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Ask Swamiji

We all have questions on a variety of spiritual topics but never found an answer to them. We wonder, "What is the purpose of it all?". "Where do we come from?",  "Why are we here?"

 

In order to help aspirants sharpen their knowledge and climb the spiritual ladder, many challenging queries are answered and masterly reconciled by our revered Swamiji in discussions forums and by email. 

 

We have compiled a few of these questions and answers from that vast treasure, delving deep into the world of Spirituality and Bhakti-Yog. In the future, we shall aim to bring you as many answers as possible.

 

If you have a question that has not been addressed in this repository, and e-Magazine. On the e-Magazine, you will find a link for asking questions.

 

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Q1: If someone is facing problems (himself/herself) or a family member (or loved one) is suffering or in trouble, or someone close to you is being mistreated or victimized and you have done your level best to resolve it or get justice with no positive results, then should you make more efforts or leave it to God. Like many people says "Jaisee Hari ki iccha".  Now remember the same person who is in trouble is not because of his/her own fault and is honest and always helped you and everyone and let's say now it is your turn and it is your utmost duty to help that person but you are expressing that you are helpless.  Then what is your duty now?  Should you leave it to God and feel that now you have peace. And how can you concentrate in your sadhna or bhakti or Meditation?

 

Q2: Today I was listening to your Karm Yog speech. As you said that "Do your karma, but do not desire". Here I am not able to understand, Without desire, how can you do karma?  I think it's difficult to implement this in life.  Let's take an example: if any student desires to become a doctor, he can start focusing on medical study. If he doesn’t desire, it will be difficult for him to achieve it.           
My 2nd Question is the Ramayan states that even big personalities like Shankar, Brahma and Vishnu cannot know God.  The Bhagavatam states that Shree Krishna cannot be known even by Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh.  Does this mean that there is some difference between Shree Krishna and the other forms of God? 

 

Q3: When God is the actual doer why are the souls subjected to the results of their actions?

 

Q4: Is Islam basically a defective religion? Is there any way to judge which religion is a true religion, and which is not?

 

Q5: In one of your lecture you said without knowing God one cannot love Him and again without loving Him one cannot know Him. Knowing is related to knowledge (gyan) and loving is to devotion (bhakti).  So which is more important for a seeker-gyan or bhakti?

 

Q6:  Why should we distinguish between Gyan Yog and Bhakti Yog as two different paths.  Such divisions in the name of religion are the cause of so much of strife in the world, and the fighting between religions.  There is only one entity called Brahman in existence, so why don’t we stop making distinctions between different paths?

 

Q7:  Why do our feelings of closeness, love for God and Guru vary throughout the day?  At times, they are very strong and for a large part of the day or night, there is no feeling at all.  There are many occasions when a sadhak (spiritual aspirant) has negative thoughts or feelings towards God.  Why does this happen?  How does one stop it? Shree Maharajji always reminds us about the Gopis of Braj.  They always had Shree Krishna in their mind and went about their daily work.  How did they manage that ?

 

Q8:  What is the difference between swanshas, vibhinanshas, and nitya siddha personalities?

 

Q9: If every single act is planned by God, and all outcomes happen due to one's Karma, when ill befalls people, like the terrorist attack in Mumbai, will it be correct to say "they deserved it” due to past Karma" and blindfold ourselves from the misery of mankind?

 

Q10:  Some questions arose in my mind about surrender when I sang this song which ended with “O mind if you do not surrender to Kishori Ji, whom else would you find so innocent and merciful, who graces surrendered souls and makes them Her own without them doing anything at all.  What determines one's level of surrender ?  What stops one from this complete surrender?  Does one’s past negative sanskaars and vasanas play a part determining the level and speed of surrender?  How can one overcome then our inherent negativities and make progress towards self- surrender faster?

 

Q11: How does one cleanse or heal his or her soul?

