Katha Chopais

Suni bhoopaal bharat byavahaaru | Sone sugandh sudha sasi saaru ||
Moodey sajal nayan pulakey tana | Sujasu saraahan lagey mudit mana||

When the king heard of Bhrat’s conduct which was rare as a combination of gold and fragrance or as nectar extracted from moon,
The king closed his tearful eyes and a thrill ran through his body and he broke out into ecstatic praises of his bright glory

Katha Translations

We have assimilated for Ramkatha in the middle zone of our country (Madhya pradesh). The topic for this katha is also from the middle part of Shri Ram Charit Manas i.e. Ayo-dh-yaa Kaand. Su-nayanaa jee is conversing with Janak jee about the nature and conduct of Bharat jee. Listening to which, he closes his teary eyes and his heart is filled with silent appreciation for Bharat jee.

A saint /saadhu can be recognized by his behaviour and not by outer appearance or attire.

Gyaani lives on his own efforts (prayaas), whereas bhakta lives on the grace of God (prasaad).

A Sadaguru has three vital characteristics. An aspirant should see the following and then only accept anyone as Sadaguru.

  • He should be able to grant fearlessness (abhaya) – anyone who creates or encourages fear can never be a Sadaguru.
  • He is the one who incessantly showers grace (anugraha) in spite of negative response from the other person.
  • He is the one who leads the aspirant with affection (anurag).

Always try to respect the positive qualities of an individual and ignore the weaknesses. This is a formula for happiness.

Hanuman jee is in the form of life source (shwaas) and faith (vishwaas). He prevails everywhere without any distinctions or boundaries. Hanuman chalisa is pure and powerful.

Don’t use excess food material to offer to the deities; donate to the needy instead. The deity would be more pleased with this kind of gesture.

This is Bharat katha, which is not knowledge based but is essentially devotion based. It usually happens in night. Bharat katha is a little harder than Ram katha; Bharat jee is not just an individual but a thought institution.

There is a certain potential in realized souls that creates tranquility in anyone who comes around him. There is no need for exchange of words also, just sitting silently around such saintly person can dissolve all the doubts and questions of an aspirant.

Some people ask that devotion is not remain consistent and tears dry away. Bapu says, “ it is a phase of saadhana and one has to pass through it. It is test for the aspirant.” Tears are an expression of love and they are the best ornaments for eyes.

All the creation is a result of love only. Here everything is inter-connected due to love for each other. Even the Almighty takes a form due to love– “Prem tein pragat hohin main jaana.”

Bharat jee’s nature is noble, but it becomes more regarded as it complemented with modesty (sheel). The humility comes with the grace of Sadaguru and good education.

Bharat jee lives an ascetic life, even though he is a grihastha (married person). He is free from basic human faults in spite of living in the world. On the other hand, Naarad jee, in spite of being a sage experiences all the weaknesses of a worldly person.

In katha, the foremost requisite for both speaker and listener is alertness (saavadhaan). The orator is usually alert, as he has to speak, but is extremely important for a listener to listen with concentration and understand the words as they are meant.

According to Acharya Hemendra, ‘saavahdaan’ denotes following factors:

Sa‘ – live ordinarily/according to nature (saadhaaran). Religious leaders should remain down-to-earth. A person, however great, should not lose forsake originality at any cost.

Va‘- katha is a rain (varsha) of sutras. One has to make oneself receptive to make the best of it.

Dha‘- One should strongly adhere to certain sutras (dhaaran karna).

Na‘- Every individual should try be free of negativity (nishedhaatmak-ta).

Katha is a successful medium to transform the negativity of mind into constructive attitude and faults into qualities.

Question – Yesterday, you discussed the definition of ‘saavadhaan’ given by Acharya Hemendra. How would you describe the word?
Bapu’s answer – I would define each alphabet of this word in the following way. A listener should try to take care of following attributes while listening:

Sa = Saadhuta : Listen to katha with undivided concentration. Leave all the expectations and complaints aside while listening to katha.

Va = Vastu-vivek : Katha is not a means of entertainment. One has to understand the actual content of katha. Elements like examples, jokes or music support the real matter; just these should not carry one away. A listener should try to grasp the sutras behind them.

