Katha Chopais

Ek baar treta juga maahin | Sambhu gaye kumbhaj rishi paahin ||
Sang sati jaga janani bhavaani | Poojey rishi akhileswar jaani ||

Jaamvant said, “Susena, the physician lives in Lanka; someone should be sent to fetch him here.”
Assuming a minute(indescernible) form, Hanumanji went and immediately brought, house and all.

Katha Translations

Bapu expressed his intense and immerse pleasure in welcoming the brilliant luminaries of Gujarati literature. For him, this was an occasion of PARAMANAND – supreme joy as he would meet and interact with these masters – each one an achiever in his or her chosen area of excellence.

Bapu advised his listeners not to hide or overlook the roots because they alone collect flowers, who nourish their roots. Bapu was always ready and eager to accept Truth wherever and whenever and from whosoever and in whatever form it is available as he strives to progress from the gross [Sthula] to more and more refined [Sukshma] stages.

Bapu quoted an episode of Bodhidharma who considered the external disciplines of ‘Satya, Ahimnsa, Aparigrah and Asateya as mere external husk, a mere coverage, a mere skin of his teachings. The mental discipline like ‘Yoga, Sadhana, Mantra and Kriya’ is but a step deeper. The spiritual experiences of ‘ Sunya, Shanti, Samadhi and Vishram’ is the kernel but the innermost ingredients were ‘maun and prem.’ the Summum Bonum of life. Bapu has given up several of such sthula rituals like ‘shobhayatra’ and ‘akhand deep’

Bapu explained that his katha is meant not for giving any advice ‘updesh’, much less any order ‘adesh’ but he would love to pass on a message ‘sandesh’ of happy and free and joyous mind.

  • It is seen that the society (samaaj) is unable to understand a saadhu. It is only the suitable comprehension (samajh) that can help a person to understand him.
  • Our tapasya (certain rules for penance) should be such that they do not create samasya (problems) for others. For instance, if one keeps maun (a fast of being silent), but he/she speaks for the happiness of children, then it should be considered as the fruit of the penance.
  • Bapu says, “once someone asked me that what is the main feature of your katha. I replied that experience (anubhooti) is the main basis of my katha. Other features like music etc. may complement the katha, but the most important is the practical implementation of the sutras.”
  • One should never forget one’s own roots neither in the best nor in the worst of times. This memory reminder keeps a person level-headed.

Today is teacher’s day and we all shall remember our teachers who have contributed to our lives. There are two main teachers in Shri Ram Charit Manas:

  1. Bhagwaan Shankar
  2. Kaag bhushundi jee.

Supporting them are other two teachers

  1. Yagyavalkya Rishi
  2. Tulsidas jee.

A sadaguru always has profound eyes and wide feathers. Guru purnima is not a day for loud celebrations, but for heartily remembering one’s sadaguru in solitude and offer devotion.

Sadaguru’s work is not to impress the disciples. His work is to help the aspirants discover the supreme power within them.

Tulsidas jee has maintained the boundaries of maryada (conduct of proper decorum). But if seen in his other works, all the angles of his writings are visible.

Dharma does not grow in a day. It is not an instant product and cannot be achieved in a jiffy. It is a prolonged and incremental process growing and ripening out a long period of patient and persistent efforts. Bapu denounced in very strong terms all the cheats and the frauds who have made DHARM a profitable business and who frighten innocent people in the name of gods and divine anger. They do it just to fleece the mass and make money out of it.

Bhagwaan Shankar went to Kumbhaj Rishi’s ashram, as he wanted to create a bridge between a speaker and listener of katha. He wanted to show that however great one might be, but wants to listen to katha. Then he/she has to take the initiative and go to the speaker. He also wanted to show that the joy of listening is much greater than even viewing the actual incidents of katha. As viewing may lead to doubts in one’s mind but listening makes a person free of any kind of doubts.

Bapu says, “I request all, especially youngsters, to go through andunderstand our scriptures (Ramayana, Mahabharat, Bhagwat Gita and Shrimad Bhaagwat) at least once. If you don’t follow the language then try to understand by asking any master who can translate for you. It would clarify many misconceptions. Don’t create prejudices about scriptures in your mind. There is nothing in this world that is not in our scriptures.”

