rather it means, how well-managed we are on our own senses. When we see dresses displayed in a shopping mall, are we able to stop ourselves to fall for it when we don’t require it at the moment? Does the thought of tasty food take away all the other thoughts from our mind? Do we keep our TV always tuned to the channels that we cannot resist? These are the kind of questions we need to ask ourselves. If the answer is ‘Yes’ to a question, then we are not able to manage ourselves. We are a prey to our sense organs and to our mind.

What is the problem if we don’t have sense-control? People who don’t control themselves look so happy in life. A man bought a dog to guard his house. The dog was very strong and of a good breed. Its one bark would scare off anybody. But there was a problem with the dog. It would not listen to anyone, not even its master. In fact, the dog behaved like the master and the master behaved like its slave. When others look at the dog, they might appreciate it for its beauty and strength. But for the master, it is useful or a pain? The people who keep no self-control over themselves only look happier than others. But, truly speaking, they are a slave to their minds. They do not have a freedom from their own mind. Swami Chinmayananda used to say, ‘Not to do what you feel like doing is true freedom.’

We usually think freedom in terms of ‘freedom of expression’, ‘freedom of life-style’, ‘freedom of thought’, etc. But are we really FREE…from our own Mind? Are we not a slave to our mind? How many times we fall for temptations (the word is rightly used – FALL for temptation)? Falling for temptations is truly a fall which we mistakenly think as freedom of choice.

Can a company run well if there are no rules & regulations in it? Why do we have traffic rules or laws governing a nation? Can we have a safe and happy life if there are no systems to oversee? Our society, our company, etc have such rules for their well-being. Shouldn’t we have such controlling systems for our well-being?

A man of self-control can always take best decisions at any situations because his judgment is not biased based on his likes and dislikes. He takes a decision that is good for him and his surroundings even if it means sacrificing his own desires. People respect such masters who live like real Men and not like animals who fall for instincts.

No matter how successful one becomes, one should have concern for others. There are some people who have concern for others till they gain power or a particular position. Such people can never be true leaders nor will their power last for a long time. Concern for others is the sign of a good leader. Shri Ramji was concerned even about his enemies. After killing Ravana, Rama asked Vibheeshana to do the final rites of Ravana’s body in the proper manner & respects that a king deserves.

The growth of a person is seen not only in how much he grows as an individual, but also in the number of people he’s able to support in their well-being and upliftment. Whatever we have, money, power, intellect, are all gifts from God. We have been provided with them so that we can use it in the right way to be an instrument in helping others.

Thus, Lord Rama says, strength, discrimination, self-control & concern for others are the four horses of the chariot of success that he possesses.

First & Second Horses of the chariot: Strength & Discrimination | Vibheeshana Gita

– Understandings from Swami Swaroopanandaji’s talk for Youth Empowerment Programme – 6th batch

Souraj dhiraj tehi rath chaaka,
Satyaseel dhruda dhwaja pataka
Bal bibek dam parahit khore
Chama krupa samata raju jore

Strength and Discrimination are two of the four horses of the chariot

As we saw in the first two lines – Courage & Fortitude; Truthfulness & Noble Character – these qualities come in a pair. If we take these qualities alone, they might not be that effective as much as they work in a combination.

The qualities said in these verses are the essentials in an effective leader. A leader needs to have Courage to take up a new venture, to put faith in his team. Sometimes the expected result may not be immediate. He needs to have Fortitude and patience to give time for the work to blossom. A team will have faith over its leader only when he is Truthful to them. At times, there may be errors from the side of his team members. He should be able to point them out in such a way without hurting or demoralizing the team (the art is – Sheelta).

Next is Strength & Discrimination. Strength, in this context, refers to mental strength. The journey of life will not be smooth all the time. Only a person with immense inner strength can stand firm on his values when faced with adverse or tempting situations. A person who compromises on situations can reach nowhere nor can he lead people anywhere. Even the thought of compromising comes because he lacks inner strength. When the Lord of Death offered Nachiketa all the pleasures of the world, the young boy declined every offer, for, he knew exactly what he wanted and did not fall for the tempting offers. And because he stood his ground, Lord Yama had to give him the Knowledge of the Self that he was asking for.

