Live Q&A from Germany
Shree Peetha Nilaya Ashram, 8 April 2020
Today's Satsang features answers from Paramahamsa Vishwananda about becoming more simple in life, clarifying the meaning of one of Krishna's names, the 'dice game' in the Mahabharata, and if the world would actually listen to God.
Jai Gurudev, everybody! Welcome again to Shree Peetha Nilaya!
Today, it’s a blessed day because it is Hanuman Jayanti. These past few weeks we have been celebrating wonderfully, starting with Shivaratri, and ongoing there was Yamuna Jayanti, Ram Navami, and now Hanuman Jayanti.
Hanumanji, as you all know, symbolises the great aspect of devotion which he has for Sri Rama. Due to this aspect of devotion, it has rendered him very strong and very powerful. Because of that, he inspired many with how he served, and with which attitude one must serve and surrender to the Feet of the Master and God.
Today we did abhishekam on Hanumanji and have been chanting. I’m sure everybody in the world is chanting the Hanuman-chalisa. Some of the devotees have been chanting 108 Hanuman-chalisas, which is so wonderful. Really – it’s not about just chanting the Hanuman-chalisa; it's really knowing the meaning of what Goswami Tulsidas has written in these 40 verses. It's about how wonderful these 40 verses are, showing how humble Hanumanji is even while being so powerful, so grand, with so much strength and power. Yet, despite all his majesty, his greatness, he is so humble. He is always ready to help the devotee of the Lord, to inspire them, to give them strength and to stand by them in time of need. For whoever calls upon him, he is there.
There was once instance in my life... I always tell the story how Hanumanji came. We were in India for the first time and we were travelling at night. We went to Mysore, and on the way it got late, and we were travelling in a van with many people. So, most of the people were sleeping. The car was driving and there were trees on both sides of the road; it’s completely dark everywhere. I was awake and a few others. All of a sudden, we saw a huge white monkey, huge, taller than the van itself, in the middle of the road! He was so majestic and standing very firm. And, of course, the driver of the van, when he saw that it just appeared out of nowhere, he drove sideways and stopped. Everybody woke up and we were in shock! We looked behind and could not see anybody or anything. There was no monkey, there were no trees, there was nothing, nothing was there. Hanumanji came in that moment.
And it reminded me of a dream which I had of him a long, long, long, long time ago, when I was 14 years old, actually. In that dream I dreamt I was walking on a path, and that path was light. On both sides, it was dark, and in that darkness, there were some hands, some demons, like trying to pull me. And behind me there was this huge Hanuman standing and with his mace he was beating them, pushing them away, ‘Pow, pow, pow’ and he said to me, ‘You carry on walking. I will always be behind you.’
This is true. In every situation, he has always been here. You come into Shree Peetha Nilaya, and I have put him there in front as a reminder. His hand is in a blessing and he is holding this mace, as a reminder that a devotee is never alone. The devotee has the blessing of all the devotees and the Lord Himself with them. And Hanumanji is protecting everyone. And this is a great blessing to have him as an example of devotion also.
So, may his blessing be upon you and help you on your spiritual path also, to strengthen your devotion inside of you, because he is a symbol of devotion and surrender.
All the saints are said to have been very simple people. Living in these times, how can we become more simple as it seems we always complicate everything?
That’s true. The saints are very simple. Even the great saints who were kings lived a very simple life. Look right now at what is happening in this world: it’s a reminder that people have to be simple, have to be, firstly, themselves. You are not complicated. You are how you are. But the mind likes to complicate things. Because when the mind complicates things, the mind thinks that, ‘Yes, I understand something more.’ How can you understand something more when your mind is so preoccupied with so many things? This is a time really, where it’s not about being simple only on the outside, but being simple here inside your mind.
There are people who like tragedy. They like drama in their lives, and when they have drama in their lives, they think that they are advancing, moving forward. Are you really moving forward? I don’t think so. Actually, who is putting on this drama? Yourself! There is nobody else to be blamed for that. God, like Krishna said in the Gita, has created everything, and everything goes around through the three modes of Maya that are the gunas, and everything is in its place. But are you in tune with that? No! Because you think that, ‘If I know something more, I will be completely different.’ Human beings always have the idea that they know best. They know everything, and they like to teach others about that. They forget that everything belongs to the Lord Himself and everything abides in Him. He explains that in, and throughout, Chapter 9.
