Katha Chopais

Sunahu sakha kaha kripa-nidhaana | Jehin jai hoi so syandan aana ||
Sakha dharm-maya asa rath jaakein | Jeetan kahan na katahun ripu taakein ||

Listen Friend, replied the All-Merciful, the chariot that leads one to victory is quiet another one.
My friend, he who owns such a chariot of piety shall have no enemy to conquer anywhere.

Katha Translations

The situation of Manas-Dharma-rath is such where Raavan (fully equipped) and Bhagwaan Ram (barefoot and without any ammunition) come face to face with each other in the war of Lanka kand; at such a moment Vibheeshan gets apprehensive about the safety of Bhagwaan Ram and expresses his anxiety. The one who is extremely dedicated feels concerned for the beloved even in the highest stage of devotion. Then, Bhagwaan Ram explains the spiritual rath (chariot) that makes a person win over any situation.

The chaupai from where the Dharma-rath is to be continued in this katha is ‘Amal achal mana trone samaana | Sama jama niyam seelimukh naana’..The mind of an individual gets concentrated even in the negative elements, but it does not remain pure. For saadhna, it is necessary for the mind to be steady as well as pure.

For a successful picture (chitra), there are certain requirements like canvas, colours, brush, painter and viewers. Similarly, a person’s character (charitra) can be sketched through elements of life. Truth (satya) is the canvas for a good character. Different types of manners (sheel) are the various colours for the beauty of the character. The brush for sketching a good character is love (prem). The painter who creates a character is Dharma (religion/duty) that draws lines of morals and values. Dharma should have less of rituals (vidhi) and more of understanding (vivek) and faith (vishwaas). Finally, the viewers of a sketch of a character are the listeners who recognize and identify the greatness of the character.

Bapu says, “ In small villages, there are certain people who carry their ladders and repair houses in rainy seasons. I’ve also come with a ladder of seven steps (seven kand) i.e. Shri Ram Charit Manas ; it will help the needy, the depressed and indecisive people to lead a better life.”

Sadaguru is the most vital factor in the spiritual journey. The status or position of Sadaguru  (guru-pada) can never be weak; it is ever strong in every situation. Hanuman jee is an ideal Sadaguruhe is brave (mahaveer), free of ego (Hanu-maan), engrossed in destroying the negative elements (khal bana paavak), showers knowledge (gyaan-ghan) and Bhagwaan Ram resides in his heart in his special form (Jaasu hridaya aagaar basahin ram sar chaap dhar).

Question – Please define Satya and Prem.
Bapu’s answer – Gandhi jee said that Satya is Parameshwar (the Almighty) and Jesus said that Prem is Parameshwar. But I think that satya and prem both are param-aishwarya (divine fortunes). In other way, both should be complementary in one’s life; Truth should be full of love and love should be true and not artificial.

In ‘Vairagya sandipani’, Tulsidas jee says that the human body is like a farm where the farming is done by mind, speech and actions. The seeds of virtues and vices (punya and paap) are sown and they bear fruits according to their respective nature. So, the mind is termed as a farmer here who has the capability to choose between a virtue and a vice. These seeds of paap and punya are not two, but the parts of one seed. Every action has a portion of both, but there may be a difference in the ratio. No action is purely virtuous or sinful. For example, when a person gives a large amount of money for charity, there may be some devious thing in either earning or saving the amount. In Mahabharat, Bhagwaan Krishna asks Arjuna to attack Karna when he’s repairing the wheel of his chariot, this may seem a negative act but the hidden virtue behind this order is to create betterment of world. So, there is a hidden virtue in a sinful act and a vice hidden in the most virtuous deed. Harinaam is the only strong catalyst that nullifies both virtue and vice. Harinaam makes the seeds of both kinds ineffective.

‘Amal achal mana trone samaana | Sama jama niyam seelimukh naana ||’
In Dharma-rath, Tulsidas jee says that the mind is the quiver where the arrows are kept by warriors. If the quiver is not tied tightly or is full of filth then the warrior would not be able to fight properly. Thus, the mind is an important part of saadhana. Bapu says, ‘ in my opinion, it is more important for the mind to be pure than steady. The more you try to make it still, the more it becomes fidgety. The best thing is to surrender the mind in the feet of the Lord in whatever condition it is. The steadiness of faith (that the Almighty will take care of my mind) is more important than the still ness of mind.

Harinaam is such a food for soul that increases life, will power, health, glow and balances the fire element of the body. So, don’t worry too much about virtues and vices, just stick to Harinaam. The Lord’s name is the summary of all shastras.

