Talks on ‘Aranya Kand’ – Part 2 – February 2020

Talks on “Aranya Kand – Based on Valmiki Ramayana” – Part 2 – by Swami Abhedananda

(Gyan Yagna conducted from 1st Feb till 6th Feb, 2020)

Key Points from the Discourses

Day 1

Synopsis of Swami Abhedanandaji’s beautiful discourse on ‘Aranya Kand’ from the first day of the monthly yagna:

Meaning of Aranya

  1. In Aranya Kand of Ramayana, Bhagavan Ram enters the forest. In Sanskrit, one of the meanings of ‘Aranya’ is forest. Aranya also has another meaning – ‘where one should go’. It is said that one should go to the forest for sadhana after having completed their duties of household.
  2. Bhagavan Ram, while living in the forest, demonstrates a beautiful point. He lived very happily in the forest even when there were very limited means. He lived in a simple cottage made out of leaves, and had no possessions, nor luxuries. His food was also very simple, just bulbs and fruits. But Bhagavan Ram was very happy. It is an indication that without the outer things and luxuries also, one can be happy. We gather so many things and belongings in life, but still happiness evades us.
    1. When we see a saint or a sage, a question should arise in our mind that how can they be happy and quiet even when they possess nothing; no bank account, no house, no spouse, no car.
    2. We equate happiness to all these things – money, job, spouse, children, relatives, fame etc. Even if one of these things is missing, we feel sad. But God is very clever; He gives us such situations in life that one of these things would be missing in it.
    3. Joy doesn’t lie in the belongings otherwise Bhagavan Ram should have been very sad. A mahatma finds joy in his sadhana and meditation alone.
  3. Another meaning of ‘Aranya’ is – ‘where there is no fight’. We live in a lot of contradictions. Inner fight expresses as outer fight. But living in ‘A-ranya’ (No-fight) means living without mental contradictions, living without too many worldly desires, and therefore whatever you get, you are happy with that.

Secret of Happiness

  1. External things like money, food, house, car etc. give comfort at the body level. But the truth is that the address of joy and sorrow is not the body, it is the mind. And mind can be happy only when it has three important aspects – Nirapekshta, Nishkaamta and Akrodh.
    1. Nirapekshta – means not having too much of expectations from others. It is only when we form relations that we have expectations such as – ‘he should have done like that, he shouldn’t have done like that’. World is very carefully drafted by God so that our expectations are not fulfilled. This is the rule.
    2. World is not meant for fulfilling our expectations. We should know that beyond a certain point, others cannot meet our expectations. A watch can show us time, but it cannot give us milk no matter how much we squeeze it, no matter what we do with it.
    3. Nishkaamta – means not having a lot of desires. It means, not seeing a lot of joy in the things of the world. Those who see a lot of joy in the world and give a lot of their time, energy and money, they discover at the end that whatever joy they got, it was mixed with a lot of sorrow, and whatever appeared as an asset earlier becomes a liability later.
    4. Nishkaamta doesn’t mean that because of some foolishness we stop enjoying; it is a conviction that the world doesn’t contain eternal joy. Joy doesn’t come from outer things and people. There is not even a single person or object in the world who we can claim to have given joy forever.
    5. Akrodh – means not having anger and frustration within. Akrodh is the result of Nirapekshta and Nishkaamta. What God has not given us, we should not want it. The art of tailoring our wants is the essence of spiritual life.
  2. A person who has the above three things, Nirapekshta, Nishkaamta and Akrodh, he alone can live in Aranyam. Bhagavan Ram had these three things and therefore Aranyam was a very happy place for Him. He didn’t want any particular person or object with Him, nor did He want any success to come to Him.
  3. Whole world is like a buffet system; it offers all kinds of things to us, sweet, savory as well as spicy. We can choose whatever we want. In life, we often leave out the good things and instead make a mess of our life because we chose to think about certain topics which have three things: expectations (apeksha), desires (kaam) and anger (krodh).
  4. Kand also means room. In our mind, we should have a room where we can develop Aranyam (No fight). More is our Aranyam, more we will have quietness. Outside we can put on any kind of clothes, but inside we should be a hermit only.

Whom should we love?

  1. This world is not meant to give our heart to somebody. It is meant only to love the Lord alone. Don’t love the body, love the one who is embodied in the body.
  2. All the appearances in the world are completely false. If we find someone extremely beautiful and charming, it is nothing but a play of Maya. If one is able to see the inner parts of the body like the stomach, pancreas, lungs etc. it will be difficult for him even to see the other person.

Other than Bhagwan Ram, no one is beautiful and worth loving in this world!

The Demon Viraad

As the Lord, along with Sitaji & Lakshmanji walked in the forest, they met a demon named Viraad with one eye and long hands and legs. He tried to take away Sitaji, eventually he was buried under the ground and was killed. He then assumed the form of a Gandharva and guided Ramji to go to Matanga Rishi’s ashram.

  1. Viraad represents our vasnas. Our vasnas take away our devotion – our real love for the Lord (Sitaji). We all have immense love within us. But all of our love has been taken away by our vasnas (Viraad).
  2. Our love (Sitaji) is meant for Ramji only. The moment we love somebody or something else we will be in trouble. This was the mistake of Ravana as well. The entire Lanka got burnt and Ravana had to die because he wanted to take Sitaji away from Ramji.
  3. Viraad represents the vasna which is blind, it has no eyes or ears, but has long hands and legs. It is due to this that a person under the influence of vasna is unable to see the consequences of his actions. A drunkard, before drinking will give numerous illogical reasoning to drink and eventually suffers health issues due to it.
  4. It is important to love the Lord alone and love everybody else as a representative of the Lord. Just like a woman cares for her in-laws as representatives of her husband, similarly we must see every individual belonging to the Lord and not love them independently.
  5. Please don’t establish any independent relation with anybody. If you do, then you will definitely be troubled at the end.
  6. Viraad was buried inside the earth – which means we must take our vasna back to its cause (the Lord). All we need to do is, take Bhagavan’s name and automatically all the worldly love will get buried (merged) in the Lord.
  7. Driving is easy only when you know the rules for driving, else we will struggle with the accelerator and brake, similarly life is simple when we know the principles of life!

