Katha Chopais

Ayodhya Kaand – Doha 95 and Uttar Kaand 121
Dharmu na dusar satya samana | Aagam nigam puraan bakhaana ||
Param dharm shruti beedit ahinsa | par nindaa sum agh na gorisa ||
There is no virtue equal to truthfulness |
so declare the Agamas, Vedas and Purans ||
A vow of non-violence is the highest religious merit known to the vedas |
and there is no sin as heinous (horrible, evil, hateful) as speaking ill of others ||

Katha Translations

Bapu says, “I’m extremely happy to be here as there is special place of Gandhi ji in my heart. I have come here not for any kind of prestige but only because I have deep faith in Gandhi ji and I wanted to pay homage to him.’”

Daandi is the place of Gandhiji’s ‘Salt movement’ in the freedom struggle. In Bapu’s words (Gujarati), “Gandhiji ahiya mittha no satyagraha karva avya hata, pan hu ahiya satya no mittho aagraha karva aavyo chhu.” , meaning that I have come here to sweetly insist on truth in everyday life.

According to Niravaan Upanishad, a mahatma (man full of virtues) has 5 prominent characteristics. Gandhiji had all these in his life. They are as follows.

  • Dhairya kantha” ( Extreme patience)–Patience has to be sustained not just for material gains or goods but also to attain the supreme.
  • “Udaaseen kaupinam (Neutrality)-One should be able to remain indifferent to the positive and negative happenings in life.
  • Vichaar dand” ( Focussed thought)- The mind should be fully focused on one’s ultimate goal. There should not be a crowd of thoughts as it may lead to haywire actions.
  • Shriyaam paaduka”- Wealth overpowers the materialistic mentality, but for a mahatma, wealth remains in his feet.
  • Paraapvaad mukto jeevan muktah”- One who is free from scorn attains salvation, while being alive.

Sadaguru has been described as Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, who have four, one and five heads respectively. This makes a total of ten heads. Sadaguru is a master who watches his disciples by twenty eyes, he listens to disciples by twenty ears, he lifts up disciples by twenty arms.

” Daandi is not just a place, in fact it is a ‘diva-daandi’, a light-house. it served as a guide to the freedom struggle and later the struggle got a momentum.”

Gandhi jee has all the qualities of Mahatma ( a virtuous person) , but it can also be said that Gandhiji’s special qualities should be present in a mahatma.

One should not use path of untruth in any form to attain Truth. This is ‘saadhan shudhhi’ ie purity of efforts. This purity is very important in every endeavour. Gandhiji’s Truth was absolutely free of any shade of malice .

For a political leader, best interest of nation and welfare of all should be the main priority. There should not be any kind of discrimination to fulfill selfish goals.

A thought however great should be such that it can be adopted in practical life.

True Knowledge can only be experienced when an aspirant does not get attached (moh) to the present, he should be able to use the best of the present. He does not condemn the past and neither worries unnecessarily for the future.

There are four features of a Mahatma.
‘Vinodi’- He is not wary of humour. His mind is full of healthy humour , but does not deviate himself from manners and discretion.
‘Aanandi’- He stations himself in the basic nature of the soul i.e bliss or joy.
‘Samvaadi’- His words do not create division, but create unification.
‘Apramaadi’- He is never lazy in his duties.

A devotee is the one who is not even aware of his sincere surrender to the Lord, he is never satisfied with his devotion.

Question- Yesterday it was mentioned that Gandhiji was a very practical person, can it be proved through any incident of his life?
Answer- Yes, Gandhiji was particular about certain things but at the same time he was very practical. Gokhale ji was his political guide, once he asked Gandhiji not to give any public lectures for a year. Gandhiji agreed, but in the same year at the time of Rajchandra ji’s birth centenary, Gandhiji spoke in the gathering. He also spoke in public in the condolence meeting of Gokhale ji’s death. He was then asked that why he broke his promise, Gandhiji replied that he believed in commitment but he was not finicky about it. He said that he realized the importance and demand of place and time and thus behaved practically.

The first mahatma in Shri Ram Charit Manas is Sage Vashishth. His life was a culmination of the basic three aspects of spirituality- knowledge (Gyaan), Action (Karma) and devotion (Bhakti). We can also see the same three aspects in Gandhiji’s life. His knowledge was great and also was free from artificiality, actions were for welfare of others without unnecessary rituals and devotion was such that it was an inspiration to all.

