Live Q&A from Germany
Shree Peetha Nilaya Ashram, 10 April 2020
Today's Satsang features answers from Paramahamsa Vishwananda about writing the Divine Name, respecting Mother Earth, not intervening in another's path, and not worrying about others. Guruji also introduced a special mantra for everyone to chant every day, 1 japamala round.
Jai Gurudev, everybody! Welcome again to Shree Peetha Nilaya!
Today is Good Friday. Somebody wrote to me today, and asked me a question, why is it called 'Good Friday' when they crucified Jesus? Actually, they call it Good Friday because it is on this day that the Master had taken upon Himself, as a sacrifice, all the negativity of His disciples and the people. As a sacrifice, He absorbed it inside of Himself and freed them.
This is one thing that all the great saints and sages, all the sadhus and the gurus, have been doing for thousands of years. It is done in a way that is hidden from the people. This is what the life of a Master is. The Master’s life is to redeem their disciples and make them awaken to that Divine Consciousness. You see, they call it ‘Good’ because it is on this day that this sacrifice happened, and it’s a self-sacrifice. A Master does so much sacrifice for their disciples or devotees, but very often, the devotee doesn’t realise that. You see, the Master doesn’t long for recognition, doesn’t long for, ‘Oh, yes, I’m doing all these things’.
Very often, there are many kinds of 'masters' in this world, that just do it as recognition, ‘Oh, yes, you have to be happy, you have to be that’, and they will ridicule everybody else. No. Actually, a true Master does this sacrifice unknown to anybody, even unknown to His own disciples. So being grateful that such a Master has done this. That’s why the people call the day which Jesus was crucified 'Good Friday' because He willingly gave Himself as a sacrifice, absorbing all this negativity into Himself and transforming His disciples.
Some people are asking how we will celebrate Easter and so on. For maybe 2000 years Jesus has been trying to make people realise that, ‘Look, it’s not in the outside, it is in the inside. I want to be resurrected, I want to be awakened from inside of you.' So, meditate upon what He has taught, the way of Love, the way of surrender to the will of God, and see it in yourself. He didn’t say that you have to run behind Him. No. He said you have to transform yourself like Him. Become like Him and awaken. Don’t be dormant. As long as you sleep, you will perceive this world as something terrible. But once you awaken, you will perceive it completely differently.
Recently we heard about Likhita Japa (writing the Divine Names) and that it should only be done with the blessing of the satguru and his instructions. Could you tell us more about this sadhana's practice, benefits and challenges?
In Likhita Japa, there are no challenges; it’s just a challenge that your hand gets tired and your fingers start hurting, but it is one of the nicest ways of doing japam. It is true about writing the Divine Names too: when somebody writes something, it gets imprinted more into the mind. The same thing when you are doing japam. Very often I see people say, ‘Oh, I keep chanting always, wherever I go.’ It’s true, it is very important to chant the Name of God wherever you are, whatever you are doing, but to have that focus! Our mind is in such a state that the mind always jumps from one thought to the other, from one thing to the other, and our mind, our vision, captures certain things, and this stays as an imprint, as an image inside of ourselves. Maybe you are not aware of it, but it plays like an old recording inside of your mind.
When you do japam…firstly I will explain about doing it with the japamala. It creates a certain focus. You see, this movement you are doing it with, is with all these energy points on your fingers. These power points you are pressing on and it is having a reaction on your focus. You are doing this movement, you are pressing upon these, and so it is increasing the focus upon the Divine Name that you are focusing on.
Likhita means ‘to write’. In the past, (I am not talking about now, because now is just this tik, tik, tik, tik, tik, tik [typing on a mobile phone]) when people used to write, that would get imprinted inside of your brain. That’s why people who wrote had more focus, more concentration, and their brain faculty was much more than nowadays. Writing is very important. When you write, you are even more focussed then when you are doing japam. That’s why, it is very important to understand that Likhita Japa is not just saying, ‘Okay, I am just writing the Name of Lord, that’s it, finished’. No, you have to understand that by writing the Name of the Lord, that writing itself is the Lord Himself. You are writing His Name, and His Name and Him is no different.