I like that part very much when He said, ‘I am the father, I am the mother and I am everything that you can think of’. Then you ask yourself, who are you really, to say, ‘Yes, I have this, I have that, I have this, I have that’? With what have you come in this world to claim that you have it? Hmm? If tomorrow you die, would you take anything with you? You don’t even take this little hair, forget about my long hair, but just this little hair from this eyebrow you can’t even take with you, and yet, you claim that you are everything. Bhagavan said, ‘No, you are nothing. But I am everything.’ In Chapter 9, verse 14, I think, He said, ‘I am the friend, I am the storehouse, I am the dissolution of things.’ ‘I am the father, the mother’. Before that He said it is only Him, nothing else.
He is the one who stores every aspect inside of us. But when will we really understand that? Only when we are in connection with Him, when we say, ‘Yes…’ He said, again in the same chapter, ‘I am the Lord.’ Continuously He said, ‘I am the Lord.’ Once you realise that He is the Lord of everything, then automatically you become humble. Not just through the mind understanding, that, ‘Yes, okay, God is God, He is the Lord of everything’, no, but sincerely.
Today, like we are saying, we are celebrating the festival of Hanumanji. Hanuman is an ocean of wisdom, but yet, in front of Sri Rama, that ocean of wisdom bows down to Him, like he doesn’t know anything. What kind of quality is it that makes such an ocean of wisdom bow down to the Supreme Lord Himself? And this is when one knows one’s dharma really. What is your dharma here? Your dharma, firstly, is to attain the Feet of the Lord, nothing else. This is the primordial dharma of you being here in this world: to attain Him. And for that, you must try your best to do anything for it. And it’s only when you become humble that this is possible. Just like Hanumanji is humble, like that, one’s heart must be humble.
There is a beautiful story. Once Lord Krishna wanted to go and visit one of His devotees' house. When He arrived there, of course, everybody welcomed the Lord in a very blessed way.
He saw outside that there was a bull cart, and He asked the devotee, ‘To whom does this bull cart belong?
And the devotee happily said, ‘Lord, it is Yours.’
Okay. Krishna went inside the house and He saw many things in the house, and He asked, ‘To whom does this chair belong?’
The devotee said, ‘It is Yours.’
‘To whom does this table belong?’
‘It is Yours, my Lord.’
After asking about everything in the house (whatever He saw, He asked about), every time there would be the same answer, ‘It is for You, my Lord.’
At the end Krishna asked, ‘If everything belongs to Me, then what is yours?’
The devotee with such great wisdom said, ‘Yes, everything belongs to You, my Lord, but You belong to me.’
Like that, if you have that certainty that He belongs to you, He will belong to you.
One of the 108 names of Krishna is ‘saṁsāravairiṇe’ and is translated as ‘enemy of material existence’. Could You explain what it means?
The enemy of material existence. When we view the material existence, we view the material existence only through the mode of limitation. When we see this existence outside, we view it through the mind, and the mind views it through the senses, and experiences it through the sense organs. So, what happens? One gets bound to this existence. When one gets bound to this existence, one is never free. How one will be free? Only when one is challenged, but to challenge it, one must become the opposition to it.
Because, if it goes the same way that one understands, one will just go happily into that. What will change? Life after life, life after life, life goes on, there are no changes happening. So, one must come to the point of the opposite. Here, this Name of Krishna says that, ‘I am the opposite to that.' It’s not that 'I am the enemy.’ Like I said earlier, He said, ‘I am in everything. But how many people really perceive Me that I am that universal essence in everything?’ Not everybody, only those who have this longing, those minds which are purified, those minds which are surrendered, they have that understanding, but otherwise for a normal devotee or people, they are so attached to everything. Why are they attached to everything? It's due to fear. Because everybody wants to be happy, but their happiness is based upon fear. How can one be free from that? Krishna has to become the enemy of that, no?
It’s not about the enemy of the person, it is that mindset. He becomes the enemy towards that mindset, that delusional mind which makes everything appear so real. In that same verse, Krishna said, ‘I am the Lord and I am the refuge, I am the abode, I am the refuge. I am the witness’. He is the witness. He is sitting deep within you witnessing this delusion which is happening on the outside.
Imagine you in His place now, okay? Life after life, you have given the experience to that soul to experience the world, to finish with the karmic things, and you are sitting inside and then the same delusion is going on and on and on and on and on. Put yourself in His place, what would happen? How would you feel? It is a bit boring.
You are entertaining that delusion, when you know that is here today, and tomorrow it will not be here. You know it. From one moment to the other, in a click of finger everything can finish. Imagine right now – okay? – a – well, NASA has said that meteorite is coming towards the Earth, let’s see. Just imagine for a moment the meteorite is coming, what will happen? If you have a sense of spirituality, if you really have that knowledge about the Self, you have the knowledge about spirituality itself, you are safe, because your view of life is completely different. Okay, finish. You know you are eternal and you are moving forward.
