Live Q&A from Germany
Shree Peetha Nilaya Ashram
Today's Satsang from Paramahamsa Vishwananda answers questions about what to do if a murti is broken, the rules for avoiding karma from one's partner, how to deal with our desires, and how to get the spiritual strength Srila Prabhupad had.
Jai Gurudev, everybody! Welcome!
Yesterday, in one of the questions, they wanted to have the darshan of Giridhariji, so I brought Him today. Jai Giridhar Gopal!
Today is also the world’s Earth Day, and, as you noticed that the world is going through a nice period; the Earth is rejuvenating herself. And of course, for those who are centred into the positiveness, they treasure this time really, and also what they can give. Because during this time you are going deeper and deeper within yourself. You are opening certain spheres inside of you which you didn’t even know about. Many people didn’t know that they could sit at home the whole day, or they could do things.
Because very often the world of people has become so dependent upon the outside reality that now, during this time, it has changed completely to the reverse. It is the time where you have turned inwardly and through what you have received inside of you which is awakening inside of you, that is the transformation and the change happening.
So, this day, everybody is celebrating in their own way the world’s Earth Day. We have to be really grateful to be here in this world itself, during this time, and also be grateful that you have this time to enjoy with your family, with your dear ones. Many people have said during this time they have become even closer to the people. It is through this connection that we used to take for granted before, but now we treasure it. When you can’t go and visit somebody, now you realise the greatness of that time when you were going there. I see that also being here in the ashram.
(I'll put Giridhari here. He will inspire and protect the Earth.)
About the ashram, very often people say, ‘Okay, fine, we have the money, we can just take the plane and go.’ Now there is no plane even to come. This is a time where we treasure those moments which we used to have. Also later on when it comes back to normality, remember this time that everything can change, nothing is in your hands. You are saying that your life is in your hands, but no, a fraction of second your life can depart from you. So nothing really is in your control, and nothing is even in their control, because there are other people who think that they are controlling everything. No, nothing is in their control either. Everything is in His control. And lucky are those who really understand that; that everything that you do in your life it is through His grace. Without Him allowing that, nothing would happen.
The hand of my Gayatri murti is broken. I have heard that it is not allowed to worship broken deities, but can I repair Her and continue worshipping?
According to the tradition, they say that when a deity is broken, you can’t carry on the worship, but I am asking everyone: If the deity that you have been worshiped is so dear to you…If tomorrow something happens to Giridhariji (now, we're blessed that for so many years nothing has happened), do you think I will just stop worshipping Him? No, I will carry on worshipping. Because this is my connection to Him. You see? When you have a certain connection to your deity, it’s not just a deity, it’s not a statue that today you have one, and tomorrow you don’t like this one and you put in another one. It’s not like changing clothes. Because you have built this relationship with that deity, that deity becomes everything for you. Even if it is broken, just repair it and carry on your worship.
If your mother breaks her arm - okay? - would you throw her away? I guess not. You would bring her to the hospital, you will get her repaired, then she will still be there. Imagine, your mother broke her arm and then you say, ‘Okay, fine, mother, I am going to get another mother now, you are broken!’ You should be very careful! Imagine if this happens to you, what would happen. You have to be careful that your children don’t throw you out of the house!
Like that, people have not understood that relationship between the Beloved and the lover. People have not understood the deepness of the relationship that one has with the Divine. It’s not really the deity on the outside. The deity on the outside is just a representation of your relationship with the Supreme, which is everywhere. When that reminder is there, of course, you just repair the deity and carry on your worship. It doesn’t change anything. But those who are ignorant don’t realise that, because for them, they see only the outside material things. For them, if your deity is made up of marble, you should treat it just as, ‘Oh, the deity is broken; it’s just a piece of marble which has broken so I'll take it and put it away.’ Very often you see that, and in many places you hear about that also. But if you have this loving relationship, how can you, you know? You just repair and carry on your worship.
My girlfriend is afraid of things like my fork touching her plate and even sharing a bag of chips together. Is the karmic transfer of energy really that powerful if we have a loving God and a living guru?
