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ASSOCIATES OF MAHATMA GANDHI > VINOBA BHAVE > TALKS ON THE GITA > The Sovereign Science of Service to Humanity : Yoga of Surrender
 

09. The Sovereign Science Of Service To Humanity: Yoga Of Surrender

41. Knowledge Through Direct Experience

  1. Brothers, I have a sore throat today and I doubt whether my voice could reach you. I am reminded here of an anecdote from the life of Peshwa Madhavrao. That saintly man was on his death-bed. He was acutely suffering from tuberculosis. His lungs were full of phlegm. It is said that phlegm can be converted into dysentery. Madhavrao told his physician, “Please convert my phlegm into dysentery, so that I could take the Name of the Lord.” I too was praying to God today and He told me to speak as much as the throat permits. My intention in delivering these talks on the Gita is not to preach to anyone, although those who want to profit from them may surely do so. When I talk on the Gita, I do so to have the Lord’s Name on my lips.

  2. What I am telling here has connection with the Ninth Chapter. This Chapter tells about the wonderful greatness of the Lord’s Name. It is at the centre of the Gita, which itself is at the centre of the Mahabharata. For many reasons, this Chapter is considered particularly holy. It is said that when Jnanadeva bid farewell to the world and entered into samadhi,1 he was reciting this Chapter. Whenever I think of this Chapter, tears well up in my eyes and my heart dances with divine joy. How great is this gift that Vyasa has given to us!  Not only India but all of mankind is indebted to Vyasa for this gift. In fact, what the Lord told Arjuna was not something that could be expressed in words; but Vyasa, moved by compassion, put it into Sanskrit verse. He revealed the secret wisdom through the medium of words.

  3. At the very outset, the Lord says that this greatest knowledge that liberates, this sovereign secret is something to be directly experienced. This Chapter describes something that cannot be put into words, but which has stood the test of experience. That is why it has become exceedingly endearing. Saint Tulsidas has said, ‘को जानै को जैहै जमपुर को सुरपुर पर-धामको; तुलसिहिं बहुत भलो लागत जग जीवन रामगुलाम को ।’—What is the use of the stories of heaven that one can go to after death?  Who knows who will go to heaven and who to hell?  We are here to live only for a few days. Tulsidas says that he is happy in spending these few days in the service of the Lord. This Chapter describes the beauty and the sweetness of living in the service of the Lord. It tells about things which can be directly experienced in this body, seen directly with the eyes, enjoyed here and now in this life. When one eats jaggery, one can directly experience its sweetness. This Chapter gives a taste of sweetness in life that is totally surrendered to the Lord. It deals with the supreme knowledge that enables us to experience directly the sweetness in the life on this earth. This knowledge is otherwise most difficult to grasp, but the Lord has revealed it here to all, made it accessible and comprehensible to all.


42. The Easy Way

  1. The Gita is the essence of the Vedic religion—the religion that originated from the Vedas. The Vedas are considered to be the oldest among the ancient scriptures in the world. That is why the devout consider it anadi (having no beginning, existing from eternity). The Vedas are, therefore, held in great reverence. Even from the historical point of view, they are the oldest recorded expression of our ancient social mind. This written record is far more valuable than the copper and stone inscriptions, coins, pots and pans or animal fossils. The Vedas are the oldest historical documents. The religion that was in the form of a seed in the Vedas grew gradually into the tree which finally produced the sweet divine fruit of the Gita. What else can we have from a tree to eat than a fruit?  It is only when the tree bears fruit that we can have something to eat. The Gita is the twice-distilled essence of the Vedic religion.

  2. The ancient Vedic religion prescribed various rites and rituals, yajnas, austerities and penances, different practices and various types of spiritual discipline. All these were not useless, but they called for certain fitness; they were not open to all. Suppose I am hungry, and there is a coconut high up on the tree. How can I get it if I cannot climb the tree, pluck the coconut and break it open?  Can the mere sight of the coconut satisfy my hunger?  That coconut is of no use to me until I can have it in my hands. The Vedic rites and rituals were based on subtle and significant ideas. How could the common folk comprehend them?  Only the Vedic path could lead one to moksha (spiritual liberation), but only a few were entitled to follow it. How could the others redeem themselves?  That was a predicament.

