shridhara shatamAnotsava

This year's Datta Jayanti marks the start of the birth centenary year of my beloved Guru Bhagavan Shri Shridhara Swami Maharaj. Inaugurating the function here at Varadahalli, respected Jagatguru of Sonda Svarnavalli maTha, His Holiness Shri Gangadharendra Saraswati Swamiji, delivered the following discourse (in Kannada). I invoke the blessings of Acharya Bhagavatpada and Shridhara Swamiji for the grace to (approximately) translate the same into English. (Since its almost an as-is translation, the flow may seem a little odd in English at times; the fault is entirely mine).

aj~nAna timIrAndhasya j~nAnAnjana shalAkayA
chakshurunmIlitaM yena tasmai shrI gurave namaH

Hari Om.

After prayers to Shri Chakra Rajarajeshwari and Shankara Bhagavatpada, His Holiness continued with the following discourse:

Adhyatmika brothers, who are gathered here in the sannidhiH of the prAtaHsmaraNIya, paramapujanIya, avatArapurusha Shri Shridhara Swamiji, to celebrate His birth centenary. To this kshetra, I've visited many times. The reason for it is that I've not seen Shridhara Swamiji... not seen with these eyes. But still there's respect for Him and pride about Him. For such reason, I've come here and lit up one lamp here, a small service indeed. Thats all.

About Shridhara Swamiji, if only one thing is to be said, then His birth on the day of Datta Jayanti, 'That' is Dattatreya svarupa Himself. Whoever has seen His birth and His mukti, His jIvana krama, will have no doubt about this at all! Dattatreya, dattA and Atreya, put together is Dattatreya. Atri's son is Atreya. Atri means One who has transcended three: sattva, rajas and tamo guNas. One who has transcended the three guNas: Atri. Similarly, anusuyA. Asuya, irshya, one who has transcended such basic faults. Whosoever has transcended the doshas of Asuya, Irsha and dvesha so, and also transcended the three guNas, to such people, the Lord has given His own Self: dattOsmi. Says He, He'll be with you giving Himself. As such, they call Datta, Datta. Its one of the avatAras of God: Datta avAtara. In 24 avatAras listed, Datta avatAra is also one. So, This Datta, God has given His own Self out to those who have given up the three guNas, thats why Datta. Similarly, today, Shri Shridhara Swamiji also.

Now also, we should transcend the three: kAma, krodha, lobha. The Lord says in the Bhagavadgita:

trividhaM narakasyedaM dvAraM nAshanamAtmanaH
kAmaH krodhastathA lobhAstasmAdetat trayaM tyajet

For us, the ones that create hell are only these three. Only due to these three causes is hell reached. Only due these three causes, we get into sins. Which ones? First kAma: severe desire. Krodha: opposite of that, dvesha. And lobha: desire for money, wealth. Only due to these three, a human being commits mistakes, aims for sins, and reaches hell. Thats why these three should be left, tasmAt etat trayaM tyajet, says the Lord.

Whosoever has left these three, to them have I given Myself, says Shridhara Swamiji. Thats why his birth is on Datta Jayanti. Whoever has left the three and become Atri, giving up kAma, krodha and lobha, He comes to such people, giving His own Self... Shridhara Swamiji. If its still not possible to leave these three things, even if one wholeheartedly tries to give these up, thats sufficient to bring Him close. In that view, He's also Datta.

Datta's jayanti and Shridhara's jayanti are not different. jayanti is defined as jayaM tanoti iti jayanti. It brings jayaM, it brings the grace of yashas and phala in our sAdhana.