Firstly, I will ask you, do you sleep together? I guess so… Do you touch your girlfriend? So… If you are scared if a fork [touching] or eating chips in the same bag of chips will create deep karma between you two, then you should start thinking about your relationship, because if such a person is thinking in that way, I don’t know how you share your relationship. It’s not my business anyway, but just to make it clear, you are sleeping together, you are doing things together so why not also eating chips together? I don’t think that because either you are so attached to the chips, or to the fork, or to the plate, that it will create karma.
We have to understand, what creates karma? It’s our mindset. You see? If our mind is fixated upon things, then we create karma on that. If we are attached to things and we can’t be free from it, like, for example, you attach to the karma, what happens? Everything that you do brings so much fear inside of you. Of course, you have to be watchful about certain things, but if you are together, you are sharing your life together, I guess, so I don’t think that one has to become paranoid about that. Because both of you are on the spiritual path, so that means you are surrendering to the Lotus Feet of the Lord Himself, no? Your mindset already is of a devotee. Like Krishna said, ‘My devotees come to Me, those who surrender to Me come to Me.’ So that is your aim for both of you. If that is the aim for both of you, you are helping each other to transcend the old karma. It’s not about being paranoid about these things. It’s about being in observance of things.
When you are in observance of things, of course, you are not inviting outsiders. When these kinds of things are done when there is non-devotee, of course, it’s a different matter. Then you have to be careful. Then you should not engage yourself. If somebody is not devotee and you are sitting and eating together with them, somebody who is not spiritual, you are entertaining their fantasies and you are entertaining their desires, and then of course, it becomes difficult. Then you are creating karma. But when you are living together, and you are both devotees, (even if one is devotee and one is not devotee) but yet, you are there, and one has that awareness, there is no karma being created because you are not attached to it. The potato chips are finished once you have eaten them; what happens then? At the beginning you have great love for it and then when the potato is finished, it’s finished. Then the lightness has disappeared from that. You can eat your chips and touch the fork of your girlfriend, it’s not a big deal, because you are together for a reason, no?
In the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 3 v. 43, Krishna says, ‘’Slay the enemy in the form of desire.’’ In the Uddhava Gita, He says, ‘’Don’t suppress the desire, it should be granted. The desires should be exhausted and not suppressed.’’ Could You please give us Your view about this?
Yes, it’s the same thing. Bhagavan Krishna just explained it in a different way right there so you can see.
First, He said slay the desire, then He said don’t suppress it. How would you get rid of the desire if you suppress it? He is saying, both. Here in Chapter 3 He is saying, ‘You have to get rid of all desires’, and in Uddhava Gita He is explaining how to do it. And how to do it is not to run away from it, but to go through it and to transcend it. You see? And going through it and transcending it doesn’t mean that you have to engage yourself in it. Because when you engage yourself into such desire, of course, it creates attachment. And when it creates attachment, you will never be able to awaken that loving relationship with Him.
In the Bhagavad Gita Chapter 9, verse 29, He said, ‘All is dear to Me, I don’t have any hate or dearness, I am equal to both. I don’t have any hateful or dearness, but those which is in loving service towards Me, they are in Me, I am in them.’ It is so beautiful. Because, the object of one’s desire, what is it? It is attachment to a certain thing. I desire something, but when I get it, how long will I be happy with it? Not too long. An object of a desire is finite. You see? It will not give you everlasting happiness. It will not give you that devotion which is required inside of you. So, if you become like that, what will happen? You are stuck. And when you get stuck, you can’t be free. Here in Chapter 9, Bhagavan explained that, ‘Those minds that are full of desire, even if I am seated inside both – I am seated inside those who don’t have desire and those who have desire – I am eternally the essence of everything.’ ‘I am seated within equally, whether one has desire or not. but to attain Me, one has to purify’.
To be purified, one has to be cleansed. Because if one is not cleansed, how would one feel Him? How would one attain Him? Impossible!: ‘Those who are engaged in loving service towards Me, I reside in them and they reside in Me’. That cleansing process reveals a different reality: the relationship that one has to the Supreme itself. When the transformation happens, desire disappears, desire transforms. Yesterday I was saying that mind gets transformed into Divine, that intellect gets transformed into Divine, and the senses itself get transformed into Divine. When this happens, then one becomes a real devotee that is transcending everything. Because the sole aim can also be the desire for Him. Desire doesn’t only mean it is material. Desire can be also turned towards a supreme goal. Then you can really transform yourself. Then you have the single-pointed, single-minded devotion.