But imagine for all these people in the world who are so attached to this world and what makes them attach to this world; what will happen to their minds? It is fear that will jump out. Bhagavan said, ‘I have to be opposite to that, I have to be the enemy of that kind of mind. Because that kind of mind that is attached to the material things can’t be attached to Me.' So, by being the enemy of the material things, one starts to transform and change.
Now we reverse that path; we look at it from a point of view of Kamsa. Kamsa also viewed Krishna as an enemy, but Krishna is merciful; He doesn’t view Kamsa the same way. Kamsa, being an enemy, how he will see Krishna? He will see Krishna as being his own enemy. The material world sees Krishna who wants to free them as an enemy. That mind… do you think it really wants to surrender? Yes, we say, ‘Yes, we want to surrender,’ with that sincerity inside. If you just say, ‘Yes, I want to surrender’, do you know how long and how much it takes to surrender? Less than a second. If you are sincere about that, it takes just less than a second to surrender. But due to fear, you can’t. Due to fear you go on, ‘I must know this, I must know that, I must learn this, I must learn that.’ Yes, learning is very important. To have the right knowledge is very important, but not to make you robotic.
Right now what is happening to this world, do you think this world is running towards freedom? No, my dear. This world is not running towards freedom, because there is fear everywhere. There are people who want to govern you, to control you. Do you think they want your freedom? No, they don’t want your freedom! Who wants to be free? Because they don’t understand what freedom is, they understand only what control is. As long as they control you in so many ways, [and you are] the way they want you to be, then you are fine. But say something against them, it’s not fine at all.
So, that’s why Krishna said: ‘I am the enemy to these material things, because I want truly to free you, I want to liberate you, I want you to be free. I have sent you here not with shackles, not with handcuffs. I have sent you here freely, but what have you done throughout lives? Throughout lives you have imprisoned yourself. Even if I have manifested Myself so many times, as a reminder, and sent gurus, sent saints, sent sadhus, sent the rishis, as a reminder, what have you done? You have always placed the material existence first, so I have to be opposite to that so that I can give you what I have come here for. And that is freedom.’
Here today, nowadays, everybody is talking about freedom. Nobody is free. You are in a system in which you are not free. You are in a system that appears to care for you, but in reality they don’t care for you at all. Ask yourself (now you can see it clearly, use a little bit of your brain, to think) has this material existence freed you or has it made you more dependent? And that’s what Krishna doesn’t want. Krishna wants you to attach yourself to Him. He will provide for everything; He will look after you. Just trust in Him. Things will not go the way you want, because your mind is so programmed that it must be like this, it must be like that. You have an idea of things, ‘It must be like this.’ When it doesn’t go like this, then you start to question. But it is for your own safety that it doesn’t go like what you want it to be. Otherwise you would be the most unhappy person.
Now you are super unhappy because your ideas, your dreams, are not fulfilled the way you want. How many times I have met people who say, ‘Oh, my life was good before, and I went on the spiritual path and my life has changed!’ But, actually, yes, it must change. Otherwise you will just live a life like ordinary normal people live their life. Is that really a life? A life without aim, without a goal; that’s what you call a life? If this you call life, what's the difference between you and an animal? There is no difference at all!
So, that’s why Krishna has to become the enemy to that, to oppose it, so that you can perceive beyond that material existence that He is the essence of everything. That’s why He said to Arjuna, ‘The yogi perceives Me everywhere.’ If you could perceive Him in everything, yes, it’s fine. Then you are free. But have you reached that level? No, you have not reached that level. That’s why He is opposed to your mind. So, understand that He is the most caring one. He is the one who really is looking after you, and He cares for you. Even if He has to be the bad one, He will be the bad one for your sake. He became the charioteer of Arjuna. When did He become the charioteer of Arjuna? When Arjuna surrendered to Him. He held the reins of Arjuna's life. Let Him hold the reins of your life and let Him guide you.
As our family is in quarantine, we are watching Mahabharata series together and we have come to a point that we really don’t understand. It is ‘the dice game’ in Hastinapur. Why does Yudhishthira acts like he does? Why doesn’t he rebel? What does the whole situation represent?
Well, this game of dice is a game of treachery, actually.
It’s wonderful that you are watching the Mahabharata. When I was in India they announced that Ramanand Sagar had decided that they will again play the Mahabharata, and I was so happy about it. It is nice that during this time, people are reminded of their culture, reminded of the beauty of what the scriptures have given us. And I was very happy hearing that, and I am very even more happy hearing that all of you are watching.