 

Q12: True surrender to God and a spiritual Guru is considered only when  one surrenders  the (pure) mind completely  to God  and  the Guru.  The most important aspect for any true seva, sincere devotion, spiritual sadhana and true surrender to God and the Guru is attaching and surrendering one's mind completely to God and the Guru.  Then a logical question would be that how can one categorize the mind to be material and not spiritual, when the only prerequisite for any true spiritual activity, seva or sadhana, is surrendering the mind completely to God and the Guru. 

Q1:  If someone is facing problems (himself/ herself) or a family member (or loved one) is suffering or in trouble, or someone close to you is being mistreated or victimized and you have done your level best to resolve it or get justice with no positive results, then should you make more efforts or leave it to God. Like many people says "Jaisee Hari ki iccha".  Now remember the same person who is in trouble is not because of his/her own fault and is honest and always helped you and everyone and let's say now it is your turn and it is your utmost duty to help that person but you are expressing that you are helpless.  Then what is your duty now?  Should you leave it to God and feel that now you have peace. And how can you concentrate in your sadhna or bhakti or Meditation?

- D.B Singh, New Delhi 

 

Answer by Swamiji: As long as we are in material bondage, we cannot hope to be totally free from misery.  We will all grow old, we will all become sick, and we will all die one day. Who can escape these realities of life?  Besides this, we all have sanchit karmas (the karmas of endless past lives) that create suffering and happiness for us from time-to-time.  Not even God violates this law of karma.  The Puranas tell us that the Pandavas suffered immensely, even though they were great devotees of Shree Krishna.

 

King Dashrath passed away from the world leaving Kaushalya a widow.  They were the parents of God Ram, and yet He did not interfere to remove their miseries.  As human beings, we are instructed by the scriptures to help others, and endeavour to mitigate their sufferings.  But we must do it in a detached manner, and leave the results to God.  How do we know, after all, that God is not giving them suffering for their wellbeing?  The "Bhagavatam" states:

 

Tam bharanshayami sampadbhyo yasya chechya manugraham.

 

Here God says, "When I wish to bestow the highest treasure of Divine Love upon someone, I first prepare the soul by giving suffering."  The Bible states: "God sometimes gives misery in our lives, to turn us away from sin, and seek eternal life."  At the level of our thinking, material suffering is bad, but in the Divine plan, it may be necessary for the evolution of the soul.

 

When we wish to do good to others, we think of removing their material miseries.  This is only a very partial and temporary solution - you give food to a hungry person, and after six hours, he is hungry again.  I am not decrying the need for doing material charity to society.  But that is not the only kind of charity that exists. The highest charity is to help someone attain love for God, and get out of the cycle of life-and-death. The God-realized Saints engage in this Divine charity.  They remove the root cause of suffering of the souls, which is forgetfulness of God.  We are not so elevated ourselves, as to engage in this Divine charity by ourselves.  But if we help the God- realized Saints in their work, effectively we engage in the highest charitable work we possibly can.

 

So, if people are close to you, do try to alleviate their material miseries.  But at the same time, try to inspire them to strengthen their relationship with God.  And remember that your duty was merely to put in your best efforts, and leave the results in the hands of God.  Therefore, if your sincere efforts to help them do not yield results, do not be the least bit disturbed. 

 

Best wishes,

Swamiji

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Q2: Today I was listening to your Karm Yog speech. As you said that "Do your karma, but do not desire". Here I am not able to understand, Without desire, how can you do karma?  I think it's difficult to implement this in life.  Let's take an example: if any student desires to become a doctor, he can start focusing on medical study. If he doesn’t desire, it will be difficult for him to achieve it.

           
My 2nd Question is the Ramayan states that even big personalities like Shankar, Brahma and Vishnu cannot know God.  The Bhagavatam states that Shree Krishna cannot be known even by Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh.  Does this mean that there is some difference between Shree Krishna and the other forms of God? 

- Hari Dutt, Orissa

 

Answer by Swamiji: Your question is in regard to Karm Yog. The principle of Karm Yog is to work without desire.  But, the question is that if we give up desire, how can we do any work at all?  All work begins with a desire to achieve the results, and if there is no desire, there will be no work either.