A recent example is of Anna Hazare. Despite his ailing body, old-age, he shook the entire Government with his sheer will. Who was he? What support he had? He came up with an idea…and he knew that he is not going to compromise on it. In no time, the whole nation stood with him. It is said, when you take a Sankalpa, the whole universe works towards manifesting it.

On one hand we have the examples of great men of enormous inner strength who have created history, like Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, the great freedom fighters, etc. On the other hand we have the lives of men who have shook the world in terror and crumbled down nations because of their inner strength. One man’s hatred initiated a world war. One man with huge inner strength, who followed his religion in a wrong way, caused havoc to so many countries – Osama bin laden. One man’s desire of conquering the world caused so many deaths, made so many children orphans, caused darkness in so many lives. Even they were men of inner strength, but what did they lack? Discrimination. If inner strength is like the water flowing in a river, discrimination is like its banks that decide the course of the river. What makes man an evolved being is his faculty of discrimination. Strength, if not backed by discrimination, will make man worse than an animal.

Arise! Awake! Stop not till the goal is reached.

Arise! Awake! Stop not till the goal is reached.

This was one of the most famous roars of Swami Vivekananda. People usually hold on to the last line very much ‘Stop not till the goal is reached’. But he said two words before that – Arise! Awake! Why did he say Arise Awake, why not Awake Arise? When we are asleep, we wake up first; only then we can arise from our bed. But most of the times, our slumber is so powerful that it pulls our body back to sleep.

Once a boy told his teacher, “I’m unable to wake up early in the morning despite of keeping an alarm. Every day, the alarm buzzes at 5am but my sleep is so bad that I stop it and go back to sleep. I’m sincerely trying to wake up, but unable to do so. What should I do?” The teacher replied, “Don’t keep your alarm in your bed. Keep it somewhere in your room, may be over the loft or cupboard, where you have to get out of the bed and take some effort to put it off. Once you are out of your bed, you’ll gain more consciousness and with that little awareness, you can prevent your body and mind from going back to sleep.”

What Swami Vivekananda said was very correct. First we must pull ourselves out of our sleep by our own willpower – ARISE! Once we rise up, then sleep is automatically gone. Then AWAKE! Be aware of your goal. Keep reminding yourself about it every day. Let not a single day pass without remembering your goal. Then strive for it. Give all your best effort towards reaching the goal. And STOP NOT…TILL THE GOAL IS REACHED.

Swami Vivekananda’s birthday is very aptly selected as National Youth Day. They are the real Masters who lived a life of inspiration at every breath.

Salutations to the Great Master who continues to charge up the souls of millions even after 150 years of leaving his body!

Flags of the chariot: Truthfulness and Noble Character | Vibheeshana Gita

– Understandings from Swami Swaroopanandaji’s talk for Youth Empowerment Programme – 6th batch

Souraj dhiraj tehi rath chaaka,
Satyaseel dhruda dhwaja pataka
Bal bibek dam parahit khore
Chama krupa samata raju jore

Truthfulness and Noble Character are the flags of the chariot

Flag represents victory. In those days, there used to be two flags on the chariot which would be visible from a long distance. There would be a main flag (Dhwaja) and another small flag below it (Pataka). As long as the flags are seen, that means the warrior is undefeated. Even today, we see in sports, when a team is winning its supporters will wave the flag.

The flags of victory that is said here are – Truthfulness & Noble Character. All of us have heard about this virtue – Truthfulness – since childhood and most of us would agree that saying the Truth did not always yield good results in our lives. It’s because Truthfulness does not go alone. It has to go along with Sheelta. The nearest word for sheelta in English is ‘noble character’, but the English synonym cannot complete the actual meaning.

When Shri Ramji went to mother Kausalya to inform her about his Kaikeyi’s wish to send Ram to the forest, he did not go and tell her, “Mother, look how foolish your husband has acted. He made some stupid promise to Kaikeyi and now I’ve to bear the burden of it by going to the forest.” Anybody of today’s generation would have reacted in this way probably. Even if Rama would have said this statement, he wouldn’t be wrong. He would have been Truthful 100%. But Rama said, “Oh Mother! Look, my father has gifted me the huge land of the forests and crowned me as its king.” No doubt, this too was a shock for Kausalya, but the way Rama passed the message lessened the intensity of the grief. The way he spoke to his mother displays the sheelta in him.

