Shri Ram Geeta – AranyaKand (1st June – 6th June 2016)

Talks on “Shri Ram Geeta” by Swami Abhedananda

Key Points from the Discourses

Day 1

Shri Ram Geeta

The June monthly GyanYagna by Swami Abhedanandaji got off to a scintillating start yesterday as Swamiji enlightened the devotees with various life changing messages derived from the beautiful ‘Shri Ram Geeta’, a portion of the ‘Aranyakand’ of Shri Ramcharitmanas. We concisely bring to you some points from the satsang –

1. From ‘Changing’ to ‘Changeless’:

– In life we hold on to those things that tend to change; we depend on the principles that change, the people and the circumstances that change. Not just externally, but internally too there are changes in our mindset as per the demands of the situations. However, to maintain quietude in life, there has to be some changeless principle in our life such that all the outer and inner changes do not make any difference to us. One should be able to see and hold on to that which does not change amidst all the changes.

– ‘Samsar’ (world) is the habit of the mind to love something that is prone to change. On the other hand, ‘Bhakti’ (devotion) is the habit of again and again going back to the changeless. Bhakti is developing a kind of mind which loves the changeless. Bhakti is a way of life in which we see outside but focus inside. It is a shift of attention from the outer world, people, names & forms to the inner silence.

2. Importance of Satsang:

– Satsang is diving deep and discovering our inner silence. Articulating and inviting that silence within, by means of words is Satsang. While we are very close to our real Self, yet we are actually very far. Satsang is the vehicle which takes us closer to our own self. Our habits, thoughts, intentions, incidents etc. have covered our real Self from us. Satsang is therefore a beautiful unveiling ceremony.

– At the core, every individual is very quiet. There is a big ocean of quietness in each one of us. The disturbances, agitations, turmoil and havoc that we feel every day, don’t signify even a droplet compared to the vast ocean of quietness that we have within. One should discover the quietness that he is. Don’t try to be silent…Be Silence!

3. Happiness:

– Happiness comes naturally to those who have the habit of choosing something bigger in life. He alone is happy, who can connect to and adhere to the Higher (Consciousness or God). Sadness is the consequence of giving too much importance to our life, meaning to our own loss, gain, prestige, honor, dishonor & joy. We must be ready to merge with the Higher and surrender our small identity by giving up our insistences for personal joys.

– More a person has ego, more he has to worry about himself. More a person is egoless and more he has surrendered to the Higher, more he will be taken care of by someone Higher. The whole joy of life is in someone bigger possessing us. When we give up our small self, then the Lord and Guru take the sankalp to lift us up.

– The way through which one makes a place in the heart of the God & the Guru is ‘seva’. Seva might often be expressed physically but it’s more a mental attitude; it is the readiness to sacrifice our ego.

4. Maya:

In the prasang of ‘Shri Ram Geeta’, Shri Ram while answering the questions of Lakshmanji, gives the meaning of the word ‘Maya’ as – ‘I & My-ness is Maya’.

– Maya is such that it makes the ‘unreal’ appear as ‘real’. Everything that we see in the world is made by Maya. Our body and our worldly relations are associated with us as long certain fruits of action have to come through them. After the fruits have exhausted, then everyone leaves us. Our commitments in the world where we say ‘I love you, I cannot live with you’ etc., all are in illusion but all appear real because of ‘Maya’.

– It is Maya because of which we are deeply attached with the objects & beings in this world. Our mind is like a beggar because it keeps on seeking emotional joy from the worldly attachments. We fail to realize that they become the main source of all our troubles because they bring worry, expectations, insistence, anger and fear.

– The only way to get out of the clutches of Maya is to seek emotional security from the Lord. When we have immense love for the Lord, all worldly attachments are broken. Remember, every meeting in this world ends in separation but meeting with the Lord ends in an eternal union!

