Puja aur Prem
Worship and Love
Shridhar Swami has written that the Gopis were beyond caste. They had so much
faith and love that even Naradji had to exclaim! "True love is what the
Gopis had." Love has nothing to do with a high or low position. A man of
low caste loves and is loved like a man of a so-called high caste. It is true
that there are certain rituals that are supposed to be performed by only a
certain caste and/or require a certain methodology. For certain rituals wealth
is necessary. Spiritual pilgrims tend to criticize preoccupation with material
wealth . However one must concede that without the help of wealth a lot of good
work would not be possible. One need however keep in mind that wealth is the
means, not the end.
There are rituals where strength is required. People carry the Ramayana and
Murtis (Idols) of the Lord on their heads. That requires a certain amount of
strength. Ravana picked up the mountain Kailasha (Shivji's abode) on his head.
Ravana required tremendous strength to be able to do that. Ravana used to claim
that people knew of Shivji, (who Ravana believed to be his guru and god),
because of the fact that he (Ravana) had picked him up along with the mountain.
Ravana may have performed a great feat which required tremendous amount of
strength but in the process he accumulated a great ego which proves a deterrent
for the pilgrims in the spiritual path.
All Powerful Sri Hanuman
Why did Sri Ram send Hanumanji to Lanka? Sri Ram did send Angad later, so why
did He not send him earlier instead of Hanumanji?
The mission to go to Lanka was not only to look for Seetaji but also to try and
convince Ravana of his foolhardy behavior. Ravana had so far refused to heed to
reason. His mother, brother, wife had not been able to influence Ravana to
return Seeta. It is believed that Hanumanji is the incarnation of Shivji and the
latter is Ravana's guru, hence the importance of sending Hanumanji to Lanka.
Ravana was however so egoistic that he refused to listen to even his
Also, when Hanumanji crossed the ocean to get to Lanka, he was tempted by the
golden mountain to rest on it, but Hanumanji refused to do so until he returned
from his mission. Angad and Jamvant, on the other hand, may have succumbed
to the temptation of resting on the golden mountain whereas Hanumanji did not.
Mainaak was the son of Himalaya and therefore the brother of Parvati. That made
him the brother-in-law of Shivji (Hanumanji's previous incarnation). When
tempted by Mainaak, Hanumanji instead of destroying him, placed a hand on his
head and said:
Ram kaaj kinhe binu mohi kahan vishraama
Which means: "How can I rest until I complete the mission entrusted to me
by Sri Ram?"
The need for a Guru
Sri Ram sends Hanumanji to Lanka because the latter is the incarnation of Shivji
and therefore a great guru. Besides trying to convince Ravana of coming to the
right track, he had one more mission to accomplish and that was to take
Vibhishan (who was a great devotee of Sri Ram) under his wing.
One cannot achieve the Lord without the intervention of a guru. Vibhishanji
owned a tulsi which he tended with care and he had been chanting Sri Ram's name
for years; but until Vibhishan met his guru in the form of Hanumanji, he
did not get to do darshan of his Lord Sri Ram. Even Surdasji says that without
faith in a sadguru, one cannot achieve the Lord.
Surdasji sings constantly:
Bharoso dradh in charnan kero
Shri Vallabh nakh chandra chhata binu,sab jag mahi andhero
Saadhan aur naahin ya kali mein, jaaso hot nibeiro
Surdas prabhu dvividh andhero, bina mol ko chero
Which means that without the help of a sadguru , and without utter faith in him,
it seems almost impossible to find a way out of this dark intricate world.
Today, in Saurashtra, Porbandar and Dwarika, there exists a tribe that always
dresses in black. When asked why they seem to be in mourning, they claim that
nothing remains to rejoice for since Sri Krishna left them! Such is the need for
a Sadguru, that life without Him seems worthless. So take refuge under a great spiritual personality. What else can the nisaadhan
do but cry for protection, and who to run to but Sri Ram or Sri Krishna or a
Sadguru? Tulsidasji sings:
Naahin aavat aan bharoso
Yeh kali-kaal sakal saadhan taru
Hai shram phalani pharoso
Tulsidasji says in the "Vinay-patrika", that all means to achieve the
Lord present one obstacle or another, so his guru has introduced him to a
straight clear highway - that of taking refuge in the Lord's name. When we chant loudly "Jai Sri Radhe" we generally pick both our hands
up in the air. What do you suppose that means? By putting our hands up we are
saying, "We have dropped all our weapons, we are defeated. We are like
tired children, Mother, pick us up!". The younger the child, the more the mother has to bend to pick him. So become
child-like in the Bhakti-marg, the great path of devotion!
Certain means performed , require skill or cleverness, whether they achieve the
Lord or not is another matter. Duryodhana invited Sri Krishna home before the great battle of Mahabharata.
Duryodhana himself drove the chariot to pick Sri Krishna to invite Him to a
banquet of delicacies. However Sri Krishna declined that invitation to instead
have a humble meal at Vidur's place. When asked as to why he made this choice,
Krishna answered that Duryodhana's behavior was "clever" as he had an
ulterior motive behind his conduct. You may perform any means to achieve the Lord, but without devotion those means
are as useless as a cloud without water. Tulsidasji writes:
Nar bibidh karma adharma bahumat sokaprad sab tyagahu
Vishvaas kari kaha daas Tulsi Ramapad anuraagahu
Jaati-heen adhajanma mahi mukta kinhi asinaari
Mahaamand man sukh chahasi aise prabhuhi bisaari
Sri Ram tells Shabri, "Do not consider yourself of low birth nor without
meritorious qualities. Amongst the 9 modes of devotion, do at least one thing.
