Ram bhajat soi mukti gosai | Anichhit aavai bariyai ||
Asa bichari hari bhagat sayane | Mukti niradar bhagati lubhane ||
By worshipping Sri Rama, my lord, the same beatitude comes unsolicited even against our will.
Realising this, the wise devotees of Sri Hari spurn final emancipation and remain enamoured of Devotion.
Bapu chose Mukti (Liberation) as the central theme for his Katha, and called it Manas Mukti. Mukti is a complicated obscure subject and so Bapu began with a long discussion about the meaning and implications of Mukti. Bapu clarified that he never pre-plans or prepares for katha because for him katha is just like sitting on the lap of Parents and no child needs preparations for that.
Bapu selected two lines from Uttar kaand where Tulsidas mentions mukti and strikes a new path without doing any violence to established traditions. Bapu said that the concept of mukti is still being debated in his mind about its exact meaning and what is implied by mukti. Mukti is certainly not to run away and to throw off family and social responsibilities. Renunciation is not a way to attain mukti. For Bapu, Mukti is not external changes but internal transformation. Mukti is a systematic change from within. The mindset ought to become free from all negative approaches like hatred, envy and vengeance.
Bapu clarified that he’s not here to give long sermons (updesh) and it is not his habit to issue orders or instructions (adesh) to anybody. He is happy to act as a postman as Tulsidaas who wrote his vinay patrika and hoped it would reach god. This katha is vinay patrika of Bapu- his message for anyone who is ready and willing to receive it.
Mukti can be attained by gyan or by yagna or Tup. But said Tulsidaas this path is very difficult and slippery where the gyani has to search for and reach the divine. In the age in which we live, bhakti is the best and easiest path, because in Bhakti, it is the divinity (bhagwan) that seeks and reaches the bhakt. As Bapu puts it, it is like the summit (shikhar) the sublime descending to the bottom of the deep valley.
Bapu pointed out that Ram charit manas is apparently very simple and easy, but the more you study and think about it, its inner mysticism keeps on unfolding with newer and newer meanings and mysteries.
Bapu narrated his meeting with a Bio scientist who sought Bapu’s response to modern science seeking to prolong human life up to hundred and fifty years. Bapu replied that why only 150? What is the hurry to die so early, it should be 1500 years provided the body is healthy, our mind is at rest (vishram), and life is linked to the divine. Bapu would be happy if spirituality and science would cooperate to make human life healthy, happy and at peace with the universal spirit of divinity. Bapu believes that the best way to attain such a goal is Bhakti. He is not saying this as consolation (adhasan) but this is the experience of several saintly souls including Bapu.
Bapu quoted gita that yagna, gyan and tup, should never be given up because they purify even the best minds, even the golden minds. True, that gold never rusts but even gold needs polishing to retain its lustre and shine. Yesterday a question was asked as to what is yagna? And Bapu’s quick and short definition was that we ought to turn away from self satisfying ‘wah wah’ to yagna mantra of swahah. For Kaliyug, remembrance of Ram is Yagna, to hear ram katha, is Tup. Bapu expressed his pleasure by saying that those who hear katha are doing more tup than the one who recites the katha. Kirtan and bhajan is the best and everlasting donation and even those who sing for begging are donating ram smaran to the listeners. Bapu quoted gopika geet of Bhagvat that those who sing hari katha are the greatest donars (Bhuri da jana). Smaran and struggle must go on together as Krishna enjoined upon Arjun.
Bhakti should be done here and now, just today, because today is ours, tomorrow is beyond our control. Such spiritual way ought to be our life, not for seeking livelihood. Bhakti involves patience and a prolonged period of waiting and one would have to suffer malicious criticism. We should remember that such critics are seasonal and would wither away like seasonal creatures whom Bapu jocularly compared with earthworms seeking to be equal to shesh naag.
Bapu then turned to Manas which Tulsidas composed for his own inner bliss. Katha ought to be enjoyed with happiness. We all have our share of miseries, but we ought to lay them aside whilst we are at katha.
Referring to the broadmindedness of tulsidas- a vaishnav adoring Shiva, Bapu mentioned the vastness of Hinduism and regretted that narrow minded people, for their own selfish interests, have divided Hinduism into several minor sects and sections. Bapu, mentioned shankrachariya recommending worship of 5 gods shiva, Vishnu, durga, surya and ganesh. To worship these gods, in traditional ritualistic way is O. K but Bapu offers his own esoteric interpretation by equating worship of ganesh to a life of thoughtfulness (vichaar) and balance (vivec). Surya is a symbol of brightness and whoever seeks light out of darkness. Durga/ bhavani stands for shrada, faith. But not the blind faith (andh shradha) which leads to exploitation. Vishnu means broadness and worship of Vishnu is to cultivate broadmindedness. Shiva is benevlonce- Kalyan and one whose thoughts, words and actions are benevolent and beneficial to others is a true devotee of shiva.
Bapu then turned to guru vandana and expressed his conviction to guru is a guide, a protector, a help and even a shelter (odhnu). Guru acts as an alarm bell for those who fail to wake up by themselves. Guru by his tickling brings out the inner joy (aanand) that lies within us. He quoted shankrachariya and also the folk songs to emphasise the importance of guru. He then defined guru by negative system of neti. A guru should have no guile, (kaapat) no pretence (gaambh) and play no tricks (maya). He quoted tulsidas that rama resided in the hearts of those who are free from such vices. Such a guru can bestow vision.
Tulsidas offers his vandana to hanuman and Bapu rejected the popular superstition and opined that women can, and should worship hanuman in his benevolent and pacific (soumya) formation. Bapu expressed modern concept of empowerment of women in traditional terms hoping that if every girl in India becomes hanuman in her own way all our problems will be solved in no time.
Bapu began by listing the term Mukti as used by Tulsidaas in Ram charit manas and he quoted not only the chapter and verse but also the context of why and when the term was used. There are numerous references to Moksha and its equivalent terms like Moksha, Nirvan, Kevalya, Param gati etc. The term Mukti is used only seven times- thrice in Bal kaand, once each in Kishkinda kaand and Lanka kaand and twice in Utar kaand. Mukti is mentioned in the Arti of the Ramayan, which is a part of Manas but not included in the text of Manas.