Shri Ram Charit Manas is a transformation saga beginning with the doubts of Sati and concluding with the sound faith of Parvati.

Never force anyone to break/alter one’s fast (vrat) due to your devotional insistence also.

Don’t ask for any favours from the Lord, not even his darshan (glimpse). Make yourself free of demands.

Let us begin today’s katha with some questions.

Questionwhy did Hanuman jee ask for Bhakti from Bhagwaan Ram in Sunder kand –“Naath bhagati ati sukh-daayani | Dehu kripa kari anapaayani||”?
Bapu’s answer – A true devotee is actually not aware of the devotion present in him and thus asks the Lord to grant him bhakti. Hanuman jee is the greatest Ram bhakta, but he is extremely humble and also oblivious about inherent bhakti already present in him. If a person is conscious of his/her devotion, then bhakti is not perfect in nature.

Question- whom would you choose as the closest amongst Ram, Krishna and Shiv?
Bapu’s answer – “In our family, traditionally we worship Lord Krishna. I sing for Bhagwaan Ram but I would like to say that I find Shankar jee closest. All other deities belong and come from unseen places, like Krishna from Vaikuntth, Ram from Saket but it is only Bhagwaan Shankar who permanently belongs to Kailas and lives on this earth. He is most accessible as he is placed even in the graveyard, where there are no visiting restrictions of time or caste. Every creature worships him, be it Devatas, demons, Naags, Kinnars etc. therefore, he seems to be closest.

If seen in other context, I feel close to the Truth (satya) of Bhagwaan Ram, Love (prem) of Shri Krishna and Compassion (karuna) of Shankar Bhagwaan.”

It is seen that people all over the world have become anxious about Shri Ram Charit Manas and its chaupais. It is good that at least gaan (reciting) is taking place, even if gyaan (knowledge) may take some time.

Blessings can be taken from anyone, regardless of age, gender, caste or creed, provided they come from the bottom of heart. Even a small baby can give blessings, so leave aside your ego and bow down to their divine innocence.

Bapu says, “ I would like to ask all the non-resident Indians to be proud of their origin. Live where you are comfortable, serve the place and people around you, but at the same time don’t forget your motherland. No other culture is as dynamic as Indian, never ever insult your motherland. Respect it because it is the base of our values.”

It is better to get deceived than to deceive others, because the guilt of deceiving others can be extremely harmful.

Many rasa discussed in Indian literature are visible in Bhagwaan Shankar

In Ayodhya kand, Tulsidas jee describes him.

“Yasyaankey cha vibhaati bhoodhar-suta deva-pagaa mastakey
Bhaaley baal-vidhur-galey cha garalam yasyorasi vyaal-raat |

Soyam bhooti-vibhooshanah sur-varah sarvaadhipah sarvada
Sharvah sarv-gatah shivah shashi-nibhah shri-shankarah paatu maam||”

Yasyaankey cha vibhaati bhoodhar-suta – He places Ma Parvati on his lap, this is Shringaar rasa.

Deva-pagaa mastakey – He places Ma Ganga on his head, just like a spouse gets on the nerves of the partner. This is Haasya rasa.

Bhaaley baal-vidhur- The moon of sky is placed on his hair, this amazing feature depicts adbhut rasa.

Galey cha garalam – Shiv jee kept poison in his throat for the welfare of all, this shows his compassion i.e. Karuna rasa.

Yasyorasi vyaal-raat – The presence of snakes on his body is bhayaanak rasa.

Soyam bhooti-vibhooshanah- The ash of graveyard is smeared on his body. This is bibhatsa rasa.

Sur-varah sarvaadhipah sarvada
Sharvah sarv-gatah shivah shashi-nibhah shri-shankarah paatu maam – The solemn form of Bhagwaan Shankar depicts the shanta rasa.

Let us begin today’s katha with a question.

Question What is the difference between doubt (bhram) and faith (vishwaas)?
Bapu’s answer – these two are the most prominent features of Siv-charit. The main difference is, that in doubt one has a tendency to test (pariksha) the subject of worship and in faith one has a tendency to wait (pratiksha) for the beloved. If doubt works in a constructive manner, it is not so damaging as it may remove many misconceptions and may lead to knowledge. But one has to be careful that doubt does not take a shape of a negative bias.

