AranyaKand – Part 5 (1st Aug – 6th Aug 2016)

Talks on “AranyaKand” by Swami Abhedananda

Key Points from the Discourses

Day 1


The atmosphere in “Brahmaloka” was divinely charged once again, as Swami Abhedanandaji commenced his discourses on AranyaKand on the first day of the Monthly Yagna. Devotees were treated to a sublime yet mentally invigorating satsang. We bring to you some of the gems from yesterday’s talk…

Be the Ideal:

1) PujyaGurudev used to say ‘Most of us only exist, rarely do we live. To live, you must have an ideal.’ An Ideal is an altar for which one is ready to give up his everything. Such a person does not allow his likes, dislikes, ego and vasanas to come in between him and his chosen Ideal. Our unhappiness is nothing but the absence of an Ideal in our lives.

2) What makes a person different from others is his Ideal. There is a bigger joy in giving oneself up for something higher or ultimate or supreme. All of us have to die anyway but there must be something higher for which we are ready to give up everything. The discovery of this principle is the inauguration of the seeker-ship in us. Unless we discover something greater for which we are ready even to be crucified, unless we discover our readiness to jump for our biggest ideal, unless we are ready to wipe ourselves, until then Divine Security doesn’t come. Those who had the courage to be insecure to uphold their highest ideals, they alone got more security in the hands of God.

3) Lurking in each one of us, is this personality which can do anything and die for a greater cause or for an ideal. The day this personality within us will catch fire, we will become an austere person. From Siddharth we will become Gautam Buddha, from an ordinary mortal, we will become the Ideal itself.

Surpanakha – Personification of our vasanas:

1) Surpanakha the daughter of Vishrava muni and sister of Ravan, was married to Viddutjivha. When Viddutjivha was killed by Ravan, Surpanakha had the options of either remarrying or living a life of austerity; but she chose neither. She chose the path of licentiousness. She wanted to live, eat, drink and indulge as per her likes. Surpanakha represents our vasanas who does not want to be restrained or live in any rules.

2) Surpanakha represents excessive desires and excessive Ego. Surpanakha means, one whose nails are like a sieve. Fingers & nails represent our desires. Little desires are required for living in our lives. We need little desire to eat, sleep and have a family life. However when the desires called our nails grow beyond a limit we should trim them, but if we don’t, it can hurt us and others too. This was Surpanakha. Her desires were excessive. When the vasanas are uncontrolled, a person trespasses his limits and becomes indifferent to other’s sensitivity.

3) One cannot enjoy as much as he wants, the fulfilment of his desires depends on his destiny or prarabdh. We generally tend to desire more than what our prarabdh permits us. If one learns to contain his desires within the limits of one’s prarabdha, he can be free from pains caused by the non-fulfillment of desires. The art of tailoring our desires to fit in our prarabdh, is the secret of being happy. We tend to reject and repel something which cannot go away from us and attract and pull something that cannot come to us. This represents Surpanakha.

4) On being infatuated, Surpanakha disguised herself as a beautiful woman and approached Lord Ram, but Bhagwan only sees the purity of our innermost emotions and not the external looks. He was drawn towards the devotion of Shabari but dismayed by the infatuation of Surpanakha. To approach the Lord, one need not have a nice physical appearance, but mental beauty is very much essential.

Mind is meant for One alone:

1) Mind is not meant to be for many. Mind was designed for one only. All sad people are the ones who are trying to live their own personal lives, while all happy people are the ones who, reducing their personal loves, try to concentrate all the love into one love. More we concentrate all love into one love, more powerful we become. More scattered our love is, the weaker we become. Concentration and oneness of love alone is the strength and soul of a person.

2) If one tries to hold on to many things, his grip will gradually loosen. Similarly, when one has many people to answer to, many loves to tend to, his grip too will be loose. Therefore we must Love all to Love one. Don’t have separate relations. Be surrendered to One alone. This requires a powerful mind and a lot of sacrifice. It is not easy to leave our ways, style and dedicate to one alone. Those who can go through this difficulty, they alone become the King of circumstances. They alone have all the joys of the world. The secret of any person’s joy is in his capacity to give up and dedicate himself for others.

Day 2

Swami Abhedanandaji continued to enrich the devotees with his lucid explanation on the second day of the AranyaKandYagna. Below are some of the memorable takeaways from the discourse, which we all can apply in our daily life.

Invoking Godliness:

1) We should know our personality very well. All the characters of Ramayan and Mahabharat depict qualities that are inherent within us. Here Surpanakha represents vasana, ego, extreme attachment, infatuation, lust, shamelessness and anger. These are all demonic qualities that a person may have to certain extent. In each and every person a Devata (element of godliness) is hidden, and similarly an Asura (element of demonic tendencies) is also hidden. It is upto us, which tendency or quality we invoke, encourage and express outside.