You see, knowing that clearly while you are writing, makes that notebook become a temple. That notebook is not just a normal notebook which you can just take and put it somewhere, left, right. No! That’s why it's said the blessing of the guru must be there. The explanation for why you are doing Likhita Japa must be there also, but this notebook that you write the Divine Name into, is the Lord Himself and you can’t just put Him anywhere. You have to treasure this. Writing the Divine Names is even more powerful because it increases your capacity of focusing, it increases the capacity of your concentration.
So, if you have the blessing of doing Likhita Japa, do it, but note one thing: that this notebook that you are writing in is the Lord Himself. Each Name is very powerful. Treasure it. Whenever we build a temple, this notebook normally is placed inside, under the deities. When the construction happens, underneath where the deities are being put, these notebooks are placed. There are certain temples where they have places where you can just go there and drop that book in yourself. So, don’t just put it anywhere, because there is no difference between the Name of the Lord and Himself. Knowing that, you can write the Divine Name and treasure it.
*Special Note: After this satsang, Gurudev announced that everyone can do Likhita Japa, without needing the guru's blessing first. However there are things to know about doing it properly, so please consult with a BM Swami before you begin.
I am a 10-year-old girl and I would like to know why Mother Earth is so beautiful and giving, and yet we keep disrespecting and destroying Her?
My dear, it’s a beautiful question that you have asked. Being 10 years old, you see clearly how much your mother has given you. Has your mother ever asked you something in return for what she does? No. A mother always gives. No matter how the child is, the mother always cares for the child.
Mother [Earth] has a deep understanding of Her children, and She doesn’t react to that. But as humans must also realise, what can we give to Her, how can we contribute to Her? Very often we take everything that She's given for granted, and we go on. Not only one life: lives after lives, not realising that we are destroying something which is given freely. You know, often it is like this: when we get things for free, we take it for granted. Everything that people have gotten for free, they have taken for granted, because they think that, ‘Yes, it is free, we will always exploit it, we will always take, we can just take whatever.’ We think only of ourselves, in a greedy way. So that’s why it is important to care for Her.
That’s why at the beginning of the year I asked everybody to plant trees, no? This was what I asked. To contribute even a little towards Mother Earth. You know, how many trees have been cut? How many forests have been burned for the greediness of men? But yet, the Mother bears everything. Yes, how grateful one should be, really.
Like when Lord Rama went to the forest: Lord Rama had one brother called Bharata and everybody said, ‘Okay, Rama has gone now to the forest, so please, Bharata, you sit on the throne of Ayodhya.’
Bharata, with folded hands, said, ‘How can I sit on that throne of Ayodhya? If I do that, even Mother Earth would not have the capacity of bearing such a hypocrite as me.’
They said, ‘Why are you saying that? There have been so many demons and kings, who have tried to destroy Mother Earth. Like Hiranyakashipu and so on, but yet She didn’t react to how they were. Why would She be offended when you, the brother of Rama, sits on the throne?’
Bharata said, ‘Mother Earth knows that they are demons. Hiranyakashipu and so on, were demons, but yet She bore them because this is the nature of it. But me, being the brother of Rama, if I acted in such a demonic way it would be even worse.’
It is true. You see, human beings have forgotten their true nature, their divine Self, and they are acting worse than demons, because demons have a certain principle in their lives. But when we look at humans, where is this principle in human life? First, we have to see what can we contribute to Mother Earth. First, we have to realise that we are human beings, we are endowed with love and compassion. And those are two things that can change everything. If we have love and we have compassion, we will care for Mother Earth, we will care for the nature, we will start to look at ourselves. This is very important.
The Mother patiently bears everything. It’s up to us to realise whether we make that burden upon Her heavier or lighter, and this depends on each individual. We can’t ask people to do that when we ourselves don’t. No, first we have to transform that inside of us. We have to look at ourselves.
Some of our devotee friends get very excited in correcting other people. How can we stay spiritual and not become religious zealots? Is it anybody else's business to intervene in our paths, other than the guru and the swamis?
