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dattaswami

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  1. Isn't it true that we need a lot of courage to debate with a great saint? Shri Balaji asjed: In the spiritual line, a lot of courage is needed, in general. When we debate with a great saint, a lot of courage is needed, isn’t it? Swami replied: There is no need to have any fear during a spiritual debate because our strength lies in our argument and not in the status of the opponent. It does not matter even if the opponent is the greatest saint. It is the question of a wrong point being defeated by the right point. It should not be taken to be a personal success or personal defeat. People fight for properties registered in their names. But there is no need to fight for concepts, which are not registered in anybody’s names! In fact, the defeated person is the one who really gets benefitted because his wrong concept got corrected. There is no personal benefit for the winning person. Hence, one should not view the discussion as a debate between a great saint and an ordinary soul. If the concept is perfectly true, one must be courageous enough to stick to it, even if the opponent is a great saint! =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  2. Is the experience of the world useful in spiritual knowledge? [Reply to a question by Shri Balaji] Swami replied: The answer to this question is a full yes. For every concept in spiritual knowledge, there is an excellent example in the world. This means that from worldly experience itself, the entire spiritual knowledge can be built up. We have seen that issue-devotion (love for one’s children) is the strongest and that one’s devotion to God stands in competition against it. The final success lies in conquering the love for one’s children with the devotion that one has for God. We realize that we should love God, even if God gives us negative results, just like our unshakable love for our issues does not diminish, even if they turn against us! Our worldly experience tells us that the love or service of the highest value is that in which the desire for selfish benefit is absent. When a father comes to know that his son is serving him without aspiriing for anything in return, he is highly pleased. Similarly, when our devotion is free of the aspiration for any fruit in return from God, God is highly pleased with us. Such aspiration-free devotion is of the highest value. A fan of a political leader who commits suicide on the death of the leader, stands as the best example for the climax of devotion to God. God has created this world in which various examples exist. On proper analysis, they can be used as correct similes or analogies to understand spiritual knowledge. They make the understanding of the spiritual concepts most effective. Worldly knowledge thus helps the soul understand spiritual knowledge. When worldly examples are given as comparisons, they bring full clarity to our understanding of subtle spiritual concepts. =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  3. Are Human Incarnations of God possible in atheistic or communist countries? Swami replied: God said in the Gita that He incarnates in human form for only one purpose, which is the establishment of justice and the destruction of injustice (Dharma saṃsthāpanārthāya…—Gita). He never said that He would incarnate for the sake of establishing His existence or for destroying atheism. God is not worried about the spiritual path (nivṛtti). He is not interested in establishing theism, spiritual knowledge, devotion, service to Him or sacrifice to Him. He has no desire to destroy atheism and establish theism or any aspect of spirituality. The only reason for His incarnation mentioned by Him, is the destruction of injustice and the establishment of justice in worldly life (pravṛtti). Hence, even in an atheistic country, He comes as a Human Incarnation, whenever injustice is trying to suppress justice. As soon as justice is established, God quits the human being with whom He had merged for that specific purpose. Such a Human Incarnation is called an Āveśa Avatāra. It is a temporary Incarnation that is only meant for the specific purposes of establishing justice in that situation. Whenever injustice has suppressed justice, even in atheistic countries, God has merged with a suitable atheist, fought against the injustice and re-established justice. =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  4. Can one's love for God miraculously cancel one's sins? Shri Anil asked: Jesus said that the sins of the devotee will be excused in proportion to the love possessed by the devotee for God. Does this mean that the love for God has such miraculous power to cancel sins? Swami replied: The love for God does not have any miraculous power. Even if it had any miraculous power, that miraculous power is not used to cancel the sins. Due to the devotee’s love for God, God comes down in human form to preach to the devotee about the path of reformation. It is only upon reformation that sins are cancelled. There are three steps in the reformation of the soul. The first is realization. It means the recognition of the sin. The person should confess that he or she has committed a sin and not try to use false and twisted arguments to defend the sin or prove that it was not a sin but a good deed. The second step is repentance for the committed sin. The third and final step is the practical non-repetition of the sin for the rest of one’s life. This step is the most essential step. Mere confession of the sin is not sufficient to cancel the sins. Confession, repentance and non-repetition of sin together complete the process of reformation of the soul. When God finds that the soul has been fully refomed through these three steps, He cancels the sins. Without the final practical step of non-repetition of the sins, sins are never cancelled. Both realization and repentance are theoretical steps. So, by merely realizing and repenting, the sins are not practically cancelled. If the person continues to repeat the sin practically, the person has not really reformed. In that case, the person’s apparent theoretical reformation is meaningless. So, God too, will only cancel the sin only theoretically and not practically. In other words, it will appear that the sin has been cancelled, but in reality, it will not be canelled. God’s behavior with us is just a reflection of our behavior towards Him (Pratirūpo babhūva—Veda). When Mary Magdelena worshiped Jesus with expensive perfumes, one devotee commented that the money used to purchase the perfumes could instead have been used to feed beggars. Jesus told the devotee to let her worship Him to her satisfaction, saying that there would always be beggars in the world to feed. Actually, the devotee who passed that comment was not eligible to do so. The immediate question to him would have been “Have you stopped spending money on all pleasures and started using it only to feed beggars?” One should comment on others’ practice only after perfectly practicing it oneself. Jesus also told the devotee that her sins will be cancelled in proportion to her love for Him. This means that even if God preaches the total concept of reformation to a soul, the soul will digest it only in proportion to his or her devotion. If the devotee’s devotion is complete, the concept of reformation will also be completely digested. If the devotion is partial, the digestion of the concept will be also partial. If the concept is only partially digested, the person’s reformation will also be partial. When the reformation is not complete, ideally, sins cannot be cancelled. This would mean that unless one has full devotion to God, who preaches this concept of reformation, the sins would not be cancelled. In other words, unless the devotee has full devotion, has fully digested the concept of reformation and has practically been fully reformed, the devotee’s sins would not be cancelled at all. But Jesus said that partial cancellation of sins does take place when the devotee digests the concept partially, as a result of his or her partial devotion. This clearly means that partial devotion results in the partial reformation of the soul. Reformation happens in the context of some lighter sins. As a result, some sins committed by the soul earlier are cancelled by God, even though not all sins are cancelled. The more serious sins require a deeper reformation, which takes a longer time. Some say that Jesus married this lady and even had children with her. Whether Jesus got married or not, how does it matter to us? What matters to us, is only His valuable preaching, which alone is going to benefit us. If you go to a teacher to study a subject, you are only concerned with the teacher’s teaching of the subject. You need not bother about the personal life of the teacher. Moreover, Jesus got legally married to her and then had children. There is nothing unjust or illegitimate in it and there is absolutely no cause for criticism. In a Human Incarnation, even though God exists in the human medium, the human medium retains its own natural characteristics and needs including hunger, thirst, sleep and legitimate sex. All these are the inevitable biological needs of the human body. I do not understand why people make a big issue out of sex alone. Nobody is bothered if the Human Incarnation eats food, drinks water or sleeps to get rest! Why then, should the Human Incarnation or God-man be looked down upon, if He is involved in legitimate sex? In that case, the God-man eating food, drinking water and sleeping, must also be looked down upon for not having conquered those biological needs of the body! The Human Incarnation could be criticized only if He has been involved in illegitimate sex. But even in that case, careful analysis is necessary before any such criticism. Krishna was misunderstood for His involvement with the Gopikās. The negative qualities of rajas (desire and activity) and tamas (ignorance and inertia) are sometimes, deliberately exhibited by God-in-human-form. Exhibiting these negative qualities is helpful in repelling selfish souls who have positive qualities. Such selfish people come to the Incarnation to exploit His miraculous powers for their selfish benefits. In order to avoid their exploitation, He exhibits negative qualities, which repel them. Sometimes, negative qualities are also exhibited by God, to test the firmness of the faith of devotees. Deep analysis shows that the negative qualities shown by the Incarnation are only superficial and were meant to severely test certain devotees. The Gopikās, who possessed the topmost level of devotion, were tested by God Krishna for their ability to overcome all their worldly bonds for His sake. The Gopikās, were cowherd ladies and Krishna stole their butter, which was the wealth of the cowherds. They had stored the butter for the sake of their children. By stealing their butter, He was simultaneously testing their bond with wealth (dhaneṣanā) and their bond with their children (putreṣaṇā). He was competing with their wealth and children combined, forcing them to choose between their bond with Him and their bond with wealth and children. Similarly, Krishna danced with the Gopikās at midnight, on the banks of the Yamuna, to test the strength of their bond with their life-partners (dāreṣaṇā), forcing them to choose between Him and their life-partners. When Krishna died, the Gopikās jumped into fire and ended their lives, proving that their bond with Krishna was stronger than their bond with their own lives (prāṇeṣaṇā). Upon deep analysis, one can find that Krishna did not do these activities with any selfish motive. Once His tests were completed, Krishna never returned to Bṛndāvanam and He never repeated such tests elsewhere in His life. Similarly, Shirdi Sai Baba appeared to be a smoker, but it was not His weakness. It was meant to test the faith of orthodox devotees in Him. Hence, we should not jump to hasty conclusions in the case of God-men. Of course, false God-men appear before us as unmarried bachelors, pretending to have conquered the desire for sex, but in reality, they are involved in illegitimate sex secretly! =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  5. The Unified Path of Knowledge and Action [Shri J.S.R. Prasad (Professor of Sanskrit, Central University, Hyderabad) asked: In the Yoga Vāsiṣṭham, which is the preaching of sage Vasiṣṭha to Śrī Rāma, it is said that both knowledge (jñāna mārga) and action (karma mārga) are like the two wings of a bird flying to the spiritual goal. But Śaṅkara condemned the karma mārga of Maṇḍana Miśra. How can we correlate Vasiṣṭha and Śaṅkara?] Two Types of Karma Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! Just like Vasiṣṭha, Kumarila Bhaṭṭa also said that both jñāna and karma are needed side-by-side, in the spiritual effort. Bhaṭṭa’s theory is called Jñāna-Karma-Samuccaya-Vāda or the unified path of knowledge and action. His disciple, Maṇḍana Miśra, however, took only the path of action (karma mārga), which is also called Pūrva Mīmāṃsā. It mainly stresses on karma, which is work done with an aspiration for worldly fruits. If you take Śaṅkara, He stressed only on jñāna, which is the theoretical enquiry about God and the consequent theoretical devotion to God. Hence, Śaṅkara and Maṇḍana Miśra were exactly opposite to each other, whereas, Vasiṣṭha and Kumarila Bhaṭṭa lie in between them since they accept both jñāna and karma. In any case, there is a conflict between the paths of knowledge and action. The whole confusion is caused by the word karma, which actually has two meanings: (1) The first meaning of karma is action done with an aspiration for worldly fruits. It includes both worldly work and the aspiration-filled practical worship of God. Practical worship of God means serving God or sacrificing our wealth for Him. When the practical worship of God is done only for the sake attaining worldly benefits, even this worship is basically worldly work. (2) The second meaning of karma is action done in the service of God, without aspiring for any fruit in return. The meaning of the word karma, as taken by Maṇḍana Miśra, is the first one, which is the aspiration-filled worldly work. The meaning taken by Vasiṣṭha and Kumarila Bhaṭṭa is second one, which is God’s service done without the aspiration for any fruit in return. Therefore, the meaning of the word karma, taken in the second sense, is not against the path of Śaṅkara (jñāna). The action (karma) involved in the path of Śaṅkara, is related to God and not to the world. The action done (karma) in the second sense, is a part of the jñāna mārga of Śaṅkara itself. If you take worldly work, in which there is an aspiration for worldly fruits, such karma is against the jñāna mārga of Śaṅkara. If service to God, which is karma, taken in the second sense, is absent, jñāna mārga is incomplete and useless, like a human body without life. Suppose you only show theoretical love to your wife, always praising her beauty and good qualities. Will she love you, if you never express your love practically, such as by purchasing some flowers to decorate her hair? Similarly, if you have merely used your intelligence to analyze and come to know all the theoretical details about God (jñāna mārga) and if you have merely used your mind to pray to God (theoretical devotion), your entire spiritual effort is only theoretical. It is useless without practical proof. Practical Proof of Devotion Karma yoga is the practical proof of theoretical devotion. It can also be said to be practical devotion. Karma yoga has two sub-divisions: (1) Karma saṃnyāsa, which is the effort or work done in serving God. (2) Karmaphala tyāga, which is the sacrifice of the fruit (wealth) earned by hard work. Claiming to love God by expressing only theoretical devotion and avoiding practical devotion, is cheating God. It is called prostitution-devotion or veśyā bhakti. In this form of devotion, the devotee only expresses theoretical devotion, aspiring for practical fruits from God. The devotee does not express even a trace of practical devotion (service and sacrifice). The devotee is like a prostitute who only expresses theoretical love for the customer, aspiring for the money from his pocket. She does not sacrifice even a single rupee to the customer. The reality is that she does not love the customer at all. She only pretends to love him to get his money. Due to the absence of practical proof, which is action involving sacrifice (karma), this devotion is the worst devotion. Mere theoretical knowledge, which is knowing the correct details of God with the help of analysis and theoretical devotion, which is praising God through prayers, become meaningless in the absence of the practical proof or karma. Even karma yoga, which is practical service done to God, becomes useless if it is done with an aspiration for worldly fruits. Such practical devotion which is filled with aspiration is business-devotion or vaiśya bhakti. It is nothing but business done with God, in which you aspire for some practical worldly fruits, in exchange for your practical devotion (service) to God. The jñāna mārga of Śaṅkara includes theoretical knowledge (jñāna), theoretical devotion (bhakti) and the practical proof or action (karma). The evidence for this is the very life of Śaṅkara. Śaṅkara wrote commentaries (jñāna) and several devotional prayers (bhakti). But along with these two, Śaṅkara also performed the third step called karma yoga by wandering throughout the country, doing God’s work. Apart from service, He also sacrificed the fruit of work (wealth). He donated to a poor devotee, the golden fruits, which rained from the sky after He sung the prayer called Kanakadhārā Stotram. Hence, Śaṅkara did both service and sacrifice, which are the two parts of karma yoga, while being in the path of jñāna. The service done by Śaṅkara was not worldly work. It was God’s work (Matkarma paramo bhava—Gita). Karma Yoga and Giving Up Action Therefore, if you keep the two meanings of the word karma in your mind, the confusion related to the paths of knowledge and action disappears. The karma followed by Maṇḍana Miśra was worldly work in the first sense of the word. He, like all pūrva mīmāṃsakas, performed rituals called yajña to worship God. This action (karma) was done with worldly aspirations like the aspiration for heavenly pleasures. This karma, as followed by Maṇḍana Miśra is not work done for God. It is not divine service done without the aspiration for any fruit. To avoid confusion, it is better to call the work of divine service karma yoga and aspiration-filled worldly work simply karma. The word yoga denotes the association with God. Hence, God recommended the path of jñāna (sāṅkhya) over the path of completely giving up work (Karma yogoviśiṣyate, Na karmaṇāmanārambhāt etc...—Gita). There is no point in giving up all kinds of work. Only aspiration-filled work is to be given up. Aspiration-free service to God is to be certainly performed. When one only does God’s work, worldly actions and worldly fruits do not bind him since he is not doing worldly work at all (Kurvannapi na lipyate—Gita, Na karma lipyate...—Veda). When God said in the Gita that all work should not be given up, He used the term karma saṃnyāsa to mean the giving up of all work (Tayostu karma saṃnyāsāt). On the other hand, we have used this same term, karma saṃnyāsa, in the sense of doing God’s work (service). So, God Krishna has used the word saṃnyāsa in the sense of detachment, while, we have used saṃnyāsa in the sense of attachment. Saṃnyāsa can mean both attachment as well as detachment. It means attachment to God, which, simultaneously, is detachment from the world. Two Birds in One Stone Whenever we do either service (karma saṃnyāsa) or sacrifice (karmaphala tyāga), we are doing both of them! If a person does some service to God, he has also indirectly done the sacrifice of the fruit of his work because, in that time, he could have done some worldly work and earned some worldly fruit. Since he served God, he had to sacrifice that worldly fruit. Thus, effectively, serving God is sacrificing a proportional amount of the fruit of one’s work. Similarly, when a person donates money for the sake of God’s mission, he is sacrificing to God, the fruit of his past worldly work. He had worked in the past, when he was ignorant and he had earned that money. By sacrificing that fruit of his work to God now, his past worldly work effectively becomes God’s service (Karmajaṃ buddhi yukatā hi, phalaṃ tyaktvā...