Bapu pointed out that Tulsidas is ideologically connected to Bhakti not to Mukti and so without showing any disrespect Tulsidas has given secondary and subordinate position to Mukti. Those who are engrossed in Bhakti do not hanker after Mukti because Mukti is the natural and automatic attainment for Bhaktas. Moksha may be the staple food which becomes much more tasty when it is accompanied by Bhakti. Bhakti is the fulfilment of Moksha. This is a deep rooted belief that dying in Kashi ensured Moksha. But Bhakta Kabir who lived all his life in Kashi chose to die in Maghar in order to demonstrate that Moksha depends not on the place (Bhumi) where one dies, but on the state (Bhumika) that one has reached in spiritual stature. Kabir of course defied death because he as a Bhakta, felt and experienced a total union with God (Hari). If God is eternal, so is Bhakta. Bapu interpretated Maghar as elimination of all paths and sects (mag- marg). Saints like Kabir are both pacificists (Shanti karaka) and revolutionaries (Kranti karaka).
Bapu is very often talking about the success and failure of his mission to spread his message of Ramayan. Bapu has embarked upon his mission without calculating the chances of success but he is extremely happy that the younger generation has picked up Ramayan as their favourite reading. Bapu is aware that too much of adulation (Ahobhav ) world would produce a sick mind and he narrated two incidents where people became intensely jealous when others paid their respects to Bapu. Bapu is wary of flattery and is never influenced by those who praise him over much. He considers all criticism as divine tax (ishwari tax). He loves his stay at Junagadh which is a confluence of several religions and creeds and where unity of Hindus and Muslims grows by itself.
Bapu then read out a letter written by a boy of eleven who enjoys Bapu’s presence and Bapu’s katha without understanding a word of Gujarati and Hindi. Bapu remarked that even those who know the languages fail to understand his message and remain unchanged even after listening to him for years to-gether.
Bapu is not bothered by success and failure, because Ramayan is for him a treasure trove with an inner richness of its own. Ram nam is the be all and end all/ bestowing Mukti, wealth (Dhan), Religiousness (Dharam) and a place of our own (Dham). Bhaktas never bother about Mukti. Sayujya Mukti has been promised by Ram himself for all those who bathe Rameshwar with water brought from the Ganges. Mukti in Arati has been used to describe Ramayan as the ornaments of young women called Mukti.
Bapu then turned to Upnishad mantra which describes the prior conditions to attain Bramha and he made the audience recite this mantra with himself. To attain Bramha Mukti a person should be naturally free from passions (Akama)and he must have controlled and curbed all his passions (Nishkam) and all his passions must have been fulfilled and satiated and all his emotions are to be focused onto his soul (Atmakara)
Bapu said these prior conditions are intensely hard to attain for ordinary people. It is easy enough to be verbose and talk about such attainments but to actualise them in our life is nearly impossible. But the easiest path to the divinity is to recite Hari nam because in a stuti in the Ramayan, Ram has been described as an embodiment of all such attainments. Bapu reminded that life is short and death is a certainty and he wonders why people waste time and energy in criticising others and become jealous of those who have been able to rise above the average level. Such jealousy is rooted in our ego and each one of us believes himself to be the best and superior to all others and the world is so strange and perverted that often innocents are punished and the guilty are worshipped.
Bapu’s opinion was that all the criticism levelled against him is because they cannot stand the innocent joy which we experience through katha. Such Kathas are possible only for the lucky few and Bapu never replies to those who criticise him. He pardons his critics who are ignorant. We should not bother about others but look within ourselves to decide whether we are on the right path.
Bapu reverted to the main stream and declared that Bhaktas are so happy in devotion that they never ask for Mukti. Bapu quoted the dialogue between Yudhishtir and Narada from Bhagwat where Narada says that God can be attained in a variety of ways. Gopis attained Mukti by passionate love for Krishna, Kans attained Mukti by intense fear of Krishna, Yadavs by attachment to Krishna, Shishupal by sheer hatred for Krishna, and Pandavs by their friendship with Krishna. All our passions, emotions and Vritties must be focused onto Krishna and Mukti becomes easy enough. Bapu is aware that it is people around us that pose the real enmity and Dwesh. Even those who wear the clothes of Sadhu’s are not free from Dwesh. Bapu explained the difference between Renunciation (Tyaga) and non-attachment (vairagya) and he gave an example of Gorakshnath. Bapu quoted the prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous
“Oh God give us the courage to endure what cannot be changed, Give us the strength to change what can be changed and the wisdom to know the difference.”
In this context, Bapu appealed to the addicts to give up liquor and told jokes to illustrate how liquor ruins life and properties. Reverting back to the discussion of focussing all our Vritties onto Krishna. This is not very strenuous to achieve and Bhakti is the easiest path to attain our goal.
Bapu then effortlessly shifted to the narrative part of Manas and described the importance of Ram nam. Whatever Ram achieved during his lifetime in the Tretayug can be accomplished by reciting his name in Kaliyug. Ram nam is the most potent of Mantras which needs no ceremonials and rituals. Reciting, writing, Ram nam is the most effective remedy for internal purification. Bapu advised that only thing we ask from God should be Satsang, but we should also be aware that Saints are few and far between and such saints come help us in reciting Ram nam with proper mindset of devotion and piety. It is enough if we recite Ram nam as often as possible, but then once may be enough.
Bapu then led the audience to blissful recitation of divine names and to ecstasy
Continuing the discussion about Mukti further from the previous day. Bapu mentioned different darshanas to reach one and same goal of moksha and defined Moksha as the extinction (Kshaya) of Moha (attachment). Zen teachers believe that absence of attachment is Buddhatva but if you get attached even to Buddhatva, you slide back to the bondage of Sansar. Such extreme perfection, such total Truth is difficult to attain but we should strive to be as close to perfection as we can. The path of Gyan involves total detachment which is quite beyond us, but Bhakti needs only transfer of attachment from passions to Krishna. As Bhagwat puts it desires (Kamanas) and attachment (Asakti) are severe bondage but when sublimated to the Divinity, they open the gates of salvation (Moksha Dwar)
Our understanding of Truth is limited while Truth for persons like Yuddhishtir is heavenly, far beyond our understanding. Denouncing and disparaging the epic characters in Mahabharat only reveals our intellectual poverty . Bapu knows several persons who are truthful and rigorously implement Truth as they understand Truth. But even such celebrities fail to appreciate the Truth of others, they refuse to welcome the achievements of others. Bapu narrated a few such shocking experiences where renowned maestroes are jealous of budding geniuses. Our ego prevents us from feeling the goodness and greatness of others and makes us miserable even though the world is beautiful and broad enough to accommodate all of us. Bapu insisted that we ought to joyfully accept the good (Shubha) from others and become free from jealousy and hypocrisy.