How was Shri Shridhara Swamiji? To record that too, you're celebrating His centenary. Because, its the nature of people to forget such purANa purusha many times. Currently, among us, there are many people who have seen Shridhara Swamiji; they keep on talking of Him, and thats why we get to listen about Him. But after these people have passed on, around the next generation, around the time when no one then will have seen Shridhara Swamiji, that time, its possible that Shridhara Swamiji may be forgotten from social memories. Such a time should not come. In such view, so that He remains embedded in history's records, with many efforts, you've taken the sankalpa during this centenary. That should be done as a duty. That “we've done” shouldn't be said. Because, Shridhara Swamiji Himself has such power. Bhagavan says, in Bhagavadgita, after finishing the entire Gitopadesha: “I've said all that was to be said. You do as you please.” Now, there might arise a doubt in your mind, “if Arjuna had left the battle and gone, what would have Krishna done?” He knows what is to be done. In the 11th chapter He says:

bhIshmaMca droNaMca jayadrathaMca ... tathAnyapi yodhavIrAn
mayA hatAMstvaM jahi...

They have been killed by Me, you just have to use your bow and arrows, you're nimmitta mAtra. So, Krishna knows whats to be done, if someone leaves Him. Similarly, these officials should carry on with the tasks without a feel of ego. Because Shridhara Swamiji has such sattva, how to stay firm in the history records! That is one seva, to be done with that view.

He had acquired all the lakshaNas of Acharya. Acharya lakshaNa, that is, one who understands the shAstras, follows them, and teaches them to others, such is an Acharya:

AcanOtita shAstrAthaM AcAresthApa yathyadi
svayaM Acarate yasmAt tasmAd Acarya ucyate

They are made of these three lakshaNas, so they are made up of Acharya lakshaNas. Shankara Bhagavatpada says, in Bhashya:

kR^tArthohi AcAryOnAma bhavati

Whoever is kR^takR^tya, whoever has experienced bhagavatamR^ta and become saMtR^pta and dhanya, only those will become Acharyas. Such are made up of Acharya lakshaNas. Only if such Acharyas keep on coming on earth, the dharma-mArga, adhyAtma-mArga, will remain protected. Else, if there's no one to experience That and Tell us, then there is fear that this adhyAtma parampara, dharma paramapara, may become distant from people. What all the Acharya says:

dhyAnenAtmani pashyanti kecidAtmAnamAtmanA
anye sAMkhyena yogena karmayogena cApare

He mentions these mArgas. That paramAtma paratattva is within us. Some of those who have climbed very high, Mahatmas, see Him within Themselves with dhyana. Some others with sAMkhyena yogena, meaning with j~nAna yoga, meaning cidacid viveka. paramAtma tattva is mixed with lot of Aropas, such Aropita aMshas are to be removed and seen in pristine purity. People from this area will understand this example: Alemane is made. In that Alemane, sugarcane juice is boiled to make jaggery. Today's children don't even know what Alemane is. Because many homes don't grow sugarcane; and even if they grow, they don't make Alemane. So, its natural for mouth to water for elderly people when Alemane is mentioned. While Alemane is being made, the maker stands for hours and keeps on removing dirt particles. As such particles are removed, the jaggery becomes pure, it becomes whiter. Similarly, on That paramAtma have overlapped lot of malIna aMshas, they have become Aropita on Him. Removing those malIna aMshas, and purifying the vision, is sAMkhya yoga. Some view Him through such practise.

karmayogena cApare. And karma yoga. Yajna, yAga, with dAna, with japa, with such as it suits them, they do the karma, trying to achieve chitta shuddhi intending to see the paramAtma, and they see the paramAtma.

After all this, anye tvevamajAnantaH shrutvAnyebhya upAsate. Those who don't know any of these, what should they do? “We don't know dhyAna, do not know sAMkhya or j~nAna, can't do karma, what should we do?” shrutvAnyebhya upAsate. Whoever has gone on that path, whoever is going on that path, their words should be considered and we should follow.

te'pi cAtitarantyevA mR^tyuM shrutIparAyaNAH

Those too will cross over from this saMsAra, saMsArasAgara, says Bhagavan. Acharya mentions such words.