  3. The saints who had overflowing compassion for the masses therefore came forward assertively and said, “Let us extract the essence of the Vedas and give it to the whole world.” That is why Saint Tukaram said, ‘वेद अनंत बोलिला । अर्थ इतुकाचि साधिला ।’—‘There are innumerable teachings in the Vedas. But all that boils down to this.’ To what?  To the Name of the Lord. That is the essence of the Vedas. The saints proclaimed that the Lord’s Name can lead one to moksha. The door to moksha was thus thrown wide open to all—to the women and the children, the workers and the peasants, the weak and the ignorant, the sick and the handicapped. Moksha that lay locked up in the Vedas was brought within the reach of everybody, thanks to the Lord Himself. A simple and easy way became available. Why cannot one’s ordinary day-to-day life, what one does as swadharma, one’s acts of service be infused with the spirit of yajna?  Where is the need for other complicated and elaborated yajnas?  Let your daily work itself be a yajna—let it be sacrificial in nature.

  4. This is the royal way. ‘यानास्थाय नरो राजन् न प्रमाद्येत कहिंचित । धावन्निमील्य वा नेत्रे न स्खलेन्न पतेदिह ।।’—Even if you run on this road with closed eyes, there is no risk of stumbling or falling. The other way is like a sharpened razor’s edge: ‘क्षुरस्य धारा निशिता दुरत्यया ।’ The Vedic way is sharper than a sword’s edge and is thus extremely arduous. The way of devotion, the way of surrender and service to the Lord is easy. An engineer designs a road to the hill-top in such a way that we have no feeling of having climbed such a height till we reach the top. Therein lies his skill. This royal way too is designed with such skill. By this way one can reach God, while remaining where one is, through performing one’s swadharma.

  5. Is God hiding somewhere in a cave or in a river or in heaven?  Is He hidden somewhere just as diamonds and gold are in the womb of the earth and pearls are in the depths of the sea?  Have we to dig Him up from somewhere?  Not at all. All that is around us is nothing but God; He is standing before all of us all the time. Everyone here is His image. The Lord is urging us, “Please do not look down upon My image manifested in human forms.”  The Lord, and the Lord alone, reveals Himself in everything animate and inanimate. Where is then the need for devising artificial methods to seek and find Him?  The way is straight and easy. Whatever work you do, do it in the spirit of service and as a service to the Lord. Surrender totally to the Lord and be His devoted and humble servant. The arduous Vedic path with its complex rites and rituals and the numerous yajnas will no doubt take us towards moksha; but the problem there is that the question of fitness arises there. Let us have none of it. Just dedicate to Him whatever you do. Relate to Him every act of yours. This is what the Ninth Chapter tells us. Hence the bhaktas are extremely fond of this Chapter.


43. No Problem Of Eligibility

  1. In the life of Lord Krishna, His childhood is particularly charming. Balkrishna (the child Krishna) has always been the object of special adoration and worship. He would go along with the cowherds to graze cattle; He would eat and laugh and play with them. When they set out to worship Indra2, he asked them, “Has anybody seen Indra?  What do we owe to him?  On the other hand, this Govardhan hill is here before our eyes. Cows graze on its slopes. Streams flow from it. It is better to worship it.”3 Such things he taught them. To his cowherd companions, to their womenfolk, to the cows and the calves whose company he enjoyed, to them all he opened the door of spiritual liberation. Lord Krishna has thus shown through His own life an easy way to moksha. He moved with cows in His childhood and with horses when He grew up. On hearing the music of His flute, cows would go into raptures. The horses would get thrilled as he stroked their backs. Those cows and horses, belonging to the so-called lower species, would as if become one with Him and attain spiritual liberation. Lord Krishna has thus shown that such liberation is not a prerogative of human beings only; even the birds and the beasts can attain it. His life-story is a testimony to this fact.

