Why should a prayer be augmented with an expression of gratitude?

Contents


1. Gratitude

God is the creator of the universe. We too are a part and parcel of the universe. So both, the universe and we were created because of God. All events in the universe followed thereafter. These include me, my happiness and unhappiness, intellect, actions, my family, country, religion, spiritual practice, etc. Thus whenever one thinks about the self and / or the world, unconsciously harbouring awareness of God or one of His forms and offering the credit for even this awareness to God, is termed as gratitude. Prayer is actually a synonym for surrender. This act of surrender is completed only after the expression of gratitude. The Guru Himself is God for a seeker who has been blessed by the grace of a Guru or for one who is practising Spirituality according to the Path of the Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga). Hence it is but natural for him to harbour more gratitude towards the Guru.

1.1 Importance

  • Reduction in ego: Gratitude is a means of offering the doership of an act to God / the Guru; hence it helps in reducing the ego. Often seekers forget to thank God for anything occurring as wished in a prayer or after deriving Bliss (Anand) from rendering service. A seeker can also develop subtle ego about getting spiritual experiences or experiencing Bliss. It is therefore important to offer the credit for a spiritual experience or the experience of Bliss to the Guru.
  • In expressing gratitude, one offers the result of an action unto God. Since the result of the action is sacrificed, the action becomes a non-action (akarma karma) and no give and take account is generated. Thus the chances of a seeker getting entrapped in the cycle of birth and death are reduced.

2. Repeating (chanting) the Name of The Lord

According to the Path of Devotion, this is the very foundation of spiritual practice. The Lord’s Name is The Lord Himself. That is why the easiest mode of being in constant communion with The Lord is repeating (chanting) His Name continuously. ‘Science of Spirituality: Vol. 6 A – Path of Repeating (Chanting) The Lord’s Name (Namasankirtanyoga)’ explains in detail the importance of The Lord’s Name, what should be done to repeat (chant) it continuously and effectively and its various other aspects. One may get the impression that one develops spiritual emotion (bhav) for The Lord by being in constant communion with Him through repetition (chanting) of His Name. Often however, repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name occurs just for its sake without spiritual love for The Lord. This kind of repetition (chanting) does not help much in developing spiritual emotion for God. That is precisely why repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name should be done along with spiritual emotion. The ways and means of achieving this are given below.

2.1 Importance of repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name with spiritual emotion

  • Only if repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name is done with spiritual emotion does it reach The Lord.
  • Repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name done with spiritual emotion provides protection from distressing energies.

2.2 Efforts to repeat (chant) The Lord’s Name with spiritual emotion

  • A prayer should be made unto the Guru / God to make one repeat (chant) The Lord’s Name with spiritual emotion.
  • Just as one thinks of someone one loves or something one likes repeatedly and very easily without any effort, e.g. a lover thinks of his beloved or a mother of her child so also, the mind should be conditioned to love God. Once one begins to like or love God, one remembers His Name easily and experiences Bliss on repeating (chanting) it. Later repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name becomes a way of life.
  • Imagining The Lord’s form time and again makes it easier to love Him. That is why when repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name, if possible one should place a picture of the deity within one’s visual range. To make the atmosphere more sattvik (sattva predominant), one should affix strips of Names of deities in the room where one is repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name.
  • One should harbour the spiritual emotion that God / the Guru is getting the repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name done from oneself.
  • If one uses a tool such as a japamala to repeat (chant) The Lord’s Name, considering it as a deity, one should offer obeisance to it before commencing the repeating (chanting).
  • Repeating (chanting) should be interlaced with meditation because the two qualitatively enhance each other.
  • One should listen to an audio cassette on repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name off and on.
  • One should listen to audio cassettes of devotional songs (bhajans) composed by saints and to Their spiritual guidance off and on.

2.3 Spiritual experience of repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name along with spiritual emotion

Experiencing indescribable sweetness while repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name along with spiritual emotion and perceiving the presence of the Guru / God when repeating (chanting) in that way: Since 25th October 2002, I sensed a qualitative change in my repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name. Though I did love to repeat (chant) The Lord’s Name earlier as if it were a hobby, since 25th October 2002, the subtle change which occurred is beyond verbal description. First of all I consider myself extremely fortunate for being able to repeat (chant) The Lord’s Name. Just as a mother derives happiness merely by calling out again and again to her baby by its name despite it not understanding the language, so also I experience pure Bliss merely by repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name. The Name seems invaluable. I feel like repeating (chanting) The Lord’s Name continuously without cessation. I also constantly perceive the presence of the Guru / God. Consequently, on one hand I feel quite safe and self-confident and on the other, extremely humble.

3. Practising the nine-fold devotion (navavidhabhakti)

The aim of a seeker following the Path of Devotion (Bhaktimarg) is to generate intense devotion unto The Lord. To achieve this, it is beneficial to put into practice the various types of the nine-fold devotion namely, listening to praise of The Lord (shravan), singing praises of The Lord (kirtan), remembering The Lord (smaran), service of the holy feet (padsevan), offering (archan), offering obeisance (vandan), devotion as a servant (dasya), devotion as a friend (sakhya) and narrating everything to God (atmanivedan). Among these, the first three types help to generate faith, the next three are related to the manifest (sagun) form of The Lord and the last three are internal spiritual emotions.

3.1 Types of the nine-fold devotion

A. Listening to praise of The Lord (shravan): This form of devotion includes listening to the qualities, victories and glory of The Lord with faith. It also means listening to the Guru’s teaching (knowledge).

B. Singing praises of The Lord (kirtan): Singing the praises of The Lord amounts to this kind of devotion. Narrating the knowledge one has gained by listening to the Guru’s teachings to others as the situation demands and inspiring them to behave as per the Guru’s expectations is devotion of this kind.

C. Remembering The Lord (smaran): Constant contemplation upon the Name – virtues – divine play (lila) of The Lord and remaining engrossed in them is this type of devotion. This includes constant remembrance of the gross form of the Guru or God through a picture / idol and that of His subtle form through repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name. If one harbours the spiritual emotion that every breath one takes, every task that one has done throughout the day has been possible only because of The Lord or that one is living every second only because of The Lord then one will remember Him throughout the day. This is the true expression of this devotional form. Kunti from the Mahabharat had asked for unhappiness so that she would remember The Lord all day long. However without asking for unhappiness if one makes attempts as above then this devotion will develop quickly.

D. Service of the holy feet (padsevan): In this form of service, one literally serves the holy feet of The Lord or performs ritualistic worship of His feet. Service unto the Guru’s feet means harbouring the spiritual emotion, ‘I am a servitor of The Lord’. A Guru has greater attachment for a disciple who worships His subtle form, that is the Guru principle than one who worships only His gross form. Propagation of the Guru’s mission in the best possible way is true service unto the Guru’s feet.

E. Offering (archan): Ritualistic worship (puja) of The Lord with devotion and respect is called archan. Installing a picture of the Guru in the temple at home or worshipping Him mentally are incorporated in this kind of devotion.

F. Offering obeisance (vandan): This form of devotion constitutes meditating upon The Lord after completely surrendering unto Him. This includes praying with spiritual emotion, so that it reaches God.

G. Devotion as a servant (dasya): In this form of devotion, the devotee considers The Lord to be his father, mother and his everything and he himself to be The Lord’s son or servant. Lord Maruti is an excellent example of this type of devotion.

H. Devotion as a friend (sakhya): In this form of devotion, a devotee believes God to be his friend or sibling who shares his happiness and unhappiness. So, no barrier of any kind exists between the two. As spiritual emotion towards the Guru grows, there is a corresponding growth of respect and gratitude for Him. This makes it difficult to view Him as a friend. Only a rare seeker with a spiritual level of more than 60% is capable of remaining devoted in this way. Devotion of Arjun towards Lord Krushna is an unparalleled example of this.

I. Narrating everything to God (atmanivedan): This devotion is the ultimate and supreme step in the Path of Devotion. Here, the devotee explicitly narrates everything good or bad, external or internal to The Lord and surrenders completely unto Him. One should narrate daily to the Guru about everything, all of one’s actions, obstacles faced in one’s spiritual practice, doubts in the mind, etc.

3.2 Comparative importance of the nine-fold devotion

Type Importance
%
Type Importance
%
1. Listening to praise of
The Lord (shravan)
10 6. Offering obeisance
(vandan)
40
2. Listening to tales
praising The Lord in a
poetic form (kirtan)
15 7. Devotion as a
servant (dasya)
50
3. Remembering The
Lord (smaran)
20 8. Devotion as a friend
(sakhya)
60
4. Serving of the holy
feet (padsevan)
25 9. Conversing with
God (atmanivedan)
65
5. Offering (archan) 30
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How to recognise a fake or an unauthorised Guru?

