Prema Vahini
Prema Vahini - Part 6

61. The characteristics of the devotee and worldly person
People crave worldly happiness. Analysed properly, this itself is the disease, and sufferings are but the drugs we take. In the midst of these worldly pleasures, one rarely entertains the desire to attain the Lord. Besides, it is necessary to analyse and discriminate every act of a person, for the spirit of renunciation is born out of such analysis. Without it, renunciation is difficult to get. Miserliness is like the behaviour of a dog; it has to be transformed.
Anger is enemy Number 1 of the spiritual aspirant; it is like spittle and has to be treated as such. And untruth? It is even more disgusting - through untruth, the vital powers of all are destroyed. It should be treated as scavenging itself. Theft ruins life; it makes the priceless human life cheaper than a pie; it is like rotten foul smelling flesh.
Moderate food, moderate sleep, love (prema), and fortitude will help in the upkeep of the health of both body and mind. Whoever one may be, in whatever condition one may be, if one gives no room for dispiritedness, if one has no fear at all, and if one remembers the Lord with unshaken faith and without any ulterior motive, all suffering and sorrow will fall away. The Lord will never enquire at any time the caste to which you belong or the precepts (achara) that you traditionally follow.
Devotion doesn’t consist in wearing an ochre cloth, organising festivals, performing ritual sacrifices, shaving the hair, carrying water pot or rod, matting the hair, etc. Instead, the characteristics of devotion are a pure mind (anthah-karana), uninterrupted (whatever one may be doing) contemplation on God, the feeling that everything is the Lord’s creation and therefore One, non-attachment to sense objects, the embracement of all in equal love, and dedication to true speech.
62. Consider the name of the Lord as the breath of life
Of the various types of devotion, remembrance of the name (nama-smarana) is best. In the Kali era (yuga), the name is the path for saving oneself. Jayadeva, Gouranga, Thyagara, Tukaram, Kabir, Ramdas - all these great devotees attained the Lord through just this one practice. Why speak of a thousand things? Even Prahlada and Druva were able to enjoy the sight, touch, and conversation (darshan, sparshan, and sambhasana) of the Lord through only repetition of the name, right?
There can be no better path to liberation (mukthi) than considering the name of the Lord as the very breath of life and, with complete faith in good deeds and thoughts, developing the spirit of service and equal love for all. Instead of this, if one sits in some solitary nook holding the breath, how can one master the innate qualities?
How is one to know that one has mastered them? Devotion like Ambarisha’s and activities like Durvasa’s - the combination of these two will result in the fate of Durvasa himself; at least, in the end, Durvasa must fall at Ambarisha’s feet. May you avoid becoming such Thrisankus; may you experience the eternal truth and achieve the genuine state.
63. Watch out for your own faults and cultivate the truthful and joyful
Every person is liable to commit mistakes without being aware of it. However bright the fire or light, some smoke will emanate from it. So also, whatever good deed a person might do, mixed with it will be a minute trace of evil. But efforts should be made to ensure that the evil is minimised, that the good is more and the bad is less. Naturally, in the present atmosphere, you may not succeed in the very first attempt. You must carefully think over the consequences of whatever you do, talk, or execute.
In whatever way you want others to honour you, or to love you, or to behave with you, in the same way you should first behave with others and love and honour them. Then only will those honour you. Instead, without yourself honouring and loving others, if you complain that they are not treating you properly, it is surely a wrong conclusion.
Besides, if those who advise others about “which principles are right, which are true and good, which conduct is best? etc.” would only follow the advice themselves, there would be no need to give the advice at all. Others would learn the lesson simply by example. Instead, Vedanta spoken parrot-like to others, without any attempt to put it into practice in one’s own conduct, not only deceives others but is even worse; it deceives oneself. You must be as you want others to be.
It is not the nature of a spiritual aspirant to search for faults in others and hide their own. If your faults are pointed out to you by someone, don’t argue and try to prove that you were right, and don’t bear a grudge against them for it. Reason out within yourself how it is a fault and set right your own behaviour. Rationalising it for your own satisfaction or wreaking vengeance on the person who pointed it out - these are certainly not the traits of a spiritual aspirant or devotee.
