Bapuji’s Birthday

Bapuji’s Birthday Discourse

January 11, 1981

Om namah shivaya Gurave,
Satchitananda murtaye,
Namastasmai, namastasmai,
Namastasmai, namo namaha.

Asatoma sadagamaya.
Tamasoma Jyotir gamaya.
Mrityorma amritam gamaya.

Oh, Lord Shiva, I bow to Thee,
In the form of the Guru.
To Thee I bow, to Thee I bow,
To Thee I bow, respectfully.

Lead us from the unreal to the real.
Lead us from darkness to light.
Lead us from death to immortality

Personality and Character
Part I: Informal Introduction

Bapuji with Gurudev

Dear grandchildren, lovers of saints and God, and all present, Jai Bhagwan with love.

1. Joke #1: My Grandson, Brother Festival and I

Since today is your grandfather’s birthday, I know quite will that you have all planned this enjoyable celebration.  To start off the festivities, I am in the mood to crack some jokes.  Everyone likes jokes, so you will too.  I imagine that jokes are the eternal seed o untruth.  Untruth must have first sprouted from jokes, and from these it must have spread all over the world.

The moment I came here, Brother Festival ran up and greeted me.  We hugged each other lovingly, and I told him affectionately, “Brother Festival!  I have come here because you are here.  I came here just for you.”

Brother Festival replied, “Well, that’s what you think.  I think the opposite.  I came here because you came here.  I came here especially to see you.”  I kept my staunch stand and repeated, “No, Brother, I cam here just to see you!”

One of my young grandsons was listening to our conversation.  He interrupted, saying, “Dadaji!  You are lying.”

In surprise, I exclaimed, “Do you mean to tell me that this is the first time you have realized that I am a liar?  Lying is my nature.  I have been lying constantly since my early childhood.  I have never been able to tell the truth.  Whenever a chance comes to tell the truth, my tongue sticks like glue to the roof of my mouth and won’t budge an inch.  However, at its first opportunity to lie, my tongue breaks all its bonds.  I will chatter on and on until it piles up heaps and heaps of lies.”

This reminds me of a story I remember,” I said to my grandson. “So, listen.

“On one auspicious day, I had the opportunity to spot Truth off in the distance.  I was overjoyed and immediately ran in his direction.  But when Truth spotted me running toward him, he turned around and ran in the other direction. I eventually caught up with him as he ran and panting out of breath, I exclaimed, “Truth!  Wait for me!  Why are you running away?”

But he turned his back to me and replied, “I don’t want to look at you at all.  You are always lying!”

I laughed out loud and began to explain his mistake.  I exclaimed, “Oh, my goodness, Truth, I thought you were so smart.  But from your behavior I see that I was wrong.  My lying is your mistake not mine.”

Truth was surprised and exclaimed, “My mistake?  What do you mean, my mistake?  What mistake have I made?”

Again, I stammered desperately.  “How can I consider you intelligent when you can’t even understand this simple matter?  Yes, you are absolutely correct when you say that I never speak truth; but what’s the big news about that?  Tell me, how could you ever expect me to speak a word of truth in this stressful situation if you turn and run away the moment you see me?

If you want me to speak truth you should totally renounce your bad habit of wandering away from me like a vagabond.  You should wise up and firmly commit yourself to enter into my heart.  I have been keeping its doors wide open for you. and when you enter, you should take charge of my brain and tongue.  Then, and only then could I ever speak truth. And in that case, you would be the one that would have to persevere since my perseverance alone would be useless.”

After narrating this long anecdote to my grandson, I  said, “Tell me sonny, how could you tell I was lying?”

“Dadaji!” he exclaimed, “I know that Brother Festival did not come here for you and you did not come here for Brother Festival.  I know that you both came here for all of us!”

I was really tickled by my grandson’s quip.  I slapped him on the back and exclaimed, “Boy, you’ve got that right!  We could have gone on debating for hours without solving that dilemma.”

My grandson gazed lovingly at me for some time.  After some reflection, I wondered if my humor was more like that of a worldly grandfather than a sanyasi grandfather.  I wondered if he liked it or not.  But I was amazed to find out that he was hanging onto my every word with ecstasy.

With love pouring from his heart, he spoke out like an adept lawyer.  “Dadaji, every word you said is correct.  Everyone but you speaks untruth.  Why should you speak untruth?  For the last several years, you have lived in silence and seclusion with almost no interactions with people.,  Deceit lives in human interactions, and untruth lives wherever it finds deceit.  Therefore, since all you ever do is yoga sadhana, how could untruth ever enter your life?”

“Dadaji!” he continued,  “I was only joking before when I said you were lying.  But you welcomed my joke so wholeheartedly that my heart began to dance  with glee.  Only a saint with a straight-forward heart like yours would take my humor like you did.”

I received more inspiration from his outpouring of affection.  so , I smiled and cracked another joke.  “Today, you have bestowed on me a certificate of merit.  This certificate of yours, however, cannot be shown to anyone, because they would not consider it genuine.  So, I won’t how it to others.  I will hang it only on the wall of my heart.”

Then, the three of us joyously entered the ashram together – my grandson, Brother Festival and I.

Joke #2: My Miscounted Birthdates

Now, there’s another funny story that I have been waiting all these years for the opportunity to tell you.

For many years, there has been an error in calculating the day of my birth.  Then over the last few years there has been another error added to the first error.

Before I became a sanyasi, my birthday was celebrated according to the Indian calendar on the day called Posh-suda-atham.  This day falls on the eighth day of the first half of the third month.

(Editorial comment: Here, you will need an explanation of the Indian calendar.  The Indian calendar is divided into twelve months of thirty days, starting on Indian New Year’s day, which is the day after the holy day called “Divali.”  According to the Western calendar, Divali occurs in early autumn.  The Indian calendar divides each month into two halves.  The first half includes the days when the moon is becoming full and culminates on the fifteenth day called “Purnima.”  The second half includes the days when the moon is waning and culminates on the thirteenth day called “Amas” or “dark night”.)

Thus, I was told that I was born in the first half of the third month, eight days into the full moon.  From these complicated calculation, you can now understand how mistakes crept into determining my birthdate.

To celebrate my birthday, five of my family members and I would have a feast together.  Then, I would go here and there all over the city in my brand new birthday clothes.  By the time night fell, the festival was over and the next morning I was back to my normal routine.  I had a simple celebration in those days as compared to the huge festival I have nowadays.

Whether it is a simple celebration or a huge festival,the birthday party is perpetuated by sweets and snacks.  Birthday parties do not like to visit where there are no sweets.  Sweets always mean birthdays, either our birthday or someone else’s.  Thus, one sweet or another has been offered to me in my daily meals.

I had always accepted without question the birthdate my family members told me, the eighth day of the first half of the third month.  One must manage with borrowed knowledge when others know something he doesn’t.  Thus, before my sanyasi initiation and afterward, I have had all kinds of birthday celebrations, from simple parties to grand festivals.