Contents –

  1. Features
  2. Risks of being a fake Guru
  3. What should one do about fake Gurus ?
  4. What should saints do about fake Gurus ?

 

1. Features

80% of the Gurus in society are fake or with­out spiritual authority. Some of their features are enumerated below.

A. The Gurus who generate a feeling of inferiority in others and try to show off their greatness

One saint asks everyone who comes to pay obeisance to him their name and age. Once that is told he says, “Both the answers are wrong. The name and age belong to the body. You are the soul. It has neither a name nor age”. Then he speaks on Spirituality and asks, “Are you doing spiritual practice ?” If someone happens to reply in the affirmative, he asks “What spiritual practice ?” If one replies, “The one recommended by my Guru”, he says “You were not able to answer simple questions about your name and age. Then what has your Guru taught you ? Only a real Guru can reply to these questions. Come to me. I will tell you.” One should tell such fake Gurus, ‘Actu­ally your questions were meaningless ! You asked me my name and age only because of your awareness of the body (dehabuddhi), so I too replied with awareness of the body’. What kind of Guru is he who is unable to make out at the first glance whether one has a Guru or if one’s spiritual practice is going on appropriately or not ?

B. Those having attachment to money and women

He gives masterly discourses on non-duality,

But has intense attachment for sense objects.

Nothing shall be accomplished from such Gurus.

– Shri Dasbodh 5.2.31

C. Putting on false airs

One Guru does not use a watch because he does not want to be bound by the restrictions of time and a watch strap. Yet after every fifteen to twenty minutes he asks others, “ What is the time ?” (!)

D. One who is desirous of fame

Some people who have an earnest desire to be known as Gurus and are spiritually evolved to some extent recommend different kinds of spiritual practice to others. As a result, seekers undertaking the spiritual practice progress but the Guru remains stagnant !

E. Some Gurus fearing that if they impart all spiritual knowledge to their disciples they will have no importance there­after, do not impart all knowledge to them.

2. Risks of being a fake Guru

‘Fake Gurus are afflicted with leprosy and their disciples from the previous birth are born as germs who feast on them.’ (?)

3. What should one do about fake Gurus ?

‘Such Gurus found by the dozen
should be summarily rejected.’ – Shri Dasbodh 5.2.21

4. What should saints do about fake Gurus ?

Question: ‘If fake Gurus begin harassing their disciples taking advantage of their position then what should be done ? According to You if disciples act against their Guru, they suffer miserably.

Answer: If the disciples are in distress and are not egois­tic about their path, then the ascetic (sadhu) below the fifth stage according to the Path of Knowledge (Dnyanyoga) [in the Path of Knowledge stages 1-3 are of spiritual practice (sadhanabhumika) while 4-7 are of Self-realisation (phalabhumika) ] should confront the fake Guru, expose his false nature, warn his disciples and then teaching him the righteous path should ask him to guide his disciples on the path of Righteousness.

However if a disciple has attained the knowledge of Brahman he certainly will not pay heed to anyone. If the disciples are egoistic about the false path and are unrighteous, then considering that everyone’s destiny is bad the saint should not do anything about it.’ (11)

How to win Guru’s Grace?

Contents

  1. Spiritual practice according to the Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupoyoga)
    1. Worship of the family deity (kuladevata)
      1. Worship of Lord Datta
    2. Chanting The Lord’s Name (Namasmaran)
    3. Satsang (holy company)
    4. Service of the Absolute Truth (satseva)
      1. Best service of the Absolute Truth (satseva): The spread of Spirituality
      2. How can one accomplish it ?
    5. Being blessed by a Guru (guruprapti) and service unto the Guru
    6. Sacrifice
      1. Donation (offering)
    7. Spiritual love (priti) for others
    8. Stance of a spectator (sakshibhav)
    9. Mission after attaining Self-realisation (dnyanottar karya)
  2. Necessity of continual grace of the Guru

In order to be blessed by a Guru, points ‘1’ to ‘4’ and for the constant bestowal of His grace excluding point ‘1’ all the other points should be practised conscientiously. In point ‘2’ the only modification is that instead of the family deity’s Name, the Name imparted by the Guru should be chanted.

1. Worship of the family deity (Kuladevata)

The Lord chooses each individual to be born in that particular family (kuLa) whose family deity he needs to worship so as to make spiritual progress. Worship of the family deity also alleviates the intensity of the destiny which accompanies each one till the last breath. Due to these two main reasons, instead of any other spiritual practice, one should worship the family deity (kuladevata) in order to be blessed by a Guru. To achieve this end, one should perform its ritualistic worship (puja), chant verses (stotras) in its praise, recite holy books periodically (parayans), visit its temple (darshan) as often as possible, etc.

A. Worship of Lord Datta

Unlike the bygone days, nowadays since rites like shraddha, paksha, etc. for departed souls are not performed by most people nearly 30% of people are troubled by ancestors’ unsatisfied souls. That is why there are obstacles both in worldly life as well as in one’s spiritual practice. Since an average person can never know whether he is included in those 30% or whether he will be troubled by ancestors in the future, one should chant three malas (rosaries) of ‘Shri Gurudev Datta (¹॥ श्री गुरुदेव दत्त ॥)’ daily. One should increase the chanting to six to nine malas if the trouble is severe. (Listen Jap)

2. Chanting The Lord’s Name (Namasmaran)

Chanting refers to the continuous remembrance of The Lord’s Name. Of all the Names of The Lord, chanting the Name of the family deity (kuladevata) is the most useful. In fact it is the foundation of all the spiritual practices incorporated in the Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga). As one does chanting gradually one’s spiritual level reaches 40%. Then chanting occurs automatically off and on and one is also able to perceive a little in the subtle dimension. Also due to chanting one forgets about other things and begins to experience Bliss off and on.

3. Satsang (holy company)

The Bliss obtained through chanting of The Lord’s Name is experienced automatically despite not chanting, at a satsang (spiritual meeting). Such an experience is obtained at a spiritual level of 50%. Due to the cumulative sattva component of all the seekers at the satsang, each one who attends it is benefitted by it, that is the raja and tama attitudes in each one gradually begin to decrease. It is much easier to obtain the experience of Bliss by attending a satsang rather than increasing one’s own sattva component by chanting. Hence a seeker diligently attends satsangs more often. If a satsang is conducted by an evolved seeker then attending it proves to be even more beneficial. Since the sattva component of an evolved person is substantial, the amount of frequencies of Bliss emanating from him is greater and as a result a seeker experiences more Bliss.

The importance of satsang will be illustrated by the story below.

Once an argument took place between the Sages Vasishtha and Vishvamitra on the relative superiority of satsang and penance. Sage Vasishtha proclaimed satsang to be superior whereas Vishvamitra was in favour of penance. To decide the winner of the debate, They went to God. The Lord said, ‘Only the serpent Shesh will be able to settle the dispute’. Then the duo went to the serpent Shesh. When They asked Shesh the question, He replied, ‘Please lighten the load of the earth on My head. Then I will think it over and answer your query’. So, Vishvamitra made the following resolve, ‘I offer the benefit acquired as a result of a thousand years of my penance. May the earth above Shesh’s head shift a little’. Yet, the earth did not stir. Then Sage Vasishtha expressed His resolve, ‘I now offer the benefit gained as a result of being in satsang (holy company) for half a ghatka (twelve minutes). May the earth lighten the load.’ The earth immediately moved upwards.

Another benefit of remaining in satsang is that one develops the feeling that the other seekers attending it are one’s own. Hence, even the younger generation starts living amicably forgetting the animosity present for generations together. From this very feeling the concept that ‘the entire universe is my home’ develops in due course of time.

4. Service of the Absolute Truth (satseva)

After attending satsang for a while a seeker realises that the ones who are active participants at or those who conduct a satsang (spiritual meeting), so also if the satsang is being conducted by an evolved seeker, then they all experience much more Bliss than himself. So, the seeker who wishes to experience Bliss like them instead of merely being a passive listener starts participating in the activities at the satsang. Thus he participates in organising the satsang, for instance by distributing pamphlets giving information about the satsang, by pasting posters and putting up banners, giving information by personally contacting people, by tidying the venue of the satsang, spreading out mats or arranging chairs for the audience, etc. At a later stage he studies the matter himself and conducts satsangs. One should take special note of the following points with regard to service of the Absolute Truth.