Dha = Dhaarana : Listen to katha with patience. Spiritual journey takes its own time.

Na = Namrata : Listen to katha with humility and not with any intention to test or judge the speaker. Humbleness is a valuable quality of an aspirant.

Let us go to the next chaupai of this katha – ‘ Saavadhaan suni sumukhi sulochani | Bharat katha bhav bandh bimochani ||’ Tulsidas jee says that Bharat katha can break the bindings of the world.

According to shastras, there are many worldly bindings like shyness (lajja), Doubt (shanka), fear (bhaya), grief (shoke), family traditions (kul) and Over-modesty (sheel). Bharat katha can eliminate these ties and create a Balanced personality in an individual.

But there is another angle to this chaupai. Bapu says, ‘I feel that it can also mean

that Bharat katha opens the doors of the world for an aspirant.

Bharat katha inaugurates the inherent goodness of the world. The misinterpretations of the actual positive facets of the world get abolished and the virtuousness gets highlighted. Even the most pessimistic person can realize that the world is indeed beautiful and livable. Bharat katha grants a novel vision to see the world.’

According to Naarad bhakti sutra, a saint is always present in the world but it is hard to recognize him. When he is recognized, it is not so easy to reach up to him. An aspirant can feel his presence and gain from his grace but cannot get hold of him. A saint takes an aspirant to such a state that is beyond mind and intellect. He may have unconventional thoughts, that sometimes it seem unfeasible but they definitely create rejuvenation and transformation in a person’s life for better.

The main thought of ‘brahm-vichaar’ (Vedic school thought about the supreme power) is ‘advait’ (oneness in whole creation).

The basic provision of a political system is prescribed in Shri Ram Charit Manas – there should be a consideration of opinion of people, sages and shastras. The condition for a true politician should be sincerity in life. A politician should not regard seat of power as a throne (gaadi) but the lap of citizens (go-dee).

The base of real dharma is goodwill for all.

According to a Greek philosopher, an orator’s speech can prove to be appealing only if the following features adorn it:

•  The speech is presented in a dignified manner
•  The words come out from the depth of soul.
•  The listener feels solace and forgets the sorrows.
•  The discourses always seem new.

A wise man never claims to be perfect, he is humble about his point of view. Janak jee says that the greatness of Bharat jee is such that is not possible for his intellect to describe even the shadow of it. Bharat jee is beyond dharma, politics and knowledge. Janak jee is a ‘devarshi’ (who has sound mind), raajarshi (whose action is perfect) and brahmarshi (whose speech is precise). But Bharat jee is a ‘saadhu’, who is beyond any adjectives. It is hard to measure his enormous righteousness.

Traditions are good to a certain extent. But some traditions need to be altered according to the demand of changing times and conditions. Some of the unnecessary elements are encouraged in the garb of following traditions. Even Bhagwaan Ram brought a revolution in Raghukul by opting to choose Bharat jee for the throne of Ayodhya. He showed the world that it was not necessary that the eldest son only should become the successor.

Envy (irshya) is borne out of failure or incapability. An aspirant should be careful when he passes through these two circumstances and try to keep patience.

Bharat jee’s nobility is such that even the best of intellectual people are unable to explain it-‘ Bidhi ganapti ahipati siv saarad | Kabi kobid budh budhhi bisaarad ||’. His seven qualities (character, fame, actions, dharma, modesty, righteousness and distinction) are like seven seas that are beyond the reach of beat of scholars- ‘Bharat charit keerati karatooti | Dharam seel guna bimal bibhooti ||’. It is difficult to put Bharat katha in words but it is extremely soothing to listen to it, as his nature is as pure as the Ganga and as comforting as the divine nectar (amrit).

‘Sukh’ does not mean material comfort. If it was just that, then why would a wealthy person be unhappy. The real ‘sukh’ is internal peace.

If seen spiritually, there is a special heart behind heart, the organ. It experiences the following three sentiments:

Aaghaat – the first encounter with the supreme beloved that jolts the inside of an aspirant is aaghaat. The first impression creates a positive turmoil that fastens the spiritual journey. Sadaguru’s graceful nature and simplicity create a very intense impact on an aspirant.