He strongly advised his listeners to study Mahabharat which is a book of wisdom and reflections. Yuddhishtir was tested thrice for his firm attachment to truthful existence. When Yaksha gave him the option of getting only one of his dead brothers revived, he chose his step brother who was not going to very helpful in the forthcoming war- a fierce fight to the finish. On the second such occasion he refused to enter Heaven if his companion- a mere dog was debarred from entry. Third time was when he inquired about his brothers to share the joys of heaven. Yuddishtir fully understood Draupadi’s deep rooted love for Arjun to whom she was most attached of all her husband’s.
Bapu noted that none of us ever had the occasion to suffer the miseries which burdened Yuddishtir’s life, but we bemoan our trivial troubles and impediments. God is a loving mother who would never impose miseries which are beyond our capacity to bear them. He extolled the majesty of motherhood because mothers were the guardian angels nourishing, protecting and guiding the innocent children in this rough, entangled world of ours.
Bapu told us that Truth expresses itself in multitudes of medias and every person even the half bred children of Rakshasas have a touch of divine in them. He cited the example of Ghatotkach, who born of Bhima and Hidimba, sacrificed his life at the hands of Karna so that his family and his uncles may survive and win the war of Mahabharat. In response to a request about possessions by demons and deities, Bapu opinied that most of such incidents are sheer make believe and often only superstitions. In reply to a question about his translating Ramayan (Anvud), Bapu explained that his was a resonance (Anunad), a transmission of Ramayan. Since Bapu was engrossed in such activities body, mind, and soul he needs no physical exercises and can lead a care-free life of joy and happiness because he never bothers about even the most severe denunciation, such abuse reveals the real character of those who indulge in unbalanced criticisms. What can anyone expect from ignorant people?
Bapu then returned to the main theme to say that Gyan needs Bhakti to support and to flower into full bloom. The famous scholar Madhusudhan Saraswati declared that Bhakti matures into gyan, but a gyani may or may not be able to develop into a Bhakta. Shri Madhusudhan explained the stages of growth and maturity. The process begins with Sadhan bhakti, where a Bhakta is dependent on various instruments of ceremonies and rituals. The second stage is Gyan Bhakti, in which one understands the deeper Truths and proper formation of Bhakti. The third stage is the stage of Samadhan where all contradictions are reconciled and intellectual and emotional balance is attained. Bhakta then feels enlightened and realizes the reality in a brilliant light and awareness. The last stage of Siddhavastha where all locks are broken up, all doors are broken open, and the inner light spreads all around after self realization.
But Bhakti has to overcome the obstacles that are described by Vallabhacharya. Bhakti is impossible for those who are continuously in agony and anxiety (udwag). Bhakti is not possible for doubting Thomases who are always in two minds and keep on shifting from one side to another (Vitark). Bhakti is not possible for those who are deeply submerged in frivolous sensual pleasures and passions (Bhogvilas).
In order to emphasize that Bhakti is the climax of Gyan and Yoga, Bapu listed and described the physical pleasures of a Yogi as presented in Shweta Shwater Upanishad. A Gyani and a Yogi have light weightedness (Laghutva), health (Arogya) absence of lasciviousness (Aloluptva), shining brightness (Varnaprasadhan), a full throated voice (Swarsphutva) and a Yogi smells good (Sughandh). His physical discharges are reduced and odourless. He mentioned Amir Khushroo describing the charming smell of his pir Nizamuddin Aulia. All such physical characteristics are found in Bhaktas who enjoy bliss in singing (Bhajans) and dancing (Kirtans).
Bapu then turned to the mainstream narrative and started the story of Shiva and Sati visiting Kumbhaj, Sati doubting the transcendental nature (Brahmtva) of Rama her double speak to Shiv and Shivas decision to discontinue marital relations with her. Bapu digressed to describe three different types of compassion (Karuna) and named them Viveka Karuna, or discriminatory mercy, Komal Karuna which is soft and loving all the time and Kathore Karuna where strictness and even cruelty is exercised for the ultimate benefit of the person. Bapu gave examples of each type of Karuna.
While referring to the Yagna organised by Daksha to disrespect and insult Shiva, Bapu laid down seven criteria which ought to guide us in our activities and our religious practices. We should never undertake any ceremonies for taking revenge on somebody. We should always indulge in good actions with humility and consider ourselves only as instruments (Nimita) of God. When we do something we should do it whole-heartedly with expertise (Kushalta). Our activities should be natural and normal (Sahaj) not for fighting with and snubbing others (Sangharsh). The fifth Golden rule is that we should act because we enjoy the action, not with the view to secure results and achieve any purpose. We should have faith that the divine existence would be in tune with whatever we do and would bless our efforts and our actions. Last but not the least, we must act with Shradha, not in competitive spirit to harm anyone or to surpass others.
Bapu insisted that our religious activities must be devoid of arrogance. We wash our clothes with soap, but then we have to wash out even the soap.
Bapu brought the story down to the rebirth of Sati as Parvati and her pennance to get re-united with Shiva.
Before starting the dialogue on Mukti, Bapu remembered his Sadaguru, his grandfather who initiated him in the innermost understanding of Ram Charit Manas. Bapu feels that all his listeners are his family members and he feels free to make a statement that he studied only up to Lankakand under his Sadaguru. But once he had the key understanding, he could explore the rest of the Ramayan on his own.
Mukti: is a difficult subject and so is Bhakti also, but Bhakti is an easy path compared to Mukti. Gita has described four types of Bhaktas. Those who are afflicted (Arta). Those who are curious to understand the basic issues of spirituality (Jignyasau). Those who seek benefits (Arthathi ) and those Gyanis who have become Bhaktas. Tulsidas calls them Bhagat Sayane. But Bapu raised a problem and discussed it threadbare. Tulsidas has said that such Sayane Bhagats repudiate or reject (Niradhar) Mukti. How can a Bhakta whose is all inclusive and who respects every approach and every mode (Marga) for spirituality ever reject or repudiate even Mukti. A Bhakta does not desire Mukti, he does not aspire for Mukti or search for Mukti, but rejection or repudiation of Mukti does not become a Bhakta because rejection is not compatible with Bhakti.