—Gita). Thus, by doing any one of service or sacrifice, you are effectively doing both—two birds in one stone! We have preferred to use the term karma saṃnyāsa to indicate God’s service because a renunciant saint can do only service. Being a renunciant, he possesses no money and hence, he cannot sacrifice the fruit of his work. The word saṃnyāsa indicates sainthood (renunciation). The term karma saṃnyāsa to indicate God’s service indirectly involves giving up worldly work. God Krishna used the same term, karma saṃnyāsa to mean giving up worldly work. So, both usages do not contradict each other. Even when a married devotee dedicated to serving God does worldly work to maintain his or her life and the lives of his or her devoted family members, that worldly work should be included under God’s work (Śarīrayātrāpi ca…, Niyatasya tu saṃnyāsaḥ…—Gita). The devotee should not marry an atheist, who will hinder the spiritual progress of the devotee. The devotee should also always try to improve the devotion of his or her family members so as to get the cooperation of the family in his or her divine service. God’s work (or worship) done aspiring for worldly fruits is only worldly work. It is not God’s work, at all. But worldly work (niyata karma) done for maintaining the body (and the family) in order to do God’s work is indeed God’s work and not worldly work (Karmaṇyakarma...—Gita). We must clearly understand the philosophy of Kumarila Bhaṭṭa in which both jñāna and karma are recommended in the spiritual effort. There is no contradiction in this philosophy, if you take the meaning of the word karma in the second sense as God’s work. In that case, karma becomes the final part of the jñāna mārga. The contradiction arises only when you take the meaning of karma in the first sense of worldly work. Step-by-Step Removal of Aspiration There is a path of the same philosophy in which the word karma is taken in the sense of worldly work, while still maintaining the connection with the spiritual effort. That worldly work is taken to be initial step of the spiritual effort. In this initial step of the spiritual path, it is necessary to develop an attraction for God in the soul. This is done by presenting God as the giver of worldly fruits. The inevitable attraction of the soul to worldly fruits is exploited for the beneficial purpose of developing an attraction in the soul for God. Later on, the soul is gradually guided to develop detachment from the worldly fruits, through the realization that the worldly fruits are illusory. Gradually, the soul reaches the stage of worshipping God, without aspiring for any worldly fruit (Nāstyakṛtaḥ kṛteneti—Veda). It is based on this very approach that the Veda encourages the worship of God for attaining worldly fruits (kāmya yajña). The initial defect of aspiration in the work is acceptable since it is inevitable. As we try to kindle a fire, it inevitably gives off a lot of smoke initially, before burning brightly, later on (Sarvārambhā hi...—Gita). This is very similar to the case of developing a child’s interest in going to school. Initially, the child in the kindergarten class is given some chocolates to motivate it to go to school. At that low level of maturity, one cannot expect the child to be motivated by the knowledge and learning that takes place in the school. But by the time the child grows into an adult postgraduate student, he or she is supposed to be attracted to the knowledge that is to be acquired in the university. At that point, the chocolates should not be the motivating factor for going to the university. Thus, the Veda introduces the worship of God for worldly boons, in the beginning. Later, in the final stage, it introduces the worship of God without the aspiration for any fruit, in the Upanishads. Unfortunately, this path has been an utter failure, in the case of the devotees of today. Today, the postgraduate student is also demanding chocolates to attend classes at the university! Even when people get old, they still remain attached only to worldly fruits (Vṛddhastāvat cintā magnaḥ). Action Leading to Liberation Hence, if you take jñāna-karma samuccaya vāda as following both jñāna and karma (God’s service), this theory is perfectly correct. Śaṅkara condemned this theory too, if the word karma is taken in the first sense, as aspiration-filled worldly work. It is important to remember that even God’s service done aspiring for worldly fruits becomes worldly work. Thus, the word karma is complicated and it has different senses in different contexts (Gahanā karmaṇo gatiḥ—Gita). God Krishna also said that devotees like King Janaka got salvation by karma alone (Karmaṇaiva hi saṃsiddhim, āsthitājanakādayaḥ—Gita). Here, karma means the karma yoga which is part of the path of kowledge jñāna mārga. King Janaka was deeply interested in spiritual knowledge. He used to be so absorbed in spiritual discussions and debates that he once said that even if his city burnt, he would not be bothered at all (Mithilāyāṃ pradagdhāyāṃ na me kiñcana dahyate). If God Krishna had meant worldly work by the word karma, it was impossible for such ‘karma’ to be the path of Janaka’s liberation. If Janaka were constantly engaged in worldly work, such as the administration of his kingdom, he would never have made the above statement! =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  6. Meaning of Brahman, Ishvara and Atman Shri Phani asked: In our latest spiritual discussion, we were discussing about the meanings of words like Brahman, Īśvara and Ātman, in spiritual knowledge. Can you please enlighten us on this topic? Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! Every word has different meanings. Based on the context, you have to select the proper meaning. The word president can mean the president of an entire country as well as the president of a tiny village in the country. Both are addressed as president by the public. When you are discussing the article in the constitution that puts the president above the jurisdiction of the courts of law, the word president can only mean the president of the whole country. It cannot mean the president of the tiny village. You cannot say that the president of the village is above the jurisdiction of courts of law just because all the people in the village are addressing him as president. The mere meaning of a word is not important since it is the context that really decides the specific meaning of the word. The word Brahman literally means ‘the greatest’ (Bṛhi-vṛddhau). It can refer to the greatest item within any specific category of items in the world. Among Hindu scriptures, the Veda is the greatest and hence is called Brahman. So, in this context, Brahman means a book called the Veda. Awareness is the most precious form of inert energy and it is the greatest among all the created items (parā prakṛti). Therefore, in this context, Brahman means awareness. But the unimaginable God is greater than the greatest awareness and hence, is the absolute greatest. Awareness is the greatest among all items of the imaginable world. The unimaginable God is beyond this imaginable world and hence, the word Brahman is prefixed with the word para, which means ‘beyond’. Thus, if you want to specifically refer to the unimaginable God, it is better to use the word Parabrahman, instead of simply using the word Brahman. However, the word Brahman is also used to mean the unimaginable God because He is the greatest, in the real sense. Hence, the word Brahman has several meanings as it indicates several greatest items in different categories, apart from the absolute unimaginable God. When the word Brahman is used, you have to decide its actual meaning, based on the context. For example, in the Gita, it is said that Brahman was generated from the Akṣara (the Eternal). Here, Brahman is not eternal because it is said to be generated. Anything having a birth, must also perish. In this context, Brahman means the non-eternal holy book called the Veda and Akṣara means the eternal unimaginable God. Note how the context helps us decide that Brahman means a holy book and not the unimaginable God. Similarly, in the Gita, Krishna said “I am the base of Brahman (Brahmaṇ’opi pratiṣṭhāham...)”. Here, Brahman cannot be taken to be the unimaginable God, who is the basis of everything. The unimaginable God cannot be said to have any further basis. Here, the word ‘I’ (aham) stands for the unimaginable God. Krishna is referring to Himself as the unimaginable God who has merged with the first energetic form, to become first Energetic Incarnation. This first Energetic Incarnation is called Īśvara (or Datta). Īśvara, is also called Nārāyaṇa and He had further merged with the human being called Vāsudeva or Krishna. Īśvara is already the mediated unimaginable God. Thus, Krishna was both Īśvara and the unimaginable God. In the above line, Brahman, means the first Energetic Incarnation (Īśvara). The word ‘I’ (Aham), referring to Krishna, means the unimaginable God or Parabrahman. This means that the unimaginable God (Aham) is the basis of Īśvara (Brahman). In the Brahma Sūtras, the first sūtra says that an enquiry about Brahman is to be done. In this context, the word Brahman means the unimaginable God because in the second sūtra, no direct characteristic (svarūpa lakṣaṇam) of Brahman is stated. Only the indirect characteristic (taṭastha lakṣaṇam) is stated. The sūtra says that Brahman is the creator, ruler and destroyer of this world. No direct characteristic can be given for an unimaginable item. Hence, the word Brahman referred to, in the first sūtra, is the unimaginable God alone. In the Gita, it is said that Īśvara is the central controller of the entire world (Īśvaraḥ sarvabhūtānāṃ...) and here, the word Īśvara means the unimaginable God alone. Īśvara has become the unimaginable God due to perfect merging of the unimaginable God with the first energetic being. But in literature, the word īśvara is used in a different sense to mean an ordinary human ruler. An example is the word nareśvara (nara + īśvara) meaning the king or ruler of the people in a kingdom. In that context, the word īśvara does not mean the first Energetic Incarnation of the unimaginable God. Similarly, the word ātman means the self or the inert energy present as awareness in a living body. Ātman literally means to occupy space (Atati iti ātmā). As the body grows, the awareness also grows and hence, it occupies more space by expansion. This word is also used in the sense of the unimaginable God because, just as the self makes the body alive and existent, the unimaginable God also makes the world alive and existent. In the Veda, the word Ātman is used to mean the unimaginable God, when it is said that space was generated by the Ātman (Ātmana ākāśaḥ...). The same word Ātman is used elsewhere in the Veda to mean the self situated in the limited human body (Ātmānaṃ rathinaṃ viddhi...). Several words having worldly meanings and indicating worldly items like life (prāṇa), space (ākāśa) etc., are used to indicate the unimaginable God. This is discussed in the Brahma Sūtras (prāṇādhikaraṇa, ākāśādhikaraṇa etc.,). The name of any important worldly item can be used to mean the unimaginable God, in the sense of a figure of speech. Even in the case of worldly topics, the meaning of a word should be understood as per its context. =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  7. Sankranti - The Transition Northward and Southward Journeys O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! Saṅkrānti is the transition of a person from worldly life to spiritual life. A person’s worldly life is represented by the sun’s southward journey (dakṣiṇāyanam), which, according to the Indian calendar, occurs in the six months from July 15th to January 15th. Likewise, a person’s spiritual life is represented by the sun’s northward journey (uttarāyaṇam) from January 15th to July 15th. It is said that if one dies during uttarāyaṇam, one will get salvation, otherwise, one will continue in the cycle of births and deaths. Ignorant people literally think that one can get salvation by dying during the six months when the sun travels northwards! This is not true since several great devotees died during the sun’s southward journey (dakṣiṇāyanam) and still perfectly got salvation. Attaining salvation or not, is related to whether one follows the spiritual path in life or the worldly path. It has nothing to do with the sun’s movement. The uttarāyaṇam and dakṣiṇāyanam periods only represent the spiritual and worldly paths, respectively. So, dying during uttarāyaṇam means dying while pursuing the spiritual path in life and not the worldly path. It means that, at least before death, one should enter into spiritual life. Bhīṣma, who had the boon of choosing the time of his death, is said to have waited until uttarāyaṇam to give up his life, so that he would get salvation. It was his misunderstanding of uttarāyaṇam and dakṣiṇāyanam in terms of time, rather than in terms of the spiritual and worldly paths in life. In fact, he always misunderstood even the worldly path of justice (pravṛtti), which is evident from his keeping silent when Draupadi was being insulted in the court and his supporting the unjust Kauravas in the war. He gave more importance to his blind promise that he would never oppose the king, than protecting justice. But in the last days of his life, as he lay on his deathbed, Krishna came to him. Bhīṣma died praying to Krishna with full concentration and got salvation. Ignorant people misunderstand that Bhīṣma got salvation because he died after January 15th! The Veda says that spiritual life and worldly life are far from each other; in fact, that they are opposite to each other, like north and south poles (Dūramete viparīte viśūcī). As the earth revolves around the sun, the sun appears to move northward in the sky for six months and southward for the remaining six months. The astronomical scriptures of Aryabhaṭṭa and Brahmagupta clearly reveal that it is the earth that goes around the sun and not vice-versa. These northward and southward journeys of the sun, being in mutually opposite directions, were taken as analogies to represent the spiritual and worldly paths, which too are mutually opposite. Astrology and Astronomy In Vedic astrology, the divisions of space and time are represented as a diagram in which the twelve zodiac signs are arranged in a square arrangement around the earth, covering 360°. Earth is assumed to be at the center of the square. The diagram can be clearly understood with the knowledge of astronomy. Each of the zodiac signs rises one after the other from the east and sets in the west, until all twelve are covered in 24 hours (360° rotation). The same 360° of the sky is also divided among 27 constellations (stars). The sun occupies each zodiac sign for a month. It is result of the Earth revolving around the sun, while also rotating about its own axis. Due to the rotation of the earth about its own axis, it covers all the 12 zodiac signs in one full day. The time of the day is thus divided into twelve parts. In addition to this daily rotation, the earth also revolves around the sun in one year, due to which, the sun appears to be in each zodiac sign for one month. Similar to the sun, other planets also appear to pass through each of the zodiac signs, staying in each for definite intervals of time. In Vedic astrology, the sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and the two lunar nodes are all called planets (grahas). The two lunar nodes are said to be the shadow planets, Rāhu and Ketu. In the astrological diagram, the space around the earth (the sky as seen from earth) is divided into two hemispheres: (1) The northern hemisphere starts from the zodiac sign Makara (Capricorn) and ends with the zodiac sign Mithuna (Gemini). It covers the north and east directions. (2) The southern hemisphere starts from the zodiac sign Karkāṭaka (Cancer) and ends with the zodiac sign Dhanu (Sagitarius). It covers the south and west directions. The northern hemisphere is ruled by the deities Kubera, Śiva, Indra and Agni. Kubera rules over the north direction, which includes the signs, Makara and Kumbha (Aquarius). These two signs are owned by Saturn (Śani). Śiva rules over the north-east, where the sign Mīna (Pisces) is placed. Mīna (Pisces) is owned by Jupiter (Bṛhaspati). Indra rules over the east, which consists of the signs, Meśa and Vṛṣabha. These two signs are owned by Mars (Mangal) and Venus (Śukra) repectively. Agni rules over the south-east, where the sign, Mithuna (Gemini) is plaed. Mithuna (Gemini) is owned by Mercury (Budha). The southern hemisphere is ruled by the deities Yama, Nirṛtī, Varuṇa and Vāyu. Yama, the lord of death, rules the south, which includes Karkāṭaka (Cancer) and Siṃha (Leo). These two signs are owned by the moon (Chandra) and the sun (Sūrya) respectively. Nirṛtī, a female demon, rules over the south-west, where the sign Kanyā (Virgo) is placed. This sign owned by Mercury (Budha). Varuṇa, the lord of water and rain, rules over the west, which contain Tulā (Libra) and Vṛṣcika (Scorpio). These two signs are owned by Venus (Śukra) and Mars (Mangal), respectively. Finally, Vāyu rules the north-west containing Dhanu (Sagitarius), which is owned by Jupiter (Guru). Thus, the sky as we see from earth, is divided into 12 zodiac signs from east to west and back to east (from below the earth). It is also divided into the 27 constellations (stars), such that 2 ¼ of a constellation is accommodated in each zodiac sign. Each of the nine planets is located in one of the zodiac signs and constellations at any given time and the planets move through the various zodiac signs and constellations at different rates. Uttarāyaṇam starts with the sun entering Makara (Capricorn) on January 15th and staying there till February 15th. Dakṣiṇāyanam starts with the sun entering Karkāṭaka (Cancer) on July 15th and staying there till August, 15th. This is the essential astronomical basis of astrology. Astronomy is the science dealing with inert physical planets, stars and the zodiac signs, which are imaginary divisions made in the sky. Astrology is part of spiritual knowledge and it deals with the deities of the planets and stars. These deities of the planets are the executives of the cycle of deeds, which is part of the divine administration of God. They grant the fruits of the deeds of every soul to that particular soul. Mars in astronomy means an inert planet in the sky. Mars in astrology means the deity of planet Mars, who is an energetic being having some unimaginable powers. Those unimaginable powers of God have merged into the deity to enable the deity to perform its duties. Some people confuse astronomy with astrology. Rāhu and Ketu are demons that swallowed the Sun-god and the Moon-god since they were angry with the latter two. Rāhu and Ketu were originally one demon of a snake-like form. He tried to cheat God by pretending to be a god (angel) in order to get a share of amṛtam, which is the drink of immortality. The Sun-god and the Moon-god informed this to God Viṣṇu who cut the demon into the two parts, Rāhu and Ketu. Since the demon had already become immortal, the two parts Rāhu and Ketu also remained immortal but they became enemies of the Sun-god and the Moon-god. The swallowing of the deities of Sun and Moon by Rāhu and Ketu is the actual eclipse (grahaṇa) mentioned in the scriptures. This eclipse is between the deities of the respective planets and not between the inert planets. The deities are energetic beings and cannot even been seen by us. The eclipse that we see is an astronomical phenomenon and not the astrological event. The astronomical phenomenon only symbolizes the astrological event. On the day of an eclipse (astronomical), we are told to bathe and worship God to