Bad habits cannot be framed into a certain definition. Creating obstruction in the best moments of life, keeping yourself hungry in the name of forcible fasting and indulging in unnecessary elaborate rituals are also bad habits.

One carries heaven and hell in oneself. When you feel happy at others’ prosperity, it is heaven but if you feel jealous at others’ good, then it is hell.

Question -Who is your ideal?
Bapu’s answer – My originality is my ideal. There is no condition in spirituality; where there are conditions, the originality of a person

Bhagwaan Krishna says in Bhagwad Gita that I am the mind in the senses of a human being. If the mind is the form of Lord Himself then it cannot be destroyed; though it can be forgotten in absence of feeling of pain and pleasure. If the mind is Bhagwaan Krishna, then it will not remain dull, thus it would be agile and playful. So, an aspirant should not try to control it forcibly, but rather try to cleanse it and decorate it. The dust of feet of Sadaguru can purify it. Even satsang, Harinaam and sutras of shastras can also help in the cleansing of mind.

The lord seems farthest for the person who searches (khojna) for Him and he becomes closest for the one who gets lost (even gets away from himself- kho jana).

True love has three eyes. Two are the outer eyes that see the world and the third eye is the one that only sees the beloved Lord. A true devotee would not be too fussy about own faults but he would remain focused on the greatness of the Lord.

The one who claims to follow Dharma (dharm-aacharan) should be truthful to the sutras (satya-aacharan) in his practical life. For example, the one who applies tilak should never be jealous of others’ progress or the one who keeps mala should never indulge in scorn.

Question – Bhagwaan Krishna seems too far, so we want to surrender our mind in the feet of Sadaguru. What is the procedure and evidence if it has been accepted?
Bapu’s answer – Yes, it is fine that you surrender in the feet of Sadaguru but there’s no fixed procedure for it. It can happen anywhere and any time that you get inspired to do so. The evidence that he has accepted your mind is when your mind does not get diverted from him.

In Gitavali, Tulsidas jee terms the mind of a person as a path where an aspirant can walk and attain the Lord. There are three major paths, Rajpath, Janpath and Dharma path. Don’t make your mind rajpath or janpath as there’s a risk of overcrowding, make it a path of dharma that comprises of truth, love and compassion; this path will definitely lead you to the Almighty.

The one who knows the art of dancing need not sing or speak. Meera just danced and attained Bhagwaan Krishna. The one who knows how to sing need not speak much but the one who knows how to give speeches needs to listen to people.

In the spiritual journey, don’t try to test others (pareeksha), just try to be patient and wait (prateeksha) for the right time to realize the facts.

A realized soul/saint is so clear hearted that he gets the indication from inside if a person is trying to lie/cheat/deceive him. One should never try to justify lies/errors in front of spiritually aware person, as there may be a risk of making more blunders! A spiritually aware person, on the other hand, would never try to prove his truth as he has full confidence in it and values it truly.

In Gitavali, Tulsidas jee equates the mind with hand. The hands should be moving but it is more necessary that they should be clean. Thus, the mind also need not be necessarily still but it is important that it should be pure. The purity will make the mind steady automatically. The situation is not so bad if the mind is pure but fidgety, if the mind is polluted and still, then the person cannot be reliable.

If Tulsidas jee calls mind a hand with four fingers and a thumb, then a mind also has five parts i.e. the five inclinations of mind described by Sage Patanjali.

The five fingers depict respective elements of society:

  • Thumb -the Almighty,
  • First finger – knowledgeable people, guideline givers
  • Middle finger – economy,
  • Ring finger – saints
  • Smallest finger – political system.

Similarly, there are five points of mind.

  1. Samyak gyaan/pramaan (knowledge) – A point, when activated grants attainment of knowledge.
  2. Viparayaya (illusion)- A point that makes truth seem untruth and vice-versa. An aspirant may see negative things even in his Sadaguru, but in such a situation also he/she should never leave the Sadaguru as this kind of inclination might subside with time. Sadaguru will never leave the aspirant, but one should take care of own mental inclinations!
  3. Kalpana (imagination)- This point of mind is very active in creative people or artists.
  4. Nidra (sleep)- Yogis cultivate their minds in such a way that their dreamless sleep develops into samaadhi.
  5. Smriti (memory)- The best memory for the mind is of the Lord!

People should avoid vyakti-pooja (worship of a human being) for the good of both worshipper and the worshipped. If you want to bow down to someone or touch his feet, the do it with your hand of mind! Swami Sharanaanand used to say that Sadaguru is a tatva (element), don’t indulge in the worship of human form..Bapu says, ‘ Swami Sharanaanand is the only Mahatma with whose sutras I have been always in been in agreement, I have never been able to negate his sutras till date, though I can’t say that for future!!’.