 

The answer to this question is that desire is very basic to the nature of the soul, just as heat and light are basic to the nature of fire.  A state of desirelessness is as impossible for the soul, as is the state without heat and light for the fire. Now, Karm Yogis stop desiring for their own happiness, but that does not mean that they become desireless.  They desire to love God, to please Him, and to attain Him.  This spiritual desire to serve Him is the motivation behind all their works.

 

Since their work is for the pleasure of God, they are not attached to the fruit of their work.  If after putting in their best, they do not get their endeavoured fruit, they remain undisturbed, for they accept it as the will of God.  On the other hand, their work had been motivated by personal attachment to the fruit, then whenever the desired result was not attained, they would have gotten disturbed.

 

Your second question is regarding the various forms of God vis-a-vis Shree Krishna.  The Vedas clearly state that God is one: "ekamevadwitiyam brahma".  So there is no question of any one form being bigger than the other.  However, the Ramayan states: "Ram cannot be known even by personalities as big as Shankar and Brahma", and the Bhagavatam states: "Shree Krishna cannot be comprehended even by the likes of Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh".  This is only a way of emphasising the point that even the biggest personalities cannot know God through their intellect.  This statement should not be taken out of context, or it can lead to confusion.

 

Best wishes,

Swamiji

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Q3: When God is the actual doer why are the souls subjected to the results of their actions?

- Amit Mehta, Gujarat

 

Answer by Swamiji: The concepts karm and karmphal need to be understood separately for two categories - before surrender to God and after surrender to God.

 

As long as we are not surrendered to God, we are under the grip of the unforgiving ego that makes us feel that we are the doers.  Also, we harbour personal desires independent of the will of God.  In this state, God is not the doer of our actions.  He gives us the power to act, but leaves the utilization of that power to us.  This can be compared to the power house that supplies us with power, but leaves its utilization in our hands.  Once we have performed actions with our own free will, then God notes our karmas, keeps an account of them, and gives us the fruits at a suitable time.

 

Now consider the second category.  When we surrender to God, we are released from the ego of being the doer.  Also, we make God's desire as our own desire.  In this state, the soul becomes the non-doer, and God becomes the doer for that surrendered soul.  Hence, the God- realized souls are able to say:

 

Na main kiya na kari sakaun, sahib karta mor.

Karat karavat aap hai, tulasi tulasi shor.

 

The Saint Tulsidas says: "I neither wrote the Ramayan, nor do I have the ability to write it.  Shree Ram was Himself the writer, yet people are saying that Tulsidas has done it."

 

We must bear the distinction in mind that the above statement applies only to God-realized saints; it does not apply to materially conditioned souls.  If God were the doer for the materially conditioned souls as well, then the law of karma would have no meaning.  We would not have to bear the karmphal of karma that God performed through us.  Again, there would be no need for the scriptures to explain to us what to do.  All the Vedas would have finished in a few sentences: "O Souls! God is the doer of all your actions.  You do not need to understand what is right and what is wrong."  So before God-realization, we do in fact perform karmas with our free will.

 

The path for moving from the first category to the second category is to perform actions as if they were dependent upon us, and at the same time, to internally practice to think of God as the doer.  Sage Vasishista has expressed this very beautifully in the "Yog Vasisht", when he says:

 

Karta bahir akarta antara vihara raghav.

 

The Sage Vasishita says, "O Ram! Act carefully, as if the results are dependent upon you.  But from within, practice to think that God is the real doer."  So at present, we will have to act, keeping both principles in mind.

 

With best wishes,

Swamiji

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Q4: Is Islam basically a defective religion? Is there any way to judge which religion is a true religion, and which is not?

- Aarathi Rao, Singapore

 

Answer by Swamiji: First let me make this clear that there is only one person who has the right to pass judgement, and that is God.  Our judgements are often based on inadequate data and understanding.  All the prophets in history delivered their message in accordance with the time, place and circumstance in which they were preaching.  Without understanding this principle, we could jump to rash judgements on their teachings.  The Hindu scriptures declare that the Buddha was God Himself.  And yet He preached a religion that accepts neither the concept of God nor the soul:

 

Sacchita pariyodapanam etam buddhanushasanam.