  2. Vyasa too had the same experience. In fact, there is an identity between Vyasa and Krishna. The quintessential message of the lives of both is the same. Moksha depends neither on scholarship nor on performance of rites and rituals. Plain, simple devotion is sufficient. We know of simple devout women surpassing learned egotists in spiritual progress. If there is pure heart, innocence and faith, moksha is not difficult to attain. In the Mahabharata, there is a Chapter narrating a conversation between King Janaka and Sulabha, an ordinary woman. Vyasa has depicted an incident wherein King Janaka goes for Self-knowledge to Sulabha. You may go on discussing whether women have the right to study Vedas or not, but here we find Sulabha, an ordinary woman, imparting the knowledge of the Brahman to Janaka, the great Emperor and scholar. Janaka was a learned man, but he was away from moksha. For that, Vyasa had made him fall at the feet of Sulabha. The story of Tuladhar, the grocer, gives the same message. Jajali, a Brahmin goes to him for Self-knowledge. Tuladhar tells him, “All my knowledge consists in holding the scales perfectly even.” There is also a story of a hunter who used to kill animals and sell their flesh. That was his way of serving the society. An egoistic ascetic was told by his guru (teacher) to go to that hunter for Self-knowledge. The ascetic wondered how a hunter could teach him. When he went to the hunter, the latter was busy cutting up meat and cleaning the pieces to put them up for sale. He told the ascetic, “I am doing my best to infuse my work with dharma to the extent possible. I pour my soul into this work to the best of my capacity, and also serve my parents.” In the form of that hunter, Vyasa has put before us an ideal.

  3. The Mahabharata narrates such stories about women and men of humble occupations specifically to make it abundantly clear that the doors of moksha are open to all. The Ninth Chapter affirms the same point. The joy in serving the Lord can be found in that hunter’s life. Tukaram was a votary of non-violence, but he has fondly described in appreciating terms the story of Sajan who attained moksha through his work as a butcher. Elsewhere he has exclaimed with distress, “O God! What could be the fate of those who kill animals?”, but he has also described how the Lord helped Sajan: ‘सजन कसाया विकूं लागे मास’—The Lord helped Sajan the butcher in selling meat. Tukaram is telling that The Lord who honoured Narsi Mehta’s4 hundi, who fetched water for Eknath’s household, who became an untouchable servant for Damaji5, who helped Janabai, the maidservant, in household work, helped Sajan the butcher too with the same love. The moral is that all our activities should be linked to Him, dedicated to Him. Acts of service done with pure heart and noble thoughts are essentially a form of yajna.


44. Dedication Of The Fruit Of Actions To The Lord

  1. This is the special teaching of the Ninth Chapter. In this Chapter, there is a fascinating confluence of karmayoga and bhaktiyoga.  Karmayoga means doing work and renouncing its fruit. Work should be done with such an ingenuity that the mind remains untouched by attachment to its fruit. It is like planting a walnut tree. The walnut tree takes twenty five years to yield fruit. One who plants it may not be able to eat its fruits. Still one must plant the tree and take care of it lovingly. Karmayoga means planting the tree without expecting anything in return. Bhaktiyoga means getting attached to God with love and devotion. Karmayoga and bhaktiyoga combine together in rajayoga. Rajayoga has been defined by different people in different ways. I would like to define it as a beautiful blending of karmayoga and bhaktiyoga.

Work has to be done, but its fruit is not to be thrown away; it should be dedicated to God. To throw away the fruit would be to reject it. But dedication of the fruit of actions to the Lord is something very different. It indicates an extremely beautiful state of the mind. Even if we renounce the fruit, it is not that nobody will have it; somebody is bound to get it. Questions like the recipient’s fitness may then arise. If a beggar comes to our door, we say, “You are strong and stout. It does not behove you to beg. Get lost.” We sit in judgement over the justification for his begging. The poor fellow feels ashamed. There is no trace of fellow-feeling in our hardened heart. How can we then have the right judgement about the fellow?

  1. When I was a child, I had expressed the same doubt to my mother. Her answer is still ringing in my ears. I had told her about a beggar, “This beggar seems to be strong and stout. To give alms to such a person will encourage indolence and bad habits.” I also quoted a verse from the Gita, ‘देशे काले च पात्रे च ।’6 She said, “That beggar was the Lord Himself. Keep it in mind and then judge His worthiness. Would you rate God as undeserving?  In fact, what right have we got to judge his worthiness?  I see no need to think any more. To me, he is the Lord and that is all.” I have not yet found a fitting reply to what she said.

We judge the worthiness of others when it is a question of feeding others, but when it comes to filling our own bellies, the thought of fitness never crosses our mind. Why should we regard the man coming to our doors as just a wretched beggar?  Why should we not look upon him as the Lord Himself?