A man complained, “I always say the Truth. Yet people hate me.” There was another who said, “She asked me how she looks. I replied – TERRIBLE.” These people might be saying the Truth. But that truth can do more harm if it is not said with sheelta.

We can take examples in our own lives. Do we love people who bluntly say the bitter truth to us? Or do we love the people who do false praises? Or do we love people who say the Truth in such a way that it does not hurt us, at the same time we get their message clearly?

When we learn that we should be always truthful, we should always remember that Truthfulness is of no use if it is not coupled with sheelta. If we look into our lives, we can find many incidents that we encounter everyday where we have said the truth but that has brought a frown or anger in the face of the other person. It’s because we have not learnt sheelta.

There are some people who talk very sweetly displaying a lot of outer sheelta, but not speaking the Truth. That is not sheelta. It is not impressing people. Sheelta is what Ramji did – speaking the Truth in the sweetest way by not hurting anyone.

Sheelta can be of great help many a times. There’s a famous story of a king who called in an astrologer to look at his horoscope. The astrologer told the king that the king going to die in 6 months. The king ordered his guards to behead the man. The king called in for another astrologer. He was a wise guy, but a truthful one too. When he saw the horoscope, he understood the king’s future. He said, “Oh great king! You son will be crowned as the king in six months from now.” And the king had the astrologer rewarded.

When we read Ramayan, we can find innumerable instances where Lord Rama expressed his sheelta throughout his interactions with the world. That was the reason why everybody loved him. When Rama left Ayodhya for the forest, the whole of Ayodhya followed him to the forest because they could not live a single moment with him. For them, being in the presence of Rama itself was Ultimate Happiness irrespective of it happening in the town or in the forest.

Sheelta is such a wonderful emotion that can be expressed only in Sanskrit. We have to remember, when such languages are getting lost, it is the loss of such emotions.

Satya & Sheelta were Rama’s flags of victory by which he won the hearts of all the people he came in touch with.

Wheels of the chariot : Valour & Fortitude | Vibheeshana Gita

– Understandings from Swami Swaroopanandaji’s talk for Youth Empowerment Programme – 6th batch

On listening to Vibheeshana’s doubt, Lord Rama replies…

Sunahu sakha kaha krupaa nidhaana, jahi jai hoi so syandana aana

“Listen oh my dear friend”, says the storehouse of compassion (krupa nidhaana), “the chariot of real success is something different”

Look at the words Tulsidasji has used here – Krupa Nidhaana. Rama is referred to as a storehouse of compassion. Rama calls Vibheeshana as His sakha (friend). He did not look at Vibheeshana as a devotee and Himself as a Master. He was talking to Vibheeshana as a friend. Such are the qualities of great Masters. Out of their compassion for others, they come down to the common man’s level and interact with them. Tulsidasji could have said, ‘Sunahu sakha kaha shri rama’, but the reason he is using these qualities of Lord Rama so that we can contemplate on these qualities of Lord Rama while we are listening to these verses and imbibe the same in us.

Souraj dhiraj tehi rath chaaka,
Satyaseel dhruda dhwaja pataka
Bal bibek dam parahit khore
Chama krupa samata raju jore

Valour and Fortitude are the wheels of the chariot

Shri Rama goes on explaining the Ultimate Formula for Success by personifying it as a Chariot of success. Valour and Fortitude are two qualities that are like the wheels of the Chariot. Without the wheels the chariot cannot move ahead.

In Ramayana, we can see these qualities in Lord Rama at many instances.

When Rama was told by Kaikeyi to go to the forest, he happily agreed. He was not the least scared to leave the royal comforts and lead a life in the jungles for 14 long years. Not only did he show courage initially, but even after he started living a hard life in the forest, he showed fortitude by not changing his mind to go back to his kingdom.