A disciple of mine is an astrologer named Bhagavatprasad Trivedi.  Somewhere, he dug up an old Indian almanac from 1913.  The day I was born fell on Makar Sakranti Day.  (Makar Sakranti is the traditional day of kite flying in India and the day when the sun embarks on the passage from Sagittarius into Capricorn.)  This was not the sixth day, but the eighth day of the first half of the third month.  Now I am aware of the fact that I was born in 1913 on Makar Sakranti.  The fact is that my correct birthday is on the sixth rather than the eighth day of the first half of the third month.  He reported this discovery to me.

And although this discovery he reported to me was bad enough to make me cry out loud, I cried inside and laughed out loud.  What a big blunder.  It was an intolerably big blunder!  All these years we had been celebrating someone else’s birthday!  We had unjustly condemned my birthday and I was overwhelmed with pity.

With the news, Bhagavatprasad, the astrologer, then asked me where he could possibly find my horoscope.

So, I asked him, “How could you ever find my horoscope?  We have never set eyes on each other in my life!”

The story of my horoscope is also worth hearing.

In India, as soon as a child is born to parents of the priestly, warrior, or merchant caste, a horoscope is prepared.  This horoscope is treasured and preserved throughout their lives.  But when I was one or two years old, it must have either felt hurt or become nonattached because for some reason, it renounced my home.

And since a renunciate is one who renounces his home, my horoscope became a sanyasi long before I did.  And if a sanyasi this young would renounce his home altogether, he might try to seek samadhi in a single year also.  Now, even archaeologists could not dig up and rescue my horoscope.  Once it left, it was gone for good.  It has never shown up and may never show up again.

I have great respect for astrology, although I have never studied it.  Yes, occasionally I have peeked in its window out of curiosity; but how much can you learn from a few peeks?

I do know that astrology studies nine governing planetary bodies: the sun and moon, as well as Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.  The astrological scriptures teach that these form a configuration that constantly revolves around the sun.  But when I looked closer at the astrological scriptures, I saw that these planetary bodies seem to revolve around human beings rather than the sun.

All these planets working together also seem to me like an administrative committee.  I have heard that one planet may look at its fellow planets with either love or hate.  And when one planet gazes lovingly at another, they align with one another and work together to create happiness.  But when a planet gazes hatefully at another, they become enemies and work together to produce a huge factory of pains.  The poor fellow whose like is influenced by these planets may not even be aware of the mischievous shenanigans of these planets.

Thus, for human beings to get, perhaps a slight glimpse of these planetary activities, the astrologers provide them with horoscopes. With horoscopes, people can tell what will happen this month or this year and can predict when happiness will come and when pain will leave.  In fact, the planets make news that is reported as a horoscope in the newspaper.

People with horoscopes regularly receive the good news and the bad news about the comings and goings of their pains and pleasures.  And, yet, not everyone in this world gets the same kind of opportunity.  I have never had this opportunity because my horoscope renounced me in its infancy to seek samadhi.  (laughter)

Thus, factories of various sizes, producing pains or pleasures are jointly owned and operated by these planets.  Ever since I began to sincerely believe this principle, I have assumed that the root cause of any joy that approaches is due to the fact that one of my planets has cast its loving gaze on one of my other planets.  Likewise, I have begun to assume that the root cause of any sorrow that approaches me is due to the fact that one of my planets has cast a hateful gaze on one of its fellow planets.

In fact, the only difference between me and those who have horoscopes is that those with horoscopes get advance reports of their good or bad news.  Then, however, they must also experience joy or sorrow in advance.  But since I do not get this good or bad news in advance, I don’t have to go through this joy or sorrow in advance.  Furthermore, when joy or sorrow come, instead of getting news about myself, I learn about whether my planets are separated or have reconciled.

There is more to the story of my mistaken birthday.  Not only has the day of my birth been messed up but the date of my birth has also been given in error.  My age has been miscounted by a whole year!  And this mess continued over the past years, by me.

During my last birthday festival, I said that I was finishing my sixty-sixth year and entering my sixty-seventh; but I should have said that I was finishing by sixty-seventh year and entering my sixty eighth year at that time.  Thus, since birthdays are celebrated on the anniversary of one’s date of birth, and his age is the number of years he has lived, this year I have finished sixty-nine years of life.  I am now entering my seventieth year.

The real birthday knot,or tumor, comes only once in a decade or after nine birthday knots have passed.  For example, take the number seventy.  Every tenth knot contains a zero, and the shape of a zero clearly resembles a knot.  Although every language in the world  writes numerals differently, the zero is common among all of them.  In worldly affairs, only hollow and fraudulent things work.

OK, now the jokes are over.

3. My Life and Times

Now, I have come to the serious part of the discourse.  At first, I decided that before this festival I would write something on the topic of character; but as I began to write, the topic began to change subtly.  Today’s topic is “Personality and Character.”  And to it I have added, by request of the disciples , a brief introductory section about my own personality and character.

But, before beginning the major topic, I will make two minor points.  The first minor point is about life events, and the second is about autobiographies.

In India, whenever my birthday festival would approach, some of my disciples would ask me, “Guruji, at your birthday festival, will you tell us something about your life?  The new light and insight will inspire us.”

I have never granted this request, although I realize that, to a certain extent, it was genuine enough.  Of course, during some of my public talks, I have mentioned some of my life events.  But since those personal bits of information came to me spontaneously at the time, I did not hesitate to share them.  As a rule, however, I am not usually interested in intentionally discussing any of my life.  So, I experienced some hesitation in granting those requests, and I have considered this restraint to be divinely inspired.

In addition, during the last several years, my close sadhak disciples and scripture-loving satsangis have been asking me over and over, “Guruji!  Kindly write your autobiography.  We and other diligent yoga sadhaks will receive great spiritual nourishment and inspiration from it.”

For many years I have deeply pondered these requests and have come to the conclusion that, although it is clearly true that others would receive spiritual nourishment and inspiration from the autobiography of a highly experienced and respected person, this work is not as simple as it might seem at first.

The author of an autobiography should be world renowned, exceptionally influential, charismatic, and pure in character.  Objectivity is the very soul of autobiographical writing, and an autobiography could never be written without it.  Not a drop of ego should be in an autobiography.  If it retains even the tiniest shortcoming, it will turn out to be merely self-aggrandizement.

Genuine great masters do not write autobiographies; whatever they write we consider scriptures.  although their writings contain the highest and most essential collection of experiences, great masters never discuss themselves.  And although the scriptures they write are essentially autobiographical, the word “auto” refers in this case to the author’s experience rather than to the author himself.  What a unique treasure!

Great masters write biographies rather than autobiographies.  God biographies are the truest form of autobiography.  God biographies fully delight and concentrate the mind because during the writing process, the author constantly reminisces about the Almighty Lord.

However, autobiographies are completely different.  The writer has to leave the present and drift back into his dark past.  he must dig up the cadavers of his dead and long gone life events and realize them from the coffins in which they were buried.  The writer also must mention key people along the road of his life and must use utmost care and subtle discrimination in choosing his life events and describing his secret faults.  And since the author is dwelling on himself, the mind must go through joy and sorrow during the writing process.

