Panduranga – The Lord of Eternal Happiness

SPN Panduranga Mandir Inauguration at The Ashram 
Shree Peetha Nilaya, 14 April 2019

Paramahamsa Vishwananda gave a heartfelt talk at the inauguration ceremony for the new Shree Peetha Nilaya Panduranga Mandir. Gurudev explained what a temple means, the significance of karma, the goal of the Lord's plan, and the unseen ways that God operates in our lives.

Panduranga Mandir Inauguration

Jai Gurudev,

May the blessing of Panduranga and Rukmini be to all of you, and especially those who have helped.

You see, building a temple is not the aim of everybody. Not everybody has this Grace of participating in building a temple. A temple is a place where the Lord resides. Today we are celebrating Ram Navami, no? Rama Himself is a reminder of the inner temple. ‘Ra’ means temple, ‘ma’ means inside. So, Rama means something which is inside. So, on this auspicious day, we also make this beautiful temple of Panduranga and Rukmini a reminder of what you have inside of you. 

Rama Himself is a reminder of the inner temple.

Paramahamsa Vishwananda

You may not feel what you have inside of you, you may not know what you have inside of you, but it is there. And that Grace which Bhagavan gave to His devotee, that Grace which the Lord planned long before you were born in this life, due to your punya, you have that Grace to participate. Don’t think that it is just happening randomly. Don’t think that it is you who is in control of things. This is where a human being is wrong. God gives you that choice, you know. He plays you. He makes you think that you are in control, but actually He is in control, and He does everything to bring you closer to Him. He makes everything so that your mind becomes absorbed upon Him. But for that, you must want it. He will not force you. 

You see, if you truly want something, you will do anything to have it, no? So, like that, He used the Italian people to build this wonderful temple, and He used all of you to participate. It’s not for His sake, actually, it is for your sake, so that you are reminded of the most important thing: that He is with you. Like we said, Panduranga is the Lord who is always joyful. There is no misery in Him. Misery is in your mind. When you are looking for misery, you will find it. If you are looking for a problem, you will create it! Even if there is no problem! And of course, when He sees that you want problems, He will ask His dear sister Maha Maya to help you.

You know? He will ask His sister to overshadow you, not because He is very malicious, or that He wants to harm you. No. It’s because you are stupid! It’s so simple! He just wants to remind you how stupid you are.

Panduranga is the Lord of eternal joy and happiness.

Paramahamsa Vishwananda

Panduranga Mandir at Shree Peetha Nilaya

When He gives Himself, and you say, ‘No.’ And then you want Maya. He says, ‘Yes, take!’ How long would you enjoy that there? So, in this form He is saying that life is joy. But real joy is something that is permanent, something that carries on; not a joy that it is limited. He wants to give you eternal joy.

So, that Lord of joy, that Lord of happiness, wants you to have eternal joy, eternal happiness. And for that, He wants you fully for Him. Not partly. Partly is human. You want Him, but you are not sincere with your wanting Him. You want Him, BUT! There are so many things before you want Him. You want so many things: material things, you must be comfortable, you must have a good relationship, you must have a good husband or good wife, you must have good children. Then Bhagavan comes completely low on the list. 

But He continuously reminds those who belong to Him. By many means, He continuously says, ‘Hey, when will you wake up? Now you are sleeping with Maya. For how long?’

This mind which is attached to things, which is limited, will never be happy. He wants you to be happy. He wants you to be happy eternally, but do you want to be eternally happy? What does eternal happiness mean? You know only that which is limited. Panduranga, that Name, that eternal joy, that eternal Love; that’s what He wants to give you. And that’s what He has given. If you look at all the saints who have attained Him, He is Leeladhari; He is so dear to His devotee, that in quietness He comes to serve His devotee. In quietness He does His things, not showing what He is doing. But as people, we like to see things, no? When we do something, we like to see the result, no? [laughing] But His result is well hidden. Those who truly long for Him don’t need a result on the outside. They know they will attain Him. That certainty that He promised in the Gita? He doesn’t deviate from His promise. You may have taken millions of lives, but how merciful is He to remind you!? Hmm? Still, you are sleeping.

Today we are celebrating 9578 years of the birth of Rama, no? Quite a long time. But still, His life is being chanted. Why? Because He was good, or because He was God incarnated, or because He went to kill Ravana and save His wife? No, not because of that! We are celebrating His birthday even after all these years, as a reminder. For whatever else He had come into this world for, He came as a reminder to humanity. That’s why, even now in India or elsewhere, wherever the Ramacharitamanas is being read, if the people go deeper into it, it is like it is said in the Ramacharitamanas: just the Name of Rama can make one cross the ocean of samsara. Just that: Rama! 

You know very well the one who wrote the Ramayana: Valmiki, no? Before he became a great sage, Valmiki was a great criminal! He was killing everybody who passed through a forest. So, imagine: one saint was passing by, and Valmiki jumped onto the the saint and said, ‘I want to kill you!’
And the saint said, ‘Yes, kill me!’