The spiritual aspirant should always seek the truthful and joyful and must avoid all thoughts of the untrue, sad and depressing. Depression, doubt, conceit - these are as Rahu and Kethu to the spiritual aspirant. They will harm one’s spiritual practice. When one’s devotion is well established, they can be easily discarded if they appear.
Above all, it is best for the spiritual aspirant to be joyful, smiling, and enthusiastic under all circumstances.
Even more than devotion and spiritual wisdom, this pure attitude is desirable. Those who have acquired it deserve to reach the goal first. This quality of joy at all times is the fruit of the good done in past births. A person who is ever worried, depressed, and doubting can never attain bliss, whatever spiritual practice is done. The first task of a spiritual aspirant is the cultivation of enthusiasm. Through that enthusiasm, any variety of spiritual bliss (ananda) can be derived.
Never get inflated when praised or deflated when blamed. Be a spiritual lion, regardless of both. Analyse yourself and correct your faults; this is most important.
64. Stick to the name and form of the Lord you adore
Now, one has to be careful even in matters relating to the realisation of God. Whatever inconveniences one may encounter, one must try to carry on spiritual practices without any break or modification in the disciplines.
One should not be changing the name that one has loved and cherished and selected for remembrance (smarana). Concentration is impossible if the name is changed once every few days. The mind won’t attain onepointedness.
All spiritual discipline has this one-pointedness as its ultimate aim. Therefore, avoid constant adop- tion and rejection of names and forms of the Lord. One single name must be used throughout for repetition of the name (japa) and meditation.
One has also to get the strong conviction that all the Lord’s names and forms are but the name and form that one is repeating. That name and form must not give the slightest feeling of dislike or disaffection.
Taking all worldly losses, sufferings, and worries as merely temporal and transitory, and realising that all this repetition of the name and meditation is only to overcome such grief, the spiritual aspirant should keep the two things separate, without mixing up that with this and this with that. The aspirant must understand that loss, suffering, and worry are external, belonging to this world, and that repetition of the name and meditation are internal, belonging to the realm of the love for the Lord. This is called chaste (pathivratha) devotion. The other variety, where the spiritual aspirant selects one name and one form and after some time discards them for another name and form, is called unchaste (vyabhichara) devotion.
Changing the name and form is not a fault if it is done in ignorance, but having once known that it is wrong and harmful, and after continuing repetition of the name and meditation on the one name and form faithfully, subsequently changing them is certainly is wrong. Sticking faithfully to the name and form is the highest vow, the highest austerity. Even if elders advise you, don’t give up the path approved by your mind! Of course, which elder would suggest that you should change the name of the Lord and give up the name that you adore? Consider those who tell you to do so not as elders but as dullards.
As far as possible, see that the time and place of meditation and repetition of the name are not changed and shifted. For example, while traveling, keep the time unaltered even if it becomes necessary to change the venue.
At the specified time, at least recall to mind the meditation and repetition of the name done at the same time in the past, even if you are in a railway train, a bus, or some such inconvenient surrounding.
In this way, accumulating spiritual wealth, one can surely become the master, and attain the Atma.
65. Help ever, hurt never
Everyone should so lead life that no pain is caused to any living thing. That is their supreme duty. Also, it is the prime duty of everyone who has had the chance of this human birth to spare a part of their energies occasionally to prayer, repetition of the Lord’s name, meditation, etc. Everyone must equate living with truth, righteousness, peacefulness, and good works that are of service to others. One must be as afraid of doing acts that are harmful to others or deeds that are sinful as one is now afraid to touch fire or disturb a cobra. One must have as much attachment and steadfastness in carrying out good works, in making others happy, and in worshiping the Lord as one now has in accumulating gold and riches. This is the dharma of humans.