Listen to the "katha" of the Lord with utmost attention."
Out of the 9 methods of devotion, we must take to that practice which is closely
related to our personality. Otherwise like a disinterested student we might
listen to lecture after lecture, and yet fail miserably during our examination.
If your interest lies in chanting the Lord's name, you may do so, and if you
prefer to meditate, then also you achieve the same results.
In the Aranya-kaand (a chapter in the Ramayana), Sri Ram explains the path of
devotion to Laxmanji; and here again Sri Ram is explaining modes of devotion to
Sri Ram saved Jataayu ( the bird who fought Ravana while he carried Seeta away).
What great qualities did Jataayu have? Jatayu bird not only pecks at, but eats
dead animals. Salvation is generally given to people who perform great penances
and sacrifices, but in the above episode, Sri Ram not only grants
salvation to Jatayu, but also changes his appearance to look like the Lord Hari
Geedh deh taji dhari Hari roopa
The Lord made Jataayu look like He Himself. The Scriptures do mention that
who-so-ever goes to Heaven obtains the appearance of the Lord; except for a
couple of signs that belong exclusively to the Lord. What I am trying to say is that Jataayu who had no means to achieve the Lord,
was saved. Why was Jataayu saved?
Komal chitt ati din dayaala
Kaaran binu Raghunaath kripaala
Which means that the Lord who is All Merciful showers His Grace on all for no
particular reason. In the world people help you mostly because they have an
ulterior motive. But not so the Lord. He showers His grace constantly
upon you. This provides great hope for the Nisaadhan devotee, who feels that he
does not have any means to achieve the Lord. Maybe he feels that he does not
possess any particular qualities. Despite the above one requisite is very
important for the above disciple, and that is FAITH.
The Faith of Arjuna
During the war of Mahabharata, Arjuna was well aware of what Bhishma had sworn
to do, and yet Arjuna slept peacefully, while Krishna paced up and down. When Krishna woke up Arjuna, and asked
him, "How can you sleep so
blissfully when you heard what Bhishma said today?". Arjuna
"Why should I worry, when you are concerned about me?"
Devotion (Bhakti) is not possible without faith. Faith is the first step towards
devotion. It does not matter whether your faith is towards your Sadguru or the
Lord. Yesterday someone asked me, "How does the grace of the Lord descend?"
Tusidasji has given us many keys to open the lock of the Grace of the Lord - One
of the keys is to stop being clever in our thoughts, speech and actions. In other words become child-like, simple, and the grace and love of the Lord
will be bestowed upon you. Have full faith in you Sadguru and Lord and know in your heart that you have
nothing to worry about while He looks after you!
Naath sakal saadhan main heena
Kinhi kripa jaani jan deena
So kachhu dev na mohi nihora
Nij pan raakheo jan man chora
Then why do the Scriptures speak about "offer this" "Do
that"? What the scriptures are trying to say is that you may offer the Lord
anything you may desire, but know that what-so-ever you offer to Him actually
comes from Him. The Ganga emanates from Shivji and we pour Ganga water on the
Shiv-Lingam! Like a Nisaadhan-bhakta offer all your Karmas to the Lord. Place
them on His feet, and He might just change your life and destiny for the better.
I love it when the Lord says, "Offer me water" All the rivers emanate
from Him and he talks of "offering Him water"? Offer Him the
tears that flow from your eyes as you think of Him. The Lord says, "If you
offer me your tears then I will do the rest for you."
Krishna told Arjuna at the battlefield of Kurukshetra that if you surrender to
Me and let go of notions of right and wrong, then I will destroy all your sins.
But one thing is important and that is, that you should have staunch faith!
What I am trying to say is that your love and devotion should be like that of
Sharbhangji. Cry and think of the Lord. Remember him so much that He becomes
obliged to think of us and cry for us!
Krishna would sit on the verandah, look towards Mathura, think of Vrindaavan and
cry! What a great sight that must have been! Krishna remembered how He would
return in the evenings after grazing the cows; and how the gopis would be
waiting impatiently for Him with tears in their eyes. Why, even your eyes fill up with tears as you listen to the katha. A bitter
sweet emotion fills up your heart as you listen to the Lord's escapades. When you sit in your temple and look at your "Ishta" and your eyes
fill up for the love of God, know that you are getting closer to Him.
I keep thinking , what else did these simple cow-herds have, except for their
tears? It is said that in Kaliyuga (the Iron age), it will be easier to achieve the
Lord than to fill up your stomachs. But you will have to find an axiom, an
empowering thought given to you by your guru, which will help you along the way.
Maybe our Sadguru will put in a good word and make us slip through the Lord's
door. Hold on to the hem of Mahaprabhuji, even if we do not get to the Lord,
at least we will have Mahaprabhuji with us. Remember that we get a glimpse of
the Lord through great personalities like Mahaprabhuji, Acharya Shankar, Ramanuj,
Chaitanya, Meera, Tukaram and Eknaath.
Achieving the Lord is our Birthright
When India was struggling for her Independence Tilakji cried out "Freedom
is our birthright!" I proclaim to each spiritual pilgrim, "Achieving
the Lord and His Grace is my birthright. I have so many Sadgurus and scriptures
to help me. If I am not able to achieve the Lord, then the fault lies with me
and with no one else".
Despite doing everything if you still do not get to Him, then become "nisaadhan".
Cling on to His feet and you will have achieved Him.
Let us sing the Lord's praise for a while.
Sri Vallabh Vithal Giridhaari
Yamunaji ki balihaari