Day 2

Shri Ram Geeta

The devotees at Chinmaya Mission Durban ashram were blessed with the enchanting katha of Lord Ram during the 2nd day of the monthly yagna. Here are a few precious jewels from yesterday’s satsang:

– Lakshmanji is the avatar of ‘Shesh’ (Guru) and hence he is the acharya (teacher) of all jivas. He himself did not have any questions, but he posed certain questions to Lord Ram so that the ignorance of all the jivas can be removed. Also, he wanted to enhance the glory of Lord Ram and hence asked Him about six important aspects of life, namely – Maya, Gyaan, Vairaag, Jiva, Ishwar& Bhakti.

Maya:
– Bhagavan Ram first explains about ‘Maya’. The purpose of telling about Maya is for us to realize that the world that we see is not man-made. ‘Vidya Maya’ is the power that has created the whole world. By knowing this, our ego diminishes because the creation of God is much bigger than our own creation. In front of the creation and intellect of the Lord, our creation and intellect are very small. Another important thing to note is that while we are bound by our own small creations; even after creating the whole cosmos the Lord is free. This is called Lordliness of the Lord.
– By knowing Vidya Maya, we understand that there is some power which is capable of making and unmaking anything. Thus, our ego melts down and gives-up it’s insistences. By this, ‘prayer’ enters our life because we realize that by our own efforts alone things would not change.
– One more aspect of Vidya Maya is that – this Maya alone takes us to the Lord. Vidya Maya alone brings the Guru and creates our relationship with the God. If we analyze, we will find that all the experiences of past, no matter how bad they were, have made us more mature and taken us closer to the God. No karma-phal is without kripa-phal. All pain has some grace hidden in it. Each situation is only to push us towards the Lord no matter how un-conducive it may seem. We should use these bitter experiences as medicine.

Gyaan (Knowledge):
– Shri Ram explains next about ‘Gyaan’. He says that Gyaan appears where ‘Maan’ (measurement) is not present. What does ‘Maan’ mean? It is the demand of a person to look different and good in others’ eyes.
– We all have some image about ourselves and others may or may not have the same image about us. They may not accept us in a manner as we want. Maan makes us intolerant towards others non-acceptability. The truth is that one can never be accepted fully by everybody. We make ourselves even more unacceptable by forcing people to accept us.
– A person with ‘Maan’ thinks highly of himself and remains deeply troubled because he is hurt too soon. The lovability of a person depends on how less attention he seeks from others. Beauty of life is that we are happy to live unnoticed. Those who want to live a unnoticed life, they alone become highly noticeable. More quietness a person has, lesser attention he demands, and to that extent God is closer to him.

Vairaag (Dispassion):
– Lord Ram explains ‘Raag’ (attachment) as a mental conviction which is based on ignorance and thoughtlessness. It is a false conviction that our joy depends on some worldly person or object. This negative mental commitment when shattered, bears sorrow and pain. The biggest problem with attachment is that it makes us forget the Lord.
– The world demands a lot of dispassion from us. A person will be persecuted by outer circumstances if he is attached too much; he will be enslaved and will never be free. Raag makes us very weak and miserable while dispassion makes us the master of all situations.
– Dispassion is a must to play any role perfectly in life. A mother who is too attached to her child will never be a good mother. We confuse attachment with Love. In attachment, we see the other person as God himself, but in love we see the other person as a representative of God whom we have to serve. Dispassion gives us the independence to be available for service of the Lord and the Guru.
– It needs maturity to understand that the world is not meant for our enjoyment. World is not drafted and crafted for our possession. Dispassion is seeing the valueless-ness of everything in this world. The source of dispassion is ‘devotion’. Love for the Lord opens the floodgates of dispassion.

Jiva, Ishwar, Bhakti:
– Who is a jiva? Jiva is the one who knows neither Maya, Ishwar, nor himself – he is full of ignorance. Jiva thinks that he knows a lot even though he doesn’t. Remaining ignorant is the cause of all the sorrow in life. On the other hand, Ishwar is the one who knows all, who is all powerful and who has the capacity to liberate jiva from all his sorrows.
– The beauty of devotion (Bhakti) is that the jiva realizes that the Lord would reveal to him what is required to be known. When we know what to do and how to do, then we are saved from all the falls. If we are close to God, He talks to us and prompts us to do the right thing. He reveals many secrets to us. One who has Ishwar-shakti he cannot remain weak.