In the Bhagavatam (Canto 11, Chapter 14, verse 21) Lord Krishna said, ‘Those who are in devotion, those who have the single-pointed-mind devotion towards Me are the ones who can purify everything.’ Because they have purified themselves, they have transformed themselves, they have changed, and they have become an object of purification. Their hearts have been purified. Not even purified, they can purify even those who are not pure themselves. But those who are so focused upon their desire of the outside to fulfil them, who are engaged into the external desire, material desire, and so on, are trapped in a certain reality that is very difficult to transcend. That’s why Bhagavan said, ‘I am in both, in all beings, the same. But I am equal; I don’t have any hate towards anyone, I don’t have any dearness to anyone. I am the essence, the one who is residing inside, I am the same. But those who are in loving service towards Me get purified, get transformed, get changed. They become Divine.’
Due to that transformation of becoming Divine, there is a different reality they go through. But that transformation of being Divine is not just 'like that'. In the Bhagavatam, it carries on Canto 11, Chapter 14, verse 23-24. He said, ‘Those who surrender to Me what is happening in them? The hairs on their body stand on end. If their hairs don’t stand, how would their hearts be melted? If their hearts are not melted, how would tears flow through their eyes? If spiritual tears don’t flow through their eyes, how would they render service to Me?’ To the Supreme Lord.
So if they can’t render service to the Supreme Lord, how would their life, their consciousness, their soul be purified? It can’t be. It’s only through that process. To attain that process, you have to get rid of the vain desires of the outside. Then He continued in verse 24. He said, ’The devotees with a voice that is choking, with their heart melted, with devotion and love, so they sing, they laugh, they dance, they appear insane sometimes, but they render service up to Me’. They purify the whole universe. Such devotees, those which are completely free from all external desires, are free from everything.
When we take your question (what Bhagavan Krishna said to Uddhava), you have to go through that, because, when you suppress yourself, you can’t transform. That transformation, He said in the Bhagwat itself. That is a transformation one goes through, and for that to happen, you have to let go of that old reality. If you don’t let go of that old reality, which means go through it and transform it, then you will still be the same self. So, being the same old self, as you were, you can’t attain Him, you can’t find Him inside of you. It will stay only as just an idea that somebody has talked about, but yet, you will not feel it. But when you see a devotee, really, it is beautiful. Devotees can be there, sitting and even looking at the guru and … I have seen the devotees how they are. They just sit there and tears just flow from their eyes.
Last year I went to Portugal and gave them a surprise visit, and it was amazing, I tell you. We were on the phone with that group, Swami Aniruddha [and I]. We orchestrated it: I was on the phone with Swami Aniruddha and then the devotees said, ‘Oh, yes, come, come, come!’ Of course, they were facing the other way, and I came [into the room] from behind them! That joy that the devotees have, no one can really understand that. This is the beauty of being a devotee. You can see those who really understand what the guru has been teaching them; it’s not just a vain 'being happy'.
You know, there are many teachers in this world. Here I’m not using the word ‘guru’ because they are just teachers. Of course, they teach people to be happy, they monitor you, just have a happy life. But, true happiness is not in 'things'. That’s what Krishna said, you see. Go through these desires to see the difference, but first you have to know about them. So when you know about them, you can really know what is right and what is wrong. It’s not in a point of judgement; it’s truly knowing what is true happiness. When you are engaging yourself, what will the outcome of that engagement be? So, in that context, He said to Uddhava, one must go through that.
Because suppressing it you will never be able to let go of it, you will never be able to transform it. But when you truly understand what you are here for and what is your aim really, then you will attain true happiness. Otherwise you will just run towards misery. Because these desires disguise themselves as something that you really are in need of. Nowadays you can see it; let’s say some months back people were thinking, ‘Yes, we can’t, we have to go outside and eat outside, because it is, oh, it is a must, because in this world people say this is a social thing. We have to fulfil the social things’. And now you see everybody is sitting at home and eating at home. You thought that you could not live with your family, and now you see that you can live with your family. Like that there are so many things that you thought that you could not do and now you are doing it. So, this is what Bhagavan Krishna is saying to Uddhava: don’t put your own limitation on things. You are more than that. You are that eternal atma which is inside of you, and that eternal atma is free. That atma which is seated inside of you is not attached to anything. It’s not attached to the good or to the bad. What is attaching is this mind, so unless you transform that mind and make that mind detach from the outside reality, make that mind detach from things which are limited, make that mind transform into Divine, you will never be free.