avoid the ill-effects of the eclipse. Such instructions are arthavādas; which means, they are lies that serve the beneficial purpose of developing devotion. There is no need to criticize them due to their benefit for beginners. With this explanation, both physical science and spiritual knowledge are not disturbed at all! The shadows of the moon and earth that fall on the sun and moon respectively during their physical eclipses, are considered to be Rāhu and Ketu, the shadow planets. This is only an analogy representing the actual event taking place between the deities of the planets in the upper world. Dakṣiṇāyanam: Transition to Worldly Life The word saṅkrānti is also used when the sun moves from Mithuna (Gemini) to Karkāṭaka (Cancer). Note that the movement of the sun through the 12 zodiac signs in one year is only an apparent movement. In reality, it is the earth that is rotating about its axis and also revolving around the sun. The apparent movement of the sun through the zodiac is the result of the superimposition of the earth’s rotation and revolution around the sun. Dakṣiṇāyanam begins when the sun transits from Mithuna (Gemini) to Karkāṭaka (Cancer). Mithuna (Gemini), is owned by Mercury and Karkāṭaka (Cancer) is owned by the moon. Mithuna, which is the last sign in uttarāyaṇam represents doing business with the help of God. It represents business-devotion, in which the person practically sacrifices something to God and expects something in return from God. The beginning of dakṣiṇāyanam (worldly life) with the sun’s transit into the sign of the moon (Karkāṭaka) represents a change in the attitude of the mind, since the moon represents the mind. The person starts to think that business should only be done for success, as per the plans of one’s own mind. One begins to feel that there is no need to depend on God. Hence, the soul feels that business-devotion, which involves faith in God, is not better than purely materialistic business. This transition is the transition from theism to atheism. After Karkāṭaka (Cancer), the sun moves into Siṃha (Leo), which is owned by the sun. The sun stands for intelligence. The sun’s transit into Siṃha (Leo) represents the development of the analytical knowledge of science, which involves only creation and not the Creator. Next, the sun moves into Kanyā (Virgo), which is owned by Mercury. Mercury represents business. This transit indicates unethical business done with a desire for profit alone. The transit into the next sign Tulā (Libra), which is owned by Venus, indicates unethical and illegitimate sexual affairs. The transit into Vṛścika (Scorpio), which is owned by Mars, stands for fighting for unjust gains. The next is Dhanu, which is owned by Jupiter. It represents performing rituals for one’s own benefit. These rituals are not based on devotion to God, but are based on the doctrine of action or karma (Pūrva Mīmāṃsā). Thus, the worldly path of dakṣiṇāyanam extends from Karkāṭaka (Cancer) to Dhanu (Sagitarius) while the spiritual path of uttarāyaṇam extends from Makara (Capricorn) to Mithuna (Gemini). Uttarāyanam: Transition to Spiritual Life Today on 15th January, the day of Makara Saṅkrānti, the sun transits from Dhanu (Sagitarius) to Makara (Capricorn). This transit also marks the transition from the cool winter to the hot summer. The coolness of the winter represents the happiness and convenience of worldly life, whereas, the heat of the summer represents the misery and inconvenience of spiritual life. Makara Saṅkrānti represents the transition from worldly life to spiritual life, in this sense too. The path to hell is full of roses, whereas, the path to heaven and God is full of thorns. The transition represents the transition into the sunlight of knowledge that gives strength and removes the darkness of ignorance. The lord of Dhanu (Sagitarius) is Jupiter (Guru) and the lord of Makara (Capricorn) is Saturn (Śani). Jupiter is related to religious rituals done for the sake of benefits. Saturn is the lord of spiritual knowledge (jñāna kāraka). Makara Saṅkrānti is thus a transition from the path of worldly rituals (pravṛtti) to the spiritual path (nivṛtti). Jupiter also represents justice, which means that the soul has reached such a stage in pravṛtti (worldly path of justice) that it completely avoids committing sins and instead, does good deeds. This stage is attained by the recognition of the existence of the unimaginable God, who rewards good deeds and punishes bad deeds. This is the original Pūrva Mīmāṃsā philosophy, as given by sage Jaimini, which accepted God, in this manner. Saturn, the lord of Makara (Capricorn) stands for acquiring the detailed spiritual knowledge about God. The following zodiac sign is Kumbha (Aquarius), which is also owned by Saturn. This continuity of the same lord for adjacent zodiac signs is not found among any of the other signs. It means that the analysis of spiritual knowledge must be always continuous. From this day (January 15th), the next six months of uttarāyaṇam are treated to be very precious and holy. People say that the ritual of upanayanam must be done only within this uttarāyanam period. Actually, upanayanam means coming close to God. In this essential sense, any time is holy. The next zodiac sign in this holy hemisphere of uttarāyaṇam, is Mīna (Pisces). It is located in the north-east corner, which is the place of God Śiva. God Śiva is said to be the deity of spiritual knowledge (Jñānaṃ Maheśvarāt...). The owner of Mīna (Pisces) is also Jupiter, the deity of justice (dharma kāraka). It indicates that you have to work for the welfare of the world, even while following the spiritual path of nivṛtti. You have to preach to people about following the path of worldly justice or pravṛtti. The next sign is Meṣa (Aries) owned by Mars (Maṅgal). Mars being the deity of battle, represents fighting. Meṣa (Aries) represents the fighting and conflicts done for the sake of justice. The next sign, Vṛṣabha (Taurus) owned by Venus represents legitimate sexual life, which is necessary for continuing the human race, in the service of God. The last sign in the holy hemisphere of uttarāyaṇam is Mithuna (Gemini) owned by Mercury. It represents business-devotion to God, as explained earlier. This inferior stage of devotion need not be criticized since it is inevitable in the beginning. It has the advantage that it, at least, accepts the existence of God. Good and Bad Angles of Qualities and Actions All qualities and actions have two angles—pravṛtti (dakṣiṇāyanam) and nivṛtti (uttarāyaṇam). Knowledge can be worldly as well as spiritual. Rituals can be done for the sake of one’s own benefit or for worshiping God without the aspiration for any fruit. Fighting can be for justice as well as for injustice. Sex can be illegitimate or legitimate. Business can be unethical as well as ethical. Souls, depending on their nature, will choose one or the other angle. The planets in the horoscope of a person only represent the existing nature of the soul. They do not cause the soul to have a certain nature. Clever people reverse this and say that they committed the sin due to the influence of a bad planet. The truth is that the planet only represented the sin done by the soul. Upanayanam and Gāyatrī mean becoming close to God by singing devotional songs. In this true sense, upanayanam can be done at any time. Representative Models Representative models only indicate concepts. As such, the model and the actual concept are not physically related in any way. The three-coloured national flag of India represents the country, India. There is not the slightest physical relationship between the flag and the country. In the flag, the upper red colour indicates the quality of rajas (creation). The middle white colour indicates sattvam (ruling) and the lower green colour indicates tamas (destruction). The three colors represent the three fundamental qualities found predominantly in Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva respectively. The three colors representing three qualities indicate a living being from among the public. But the flag-staff (pole), the cloth and the colors, of the flag, by themselves are non-living items. This means that the model only represents the concept and has nothing to do with the concept, in reality. Once, in a speech, Shri Satya Sai said “This is My finger and that is a flower. With the help of My finger pointing towards the flower, you should see the flower. Once you have seen the flower, the finger is not necessary”. This does not mean that the finger should be cut off once you have seen the flower! You should still respect the finger since it helped you in seeing the flower. If the finger continues to exist, it will also help others in seeing the flower. Before you saw the flower, the finger was essential for you too. Similarly, in the initial stage, the model is essential to realize the concept. Even in the advanced stage, after realizing the concept, you should be grateful and respect the model that helped you. The same model will also help others in the future. This is the reason why everybody salutes to and respects the national flag. Hence, in the beginning, statues and images of God are essential to understand the existence of the unimaginable God. Once the unimaginable God is understood and realized by identifying the contemporary Human Incarnation, the statues and images are not necessary for the realized devotee. But even the realized devotee must be grateful to the statues and images, which have helped him and which continue to help others who are in that initial stage. The human form of the statue indicates that the God to be sought by you is the contemporary Human Incarnation of God. The common human form of the statue and the Human Incarnation of God indicates this. Even a realized soul worships statues and images due to his gratitude and to become an example for other devotees who are beginners (Lokasaṅgrahamevāpi...—Gita). Representative models are only meant for beginners and not for advanced scholars in spiritual knowledge. The rigid religious traditions succeed in the case of an ignorant beginner, but they fail to bind a true scholar. To explain this Śaṅkara gave the example of a knife, which can be used to cut vegetables, but it fails to cut a stone (Śilāprayukta kṣurādivat...)! Any statue or image is made of some material consisting of both inert energy and inert matter. But it lacks the non-inert awareness. So, priests perform the ritual of life-initiation (prāṇa pratiṣṭhā) on the statues in temples. The life-initiation ritual is also performed for images and statues worshipped by people in their homes. In spite of that, no life appears in those inert objects! This means that the life-initiation ritual is not meant to make an inert statue alive, but that it is a model representing the concept that one should worship the living human form of God, which is the contemporary Human Incarnation. It means that the object of worship should contain inert matter, inert energy and non-inert awareness. But we know that: Inert matter + inert energy + non-inert awareness = human being Thus, the ritual provides the correct address of God, which is in the human being. It refers to the external medium in which God has entered and merged. The living human medium consists of matter, energy and awareness. When the unimaginable God enters one such chosen living human medium and merges with it, that human being becomes the Human Incarnation. The unimaginable God has already entered and merged with an energetic form in the upper world. This first Energetic Incarnation of God is called Datta or Īśvara. This Datta further enters and merges with the living human medium to become a Human Incarnation. The life-initiation ritual indicates to the devotees that they must seek and worship this living Human Incarnation of God and not mere images made of inert matter and inert energy. Instead of giving value to inert matter and energy, one must transition to valuing the non-inert awareness in human beings. Finally, one should transition from valuing ordinary human beings to searching and worshipping the Human Incarnation of God. This is real transition or saṅkrānti. Good, Bad and Meaningless Traditions The real saṅkrānti means leaving bad traditions and following good traditions. Certain traditions, although essentially meaningless, can still be followed since they are meant for encouraging beginners. There are three types of traditions: (1) The good traditions established by ancient sages, which are followed by realized souls. (2) Meaningless traditions, also established by the sages, for the sake of encouraging and teaching beginners. These traditions too are followed by realized souls out of gratitude and for the sake of others. (3) Bad traditions established by ignorant priests, in later times. A good tradition is performing every ritual with the knowledge of the internal meanings of the Vedic hymns. It improves one’s spiritual knowledge and devotion to God. For instance, the internal meaning of upanayanam is getting close to God and Gāyatrī means pleasing God through devotional songs. Real sacrifice (yajña or homa) means pacifying the hunger-fire of a human being, bird or animal, by offering food. Veda adhyayana means knowing the deep meanings of the Vedic hymns. A bad tradition is doing a ritual blindly, without understanding its background and without even knowing the meanings of the Vedic hymns, as is commonly done by many people. The real meaning of upanayanam is not putting a three-stranded thread over the shoulder of a child and initiating the child into the recitation of a particular Vedic hymn written in the Gāyatrī meter. Sacrifice does not mean burning ghee in the physical fire and wasting precious food items like milk, in the name of worship, while several hungry living beings die every day. God will be immensely pleased if hungry souls are fed, since they are all His children. The Veda says that even a trace of food should not be wasted, even in the name of worship (Annaṃ na paricakṣīta). Ignorant priests worshipping the Divine Mother burn a silk sari in the sacrificial fire on the final day of pūrṇāhuti. The Divine Mother will actually be greatly pleased if the same sari is given to a poor lady. A meaningless tradition is that which is basically false, but it is meant for developing the devotion of a beginner. It is not meant for a scholar. Scholars still follow such traditions to maintain the faith of the beginners. The annual ritual performed on the death anniversary of a departed soul is a good tradition because, in that ritual, a deserving person is fed and honoured by offering money and clothes in donation. This is meritorious action (puṇyam) that protects the departed soul as well as the performer. But this ritual can be done on any day. There is no need to do it only on the death anniversary. But sages created certain lies (arthavāda), such as the idea that feeding a deserving priest on the death anniversary of the departed relative is necessary to ensure that the departed soul gets food in the upper world. This false idea is introduced only to ensure that even greedy people perform this ritual involving sacrifice (donation), at least on the death anniversary of their departed relatives. Actually, the departed soul is present in an energetic body in the upper world, after the death of the physical body on earth. In the energetic body, it consumes energy directly as food. But the false idea of food for the departed relatives was created so that ignorant greedy people, out of the fear that their departed relatives will starve in the upper world, will certainly perform this ritual on the death anniversary. That way, they will perform at least some meritorious action and get an opportunity of gaining at least some knowledge from the learned priest performing the ritual for them. Without this false idea, those greedy people would never have done any meritorious action or learned any spiritual knowledge. A true scholar knows the truth of the matter, but he still performs the ritual for the welfare of such greedy persons! A scholar will not condemn a mother feeding her child by telling the false story that the moon will come down to the child, if the child finishes the food quickly. The scholar supports such a lie in the interest of the child and probably tells the same lie to his own child! Purpose of Festivals and Rituals The purpose of festivals that involve the worship of God is to inculcate devotion among ordinary souls. The festivals are celebrated at specific times and at holy places or other specific places and they are meant for the welfare of ordinary souls. A true scholar worships God at all times and in every place. Such a scholar is said to be in the state of mahāvratam as described by sage Patañjali, which is being beyond the constraints of place and time. For ordinary souls, certain arthavādas (beneficial lies) are essential to attract their ignorant minds. The truth of the arthavādas should not be revealed to them, since it can damage their faith. True scholars follow these arthavādas in the interest of the beginners. But if a true scholar (jñānī) violates these arthavādas occasionally, due to special circumstances, ignorant priests should not blame that true scholar. For example, a renounced saint (saṃnyāsī) should not perform the death rituals of his parents because he has crossed all worldly bonds and he also knows that the death ritual is only a prayer to God to protect the departed soul. Śankara, who was also a saint, wanted to perform the death rituals for His mother, as per her last wish. But the ignorant priests strongly objected to it and refused to even give Him fire to perform the ritual. The reality was that the mother of Śaṅkara had already reached the abode of God directly. There was no need of any ritual for her. In any case, the ritual is only to cremate the body and it has no effect on the soul. In anyway of cremation like burning, burying, drowning in water etc., the five elements of the dead body merge with the five cosmic gross elements only. There is also a tradition to leave the dead body in forest as food for birds and animals and in this way also the five elements of the dead body merge with the five cosmic gross elements only! When the priests refused to give Him fire for the cremation, Śaṅkara, being the Incarnation of God Śiva, burnt the body with the fire generated from His third eye! In the case of Śaṅkara, the special situation was that His mother had made Him promise before she permitted Him to accept sainthood, that He would perform her funeral ritual. Śaṅkara did not want to avoid sainthood and become a householder, just to be allowed to perform His mother’s funeral rites. He had incarnated on earth to propagate spiritual knowledge as a saint. In the view of the importance of His divine program, He decided to become a saint and still perform the funeral rites, contrary to tradition. He promised her the same. Even an ordinary human being should not break a promise given to another human being, let alone breaking a promise given to one’s own mother. Hence, He performed her funeral ritual. It was not an actual breaking of tradition because any ritual is only a prayer to God to protect the departed soul and anybody can do it, even for an unknown person. The Gita says that knowing the background-knowledge behind a traditional ritual is more important than following it blindly (Śreyo hi jñānamabhyāsāt). Further, the Gita says that focusing one’s attention on spiritual knowledge which leads to devotion for God is more important than the mere background-knowledge of a ritual. This is because, the essential purpose of any ritual is only improving the person’s spiritual knowledge and devotion to God (Jñānāt dhyānaṃ viśiṣyate). At the end, the Gita says that service accompanied with the sacrifice of the fruit of one’s hard work (donation) is more important than both the theoretical knowledge and the theoretical devotion. The practical step of service and sacrifice is the final full stop (Dhyānāt karmaphala tyāgaḥ, tyāgāt śāntiranantaram). The word ‘śānti’ used here, means a full stop, beyond which nothing remains to be said.
