Live Q&A from Germany
Shree Peetha Nilaya Ashram, 9 April 2020
Today's Satsang features answers from Paramahamsa Vishwananda about perfectionism, being a Shiva devotee on a Vaishnava path, the role of the Divine Mother, and the friendship between Karna and Duryodhana.
Jai Gurudev, everybody! Welcome to Shree Peetha Nilaya!
So, today nothing much happened, just that I got the visit of one of my birds. One of them came to see me. It was lovely.
And one thing what made me really laugh: I got one message. Actually, it's a picture message of three orangutans sitting and laughing. And it was written on it, ‘The humans were planning to step on Mars in 2020…’, and they were laughing because, ‘They can’t even step out of their house!'
This picture makes me really laugh, thinking how many plans human beings have. So, many plans, and yet they don’t know what comes tomorrow. What will be tomorrow nobody knows, but still, everybody constantly has a lot of plans. Whether this plan will be fulfilled or not, it doesn’t matter, but in which state one is always planning, it’s amazing. That’s why it is said, in the Bhagwat (the Bhagavatam) Canto 4, Chapter 24, verse 66, ‘O king, people are mad about planning. They are constantly planning one thing or the other.’ So, with which attitude are they planning? With greed. In life one is always planning, but it is due to greed to satisfy the needs of the outside, not knowing that at any moment everything can change in life. In the click of a finger everything can change.
Like it is said, just like a snake jumps upon a mouse and swallows the mouse just like that, death can come at any time, changes can come at any time, nature can change everything at any time, but yet, human beings constantly plan. And which attitude do they plan everything? They plan it with an attitude of greed and attitude of, ‘Yes, I am doing that.’ It’s not an attitude of humbleness, it’s not an attitude of, ‘What can I contribute for the change?’, ‘What can I give to this world?’ There is not an attitude of that. Most of the time is about ‘I, my and mine’. So, that I was thinking about. Really the whole world goes that way.
How can one deal with the pressure of perfectionism in career, life goals, etc., and the thoughts of 'never being enough'?
Exactly what I was just saying right now! It’s funny, because I don’t look at all the questions from the people. So, the question is asked directly there and actually, I already gave you the answer.
If you are looking for perfection in the outside world, there is no perfection in the outside world. Because everything that is born in this outside world is born with a determination to finish. When you talk about perfection, you are talking about something which lasts for a long time. And what lasts for a long time is the perfection of who you are, the perfection of the Self. That will happen only when you start to understand that what you are looking for is not in this material world.
Of course, you have to be in the material world, you must work, you must earn your living, but life is not just about that. Life is much more than that! Life is to rediscover your true Self, and beyond that also, because just discovering your true Self is not the ultimate. The ultimate reality is to go deeper within that Self and discover the Lord who is seated inside of your Self. This is the aim of life.
Just like I was telling you earlier, you plan and plan and plan, and then one moment to the other death is knocking at your door. Finish!
I always tell a beautiful story about a man who is working. Throughout his life he worked, and at the end, when he took his pension, he started to count his money. As he was counting, he was so happy that he had one hundred million dollars. But as he was counting, he noticed there was somebody behind him. (You know, sometimes you can see on the side of your eyes.) He noticed there was something – someone –standing there, and he looked and he saw Death standing there.
He said, ‘Who are you?’
‘I am Death. I have come for you.’
‘But I didn’t invite you!’ (This reminds me of Monty Python, the series. ‘Hi, Mr. Death, how are you? Please, come and have a tea.’) Yes, coming back to our story…
Death was standing there and said, ‘Well, I’ve come uninvited.’
‘Why have you come for me?’
‘Well, it’s time for you to go.’
The man said, ‘How come it’s about time for me to go? I just was counting my money and I have hundred million dollars! I need to enjoy this hundred million now.’
Death said, ‘Well, that’s not my business.’
The man said, ‘Okay, fine. I'll give you 50 million, just give me one day that I can enjoy the other 50 million.’
Death said, ‘No, not possible.’
Then he said, ‘Okay, I give you 75 million.’ (How hypocritical is a human being?) ‘Give me half a day.’
Death said, ‘No, not possible. Time is time.’
Then he said, ‘But, please, there must be something! I'll give the whole hundred million, give me one hour.’
Death said, ‘No, not possible.’
Then the man said, ‘Okay’.