It is very important for an individual to feel contentment from his/her endeavour/activity. Unless one experiences ultimate satisfaction from within in his/her field. Any art, knowledge, wealth, position is incomplete. Personal fulfillment is much greater than the recognition from the world.

Never attack or criticize anybody’s faith on a particular subject of worship. Everyone has a right to choose his/her deity or worship pattern. Religion cannot be restricted in boundaries.

When the spiritual energy (chetana) takes an outward stance, it is called intellect (budhhi), but when it turns inwardly, it transforms into faith (shradhha). Both intellect and faith are distinct angles of spiritual energy.

Sati ignored Maha-mantra recital by Kumbhaj Rishi (Ramayana) and advice of Param-guru (Bhagwaan Shankar). Thus, it was inevitable that it could lead to repentance and anguish.

There are prominent thoughts indicated in the seven kand of Shri Ram Charit Manas.

  1. Baal kaand – Vivek vichar (satsang should give birth of wisdom).
  2. Ayodhya kaand– Vishaya vichar (excessive desire of Dasrath jee for Kaikeyi led to distress in Ayodhya).
  3. Aranyaa kaand – Vinod vichar.
  4. Kishkindhaa kaand – Virodh vichar (tussle between Bali and Sugreev is depicted).
  5. Sunder kaand – Vigyaan vichar (Only a scientist like Hanuman jee can find out shakti/ power i.e.Sita jee).
  6. Lankaa kaand – Viraag vichar.
  7. Uttar kaand – Vishraam vichaar.

To perceive a situation or a person in the exact manner, one needs to be at a certain distance. Every one should be given space and freedom to live with personal preferences. Don’t try to dominate anybody.

Charity should be silent. It should not be made public. It saves a person from getting proud about it.

The number seven is a significant feature in Shri Ram Charit Manas:

  1. There are main 7 characters (charit)-Ram, Sita, Bharat, Hanumant, Shiv, Uma and Kaag Bhushundi.
  2. The chapters (kaand) are seven.
  3. Bhagwaan Ram is the seventh incarnation (avtaar) of the supreme power.
  4. Bhagwaan Ram’s all prevailing element (tatva) is such, that has surpassed the seven stages of knowledge.
  5. It starts with seven shlokas, each representing the seven kand.

Bapu says, “Some people criticize Tulsidas jee saying that he has not given due respect to women. But I would like to say that such people have not read or understood his writings in the right way. Tulsidas jee has never generalized the female gender as negative, but has indicated about the faults of a particular woman in a particular situation, for instance Supnakha. His respect for women is clearly evident when he begins this shastra with offering salutation to Ma Saraswati.”

It is observed that a person feels grieved after seeing others in trouble, but one does not feel happy in seeing progress of others. Try and get rid of minutest ill feeling in the heart. So-called followers of religion should intricately analyze their tendencies.

Sadaguru takes care of his disciples in three ways:

  • Sadaguru remembers the aspirants in his heart, from wherever he is. With this mental connection, he treats the disciple, which is called “smaran deeksha”. Just like a turtle leaves the eggs in the sand on seashore and then forgets the place where they lie. But the acute mental focus of the turtle hatches the eggs.
  • Sadaguru keeps an eye on the aspirant and watches his spiritual progress. This kind of contact is called “drishti deeksha”. Like a fish keeps eggs on shore, but constantly hatches them with her eyes.
  • Sadaguru puts his hand on the head of disciple and this touch helps to cure mental faults of shishya. This is “sparsh deeksha”. Just like a hen hatches her eggs by providing the heat of her body.

A disciple should only focus on how sadaguru takes him/her on the spiritual path and thus follow him with devotion. He/she should not divert oneself by indulging in the lives of fellow-disciples.

Following five deities can be worshipped in following ways:

  1. Surya pooja – Live in the light of sadaguru’s guidance with an aware mind.
  2. Ganesh pooja – Always try to help and solve others’ problems and respect wisdom without prejudices.
  3. Vishnu pooja – Be broad-minded and be open to accept the goodness around you.
  4. Shankar pooja – Work for welfare of others.
  5. Gauri pooja – Maintain a strong faith in the Lord.

