Talks on ‘Balkand – Valmiki Ramayana’ – Part 2 – October 2018

Talks on “Balkand – Valmiki Ramayana” – Part 2 – by Swami Abhedananda

(Gyan Yagna conducted from 1st October till 6th October, 2018)

Key Points from the Discourses

Day 1

The monthly Gyan Yagna on Valmiki Ramayan got off to a scintillating start as Swami Abhedananda ji enlightened the listeners with some of the subtle yet very essential aspects of one’s thought process and one’s character. In the daily hustle bustle of life, we fail to analyze these much important facts and conveniently ignore them and commit mistakes.

Here are the wonderful takeaways from the first day’s satsang:

Thoughts – Are they an asset or liability?

  • Everybody’s life is spent in thinking a lot, but most of the times our thinking is problematic. We think to get confused; we think to get more caught up. When thinking doesn’t lead to a conclusion and it comes back to trouble us, that is called brooding.
  • A thought should be like a vehicle. The purpose of any vehicle is to take us to a destination and once we reach there, we should get out of the vehicle. Similarly, a thought should be a vehicle that drives us to some point and takes us to some conclusion. Unfortunately, when our thoughts are like a jungle, they take us to so many areas that we get quite caught-up & confused. Our attempt should be that a thought takes us to quietness, love and fulfillment and then it should go away.
  • Presently our thoughts are like hijackers; first they hijack us and then trouble us. When we are hijacked by a thought, we have no control over it; there is no destination, no quietness, no love, no devotion, and no Guru or God to guide us.

We are what our thoughts are

  • One is not defined by his external appearance or the objects possessed, but by his thoughts… especially when the situation is difficult. Reality of a sugarcane is not how it tastes from outside, but what comes out of it when it is crushed. The thoughts that we have when we are in difficulty, when we are insulted or troubled, when we are bereaved by someone, when we are in distress & stress – all these define what we are!
  • One should be selective about the thoughts his mind entertains. As per the ideals one has, one should be interested in making his thoughts such, that they take him to conclusion, illumination, relaxation and take him to God & Guru and make him stronger and tougher.
  • When the weight lifters lift heavy weights, even if they are not able to lift all the way up, in the process of trying, their arms become stronger. Similarly if we try to hold on to some higher thoughts even for a few moments, they make us a little stronger each time we try.
  • Valmiki Ramayan establishes the meaning of Bhagwan Sri Ram’s ‘Dharma’ aspect. Dharma is a medicine which controls our responses. You are what you give… not by words but by thoughts. Everybody is giving some thought to the other person. And Valmiki Ramayan depicts which thought has to be put where, when and how, and how those thoughts need to go through substitution, inclusion and elimination. There are a lot of wonderful stories here and behind each story there are big ideals, which we should imbibe.

God alone can kill our inner Ravan

  • Rishi Vishwamitra brings Bhagwan Ram from Ayodhya to the forest to kill the demons that were creating upheavals in the performance of Vedic rituals (Subahu, Mareech, Tadaka etc.). And as manifested in the Balkand of both Valmiki Ramayan & Tulsi Ramayan, without Lord Ram, those demons could not have been killed.
  • Rishi Vishwamitra was himself a great warrior, he was a kshtriya & knew all the warfare, so he could have also killed the demons but he didn’t. There are two reasons for that. First reason is – every person has his swadharma (own duty); it cannot be exchanged with somebody else’s swadharma. Vishwamitraji assumed the role of a Brahmin (sannyasi), so he had to leave his kshtriya dharma, he could not have been both at the same time.
  • Second reason is a deeper one – these Demons are like our negativities and we cannot leave them or drop them at will. We can remove our clothes at will but negativities like anger, worry, attachment etc. are not that easy to remove. We need Bhagwan for that.
  • When we try to give up one negative aspect, another one raises its head. If we give up the negativity of laziness but go on to judge others thinking we are better than them, ego rises in us. Similarly, someone may have Satya (character of speaking truth) but then they might not have Sheel (soft & sweet speech) and vice a versa.
  • Before Bhagwan Ram had taken avatar, there were many valiant people like Parushuramji, Rishi Vishwamitra, Rishi Vashishtha, Bali etc., but none of them killed Ravan. They all had goodness in great measures but they also had Abhiman (ego) and hence Ravan couldn’t be killed.
  • We also have a lot of goodness within but we are not able to kill delusion (Ravan), because somewhere inside us Ego is also alive. Unless we bring God in our lives we cannot get rid of our negativities. God alone can kill Ravan.

Completing the circle of Yagna

  • When Rishi Vishwamitra had asked Dashrathji to send Bhagwan Ram to protect the yagna from the demons, instead of complying, Dashrathji had offered himself and his entire army. This had greatly angered Vishwamitraji, resulting in an earthquake. Vashishthaji tried to calm Vishwamitraji and reminded Dashrathji, how this same yagna (which is now in danger) was the one which blessed him with his sons.
  • We are very good at taking but not so good at giving. Any situation, thing or person starts giving us trouble only when we want to keep it just for ourselves.
  • Our life should be full of Yagna. Yagna means – sacred & will-full continuation of the process of giving something, which has come to us or come through us. The sun takes the water from the ocean; it performs yagna; the aahuti of the sun is the formation of the cloud and how it bursts as rain. The rain falls on the earth which takes the water and offers it in the form of trees and plants. The trees take the water and offer it to us in the form of fruits and vegetables etc. Thus the yagna continues.
  • But once the flow comes to us (human beings), it stops. We should not stop the flow. When we get something we should further give it to someone else. The moment we start taking more than what we are giving, we will be in some problem.
  • Dashrathji was wise; he understood the teachings of Vashishthaji. Wise people do not need too many lectures. Dashrathji thus called Ramji and Lakshmanji and asked them to go with Vishwamitraji.
  • Dashrathji was filled with joy and his face was glowing when he asked Ramji and Lakshmanji to accompany Vishwamitraji. The beauty of giving lies more in how you give, less so in what you give. Ramji too promptly agreed to go, without needing any explanation. The beauty of younger person lies in how much he can follow an elder person and be obedient.
  • Thus, Dashrathji completed the circle of Yagna by giving his sons to Rishi Vishwamitra. People who like to keep their things to themselves experience a lot of setbacks in life. Our Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayanandaji got the knowledge from Swami Tapovanji Maharaj, and he distributed it to all of us. He did not stop the flow. This is called completing the circle of yagna.