 

The emphasis is only on cleansing your mind.  Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj explains that at the time of Gautam Buddha, people were over-indulging in the ritualistic aspect of the Vedas.  They were engaging in animal sacrifice.  The Buddha preached a philosophy that helped the people to rise from the platform they were at.  Buddhism was the perfect philosophy for the people in that situation at that time.  Now, if we were to say that Buddhism is a bad religion because it does not mention the existence of God, how far from the truth we would be.

 

Similarly, Christianity too may seem elementary in comparison to the Vaishnav philosophy, yet it has served humankind for two millenniums. If we read the writings of Thomas Kempis, St. John of the Cross and St Francis of Assissi, we will feel humbled before their fervour for devotion, their zeal for preaching, and their complete intoxication for God.

 

The same holds true for many Sufi saints, like Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi, and Moinuddin Chisti.  When I was a child, there was a Hindu girl in our neighbourhood who used to read the Namaz, without ever having learnt it from anyone (she forgot it by her sixth year).  It is possible that she was a good Muslim in her previous life, and God arranged for her to continue the journey by giving her an appropriate Hindu  birth in this life.  So God alone is aware of the full importance of Islam in the development of humankind, and its impact on the development of culture, architecture, literature, music, etc.  A religion carries an entire civilization on its back for ages and ages.  How then can we reject Islam as a bad religion? The Bible says, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

 

The beauty of our Vedic scriptures is that they give us a broad vision of humankind, where we do not look upon ourselves as going to heaven and all others as going to hell.  Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj shows this spirit by quoting from all the religious traditions of the world.  Shree Maharajji also says in the "Prem Ras Siddhant (Philosophy of Divine Love)" that often followers of one path consider themselves to be superior, and look down upon all other religious organizations, Gurus and denominations as being inferior.  This is a Naamaparadh, or a spiritual transgression.  Intense faith is one of the most important weapons in the spiritual armoury of a sadhak.  When blended with broadmindedness it flowers into wisdom, and becomes a lethal combination to cross over maya and attain Divine Love.

 

With warm regards,

Swamiji

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Q5: In one of your lecture you said without knowing God one cannot love Him and again without loving Him one cannot know Him. Knowing is related to knowledge (gyan) and loving is to devotion (bhakti).  So which is more important for a seeker-gyan or bhakti?

- Jayesh Patel, USA

 

Answer by Swamiji: The topic “gyan vs bhakti” is one of the most intensely debated topics in Indian philosophy, and followers of advaitvad, dwaitvad, visishtadvaitvad, vishuddhadvaitvad, achintya bhedabhedvad, all hold strong opinions on either sides of the topic.

 

It is difficult to do justice to this topic in brief. gyan and bhakti are definitely inter-related.  For example, if someone gives us a piece of jewellery, and we have no knowledge of its worth, we will have no love for it either.  But if we come to know that the gold is 24 carats, and the diamond studded in it is worth a million dollars, we will immediately develop immense love for our new possession.  Similarly, as we get knowledge of the glory of God and our relationship with Him, our devotion towards Him will also increase.  So true knowledge definitely leads to bhakti.  And as we engage in bhakti, God seated within the heart gives us deeper and newer realizations.  Thus, bhakti leads to knowledge.  Gyan and bhakti are thus intimately inter-related: gyan increases bhakti, and bhakti increases gyan.