Seeing the sincerity of this person, he said, ‘Ok, fine. I'll give you a few seconds only.’
So, the man quickly run to the table, grabbed a pen and wrote on a paper,
‘Don’t wait for the last moment to enjoy life. As long as life is there, make the best out of it. Get to know who you really are. Don’t waste your time in petty things: those things that you think that you need in life and then you realise you don’t need it at all.’
So, like that, in life people long for so many things, and for perfection in so many outside realities, but yet, they ignore the inner perfection. They want to be perfect in their work, they want to be perfect in their relationships, they want to be perfect in this or that… Are they really perfect in all these things? If you are not perfect in your mind here, how can you be perfect in all these things outside? Most of the time when you are talking about perfection, there is such a pressure upon you, it really makes everything imperfect. Do you do it with love, do you do it with freedom, do you do it with an attitude of gratitude in it? No, you don’t! When we talk about external perfection in the world, people have a notion that there is a certain pressure upon them. A certain, ‘Ah, yes, I must do it like this! I must do this!’ There is so much tension upon themselves, and that’s what they call perfection.
So, don’t look for that kind of perfection. It’s true that you have to do your work in a good way, so give as much as you can to that. You have to do it with love. Then it is perfect. When you love what you are doing, you pour that love from deep within and pour it into your job.
Krishna said in the Gita, ‘Do everything as the service to Me, but don’t be attached to the result of it.’ Why do you think He said that? Because He is the only source of the result. And if you are doing everything for the sake of God, then you don’t need to be attached to that result, you don’t need to put pressure upon you. Otherwise, it is not perfect. And like I said, looking for true perfection is only when you dive within that divine consciousness within yourself and find Him. Then you can attain, by His grace, that state of perfection. And once you have attained that state of perfection, everything that you touch will be imprinted with that perfection itself. That happens through the grace of God.
So, try to aim for that kind of perfection. But it doesn’t mean that you should not do your work in the outside in a proper way. Again, like I said, you have to do everything with love, everything as a service to Sriman Narayana, to God. When you have that deep inside of you, what else is needed? Because everything that you do will have that peace which you have inside, everything that you do will have that radiance, that shine, that you have inside of you. So, aim for that shine to shine through you. Aim for that perfection to happen to you.
I am a Saivite. Lord Shiva is more near to me than Lord Krishna, but I never want to disrespect anyone in the Divine Hierarchy. Can I really become a Vaishnava devotee? You are my Guru and I'm struggling with this. What should I do?
Oh, I think I know who you are! Look, when one attains the Supreme Lord, there is no Vaishnava or Shakta. He will grace everybody, each one, accordingly. Like you should know, Lord Shiva is so dear to Lord Krishna. Human beings like to separate, saying, ‘Shaivite is best’. Devotees of Shiva say, ‘Shaivite is better.’ Devotees of Krishna say, ‘We are better.’ Devotees of Devi say, ‘We are best.’ Like that, religions also do the same, and each religion fights with another because they think that they are the best.
I have great love for Lord Shiva. I don’t have any discrimination against Lord Shiva or Devi. Those who discriminate against Lord Shiva are not even worthy to worship Lord Krishna. In Jiva Goswami’s Sandarbha he said, ’Those who criticise Lord Shiva are not worthy to worship Lord Krishna’. Knowing that devotion which Lord Shiva has for Krishna and the devotion which Krishna also has for Lord Shiva, it’s amazing. That relationship that these two share is amazing, really. Look at that devotion which Lord Shiva has for Lord Krishna. When they did the Rasa itself, no man was allowed in the Rasa, but yet, when the Maha-rasa came, Lord Shiva had this pull to go, and said, ‘I have to go.’
Do you think Bhagavan Krishna didn’t know about that? He knew about it. He [Lord Shiva] came in disguised as a gopi and, of course, Lord Krishna wanted to dance with Him only, even though Shiva was disguised.They danced merrily. Who can comprehend that relationship which Bhagavan has with His devotee, and the devotee has with his Supreme Lord?
We see the difference in the outside. Like you said, you have great love for Lord Shiva. Nobody has stopped you in having this devotion to Lord Shiva. Like Krishna said, ‘The devotee of My devotee is dearest to Me’. In the Vaishnava tradition, we consider Lord Shiva the greatest devotee of the Lord Himself. He is constantly meditating upon Him.
