INSTALL GOD AT THE ALTAR OF YOUR HEART AND MEDITATE ON HIM!
February 23, 2009
Bharat is the motherland of many noble souls who have earned great name and fame across the continents of the world. This is the land of valorous people who have vanquished foreign rulers in the battlefield to attain independence. This is the land that has excelled in music, literature, and other fine arts. Having been born in this great land of Bharat, oh boys and girls, it is your sacred duty to protect its rich cultural heritage!
Embodiments of Love!
From the time that we are born we experience night - everyday, but not all those nights can be termed as Sivarathri. On Sivarathri day people meditate upon, sing hymns of Shiva, and listen to the glory of Lord Siva. Since the whole night is spent in this manner, this night is called Sivarathri. Not just this night, but every time you spend the entire night meditating upon the divine name, that night is also called Sivarathri.
Lord Siva is not a separate Avatar. In fact, Hari and Hara (Lord Vishnu and Lord Siva) are beyond one’s contemplation. They are beyond the physical body. Many people contemplate upon them as Avatars with a physical body and worship them in a particular form. They develop a deep urge to visualise them in a particular form. But who ascribed these forms to Divinity? Surely, they did not incarnate in these forms. Some painters, like Ravi Varma, painted them in a particular form as based upon the descriptions in the Sastras and Puranas and allowed their imagination to add forms to it. That is all!
In fact, Vishnu and Siva are not limited by a physical frame. They are beyond it. They are formless and attributeless. Nirgunam, niranjanam, sanathana niketanam, nitya, suddha, buddha, mukta, nirmala swarupinam (God is attributeless, unsullied, the final abode, eternal, pure, enlightened, free, and the embodiment of sacredness).
Devotees are accustomed to contemplating upon and worshipping these forms from time immemorial. They wish to visualise God in these forms.
God is not limited to a particular form or description. No painter, however great he may be, can ever paint the picture of God. How can a painter paint the form of God, who is formless?
However, God assumes different forms as per the wishes of the devotees. God manifests to His devotees in the form in which they visualise Him in. It is for that moment alone and is not permanent. All forms attributed to God are only temporary. Divinity is beyond name and form.
Once Goddess Lakshmi came to Parvathi and wondered -
“Oh! Gowri! You are very young and Sambasiva is old;
He has matted locks and wears a tiger skin;
He rides a bull and is constantly on the move;
He is adorned with snakes;
How did you court Him?
Don’t you know all this?
He has no house of His own and sleeps in the burial ground.”
Parvathi was deeply disturbed by these remarks and approached Lord Siva and asked, “You don’t have a house of your own. You don’t belong to a particular caste or lineage. Further, you are ‘Ardhanarishwaraa’ (androgynous). How then can you call yourself God?”
Lord Siva replied that God is beyond name, caste, and lineage. He then turned to Lakshmi and asked, “Oh! Mother Lakshmi! Are you aware of your own husband’s antecedents? He is constantly on the move to protect His devotees and has no time for food and sleep. If at all He settles down to eat His food, the call from some devotee like Draupadi comes to Him, ‘Oh! Krishna! I am in great trouble. Please save me!.’ He immediately rushes to her rescue leaving His food. Thus, He is constantly on the move to protect His devotees like Narada or Prahlada. How then did you court such a Lord who has no time even for food and rest?”
Siva then clarified that God has no name and form; He is changeless; He has neither birth nor death; neither beginning nor end; He is eternal and Atmaswarupa (embodiment of Atma). He also emphasised that it is man’s delusion which makes him ascribe a name and form to God. The formless God manifests with a particular form and name as per the wishes of the devotees and to fulfil their aspirations.
God is formless and attributeless. It is the devotee who attributes names, forms and attributes to God and feels satisfied. All names and forms are anithya and asathya (evanescent and false). The only eternal and true form of God is Atma. Everything in the world may change; but the Atma will never undergo a change. The entire universe is contained in the Atma. This is also called divine consciousness or Aham or Brahman. People misunderstand this eternal truth, and give it several names and forms.
When the formless God assumes a form, it is natural for human beings to meditate and worship that form. People experience bliss by doing so. It is perfectly fine as long as that form remains. Once that divine form ceases to exist, what will you do? The happiness and bliss derived from the worship of a particular form of God are primarily born out of your illusion. The physical vestures last for a particular period and then cease to exist. Divinity takes different forms later.
For example, you are now attached to this physical body. You worship this body and derive great satisfaction and bliss thereby. But, after sometime, this body may disappear like the earlier Avatar. Then you should not feel sad. When the divine Atma embodied in this physical body reaches its eternal Abode, it is a matter of joy, not sorrow.