  8. Spiritual Knowledge only for Rare Diamonds? Shri Phani asked: In Your discourse on December 02, 2019, You have said that Your spriritual knowledge is not meant for the general public, but only for a few rare diamonds scattered here and there in the world. With reference to it, someone remarked to me that if the spiritual knowledge of Datta Swami is only meant for rare diamonds, let Him confine His preaching to only those few diamonds. What is the necessity to propagate it to the public, all over the world? Could You please respond to this? Rarity of Spiritual Attainment Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! This point that spiritual knowledge is meant for the rare few was actually told by God Krishna in the Gita. He said that out of millions of devotees, only one tries to reach God and among those rare devotees trying to reach God, only one recognizes God (Manuṣyāṇāṃ…). Such a devotee is the rarest of the rare. Even that rarest-of-the-rare devotee recognizes and reaches God, only after trying to reach Him for several births (Bahūnāṃ...—Gita). Actually, the absolute God is unimaginable. He can never even be understood by anybody since He is beyond imagination (Atarkyaḥ…—Veda). Yet, God Krishna was speaking about recognizing and reaching God, which appears to be contradictory. How can we reconcile this idea of recognizing and reaching God with the fact that God is unimaginable? It clearly means that God Krishna was speaking about the mediated God (Incarnation) and not about the absolute unimaginable God. The mediated God can be identified since He is visible to our eyes. Of course, mediated God includes both Energetic and Human Incarnations of God. The Energetic Incarnation is relevant to the energetic beings (angels) of the upper worlds. The Human Incarnation is relevant to human beings of this earth. Since Arjuna was a human being and Krishna was directly speaking to him, God, in that context, only meant the Human Incarnation of God. You might say that Arjuna was directly seeing Krishna, the Human Incarnation of God, so where is the problem? The problem is not in being able to see the Human Incarnation. The problem lies in being able to recognize the Human Incarnation. Krishna said that the rarest-of-the-rare devotee alone can recognize Him essentially (Tattvataḥ...). If it were only a matter of seing the Incarnation, not only Arjuna, but everybody else could also see Krishna. The real problem was, how may could recognize Him? Only the sages who were reborn as the Gopikās recognized Krishna essentially as God and not as a mere human being based on His external appearance. Actually, not even all the Gopikās could recognize Him. Only a few among them could recognize Him. What was the problem due to which everyone else failed to recognize Krishna essentially as God? The problem is the repulsion between the common human media of God and the souls. When the unimaginable God merges with a human being, He appears like any other human being, externally. So, other human beings experience repulsion towards Him. Due to the repulsion, they fail to recognize the Human Incarnation of God like Krishna. This repulsion of the common medium is nothing but ego and jealousy. Every human being has an ego and also feels jealous of any other fellow-human being. No human being can tolerate the greatness of another human being. This problem is not only limited to human beings on earth, but it equally applies in the case of energetic beings in the upper worlds (Pratyakṣa dviṣaḥ—Veda). Every energetic being (angel) experiences this repulsion of the common medium for other energetic beings, including the Energetic Incarnations of God like Viṣṇu, Śiva etc. Even Indra, an important angel came under the grip of this repulsion for God Śiva, the Energetic Incarnation of God and tried to kill God Śiva with his weapon! The soul in a human body on earth, experiences this repulsion for the Human Incarnation of God due to the common human media of the soul and God. After death and upon acquiring an energetic body in the upper world, the same soul meets the Energetic Incarnation of God. Again, due to the common energetic media of God and the soul, the energetic being fails to recognize the Energetic Incarnation. The Veda says that this is the greatest loss or the greatest tragedy for any soul because the soul misses God, both here and there, forever (Mahatī vinaṣṭiḥ)! Ego (mada) and jealousy (mātsarya) are the topmost among the six vices (ṣadguṇas) and no soul can be free of these two. They are the real cataracts in the two eyes of the person. Your friend who passed the above comment, is no exception to this. He is experiencing repulsion for the other devotees, whom I praised as rare diamonds. He is unable to tolerate the greatness of those rare devotees and so he passed this comment! Added to this problem of ego and jealousy, is another wonderful problem! The spiritual path necessarily involves the soul serving and sacrificing to the climax-extent to the mediated God, who is hidden in an ordinary medium of a human being. While serving and sacrificing, the soul must be free of the aspiration for any fruit in return! Who can do such selfless service and sacrifice? Commonly, anyone doing such selfless service and sacrifice is said to be the biggest fool (Prayojanamanuddiṣya...)! When the basic recognition of God-in-human-form itself is a million-dollar question, the service and sacrifice to Him, without aspiring for any fruit in return becomes a billion-dollar question! This is the essence of these verses told by Krishna in the Gita. Krishna, as the Human Incarnation of God was, not only the Guide, but also the Goal. A guru is only a guide, whereas, the Satguru is the Guide and Goal. Even Arjuna could recognize Krishna just as a guide. It was only the Gopikās, who recognized Krishna as their Guide and Goal. The general repulsion of the common human medium certainly existed in Arjuna’s mind for Krishna. But there was also an additional, more specific repulsion, due to their common gender. Both were men. It made it even more difficult for Arjuna to overcome His ego and jealousy towards Krishna. You might wonder how come Āñjaneya (Hanumān), being male too, could recognize and serve His contemporary Human Incarnation of God, Rāma. Was Āñjaneya not influenced by the double repulsion of the common medium and the common gender? The answer is that Rāma was in a human form, whereas, Āñjaneya was in the form of a monkey (vānara). So, the repulsion of the common (human) medium was absent in His case! We have been trained from our very childhood by our elders and as part of tradition, that we should pray to God and worship Him, so that God will give us material benefits and protect us from all sorts of problems, here and hereafter. We have absorbed this poison for such a long time that we have become like the pickle that has absorbed salt, through and through, after being stored in a jar for a long time. Can we get rid of this poison by any effort made, for any length of time? It is almost impossible for any soul! Hence, the words like rare and the rarest have been used in the Gita. Of course, in the intitial stage, devotion with an aspiration for some fruit in return from God is inevitable for ordinary human beings. All beginnings are always defective, as said in the Gita (Sarvārambhāhi...). However, in childhood, the expectation for some fruit in return has not yet firmly established in a person’s mind. Hence, it is important to develop devotion for God in the mind of the child by portraying the wonderful divine personality of God. This can be effectively done by telling the stories of divine Energetic and Human Incarnations of God. The child should develop devotion to God, due to an attraction for His divine personality and not because God provides materialistic benefits. If such aspiration-free devotion is well-established in the person’s mind from early childhood, then upon growing into an adult, much aspiration for the fruit will not enter the person’s mind. Grades for Encouraging Progress The teacher teaches the entire class without any partiality towards any student. Yet, only one student tops the class and gets the gold medal! The gold medal is not given to the topper, to discourage other students, but so that all other students recognize the truth and try to become the gold medallist. Apart from the gold medal for the topper, there are several grades below it, like a distinction, first class, second class and third class. Other students are awarded those grades as per their performance. In any case, students should ensure that they do not fail. Even if a certain student happens to fail, he or she should try again and again, keeping the goal of getting the gold medal, one day. Devotees trying to attain God are like these students in the class. All of them should try to become the gold-medallist, even though only one might actually achieve it. Only atheists are in a pitiable situation. They are like the children who have refused to get admitted to a school. The Kohinoor diamond is the topmost among all diamonds. It stands for the topmost devotee. Other diamonds are like other top devotees. Beware that apart from real diamonds, there are artificial diamonds too! These are pretenders. But below the real diamonds, there are several grades of stones like granite, marble, gravel and sand particles. All these grades are only devotees at different stages of the spiritual effort. No grade should be looked down upon. Atheists are like carbon particles, which do not shine at all, whereas, all other grades shine at least a little. But there are some atheists, who have become Kohinoor diamonds. These atheists are very sincere and very persistent in their effort. They are like fast runners. When they turn to the right path, they will easily overtake the theists walking slowly along the path. You need not worry how the black carbon is. It can even become the most brightly shining diamond! You must know that diamond is an allotropic form of carbon itself! Jealousy is Based on Wrong Understanding Some devotees treat Me as the Incarnation of God Dattātreya and they want to serve Me by propagating My spiritual knowledge. Of course, I do not know whether I am an Incarnation or not. I did have a vision in the holy place named Shrishailam. God Datta appeared in His energetic form before Me and merged into Me. But that might have been an illusion of My eyes. However, after seeing this unimaginable knowledge flowing out of Me, I believed that My vision was true and not an illusion. By telling this to you, I am not boasting about My being an Incarnation. I know the technology of incarnation. An Incarnation is just mediated God. The medium does not get any importance at all. If a diamond is hidden in a cover, what is the value of the cover? All the value lies only in the diamond. God Datta is the one who is speaking this knowledge and I am only the microphone before His mouth. If I do not accept that I am an Incarnation of God Datta, it means that I am claiming to be the author of this excellent spiritual knowledge. That would be the climax of ego! In that case, your jealousy towards Me will increase even more and you will suffer even more! But when I say that I am an Incarnation, it means that I am zero since all the knowledge given by Me is being spoken by God Datta alone. By saying that I am not the Incarnation, I would be taking the credit for giving this excellent spiritual knowledge and indirectly denying that God Datta is its original author. The Gita says that whenever excellent true spiritual knowledge is seen, God alone is the author of it (Jñātvātmaiva...). It is such knowledge given by God that alone directs souls on the right path. Directing souls on the right path (jñāna) alone has the total importance. Neither the act of travelling (karma) nor the speed of travel (bhakti) is important. This is because, numerous devotees are already serving and sacrificing a lot (karma). They also have excellent devotion in their mind (bhakti). They are travelling (karma) on the path at high speed (bhakti). The only problem is that they are travelling in the wrong direction. They have not recognized the contemporary Human Incarnation to be the Goal of their spiritual effort and they have not realized that devotion should be free of aspiration. Thus, all they are lacking is the right direction (jñāna). When it comes to performing miracles, God grants that power to others. Even demons have acquired miraculous powers from God! But when it comes to knowledge, God Himself gives it directly. This is because of the highest importance of knowledge in the spiritual path. Since God directly gives the knowledge, one need not form a high opinion about the external medium of the Incarnation. By hearing the word Incarnation, everybody feels jealous of the external human form of the Incarnation. But sharp analysis reveals that such jealousy is based on a false concept because all the greatness lies with God and not with the medium. The greatness lies with the diamond and not its cover; with the person speaking and not with the microphone. A climax-devotee for whom, God has become his or her servant, is greater than even the Incarnation. In the Incarnation, the devotee (human medium) is treated as God i.e., the devotee only becomes equal to God. A non-electrified golden wire (climax-devotee) is more valuable than an electrified copper wire (Human Incarnation)! Diamonds and Propagation In the context of the propagation of My (God Datta’s) spiritual knowledge, I suggested to My (God Datta’s) devotees that, in the local area, I (God Datta) should not be projected as a preacher of spiritual knowledge. This is because, My (God Datta’s) spiritual knowledge is mainly based on knowledge of Śaṅkara, the devotion of Rāmānuja and the service and sacrifice of Madhva. The knowledge and devotion are both theoretical (in the mind). The service and sacrifice are practical and they are the practical proof of the devotion in the mind, as long as there is no aspiration for any fruit in return from God. My devotees had planned some local propaganda with banners etc., and had asked for My guidance. I told them to not do any such localized propaganda, highlighting My spiritual knowledge because those capable of absorbing such spiritual knowledge are rare and they are scattered here and there. They are not localized in any one area. Even if such knowledge were propagated, to the local people, they would only adsorb it and not absorb it. Adsorption is a surface phenomenon, while absorption is a bulk phenomenon. It means that the local people might only understand and appreciate it superficially and not in a deep and thorough manner. On the other hand, if this knowledge is propagated through e-mails or TV channels, all those rare diamonds located in different places, will certainly come face-to-face with it. If devotees want to propagate something about Me only in the local area, I told them that I should be projected as an astrologer or a man of miracles. All temples are flourishing because God in these temples is projected as having miraculous powers to solve people’s worldly problems. Only one Kohinoor diamond appreciates the fact that real devotion (love) is always selfless. My friend who passed the above comment, has misunderstood that My spiritual knowledge is confined only to diamonds. It is a total misunderstanding! The propagation of knowledge depends on the receivers of the knowledge. The method of propagation chosen, whether it is propagation in the local area or all over the world, should suit the level of the receivers of the knowledge. This is My actual point. My point is not to confine only to the rare diamonds. I have presented the overall picture of the process of propagation and the various levels of the receivers of the knowledge. The Kohinoor diamond is the devotee who absorbs or appreciates selfless devotion. Such a devotee is at the topmost level and is the goal to be reached by all the devotees. Projecting the gold medallist is only to encourage every student to put in hard work for becoming that rarest gold medallist. If not the Kohinoor diamond, one can at least become a diamond by reducing the aspiration for any fruit from God, as far as possible. Such a stage is very close to the Kohinoor diamond. Spiritual knowledge is mainly meant for the majority of devotees in the lower grades. It is not meant for the Kohinoor diamond, at all! The Kohinoor diamond has already reached the highest level and does not require any preaching from anybody. Even the other diamonds do not require much preaching. They just need to be reminded of the concepts that they have already learnt. =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  9. Swami's Vision of the Sixteen-Year-Old Sai Shri P V N M Sharma asked: Swami! You often tell us Your experience when You prayed to Lord Rāma and Shri Satya Sai appeared before You asking You to propagate spiritual knowledge. Why did Lord Rāma or any other divine form not appear before You? Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! I often get divine visions, in which mainly God Datta appears to Me in energetic form and He speaks with Me; sometimes even for several hours! Of course, other divine forms of God Datta also appear now and then and they include Energetic Incarnations and the energetic forms of past Human Incarnations. In all these visions, the divine form seen is only an energetic form and not a materialized human form. For the first time in My entire life so far, and only on that one occasion, the divine form of Shri Satya Sai that appeared before Me was a materialized human form. The silver throne on which He was sitting was also a materialized form! Actually, I had expected that, as usual, the energetic form of God Rāma would appear before Me since I had prayed to God Rāma by singing a spontaneously-composed song in Sanskrit (Yāce Śrī Rāmaṃ, tavāsmīti). I had composed this song on God Rāma seeking His help in a materialistic matter. Rāma had said that if anybody surrenders to Him saying that he belongs to Rāma, Rāma would certainly protect the devotee (Tavāsmīti ca yācate—Rāmayaṇam). But, instead of Rāma, Shri Satya Sai appeared in materialized human form before Me, sitting on a materialized silver throne! There is always a deep spiritual message in the actions of God, which is understood by us, in due course of time, through sharp analysis. The main question is, why did Shri Satya Sai appear when I had prayed to Rāma? The answer lies in the fact that the most important concept in the spiritual knowledge to be propagated by this Datta Swami is the concept of the contemporary Human Incarnation of God. On that day when I prayed, Shri Satya Sai was still alive and was in Puttaparti. He was the contemporary Human Incarnation of God Datta for Me. Rāma was also a Human Incarnation, but He was not My contemporary. It is the contemporary Human Incarnation who clears all the spiritual doubts of the devotee and greatly strengthens the devotee’s understanding of the spiritual knowledge. That strong understanding of spiritual knowledge produces powerful devotion. No such facility of doubt clarification and strengthening of knowledge is possible in the case of the statues and images of Energetic Incarnations and past Human Incarnations of God. This is the reason why no Energetic Incarnation like Viṣṇu, Śiva, Brahmā etc., or no past Human Incarnation like Rāma, Krishna, Shirdi Sai etc., appeared in energetic form before Me that day. The form of Satya Sai that appeared was not an energetic form, but a human form because contemporary Human Incarnation is always a human form and not an energetic form. The very first statement of Satya Sai was that I had been selected by Him for the propagation of spiritual knowledge. Another important point is that Satya Sai appeared before Me as a 16-year-old boy, whereas, at the same time, Satya Sai was also present in Puttaparti and He was about 75 years of age! He could have appeared before Me in His usual form, aged 75 years. What is the background of this? Shri Satya Sai was an Incarnation of God Datta, who is always said to appear 16 years of age, as indicated by one of His holy names (Nityaṣoḍaśa varṣīyase namaḥ). Angels, on the other hand, always appear 30 years of age (tridaśāḥ). The reason God Datta appears young is that you have to love God Datta as your son and not as your father. The love for one’s children is always real and the highest. Even if children are ungrateful to their parents, the parents still love them blindly. The devotion of parents for their children is completely real because, in addition to theoretical love, parents also show practical love for their children, without aspiring for any fruit in return. Theoretical love means the mental feeling of love, which is the result of the knowledge that the child is one’s own. Practical love means serving the child and giving up one’s entire wealth to one’s child. Serving the child or working for the child is the sacrifice of work. Giving one’s wealth to the child means sacrificing the fruit of one’s work to the child since the fruit of one’s work is wealth. The sacrifice of work is called karma saṃnyāsa and the sacrifice of the fruit of work is called karma phala tyāga. Both together constitute practical love. They are the proof of the theoretical love that exists in the mind. Parents’ love for their children is completely real because the theoretical love is proved in practice. It is also free of aspiration since it does not reduce even if the children behave badly with the parents. This is exactly the kind of love that God expects from us. The theoretical love for God should be the product of our recognition of Him through spiritual