Tulsidas jee gives an indication that sadaguru is like ‘Narsimha Bhagwaan’. Just like narsimha, sadaguru places himself in such a way that he guards a shishya’s inside (antah-karan) by not letting in the faults and not letting out the qualities. He checks the purity of disciple’s heart.

For an absolutely committed aspirant sadaguru becomes his God. Sadaguru should be such that in any adverse situation, he maintains his calm. He should have no malice towards anyone and should never lose faith in the supreme power.

A vision can be termed as pure only when one sees God in every creature and does pranaam (bow down in respect) to all.

Knowledge should not make a person so grave that he/she cannot experience the delight of life. Humour is the reflection of growth of inner joy. Smile can help in curing many problems.

Grave attitude can become a hindrance between the speaker and listener of katha also.

QuestionHow do u deal with appreciation and criticism of people?
Bapu replied, “ I come across both so I have tried to cultivate a mentality. When people appreciate, I become a moorti (an image/ stone idol) that does not get affected by either recognition or rejection. If a person calls out in front of a moorti, the moorti does not melt but the person melts from inside. In case of criticism, I become moorti-mant (to listen and analyze), so that, I can improve myself if it implies and if it does not then I don’t mind.”

If the speaker is in the state of extreme joy and the listener in the state of extreme devotion, then it leads to katha only. It may be in the form of speech or even silence.

Tulsidas jee lists seven characteristics of a woman’s nature. If seen with a proper insight, they are the actual inherent qualities and not faults as many people think:

  1. Saahas – Woman has always proved to be bold in time of crisis.
  2. Anrut – Woman conceals the mistakes of others by false admission.
  3. Chapalata – Woman’s promptness in action is a positive point of her nature.
  4. Maaya – Woman hides the loopholes in her family.
  5. Bhaya – Woman lives with a peculiar fear that nothing should bring disgrace to her family.
  6. Abibek – Woman sometimes takes a blunt stand on an issue for welfare of all.
  7. Asauch – Woman’s physical form is such that she has to go through a certain unhygienic condition in the process of motherhood. It is natural and not adopted by her.
  8. Adaaya – Woman becomes determined when a situation requires.

Bapu says, “ I’ve experienced three stages in maun. In the early stage, one feels lot of noise from outside. In the middle stage, the outer sounds are there but they don’t bother the aspirant. At the same time, the inner noise becomes loud. It is a critical stage as the inner noise may be positive or even negative, may lead to downfall if not dealt in a balanced way. In the ultimate stage, the aspirant experiences an absolute silence, where there is no sound at all, either from outside or from inside. If the person is able to digest this silence, then all his boundaries are broken and he can float like energy in the space. But if an aspirant cannot sustain this severe silence, then he/she may seem insane.

All creative activities like literature music and dancing are spiritual in nature because they all aim at self-satisfaction (swantah sukhaya) and ultimate bliss.

Bapu expressed his happiness that so many scholars came to attend this katha.

Chitrakoot is a forest of faith, but Panchvati is a forest of doubt and deceit.

In the time of crisis, try and concentrate patiently towards your inner-side (antar-mukh). You might get the answers for your questions if you let the conscience speak.

If the medium to attain the Lord is not pure, then one would not be able to experience the ultimate bliss. Just like Sati used a test to verify the identity of Bhagwaan Ram, she could not feel the joy of his darshan (glimpse), in spite of being face-to-face with Him.

A saadhu can change the whole viewpoint towards life of a devoted aspirant. A situation that may create tension otherwise can seem easy to deal with.

A smallest action done with cent percent (100%) sincerity is a great deed.

Awakening may be of many types. One may get awakened by wants or desires, delusion, worry of a loan, a thief etc. But it is best if you get awakened by a sadaguru, like Vibheeshan was awakened by Hanuman jee, Dhruv by Naarad jee. This kind of awakening leads to God. But if seen in other characters of Shri Ram Charit Manas, Supnakha got awakened but ended with desire (kaamna) and Sati ended with distress (santaap).

Never hide anything from the subject of your faith/ sadaguru. A sadaguru may feel a pinch in the heart if his disciple conceals the truth from him.