That’s true. I get this kind of question often. You see, it’s very human. Very often people read a little bit and they think they are very knowledgeable, and thus they will go on at length trying to explain about whatever path, whatever you are doing, and pointing fingers at other devotees. But whenever they point one finger to other devotees, there are three fingers that are pointed back towards them. They don’t realise that that what they are doing is wrong because, with whatever is inside of their mind due to pride, they think that whatever they do is right; they think that with this little knowledge they have, they know everything. Nowadays people think that, ‘Since I am doing some course or since I am doing this study or that study, I’m better than everybody else, I know more than them, I have to teach everybody and everybody has to listen to me.’
The same applies to devotees also. Among devotees they will say, ‘Yes, I know better than you, you better listen to me.’ No. Look, we are doing everything to give the same knowledge to everybody, and if you are clever, you will study this knowledge and you will see you should know what is on your path. You can’t expect somebody else who comes, even friends, to tell you about your path. You have to be strong and know your path strictly in order to answer them. Not in a bad way, but for them to understand that, ‘This is my path, I know what I am doing. According to my guru’s order and through what guru has given as sadhana, I am just doing what my guru is telling me. It’s not for you to come and tell me that what my guru has said is wrong.’
The same thing: imagine if you did that to your friend, what would be their reaction? In this world you have many people who are very knowledgeable. They have studied the scriptures and so on, but they have studied the scriptures only to know certain things. They don’t live based on what the scriptures tell them. Those are mostly the kinds of people who like to go around [telling others] because if they would live what the scriptures told them, they would not need to be going around telling people; they would find that in everything everybody is into their own pace towards the Supreme Lord Himself.
In Chapter 7, verse 19 of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna explains that clearly. He said, ‘The wise, through many lives of cultivation of knowledge, come to Me. They know that everything is only Me. There is nothing that exists without Me.’ Just imagine that, Bhagavan Krishna said that, ‘Through many lives of cultivation of knowledge, the wise ones come to Me.’ He didn’t say that only those who have this knowledge come to Me now. No, it has taken a whole journey through lives so that they have come to that point. For you to be now a devotee—do you think it just comes like that? No! Bhagavan doesn’t reveal Himself just like that. It is out of His mercy, His grace, through lives of connection with Him, through lives that you have longed for Him, through lives of penance and sadhana that in this life He has again revealed Himself to you. It is not just one life to the other. No, it is endless lives that you have.
But He said again, ‘Those who are endowed with knowledge, who are wise’. Here I’m not talking about scriptural knowledge only, but knowledge of who you truly are, that knowledge of the Self. Those who have this longing through lives and lives, they educate themselves through lives and lives. Education means they have this deep awakening to know more about Him. You see, the more you know about somebody, the more your relationship to that person either increases or decreases. Here we are talking about the Supreme Lord Himself, so, the more you get to know about Him. Why do you think He and the guru have said to continuously meditate upon the lila of the Lord? It's to get to know Him more and more.
Through life after life, one has built up this knowledge, and this knowledge doesn’t disappear with one life. It goes and stores itself in your consciousness and in the next life you carry on again. That awakens again, that feeling of knowing awakens again inside of you and it is a continuation, moving towards realising, first, who you are and really aiming for that supreme goal which is the Supreme Lord Himself. It’s not just one life. It is this increase of love towards Him that has made Him reveal Himself.
Let's say you go and walk. As you are walking, you find something shiny, just a normal stone, but it looks beautiful. You pick it up and, in your mind, you think that this is just a normal stone and you think, ‘Okay, maybe this costs like – it’s just a stone, 10 Euros, nothing else.’ You like it, you keep it, that is your value.
But one day you decide, ‘Okay, let me ask somebody who is an expert in stones.’ And that person looks at the stone, shiny, nice, of course, their knowledge is more, no? And he says, ‘Okay, that costs 1000 Euros.’
What happens inside with your feeling? There is, ‘Ah…’ There is a new charge, there is a certain feeling and what happens? ‘That 10 Euros that I was thinking it was, is now valued at 1000 Euros.’ There is an interest. Together with that interest, there is a curiosity. Together with that curiosity, the love for that stone increases.