This whole process is so intricate that the average author simply cannot handle it.  In fact, even a person with medium-level capacities, who is neither weak nor extraordinary hasn’t even a passing chance at succeeding.  Thus, for these and many other reasons, I have given up the idea of writing an autobiography.  Naturally, though, I will continue to provide all the information I can about my life to my loved ones.

Actually, the most appropriate author of my biography would be someone who knows me closely.  But if that person had an overly sentimental and emotional temperament, many false claims would be cloaked in the form of truth.  As a result, the actual like events of the autobiographical hero would be adulterated and mixed with legendary instances of this sublime nonattachment, scholarliness, morality, and powers. In addition, many who are propagators for their own selfish motives would magnify the image of the legendary hero entirely out of proportion.

We can conclude, therefore, that only great masters deserve to write their life stories and that even the next best alternative, having a close associate write their biography, has its own limitations.

Now, I will begin the formal discourse.

Part II: Formal Discourse Personality and Character Traits

4. Character Traits

The main topic of this discourse is “Personality and Character Traits.” I will begin with a brief discussion of character traits and then discuss the concept of personality.

The word “sanskara” means “character.”  The ordinary meaning of sanskara is “purification”and it commonly refers to way the mind tends toward purity and sacredness.  The term “kumsanskara,” on the other hand, means “negative character traits” and is commonly understood to mean ways the mind tends toward impurity and profanity.

In general, character traits are the etchings carved into the mind by one’s thoughts and actions.  One of the special functions of the mind is memory,and this memory is the storehouse for all sanskaras.  Here, it is noteworthy that the memory continuously stores these character traits from this lifetime as well as from countless previous lifetimes. The mind is a veritable museum of character traits.

Everyone’s actions tend toward either a growthful or harmful direction according to the way he is prompted by his stored character traits.  After analyzing the character traits inherent in the history of a person’s actions, an experienced psychoanalyst could definitely reveal his purpose behind every action.  This is because one’s actions reveal his character traits and his character traits reveal his underlying intentions, whether helpful or hurtful.

And, yet, human behavior is so intricate that it is utterly incomprehensible.  When they try to analyze human behavior, even the greatest and wisest men with sharpest intellects are led astray. And, yet, a broad understanding of psychological principles helps a person to understand right actions more easily and to put them into practice.

The esoteric principles of character are understood on the path of sanatan dharma, the path of eternal truth.  The importance that sanatan dharma places on character is revealed in the importance it places on the sixteen sacramental ceremonies it propounds.

If one sincerely studies the biographies of revered masters, one easily attains insight into right actions, knowledge, and devotion.  If one regularly reads their life sketches and bathes in their pure lives, one can learn the art of removing vices and receiving virtues through insight rather than through trial and error.  In other words, direct contact with the holy lives of the masters is more inspiring than indirect contact through their teachings.

5. Personality

Now, I will introduce the concept of “swabhava” or personality.  The word “swabhava” is very easy to understand.  “Swa” means “self” and “bhava” means “motives or inclinations.”  So, swabhava, or personality, refers to the tendencies stored in a person’s mind that incline him toward is preferred direction.

Continuous practice carves the character traits deeply into the mind, and these character traits are what mold the personality.  The personality is formed by the practice or neglect of specific likes and dislikes.  Thus, likes and dislikes dominate the personality.  And since this is common to everyone, a person who tried to understand his own personality could also, to some extent, understand the personality of another person.

We like the daily actions we perform through love, and we dislike those we are forced to do.  Gradually, these persistent mental tendencies merge and congeal to form one’s personality.

Personality is the sum total of one’s character traits: good and bad, sacred and profane.  According to this definition, personality and character traits are alike.  The only difference is that character traits are the pieces that are put together to make up the whole personality.

We can definitely straighten out the tail of a dog or the mainspring of a watch. But the moment we let go, they will snap back into their original shapes.  This original shape is formed by its personality or swabhava.

Although helplessness might force human mental tendencies into a different direction than the one in which they are bent, as soon as they rid themselves of this helplessness, they spring back again to their original shapes.

At the very early stage of ten or eleven, I was attracted toward reading books.  I have read books at the rate of 200 to 300 pages a day from many years.  This is my usual practice.  As early as age thirteen I began writing stories and by age seventeen, my articles began being accepted in respectable publications.  Thus, as a result of practicing and applying my aptitude for reading literature, I became a literary person.

Several days age, Amrit was curious and asked me: “Bapuji, doesn’t the contemplation of scriptures and the writing of articles get in the way of your sadhana?  Won’t you have to renounce even these activities later on?”

I replied: “Yes, I am very eagerly looking forward to that auspicious occasion.  Sadhana has two main facets: scriptural study and yoga practice.  since they complement each other, they are both necessary.  After having spent many years in seclusion, I have learned that if, after practicing yoga sadhana one does not have activity conducive to sadhana, one’s  mind begins to run back toward worldly pursuits.”

Through scriptural contemplation and spiritual writing, I have been able to forget the world very easily.  One who wants to stay in continuous seclusion must have engrossing activities like these, or he will never be able to handle the secluded life.  In fact, we can understand a person’s life direction only by observing his tendencies toward, interests in, and aptitudes for activities like these.

“Two tendencies have turned by life direction toward a deep love for literature, music and sadhana – the devotion I inherited from my father and the music I inherited from my elder brother.  This is the direction my like has taken, so this is my personality.”

Music, literature, and yoga sadhana – these are my three most favorite pursuits.They have taken every year, month, day, hour, and moment of my life.  No other hue has colored me.  And how could another hue have possibly colored my life?  I have almost never surfaced from the depths of the ocean of those three colors.

None of the world’s joys or sorrows, big or small, have been able to penetrate the depths of that realm.  On those rare occasions when I have met them, I have only spotted them on the surface, briefly looked at them, and then retired again into the depths of the ocean.

I have always felt excruciating pain whenever I have been side-tracked from pursuing music, literature, and yoga sadhana.  And whenever I have always felt boundless  bliss and joy, I have received an inspiring experience from pursuing them.  Thus, all my joys and sorrows have been associated only with music, literature, and yoga sadhana.  I have fallen in love with their faces and have spent most of my supremely joyful moments in their company.  And, although sometimes they also bring me pain, their pain to me feels as sublimely and loving as their bliss.

6. Character-building Principles

I have learned many scientific principles on character building from the scriptures, the biographies of great masters, the company of saints, and from my own experiences.  These principles are the very treasure of my life, which I freely dispense as a service to society for others to treasure.  This treasure can help an y spiritual seeker to mend his life.

One noteworthy principle is that one’s bad character traits can be totally eradicated by strengthening his good character traits.  By applying this life principle, one can formulate the best possible personality he chooses and can dissolve the undesirable, evil personality.  However, this formulation process inevitable requires patience, enthusiasm, eagerness, tolerance, and ardent perseverance.