knowledge. But apart from having theoretical devotion for Him, we should also prove our devotion in practice, through the sacrifice of work (karma saṃnyāsa) and the sacrifice of the fruit of work (karma phala tyāga). Even if He does not fulfill our desires, our devotion to Him should not change even a bit. In other words, our devotion to God must be aspiration-free. All this is extremely difficult. Thus, treating God to be our son is highly inconvenient to us! Hence, we prefer to treat God as our father, so that, even though we behave ungratefully with Him, He will not care about it and He will continue to show real theoretical and practical love for us! In order to reverse this selfish concept in our minds, He always appears as a 16-year-old boy, who can only be our son and not our father! If God Datta comes in the form of an angel, appearing to be 30 years of age, there is a chance that we may consider Him to be our father. But by appearing to be a 16-year-old boy, there is no chance for us to consider Him as our father. We are forced to consider Him to be our son! =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  10. How can unfortunate souls whose bad qualities are strengthened over several previous births, attain salvation? Swami replied: The soul is given full freedom in choosing the right path or the wrong path (Svabhāvastu pravartate—Gita). God does not force souls to leave the wrong path and turn to the right path. Using logic, God fully explains to souls about both paths and the results of following each of them. It is the souls who must feel attracted towards the right path preached by God and follow it, using their own free will. Krishna only preached to Arjuna what the right direction in his situation was. After presenting the complete logic before Arjuna, Krishna finally told Arjuna to analyze whatever He had said thoroughly and make his own decision, using his own free will (Yathecchasi tathā kuru). Krishna could have just forced Arjuna to fight the war, even without preaching the Gita. His mere will was sufficient to change the mind of Arjuna, in a fraction of a second. Then there would have been no need to preach all the eighteen chapters of the Gita! But God honors the free will that He Himself has granted to the soul. The change in the soul should not come through divine force. Instead, it should come through divine knowledge. It is for this reason that the soul must correctly grasp the concepts preached by God and assimilate them, in order to bring them into practice. If the soul had no freedom and acted only as per the direction of God, the question posed by you would not even arise. The divine father, being greatly interested in the welfare of all the souls created by Him, would only direct them on the path of justice and they would all follow justice. Thus, there would only be peace and harmony in the world. In fact, such a situation actually existed for a very long time in the period called the Kṛta Yuga. But after that long time, souls got bored of always strictly following the directions given by God, without any freedom to choose what they wanted. So, they desired a free-will. The divine father always aims at the pleasure of His children and hence, He granted them a free-will, using which they had full freedom to choose what they wanted. But God expected souls to use their free-will in a responsible manner, using the powerful intelligence given to them to discriminate between the right and wrong paths. He clearly explained to them about the right and wrong paths through the scriptures. Knowing that souls are likely to misunderstand or deliberately misinterpret His preaching, He has repeatedly incarnated in human form, to eliminate the doubts and misinterpretations and preach true spiritual knowledge to every generation. In His preaching, He stresses on souls following the right path, again and again. God is the divine Father of all souls, whereas, you are only a brother or sister to other souls. You should realize that He is far more concerned about their welfare than you are and He wants all souls to return to the right path. But God will never violate the free-will that He Himself has granted to souls. Under these circumstances, there is no other way than to repeatedly preach to souls about following the correct path while, at the same time, giving them full freedom to choose what they want. The souls who follow His preaching progress spiritually, while those who reject His preaching do not. Souls who wish to change must choose to follow His guidance, using their own free will. There is no other alternative, under the circumstances. =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  11. What is the connection between theism and the belief in the Veda? Shri J. Prasad (Prof. Sanskrit, Central University) asked: The Veda is the authority for knowing the existence of God. So, it is said that those who do not believe in the Veda are atheists, while those who believe in it are theists. But some Vedic scholars believe that the sound and accents of Vedic recitation are the main soul of the Veda. They say that Indra defeated and killed the demon Vṛtra because sages uttered a certain Vedic accent in a different way. Of course, You have clarified that Vṛtra was killed due to the will of God and not due to the changed accent of recitation. However, the point is that such Vedic scholars do not believe in any God other than the sound of the Veda. Then, how can the belief in the Veda be the basis for differentiating between theists (āstikas) and atheists (nāstikas)? Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! The Veda means the spiritual knowledge by which God is known and attained (Enaṃ vindanti Vedena, Vedaiśca sarvairahameva vedyaḥ, Tametaṃ Vedānuvacanena..., etc.). The greatness of the Veda is in that it is the knowledge of God. In other words, the greatness of the Veda is not independent, but dependent on the greatness of God. The temple is holy because of the presence of God in it. Without God, it is not at all holy. Similarly, the Veda is holy because it describes and praises God. Most of our ancestors have been greatly influenced by the path of Pūrva Mīmāṃsā, which negates the existence of God. Keeping the Veda in the place of God, it only gives importance to rituals, which are done without understanding their meaning (Devo na kaścit bhuvanasya bhartā, Karmānurupāṇi puraḥ phalāni). These people give the topmost place to the sound of the Vedic verses recited with the proper accents. They treat that sound of the Veda itself as God (Śabdamātra Devatā) and they do not care for the meaning of the Veda, even though the word ‘Veda’ itself means knowledge! Even the word adhyayana also means studying the knowledge and not the blind recitation of the Veda. Knowing that people will continue to recite the Veda without understanding its meaning, the scriptures have given a clear instruction that the meaning of the Veda should be known (Vedo adhyetavyo jñeyaśca). People may misunderstand the Veda to be a text, instead of spiritual knowledge which is to be learnt. They may also misunderstand adhyayana to mean the blind recitation of the text, instead of the study of the Vedic knowledge. But they cannot neglect the third word ‘jñeyaśca’, which very clearly means ‘to be known’. These blind people are effectively saying that the external temple itself is God and that there is no other God in the temple! The outer temple is just an inert building and has no trace of even the relative awareness that is present in an animal. How can it possess the absolute unimaginable awareness or the omniscient awareness of God? If you take the Veda as the mere inert sound, without its meaning, how can it be God? God is not at all inert, as per the Brahma Sūtra (Īkṣateḥ…). How can the inert sound, by itself, grant us any results? The inert wooden sandals (pādukās) of the divine preacher are worshiped, but only as symbols of the non-inert preacher, for whom we have great value. But if a person denies the very existence of the divine preacher and says that the wooden sandals themselves are the divine preacher, will we not say that such a fellow is a crack? In the Gita, Krishna scolded such mad fools who worship the inert sandals and deny the preacher. He called these people atheists (Vedavādaratāḥ pārtha, nānyadastīti vādinaḥ). Even ordinary atheists are better than these people, who not only have wrong knowledge, but are also mentally deranged! An ordinary atheist does not believe in the existence of God and hence, he criticizes the Veda, which establishes the existence of God (Nāstiko Vedanindakaḥ). These atheists are people who are unable to catch the correct logic. But the Pūrva Mīmāṃsakas are not only incapable of catching the correct logic regarding the existence of God, but they are also mad in saying that the Veda itself is God! You go to the palace of a king and say that the palace itself is the king and that no king other than the palace exists! Will you not be branded as a mental patient, who has escaped from the mental hospital? These fools think that the sound of the Veda is God. As per science, sound is merely a form of inert energy. They further think that the inert rituals performed by them also give results by themselves! If you serve the king, the king, who is pleased with your service, can give you a reward. The inert service cannot bring a reward on its own! While walking past a temple, you touch the compound wall of the temple with devotion. You treat the entire temple to be holy due to the presence of God in it. God may be pleased with your devotion and He may protect you. But you cannot say that the compound wall or the inert action of touching the compound wall brings divine protection by itself. I am short of words to scold these blind mad people, who deny the existence of God in the temple and treat the inert temple-building itself as God! Theists respect the holy Veda due to their understanding of the knowledge contained in it. The spiritual knowledge contained in the Veda establishes the existence of the unimaginable God (Parabrahman) who possesses unimaginable power. It also establishes the fact that the unimaginable God can be seen in mediated form, especially as the contemporary Human Incarnation. As per the Puruṣa Sūktam in the Veda, the world was created by the unimaginable God expressed in mediated form. This is evident from the fact that the Puruṣa Sūktam describes the mediated God as having a head, hands etc. We respect theists who respect the Veda due to their devotion for God. They are like the devotees who salute to the temple because they believe in the existence of God inside the temple. The Veda is very holy, but it is holy only because it contains the spiritual knowledge revealed by God, who is very very holy. Without God, the recitation of the Veda by itself is a mere sound. It is like the inert temple-building without God in it. The Veda is certainly the final authority to know about God. We respect a book of science only due to the value of the scientific knowledge it contains. We do not respect it for the inert material of the book. Śaṅkara condemned these blind people and stressed on the importance of understanding the meaning (knowledge) of the Veda. Maṇḍana Miśra, the famous Pūrva Mīmāṃsaka, argued with Śaṅkara for about a month, got defeated and became the disciple of Śaṅkara. The Veda simply means the knowledge of God. It is neither mere sound nor is it connected to any language like Sanskrit in which the Veda is written. Knowledge has no connection with any particular language. The knowledge of God in any language is the Veda. This is the real view of the Veda. Knowledge alone gives right direction and the right information about God. The right knowledge alone opens the door to right practice, which in turn leads to the right goal. This brings true benefit to a soul. Without understanding the knowledge of the Veda, simply believing the sound of the Veda to be God is not mere ignorance, but madness, to be precise. Indra killed Vṛtra because Vṛtra was a demon and Indra was an angel. An angel is always a good soul following the path of justice, whereas a demon is always a bad soul following the path of injustice. God always protects justice and hence, it was the will of God to destroy Vṛtra and protect Indra. Whatever happens, happens only by the will of God. God’s will cannot be changed by the inert sound of the Vedic hymns recited with certain accents. The accents are mere musical notations to make sound of the Vedic recitation pleasant. We are not denying the pleasantness produced by the sound of Vedic recitation. But the importance of the accents is only that much. It should not be extended unnecessarily to the extent of treating the sound of the Veda as God. At the maximum, you can give secondary importance to the sound and the accents. The primary importance must be given only to God’s knowledge and devotion. Several devotees, who have not studied the Veda became the topmost devotees of God and got salvation. =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  12. Will an atheistic innovator be granted human rebirth? If not, how will his desire to innovate be fulfilled? Shri Bharath Krishna asked: This question is related to the life of an innovator. An innovator enjoys his thought-process which produces new ideas, which is what motivates him to create or discover something. But discovery or innovation requires an advanced intellect and only a human being has that kind of intellect. I have also learned that the only true purpose of a human being is to use all his abilities in finding God. If a human being spends his entire life in innovating things without ever bothering to learn about God, will he be granted another human birth? I am asking this question because unless he gets a human birth, his desire to innovate will not get fulfilled. Swami replied: Why should the innovator who innovates things in some field of worldly knowledge, be given a human rebirth? He did not spend even a minute to know about God! His innovation requires a deep interest in the worldly subject, which the innovator has developed. In doing so, he has gone further and further away from God. If leading an ordinary life is like walking, innovating in some field is like running. But the innovation is in the worldly field and not in the spiritual field. So, it is like running in a direction opposite to the goal. The goal is God. Hence, innovating in any worldly field, without recognizing God takes a soul further and further away from the right goal, which is God. =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  13. Was Janaka's detachment from his kingship not neglect of God’s work? Shri Balaji asked: In Your reply to a question on rāja yoga on February 10, 2020, You have said that when king Janaka was deeply absorbed in a spiritual discussion and was told that his city, Mithilā was on fire, he was not disturbed. You have explained that this showed Janaka’s detachment from worldly issues. But You have also said that, in the case of Janaka, his administration of the kingdom was also God’s work, since it involved maintaining justice and controlling sins. Does his detachment from the administration of the kingdom not mean the detachment from God’s work? Swami replied: Fulfilling his duty as the king of his kingdom was the unavoidable worldly work that he had to do, just as an ordinary person has to perform his professional work as an employee. But Janaka turned even this worldly work into God’s work by ruling the city in accordance with God’s will. He upheld justice and condemned injustice. Being king was not a matter of worldly enjoyment for him. He never enjoyed the kingship. Instead, he would always enjoy spiritual knowledge in the numerous spiritual discussions he would have with sages. He was detached from his kingship and always attached to God through the spiritual discussions. The sages wanted to test his detachment from worldly affairs and simultaneously his attachment to God. So, they told him that his city was burning. Janaka, of course, remained undisturbed. But Janaka cannot be compared to the Roman emperor, Nero who was playing the fiddle (violin) while Rome burned. Enjoying worldly music is also a worldly affair and not related to God. The detachment from the world comes only by the attachment to God. Such true detachment alone is meaningful and it is natural and spontaneous. There is no force or effort required for it. It is the result of the attachment to God and is not a prerequisite for achieving the attachment to God. Mere detachment from the world, without any attachment to God, is forced, unnatural and completely useless. The reason why detachment from the world is given value in spirituality is that it is an indirect measure of the attachment to God. The detachment from the world is clearly visible, whereas the attachment to God is abstract and invisible. So, the worldly detachment is used as an indirect measure of the internal attachment to God. When a person is watching a movie, the depth of his absorption in watching the movie cannot be measured by simply looking at him. But when we notice that he is unconscious of the bedbugs and mosquitoes biting him, we realize how deeply absorbed in watching the movie he is. The externally-visible bites of the bedbugs and mosquitoes act as indirect measures of his deep attachment to the movie. He did not make any effort to detach from the bodily discomfort and pain from the bites. His detachment from the pain was natural and effortless. Such natural detachment alone is the real measure of the person’s attachment to the movie or God. Today, people develop forced detachment from the world to show off to the public. They want the public to take their worldly detachment as a measure of their spiritual attainment or their devotion to God. But such pretenders have no real attachment to God. Of course, King Janaka turned the worldly affair of his administration of the kingdom into God’s work by being seriously committed to the protection of justice and the control of sin. This is perfect pravṛtti, which pleases God. When he was told that his city was burning, he thought that the city was burning by the will of God alone. It was certainly not burning by his will! In any kingdom, there are other administrators who are designated to carry out various responsibilities on behalf of the king, even in his absence. They were capable of taking the necessary steps to put out the fire and the absence of king Janaka would not affect those emergency tasks in any case. His running back to his city, leaving the spiritual debate would not have helped the situation in any way. Janaka was ruling his kingdom as a divine duty, without any personal attachment. Such an attitude only comes when the soul is not attracted to worldly enjoyment. All his enjoyment was only in spiritual life. When such a situation of loss or tragedy occurs in the life of a spiritual soul, it means that God is cutting the worldly bonds of the soul. A spiritual soul is never disturbed by such situations. The spiritual soul gets disturbed only when his bond with God is disturbed. An ordinary king would have certainly run to the city immediately, leaving the spiritual debate due to his attachment to the worldly bond with the kingship of the country. The ordinary king gains enjoyment from that position. On the other hand, if a king is immersed in playing the violin, but the music is devotional music, he is immersed in devotion and not worldly enjoyment. Then his case would also be the same as that of king Janaka. =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  14. What is the inner meaning of the custom of the wife respectfully treating her husband to be Lord Vishnu? [Reply to a question by Tinku K] Swami replied: The reason behind this custom, like many others, is money. In the ancient tradition, the husband used to be the earning member of the family and the wife used to be the non-earning member. Since God is said to be in money, the wife calls her husband God, even if it is only lip-service. She also serves him for the same reason. Similarly, a businessman calls his customers as costumer-Gods! But times have changed and now, the wife also earns, in many cases. So, you will see a corresponding change in the attitude of the wife. As per the old system, the husband being the earning member, contributes to the family by sacrificing his hard-earned money. When the wife is not an earning member, she gratefully contributes to the family in terms of service, since she is unable to contribute in terms of sacrificing hard-earned money. The same equivalence between service and the sacrifice of money is also seen in spiritual life. Saints (monks) are unable to sacrifice money to God because they do not earn any money. They themselves are supposed to beg for their food, as per tradition. But they can serve God. So, service, which is the path of the saint, is termed karma saṃnyāsa, where the word saṃnyāsa denotes sainthood. If the devotee is a householder, then apart from doing some service, the devotee is also supposed to sacrifice the fruit of his work (karma phala tyāga), which is the sacrifice of his hard-earned wealth to God. =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  15. Why does the woman have to leave her home and go to her husband's home after marriage? [Reply to a question by Tinku K] Swami replied: The reason behind this age-old practice is that the property of the parents was only given to sons and not to daughters. As a result of this practice, daughters too, only served their in-laws and not their parents. Daughters even change their surnames and gotras to those of their husband. The reason behind all of this is basically money