Essence of Seva
As Ramji & Lakshmanji were about to leave with Vishwamitraji, Dashrathji gave some valuable lessons to both his sons on how to live with the spirit of seva & humility with a great saint and teacher such as Rishi Vishwamitra.

  • It is very difficult to live with an austere teacher. A lot of control is required, a lot of sheel (good conduct) is required, and a lot of tapasya is required. If one has to live with an austere master, he has to match his master’s speed else there will always be a mismatch which will invite trouble.
  • Seva’s first demand is to sacrifice one’s comfort and that is what makes the seva difficult. Not only that, we have to also give up our ego. Ramji served Rishi Vishwamitra tirelessly as a disciple. He did not have the ego of being a prince. A disciple needs to be ever ready for service and should be very prompt at all times.
  • The result of such a seva is blessings of someone bigger and higher. A silent umbrella of teacher’s wishes walks with the disciple and the blessings act like a protective armor. Unless you are under the umbrella of good wishes and blessings, your life will be difficult. Hence Bhagwan Ram demonstrated how one should serve his elders and teachers with complete humility and seek their blessings.

Day 2

Swami Abhedanandaji continued to enrich the devotees with his lucid explanations on the second day of the Valmiki Ramayan yagna. Below are some of the key pointers from the discourse, which we all can apply in our daily life.

Essence of Yagna oriented Life
We had seen in the current context of Dashrathji giving his sons to Rishi Vishwamitra that our life should be filled with Yagna (spirit of giving). This is also highly emphasized in Gita as well.

  • Life should not be enjoyment-oriented. If life is enjoyment-oriented, that enjoyment will crush the person and make him weak. If we are only concerned about ourselves and not about what we can give back, then such a lifestyle will take us to sorrow, dependency and rebirth.
  • We all are receivers; we have received many things, from many places, from many people. Nobody can say that they have not received anything. Our own body, our parents, the air, the water & the earth we use – none of these are self-made; we have received them. When one has the feeling of thankfulness for getting, then the feeling of giving develops. That is the Yagna bhavana (spirit). Those who don’t give, their realization of how much they have received, is much less.
  • The spirit of Yagna can also be understood with a simple example of a relay race – things that are coming to us, should be passed on further. In this relay race, our baton is money, children, our capabilities, our qualifications, our youthfulness, and our experience. No one can claim that he has nothing to give. In this system, even an ant & an earthworm are contributors; trees and animals, all are contributors.
  • Whether you can give or not, keep auto suggesting to yourself – ‘I am not living to take. I am born to give. I have not come in this temporary planet to just consume and take. I have to give.’
  • If a person is not able to give something, then he will be left behind in the evolution. Sadness is nothing but the resistance to giving up something small in life. The essence of Yagna is the ability and the desire to give up something small that we are attached to, so that we can bring out the capacity to offer something big to the God, to the Guru and to the society. This self-purifying process, this offering process, this puja to the macrocosm is called Yagna.

What obstructs our Yagna?

  • The demons within stop us from giving. . We have certain tendencies because of which we are not able give our best. It’s not that we don’t want to give; or we have not given; but something acts as an obstacle to our yagna. In the current context, the demon ‘Tadka’ represents those tendencies which disturb the yagna.
  • The yagna of a person is obstructed if he succumbs to certain bad habits and addictions. If anybody drinks a lot, he cannot do yagna because he won’t be available to do anything for anyone. A person who is angry, lusty or passionate, he won’t be able to offer anything; he will be struggling & grappling with his own mind, his own self, his own small family. If someone wants just name and fame for himself, how much will he give? He will probably be busy in money embezzlement only.
  • Stalwarts like Mahatma Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Bhagat Singh could be givers throughout because they had no personal life and no selfish motives. If comfort was dear to them, they would have not been able to fight for the country.
  • We want to run, we want to give, but our hands are tied because of our attachments and self-centric desires. And unless our whole life is yagna, we will never get the fulfillment in living. It is the demand of life to perform yagna, otherwise system will chock us or we will be sidelined. System will make us feel that we are not important.

Negative thoughts – the internal demons
As the story goes, Tadka was born to Suketu after he did tapasya and invoked Brahmaji’s grace. Anything receivedfrom tapasya is always good, which is why Tadka was beautiful, strong and wise. Suketu married her to Sund and she gave birth to two sons, Mareech and Subahu. Sund was cursed by Rishi Agastya after which he died. Clouded by anger, Tadka went to Agastyaji’s ashram with her sons and tried to kill him.

  • Like Tadka we all have a demon inside, and in a provocative situation it comes out. It is very difficult to remain quiet and calm at all times. Sometimes a person gets angry, upset or full of lust. At such times the internal demon starts expressing through eyes, hands, lips, speech etc.
  • When Tadka marched on in attack mode without even knowing the whole reasoning, Rishi Agastya got very angry. . He cursed her that the demon vritti (thought) in her should convert into a form. Her beautiful delicate form got transformed into that of a demoness who had the strength of a thousand elephants. Both her sons also tried to attack the Rishi and got the same curse.
  • Every thought has a form. Ugly, bad, wretched, beautiful, gentle, divine – each thought converts into a corresponding form. Lion has a ferocious thought which is why it has a ferocious form. Cow on the other hand has a simple thought which is why she is gentle.
  • Tadka, along with her sons, had taken the shape of demons and their food was now humans. They started living in a dark forest. Every time Vishwamitraji would sit down to perform a yagna, they would disrupt it by throwing blood and human remains. When he would purify the place and start again, they’d again disrupt. Vishwamitraji then realized that Lord Rama alone could kill those demons.

