Talks on ‘Valmiki Ramayana – June 2018

Talks on “Valmiki Ramayana” – by Swami Abhedananda

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

Key Points from the Discourses

Day 1

The atmosphere in “Brahmaloka” was divinely charged once again, as Swami Abhedanandaji commenced his discourses on Valmiki Ramayan on the first day of the June Monthly Yagna. Devotees were treated to a sublime yet mentally invigorating satsang. We bring to you some of the gems from the talk.

Dharma – The ultimate elixir for a good life
Valmiki Ramayan describes Bhagwan Ram as the embodiment of Dharma and righteousness. Here Valmikiji, for the benefit of mankind, had asked Naradji, “Who represents the acme of all values? Who is the knower of Dharma? Who is the abode of all virtuous qualities? Who has an immaculate character?”

  • The answers given by Naradji are essentially for us so that we could recognize what good qualities we have and what more we need to inculcate. We all have some goodness but to live life beautifully a lot of goodness, a lot of virtuous qualities are needed in good measure. Some goodness in little measure doesn’t really work.
  • A person might have many good qualities, such as being hardworking, studious and disciplined but if they lack gratitude then all the other good qualities get over shadowed. Just like the physical body, to be healthy, requires a combination of various vitamins and minerals etc., for our character to be beautiful, we require a combination of many good qualities. If even one important quality is missing then our life will lack the glow and the brilliance.
  • To go out and face the world, one does not need just hard work and a sharp intellect; many more virtues such as egoless-ness, self-control, forgiveness, bravery, humility etc. are required, which are elaborated in our scriptures.
  • Here Naradji elaborates on which qualities are required to lead your life beautifully through the dharmic character of Bhagwan Ram. Bhagwan Ram is the epitome of dharma and His entire life is a lesson for us, teaching us how to live and face this world.

The qualities of Dharma – which we need to imbibe

Dharmagya (Knower of Dharma)

  • ‘Dharmagya’ refers to the one who knows what dharma is. This is very important as all our sorrows and joys are dependent on knowing what our dharma is. If one is not aware of his dharma, then his actions will disturb him as well as others.
  • God alone decides what everyone’s dharma is. We cannot make our own laws and say that we will live our lives the way we want. If we do that then we will find ourselves in mental and emotional bondage.
  • It is of utmost importance to realize what ones dharma is because that alone leads to the purification of one’s heart. If one is unaware of their dharma then they say or do things which create disharmony outside and non-fulfillment and disturbance inside.
  • The problem is that dharma is not very easy to follow. To follow dharma one cannot hold on to their likes and dislikes as well as their ego. To practice dharma one has to be little hard with themselves. We are usually hard with others but soft with ourselves. Bhagwan Ram followed his dharma of protecting the word of his father, for which He even went for exile happily.
  • Bhagwan Ram followed his dharma at all times, which is why he was endeared by all. A person who follows his dharma becomes very strong and powerful because you can never catch them on a wrong foot. To lead a life of dharma – commitment and integrity is required.
  • It’s easy to do what we like, but very difficult to do the right thing which we don’t like. When dharma is not followed, a person’s mind will be troubled and he will lose his charisma. When dharma is not followed, it even becomes the cause for the fall of families and institutes.
  • A person who follows dharma recognizes the value of living a life in which aagya (obedience) is important. Life should be based on abiding by the righteous wishes of one’s elders & Guru, and not based on fulfilling one’s selfish egocentric desires.
  • Bhagwan Ram had this ‘Dharmagya’. Like a shadow, He followed dharma everywhere. Not even one action is there that He did which was adharmic.

Fruit of Knowing your Dharma & Following it

  • Following dharma will cleanse your heart and earn you the priceless wealth of blessings. Bhagwan Ram’s entire life was a depiction of following the path of righteousness and dharma.
  • In life we are constantly at crossroads, where we have the option of doing something or not doing something. Dharma helps us chose the right path. Dharma is the medicine which will cure us of all our ailments of mental bondage. Adharma makes us opt for the wrong path through which we get even more bound than what we were before doing an action.
  • Dharma is the one through which you please the God. Dharma is the one through which you do such actions which don’t cause guilt in future. Dharma is the capacity that one can do bigger things in life.
  • Another essence of dharma is to learn to be tolerant. If you tolerate anger one day, then next day you will have more confidence in your capacity to hold your mind. When you feel that you can hold on to something higher, and you can control yourself, that gives you a lot of energy and strength.
  • When dharma is not there, a person becomes unpredictable. You can’t predict the responses of an adharmic person. And thus when you interact with such a person, you live in some kind of apprehension all the time. Dharma is that through which you can be at home and comfortable with the person.
  • A dharmic preson is a non-hurting person. Every adharmic person is a hurting person. One who steals, he hurts. One who smokes, he hurts. One who drinks, he hurts. Any person who has dharma in him, he is dependable and reliable.
  • A person who has dharma he can serve because serving requires a lot of inner joy. One who has adharma, who is angry, demanding, expecting, indulgent, egoistic, jealous and lazy, he cannot serve even if he has a lot of talents. Such a person cannot concentrate for a long time, he cannot even worship God.