1. Service has to be that of the Absolute Truth. It has to be performed with the body, mind and wealth. Unless the spiritual level rises to 60% service does not occur wholeheartedly. Until then it is performed only intellectually. Service with the mind means chanting The Lord’s Name.

2. By giving precedence to satisfying someone else’s desires, gradually one’s needs become less and the seeker becomes more adept at following the path of Spirituality.

3. Service of the non-truth (asat), for instance the service of patients is mostly done under the influence of emotions considering illusion to be the truth. Also, the ego that ‘I am doing this service’ is present in such an attitude. As a result, as spiritual practice it is not of much use. As against this, to overcome the ego, one serves the Absolute Truth with spiritual emotion (bhav). Besides with service of the non-truth, a ‘give and take account’ is generated.

A. Best service of the Absolute Truth (satseva) : The spread of Spirituality

a . Importance

1. Doing whatever one can according to one’s potential for the Guru’s mission is the simplest and the most important path. This point will be highlighted with the following example : Suppose preparations are going on for a programme and everybody is busy doing different chores like cleaning or decorating the place, cooking or cleaning utensils. If one is busy in cleaning the place and at this juncture if another person steps in and joins the group busy with the cooking then one does not feel any closeness towards him. On the contrary if he comes forward to assist in the cleaning then one definitely feels drawn to him. The same is true for the Guru. The mission of Gurus and saints is to inculcate a liking for Righteousness (Dharma) and spiritual practice among the masses; to inspire them to practise Spirituality and to spread Spirituality. If one performs this task according to one’s potential then the Guru feels, ‘He is mine’. Such a thought in the Guru’s mind itself is the heralding of His grace (gurukrupa).

Once a Guru handed over some grains of wheat to two of His disciples and told them, ‘Preserve these grains carefully until I return’. On His return after a year, the Guru approached the first disciple and asked him, ‘Have you preserved the wheat carefully ?’ Replying in the affirmative the disciple brought forth the container with the wheat grains and showed it to the Guru saying, ‘The wheat You had given me is just as it was’. Then the Guru approached the second disciple and asked him the same question. The disciple then took the Guru to a nearby field. The Guru was overjoyed seeing a field flourishing with the wheat crop everywhere. In the same way, one should spread the Name and spiritual knowledge (dnyan) imparted to one by the Guru, to others.

2. The spread of Spirituality is more important than the superconscious state (samadhi)

The Guru is pleased to see that the disciple has attained the superconscious state.
He wishes to awaken him for the sake of the masses. – 52:5
He fondles him gently, embraces him lovingly, O dearest disciple return to the waking state. – 52:6
You have crossed the illusion of worldly life But if you remain in the superconscious state, The spiritual knowledge will remain obscured in you, Then how will the masses attain salvation ? – 52:7

– Shri Gurucharitra

3. Comparative importance : The following table gives the amount of the Guru’s grace (gurukrupa) that a disciple can acquire by performing a particular action.

The disciple’s action The Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa) %
1. Paying a visit (darshan) to the Guru 2
2. Asking questions only on Spirituality 10
3. Performing tasks at the ashram 40
4. Effective *part time spread of Spirituality 70
5. Effective *full time spread of Spirituality 100

* To spread Spirituality effectively one needs to have all the virtues of a disciple. It is not sufficient to preach like a politician or a social reformer.

4. Service unto the unmanifest (nirgun) and the manifest (sagun) forms of the Guru : The spread of Spirituality is service unto the unmanifest form of the Guru. This service has 70% importance in acquiring the grace of the Guru whereas service to the manifest form of the Guru has only 30% importance. To achieve the complete grace of the Guru it is essential for one to do both.

5. Spiritual practice for the sake of society (samashti) and individual (vyashti) spiritual practice

Spiritual practice maybe undertaken for the sake of society or maybe confined to an individual seeker. According to the influence of time (kaL) in the Kaliyug, the importance of practising Spirituality for the sake of society is 70% and that of practising it individually is 30%. Hence, to progress spiritually it is important to motivate as many people in the society as possible, to practise Spirituality. This is the service of the Absolute Truth in its real form. However to accomplish this one needs to increase one’s own spiritual level.

B. How can one accomplish it ?

Some people err in thinking that ‘When I myself am not well versed about Righteousness (Dharma) and Spirituality, how will I be able to spread Spirituality?’ When Lord Krushna lifted the Govardhan mountain with His little finger the cowherds and their wives (gopas and gopis) helped in their own way by supporting it with their sticks. Though the Guru, that is God is the one who will reinstate Righteousness each one should make one’s small contribution towards it. One should study and teach Spirituality or provide financial help for the mission, whatever is possible according to one’s ability. If both these are not possible then one can paste posters, put up banners, organise lectures or workshops on Spirituality, collect funds for the mission, etc.

5. Being blessed by a Guru (guruprapti) and service unto the Guru

With service of the Absolute Truth one’s spiritual level rises upto 55%. Then some saint accepts one as His disciple. Thereafter one begins doing service unto the Guru.

6. Sacrifice

Once a spiritual level of 60% is attained sacrifice in the real sense commences. One needs to give up the attachment to the body, mind and wealth in order to make spiritual progress. Of these, sacrifice of wealth is the easiest as it can be done physically. One can give away one’s wealth totally. However, the body and the mind cannot be sacrificed likewise. Yet one can sacrifice them before giving up wealth. This means that initially one can do service physically and chant The Lord’s Name mentally. Later, only when a seeker progresses upto 70% can he sacrifice wealth to some extent. This is akin to the trapeze artist in a circus. So long as the girl does not let go of the handle-bar of the swing she is clutching, the man hanging upside down on the opposite swing cannot catch her. Similarly, so long as a seeker does not sacrifice everything, God does not take care of him. How sacrifice of the body, mind and wealth goes on increasing stepwise is given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Vol. 21 – Introduction to Spirituality and Individual Spiritual Practice, point 10 C’.

Sacrifice does not mean giving away all of one’s belongings. Rather it is getting rid of one’s attachment to them. In the beginning, the Guru makes the disciple sacrifice the objects in his possession. Finally, when the attachment ceases, He showers him with plenty. Since Shivaji Maharaj had no attachment for the kingdom he had offered to Samarth Ramdas Swami, the Swamiji returned it to him.

A. Donation (offering)

Donation should always be of the nature of ‘donation to the deserving’, that is to ‘the one worthy of it’. In this world, there is none more worthy than saints. Hence, whatever one wishes to donate should be offered only to Them. This is possible only for a seeker in the stage of mental worship (upasanakanD). The one practising the inferior Path of Action (Karmayoga) gives alms to beggars, donations to schools and hospitals under the influence of emotions. One acquires only merits from it. Seekers desirous of Liberation (mumukshu) want neither merits nor sins, since only heaven and not the Final Liberation (Moksha) is attainable with merits.

Saints and Gurus are the manifest (physical) forms of the unmanifest God. Hence, any offering made to saints and the Guru is as good as an offering to God Himself. Thus offering back to God that which is bestowed by Him does not create a give and take account but completes it. As such, the offering made to saints reduces the accumulated account (sanchit) and increases the ability to withstand the effects of destiny. Moreover, neither is any give and take account thereby created, nor is any merit acquired. Hence, whatever has to be offered should be given only to saints or for the mission of the Absolute Truth.

7. Spiritual love (priti) for others

One feels spiritual love for others only after attaining a spiritual level of 70%. Spiritual love means love without any expectations. In worldly love, there are expectations. By practising Spirituality the percentage of the sattva component in oneself increases and one tends to satisfy the visible and invisible creation in one’s surroundings. There is an expansion of love and one develops spiritual love towards others. One is able to perceive the presence of The Supreme God in each and every object and the whole world becomes one loving family – ‘वसुंधैव कुटुंबकम् ।’. In order to achieve this, in the beginning, one has to make efforts to love others. For this, it is important to remain in satsang (holy company). At first, one begins to feel spiritual love for other seekers attending the satsang (spiritual meeting), then for seekers from other sects, still later for non-seekers and finally for all living creatures.

8. Stance of a spectator (sakshibhav)

After attaining a spiritual level of 80% one is able to observe everything including one’s own spiritual progress as occurring due to the Guru’s wish.

9. Mission after attaining Self-realisation (dnyanottar karya)

After attaining a spiritual level of above 90% the disciple lives with the feeling, ‘Now I am left only to repay the favours done by others’, that is one continues to live doing what is necessary for the society. With such spiritual practice the Guru’s grace is constantly showered upon the disciple and he progresses towards the Final Liberation.