There are many aspects that make pain (dukh) and pleasure (sukh) distinct from each other. Pain makes a person humble as the ego gets a setback, whereas comfort may make a person proud and stubborn. Crisis brings even estranged people together but it is seen that when there is prosperity, individuals might go separate ways for want of personal comforts. Pain is always of one kind but comfort might be of many kinds. Don’t invite trouble, but if it comes inevitably then welcome it with grace.

Don’t ask for trivial things from the Lord. If you really can’t resist asking, then ask for ‘abhaya’ (fearlessness). Sadaguru grants abhaya if the aspirant is sincere.

According to a survey, if an individual makes one dress of Khadi in a year, then one crore people get employment through it. Bapu says, “ I would like to request my listeners to make and wear at least one dress of khadi a year.”

Ego is the worst mental disorder. It is like a massive rock that becomes a hindrance for the positive elements in life. Sadaguru finds it, digs it and then throws it out for the flow of auspicious elements in an aspirant’s life.

Ego that influences the present is most dangerous. If it shifts to the past then, it may encourage a person to understand that there were many greater people than him in the past. And when it focuses on future, it may inspire a person to move towards development.

Bapu says, “ I feel that if we recite the stotras of our scriptures and try to leave aside our faults even for sometime, then the deity of the stotra definitely answers, in one way or other.”

When faith of an aspirant reaches a certain level, he/she need not invite sadaguru as the sadaguru comes on his own searching for the aspirant.

Manu asked from the Lord for Lord himself, but Shatrupa asked for God’s love from the Lord. Bapu says, “ if given a chance to ask, I would not ask for God’s love also but aspire to give whatever love I have.” Tulsidas jee says that don’t expect Bhagwaan ram to love you, devote your love for Him.

Bapu says, “People ask me about their domestic problems, but I would like to say that I cannot solve them but only pray for them. But I would like to help in spiritual journey – from truth to truth i.e. to accept the truth of death and the move towards the ultimate truth of immortality.”

Plant of Tulsi is a great inspiration for the persons who recite Ramayana. Just like a tulsi plant adjusts itself in any place, be it a pot or ground, they should be flexible and not stubborn in their behaviour. Like Tulsi has medicinal properties, they should provide comfort to listeners by their words. A person who recites Ramayana should have a tulsi mala for continual remembrance of the Lord.

Uncontrolled lifestyle is a hindrance in Yoga, favoritism and ego are the hindrances in Knowledge, Distraction from the set pattern of activity is a hindrance in Karma yoga, but the uniqueness in the path of devotion (Bhakti) is that there is no hindrance. Therefore, it is described as unidentified salvation (paroksha moksha).

There are four types of Manthan (activity of stirring) in Shri Ram Charit Manas:

  1. Kaam – If the manthan is done on the base of desire, then the physical form is affected and it paves a way for the on going process of life, but the excessive manthan may lead to poisonous results.
  2. Arth – This manthan, based on material achievements, is necessary for earning living and survival in the world.
  3. Brahm – It is the manthan of the supreme power by saints that produces the sweetness of devotion in the form of katha.
  4. Bharat jee’s manthan is done by separation (virah) from Bhagwaan Ram that ends to nothing but the divine love.

According to Tulsidas jee in Dohaavali, seven things can help one go through critical times:

Dheeraj – Patience with optimism that there would be sunrise after the night.

Dharma – A sincere duty (allegiance) towards values can be a support.

Vivek – Awareness of discriminating between right and wrong can be very helpful.

Saahitya – Any form of literature (poetry or prose) and good writings can provide moral strength.

Saahas – Courage to move forward with life.

Satya vrat – Faithfulness towards truth.

Bharosa – Trust on the supreme power as well as His creations is the most vital of all. Even if all the above six are not present, one should not let go the faith on almighty.

Different types of people aspire for different goals:

Vishayi (materialistic person) wants bal (power).
Saadhak (aspirant) wants power plus grace of God.
Sidhh (seer) wants grace but not in a huge quantity.
Shudhh (a pure soul) wants unending love.
Vishudhh (an ultra-pure soul) would not want anything but only offer his/her love for all.

Any action done with pure intention and sincere effort is taken note of by the almighty, don’t worry about others’ notice.

Only as sadaguru can make an individual realize the presence of the omnipresent in oneself.