Some time back, Kanle Shridharaji mentioned, Shridhara Swamiji followed karma, j~nAna and bhakti and taught those. He followed these in His life, as well as taught other so. This karma... yajna, yAga, comes under karma, so the social service that you're doing is also a part of karma. Bhakti, is shuddha prema for God. There shouldn't be any nimmita/ reason for it. If there is a reason for it, that goes to a slightly lesser order. Dhruva did bhajana for the Bhagavan, so did Prahlada. Dhruva's is a seHnimmitaka bhakti, Prahlada's is nirnimmitika bhakti. Why did Dhruva do bhakti and tapas? He was insulted. His father, the King, was sitting on the throne with younger wife and her son. That time, Dhruva also felt the desire to sit on the throne, seeing his brother, Uttama, son of his younger mother. When he tried to sit with them on the throne, she pushed him away. While pushing she cruelly said so “if you want to sit on the throne, you should do tapas and be born in my womb”. He understood then that “if I do tapas, I'll be born from that mother in my next life and then I'll be able to get the throne”. Thats why he went to the forests to do tapas, see the Lord, get His grace and get the throne. Thats seHnimmitika bhakti.

But Prahlada, his was a nirnimmitika bhakti. Prahlada was troubled by Hiranyakashipu in many ways: he threw him from the hills, got him snake bites, gave him so many troubles, got him kicked by elephants, etc. But even then, Prahlada didn't call the Lord for help. Many people think wrongly about Prahlada/ Narasimha story that Prahlada yelled and called Bhagavan and therefore, Bhagavan came and saved him from troubles. Its not so in Srimad Bhagavatam. Then how was it? He was always seeing God everywhere, all the time, being samadarshi, sama is paramAtma, he was experiencing God, meaning he was a jnAni. In this universe, all the objects are filled with paramAtma vastu. shunicaiva shvapAkeca paNDitAH samadarshinaH, it is said. Everywhere, in all objects, whosoever is experiencing paramAtma is a j~nAni. Such was Prahlada. So, since he was experiencing God continuously, troubles given to Prahlada became the troubles given to Bhagavan. Bhagavan had to come. But, it was not because Prahlada yelled and called Him. With that, Prahlada's bhakti is j~nAna bhakti, or j~nAni's bhakti, which was nirnimmitika. That is, it was shuddha bhakti towards Bhagavan. Such bhakti is more lovable to Bhagavan.

Karma, bhakti, j~nAna; accumulating all these, He (Shridhara Swamiji) became shreshTa. Being made of qualities of karma, j~nAna, bhakti, He became shreshTa. With tapas, He became shreshTa. There are many who say that they are great due to their being such and such person's son, being a shishya of such and such a person, because of such guru pITha. But Shridhara Swamiji is not so. uttamAH AtmanAH khyAtAH. Uttamas become great by their own capacity. pItuH khyAtAH ca madhyamAH. Like me. “We have a great guru and due to His paramparA, we're great”, we say, “Our father, our Shankaracharya, is great, so we're great”. He wasn't saying so. Such, an embodiment of dharma Itself, was His svarupa. You say about Him: “satyadharma svarupiNe”. Its full of proper meaning. The word satya means paramAtmA, it means parabrahma. Dharma means the path to see paramAtma. In it, karma is seen much. In Vedas, most is said about karma. With it, when you bow down to yaj~neshwara, you Vedikas say so:

kANDadvayopapAdyAya karmabrahma svarupiNe
swargApavarga rUpAya yaj~neshAya namo namaH

That karmabrahma svarupiNe, same meaning, is there in satyadharma svarupiNe. Satya is paramAtma, dharma is the path to reach God, the Vaidika dharma, in which the main visible thing is karma. So, karmabrahma svarupiNe is also the same as if it is said as satyadharma svarupiNe. Of such svarupa was Shri Shridhara Swamiji. The people who have seen Him are really blessed. This area, where He has walked around, is really blessed. When they came to invite me for this programme, with many, Bhimanna, who was sitting there, had also come. While giving mantrAkshate, I just said, “your pradeshA that has seen Him, where He has stayed is really more blessed than this place!” He (Bhimanna) always replies something smartly and he said: This area, where He (Shridhara Swamiji) took saMnyAsa is no less. Thats where He took saMnyAsa”. “Yes”, I felt so too then. I'd forgotten that (about saMnyAsa dIksha in our area, Sigehalli). So, having seen Him, having heard Him, being in the area where He has walked around, we're truly blessed. Only if such dharmAcAryas, such AcAryaswarupas keep on coming repeatedly on these bhUHbhAgas will the dharma stay alive. Till now, dharma has remained alive due to the same kind.