In Tretha Yuga, the Avatar of Rama came. He exiled into the forest and destroyed several demons, including Ravana, the great rakshasa (demon) king. Finally, having fulfilled His Avataric mission, He went into the Sarayu river and disappeared. The same is the case with Lord Krishna in the Dwapara Yuga, who left His mortal coil after having been hit by the arrow of a hunter in the forest. Thus, the physical vestures are always temporary and untrue.
The body is made up of five elements and is bound to perish sooner or later, but the indweller has neither birth nor death. The indweller has no attachment whatsoever and is the eternal witness. Truly speaking, the indweller who is in the form of Atma, is verily God Himself. (Telugu poem)
Hence, never consider the physical body as permanent. Bodies appear according to the time and circumstances. Once the prescribed time is over, they just disappear. Even the experiences gained by the physical body vanish.
Considering the physical bodies as true, if you wish to have the darshan of Lord Krishna of Dwapara Yuga now, how is it possible? As long as He walked in that body, He appeared in Mathura, Brindavan, Gokul, Dwaraka, etc., and made people happy with His darshan, sparshan and sambhasan (sight, contact, speech).
Take the example of an electric bulb. The wattage of each bulb is different. and remains that way for a limited period of time. Avatars are alike these electric bulbs. God has incarnated in the form of several Avatars. Be attached to the Divinity in the avatar as the formless, attributeless, Parabrahma, which has manifested and not to the physical form of that particular avatar. God takes the form of a different Avatar in different ages.
When you were born you were a baby, then grew to become a child, moved on to become a youth and then became an elderly person. All these stages in life are only for a limited period, but you the individual are there in all the different stages. Avatars come, fulfil their mission, and disappear. You must therefore meditate upon Divinity, which is true and eternal.
There are three aspects in sadhana (spiritual practice): concentration, contemplation, and meditation. At the moment, you are fixing your gaze on this form; that is concentration. When this form moves away after sometime, you still look at this form with your mental eye; that is contemplation. As a result of this exercise, this form gets imprinted in your heart permanently. That is meditation. As you go on meditating thus, the form remains in your heart permanently.
At present, you are confining your sadhana to concentration and contemplation alone. These two stages are merely transitory. It is true that the first step in your sadhana is concentration. Concentration has to be transformed into contemplation and later into meditation. In the final stage of meditation, you will continue to visualise the form of God even if you close your eyes. The ancient rishis adopted this form of meditation. That is why God manifested before them whenever they wished, talked to them, and fulfilled their desires.
The nirakara, nirguna Parabrahma (formless, attributeless Supreme Self) is changeless and eternal. It represents the ultimate reality. It is known by different names like Rama, Krishna, and Sai. Do not make any distinction between the names, for Parabrahma is beyond names and forms. Install that ultimate reality at the altar of your sacred heart and constantly meditate upon it.
Some people tend to misinterpret the sastras and puranas (scriptures and ancient texts) to suit their convenience and selfish ends. A small story: Once an impostor posing as a mendicant stood before a house and begged for food saying, “Bhavathi bhiksham dehi!” (I am hungry, kindly give me food!).
The housewife heard his plea and came out. She told him, “Sir! Please go to the river and have a bath and come back. In the meantime, I get some food ready for you.”
Then the sanyasi (mendicant) quoted a line from the puranas, ‘Govindethi sadasnanam’ (the constant chanting of the name of Govinda is as good as taking a bath).
The housewife immediately realised that the person standing at the door and begging for food was not a true sanyasi and replied, ‘Dear Son! Govindethi sada bhojanam’ (the constant chanting of the name of Govinda is as good as a meal). You may go!”
It is said that the face is the index of mind. It reflects our inner thoughts and feelings. If the so-called sanyasi in this story really believed in the glory of the divine name, he should have taken a bath before asking for food. He was lazy. He wanted food to satisfy his hunger but was reluctant to have a bath before the meal. Never believe in such impostors.
Some people sit silently, closing their eyes. They say they are in meditation. That is not meditation. They may sit silently, but their minds may be wandering and thinking about all and sundry. Only a mind that is unwavering and fixed firmly on the higher reality can be called meditation. Meditation is the next stage to contemplation.
A small example: you may have scored first class marks in the half yearly examination, but you will not be eligible to get a degree. Only after passing the final examination will you be eligible to receive a degree. Contemplation and meditation are comparable to the half yearly and final examinations. Thus, spirituality represents a higher stage in life.