Another incident that portrays Shri Ramji’s Valour and Fortitude is in his search for Sita. He roamed through many forests for many days in search of her. He had no idea where Ravana had taken her. However, he did not get depressed at any point and give up his search. He knew that Ravana was very strong and had a mighty army. Initially, Rama had only Lakshmana with him. Still he went ahead in search of Sita…sought friendship with Sugreeva…helped him kill Bali and achieve his throne…and with his army of monkeys, went to fought Ravana. Even on his way to Lanka, he came to a point where he had to take the monkeys across the ocean to fight Ravana. This would seem like an impossible task for anybody. But Rama’s Valour and Fortitude made even this herculean task happen with his monkey soldiers. Ravana’s army had very sophisticated weapons, whereas Rama’s army of monkeys had only stones & trees as weapons. To any ordinary mortal, this would appear like a one-sided battle and it would be suicidal & foolish to go ahead. Yet Rama went ahead with the battle, for, he was very clear of his goal, His Dharma and being possessed by the qualities of Valour and Fortitude, nothing could stop him.

Men of success, even in the material front, can be seen having this quality of Valour. To start anything new, one needs to have courage to fight against all odds. We can see in the life of successful businessmen, freedom fighters, celebrities, etc that they knew they would have to face a lot of struggle and resistance when they would start their move to achieve their goal. Still they were ready for it. They did not have the least of worries nor had a doubt whether they could attain their aim or not. Valour was the first wheel of their chariot of success.
A quality that is rarer than courage is fortitude. It is the strength to withstand all the opposition faced until the objective is achieved. Some people have courage and start new ventures. But very soon, they give up when they face many odds. Their dreams and hopes get shattered when they are faced by hurdles. One needs to have patience and stamina to walk the path they have chosen to achieve their goal. Many people participate in a marathon race, but the winner is always the one who has the best stamina.

A chariot cannot move forward on one wheel. Success cannot be achieved with Courage alone. It has to be coupled with Fortitude.

Vibheeshana’s doubt | Vibheeshana Gita

– Understandings from Swami Swaroopanandaji’s talk for Youth Empowerment Programme – 6th batch

Most of us are familiar with the name Bhagavad Gita – the Eternal song (Gita) of the Lord (Bhagavan – Shri Krishna). The similarity between Bhagavad Gita & Vibheeshana Gita is that, both were sung by the Lord and that too in the battlefield. Yet there is a difference. Lord Krishna gives the knowledge of the Self in Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna because Arjuna, despite of having the best of skills and knowledge, loses his identity and purpose of living at the time of war. To such an individual who is facing identity crisis (like most of us), the Lord gives Bhagavad Gita. Vibheeshana Gita has a different story. It is the last stage of war when all the soldiers & army generals of Ravana are killed. At this point, Ravana enters the battlefield in his chariot which is equipped with the best of missiles and armour to shield him. His opponent, Lord Rama, does not have a chariot, or armour, not even footwear; still he stands firmly on his foot facing Ravana to fight the battle. On seeing this, Vibheeshana’s (Ravana’s brother who is on Rama’s side) eyes are filled with tears…tears of concern for his love for Rama. He goes to Rama and says,

Ravanu rathi birath raghubeera
Dekhi bibheeshana bhayau adhira,
Adhika preeti man bha sandeha
Bandi charan kaha sahit saneha.

“Ravana has come in his chariot and Rama doesn’t even have one. Seeing this, Vibheeshana became anxious. Due to immense love in his heart, a doubt arose in Vibheeshana’s mind…”

Naath na rath nahi tan pad traana
Kehi bidi jidab beer balvana
Sun hu sakha kaha krupaa nidhaana
Jahi jai hoi so syandana aana

“Oh Lord, you don’t even have a chariot, nor anything to protect your body or your feet. How are you going to win the valorous & mighty Ravana.”

Vibheeshana’s question is not out of his doubt of Rama’s strength, mind you. His question is out of concern how a parent has over his child. The parent knows that the child is capable of giving his performance on stage. Still, out of his love, he is anxious about his child.