The second mahatma in Shri Ram Charit Manas in Sage Vishwaamitra. The major five elements that define him as mahatma are:

Great personality- ‘Biswaamitra maha-muni gyaani’.
Best place- ‘Basahin bipin subh aashram jaani’.
Ideal time- ‘Tahan japa jagya joge muni karahin’.
Ideal actions- ‘Japa jagya joge muni karahin’.
Appropriate resolution- ‘ Hari binu marahin na nisichar paapi’.

The above five features were prominent highlights of Gandhiji’s personality also, denoting that he was a perfect mahatma.

Gokhale ji said, ‘No soul is as pure, brave and courageous like Gandhi’s”.
Gandhiji’s set up his simple ashram at the banks of river Sabarmati in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
Gandhiji was very particular and punctual about time, he believed in the best use of every moment.
All the actions and endeavors of Gandhiji were aimed to serve others.
Gandhiji’s unbending belief that faults and troubles can only be overcome by “Ram naam”, took India towards freedom.

Gandhiji was once asked that how do you describe yourself as a Hindu as you do not accept the customs like child-marriage, sati, untouchability etc.? He replie, ‘I am a Hindu by all means but I do not accept anything that is against Truth and welfare of others. I feel that a Hindu is the one who believes in the existence of God, immortality of soul, theory of Karma, protection of cows, non-violence, truth and he who never escapes from his duties.”

In his early life, Gandhiji’s caretaker maid (Rambha) and a Saadhu in the local temple (Laadha Maharaj) were the initial inspirations behind his faith in “Ram naam”. Gandhiji has written in his books that he has never seen a scripture as great as Shri Ram Charit Manas.

Gandhiji’s view on Sankirtan (chanting the holy name of God in a group)- The energy and power of Hari naam by a crowd is manifolds than the energy of a battalion in an army.

In Bapu’s words, ‘Like there is Gateway of India in Mumbai, Daandi is the Gateway of freedom.’

Failure sometimes opens the doors for new avenues in a person’s life for betterment. Take it positively.

Be extremely careful about the undue doubts arising in your thought for any person or incident as once suspicion comes in mind, it is very difficult to get rid of it.

When you listen to katha, please do not apply sutras on others and be judgemental, just analyze yourself.

Bapu extends his congratulations and best wishes to every Indian, in country and abroad and also to anyone who believes in independence, on the occasion of 55th Republic Day of India.

A local Muslim group came in the katha and greeted Bapu with flowers and Indian flag, Bapu in return presented them also with Indian flag with great happiness. They said that they would never let this flag down. One of the representatives requested Bapu to write ‘Ram’ on his heart (chest) Very gladly Bapu wrote ‘Ram’ and said that such incidents would bear fruit for coming generations. People will realize the effect of such unity based incidents.

There should be religion in politics but no politics in religion. Religion refers to truth, non-violence, love and compassion. Gandhiji also said that politics without religion smells foul.

A question was asked to Bapu that people ask for donation to build a temple, should I donate money for that? Bapu asked the person if there were any temples around in vicinity. He replied that there were many. Then Bapu asked him if the donation was for renovating an old temple, he said that no, the donation was to be for building a new temple. Hearing this Bapu said that don’t give any donation there, instead of that, build rooms for your servants or any needy person who is without a roof.

Five things attribute to a person’s all-round development.

Family values inherited in genes.
Bringing up or educational training.
Surroundings or company around oneself.
Satsang- it develops a person’s understanding.
HariNaam- makes a person’s life complete.
The latter two, Bapu says that they are most important.

According to Shrimad Bhaagwat’s Kapil aakhyaan, mahatma is characterized by following features.
1. ‘Titikshavah’ (Endurance) – There is never a limit for tolerance. Gandhiji went through many adversities through out his life beginning from early life in South Africa. He tolerated criticism as well as acclaim equally.
2. ‘Karuneek’ (Compassion) – Gandhiji believed in total non-violence.
3. ‘Suhrid sarv-bhootaanaam’ (Sympathy for one and all)- Gandhiji reached out to the last man.
4. ‘Ajaat shatravah’ (Debarred of enmity) – Gandhiji’s goodwill was vast, he never had ill feelings for British also.
5. ‘Shaantah’ (At peace) – Gandhiji’s posture during prayer meetings shows his inner peace.
6. ‘Saadhavah’ (Virtuousness) – Gandhiji used to say that thinking, speaking and living sincerely is Truth.

