Prema Vahini
Prema Vahini - Part 2

11. Shed attachment to worldly pleasures, develop attachment to God
The heart’s blemishes have to be washed by a moral life and doing of one’s duty. A time may come when one becomes tired and weak, but one should then pray thus: Lord, things have gone beyond my capacity. I feel further effort is too great a strain. Give me strength, O Lord!
At first, God stands at a distance, watching one efforts, like the teacher who stands apart when the student writes out answers to questions. Then, when one sheds attachment to sensual pleasures (bhoga) and takes to good deeds and selfless service, God comes encouragingly near. Like the sungod (Surya-narayana), He waits outside the closed door. Like the manservant who knows their master’s rights and their own limitations, He doesn’t announce his presence or bang on the door but simply waits. And when the master opens the door just a little, the sun rushes in and promptly drives darkness out from within. When His help is requested, He is present by a person’s side, with hands extended to render assistance. So what is wanted is only the discrimination (viveka) to pray to the Lord and the spiritual wisdom (jnana) to remember Him.
12. Good character, virtue is wisdom
Spiritual wisdom (jnana) means understanding, but it is not just an intellectual feat. “Eating” doesn’t mean placing food on the tongue; it is worthwhile only when food is chewed, swallowed, digested, assimilated into the blood stream, and transformed into muscle and bone, into strength and vigour. So too, spiritual understanding must permeate and invigorate all moments of life. It must be expressed through all the organs and senses (karmendriyas and jnanendriyas). One must reach up to this high stage.
Mere accumulation of learning is not spiritual wisdom (jnana). Only good conduct (sat-guna) is spiritual wisdom. In order that one might do selfless service (seva), a little eating (bhoga) has to be gone through. Such eating is a part of sacrifice (yajna). To make this body-machine function, the fuel of food (anna) has to be used.
Food is not sacrifice, but it makes sacrifice possible. Therefore, eating food is not to be laughed at as catering to greed, as feeding of the stomach. It is part of worship.
Worship (puja) is not merely plucking a flower and placing it on top of the image; the gardener who toiled to nurse the plant that gave the flower is also a worshipper. It is only when food is given that the body can function.
Even the means for a sacrifice is an offering (yajna).
All action (karma) done for the sake of three goals is sacrifice, viz. to utilise the world for the worship of the Lord, to establish peace and justice in society, and to control and coordinate the functions of the body. The first is called a holy, sacrificial ritual (yajna); the second, charity (dana); the third, penance (tapas). All human acts must subserve these three needs.
13. Reach God by the path of truth and discrimination
An ethical life is the foundation for attaining the stage in which all human acts subserve the above-mentioned three needs. This ethical life is based upon discrimination between truth and falsehood. Just as the pearl is retained while the shell is discarded, the essence that is truth must be accepted and the nonessential rejected. Then again, individual exertion and divine grace should both be existent. One should also constantly practice the great lesson that the body and the Atma are separate. This is a highly beneficial exercise. Such discrimination (viveka) is necessary for all aspects of life - secular as well as spiritual. It is indispensable for realising the truth, the truth that persists in creation, existence, and destruction, the truth that is God Himself.
To serve this supreme Lord, purity of food has to be observed. Regarding food, the question is not how much but of what quality. Of course, quantity also cannot be overlooked. But why is food necessary at all? It is needed for acquiring the strength required for selfless service. For the sacrifice of service (seva-yajna) to yield fruit, food is needed, and such food must be pure. Attention has to be paid to this aspect of food. In this way, each should pay constant attention to their habits and to the traits of their character. Then, attachment to the body will fall off and the task of securing the bliss of Atma (Atma-ananda) will be made easy.
One has all these various duties to perform before actually attaining realisation, for only through such spiritual life can one acquire purity, and only through that pure nature can one realise the Supreme Self. Without getting engaged in the duties, it is no use crying in agony that one has not been able to really know the supreme Lord (Paramatma).
In this material world, one cannot appreciate the value of spiritual endeavour without experience in spiritual life and its purity. It may be said that one can undertake spiritual endeavour only after appreciating its value, but this is like saying that one should get into water only after learning to swim. Swimming can be learned only by getting into water with a float attached to the body. In the same way, with some float attached to the mind, plunge without fear into spiritual discipline. Then, you will yourself understand the value of spiritual endeavour. The nature and conditions of the spiritual path are known only to those who have journeyed along the road. They know that the path of truth and discrimination (sathya and viveka) leads to God (Paramatma). Those who have not trodden that path and those who are not aware of its existence cannot explain it to themselves or to others.