Day 3

Shri Ram Geeta

Another memorable day of spiritually elevating satsang welcomed the devotees of Durban to ChinmayaShivam ashram, as they reveled together in Swami Abhedananda’s talks on Shri Ram Geeta. Below are some of the snippets from Swamiji’s soul stirring discourse yesterday.

-Making our Mind a Sanctum:

Real satsang hall is the rendered mind where Ishwar speaks and we become a disciple. When we have an attitude of surrender & offering, the Higher in us reveals Itself. Surrender has the capacity to silence the mind. More silent we are inside, more eloquent satsang we will hear. The depth of the silence will decide the depth of the satsang.

When saints, sages & rishis are quietly sitting in the sanctum of their mind, there are words of God constantly reverberating within their minds. When we hear these saints, we hear the Almighty through them. More one empties & quietens himself, more his mind becomes a sanctum. Converting the noisy mind into a peaceful sanctum is the first condition of becoming a disciple. Lord doesn’t live in a dirty place; He comes to a pure, peaceful and quiet place. Unless God is speaking through the speaker, the Truth won’t be revealed.

It is said that ‘Prayer’ is ‘we talking to God’ & ‘Meditation’ is ‘God talking to us’. More we can invoke the talking God within us, more saintly we become. More often than not, it is our vasanas and thoughts of likes, dislikes and anger that blabber in our mind. We must try to invoke the serene, poised and pure mind and let the Lord take over.

-Avidya Maya:

Lord Shri Ram while talking about Maya also explains ‘Avidya Maya’. Avidya Maya makes a person behave and act in a manner that he is not supposed to. Avidya means ‘absence of knowledge’. There is no charm and grace in a person or place which is devoid of knowledge. Avidya Maya takes away the independence of a person and he tends to remain uncontrolled because of his dependence on various people and objects.

The beauty of a person is his ability to see correctly and possess the right mindset. Avidya Maya takes away this ability. Situations are not difficult; it is we acting through Avidya Maya that makes them difficult. The very purpose of satsang is to keep our intellect illumined and glowing by delivering knowledge and repelling Avidya Maya.

-Maan:

Maan or Ego means deriving a sense of joy in maintaining our separateness from the Lord. Our joy should be God’s joy. A saint is the one who wants infinite joy. When we love someone, we want to share our happy and sad moments with that person. The sign of ego is that we are not ready to make God as a shareholder of our happiness. ‘I don’t have an identity without the Lord’ – this thought does not let ego dominate in a person’s mind.

-Vairaag:

Vairaag or dispassion does not just mean leaving worldly things and beings, but also seeing the reality of the world. Dispassion is in realizing that everything in this world ends too fast and even before the things end, we visualize their end. Vairaag is the attitude of emotional independence which comes when a person has sufficient emotional support from the Lord.
The reality of the world is that anything which we are emotionally dependent on, becomes a liability, sooner or later. Best way to not be emotionally starved, is to emotionally feed others. Instead of removing our sadness, we should try to remove other’s sadness. Vairaag is, remaining amongst everyone, but still being unattached.

World is an excellent place to give service, but the worst place to take service from. If we become involved and indulgent, then we become puppets at the hands of worldly objects and people. World is a place to practice sacrifice, surrender and tolerance.

-Dharma:

Dharma means not to live an impulsive life and to have the ability to fold back our uncontrolled actions and thoughts at will. More a person has vasanas, more he acts in an impulsive manner. There is a joy in being uncontrolled and in that joy a person goes haywire. That joy is the womb of all sorrows.