How do these demons act in our life?

  • Tulsidasji beautifully expresses this story in an analogy. He explains how we all have a Tadka inside our hearts. Tadka represents ‘durasha’ (wrong hope), Mareech represents ‘dukh’ (sorrow) and Subahu represents ‘dosh’ (flaw/defect).
  • Tadka represents ‘dur-asha’ (wrong hope) – which means wrongly expecting something from the world. It is the hope or demand of fulfillment of a thing, which is not for yagna. Ex: having an endless desire for money.
  • Everything in this world, all the people around us are ‘yagna samagri’ (things to be used for yagna). Our thought should be that ‘my wife, my husband, my children are for doing puja of the Lord, they are yagna samagri and not bhog samagri’. Just like you don’t use a flower to decorate yourself but rather offer it to the Lord, one should think, all is for offering to Him and not for his own little self.
  • When we don’t perform our actions in yagna spirit then Ishwar sankalp is not our sankalp and hence God will withdraw His help in getting that job completed. We will feel weak and doubt will threaten us making us unsure about our capabilities.
  • Durasha (Tadka) has two children – dukh (Mareech) and dosh (Subahu). If you have expectation from somebody, you will have dosh (fault/defect). Meaning, some fault will come in your mind and you will think why others don’t act as per your expectations & demands. And gradually, the unfulfilled expectations will lead to dukh (sadness) and anger.
  • We all have to do our yagna and if Tadka resides in us, we cannot perform our yagna. When we are only focused on expecting things for ourselves, we lose our capacity to give.
  • Tadhka was born to Suketu and Suketu implies ‘good actions’. Expectations arise only when we have performed some good actions or have done something for someone. Good actions are very powerful which shows why Tadka was so powerful.
  • Tadka was married to Sund. Sund means, one who is beautiful. Sund represents that feeling of happiness when our expectations are fulfilled; ‘I wanted to get married and I got married, I wanted to go to America and I went to America’ – this is Sund in our life.
  • But problem starts when our personal expectations start attacking the divinity in us (represented by Rishi Agastya). We all have some divinity in us, nobody is totally devilish. But Tadka, Mareech & Subahu, attack this divinity within us.
  • Throwing flesh in the yagna like Mareech did, isn’t an offering, it is an emblem of taking away somebody else’s rights. Similarly when we do not serve our parents, we are taking away their right; we are disrupting the yagna, by not giving them their right. Therefore these demons need to be killed and Bhagwan Ram alone can kill them and make our yagna successful.

Having single-pointed thought of the Lord

  • It is said in Ramcharitmanas, ‘ekahi baan pran hari leenha’ – Ramji killed Tadka with just one shot of the arrow. This implies when we have desire for the Lord, all our lower desires fizzle out. That is the only way to kill the Tadka within – Asha (good hope about the Lord) can remove Durasha (wrong hope)
  • While going for satsang or hearing the satsang we do not have any desire to enjoy anything or meet anyone, we only want to revel in the glories of the Lord.
  • Everybody has their own Lanka. But we can change our Lanka to Ayodhya by blossoming the desire for purity of mind and the single-pointed thought of the Lord.

Day 3

During the third day of the Monthly yagna, Swami Abhedanandaji used portions from Ramayan as building blocks to wonderfully enumerate the virtues of Obedience, Dharma, Forgiveness & Austerity. He also shared the core pointers on how one can inculcate them in oneself. Below are some snippets from Swamiji’s enlightening discourse:

Obedience of Lord Ram
In Ramayan, Bhagwan Ram depicted that one should have extreme obedience in life. One should be a follower of God and a follower of Guru.

  • When Vishwamitraji asked Lord Ram to kill Tadka, Ramji didn’t have any questions or second thoughts that since Tadka was a woman, He would incur sin by killing her. For Ramji, what was of utmost importance was to follow the words & wish to His teacher.
  • Beauty of a person is, when he doesn’t hold on to his personal desires. Personalisation of one’s life is the ugliness of personality. Im-personalisation of one’s life is the fragrance of one’s personality. Journey from a personalized, crystallised and caged life to an impersonalised life is called the growth of a person.
  • Vishwamitraji was very pleased with the obedience and service of Lord Ram. The best relation in this world is of a teacher who graces all the time and of a disciple who surrenders all the time. This marriage of surrender and faith alone is called ‘deeksha’.

Obedience – A must have virtue

  • Obedience means emptying our mind of vasanas and ego. We all have a lot of vasanas that we want to follow. But when there is love for someone higher & bigger, there is a natural tendency to follow that instead. In doing so, we don’t follow our lower nature and thus we are able to conquer it. This way we are saved from doing wrong, making blunders in life and repenting later.
  • One should strive to be under somebody’s discipline. The way a small child shouldn’t be left independent, our mind also doesn’t deserve to live independently. Most of the times we can’t gauge what is good for us and what is not. Maturity is gauging the consequence of an action before doing that action. Such maturity is not present in an ordinary person; he has the gush of his vasanas and desires and acts accordingly.
  • We are very raw and immature on various issues. Hence it is a must that we live with somebody who is more evolved and mature. There should be somebody whom we are accountable to and with whom we can share everything that we do.
  • Another beautiful thing that comes from obedience is that a highly evolved person can bring out our hidden potentials. Ordinarily we may not do regular jap, puja, sadhana because we are lazy, but if it is told by somebody whom we adore, we push ourselves slightly and just do it; to honor their words. This way we bring out our hidden powers i.e. our austerity, chastity, integrity, purity & truthfulness in measures that sometimes we can’t even imagine.