Bapu then answered his own question. The word Niradar ought to be understood in its proper sense. Whenever we are at the forking of roads and face the dilemma as to which road to adopt, we take the road that is most convenient and most suitable to reach our goal. We choose one and give up another. This is just a choice and does not involve any insult or repudiation or any rejection. With all humility, if we go by our own road or even by a small and narrow footpath, the road will not feel rejected or neglected because others would continue to use the Road. A Bhakta rejects nothing and nobody. Bapu, with his deep trust on the young generation, advised them to go everywhere and mix with everyone even with Evil. But pick up what you find good and leave the rest where you find it. We ought to find our way and if others criticize or denounce us, we ought to enjoy such criticisms. Bapu warned that Bhakti also is a different part but it is comparatively easier than the Gyan Marg. So Bhakta welcomes (Adar) every path and all opinions and he rejects nothing. No Niradar at all. because all paths lead to one and same Reality. Therefore Bhakti shows no disrespect (Niradar) or repudiation but it follows its own different, separate path because our way of departure, our gate to spirituality is different. We prefer Bhakti, it is more suitable, more in tune with us.
During such detailed discussion about the word Niradar (rejection). Bapu has adopted the system of a spiral staircase; he came to the same point again and again but at a higher level every time. He concluded that Bhakta never accepts nor rejects Mukti. He only follows a different path and stays Udasin. He does not disregard or disrespect Mukti but he is disinterested in Mukti.
Just as there are four types of Bhakta, there are four different types of Mukti as described in Bhagwat. Bapu quoted the shlok from Bhagwat and made the audience repeat the shlok with him. There is a Salokya Mukta, where a Gyani arrives at and enters the abode of his Ishtadeva- it may be Vaikunt or Swarga Rama when bidding good bye to Vibhishan promises that he will enter Mama Dham. Those who follow the path of knowledge, in course of time, start appearing like their guru or God. Tulsidas says that Jatayu assumed the form of Hari after he was killed by Ravan. This is Sarupya Mukti. The third type is Sayujya Mukti when Gyani merges into the divine. Ravana could get Sayujya Mukt becausei the lustre of his soul (Tejas) merged into Rama.
But Bhaktas would not like any of these Mukti. Bhaktas desire only the last type of Sanidhya Mukti. Where God is in the vicinity- not too near and not too far. So that the devotee feels the presence of God and experiences his nearness. As Bhagwat has said the Bhaktas only aspire to serve God (Mat Sevanam) and to sing about him. A mere glance of the divine is enough for the Bhakta who is driven to intoxication and people find his behavior as an a condition of lunacy. Bhaktas don’t care even to merge into divine as they enjoy the katha. Bhajans said Bapu is a singing Bhakti, katha is Bhakti in prose, Kirtan is dancing Bhakti, and tears of a Bhakta is a weeping Bhakti. The initial stage is just singular Bhakti. Bapu said that his Vyaspita is such five faced (Panch Mukhi) Bhakti.
Those who criticize should be overlooked like a stinking sewage and we should put a tight lid on it to avoid the stink. Just as a calf released from bond runs towards the mother cow, Mukti rushes towards the Bhakta.
Bapu warned that on all the sides and everywhere we are surrounded by the apparent and illusory world of Maya and it is extremely difficult to overcome such Maya. So ecstasy of Bhakti may not last forever and may not last even long, but for Bhakta even a moment of experiencing the presence of divine is enough.
Bapu then turned to the narrative part of katha and resumed the story from where it was left. Parvati was waiting and yearning for Shiva. Shiva was requested by Gods to get married. It is true that Shiva had burnt down Cupid the God of Carnal Lust. But he had revived Kamadev and got him planted into the minds of human beings. Hindu seers (Drashtas) have separated sex from lust. God of love resides in our mind and manifests itself on proper occasions. Like the images that lie dormant in every stone. Every stone can become a God provided that it is chiseled by a Sadaguru. Bapu described vividly and in great details he marriage of Shiva.
After the marriage, Parvati raised the same question about the transcendental nature (Brahmatva) of Rama- the question that was lying unanswered from her previous birth. But she was now in a better receptive mood and Shiva explained Katha of Rama. There were five reasons that Vishnu got incarnated in human form. The city of Ayodhya and family of Dashrata was chosen by the divine. Dashrata approaches his Guru and Bapu mentioned four doors which we come across in our life as Temple doors (Devdwar) Royal door (Rajdwar) City Gates (Nagadwar) and Gurudwar. The first three are closed at times but the doors of Guru are always open.
Dashrata performed Yagna. Yagna purush is an ideal donor. He gave the prasad and immediately disappeared. After we donate something to somebody we should withdraw our presence- donate and disappear is the golden rule of giving. Dasharat got four sons- Bapu proclaimed birth of Rama and the audience broke into joyous dancing and singing
Bapu began with a question from a reputed scholar about the grounds from which Mukti and Bhakti originate. Bapu was going to give some of the unorthodox answers and so he quoted the last lecture of Buddha to advice his listeners to not to accept his word as the final answer. His opinions must be tested by us against the experience and intuition of each one of us before we accept or disagree with Bapu’s personal opinions. Bapu said that inspite of great faith and reverance for Tulsidas, all the views of Tulsidas are not fully and totally acceptable to Bapu. He would not contradict him but he would quietly continue his dissent. The universal belief is that Mukti sprouts from Gyan and Vedic scholars proclaim that Gyan leads to Moksha. But Bapu’s opinion is that Mukti is born out of fear.
In order to reconcile that contradiction Bapu pointed out that we all are shaped by our own birth Mother, our birth Place, our Motherland, and by our Mother language. Gyan personified by Kashi is the Motherland of Mukti but Mukti is born out of fear (Bhiti) fear of sufferings, of weaknesses, fear of cycle of deaths and births, fear of the unknown. These concepts about fears are the 4 noble truths- Arya satyas or Aryiosatta of Buddhism. So Mukti is motivated by fear. This may or may not true always and everywhere but as far as our vision and wisdom can be stretched, we can trace the relations between Mukti and fear. The Motherland of Mukti is knowledge as represented by Kashi and its Mother tongue is Sanskrit, because it is in Sanskrit that Mukti has been conceptualized and most widely discussed. Pali and Ardhmagadha are but the off shoots of Sanskrit.