Satyasandhascha (One who sticks to his vows)

  • ‘Satyasandhacha’ means sticking to one’s vows. Moment we start following something bigger and higher some difficulty comes up, but a determined person alone can stick to his vows.
  • Every ashram, be it Brahmacharya ashram, Grihast ashram or Sannyaas ashram, all are based on vows. A person is known by the bigger vows that he can take. Gandhiji took the vow of non-violence, “even if they beat me, I won’t retaliate”, how difficult it was. Bhagwan Ram throughout His exile never missed His Puja even for a day. He never entered any city nor had any grains for fourteen years. Such were His vows!
  • Life is difficult for those who try to do easy things. A person is known and respected for what difficult task he has accomplished.
  • Those who do not stand for anything, they fall for everything. There may be difficult tasks at times in life, but one should go ahead and work to accomplish them. Upon accomplishing one difficult task our strength increases and we are able to do even bigger tasks.

Day 2

The second day of the monthly yagna saw the devoted audience submerging into the soothing depths of Valmiki Ramayan along with Swamiji, as He further elucidated the fundamental principles of Dharmic living. Here are a few beautiful snippets from Swami Abhedanandaji’s inspiring satsang:

Combination of Virtues leads to an Exalted life

  • Bhagwan Ram’s entire life was a testament for humanity to know about the virtues that are needed to live a dharmic life, so that we are not over powered by any external situation.
  • Naradji describes the qualities of dharma needed to create the right pattern of thoughts in our mind. If certain virtues are missing then not only will our present life become difficult but so will our future. Our present thoughts alone make our future.
  • If one aspect is missing it will jeopardize all other aspects of our personality. We can see this clearly in Ravan’s life. He was a learned scholar, a great priest, a brave warrior, a man capable of austerity, a great devotee of Lord Shiva. But all these wonderful qualities of his were over shadowed by two weaknesses:
    • Kaam: Extreme attachment to beauty and passion.
    • Ego: He did not listen to anybody, was very egocentric. His life was not based on obedience or respect for elders.