  1. Rajayoga says, “Isn’t it true that somebody is bound to enjoy the fruit of your actions?  So better offer it to the Lord. Dedicate it to Him.”  Rajayoga points out the proper recipient. Here, there is no negative action of giving up the fruit; and as it has to be dedicated to the Lord, the question of judging the fitness of the recipient is also eliminated. Whatever is offered to the Lord is always pure. Even if your actions have impurities, they will become pure the moment they reach His hands. However hard we try to make our actions perfect, there will still be some flaws. Nevertheless we should try our best to act with the utmost possible purity. Intellect is God-given. It is our duty to keep it as pure as possible. Not to do so is a crime. So we must judge the fitness of the recipient. But if we look upon the world as a manifestation of God, it is easier to make the right judgement.

  2. The fruit of action should be utilized for purifying the mind. Dedicate the actions to God irrespective of their quality, as and when they take place. The mind should thereby be continuously strengthened and purified. The fruit of work is not to be thrown away; it should be dedicated to Him. Dedicate to the Lord your desires and longings; even the passions and tendencies like anger that arise in the mind, and then have nothing to do with them. ‘कामक्रोध आम्हीं वाहिले विठ्ठलीं ।’ (‘We have dedicated to the Lord our passions and anger.’) There is no question of torturing oneself in the fire of self-control. Just dedicate everything to Him and be free of it. Nothing else needs to be done. There is no need for any suppression or of straining oneself to breaking point. Surrender totally and find freedom. ‘रोग जाय दुधें साखरें । तरी निंब कां पियावा ।’ (‘If milk and sugar can cure the disease, why should one take bitter neem juice?’)

  3. The sense-organs too are means (for realizing Him). Dedicate them to the Lord. People complain that they have no control over what they hear. Should we then refuse to hear anything?  Not at all. We must hear. But let us hear only the edifying stories of the Lord. It is difficult to give up hearing altogether, but it is easier, and moreover more desirable and beneficial, to turn the ears to something worth hearing. Lend your ears to the Lord. Use your mouth to chant His Name. The sense-organs are not your enemies. They are good and useful. They possess great capabilities. The royal way is to take work from them in a spirit of dedication to the Lord. This is what rajayoga means.


45. Dedicate All The Activities

  1. It is not that only some particular actions are to be dedicated to the Lord. All our actions are to be dedicated to Him. Lord Rama gladly accepted the fruits offered by Shabari.7 One need not retire to a cave to worship the Lord. Whatever you do, where ever you do it, just dedicate that to Him. A mother waiting on her child waits on God. Giving the child a bath is like performing abhishek over the Lord. She should regard the child as His gift and bring it up with reverence. Sages and saints like Shuka, Valmiki and Tulsidas consider themselves blessed while portraying how tenderly did Kausalya care for Rama and Yashoda for Krishna. They describe it with fond admiration. Such service by a mother is indeed noble. The child is an image of God. What greater fortune could one have than having an opportunity to serve the Lord in the form of a child? Imagine the transformation that will take place in our actions if we were to serve each other with this attitude!  Let each one of us consider the work that has fallen to his lot as service of the Lord Himself.

  2. A farmer looks after his bullock. Is that bullock to be despised?  No. The bull that sage Vamadeva describes in the Veda as pervading the entire universe in the form of energy, is present in the farmer’s bullock too.

चत्वारी शृंगा त्रयो अस्य पादाः

देव शीर्षे सप्त हस्तासो अस्य

त्रिधा बध्दो वृषभो रोरवीति

महो देवो मर्त्यां विवेश ।

(‘The bull which has four horns, three legs, two heads and seven hands and is tied to three posts is roaring. The Great God has pervaded all the mankind in every way.’) That greatly effulgent bull, radiating vigour and energy, immanent in all the mortal beings in the universe is roaring. It is the same bull which the farmer worships inwardly while taking care of his bullock. Commentators have interpreted this verse in different ways. This bull is indeed strange. The bull that roars in the sky and causes rainfall, is also present in the farmer’s bullock which litters the field with dung and urine and fertilises it to yield abundant crop. If the bullock is looked upon with this feeling, then the ordinary work of taking care of the bullock would become the worship of the Lord.