When we are able to stop ourselves from doing wrong then a conviction is formed within that the mind does listen. When the mind is able to listen then ‘vivekshakti’ is illumined which shows us right and wrong clearly. The intellect becomes very bright. Any person’s beauty is how rightly he is able to think even in the most difficult situations. After repeatedly restraining ourselves from doing and thinking incorrectly, eventually we become deep and poignant. Dharma first brings ‘vivek’ and then ‘vairaag’.

-Love of the Lord:

Lord Shri Ram says to Lakshamnji that His heart melts very fast with ‘Devotion’ and it is this devotion alone that gives immense joy to the devotees. The desire to melt God’s heart and to be loved by Him is a very beautiful desire. The devotee realizes that whatever he has in his life is because of God’s grace. He possess the wisdom that it is the Lord alone who is worth pleasing. In our life, there are numerous limitations and we are helpless in removing them. We want a God who can see us with the eyes of compassion and support us even when the whole world has left us. A devotee’s life is a living proof of God’s infinite love.

 

Day 4

Shri Ram Geeta

The fourth day of the monthly Yagna continued to enchant the devotees with the timeless wisdom of Shri Ramcharitmanas delivered beautifully by Swami Abhedananda. We share with you a few gems from the discourse:

1. Requirements of a Jiva:

The irony of our life is that what is most important appears as least important to us. Knowing not that God is the most important requirement in our life, we use Him as the means and the world as the goal.

The requirements of a jiva are many. To list a few:

– We need someone to provide us constant security & protection
– We need someone to see us through the thick & thin of life.
– We want someone who understands our real problems & provides solutions.
– We want someone who can be with us at all times.
– We need someone who loves us, constantly & unconditionally, despite our many faults and follies.

The truth is that there is no person in the world who can fulfill all these demands. Every one else we meet is seeking the same things as us and hence, in need themselves.

The one who can fulfill all these requirements is God alone. When He loves us, then we don’t need anyone else’s love. Lord is a mad lover! He is the one who guides us day and night. He accepts us as we are, like a mother does to her child, even when soiled in dirt. We don’t know that such a lover is present in our lives; we don’t know He is ready to be embraced by us.

2. Lord’s Love – The only one we need:

When we know how to Love the Lord then our life transforms for good. Pleasing the Lord is very easy because He is closest to our heart. All we have to say is “Oh Lord! I want to love you. I can go to any extent to love You. Please be happy with me and come in my heart.” People who practice this are the ones who are loved & cared by God. They are the ones who melt the Lord’s heart and make Him favourable for them. When the Lord loves, we have no fears, no concerns & no sorrows.

3. The true meaning of Devotion:

Trying to find new ways to express our love for the God is called devotion. On the path of devotion, we don’t need to do too many things. All we need is to have a pure bhaav (emotion) that is devoid of ego. Devotion stands by itself and requires no other props. Unless Bhakti (devotion) is there, Gyaan (knowledge) &Vairagya (Dispassion) cannot be there. Hence, the art of living is to know that our purpose of life is to discover new ways to surrender to the beloved Lord.

4. Saints – Our conduit to Lord’s abode:

How can we get such devotion? Lord Shri Ram says that only a saint can bestow bhakti in us. Like a person who is rich can give money, and a person who has knowledge can give knowledge; similarly one who has bhakti alone can give bhakti. Unless we have blessings of a saint, the hidden gems of scriptures like Ramayan and Bhagawat cannot be discovered. Like from a lamp alone another lamp is lit, similarly from a lover of God alone we can know how to be a lover ourselves.

When the Lord wants that we should love Him then He sends some saint in our lives. That marks the start of our return journey. It is easier to be a Nobelist or a billionaire but very difficult to be a devotee.

Lord Shri Ram, while explaining in detail about the means to attain devotion says that one should try to abide by his dharma and duties; and try to serve and please those who are around him. We need to accrue merits by serving the people around us, by doing good to them, speaking softly to them, tolerating their flaws & follies. When we have accrued a lot of merits then alone saints come in our lives; they cannot be brought forcefully. Without a saint, our life is devoid of the right guidance. They alone bring the joy to our hearts.