Whilst having seen Vibheeshana’s state of mind, we need to look at Lord Rama. How can a man who is so ill-equipped with no weapons and armour, even think of fighting a mighty opponent like Ravana? Ravana was not just an opponent, he was Beer Balvana. There are some people who are courageous, but lack physical strength. There are some who have physical strength but get scared even at the sight for a rat. Ravana had both physical strength & courage. He had fought even star wars. To that opponent, a man is facing. We should not mistake this courage as that of a Bollywood hero who faces an army of opponents and defeats them single-handedly. Rama knew that he is going to win because he knew his strengths and Ravana’s weaknesses – a very important quality of a leader.

There are five types of courage:
1. Ranaveer – a person who shows his courage in the battlefield.
2. Vidyaveer – a person who shows rich with knowledge.
3. Dayaveer – a person who is ever compassionate towards everyone.
4. Daanveer – a person who always shows courage in charity.
5. Tyaagveer – a person who shows courage in sacrifice.

Ravana was only a Ranaveer, but Rama was a combination of all five – which is called Mahaveer.

Another difference between Ravana and Lord Rama was that – Ravana always wanted to be the best. But Lord Rama always did his best. A very important lesson for all of us – if you always want to be the best, you will lose confidence. Just do your best and leave the rest. Because of his desire to win always, Ravana’s mind was always unrest. On the other hand, Rama knew exactly why he was fighting this war. It was not to take revenge on Ravana for abducting his wife; rather it was to have the victory of good over evil. Rama even asked Ravana just before they fight; to give up Sita and Rama would return without a war. Rama had no personal grudge against Ravana. Even his anger to Ravana was ‘issue-based’ not ‘person-based’. Thus, Rama’s mind was always tranquil and he could even give out a beautiful piece of knowledge to Vibheeshana during the war even though his body was tired after a long travel in search of Sita, and fighting the war since the past few days. And this was Ravana’s first day of war. He had not entered into the war till now. Despite of all the physical energy he had because of this, he could not win Rama. That was the power of values Rama had, the strength of knowledge he possessed.

Thus, to Vibheeshana, Rama gives out the Success Mantra which is one of the best Management Mantra given by anybody till date. What is it…we’ll see in the next article.

Introduction | Vibheeshana Gita

Introduction to Vibheeshana Gita
– Understandings from Swami Swaroopananda ji’s talk for Youth Empowerment Programme – 6th batch

Everyone wants to be successful. Yet, there are only a few who taste success. Why is this so? If we could find an answer to this, it will be like cracking the ‘Success Formula’.

Firstly, let us try to define ‘success’. What is ‘success’ or who is a successful person? A common answer would be – those who achieve their ambition in life can be called successful people. In that case, Osama Bin Laden was also famous. In fact, he successfully carried out his activities with his army and was able to achieve his ambitions. That, definitely, is not success. When a person is successful, he becomes a contributor to the society and people are not hurt because of him. Who are the successful people whose names flash into our minds? The most common examples would be of business tycoons, sports persons, celebrities, etc. So, can we say ‘Success = Fame’ or ‘Success = Wealth’? If that is so, then what happens to their success when their fame & money is lost? The people who achieve their goals are no doubt successful, but only in their particular fields. Most of them are not successful in other areas of their lives. Some of them have a very sad personal life. One of the best examples of such a person would be Charlie Chaplin. A man who could make the audience burst into roars of laughter by his mere presence on the screen was a very unhappy man in his personal life. He had admitted that he had even thought of committing suicide many times. In the newspapers we can read of renowned doctors, celebrities and other personalities committing suicide. That means these people, whom we call as successful personalities, could only earn fame, wealth, good careers, etc but were very miserable in their life as a whole.

Some say, success is Power. A king attacked his neighbouring kingdom and won the battle. He now ruled two kingdoms. But after 6 months, another king attacked and captured both the kingdoms. So, the power of the first king lasted only for 6 months. The new king was thrown away by his own brothers. He also lost his power in no time. So, can we say, ‘Success = Power’?

If fame, prosperity, power, etc, these are not components of success, then what is success? How can we define a success?