Bhagwan Ram’s myriad qualities – A reflection of Virtuousness

  • Prajanam hiteratha (One who is involved in the benefit of all):
    • Bhagwan Ram wanted to maintain the highest ideal for the welfare of His people, such that He was even willing to leave Sitaji when He discovered that His praja (the people) doubted the integrity of Sitaji.
    • Bhagwan Ram decided to take the blemish of sending Sitaji to the forest on Himself. He did this because He knew that in due time Sitaji’s purity and integrity would be known to all. As Sitaji was the one who had taken avatar (birth) to establish the right character for a woman and to show the renunciation of a woman.
    • Only the one who can rise above their own selfish desires can do big work and perform remarkable feats. We try to go and clean the world but our own mind is very dirty, this way we end up creating more dirt everywhere.
  • Yashasvi (One who has fame):
    • One achieves fame in their present life due to a lot of merits earned from their past life. Punya (merit) and yash (fame) are very closely related. Fame is the manifestation of Lord in your life.
    • Another big source of fame is – daan (donation). The one who contributes something to the society is the rightful recipient of fame. Contribution is not merely in monetary terms; it could also be a contribution of knowledge or that of sacrifice for a bigger cause, as seen in the life of Bhagat Singh or Gandhiji.
    • A person might not be yashasvi (famous) or known to the entire world but could mean the world to one person. Fame is only possible when a person has virtuous qualities. One cannot forcibly become famous.
    • If one has goodness it can’t stay hidden for a very long time. If you are virtuous and your actions and your nature is good, the Lord will automatically prompt someone to recognize your goodness.
  • Gyan Sampannah (One who is endowed with knowledge):
    • Bhagwan Ram was well endowed with all kinds of knowledge – not just scriptural knowledge, but also political, social, administrative knowledge etc.
    • One should be endowed with the right knowledge because as is one’s knowledge, so will be his responses. There are many things that we should know but we don’t know and there are unnecessary things that we know but they are not worth knowing.
    • We should know – what is the effect of worship, what is the effect of meditation, what is the message of Ramayan & Geeta, what is Karma yoga, what is Bhakti yoga, what is mind, what is Atma, who is a Guru, what is the meaning of Guru Bhakti, what are the effects of Guru Bhakti in one’s life, what Ishwar Bhakti does, how to do japa and puja, what is the benefit of offering prostrations to father and mother… so on and so forth.
    • There are a lot of such aspects of life which we are totally ignorant about and when we don’t know these essential aspects, it only means that we are missing something very important in life. This leads to mistakes and error in judgement.
  • Shuchihi (One whose intentions are very noble and pure):
    • When one doesn’t have any selfish desire, he won’t have any hidden agenda. Lesser is the selfishness in life, more one can open his heart. When one is selfish and he doesn’t want others to know about his selfishness, that is called ‘ashuchi’ (impurity). In Bhagwan Rams’s life, there was nothing that He had to hide from others, including the incident when He saw Sitaji in Pushpvatika. When He came back from Pushpvatika, He did not hide the fact that He liked Sitaji because it was not a selfish desire. He knew that Shakti and Shaktiman are already one.
    • More a person has this purity, more he will be quieter. Quietness of a saintly heart is because of ‘shuchi’.
  • Vashyah (One who is controlled):
    • When your mind is uncontrolled then it only means that for those moments, you will lose all the knowledge that you have. Every time when we get uncontrolled, we throw away all our knowledge. Renowned Saint Udia Baba used to say – getting angry once takes away one month of our Japa sadhana.
    • Being ‘uncontrolled’ means that the person starts behaving as if he is an animal. More that animalistic instinct is expressed, more time it takes for a person to gain his senses back.
    • The big risk of an uncontrolled mind is that – suppose you lose control for 5 minutes today, then tomorrow its power will be more. The uncontrolled habit will come with stronger gush. And day after tomorrow, it will be even stronger. A day will come when you will not be able to control it at all. Thus one should not have a casual attitude towards this; every uncontrolled habit should be tackled seriously.
    • One more big loss is there that the action which is uncontrolled, you can’t offer it to God.
    • When a person loses his control, he doesn’t understand that his mind is gaining a big negative power which will crush him. In his heart, he will develop the notion that ‘I am not a good person,’ and he will have to live with that thought.
    • When a person is uncontrolled, his ‘Vivek shakti’ (power of discrimination) is lost. Bhagwan Ram never did any uncontrolled action that would have led to any guilt in His life.
  • Samaadhimaan (One who is meditative):
    • There are two things – one is ‘meditation’ and other is ‘meditative’. Being meditative means that the person has deeper thoughts. When he speaks something, he speaks from the depth of his heart.
    • When Bhagwan Ram spoke, His responses showed that He was very quiet within. To be meditative means, the person can give an excellent response.
    • Situation demands that we should respond from the depth of our personality and there should not be any superficial response. Pujya Gurudev had such responses; his decisions, his way of presentation, his words, everything was meditative.
  • Shreeman (One who has ‘shree’):
    • ‘Shree’ means one who has ‘Lakshmi’ i.e., one who has joy all the time.
    • Where dharma is present, shree will be present as well.
    • Somebody asked Pujya Gurudev, “How do you know somebody is a saint?” Gurudev gave a very good answer, “If you sit neat a saint, your mind will not be that disturbed.” In Ramayan it is said that – the darshan of a saint takes away all disturbances of mind.
    • One who lives a dharmic life and lives the life of upasana, purity, austerity, he will have shree.
  • Dharmasya parirakshita (One who protects his Dharma):
    • The charm of a person is that he can follow his dharma. If dharma is left, it is as if the soul of the person has gone away. Bhagwan Ram followed all His dharma diligently, be it putra-dharma (dharma of son), raj-dharma (dharma of a king), shishya-dharma (dharma of a student), or bhrata-dharma (dharma of a brother).
    • That which is vulnerable, requires protection. Dharma needs to be protected because our vasnas, temptations, greed, lust, passion, anger – they are all looters of dharma.
    • Dharma cannot be protected automatically. It needs to be protected by vows, rules and sacrifice (tyaag). One needs to put special effort to protect his dharma.
    • Bhagavad Geeta says, ‘swadharme nidhanam shreyaha’ (3.35), it is better to die doing one’s dharma. Our dharma ensures that we get a better loka (abode) after death. It is difficult to protect dharma, but one must safeguard his dharma at all times.

Advantages of following one’s Dharma

  • When a person follows his dharma, he has a lot of atma-bal (self-confidence). He will be able to rise above his raaga (likes) and dwesha (dislikes) because to follow dharma, we are sometimes required to do that which we dislike, and not do what we like. So dharma enables a person to conquer his nature.
  • The other advantage of following dharma is, the person becomes a big source of joy and seva to others. To perform seva, one must not have his personal desire. One who doesn’t have his own personal life, he is available for all tasks, at all time. This is the reason why Lakshmanji could serve Bhagwan Ram, and why Gurudev could influence so many people’s life.
  • Another important benefit of performing dharma is that the person becomes very soft at heart. A person with a soft heart alone can do good puja, sadhana. Because he alone can understand how to please the Lord. One who has a softer heart, he can identify with the bigger.
  • A dharmic person is dear to the Lord. A dharmic person is invincible. Nobody can question such a person and he can never be taken casually. Even a servant cannot be taken casually if he is honest and works day and night.
  • Wherever Bhagwan Ram went, nobody could take Him casually!