Day 2

Swami Abhedanandaji continued to enrich the devotees with his lucid explanation on the second day of the Aranya Kand Yagna. Below are some of the memorable takeaways from the discourse, which we all can apply in our daily life:

Valmiki Ramayana – Centered on Dharma

  1. In Valmiki Ramayana, dharma aspect of life is greatly highlighted. It elaborates upon both the Samanya dharma (general guidelines) as well as Swadharma (individual guidelines). It tells about dharma of every role – dharma of a King, a husband, a wife, a teacher, a disciple, a father, a mother etc. Hence it establishes the importance of dharma in our mind.
  1. In simple words, the meaning of dharma is – the set of rules prescribed for each individual for each specific role, following which one can be at peace internally and also one can create peace outside. If dharma is not there, then one is disturbed himself as well as he is a source of disturbance for others too.
  1. To establish the importance of dharma in our life, it is important to go through Valmiki Ramayana… just like to establish Krishna bhakti, one should go through Bhagavatam, and to establish Ram bhakti, one should go through Tulsi Ramayana.

Outer Situations v/s Inner Thoughts

  1. The purpose of going through Valmiki Ramayana is to get established in higher thoughts. It can be thought of charity, thought of quietness, thought of forgiveness, thought of compassion, thought of fearlessness. When higher thoughts are there, then outside situation gets dissolved in the bigness of the inner thoughts. For instance,
    • If you have thoughts of forgiveness, then if somebody does wrong to you personally, the thought of forgiveness in you will dissolve the harm done by the wrong action of the other person. It won’t be a very big issue for you because you have the bigger thought of forgiveness available within.
    • And suppose you don’t have forgiveness, then because of the harm done by the outer situation or person, you will be very reactive and revengeful mentally. You will keep on burning inside because you don’t have the bigger thought of forgiveness.
    • If somebody praised you and you didn’t have the higher thought of humility and surrender, then the praise will overpower you, and eventually consume you.
    • If somebody loves you madly and he happens to be a good person, then without the thought of detachment corresponding to that love, you will become very attached and possessive about that person.
  1. It is not that the outer situations are very powerful, but the main problem is the unavailability of the corresponding higher thought inside us that could dissolve the outer situations.
  1. Situations can be good, bad, happy, joyful, exciting, anger-provoking, lust-provoking, sometimes accusing, but if we don’t have a corresponding personality in us that allows us to rise above the situation, then we feel overwhelmed and consumed by the outer situation.
  1. Many times, unexpected situations come in our life which we never thought would come. And at such times, we are not prepared or ready to handle them. Situations never ask us if we are ready to face them or not. Dharmik vritti is that which holds our inner peace of mind, which holds our ability to perform our duty in hand, even when facing unexpected situations.

Importance of following Dharma

  1. Dharma is like a torch that shows us our present duty, and at the same time it is the engine which gives us the strength to perform that duty. After one performs his dharma, he becomes much quieter and stronger. This aspect of dharma is brought out by various thoughts which we will see in the character of Bhagavan Ram.
  1. The process of developing a higher thought inside us so that the outer bitterness and difficulties may dissolve, is called Dharma. From Dharma comes immense peace, joy and wisdom. Such a person becomes a light house, a moving God. Such people hold their own mind, hold the family, hold the community, & hold the country!
  1. Because we live with people around us, it is important for us to know what our duties are and how to perform them. We have to know the consequences of performing a duty and not performing it.
  1. Duties are extremely complicated. If we fail to have higher thoughts within, we will find ourselves entangled in various situations. We must keep checking and correcting ourselves every moment, because if we don’t correct, the same mistake will become bigger later on.

Dharma of a Kshatriya (Warrior)

Bhagavan Ram was a Kshatriya, and one of the purposes behind Bhagavan Ram’s exile was to give protection to the sages and saints by killing the demons in the forests. Demons used to constantly hamper the austerities performed by the rishis and also hurt the rishis and eat their flesh and bones.

  1. A society is composed of various people, and in every society, there is a softer aspect. Like the saints and the brahmins who are absorbed in the contemplation of the Self, or the intellectuals, the scientists, the doctors who are involved in subtler work, or the research scholars, or the poets, or the women and children, they represent the softer aspect of the society. They must be protected, and therefore each community requires warriors called the Kshatriyas.
  1. If somebody attacks the softer aspect of the society or attacks the religion or the dharma, then the Kshatriyas are supposed to give a befitting reply, and if needed, even kill the person who is doing wrong and causing harm.
  1. Don’t think that killing is not allowed in Hindu religion. Bhagavan Krishna Himself instructed Arjun to kill in the Mahabharat war. Ahimsa (non-violence) doesn’t mean foolishness. It is the dharma of a Kshatriya to fight for the security and protection of the community and country.
  1. If one part of the body is causing harm to the whole body, then the doctor operates that part and if required even removes it. Similarly, if somebody or some principle disturbs the community, that particular principle has to be chopped off and removed.