and property. The gotra is the family lineage tracing back to an ancient sage. The funny part is that no one thinks that when one is not supposed to marry a person belonging to the same gotra, how can the wife assume the husband’s gotra after marriage? There is also a tradition in some places where the daughter-in-law addresses her in-laws as “Father” and “Mother”. The reason behind this is that she wants to take the place of the daughter of her in-laws. When she takes the place of their daughter, it minimizes the possibility of them giving their property to their daughter! Similarly, the son-in-law also addresses his in-laws as “Father” and “Mother”, in an attempt to take the place of their son and get some generous gifts from them, at least! In fact, the Veda says that property should be given to both sons and daughters equally. The word ‘putra’ literally means a son. But, as per Sanskrit grammar (Ekaśeṣa sutra), in many contexts, it means both sons and daughters. This applies in the context of the division of property too. Of course, the division can be unequal based on the demands of the situation. This is known as āpaddharma, which is a modified rule to suit the demands of a special situation. For instance, if one of the issues (son or daughter) is poor, a greater share of the property can be given to that issue. But the unequal division should not be based on gender. The temptation for wealth is so powerful that due to its influence, men denied the sacred thread ceremony (upanayanam) to women. They did this because if women were also eligible for this ritual, they would also become eligible to carry out the death rituals. Men linked the inheritance of property to the death rituals. The traditional belief is that one would not be released from the earthly plane and reach heaven if the death rituals were not conducted for the departed person. But in order to conduct the rituals, one had to have undergone the sacred thread ceremony, which was only conducted for men. It meant that only sons could conduct the death rituals for the parents. Since the release of the parents from this world and reaching heaven depended on the sons carrying out the death rituals, parents developed a preference for sons. So, they wanted their property to go to their sons alone and not their daughters. This entire world is only revolving around money and wealth (Dhana mūlamidaṃ jagat). Due to the topmost importance of money and wealth in the hearts of souls, God too only uses money to test devotees’ real devotion (love) for Him. The Veda says that the sacrifice of money and wealth alone decides the strength of devotion (Dhanena tyāgena ekena...). In the Gita, God has gone one step further by saying that the money sacrificed must be one’s hard-earned money and not one’s ancestral wealth. The term used in the Gita is karma phala tyāga, which means the sacrifice of the fruit of one’s hard work. The reason is that the bond with one’s hard-earned money is stronger than the bond with ancestral wealth. Only when one earns money through hard work does one recognize the importance of money. One always tends to save hard-earned money, as far as possible. On the other hand, there are many cases, where people have wasted and lost their inherited ancestral wealth. But the cases of people wasting their own hard-earned wealth are very rare. That is why commonly, God is said to be in money (Paise me paramātmā hai)! =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  16. Why is it that only women do the household work? [Reply to a question by Tinku K] Swami replied: Women are far cleverer than men. So, they chose to do household duties which involve a lot of physical exercise, throughout the day. As a result, they do not put on weight. They remain beautiful and in perfect health, which is necessary for worldly enjoyment. Men are egoistic and wherever there is ego, the brain becomes incapable of doing sharp analysis. Men may exercise at specific times, but exercising throughout the day is only possible when one is involved in household duties. Women have the additional responsibility of delivering babies for which they must have a very healthy body. But modern scientific development is causing damage to women by providing appliances like the gas-stove, mixer, washing machine etc. Promising convenience and a better lifestyle, such scientific development is spoiling the health of women. We should see both the positive and negative sides of scientific development. Scientific development is also damaging nature in many ways such as by causing pollution. Interestingly, nature too is treated to be feminine (prakṛti), while God is treated to be masculine (Puruṣa). =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  17. Can You please explain how cosmic energy is infinite? [Reply to a question by Shri Ankuj] Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! Infinite means an item which has no beginning and no end. In this context, the main question is whether the item is really infinite or not. If the item is really infinite, there is no problem in calling it infinite. But there is another possibility, which is that the item might not really be infinite, but it might just be very large, even though finite. It might be so large that we are unable to find its beginning or end and so, we mistake it to be infinite. Cosmic energy is an imaginable item that has been created by the unimaginable God. The same cosmic energy has got converted into matter and awareness to form the various living and non-living items in creation. After all, cosmic energy being a created item, must have a beginning. That which has a beginning, must also have an end. If you say that cosmic energy is really infinite—without beginning and end—it would mean that even God is unaware of its beginning and end. In that case, God would not be omniscient due to His ignorance of the boundaries of cosmic energy. Hence, cosmic energy is not really infinite. It is infinite only from our point of view. It is so large that its beginning and end are unknown to us. It means that we are incapable of knowing its boundaries, even though its boundaries actually exist. The universe is nothing but cosmic energy is or space. You might ask, what is present beyond the boundaries of that cosmic energy (space). Only the unimaginable God exists beyond the boundaries of the cosmic energy (Sarvamāvṛtya tiṣṭhati—Gita). Then, you might ask, whether God is infinite or finite. If God is said to be infinite you would further say that if He is really infinite, He could not be omniscient since He would be ignorant of Himself, owing to His infinite nature. If God is said to be omniscient, you might say that God must know His own boundaries and since His boundaries are known, He must be finite. If God is said to be finite, the next question would be, “What is present beyond the boundaries of God?” If some other finite item is said to exist beyond the boundaries of God, it would bring up the same question again and again ad infinitum. Also, in that case, God would not be omniscient since He would not know the end of that endless chain of finite items existing beyond God. All these cases mentioned above regarding God are meaningless because actually, God is beyond our imagination. Being unimaginable, He has no space in Him and He is fundamentally beyond the concept of space. Boundaries can only be defined for items which occupy some space. The concept of boundaries is a spatial concept. Even the concepts of finite and infinite are only related to spatial items and not to God, who is beyond space. Hence, cosmic energy is finite in the view of God. It is infinite in our view only in the sense that we are unable to know the boundaries of the finite space or cosmic energy. In fact, space does not mean absolutely nothing. Space is actually an extremely subtle form of energy, which appears to be ‘nothing’ to us. If space were actually nothing, how could science have proved that space bends around the boundaries of massive objects? If it bends, it must be something. It is meaningless to say that ‘nothing’ bends. Einstein felt that space is nothing. He said that space is only geometrical and that it only exists relatively with reference to the existence of two items, such as the space between the two walls of a container. His theory reflected the view of human beings for whom space appears to be nothing, even though it is actually extremely subtle cosmic energy. Thus, space is finite in view of God and simultaneously infinite in our view, in the sense that we are unable to know the boundaries of the vast but finite cosmic energy. When we consider the view of God while speaking from our point of view, we say that space is not really infinite, but is relatively infinite, in our view due to our inability to know its boundaries. If you are not considering the view of God, then space is really infinite from our point of view since we are unable to know its boundaries. In the Gita, even God said that the cosmic energy or space is infinite. We should realize that His statement was only with reference to our view (Nānto’sti mama...—Gita). =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  18. Among knowledge, devotion and practice, which is the most important? [Reply to a question by Shri J. Prasad, Professor of Sanskrit, Central University, Hyderabad] Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! The first step is the attainment of the Sadguru and the attainment of complete spiritual knowledge from Him, which includes getting all doubts clarified from Him. This first step is the slowest step in the sense that this step takes almost all the time. The second step is the attainment of devotion which is a result of the spiritual knowledge. The third step is the attainment of practice, which is the proof of devotion. The fourth step is the attainment of the fruit of that practice. The second, third and fourth steps spontaneously take place after the completion of knowledge. They take a fraction of the time taken by the first step of knowledge. Knowledge is the slowest among all the steps taking many years and even many births. The spiritual process can be compared to a chemical reaction in which reactants are converted to products after passing through several steps. Reaction kinetics is the study of the rates of conversion of the reactants to products. When the first step of the reaction is the slowest, the time taken by the overall reaction to complete is determined by that first step. That slowest first step is called the rate determining step. The spiritual process is similar. The overall process begins with the attainment of complete spiritual knowledge from the Sadguru and ends in the attainment of salvation, after passing through two intermediate steps. The time taken for the overall process is determined by the time taken for the first step in the process. The subsequent steps follow almost immediately. This means that once you attain complete spiritual knowledge from the Sadguru, you have attained salvation. It does not literally mean that the attainment of complete spiritual knowledge itself is the salvation. But it means that once the spiritual knowledge is attained from the Sadguru, the attainment of devotion from the spiritual knowledge, the attainment of practice from the devotion and the attainment of salvation from the practice result spontaneously and immediately. Hence, we say that the attainment of true spiritual knowledge itself is the attainment of salvation. This is the meaning of Śankara’s statement that salvation results from true spiritual knowledge (Jñānādeva tu kaivalyam). =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  19. Vastu and Astrology in Modern Times Smt. Priyanka Sethepalli (USA) asked: I have a question that has been bothering me for a while now. It is advised that one should never buy a south-facing home as it is believed to lead to some problems. But it is also said that, depending on one's birth star (janma nakṣatram), a south-facing home is especially beneficial for certain people. To such people, the main door of the house facing south is more beneficial than a door facing any other direction. How true is this? Also, some business-owners particularly look for south-facing main entrances which they believe are lucky for them. There are so many variations in people’s beliefs and the Vāstu texts, all over India. I would love to have some clarity on this relation between the birth star of a person and the main door of the house facing different directions. Also, why does this matter seem to be so important in South India (especially for Telugu people) and not so important for people from other states of India? Expanding this further, do the same Vāstu rules apply everywhere, irrespective of the country you live in and the weather in that region? Thank you. Regards, Priyanka. South-Facing House Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! Vāstu Śāstram is the ancient Indian science of architecture. It is part of Vedic astrology or Jyautiṣa Śāstram. According to Vāstu, the main door of the house should not face the south because Lord Yama, the deity of hell, is situated on the south side. It also says that you should not sleep with your feet towards the south and that instead, your head should be towards the south. The residents in a south-facing house receive bad results, which are having a second marriage, financial loss, lack of issues and sometimes even the death of the house-owner (Tasya bhāryādvayaṃ dhananāśaḥ, putrābhāvaḥ, kvacit kartṛnāśaḥ). It is also said that a south-facing property is beneficial for people who regularly kill animals and are involved in the meat business (Kirātānāṃ dakṣiṇā). If a person has already received one of the negative results, then the person might not get any other negative results. This means that a person who has already married twice or who already has no issues might not undergo a financial loss, in spite of having a south-facing property. The person faces the said bad results because of some sin committed in the past. But when the person has already faced one punishment for the sin committed, other types of punishments will not apply to the person. This is because one crime committed by him cannot have two punishments! Gaps in Understanding People misunderstand the very basis of astrology by thinking that they are perfect people who have never committed any sin. They feel that it is the bad planets that are unnecessarily giving them bad results during the respective planetary periods (daśas) or during the transits of the planets through different zodiac signs (gocāra). The fact is that the past sinful deeds and the past meritorious deeds done by the soul cause the planets to give bad and good results respectively, in the prescribed periods, as per the judgment of God. Note that in astrology, when we say planets, we mean the deities corresponding to the inert planets. These deities are angels who are God’s executives. The astrological scriptures were written by sages, so, it is better to follow astrology. The sages were highly devoted to God and were interested in the well-being of mankind. So, in following their instructions, you are not being cheated or exploited. If someone is trying to cheat or exploit you through some false tradition, you should certainly analyze it using perfect scientific logic. You should reject the false tradition through which the person is trying to cheat you for his own benefit. Modern people trying to interpret Vāstu do not perfectly understand the heart of the astrological scripture. It is said that one should select such a plot for constructing a house which has its south-west side at a higher level than the north-east side (Īśat paścima dakṣiṇonnata mahī…). This instruction was relevant to olden days when there was no common drainage system. As per Vāstu, the tradition was that elder issue should live on south-west side and younger issue should live on north-east side. This is assuming that the constructed house is divided between two issues. Only when this instruction is followed, will the water flow from the side of the elder issue to the side of the younger issue. But now, houses have a proper drainage system. So, this matter is not relevant and this instruction can be neglected. Some Vāstu principles are scientific and are based on principles of civil engineering. For instance Vāstu says that a beam should be put after a length of 12 feet (Dvādaśa pade parighā). Another example is that it is said that a well must be located in the northeast corner and that staircases to the upper floor should not be located in the northeast corner (Īśānyāṃ kūpaḥ na nisśreṇiḥ). This is to ensure that a person climbing down the staircase does not slip and fall into the well! It is also said that a road should not run straight into the the main door of your house (Vīdhiśūlā mukhadvāre). This is to ensure that when you are going out through the main door, a vehicle coming from the opposite side does not hit you accidentally. Astrology deals with the deities of planets, while astronomy deals with the inert planets. The deities are energetic beings or angels who have been blessed by God with divine powers. They deliver the fruits of both the past sins and the past meritorious deeds to souls, as per the prescribed schedule. They follow the judgment pronounced by God, the Supreme Judge. The deities of the nine planets are the executive powers of God. These planetary deities are ruled by higher deities. Whether you worship the planetary deities or you worship the deities who are above the planetary deities, you are ultimately worshipping God alone. There is no difference between the power and its possessor. The deities are God’s powers and God is their possessor. Astrology applies to the entire universe and it does not differ from one region to the other region on earth. But if you are a very strong devotee of God, you need not worry about Vāstu or astrology. Five Parts of Astrology Astrology is said to have five parts (pañcāṅga😞 (1) The first is jātakam, which is the horoscope prepared on the basis of the date and time of birth of a person. (2) The second is gocāra, which is the current or running chart of the planets, as applied to the zodiac sign based on the person’s name. (3) The third is vāstu, which is the plan of the person’s own house. (4) The fourth is muhūrtam, which is the time at which you start a certain task. (5) The fifth is mantra ārādhanam, which is the prayers to the planetary deities, to the deities above the planetary deities or to God Himself. When a person undergoes some form of suffering, the person should look for a defect in all these five parts. This is just like a disease, which could be caused by a defect in the blood, kidneys, lungs, heart or the digestive system. You have to try to diagnose where the defect lies before you attempt to remedy it through different forms of worship. There could be defects in one or more of the five parts listed above. For instance, your vāstu might be good, but the defect in your horoscope might be the cause for your present suffering. It is just like saying that your heart is fine, but your lungs might have a problem. There is also a special theory called Tājaka Siddhānta of Paṇḍita Nīlakaṇṭha Dīkṣita, which involves the direct application of the gocāra on the horoscope itself. One important point must be noted because some say that the horoscope of the wife supports the husband. This is correct if the wife is unemployed and is dependent on the husband. But if the wife pursues her own profession, her horoscope is limited to herself alone. Similarly, the horoscope of a newborn child affects the parents. But as the child grows and develops its own life path, its horoscope ceases to have an effect on the parents. Among the five parts of astrology, the fifth part, which is devotion to God, is very strong, provided the person’s devotion is also very strong. My father was a great astrologer. He would often tell Me to concentrate on astrology because this subject is of great interest to everybody. Jyautiṣa Śāstram is the subject dealing with the jyoti or light (luminous planets). I would tell him that My focus is on the root light or Paraṃjyoti, who is none other than God (Paraṃ jyotirupa-sampadya…—Veda). He is the ultimate source that illuminates all the nine lights (planets). Finally, I revealed the correlation between astrology and spiritual knowledge. If the astrologer is helping society to believe in the unimaginable God through the unimaginable powers of the planets (deities), such an astrologer is basically a philosopher. A very strong devotee of God could indeed be very well off in all aspects, even though the first four parts are very unfavorable in his case. His well-being is the result of his devotion to God, which is related to the fifth part of astrology. Just because the bad effects of the defects in the other four parts are not seen in that specific person, one should not mistake astrology to be false. The aim of the sages in writing the astrological scriptures was only to help an ordinary human being. The first step in helping the person is to create belief in the unimaginable power of God through the unimaginable powers of the planets. If this first step is well-established, the second step of developing the devotion to God becomes very easy. Misunderstanding Leads to Blame for Astrology Neither astrologers nor the people consulting astrologers fully realize the fact that astrology consists of five parts. This fact should be kept in mind before unnecessarily blaming an astrologer or astrology as a whole for a failed prediction. I will explain this with an example. Suppose an astrologer suggested a good muhūrtam (time) for a marriage. The