Day 3

Continuing on Day 3 of the yagna on Valmiki Ramayana, Swami Abhedanandaji once again enthralled the devotees with his soul stirring satsang on the importance of leading a Dharmic life. Some of the memorable take-aways from yesterday’s satsang are shared below:

Right thoughts – the pathway to a quieter mind

  • We face situations in life with our thoughts and not with our physical body and talents. If a singer is insulted by someone, he will be able to deal with that insult not with his singing talent, rather with the thoughts of acceptance, devotion and surrender towards the Lord. That alone will help him achieve quietness of mind.
  • Our entire day is composed of various situations and every situation demands a certain kind of thought. We cannot escape from any situation. Different situations require different thoughts to deal with them. Not every thought will work for every situation.
  • In the face of failure, thoughts of ‘service’ will not help; one needs to have thoughts of ‘equanimity and egoless-ness’. In a situation of bereavement, your wealth or educational qualifications will not give you peace. You need the thought of ‘surrender to the Lord’s will’, accepting every situation as a gift from the Lord.
  • In life we will face enumerable situations which we don’t expect. When we introspect, we feel that if we had known that such a situation may arise, we could have prepared better to face it. Better prepared means, we would have had the right thought and the right response for that situation.

Bhagwan Ram’s myriad qualities – a reflection of virtuousness

  • ‘Rakshita swasya dharmasya’ (One who protects his dharma)
    • There are two types of dharma – Simple & Complex. Many simple dharma are mentioned in our scriptures clearly, for e.g. the right dharma of a father, mother, son etc. But there are many things which are not written but are also part of our dharma. When we follow the written dharma then only we will be able to understand the unwritten dharma.
    • At times we are confronted with situations where somebody is not following their dharma towards us. Instead of giving up our dharma towards them, we need to realize that the person doing wrong will have to bear the fruits of their adharmic actions. We need to stick to following our dharma because we will get a separate fruit of action for our righteousness.
    • At times, dharma can be very complex and very difficult to follow. Sometimes adharma appears as dharma; what is not right appears as right. If one does not follow his simple dharma he will not have the intuition to understand the complex dharma.
  • ‘Swajanasya rakshita’ (One who protects his own people)
    • No one lives alone; even animals live in a herd. Whether we are in the office or at home, there will always be some people who will be younger than us and some older than us, also some will be our age.
    • Our dharma towards the younger person is to give them love, guidance, opportunity, compassion and blessings. Towards the elder person, our dharma is to express humility, obedience, service and respect. For those who are of our own age, we need to share and give love to them.
    • Bhagwan Ram gave opportunity to Bharatji, love to Lakshmanji and utmost respect to His parents and Guru.
    • In any society or family, both elder as well as younger people are required. We all are meant to be support of each other. Elder people need seva from the younger, and at the same time the younger needs the love and blessings of the elder. When this combination is not present, then the society gets fragmented.
  • ‘Vedant vedang tattvagyaha’ (Knower of Vedant): If one has the knowledge of the Vedas, he can live life much better. Somebody asked, ‘To do social work is better, or to hear satsang is better?’ This question could be posed as, ‘To have hands & legs is better, or to have eyes is better?’ One can do better work if he has the right vision about what he is doing.
  • ‘Dhanurvede nishthita’ (One who is expert in Archery): It is said that Bhagwan Ram was very fond of having bow and arrow. He was an expert in Dhanurved (archery) because He was a Kshatriya. ‘Ramah shastra bhritamaham’ – in Geeta, Bhagwan says in 10th chapter – amongst the wielders of weapons, I am Lord Ram (10.31).
  • ‘Sarva shastrartha tattvagyah’ (Knower of all scriptures): Bhagwan Ram knew all the scriptures. Every story in the scripture is to tell us and teach us how our response should be in any given situation. Scriptures make us well equipped and give strength to our integrity.
  • ‘Smritivaan’ (One who has good memory)
    • ‘Memory’ here doesn’t refer to the mental capacity to memorize things; it refers to one’s ability to clearly remember one’s duties in any situation. In Chhandogya Upanishad, it is said – When one takes proper consumption from all the sense organs, his mind becomes purer; when his mind becomes purer, then he is always aware of his duties at any given time.
    • There are times when due to our vasana (desire), kaam (lust), krodha (anger) etc. we forget what we are supposed to do and not supposed to do. We tend to forget our duties and boundaries. It is as though there is some temporary blackout which prevents even our past experience and knowledge to help at that time.
    • If one doesn’t forget the purpose of his birth, he will remain a balanced person. This is called being ‘Smritivaan’. Bhagwan Ram never forgot His duties even when he was provoked by various people in various situations.
  • ‘Pratibhavaan’ (One whose knowledge is ever available to him): Such a person is ever alert and ready for any work that is required to be done.
  • ‘Sarvaloka-priyaha’ (One who is dear to everybody)
    • There are three main things that are needed to be loved by everyone: Good speech, bhaav (feelings/intentions) and swabhaav (behavior). To be loved by all, one should have sweet speech and sweet speech comes from one’s sweet bhaav. A harsh person is not dear to anybody. If our bhaav is not good then our speech too will be affected. More important than what we are saying, is how we are saying.
    • The other important aspect is one’s swabhaav. We don’t live with people, we live with their swabhaav. Everybody including animals wants to be loved. If one’s nature has less ego & less anger, and if he is concerned about others and speaks softly, he is sure to be loved by everyone.
    • The world demands sacrifice from everyone. Society, family, institution – all have only one call – ‘Give up!’ If one gives up something for the sake of others as per dharma, he is sure to be loved by everyone. We cannot become dear to anybody unless we have gone through pain for that person. A mother is very dear to her child, because she has gone through pain to bring up the child. Everything in the world demands sacrifice and service!