2) The life of vasana and ego is always full of struggle and resistance; there is no quietness in it. This was reflected in Surpanakha’s character. On the other hand the surrendered life of Sitaji had extreme quietness and fragrance of divinity in it, so much that even Bhagwan Ram could not stop Himself and was drawn towards her in Pushpa-Vatika. Our personality should be such that the Lord gets attracted towards us.

Loyalty towards One:

1) When Bhagwan Ram asked Surpanakha to go and approach Lakshmanji, she readily went to him. This is called promiscuity. This is the nature of vasana; a vasana-ridden person is never loyal. His personal joy is so important that he can go to anybody who can satisfy his desire. A person with extreme vasana lives an uncommitted life. He doesn’t belong to anybody, because nobody can give him joy for a long time. Such a person can never be a follower, a devotee or even a contributor in the society. He always remains a self-centered opportunist.

2) To be loyal, one needs to have inner strength. Loyalty means having only one shape of mind in spite of facing problems. Before the Mahabharata war, when Arjun was asked by the Lord to choose between Him and His army, Arjun chose the Lord. In Arjun’s mind the shape of Bhagwan was very strong. Even if death is the price to pay, one must die while living for his Altar, rather than to live on as a disloyal opportunist swaying from one Altar to another. This promiscuous personality in us is anti-devotional.

3) On being approached by Surpanakha, Lakshmanji turned her down saying he was the servant of Lord Ram and a servant cannot get married and have a joyful life of his own. When you are serving someone you lose your life and the more you lose your life the better you can serve. For a loyal and faithful servant, there is nothing called rest, nothing called his own wish or nothing called his own life.

A True Servant:

1) A servant is like the shadow of his master. Lakshmanji and Hanumanji are such shining examples of the Lord’s true servants. The moment one starts serving the Higher, he becomes fully secured. Beauty of life is that we are in the sankalp of someone Higher. When one serves, he experiences the joy of his life being well utilized and a bigger satisfaction that someone is pleased with him. The real earning of a person is the mental satisfaction that ‘my very thought would be pleasing to my master’. It is better to die in four days working and surrendering to the Higher rather that living a long life without any surrender. The sadness of a person is nothing but his inability to give.

2) Any role requires that we should be a servant. Therefore we say ‘I am serving my office, I am serving this institution’. All serving roles have to be full of sacrifice. Nothing bigger or higher can be achieved without serving. All our seva is convenience-oriented and comfort-oriented and therefore it fails to create an impression in the mind of the Lord and the Guru. People don’t serve to their complete capacity, they hardly serve 2% to 4% of their capacity, and the remaining unserved capacity alone becomes the cause of sorrow in their lives. Untapped serving capacity comes as sorrow in our lives.

Vasana& it’s ugly form:

1) On finally being scolded by Lakshmanji for being shameless, Surpanakha got extremely angry. A person with unfulfilled vasana gets very angry. If a person has anger it only means that he has strong vasana. A person is not dangerous but his tendencies are. When someone’s tendency is out of control, he becomes a dangerous person. Just like Surpanakha who when angry took a terrible form, our uncontrolled vasnas too eventually become terrible.

2) Seeing the terrible form of Surpanakha, Sitaji started shivering. Any vasana will make Bhakti shiver. Sitaji is Bhakti, Ramji is Gyan and Lakshmanji is Vairagya. Unless one pleases Sitaji, he cannot be dear to Ramji. We cannot disturb Bhakti and go to the Lord. But vasana is so self-centric that it eats up the Bhakti of our lives. Ishwar-bhakti and Guru-Bhakti all are eaten up by our vasanas. Bhakti means the sense of joy in Lord. The place which gives Bhakti to a person, is the biggest boon, the person who takes us closer to the Lord is the biggest gift of our life and the situation that makes us a devotee, that situation is a nectar in our lives, even if it is a painful situation. Bhakti makes a person insured and assured. Therefore the vasana attacks our Bhakti. If a person is not able to become a devotee, it is only because of his vasana.

3) Lakshmanji thus cut the ears and nose of Surpanakha. The meaning here is, vairagya (dispassion) exposes the ugliness of the vasana. Vasana appears very beautiful, ego appears very sweet and charming. It is totally a wrong impression. Bring dispassion so that the mask of vasanas can be taken out.