muhūrtam might actually be good. The astrologer might have also rectified some vāstu-related defects in the house of the newly-married couple. With this, only two parts, namely muhūrtam and vāstu out of the five parts have become favorable. What about the other three parts, namely jātakam, gocāra and mantra ārādhanam? The horoscope (jātakam) and the planetary transits (gocāra) might still be defective. Hence, the couple might face bad effects from the bad planets, which, of course, is the result of their own sins. Basically, the couple faces bad effects due to unresolved defects in the other parts of astrology. But people thoughtlessly blame the astrologer by saying that even though they performed the marriage as per the prescribed muhūrtam and after rectifying the vāstu defects of the house, the couple faced the bad effects. They either say that the astrologer is good-for-nothing or that the field of astrology itself is false. Before the marriage, if the elders in the family of the bride and the groom consult a good astrologer with the horoscopes of the couple, the astrologer can identify the defects in the horoscope. To rectify those defects he can suggest the couple to pray to the deities of the bad planets and to God. Note that the so-called bad planets (deities) are not bad. They are loyal servants of God. They only deliver the fruits of the soul’s bad deeds to the soul. Along with the prayers to the deities, the astrologer might prescribe some specific forms of charity to be done to beggars. The prescribed charity is related to the specific planets. This worship of the deities and the related charity comes under the fifth part of astrology called mantra ārādhanam. If the couple sincerely performs the prayers and also properly does the charity as prescribed, the problems will disappear. This is because the defects related to the horoscope (jātakam) and transits (gocāra) have been rectified and devotion to God or the deities (mantra ārādhanam) has also been developed. A good muhūrtam had already been chosen and the defects related to vāstu had already been rectified by the astrologer. Thus, all five parts become good and so, the problems of the couple disappear. Of course, it should be noted that the problems only disappear temporarily. They disappear permanently only when the souls attain complete reformation. But if the couple fails to do all the prescribed remedial procedures as suggested by the astrologer, they will face problems. Then they will again blame the astrologer saying that the astrologer is false or that astrology itself is false! The above concept can be more clearly understood by taking the example of the diagnosis and treatment of a patient. The patient is similar to the human being suffering from worldly miseries. The doctor is like God and the assisting compounder is like the astrologer. The disease to be cured is like the worldly misery. The five main clinical tests can be assumed to be a blood test, an ECG for the heart, a test of the kidneys, a test of the lungs and a test of the digestive system. They are like the five parts of astrology. Suppose the patient is suffering from a fever, which represents worldly misery. Let us say that the blood test and the ECG tests show no defect. Do the family members of the patient blame the doctor asking him how come the patient still has a fever even though the two tests came out normal? Do they say that either the doctor is good-for-nothing or that medical science itself is false? The doctor asked the patient to undergo the other three tests as well. On getting those reports, the doctor even prescribed the corresponding medicines. If the patient properly takes the medicines related to the other three tests too, the fever will subside. But the patient does not take the prescribed medicines and simply blames the doctor that even though the blood and ECG reports were normal, his fever is not subsiding! Astrology is a systematic science developed by sages for the temporary welfare of humanity. Even if a doctor fails in properly diagnosing and treating a certain patient, it does not mean that medical science itself is false. Since the public does not understand the overall framework of astrology as consisting of five parts (pañcāṅga), even a good astrologer gets misunderstood and blamed by the public. The remedies suggested by the astrologer involve prayers and the worship of God along with charity to beggars. Both worship and charity are good and they lead to an improvement in the person’s devotion to God. The devotion, in turn, leads to the reformation of the soul (Kṣipraṃ bhavati dharmātmā—Gita). =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  20. Oppose Injustice or Leave it to God? Shri PVNM Sharma asked: Swami! Sometimes You say that it is better to leave everything to God and sometimes You say that we should fight against injustice, as a part of God’s work. Can you please clarify our confusion? Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! The ultimate truth, which is the highest understanding of spiritual knowledge, is that God will certainly address every bit of action in this world. He will do it in His own way and not in our hasty way. Before punishing sinners for their sins, God gives them some time, which is an opportunity for reformation. If a sinner gets reformed, all the sinner’s punishments for that particular type of sin are cancelled by the grace of God. If the sinner who committed injustice against you gets reformed in this manner, then along with excusing the sinner’s punishment, God also compensates you for your loss in a big way. It does not matter to you, whether or not the sinner got punished since you do not get any compensation, when your enemy is punished. But if you are patient and you maintain full confidence in God, God will reward you with a very big compensation for your excellent patience and marvelous confidence in Him. You will be compensated, whether your enemy is reformed, punished or let free without punishment, in spite of not being reformed. Indeed sometimes, your enemy is let free without punishment, even though the enemy has not yet reformed. This happens in the case of a retaliatory sin. This means that you had harmed the person in the past, in this birth or in the previous birth and the person has only harmed you in return. But if your enemy harms you for the first time, he or she will be given a chance to reform. If the person does not reform, then the person will be punished suitably by God. Punishment is also a means to reformation, but reformation through punishment is only a temporary reformation. So, when you wish for God to punish your enemy, you are wishing your enemy well since you are wishing for the person’s immediate temporary reformation. With this understanding, you can pray to God to punish your enemy, if, based on a proper analysis, the enemy is found to have done some injustice. You should not pray to God to punish your enemy with an attitude of revenge. If you seek revenge, you too will be punished like Draupadi, who always prayed to Krishna to destroy the Kauravas for the sake of her revenge. Krishna had decided already to punish the Kauravas, even if Draupadi had not prayed to Him. It would have been a black mark on His divine administration, if the Kauravas had not been punished. So, the Kauravas were destroyed in the war, as per the will of Krishna. But due to Draupadi’s deep attitude of revenge, all her five sons got killed too. Sages have followed the procedure of punishing sinners for their temporary reformation and hence, they are considered to be the most sacred in the whole of humanity. They have the power of knowing the whole internal biodata of any soul, through their divine vision. They need not depend on God like us. We do not have such divine vision and we do not know whether the case is that of a fresh sin or a sin in return for a previous sin. Hence, we should leave everything to God. Sages immediately come to know whether the case is fresh or not. If it is a fresh case, they immediately curse the sinner. By punishing the sinner through their curse, they carry out God’s task of reforming the sinful soul. It is a form of divine service. We cannot do such divine service since we lack that divine vision as well as the power to curse someone. But a human being can also find out whether the case is fresh or not, through observation. If God punishes the sinner sometime later, it means that the case was fresh and the sinner did not get reformed during the time given by God. If the sinner does not get punished by God, in spite of not being reformed, we can conclude that it was the case of a sin committed in return for a previous sin. But we must be patient and observe the person over a long time, especially when the sinner has committed a sin against us. If the sinner gets punished, we need not punish the sinner again because one crime cannot have two punishments, as per the divine law. Moreover, God is omniscient and the sage also has divine vision. So, when any of them punish a person, they always punish in the correct measure, in proportion to the sin. When we are capable of punishing the sinner and we punish based on our limited knowledge, there is a risk of error. If the sinner has committed a sin in return, actually no punishment is due. Even if it is a fresh case of sin, we might not give the punishment that is exactly suitable to the extent of the sin. Our analysis and judgment especially go wrong in our personal case, i.e. when we have been harmed. When others have been harmed, we generally do not get involved because we feel that it is an unnecessary waste of our time. In fact, we should avoid getting involved in our personal cases. We should leave the judgment and punishment to God since there is high probability of error due to our biased analysis. But we should get involved in others’ cases, where there is a high probability that our analysis might be correct since we do not have any selfish interest in it. We should not leave others’ cases to God. By siding with justice in others’ cases, we are trying to serve God. God always works to establish justice and destroy injustice. Sometimes, you have sufficient strength to protect justice and punish sin, but you do not have sufficient strength in analyzing the case and differentiating between justice and injustice. In that case, you must take the help of a Satguru or guru in the analysis. If you are capable of analysis, but not capable of protecting justice and punishing injustice, you should take the help of a strong person who is capable of doing so. If you are capable of doing both, you can do both, but it is better to take the help of a second person, in order to avoid any possible error. Arjuna wanted to fight against the Kauravas because they had taken his rightful share of the kingdom and were refusing to return it. It was a personal case of Arjuna, where he had been harmed by the sinful Kauravas. If the Kauravas had simply stood against him in battle, there would have been no confusion in fighting against them. But good people like Bhīṣma and Droṇa also stood against Arjuna, in support of the Kauravas. Both Bhīṣma and Droṇa were his preachers since childhood. So, Arjuna must have felt that they were more capable of analyzing which side was justice and which side was injustice. This created confusion in Arjuna’s mind and he proposed to leave the war. But Arjuna took the help of the Satguru, God Krishna, in analyzing this case, which was his personal case. God Krishna analyzed the case wonderfully and answered all the questions of Arjuna. Bhīṣma and Droṇa might have been great in all other aspects, but, in this context, both were wrong in supporting the unjust Kauravas. Hence, the most important task is carrying out an unbiased analysis to find the truth. Once this is done, the actual corrective action takes very very little time. Even if some corrective actions take a longer time, it is not a major loss. It will take some time, but in the end, justice will be protected and injustice will be condemned. An ordinary human being should only follow the right means in order to achieve good ends. Only a Human Incarnation of God is capable of achieving good ends even through wrong means. Human beings should not try to behave like the Human Incarnation in following the wrong means to punish their enemies. Let us take the two cases of Sugrīva and God Rāma. Sugrīva was unjustly expelled from his kingdom by his elder brother Vāli, who misunderstood his brother Sugrīva. Sugrīva was not strong enough to oppose Vāli and so, he left the kingdom. Since it was the personal case of Sugrīva, his analysis might have gone wrong under the influence of his own selfishness. But when Sugrīva explained his case to God Rāma, Rāma decided that justice was on the side of Sugrīva and that Vāli had been unjust. God Rāma was the Human Incarnation of God and hence, was the perfect Satguru. When one is incapable of punishing the sinner in one’s personal case, one should first analyze the case with the help of the Satguru and find out which side justice lies. Then, the incapable victim should wait for the action of God to punish the sinner. This is one context in which I have said that one should leave the punishment of the sinner to God. This approach strictly belongs to this context alone. Now, take the case of Rāma, who was capable of carrying out an unbiased analysis of justice and injustice in His own case, as well as in others’ cases. Getting justice for Sugrīva was another’s case for Rāma, while punishing Rāvaṇa and freeing His captured wife from him was His personal case. In the former case, Rāma decided that Vāli was a sinner and punished him. Rāma was God and was not only capable of analysis, but also of punishing sin. Vāli blamed Rāma that Rāma had shot the fatal arrow at Vāli since Sugrīva had promised to help Rāma in getting Sītā back. So, Vāli claimed that Rāma’s judgment was biased and that He had a selfish interest in siding with Sugrīva and punishing Vāli. It was a totally false claim since God Rāma alone was fully capable and did not actually require anyone’s help in solving His own case. He immediately got involved in the case of bringing justice to Sugrīva and killed Vāli because He was omniscient and knew which side justice lay. He was totally impartial in His analysis. He was also omnipotent to punish anybody in creation. If one is like Rāma, capable of impartial analysis to determine the side of justice and also capable of punishing the sinner, one can act immediately, whether it is a personal case or the case of another person. This approach of immediately punishing the sinners in one’s personal case or in another’s case, is related only to this specific context. The approach and context are like the front and back sides of a coin. The coin is the action taken for the sake of the establishment of justice and the destruction of injustice. You should never apply one approach to the other context. =============== -By Shri Datta Swami (Visit our website: www.universal-spirituality.org) Universal Spirituality for World Peace
  21. Is this world only a place of action or also a place of enjoyment of the fruits of actions? [Reply to a question by Shri J. Prasad, Professor of Sanskrit, Central University, Hyderabad.] Swami replied: You wish to know whether this human world only is a place of actions (karma loka) or it is only a place of enjoyment of the fruits of action (bhoga loka) or it is a place for both. The answer is that all the three possibilities are valid depending upon the path selected by the soul in life. If the soul is completely dedicated to spiritual path alone, the world becomes purely a karma loka for him. In this case, God completely stops giving him the enjoyment of good fruits and suffering for the bad fruits of his past actions. Both good and bad fruits disturb the soul in its spiritual progress. This is done to encourage the person to make greater progress on the spiritual path. Granting the enjoyments of the fruits of the deeds done in the past, distracts the soul and slows down the soul’s spiritual progress. When a student is totally dedicated to his studies, the university authorities encourage his academic progress in all possible ways and remove any hurdles in the student’s academic progress. The second possibility is that the soul is partially interested in spirituality, but is also partially interested in materialism. Such a person is partially encouraged and partially discouraged since the person is like a normal student involved in both studies as well as in activities leading to indiscipline. The third possibility is that the soul only leads a materialistic life. For such a soul, no encouragement to make progress on the spiritual path is provided. The world only becomes a place of enjoyment for the fruits of his deeds. The complete materialist is just like an indisciplined student who is not encouraged at all by the university. Such a student is usually subjected to disciplinary action. Thus, for totally spiritual people, the world only becomes a karma loka and not a bhoga loka. For totally materialistic people, the world only becomes a bhoga loka and not a karma loka. But the majority of people lie between these two extremes. They are partially spiritual and partially materialistic. For this majority, the world becomes both a karma loka and a bhoga loka. In fact, this world of human beings (martya loka) is originally meant only for doing spiritual actions, which are most crucial since they provide eternal benefit to the soul. Bhoga or the enjoyment of the fruits of the person’s deeds is preferably not given to the soul in this world to avoid distracting and disturbing the soul while it is involved in the spiritual effort. But it is important to remember that the fruits of one’s past deeds will not disturb a person only if the person is committed to the spiritual path, in accordance with the original purpose of this world. Hence, as per the original plan, this world of human beings (martya loka) is called as karma loka, as a whole. But, due to the fall of human souls in their attitudes, this pure karma loka may also become a bhoga loka entirely or a mixture of a bhoga loka and a karma loka for different individuals. These three types of souls are mentioned in the Gita (Aniṣṭamiṣṭaṃ miśraṃ ca). If a person is totally committed to the spiritual path, without a trace of deficiency, even the prārabdha fruit gets cancelled. Prārabdha is that part of the fruit of a soul’s deeds which has already been sanctioned to be delivered in the present life. If the prārabdha is not cancelled, it means there is some trace of deficiency in the soul’s spiritual effort. It is in view of this trace of deficiency, that Śaṅkara said that the prārabdha cannot be cancelled even for a person who is committed to the spiritual path. He compared the prārabdha to an arrow released from a bow, which cannot be stopped once it is released (Dhanurmukta śaravat). But the Gita says that all types of fruits of the person’s deeds are cancelled when the soul dedicated to the spiritual path attains complete spiritual knowledge (Jñānāgniḥ sarva karmāṇi…—Gita, Kṣīyante cāsya karmāṇi…—Veda). It means that even the arrow released from the bow can be stopped by the omnipotent God, in order to give full encouragement to the soul dedicated to the most valuable spiritual path. In spite of all our past sins, God has granted us this human birth as the last chance, so that we can dedicate this life to the spiritual path. This is the reason for the other religions saying that there is no human rebirth. Śaṅkara also said that it is very difficult to get the chance of human rebirth (Durlabhaṃ trayamevaitat…). He said that after attaining human birth, one should develop the climax of interest in attaining salvation and search for the Sadguru (Manuṣyatvaṃ…). It is based on this analysis that Swami Vivekananda said that we ourselves are writing our own destiny. It is our activity that decides whether this human world is to become a pure karma loka or a pure bhoga loka or a mixture of both. Human rebirth is recognized in Hinduism, but it is understood to be a very rare case. Even when a soul is dedicated to the spiritual path, due to some trace of deficiency in the soul’s effort, the soul might not be able attain the final goal in one particular birth. For such exceptional cases, God gives them a special opportunity of a fresh human rebirth (Yoga bhraṣṭo’bhijāyate…). Even Jesus said that such an exceptional power exists in the hands of the ominipotent God and it can be used in the case of an exceptionally deserving soul. However, it does not mean that every soul has this chance of human rebirth. It is not like students who fail in the examinations in March are automatically eligible to reappear for the examination in September and those who fail in September can again appear in March, endlessly. We have read all these books and we know all these quotations from the scriptures. But we are unable to link all the quotations in a proper way to develop a clear true and complete spiritual concept. Only the Sadguru, who is God Guru Datta has that capability! Hence, the importance of the Sadguru is praised in the Guru Gita. It is said “If you are unable to reach the Sadguru, what is the use, what is the use, O what is the use (Guroraṅghripadme…)?” How much was the confusion when all these quotations were not correlated? See how much clarity there is now, after all these quotations have been correlated in the most perfect way by God Datta? When there is confusion, the concept looks most difficult like a thick forest (Śabda jāla mahāraṇyam…). When there is clarity, the same concept looks like an open ground without even a blade of grass!