Even in the Shiva Purana, when Parvati asked Lord Shiva, ‘On whom are You meditating? You, who are the Lord of the three worlds, on whom are You meditating?’, Lord Shiva said, ‘I am meditating upon the Supreme Lord Himself, who is dearest to me. I am meditating upon Rama.’
So, even in the Shiva Purana, Lord Shiva said, ‘I am meditating upon the Supreme Lord, Rama.’ When Rama built the bridge, on whom did He meditate, on whom did He pray? He prayed to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva, the Lord of the gunas, the Lord of this material world, the Purusha of this world, of this reality. Through His blessing only can one transcend this reality. Without His blessing one can’t; one is trapped in delusion. Maya is represented as Maha-devi, no? So, who is next to Maha-devi? It’s Shiva.
Only when one has that blessing of Lord Shiva can one really have great devotion to Lord Krishna, to Sriman Narayana. So, don’t have this misconception, or have this ‘Oh, only one is greater.’ No, it is not, because this relationship that Bhagavan has with His devotee is supreme. The devotion which Lord Shiva has for Krishna is amazing. The devotion which Lord Krishna has for Lord Shiva is amazing.
That’s why, when we look at Panduranga, Vitthala, for example: have you ever noticed what is on His forehead? Very often people ask why Panduranga’s tilak is different. There, it is round with a black dot. If you look clearly, what is it? Actually, it is Krishna’s best friend: it is Lord Shiva Himself. It is a yoni and the lingam, looking from the top, which symbolises creation. ‘I hold creation, I hold Him dear to Me’.
When Lord Krishna was going to look for Rukmini, it is said that He didn’t want to go alone, because, when your wife is angry, I don’t think you would like so much to face your angry wife by yourself! So, Krishna asked Lord Shiva to accompany Him. He said, ‘Prabhu, I am going to look for Rukmini, but I don’t want to go alone.’ It’s not because He was scared of Rukmini, this is His lila. But when you go somewhere, you can do a journey alone or you can do a journey with a friend.
So, He asked Lord Shiva, ‘Come, please come with Me, accompany Me.’ And Lord Shiva happily agreed, because this was a different lila that He was going to enact there. Shiva wanted to be part of it. That’s why, when you look at the deity of Panduranga, on the top [of His head] is the Shiva-lingam also.
There was a bhakta, a devotee, of Lord Shiva, called Narahari Sonar. This devotee lived in Pandharpur, and he was such a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva that from childhood he had taken a vow that he would never, ever, look at even the temple of Panduranga. He would not even look at the flag of Panduranga. So, whenever he would come out from his house, he would cover his face and look the other way. Such was his devotion to Lord Shiva. He had said that he didn't want to look at Krishna.
So, one day there was a rich merchant and he wanted to make a belt for Vitthala and he was looking everywhere for a jeweller and there was no one. The townspeople told him to go to Narahari Sonar, and that he was a jeweller. When he went there, Narahari Sonar said, ‘No way! I will not make anything for that one.’
The merchant said, ‘Please, please, please!’, and begged him. So, he said, ‘Okay, fine. You measure the waist and I will make it.’ Finally he accepted.
He made it according to the measurements, but when they placed that belt on Vitthala, it was too short. So, they brought it back and he rectified it and added to it. This time it was too long.
Then they begged Narahari Sonar, ‘Please, we have been trying to measure it. It’s not possible. Can you please come and measure it yourself?’
Narahari Sonar said, ‘No way will I come there! Do whatever you want, my life can go down, but I will not put my feet in that temple.’ That was his devotion to Lord Shiva.
Finally they convinced him. He said, ‘Okay, fine,' but with one condition: he would be completely blindfolded. Even his entire face had to be masked completely so that he didn't breathe the air from Panduranga. So, they took him by the hand and brought him into the temple. And in the temple, of course, he took the belt, and he was measuring. As he was measuring, he could feel that it is not Vitthala who was standing there; it was a Shiva-lingam there! And he wondered, ‘Why does this God look like my God? Why does this Krishna look like a Shiva-lingam? He was touching everywhere, it was round here, round there, and he was confused.
