Navaratri Satsang, at The Ashram
Shree Peetha Nilaya, 03 October 2019
On the fifth night of Navaratri, Paramahamsa Vishwananda gifted everyone with a long satsang about prayer, bhakti, and the spiritual path. These are excerpts from that satsang.
Jai Gurudev, everybody!
So, today is the fifth day. So, Skanda Mata. Skanda is Lord Muruga. You saw Ma how is dressed today, no? And She holds a baby in Her lap.
I would like to do a small meditation with you. You have seen how She looks, so visualise Her and visualise yourself in Her arms. You, as Her child, will always stay like that. Even as great you become, in the Mother’s lap you will always be Her child. So, I ask you to close your eyes, think of Her and instead of Skanda, let Her be your Mother, let Her carry you to the eternal Father, to Giridhariji.
We have heard the story from Devi Mahatmyam how Devi is very sweet, calm, but when She is provoked, She becomes Kali. A Mother protects the child, but if the child is in danger, the Mother takes another aspect. And that you see in Nature itself and how She protects. When I’m talking Nature, I’m not talking only about human beings. I’m talking about every species who has that mother instinct inside of them; they are all connected to that, you know.
To protect the child, the mother will do anything, even kill. If your child is in danger, if you have to kill, you will do it. I remember once when I was small. My parents had a garden and from the tree one baby crow fell down. And, of course, the mother crow and probably the father crow (there were two of them, so I guess one was the father and the other, the mother) was screaming. So, my mum went out wondering what it was. My mum saw a little crow baby try to fly, but it could not fly, so she from her good thoughts and feeling said, ‘Let me try and help that little bird, the little baby.’ So, she went near it to catch the baby. The mother crow became so aggressive and started flying and pecking, so that my mother had to run away! So, Ma Bhagavati reminds us in this aspect of Skanda Mata that the universal Mother holds everything. She holds each one and She is ready to protect; She is ready to pour out everything. But ask yourself: are you ready? We think that we are ready, but often we are so blind that we don’t really see clearly. Due to our blindness we like to argue, we like to scream, we like to be heard, but we forget that whatever we have heard about is someone else’s experience. It is not our own experience. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist; that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.
The Blind Man and the Light
There was once a blind man living in a village. He was very argumentative, very logical, you know, and always in a bad mood. Everybody in that village didn’t like him too much because of his attitude. He was blind, he could not see anything, but yet, he loved to argue. You know, like many people who know a little bit of things, their arguments are amazing. So, like that, this blind man also was arguing. He was arguing that there is no light, ‘Light doesn’t exist.’ Of course, he is right; since he had never experienced light, how would he know what light was? And, of course, everybody was saying, ‘No, light exists.’ He said, ‘No, bring me the light so that I can touch it. Bring this light so that I can smell it, bring that light so that I can taste it. Or bring that light so that I can hear it.’
Now, how would they bring the light? Hmm? You can’t touch light, you can’t smell light, you can’t hear light, you can’t touch it, no? You can’t taste it. So, he was always winning and he was so proud and so very determined, very confident, because he had never experienced it.
So, one fine day there was a sage passing by and the people said, ‘Let’s bring him to that sage. He is very wise man, you know, he can argue with him.’ They brought the man, and told the sage the whole story and about how argumentative he was. The sage was very calm and looked at him and said, ‘Look, I am here to cure the blind, but it is a different kind of blindness that I cure: spiritual blindness. And this man doesn’t need that. He needs to be cured physically. So, please, bring him to his doctor.’
After really strictly saying, ‘Bring him to his private doctor’, they brought him there. Six months later, the doctor had cured him and after six months he came back to the sage, bowed down to him and thanked him with all his heart. He said, ‘Thank you very much for sending me to the doctor, because you perceived that I didn’t need argument, spiritual argument. If you had said something to me, I had come prepared, I was ready to fight you even. So, I came prepared. When they told me that I was going to a sage, I was prepared. Luckily you didn’t say one word. That shows how wise you are. You noticed that I didn’t need to be proven that light existed. What I needed was medicine. I didn’t need proof; I needed a physician. So, now I can see that light exists.’
So, the sage said, ‘Ah, so light exists? Bring it to me so that I can taste it! Bring it to me so that I can touch it! Bring it to me so that I can hear it!’
The man said, ‘But this is impossible. How would I do that?’
Then sage said, ‘Look, now that you have your eyes, you see that light exists. But if you stay spiritually blind, you will never perceive more than that.’
So saying this, the man surrendered the sage’s feet and asked him, ‘As you have given me this physical sight, please, give me also the spiritual sight.’