Principle of Dharma
As the story goes, Bhagwan Ram was walking in the forest along with Vishwamitraji and Lakshmanji, and there came an attractive cottage, which belonged to a great person named ‘Kushnabh’. He had hundred daughters and all of them were extremely beautiful and talented.

  • It is said that once when they all went out, Vayu devata saw them and got highly attracted towards their beauty and charm. With the desire to marry them, Vayu devata proposed to them but the girls refused his proposal. They wanted Vayu devata to act as per dharma and go through the proper channel of approaching their father first instead of asking them directly.
  • As such Vayu devata was very handsome and brilliant, yet these girls were not infatuated with him. The capacity to control yourself in uncontrollable moments, defines the depth of your dharma and strength.
  • Vayu devata, upon hearing their answer, got very upset and cursed them all to become hunched back. Seeing the pathetic state of his daughters, Kushnabh became very sad. But the daughters told him, ‘All this happened because we didn’t agree to Vayu devata, and even now we won’t agree. Let him do what he has to do. We followed our dharma!’ It is not easy to follow the path of dharma.
  • It is the parents, who contribute the most and invest all their money, love & thoughts in bringing-up a child, so it is utterly selfish and adharmic if a boy/girl, having grown-up, doesn’t take the consent of his/her parents before marrying someone.
  • We must understand that we are not individuals but rather institutions and our actions impact others as well. One garners respect and exudes grace when his actions are aligned with those connected to him.

Forgiveness – the most beautiful ornament
Kushnabh asked his daughters, that why they did not curse him (Vayu devata) back. To his pleasant surprise, the daughters said it’s because they had already forgiven him.

  • Forgiveness is a very important virtue. In this world, we all have to live with people, whether it is in the house or in the office. And nobody can claim that they have never been wronged. Similarly we have also made mistakes and wronged others. None can claim that all their actions and emotions have always been pure and chaste.
  • Problems arise when we keep the other person’s wrong doings in our heart and start nourishing that thought. The repetition and multiplication of this thought in our mind causes us to burn from inside as we continue to harbor the resentment. This is called an Adharmic vritti (thought), which makes our mind complex and renders it powerless to carry on with our duties.
  • That is why kshama (forgiveness) is quite important. A family or an institution is held together only by forgiveness. If you don’t forgive someone, you will constantly be angry and won’t be able to live with that person for a very long time, resulting in distances.
  • We should be able to shower forgiveness constantly wiping off someone’s wrong in our minds. The ability to see others mistakes as small and forgettable is forgiveness. The evolution of a person is measured by his ability to love at all times.
  • By forgiving there is no cumulative negative effect and the topic gets over; enabling us to interact with the same person not with the stink of what he did but with a fresh mind and love. People change not by our internal burning and anger but with love and forgiveness.
  • When we commit some mistakes, we tend to overlook them and forgive ourselves very easily but we are not able to do that with others. Just the way we constantly ask God for forgiveness we should also develop the ability to let go of others’ mistakes.
  • These hundred daughters of Kushnabh had the virtue of forgiveness. And they got a big fruit of that when Brahmdutt (a Rishi’s son) offered to marry them. He was so brilliant that just as the girls held his hand their spine became straight and they were no longer hunchbacked. It was the strength of their dharma that they got a husband like Brahmdutt and it was the strength of Brahmdutt’s tapasya that his mere touch released them from the curse.

Glory of Tapasya (Austerity)
Among other eminent stories, Ramayan also states the epic story about descend of Mother Ganga on earth. There was a great king named Sagar (an ancestor of Lord Ram) who wanted to bring Gangaji from heaven to earth to liberate the souls of his sons who were burnt by Kapil muni. His last son Anshuman did years of tapasya (austerity) but did not succeed in bringing Gangaji. Following his footsteps, his son Dilip too performed immense tapasya with the same pure sankalp and it finally fructified when Bhagirath (son of Dilip) did intense austerity for hundreds of years, Mother Ganga descended on earth. Bhagirath also pleased Lord Shiva so He could hold Gangaji as her force would have drowned the whole earth.

  • Austerity means entertaining a higher thought for a longer period of time. Nothing is difficult for a person who performs austerity, provided his thoughts are selfless, he aims for something higher, he goes through difficulties and his higher desire is uninterrupted by other lower desires.
  • We all have tremendous power to do something bigger and loftier provided we maintain the higher thought.
  • Austerity has two parts, one is soul and the other is body. Soul of austerity is maintenance of a bigger sankalp and body of austerity is willful pain given to the body to achieve something higher.
  • Even worldly sankalp cannot be fulfilled without going through some kind of austerity. Doing daily puja and japa also requires immense austerity and sacrifice as we easily drop our sankalp. Bhagwan too observes how much we can sacrifice for Him.
  • Bhagirath had witnessed that his earlier two generations had failed in getting mother Ganga, yet he continued. This is called Sattvic dhriti i.e. one must not give up something if the goal is higher and difficult to achieve. It is due to Bhagirathji’s tapasya that we reap the benefits till date.

Day 4

On the 4th day of Ramayan gyan yagna, devotees were treated once again to the priceless wisdom of Swami Abhedanandaji as he unraveled the divine import of the pauranic stories and their relevance in our present lives. Sharing below some beautiful takeaways from yesterday’s discourse:

How impersonal are your dreams?
The story of Mother Ganga’s descent has a lot of messages hidden in it. It is noteworthy that all the three generations from King Sagar’s clan (Anshuman, Dilip & Bhagirath), did tapasya to bring Mother Ganga to earth for their uncles and not for themselves.