The game of dice, like I said, is a game of treachery, firstly. Yudhishthira, of course, could have stopped everything, but how the treachery happened is that the Kauravas played in such a way that they could take everything from the Pandavas. Everything! First, they took everything. Then, they urged them that they had to carry on playing, by using words, names and so on. Of course, being a prince you can’t just say, ‘Okay, I am a coward.’ Being a man, he said, ‘Okay, I will have to prove myself.’
That’s why when one goes into these kinds of things, you lose the ability of thinking. When you lose the ability of thinking, you lose everything. Krishna also said it in the Gita, no? When delusion enters the mind, you lose the capacity of reasoning. Once you lose the capacity of reasoning, you lose everything.
Like that, even if all five of the Pandavas were sitting there, they were well aware that what they were doing was wrong. But one thing we have to understand: in a talk before the dice game, Yudhishthira asked Krishna personally not to interfere in that game. He said, ‘Let us depend on ourselves.’
Very often people don’t like to ask the guru; they don’t like to ask God for help. They say, ‘Oh, yeah, let me do it, I, I, I, I can do that’. They count upon their own pride and arrogance and strength.
It is the same attitude Yudhishthira had when he asked Krishna not to interfere in that business, that this was "family business". Krishna respected that and He didn’t interfere. He was just behind the door! A thought from Yudhishthira could have changed everything. But what they were doing? They were all quarrelling with themselves. They were all thinking only about themselves. They were all pitying only themselves. They didn’t think of Krishna. They could have just mentally thought, ‘Krishna, help!’ He would have helped. But no, their mind was in such a delusion that they could not think about Him.
Again, the same thing, when the mind is fully absorbed into the material reality, can you think of God? No. How many times I have asked the devotees, ‘Do you chant the Name of God?’ They say, ‘Yes, but I am so busy in my work that I don’t have time.’
You can’t? When you can think of so many things. Just like Yudhishthira. He could just have had a thought about Krishna. But he didn’t. He could not because he was so engaged in his own self, ‘I, I, I, what I am losing?’, or, ‘How miserable I am! Pity me!’ This is a drama which everybody in life plays and then you render yourself miserable and unhappy. That’s what has happened in that game of dice. They lost everything, and they lost themselves completely. He bet his own brothers and he lost them also. He bet himself, he lost. Finally, he bet his wife, Draupadi. And then you know the story, Draupadi was dragged into the court, and they could not do anything.
Draupadi was first holding upon her own sari, upon her own dignity, upon her own power. But then she saw that, ‘It’s not by holding upon my own dignity, holding on by my own power or strength’, and then she remembered Krishna. Even when she remembered Krishna, she called upon Krishna, and said, ‘Govinda!’, Krishna was there. But Krishna could not help her because she was still holding upon her dignity so tight. But when did Krishna help her? When she surrendered. She lifted both of her hands up and said, ‘Govinda!’ At that moment there was an endless flow of sari. Dushashana could not remove the sari from her. And this is a reminder that as long as you hold upon your own strength, upon your own limitations, no one can help you, not even guru and God. But they come as a reminder, to learn to let go and surrender to Him. So, this is what that dice of game makes one understand.
If the world would listen to God for five minutes, what would God say?
If the world would listen to God for five minutes? Five minutes is a lot for God, man! Aaah… would the world really listen to God, eh? This is a question? I am laughing, because God has come and He has spoken. Has the world listened? He sent His messenger, has the world listened? They took Him and crucified Him. He came and gave the Gita, they went against Him.
He spoke through the saints, He spoke through the sages, He spoke through the gurus, as a reminder. Has the world listened? The world will never listen, because the world is a very egoistic world, where everybody only thinks about themselves, and that’s why, even if God will give one minute, even 10 minutes, even a hundred minutes, the world would not listen to Him. So, what can I say? What would He say really? He knows that the world will not listen. He has said everything. Have they ever listened? If they have not listened for what He said 5000 years ago… He sent messengers. Take Jesus, and so many saints He has sent. Has the world listened? No. Many have listened out of fear. They have changed out of fear. But out of willingness, only a few have listened.
Just to listen doesn’t make any difference. You have to trust in the word also. To listen? Many people listen. So many things they listen to. But how many of them have trust in what they are listening to? They just believe everything that is written. Everything that the media tells them, they all listen to. It’s very nice, to listen, but does it change them? No, they don’t change. So, why would God come and tell them now again?
He spoke, He speaks, He will speak as a reminder, and those who have ears to hear will hear it. And those whose minds are fully focused upon the Lord, have Him; they will really understand Him.