  1. The lady of the house keeps the kitchen spotlessly clean and cooks pure and wholesome food for the family. Her earnest desire is to give nourishment and contentment to all the family-members. All that work of hers is a form of yajna. The fire in the kitchen stove is verily the yajna fire. Imagine how pure and holy the food will be if it is cooked for the Lord!  If the lady has such noble feelings in her mind, she would verily join the august band of the wives of the sages described in the Bhagavata. Many such women must have redeemed themselves through such service, surpassing self-centered scholars.


46. The Whole Life Can Be Infused With God

  1. The moments of our daily life may appear commonplace, but they are not really so. They have a deep significance. The whole of life is like a great yajna—a continual sacrificial performance. Your sleep is also a kind of samadhi—an experience of oneness with the divine consciousness. If we surrender all that we did and all that we experienced to the Lord before going to sleep, will not that sleep be a kind of samadhi?  There is a custom of reciting the Purushasukta, a Vedic hymn, while taking bath. What is the connection  between the bath and the Purushasukta?  You will discern it if you wish to. What connection does the great, all-pervading Purusha (the cosmic Person) having thousand hands and thousand eyes have with your bath?  The connection is that, there are thousands of drops in the water you pour over your head. They wash your head and clean it, ridding it of your sins. They are the Lord’s blessing showering on you. The Lord Himself is washing off your sins through those thousands of drops of water. Let your bath be infused with such an exalted sentiment; then it will be an altogether different thing. It will then have boundless power.

  2. Any work, howsoever ordinary or commonplace, assumes sanctity if performed in the spirit that it is God’s work. You can experience it yourself. Just look upon a guest as the Lord Himself and then see the difference it makes. When some distinguished guest is expected in our house, we clean the house thoroughly and prepare special dishes. Imagine the difference it will make if we look upon the guest as the Lord Himself!  Saint Kabir was a weaver. While weaving, he would lose himself in spiritual bliss and sing ecstatically. He was as if weaving the sheets to drape the Lord. The sage in Rig Veda says, ‘वस्त्रेव भद्रा सुकृता वसूयुः’—‘I am draping the Lord with my hymns.’  It is for the Lord that a poet should compose hymns, and it is for Him that a weaver should weave cloth. How stirring the idea is!  How purifying and moving the thought is!  How pure our life would become if this feeling informs it!  A flash of lightening removes darkness in an instant. Is the removal of darkness gradual? The transformation is instantaneous and total. Likewise, life is instantly charged with wonderful energy when every action is linked to the Lord. Every action will then become pure. Life will be full of zest. Today our life is devoid of any zest or purpose. There is no joy, no happiness in it. We are alive only because we are yet to die. But just think of linking your actions to the Lord, and then your life will be full of charm; it will be worthy of veneration.

  3. There is no doubt that the Lord’s Name brings about instantaneous transformation. Never doubt the efficacy of His Name. Give it a try and see what happens. Suppose a farmer is coming home in the evening and he meets a stranger in the way. Let him say to the stranger, ‘चाल घरा उभा राहें नारायणा’—‘O Brother!  O Lord!  Soon it will be night. So please come and spend the night in my house.’ These words will transform the stranger. Even if he is a robber, he would undergo a change and become pure. It is the attitude that makes the difference. It is the attitude that really matters in life. One welcomes a young man and gives him one’s daughter in marriage and bows before the bridegroom much younger in age. Why?  The act of giving away the daughter is so sacred that the young bridegroom is regarded as the Lord Himself. This very sentiment has to be further developed and elevated.

  4. Some may object, “Why make such false assumptions?”  But one should not brand anything true or false beforehand. One should first give it a try, see what happens, and only then one would know what is true and what is false. Do not just address the bridegroom as the Lord as a matter of ritual; regard him so in your heart of hearts, and see the difference. That sentiment will bring about a total transformation. Even if the man concerned is not worthy, he will become so. Even if he is evil-minded, he will become good. Did not this happen in the case of Valya Koli8?  He had never before come across a man chanting the Lord’s Name while playing the veena,9 and remaining not only calm and unruffled when he (Valya) was about to attack, but also continuing to look at him with love. He had till then seen only two types of people. They would either run away or make a counter-attack. But Narada did neither and remained as calm and serene as ever. He was not the least disturbed or perturbed and continued to sing. That made Valya’s axe stop in midair. Narada asked, “Why has your axe stopped?”  Valya replied, “Because you are so calm.” Narada brought about transformation in Valya. Was that transformation true or false?