66. The Lord incarnates to promote goodness and universality
The Lord incarnates Himself in human form in order to strengthen this type of goodness. But the question may arise, how can a nonexistent thing be strengthened and developed? Indeed, these qualities are not nonexistent; they are there in everyone! When these qualities decline and wither, the Lord comes with the purpose of promoting them and bringing about the decline of the forces that work in the opposite direction. It is to make clear this purpose that Krishna, in the Dwapara era (yuga), while teaching Arjuna, said, All incarnations of the Lord are for the protection and promotion of holy seekers.
parithranaya sadhuunam
vinashaya cha dushkritham
sambhavami yuge yuge.
The word seeker (sadhu) does not refer to any single religion, caste, family stage of life, community, or even any single species, like the human! It refers to all religions, all stages of life, all races, and all creatures.
The Lord revealed His Universal Mind in the Gita. It is because of this universal message that the Gita has become so essential and so famous. Why, Krishna Himself has declared in plenty of situations and places that He is the dutiful servant of His devotees. An example of this is His accepting to be the charioteer of Arjuna!
If the culture of the ordinary person results in such elevation, each one can judge for themself how much more purified and holy would be the character of those who are engaged in spiritual exercises and the incessant contemplation of God! For both these types of people, the quality of their character is the important criterion.
67. Follow the sages of yore in contemplation of Brahman
There is a great difference between those established in God-contemplation (Brahma-nishtas) in the past and today’s contemplators of Brahman. First, it is necessary to grasp the greatness of contemplation of Brahman.
In the past, this greatness was realised, and holy people were immersed in experiencing holiness. It is because this has not been done by present-day holy people that poverty has come upon us.
The question may arise why such holy feelings don’t arise now, but they are not absent. For fire to increase or decrease, fuel is the only cause; there is no other reason. The more the fuel, the more the illumination! In all humanity, every individual has the undisputed right to feed their fire with fuel! By its very nature, fire has the power to give light, but it needs fuel. The fuel of renunciation, peacefulness, truth, mercifulness, forbearance, and selfless service has to be constantly placed in the fire of the intellect (buddhi) of the spiritual aspirant, the fire that emanates the light of wisdom. The more spiritual seekers do this, the more efficacious and effulgent they can become.
Only trees growing on fertile soil can yield good fruits. Those growing on saline soils will be poor. So also, only in unsullied hearts can holy feelings, power, and gifts shine in splendour.
The present-day contemplators (Brahma-nishtas) practise the same meditation and the same Om (pranava) as their namesakes in the past. The difference between them arises in the decline in self-control, as far as the field of spiritual discipline is concerned.
When the number of great souls (maha-purushas) who engage themselves in unflinching meditation of God in solitary places declined, much suffering descended on the world. Those who exist today are damaging their contemplation on God by arranging for the accumulation of obstacles for carrying out their spiritual practices, by getting enslaved to mean praise and fame, by becoming entangled in delusion, and by restlessly endeavouring to earn glory and to expand the institutions they have founded.
68. Seek solitude, meditate, and acquire one-pointedness
Those who yearn to establish themselves in contemplation of Brahman (Brahma-nishta) must seek solitude, practise meditation and repetition of the name at specified times, and acquire one-pointedness through these spiritual exercises. They must always be anxious to do deeds that will bring about the welfare of all beings. They must always be engaged in performing work without any concern for the fruit thereof. It is only when such people come upon the Earth that all suffering will cease. This is the mark of the Golden Age (Kritha Yuga).
In this world, kind-hearted doctors run medical institutions here and there and serve the diseased and cure the afflicted. Similarly, if we had ashrams here and there of holy personages who were experts in the treatment and cure of the “birth-and-death disease”, then people could be cured of the afflictions of ignorance, untruth, immorality, and self-aggrandisement. Ignorance produces wickedness, and it can be cured only by the medicine of the knowledge of Brahman (Brahma-jnana) with supplementary doses of the drugs peacefulness, fortitude, selfcontrol (santhi, sama, dama), etc.
Instead of this, the “great men” of today give those who approach them the medicines they demand and the drugs their patients relish! They thus become the instruments of their followers and, for the sake of name and fame, they behave like doctors dictated by patients! The so-called “great” fall into perdition even before they taste the spiritual bliss themselves on account of their weakness and foolishness in becoming prey to the wiles of the greed for name and fame! The main reason for contemporary poverty is just this. Present-day virtuous aspirants and “great” people have not understood this fact and don’t act according to it.