This is the process of it. When you go through that process of it, then you become a devotee, and then your heart is melted with love and devotion. Through that you can attain Giridhariji and He reveals Himself.
I watched the film on Srila Prabhupad and was amazed at a 70-year-old man’s steel willpower and unflinching faith. I am half his age and definitely don’t have his energy - how do we cultivate this willpower and spiritual strength on our path?
Look, Prabhupada, after his guru told him, it took him many years to cultivate that strength. At the beginning he was not – he didn’t straight away fulfil it. He wanted to live his family life, he had his job as a chemist and first he lived this kind of life. Then, once this life was finished, was over, there was an instance that they said that his wife was the cause of him departing from India and said it’s time now to do what my guru had asked. But the guru had asked 30 years before that, to do this. But do you think he had ever forgotten about what his guru had asked him? No. For sure every day in his mind there was a word, a voice of his guru, ‘Go into the world and bring the message of the Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita to the world.’ Having that anchored inside of your mind itself, day and night, knowing that, ‘My Guru Maharaj has asked me that’, that became the strength itself.
When you are clear about what you want to achieve, when you are clear about your path, when you are clear about what you want to do, or what your Guru Maharaj has asked you to do, it’s not about age, it’s not about time. It’s about it will be, somehow one day. Very often people want to do things very quickly, but everything has its own time to do. And when you are patient, of course, when the right time comes for you to do what you have come here to do, your swadharma itself, then everything takes its place and everything comes and really pushes you forward. But you have to be clear; throughout all that you have to make yourself ready.
I’m sure Srila Prabhupadji didn’t sit down there and sit idly and say, ‘Ah, yeah, when the time comes I will do it.’ No, he was working every day for that. When you have seen the movie, it shows that he was eager to finish the first three cantos of Bhagwat, translated it into English. I don’t think it’s an easy job, and of course, for sure that has taken many years. So, his mind was on that, that, ‘One day I will do what my Guru Maharaj has said to me.’ And his Guru Maharaj had said to him, ‘Go to the West and bring Krishna to them. Bring the teachings to them.’ So that was his sole aim, his dharma itself.
And, of course, when you are clear about that, you will have that inner strength inside of you. When you are clear, you have full power in it, because you have this love to do it. And like I've said always, when you love to do something, there is no time to get thirsty, there is no time to be tired, you will just do it. Even time will pass by, it will go, you will not even be aware of how time has gone. One minute you sit down, you are so engrossed into what you are doing, and the next time you realise that so much time has passed between, but you didn’t feel tired, you didn’t feel hungry, you didn’t feel sleepy, nothing, because there is an inner strength inside which awakens itself. I’m sure in him also there was this great power inside of him, and he was clear about it. Like when he went there, he didn’t have anything. He was renting a small studio and he was sitting there, and he didn’t lose courage. This is one thing that I see: in spite of, in the beginning, it being very difficult, he didn’t lose courage in that. Often he wanted to return to India, but Krishna had a different plan.
Today somebody sent me a picture of somebody cycling and it was a straight road, and it’s written, ‘This is your plan’, you want things to go smoothly in a straight line. And below was Krishna’s plan, up and down, up and down and up. That’s why it is said: Beware of a road paved with flowers, because it will not bring you anywhere. But a road paved with hardship, thorns, make you become who you are and you will attain your aim very easily and very strongly. Because in that aim He will guide you, He will stand by you.
So, like that, courage also awakens inside of someone who is clear about it. Otherwise doubt will take place. Then you will be thrown in the corner, you will become lazy, you will say, ‘Okay, yes, I have time, I will do it.’ Like I said, nowadays you can’t say you have time, because you don’t know what is tomorrow. When you don’t know what is tomorrow, it’s best to do it now. Whatever you have, if you have the courage and if you are clear about it, when you centre yourself upon that, everything will take its place where it has to be, and you will be guided also.