Dharma of a Wife

A portion comes in Valmiki Ramayana where Sitaji explains certain things to Ramji. She does so because she was a dharma-patni. A dharma-patni is the one who can take the husband to the path of righteousness.

  1. During marriages in India, the bride is called ‘vadhu’ (in Sanskrit) which means ‘badhnaati’ – one who ties the husband with her love, with her non-expectation; one who binds the family.
  1. It is the wife who brings culture in the house. If the wife is tapasvini (austere), calm and quiet, and serves everybody, she gains veto power and she can direct everyone to be on the path of righteousness. Therefore, Manusmriti says “Grihini griha muchyate” – a house is defined by the housewife.
  1. In our scriptures a wife is termed as ‘griha-lakshmi’, she is the lakshmi (glory) of the house. A husband is not ‘griha-narayana’; that honour is given to the austerity of the wife only.

Teachings of Sitaji

  1. Sitaji describes beautifully to Ramji that Adharma enters a person very subtly, and there are three main gateways from which Adharma can enter:
    • False speech: The fear of exclusion and rejection is the primary cause of false speech. The second reason is, trying to get something which one cannot earn through right means.
      • Any negativity of a person makes him a false speaker. If person is kaami (desirous), lobhi (greedy), or attached, he will definitely speak false as he has a lot of things to hide.
      • When a person lies, he creates a personality within him which says – “I am not good. I lie for selfish reasons.” This personality creates a suffocating feeling within him and it is not easy to deal with. Besides the person also loses credibility and trust of other people.
    • Having illicit relations: This means – associating with somebody else’s spouse. This is a sin because one tries to covet that which has not been given to him by his prarabdha (fate). And one is going against the social rules as well as betraying everyone’s trust.
    • Being cruel without a reason: When a person is upset or angry, he displays cruelty even when there is no animosity. When a person is laden with arms, his nature becomes a little aggressive. It is not good to unnecessarily hate and revolt.
      • We should not become very negative about somebody. If one develops too much of negativity then there is a high frequency of such thoughts in that person and he burns from within.
      • We eventually make an idol of the person whom we despise in our mind and then we are unable to do any task at hand properly as we are internally disturbed. Our mind is a sanctum and we must not make it a den.
  1. Further Sitaji advises that it is from dharma alone that one gets joy. Any good that comes to us is only because of the good actions of the past. Our past actions alone come in the form of people, money, son, daughter, wife etc. The food we eat, the kind of bed we sleep in are all nothing but the result of our dharma and adharma.
  1. It is therefore extremely necessary that we do the right thing. However, the problem with doing the right thing is, there is a lot of pain involved in it. For cheap gains, people leave the path of dharma.
  1. To do dharma we need to gulp our ego and we need to tolerate a lot; we may even be required to go through some emotional pains. Taking pains and not becoming bitter is the essence of dharma.
  1. Our goodness is generally conditional – ‘If you are good, I will be good’. However, it is important to remember that all big things are ‘irrespective of’. Even if someone abuses the Sun, the Sun does not stop giving light. Dharma makes you more sacrificing and tolerant, more available to higher thoughts.
  1. For a dharmik person the question is not ‘how long should I do good?’ He thinks, ‘I am doing what I am supposed to do’. We must keep checking whether our actions and responses are appropriate or not. Otherwise the fruit of wrong doing can be ruthless.
  1. Please note that all these instructions were not for Ramji; Sitaji was telling us through Ramji. Sitaji concluded by saying that the Lord knew everything but due to her nature of talking too much she said those things to the Lord. This is the beauty of the speech of Sitaji, she said all the points in the most pleasant manner.

Day 3

Another memorable day of spiritually elevating satsang welcomed the devotees of Durban to Chinmaya Shivam ashram, as they reveled in Swami Abhedananda’s talks on Valmiki Ramayana. Below are some of the snippets from Swamiji’s soul stirring discourses:

Dharma: The Transformer

  1. Our life should be such that our involvement in the outer world should take us to evolvement. If we involve somewhere, we should grow with that involvement. ‘Growing’ means increasing the ability to leave something small and hold on to something bigger for a long time.
  1. We should try to find out the end result of an interaction in the mind. If, during an interaction, or after an interaction, we do not evolve, and our sacrificing power doesn’t grow, then that interaction should be considered fruitless.
  1. Dharma is that transformer which transforms or converts the situational sorrows and joy into mental evolution.
  1. If we are not able to use the outer situations and people to grow and evolve internally, then it only means that dharma is absent in life, or it is not present in the capacity as required.
  1. Valmiki Ramayana is trying to instill in us that which will help us to bring out our hidden potential of renunciation; the capacity to drop flimsy and disturbing things and hold on to God.
  1. Our life is such that even if we constantly get disturbed by something, we are not able to drop what disturbs us. This is because there is no inner mechanism which can channelize and educate us internally.
  1. Dharma means – what the intellect is convinced of, that is followed by the body and the mind. There is no divorce between our actions, emotions and convictions. We are able to abide by our convictions as per the scriptures and the Guru, and we are able to live by those values and are able to hold that higher thought.