On seeing Him, the mind gets inspired, thats why I keep coming here, for no other reason. You asked me to deliver a discourse too, thats why I did so. Else, giving a discourse was not my job. On His birth centenary, marked with yesterday's hundredth birth anniversary celebration, you have taken the sankalpa to do good kAryas during the entire year, as has been announced earlier. To record Shridhara Swamiji in people's minds ahead from now, what all needs to be done, should be done. You've decided to print His unprinted books. You have decided to bring back memories to people by going to places where He has gone. Whatever He has guided as duties such as vedAdhyayana, annadAna, gosevA, that too you're carrying out well and have taken sankalpa to do even better. All these are great works. I feel there may be two small things to do. Not as big a thing as what you've already decided, thats why I call them as small: one for the layman and another for the scholar. For pAmara and paNDita, they should stand good for both as they are termed. Thats why, I'm giving this advice. For laymen, they feel blissful looking at Shridhara Swamiji's pictures. They don't have the capacity to listen and understand His pravachana. His pictures may be spread across corners in people's homes, hands, albums and diaries. You could announce that “whosoever has Shridhara Swamiji photos, please send it to us. We'll return the original after making a copy of it". Collecting those, you could bring out a book just of pictures of His life, with each picture having a mention of the event. That will be very useful and preraka for laymen. It will also serve historic purpose as His life's pictorial.

Another for scholars. Now Shridhara Swamiji has reached among emotional bhaktas. People who are sharp, intelligent, scholarly, for such people also, He must be reached. For that, Shridhara Swamiji's books on vichAra and vimarsha should be brought out. His stories, pravachanA being one part. From His pravachanA if vichAra and vimarsha is brought out, it will meet scholars' interest, unlike stories which will interest only emotional people.

His words were prasanna gambhIra; I've heard His cassettes, read some of His books. His talk is prasanna gambhIra. Its said about Shankara Bhagavatpada, about Vachasapati Mishra so:

bhAshyaM prasanna gambhIraM tat praNayitaM pracakshateH

What is it meant by prasanna gambhIraM? gambhIra means deep in Sanskrit. prasanna means that from the surface, the depth can't be known, but listening to it brings bliss to any type of person! Thats prasanna. Shankara Bhagavatpada's words have such lakshaNa. Shridhara Swamiji's talk and kR^ti too has such lakshaNa. That is, to them, not only is there a feeling of bliss, but also a depth. Who, but scholars, can show such depth? If you can bring those into picture in your publications, it reaches such social classes too. With what you've already decided to publish, these too could be done is my advice. Finally, for such laymen and scholars, both, He should become more closer, and He should remain firm among the society's classes.

Today's opportunity was made available to me bringing much happiness. Whether I'd have come here now, within my frame of work is doubtful. Moreover, there's started a programme called Bhagavadgita Abhiyana. “What can we do for Bhagavadgita Abhiyana?” asked Sridhara Mahamandala. Currently, I've responded as to: Now, its going on in Uttara Karnataka, while Shimoga comes under Dakshina Karnataka. After UK, lets see whether God lets us carry on. If it continues to DK, then it'll have your participation too. Our running around is more in UK; in such circumstances, whether we'd have been able to come over here, I don't know. But you've created this opportune moment and called me. Its always santosha to come over to Shridhara Swamiji's sannidhiH, to participate in His sevA is always santosha. You've created such santosha for us.

With me, here are Shri Narasimhananda Saraswatiji and Shri Madhavananda Saraswatiji. They both too take pride in Shridhara Swamiji. It may also be said that they have received Shridhara Swamiji's grace. So too, Katte Parameshwara Bhatji; even if he builds a kaTTe (small structure), then God will come and stand there. He won't leave that kaTTe. Similarly, Shankaranarayana Raoji. He has seen Shridhara Swamiji since a long time and continued His sevA; thats how he's blessed with a long life. Else, its rare to get long life. There are many others among you who are continuing this work with samarpaNa bhAva. Hollegara Laxmikant Bhatji, without anyone telling him, with Shridhara Swamiji's inspiration as he says, without any other inspiration here, has submitted himself here on the very first day. Its for everyone to learn from him.