Another principle is that a decision should not be broken after it is made.  One should look at all the facts of a decision before committing himself to it.  Moreover, to be very decisive, with discrimination, is result of a genuine insistence for truth rather than an obsessive-compulsion fixation for perfection  Of course, one may need to make necessary changes while making decisions on an experimental basis, but this should be done only as an exception.  In addition, these tentative decisions should be clearly distinguished from definitive decisions.

Only a firm decision, made with discrimination, leads a disciple to the door of victory.  Those who change their decisions over and over again can never achieve victory.  And even if, by chance, they are victorious, defeat overcomes them again in no time.

Even a firmly decisive and victorious great master is defeated whenever he is indecisive.

Whatever I wish to practice on a daily basis, I will fit into my daily schedule. I’ll give you an example.

One day, at Malav Ashram, I was sitting on my swing after having had lunch.  Suddenly, it dawned on me that Ayurvedic Medicine advises walking one hundred paces after lunch.  And since this was simple enough for me to do, and I rarely ever took a few steps out of my two rooms, I thought that walking would be good for me.  I gave this principle due consideration and came to a firm decision.

So, I immediately got up, went outside, and walked around my meditation room seven times.  From then on, I walked around the room everyday after lunch.  For years, I continued this practice and gained triple benefits: from the walking, from the japa I did while walking, and from the sacred practice of circumnavigating a place of worship seven times.

Then, a third principle for like development is to avoid wresting with a fault that you want to remove.  Wrestling with faults will increase the disturbances of the mind so that the excited fault can lift you up and body-slam you to the ground.  You wont’ be able to pull yourself up to fight again, and you’ll give up the fight forever.

But since practicing virtues decreases mental restlessness, a simple way to remove a mental fault is to seek refuge in practicing its opposite virtue.  For example, to combat the tendency to be talkative, one can practice silence, the virtue which is the opposite of the fault.

But to practice silence, one must avoid audiences. Since there is no way to be overly talkative is there is no audience, one must retire into seclusion.  The moment a talker spots a listener, all the screws in his tongue loosen up.  This is an example of how a sadhak must renounce unfavorable past situations by adopting favorable new situations.

Practicing virtues under unfavorable circumstances can be extremely difficult.  When one encounters difficult circumstances, he must stay strongly attached to sadhana and keep the lamp of discrimination constantly burning.

In fact, the sadhak must burn with ardor.  The sadhak’s task of changing his personality is so arduous that he could never cope with it if he did not burn with ardor. With burning idealism, the sadhak must drive the pole of decisiveness deeply into the ground of his life.  Furthermore, this ardent sadhak must avoid bad company.  He must always remain aloof from perpetual liars – those deceitful people who betray even their own loved ones.  He must avoid indecisive people – those who change their minds from moment to moment.  And he must stay away from those who are cruel, evil, hypocritical, egotistical,and artificially sweet.

This principle is fully confirmed by the scriptures.  The scriptures assure us that such people are bad company and that associating with them will always drown us.

Here I am describing the major life-building principles only among the countless ones that exist.  But since these life-building principles are intimately related with one another, if one develops any one principle, he develops all the others as well.  That is, anyone who commits himself to developing just one genuine life-building principle will procure every other true principle.  Love is the first and foremost principle; sadhana is the second.  And knowledge, perseverance, punctuality, patience, an chastity combine to make up the third principle for life development.

When a person is born into a troubled family, negative character traits are tattooed all over his mind.  Consequently, his thirsty heart cannot properly drink in love.  A person who cannot even trust his own loved ones can never trust anyone else.  Without building a foundation of trust, the home of love cannot be built.  But a skeptical trust is not trust at all.  There is no trace of doubt in true trust.  This is because love is not a business deal.  Love seeks not profit or reward.

Love is my most favorite principle, and dedication is the core of love.  You have not dedicated everything you have if it is robbed from you by force.  That is helplessness.  Genuine dedication involves absolute freedom.  One poem states that: “There is fear of robbers on other paths.  But on the path of love there is no fear of robbers.  The one who is robbed on the path of love is very fortunate.”

7.  Love: The Treasure of Life

I was born into a loving environment and have always lived in a loving environment.  However, as a result, I have a great limitation: I cannot survive a single moment without sincere love.  I am not skillful at playing the game of pretentious love, and I consider it deceitful.

I have never been defeated by common pains even before I became a sanyasi.  I have never paid attention to these pains and have always tolerated them with a smile on my face.  I have never considered pain to be suffering.  My definition of suffering is hatred and quarreling.  To me, hatred and quarrelling are the essence of suffering.  The hatred born in the heart of a loved one destroys all his happiness, bliss, and peace of mind.  He no longer experiences life as life.  He loves in a tortuous hell.

Love is life; for life without love is a living death.

Among the countless people in the world, there are very few whom we can count upon as near and dear.  so, when even these few loved ones are overcome by quarrelling and hatred, life becomes a raging fire and its burnt to ruins.

In my family, we rarely ever quarreled among ourselves.  We all lived together lovingly and could not bear living apart.  Even if some quarrel was born, it never lived for more than two or three days.  The atmosphere would always resume its loving character by the fourth day.

Dedication is the surest sign of love.

The spirit of dedication is not born until we consider the happiness of our loved one to be our own happiness.  Dedication is the very soul of love, because only dedication can unite two hearts.

A person who craves things, like wealth and fame, actually loves that emotional craving rather than human beings.  That person never really tastes love.

Love is a two-sided coin; each side dedicates its love to the other.  Love forgets itself and always dwells on the other; this reminiscence is love itself.  The lover can tolerate pain in his own body-mind, but he suffers mortal agony if he sees his beloved suffering any pain.

He who does not know the likes and dislikes of his beloved does not know what love is.  A true lover knows the beloved even more than the beloved knows himself.  A true lover would never do anything that might displease a loved one.  Any lover who would deliberately hurt his loved one is actually murdering the love between them.  He is not a lover; he is a hater.

Love serves without coercion.  Love leaves the moment coercion comes.  And yet, in a sense, love does involve a kind of coercion; the consciously chosen coercion or self-restraint.  The loving person disciplines himself willingly; whereas, the coercive person harasses others compulsively.

I have always adapted my behavior to my family and loved ones. Perhaps, on some rare occasion, I would succomb to an urge and do something they disliked. I would always realize my mistake the moment the urge subsided, and I would confess to them with my apologies. Only after they lovingly forgave me would my heart experience peace and happiness again.

Even after becoming a sanyasi and the guru of thousands of disciples, I am still behaving in a way that keeps others happy Just as parents learn to become quite tolerant to the din and clatter of several children, I have also learned to become tolerant toward thousands of disciples.

My nature is to submit to the wishes of my loved ones. I imagine this personality has made me prone to surrendering to the Lord. To me, submitting to others’ wishes is the blossom of love itself. The loving personality submits and does not dominate. The attached personality dominates. In order to dominate, the attache person must constantly keep the other in chains to prevent him from running away. This practice plants the seeds of hatred in both their minds.

