Yagna on ‘Shri Bharat Sharanagati’ – Part 1 June 2017

Talks on “Shri Bharat Sharanagati” – Part 1 – by Swami Abhedananda

(Gyan Yagna conducted from 1st June till 6th June, 2017)

Key Points from the Discourses

Day 1

In the vast ocean of Hindu scriptures, if there is one character that sets the benchmark on love, devotion, humility and surrender, then that is the great character of Shri Bharatji. On the first day of the monthly yagna on ‘Shri Bharat Sharanagati’ at Durban ashram, Swami Abhedananda beautifully described the various aspects of Bharatji’s character…talking in such depth & vivid details as though seeing Bharatji in front of his own eyes. We bring to you a few excerpts from the discourse:

Exalted Character of Shri Bharatji:

  • In Ramcharitmanas, Shri Bharatji’s character is such that the loftiness of his nature and emotions is unfathomable. Bharatji’s biggest wealth was his deep identification with Bhagwan Ram. He had extreme devotion and love for Bhagwan and always had a sense of humble smallness in front of Bhagwan. Bharatji had all qualities in such measure that Lord Ram once said, “taat tum samaan tum taat” – i.e. “like you only you are there, there is no one else like you.”
  • In Ramayan, it is written that Bharatji is like an ocean in which a lot of gems are hidden, and Bhagwan Ram’s vanvas (exile in the forest) is like a churner. Like, during the Amrut-manthan (churning of the celestial ocean), a lot of gems and jewels came out, similarly from the character of Bharatji a lot of gems and jewels came out when Bhagwan Ram went for exile.
  • In life, we don’t lack externally; we do internally. The richness of our inner self is not nurtured and developed. We will see this internal richness in the character of Shri Bharatji. Like a live lamp alone can light another lamp, when we see the higher values in someone, it is easier to imbibe them in our character. In the form of Shri Bharatji, we have a shining example of devotion, surrender, sacrifice and love.

Shri Bharatji’s love for Lord Ram:

  • The amount of sacrifice and love in Bharatji’s character is boundless. Whenever someone praised Bharatji, his head used to bend thinking that he didn’t deserve the praise and only his brother Ram should be praised. Bharatji had only one bhaav – ‘let me do something which will give a lot of joy to my brother Ram.’ Bhagwan Ram alone was the centre of Bharatji’s life.
  • Bharatji had a very soft nature with a high level of sensitivity. The moment he heard that his father had passed away, he fainted thinking ‘When my father would have died, my brother Ram would have suffered alone.’ His reference point was only one and his love was for only one and that was Bhagwan Ram.
  • When Bharatji heard about Bhagwan Ram’s exile, he forgot about his father’s death and got angry at the doings of his mother Kaikeyi. At that time, a very soft-hearted Bharatji spoke extremely harsh words to Kaikeyi. But those words were truly meant to reduce Kaikayi’s attachment towards her own son and make her turn towards the Lord and take refuge in the Lord alone.
  • Bharatji was so one with Bhagwan Ram that when Shatrughnji was hitting Manthara, Bharatji stopped him saying, “When our brother Ram will hear this news that you and me have beaten a woman, He will become sad, so leave her.” Bharatji always had only one central reference point in his life and that was his brother Ram.
  • When Bharatji went to mother Kaushalya to seek forgiveness, Bharatji assured her that he had no involvement in the conspiracy against Ramji. Listening to Bharatji, Mother Kaushalya embraced him and said, “You are most dear to Ram. Ram is your pran (life) and you are dear to him more than his own pran. It is possible that sun may become cool, or the moon may become fiery but it is not possible that you can be against Ram!”

Day 2

On the second day of the gyan yagna on ‘Shri Bharat Sharanagati’, Swami Abhedananda explained beautifully on what one should really grieve about; while we often grieve the loss of material wealth, its truly the loss of inner character which is worth grieving. We must orient our thinking to yearn what is truly worth our human birth; like Shri Bharatji did. The below points from the day’s discourse on how we can do that:

Bharatji is one of the most inspiring characters in Ramayan. His entire life revolved around Bhagwan Ram alone and he had only one unquenching thirst – to give love to Bhagwan Ram. A person is not what he possesses externally but what his ‘thirst’ is…what he seeks most. More we understand and imbibe the character of Shri Bharatji, more we become quieter and pious.