The holy essence has to be experienced and realised. One’s selfish needs have to be sacrificed. There must be constant effort to do good to others. One’s desire should be to establish the welfare of the world. With all these feelings filling the heart, one must meditate on the Lord. This is the right path. If “great men” and those in authority are thus engaged in the service of humanity and in promoting the welfare of the world, the thieves of passion, hatred, pride, envy, jealousy, and conceit won’t invade the minds of men. The divine possessions of people, like dharma, mercy, truth, love, knowledge, and wisdom, will be safe from harm.
69. Uproot internal and external foes and uphold righteousness
The police and rulers can overcome only external foes; they have no power to destroy the internal enemies.
They will find the task impossible, for they are not the authorities for that. The internal foes, the six enemies (arishadvarga) that operate inside a person, can be uprooted only by the teachings of good people, love of God, knowledge of the Lord, and the company of the holy and the great.
The world suffers harm at the hands of wicked people when the police and the authorities responsible for apprehending thieves become themselves dependent on them. Similarly, the world becomes enveloped in darker ignorance and dharma is destroyed when those contemplating Brahman incessantly and the “great” spiritual aspirants give up the path of world welfare and become victims of sense enjoyment and ambition to earn name and fame. Also, suffering increases daily.
The whole world will bask in peace and joy only when both groups - worldly authorities and spiritual aspirants - realise the right attitudes and, with the welfare of all at heart, ponder the omnipotence of the Lord.
These two groups are governments for humanity’s two states. Spiritual elders are the rulers of the internal state; administrative authorities are the rulers of the external state. If both groups act and direct properly, both states will function to create happiness. The fault of causing the present misery must therefore be shared by both.
It is at such times that the Lord resolves to vouchsafe happiness to all states and to suppress ignorance and injustice.
It is to make this clear that the Lord said in the Gita,
Oh Bharath, whenever dharma declines and evil (a-dharma) raises its head, I make myself
Yadha yadha hi dharmasya glanirbhavathi Bharatha Abhyuththanam adharmasya
thadhatmanam srirjamyaham.
70. Pray to God for His incarnation
Really speaking, the prayers of the great act as an invitation even for the advent of the Lord. In the external world, when the subjects need any convenience or help, they approach the rulers and inform them of their request. So also, in the internal state, when there is no possibility of achieving and acquiring devotion, charity, peace, and truth, the great and good people who desire to achieve them pray to the Lord within themselves. Then, listening to their prayers, He Himself comes into the world and showers His grace on them. This fact is well known to all.
Didn’t Rama and Krishna incarnate because the Lord heeded the prayers of the sages? Many have read this in the Ramayana and the Bhagavatha. Even Ramakrishna, though he was divinely-born, prayed to Goddess Kali (for he could not bring dharma about) to send someone who could preach to the whole world the dharma that would uproot injustice and selfishness. This is known to all who have read his life history.
Thus, prayers should be offered again and again for the realisation of the task. No one should become desperate and give up prayers if they don’t result immediately in the advent of the Lord. In the external state, how often does a person have to write and how much does he have to wander about for the work to be done - and, perhaps at the end, it may not fructify at all!
How is one to know the consequence of the soul’s yearning? Since this can’t be known, one has to pray until the world is established in happiness. The happiness of the world is the sign of His arrival; if this is understood, then it is easy to recognise the Avatar immediately. It is then that the religion of truth (sathya), of compassion (daya), of spiritual wisdom (jnana) and of love (prema) will grow and prosper. So, until these are firmly rooted, people must continue their prayers. That is the responsibility of the people.
The road laid out by holy people has to be repaired now and then, either by those who travel through it or by those who claim authority over it. That is what is called “teaching (bodha)”. It is for the sake of such repairs that the Lord occasionally sends some authorised individuals, sages, and divine people. Through their good teachings, the path opened by the God-people of the past is again made clear and smooth. Thus, when the Lord’s will, the needs of spiritual seekers, and the teachings of great persons produce their combined effect, the happiness of the world will be assured and undiminished.