Dharma equates to selfless actions

  • Geeta emphasizes on four kinds of Vasanas (desires): Bhog Vasana (desire to enjoy), Karma vasana (desire to act), Tyaag vasana (desire to sacrifice), Gyaan vasana (desire to have knowledge). Swadharma is based on decreasing the desire for ‘enjoyment and action’ but increasing the desire for ‘sacrifice and knowledge’. And the desire for action should be directed towards the wellbeing of the society and towards the Lord. It should not be focused on one’s selfish personal desires.
  • When a person follows swadharma he is released from the bondage of the first two vasanas and he feels free. Bhagwan Ram’s entire life was free from the sting of selfishness. The process through which one can remove the sting or pain of selfishness is called dharma.
  • To play any role well, the requirement is to leave one’s own selfish desires, likes and dislikes. In Bhagwan Ram’s entire life there was not a single action that he did for His own desire. From going to the forest, to killing Ravan, to breaking the bow to marry Sitaji, no action was for His personal desire.
  • What dharma we have to follow is not for us to decide, it’s already prescribed. From a sanyasi (renunciate) to a grahasth (householder), nobody can choose their dharma. Dharma is that which takes us towards sacrifice and not enjoyment.

Day 4

On the fourth day of the monthly Yagna, Swami Abhedanandaji continued to enlighten the listeners with his illuminating explanation and examples from Bhagwan Ram’s life. Sharing below some points from the satsang to ponder and assimilate in our lives:

Lord Ram’s life – a beacon of light guiding Humanity

  • Bhagwan Ram is known as ‘Dharma avatar’ (incarnation for Dharma). Throughout His life, He established the highest standards for living a life of beauty and purity. His life is not just a story; rather it highlights the salient features that our mind should have in order to live with quietness, purity, harmony and devotion.
  • Life becomes very difficult to face, not due to external situations, but because we are unaware of the right actions to be taken in a certain situation.
  • Situations can be managed well if we have the right convictions based on our dharma. Even if we don’t have the right convictions, we should not despair. We, as humans, have the freedom to change our nature and build the right convictions.
  • Our scriptures and satsang teach us and help us realize what our convictions should be. Bhagwan Ram through his life demonstrated the knowledge which is written in the Vedas.

Dharma – the Armor that Protects

  • Even though Geeta and Ramayana were written a long time ago, their message is even more relevant in today’s day and age when our minds are more uncontrolled and life is way more complex.
  • In life many things need to be protected, and most important among them is – our peace of mind. Dharma gives us the conviction to lead a life of such values and standards so that outer situations cannot disturb us.
  • If our mind is not at peace, we are unable to perform well, interact well or even give the right responses. So, the first thing dharma does is that it protects the quietness, peace and security of our mind.
  • When mind doesn’t function properly, it easily gets gripped by negative tendencies of anger, anxiety, jealousy etc. But dharma provides the shield, which protects the mind from outer situations and does not allow them to penetrate.
  • Bhagwan Ram had made His mind such that it could never be attacked; it was always well guarded. He was never upset with Kaikeyi; and going to the forest was child’s play for Him. He was always content and there was complete absence of jealousy, lust or revenge in His nature. Therefore, wherever He went and whomever He met, He was always content and fulfilled in the palace of His mind.
  • The tenets of dharma are like bricks, cemented in our mind to build a fortress of protection around us. Bricks of devotion towards the Guru and God, bricks of non-anger, dispassion and forgiveness, keep us safe and guarded from outside invasion of negative tendencies.

Tolerance – the need of the hour
There is a beautiful text of Bhagwan Adi Shankaracharyaji called ‘Prashnottar Ratna Malika’ where he had posed a question, “By whom is the world conquered?” The answer to which he gave as, “World is conquered by the person who has two things – A strong Value system and lot of Tolerance.”

  • We all live and interact with others whether it is at home or at the work place. People and situations will not always be as per our liking and nature, hence we all need to adjust and tolerate. ‘Non tolerance’ means that when things do not happen according to our wishes we get impatient and angry.
  • Not everything will happen according to our wish all the time. Sometimes we might desire success or wealth but might not get it. People around us might have a nature opposite to our own, which might cause us irritation. So everywhere we need to learn to tolerate.
  • Tolerance means that when you are encountered with an unfavorable situation, you do not let your desire overpower you. Rather you reduce that desire, thus not allowing it to disturb you.
  • Tolerance does not equate to compulsion, rather it is the quietness of our mind in the face of an unconducive situation. This is achieved by reducing our desire and expectation as well as reducing our mental and emotional demands. Bhagwan Ram never demanded anything from anyone, be it his parents, or brothers, or the people of Ayodhya, to act or behave in any particular manner.

Truthful and Pleasant Speech – an influential factor
Bhagwan Shankaracharyaji poses one more question in ‘Prashnottar Ratna Malika’ as, “Everybody is under whose influence?” There he writes, “Everybody is under the influence of the one who speaks the truth and who speaks sweetly and with humility.”