14. Meditate on God as truth and love
God alone is real. God is truth. The Supreme Lord is love. Meditate on Him as truth, as love. It is possible to realise Him in whatever form you meditate upon. Be always in the good company (sath-sang) of His devotees.
Through this good company, discrimination and renunciation (viveka and vairagya) will be implanted and increased. These will strengthen the spirit and endow you with inner peace. Your mind will then merge in God.
In everything you do, speak and act truthfully, using all the strength and talent with which you are endowed.
At first, you might fail in this and encounter difficulties and sufferings. But, ultimately, you are bound to succeed and achieve victory and bliss. Only truth conquers, not untruth (satyameva jayathe, nanritham). By your behaviour, through your way of life, you can realise the truth; you can realise God (Paramatma).
15. Eschew selfishness, conceit, and pride
People create and develop in themselves an abounding variety of selfish habits and attitudes, causing great discontent for themselves. The impulse for all this comes from the power complex, the greed for accumulating authority, domination, and power, the greed for things that can never be eternal and full. In fact, it is impossible for anyone to attain them to the level of satiation. Omnipotence belongs only to the Lord of all (Sarveswara).
A person might feel elated to become the master of all arts, owner of all wealth, possessor of all knowledge, or repository of all the scriptures (sastras), but from whom did the person acquire all these? They must indeed be greater. One might even claim that one earned all this through their own efforts, labour, and toil. But surely someone gave it to them in some form or other. This one cannot gainsay. The source from which all authority and all power originate is the Lord of all. Ignoring that omnipotence, deluding oneself that the little power one has acquired is one’s own - this indeed is selfishness, conceit, pride (ahamkara).
A person who is a genuine vehicle of power can be recognised by the characteristics of truth, kindness, love, patience, forbearance and gratefulness. Wherever these reside, ego (ahamkara) cannot subsist; it has no place.
Therefore, seek to develop these.
The effulgence of the Atma is obscured by ego. Therefore, when ego is destroyed, all troubles end, all discontents vanish, and bliss is attained. Just as the sun is obscured by mist, so the feeling of ego hides eternal bliss.
Even if the eyes are open, a piece of cloth or cardboard can prevent vision from functioning effectively and usefully.
So too, the screen of selfishness prevents one from seeing God, who is, in fact, nearer than anything else.
16. Avoid argumentation and exhibition of scholarship
Many a spiritual aspirant (sadhaka), recluse, and renunciant (sanyasin) has allowed all excellences won by long years of struggle and sacrifice to slip away through this attachment to the self. Power without the bliss of God-realisation is a wall without a basement. Mere punditry is of no use at all; the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the scriptures (sastras) are doctrines for living out in daily practice. Without this practice, whatever the wealth of words, whatever the standard of scholarship, it is all a colossal waste. To bring the teachings of the Vedas, Upa- nishads, and scriptures into one’s actual life, one has to scotch the feeling “I know”, open one’s eyes to the real essence, and introspect on it. Then, one can attain bliss, without fail.
The almanac might indicate that ten units of rain will fall, but even if the calendar is folded ten times and squeezed, not a drop of rain can be extracted. The purpose of the calendar is not to give rain but only to give information about rain and its quantity. Its pages do not contain the ten units of rain. Rain is in the clouds above.
So, too, the scriptures (sastras) can give only information about doctrines, axioms, rules, regulations, and duties.
The sublime characteristics of the Vedas, the Upanishads, and scriptures are that they give instruction in the methods of attaining peace and liberation. But they aren’t saturated with these essences of bliss; one can’t collect the essences by squeezing the texts. One has to discover the path, direction, and goal as described in them; then, one has to tread the path, follow the direction, and reach the goal. However, if the I-consciousness produces the pride “I know all”, a fall is inevitable; the delusion causes death. The secret of salvation lies in the realisation of this danger; rebirth is inevitable if this danger is not averted.
Aware of all this, if you get immersed in spiritual practice, the world and its worries will not affect you. It is only when you are far from this truth that you suffer, feel pain, and experience travail. At a distance from the bazar, one hears only a huge indistinct uproar. But as one approaches it and walks into it, one can clearly distinguish the separate bargainings. So too, until the reality of the Supreme (Paramatma) is known to you, you are overpowered and stunned by the uproar of the world; but once you enter deep into the realm of spiritual endeavour, everything becomes clear and the knowledge of the reality awakens within you. Until then, you will be caught up in the meaningless noise of argumentation, disputation, and exhibitionist flamboyance.