Necessity of continual grace of the Guru

Once one is blessed by a Guru and is initiated with a gurumantra bestowal of His grace begins. To maintain it perpetually it is mandatory for one to conscientiously continue the spiritual practice recommended by Him throughout one’s life.

How do the misconceptions regarding Spirituality arise?

How do the misconceptions regarding Spirituality arise?

Contents


1. Misconceptions about Spirituality

Most people specially the younger generation, have a lot of misconceptions about Spirituality. So let us first understand what these misconceptions are, that is what is not Spirituality.

1.1 Fear

30% of the population feels that if God and saints get enraged with them, they will be harmed. Many people as directed in letters which they have received in the name of saints or God, send twenty-five to fifty copies of them, with the fear that if they do not comply then they will incur a great loss. Similarly, people give alms with the fear that if a person in the garb of a mendicant is hurt, then he may wish one ill and may even curse. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to harbour such fears. However, due to the fear that if one errs, a sin shall be committed and one will be punished by God for it, at least 30% people from society refrain from making mistakes. This is an indirect benefit of this school of thought.

1.2 Ignorance

There is no connection whatsoever between education which gives worldly pleasures and ignorance about Spirituality. Approximately 80% of the people from each of the following groups – illiterate, those with primary education, those with secondary education, graduates and post-graduates are ignorant about Spirituality, as they have no formal education in it. An example of such ignorance can be seen in the article, ‘The Ganesh idol from the aesthetic point of view’ which appeared in a local daily. In this article a famous artist writes, ‘The traditional Ganesh idol is considered as one of the most beautiful sculptures. I feel like congratulating the anonymous sculptor, the first to materialise this innovative idea into reality’. That Ganapati (Lord Ganesh) is an idea, is ignorance by itself. Deities like Ganapati are not imaginary, they really exist and even have a form. This is what that poor writer does not know.

  • A. Dr. Athavale was once invited to deliver a discourse on Spirituality at Mumbai. The organisers asked Him whether they should provide Him with a chaurang (a small square stool used during ritualistic worship) instead of a chair, whether the table should be covered with a saffron cloth and if an oil lamp (samai) was required beside Him. They were unaware that Spirituality does not lie in external decoration but in painting one’s inner self saffron [with detachment (vairagya)].
  • B. Sexuality and ignorance about Spirituality

    1. On one hand, you advise me to practise Spirituality and on the other ask me to lead a normal sexual life and not to ‘refuse’ my spouse. Is this not contrary to Spirituality?

    2. A woman suffering from depression, thought that her sexual desire had decreased in accordance with her age. In reality, it can decrease with advancing age, depression and spiritual progress.

  • C. ‘Those following the Path of Spirituality differentiated between Spirituality and the universe. They therefore ignored the universe considering it as the Great Illusion (Maya). Hence the very zeal for living was over. People became helpless and inactive and led a life devoid of activity under the pretext of attaining the Final Liberation (Moksha). This is not true Righteousness (Dharma).’ – Shri Arvind (The life of one following the Path of Spirituality should be beneficial for all creation.)
  • D. Those believing in destiny: It is incorrect to consider one believing in destiny, a coward. He alone is the true brave one and has the potential to become a saint.

1.3 Blind faith

From the example given below one can realise how deeply blind faith is harboured by Indians. Vrundavan, a place in North India is considered sacred due to Shri Krushna’s residing there. The residents of Vrundavan believe that if one dies in such a sacred place then one’s embodied soul gets liberated. Hence in Vrundavan, faith prevails that the residents of Vrundavan shall not be afflicted with any problem due to dissatisfied ancestors’ souls.

The point to be noted here is that, if this were really true then every corrupt person, a dacoit, a murderer despite committing numerous sins would finally get liberated! If this occurs, then it would be injustice to others. The Lord is impartial towards all. The statement that if one dies in Vrundavan one attains liberation, is true only in the case of a devotee or a sinner who is totally repentant and not others.

One comes across 20% individuals in society who harbour blind faith. Although there is a loss of 10% to the society because of this; yet there is 20% benefit as at least some people refrain from doing bad deeds out of blind faith.

‘We consider a cat crossing our path as a bad omen. So should cats never be seen on the road? If a lizard falls on someone, he feels distressed.’ (1) These are not superstitions but are premonitions. Should they occur one should repeat (chant) The Lord’s Name.

1.4 Misuse

About 5% of people make money under the garb of Spirituality for instance by starting a ‘yoga’ or a ‘pranayam (controlled breathing exercises)’ class. At one such ‘pranayam’ centre there was a choice of eighteen separate courses of pranayam for improving health, improving concentration, personality development, etc. Names of the eighteen courses were printed in their pamphlet merely to attract people. In reality the same pranayam was taught in every course!

1.5 Cheating

95% of the so-called ‘holy men’ are fake. They make money in the garb of a mendicant. One such ascetic (sadhu) would prescribe ‘worship of the vagina (yonipuja)’ as the sole remedy for any sort of complaint that a woman had. He would then have intercourse with her, that is worship her vagina as the treatment!

Some Gurus advertise through newspapers that they will initiate with a gurumantra at a particular time! [More information on the Guru is given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Vol. 4 – Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga)’.] These fake holy men should realise that rather than roaming about adorned with sandalwood paste (gandha) or tilaks, they should behave virtuously. Only then will people worship them with sandalwood paste and tilaks and will they make at least some amount of spiritual progress themselves.

1.6 Inflated ego

About 5% of people in society try to educate the masses about Spirituality pretending to be very well versed in it when in reality they know nothing about it. For instance knowing absolutely nothing about ‘Lord Shrirama’ one wrote, ‘Rama was never ideal. He can never be the seat of one’s faith….. The concept of God itself should be uprooted’, etc. Yet another said, ‘Now let us see to it that God retires!’

1.7 ‘Of what use is it to us?’

55% of the people feel ‘let those who have a liking for Spirituality study it, of what use is it to us?’ They do not know that in the life of an average individual 20% of physical and psychological problems are caused due to reasons other than spiritual factors in the wilful action (kriyaman karma). The remaining 80% problems are caused by spiritual factors alone. In other words, out of every five distressed individuals, four can acquire happiness merely by undertaking spiritual practice; so four out of five individuals from among one’s family, relatives and friends definitely need Spirituality. Spiritual practice enhances one’s ability to endure destiny. All this of course is from the worldly point of view. To attain the Final Liberation (Moksha), however, there is no substitute for Spirituality.

1.8 Secrecy

Some people feel that secrecy has to be maintained in Spirituality. Why do people following the Aryadharma observe secrecy in Spirituality? In this regard a saint, Shri Gulabrav Maharaj says – ‘Only those who feel that there is nothing in the Vedanta other than idle talk say this. When there are trade secrets even in business, why should one feel that there should be none in Spirituality? Besides, one cannot understand the true meaning properly, despite voluminous writings in the holy texts. Secondly, knowledge from holy texts goes into the hands of people who have no authority over it. Thus a genre of people is generated, who impart knowledge to others merely by reading holy texts without totally following the Path of Spirituality. When knowledge is revealed in such a manner, people feel that worldly life is alone more valuable than Spirituality.’ (2)

1.9 Misconceptions about spiritual practice

  • A. 45% of the people know that Spirituality is useful, yet 50% of them say, ‘we will undertake spiritual practice when we grow old’. There are four errors associated with this statement.

    1. When there is no guarantee that one will survive till old age, deciding that one will practise Spirituality then, is incorrect.

    2. Good physical and mental health is required to undertake spiritual practice. In old age since both these weaken, it becomes difficult to undertake spiritual practice.

    3. Just as it is difficult to learn any new skill in old age, so also it becomes difficult to learn to do spiritual practice then.

    4. The number of impressions created in the subconscious mind goes on increasing with age. In Spirituality, however, one aims at eliminating all these impressions.

  • B. Undertaking spiritual practice of one’s favourite deity or a saint according to one’s intellect: 80% of those practising Spirituality fall in this category. Just as when ill, one does not take medicines on one’s own without the advice of a physician or does not argue in court on one’s own without a lawyer, so also it is pointless practising Spirituality according to one’s intellect. When such spiritual practice does not bestow much benefit, one’s faith in Spirituality and spiritual practice begins to waver and one concludes that all this is fake. If Spirituality actually means forgetting oneself, then how will one benefit if one undertakes spiritual practice according to one’s intellect? Hence doing spiritual practice after studying Spirituality or under the guidance of an evolved person proves more beneficial
  • C. 30% of seekers feel that if they want to make spiritual progress they should not get married. However this is incorrect due to the reasons enlisted below.