Shri Ram Charit Manas’ mahatma, Sage Yagyavalkya is highlighted by Truth (satya) and Service (seva). Gandhiji laid his life in service of people and stuck to truth till death, therefore he can be rightly called a mahatma.

If people criticize you, think and try to improve if the criticism applies to you. But if it does not then, in Bapu’s words, ‘don’t mind’. Be open to criticism.

n Shri Ram Charit Manas, Sage Vaalmeeki discusses the traits, indicating the presence of ‘Ram’, were all present in Gandhiji. Ram is where there is truth, love and sincerity. Gandhiji showed the world from his journey of life that a person however ordinary can become an idol to masses, provided his conscience is pure and untainted by materialism.

Gandhiji used to say that fasting with chaste intention is the language of heart. But fasting with hypocrisy and with an intention of troubling others is a vice (paap).

Satsang can be defined as ‘total rejection of untruth’. Satsang can be in the form of reading a good book that inspires an individual to rise above or exchanging noble thoughts or even sitting quietly with your sadaguru. Satsang can be very vast.

Always adopt the auspicious (shubh) side of any person, thing or situation. Just ignore the negative aspect.

According to Bapu, following sutras define a mahatma.

After doing satsang or listening to katha, when one develops suitable understanding, he should earnestly look into his own faults as well as qualities analytically. With the help of satsang try to get rid of the faults and remain happy with the qualities without being proud of them.
Keep a constant vigil on your thoughts and actions and at the same time believe strongly in the grace of God. Think and judge yourself without any bias and forgive others.
Do not take others’ duties for granted as your rights. Respect their feelings and actions. Do not misunderstand others’ large-heartedness is due to your merits, tell yourself that it is their quality. Bapu says, ‘ I am constantly trying to be careful about people’s acclamation, therefore I keep awake at nights, chant harinaam, follow the scriptures, listen to philosophers and writers, go to the common man etc.’
Do not use others’ weaknesses as your strength. If you do, then you are a coward.
The three important things to be kept in mind for development of personality.
Controlling the body senses in a balanced way.
Constantly remembering the Lord.
Truth.
Serve the needy in the nearby surroundings according to one’s own capability. Do not depend on support from others; try to help them with your own caliber.
Do not brood over the incidents of past, use the present in the best possible way and move forward towards the future with a positive attitude.
Be careful about not repeating the mistakes done in the past and pray sincerely to God that we may never indulge in such activities again. If someone tries to harm us, pray for them also.

Gandhiji is rightly called as a ‘Vichitr’ (unpredictable, variegated) person. All the mahatmas have their own way of life which is distinct in every way. He took inspiration mainly from 3 persons- Leo Tolstoy, Ruskin and Shrimad RaajChandra.

Bapu says, “I request all the guardians never to scold children. Don’t become so dominating that they become scared of you. Discipline should be without fear. A guardian should provide freedom and security to children. If you want them to be disciplined, you behave in a disciplined manner to inspire them. Do not impose it with domination.”

Punishment is not the ultimate solution to prevent errors. Find other ways to stop their recurrences. Bapu says, ‘ I think love and forgiveness can be only options to take care of mistakes.’

Sage Attri of Shri Ram Charit Manas has some important features of mahatma. He had overcome the three ‘gunas’ (inclinations). He did not believe in excessive rituals, did not involve himself in worldly activities and was free of mental weaknesses. Gandhiji’s personality was also characterized by these qualities. Sometimes, even if anger or a little stubborn-ness was seen in him, it was due to human nature that found place only once in a while. His control on ‘satva, raj, tama gunas’ or inclinations was evident by his absolute fearlessness.

Sage Attri lived with his better half Ansuya, who was a personification of nobility. Gandhiji was such a mahatma that envy or jealousy was never seen in him. Thus, all the features of Attri and Ansuya were the highlights of Mahatma Gandhi.

Bapu says, “ Yesterday, some people of Daandi were asking me for any suggestions to be applied here. I think that Daandi is another Haridwaar of India. The place’s purity and discipline should be maintained. Try to eliminate the vice of liquor as much as possible. Every house should have an autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi and it should be read with respect. I never force anybody, but if it suits all, the people of Daandi should wear Khaadi only.”