Although it is my nature to submit to the wishes of my loved ones, I have another unique personality trait. I will never compromise those principles that I consider undeniably correct; nor will I ever consider someone my loved one if he attacks these firm beliefs. Anyone who does not respect truth, and merely interacts in a mundane and superficial way, cannot be a loved one. As pure as his intentions may appear, they are really empty.

Religious activities and worldly activities follow two distinctly different paths. On the path of religion, only religious codes can work. Since worldly affairs are contaminated with countless deceits, there is no room for the expectations and standards of the world on the path of religion.

8. Shri Pagal Maharaj and I

My elder brother is named Shri Krishnalal, and I used to call him Shri Pagal Maharaj. One day, he came to see me at my ashram in Oli, India. He as my closest loved one and well-wisher. As we talked, he remembered some things that had happened in the past and said to me: “Narayana! You are younger than I, but you wear the ocher robes of a sanyasi. Although I am your elder, I wear the white clothes of the earlier, celibate stage of life. Since you are my spiritual elder, I feel a respectful deference toward you, so I am reluctant to talk to you like your older brother any longer. However, with your permission, I would like to share something with you.”

“Brother,” I replied, “not only are you still my elder brother in age, but I consider you be to a saint. So, I want you to say whatever you have to say without hesitation. I may have changed my clothes, but I have not changed my mind. My mind is still like it used to be.”

Then, a very serious look came over his face, and tears flowed from his eyes for a while. Eventually, after he had become steady and wiped his tears with his handkerchief, he said “Narayana! I really can’t stand one of your habits at all!”

Curiously, I asked, “What is it that you don’t like about me?”

I have been observing,” said my brother, “that throughout your life you have tended to immediately place your trust in just anyone. I simply don’t like that approach at all; it is no good. Of course, I believe that a saint should love everyone; but even a saint should use some discrimination in assessing a person’s trustworthiness. But you act the same with everyone. You don’t care whether they are worthy or not! This doesn’t seem right to me. All you life, this approach has brought you on experience of heartbreak after another; and yet, you have not given up this habit. So, I imagine that even as a sanyasi you have continued to suffer similar heartbreaks.”

I listened very carefully to his comments. I pondered them in deep silence for a few moments and the shared with him how I felt about them.

I told him: “What you say is true. I do succumb to my nature in just the way you have described. You know me better than anyone else. In fact, your life has shaped the course of my own life, and you have contributed a very special part of your life to me. But, oh compassionate one, how can I give up this way of life that is so ingrained in me? I have had to suffer intolerable heartbreaks because of this train in the past; I suffer intolerable heartbreaks now; and I will continue to suffer in the future. But despite this grief, I adore this quality of mine with my whole heart. I believe that this is the very best way for me to act. Dear brother you know how utterly idealistic I am.

“How can love ever happen when one doubts another’s love? The other’s love is naturally tested as the closeness increases. It is only proper to make one’s decision about a loved one after getting to know him; to disfavor someone by judging him without experience is not proper.

“But those who are primarily intellectual take the opposite approach. They will not trust anyone right away. They wait until they have a pleasant experience with the other before they trust.

“I am on the other side of the coin. I am a person of faith. I put my faith in others immediately; and then, if I have a painful experience, I withdraw my trust from them. In fact, it is not I who withdraws the trust. The trust spontaneously withdraws itself so that I can no longer love that person the way I did before. No, I do not plot vengeance against him; but I will either try to avoid the places he goes or leave anywhere he enters.

“My love also withdraws spontaneously from whomever I have given my full faith, if my genuineness does not tough their heart. The lover’s expression must touch the heart of the loved one. If this love does not touch the beloved, he is surely not a true loved one. Then, the lover should discontinue all further experiments with him.”

Shri Pagal Maharaj listened to my comments with his eyes closed.

He then expressed his satisfaction by saying, “Narayana, I wish only the best for you, so I was concerned about you even though I am well aware that you have the habit of deep contemplation. But your explanation has wiped out all my worries. God’s grace is with you, and He will continue to protect you always. I give you my heartfelt blessings.”

9. Religious Sentimentality

Almost everyone is sentimental to some degree. However, everyone’s sentimentality takes different forms since it covers different sectors of his character. A person’s character traits are made up of sentiments, and these sentiments color his heart in different hues.

But from among all the various forms of sentimentality, the supreme form of sentimentality is that which is born from the character traits of devotion, yoga, and knowledge. That supreme form of sentimentality triggers the true development of the heart. Since I am a man of literature, I am very sentimental. And since travel the path of devotion, I am even more sentimental. Furthermore, since my life has passed through continual struggles, I am even more sentimental on top of that. When it all adds up, I am very, very sentimental.

Even today, my heart is overwhelmed with agony, and tears stream from my eyes when I see an unhappy disciple or hear him describe some pain in his life. I have never had to go anywhere special to study the nature of sentiments, because I have had the opportunity to see the sentimental eyes and hearts of thousands of my disciples. The sentiments themselves have been my teachers. They have gladly come to me on their own accord and introduced me to their various forms.

When disciples come up to me bringing garlands, fruits, sandalwood paste, incense, or clothes, I observe their pristine feelings rather than their gifts. Only a sentimental heart can spot the sentiments in another heart, just as only a lit lamp can light an unlit lamp.

I feel the Beloved Lord showering love as He stands in the disciples’ tear-filled eyes and hearts when they bow to me during celebrations. These festivals have made me a lover of God and disciples, since, for me, that scene is like the darshan of the Lord.

Unless a person’s heart is soaked in the sentiment of devotion and his yes ooze compassion, how can we ever believe that devotion has made a single spark in his heart?

Here, do not forget that the average family is filled with attachment, whereas the guru’s family is filled with faith and devotion. The average family of sons and daughters is related by blood, but the guru’s family of disciples is related by love.

The Beloved Lord has poured an ocean of love into my heart for my thousands of disciples. The Lord has an especially gracious plan. When the disciples place their minds in the ocean of this love, like a child places his head in the lap of his father, they immediately receive love, happiness, and peace.

The pure love between guru and disciples is the first step toward loving God.

Saints are the headquarters of peace. When worldly people become totally restless and fed up with the chaos in their life, they run here and there in search of genuine saints. Then, they live for a few days under the shade of these genuine saints and become steady again as a result of their inspiration.

When machines break down and become jammed and useless, they must be taken to the repair shop for expert mechanics to make them work again. Likewise, when human beings break down and their minds become unhappy, apathetic, depressed, worried, fearful, diseased, and grieved, they must be taken to the ashram for repairs to make them healthy again. Ashrams are repair shops to make human beings run more smoothly.

The ashram and the temple are two institutions that society absolutely must have. Ashrams and temples are rest stops for peace and happiness along the path. Ashrams and temples provide refuge and sanctuary for people who have been consumed by the fires of the world; because these institutions harbor the constant presence of austerity, ascetics, and God.