Glory of taking Vows

  1. Bhagavan Ram is known for his firmness in following His dharma. He says in Valmiki Ramayana, ‘To protect my word, I can even give up my life!’ It is called ‘Pratigyaa paalan’ (adhering to one’s vows). This is a very important aspect to understand. It should not be mistaken for stubbornness.
  1. Everything big in this life is hidden by the incapability of taking bigger vows. If somebody’s achievement is lesser in the inner world or the outer world, it is due to his inability to take bigger vows.
  1. Vratam (vows) is required when anything big and higher has to be achieved.
  1. If our lower nature tries to constantly pull us down, but in spite of these difficulties if we refuse to give in to that lower nature and instead hold on to the higher nature, that is called ‘vow’ of a person.
  1. Even to do one mala japa every day you need a vow; to do a few minutes of puja daily, you need a vow.
  1. When we want bigger achievement in life, the capacity of pratigyaa (vow) in us should also be big. If Bhagavan Ram didn’t have that pratigyaa, He would not have stayed in the forest for fourteen years.
  1. A person is known by what vows he has in his life. You cannot express any higher emotion for a long time unless you have a vow for it. If one wants to serve his mother and father, he cannot do it unless he has a natural vow that ‘I will serve my parents no matter what happens; even if they kick me, I will still serve them.’
  1. To serve anything bigger in life such as parents, or Guru, or country, or God, it requires that we have a very strong resolve. Seva is maha-vratam (very big vow) because in seva we must drop our ego, comforts, emotions, likes, dislikes, laziness etc.
  1. A person is what his resolves are. It doesn’t mean being adamant or insistent such as – ‘I have decided I will not talk to that person whole life.’ That is ego-centric insistence, not God-centric resolution. It will make the person fall.
  1. Sitaji’s devotion for Lord Ram was so much that she did not give up Ramji even when she was asked to go out of the Kingdom at such a juncture of her life when a wife needs maximum support from her husband and the family. She was banished without any fault of hers, but she had the vow that ‘My Lord will be Ram only… may He do anything!’
  1. In life, there should be four kinds of vows:
    • Guru-vrat: means ‘If I have heard and learned from my Guru, so I will serve him no matter how difficult it is’.
    • Ishwar-vrat: means ‘O Lord! I will express my gratitude everyday’.
    • Shaastra-vrat: means ‘I will read something from the scriptures daily and I will adhere to it’.
    • Dharma-vrat: means ‘I will leave my likes and dislikes and I will do only what is right’.

More you perform these vrat, more your capacity to take bigger vrat increases.

Why must we do Seva?

  1. Seva is the only means through which we can melt the heart of others. And once we succeed in melting the heart of the higher, we can get immense blessings and a place in their heart.
  1. Seva is the most potent way to get close to somebody. If a mother has not served the child, the child will never be close to the mother. Similarly, if the disciple has not served the teacher, the disciple will never be close to the teacher.
  1. When one serves consistently for a long time after dropping their ego, attachment and all lower emotions, the fruit can be so big that they can even bring the Lord in their life.
  1. Seva is compared to two vows, one is called Chandan vrat and other is Ikshu-danda vrat. Chandan (sandalwood) gives fragrance only when it is rubbed several times, and Ikshu (sugarcane) gives sweetness only if it is crushed. Similarly, in seva, one gets rubbed and crushed several times and it is only then the fragrance and sweetness emerges from within.

What determines our fate?

  1. In life, we cannot choose what comes to us. Money, people, relatives, job etc. come to us; we cannot choose them, be it good or bad. There are three things which determine what we get in life – Sankalp: determination, Vishwaas: faith and Karma: actions.
  1. When we have Sankalp, which is as per the scriptures, and if we have faith, and we do appropriate actions, we will certainly get our desired object. It was Yashodaji’s higher sankalp, faith and good actions of previous birth which made Lord Krishna her son.
  1. Nothing is an accident in our life. Again, it is important to understand that only when our fruits of action mature, we get them. We already have a lot of fruits of our actions lined up. And the fruits of our current actions will come only in due time. Unless we do some teevra karma (intense action), and if one does tremendous tapasya (austerity) with intense faith, he can surely get the fruits faster.

Impersonal v/s Personal Sankalp

  1. One of the beautiful things about Bhagavan Ram was that He did not perform any action without taking permission from someone higher (parents/teachers/sages). Whether it was breaking the bow or living in Chirtakoot or killing the demons or even marrying Sitaji. He did not have His personal sankalp at any point in His life.
  2. If one tries to have his personal sankalp without invoking the blessings of God or someone higher, or someone contributory in his life, that sankalp is bound to fail.
  1. Personal projects, agendas, desires, they all fail eventually. We struggle in life because we constantly tend to fulfill our personal plans. All sorrows are nothing but resisting God’s plan. We tend to make our ego win.

Day 4

We bring to you some highlights of the fourth day of Aranya Kand yagna where the devotees were treated with yet another spiritual delight by Swami Abhedanandaji.

From Reaction to Realization

  1. Human beings have the power of changing their responses to the outer situations. External situations invoke and provoke certain thoughts in us, and a response which produces quietness, knowledge, strength and purification of the mind inside, and harmony outside, is the response of dharma.
  1. If we see Bhagavan Ram’s life, in every situation, the way He responded was an expression of dharma and character.
  1. Most of the times we don’t think before responding; we respond instinctively and impulsively. Whatever comes to our mind, we get propelled by that.
  1. Whatever we say, whatever we do, it tells whether we have internally practiced to think in a certain manner, or if we are simply forced by our nature to think erratically and randomly.
  1. Right thinking can come if we go through certain discipline. When we do some austerity (tapasya, contemplation etc.) and train the mind then the mind becomes a garden rather than being a jungle. A garden is that which has been trimmed and watered by some gardener, tiled properly, weeds have been removed, and manure has been put.
  1. When we don’t work on the mind and we don’t give sufficient time to the mind, the mind becomes like a jungle which is infested by wild animals, and covered by darkness all around.
  1. If we analyze honestly, we will find that 99% of our thoughts are not coming from certain discipline or cultured way of thinking. Most of our thoughts are unguided, misguided, illogical and uncultured.
  1. Knowing about Bhagavan Ram’s character is our mental training. It helps us give such responses which take us away from reaction and closer to realization.
  1. Reaction means – after doing something, the action is not over, it continues in the mind in a vicious circle. Realization means – our responses should take us closer to God, closer to Guru, closer to our own self.