The one who tortures others is a man full of fears. He can never be brave.

If every person gives away 10% of his earning towards charity, then many problems of the society can be solved.

If you are not able to understand a decision of Saadhu, don’t doubt it. His perception may be for the betterment of future that we may not be able to figure out.

Sage Kumbhaj of Shri Ram Charit Manas and Gandhiji share similar qualities of a mahatma. Kumbhaj rishi dealt with three problems of that period, in the similar fashion mahatma Gandhi also took over the Indian freedom struggle.

The first predicament was the depth of the sea. Kumbhaj rishi drank up the sea which was creating trouble for people. Gandhiji pushed out the vast British empire with his peaceful resolutions and movements.
The second dilemma was Vindhyaachal mountain’s growing height. Kumbhaj rishi controlled the mountain with his wisdom. Gandhiji stopped the increasing domination of British and finally sent them back to their country.
The two demons, Aataapi and Vaataapi created the third problem. Kumbhaj rishi ate up Vaataapi and destroyed Aataapi. The two demons signify the dual of happiness and grief. Gandhiji surpassed both in his journey of life.

A mahatma is the one who provides ‘mantra’ to all. Here mantra refers to a school of thought for guidance. Rishi Kumbhaj guided Bhagwaan Ram in his journey in forest. Gandhiji’s guidance to Indians was through his thoughts and actions based on truth and non-violence.

A person should be very careful about his eating habits as individual ’s food influences his sub-conscious mind as well as the body. One should not eat anything that cannot be offered to God.

Today is the 56th death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Bapu along with the nation, kept ‘Maun’ (silence) at 11 Am. (IST) for two minutes, as a gesture of homage and respect for the great soul.

Bapu says, “I see the presence of ‘Ram’ through out the life of Gandhiji. In his early life ‘Ram’ was in his thought. In his middle age, the ideals of ‘Ram’, like truth, love and non-violence came into practice and in the last stage of his life, ‘Ram’ was on his lips all the time.

Question- Similar question was once asked to Gandhiji also, What would you choose if you had to decide between truth and non-violence?
Bapu’s Answer- According to Shri Ram Charit Manas, Truth is religion (dharma) but Non-violence is the ultimate religion (param-dharma). But, it can also be said that, like feet, hands, lips work in coordination, these two go hand-in-hand. Both complement each other. I would like to add that non-violence should not be cowardly.

In Bapu’s words, ‘ For Gandhiji, truth was great but non-violence was a gate to reach out to all.’

Even if a worthless person pronounces ‘Ram’ in his last moments, he attains salvation. But if a gentle and truthful person pronounces ‘Ram’ in his last moments, he attains absolute independence. He becomes free to choose or reject salvation.

If we see the qualities of mahatma according to Shri Ram Charit Manas, Sage Lomas’ character helps a lot. He was first upset with Kaag-bhushundi ji, but later asked for forgiveness and gave him refuge. It is seen in Gandhiji’s life also that whenever he used to feel sorry after scolding anyone, he used to call him back with love. Sage Lomas granted a boon to Bhushundi ji that may he always be an object of Bhagwaan Ram’s affection. May he be blessed with all the good qualities, may he always remain humble. May he have the power to adapt and change his appearance whenever he wanted. May he be blessed with knowledge and may he remain unattached and may he be able to control and choose his death.

If we see Gandhiji in this light, all the features of the above described boon are present in him. Bapu says, ‘ don’t you all think that Bhagwaan Ram must have loved Gandhiji.’ Gandhiji’s humbleness was so prominent that he never considered any work as low. He used to adapt and prepare himself according to the need of the surroundings and time. Gandhiji’s knowledge and unattachment to materialistic things is well known. Gandhiji’s death was also divine as his last words were ‘Ram’. Therefore, Gandhiji personified all the qualities of a mahatma in real sense as an inspiration to all.

Bapu says, “ I appeal to all youngsters to read and understand the values of Gandhiji. Try them in practical life.”

Ram rajya’s sutra- “When you come in power, don’t take service from others but use your power to serve others.”

Bapu says, ‘I’m quite sure in my belief that Mahatma Gandhi’s consciousness must have been present in this katha for 9 days. I dedicate the fruit of virtue of this katha in the feet of Pujya Gandhiji and all the respected martyrs who laid their lives for the freedom of India ’

“Raghupati raaghav raaja ram, patit paavan sita ram…….”