Giving one part of your earnings to dharma is a good habit to have. I've heard, seen a bit, that in Gujarat state, there's a following called Swaminarayana sect. Swaminaryanaji, a mahatma, was an avatAra purusha of some centuries back. He had asked of these people to give one-sixth of their earnings to dharma. Even today, those Gujaratis, wherever they are, be it Bangalore or Sagara, the Marawadi Gujaratis donate one-sixth of their earnings to dharma. So their social service goes very well everywhere, if you see. We should learn that from them to give one-part of our earnings to dharma. You know what Marawadis say about it? “Just as if we have taken a loan, its a must-and-should, with such feeling we have to give as told by our Guruji”. If such single feeling comes into the society, no dharmic institute and no work of dharma can fall behind its targets. So Hollegara Laxminarayana Bhatji has mentioned too. And you all are great kAryakartAs, with all qualities... what should those be called: bhakti, shraddha, love, pride, submissal, that on saying Shridhara Swamiji, with faces turning pink, you all yell 'jaya'! Behind such feeling, so much is there! That will bring you progress. Working with such pure feeling will make the centenary year celebrations go well. Looking at Shridhara Swamiji's blessings backing, support of the donors in the front, sandwiched by the sturdy rAja mArga kAryakartAs' enthusiasm, is making me happy. With those three, may these centenary celebrations go on successfully. May Shridhara Swamiji stand firm in the society. And being inspired by Him, may many people walk ahead on the path of dharma, the path of sAdhana, and let our society see progress. With this, I close my talk.

lokaH samasthA sukhino bhavantu
nArAyaNa nArAyaNa nArAyaNa

What they (all) say!

A spiritual aspirant has solitude as the only sane choice in his insane world. The other insane world has made its own rules and its people always want even this person to live by rules measured as per their yardstick. So what these people have been telling me back at my work, among friends, relations, and acquaintances in cities and even villages here? Here are some I can gather. If you can't take sarcasm and/ or belong to one of these, please refrain from reading further:

--Get married:
This one's a common formula... kind of a solution for everything. Put responsibilities on the chap and screw him up royally. Throw him in lust and more desires, and may he be doomed in nobody's worst interests!

“What if everyone thought they have sufficient for themselves? What if Tatas and Ambanis thought so?” Why should I have such aspirations for myself? They excite you, you walk their path, why drag me along? Lets just say I'm incapable of all that and I'm happy with it. Or “Karma yoga will purify you”. Yeah, right, thanks!

--Lets show your horoscope:
“Then we'll be able to find out what is wrong with you!” Interesting assumption. Oh, please fix this for me. My God who gave me this prArabdha is not as capable as you.

--Try this:
“Do this and see if you succeed. Else you know where you stand in your journey and if you can't do it, spiritual journey is not for you.” Yes, because they can do such a thing, everyone should be able to. Well, whether such is a spiritual measure is no one's problem!

--Quit everything:
“What kind of a path is a middle path? We never heard of anyone who wants to save enough money and spend time in spirituality. Such kinds go to Himalayas.” Yes, Himalayas is some kind of solitary set of hills with caves made for all kinds of sAdhakas... these people have actually seen it; in movies, of course!

--Go here:
“At such and such place, you will find solace. Have you still not gone to that place in all these years? What kind of a spiritual life are you leading?” In the same spirit, "Join this ashram".

--Talk to him:
“I think you should have someone take you to this Guru. He'll be able to solve your problems”. My problems? Or yours?

--Think of your parents:
Yes, the golden accusation. They all take care of their parents. They are greater than God who gives their parents life and health. Who will look after my parents? Right! “They didn't bring you up so that you can one day do this kind of a thing”.

--We'll help you:
Really? Help me? Beyond the all-powerful God? Where were you all these years?