    1. If one does spiritual practice whilst living in society then one makes faster spiritual progress. If one renounces the world and retires to the Himalaya mountains, one is not tested enough unlike when living in society where one is tested at every step.

    2. Destroying the mind, rather causing its dissolution is the very essence of Spirituality. Thus if one practises it, one should not make decisions using one’s intellect. So deciding to remain unmarried is wrong. Besides, if one is destined to get married then one cannot avert it. In such cases, a seeker may feel dejected that he was unable to observe even this restriction of remaining unmarried.

  • D. Some feel that if ‘they repeat (chant) The Lord’s Name as spiritual practice then they will not be able to fulfill their other worldly duties’. Such a feeling is absolutely ill-founded. Nowhere in the history of mankind has there been a case in which one has incurred a loss due to repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name. On the contrary, repetition (chanting) of The Lord’s Name increases the power of concentration, so one is able to accomplish worldly duties in a much better way.

Detailed information on misconceptions about spiritual practice is given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 3 – Practice of Spirituality’.

1.10 Misconceptions about priests

Some priests who perform rituals feel that they know everything about Spirituality. In reality however, a majority of them know only about ritualistic worship (karmakand) and they are ignorant about the science behind the rituals.

Those who deliver spiritual discourses (pravachan, kirtan) speak a lot on Spirituality without having any spiritual experiences. Some people consider them as Gurus and undertake spiritual practice as advised by them thus wasting several years of their life doing inappropriate spiritual practice.

1.11 Misconceptions about seekers

A lady seeker’s husband was murdered. When she accepted it calmly, the police thought that she must have committed the act. Some felt that she was not bereaved because she did not love her husband or presumed that she loved someone else. Some thought that she would grieve later with the passage of time!

1.12 Misconceptions about ascetics (sadhus)

  • “It is shameful that even after almost 45 years of Independence, ascetics are determining the fate of the nation.” – Jyoti Basu, the Chief Minister of West Bengal (December 1992)
  • Psychiatric patients and saints: Are saints paranoid schizophrenics ? – Shiroda, 29th September 1992.
  • Psychiatric patients and those with a steady intellect (sthitapradnya): People try to become emotionally blunt (sthitapradnya) by undertaking spiritual practice.
  • Schizophrenics may be highly evolved spiritually.
  • Answers obtained through meditation and hallucinations: Can answers obtained through meditation not be hallucinations?
  • Misconceiving the ability to forsee the future as a mental disorder: ‘If one deeply studies the psyche of those believing that the world will end, one will find that there is depression in their lives. According to Professor T.K. Umen, Head of the Department of Sociology of Jawaharlal Nehru University, they have accepted such a prediction due to this depression. Mr. Parvin Chopra, the editor of the periodical ‘Life positive’ claims that self-proclaimed Gurus sprout in order to exploit such depressed and escapist people. The organisations established by such Gurus are generally loyal to them. These Gurus then either lead them on the path of self-destruction or exploit them financially or sexually. Many a facet is common in such groups, e.g. a singular charismatic male leader, detachment from the rest of the society and deployment of bizarre modalities for protection of the group. The Om Shinri Kyo sect of Japan, the Dravidian sect of U.S.A. and the Kalki sect from South India, believe that The Lord will incarnate to destroy evildoers. Organisations such as the Brahmakumari and Sanatan Sanstha proclaim the theory of evolution which shall destroy human race. Some other groups like the “Heaven’s Gate” believe that flying saucers shall destroy the evil tendencies in the human race.’ – (Doomsday prophesies from Insecurity, Times of India, 13th October 2000)

1.13 Misconceptions about those teaching Spirituality

Misconceptions about Dr. Jayant Balaji Athavale – ‘Doctor makes use of hypnosis more than Spirituality; that is why a larger audience attends his discourses / workshops’.

1.14 Misconceptions about the Guru

Some harbour the misconception that the Guru will eliminate their worldly obstacles. The Guru has no relation with worldly obstacles but is concerned solely with the spiritual progress of His disciple.

2. Reasons for misconceptions regarding Spirituality

2.1 Misguidance by ‘prominent’ members of society

One should generally not speak on a subject of which one does not have adequate knowledge. Despite this rule several prominent personalities from other fields in society talk on Spirituality even when they have had no spiritual experiences. Some of their listeners especially the younger generation not realising that their opinions should not be taken seriously, get misled and misconceptions regarding Spirituality are created in their minds. A few samples of quotes on Spirituality by such ‘prominent’ personalities are given below. This may also be called idle talk !

  • A. A famous astronomer said, ‘In the intercalary (adhik) month of the Hindu lunar calendar [ideal to undertake vowed religious observances (vrat)], one can perform the following rituals – blood donation, donation to a society dedicated to teaching the physical sciences, participation in a cleanliness drive, visits to hospitals to comfort patients, visits to places of historic importance, social work, etc.’ He probably is unaware of the importance of undertaking vowed religious observances, the benefits of which are dependent on the resolve (sankalpa) made by sages. Then how will these modern observances be fruitful without the resolve of a person with an authority in that field? (For more information on vowed religious observances refer ‘Science of Spirituality : Vol. 10 – Holy Festivals, Religious Festivals and Vowed Religious Observances’.
  • B. ‘My mother-in-law neither forced me to perform the rituals of Satyanarayan or Mangalagauri nor imposed her opinions upon me. I consider myself fortunate to have such a good mother-in-law.’ – A quote by a famous political leader. Now we will have to redefine a good mother-in-law as one who does not teach any religious principles!
  • C. ‘So long as we do not step out of this whirlpool of thirty-three crore deities and casteism, we will not be able to make any progress’, said a former Chief Justice of the Mumbai High Court. This implies that instead of corruption, bribery, etc. it is God who hinders our progress!
  • D. At a symposium on eradication of blind faith, the speakers were an industrialist, a senior politician, two scientists, a writer and a chief minister. None of them had any knowledge on religion, faith, etc.
  • E. ‘How long will we continue to sing the glory of Rama, Bhim, Arjun and Hanuman?’, asked a senior politician. No matter how many praises are sung of an icon of the Absolute Truth (Sat) like Rama, they will always be far too little. However these people will never realise this as they have spent their lives in the untruth (asat).

2.2 Spread of ignorance through the media

We have already seen how ignorance spreads through newspapers. The radio and television too project repeatedly that things such as casting an evil eye, black magic like bhanamati, possession, etc. are all fake when these really do exist.

2.3 Opposition to the spread of spiritual knowledge by universities

We had written to the executive committee of extra mural education of the University of Mumbai to include the subject of Spirituality in their curriculum to help to eradicate the misconceptions about Spirituality. In a letter dated 27th June 1988, the University rejected the request. Our universities will probably awaken once the study of this subject commences abroad!

2.4 Spread of ignorance by universities

In a television documentary produced by a university it was said that astrology, the science of mantra, asking a deity for answers through media such as flowers, leaves, etc. in a temple (kaul), etc. are all fake.

2.5 Indirect resistance from the government

A television serial depicting factual incidents beyond the comprehension of the intellect was discontinued by the government due to pressure from the so-called rationalists. However Shakespeare’s play ‘Hamlet’ which also shows a ghost was allowed to be telecast!

2.6 Expression of unilateral opinions

‘The upliftment of the lowest caste of people (harijans) and tribals will bring back Rama’s rule of Righteousness (Ramarajya) to our country, in the real sense….. The chiefs of all hermitages (ashrams), mendicants and saints should leave their ashrams and go into the world to serve the harijans and tribals’- the quote of a well-known Swami. One having true spiritual knowledge even to a small extent will never make such statements. Such statements usually stem from a desire for cheap publicity.

2.7 Ignorance and blind faith of rationalists

  • A. Intellectuals give ridiculous challenges to the omniscient and omnipotent saints ‘to perform a miracle and win five lakh rupees’. Miracles are not like movies to be watched by buying a ticket. To witness a miracle one needs devotion (bhakti) and spiritual emotion (bhav). This is precisely what these rationalists do not realise. They talk about money following the illusory doctrine of the west that everything can be bought with money. This is akin to a chaste woman who will not pose in the nude even if offered millions of rupees.
  • B. Also, they do not realise the simple fact that one can comprehend only phenomena pertaining to physical sciences and not those beyond them, with the intellect. Existence of The Lord cannot be proved with logic because it is a science based on the intellect and one gets the spiritual experience of The Lord only after dissolution of the intellect.
  • C. They are unable to undertake study like the theosophists and researchers at the Psychical Research Society at England who have studied phenomena beyond the intellect.