Su-vrat is the conduct (vartan) done for the welfare of others. Vrat (fasts) should be strong in faith and not be rigid.

No activity should be given priority over the development of spiritual energy (Aatma chetna vikas) as this is the purpose of being on this earth. At the end of life, an aspirant should feel content in this respect.

Fire can burn up almost everything on this earth or can even deshape an object if can not burn it. But it can neither burn up nor deshape a

Fire can burn up almost everything on this earth or can even deshape an object if can not burn it. But it can neither burn up nor deshape a pot made of clay. In fact fire makes it stronger.

The potter makes it in the shape where there is emptiness/space inside, thus fire cannot affect it.

In Kavitavali, Tulsidas jee equates mind with a clay pot. The potter who treats the pot of mind is the Sadaguru. If the Sadaguru is an expert then, no fire of others’ anger (kroadh) or heat of self-ego (gumaan) can affect the mind. But, in case the mind gets affected by the above mentioned fire and heat, then it should be understood that either the Sadaguru is not truly one or the aspirant hasn’t been able to empty/surrender himself fully.

If the mind gets developed in such a way, with Sadaguru’s grace that anger of others and heat of self-ego does not affect it, then it should be filled with the water of love (prem). Such a mind can provide solace to others.

When you lose temper, a Sadaguru feels guilty as he feels that his work has not been sufficient. It is the responsibility of a katha listener to maintain a cordial atmosphere in the family even in adverse circumstances. A katha listener should never lose his/her calm even when others are being unreasonable.

In Indian villages, there are particular ways of handling the clay pots by women.

  • The first spot they keep it is on their waist. If seen with context of mind as a pot, a Sadaguru initially keeps the shishya too close too him and takes minutest care.
  • The second spot for the clay port is on the head. Then, once the clay pot is filled, the pot is kept on the head in such a way that the water does not spill. So, when the Sadaguru sees that the shishya has gained some spiritual knowledge and has experienced something on this path, he keeps him on the head. At this time, he remains very careful that the shishya should not get over-whelmed/over-confident of his knowledge and should not get flawed by false-pride. Sadaguru saves the shishya from spoiling his this spiritual stage.
  • The third spot for a clay pot is that particular place in the house from where everyone drinks water. The Sadaguru then stations the shishya at a spot where he’s able to quench the thirst of others or help others.

This three-tier placement of shishya is according to the nature of shishyas’ gunasTamoguna, Rajoguna and Satva-guna. If a shishya reaches a stage where he goes beyond three gunas, then the Sadaguru destroys all his bindings. He makes him so independent so that nothing else can tie him.

A katha listener should not keep any reservations about selected topics. He/she should not carry choices for subjects, as this would be a hurdle for ideal kind of listening. Every topic is a prasad!

Vinoba jee used to say that Sadaguru should be sheelvaan (humble like a saadhu), Pragyavaan (knowledgeable) and Karunavaan (compassionate and caring like a mother).

Tulsidas jee says that the person who implements the sutras of Dharma-rath does not have any enemies to be defeated. Even if others may consider him as enemy, he does not have enmity with anyone. ‘Vijay’ word at the end of Dharma-rath does not refer to victory, but deep continual contentment.

Sage Patanjali has described Yoga as the total control over tendencies of mind (Chitta vritti). But he has not asked people to do it; he has just described Yoga in this way. Sometimes the sutras of sages have been misinterpreted.

Bapu says, “people who consider Tulsidas jee as conventional (parampara-vaadi), I feel sorry for them. They don’t know have much idea even about his writings. He was a revolutionary (vidrohi) in his time and so am I. I also don’t touch the sutras of Tulsidas jee that I don’t understand.”

In Dohavali, Tulsidas jee uses horse-shoe as a connotation for the mind. The horse-shoe comes in contact with the ground (lifeless/jada) as well as the horse (living/chetan) but it makes no difference to it whether it goes to jungle or a town. Similarly, if mind is like a horse shoe, it may come in contact with many uplifting as well as disappointing circumstances but if you cultivate it to live in the present, then it won’t get affected by any situation. An aspirant should try to get satisfied by any result after doing sincere efforts in any matter. Progress (vikaas) should not be at the cost of inner peace (vishraam). Bhajan will help in creating contentment as the aspirant would realize that the true joy is not in materialism but devotion towards the Almighty.