It is said that there are two types of surrender. One, people go on the spiritual path saying only it for the sake of business. God is there only to fulfil their wish, nothing else. So, they will pray, they will worship the deity, they will do lots of show on the outside, but just for personal gain. If they don’t get what they have asked for from one deity, what they will do? They move on to the next deity. They hear from somebody, ‘That one is more fulfilling, go to that one’, because that one will hear their prayer more easily. Very often you will see that. You go to the temple, you see the temple full, but very often people don’t really understand why the Divine has taken different aspects and why they are really here.
If you don’t have really that understanding that you are here only to attain the Feet of the Lord, to serve Him, then you will have always this argument; you will always think, ‘Yes, I am surrendered, I am going to the temple, I am doing bhakti. The Lord is very dear to me. Whenever I go to the temple, He will listen to me. If He doesn’t listen to me, there is another one. If not another one, there is another one.’ So, like that you will have many who go from one temple to the other thinking that THAT God will fulfil their needs. They don’t really pray for the sake of service. They don’t really pray for the sake of serving the Lord Himself, of longing for Him. They learn the scriptures and they will kneel down, but for selfish reasons.
So, what is bhakti? In bhakti there is selflessness. The devotee doesn’t want any reward, doesn’t want anything. You don’t pray because, ‘I want to do some business with God’. One thing we have to put deep in our mind: He is God. You don’t think that He knows? What kind of God would He be that He doesn’t know what you want, what you need? That’s why you see the masses of people who are always running into the temple, saying, ‘Oh, God, give me this; oh, God, give me that.’
What’s the use of longing for something which is transient and for something that is limited? It becomes worthless when you have the choice to long for something Supreme. That’s why a bhakta doesn’t ask anything from the Lord.
Often people lack the understanding of what bhakti is. They have a certain knowledge, but through their knowledge, they have a different understanding. Whereas a bhakta who is really anchored doesn’t worship for themselves; they worship for the sake of loving Him. Bhagavan is so merciful. He says, ‘It doesn’t matter, even for their sake, even for those people who always asking, who even go from one deity to the other, it doesn’t matter. They don’t know that they are just worshipping Me.’ In the Gita, Krishna said, ‘All these deities are just an expansion of Myself. So, they are just worshipping only Me. I fulfil through them their wish so that one day they can come to Me.’
This is why all the deities are there, you know. When Lord Krishna was going to be incarnated, Narayana said to Maha Devi, ‘You incarnate first, you take birth.’ What did He bless Her also for? He blessed her that, ‘As much as people remember Me, they will also remember you.’ Because Her role is to remind everyone that we belong to Him. In all the prayers, at the end we are all offering everything to Sriman Narayana. Even when we do the yagna, at the end the offering is done to Narayana. So, Ma Bhagavati also prepares one. She holds you, She carries you. Like yesterday I was saying that Bhakti Devi will carry you, care for you, clean you, cleanse you from all negativity and at the end, She will put you at the Feet of Sriman Narayana. This is your service, so carry on, continue, and understand that even when you reach a very high degree of Realisation, service doesn’t finish. It carries on.
Those great sages and saints who attained God-Realisation and Bhagavan had appeared in front of them, did they stop their service or did they carry on with their service? It never stops. Because they realise that life is about serving the Supreme Lord Himself. Maybe service comes in different aspects, but once you have understood that in everything you do in life, bhakti is present, then everything in your life becomes a service. In everything there will be that trace of love which will never leave you. In everything you do, that love, that affection, that devotion will be also involved in your daily life. So your deity you are worshipping, your Ishtadev, will always be with you at every moment.
What about being blind and saying, ‘Yes, fulfil my wish, then I will worship You’? This doesn’t exist in a devotee. Like I said, if you look for Bhagavan you will find Him. But if you look for the world, you shall find the world also. If you look for dirt, you will find dirt everywhere. So, know what you truly want. When you truly know what you want, only then will you be able to attain that bliss.
Those who long for the Supreme Lord Himself, those who have real knowledge and true wisdom inside of them, don’t long for this world which is transitory. They long for something that is unlimited. What’s the use of longing for something which is transient and for something that is limited? It becomes worthless when you have the choice to long for something Supreme. That’s why a bhakta doesn’t ask anything from the Lord. Even if the Lord appears in front of them and says, ‘Please, ask.’
Like Prahlad Maharaj. Nrsinghadev said to him, ‘Ask Me for something.’
Prahlad said, ‘No, I don’t want to ask You for anything.’
Nrsinghadev said, ‘Why? I always come and people ask Me for something. Please, ask Me!’