What did he do? He removed the blindfold. And when he removed the blindfold, to his amazement, in front of him stood Panduranga; Vitthala was standing there. He said, ‘Not possible. This is not what I was touching!’ Again, he put on the blindfold. Again, when he touched Him, it was a Shiva-lingam. ‘He said, ‘How is this possible?’ Again, he removed the blindfold, and again Vitthala was standing in front of him. Like that, he came to the realisation that it is the same Supreme Lord. He realised that there is no difference between the bhakta and the Beloved. There is no difference between Lord Shiva and Krishna.
Most of the time, this misconception is only in the mind of fanatic people. When people become so fanatic, they lose the capacity of thinking. They lose the capacity even in seeing what Bhagavan Himself has said: ‘How dear is Lord Shiva to Me.’
So, just love, and know what the Lord Himself represents, and what is their relationship [Shiva and Krishna] together. And don’t make this into a human fight, thinking that they are also fighting. They are not fighting. They don’t have any problem with each other. It is humans that have a problem with each other!
What is the Divine Mother's role in creating the universe, and the relationship between Her and the Lord Narayanaya? How important is it to worship Her as well as deepen our relationship with the Lord?
Look, Bhagavan is the Supreme Lord. There is nothing higher than Him. But at the same time, for things to manifest you need the shakti, no? So, this shakti itself is His manifestation. So, it is through His will that She manifests everything. So, they work together. He holds everything.
Like in Chapter 7, verse 7 of the Bhagavad Gita, He said, ‘There is nothing higher than Me, O Arjuna. Everything rests upon Me just like pearls held by a string.’ Like that, there is nothing higher than Him. There are two realities that we see here: we see a lower reality and we see a higher reality when He is saying that, ‘There is nothing higher than Me.’ Normally the moment you say that there is nothing higher than something, that means there are two realities: one dwells on a lower reality, one dwells into the higher reality. So, this manifestation which dwells on a lower reality is a manifestation of the finite. That is the role of the Divine Mother. But transcending this finite reality and attaining to the infinite reality is the Supreme Lord. So, worshipping the Divine Mother it is essential. Because when we talk about worshipping, we talk about also having respect towards Her. As a Mother, She cares for each one of us, and as a Mother, She cares that each one rises to the fullness of one’s ability and reaches to the Feet of the Supreme Lord. This is Her duty as a Mother. She cares for Her children.
Look at a mother, a normal mother, and how much a mother cares for her child. You may not realise it now, but when you look and analyse how a mother functions, you will see. This is how the Divine Mother cares for each one of Her children.
That Supreme Lord holds everything. When He is saying about the pearls, holding everything, its amazing how it is put there. When we look at a string of pearls, they all look the same. So beautiful, but yet, the string is completely different from them. That string holds this unity. Like that, He holds everything, even – the multitude of Names and forms which exist in this reality, this universe itself. But yet, that essence which holds everything is only one essence. That is Him.
So, everything rests upon Him. There is nothing other than Him. Like when you look at an ocean, the waves can rise, it has its form and everything, but yet, afterwards the waves go back into the ocean. Without the ocean, would the waves exist? It would not exist. Without the atma, will you or any living entity have life? It will not. So, within that essence which holds everything is the Supreme Lord Himself, the Paramatma, that great soul which is in every living entity, and that’s what holds everything together.
This is through the blessing of the great Mother Herself. So, worshipping the Divine Mother is essential also. So that, through reverence, we will not ignore what a Mother does for each one. Her role is so that you reach the Feet of Sriman Narayana.
What is the deeper meaning of the relationship between Karna and Duryodhana? Is Karna's friendship an example of Duryodhana's love despite so many negative qualities?
Well, for that we have to see the quality of both of them. Often what we see on the outside, is that one is respecting his friendship and the other one is abusing his friendship. Because Duryodhana knew very well that Karna was a great warrior. Of course, he wants him, ‘No matter what, I want him. So, I may give him a palace, I may make him a king, but because I want something from him.’
And on the other side, does Karna not know about that? Karna knew that Duryodhana needed him, that he was using him. But yet, why did he stand always by his side?
You see, this is one thing you have to understand: that word ‘friendship’ is not just a simple word. Like Krishna Himself said, ‘If ever you have one friend in your life –ONE – treasure that friend.’ Why do you think He didn’t say, ‘If ever you have ‘friends’ in your life?’ Because true friendship is very rare. Nobody can really be a true friend. Many people say, ‘Yes, you are my friend’, but the moment you have a problem you will see how they disappear in your life. The moment they see that there is nothing they can profit from you, you will see how they disappear from your life. And they call themselves friends.