         ‘A well known pioneer from the Theosophical Society, Mr. Leadbeater has authored two books, viz. ‘The Astral Plane’ and ‘The Devachanic Plane’, based on the nether region and heaven respectively after undertaking research. In these books, at the very outset he says – “We have taken due care to ensure that the information in these books should be flawless. We have not included even a single new or old point which has not been independently experienced by at least two of us experts in this research field and which is not verified by an authority more knowledgeable than us, in these books.” Dr. Jayant Athavale had written the above excerpt around 40 years ago in the first edition of the book. Today, He can reiterate that the research from the last century, in the first edition is correct and flawless as He has experienced its veracity everyday for the past several years….. In short, He does not consider it necessary to alter any of the matter written in these books then.’ (3)

  • D. That which cannot be understood by intellect can be perceived only after practising Spirituality. However rationalists are not prepared to undertake the necessary spiritual practice. They are unaware that the spiritual intellect does not get activated without spiritual practice.
  • E. Rationalism of atheists and theists: The rationalism of atheists is based on human intellect while that of theists on the intellect of The Lord!
  • F. Why does research have to be done repeatedly in science?

    1. A researcher puts forth a doctrine through his experience.

    2. Thereafter the data (eg. case papers of patients) from which the conclusion is derived, is thrown away.

    3. After several years, people ask for the authenticity of that doctrine.

    4. Then the research is carried out again on the same subject by another researcher only to arrive at the same conclusion.

         The only way to put an end to this vicious cycle, is by accepting the researcher’s word as the authority. Only then will researchers be able to march ahead.

2.8 Pessimism

Question: ‘Why is there so much pessimism about studying Spirituality?

Answer: First and foremost it is the absence of appropriate education. Secondly, people are not imparted information about this subject in their day-to-day life. It is but natural for people not to develop a liking for Spirituality, as no one provides true knowledge about God. Formerly preaching, prayer and the sacred and venerable holy texts and religious books were closely associated with life. Today due to the growing materialism, they have lost their importance and value in the life of the common man. “Money” itself has become the “Righteousness (Dharma)” of the new era.’(?)

2.9 Unscientific superficial literature

It is such literature which makes readers lose their faith in Spirituality. For example, a book authored by a famous spiritualist says – ‘Lord Ganapati is fond of red flowers. Red colour signifies revolution. Leaders and philosophers like divine revolution’.

2.10 Unrealistic claims

An example of this is illustrated by the following news item from a daily. ‘Recovery from asthma by performing yogic postures (yogasans)!: It has now been proved that one can get relief from asthma by totally avoiding mental stress and performing simple exercises like yogic postures. Dr. M.P. Mani, of the Kerala Science Convention has proved this through his research. He says that there is no need for any expensive medication to be cured of asthma.’

When one experiences the falsity of this statement, one loses faith in all spiritual literature

Some rationalists consider the renunciation of the body by saints like Saint Dnyaneshvar, when still embodied as suicide!

What is the importance of Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa) ?

Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga)

1. Meaning

The word krupa has been derived from the root krup which means to be compassionate. Krupa means compassion, initiation (anugraha) or a blessing (prasad). Thus Gurukrupayoga is the path in which by means of the Guru’s grace (gurukrupa) the embodied soul is united with Shiv.

2. Importance of the Path of Guru’s grace

In this path a seeker learns how to acquire the Guru’s grace at the earliest, bypassing all other paths instead of wasting several years fol­lowing various paths of spiritual practice. Consequently it is only natural that one makes rapid spiritual progress by following this path.

3. Importance of the Guru’s grace (Gurukrupa)

‘One comprehends the unmanifest (nirgun) with intellect and the manifest (sagun) with spiritual love (priti). This intellect is a subtle form of the intellect acquired by studying the scriptures. This intellect destroys the anadi (one without a beginning) illusion. From the beginning of the state of the embodied soul (jivadasha) each one has the illusion (misconcept) that “I am distinct from Brahman”. By studying the scriptures one realises by means of his intellect that “I am not distinct from Brahman”. However later he begins to feel, “If I am not different from Brahman then how is it that I do not experience it?” and thus another illusion develops. This illusion having an origin is described as the adi illusion. This adi illusion is destroyed solely by the grace of the Guru. This means that on account of the Guru’s grace the love of the manifest (sagun prem) and the devotion of the manifest (sagun bhakti) derived through satsang (holy company) transform his love, that is convert love into spiritual love which is devoid of expectation and thus the form of the manifest itself vanishes. As a result, the notions originating from relative knowledge that the manifest has a form and the unmanifest is formless are destroyed. When relative knowledge gets transformed into absolute knowledge the difference between the manifest and the unmanifest with regard to form, no longer persists. If rela­tive knowledge were to be true then its awareness would not have been destroyed. This awareness of relative knowledge, that is pratyay itself is the adi illusion. Once devotion of the manifest begins, actual realisation (sakshatkar) that the manif­est is really unmanifest Bliss occurs, the knowledge of the unmanifest that is thinking that the unmanifest is different from the manifest dissolves and one experiences that “I am Brahman” that is one experiences non-duality. Hence, saints term the unmanifest as the most subtle among spoken topics (vachyansha) and the manifest as the ultimate target (lakshyansha), that is The Lord. Since scholars have no experience of satsang, this concept is not acceptable to them. Rameshvar Bhatt who was in­strumental in immersing the holy verses of Saint Tukaram in water attained Absoluteness (Purnatva) with the grace of Saint Tukaram alone.’ – H.H. Kane Maharaj, Narayangaon

Who dwells in My heart ? I would never realise that without the Guru’s grace. – Saint Bhaktaraj

What does the term ‘Guru’ mean?

Contents

  1. Origin
  2. Definition and Meaning
  3. History


1. Origin

A. गु शब्दस्तु अंधकारः स्यात् रु शब्दस्तन्निरोधकः ।
अंधकारनिरोधत्वात् गुरु इति अभिधीयते ॥

Meaning : ‘Gu (गु) refers to darkness assuming the form of ignorance and ‘ru (रु) to the radiance in the form of spiritual knowledge, which dispels this darkness. Thus the Guru is the one who dispels the darkness of ignorance.

B. The Shri Gurugita describes several origins of the word Guru.

गुकारस्त्वन्धकारश्च रुकारस्तेज उच्यते ।
अज्ञानग्रासकं ब्रह्म गुरुरेव न संशयः ॥

Meaning : The letter ‘gu (गु)’ in the word ‘Guru (गुरु)’ refers to darkness (ignorance) while the letter ‘ru (रु)’ refers to light (spiritual knowledge). Thus undoubtedly, the Guru is Brahman who alleviates this ignorance. – 23

C. In the Agamsar, a holy text the meaning of the three alphabets in the word Guru are as given below.

गकारः सिध्दिदः प्रोक्तो रेफः पापस्य हारकः ।
उकारो विष्णुरव्यक्टस्ञितयात्मा गुरुः परः ॥

Meaning : The ‘g (ग)’ in the word ‘Guru (गुरु)’ bestows supernatural powers (siddhis), the ‘r (र)’ emancipates from sins and the ‘u (उ)’ is the unmanifest Lord Vishnu. In other words, the Guru is supreme, the embodiment of these three.

2. Definition and Meaning

Some definitions and meanings of the word Guru are given below.

A. The Guru is the one who dispels a disciple’s igno­rance, advises him to undertake spiritual practice in order to make spiritual progress, gets it done from him and bestows spiritu­al experiences upon him. The Guru’s attention is fixed only on a disciple’s spiritual progress and not on his worldly happiness (as that depends on destiny).

B.

पिंडं पदं तथा रूपं रूपातीतं चतुष्टयम् ।
यो वा सम्यग् विजानाति स गुरुः परिकीर्तितः ॥ – नवचक्रेश्वरंत्र

Meaning : The one who knows the subtle body (pinda), the all pervading nature, the form and that which is beyond the form equally well is a real Guru. Here the subtle body refers to the embodied soul and the all pervading nature to Shiv (Brahman). Form refers to the manifest and that beyond the form to the unmanifest. – Navachakreshvar Tantra

C. The Guru is the one who is not small, yet transforms the small one into a large one (a Guru).

In this context H.H. Mounibaba of Narayangaon says, “Some great saints visit places and preach to devotees and thus serve The Lord Himself. It shows their broad vision. In comparison I am rather narrow-minded. I do not visit places and guide others. There is defi­nitely a difference between those who swim in the ocean and those who dwell in a well. In short, this depicts my selfish nature”.