Today, people are engrossed in the pursuit of physical and worldly objects, forgetting moral and spiritual goals. How can they attain spiritual progress? If one wishes to have a spiritual experience, one has to acquire the necessary strength to face the final examination.
To say that this is my body, my house, my property, etc. represents the physical aspect. When you say, ‘this is my body’ it means ‘my’ is separate. That is, you are separate from your body. Similarly, when you say ‘my mind’, ‘my buddhi’ (intellect), ‘my chitta’ (subconscious mind), etc. it means they are all separate from you. Hence, your true nature is ‘I’, which is separate from all that you call ‘my body, my mind, my buddhi’ etc.
You have to sacrifice all your karma (i.e. the fruit of your actions). That means, you have to perform your karma (actions) with an attitude of ‘Sarva karma Bhagavad preethyartham’ (all actions to be performed in a spirit of surrender to God). Only then will you become immortal.
If you wish to attain the eternal state, you must realise the Atma Tatwa Atmic Principle). Only the Upanishads delineate the Atma Tatwa extensively, Epics like Bhagavatha and Ramayana do not do so. The same Atma Tatwa which is, the supreme reality, incarnates from age to age to restore dharma whenever it is on the decline. This is stated in the Bhagavad Gita:
Yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata,
abhyutthanamadharmasya tadatmanam srujamyaham. (Sanskrit verse)
(Oh Arjuna! Whenever there is a decline of righteousness(dharma )and the rise in unrighteousness(adharma), I incarnate from age to age for the establishment of dharma.)
Install God at the altar of your sacred heart and meditate on Him constantly. In spite of the sorrow, difficulties, and calamities that you may encounter, hold on to Him firmly. All this will trouble your body, not you; for, you are separate from your body. The body is like a box in which the mind, intellect, chitta (subconscious mind), indriyas (senses), and anthakarana (inner psycho-somatic fourfold instruments of mind, intellect, memory, and ego) are packed.
We cultivate qualities like anger, jealousy, envy, and pride due to our contact with the outside world. Only when we get rid of these qualities do we enjoy peace. Therefore, we have to start our sadhana with sathya (truth) and dharma (righteousness).
When truth and righteousness go together, shanthi (peace) will reign. Peace brings love. Where there is peace, there hatred cannot be. When we develop hatred against someone, it means the spring of love has dried up in our heart. When there is love in our heart, we do not get angry, even if someone accuses us.
Normally, we do not care about anyone when we are angry. Many people speak ill of Me, accuse Me, and even heckle Me, but I am not disturbed. I am always happy and blissful. That is real love.
Where there is anger, hatred, and jealousy, it means that there is no love. Hence, always follow the motto of “Love All, Serve All!” The foundation for following this principle are sathya and dharma (truth and righteousness). Always speak the truth and follow righteousness.
There are lectures galore about dharma being rendered by people who do not follow it themselves!. Dharma cannot survive in these circumstances. It is said, “Sathyannasti paro dharmah” (there cannot be a greater dharma than speaking the truth). Sathya and dharma are like the two hands, two legs, and two lips of a human body. It is only when the two lips work together that a human being can speak. Similarly, it is only when Sathya and dharma go together that peace can reign. Where there is no dharma, there will not be love. Thus, sathya and dharma are the basis for all other values like santhi (peace), prema (love), and ahimsa (non-violence).
(Bhagawan sang the bhajan, “Prema Mudita manase kaho …” andcontinued His discourse.)
Embodiments of Love!
Always meditate on the divine name —not just contemplation, but meditation. This meditation should be infused with love for God. Without love, your meditation will not achieve the desired result. Your love for God should be continuous through the day and the night. It is possible that when you pray to God to fulfil some desire and things go contrary, you may get angry and develop hatred against Him. But that has nothing to do with spirituality. Your innate nature and love for God should never undergo a change.
Continue to attach yourself to the divine name. That is real meditation. When you are in deep meditation, nothing in the external world should be visible to you even if you open your eyes.
Another aspect about which you need to be careful is your speech. Too much talk is very bad. Do not indulge in excessive talk. Try to mend your nature. Observe silence as far as possible and be quiet. Talk only as much as is needed. Just answer to the point. If you talk more, you will be branded as a chatter-box. Talking too much is not good, even from the health point of view. This is very important, especially in the case of children.
You have to keep your mind steady right from the young age. What is important is not studying textbooks but steadying your mind. Textbooks you can always study —in the classroom, in the hostel, etc.
Are you all happy? (All the students in one voice replied that they are happy.)
(Bhagawan concluded His discourse with the words, “Be always happy, happy, happy!”)
Sai Kulwant Hall, Prasanthi Nilayam