  • In our life what is of utmost importance is – for whom are we working? The projects that we undertake and the dreams that we nurture, are those for some personal gain or for something higher? With the fulfillment of our dream, how many collective dreams will be fulfilled?
  • Generally our projects are very self-centric and therefore worry is born in our minds soon. There is always anxiety around completion because the Lord does not come into the picture. But Anshuman, Dilip & Bhagirath – all had tremendous bhaav-shuddhi & sankalp-shudhhi (purity of emotion & thought).
  • Every day we should try to analyze what are the desires that we are trying to fulfill in life. Are those Lord’s desires or our personal desires? More we dedicate ourselves to attaining something higher & bigger, more the cosmos works to support us.

Essence of dedicating oneself

  • The word ‘dedicate’ is very beautiful. It means that we offer ourselves, our thoughts, our energy whole-heartedly for something that is going to please many people. Even before completing a project, when we start visualizing & conceptualizing the joy of others getting pleased; that selfless happiness itself becomes the inspiration for us to dedicate ourselves.
  • Dedicate means – you are not leaving any stone unturned, you are giving yourself completely. And you are sure that even in your absence the project would continue; it would get fructified in due time. Such was the sankalp of Anshuman, Dilip and Bhagirath because they thought of not only liberating their uncles, but also thought about the society that would reap the benefits for ages to come.

Tapasya – Maintenance of Higher thought
Both Anshuman and Dilip did tapasya (austerity) but Bhagirathji’s tapasya was the most as he maintained the consistency of his higher thought for a longer time.

  • Tapasya is – Maintaining the consistency of a higher thought for a longer time, in spite of all obstacles, at the exclusion of all other thoughts, so that the thought of an object converts into the object of the thought. Tapasya has the power to materialize the thoughts of our mind.
  • In Ramayan, Parvatiji says that tapasya is the adhaar (foundation) of the whole cosmos. Tapasya means to go through pains for something higher. Without going through some pains, neither you can get anything externally nor internally.
  • It is the law of the Lord that if you entertain a higher thought for a long time and you put efforts for it, then one day it does fructify. In the beginning of a project, we all have a lot of inspiration but we are not able to maintain it because our sankalp shakti is very weak. We give up too soon. We are experts in finding excuses and labeling every work as ‘very difficult’ to find an escape route.
  • Our sankalp should be strong – ‘I will realize it at any cost! I will do or I will die for it!’ Bhagirathji could have easily thought that since his father & grandfather both couldn’t bring Gangaji, so why should he waste his life? But he didn’t think like that. Bhagirathji did tapasya for a very long time and thus brought Gangaji to earth.
  • In Ramayan, Brahmaji said to Bhagirathji that Gangaji would be his elder daughter, and therefore she is also called as ‘Bhaagirathi’. Such a glory Bhagirathji got because of his immense tapasya!

The curse of Ahalya
As Bhagwan Ram went further ahead with Vishwamitraji and Lakshmanji, they reached a cottage where a great and austere rishi Gautam used to live with his wife Ahalya. One day as it happened, at the break of dawn, when Gautam rishi went for his morning bath, Indra approached Ahalya in the guise of Gautam rishi to get joy from Ahalya. Valmiki Ramayan says, while she had figured that he was not her husband, she still gave in to her temptations and consented to spending time with Indra.

On his way out, Indra was scared and fearful of being caught (The first child of sin is fear!) To his despair, he was caught by Gautam rishi who flew into a rage seeing how Indra was trying to cheat. The rishi gave Indra a terrible curse. He also cursed Ahalya that she shall leave her body and survive just on air for thousands of years, and only Lord Ram’s touch shall liberate her once she has repented for her mistake.

Repentance – the only atonement from sin:

  • Our lives revolve around loyalty towards each other. Loyalty means, if we receive something from someone we should return the favor in equal measure.
  • The biggest example of loyalty would perhaps be husband-wife relationship, which is based on the tenet of belongingness. One can overlook each other’s shortcomings howsoever painful they may be, but no wife or husband can tolerate a breach of trust and disloyalty.
  • Ahalya’s identity and glory was a projection of Gautam rishi’s austerity and glory. Despite knowing that, she committed such a sin. The purer a situation is, the bigger is the punishment even for a small fault. The sin of a thief stealing doesn’t feel as stark as that of a policeman stealing. Ahalya succumbed to lust despite being aware of her husband’s glories.
  • Gautam rishi did not curse Ahalya out of anger otherwise he would have not given the way to liberation. He wanted her to burn in repentance. Ahalya had left her body and thereafter every moment of her existence was enveloped with remorse, guilt and repentance at her actions.
  • A person repeats a sin because he has not burnt enough in the fire of repentance. People fail in their resolve to give up smoking or drinking, because in their repentance they did not have enough time to feel the sorrow. When you get sorrow, you tend to introspect your actions to link them to the outcomes and then you repent. Bigger a mistake is, bigger should be the repentance.
  • If somebody says that they are not able to get out of negativity, it means that they have not done sufficient repentance. The law says that when we lose something or when we are deprived of something, it forces us to evaluate our actions and see where we made the mistake.
  • Ahalya kept on burning and repenting for her debauchery and this burning with repentance purified her. Besides constant repentance the second thing on her mind was the endless expectant wait for the arrival of Bhagwan Ram.

Wed your intellect to renunciation
As the story goes, by the touch of Bhagwan Ram, Ahalya resumed her original form. She became a Devi – quiet, effulgent and serene. That was the fruit of her tapasya. Even Gautam rishi then accepted her.