D. ‘God and a devotee are not distinct from each other, only God being unmanifest is unable to speak to a devotee who has awareness of his body hence He introduces the devotee to one of His representatives who is carrying out His mission. Such a representa­tive performing His mission is called a Guru. In other words, He Himself speaks using the Guru as a medium.’ – H.H. Kane Maharaj, Narayangaon

3. History

‘During the period of compilation of mantras in order to arrange the holy texts or verses systematically in the form of Sanhitas, the formation of the institution of the Guru to study, teach, practise and apply the mantras became the need of the hour. Gradually the rituals of sacrificial fires (yadnyakarma) started becoming elaborate and complicated and it became necessary to undertake a special indepth study to acquire mastery over that subject. As a result, batches of disciples began to gather around teachers well versed in it. The names of many such teachers of the Sanhita period are available even today. Angiras, Garga, Atri, Bruhaspati, Vasishtha were the main teachers of those times.

Those who developed a dislike and lost faith in the rituals according to the Vedas (Shroutkarmas) were the Aranyakas. In this class, study about Spirituality began and the subject began to be preached thus giving rise to the Guru hierarchy. The names of Janak and Yadnyavalkya figure prominently among these Gurus.

When this system of teaching by recitation lapsed the spiritual literature consisting of Vedangas and Darshans were maintained by the section of society known as the Shastris wher­eas the tradition of learning Vedas through recitation remained only with the Shroutis and Vedapathaks.

‘In the Nath sect the Guru is accorded a higher status than The Lord Himself. Theyogis of this sect consider Shiva as the foremost Guru and Matsyendra, a form of Vishnu, as His first disciple. In this sect there is a custom of describing the Guru lineage instead of the paternal lineage (Dnyaneshvari 18.1758). Dnyaneshvar never describes Himself “as the son of Viththalpant” but “as the disciple of Nivrutti”, repeatedly.’

Why should one aim for attainment of the Moksha rather than heaven?

Contents


1. Types of happiness and unhappiness

1.1 When alive

A. According to the scriptures: Physical (adhibhautik), divine (adhidaivik) and spiritual (adhyatmik) are the types according to the scriptures. These types are classified according to the cause of happiness or unhappiness. We will understand this better with an example. Let us take the example of the sun.

  • 1. Physical (adhibhautik): The sun being of the form of radiance, it has a tremendous amount of heat. The warm sunlight feels pleasant in winter but the same proves distressful during summer. Thus, the happiness or unhappiness experienced from the various objects created from the five great cosmic elements (panchmahabhuta) are termed as physical (adibhautik). The happiness and unhappiness from fire, drought, excessive rainfall, so also from animals and man are included in this type.
  • 2. Divine (adhidaivik): The deity Savita regulates all the activities of the sun. This deity is appeased by one who repeats (chants) Her Name and blesses him. Hence, such happiness is termed as divine (adhidaivik) happiness. However, should this deity get enraged it curses the person who consequently has to experience unhappiness. In short, the happiness and unhappiness arising from the grace of the deities or their rage, those from ghosts, spirits etc., unhappiness experienced after death are included in this category.
  • 3. Spiritual (adhyatmik):Physical: Due to an imbalance of the three humours (dosha), vata (wind), pitta (bile) and kapha (phelgm).Psychological: Due to the six foes of the soul (shadripu) namely, desire (kam), anger (krodh), greed (lobh), vanity (mada), attachment (moha) and jealousy (matsar). These defects too are dependent on the three humours vata, pitta and kapha.

        To overcome the unhappiness arising from physical and divine causes, generally external measures need to be employed. Thus, this unhappiness is curable with external remedies. Psychological unhappiness on the other hand need internal measures for their amelioration.

B. According to the terminology used in the holy text ‘Science of Spirituality’ compiled by Sanatan Sanstha: Physical and psychological.

1.2 After death

One experiences unhappiness on not obtaining those objects which gave oneself happiness when alive. Refer ‘Science of Spirituality : Vol. 13 – Death and After’.

1.3 Worldly, in other worlds and spiritual

  • A. Worldly: Relative to objects
  • B. In the subtle worlds: Relative to objects
  • C. Spiritual: Unrelative to objects

1.4 Relativity

  • A. Relative to unhappiness: One feels happy after recovering from an illness. If one who is unhappy due to ignorance is enlightened with knowledge the unhappiness vanishes; this can be called happiness relative to unhappiness.
  • B. Relative to happiness: When a well-to-do person procures a huge fortune, he feels happier.

If the reverse is true, one gets unhappiness relative to happiness and unhappiness.

1.5 Individual (vyashti) and for the sake of society (samashti)

‘Like every individual the target of society too should be happiness. Happiness of the society is the happiness of all or most of its members. Despite keeping this as the objective, society has to remain content with psychological happiness. With respect to physical happiness it is observed that if an individual begins experiencing excessive happiness then he begins to encroach on the happiness of another. Food, clothing and shelter are the basic needs of man. But it is not possible for society to provide them in abundance to the entire population. It is assumed that every individual will be given a minimal share of food. However if one tries to acquire an extra portion, another is deprived of it. Psychological happiness differs in this aspect. As an individual begins to experience more and more psychological happiness, he becomes the cause for others’ happiness, for instance by painting beautiful pictures, writing exquisite novels and plays, giving wonderful dance and vocal recitals, etc. Consequently others too acquire happiness from all this and as a result the artists become famous. Fame is a very luring psychological happiness. Just like sandalwood which imparts its fragrance to others, by reducing one’s physical happiness man should sacrifice oneself for the sake of others and be praised by society. This proves to be favourable for both and so the society too makes progress.’ (1)

2. Types of happiness

‘प्रापणात्‌ सर्वभोगानां परित्‍यागो विशिष्‍यते |’ means true happiness lies in the sacrifice of pleasures than in indulging in them.

2.1 Sattvik (sattva predominant), rajasik (raja predominant) and tamasik (tama predominant)

  • A. Sattvik: Giving happiness to others without thinking about one’s own happiness or suffering. Giving happiness to others does not reduce one’s happiness, as actually it is 100% happiness. This is happiness arising from the mind.
  • B. Rajasik: Trying to acquire happiness without causing any unhappiness to others. The happiness obtained from the sense organs and the motor organs is called rajasik happiness, eg. eating a delicacy. In this case, happiness or contentment is obtained instantly but ultimately it culminates into unhappiness for the reasons given below.1. One cannot experience a lot of happiness, eg. one can get a stomach upset by overeating a sweet dish.2. One cannot obtain the objects the moment they are desired, e.g. the sweet shop may be closed or a particular sweet may not be available in the shop.

    3. Sometimes it so happens that, the happiness gets converted into a necessity, e.g. after enjoying travelling by car it becomes a habit. Thereafter, if the car is unavailable for even a day, one feels unhappy.

  • C. Tamasik: One derives happiness by inflicting others with unhappiness and running away from the hardships of life, e.g. drinking alcohol, taking narcotics, harassing others. This may also be termed as happiness arising from ignorance.

Generally happiness experienced by the intellect is sattvik, that by the mind is rajasik and that by the body is tamasik in nature. The happiness derived after the intellect acquires spiritual knowledge is merely due to the elimination of ignorance which is gross. When the mind experiences happiness, its grossness too is decreased.

2.2 A pleasurable feeling, a pleasurable sensation (mod) and happiness (pramod)

When one sees an object which endows happiness a pleasurable feeling is generated in the mind. When that object is procured there is a pleasurable sensation and when experiencing it there is happiness.

2.3 According to the organs

All types of happiness arises from Brahman (God principle)

  • A. Brahmanand (Advaitanand): Happiness in its pure form is termed as Brahmanand or (Advaitanand), i.e. Bliss arising from Brahman or non-duality (advait).
  • B. Vidyanand (dnyananand): Happiness obtained from the intellect is termed as vidyanand or dnyananand, i.e. happiness obtained from knowledge (dnyan).
  • C. Vasananand: Happiness obtained from gratification of desires and aspirations, so also of anger, egoism, jealousy, etc. is termed as vasananand, i.e. happiness obtained from desire (vasana).
  • D. Vishayanand: Happiness (worldly happiness or object pleasure) obtained from the sense organs is termed as vishayanand.