  • Speaking the truth: Anyone speaks false when he has done something wrong. If we have done all the things right, we need not speak false.
  • Speaking sweetly: There are many people, who knowingly or unknowingly, speak harshly. A person in whose mind, sweetness is there; that sweetness comes out in his speech too. But when a person’s mind is occupied with some issue and he is angry and irritated, then he cannot speak sweetly.
  • Speaking with humility: This means accepting yourself as small in front of the other person. Bhagwan Ram had this humility everywhere He went. To Parshuramji He said, ‘I am your culprit,’ even when He had done nothing wrong.
    • Humility means that you don’t make the other person feel that he is wrong and you are right. A humble person, by his body language, by his expressions, by his words, makes the other person feel – ‘I am also wrong’. When one accepts himself as wrong, the other person is more inspired to accept his mistakes too. A house, an office, an institution is sustained by such humility.
    • Humility is not something which refers to meek surrender to something; it is an intelligent way of living because the fact is that everybody is wrong in some area. Humility is living with the understanding that we may also have done some wrong, and therefore we should not put ourselves at a higher pedestal.
    • Bhagwan Ram’s one of the most beautiful qualities was that He always wanted to be low profile. People gave Him high stature, but He Himself never wanted to be in limelight. It is said that Bhagwan Ram was ‘poorva bhaashi’ i.e., whenever He met anybody, He used to greet first and not wait for the other person to greet Him. Even in front of the monkeys and demons, He used to get up first and greet.

Sadhuta (Saintliness)
Another dharmic trait of Bhagwan Ram as mentioned in Valmiki Ramayana is ‘Sadhu’ which means ‘being saintly’.

  • There are two things: one is Sadhu-vesh (attire of a saint) and other is Sadhu-mann (mind of a saint). To have Sadhu mind is the requirement in everybody’s life. Swami Akhandanandji used to say – ‘Everybody is a Parmatma, but if you have to become something, become a Mahatma.’
  • Sadhu mind is the mind which is free from – Reaction, Demand & Complain. Reaction or anger has never solved any problem, instead it only worsens a situation.
  • One may have preferences but one must not have egocentric demands. If one has any demand, it should be for a higher cause like the country or the community; any other demand which does not include the interests of other people, is an ego-centric demand. Gandhiji’s dream was the dream of many; Mandela’s dream was the dream of millions of people.
  • A person complains when his demands are not met. Thus, reaction, demand and complain all go hand in hand. Any demand or desire which has become the cause of your pain, it is important to drop it immediately.
  • A Sadhu is the one who wants inner joy, while Asadhu (non-saintly person) is the one who wants outer success. Sadhu is the one who wants to please His Guru and God while Asadhu is the one who wants name, fame and applause for himself.
  • It is the saints alone who make any place holy. Badrinath is known because of Saint Shankaracharya, Kedarnath is known because of the saintly Pandavas. Even the holy scriptures are not written by Gods, but by the saints.
  • The mool-mantra (basic root) of all Sadhus is ‘Tyaag’ (Renunciation).

Day 5

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

Our Thoughts – Are they leading us to bondage or freedom?

  • In life, our happiness and sorrow depends on our nature. It is our thoughts that can liberate us and our thoughts alone that can bind us. ‘Bondage’ is not the physical bondage but the mental bondage that occurs due to our pain giving thoughts.
  • If we don’t like something external, a person or a thing, we can easily give it up. But this is not the case with our pain giving negative thoughts. For e.g. if we have a thought of jealousy, we are not able to drop that thought at will, it grips us. This is called bondage.
  • We cannot run away from our thoughts, tendencies or desires. We can’t escape from them. Even with the passage of time or change of place, our thoughts don’t change as much. Our tendencies get carried on to the next birth as well.
  • There are some thoughts which are liberating and can lead us towards knowledge, inspiration and solutions. Thoughts of austerity, service and sacrifice will pave the way to achieve bigger things in life. They help us in dropping our negative tendencies and aim for the higher.
  • Divine thoughts allow grace, love and knowledge to enter our lives. While the demonic thoughts block all goodness from outside and confines one to sadness inside.
  • Personality of a person is not defined by their external physical appearance. Rather, our personality is defined by the fact whether we have ‘blessing invoking thoughts’ or we have ‘blessing blocking thoughts’. Bhagwan Ram had such beautiful thoughts that made Him invoke grace, knowledge and love from everyone. He Himself manifested the thought of dharma which gives freedom.

Adorn the qualities of a Sadhu

  • Tulsidasji, while elaborating on the qualities of a sadhu (saint), says, “Sudha sudhakar sur sari sadhu”, one who is a sadhu, his speech has sweet words like nectar, his demeanor is cool like the moon. Just as the Ganges nourishes and purifies wherever it flows, similarly wherever a sadhu goes he purifies that place and it becomes a place of pilgrimage.
  • Everybody needs to have a mind that is like a sadhu’s mind. It’s not a choice, it is mandatory that we must have.
  • If a person does not have a sadhu mind, he will demand a lot; he will have anger, ego, jealousy and less sensitivity. Such a person will not be easy to live with.
  • A sadhu is not someone who is only needed in an ashram. To have a mind like a sadhu is the requirement of every role we play in life. From a sadhu, one can expect a lot as they have the quality to renounce, to be selfless, to sacrifice and the ability to conquer their mind.
  • If Bhagwan ram was not a sadhu, he could not have renounced the luxuries of the palace and gone to the forest joyfully. Nor would He be able to fulfil His duties or be a source of joy to others.