Aashcharya – like Arjuna was bewildered by the glimpse of Bhagwaan Krishna in Bhagwat Gita, an aspirant feels amazed by the mixture of innate divinity and ordinary lifestyle of a Sadaguru.

Aanand – after feeling the above two, aspirant experiences true joy.

Let us discuss the chaupai- ‘Bharat charit keerati karatooti | Dharam seel guna bimal bibhooti ||’

‘Charitra’ is the description of a person who can be looked up to and whose account is worth listening to. Anything that is not worth listening can not be called as charitra. Naarad jee says in Bhakti sutra that the accounts of anger (in the form of vairi ), desire (in the form of stree ) and greed (in the form of dhan ) are not worth listening. The people who deny the existence of God ( naastik ) are not worth to be heard.

Question – Why do some writers do not accept Ramayana and Mahabharat as true stories?
Bapu’s answer – These thoughts are mainly of the western writers who do not know the potential of Indian soil and do not try to understand the actuality of these great happenings. Ramkatha is not a mythological story; it is a reality and has truth in the base. Therefore, it still exits in the hearts of millions even today. Anything that does not have truth behind it is never long lasting.

According to Ramana Maharshi, there are two types of anger – active (expressed in words/action) and passive (burns inside). There are some reasons for anger:

  • Over-expectations from others- when you don’t get the desired from people around you. Stop expecting, try to sacrifice and spread love round.
  • Due to over mental stress.
  • Comparisons with others.

Never try to imitate anyone. Be content in yourself and try to excel with your innate qualities. One should follow ‘swa-dharma’ (natural duty/inclination). Everyone should be proud of own religion and should be faithful towards it without wavering. Remain dedicated to own religion but don’t be fanatic and never fight with others who don’t belong to it.

‘Keerati’ usually refers to fame. But Tulsidas jee indicates about it in the aarti of Shri Ram Charit Manas-‘keerati kalit lalit siya pee ki..’ Keerati refers to the potential of Ma Sita who removes the faults and at the same time fulfils all the needs of needy. Bharat jee’s name is such that it fulfills the requirements of the deprived.

‘Karatooti’ refers to the action of a person who becomes just a medium (nimitta) even in great endeavours. It also refers to the expectation-free approach towards any work and maintaining humbleness.

‘Dharam’- Bharat jee was personification of the gist of every dharma. His dharma was not in theory but entirely in practical incidents of his life. Bapu says, ‘ I feel that the gist of dharma is truth (satya), love (prem) and compassion (karuna).’

Bharat jee’s ‘sheel’ (noble nature) is evident in many incidents of Shri Ram Charit Manas, be it in Ayodhya or Chitrakoot.

His ‘guna’ (quality) is to look beyond both positive and negative aspects of a person. His continual remembrance of Bhagwaan Ram is his biggest quality.

‘Bimal bibhooti’ refers to the purest form (saatvik) of affluence. Bharat jee remains absolutely unassuming in spite of having the best of comforts.

It is usually seen that there is a limitation in the good qualities of an individual. But Bharat jee is an exception and his righteousness is limitless. The most dominant feature of his personality is his devotion towards Bhagwaan Ram. According to some shastras he is supposed to an incarnation of Vishnu, but Bapu says, “I feel that he is a personified form of love towards Bhagwaan Ram. He is a prem-avataar.”

Question – why does Bharat jee’s life comes across as full of grief in Shri Ram Charit Manas?
Bapu’s answer – “It is true that a reader may find him full of sadness, but it is not a negative trait as the reason behind it is attached to Bhagwaan Ram. It shows us the highest form of devotion towards the supreme power. Like, Arjuna’s distress lead to Bhagwad Gita. Bharat jee’s character is an indication of ‘Bhaagwat Gita’. I want to elaborate on this and discuss its 18 chapters. I’ve also concluded on 70 sutras for this Gita. There is no value of joy if there is no sorrow. Valmiki’s sorrow led to Valmiki Ramayana and Vyas’s sorrow led to Shrimad Bhaagwat. Therefore, grief is the base of many great shastras.”