Bapu quoted Vinay Patrika to explain the bold and revolutionizing opinions of Tulsi. In Manas Tulsidas is circumscribed by the self imposed restrictions and decorum on account of katha of Rama. In Vinay Patrika Tulsidas loudly asserts that all Sadhnas are mere useless labor and we reach fruitation only by faith (Vishwas). These are Bapu’s opinions today. His opinions may change and he may proclaim something different in future. He quoted Gandhiji about change in views and supported Gandhiji’s assertion that uniformly opinions or consistency is the virtue of idiots.
He turned to the origin of Bhakti and said that Bhakti is born of affection. Bhagwat declares that Bhakti originated in Tamil Nadu matured in Karnataka and died in Gujarat. Bapu asserted that this statement applied when Bhagwat was written many centuries ago. The situation has changed and Bhakti is today thriving in Gujarat. Tamil Nadu is the land of Dakishina Mukti- Shiva denotes faith (Vishwas). The Mother tongue of Bhakti is the language of heart, the language of love which is nearest to the babbling of children (Totli Bhasha). Bapu cited the famous story of a child in a church repeating alphabets and asking God to make up any prayers that he finds suitable. Bhakti is impossible without faith (Bharoso) which can never survive if love (prem) is absent. In fact Tulsidas insists that we should terminate all relations which are devoid of love (prem).
Bapu commented on those who recite Hanuman Chalisa or Sundarkand as a ritual to finish them off and count the number of times they are repeated. There is no counting or calculation in relations of love. We should cultivate patience even in everyday happenings of life and enjoy such doings which ought to be natural and normal (Sahaj). He would prefer that there should be no restrictions on people attending Bhajans, we should never be guided and goaded by the gratious advice of others. Bapu would love to be left free to act according to his own free will but free will or liberty does not imply license. He quoted Ganga Sati but insisted upon his own interpretations of traditionally accepted norms. He defined a Sadhu who lives only in the present tense. A Sadhu is not bound by the past and is not bothered about the future and who feels lonely in a crowd and crowded while alone. Bapu acts upon the age old saying that a wise man is never less alone, when alone. We should not impose our norms on Sadhu and allow him the freedom of choice doing whatever he wants to do whenever he feels like doing it. Such freedom of sadhu is beneficial to society.
Bapu then turned to define Sadhu and prescribed four tests. Sadhu is one whose life is simple (Sadu) whose life and behaviour are truthful (Sacchu) who lives an open life(Samu) and who lives a good life (Saru). His speech and action are to express his own true nature (swabhav) and he never tried to impress others (Prabhav).
In one single sentence, Bapu visualized Sadhu of future generations living in the 21st century. A Sadhu of future would be one who would live a life of truth (Satya) love (Prem) and compassion (Karuna) expecting nothing (Nirpreksha) and demanding nothing in return.
We should adhere to Truth irrespective whether truth is triumphant or defeated. He disagreed with the slogan Truth triumphs (Satyameva Jayate). He said Truth is beyond and impervious of victory or defeat. In the cruel and imperfect world in which we live, Truth is mostly defeated. But Truth is its own value, is important by itself and on its own, a Catagrieal Imperative of modern European philosophy. Truth may and mostly would bring difficulties in life as Kunti says in Mahabharata. Those who have adhered to truth – Yuddhishtir, Harishchandra, Sagalsha have suffered intensely. But we should still stick to Truth, because in the spiritual realm, evil would never succeed. Truth is for living not for winning. Pandavas won the war but they gained nothing. We should not judge great and good persons by the way they die. The elder of Pandavas Dhrutrashtra, Gandhari, Kunti, and Vidur retired to forest and perished in a forest fire. Krishna returned to Dwarika to a total annhilation of Yadavas and Dwarika. Pandavas went to Himalayas to die one after the other. Death (Kal) is beyond all control. But Death is not the end of life. If Jiva is a spark of the divine, the stream of consciousness would flow uninterrupted and forever. We do not know how and in what form Chaitanya would survive but survives it does. Sadhu in the next century would be full of compassion (Karuna) which has no cause and no purpose. Mercy (daya) arises from cause, a reason on occasion. But Karuna is beyond all such causation. Such a Sadhu would implement the values of Satya, Prem, and Karuna without any expectations but with full humility and awareness. Disparaging such a Sadhu, treating him with contempt and disregard will lead to a retribution- a delayed but definite and inevitable retribution for the individuals and for the society as a whole. We are purified even by uttering the word Sadhu.
Religion should be natural and free but religion today has become full of pain and torture because it is overburdened by fasting and such other rituals. Let us be aware that the world and life are full of joy and beauty. The world is a creation of God and is as pure as the Creator.
Bapu then picked up a Sholk of Ashtavakra Gita which describes and discusses the nature and path towards Mukti. King Janak asked 3 questions. How to acquire knowledge, how does one achieve Mukti, and how to secure Vairagya. The answer of Ashtavakra- sadaguru was addressed not to the question of Janak but to Janak as a person. He chose to overlook the sequence of questions and replies to the most important and most interesting issue of Mukti. Ashtavakra advised Janak to discard all the attachment to sensual pleasures as if they were so much of poison and the Janak should imbibe the nectar (Amrut) of qualities of Kshma (forgiveness) Arjva (softness) Daya (mercy) Santasa (contentment) Satya (truth). Bapu chose reuse the statement by saying that if we imbibe the nectar first, the poison by itself would disappear. Path of Ashtravakri is the pain of Gyan that begins with the renounciation of negativism. Bapu’s pain is of bhakti that starts with positive qualities so that the poisonous substances would be eliminated by itself. Bapu quoted Tulsidas to say that hearts of saints are soft as butter, many softer than butter because butter melts when heated. Saints melt down when others suffer the heat. Bapu repeated that mercy and compensation look not at logic nor calculate the profit and loss accounts. All the fine attributes of Ashtravakra are the natural qualities of Bhaktas. Bapu then turned to the narrative part and explained the reasons and the qualities of each son of Dashrata, since Guru Vashishtha has designated four brothers as the essence of Vedas (Tatva). We are compelled to go into the analysis and understand the meaning of the names chosen by Guru and how Rama is an embodiment of all such qualities. But Bapu went a step further, that Rama is the sum total of the qualities and attributes of the three brothers. A Bhakta of Rama should nourish and nurture his family members and the society (Bharat) should end all enmity everywhere and put an end to all revenge (Shatrugva) and he must cultivate the qualities which makes him an ideal servant of the good in society.