Teachings from Vasishthaji to Bharatji:

It is said that after Bharatji performed all the required rituals for Dashrathji, he got a lot of beautiful advice from his teacher, Vasishthaji. Vasishthaji explained to Bharatji: Destiny is beyond control. There are six things which are not in our control – gain and loss in life, birth and death, fame and insult. One should not try to wrestle with destiny, it cannot be changed, and therefore Vasishthaji advised Bharatji to not blame anybody for what has happened.

Who is worth grieving in this world?
Vasishthaji told Bharatji who are the people who truly are worth grieving:

  • That ‘brahmin, or scholar or saint’ is worth grieving who doesn’t have the knowledge of the Vedas.
  • That ‘king’ is worth grieving who doesn’t love the people of his kingdom and who doesn’t know the right policies to be put in place.
  • That ‘businessman’ is worth grieving who is very stingy and doesn’t contribute towards the society through charity.
  • That person is worth grieving who insults the brahmins; is egoistic and answers back. When one doesn’t have knowledge, he should not pretend to possess knowledge and mock others; he must sit at the feet of the mahatmas and learn from them.
  • That ‘wife’ is worth grieving who cheats on her husband, who is crooked, and has a lot of desires. Joy of the house is when the women of the house is very happy, cheerful, calm, quiet, speaks sweetly and tolerates a lot.
  • That ‘brahmachari’ is worth grieving who leaves his vow of brahmacharya (celibacy), and doesn’t follow the words of his teacher.
  • That ‘householder’ is worth grieving who leaves his job and sits idle, doing nothing. When a person is married and has taken the responsibility of the family, he must follow the path of action and perform his duties.
  • That ‘sannyasi’ (renunciate) is worth grieving who gets involved and has no dispassion or discrimination.
  • Those ‘people in vanaprasth ashram’ (~60 to 70 yrs in age) are worth grieving who don’t do austerity and remain involved in enjoying worldly things.
  • Those people who backbite and get angry unnecessarily are worth grieving. Anger is triggered by un-fulfilled desires, ego, unruly demands and expectations. We must thus be quiet and limit our expectations from others.
  • The other set of people who are worth grieving are those who oppose their mother, father and teacher. We can never repay the debts of our parents and Guru even if we serve them throughout our lives, and therefore we must always be soft towards them.
  • Lastly Vasishthaji says – that person is worth grieving the most who, after getting the human body, doesn’t do bhajan of the Lord. Bhajan is nothing but the desire to make the Lord happy. Constantly pleasing Him alone is called ‘bhajan’. Whatever Lord gives us, we should remain quiet and be thankful to Him – that is bhajan.

After this enumeration, Vasishthaji tells Bharatji that these are the people who are worth grieving and not King Dashrath because he had done the bhajan of Bhagwan Ram throughout his life. He had a great death because it was in the memory of Bhagwan Ram. The one who had sons like Ram, Bharat, Lakshman and Shatrugan, how can he be worth grieving!

Day 3

On the third day of the gyan yagna, Swami Abhedanandaji continued to describe the many facets of Bharatji’s beautiful character. These qualities made Bharatji win the hearts of all around and his beloved Bhagwan Ram.

Maturity in Shri Bharatji’s response:

When Bharatji was advised by Guru Vasishtha, Mother Kaushalya and the ministers that he should rule the kingdom as per the wish of Dashrathji, Bharatji was saddened thinking about the hardships that Bhagwan Ram has to go through in the forest. Bharatji felt that nobody understood his plight, but he didn’t lose his cool and spoke with folded palms.

  • It is natural for a sad person to be upset, irritated and helpless, but Bharatji’s conduct was ever calm and patient. He first asked for forgiveness for answering them back and then started talking. Bharatji’s conduct was never impulsive.
  • Bharatji, while addressing the people in the congregation said these golden lines, “It is said that the words of Guru, father and mother should be followed immediately and one should not think if it is right or wrong, as even thinking like that one incurs sin. You all told me what is good for me, but my mind is not happy. I think that my goodness lies only in one thing and that is in serving Bhagwan Ram and that has been snatched away by my mother Kaikeyi.”

Are we serving the Lord or ourself?

  • Anybody is great because his desire is great and anybody is cheap because his desire is cheap. Bharaji’s desire was not for himself, his desire was not to satiate his vasnas, not to satisfy his ahankaar, not to live for petty things but to live for higher, to live for Lord Ram.
  • Generally, most of us work for our egocentric desires and not for the higher. Success of life is not how much we work, but success of life is how much our desires and ego lessens by working, and how much we become available for the higher. Moment we want to serve the higher, we have to give up our smallness, we have to give up our likes, dislikes, anger, and ego. Thus, here Bharatji says, “In serving the Lord alone lies our ultimate good.”