If one has an eye, he can see the best in the worst conditions also. A wise vision makes the world beautiful.

Let us move on with the next doha – ‘ Niravadhi guna nirupam purushu bharatu bharat sama jaani | Kahiya sumeru ki ser sama kabikul mati sakuchaani ||’ (288) Janak jee says that Bharat jee is one of his kind in the creation; no adjectives are appropriate enough to describe him.

But at some points, Tulsidas jee compares Bharat jee with others:

In Hanuman Chalisa -‘Raghupati keenhi bahut badaai| Tumha mama priya bharat sama bhaai||’ Hanuman jee is a Sidhh and Bharat jee too is a sidhh, therefore two are associated here.

In Kishkindha kand-‘ Tab raghupati boley musukaai | Tumha priya mohi bharat jimi bhaai || ‘ Sugreev is a vishayi but he confesses his weaknesses openly just like Bharat jee confesses his guilt of being the reason behind the vana-vaas of Bhagwaan Ram. Thus the two are related here.

In Lanka Kand-‘ Sab bhaanti adham nishaad so hari bharat jyon ur laaiyo’. Guha is a saadhak whom Bhagwaan Ram invites to visit Ayodhya just like Bharat jee used to visit Ayodhya while living in Nandigram.

Through this, there is an indication of Bhagwaan Ram that he would love all, provided the aspirant remains attached to him.

Question – Are the slogans like ‘Rashtra devo bhav and Prem devo bhav’ enough to bring about transformation in mentality of people?
Bapu’s Answer – These are not just slogans, they are seeds that will take their own time in growing and multiplying. They are not enough for transformation but it is also true that they are not less for starting off the transformation for better.

There are some characteristics of a wise speaker:

  • ‘No upaay doshe’- reasons for proving his statements should not be faulty.
  • ‘No swaroop doshe’- words should not be cheap or misguiding.
  • ‘No kriya doshe’- presentation should be done in a pleasant manner.

Let us take the next chaupai -‘ Agam sabahi baranat barabarani | Jimi jal-heen meen gamu dharani ||’ Janak jee says to Sunayana jee that it is extremely difficult for anyone to narrate Bharat katha just like a fish finds it hard to survive in a water-less place.

Here, ‘Bara barani’ (who has a beautiful face and who has best choice) word is used for Sunayana jee. But Tulsidas jee uses the same words for Ma Jaanaki (Sunayana jee’s daughter) –‘ Tinhahi biloki bilokati dharani | Duhun sakoche sakuchati bara-barani || (Ayodhya kand, 117). Sunanyana jee denotes a pure vision and Jaanaki jee denotes peace/shaanti. There is a connotation that peace is borne out of chaste vision (su-drishti). Anyone who seeks peace should take care of his vision and always maintain noble intentions in all endeavours. Peace cannot be experienced if a person has malignity in eyes and mind.

According to a Gujarati writer, an individual should do following five things to experience peace:

  1. Maintain self confidence – An individual should have self-confidence, but avoid self-pride. If one expects acclaim from others and he fails to get it, he is bound to get disturbed and lose mental peace.
  2. Avoid self-criticism – Don’t be pessimistic about yourself, it will create mental complex. Humbleness is not being critical about yourself.
  3. Freedom from fear – Peace is lost if a person is fearful.
  4. Adjustment with circumstances – An individual should be able to adjust to the various situations of life. Just like a tree stands peacefully even if it loses all the leaves; it waits for other season to make it green again. This world is an examination centre; everyone has to go through its various tests. Wisdom and faith helps a person to pass through successfully and he is able to find happiness and peace in the adverse conditions also.
  5. Don’t assess any situation in a hurry. Peace will be lost if you involve yourself in judging everything. Avoid analyzing anything in a rush.

‘Upaasana’ is just sitting quietly with a realized soul. The silence touches the soul and the spiritual energy gets recharged. But, if an aspirant cannot be physically around the Sadaguru, he can be close through chetana. Chetana has no limitations and it can travel to any distance. Mental proximity is more important than being physically around.