The best example of a successful man is Lord Rama. He had to spend a golden part of his life in forest for fourteen years, he had to send Sitadevi away when she was expecting, he did not conquer any kingdoms and gained power; still, even today, people sing His Glory. That is Success!

Success is not measured in terms of wealth or power. Success depends on what values in life you live upon, it depends on how good individual you are, it depends on how much you are willing to sacrifice for the well-being of others, it depends on how many hearts in which you reside in. Lord Rama was Famous – for his good deeds & virtues. He was Rich – with a strong value-system. He had Power – for, he conquered not lands, but hearts.

The problem arises when we run behind success, but we ourselves are not very clear or rather, have a wrong definition of success. We all are striving for success but the path is not clear to all of us. This path, this Ultimate Success Formula is what Lord Rama explains to Vibheeshana in ‘Vibheeshana Gita’. Vibheeshana Gita is a part of the poetry ‘Tulsi Ramayan’, written by Goswami Tulsidas in Avadhi dialect of Hindi. Here, Lord Rama explains to Vibheeshana, what are the things required by a man to be successful. If we are able to contemplate upon these verses given by Lord Rama, and instill those values in our hearts, then there is no doubt that success will be at our feet.

How beautifully the ‘Art of Being Successful’ is capsulated by Tulsidasji in a few lines of poetry, shall be seen in the articles that follow.


Dialogue 8 | Believer Vs Non-Believer

RV: What do you have to say about the world…I mean, Hindu philosophy says that the world is unreal. How can it be unreal when you and I see the same things? They say the world is a suffering. How come? And also that for a Self-Realised person, the world disappears. What rubbish! How can it ever make sense? Are they saying that a Self-Realised person see the world something like how Neo saw in numbers in the movie Matrix? What’s your take on this?

VR: These are some questions that every seeker must have asked at some point or the other. They are quite confusing questions indeed. However, they would have been less confusing if one would ask these questions in Sanskrit. E.g. for the term ‘world’ in English, we can call it only ‘world’. Since we all see the world as it is, we cannot think of it as unreal. In Sanskrit, a word for ‘world’ is ‘Jagat’. Another word we come across is ‘Samsaar’. ‘Samsaar’ is also the world, but perceived through relationships. A car is seen as a car in ‘Jagat’; but in Samsaar, it is seen as ‘my car’ or ‘Mr.X’s car’. In Samsaar, a relationship is added to everything and then they are perceived. When this beautiful creation is perceived through relationships, then it causes miseries to us. E.g. If a person sees a wave washing away a pair of shoes, it will not cause any sorrow for him. But when he realizes that it was ‘his brand new shoes’, then he’s unhappy. If an 80 year old man dies in the nearby building, we say – ‘he was very old and sick. It’s good that he got freed from his miseries.’ But if it’s our own father, then we weep. So, what is it that ultimately brings sorrow to us in this world? It is nothing but our relationship with everything we see.

When we say the world disappears for a Realised Master, he doesn’t see the world how Neo did in the movie Matrix (after he realizes what the Matrix is). He too sees the world as we do, but without any relationships and bondages attached. This is what makes him a liberated soul – Jivan Mukta.

The Lord is described as ‘Jagat-atman’ – one who is the Self of the world. If the world is unreal, then how can the Lord be called Jagatatman? The world (Jagat) is Real, but seen in terms of relationships (Samsaar) is unreal.

RV: Hmm…That’s interesting. I cannot fully agree upon what you are saying, but whatever you had said looks logical. Probably, if I think over it then I can counter you with more questions.
And by the way, do you mean that Vedanta cannot be learnt through English? What’s the big deal about Sanskrit anyways? It’s just a language.

VR: The scriptures say, after Sravanam (Listening) Mananam (Reflecting upon what we have listened to) is very important. Nothing should be accepted without critical analysis.
Vedanta can be understood through English. We both are communicating in English and I’m making my views clear too. But English or for that matter any language (other than Sanskrit) has got its limitation. Sanskrit is not just a language; it is an ‘evolved language’. Let me explain why. The person who teaches is called a ‘Teacher’ in English. Why? Why is the word ‘Teacher’ used? Why not use some other word like ‘asdfjio’? You might say – because he teaches. In that case, why the word ‘teach’ is used to convey the meaning of teaching? There is no answer, or rather; there is no reason why a teacher is called a teacher. As English language (like most of the other languages) developed these words came into existence. But in Sanskrit, there are many reasons why teacher is called a ‘Guru’.