Essence of Seva

  1. When Bhagavan Ram was searching for a place to stay in the forest, He told Lakshmanji to find the right place. At that time Lakshmanji folded his palm and said, ‘O Lord! I am your servant and therefore you only please tell where to erect the hut. Please don’t ask me because I may not choose the best. You will choose the best!’
  1. Bhagavan Ram was very happy to see Lakshmanji’s response. Bhagavan Ram pointed at a location and said with joy, ‘This is the place. Let us make the ashram.’ Lakshmanji said, ‘You please sit down. I will make everything.’ Lakshmanji was very good in architecture and with his extraordinary might he set a lovely and excellent abode, extensive hut with nice pillars and roof. Bhagavan Ram was very happy to see Lakshmanji’s seva bhaav.
  1. Seva means – Joyful attention giving as per dharma to take away all the pains and worries of the master. It can be called as ‘Karma yog’ or ‘Surrendered action’.
  1. The source of ‘Seva’ is ‘pain’. The pain of not giving joy to my Lord, or to my master, or to somebody higher, expresses as a thirst to give joy, and that thirst to give joyful attention is the seed and crux of Seva. We are not able to give attention to God and Guru because we don’t have the pain of not serving them.
  1. We all have some or other kind of thirst, but it is all worldly thirst. We have thirst for money, children, reputation, luxury. We should have the thirst to give joy to someone bigger and higher.

Thirst to Give Joy

  1. Devotees like Lakshmanji, Bharatji, Hanumanji had infinite thirst to give joy to the Lord because they themselves were not thirsty for anything. A person can grow only by developing such a thirst in him.
  1. You are happy to be with somebody only when you see the ‘thirst to give joy’ for you in that person. You are not happy with someone who doesn’t bother about your happiness.
  1. That wife who does not have the thirst to give joy to the husband is essence-less, similarly, that husband who does not have the thirst to give joy and security to the wife is essence-less.
  1. The Guru who doesn’t have the thirst to take away the sorrow of the disciple is essence-less; similarly, that disciple who doesn’t have the thirst to take away all the concerns and burden of the teacher has no essence in him.
  1. Everywhere someone is good only when he has infinite thirst to give joy and to take away somebody else’s pain in a dharmik manner.
  1. To have the thirst of Seva is difficult. As much developed a person is, so much developed is his thirst, and to that extend he has conquered his lower nature.
  1. Puja and Japa means – you are extremely thirsty to give joy to God. If a person is egoistic, or greedy, or jealous or angry by nature, he will not have the thirst of giving joy to God. Because he is already occupied with his own thinking, and his own gain and loss.

Tuning to the thoughts of the beloved

Lord Ram praises Bharatji saying that he served the Lord by knowing the thoughts of the Lord.

  1. In seva, everything is not told. Lord Ram never had to ask water or fruits to Lakshmanji. Lakshmanji could gauge what the Lord wanted and when.
  1. Another example of such seva is that of mother Sita. After getting down from the boat of Kevat, the Lord wanted to give something to Kevat. Gauging this, mother Sita immediately removed her ring and gave it to the Lord. The Lord did not have to ask Sitaji.
  1. Unless a person has removed his own self, he cannot identify with God, with the Hiranyagarbha (Total).

Requirements of Seva

  1. Detachment is one of the first requirements of Seva. If Lakshmanji was attached to his wife, or the kingdom or the luxuries, he would not have been able to serve the Lord as good as he did.
  1. Egoless-ness is another requirement of Seva. If an egoistic person serves, he will constantly seek response from the one whom he is serving.
  1. However, it does not mean that one must not serve at all. When an imperfect person serves, he discovers if he had overcome his negativity, he could serve better.
  1. Don’t wait to be perfect, that day won’t come. By serving in an imperfect manner, you develop a capacity to serve perfectly. By driving imperfectly, we learn to drive in a perfect manner eventually.
  1. The only means to make someone happy, be it your mother, father, spouse, children, servant or even the Lord is by serving alone!
  1. In seva, the person experiences extreme pain in not giving joy to the beloved. A person is known by what pain he has. The pain of a saint is, he could not do his meditation properly, or why he could not have self-control. While the pain of a worldly person is more mundane like – ‘my spouse doesn’t listen to me’ or ‘my children don’t take care of me’. Discover which pain you have!

Surpanakha – Personification of Vasna

  1. Surpanakha personifies how much terrible bhokta (enjoyer) a person can be. She was a complete contrast to mother Sita who had extreme modesty and shyness.
  1. Surpanakha was extremely shameless. It represents that our vasnas are shameless, they don’t care what others think. In order to fulfill his desires, a person with vasna can go to any extent.
  1. Lakshmanji had cut the nose and ears of Surpanakha. It represents that a person with vasna neither follows dharma, nor gets heaven. Nose or naakam in Sanskrit means heaven, while ears or karnam signifies dharma.
  1. Vasna (Surpanakha) is ‘adhikaar pradhaan’ and Bhakti (Sitaji) is ‘samarpan pradhaan’. Adhikaar pradhaan means a person with vasna demands his wishes to be fulfilled. Samarpan pradhaan means a person with Bhakti (devotion) has surrender, he only wants to offer himself wholeheartedly at the feet of the Lord.