Once Swami Sharanaanand was asked about the actual form of truth (satya). To this he replied that to understand truth, one has to first understand untruth (asatya). So, in Shri Ram Charit Manas, the story of Raavan comes before the birth of Bhagwaan Ram!

Some people have asked about how to make the mind steady?. There mainly five ways for that:

  1. Bhagwaan Krishna prescribes two things in Bhagwad Gita that the mind can become still firstly with abhyaas (Practice of controlling the mind).
  2. The second thing he says in continuation is through vairaagya (dispassion from the world).
  3. The third way is to keep a beautiful form of deity as the subject of worship. Beauty lies in the eyes in the eyes of the beholder!
  4. The fourth way is to pray to God that only you can take proper care of my mind. Sometimes, when the Lord attracts the mind of the aspirant, the aspirant is not prepared to surrender fully.
  5. The fifth and the simplest way to mind still is the grace of Sadaguru. All efforts done on own, may not be successful, but Sadaguru kripa never fails. Bapu says, ‘I stand in favour of the grace of Sadaguru but at the same time it does not mean that the aspirant should become lazy and take things for granted. The grace works instantly provided the surrender is absolute. Ego is a big hurdle in the path of surrender, so be careful of it. Sadaguru and the Almighty are the most accessible, but there has to be total faith.’

An aspirant should not waste time and energy in comparing saadhus and saints. Respect every saadhu with his individual nature and  qualities. The one who does not live in originality is living a fake life.

According to sage Patanjali, there are four ways to maintain a joyfulmind.

  1. Seek pleasure in the pleasure of others.
  2. Be compassionate in the painful times of others.
  3. Be indifferent (udaaseen) with the vices of others. Don’t condemn the person, but condemn the fault.
  4. Be happy with the virtues of others.

Now let us move to the next half of this chaupai- “Amal achal mana trone samaana | Sama jama niyam seelimukh naana||”. Tulsidas jee mentions the arrows for the rider of Dharma-rath. There are total eleven (5 yama, 5 niyam and sama) arrows from which five each of yama and niyam are used to destroy delusion (Raavan) and the eleventh left is the arrow of sama (shanti/peace) that connotes Ma Jaanaki. This means that when an aspirant destroys delusion from life, he can experience inner peace in the actual form.

Usually people are strict about their niyam (daily spiritual practices) and also become finicky about them. But actually, an aspirant needs to be more sincere in following the five Yama that help him grow more spiritually. Let us discuss yama and niyam as the following.

5 yama are:

  • Ahinsa (not to hurt anyone by either thoughts, words or actions)
  • Satya (be truthful),
  • Asteya (abstain from stealing),
  • Brahmacharya (controlling desires to avoid downfall)
  • Aparigrah (avoid collecting unnecessary things).

5 niyam are

  • shauch (purity of body and mind),
  • Tapa (tolerance/ sacrifice for the welfare of others),
  • Santoshe (maintain satisfaction),
  • swaadhyaya (studying scriptures and also one self)
  • Eeshwar pranidhan (samadhi/meditation).

According to Shankaracharya, the four paths that lead to God are – Satsangati (company of a truthful person who also saves you from untruth), Daan (charity of any kind, even a small gesture of kindness), Vichaar (thoughtful behaviour) and Santoshe (self-satisfaction).

The next chaupai of Dharma-rath is – “Kavach abheid bipra gur pooja | Ehi sama bijay upaay na dooja ||”. The shield of the rider of Dharma-rath is the reverence towards Sadaguru. A person may give regard to a Brahman, it becomes a protection, but such kind of protection becomes a strong shield with the grace of Sadaguru. If an aspirant wants, he can take wood-sticks (Samidh) for the Sadaguru and the Sadaguru uses them for his yagya. But even if the aspirant wants to take something else other than wood-sticks, it should be taken with the mentality of samidh. A Sadaguru is the center of all qualities, so if an aspirant takes refuge in the feet of Sadaguru, he attains all the qualities in an easy manner.

In Mahabharat’s war, Hanuman jee placed himself in the flag of Arjun’s chariot, but in Ramayana, he was actively involved in the war of Lanka. So, if Tulsidas jee says that the flag of Dharma-rath is truth, then we can take inspiration from Hanuman jee that we should either become still in truth (righteousness) or come in action for the cause of truth according to the need of time and circumstances and Sadaguru’s instructions.