 

Day 3

The devotees at Chinmaya Mission Durban were yet again blessed with valuable teachings from Shri Ramcharitmanas as elucidated by Swami Abhedanandaji during the Monthly Gyanyagna. Here are a few precious jewels from yesterday’s satsang:

Invoking Shri Lakshman in us:

1) A person has many personalities in him and those personalities may have some good and some not so good aspects in them. Beauty of living is how a person deals with his badness and subdues it so that it does not dominate upon him. There is no doubt that we have somewhere Ram and Lakshman hidden in us, but we have to agree that somewhere there is Surpanakha also. This Surpanakha is the vasana and ego in us and it has to be tackled and subdued. We should not allow it to eat the devotion in us.

2) If Surpanakha is present in us then there is Lakshmanji present too, who can curb her. A Guru alone is the one who brings out the hidden Ram Durbar within us. He is the one who makes us aware of this hidden personality of Lakshmanji. Invoke that Lakshmanji to cut the nose of Surpanakha inside.

Attachment:

1) The demons Khar and Dushan had the boon that no one can kill them other than each other. As they had extreme attachment for each other, they were sure that they could not be killed. Bhagwan Ram thus took their form and ultimately they killed each other. The spiritual meaning of this is, when attachment is there, attached people kill each other. People not only trouble those whom they are attached to, but they are also troubled by them.

2) Attachment loots our discrimination. The joy of living is that our love is for Bhagwan alone. If we have to live with someone, we should have only one notion that our happiness in independent of the other person and while living with the person we must try to serve him in every way. We must have acceptance without expectations and loving without demanding.

Surpanakha’s rebuke to Ravan:

When Khar and Dushan were killed by the Lord, Surpanakha went to Ravan. Surpanakha then shouted at Ravan in many ways. She said some very good things. In our scriptures more than who said, what is said is important. These lines are very important for a seeker:

1) ‘Dhanbinu Dharma’: When a person with a lot of money does not invest his money, that money can eat him up. Money comes from some punya and this money should be invested in punya, else the same money will become a source of our worry. Money finds its way to go away if one does not give a proper outlet.

2) ‘Hari hi samarpebinu sat karma’: Good actions and ego are very close friends and therefore good actions can cause us to forget the Lord. We have to remember one thing, that if we are doing good actions, it is because God gave us the opportunity to do that. We must please the Lord through our actions. That is called Samarpan. If we don’t offer our good actions to the Lord, then we will be bound by them. Attachment and aversion are the result of binding actions.

3) ‘Sang tejati’: ‘Jati’ means a Sannyasi (renunciate). A Sannyasi is destroyed by attachment. A Sannyasi is the one who has left everything and has no attachment anywhere. One who has seen that the world is nothing but a projection of Maya and there is no reality here, develops detachment towards the worldly objects and people.

4) ‘Kumantrate raja’: If anybody’s life is spoiled it is only because of a bad adviser. Anybody’s biggest gift is a good adviser. Sugreev was a very scared and timid person, but his only strength was Hanumanji while Kaikeyi’s only weakness was Manthra. Many a times in life we find that on certain issues, if somebody had advised us rightly we would have saved the bigger problem. The problem is either we don’t take advice or we don’t have a good adviser.

5) ‘Maantegyan’: By ego, knowledge goes away. Ego means overestimating our talent or position. Ego resides in the firmness of wrong notions about oneself and in one’s imagined bigness. Our body is not even a bubble and our life is just a fleeting phase, but we tend to blow our own trumpet. We are proud of our small false things, but fail to realize that there is no essence in it. Whatever is our possession, it can go in no time. The only antidote to get out of Maan (Ego) is to discover that our goodness is from the Lord alone. There is someone very big behind us who is making us good. Somebody’s strength is making us strong. This was Hanumanji’s secret. Hanumanji did such big work but he always thought that his strength was of Bhagwan Ram only.

6) ‘Preetipranaybinu’: In loving one has to give up his desires and ego. An egoistic person can never love. He will be occupied with his moods. Loving means dissolving oneself and offering oneself, having no life of our own. Biggest demand of love is to leave yourself, loosen yourself. The whole world every day is screaming and shouting, ‘Sacrifice, give up, drop it, and grow over it!’ These are the silent cries that we hear every day. We may tend to be deaf, but the more we are deaf, the louder we will hear it.

 

Day 4

Continuing the joyful journey into the forest of Aranyakand, Swami Abhedanandaji showered the bliss of satsang upon the devotees on the 4th day of the GyanYagna. Below are some beautiful takeaways from Swamiji’s soul stirring talk –

Goodness of a Person:

1) Life is a set of situations which sometimes seem to overpower or subdue us. But if it is the situation that is powerful then it should have the same impact on everybody. On carefully observing our lives, we will realize that those people or situations which troubled us, were not the cause of trouble for others. The thing that makes us vulnerable in any situation is our vasana, desires and greed. This is the Surpanakha in us; she has an ugly and terrible form. The problem is that, Surpanakha appears attractive at times and therefore we try to fulfill our unruly desires. It requires an alert mind to identify the hidden Surpanakha.