Deenta (humility) of Shri Bharatji:

  • Bharatji further added, “For me, without Bhagwan Ram, everything is useless. I want to see Him full of joy. Please give me permission to go to Bhagwan Ram. You don’t know my plight. I am the son of the mother who is against Ram. There is no bigger sinner than me. Because of me, my dearest brother is wandering from one forest to another. Because of me everybody is suffering in this kingdom.” These words express the deenta of Bharatji. In reality, there was no fault of Bharatji but still he found himself as the culprit.
  • ‘Deenta’ means that the person thinks he is very small and down-trodden. If you think you are great and have a lot of qualities, how can you love? In love, you have to become very small and insignificant. This quality of Bharatji is exemplary.
  • Listening to Bharatji, the whole congregation became speechless. All the people of Ayodhya who had doubts on Bharatji, folded their hands and started saying, “Glory to Bharat! Glory to Bharat!” Bharatji’s words as if gave life to the people of Ayodhya.

Who is a devotee?

  • A devotee is the one who seeks the Lord in all situations & problems. He doesn’t seek anything from anywhere else.
  • The seed of higher joy lies in the sorrow of not having that joy. More you suffer without Lord, more you enjoy His presence; more you miss your japa, more is the intensity with which you will do your japa.
  • Bharatji’s mind was so pure and selfless that he says, “I don’t want name, fame, power, position or kingdom. I only want to go to Bhagwan Ram. Unless I see the feet of Bhagwan, I cannot remain quiet.” Such was the depth of Bharatji’s devotion!

Shri Bharatji’s discrimination:

  • With the jewel of discrimination, Bharatji wiped his tears and called the army of Ayodhya and instructed them to remain in Ayodhya while he is gone to bring Bhagwan Ram. He said, “You will be here to protect this kingdom as this kingdom belongs to my brother Ram. We have to guard it. We are all servants of Bhagwan Ram.” Bharatji was acting on behalf of his master. This is called karma-yog.
  • Lastly Bharatji decided to take the throne along with him as he thought, “Bhagwan Ram does not need the throne, He is already the king of the whole cosmos but the throne needs Bhagwan Ram, and hence the throne should go to Him.”Bharatji wanted to coronate Bhagwan Ram in the forest itself and bring Him back.

Day 4

On the fourth day of the monthly gyan yagna, the sweet nectar of Shri Bharatji’s inspiring character was flowing abundantly. Quoting many anecdotes from the Ramayana, Swamiji shared how Bharatji was exemplary in many great qualities. Below are some of his qualities talked in the discourse:

Shri Bharatji’s love for Bhagwan Ram:

The foundational quality of Shri Bharatji is his love for Bhagwan Ram. This love is what converted every bitter situation sweet and provided a sense of security in the most challenging times. When one has Lord’s love in his heart, the acceptability of the external situations increases manifold as everything is seen as God’s wish alone.

Dispassion of Bharatji:

Second quality of Shri Bharatji is his dispassion. Even after getting such a mighty kingdom, he didn’t accept it. Dispassion is something which makes a person free from the thought of what he does not have. Generally, we don’t enjoy what we have and tend to suffer from what we don’t have. Bharatji had extreme dispassion, he never longed for any material possession.

Reliability of Bharatji:

Before going to Chitrakoot, Bharatji ensured all residents of Ayodhya are comfortable and well taken care of. When Bhagwan Ram saw both the brothers in Chitrakoot, not even once he felt the need for asking Bharatji, “How is Ayodhya?” as He was sure that Bharatji would have fully secured Ayodhya. This is the success of Bharatji; he was a very reliable person. A reliable person is the one who is sure to give joy and fulfill the projects of his master; he is the one who doesn’t follow his own desire and doesn’t do anything to hurt his master.

Austerity of Bharatji:

Bharatji was not a stubborn person. His rules and austerity never troubled those around him. As the whole community of Ayodhya left for Chitrakoot, Bharatji started walking barefoot in remembrance of Bhagwan Ram, but when Mother Kaushalya advised him to sit in a chariot instead, he instantly left his wish and obeyed his mother.

Our austerity should appear good to others too; it should not be a cause of concern to anybody. All rules should be to please God and Guru only. Bharatji’s personality was such that he never displeased anybody. There was fragrance of surrender, fragrance of humility and fragrance of love in Bharatji’s austerity.