Happiness other than Bliss obtained from Brahman (Brahmanand) are all of an impure nature and cannot grant complete contentment. Although all types of happiness arise from Brahman (God principle) yet the quality of happiness depends on the purity of the person experiencing it. Just as a reflection of an object is clearly seen in clean water but is not at all seen in muddy water, similarly only if the ego (aham) is pure does one experience the supreme Bliss of Brahman and not otherwise.

3. Climax of happiness and unhappiness

The peak of happiness is orgasm and that of unhappiness is when a seeker gets dejected when he does not find God. Since the happiness obtained during intercourse is physical, it is tamasik in nature, while the unhappiness experienced by the seeker is sattvik.

4. Efforts to obtain happiness and alleviate unhappiness

4.1 Efforts to obtain happiness

In schools, colleges, etc. one is taught history, geography, mathematics, etc. but not how to find Bliss. Hence living beings try to find as much happiness as possible with the five senses, mind and intellect. Man marries to obtain sensuous pleasure. Later he tries to get sexual pleasure to forget the unhappiness. With sensuous pleasure, suffering is only temporarily forgotten; it is not completely abolished.

4.2 Efforts to reduce unhappiness

यन्निमित्तं भवेच्‍छोकस्‍तापो वा दु:खमेव च |
आयासो वा यतो मूलमेकाङ्‌गमपि तत्त्यजेत्‌ ||
                                                                      – महाभारत १२.१७४.४३

Meaning: That which causes grief, stress, unhappiness or pain has to be sacrificed even though it may be an organ of our body. – Mahabharat 12.174.43

Instead of trying to acquire happiness man makes more efforts to reduce suffering, for example by going to a doctor when ill, getting the radio or car repaired when it breaks down, etc. Very few people regularly exercise to remain healthy, get the car serviced periodically, etc. The efforts made to alleviate suffering are not always successful. For instance, an incurable illness, old age and death are things about which an ordinary person can do nothing to reduce the consequent suffering.

In short, since one does not know how to obtain Bliss, the life of the majority of people is spent in trying to find small pleasures and in overcoming unhappiness.

5. Quantity of happiness obtained through various bodies

वेदनानां अधिष्‍ठानं मनो देहश्‍च सेंद्रिय: |
केशलोम नखाग्रान्नमल द्रवगुणैर्विना || – चरक शारीर १

Meaning: The hair on the body, tips of the nails, sweat and faeces do not experience unhappiness. Charak Sharir 1

5.1 Happiness obtained through the physical body through the medium of the five senses

Eating one’s favourite dish, listening to music, watching a movie, etc. are pleasurable initially but if one repeats the act over and over again the happiness obtained from it goes on decreasing and ultimately the same thing causes unhappiness. Hence in the holy text, Shrimadbhagvadgita (2:14) it is said,

मात्रास्‍पर्शास्‍तु कौन्‍तेय शीतोष्‍णसुखदु:खदा: |

Meaning: Cool and warm responses of the sense organs with objects give happiness or unhappiness respectively.

If a person begins eating a favourite dessert like ice cream, then he will relish the first three or four plates. He will eat the next three or four plates with less enthusiasm and finally will refuse more. If he is forced to eat it, then it will make him unhappy. The same occurs if one listens to the same song or watches the same movie over and over again. That is why the holy text, Adhyatmaramayan teaches that ultimately every kind of happiness culminates in unhappiness.

5.2 Happiness obtained through the subtle body (desire body, mental body)

The quality and quantity of happiness obtained by the mind, for example by loving someone is higher than that obtained through the five senses. Its duration is also longer. Later when love successfully culminates in marriage, the happiness obtained from it decreases.

5.3 Happiness obtained through the causal body (intellect)

Although the happiness obtained by the intellect by studying a particular subject, understanding it, solving a difficult mathematical problem, discovering something after doing research, etc. is of a higher quality and quantity than the happiness obtained through the mind, yet that too is transitory.

5.4 Quantity of happiness derived from various organs

Organ Quantity of
happiness %
1. Sense organs 10
Ears  2
Skin  0.9
Eyes  4
Tongue  3
Nose  0.1
2. Motor organs 10
Hands  2
Legs  2
Speech  2
Genitals  2
Anus  2
3. Mind 30
4. Subconscious mind 20
5. Intellect 30
Total 100

This table clarifies that one who has a handicap in a sense or a motor organ, like one with total deafness or one crippled in both the legs need not get dejected because in reality he is experiencing only 2% less happiness than a person who does not have these deficits. Inspite of this, several people develop an inferiority complex due to their handicap and make themselves unhappy.

5.5 Physical and psychological happiness

Physical happiness can affect health adversely. This does not occur with psychological happiness.

5.6 Various bodies and the quality and quantity of happiness and unhappiness

There are differences in the quality and quantity of happiness and unhappiness obtained through the physical (five sense organs), subtle (vital energy and mind) and causal (intellect) bodies. To cite an example, the pain in the physical body is localised to the site of the injury whereas in the mental body it is generalised. The diagram below illustrates the amount of happiness in various bodies.

6. Happiness experienced by animals and man

In case of animals, fulfillment of the sense organs and motor organs means happiness. In case of man, emotions and intellect carry out their natural functions in every happiness generated from the organs, e.g. despite a delicious dish being pleasurable, if it is given to one whose close relative has expired, he will not enjoy it. Intellectually, if one is given one’s favourite sweet dish he will experience happiness but a diabetic will not derive happiness from it, although he may like sweets. ‘The happiness experienced by Lord Indra during sexual intercourse with his consort, Indrani in heaven is the same as that experienced by a dog with its partner on the earth. This happiness is experienced equally by all higher and lower animals.’ (2)

7. The seven regions (saptaloks) and happiness

The maximum limit of happiness that a man can experience is one unit. A healthy, strong and righteous young adult who has all types of worldly gadgets at his disposal and has an intense desire to experience happiness, is able to experience it. Sage Jaimini defines heavenly happiness as one which is totally devoid of any unhappiness and an extremely happy state. The deities experience happiness in millions of units (1012). Eternal happiness of Brahmanand (Bliss arising from Brahman principle) is hundreds of million times (1020) the happiness experienced by the deities. It is beyond description in words and cannot be conceived by the human mind. Although this is the case, man can undertake spiritual practice consistently and experience the Bliss arising from Brahman in the present birth itself. The earth (bhulok), nether world (bhuvalok), heaven (svargalok) and the maha, jana, tapa and satya loks constitute the seven regions. It is because there is a lot of happiness in heaven that when there is a great amount of happiness on the earth, it is termed as heavenly. However one does not experience Bliss in heaven. That is why one should aim for attainment of the Final Liberation rather than heaven. As one ascends the maha, jana, tapa and satya regions, the Bliss that one experiences increases in quality, quantity and duration.

7.1 Special features of heavenly happiness

  • A. In heaven, one experiences happiness instantly as desires are fulfilled the moment one gets a thought. However, on earth one needs to make efforts to obtain happiness despite which, at times one feels contented and at times not.
  • B. There is only happiness in heaven and it has absolutely no trace of unhappiness. In every happiness experienced on earth there is at least some part of unhappiness. One experiences happiness after eating one sweet dish, (e.g. a ladu) but if one eats 20 of them one develops a stomach ache or suffers from diarrhoea. This implies that in eating every sweet dish there is 1/20th part of unhappiness hidden in it.
  • C. One experiences continuous happiness in heaven. As against this, on earth events which give happiness and unhappiness occur alternately.
  • D. Often on earth relief from unhappiness gives happiness, eg. a hungry person feels happy when he gets food. As against this in heaven, as there are no hardships, unhappiness, fear or hunger one only experiences pure happiness.

Although this is so, happiness experienced in heaven has its own limitations and that of time. Happiness to be experienced by a person in heaven is decided according to the quantity of merits (punya) and their type. Although it is true that everyone experiences happiness in heaven; yet an individual may even feel jealous seeing that another enjoys a greater amount and better quantity of happiness. After enjoying happiness in heaven, a person has to be born once again on earth.

8. Influence of time and happiness and unhappiness

Since one is aware of one’s body during unhappiness, time seems to pass slowly. As against this, there is no awareness of the body during happiness, hence time passes quickly. Thus one experiences time due to awareness of the body. In reality there is no such thing as time.

8.1 Planets and happiness and unhappiness

One is born at such a time when the position of the planets is conducive for one to experience what one is destined. Hence it is not that an individual faces happiness and unhappiness due to the planets.