Day 5

Shri Ram Geeta

On Day 5 of “Shri Ram Geeta” Yagna, Swami Abhedananda continued to sprinkle the bliss of satsang upon all listeners. Here are a couple of thought provoking topics from yesterday’s satsang:-

What is the essential requirement of our life?

* In life, our requirements are plenty. We can have numerous physical, emotional, financial, social, family, professional and spiritual needs. The fulfilment of these needs, does not depend on our efforts alone and also they do not get fulfilled at our own will. Our needs are so many that no other human being can fulfil them. Lord alone can help us to fulfil our requirements of life. If the Lord is soft towards us, our requirements will be easily fulfilled. Therefore, the need to melt the heart of the Lord is the essential requirement of our lives and creating softness in the heart of the Lord for us is nothing but, Bhakti or devotion.

* In this highly volatile life, our plans seldom work and even if some of them do, we hardly have any role in fulfilling them. Inspite of our strong doership being broken at numerous occasions, we still force ourselves to act without understanding that there is no aspect of our life which is under our control. We definitely need a graceful God who is a giver. A God who either fulfils the need or takes away the need itself, thus making His devotees carefree.

How can a person melt the Lord’s heart?

One does not need to do a lot of outer activities in devotion or bhakti. One need not visit various teerthas (pilgrimages) or do mahayagnas etc. As a simple servant pleases his master, one can please the Lord by his humility. Bhakti is ‘sukh-mula’ because in devotion, a devotee is convinced that the Lord is pleased with him and the Lord will take care of everything. The Lord alone becomes the major role player in the life of a devotee.

The following are steps to melt the Lord’s heart:-
* Reverence for saints – The first step in Bhakti is the presence of a reverential person in our life. A sincere puja and japa takes us to such a person. When we see a good and adorable saint around us, our mind has a reverential and prayerful attitude. If the Lord brings such a saintly person in our life, at least in front of him, our mind will become quieter and reverential.
* Obedience and transparency – The reverential attitude can make one obedient developing the desire to follow. When one starts following a pure person or a saint, he gets the joy which convinces him to continue following. When surrendered more, one develops transparency and obedience.
* Giving up of personal insistence – The very foundation step of a person in this journey, is in his willingness to give up something for the saint. Without this step, the likes and dislikes do not leave us. Therefore, surrendering ourselves and melting of the saint’s heart or a pure person’s heart must take place before melting the heart of the Lord.
* Nourishment of thoughts by saints – A saint or saintly person always takes us in the right path, the path of Dharma. His presence alone can make our life simpler and less complicated. Saints dip our surrendered minds in the syrup of Lord’s emotions, clean it with the words of character and strength & then show the light of knowledge. Such a mind then shines forth!
When a disciple obeys and surrenders to such a thought nourisher, the saint wishes that the Lord’s choicest blessing be bestowed upon the disciple. This thought protects the disciple.

Thus, by following the steps to melt the Lord’s heart, one becomes free from the petty issues of life which in turn reveals the role of Lord in his life.

 

 

Day 6

Shri Ram Geeta
On the concluding day of the yagna, Swami Abhedananda once again drenched the hearts of the audience with love and devotion for Lord Shri Ram. Here are a few gems for us to collect & get inspired –

*Delusion:

One of the biggest problems of jiva is his delusion. Delusion means – not seeing the reality of the world and remaining obsessed with objects and beings which have false existence. The world of relations, our body, the deep attachment with people and our life revolving around ego, all are result of delusion. In the beautiful prasang of ‘Shri Ram Geeta’, Lakshmanji asks questions to Lord Ram about Maya, Knowledge, Dispassion, Devotion, Lord and Jiva so that we, the deluded beings, can come out of our delusion.