Imagine an even greater expert comes and tells you, ‘Oh, let me see this stone that you have’. And as the person looks at the stone, he nearly faints. What you have considered just a stone, actually is a diamond. Imagine now he tells you that this 1,000 Euro stone that the simple jeweller told you, now this expert is telling you that this stone's value is 100,000 Euros! What happens to you? Maybe you also fall down!
So, observe now, from 1,000 to 100,000 what is your feeling inside of you? Of course, your interest in that stone grows bigger, and together with that interest, that love for that stone which you have seen, which you were expecting to be 10 Euros at the beginning when you found it, and now here you see that this stone costs 100,000. Of course, your love would be amazing.
Like that, the more you have knowledge about the Supreme Lord, the more your interest grows inside of Him, and the more that love also will grow. That knowledge without love is useless. It's the same thing when Bhagavan Krishna said, ‘Those who are endowed with knowledge’. It’s not just a superficial knowledge. It is knowledge with the longing for Him, that knowledge which makes me long for Him, that knowledge which awakens that love inside of me, and that love which is making me surrender to Him. Here Bhagavan said, ‘Those who have that, know that it is only Me who is in everything. Everything is just Me. There is nothing other than Me.’
When your knowledge increases, you get to that place of perfection to say, ‘Yes, I know it, and I know what the guru has given me' or what guru has given to others to give according to your path. You have to hold upon that word of the guru, not somebody else. People will come, you don’t need to argue with them, you don’t need to fight with them, but take the word of your guru, not somebody else.
Is worrying about, and giving attention to, other people part of the unconditional Love that we have to develop?
Well, when you worry, you can’t say it is unconditional Love! When you are worrying, you are not helping the people and you are not helping yourself, firstly. I will ask you, why are you worrying if your aim is unconditional Love? What is unconditional Love? Unconditional Love is trusting, not worrying. You trust your path. You trust in Giridhariji’s Love and protection, so there’s nothing to worry about. He takes care of everything. Where is your trust? When you worry, do you think there is trust in it? No, there is not. Worry is a sign that you don’t trust. You should not worry about things.
So…worrying and giving attention. You see, these two probably don’t go together. Let’s say somebody needs help, okay? You want to help that person, but you start to worry. Do you think you will be able to help that person? You would never be able to help that person. You don't have the capacity of helping because you are worrying. If you worry, you will never be able to help somebody else. If you want to help somebody, be free of worry.
Like you said: unconditional Love. Unconditional Love doesn’t fall into a space of worrying about things. You are here to give, so you give. If you know a person truly needs help, help that person. As much as you can help, help people, but trust that whatever you are doing, the Lord is with you; Bhagavan is with you. He is standing next to you, so you don’t need to worry about it. You have to do it out of joy, out of happiness, because whatever you do out of happiness and joy, bears a different kind of fruit.
But if you do something out of worry and there is, ’Oh, I am worried whether this would work or not’, it will never work, because that confidence is not there that it will work. You are worried about it. Even by giving attention, do you think that will help the people? No, it will not help anybody. Actually, it will increase your fear even more inside of you.
So, surrender everything to the Feet of the Lord. Do everything, whatever you do, with an attitude that you are serving God. And if you don’t have that attitude while you are doing it, at night when you are sleeping, just close your eyes and offer it to Him. Say, ‘Krishna-arpanamastu’, and offer your day to Him. Offer everything that you have done: good and not good. So simple an act, but yet, very often people find it so difficult, because they think ‘How can I offer whatever I have done during the day, whether it was good or not good, to the Lord?’ No, He doesn’t bother about it. You bother about it because you feel guilty about it, but in reality, He doesn’t bother about it.
If you really want to do everything with an attitude of surrender, start to think that in whatever you do, Giridhariji is standing next to you. He loves that, actually. And He loves whenever you do something in a most simple way. It doesn't have to be complicated, because very often we like to complicate our life. And yet, what He finds great joy in, actually, is only in the most simple way, simple and easy.