And that shocked him! Everybody else, you know, when he would kill, they would scream, ‘Aaaaagh!’ ‘Don’t kill me!’ And this one is telling him, ‘Kill me’ How strange! So he asked, ‘Why are you not scared that I will kill you?’

The saint said, ‘Well, when I know I am eternal, the Atma is eternal, what should I be scared of?’

Then the Lord sent him a sage who was Narada in disguise. He said to him, ‘You have been killing all these people, you have been stealing and all this. To please whom? To please your mother, your father, your wife and children? So, by doing these acts, you have called upon yourself a great sin. Your karma is also now very heavy. So, go and ask them if they will also carry your karma with you. How much are you loved? Your mother loves you so dearly, would she carry your karma, would she participate in your karma?’

He said, ‘Yes, my mom loves me so dearly, she will!’

So, he went back to his tribe and he asked his mom. He said, ‘Mom, you love me so dearly, no? You say I am “the apple of your eye” and “You are my life” and “You are my everything.”’  That’s what you call your child, right? So, that’s why he went and asked his mom, saying, ‘Mom, you call me like that, no? I have done all this killing and stealing for your sake, to make you happy, to make dad happy, to make my wife happy, my children happy. Now I’ve met a sage, and he told me about something that I have never known about: karma. So, as you love me so much, would you partake of some of my bad karma?’

His mother said, ‘My dear child, as much as I love you, you will have to pay for what you have done. This is yours. I can’t take it. Each one has their own karma.’ He went to the father; the same thing happened. He went to everyone who was dear to him; it was the same answer.

That hit him. What a shock!

You see, karma is something which people are not aware of. When everything is going smoothly in one’s life, one is not aware of it. But later on, it catches you. It waits for the right time when you don’t expect it, and then she catches you. And when she catches you, she holds you so tight that you can’t breathe. That was a reminder to him that, ‘As much as I can say that I love everybody, and they love me, it’s just words, nothing else.’ Realising that, he said, ‘I must save myself. How shall I save myself?’

So, he ran back to the forest, fell down at the feet of the sage and implored him, ‘How shall I save myself?’ 

The sage said to him, ‘There is only one Name that can save you: that’s the Name of Rama.’

Every time, though, because of his karma and his sin, he heard Rama, but when he opened his mouth, ‘Mara’ would come out. He could not pronounce the Name Rama. He tried and tried, but only ‘Mara, Mara’ would come. Rama means, like I said, the eternal joy, that inner temple, but Mara means murderer. So, ‘killer, killer, killer’, is what came out from his mouth due to that negative punya. Because of what he had done, that’s what he received. He could not even pronounce the Name of Ram. But by the Grace of sage Narada in disguise, he said to him, ‘Fine, you keep chanting Mara, Mara, Mara.’ So, if you chant Mara, Mara, Mara, Mara, Mara, Mara continuously, it becomes Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama. So, from Mara, from killing, he attained the Grace of the Lord. Then he became the one who was meant to write the life of Sri Ram. 

How is this plan of the Lord? From a criminal to making him one of the most important saints in history. In whose hand does that lie? Was it lying in his hand or was it lying in the long planning of Bhagavan’s hand? You see, even that is His plan, a plan to remind you of His Love for you, to remind you of your love for Him, to remind you of your relationship to Him. But for that to happen, you must also make your effort. Without making an effort, you can’t. In any relationship you know very well: there is always a game in it, no? And that game is always an effort. So, that effort is important from your side also. And this is why temples are being created. That is why the saints are glorified. We should try also not to limit ourselves. We should try to be for once what He wants from us.

Saint Gora Kumbhar of Satya Puri

Saint Gora Kumbhar

So, there are so many wonderful Leelas of Panduranga. One of the most beautiful Leelas of Panduranga is with one saint: Gora Kumbhar.

You have heard about him? Gora Kumbhar was a potter. He made pots. This was his living. So, every day he would bake pots. He had a small shop and he and his wife would make pots. But although Gora Kumbhar would work, he would also be absorbed in chanting the Name of Vitthala, the Name of Panduranga. So, before he started his work one day, his wife gave him his little three-year-old son to look after. He said, ‘Yes, yes, I will look after him’ and the wife went to wash their clothes by the river.

So, Gora Kumbhar started working and the child was playing there. So, he put the clay down and added water. You know, in that time, 12th Century, they used to crush the clay with their feet so that it became very soft. So, he was chanting and at the same time crushing the clay. So, his mind was fully absorbed in chanting the Name of Panduranga. He was not aware of what was happening around him; he was not aware where his son was, nothing. So, the son crawled over and fell into the place where he was crushing the clay. As he was crushing the clay, he was not aware, and he stepped on the child and crushed the child also. He crushed the child with the clay completely, but he was not conscious of it. So, after some time, his wife came and was looking for the child everywhere and calling the child. The wife came to Gora Kumbhar and said, ‘Where is our son? I left him here when I went to wash the clothes and now I’m looking for him everywhere, and I can’t find him.’ As she was talking to him, she noticed the clay was red, blood red. And then they saw the hand of the child. She screamed. When she screamed, he came back to his conscious state again, back to normality, and realised he had crushed his son. 