  5. After all, who is to decide whether somebody is bad or not?  Even if you come across a wicked man, look upon him as the Lord. That will transform him into a saint. Do not ask, “Why should we make unreal suppositions?”  Who can be certain that the man is really wicked?  It is said that ‘good men, being good, find goodness everywhere, but that is not true.’ Should it then be accepted that only what you see is true?  Are we then to suppose that only bad men have the means to know the true nature of the creation?  Why not say that there is nothing wrong with the world, but it appears bad to you as you yourself are bad?  Look, the creation is but a mirror. You will see in it your true image. It is the eye of the beholder that determines the nature of the world. Therefore, look upon the world as good and sacred. Let this attitude inform even your ordinary actions. Then you will witness a miraculous change. This is what the Lord intends to convey: ‘जें खासी होमिसी देसी जें जें आचरिसी तप । जें कांहीं करिसी कर्म तें करीं मज अर्पण ।’ (‘Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer as sacrifice or gift, whatever austerity you perform, dedicate all that to Me.’)10

  6. When I was a child, my mother used to tell me a story. It is an amusing story, but it contains a profound truth. There was a lady who had resolved to dedicate everything she did to Lord Krishna. After meals, she would clean the floor with dung11 and throw the lump of dung out of the house saying, “Krishnarpan.” (I dedicate it to Lord Krishna.) The lump would then reach the idol in the temple and stick to it. The priest got tired of cleaning up the idol again and again. At last he discovered that it was all due to that lady; as long as she was alive, it was impossible to keep the idol clean. One day she fell sick. Death seemed round the corner. She dedicated death also to the Lord. At that very moment, the idol of the Lord cracked and fell to pieces. A heavenly chariot came to take her to the heaven. She dedicated even that to the Lord. That then dashed against the temple and was smashed up. The moral of the story is that heaven is of no value before the love for the Lord.

  7. The import of all this is that, unusual power is generated when whatever good or bad that we do is dedicated to the Lord. A jowar12 grain is reddish yellow, but when you parch it, you have a nice popcorn. Put that white, beautiful and nicely shaped popcorn near a grain and you will see that it has absolutely no resemblance with it. But there is no doubt that it is the grain that has turned into the popcorn. It is the fire that brings about such a change. If you grind that hard grain, it will turn into soft flour. Fire turns the grain into popcorn and grinding turns the grain into flour. Likewise, infuse your ordinary and seemingly unimportant actions with the devotion for the Lord and then your actions will be transformed beyond recognition. It is the spirit that enhances the value of actions. Do not consider worthless even the leaves and the flowers; they become sacred when they are offered to the Lord. ‘तुका म्हणे चवी आलें । जें का मिश्रित विठ्ठलें ।’ (‘Tukaram says, whatever is mixed with the Lord becomes delicious.’) Add God to everything and experience the outcome. Which spice can equal the Lord in making things delicious?  Add this divine spice to every action, and then everything will become good and delicious.

  8. Imagine it is night time. The pooja is going on in the temple. The incense smoke is rising. Its fragrance is in the air. Lamps have been lit. In such an ambience we really feel God’s presence. All day the Lord was awake; now is the time for Him to go to sleep. The devotees sing, ‘आतां स्वामी सुखें निद्रा करा गोपाळा ।’ (‘O Lord!  Now you may happily go to sleep.’)  Sceptics ask, “Does the Lord sleep?”  But why can’t the Lord sleep?  O fool, if the Lord does not sleep and wake up, who do you think does so; can a stone do so?  It is the Lord who sleeps and keeps awake, it is the Lord who eats and drinks. As the day dawns, Saint Tulsidas wakes up Lord Rama with gentle persuasion, ‘जागिये रघुनाथ कुंवर पंछी बन बोले ।’ (‘O Prince Rama! Please wake up. The birds have started chirping in the woods.’) He is, in fact, waking up the people, looking to them as the images of the Lord. What an enchanting idea!  Contrast it with what happens in a hostel. There the boys are woken up by rude shouts. Is this proper in the auspicious morning hours?  There is an incident in Valmiki’s Ramayana. Rama is asleep in the ashram of sage Vishwamitra.  Vishwamitra is waking him up. Valimiki describes, 

‘रामेति मधुरां वाणीं विश्वमित्रोभ्यभाषत ।

उतित नरशार्दूल पू्र्वा संध्या प्रवतति ।।’

(Vishwamitra is saying softly to Rama, “Arise, O lion among men; the sky is brightening in the east.”)