Prahlad said, ‘No, I don’t want anything.’ Prahlad probably was thinking, ‘What’s wrong with this? I told Him I don’t want anything, but He is still arguing!’
Then Prahlad thought for a while, said, ‘Okay, I will ask You for one thing: I ask You that I never ask You for anything. That’s what I want.’ And Bhagavan was very happy.
The gopis were worshipping Katyayini Devi, no? But for whose sake? Yes, for Krishna’s sake. They were not worshipping Katyayini because they wanted something from Her. They were worshipping Her to attain Krishna, to get Krishna. Each one! They didn’t talk with each other. Like very often when you pray, you will go around saying, ‘You know, I prayed to this and I asked for that.’ No, the gopis didn’t. They were very wise, actually, because they said, ‘If I would go and talk with that one, she would become jealous and she would also want that.’ This is what was inside of them; they were thinking, ‘No, I want Krishna for me. Why should I say what I want?’ So, they all kept quiet about their wish and Ma Bhagavati was very amused with that, seeing that everyone was asking for the same thing. So, how can She refuse that? She had to make something, no? And their longing was so sincere. They were not asking for some material things. They were asking for the Supreme Lord Himself. If you worship any deities for the sake of attaining the Feet of Giridhariji, that will be fulfilled. But if you worship only to attain something that is limited, you will always be miserable; you will always have this blindness, even if you know about it, even if you are hearing it, you will still be blind.
What kind of bhakti do you want? Be wise; not through knowledge, be wise through listening to your inner call. And long for Him, ask Ma Bhagavati as She is carrying Skanda, ask Her to carry you also. You may not know the destination, but trust. Say, ‘Please, deliver me to the Feet of Giridhari.’ Probably She will bring you to Govardhan, and say, ‘Here!’ So, don’t let your mind fool you with anything. Become truly that devotee where you say, ‘Yes, I surrender’. Just forget about yourself in that. Place Him first. Then you will see how She carries you, how She cares for you, how She brings you to that state of selflessness, how She brings you as She brought the gopis. She appeared in front of the gopis and said, ‘Listen, on this particular day, Krishna will come.’ She didn’t even say ‘Krishna’, She said, ‘Your wish will be fulfilled.’ Everybody was so happy. Because it was not a material wish. It was that everyone desired only to be with Krishna. So, like that, She will carry you and bring you to the Feet of Krishna.
Ask Ma Bhagavati for Her help, so that the path can become easy for you. It doesn’t mean that challenges will not come, but She will stand with you.
Often, how we are on the outside is not how we are on the inside. You say, ‘Let me pretend to be devoted.’ Who are you fooling then? Can you fool Bhagavan? Very often, you hear, ‘Yes, I’ve been praying, I’ve been doing so much sadhana for so many years, why doesn’t He come?’ Yesterday somebody was talking about that. You would like the moment when you say, ‘Yes, I want You, come!’ It would be wonderful! The moment you pray and you say, ‘God, I want You so much’, ‘Bang’! Like in the movies. Very often you will see when you watch a movie. Yes, movie, ‘Boom’, God appears, ‘Yes, my dear, what do you want?’ You know, this is the beauty: in Hinduism we have this sweetness where we can build a relationship with God, it doesn’t matter which kind of relationship. We don’t need to fear Him. You know, in some religions even pronouncing the Name of God is prohibited. You will be doomed. But when we talk about bhakti, it’s so beautiful, so sweet, actually, that there is no limit to it. How wonderful it is. Look how merciful the Lord is, that He came as a reminder of His Love for you; a reminder that your soul longs for Him. But you are still reminding yourself. How long? Hmm? How long? You want to be with Him, yes or no? Just say yes if you want, if you don’t want…Why?
Ask Ma Bhagavati for Her help, so that the path can become easy for you. It doesn’t mean that challenges will not come, but She will stand with you. You see, when you choose to be positive, for example, in life, it’s very difficult. Who says positivity is easy? Is it? No, it is not! But to become negative is very easy. So, be wise, you know, and let yourself be carried.
That child who is sitting there, Skanda, normally is represented with five heads. Shanmukha has five heads, those five senses, you know. If you become slave to that, it will not lead you anywhere. So, it’s a reminder that you should not be enslaved to those five senses. Only then can She carry you. But if you enslave yourself, then nobody can help you.
So, analyse yourself. Feel with your heart, not thinking. The heart is about feeling. If you want to feel, sit quietly and build your relationship with Him, serve Him. It’s so simple. It’s not about being selfish. A devotee is selfless. A devotee only does everything only for His sake.
Trust in Him, that He placed you where you have to be.
Jai Gurudev, everybody!