A true friend is the one that doesn’t judge you and stands by you at all time. There is not a single moment that they don’t stand by you. They are always ready to help you in any moment, asking or not asking. And they care for you. It’s not like friends who tell you, ‘Yes, come, we go and do stupid things.’ No, your friend will always guide you in a right way, and will always make you see reason about doing anything which is not right.
So, let’s come now and analyse why did Karna not reject the friendship of Duryodhana? When Karna didn’t have anything, and everybody was ridiculing him, everybody was pointing fingers at him. Even his own mother, who knew who he was, could not say, ‘You are my son.’ Everybody was ridiculing him. Who stood by him at that moment? Duryodhana. How bad he was, but he stood by him. He said, ‘No, he is my friend and I stand by him, I will give him everything.’ So, if somebody in that time has stood by you – someone who didn't have anything, who is going through all this judgement, and then somebody as a support stands by you – you know what that is? Even if Duryodhana was doing it in a spirit of, ‘Yes, I want him because he is a great warrior’, but yet, from Karna’s point of view, he knows that, ‘He has stood by me, I will always stand by him.’ And this is the concept of Karna: when he gave his word, he stood by his word also.
Before the war, started, Krishna approached him and revealed to him, and said that, ‘You are the first son of Kunti. Will you let go and join the Pandavas now that you know that the Pandavas are your brothers. Will you let go of Duryodhana?’
He said, ‘No. Where were they when they were all judging me, calling me all kinds of names? Duryodhana stood by me. In the name of that friendship, I can’t change. Even if I have to fight my brothers, I will fight them.’
Even Kunti went there and he said, ‘Now I know that you are my mother, and to protect your other sons, you have come to me. But I will not change my mind. I have given my word to Duryodhana and I will stand by him. Because I do know the true value of friendship; I know what that word ‘friendship’ means. Even if I have to give my life for the sake of that friendship, I will.’
And this is when somebody really knows what friendship is. They stand by that. Not people who call you friends on Facebook. You have thousands and millions of friends on Facebook; are they really your friends? Do they really know you? Do you really know them? No, you don’t know. These are all cheap friendships. You have so many friends; throughout life, how many friends have you met? As you were growing up, in a school, how many time you said, ‘Yes, oh, this is my best friend, that’s my best friend, this is my best friend.’ Where are they, your friends? Your friend stays with you. When you have this one friend – I’m not saying about many friends, one friend – no matter what goes on in your life, however you are in your life, that friend will stand by you all the time. At any cost, that friend will be there for you. That is your true friend. And if you find that true friend in the world, yes, treasure that friendship.
But know one thing, that true friend is the Lord Himself, Giridhari Himself. He was with you, He is with you and He will always be with you. No matter what happens in your life, He will never let go of you. It’s not like a human being. Human beings today will say, yes, they love you, they love you, they love you, ‘I love you, I will give my life for you’, and then tomorrow the same person will dagger you. It has happened to me so many times. For what? Because of their own idiocy. Because they don’t understand what a relationship is.
Like that, in your life you will meet many kinds of people. Some will say, ‘Ah, yeah, you are like our parent, you are like our mother, father, you are like our child, you are like our friend’, and so on. Yes, there is a nice relationship, there is this feeling, there is nothing wrong in that feeling to happen. When this feeling happens, be sincere. If you feel from your side that somebody is like your child, treat that person as your child. If you see that feeling inside of you is like that person is a friend, treat that person with sincerity as a friend. Just be sincere about your feeling when you tell somebody that, ‘You are my friend, you are my child, you are my parent, you are my mother, father' whatever you feel inside of you. Because that feeling deep inside of you is not a fake feeling. It’s a feeling which awakens from the deepness of your soul itself. And from which life does that feeling come? There is a recognition, no? That’s why that feeling awakens. So, that sincerity must be there.
The same thing as when Karna took Duryodhana even knowing that Duryodhana was the worst person that existed. But yet, he said, ‘You are my friend.’ That sincerity which Karna had inside of him, that’s what Krishna praises. In spite of knowing that he would die, in spite of knowing that would happen, still, he stood by his friend. So, when we talk about this relationship, that friendship, it’s not just superficial. It’s not just a made-up word; there is this deepness in it. So, if ever you feel that deepness inside of you, treasure that. Because that is the most wonderful treasure.