  • Ahalya represents kumati – wrong intellect, which doesn’t recognise that bhog (incessant worldly enjoyments), represented by Indra, is bad.
  • Our intellect (Ahalya) must be wedded to renunciation (Gautam rishi) and used for sacrifice and service; it should not be used for indulgence and enjoyment. But because of kumati (wrong thinking) we are cheated by our mind.
  • Indra takes the guise of Gautam rishi – that means bhog takes the guise of duties. We misunderstand that our relations, job, wealth etc. alone can give joy. That is when we need a sweet curse which is actually a blessing (just as Gautam rishi gave to Ahalya). Gautam rishi had actually blessed Ahalya through the curse as she got out of her problems and she also got Bhagwan Ram!
  • When buddhi (Ahalya) is touched by Bhagwan Ram’s feet, then it becomes purer and the sense of joy in the world goes away. We find true joy only when our intellect is wedded to renunciation. All sorrow is nothing but trying to possess the world.
  • Make God your biggest need, puja the biggest need, satsang the biggest need, and then Indra (sense of joy in the world) will surely go away. Satsang and naam japa are the aids to overcome our kumati (wrong intellect).

Day 5

During the fifth day of monthly yagna, the audience were awestruck listening to the in depth elaboration on the life of Rishi Vishwamitra which Swamiji wonderfully correlated to each individual’s journey on his/her spiritual path. Below is the summary from Day 5 discourse and it’s a must read for every sincere seeker:

Ahankaar (Ego) – A terrible disease
In Ramayan, Valmikiji elaborately narrates the story of Rishi Vishwamitra who before becoming a Rishi was a king. Vishwamitra, when he was a king, once visited Rishi Vashishtha in his ashram and was amazed by the capabilities of the celestial cow Kamdhenu. In order to obtain Kamdhenu, he fought with Vashishthaji but lost the fight. Let us see the teachings behind this story:

  • It was not right of king Vishwamitra to forcibly snatch Kamdhenu from Vashishthaji. In every non-righteous action, we take away the right of somebody else. This habit of taking the right of someone is adharma in a person and it creates a series of reactions.
  • With adharma, the problem is that the vritti (thought) does not end on the subject. When a person performs some adharma, a single thought can create a series of thoughts, which are very powerful and uncontrollable. The more he performs adharma, the more his thoughts multiply and come forth with an increased intensity. And eventually the person’s mind gets completely out of control. This is the internal reaction of adharma.
  • Also when the thought becomes extremely powerful, it expresses in action. And when it expresses, it creates enemies around; this is the external reaction of adharma. Vishwamitra also had one such powerful and dangerous thought; it was the thought of ahankaar (ego).
  • Ahankaar is a source of many problems; it is like a disease. An ahankaari person superimposes some kind of uniqueness upon himself. There is a constant comparison going on in an egoistic person’s mind and he is afraid that he should not be considered any lesser or smaller than others. If such a person does not get his imagined place he can be immensely troubled.
  • Vishwamitra was also not able to accept that Kamdhenu belonged to Vashishthaji. He did not really require Kamdhenu but he still demanded it. Why? It was due to his Kshatriya buddhi, which is very ahankaari (egoistic).
  • Ahankaar means having wrong notion about yourself. An ahankaari person cannot take humiliation whereas a humble person easily tolerates it. An ahankaari person hisses like a snake when humiliated.
  • A humble person doesn’t project himself; he readily accepts himself as small. Humility is a trait through which a person easily accepts the bigness, talents, capabilities, efficiency and tapasya of the other person. A humble person is closer to the truth.
  • During the fight between Vishwamitra and Vashishthaji, the situation reached its peak of complexity when hundred sons of Vishwamitra got burnt as they tried to attack Vashishthaji. In reality, the strength of Vishwamitra (Kshatriya bal) was no match in front of the strength of Vashishthaji (Brahman bal).

Qualities of a Brahman mind
We all have a mind, which could be a Brahman mind, a Kshatriya mind, a Vaishya mind or a Shudra mind.

  • A Brahman mind is the mind which is predominantly Sattvagun oriented. And because of that it has a lot of quietness. Sattvagun is like throwing torchlight on a subject or an issue. So that it shows the truth and not the false. Brahman buddhi shows us ego as unreal, body as flimsy and Lord alone as real.
  • Brahman buddhi is very close to knowledge & therefore such a person is very quiet. He is satisfied with whatever he gets. He does not react to what cannot be changed, and he has less anger because ahankaar is less.
  • A Brahman mind is a very beautiful mind. A person with such a mind can tolerate a lot because his tolerance is born out of understanding. He has a very high level of santosh (satisfaction) and he has more shamah (control of mind) and damah (control of senses).
  • Tapasya is more of such a person because concentration is very high. His Rajogun is very less so he can do jap, contemplation and meditation for hours together.
  • Forgiveness is more in a person with Brahman mind. He doesn’t have the sense of separateness; he sees others as his only.
  • When Brahman buddhi is there, a person is a treasure house of knowledge and compassion, and such people alone become Panini, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Vivekananda, Ramkrishna Paramhamsa, Swami Chinmayananda etc.
  • Simplicity is there in a Brahman mind. He has nothing to show off. He is able to please the people just with his language and his ways, because his ahankaar is less, tolerance is more, demand is less, forgiveness is more, attention-seeking is less, joy is more. A Brahman mind has a lot of Guru and Ishwar Bhakti and thus is better at seva. Such a person will always want to sacrifice more, he will feel that he got so much; he should also serve and give something back.
  • With Brahman buddhi a person is able to do more Upasana and please the Lord. As a reward for his upasana and good actions, he is bestowed upon with a special power; the power of an aura protecting him at all times, which is beyond the power of money, talent, name, fame etc.
  • Brahman mind also has a stronger sense of identification with the cosmic mind; so his thoughts do not bear the weakness of individuality. The sankalps of his mind fructify much faster with the power of cosmos behind them. He has such dimensions to his personality that he is a big asset wherever he goes.