Bhagwan Ram’s myriad qualities – A reflection of Virtuousness

  • Adeenatma (One who is not pathetic)
    • ‘Deen’ here refers to the one who feels lowly and is always demanding things. Absence of things/objects does not make a person poor or pathetic in any way. But the feeling of incompleteness due to the lack of those things, makes the person pitiful.
    • Bhagwan Ram was adeenatma i.e., He never felt pitiful no matter what the outer situation was. Even when He was sleeping on the ground in the forest, He never had any thought of deenta. He never felt incomplete or that He lacked anything.
    • Deenta should not be there in a person. One should not feel unlucky because of lack of something. Those who have Lord in their heart they don’t have the feeling of lowliness.
  • Vichakshana (One who has an intuitive sense)
    • In life, many times situations come which we have not faced before and at such times one has to use their common sense. The ability to do this is called ‘Vichakshana’. The ability and the sensitivity to understand what the situation requires.
    • Having this quality means knowing what to say or do in different situations. This was one of the qualities of Bhagwan Ram as enumerated by Naradji.
  • Sarvada abhigataha sadbhihi (One who is sought after by the wise)
    • As the rivers rush towards the ocean, all the wise people used to rush towards Bhagwan Ram. During Bhagwan Ram’s exile, as soon as He reached Chitrakoot, all the devatas, rishis & sadhus rushed to have His darshan. This was because He had so much joy and knowledge within.
    • The evolution of a person is measured by how much eager people are to listen to Him. The glory of life is in earning ears and not wagging tongues.
    • There are three main qualities that attract people: Swabhaav (behavior), Gyan (knowledge) and Bhakti (devotion). Bhagwan Ram was the ocean of knowledge, purity and devotion.
    • Spiritual person has a magnetic personality and the charm of a spiritual person never diminishes.
  • Aaryaha (One who is presentable)
    • One must always have decent attire and should be presentable externally. And just as the body must be presentable, one’s mind should also be presentable at all times.
    • Having a presentable Mind means that the beauty of the mind is not be lost even when one is provoked or insulted.
    • When Bhagwan Ram was given exile by Kaikeyi, there was no bitterness, sadness, anger or expectation that came in His mind. He went cheerfully to Mother Kaushalya to inform her about the exile, and spoke to her with same equipoise and calm as always. Such a mind is called Aaryaha. One must work to have such a presentable mind.
  • Sarva smaschaiva (One who is equanimous): Bhagwan Ram was absolutely equanimous in every situation. He had the same composure while sitting on the throne, as He had when He sat on the floor in the forest. He never had high or low moments.
  • Sadaiva priya darshana (One who has a pleasing demeanor): Bhagwan Ram always had a very good and pleasing demeanor. He had so much quietness and love that people did not wish to take their eyes away from Him. Face of a person should ooze out love, humility, and gratefulness!

Day 6

The mesmerizing satsangs on Valimiki Ramayana came to a blissful conclusion as Swami Abhedanandaji interspersed his talks with thought provoking illustrations from Lord Ram’s life, showing the practical applicability of dharma in our daily interactions and living. Here are some of the memorable takeaways from the last day’s satsang:

Dharma – the glow of positivity

  • Dharma not only creates fulfillment inside but also harmony outside. Adharmic thoughts create agitation in the mind and disharmony with the people outside.
  • A dharmic person becomes a source of security and trust for others around him. Whereas an adharmic person is always the cause of some problem for himself and for others as well; they create insecurity and people cannot trust them.
  • A dharmic person is never afraid of his future. This is because he is comfortable in the knowledge that he has not wronged anyone, nor breached anyone’s trust, or stolen anything from anyone. He knows that he has performed his duties selflessly, which is why he is not afraid of the fruit of his actions. On the other hand, an adharmic person will always be scared and insecure; he knows that his bad actions will eventually give bad fruits and he will have to bear the consequences.
  • The character of Bhagwan Ram was such that, everyone wanted to be with Him. This is the disposition of dharma. A person should not be like the lemon in the milk which splits the milk, rather one should be like the sugar which sweetens it.