Dispassion protects our Devotion

  1. Lakshmanji represents vairagya (dispassion) which cuts the nose and ears of vasna. Dispassion alone removes the outer joy from the worldly things and helps us see the worthlessness in it.
  1. Vasna tries to eat our Bhakti (like Surpanakha tried to attack Sitaji), while dispassion protects Bhakti (like Lakshmanji protected Sitaji).
  1. Dispassion is like a hard wall protecting the softer emotion of love for God in us.
  1. Our higher emotions, thirst for the Lord, the pain to give joy to the Lord, should be nurtured, nourished and increased.
  1. We must use our vairagya and keep cutting the ears and nose of vasanas (Surpanakha). If we remove the outer dazzle of the worldly things it will certainly appear worthless and ugly.
  1. Don’t think Panchavati is just a place outside, it is within our heart and we need to bring Lord Ram to kill all the demons ruling our hearts.

Day 5

Soaking everyone in the cool showers of Valimiki Ramayana, Swami Abhedanandaji continued his divine discourses on Aranya Kand, excerpts of which we are glad to share with you all:

The Science of Thoughts

  1. When we live in this world, from moment to moment, different thoughts come and depending on those thoughts, we experience sorrows and joys.
  1. It is important to know the science of thoughts, how they come, what is their nature, how they go away…, because with what we are living very closely, we should know it well. If we are living with somebody whose nature is unknown to us, then it becomes difficult to live.
  1. Inner thought gives the interpretation of the outer situation. Even in the worst situation, if we have the thought of prasad-budhhi (acceptance as blessing from God), then the situation can become sweet for us. Similarly, a situation which is very good can become bitter for us if we have the thought of anger or arrogance in us.
  1. Kaikeyi was living with Bhagavan Ram but her thought of greed and attachment made her life extremely miserable. She used to talk to Bhagavan Ram, she used to love Bhagavan Ram, but her thought of believing in Manthara took her down to the lowest levels.
  1. If you see the nature of thoughts, you will find that some thoughts have light in them, and some are dark thoughts. Thought of compassion, forgiveness, devotion, dispassion etc. have light in them. While thought of ego, arrogance, anger, jealousy etc. are dark in nature.
  2. Bhagavan Ram, even after being banished to the forest, did not get sad, upset or angry because He had the thought of matru-bhakti (devotion towards the mother). His thought of gratitude and devotion for his mother was extremely developed and therefore the news of exile gave Him a lot of joy.
  1. Even during the exile when Bhagavan Ram was living in the forest, wearing the bark of tree, sleeping on the floor, leaving behind all the palatial comfort and luxury, brought no reaction, anger, or frustration in Him. He never complained or cursed Kaikeyi. So developed was the thought of dharma, titiksha and tapasya in Him.

Surpankha – Personification of Kaam Vritti

  1. Surpankha represents kaam vritti (selfish desires) in its most shameless form. All selfish desires are dangerous because they are ego-centric, anti-God and anti-dharma.
  1. Kaam vritti, per say, is not bad or wrong, its uncontrolled aspect is bad. If a desire is God-centric and pro-dharma, it is fine.
  1. Kaam vritti has two things – Srijanaatmikaa shakti: power of creativity and Mohanaatmikaa shakti: power of delusion. As far as the power of creativity is concerned, it is fine if it is as per dharma. But the power of delusion is terrible because it can make us uncontrolled, cross our limits, and make us act shamelessly.
  1. When Surpankha saw Bhagavan Ram, she got infatuated, and even after knowing that He was married, she proposed to marry Him. She was a licentious person and was shameless in expressing whatever desires came to her. She had no fear, no limits in her thinking and doing.
  1. If we simply express whatever thought comes in our mind, we will become worse than animals. So, there is something called ‘lajja’ or shyness or bashfulness which means – even if we like to do certain thing, we keep quiet because it is not as per dharma and society.
  1. Before doing anything wrong, we feel fearful because we are answerable to the society, to our parents and teachers.
  1. Kaam vritt is a delusory vritti. For a moment it shows a lot of joy in the sense object. Kaam has come from ‘kam’ dhaatu which means ‘joy’. It paints a particular person or object with immense joy, so much so that one can go mad after that.
  1. If we compare the instances of Sitaji seeing Ramji first time and Supankha seeing Ramji first time, there is a big difference:
    • In Pushpa Vatika, when Sitaji saw Ramji for the first time, she didn’t say anything to Him, rather she simply closed her eyes and started praying ‘May I surrender to You!’ Sitaji had samarpan vritti (thought of surrender) while Surpankha had adhikaar vritti (thought of authority).
    • Sitaji was so full of shyness and bashfulness; she didn’t even see Ramji properly; she immediately closed her eyes. After seeing somebody you can close the eyes only when you know that He is God. A worldly person or kaami person will not close the eyes. He will keep staring outside because he can’t see that God inside.
    • In Sitaji, we find bhakti while in Surpankha we find the naked dance of passion. Such passion which is adharmik should be nipped and therefore Lakshmanji cut her nose and ears.

The Demons Khar and Dushan

  1. After Lakshmanji cut the nose and ears of Surpankha, she ran to Khar and Dushan for help. Khar represents ‘harshness’. Dushan represents ‘faults’. Wherever there is Kaam vritti (which is not as per dharma), the person becomes very harsh and numerous faults enter in his personality.
  1. A bhogi (indulgent) person can never be a soft and quiet; he will be rude and harsh. And because of that, he becomes a hypocrite and can even cheat and betray others.
  1. When Khar and Dushan went to fight with Bhagavan Ram, they both were killed along with their big army by Bhagavan Ram. Lord is the dharma-rakshak (protector of dharma) and therefore if there are people who create imbalance in the cosmos, Lord puts an end to them and recreates the balance.

Is the Lord pleased or displeased with you?