Pitfalls of a Kshatriya mind

  • Vishwamitraji’s ahankaar was badly bruised after the fight and got aggravated by his sons’ death at Vashishthaji’s hands. Burning in the pain and anger, he did a lot of tapasya to please Lord Shiva. As per Vishwamitra’s wish, Lord blessed him with the power of multitude of weapons and armed with this power he became even more arrogant.
  • He hastily went on to challenge Vashishthaji, now certain of defeating him. However, no matter which weapon Vishwamitra threw, including the Brahmaastra, Vashisthaji countered it easily with his staff. The staff was a representation of Vashishthaji’s sankalp shakti, which made all the other weapons powerless; such was the power of his austerities. After being defeated once again, Vishwamitra realized his fault and decided to do tapasya again – only this time he decided to get rid of his Kshatriya buddhi; his ahankaar, his anger and gain the Brahman buddhi.
  • A Kshatriya mind has an excess of Rajogun. As a result, such a person is always attention seeking; he’s laden with the thoughts of external appearances and power.
  • Rajogun oriented mind wants others to listen and oblige, it gets upset and hurt very easily, and has a strong sense of likes and dislikes.
  • A Kshatriya buddhi will feel tired of sitting for upasana, get bored during satsang, and will not enjoy puja or japa. On the other hand , it will be fully alert and happy while engaging in worldly activities as his lower instincts (lust, anger, indulgence etc.) get very well expressed and satisfied with those actions.
  • A person with Kshatriya mind will always be giving himself importance. Mind of such a person will not be quiet; he will be disturbed and will not be that creative as well.

Dwesh (Aversion) – A seeker’s enemy
Once a King named Trishanku wanted to go to heaven with his human body and asked Vasishthaji to help him. Being refused by Vashishthaji, he sought Vishwamitra’s help who instantly saw it as an opportunity to belittle Vashishtha.

  • Vishwamitra organised a yagna and called all the pundits and proclaimed to curse those who didn’t abide. The sons of Vasishthaji did not participate and were reduced to ashes by Vishwamitra’s curse.
  • Vishwamitra managed to send Trishanku to heaven, but devatas pushed him away. Falling prey to his anger, Vishwamitra vowed to create a parallel heaven until devatas made him realize that he was the one at fault for trying to achieve an unnatural act.
  • When the entire episode was over, Vishwamitra realized his mistake and how he lost all the fruit of his years of tapasya due to his dwesh (aversion) towards Vasishthaji.
  • This story depicts that it’s easier to leave external things, however to tune the frequency of your mind to Brahman bal, so that the intensity of your Kshatriya bal goes down, is the toughest part. One has to consciously suppress the urge of our negative emotions.
  • Determined, this time Vishwamitraji commenced his tapasya afresh to conquer this dwesh buddhi in him.

Journey from Raj-rishi to Brahma-rishi

  • As Vishwamitraji continued his tapsya, his frequency and intensity of thought of aversion lessened. However, to test him, Indra sent the damsel Menka. Stricken by the beauty of Menka, Vishwamitraji forgot his tapasya and spent time with her and they had a daughter named Shakuntala. It was only ten years later that he realized how he fell for raag (attachment) and once again let go of his tapasya.
  • He thus again sat down for a more rigorous tapasya. After many years, Brahmaji appeared in front of him and called him ‘Raj-rishi’ but Vishwamitra wanted to be become ‘Brahma-rishi’. Brahma-rishi is the one who has conquered all the evils – attachment, aversion, lust, anger, hatred & delusion. Thus he continued his tapsya.
  • Indra then sent Rambha to tempt Vishwamitra, but now he was not tempted. However, he got angry at Rambha for trying to tempt him and cursed her to be a stone for ten thousand years. After giving the curse, he immediately realized his mistake of giving in to ‘anger’.
  • Then, with the goal to overcome anger, he again did tapasya; he repeated the thoughts, ‘God alone is true, I am very small’ and did tremendous penance. He increased the focus on one thought of the Lord and avoided all other distractions. So much so that when he did pranayam, the cosmic air stopped.
  • Indra further tried to tease him, but by then Vishwamitra had conquered anger. Brahmaji then called Vishwamitra as ‘Brahma-rishi’. Vasishthaji also testified & acknowledged him as Brahma-rishi as he had conquered all negative tendencies. Vishwamitra then fell at Vasishthaji’s feet and sought forgiveness.

This journey of Vishwamitraji depicts the hurdles and temptations faced by a seeker. It shows how a seeker, inspite of putting his sincere efforts, is caught up by various negative thoughts and disturbing tendencies.

This story also assures that if one performs extreme penance and does tapasya with a steady mind, he can surely get out of all his disturbing thoughts and attain the highest & purest state of mind.

Day 6

On the last day of the yagna, the devotees were enthralled as Swami Abhedanandaji wonderfully described the divine marriage of Bhagwan Ram and Mother Sita. Elaborating on the bow breaking ceremony, Swamiji beautifully highlighted the purpose of marriage and described how one must lead the life of a householder, righteously. We bring to you, some nuggets from Swamji’s nectarine discourse.

Glory of Tapasya

  • Through the inspiring story of Rishi Vishwamitra, we saw that anything in the inner world as well as the outer world can be attained by performing austerity and going through required pains for it. If we follow certain discipline with strong resolution, we can even overcome all the difficulties of our mind.
  • Vishwamitraji got such a big fruit of his tapasya that Bhagwan Ram in His avatar form, used to press his feet. That Vishwamitra who was highly ahankaari (egoistic) and had terrible anger, he was being served by Bhagwan Ram & Lakshmanji. It is no easy achievement for a jeeva that the Ishwar is serving him.
  • The main objective behind tapasya should be reduction of all negativities & disturbances of mind. Austerity is an integral part of every walk of life; and by aligning ourselves to follow such discipline we can rise above, from being mediocre and below average individuals. We can bridge the gap between ordinary and extraordinary.