You know, when we say we love Him, we do everything for Him, but it is out of this simplicity that He finds the greatest joy, not in the big extravaganza. Not in the fancy big drama and show in which often people think, ‘We must do something huge for God to love us; we must do something immense.’ No, no, no, it’s not. In the little things that you do, if you remember Him, He will appreciate that much more.
You know, there is this beautiful story in the Ramayana about a boatman called Kevat. You see, when Rama and Sita were banished from the kingdom, they reached the forest and they needed to cross the Ganges to get to the other side.
There was a man called Guha. He was in charge of all the boats, and he knew that Rama, Sita and Lakshman had been banished and when he saw them coming, he was filled with great joy and happiness to serve Rama. As he was looking for a boat to carry Rama and Sita to the other side, he saw Kevat on the other side was disembarking some people and he called him, ‘Oh, Kevat, come, take the Lord on your boat to cross to the other side!’
Kevat came and as he got down from his boat, he bowed down to Sri Rama. And he was so happy.
So then Guha said, ‘Kevat, you take Sri Rama to the other side.'
Kevat said, ‘That will be my great pleasure, my Lord. That will be my everything.’ But he said, ‘I have one request. I would like, before He steps into my boat, I would like to wash His Feet.’
Guha said, ‘Why? Let Him sit in your boat and you wash His Feet in your boat.'
Kevat said, ‘No.’ He started insisting and Guha was a bit angry with him. ‘Why?’
Then Kevat started explaining to Lord Rama. He said, ‘Please, I have heard while You were coming here, the dust of Your Feet touched a stone and that stone became a woman. But you know one thing, my Lord, this boat is made of many pieces of wood and I have only one boat and I have only this as my work. It's very difficult for me to make ends meet, so if the dust of Your Feet would touch this boat, how would I handle it? You know, if each piece of this boat transforms into a woman, I can’t handle that household!’
With such an innocence, he said to the Lord, ‘Please let me wash Your Feet.’ Sri Rama accepted that sincere devotion that he had, and He allowed him to wash His Feet. And after washing His Feet, Kevat asked the Lord to place His Feet on his hands while stepping into the boat. Like that, all his sins which Kevat had had from his previous lives were washed away. Such a simple act.
Bhagavan entered the boat and Kevat took Him to the other side. When they reached the other side, Sita Devi took off one of Her rings and handed it over to Rama and signalled Rama to give it to him as payment. Sri Rama took the ring from Sita and said, ‘Brother, we don’t have…we have only this that we can pay you with.’
At that moment, Kevat said, ‘How can I accept, anything from You? How can I accept a payment from You?'
Lord Rama asked, ‘Why not?’
He said, ‘Look, how I can accept the payment from the same kind of profession. When a barber cuts the hair of another barber, he doesn’t charge for it. A washman, when he washes the clothes of another washman, he never charges.’
Rama said, ‘But how can we be the same. You are a boatman and I...’
At that moment Kevat said, ‘Yes, I’m a boatman, I ferry people from one side to the other. But You are also a boatman, You ferry one from one life through the bhava-sagara, to cross over the ocean of samsara.’
Seeing that innocence, seeing that love, Lord Rama opened His arms and embraced Kevat and said, ‘You are free from all sins, and from now on, there will be no other life for you. You are free from the cycle of birth and death.’
You see, in such a simple act of Kevat, he was not very educated. He was a boatman, but he recognised the Lord in whatever he did. He asked Lord Rama, ‘Please give me endless devotion to Your Lotus Feet’, so Rama blessed him and said that, ‘After this life, you shall always reside with Me.’
Imagine what a grace and blessing a simple act of service to Bhagavan has given him. If you make the Lord Himself the aim of every action of your life – and no matter what you do, you think about Him – He shall be with you, at all time.
Ah, yesterday I forgot to say something to you. While I was sitting for meditation yesterday, there is one mantra that Bhagavan has given me, and this mantra, He asked that you all chant. Do one mala with it.
The mantra is:
Sri Vitthala Giridhari Parabramane Namaha
It means: My obeisances to the Supreme Lord, Vitthala, who is the refuge and protection of everyone.
So, you can chant this mantra.