How sweet and loving the action is!  And how harshly the boys are woken up in a hostel!  The poor sleeping lad feels that the fellow waking him up must be his arch-enemy for ages!  One should first call in a low, soft tone. If the boy does not wake up, call him in a little louder voice. But never be rough or rude. If he still does not wake up, you may try again after a few minutes. If even that fails, hope that he will surely get up in time tomorrow. Sing to him melodious songs, the songs of sunrise, or the hymns. An ordinary action of waking up can thus be made poetic, tender and beautiful when it is done with the feeling that we are waking up the Lord Himself. To wake up somebody too needs a right technique.

  1. Let this idea inform all your actions. It is all the more important in the sphere of education. A teacher should feel that the pupils are the Lord incarnate and he is serving Him through teaching. He would not then act upon the axiom ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child.’ He will not scold the pupils right and left and hurt them with disparaging remarks. Instead of rebuking them, for example, for wearing dirty clothes, he would wash their dirty clothes. If the teacher does so, what a deep impact such loving care will have on the pupils’ minds!  Can beating ever have any good effect?  The pupils should also look upon the teacher with the same reverence. If the pupils and the teachers regard each other as images of the Lord and behave accordingly, then the knowledge that the pupils gain will have a rare lustre. If the pupils feel that they are being taught by the Lord Himself, you can imagine how they would behave.


47. The Lord’s Name Destroys The Sins

  1. Once the sentiment that the Lord is present everywhere is deeply rooted in the mind, we will naturally know how to behave with each other. There will be no need for any rules and canons of ethics. Vices will disappear of their own accord, sins will flee and evil would vanish into thin air.

Tukaram has said,

‘चाल केलासी मोकळा  ।  बोल विठ्ठल वेळोवेळां

तुज पाप चि नाही ऐसें  ।  नाम घेतां जवळीं वसे’

(‘You are free to do whatever you like. Just chant the Lord’s Name again and again. Once you recite His Name, no sin will remain near you.’)

Well, you are free to sin now. You can now commit as many sins as you can. Let us see whether you get tired of sinning or the Lord’s Name gets tired of reducing them to ashes. Is there any evil stubborn and belligerent enough to pit itself against the Lord’s name?  ‘करी तुजसी करवती’—Sin as much as you can. Let the Lord’s Name and your sins fight it out. The Lord’s Name is powerful enough to burn down in an instant the sins committed not only in this life but in countless births in the past. A cave may be full of darkness since ages, but the moment you light a candle, darkness disappears. In fact, the older the sins, the more quickly they get destroyed, just as old wooden logs are more easily and quickly reduced to ashes.

  1. No sin can ever exist in the presence of Ramanama  (the Lord’s Name). Don’t the children say, “Ghosts vanish when you take Ramanama.”  In my childhood, we children used to challenge each other to go to the cremation ground at night and drive in a peg there. There used to be snakes and thorns in the way, and darkness all around. Still I would fearlessly go there. I never came across ghosts. Ghosts, after all, are creations of the mind. How could they appear before us? Wherefrom did a ten-year-old boy gather such courage?  From Ramanama. It was the power of the Lord who is Truth. If a man feels that the Lord is ever by his side and surrenders himself to Him, then he will not be afraid even if the whole world turns against him. Which demon can devour him?  A demon may destroy the body; but never the truth. No power on earth can destroy the truth. Sin can never stand before the Name of the Lord. Hence seek His grace. Dedicate all actions to Him. Surrender completely to Him and be totally devoted to Him. Let the urge to dedicate all the actions to Him become more and more intense. Then this trivial life will become divine. The soiled life will become beautiful.