Tulsi Ramayan & Valmiki Ramayan
If one reads Tulsi Ramayan as well as Valmiki Ramayan, he would find some differences, at certain places and he may even wonder about their authenticity. But one must be very careful to never entertain such thoughts.

  • Tulsi Ramayan was written by Goswami Tulsidasji but it was spoken by Lord Shiva Himself. When it was written, some scholars, in the attempt to belittle it, tried to put it at the very bottom of all the Vedas at the temple of Lord Vishwanath in Banaras. But as it happened, when they opened the temple door the next morning, they saw that Shivji had signed Tulsi Ramayan and written ‘Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram’. So, one should not question which text is greater. The chaupais of Tulsi Ramayan are like mantras; they can bring great fruits when chanted with faith.
  • In the same manner, Valmiki Ramayan was not written by an ordinary individual, it was Brahmaji who placed all the ideas in Valmikiji’s mind even before Bhagwna Ram took avatar.
  • Tulsidasji says that there are millions of Ramayan present because Bhagwan Ram takes avatar in every Treta yug and there are millions of Treta yugas in the big cycle of time. The leelas of Bhagwan would not be same every time; so, no two texts will be exactly the same as none has seen the leelas from all the angles.
  • Thus both Ramayan are equally authentic, there is no doubt about it, otherwise saints won’t respect & adore them and they won’t become so popular. The core things are all same in both the texts and only some incidents are different at certain places.

Power belongs to the All-Powerful
As the story goes, when Bhagwan Ram went to Janakpuri with Vishwamitraji and Lakshmanji, they were invited to the congregation of Sitaji’s swayamvar. Janakji had put a clause there that whoever could lift Lord Shiva’s bow (which Janakji got from his ancestors) and break it, he could marry Sitaji.

  • Janakji had figured that Sitaji was the cosmic Shakti (Power) herself and so she could be wedded only to the Shaktiman (All Powerful).
  • When the hundreds of Kings present in the congregation could not budge the bow, Janakji felt distressed. Vishwamitraji thus asked Bhagwan Ram to lift and break the bow. Following the instructions of His Guru and answering the fervent prayers of Sitaji, Bhagwan Ram broke the bow.
  • What is important to note here is, power belongs to the Lord alone, we are just temporary carriers of power and we are meant to offer our powers to the Lord alone. Janakji did his part by offering the Shakti (Sitaji) to the Shaktiman (Ramji).
  • Problem arises when we (Jeeva) take the power for ourselves leading to suffering. Power does not belong to any jeeva. Jeeva is the son of power and not its husband and the job of a son is to serve the mother (power). But we start acting as the husband of power, wanting to enjoy and possess it.
  • One should have bhakti (devotion) – meaning the ability to surrender the power to the powerful. If one has the power of speech or money they should offer it to the Lord. Our whole day should be an arpanam (offering) for the union of power with powerful, symbolizing the marriage of Bhagwan Ram and Sitaji. If one gets intoxicated with the power of talent or wealth etc., that Shakti (power) itself can destroy him. Our talents and the people around us are puja samagri; they are not for our personal gain or for the satiation of our personal ego.

True purpose of the institution of Marriage
The leela of marriage was done by Bhagwan Ram to establish the meaning and purpose of marriage.

  • Due to our emotional needs, we want someone with whom we can share our lives. As we grow older we also need someone who can support us. There is a need for a good child who could be an asset to the society and who could carry forward the good work. Marriage is certainly a means to satisfy these requirements, however marriage is essentially an institution. The purpose of an institution is to increase our qualification.
  • The institution of marriage is primarily to increase our dispassion and reduce our ego. Two people can enjoy each other’s company only if they give up their ego and adjust to each other’s likes and dislikes. When one has followed his and her dharma, then after 25 years of marriage they will emerge as purer and dispassionate people seeking solitude and salvation. When lived righteously, marriage can be a wonderful institution.
  • The glory of any institution is defined by the quality of its product. For e.g. educational institutions are known for the quality of the scholars they produce. Similarly, because of the parents who bring up their children in a righteous and religious environment, great saints and scholars are born who guide the society and nation. Such a society then flourishes despite numerous problems.
  • However, if one has not done the course properly, then even at the age of 70, he would want to indulge and enjoy the worldly objects; and that would be a failure of this institution.

Nature of Sitaji: Pearls of Sitaji’s nature
As Ramji was about to leave with everyone after the marriage, despite being the father-in-law, Janakji offered his pranam in Ramji’s feet and sought for his blessing so that his devotion towards Sri Ram remains eternal. Along the way, when Parushuramji challenged Ramji for a fight, he humbly lifted Parushuramji’s bow on his insistence. Parushuramji soon realized the greatness of Lord Ram. Ramji due to his controlled and humble nature was oved by all in Ayodhya. A very beautiful and sublime relation was there between Ramji & Sitaji. Valmikiji beautifully describes the nature of Sitaji.

  • Valmiki Ramayan has a lot of verses on Sitaji, more than Tulsi Ramayan because Valmikiji had personally seen Sitaji when she lived with him during her exile.
  • Sitaji only remembered Bhagwan Ram when she worked around Valmikiji’s ashram. Her heart was totally engrossed in Lord Ram and His qualities.
  • Despite having numerous servants, she did all the seva of Bhagwan Ram by herself, be it cooking, washing, cleaning etc. She was Lakshmiji, the acme of all beauty.
  • She offered herself completely to Bhagwan Ram. The joy of surrendered life is unparalleled. Surrendered life has maximum joy because a surrendered person harbors no personal desires or wants. It is our personal wants that create problem; because there’s a chance that they may not be fulfilled.