Let us move to the chaupai of Dharma-rath – “Kavach abheid bipra gur pooja | Ehi sama bijay upaay na dooja ||”. Here, the word ‘vipra’ does not mean just the Brahmin caste but the one who is learned and studies and teaches Vedas. Shrimad Bhagwat mentions 12 characters of a vipra; it can also be said that the one who possesses these 12 characters is a vipra irrespective of his caste. The twelve characters are:

  1. Daan (charity)
  2. Japa (chanting God’s name)
  3. Tapa (tolerance)
  4. Ekaant-priya (lonesome/introverted)
  5. Maun (silence)
  6. Satya (truth)
  7. Ahinsa (non-violence)
  8. Sangrah na kare (No greed of collecting things)
  9. Chori na kare (not to steal)
  10. Santoshe rakhe (satisfaction)
  11. Shauch (physical and mental purity)
  12. Vidya adhyayan (study of shastras).

The company and respectful attitude towards such vipra gives security to the aspirant.

Bapu says, “in my opinion Viprs should be worshipped (pooja) but Sadaguru should be served (seva).” Sadaguru’s seva means what ? – “Agyaa sama na su-saahib seva | So prasaadu jana paavai deva ||”. Accepting the commands of Sadaguru and implementing them with full sincerity. Do not put forward any alternatives in his directions. Don’t use Sadaguru’s stamp to endorse your choice; leave every choice to him. True seva can only be done when the aspirant abandons his ego completely. It is easy to do charan-seva, but aacharan-seva is difficult.

Sadaguru is an ‘atithi’ , who meets an aspirant at any given time; there’s no fixed time for his meeting. It so happens that when an aspirant meets him and it strikes in the soul that he is the only master for him. Sadaguru can meet an aspirant at anytime/anywhere. He enters the life of an aspirant provided the aspirant is receptive.

There are several characters of a Sadaguru who can be an ideal master.

  1. His company transforms attachment into dispassion.
  2. His critics may not admit but from inside they like his nature.
  3. His presence itself provides answers to all your questions and doubts.
  4. He accepts things for the happiness of others and not for his needs.
  5. He lives only for others, so he can only be served; not worshipped.

You should go and just sit quietly around the Sadaguru, don’t ask too many questions also. Don’t present your demands in front of him as it is an insult to his omnipresent nature.

Bapu says especially for the youth that the when the body is active, it will become powerful (shakti), when the intellect works in the right direction, it leads to independence (mukti) and when the heart is full of love, it leads to devotion (bhakti). Use your energy in the right way!

In the war of Lanka, Raavan had a physical chariot but on the other hand, Bhagwaan Ram had Dharma-rath but not a chariot. Bhagwaan Ram describes the Dharma-rath to Vibheeshan and it can be seen from Shri Ram Charit Manas and other writings of Tulsidas jee that all the qualities of Dharma-rath are present in Bhagwaan Ram, only then he is discussing Dharma-rath. Raavan is hardly able to manage some of them and that too partially.

Question – Why don’t we experience conclusive feeling in prem?
Bapu’s answer – There can be no conclusion in prem as it is always growing and unending (anant). Even the supreme beloved is infinite (anant) and also the need for prem is endless (anant). So, when there is amalgamation of these three ‘anant’, how can there be a conclusion!

There’s a difference between ‘charitra’ and ‘leela’. Charitra is the narrative of the actual happenings of past and leela may have incidents that may or may not have happened. Bhagwaan Ram walked on both the tracks but Raavan was weak in charitra.

‘Sakha dharm-maya asa rath jaakein | Jeetan kahan na katahun ripu taakein ||’- Bhagwaan Ram says that the one who is able to implement this Dharma-rath will not see anyone as enemy, so no one is left to be won!

‘Maha ajay sansaar ripu jeeti sakayi so beer | Jaakein asa rath hoi driddh sunahu sakha mati-dheer ||’- Bapu says that the way he perceives this doha (based on how Dadajee taught Shri Ram Charit Manas) as the world is not an enemy, it is to be served. But the people who dispute the creation of God are real enemies. The world is a form of the Almighty and if it is criticized unnecessarily, then the thought behind this kind of criticism is like an enemy. The aspirant who follows this Dharma-rath is truly brave as he becomes able in destroying such negative thoughts. The world is a place of the Lord, saints and shastras, so it should not be condemned in any way.

Bapu says, ‘I want to congratulate all for three reasons – 1) for successful organization of this katha, 2) for tomorrow’s occasion of Maharashtra-Gujarat day and 3) for the Akshaya treetiya today, it is Parshuram Jayanti today, so let us offer this katha in his feet.’

“Jaasu naam bhav bheshaj haran ghore traya sool | So kripaal mohi toe par sadaa rahau anukool ||”- Let us conclude this katha with this prayer in the feet of Bhagwaan Ram that his holy name may become a remedy for all our problems…