Every letter, I repeat, every letter has got a meaning in Sanskrit. ‘Gu’, in Sanskrit, means darkness and ‘Ru’ means remover. Darkness represents ignorance. So, one meaning of Guru is ‘One who removes or dispels darkness of ignorance. Another meaning of Guru is ‘One who reveals Guri (target) to the disciple’. Guri refers to the Self or the All-Pervading Consciousness. Yet another meaning of Guru is…’Gu’ stands for ‘Gunateetha’ – one who is beyond the three Gunas (Satva, Rajas & Tamas); and ‘Ru’ stands for ‘Rupavarjitha’ – one who is formless. So Guru is the One who is beyond all the Gunas and forms, who is none other than the Supreme Self, who resides in each one of us.

In Sanskrit, for every letter there is a meaning. For every word, there is a reason why those letters were used to make the word. In Sanskrit – Nothing is for no reason.

RV: Zapped!

My trip to meet Him at Sidhabari | Days 2 & 3

28th Dec 2011

Morning woke me up at 5:20 am. Had a bath and went to the Samadhi for morning Aarati. After the Aarati, I didn’t feel like going elsewhere. So I stayed inside the Samadhi Mandir for 30-40 minutes doing Japa and chanting stotrams. I could feel a thousand-fold impact on whatever I was doing there. When I came out, I saw the sun’s rays hitting the mountains on their face and then onto their bodies. The sky was clear and there was a small cloud at the peak of the tallest mountain, as if it was covering the mountain’s head like a cap. I stood there engulfed in the nature’s beauty.

After breakfast, I bought some old books (those were out of print today) from the bookstall. I also got the privilege of meeting two Swamis – Swami Ramananda, an old Swami who was in Sidhabari since 1985; and Swami Gangeshananda, the Acharya of the present 3-year Brahmachari course that was going on in Sidhbari. I was so fortunate that when I visited the Ram Mandir, Ramcharita Manas chanting was going on. Few Brahmacharinis were chanting it so beautifully that one could see Ram & Sita standing in delight listening to their own story. I too gave them company and enjoyed the chants with them.

My mother had told me to go to the back side of Ram Mandir and see the view. So I did. The view of the valley was yet another beauty I saw in Sidhabari. Green farms in the ground below, alongside a stream flowing gurgling with water and the Himalayas in the background. Once again, the deep silence brought to my ears the sounds of the water bubbling in the stream.
I had to return to my room to have some rest for my back which was aching again due to the cramped muscles. Probably, the 8 hour bus journey and 1.5 kms trek with my luggage was a bit too much for my muscles in this cold weather. I took this opportunity once again to read Tapovan Prasad.

After lunch, I went to Chinmaya Organisation for Rural Development (C.O.R.D.), the NGO wing of Chinmaya Mission, where they have undertaken the project of upliftment of many villages. It was just 100 metres away from Tapovan. There I met my friend Sheetal who greeted me with great joy and a fractured leg. She was limping in bandage but still showed me around the place. There was a room where the people who were vocally impaired (from the local villages), were making Kangra paintings. They were really beautiful and with what concentration they did using a zero numbered paint brush with just one or two bristles. I told them that the paintings were beautiful. They gave a pleasant smile and said something that sounded like ‘Thank You’ and ‘Hari Om’. There was a dispensary where the doctors did free checkup for the villagers. CORD also had a training centre for weaving where many young girls worked and sold bags, purses, woolen clothing, outside in the market at a cheaper cost. CORD facilitates and helps these village folks in earning their livelihood. Another room was for the children who had ‘Special Needs’, who could not even sit or stand properly. These children and their mothers would be trained in this room. With years of training, the child would be able to stand and sit erect. The people working at CORD were so cheerful; their eyes showed the satisfaction in the work that they were doing. A nurse I met there cheerfully told me that she had 28 Panchayats under her and in them she was nursing 400 children. When she said this, I could see pride in her eyes for the work she was doing. A normal person from the city who lives a selfish materialistic life would feel ashamed of himself if he sees these people in their eyes.