The ashram is a canopy that provides the shade of the Lord. Just as water quenches thirst and food satisfies hunger, pain is soothed by the company of virtuous saints. One thing is worth remembering always: these unattached and ascetic saints remain steady only in places where their sadhana has no degree of external disturbance. With internal disturbances, their tolerance is boundless enough to counteract even disease, death, and mental perversions for years and years. But with any external disturbance to their sadhana, they immediately get up and take off. Although they take this drastic step with firm finality, this is not intolerance. They will only take such drastic measures when the quarrel becomes perpetual. It would be incorrect for someone without experience to consider them to be mistaken. These saints are not making a mistake, they are repenting for an unforgivable mistake they made in the past.

Sadhana is a saint’s whole life.

The first and most necessary rule in the sadhana of liberation is that external activities must cease. It is absolutely impossible to pursue sadhana in a place where external disturbance is highly probable. There is no room for any compromise here. This is the first and foremost principle in the constitution of this sadhana.

According to the scriptures, only a yogi for whom yoga sadhana is his whole life is considered to be steadfast. And only a yogi whose mind has been totally colored with the hue of sadhana can renounce public contact to live in seclusion. This yogi does not concern himself with respect and reproach or praise and criticism. This sublime sentiment must be reached before the summit of the Lord or liberation can be attained. This sentiment must be reached first.

I constantly analyze my sentimentality. I ask myself: “Is this cowardice? Is this some hidden fear? Is this some unknown weakness?” Cowardice, fear, and weakness: these three are so intertwined that it is too arduous to disentangle them. Wherever there is fear there is cowardice, and wherever there is cowardice there is weakness.

But these three faults are present only in the passive rather than the active form of sentimentality. Sincere empathy is an active form of sentimentality. To become overwhelmed with another’s pain does involve momentary sympathy; but it is not passive since it is neither blind nor crippled.

The supreme sentimentality is endowed with sattvic qualities. The average sentimentality is endowed with rajasic qualities. And the lowest sentimentality is endowed with tamasic qualities.

Evil sentimentality makes a person act evil. Utter cruelty can even make him murder someone.

10. Straight-forwardness: the Mother of all Virtues

Straight-forwardness is supreme among all the virtues. Scriptures state that physical purity makes the body absolutely pure, and mental purity makes the mind absolutely staightforward. The straightforward definition of straight-forwardness is, “to reveal the mind as it is, and to conceal nothing.” Although straight-forwardness seems very simple, in fact, it is simply extraordinary.

Everyone considers himself to be straightforward. But this is a pervasive and incurable delusion. Normally, one hundred out of one hundred people are mistaken in measuring their own straight-forwardness. And since I consider myself to be straightforward, I am also one of the mistaken ones.

Someone who is occupied with countless plans to impress people can never remain straightforward. He may rationalize this his deceit is a plan, a strategy, or a tactic; but that does not stop his deceit from being deceit. Since deceit is the primary tool for accomplishing selfish goals, the very seed of deceit is selfishness.

Deceitful behavior is designed to fool others by proving that something exists that really doesn’t. In other words, deceitfulness cloaks crookedness and disguises it as straight-forwardness.

When organizers make plans, they usually give a high priority to selflessness, service, love and dedication. But these qualities are not alive; they are dead statues. The unique thing about statues is that they appear to be alive but are really inert. Ironically behind the inert statues of these qualities stand the vitally alive, and yet apparently dead, qualities of selfishness, coercion, sweet-talk, and greed.

People consider anyone who becomes successful in any field to be intelligent rather than straightforward. This intellectuality is the opposite extreme of straight-forwardness and is a deep mine of deceit. Intellectuality is just another name for crookedness.

Before I became a sanyasi, I knew a small group of people who used to consider me to be an intellectual. Thus, there must be some small or large part of that  mine of deceit in my jurisdiction also. And today, after becoming a well-known yogi, perhaps a still larger class of people considers me to be an intellectual. Thus, even today I cannot argue with someone who might imagine that I have a huge mine of manipulation within me. I must bow my head and accept this judgment.

When it is so difficult to be straight-forward, how can anyone boldly try to prove his own claim to straight-forwardness? And if straight-forwardness were proven in this way, how could it be considered sincere straight-forwardness? Sincere straight-forwardness is its own proof.

When I say, “I am straightforward,” my meaning is different. I consider myself straightforward, because I have never lied to or fooled my relatives and loved ones.

How can we call someone a relative or loved one if we like to keep secrets from them? A relative or a loved one is an integral part of one’s own self. The very soul of love is trust. When trust leaves, love leaves.

For years I have lived among disciples and have never lied to them, tricked them, or fooled them. They love me, serve me affectionately, and consider me an advanced yogi. How could I ever trick them? What great pleasure could I enjoy by hoarding this meanness in my heart? Love is the most sublime source of happiness in the world; suffering is all that is left after losing love.

People plan all kinds of games to get wealth, women, and fame. But the supreme grace of the Beloved Lord has freed my mind of these perversions, so I have no reason to play these games.

The playground of deceit is in one’s own backyard, among his family and loved ones. People outside one’s close circle can spot his manipulations right away, because they are playing the same games. So, deceitful manipulations cannot thrive long outside one’s own backyard. Thus, before one can manipulate someone, he must attract the other close to him by pretending to be a lover. Only after the other person has fallen into the ditch of affection can deceit only begin its manipulation.

Before I became a sanyasi, my family members had total faith in my word. Whenever they had any doubts about my behavior, they would get together, call me in, and ask, “We are wondering if you are doing this or that wrong thing? Are you?”

If it were true, I would say, without a hint of anger, the single word, “No.” They took me at my word, and no questions were asked.

But if their doubts were correct, I would lower my head in utter shame and break into loud crying. Eventually, I would confess, saying, “Yes. I have done the wrong things which you have pointed out.”

After hearing my reply, no one would scold me or lecture to me. Everyone would sit in silence. They knew my nature; I would never continue doing something which they did not like.

Within a few days, I would stop this behavior. If, after a few days, I found that I could not renounce it, I would confess to them, “I am helpless. I cannot give it up.”

No one in my family every coerced me or restrained by freedom. Whatever they wanted to say they would say straightforwardly, without sneaky tactics, and in sweet and loving words. Without hesitation, they would speak their minds only once and would never worry that I would feel offended.

Very few events have occurred in my family where my mother, brother, or sisters spoke with their faces contorted. Nor have I very often become angry. And whenever I did become angry, everyone would bow their heads; they would not argue or react. In our household, if the angry person did not eat, no one else would eat. The food would be fed to the cows or to the dogs in the street. Usually, the person who became angry would walk out of the home and return only when his mind became steady. Then, we would all sit joyfully together and eat as if we had gathered to celebrate a big festival.

This was the living tradition in my family.

I, too, never coerce anyone; nor do I snatch away anyone’s freedom.

When someone I do not know considers me a trustworthy saint and expresses his mental pains to me, I feel like he is my own family member or loved one. His every words seems true to me. I become his loved one and dedicate my heart to him.

I simply do not have the habit of finding faults in those I love. Thus, once I have offered my heart to someone, I constantly continue to love him.