*Higher Altar:

Lord Ram, while explaining about devotion, tells about the means of devotion. One of the means is to have an Altar in our life where we can offer everything. God brings saints in our lives in whom we can have faith, where we can see our infinite joy and security, and in whom we can see our hidden Lord. Fruit of following and obeying such an Altar brings dispassion in us.

Our love for such a saint has the capacity to cut-asunder all other small worldly loves. In Love we want to take and give; we want to take some advice and want to give-up our small desires. When we get such an Altar where we can get love of a mother, discipline of a father, sharing-ship (friendship) of a friend and infinite knowledge, then we do not want to go anywhere else.

*Glory of Listening:

Lord Ram emphasizes on the importance of ‘Shravanam’ (listening to Lord’s glories) and says that one who does ‘Shravan bhakti’, his devotion for the Lord increases immensely. In ‘Shravan bhakti’ the person longs to listen about the Lord and His glories. One who gets ‘katharas’, he doesn’t seek joy in the world. More one listens, more he looks forwards to listen about the Lord and His devotees. Those who are intoxicated they want to know each and every characteristic, nature and doing of the Lord. One who is addicted to Lord’s leela, nothing worldly charms him.

It brings tears in the eyes of devotees when they listen to the heart-touching leelas of Lord’s great devotees such as Shri Bharatji, Shri Lakshmanji, Dhashrathji, Kevat, Shabri, Goswami Tulsidasji and many more. Let us revel in some of those leelas today:

– Shri Bharat:

It is said that when Ramji was in exile, at that time Bharatji’s mind was constantly contemplating on his beloved brother Shri Ram and how he must be leading life in the forest. Bharatji never enjoyed the riches of the kingdom even when he was the king; he underwent extreme hardships. Day and night worshipping Lord’s paduka, Bharatji held his praan just because he had promised Ramji that he would take care of Ayodhya, otherwise he would have left his pran. Listening to such leelas, the heart of the devotees melt and their ‘Shravan bhakti’ increases many-fold.

– Shri Lakshman:

About Lakshmanji it is said, that he is the Keerti of Bhagavan Ram. Lakshmanji was like the stick which held high the flag of Bhagavan Ram. Lakshmanji is peculiarly projected as an angry person, but at all places his anger was not for himself, it was only with the intension to spread the glory of Lord Ram. Selflessness is at its acme in Lakshmanji’s character.

– Kevat:

Kevat had extreme devotion for the Lord. He performed the seva of making Lord Ram and Mother Sita smile when they came from a tense environment. Kevat in his intriguing way convinced the Lord and sought the Lord’s permission for doing His ‘Paad- Sevanam’ (worshipping the blessed Feet). As Kevat did the PaadSevanam of the Lord’s soft Feet all his forefathers started showering flowers on him and even Brahmaji prostrated before him. He even refused to take the reward for his labour from the Lord saying, since birth he had served his vasnas but today he could serve the Lord Himself.

– Shabri:

Trusting the words of her Guru Matang Rishi, for years together Shabri waited for Bhagavan Ram to arrive in her kutiya; preparing asan of flowers and plucking fresh fruits every day. Although Shabri was an outcast, but her devotion compelled the Lord to walk all the way from Ayodhya to her kutiya.

– Goswami Tulsidas:

Another great devotee of Bhagavan Ram was Tulsidasji. Throughout his life, he harbored only one wish that he could have darshan of Lord Ram. When the Lord appeared before him as Vanvasi Ram, Tulsidasji applied chandan on His forehead and went into ‘bhaavsamadhi’ (deep meditation). The Lord then lovingly smeared chandan on Tulsidasji’s forehead. Chandan applied by Tulsidasji was a plea as “Oh Lord! Please accept me” and the chandan applied by Ramji was Lord’s acceptance as “you are mine.”

We should constantly pray to the Lord to bestow this kind of devotion to us too. Whatever love we have for Lord Ram or Lord Krishna, it is only through their katha and leela. This is called ‘Shravan Bhakti’. Leela is a devi, when we hear satsang, she sits in all our hearts and nourishes us.