  1. It is written in Ramayana, while killing Khar and Dushan, Bhagavan Ram became extremely angry. With our actions, we can create anger or joy in the cosmic mind. We can make God angry also; we can make God pleased also.
  1. Just as you get upset seeing something unjust, similarly the cosmic mind of Ishwar also gets upset and angry seeing somebody’s atrocities on someone. So Bhagavan Ram, as the Ishwar, was angry on these demons because they had been eating the flesh of the rishis and creating havoc everywhere.
  1. With everybody, either the Lord is pleased, or displeased, or mixed. Remember one thing that fruit will always come from the Lord alone and if He is pleased, He will always give something good. Therefore, to some people God gives a lot.
  1. God observes all our actions, He knows us inside out. He observes our every emotion (bhaava). He records and analyses every thought of ours.
  1. What we will get, who will be around us, what are our fruits of actions, all are decided by the Lord alone.
  1. It is up to us what impression we create in Lord. In Kenopanishad commentary, Bhagavan Shankaracharyaji writes – like we create impression of every person as is good, bad, moody, or lazy, similarly the Lord also take impressions about us.

Three aspects of the golden-deer episode

Mareech disguised as golden deer took Lord Ram far away from the cottage and when he was shot by the Lord, as he died, he yelled for help from mother Sita and Lakshman in the voice of Lord Ram. Hearing that Sitaji was disturbed and she persuaded Lakshmanji to go and save Lord Ram. When Lakshmanji insisted that nothing could happen to the Lord, Sitaji spoke extremely harsh words to Lakshmanji. There are three aspects to this episode:

  1. First is the leela aspect – Sitaji is Maha-Maya, she is Durga, Saraswati. If Lakshmanji had not left the cottage, then all the other leelas of Lord Ram – meeting Shabri, Hanumanji, Sugreev, Vibhishana, and most importantly killing of Ravana would not have taken place. She had no infatuation for the deer, it was a leela so that all other leelas could be accomplished.
  1. Second angle is – showing what anger does. When a person is angry, he can go to any extent in seeing the badness of the other person. He may even accuse extremely noble and pious person. Anger engulfs the mind and pervades it with a burning feeling.
  1. Third and most important angle is – depicting the greatness of Shri Lakshmanji. Even when Sitaji said extremely harsh words to Lakshmanji he was not provoked or angered. He still offered prostrations to Sitaji and tried explaining to her.
    • Lakshmanji had extreme thirst to give joy to Lord Ram, and throughout 14 years of exile, he was awake whole night guarding the Lord and Sitaji.
    • It is very easy to serve when we get conducive responses; selflessness of a person is tested when he serves despite getting unconducive responses.
    • Even when Sitaji blamed Lakshmanji, he still wanted to protect her and prayed to all the surroundings to guard her.
    • Selflessness is when somebody inflicts pain but still you want to respect and protect that person. When we have done a lot for somebody, our ego is more, and we can get easily agitated. However, Lakshmanji here depicts the extreme selflessness and maturity that is required while doing seva.

Day 6

Swami Abhedanandaji concluded the monthly Gyan Yagna on ‘AranyaKand’ with wonderful elucidation of the characters and stories of Ramayana which are indeed to be contemplated upon. We are pleased to share with you Swamiji’s concluding advice from the final day’s satsang:

The Golden-deer episode

  1. In our life we should know what should be protected and what should not be protected, what is precious and what is trivial. Most important thing that we should protect is our love. We throw and scatter our love for trivial things in the world and become weaker day by day. 
  1. In Panchavati forest, Sitaji, Lakshmanji and Ramji were happily living together untill the golden deer flashed in front of the eyes of Sitaji. Please note that it was the leela of Bhagavan. 
  1. In Tulsi Ramayana, Tulsidasji writes – ‘Character of Bhagavan Ram is very deep; those who are wise they get dispassion and those who are otherwise they get more deluded’. We cannot understand Ram katha by seeing Ram leela in the videos; we need to hear Ram katha from some authentic source, then only we will understand it. Otherwise it becomes very difficult to understand- Why Ramji cried? Why Sitaji wanted the deer? Why Lakshmanji left Sitaji? 
  1. The golden-deer episode was all a planned drama to give a lesson to the jeeva. That deer which was very charming and unique represents – the sense of joy that we experience in some person or object or some situation of the world. All of a sudden something starts appearing to have a lot of joy. 
  1. What we don’t understand is that everything in the world belongs to Maya; that means it won’t exist forever. Everything here loses its charm. There is no joy in the object but there is only appearance of joy. It is because of our desire that someone or something appears attractive.

Obsession for Worldly wants 

Sitaji saw the nice golden deer and the mistake she made was in thinking ‘I want it’ and then telling Ramji to go get the deer. Remember again that Sitaji is depicting how the jeeva wants things in this world and invites trouble. 

  1. If somebody is very good, lovely and wonderful, and you let him be as he is, let him be where he is, it is fine. But the problem starts when you start wanting him or her with you. 
  1. Moment you want something, it becomes very close to you. You internalize it badly and then it becomes impossible for you to take it out of your mind. 
  1. If you want even a blade of grass for your selfish reasons, your life can become a hell. 
  1. Learn to keep the worldly wants at a superficial level. You can say ‘I like tea but if it’s not there, coffee is also fine.’ The object (tea) is at a distance. It’s not that you want it badly. ‘I like that person but even if he doesn’t come to me, I will be fine.’ Let the likes and dislikes be at a distance. 
  1. Sitaji developed an obsession for the deer. And even bigger mistake than that was – the deer appeared better than Ramji to her for some time. Otherwise how can one send Ramji away? How can one take service from Ramji? 
  1. Bhagavan Ram represents vishwaas (faith). When we put our faith or belief in the world of objects, people and achievement, and we make the faith run after them, then we must understand that trouble is not far away. 
  1. We can never get permanent joy from any place, person or achievement in this world. World is not meant to fulfill our demands.