Meeting of Shri Bharatji with Nishaad Raj:

When Bharatji found that Nishaad Raj had served Bhagwan Ram; and Bhagwan accepted and embraced Nishaad Raj as His friend, Bharatji jumped from the moving chariot to meet Nishaad Raj. Bharatji tightly embraced Nishaad Raj even when Nishaad Raj kept saying that he was a tribal and a lower cast person. Such was the love of Bharatji!

Glory of Lord:

Nishaad Raj told Bharatji, “I am a lower cast person, I am crocked with a bad intellect, and everybody hates me, but because Bhagwan Ram accepted me, I became as if the ornament of the whole world.” This is the glory of Lord!

The glory of Lord is that no matter how-so-ever down-trodden a person is, if he goes towards Bhagwan, and takes His name and chants His glories, he becomes honorable and worshippable.

Pain of Shri Bharatji:

When Nishaad Raj showed Bharatji the mat where Bhagwan Ram and Sitaji slept, Bharatji knelt down and started smearing the dust on himself. Bharatji said, “Because of me, my brother and mother Sita had to sleep on this hard mat. They are going through so much trials and tribulations because of me. Fie upon me!” Bharatji did pradikshana of that area with tears constantly flowing down his eyes.

A lover can tolerate everything but not the sadness of his beloved. Loving means identifying with the sorrow and joy of the beloved so much so that you forget your own sorrow and joy.

Those alone are rich who can think of giving all their joys to someone higher. Bharatji had a lot of pain thinking about Lord Ram’s sorrow and hardships. This pain for the higher, like Shri Bharatji had, is what we need to serve the higher!

Day 5

On the penultimate day of the monthly yagna, Swami Abhedananda further elaborated on Bharatji’s many brilliant qualities. Bharatji’s singular focus on being an instrument of joy for the Lord is a shining example of how one can lead a glorious life in the service of the Lord alone. Below are a few excerpts from the day’s discourse:

Pure love:

  • Pure love has a lot of power. It can bring out such qualities that an ordinary person becomes extra-ordinary. Purer the love, more powerful & fearless it is.
  • Pure love cannot be with any person or thing. In pure love, it is important that we sublimate ourselves, our ‘I’ needs to be obliterated, our joys and sorrows should no longer exist, our ahankaar (ego) should be burnt, our attachments, hatred and jealousy needs to be crushed. Pure love can only be with the Lord.
  • Devotion for Lord shines only in that heart which is free from ego, desires, likes and dislikes. In that heart alone Lord resides and in that heart alone joy is present.

Increasing our Bhaav for the Lord:

The more we become small, more we can identify and acknowledge the grace of the Lord in our life. When Nishadraj tried to console Bharatji and said that Bhagwan Ram had praised him, Bharatji felt that it was the Swabhaav (nature) of Bhagwan that He praised an unworthy person like himself. Bharatji never felt that he was worthy of getting any praise. Such was the bhaav of Shri Bharatji!

Bharatji was a True Karma-yogi:

  • At every step of the way, Bharatji took extreme care of the well-being of his teacher and the mothers, and all the people of Ayodhya. Bharatji, in his emotions, never forgot his responsibilities. Like a true karma-yogi, Bharatji was very alert towards his duties at all times. He was highly intelligent as well as highly emotional.
  • One should always remember that you have to reach God through the people around you. Even if you hate them, they alone are the instruments through whom you have to purify yourself.

Bharatji as the servant of Lord:

  • As everybody went ahead, a time came when Bharatji got an opportunity to walk barefoot. The soldiers insisted Bharatji to sit on a horse instead but Bharatji said, “If my brother went to the forest barefoot, tolerating the thorns and stones on the way, then it would be better if I walk upside-down on my head!” These lines are golden lines as these lines dictate the relationship between the master and the disciple, the teacher and taught.
  • The duty of a servant is very difficult because he has to constantly sacrifice. There is no comfort or luxury in the life of a servant. One who is ready to forget his joys and sorrow, and one who has no personal life, no personal likes and dislikes, he alone can serve. People like Bharatji alone are able to serve their country and community. They are like the candle which burns day and night to spread light around. A servant neither has his own sleep or hunger, nor does he have his own honor or dishonor.
  • When they reached ‘Sangam’ (Prayag-raj), Bharatji sought permission of Mother Ganga and took bath. And with folded hands, Bharatji said, “Oh Mother Ganga! I am renouncing my dharma of being a kshatriya and begging in front of you. Please forgive me. I am very sad and distressed at this moment.”
  • All desires of human being are classified into four desires – desire of security (Arath), desire of enjoyment (Kaam), desire of doing good for next birth (Dharma) and desire of liberation (Moksha). Standing in Sangam, with folded palms Bharatji said that he has none of these desires and all he wants is – “Let my brother be happy, let Him not suffer in the forest. Let this body be the instrument of giving Him infinite joy. Let me have lot of thirst of Bhagwan Ram. The feet of Lord Ram and Sitaji is the groom and my love is the bride. Let them both marry! Let me sublimate myself. Let me dissolve my individuality. Let me merge in Lord!”