Bapu then brought the story down to education of 4 royal princes, the travels of Rama here with Vishwamitra down to the city of Janakkul.
Yesterday was just great- a day of joy and jokes and a festival of freedom. Bapu always advises us to be free from superstitions. Yesterday we enjoyed the humour, Bapu got his coconut sized mangoes and he opened the doors for two persons- a young girl and a middle aged mum were freed from the bondage of torture imposed by orthodoxy and superstitions.
Discussing the differences and the inter relations between Mukti and Bhakti, Bapu spoke about a common link- Jugti or Yukti which is a common denominator for both. Jugti or Yukti is a technique as well as an expertise to handle both Bhakti and Mukti. Bapu advised that once we have found such a Jugti we should not reveal it to those who do not desire to know about it and who are not fit (Patra) to receive it. Bapu mentioned an anecdote in the life of Buddha where Buddha argued that just as we do not put food on a dirty plate, we do not impart teachings to those who are not prepared for it and who do not deserve to receive it. Those who have no love (Prem) and no alignment (Bhav) would misconstrue even the best of teachings. Bapu pointed out that message (Sandesh) is open for all and can be freely passed on to one and all. Teaching (Updesh) can be imparted to those who inquire and are prone to learn (Jignysu). But only when a Sadhak has advanced to a higher stage and deserves the favour of Guru that he receives spiritual instructions and guidance because only those whom we love or who are close to us can be ordered around. Therefore when Sadaguru issues orders and tells you to do and not to do things, celebrate the occasion, because such orders are a clear sign that Guru considers you close enough and you have advanced in the spiritual field.
But to reach that stage you will need an open mind, a mind that is completely free from prejudices and preconceived notions. In such a condition of mind everything and every experience feels sweet (Akhilam Madhram) and joyful. As Radha said she loves Krishna so much that whatever Krishna does to her, she feels over fulfilled.
Such orders (Adesa) of Guru are not to be contradicted and should not be even questioned on the grounds of logic or propriety. Such orders are to be only welcomed (Ameen) or greeted with joy (Adesh) because Logic has its own limitations and it has no potency at higher levels of understanding which can be greeted only in silence. Such an understanding, such an everlasting and all pervading ecstasy (Masti) can not be acquired through a proxy. The one who wants it has to join in Satsang.
Bapu quoted a doha that there are certain state and stages in life- well being (Khair) heredity (Khum), coughing (Khansi) joy (Khushi) hatred (Vair) love (Prem) and intoxication (Madhupan)- can never be kept a secret, but Jugti, Tapa, Yog, Mantra ought not to be publicised. The more you hide then the more potent they become. Exhibitionism would make you famous but it will weaken you from within. Shut out the world to grow within. Bapu expressed his intense happiness that the world and the society are becoming better as time passes and if we but know how to live, life in the forthcoming decades is going to be an enjoyable experience. Bapu then whole- heartedly expressed his intense and boundless appreciation for the cultural and musical program held on the previous evening. Art and artists need support but the greatest encouragement that can be given to an artist is not financial help but genuine appreciation for his artistic talents and achievements. Bapu narrated the reaction of potters from Uzbekistan who resented the senseless vandalism of their pottery and severely condemned those who did it. Bapu has deep rooted love for all forms of art and encourages artists and performers whenever he can and in whichever form he comes across.
Bapu returned to the discussion about presenting the potency of Jugti, Tapa, Yoga and mantra. This is the reason why Mantra is to be uttered only in the ear of the pupil and to be revealed to anyone. This is how ancient seers preserved the esoteric knowledge which is known as Shruti. Jugti which is an amalgamation of technique and expertise can help you to survive in the worst possible circumstances. An elephant would be swept down by strong currents in a river but a fish can swim upstream. That is why Bhoja Bhagat wrote about the Bridal procession of ants and as Bapu said, only ants have the capacity to identify sugar mixed with sand.
Such Jugti cannot be achieved unless we are helped by a Sudguru and we need him because we are spiritually crippled. Guru does nothing but light a small lamp within and we can find our own way in that flickering but eternal light. Bapu is well aware that Gurudom has been misused. Guru’s have exploited, misguided and misused the trust of people within them. But in spite of all such limitations, institution of Guru is a much needed help for total transformation of our internal life. Guru converts trash into pure gold as far as spiritual life is concerned.
Bapu then took up a few questions and answered them briefly. A girl complained about being compelled by her mother to fast for Gauri Vrat. Bapu said he does not believe in fasting and advised that she should eat after night fall because Gauri is the mother of the Universe and no mother would be happy to see her children sleep without food. Bapu encouraged people to accept Hanuman and Mahadeva as Guru and extolled in magnificent virtues of Shiva. A questioner had taken a vow not to eat mangoes and asked how he can end the vow. Bapu advised him that the vow should be ended there and then and all the resultant divine wrath and punishment for breaking the vow should be transfered to Bapu. He was ready to suffer whatever punishment was inflicted for discarding the vow. He himself loves mangoes and would be happy to eat them. Instantly several persons in the audience offered mangoes to Bapu and Bapu in a hilarious mood accepted a few of them.
Bapu was asked by a resident of Kashi as to how he would secure his Mukti. Bapu said that those who live in Kashi are bound to get Mukti after death. Those who are killed by God also secure Mukti. Ravaan was destroyed because he disparaged and insulted a Sadhu like Vibhishan. Bhagwat has declared that those who hate and insult saintliness (Divyta) or scriptures of any religion, or our senses or scholars and pious persons or Sadhus or spiritually or Divinity are prone to total annihilation.
Bapu concluded that the easiest and most effective way is to love Rama and to be entirely engrossed in speaking, singing, discussing, dancing in the name of Rama. We like a bumblebee should enjoy the fragrance of flowers without ever damaging the flowers even a wee bit.