Warning from the Guru (Teacher) 

  1. Shri Lakshmanji is Guru-roop and he already warned Sitaji about the golden deer. The moment Sitaji praised the deer and its beautiful form, Lakshmanji warned that it is a deceptive deer and should not be sought after.
  1. Guru keeps telling us that there is no joy in the sense organs, everything is imaginary, but we do not listen. ‘I had a lot of faith in my child that he will give me joy’ – people say like this and then suffer because of the same child. 
  1. The cause of getting close to somebody is that we put a lot of trust in that person that he will give us joy, security and concern. In reality, it happens otherwise. The same person gives us most grief. Maximum worry in anybody’s life is because of their children and spouse for whom they toil the most. 
  1. Living with somebody is not a problem, but the problem is putting a lot of trust in them because when they break the trust, we get shattered. Don’t depend on anybody in the world. Trust should be on God alone! 
  1. We all have a lot of love but the problem is that our love which should be exclusively for God, we direct that love towards Mareech deer (world) and as a result we get disappointment at the end. Our love which is for God should be protected.

Dispassion: the Guard 

  1. In the forest, when Ramji went behind the golden deer, Lakshmanji was guarding Sitaji. Lakshmanji represents Vairagya (dispassion). Dispassion knows everything about this world in and out. Lakshmanji knew the jungle very well, he knew the demon Mareech also, he knew Ravan also.
  1. Dispassion keeps our eyes open. Dispassion does not get carried away by anything which is enchanting in the present. It shows us the true future of the objects and people of the world. 
  1. Dispassion shows us that the people whom we are living with won’t be there with us forever. It shows us that worldly love is not real. 
  1. Lakshmanji could see the future sorrow of Sitaji because of her want for the golden deer. And therefore, he tried to protect her. We don’t foresee the future and therefore we are mad after immediate joys. 
  1. Everybody in this world meets only to depart one day. The only meeting which doesn’t end in departing is meeting with the Lord. 
  1. Love the Lord alone… talk to Him, dance with Him, play with Him, laugh with Him, cry with Him, you do anything with Him, He will always be with you. 
  1. No jeeva is yours. Nobody is born to listen to you, to follow you; nobody wants to love you in the true sense. If somebody is very good today, you don’t know how they will be tomorrow. Nobody is made for you. Only God is there who is made for you. Only God can live with you even after knowing all your faults. In the last birth also, God was related to you, and in the next birth also He will meet you. 
  1. Bhagavan Krishna says again and again in Gita – ‘You should love me alone! Give your mind to me alone!’ He says so because if we don’t love the Lord, we will be deeply troubled by the worldly love. 

Developing closeness with the Lord 

  1. Closeness is when we wish to offer ourselves in front of somebody, where we do not wish to keep our individual personality.
  1. Closeness with the higher means two things: we are eager to execute the wish of the higher and we identify with their joys and sorrows. 
  1. If we are unable to give up ourselves to the Lord or Guru, Ravana (delusion) can attack us at any moment. Unless a person has immense love for his teacher and immense love for his Lord, his samsaar (worldly ups and downs) does not get over. Such a person can never be out of his life’s problems. 
  1. There are only assets of a person – Ishwar bhakti and Guru bakti. Ramji is Ishwar-roop, Lakshmanji is Guru-roop, they both are protector of Sitaji; Sitaji is our love. Therefore, we must develop closeness with the Lord and Guru, and protect Sitaji. 

Understanding Moha (Delusion)

  1. Moha enters our life very slowly. Ravana (representation of moha) came to Sitaji in the guise of a Sadhu. Similarly, when we initially like someone, they appear to us as saints but eventually we are troubled badly by them. 
  1. Everything in this world is temporary. People around will be there with us for a limited tenure (maximum of 60-70 years), after that, that jeeva will travel to some other womb. Whom are you calling as your child? Is the body your child or the atma your child? ‘My money, my son, my daughter, my house, my people’ – all are nothing but delusion. 
  1. The house that we are extremely possessive about belonged to someone else a hundred years ago (the land belonged to someone else) and it will belong to someone else after a hundred years. 
  1. “Rodayati iti Ravana”, the one who makes everyone cry is Ravana. Our each and every delusion is sure to makes us cry a lot.

Protect your love (Sitaji) 

  1. Ravana abducted Sitaji. In our life too our inner Sitaji (peace) has been abducted by Ravan (delusion). Without faith (Lord Ram) and dispassion (Lakshmanji), our peace (Sitaji) is not safe. Without the Lord and Guru, life is difficult to handle. Our bhakti (devotion) cries. 
  1. Sitaji also represents our deep loving capacity. Loving something means giving attention. Instead of keeping our Sitaji (love) with the Lord we have given our love to various petty issues in life. 
  1. We think too much and we deliberate too much. We don’t rise in our love; we fall in our love. Our attention (love) is distributed in various places. We have given our love to many negative emotions which are undirected and misdirected. We keep doing this our whole life and therefore our inner Sita keeps wailing and weeping. 
  1. We are more in trouble emotionally than physically. Instead of giving our thoughts to the world, if we give our thoughts to the Lord, and to our puja and japa, we can easily rise from our present state. 
  1. Develop such deep love for the Lord so that you feel you cannot live without Him. All devotion is nothing but developing the thought that “God alone is mine”!