What to do? They looked for the pieces of him and they did a cremation. So, to punish himself for what he did, he broke both of his own arms, and when he did that, of course, he could not work any longer.

Six months passed, and all the little they had started to disappear and they became very poor, with nothing. But the faith of Gora Kumbhar didn’t change. In spite of all that, his love for Panduranga had not moved. His wife was always nagging him, ‘You are always saying “Panduranga, Panduranga”; do you see that your Panduranga has killed our son? Because of you chanting His Name, that’s why our son died! You were so absorbed in your chanting.’

And, of course, what can he do? He could not do anything. But his faith didn’t move. So, after three years, they were very poor, begging, living very simple lives. One day, Panduranga and Rukmini came to them in disguise and said, ‘Listen, we heard that you are looking for somebody. You have a shop and there is nobody to work in the shop, so we have come to help you.’

Panduranga and Rukmini in disguise served Gora Kumbhar for a whole year. One day, Sant Dnyaneshwar and Namdev were passing by and they knew that Panduranga and Rukmini were serving Gora Kumbhar. So they went there and did Hari Katha. When they went there and did Hari Katha, they had Darshan of Panduranga and Rukmini serving Gora Kumbhar. And of course, they didn’t want Panduranga and Rukmini to stay with Gora Kumbhar in his village, so they said to Gora Kumbhar, ‘Please, let’s go for pilgrimage to Pandarpur; let’s go and have Darshan of Panduranga and Rukmini.’

So, he thought, ‘That’s a very good idea! Let’s go!’ And of course, when he left, he said to the other two, ‘You look after the shop.’ They said, ‘Don’t worry, we will look after the shop.’

But how can the Lord be where the devotee is not? The Lord is where the devotee is, no? So, when the devotee left, of course, Panduranga and Rukmini also disappeared. They started following Namdev and Dnyaneshwar and they finally reached Pandarpur. When they reached Pandarpur, there was bhajan and kirtan happening. Namdev was singing in such an ecstatic mood, and he was dancing.  Everybody in the assembly was dancing, you know, all of them were dancing with their hands up, singing, ‘Panduranga, Panduranga’. It was so ecstatic that Gora Kumbhar was instantly taken by the waves and the bhav. He just got up and started dancing, and lifted his hands up, you know, which he had broken three years back.

Seeing that, his wife and everyone was shocked, and said, ‘Wow, You have restored the hands of Gora Kumbhar!’ With this miracle. everybody was applauding and everybody became more ecstatic in singing the Name of Panduranga. When this happened, the wife stood in front of the deity of Panduranga, and said, ‘You have restored the hands and the arms of my husband. Please, if You are truly the merciful Lord like everybody says, I beg You, give me my son back!’

The moment she said that, just behind Panduranga, a six-year-old boy came out and of course, she recognised her son that had been crushed. He had been taken by Rukmini and Rukmini had looked after that child for three years. So, when the son appeared, the other two helpers from the shop appeared too. And Gora Kumbhar said, ‘Why have you left the shop? Who will look after the shop?’

Then Namdev and Dnyaneshwar said, ‘These two are not really who you think they are. Actually, these two are none other than Rukmini and Panduranga themselves.’

So, hearing that the Lord was at their place serving them, that Bhagavan Himself was serving them, they didn’t know what to say. They just fell down at their Feet. Then Panduranga and Rukmini transformed into their true aspect and disappeared back into the vigraha.

Bhagavan reminds you that no matter what happens in your life, whether it may be good or bad, He stands by you always.

Paramahamsa Vishwananda

You see, these are the Leelas which Bhagavan enacts to remind one that He is always there. He reminds you that no matter what happens in your life, whether it may be good or bad, He stands by you always. When good things happen, very often you forget about Him, you know, but He doesn’t forget about you. When bad things are happening in your life, then you turn back to Him. But actually, the bad things are a reminder that there is no bad and there is no good, like He said Himself. When you transcend that mind of duality, when you transcend that mind which always judges, what you encounter is only His Love, nothing else. So, that’s why He continuously reminds those who belong to Him that you are His. You may go wherever you go, you may do whatever you want, but if you belong to Him, you belong to Him. Sooner or later He will call you. If it is not in a nice way, He has His own ways.

You know how much He loves you? I really wish you knew about it. The point is, you don’t know about it. If you would know how much He loves!

Jai Gurudev!

Chant 'Vitthala' with Paramahamsa Vishwananda