2) When Lord Rama entered the forest of Dandakaranya, He saw the heap of bones of the Rishis who were killed and eaten up by Surpanakha and other demons. Here the Rishis represent the seeker vrittis in us which are constantly eaten up by the demonic vritti (negative tendencies) in us. We have various good thoughts, such as thoughts of purity, compassion, austerity, faith etc. which are being eaten regularly by the negative tendencies. Goodness alone cannot kill delusion because goodness without God is associated with ego.

3) When Ravan was informed of the death of Khar and Dushan by Surpanakha, Ravan first thought that nobody other than the Lord could kill Khar and Dushan but immediately the next moment he thought that if Lord is human then he can kidnap Lord’s wife. Everybody has intellect (discriminating power) and some people’s intellect is like a small lamp, it keeps on glowing day and night and giving the right thoughts about the importance of Lord and Guru in life, about controlling the mind etc. While there are some people whose intellect is like the lightening where one can see everything very clearly but only for a very few seconds. Those who lack purity in them, for a second there is a big flash of discrimination and they start talking big, but the very next moment they resort back to the habitual lower actions.

One should have stability in love, behaviour and his moods. A person is dependable only when he is equanimous. The lesser one can predict about the goodness of a person, more Adharmic and unrighteous he is. The beauty of a person is that one can be sure of his goodness. Surety of somebody’s goodness makes the person very valuable.

Mother Sita resides in Fire:

1) Bhagwan Ram, now addressing Sitaji as the one with extremely good character and capability to take great vows, asked her to reside in the fire in order to perform His leela. A person is known by what vows he takes. The capacity to stop the lower thoughts and engage the mind in higher thoughts at will is called the vow of that person. Our life should be based on vows. Nobody has done anything big unless he has taken a bigger sankalp. Higher the sankalp one can take, bigger things he can do. Like a small child who cannot handle heavy things, similarly one who does not have a powerful mind cannot take bigger vows.

2) There are various interpretations of why Mother Sita entered into the fire:

a) Sitaji was born from earth, so she should have entered the earth, but earth is forgiveness-oriented. To kill the demons fire was needed. Shakti should be in the fire to destroy the demons. Corollary of this is, if we also want to kill our inner demons we should have fire in us. Our weakness remains when we do not go through the procedure of removing our weakness and no procedure of removing the weakness can be without some kind of austerity, because when the force of negative thoughts comes, it is the austerity in us that holds it.

b) The second interpretation is: Sitaji and Ramji are never separated, how can Shakti and Shaktiman be ever separated, but Ramji was to be alone after Sitaji was gone, so Sitaji became one with the God who was in the fire too. ‘

Story of Mareech:

1) When Ravan approached Mareech to take the form of a golden deer, Mareech advised him that one should have no animosity with the Lord and must be satisfied with whatever the Lord gives. This alone is the wise thing to do. Certain things and situation which one cannot change, it is better to accept it with joy. Like a baby wasp constantly waits for its mother, similarly Mareech constantly thought about the Lord; he meditated on the form of the Lord day and night.

2) When Mareechrealised that he was sure to die, he accepted the proposal of Ravan and took the form of the golden deer. Gurudev used to say that our mind is like Mareech which projects false joy. Sitaji represents Bhakti and Shanti. Our Shanti goes away when some golden deer flashes in our minds. Despite knowing everything, Ramji ran after the golden deer; Ramji never had to run behind anyone and just one arrow of the Lord was enough for any demon. But here the Lord ran behind Mareech because it was his desire to see the Lord in that form. Mareech wanted that the Lord should run behind him and he could turn his head repeatedly and see the Lord. When they went far inside the jungle, the Lord killed Mareech. Mareech then called out for Lakshmanji and left his body thinking about the Lord. Mareech thus went to the Lok of Bhagwan Ram.

We should approach Bhagwan in some way or other. We all have the freedom of loving a lot but we hardly use this freedom instead we misuse this freedom. The beauty of life is that we love the Lord alone!

Day 5

Swami Abhedananda concluded the monthly GyanYagna on ‘AranyaKand’ with wonderful elucidation of the characters and stories of Shri Ramcharitmanas which are indeed to be contemplated upon. We are pleased to share with you Swamiji’s concluding advice from the final day’s satsang.