Sheetal then took me to the top floor where that day a special programme was going on. It was called – Panchayati Raj; where CORD played a role in social work where Govt. cannot reach much. Inside the hall were around 150 people who comprised of – CORD volunteers of different villages, CORD’s Mahila Mandal (Self-Help groups), various Govt. officials…heads & district of Panchayats, etc. There they discussed the problems that the common man was facing. I was taken aback when I heard many of their issues. Some of them had problems because of stray dogs biting their cows that resulted in death and hence a loss of around Rs.16000. Stray cows that grazed into their farm land caused them heavy losses. Monkeys and pigs also destroyed their crops. While they were addressing these problems, I was really surprised how those people presented it to the Govt. officials. They didn’t complain or crib about them, but were discussing on how to overcome such problems. It was a good discussion and in the end, a Panchayat head added one line on the dog-menace issue. He said, “Hame in kutton ko ‘aawara kutte’ nahi kehna chahiye; balki inhe ‘besahara kutte’ kehna chahiye”. I was so moved when I heard his words. That was the first time I felt so much respect for some politician. Their culture was so good that they used such respectful even for animals. And look at us!!

Panchayati Raj was another wonderful experience for me. Outside the hall were a few local girls who were selling New Year greetings for Rs.5 & Rs.10, which were made by the local children. They had decorated the cards with sketch pens, drawings & colours. Some of the artists were so innocent that they wrote their own names on the New Year cards. I bought a few cards. Every card sold brought so much joy to the girls who were selling them. I stood there for a minute and took delight in seeing their happiness.

I left CORD by 5:20 and rushed to Tapovan for Aarati. Aarati had begun at Samadhi Mandir. I quickly went into the Gurudev’s Kutiya, spoke a few words to Him and came out. I then attended the aarati at Samadhi, followed by aarati at the temple and then Hanuman Chalisa chanting at Hanumanji’s statue. After that I spent some time chatting with Sheetal listening to her work which she was doing in CORD with contentment. Later I spent time reading in my room and trying to absorb the teachings of the Great Masters.

The night was very cold and I was almost shivering despite using the best, and the maximum, woolen wear possible. That made me wonder – How Gurudev, Tapovan Maharaj and other saints like them must have lived in those extreme climatic conditions and that too with the least of clothing? How powerful indeed must be the Knowledge of the Scriptures they had for which they came to Himalayas, and which they taught and discussed at the holiest of holiest places on earth – the Himalayas!

I don’t remember what time sleep took over my mind. But I do remember my last thoughts – When would be the next time that I’ll get to come to this heaven on earth?

29th Dec 2011

I woke up at 5:30am, had a quick shower and rushed to the Samadhi Mandir. Like the previous day, I savored the sunrise and spent some time in Samadhi Mandir bidding goodbye to my Master. I couldn’t wait for breakfast because if I would leave at 8am then I could catch a bus that would stop right outside the ashram and I wouldn’t have to trek down 1.5 kms to Sidhabari. Offering my prayers, I walked towards the gate. My legs were going forward but my heart was pulling me back. With a heavy heart, I left the ashram and got on to the bus for Kangra. From Kangra I got a bus to Hoshiarpur, and from there to Ludhiana, and from there to Patiala (where I had to reach finally). The 10 hours journey was spent in the best possible manner because I was carrying the biography of Tapovan Maharaj – ‘The Himalayan Hermit – the lofty life of Swami Tapovanam’.

This was my first to Sidhabari and one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever made. Going there in winter was a difficult, but a good choice, for; I got to understand how the saints live in that severe climate. I could enjoy each and every moment very well because I went alone. A journey taken, all alone, especially to the Himalayas, is a very unique experience. Atleast once in a lifetime, everyone should do such a trip where one can enjoy Solitude and also do introspection to a great extent.

Looking forward when He would call me to the next level of Heaven – Uttarkasi!