17. Avoid doubters and ignorant people
Every aspirant who seeks the Eternal through the path of devotion should strive to keep away from the turmoils, cruelties, and falsehoods of this world and practice truth, righteousness, love, and peace. This is indeed the path of devotion. Those who seek union with God and those who seek the welfare of the world should discard as worthless both praise and blame, appreciation and derision, prosperity and adversity. They should courageously keep steady faith in their own innate reality and dedicate themselves to spiritual uplift.
No one, not even a great spiritual personality (maha-purusha) or Avatar, can ever escape criticism and blame.
But such people do not bend. They hold on to truth. Truth will not yield to threats. The real nature of the great sage or the Avatar is realised by those who indulge in criticism or blame only after they wade through unbearable trouble; then they also start to praise. The weakness of ignorance is the cause of this failure. So, let aspirants keep away from all such waverers and ignorant people and desist from discussing their beliefs and convictions with them. Let them become immersed in holy books and be in the company of devotees of the Lord. Later, rich with the experience of realisation and courageous on account of that contact with reality, they can mix in any company without danger and even endeavour to direct other minds on to the truth that they themselves have seen.
18. Develop devotion and faith
Three types can be recognised among those who seek to do good deeds and tread the path of self-realisation.
  1. Those who are too frightened by troubles, losses, and difficulties to begin the endeavour. They are of the lowest type.
  2. Those who, after having undertaken the journey and gone some distance, are depressed and defeated by obstacles and disappointments and give up in the middle. They are of the middling type.
  3. Those who steadfastly adhere to the path with calmness and courage, whatever the nature of the travail, however hard the road; these are, of course, of the highest type. This steadfastness, this faith and constancy, is the characteristic of the devotee (bhaktha).
You may be deluded by attachment to this illusory world and attracted by temporal joy, but don’t barter away the means of achieving permanent and complete happiness. Carry on your spiritual duties with full devotion. God cannot be known without faith and steadfastness. The Lord comes only through supreme devotion (para-bhakthi); supreme devotion only through spiritual wisdom (jnana); spiritual wisdom only through faith (sraddha); and faith, only through love (prema).
19. Cultivate love through two methods
So how is love to be cultivated? Through two methods:
  1. Always consider the faults of others, however big, to be insignificant and negligible. Always consider your own faults, however insignificant and negligible, to be big, and feel sad and repentant. By these means, you avoid developing bigger faults and defects and you acquire the qualities of brotherliness and forbearance.
  2. Whatever you do, with yourself or with others, do it remembering that God is omnipresent. He sees and hears and knows everything. Whatever you speak, remember that God hears every word; discriminate between the true and the false and speak only the truth. Whatever you do, discriminate between right and wrong and do only the right. Endeavour every moment to be aware of the omnipotence of God.
The body is the temple of the individual (jiva), so whatever happens in that temple is the concern of the individual.
So too, the world is the body of the Lord, and all that happens in it, good or bad, is His concern. From the observed fact of the individual and the body, know the truth of the unobservable fact of the Lord and the world.
The relationship of the individual (jiva) and the Lord, the kinship between the two, can be grasped by everyone who acquires three chief instruments: (1) a mind unsullied by attachment and hatred, (2) a speech unsullied by falsehood and (3) a body unsullied by violence.
Joy and peace do not inhere in external objects; they are in you yourself. But in your foolishness, you search for them outside yourself in a world from which, today or tomorrow, you are bound to depart. Therefore, awake soon. Try to know the essence of everything, the eternal truth. Try to experience the love that is God (Paramatma) itself. Discriminate at every turn, accepting what is true and discarding the rest. As long as you have worldly desires in view, you cannot escape sorrow.
20. See the macrocosm in the microcosm
Many people slander image worship, but its basis is really one’s capacity to see the macrocosm in the microcosm.
The value of image worship is testified by experience; it doesn’t depend on one’s imaginative faculty. What is found in the form of the Lord (Virat-swarupa) is also found, undiminished and unalloyed, in the image form (swarupa). Images serve the same purpose as metaphors and similes in poetry. They illustrate, amplify, and clarify.
Joy comes not through the shape of things but through the relationship established. Not any child but her child makes the mother happy. So also with each one and with all things. With each and every thing in the universe, if one establishes that kinship, that Godly love (Iswara prema), then truly an overpowering joy can be experienced! Only those who have felt it can understand.
Selected Excerpts From This Discourse