  22. Is it not better to take inspiration from Rama than from Krishna? Swami replied: Rāma represents the path to God, whereas Krishna is the goal or God Himself. In fact, Rāma is also God, but only in the background since He hid His divinity and behaved like a human being. Similarly, for a long period of His life, Krishna also represented the path to God. Other than the stealing of butter and the dancing with the Gopikās in Bṛndāvanam, He too behaved like Rāma after leaving Bṛndāvanam. One should not misunderstand this and think that He got reformed and left His bad habits back in Bṛndāvanam! The correct understaning is that He completed His special work in Bṛndāvanam, which was the main purpose of His Incarnation. As Rāma, God had promised the sages that they would be born as the Gopikās and that He would be born as Krishna. He had said that in that birth, He would complete the main work of liberating the sages. Hence, He completed this promised work first, as soon as He incarnated as Krishna. His actions in Bṛndāvanam were related to the path of nivṛtti, in which He gave final salvation to the devoted sages, after duly testing them. He tested whether they could overcome their fascination for worldly bonds, when God competed with those worldly bonds. After completing this important work of nivṛtti, He never returned to Bṛndāvanam and only lived outside in the world to do the general work related to pravṛtti, as Rāma did. Hence, you will never find Krishna having repeated the sort of actions that He did in Bṛndāvanam, anywhere else or at any other time in His life, after leaving Bṛndāvanam. Once you understand those actions done in the initial part of His life as His tests for nivṛtti-devotees, you will find the rest of Krishna’s life to be exactly like that of Rāma. The latter part of Krishna’s life, like the entire life of Rāma, was only meant for guiding pravṛtti-devotees. Nivṛtti was limited only to the Gopikās and there were no other devotees of that climax level of nivṛtti to repeat such actions. Everybody is attracted to Krishna and wishes to follow His actions in Bṛndāvanam even though they are not God! No one is even of the level of the Gopikās, who were so attracted to God that all their worldly bonds had naturally dropped off due to their extreme devotion to God. Before criticizing Krishna, we must always realize that we are not of the level of Krishna or even of the level of the Gopikās. Every human being is to follow what Rāma practiced throughout His life (pravṛtti), the pravṛtti-part of what Krishna said in the Gita and what Krishna followed in His life after leaving Bṛndāvanam (pravṛtti). Krishna is to be mainly viewed as the Preacher, while Rāma is to be viewed as the practical Demonstrator of pravṛtti. It takes only a little time to explain a theory and hence, Krishna lived only for 125 years. He was 89 years old at the end of the Mahabharata and He lived another 36 years in Dvāraka, thereafter. Rāma showed every concept of pravṛtti in practice, which took a very long time and hence, Rāma lived for 11,000 years (Daśavarṣa sahasrāṇi, Daśavarṣa śatānica...)!
  23. Why do elders discourage youngsters from following the path of practical spirituality? Swami replied: When king Bali was prepared to do the practical sacrifice of donating three feet of land to Vāmana, his preacher Śukrācārya discouraged it. Śukrācārya said that even though Vāmana, the receiver of that donation, was the Human Incarnation of God Viṣṇu, He was deceiving Bali by asking for that donation. Bali neglected the advice and agreed to give the donation to Vāmana after analyzing as follows: “Vāmana is not a fraud Human Incarnation who has come to deceive me by asking for a donation. He is the real Human Incarnation, who has come to deceive me through the donation. We should not get deceived by false incarnations and false devotees, since charity done to such undeserving people is a sin. But in this case, God Himself has come to me in human form and is trying to cheat me by asking me to do this practical sacrifice. I, being the grandson of the great devotee, Prahlāda, like God to the climax. I even like getting cheated, if the cheater is God”. Bali then gave the requested donation to Vāmana and he was cheated by Vāmana, who assumed such an enormous form that in one foot He covered the underworld and Earth. In the second step, He covered the heavens. Nothing remained to place His third step, so Bali offered his own head. Bali’s devotion to God was marvellous! But God cheated Bali so that heaven, which had been conquered by Bali, could be returned to Indra. But God made Bali the future king of heaven or the next Indra. Not only this, but God has now become the permanent gate-keeper of king Bali! Hence, the sacrifice done by the devotee to God is always repaid by God after multiplying it many-fold. A piece of cloth torn by Draupadī from her sari, to tie a bandage to Krishna’s bleeding finger, was multiplied to thousands of saris by Krishna and given back to her when she was in real need. Elders oppose your charity to the human form of God because many so-called Incarnations are not genuine. The fraud Human Incarnation is an undeserving receiver and charity done to him is a sin. Hence, the objection of elders serves as a warning to you to verify whether the receiver is actually deserving or not.
  24. How could Krishna have had sex with the Gopikas at the age of twelve? Krishna is said to have been about twelve years old when He danced with the Gopikās and had sex with them. How is this possible? In any case, Rāma is the best since He is not surrounded by such controversies. What do You say? Swami replied: Everyone seems to be highly interested in the first twelve years of the life of Krishna. Based on it, they call Him a thief and a characterless person, even though we have clearly given the real explanation for His behaviour. His apparently negative behaviour was related to the path of nivṛtti, in which sages, who were highly advanced spiritually and had tried to attain God for millions of lives, were tested by Him through such behaviour. Why is nobody bothered about the rest of Krishna’s life of 113 years in which He lived just like Rāma? Of course, it is true that Krishna married several girls. But in every case, the reason for the marriage was the burning desire of the girl. His involvement with the married Gopikās was also due to the extreme devotion-filled desire of the Gopikās and not His own desire. In any case, polygamy was ethically allowed for kings in that time (Rājāno bahuvallabhāḥ). So, Krishna did not violate any ethical rule by marrying many women. You need not blame Krishna for adopting certain tricks in the Mahābhārata war. Even Rāma killed Vāli after hiding behind a tree. One cannot object to such tricks since the ends justify the means. If the end is justified, the means adopted can be crooked. The critical requirement is that the goal must actually be justified without any trace of partiality to favour oneself. God is never partial. He is only partial to justice. So, to protect justice, both Rāma and Krishna adopted certain tricks. God is omnipotent and can do anything at any age. How come nobody comments about a seven-year-old boy lifting a huge mountain on His tender little finger? When the boy Krishna so effortlessly lifted the Govardhana hill at the age of seven, why could He not have had sex at the age of twelve? Later on, Krishna is also known to have married 16,108 girls and have produced ten sons and one daughter through each wife! These examples clearly prove that He was the visible human form of the unimaginable God. Did you know that even God Rāma started His family life with Sita at the age of 12 years? In the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇam, Sita says that she was eighteen years old and Rāma was twenty-five years old while leaving Ayodhya for the forest (Mama bhartā mahātejaḥ, vayasā pañcaviṃśakaḥ, Aṣṭādaśahi varṣāṇi, mama janmani gaṇyate). She also says that she stayed in Ayodhya for twelve years after marriage (Uṣitvā dvādaśa samāḥ ikṣvākūṇām niveśane). This means that, according to her, Rāma must have been thirteen years old when He got married to Sita. In another verse, just before the marriage of Rāma, King Daśaratha told sage Viśvāmitra that Rāma being just twelve years old was too young to fight demons (Ūnaṣoḍaśa varṣo me Rāmo...). In this verse, the meaning of ūna is to be taken as one quarter (of sixteen) less than sixteen (16 – 4 = 12) and not one year less than sixteen (16 – 1 = 15) (Pādena ūnatvaṃ natu varṣeṇa). One quarter of 16 is called a pāda, which is four years. Only then does Daśaratha’s statement nearly coincide with the information given by Sita. The one-year difference between the ages of Rāma as stated by Sita and Daśaratha is not significant since there are two well-known ways of expressing age. The first one is to say that Rāma had completed twelve years of age and the other is to say that He was running thirteen. The Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇam thus, clearly puts the age of Rāma at the time of His marriage at twelve (or thirteen). The fact that God Rāma and God Krishna were omnipotent is of course the most important. But apart from it, we must also understand that there are significant physical differences related to health, size and longevity, between human beings in the various ages. In general, there is a gradual decline in the physical characteristics of human beings from the Tretā Yuga of Rāma to the Dvāpara Yuga of Krishna and further to the present Kali Yuga. In the Tretā Yuga, human beings are said to be as tall as a śāla tree (Shorea robusta) (Śālaprāṃśuḥ mahābhujaḥ). So, we should not try to assess the health and physical capabilities of people in those ancient generations from our point-of-view since we are like Lilliputs before them. Their health and physical capabilities were tremendous, compared to us and we need not doubt this point. But even if we find some things hard to believe, the omnipotence of God Rāma and God Krishna alone is sufficient to explain any impossibile event. It is quite common to form a negative impression of Krishna based on His record of having had illegitimate affairs with the Gopikās. Considering the relations between Krishna and the Gopikās as illegitimate affairs is a complete misunderstanding. But people today, still continue to have that misunderstanding even after the nivṛtti-background of those incidents has been clearly and repeatedly explained. If the liberal people of today, can still not understand this point, even after such a clear explanation, what about those ancient times, when society was conservative and no explanation of Krishna’s behaviour was available! Every king was hesitatant to give his daughter in marriage to Krishna. Even Rukmiṇī who was interested in marrying Krishna, was strongly opposed by her brother, Rukmi on the grounds of Krishna’s behavior. Finally, Krishna married Rukmiṇī since she sent Him a message that she would die if He did not marry her. Even Satrājit unnecessarily doubted Krishna due to Krishna’s past record of stealing butter. He thought that Krishna must have stolen His divine diamond!
  25. How can awareness be an item of the imaginable creation? Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! It is simple. If food is not given to the body for a long time, awareness disappears from that body. If awareness were eternal, it would not disappear from the body, even when no food is supplied to the body. The Veda also says that the awareness is born from food (Annāt puruṣaḥ). The word puruṣa means the awareness lying in the body (Puri dehe yat śete tat caitanyaṃ puruṣaḥ). As per science, when food is digested, inert energy is released. That energy enters the nervous system and gets converted into a specific form of work, called awareness. Awareness or ‘being aware’ means the work of transferring information from the senses to brain. If the supply of food is stopped, no inert energy is liberated and hence, awareness cannot be produced. Awareness continues to exist in the body for some days, even if we do not eat food, because the fats stored in the body are broken down to release inert energy, which, in turn, gets converted to awareness. Once the stored fats get exhausted, no more inert energy is generated and awareness disappears. Ahalyā, the living human being was converted into an inert stone due to a curse. Her awareness was converted into inert energy and the energy was converted into inert matter or stone. When Rāma released her from the curse, the reverse process took place and the stone-form of Ahalyā again became the living Ayalyā with awareness. Of course, this particular conversion was miraculous and can only be done by God using His unimaginable power. We cannot imagine how a living woman can be converted to a stone and vice versa. But the usual conversion of inert energy to awareness in a living body is imaginable by us. It also is ultimately under the control of God alone. The Veda says that God first created the inert five elements, followed by plants and finally, awareness. Thus, awareness is not eternally self-existent. It is a generated product, which was produced at the end of the process of creation. Creation is called prakṛti. Awareness is called parā prakṛti. Parā means the best. So, parā prakṛti means the best or most precious part of creation. If awareness itself were God, God would have said that He Himself is parā prakṛti. But in the Gita, He said that His creation or prakṛti consists of two parts: (1) Aparā prakṛti, which is the lower part of His creation and (2) Parā prakṛti, which is the best and most precious part of His creation. For parā prakṛti, He only said that it is the best part of His creation (Prakṛtiṃ viddhi me parām). He did not say that parā prakṛti is Himself. When somebody says that this gold is the best part of his property, it does not mean that the gold is himself! God has also mentioned in the Gita that parā prakṛti is awareness (Jīvabhūtām). God is unimaginable as per the Veda (Atarkyaḥ) and His creation is imaginable since we can see and understand it. Awareness, being a part of creation, is imaginable and also visible, as per the Gita (Paśyanti jñāna cakṣuṣaḥ). You can visualize awareness in the form of waves or pulses of inert energy on a monitor since awareness is nothing but a converted work-form of inert energy. www.universal-spirituality.org
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