Moving onto a closer and deeper analysis of Jugati as the key to secure Bhakti and Mukti. Bapu said that this word has been used in context of Vibhishan, who was living in the midst of Rakshases. If the lifestyle and approach of Vibhishan are properly grasped, we would understand the full implications of Jugati. Hanuman was searching Sita in the palaces – mandirs of lanka. Sita is Bhakti and Bhakti, peace and faith ought to be found in the Mandirs (temples) but we find them all in the modest houses of Vaishnavas. As Hanuman neared the residence of Vibhishan, he felt the change in atmosphere. Hanuman was pleasantly surprised at the Tulsi plants and symbols of Rama everywhere. Bapu distinguished between Harsha (pleasure) and Prasanata. When you are happy with personal benefits, it is Harsha. When you are happy with the benefits and achievements of others, it is Prasanata. We should strive for Prasanata but not for Harsha because Prasanata is the royal road to the Divine and we must be indifferent to Harsha. Gita teaches us to be balanced about praise and calumny, about Harsha and Amarsha, because the basic thrust, the central principle (Mantra) of Gita is “Sam” (balance). Manas gives upmost importance to all inclusiveness (Sab) where as Upnishads emphasize “Sat” (reality).
Bapu pointed out that monkeys in Ramayan represent the fickle mindedness of ordinary mortals like ourselves. But Hanuman is more balanced and more mature. He addressed Vibhishan as a brother because they both regard Sita as their mother figure. Hanuman inquired from Vibhishan Jugati to find and reach Sita (Bhakti) and Vibhishan explained all the way – all the nine techniques to approach Bhakti. Vibhishan, like a good guru, told him everything without keeping anything back from Hanuman and Hanuman, like a good pupil, immediately put it into practice. These are the techniques to reach the goal of Bhakti which is personified by Sita. Vibhishan taught nine jugatis because in Indian mathematics number 9 is considered a complete integer as it remains unchanged after all multiplications.
Before listing these 9 steps to Bhakti, Bapu said that language of all scriptures is often obscure and at time mumbo jumbo, making no sense to us. The great sears use this style in order to preserve the purity of knowledge and prevent knowledge falling into unworthy hands (Apatra). The 9 Jugati’s taught by Vibhishan are the qualities required to approach and attain Bhakti. The first quality is Abhay (fearlessness) because Bhakti is not for cowards. One needs not only bravery but dauntless bravery to search and secure Bhakti (Sita). But then, how do we understand and explain the dictum of Tulsidas that there can be no love without fear because fear and love do not go together. This dictum has been widely misunderstood and furiously denounced by several commentators. But the statement is to be understood by an inverse juxtaposition of the terms in hindi language. What Tulsidas is saying is that it is only by love, that fear can be totally eliminated. Fear can be destroyed only by Love only by Bhakti. Bapu said very often you are afraid of fear itself and in this connection Bapu mentioned a Tibetan story of a Serpent and a rat held in the claws of two owls and both were about to die. But Serpent tried to reach out to the rat and eat it, while rat was trembling with fear that the serpent would swallow him. We are afraid of losing life or of losing prestige. A Bhakta is docile and quiet but he is totally unafraid either about life or livelihood or criticism. Journey to divinity begins with Abhaya. The second quallity is total absence of any pretentions. A Bhakta never tries to show off and claim to be what he is not. Hanuman during the war with Ravan had assume many forms and play many roles but none lasted for long. Only our real self can stand the test of time. Bapu mentioned Chokha Mela- a carrion carrier and cleaner but he was never ashamed of his profession or claim to be anything but a Chamar.. Bapu does not worship Hanuman in his fierce and furious forms because for him Hanuman is a father figure and a father would never terrify his children. Hanuman in this century is to be a Buddha, not a Rudra.
The third Jugti is freedom from remorse, Ashoktva no regrets for past and no worry about future. A Bhakta lives in present. Bapu quoted the famous saying that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. Bapu mentioned Gopal Bhanda who was always full of joy. He claimed that he had a Sukhda sapphire and he was ready to give to anyone. Who ever digs the ground when full moon was on the head in mid sky would find it. No one could do so till he explained that full moon in mid sky would shine on your head and you have to find happiness by digging into your head and into your mind. A Bhakta must be Ashanka- totally free from diffidence and doubts because a Sadhaka has complete faith in the Divine. Fifth quality of Jugti is that we should be equally ready to accept good and bad. There is nothing Ashubh, nothing that is inauspicious in this existence. We most own up our limitations and defects and treat every moment as Shubh. Then we must cultivate a mindet that is beyond good qualities (Guna) and bad ones (Avaguna) one must cultivate Aguna approach that is personified by Mahadev. Amarsh is the Jugti when we are happy at the happiness of others. We usually resent the progress and achievements of other people. The last one is total elimination of arrogance. We can reach that state of mind by a sincere and complete humility that arises from within ourselves.
Bapu then turned to the narrative part of katha and began with the arrival of Rama the Janakpur. Everybody in Janakpur was overjoyed by his Darshan and Rama visited the garden next morning where he had a chance meeting with Sita. Bapu explained the allegory that is implied in this first meeting of Rama and Sita, Apart from the poetic presentation, the incident has been interpreted to explain the stages by which Bhakta reaches realization of the Divine. First is the entry of Sita (Bhakti) into the garden which represents Satsung- contact with saints which one can find in any society in this world. Second Sita took a bath in a lake which is as clear and pure as the heart of a Guru. This signifies that we have not only the contact with Guru but also a place in the heart and mind of a Guru. Third incident is worship of Gauri- Bhavani. Shraddha- faith. We must have full faith and confidence in our Guru. When we have reached the third stage, the Sadaguru will himself rush towards us and lead us to self realization. Just as Sita followed her companion (Sakhi) we have to follow our Sadaguru who would lead us to the Divine and then would step aside after establishing the contact with Brahma. Bapu then discussed the flowers in the left hand of Rama, while buds decorated his head. Rama consoled the buds that they have a better chance of staying with him longer and to progress further while those who are proud that they are fully developed flowers might be just thrown aside anytime.
Sita then returned and prayed to Durga who spoke to Sita assuring her that she was going to get what she wanted most- Rama as a husband. Statues do speak to those who are emotionally attached to Divinity. Rama broke the bow for Shiva which is a symbolic destruction of Ego and the incident was followed by marriages of all the four brothers. After all functions and ceremonies were our Vishwamitra left for his ashram.