The sons and daughters of my disciples, who are my fondled grandsons and granddaughters, have informed me time and time again, “Dadaji, you are so naive! Anyone can easily fool you. We also fool you many times, and, yet, you never find out.”

“What do you get out of fooling me?” I would ask.

“Fun,” they would say.

And I would reply: “Fun comes in many forms. What you call fun is the sweetness of affection. Sweetness can never by experienced without affection. You say that I am naive, but that is just your opinion. I am not naive. A person is considered naive if he is fooled by others’ manipulations. But I can spot tricks from a mile away. And, yet, I do have one weakness. I cannot recognize someone’s deceit if he comes disguised as a loved one or if he is suffering. I consider their external behavior to reflect their actual internal feelings. Moreover, I am a sanyasi. Why should anyone fool me? Yes, people have lied to me many times, and many people have accomplished their selfish ends deceitfully. But a saint’s life is for the public use; a saint would not choose to reproach someone who would mess it up.

“My son, I am not naive. I am straightforward. With everyone, I try to act spontaneously with equanimity. This straight-forwardness requires God’s grace and cannot be accomplished even with arduous perseverance. However, arduous austerity can also create straight-forwardness. This kind of straight-forwardness is called mental purity and is the very best and most sublime of all powers and accomplishments. This straight-forwardness makes even a great an seem like a very ordinary person. But with this simplicity, his greatness is well-protected.

This is my last discourse. From now on, I will remain silent during celebrations. Go on listening to an contemplating my former discourses; and continue to chant, sing bhajans, and practice japa.

My auspicious blessings. Your Beloved Bapuji, Kripalu

Bapuji’s extemporaneous remarks following the presentation of his prepared discourse

Sarvetra sukhinah santu
Sarve santu nirmayah
Sarve bhadrani pashyantut
Namastasmai, namo namaha.
Ma kaschid duka-mapnuyat

May everyone here be happy,
May everyone here by healthy,
May everyone here be prosperous,
To Thee I bow, respectfully.
May no one be unhappy.

Have you taken note of the courageous that I have read the discourse without glasses? (laughter) These two were very fine eyes. They have taken care of me on behalf of my glasses.

I’ll sing a small dhun briefly. But the difficulty is, I’m at a very unique and delicate stage now. I cannot have fluid association of thought due to my stage of sadhana. I think something and speak some other thing. And I simply mess up everything. But I do try to write something so that I make the best use of my spare hours after my sadhana is over. Like right now, I messed up to remember that he (Vinit Muni) needs to translate into English and it should have been written well in advance to help him.

I am doing research work in music. By the grace of God, I am being considered as one of the foremost musicians in India. The scriptures, research work I am working on these days, I doubt I will be able to finish them in time, because I am required to write 2,000 pages, legal size. And it is difficult to proceed on with the research work because whatever I find out is not manipulations, I receive in my sadhana.

So there is an idiom in Gujarati that suppose a person works for a whole night and by the time it is morning, he only finds out one sentence. So sometimes I work on with good speed. And sometimes for days together, I am stuck. I’ll tell you very surprisingly joyous thing, that I am committed to one research of music, one direction but while I am engrossed in research, I find out some other ten or fifteen things.

Due to my unique state of sadhana, I don’t just research in music. I carry on several other pursuits. For example, sometimes I am looking for my glasses. Sometimes I am looking for the book I want badly. Sometimes I am looking for the handkerchief to wipe off my nose. And so on. One is found; the other is lost. The research continues forever. And I’m never really free of these petty research works to concentrate on the major research works.

Yes, I am a research worker. The uniqueness is that whatever I receive directly comes directly from the God. And whatever I receive is really amazing. I’m really surprised as to how I receive such things in such a messed up position that I am. Each cell of my brain in delighted when I receive such inspiring thoughts. And sometimes I get up from my seat to fetch a book and immediately I forget what I’m looking for. Why such things are happening to me? (laughter) This is termed as forgetfulness. In Yogic terms, it is defined as thoughtlessness. Ahhh. It increases day by day. And then the yogi is placed in a situation where he is not able to think at all. Such a situation is expected and so I am climbing step by step towards that position.

Today, all your facial expressions and faces are being received and recorded in my heart. I am going to be lost. So when the images that I’ve recorded in my heart of your faces will be lost also.The last thing that should be lost of course is you, last thing.

So this small dhun which is very terse contains very few words and yet I am keeping a piece of paper wherein the words of the dhun are written to make sure I am singing the same dhun. (laughter) Otherwise, I have chanted “Shankara Bola, Shankara Bola, Shankara Bola” many times but what is there to “cram”  in it, and what is there to write in it in a piece of paper. But yet my situation forces me to have such a piece of paper in my hand. Immediately the train would stop. Then what station will come, what I am supposed to sing or speak, I simply cannot remember. And yet I have to confess one thing. (laughter) When I eat food, I place it in the right place. (laughter) I don’t forget.

(Bapuji chants “Shankara Bola”)

I am constantly reminded of one of my friends. He used to constantly move around cameras. Here and there, he used to take snap pictures. Even among strangers, he would arrange his cameras and without slight haste, recognition, he would force them to stand before the camera. “C’mon. I want to take your pictures.” Approximately in one day he used to spend five to six hours in this activity.

I asked him, “My dear brother, how many films you are wasting in this five or six hours you have been chasing people?”

And he used to say that, “I don’t keep a film in the camera. I take the photographs of hearts of the people and tendencies of people. I don’t take their photographs of people as such.”

So I was wondering if that camera [Bapuji points to camera] has got some film in it or not. [Balvant says it does. Laughter.]

It was disguised and camouflaged. It was kept concealed and hidden. He [the cameraman] keeps on rotating his machine. Now I’m convinced. Agreed.

In our place, in India, when we have to confess, we confess it completely and totally by grasping these earlobes here. This is known as to “confess the mistake”, my style. It [the camera] was almost behind of me, how could you ever expect me to look there? That was the reason why I was messed up.Well, now it is taken care of. I’m glad you have become happy.

Before few days, Amrit came to me. I have been considering beloved Amrit as my son from his very childhood. So I advised him that it would be a good idea if he moved and have some time among saints. The feelings of being a guru and the feelings of a being a disciple reveals from the heart. It can never be forced on someone. But I naturally feel that he is my son and he is my disciple. I am satisfied that he has served me to the best of his capacity. So it is but natural that I should give some advice and inspiration, being a guru and father, to help him advance.

When one persons achieves a spiritual growth or when one person achieves a spiritual accomplishment, it should be considered as if a huge mass of society has traveled further.

This spiritual activity in a way is very excellent and seen from another way is very mean. Why excellent? Because when he progresses or he advances, he becomes an inspiration to the entire society at large. But when that spiritual activity is pursed as business and becomes a focus on himself, it is mean. By such activities, though, society can be helped to grow a lot.

It is my firm belief that a person who has not served his family or society can never ever achieve spiritual progress. He must serve society and the family. To serve the nation is also a type of devotion.