48. Not What But How You Offer Is Important

  1. ‘पत्रं पुष्पं फलं तोयम्’—Leaves, flowers, fruits, water,  anything can be offered to Him. What is important is that it should be offered with bhakti. The spirit and sentiment with which you offer is important. Once I was having a discussion on education with a professor. There was a difference of opinion between us. In order to clinch the issue, he said, “I have been teaching for eighteen years.” He should have convinced me of the correctness of his standpoint; he instead flaunted his experience. I said in a lighter vein, “If a bullock pulls an oil ghani (oil expeller) for eighteen years, will it become an engineer?”  An engineer is an engineer and a bullock is a bullock. An educationist is different from a teacher who goes on doing his job in a routine and mechanical manner. An educationist will gain much more insight and experience in six months than a labourer working for eighteen years. The Professor boasted of his years of experience. But it proves nothing. Likewise, the volume and value of the offering is of no significance. What is important is the spirit in which you make the offering. What is important is not what or how much you offer, but how you offer. The Gita contains only seven hundred verses. There are some other books containing thousands of verses. But a bigger thing need not necessarily be better. You should judge the intrinsic quality, the intrinsic strength in anything. The number of activities in life is not important; even a single action with dedication, with surrender to the Lord, will make your life richer. A single sacred moment can give experience that cannot be acquired in years.

  2. Thus, the point is that even the ordinary actions in life should be dedicated to the Lord. Life would then acquire a new vigour.  Moksha would come within our grasp.  Rajayoga, which asks us to work and offer its fruit to the Lord instead of giving it up, is a step ahead of karmayoga. Karmayoga asks you to work without desires and give up the fruit of the work. Here karmayoga stops. Rajayoga tells, “Do not renounce the fruit of the actions. Dedicate all the actions themselves to the Lord. The actions are a means that help you in making spiritual progress. They are like flowers which should be offered at the feet of the Lord. Conjoin your actions with devotion and go on enriching your life. Do not throw away the fruit, dedicate it to the Lord.” The fruit that is cut off from the actions in karmayoga is linked to the Lord in rajayoga. There is a difference between throwing seeds and sowing them. You reap in abundance what you sow; what you throw is wasted. The work that is dedicated to the Lord gets sown, and therefore life gets infused with infinite bliss and sanctity.

(17.4.32)


References:

  1. Saints and sages used to voluntarily end their life when they thought that they had accomplished what they should have.  They would then concentrate all their energies and merge into the Absolute, ending worldly existence.  This is called samadhi. This is the sense in which the word is used here.

  2. The presiding deity of heaven.

  3. Indra thereupon became furious and caused incessant rains.  The child Krishna then lifted the Govardhan hill on his little finger, asking the cowherds to join with their staffs supporting the hill.  All the people and the cattle in the village took shelter under the hill and were saved from Indra's wrath.

  4. Narsi Mehta was a poet-saint of Gujarat in the mediaeval period.  In those days, people on pilgrimage used to deposit excess money with some merchant and get from him a hundi (a sort of demand draft) in the name of a merchant of another place, which the latter would honour.  Once some mischievous persons suggested Narsi's name for the purpose to some pilgrims.  Narsi gave them a hundi on Dwarka in the name of Lord Krishna.

  5. Damaji, a devotee of Lord Pandurang, was a government official.  Once, during a famine, he threw open the doors of the government granary to the people.  Sultan, on knowing it, got furious and ordered Damaji to deposit the necessary amount.  It is said that the Lord thereupon took the form of an untouchable servant, went to the Sultan's court and deposited the money.

  6. 'Charity should be given at the right place, at the right time, and to the right person, as a matter of duty, without expecting any return.  Such charity is said to be sattvik'—Gita 17.20

  7. Shabari, an old tribal woman and devotee of Rama, invited him to her place.  As she had nothing to offer to Him, she picked jujube fruits from the forest.  She tasted them by biting them to find out whether they were sweet, and therefore worthy of being offered to the Lord.  Rama gladly accepted those wild fruits, that too bitten by her.

  8. Valya Koli, a dacoit, was transformed by Narada.  He then undertook penance and realized God.  He came to be known as sage Valmiki, who later wrote the Ramayana.

  9. A stringed musical instrument.

  10. Gita 9.27

  11. This is a common practice, particularly in the villages.  People take meals sitting on the floor.  The floor has then to be cleaned.  Dung is used for the purpose.

  12. A type of coarse grain.