Janak jee says that no reason/argument (tark) can measure the faith and devotion between Bharat jee and Bhagwaan Ram. Naarad jee’s Bhakti sutra and even Brahm sutra both prescribe that there is no place for reason in path of devotion as it is beyond the reach of intellect. Reason/argument does not work in spiritual sphere.

Once Einstein was asked, what were the most important things in your life. He answered in six words- God, Country, human being, wife, mathematics and peace.

Similarly, a western scholar, John Gardner, expressed his important words- live (never let negative thoughts come in your mind; live every moment with enthusiasm), love, learn (learn from wherever you can), logic, leave and laugh.

Bapu says, “I like three sutras. One is of a prominent religious leader and the rest two have come in my experience–Art of living, Art of loving and Art of leaving. Art of loving is all about keeping faith and maintaining devotion. Art of heart is loving the beloved. Art of living is about placing equality and attachment at the appropriate places. If a person learns to retain equality, his attachment would not be harmful; Art of leaving is discarding moh (delusion).”

Bharat jee also has some prominent words:

  • Preeti (love) and Prateeti (faith) – this is art of loving.
  • Samata (Bhagwaan Ram’s equal love for all) and Mamata (Bharat jee’s devotion towards Bhagwaan Ram)-this is art of living.
  • Swaarth (refers to sansaar/selfishness) and Parmaarth (refers to sanyaas/ asceticism)- Bharat jee renounced both with dignity – this is his art of leaving.

If possible, make a resolution, to give something to someone everyday. If nothing else, then give a smile at least. Donating for temples is good, but also donate for needy and build a shelter for shelter-less; it is like renovating a temple. Donate 10% of your earning towards charity. If you do not, the nature takes it toll through calamities. Even the big religious institutions should donate to smaller institutions from their funds.

Bapu is glad with the way the listeners of Bhopal, along with the CM, who have been attentively listening to Ramkatha for nine days. He expressed his happiness with the whole arrangement in the beginning of this day’s katha.

Question – How can we always remain happy?
Bapu’s Answer – There are some ways to retain happiness:

  1. Try to live in awareness (jagriti). Without awareness, even the sense organs do not work properly. A mentally stressed and hurried person does not feel the ordinary comforts also due to lack of awareness. Don’t let stress take away your awareness.
  2. Sometimes, do the unconventional things for your happiness; but be careful, not at the cost of decency (maryaada).
  3. Enjoy the present moment and try to see happiness in whatever is available to you. Use the material things in the best possible way with wisdom (vivek).
  4. Acknowledge and appreciate the positive qualities of the people around you.
  5. Don’t bargain prices for little things and compromise on your happiness.
  6. Learn to politely say no, where it does not suit you.
  7. Take out time to play with kids.
  8. Accept every situation with a smile.

“Saadhan sidhhi ram paga nehu | Mohi lakhi parat bharat mata ehu ||”- Janak jee says that the devotion of Bharat jee towards Bhagwaan Ram is his effort (saadhan) as well as his goal (sidhhi).

According to Vedas, there are four types of saadhan:

Parampara saadhan – the efforts of spiritual path that come have come through traditions.

Bahirang saadhan – the efforts that are done in accordance with the surroundings. Like a namaaz in a mosque and prayer in a temple.

Antarang saadhan – the efforts that are done according to the natural instincts of a person. No one should be forced to follow definite rituals if his conscience does not go along.

Saakshaat saadhan – the efforts that are done according to the demand of time and situation. Like giving food to hungry (it won’t be right if you give books to hungry).

Tulsidas jee discusses in Vinay patrika- “jo mana bhajyo chahai hari sur-taru..sama santoshe bichaar bimal ati satasangati ye chaari driddh kari dharu”

He says that Satsang is the main saadhan and it leads to samata (equality in vision), santoshe (contentment) and bimal bichaar (noble thoughts). Samata denotes yoga i.e. maintaining a balanced lifestyle.

Santoshe denotes Upaasana i.e. doing sincere efforts and leaving the fruit to the Lord.

Bimal bichaar signifies knowledge.

Bharat jee excelled in all the above saadhan through his devotion.

Let us conclude today and offer the fruit of virtue of this katha in the feet of Almighty for the happiness of people of Madhya pradesh.