If all humanity prays at one time for unrest, injustice, disorder, and falsehood to be transformed into peace, truth, love, and mutual service, things will certainly become better.
There is no other way out. Worrying is fruitless. This is no occasion for despair. It is against the essential nature of people to plead weakness and want of strength. Therefore, giving up the search for other means, people must try prayer, service to others, and mutual love and respect. They should delay no longer; they will soon ac- quire contentment and joy.
71. With faith in human divinity, service to mankind becomes service to God
People say that service to humanity (manava-seva) is service to God (Madhava-seva). That is a true statement.
But although the service of humanity is holy, unless it is merged in the bigger ideal, people won’t benefit, however huge the service.
Mere repetition of the slogan is useless if service is done without faith in the divinity of people and with an eye on name and fame and the fruits of one’s action. Whatever actions one undertakes, if one constantly has as companion the contemplation of the Lord, and if one has faith in the essential divinity of people, then the statement about service to humanity and service to God being the same is justified.
Without thoughts of God (Madhava), how can service to God originate? All such talk is mere show. I won’t agree to that. Instead, whatever is done with the Lord in mind, along the path of truth and according to aspects of dharma, has to be considered as selfless service (seva) to the Lord, and whatever is done for name and fame and for the fruit thereof shall not be referred to as service to people.
In fact, those who are immersed in the uninterrupted contemplation of the Lord need not do any other task at all. The fruit of their prayer itself can make the world holy. However, all can’t be thus engaged, so the others must try to prepare for that stage by purifying their mind and diminishing their desires. The spiritual seekers who have achieved this can realise things for themselves. Others can’t grasp the sameness of service to people and service to God.
72. Purify the mind by meditation and japa
This does not mean that you can sit quietly. Grasping the sameness is dependent on your destiny, past actions, and spiritual discipline. Until you grasp the sameness, do meditation and repeat the name, so that your mind will become free from the waves of feeling and full of the divine form. Also, carry out deeds for the good of others.
Devote your time to the service of the world, regardless of the results thereof. Thus can you become blessed.
Otherwise, though the body may be inactive, the mind will be very busy, committing acts on its own. People with such minds fall prey to fate (karma) in spite of their not doing anything! When a person has the mind fixed on contemplation of God and the pursuit of truth, though the body and senses do acts that are of service to the world, they won’t be affected by them; though they do actions (karma), they are still non-doers of action. The lesson of the Bhagavad Gita is embedded in this.
The heart of the person who doesn’t strive to cultivate the mind with holy thoughts is certain to be the paradise of evil and wickedness. This has to be borne in mind by all those who aspire for salvation, who seek onepointedness, and who hope to rise to greatness. Neither caste nor monkhood nor rituals nor scholarship gained by study of the scriptures is a criterion to realise this knowledge of the Atma. Steady contemplation of Brahman (Brahma-nishta) is the only criterion. The Upanishad text also emphasises this:
Spiritual wisdom alone is the cause of liberation; not the stage of life or philosophy.
Nashramam karnam muktheh, darshanani na karanam Thathaiva sarvakarmani jnanamevahi
73. Pray for the advent of divine personages!
There are no limitations of time or space for the establishment of oneself in the contemplation of the Omnipresent Lord. There is nothing like a holy place or a special time for this. Wherever the mind revels in contemplation of the Divine, that is the holy place! Whenever it does so, that is the auspicious moment! Then and there, one must meditate on the Lord.
That is why it has been announced already before,
Na kala niyamo yathra, na deshasya sthalasya cha
Yathrasya ramathe chittham, thathra dhyanena kevalam.

For meditation on God, there is no fixed time or place.
When and where the mind so desires, then and there is the time and place.
The world can achieve prosperity through disciplined souls whose hearts are pure and who represent the salt of the earth. In the attempt to promote the welfare of the world, from this very minute, everyone should pray for the advent of such men, should try to deserve the blessings of the great, and should try to forget the sufferings of the day.
Selected Excerpts From This Discourse
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