Bapu began on the usual note of Mukti being an automatic and easy acquisition for Bhakti and then moved on to explain some of the Darshanas regarding Mukti. Moksha for Shankracharya is a Totality (purnatva) a perfection, a complete wholeness that is full of everything. Buddha went to another extreme and visualised Mukti as Shunya- as nothingness. These are the extremes that are intensely difficult to understand and still more difficult to achieve. Bapu suggested a via media of staying in between the two extremes and utilised the Jugtis to secure Bhakti. Tulsidas is in favour of quickly implementing the Jugtis once we know them, while Kabir has advised us to be patient and to go slow. Seers (Drashtas) offer different advice from time to time according to the level of the Sadhakas.
Bapu believes in seeking our own way and to dare and break away from all Mullas and Pandits to work on the lonely part. Such a daring needs a free and open mind. Bapu then recited a Bhajan of Ganga Sati about various Jugtis to reach out to Bhakti. Ganga Sati has a male soul in a female body although soul is a genderless entity. Bapu quoted from Atharva Veda which declared that there is no way, no method, no Sadhna by which one can achieve self realisation and know the soul. But Atma chooses to reveal itself just as a beautiful woman sheds away all her clothes to reveal her full body to her lover. Bapu said that the scriptures are clear and conclusive but the scholastic debate between Pandits [Shastrarthas create all confusion because each scholar tries to defeat the other without realising that in Advart there is no other, we all are unified in the Divine. Bhaktas act upon the belief in Dwait so as to be able to love God.
Avoiding the extremes of perfection and nothingness, we ought to live in the present. As Ganga sati says, Jyoti will help us in understanding Alakh and we will be freed from the three Gunas. Bapu said a parable of a Gyani’s dream in which he was pursued by a lion and he ran all the way till he dropped down almost dead. He got awakened and realised that lion was an illusion, that his running was also an illusion. So who is real? The usual answer would be that a neutral (Tatastha) observer can be real, but during the dream there are no observers. A Tatastha who stands on one bank of a river knows nothing of the other bank of the river. So the middle position is the best and Krishna puts Arjun’s chariot exactly equidistant from the army’s of the Kauravas and Pandavas. But we can hardly maintain our impartiality and our middle position in our daily life.
Bapu said that he has still not reached that position of Kutastha but he is on the road to that ideal Madhyama Bhakti which would be perfect but perhaps the most difficult types of Bhakti. He is trying to be a detached observer passing in through crowded bazaars but he wants nothing in the bazaar.
He pointed out that Satsung induces several changes—the change in the space we occupy, in the time we utilise and there are several other changes, but to change our nature or attitudes [Swabhava] is a difficult and a time consuming process. For many people, Satsung brings about temporary changes but we revert to our Swabhav after Satsung is over. But we should not feel disappointed or dejected , the change may take time, a long time but it WILL come because every time you are in Satsung, some little change takes place. Some bonds get snapped and with a few dents here and there, the shell gets broken, internal impurities like arrogance get drained and you are ready to share your blessings (Prasad) with everyone. It is true that inverted pots do not get filled up, but even inverted pots get cooled down. We should have faith that sooner or later the transformation SHALL happen.
In the path of knowledge (Gyan Marg) the Sadhak recieves Diksha which is of four types. Sparsh Diksha, the Guru’s touch rouses you while in Shabd Diksha, Guru gives a Mantra. Krishna promised Divya vision to Arjun, this is Drishti Diksha. Fish would be hatching its eggs by just looking at them while eggs of turtles are hatched when the mother remembers her eggs lying buried on distant shores. This is Smurti Diksha. Such Gyan Margi Diksha’s are given on fixed occasions and on proper times. But for Bhaktas there is neither time nor space nor the occasion.
For Bhakta’s there are no Diksha’s. Bhakta’s have to find their proper directions or Disha. Whenever a Bhakta receives answers (Uttar) to his questions or aspirations, it is the north direction. South is Dakhsina which also implies everything becoming convenient or comfortable for Bhaktas. God leads the Bhaktas by moving ahead (Purva) of him, and Pashcim is the Push or support from behind- Some force or factor backing him up. Bapu advised patience and to keep on hearing Kathas with love and faith because Tulsidas has assured us that he who sings or speaks or hears Katha have both options open. They can get Bhakti or Mukti, but we should ask nothing from no one, not even from God. We should listen to the Katha without any expectations or demands (Nirpeksh) . Bapu went to the extent that even those who come to Katha with a Durbhav, only to criticise Katha, will start remembering it. Bapu was quite confident that Katha does have great impact in the day to day life of those who listen. Their family life has improved, their drinking and gambling is getting reduced. But many of us do not know what to ask for. When you meet a Sadguru, you should not ask for money or profits in business. Your experience and expertise will help you better to improve your business. We should learn from Dhasratha, who demanded nothing from his Guru but only his blessings (Kripa) and his Darshanas. Guru and God are omniscient, they know what you want or need and he would give what is good for your spiritual progress. The material benefits can be secured by your efforts and luck, but God will give you what he decides is good for you. Shankracharya, after a long list of demands, left the final decision to God (Yatha Yogya) and the final request of Bharat to Rama was to decide what makes him (Rama) happy (Prasann). Instead of begging we should start giving. Give money, give a smile, and give a good wish like Happy Birthday. Bapu gave the example of a hungry child who shared his chocolate with his soldier friends. Bapu referred to Tiruvalluvar who taught an arrogant Youth the value of labour and told him that the price is only a small part of such values. Tiriuvalluvar ended by saying that we waste our precious life by tearing it in small and useless shreds.
Bapu then took up the narrative part of Katha and presented some of the poetic masterpieces of Tulsidas. He compared various Sopanas of Manas with different stages of life and resumed the story from Ayodhya Kaand. The return of Rama and his brothers with their respective brides gave unending and intense happiness to the people of Ayodhya. Such happiness was bound to be followed by some days of anguish and unhappiness. The events happened fast when Dashratha saw a white hair in his head whilst looking in the mirror. Bapu traced the Allegory and explained that when you are holding your full court at the height of your prestige, we should pick up a mirror and look at ourselves critically. Such introspection would help us to decide when we should gracefully retire from active life and adjust our behaviour to the new situation wherein old is being replaced by the newer and younger generation. Bapu gave several tips to the elderly people that would help them grow old gracefully and stay on in the family without friction and fights.
Dashratha decided to appoint Rama as his successor but instead of doing so immediately he postponed his decision by a night. And that night changed the entire course of events and issues.