Day 6

On the concluding day of the Monthly Gyan yagna, as Swami Abhedananda further enumerated upon the beautiful emotions of Shri Bharatji, the audience were once again awed by the various facets and gems hidden in Bharatji’s character. Some of the nuggets from the discourse are as below…

Glory of ‘Seva bhaav’:

  • Bharatji was an avatar purush; He was not a jeeva who had taken birth to face his prarabdh and who had any ignorance. One of the biggest purpose of Shri Bharatji’s advent was to show the importance of ‘seva dharma’.
  • Our main goal in life is to attain essence of Lordship and to get free from all sorrows forever, but this goal cannot be attained without the purification of our mind and to attain the purification of mind, we need ‘seva bhaav’. It is said in Uttarkanda in Ramayan, ‘without the bhaav of seva nobody can cross the ocean of transmigration.’

Types of Sevaks:

  • There are two kinds of sevaks, the first are those who don’t have any defects of the mind and serve their master selflessly and the second are those who want to serve, but have a lot of negativities. The first category of sevaks find it very easy to serve but the number of people in this category are very less. This is because the moment we think of giving joy to some altar, a lot of inner enemies come up and disturb our seva bhaav.
  • Most of us fall in the second category. When we start serving, we realize the hidden negativities in us and what we should get rid of from our character. And we are in love with our negativity somewhere, and so unable to give-up everything that is not right in us. That makes seva very difficult. But when we start serving, gradually we become perfect in seva.


  • Serving may not necessarily give us something externally. In serving, the reward is ‘I am getting the opportunity to serve!’ Therefore, Bharatji says, ‘sab te sevak dharma kathora’, ‘the dharma of a sevak is very difficult.’
  • Those who want to serve they need not be told, they discover ways to serve. Bharatji was not told that he should go to Chitrakoot to convince Bhagwan Ram; he himself thought about it. Love is the biggest Guru.
  • In seva we go to die, to obliterate ourselves, to exhaust our vasnas, to destroy the imaginary fort of our desires. This is the path of ‘maha-balidaan’ (greatest sacrifice); no ordinary person can do that.

Shri Bharatji – The Sadhu:

  • When Bharatji took bath in the Ganges and prayed to her, mother Ganga said, “Oh Bharat! You are a sadhu in all ways.” We have seen Bharatji’s humility, his intelligence, devotion, fearlessness, alertness, dispassion and his intense seva-bhaav. These are all nothing but the traits of a sadhu which Bharatji possessed. A sadhu alone is the charm of any place like Bharatji was the charm of all the people of Ayodhya.
  • Bharatji is an ideal for everyone. He has the seva bhaav of a Brahmachari, he has the yagna (sacrifice) and daan (charity) of a grihasth (householder), he has the tap (austerity) of a vanaprasthi and knowledge of a sannyasi. Everyone is overjoyed in the presence of a such a saint.

Bharatji’s meeting with Rishi Bharadwaj:

  • When Bharatji reached the ashram of Bharadwaj rishi, Bharadwaj ji consoled him and praised him in various ways. Bharadwaj ji said, “Oh Bharat! The fruit of all sadhnas is the darshan of Shri Ram, Lakshman and Sita and the fruit of darshan of Shri Ram, Lakshman and Sita is your darshan. Bharat because of you everything here is glorified.”
  • On hearing these words of Bharadwaj ji, Bharatji’s eyes filled with tears. He offered prostrations to all the saints present there and said, “I do not contempt what my mother did, I am not worried that people would talk bad about me, I am not afraid that I will go to hell, I am not sad that my father has gone to heaven, I am scorching and burning inside as my dear brother Ram, mother Sita and Lakshman have to wander from forest to forest because of me.”
  • Unless we suffer a lot by the pain of not being able to give joy to someone higher, we won’t be able to please the higher. We become regular in puja only when we feel the pain of not doing puja, we become regular in japa, only when we experience the pain of not doing japa. The one who has the pain of not serving the Guru, he alone becomes a Guru-Bhakt.

Pain is the soul of our love. Therefore we must ask the Lord to give us the pain which arises out of not being able to love Him and please Him, just as Bharatji had!