Navaratri Satsang, at The Ashram
Shree Peetha Nilaya, 02 October 2019
On the fourth night of Navaratri, Paramahamsa Vishwananda described Goddess Kushmanda. Her symbol is the pumpkin, and it represents the life force which is infused into everything. She reminds us of our eternal relationship with God and the aim of true happiness which comes from serving Him.
Jai Gurudev, everybody!
So, today we are celebrating Kushmanda. You have probably noticed there are lots of pumpkins on the altar. She is the Goddess of pumpkins. Why all the pumpkins? Actually, She is a reminder of the life force which is imbibed in everything. A pumpkin is a fruit which is very full of energy. If you look at how the pumpkin grows, it will grow in a very rough surface. It doesn’t need much, actually. And it will grow everywhere; the root is one, small root, but the wine goes everywhere. From one plant of pumpkin, you can have many, hundreds, of pumpkins. It’s a reminder of how we all come from one place.
She is a reminder of the life force which is imbibed in everything.
We were in Sriman Narayana before everything manifested. Through manifestation, we are all out to experience. And at the end, He is our aim, and we have to go back. He is those seeds which have been planted. When the seeds grow in a beautiful tree, you have lots of fruits, no? And back again when the fruits fall, it goes back again into the earth. Again the whole cycle, because of the seeds which have been planted. This is that universal energy which prevails in everything. And if one has that wisdom, one will realise that.
How is the Mother taking care of each of you, no matter how you are? Have you seen how a mother cares for a child? A child may be very dirty, but the mother will not think, ‘That child is dirty, I will not hold that child.’ No, it doesn’t matter how the child is, the mother will hold the child, will clean the child, will feed the child, and then she will give the child to the father. And that’s what the mother does, you know, the universal Mother, the cosmic Mother, Bhakti Herself, that’s what She does. She cleans you, purifies you, and at the end, She will give you back to Giridhari and say, ‘Here, that’s Yours, handle!’ But the major part She does.
Our mind is so clouded, we don’t perceive that.
Story of the Proud Crow
There is this beautiful story which King Shalya told to Karna before the Mahabharat War. You know very well that Karna had so many good qualities, but even with all his good qualities, he sided with Duryodhan. The king said to him, ‘Nothing good can come out of that. You have so many good qualities but if your companion is not right, if you keep the wrong companionship, you will be corrupted also.’
So, in telling him and trying to change his mind, he told him a very beautiful story of a crow.
There was an island in the middle of the ocean, (just like Mauritius, probably). On this island there was a very nice and very good businessman. This businessman was very loving and caring and he had many children and they also were very well cultured, very loving and very caring. So, every day they would all have their lunch together. They would eat together, they would discuss together, and after they finished eating, a crow would come and eat their leftovers. That crow was very proud of himself. While eating, if other fellow crows would come, he would chase them away, because he thought that he was the only one who deserved all the good things. So, like that, every day he was so happy and he thought that the world rotated only around him and he became very proud and very arrogant.
Once, there was a group of swans who flew to that island and everyone was looking at this group of swans, and at how wonderful, how majestically they were flying, how elegantly their wings were flapping. Looking at that, one of the children of this businessman said, ‘Oh crow, look how beautiful they are! I don’t think you can fly like them.’
You tell that to somebody who is convinced of themselves as being the centre of the world, and it is a challenge, no? It’s shocking. With reluctance, the crow called one of the swans, and said, ‘Hey you, come here! I saw you flying and I would like to give a challenge to you. I want to fly with you and see who will come back first.’ The swan agreed, and said, ‘Okay, I accept your challenge.’ With much pride, the crow said, ‘I know many kinds of flying, I am well versed in flying, you know, so I know many styles. I am very stylish in flying.’ The swan said, ‘Okay, fine.’
So, the time came for them to fly. They were flying and very soon they came to cross the ocean. The swan was flying very steadily, very calmly, without any disturbance, nothing. Whereas the crow was flying very fast; he would fly one moment higher up and then he would dive directly down to the ocean the next moment. He was showing off how great he was in his skills of flying. The swan was just looking and didn’t bother about him. After some time, flying in the middle of the ocean, the crow started to get tired, now that he had shown off all his ways of flying. He was tired and didn’t know what to do. He looked around, panicking, for a spot to land; there was nothing. Where would you find a spot in the middle of the ocean? So, as he was looking around, he was so exhausted, he dropped down into the ocean. In the ocean, he asked for help. The swan laughed and came to him and said, ‘You should teach me this style of flying. I don’t know that style of flying; never seen that style of flying!’ At that moment, the pride in the crow was shattered. He realised his mistake and he asked, ‘Please, forgive me. Bring me back, please.’ So, the swan took the crow out and, with calmness, he flew back to the island and put the crow back.
So, this story was told to Karna, so that he could reason upon why he was fighting on the opposition side, when he had so many good qualities.
You see, one must be very wise in bhakti, because the reward which one receives on the spiritual path is not just a mere reward in which you do something and you are rewarded. It is a reward which is eternal, which is infinite in itself. It’s not like a deed which one does and then gets its merit; it is beyond that. Very often, people do many good deeds, but these good deeds will lead one only to a certain place, and once that good deed is finished, you will have to come back here. In the Chandoghya Upanishad it’s said that once one’s good deed is finished, even in heaven, one will have to come back to Earth. So, it is not eternal. The only thing that is eternal is when one attains the loving service to the Lord. When one attains that loving service to Giridhariji, that becomes eternal.
When Manu and his wife were meditating, they did penance for thousands of years for one aim only: to have the vision of Sriman Narayana. When they had that vision of Sriman Narayana, Bhagavan asked them, ‘Ask me for something.’ What did they ask? ‘Let us serve You eternally. Let us serve Your Lotus Feet eternally.’ That’s the only thing they asked, and that amused Sriman Narayana. He said, ‘You have done so much penance for so many years, you want only My Feet?’ Many of you would think, ‘What a fool!’ No? If you got a magic lamp, you know, you would have a whole list, no? And then you would tell the genie, ‘Wait! Two minutes!’ You would have the whole list.
But in a bhakta’s heart, there is only one thing: the Feet of the Lord.
There was a sage once. When he met Sri Rama, Rama asked him, ‘What blessing do you want?’ His answer was, ‘Let my heart be Your dwelling place. Make my heart the place where You live, that I am not far away from You and You are not far away from me. I want to eternally serve You in that way.’ And that’s the reward of bhakti.
Kushmanda reminds one of this eternal relationship with God and the aim of true happiness: a happiness which will not finish, which will not end, or will not have any misery in it.
So, Kushmanda: when you say ‘kush’ in Hindi what does that mean? Happiness. Kushi. But happiness for worldly people means only when they get something. If they get that thing that they long for, they become kushi: they become happy. If they don’t get what they want, they keep striving for that, keep striving for that. But at the end, what is the result that they get? They become miserable, because even the thing that they long for doesn’t bring them true happiness. It gives them a certain happiness, a limited version of happiness. Once that happiness is used up, then they are back into their misery and then they look again for another form of happiness. And like that, they keep going on and on, one happiness after the other. And then they say, ‘Yes, I am happy’, when truly, when they look into their lives, they just pretend to be happy.
Kushmanda reminds one of this eternal relationship with God and the aim of true happiness: a happiness which will not finish, which will not end, or will not have any misery in it. And for that, one’s aim must be clear—be clear where you are standing.