In India, the religion of the nation, devotedness to the nation is the essence of Sanatan Dharma. Not only this, to only focus on one’s own nation is considered narrow-mindedness. Later on, one must encompass the entire world at large. And that’s why one of the foremost principles of Sanatan Dharma is “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” meaning thereby that “The whole world is my family.”

This is a very unique way to grow and develop, to get out of one’s family, to get out of the narrow limits of one family, step outside, then to believe others are ours, and then nations are ours and then move on further, believing the whole world belongs to us and then move further into the realms of God.

So with this broad-mindedness, I advised Amrit to go to India and live for a while with saints. By doing this he will receive new light. Besides, I’ve also given him a piece of hint, instruction. I said, “My son, don’t go with the label of yogi. If possible, go as a common person, a person who is willing to learn. Inside, be aware of the fact that you are a yogi. That is a personal question.”To believe that “I am such and such” is a personal question but should not be revealed outside if one is to learn.

The purpose of sending him to India, my purpose of sending him to India is that he lives for a while among great saints, moves among them, leans from them and puts them into his life to grow further.

In America, all the ashrams here are like palaces. So there is a lack of certain education here. There in India, in the places of pilgrimages and spiritual abodes, one of the foremost being Hardwar and Rishikesh, where the River Ganges flows which is like any river here, people get up a 3 o’clock, 4 o’clock in the morning the jump into the river water to take bath. That is worth experiencing. (laughter)

Here, you have locked the River Ganges in the tape water. You also locked the heat and warmth. And thus you have, agreed, kept taps for cold water, but if you want to use hot water, you can only use hot water. You have the convenience.

In India to take advantage of this bathing in River Ganges, which is supposed to be very sacred, people all around the country, young, old, they visit these places of pilgrimage. Among these visitors, the old men and the old women, the “dosi” and the “dosa”, it’s a slang term for old man and old woman, which is known as dosi and dosa. They come with preparations to die. They are almost on the verge of dying. When they set forth for such pilgrimages, they bow down to their houses for the last time. They may not return. “We have lived in you for a long time. We are very grateful.” And they bow down humbly. “We may not come back so we are saying final goodbye.”

The husband and wife, the old husband, the dosi and the dosa, will get up early in the morning, 4 o’clock in the spiritual inn, free of charge. The husband would tightly grasp the hand of the wife, so old that they require support and vice versa and would jump together in the water. They are doing so to seek support, to give support to each other. It’s difficult to stand in tact. Not to give support, I’m mistaken, to take support. They would have chosen the spiritual inn in such a manner that it is very close to the river. They would walk very slowly, gradually and even if it would take a long time, they would ultimately make it.

Then the River Ganges would approach. They would invoke the Lord’s presence and chant hymns in the praise of the Goddess Ganges. It was time of winter. The wind is blowing hard. The poor dosi an dosa trembling for lack of support. Then they would pray to God and make preparations for the long-awaited bath.

To gather courage for such a venture is not an ordinary task. Ten grams or twenty grams of courage would not suffice. It would take heaps and heaps of courage.

I used to stay there for a while. I have spent a long time in India at that place and we saints used to get out of our abodes at the same time early in the morning to jump in the river. At the time, we used to jump three times, jump in three times, three dips at a time. It is as if we are receiving three injections. When once it is over then we don’t feel very chilly. The fingers would not move. The mouth is forced open wide. There is one tradition there, to recite and chant these words, “Hara, hara, Gange”. “Hara” is the name of Lord Shiva and Gange is short term for Goddess Ganges.

So the poor fellow pulls up all his courage in reciting this mantra, “Hara, hara Gange” once. Then when he comes out, his mouth is wide open in terror. Then he cannot speak anymore. Once injection is given, there is complete anesthesia. (laughter)

Words would never capture what I have seen there. You must see it in person. All the dosis, the old women, not having any teeth in the mouth, no denture, and it seems as if they would never come out after taking bath. What a great faith. (laughter)

When I had first gone there and when I first experienced that episode, I thought this was an historical moment. but when I saw this dosi and dosa having such courage, I thought that sadhus have no grades. They cannot stand a chance. It is no more an historical moment for me. They do get more grades than me. So the life there is so spiritual and methodical that it engraves unique impressions into the mind.

You’d be surprised that in Rishikesh, once upon a time, it was occupied entirely by saints, sanyasi and renunciates. There are many, many shrubs, small plants, which used to offer some berries, some fruits which are not traditionally fruit. They’re cherries. They’re edible. And it is as if they exist for these saints and sanyasi. There are plenty there and no one has any authority over them. They are there for people who are wandering like this. There are many such other fruits that are under the ground.

One saint  saw this. This is only for 150 years. And this compassionate saint thought that there should be some arrangement so that all these wandering monks and saints and renunciates get food at a decided place so that they don’t have to run here and there. There are not one or two saints there. There are thousands of them there. Their only possession is loin cloth and body smeared and covered with ash. They would lie in any corner.

They would lie there but if they were overwhelmed to have a meal they would go five or six miles out of the city where people are dwelling for food. So that mahatma, compassionate mahatma, thought it would be a unique service if all these mahatmas get food here if they are provided with this facility here so that they don’t have to walk all the way there to the people five miles or six miles away.

This generous saint, mahatma, was very well known. He had many disciples. He also was quite non-attached. A word slipped out of his mouth, that let there be such facility here to provide food. He only used to wear a black blanket. So there are many such facilities available to provide food which are traditionally known in Sanskrit language as “Annakshetras” which are even now known as “Kalikamlivala” after the name of the one who wore the black blanket. “Kali” means black. “Kamli” means blanket, and “vala” means one who is wearing. He had built many such spiritual inns and dining facilities free of charge.

When he expressed such a desire to have such facilities for the saints, many generous saints gathered together and everyone opposed that we don’t want such a facility here. Just think the tendencies and the unattachment of these saints who don’t want such a facility at the door. They were given the opportunity to be available such a facility and yet they opposed that they don’t want such a facility here. They say, “We are okay the way we are.”

But the generous mahatma was also of a very high caliber and influence. He said out of his generosity that you may all oppose me, even beat me to death, but I shall have such a facility for you. Just imagine the devotion he had for these saints. Both the parties had unique feelings. None can be condemned.

So there are so many saints and ashrams there that without ever seeing those ashrams and saints, you can never imagine what they are. So that is why I told him, “You go there for a while and move among them. Have faith in them and serve them to the best of your capacity. Only if you will have an eye for seeking virtue, you will see the truth in them.”

So I had given him a hint to pursue such a travel so that he gets an opportunity. This will facilitate a great mental education. You will also receive the benefit through him. So whenever you come back from seeing the sacred lives of saints, he will come back with sacredness, more sacredness for you. Among all the saints who are virtuous, all of them are gurus. The sacredness in itself is the guru. So wherever there is sacredness and purity, bow down and receive holy inspiration.

Today I have gossiped a lot and in that, I also told you why Amrit goes to India. I sincerely desire and wish that his travel will be successful and you receive its benefit also.