I've put the last one in the end because it sums up for all of the above things and more. These nice people are actually trying to help me. They are finding a solution for me for something that they see as a *problem* and actually know so. In other words, they are finding a solution for a non-existing problem! Of course, I'm thankless and am acting smart, when I don't lend them an ear, far from following the unsolicited advice, but I don't think I've time to listen to them and spend more part of my life thinking over it and writing such blogs.

So... I'd like to thank all of them here, instead, including the ones that have somehow meant well for me in the past, mean now and/ or the ones that are about to pop up further and tell them this as a golden rule to follow: Do you really want to help me? Yes? Then please stop helping me. Thats the greatest help you can provide me with. Stay away, please! And of course, thanks a ton!

I don't make paths, I walk on the path that gets made automatically, any which way, one of the above, none, a mix of them, or more, whatever; I like an unpredicted tomorrow, and I live so, happily, nay, blissfully!

Creating even so a nano-moment in history!

Mark the gentleman's words “The car will be priced at Rs. 1 lakh. A promise is a promise”. Among the funny names such as Buddha car, Mamta or more appropriately Despite Mamta, technologically way-advanced for the size of the car, its appropriately christened as the Nano. Ratan Tata's baby is here!

If for nothing else, Tatas deserves all the praise they can get for getting out a complete car for the price with lowest emission and the highest mileage. Now thats an achievement for the green world, not to mention Tata's idea of dispersing wealth with the strategy to build, sell and service cars. We don't hear of people wanting to disperse wealth, but only accumulate, even less in the car industry.

Remember what happened to GM's electric car? The oil companies together with the big three, including GM themselves, killed it. The idea does live on as an idea. It did spark other ideas beyond the electric, towards the hybrid, compressed-air and other fuel run cars. US cos with their puppet reporters have garbled up stories about emission norms of the car and safety questions. Factually, it takes guts to talk nonsense and that US has always had, be it in the nuclear field, war, Kyoto protocol, or oil. This time around, they are talking of emission standards about Nano, while their lungs are breathing their own carbon emissions. Nano beats even the California standards of emission ready to meet Euro-IV norms and mileage around 50 miles a gallon! Safety is a different matter altogether; at the speeds that Americans rip, no car's safe there anyway. However, Nano's not meant for US (yet), its meant as a lowest priced car on earth. So people who want to compare Nano with all jazzy stuff, should best see their shrink.

Thoughts 81

81: If Truth is a pathless land, falsehood is an endless and landless path.

(Truth is a pathless land, says JK. But so is falsity, or so does it seem anyway, doesn't it? On second thoughts, however, falsity is a landless path! It has no ground, or substratum as Vedanta terms it, to rest itself and so it is, even literally, landless. Each statement of untruth is followed by many false statements of covering up the act. To that effect, falsity is also endless. To sum up, if truth is a pathless land, falsehood is an endless and landless path.)

The power of Satsanga

Every time I talk to any of my satsanga friends, be it on any topic... a mere exchange of few sentences... brings immense pull to the path of truth. Its a feeling of mumukshutva that takes over denying the world of vAsanAs, the life of sin. A person of satsanga is perhaps so neutral in his opinion or expressions, at worst, that that itself brings in good luck to oneself. It charges up the spiritual cells and drains away the nonsense, good for nothing, worldly cells. There's hardly a time when satsanga brothers discuss the world beyond whats necessary for a push to the wheel of satsanga in social circles. Then on the wheel rolls from the darkness of the night into the shades of the trees cooling the rAjasic and tAmasic wants of talking and doing ill, or ego-fights of getting over others, and bringing forth the sattvik love for truth. Each of the participants wants others to succeed, since one's success in gaining knowledge takes the others ahead by leaps too. True knowledge is gained in satsanga so.

Satsanga is not only spending some hours in the company of holy men, but more importantly leaving the worldly company of dussanga. Dussanga tyajana has immense potential of bringing satsanga just by such avoidance. Thats why a life of solitude is mandated for a sAdhaka wanting to be an adhikAri.