Mother Sita& Lord Ram – Are they separated in our lives?

1) Mother Sita represents the Shakti tattva (Power). We all have certain things, talents, relations, house, certain position, that is our power. Nobody is powerless. Even a small ant can kill a mighty elephant. We all have some power but whether we are happy or unhappy depends upon whether our power is kidnapped by Ravan or not. We tend to use our powers for our sense gratification, enjoyment and fulfillment and thus we have divorced our powers from the Lord’s joy. One is sad, upset, angry or depressed in his life because he has taken away the power of the Lord from the Lord. In whose life, the union of Bhakti and Ishwar is present, he becomes a saint.

2) When by destiny we get some power and when we start enjoying it, we start destroying that power. People come in our lives as a gift from God and we make them a curse for ourselves, because we do not want to offer it back. God gives us Puja samagri, every person around us, every work around us is our worship and we should not indulge or enjoy with that, rather we should offer it back with the sense of gratitude. In our life, there is less of Puja and more of Bhog and this is the separation of Sita and Ram in us. By offering, we increase the value of that thing. More is this worship in our life, more our mind will be quiet and more we will be free from other’s thoughts. Any closeness in any relation which takes us away from the Lord will become a big source of liability and trouble.

Glory of Shri Lakshmanji:

1) When Lakshmanji refused to leave Mother Sita to protect Ramji as He Himself is the protector of all, Sitaji said some harsh words to Lakshmanji. Here it is written, ‘MaramvachanSita tab bola’, it should have been ‘MaramvachanSita tab boli’; Saints say here that it is a deliberate point by Tulsidasji that, it was Ramji who was speaking through Sitaji. Even after serving day and night, Lakshmanji had to hear such harsh words but his glory was that, even after that he remained steadfast in his vows.

2) A person’s evolution is that how much hard and harsh words he can listen without getting disturbed. Lakshmanji did not reply back to Sitaji, he remained calm. That shows the depth of his personality. He thought from two angles, firstly he thought that Ramji must have prompted her to say so. Secondly, when there is no ego, there is no receiver present. Bigger is the ego, more is the intolerance. One’s power of tolerance decides how high he will go in life.

Ravan abducting Mother Sita:

1) Here it is said that by whose presence even the devatas feared, that Ravan moved stealth-fully towards Mother Sita. The moment a person puts his feet in the wrong path, he loses his luster and discriminating power, and all the devatas leave from the body. Dharma is the one which holds the Shakti of a person. As long as a person is on the right path, he is well protected. Moment he does something wrong, his natural cheer, his valour and confidence goes away. And thus Ravan, who was so powerful, was shivering when he went to kidnap Mother Sita.

2) Fear is the first child of sin. Fear makes a person faithless. This also gives birth to a subtle Adhyatmik problem when the thoughts come, “I am a liar, a sinner.” A person is then disturbed by his own self-image. One’s best cushion is a clean conscience.

Spiritual Ambition:

1) Jatayu and Sampati were two brothers who when young decided to touch the sun. As they approached the sun unable to bear the heat Jatayu backed out but Sampati continued and ultimately got his wings burnt. Sampathi represents an ambitious person. An ambitious person wants to project his uniqueness. Material Ambition is ‘wanting something which is not in our destiny, and it has nothing to do with pleasing the Lord’. It does not purify our mind nor does it benefit anybody. A person’s material ambition whips him day and night and makes him restless. Such a person is unable to serve anyone as his ambition comes in the way of serving.

2) There was no achievement of Jatayu throughout his life but he had a spiritual ambition. He wanted to work, live and die for the Lord. In Spiritual ambition too the goal is very difficult, but that goal is to please God and Guru, and please our conscience. Such a person is at rest because he puts efforts in the right direction and gets Lord’s force, power and grace behind him. More personalised and self-centric our life is, lesser will be the grace upon us. How much grace will be covering us depends on how much personal or impersonal our life is.

3) It is better to give up the life for something higher, rather than go round and round in the material ambition and die unknown as an impure person. Spiritual ambition is the soul of a seeker. It makes a person from Balakrishna Menon to Swami Chinmayananda. The thought that, ‘I will find out the Truth and see the Lord’ becomes the silent source of strength for a seeker.

4) Jatayu had this Spiritual ambition and therefore though he was old, he tried to save Mother Sita from Ravan, but Ravan cut his wings and Jatayu fell down. Jatayu had courage to fight with Ravan and he also had patience and that is why he waited for Lord Ram to tell the news about Mother Sita.

To serve is a painful thing. Learn to take pains for the one you serve. Serving means how much we can give, and it need not be asked; we should be able to discover what our sacrifice should be.