Bhagwan Ram’s myriad qualities – a reflection of virtuousness

  • Priya darshana (one whose sight is very pleasing)
    • Our thoughts are reflected and expressed on our face. Just by looking at a person’s face one can know whether they are angry, disturbed or serene and quiet. If someone has the disposition of purity or brilliance, it will reflect on their face. As is the vritti (thought) so is the aakritii (appearance).
    • Bhagwan Ram’s face and demeanor was one of coolness. Some people have a very quiet and contented face; it lacks anger and is full of love and dispassion. Their face reflects devotion towards the Lord and Guru; they are fearless.
    • Pure and selfless emotions are the beauty of a person. Somebody has emotions for you, means they feel for you, they understand your pain, they understand what will make you happy and joyous.
  • Kaushalya vardha nandana (Giver of joy to Kaushalyaji)
    • Some people give joy with their thoughts, attitude, love and care. The person who can give joy is the one who does not think of their own joy. You can take the others wish and be able to serve only if you are willing to leave your own wish behind.
    • Bhagwan Ram did not have even a single desire for Himself, which is why He could give joy to others. He was ever willing to do what others wanted Him to do.
  • Samudra eva gambhirye (One who has depth like the ocean)
    • Bhagwan Ram’s personality had depth and expanse, like an ocean. This means, no situation had the power to disturb or trouble Him. Just like no matter what you drop in the ocean, it cannot disturb the ocean. When a person’s heart is shallow, he gets disturbed at every instance; he is unable to take the shocks and jerks of life.
    • There are 3 things that makes a person’s heart shallow: Attachment, Ego & Selfish desires:
      • Attachment: Excessive attachment makes a person’s heart shallow.
        • If a person is very attached for e.g. to their children, then anything happening in the lives of their children will impact them tremendously. If a person is very attached to wealth, and they get a lot of money or if they don’t have money, in both cases they will get disturbed.
        • Bhagwan Ram had no attachment towards the kingdom and it’s luxuries which is why He could very easily leave it and go to the forest.
        • Attachment makes a person very vulnerable. The problem is that if one has a very strong desire towards the object of their attachment and if that desire is not fulfilled, it will shake them. The person who has dispassion will not get affected in such a situation.
      • Ego: Second reason for a shallow heart is the ego of a person. If a person does not want to be looked down upon by anybody, it is the desire of his ego. The world however is such a place that one will always be looked down upon.
        • If ego is there, a person will get various shocks in life, because he will demand a lot, he will want to be appreciated a lot.
        • To be egoistic, one need not necessarily possess something; even a beggar can be ahankaari, then what to talk about the big ego of those people who actually possess things like money, power, strength, talents etc.
      • Selfish desires: Third thing that makes our heart shallow is our selfish desires. If we have selfless desires, God helps us to carry forward our work.
  • Dhairyena himavan eva (Having patience like the Himalayas)
    • Dhairya (patience) is required in two instances – first, when you are pursuing something and not able to achieve it, and second is, to live with the people in the world.
    • Dhairya means the capacity to continue inspite of failures. ‘I am doing japa, I am doing meditation, but I am failing. I am struggling with my mind. I am trying to conquer anger but am not able to’ – at such times, patience is much needed. Wherever there is a bigger goal, and you fail to achieve it, at that time the secret strength that makes you continue and not give-up is called dhairya.
    • One very good source of dhairya is ‘Faith’. If faith is there, you feel that the Lord will help you. You have the assurance that Bhagwan is there, and He will take you across one day.
    • Dharma cannot be practiced unless one has dhairya. No big work can be done unless one has dhairya. Dhairya is required because some pain is involved in performing greater work.
    • Dhairya is that through which we promise to ourselves, ‘I will go through all pain’. There is some pain experienced when one does not express his kaam, krodh or lobh. A dhairyavan person (one who is patient) is the one who can go through this pain.
  • Vishnuna sadrisho veerye: Bhagwan Ram’s bravery and power was like that of Lord Vishnu because He Himself was the avatar of Lord Vishnu.
  • Soma priyadarshana: Bhagwan Ram’s face was appealing like the moon. His countenance and demeanour was very pleasing to see. A person should be such that everybody should be thirsty to see him and talk to him.
  • Kaal sadrishe krodhe: Lord Ram’s anger was like the Kaal (death). This is Ishwar’s anger. It is different from our anger. In our anger we lose control and do something wrong; but the Lord can do pralay (dissolution of the whole cosmos) in His anger.
  • Kshma eva prithvi sama (Forgiving like the Earth)
    • Bhagwan Ram’s forgiveness was like that of earth. We pat the earth and even throw things on the earth, yet the earth tolerates everything. Kshama or forgiveness is a very big quality because when we forgive we don’t keep somebody’s fault in our minds.
    • Only brave people can do that. If ten people did wrong to us, and we kept ten people’s faults in our mind, it is as if we have kept ten nails in our head which keep pricking us.
    • A house is made by forgiveness only; a teacher is made by forgiveness; and even the Lord is made by forgiveness only. The Lord is the one who can see all our past actions in all our previous births and yet He forgives our mistakes and blesses us.
  • Dhanena sama tyaage: In giving, Lord Ram was magnanimous like Kuber. It is said, when people used to approach Bhagwan Ram, He didn’t think twice to give away even His dearest of belongings.

Bhagwan Ram has infinite qualities. It is said that even if Sheshnaag (celestial snake with many heads) talks about the qualities of Bhagwan Ram for thousands of years, even then all the qualities cannot be talked of. We should pray to Lord Ram so that we too are endowed with these qualities and are able to follow Dharma in our lives.