 

However, Gyan Yog or the path of gyan is different from this.  It suggests that the soul is itself God, and so by situating oneself in the knowledge of the true self as atman, one will attain liberation.  Such knowledge is incomplete without the understanding that soul is only a tiny fragment of God, that it has an eternal relationship with God, and that it needs to surrender to God, to attain His grace.  Consequently, the meditational styles of the Gyan Yogi and the Bhakti Yogi are quite different.  The Bhakti Yogi meditates on the Supreme, all-powerful God, and relates to Him in a personal form as his ishta dev.  However, the Gyan Yogi considers meditation on God as inferior, and aims to still the mind by meditation on the breath, or the eyebrow center, etc.  Such meditation aimed at merely stilling the mind is not only exceedingly difficult, it is also bereft of the grace of God.

 

The mind is a product of the material energy of God, and it cannot be conquered without His grace, no matter for how many ages we may endeavour.  Hence, the writer the "Yog Darshan", Sage Patanjali, has mentioned in three places in his brief treatise: Ishwara pranidhanat – for success in meditation and for conquering the mind, surrender to God. Bhakti thus becomes essential in the path of gyan as well.

 

There is yet another kind of gyan, called shabdik gyan, which means dry intellectual knowledge, without concurrent practice.  Such gyan, without realization leads to pride, and does more harm than good.  It has thus been criticized by the scriptures.

 

We must thus acquire the right knowledge of our eternal relationship with God, and then endeavour to put it in practice.  That knowledge will then help us increase our devotion, and devotion will increase our knowledge, and knowledge will increase our devotion, and devotion will increase knowledge, and so on....

 

Swamiji

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Q6:  Why should we distinguish between Gyan Yog and Bhakti Yog as two different paths.  Such divisions in the name of religion are the cause of so much of strife in the world, and the fighting between religions.  There is only one entity called Brahman in existence, so why don’t we stop making distinctions between different paths?

- Neeraj Jajoria, USA

 

Answer by Swamiji: We must definitely try to see the wonderful form of God behind everything sentient and non-sentient.  Everything in creation has emanated from God; it is situated in God; and it is a manifestation of the energy of God.  That is what bhakti teaches us to do.  Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj expresses this sentiment repeatedly in his kirtans:

 

Char achar mein lakhahu apano ishta kahan nita pyare. 

 

"See the form of your ishta dev in all animate and inanimate entities."  The lack of this vision of unity is what leads to animosity and hatred, of the kind witnessed in the senseless killings in Mumbai recently.  The perpetrators of this violence apparently have a world view, in which they see people not subscribing to their beliefs as enemies, who can be killed without compunction.  Unpleasant divides in this world are created when we fail to see the connection between God and His creation.

 

However, this unity does not mean that we must neutralize all the diversities in the world.  There is unity in diversity, and also diversity in the unity.  That diversity is the greatness of God Himself, who creates innumerable species of life, and innumerable varieties within each species..

 

Is it possible to live without seeing the diversity of creation?

 

I am reminded of a story in this regard.  A king was the disciple of a great Saint.  He heard from the Saint that there is only one entity in this world, and that is God.  The king found this philosophy very convenient.  He began loving the maidservants in the palace.  This was brought to the notice of the queen, who asked her husband for an explanation to his characterless behaviour..

 

The queen was very annoyed.  She accosted the king’s Guru, “What philosophy have you taught my husband.  He has begun engaging in adultery.”  The Saint was amused at the interpretation of advait by his disciple.  He taught a rejoinder to the queen.

 

When it was time for lunch, the queen put faeces on a plate and served it to the king.  He exclaimed, “What is this you have brought?”  “O King!  This is a tasty delicacy.”  The king retorted, “What rubbish!!

This is stool.”  The queen said, “Dear husband.  So you are able to see the difference between stool and delicacies!  You were saying there is no variety in this world.”

 

People in developed countries commonly use GPS navigators.  This means they distinguish between different roads, else they could have thought them all as one, and taken any road that caught their fancy..

Similarly, there are various paths leading to the goal of life.  All these paths are manifestations of the infinite variety created by God.  We must definitely not create any ill-feeling or ill-will towards anyone.  However, we must clearly understand the pros and cons of each and then make an intelligent effort to attain God.

Gyan and bhakti are both praiseworthy, but that does not imply that there is no distinction between them.  We must clearly understand the difference between both, and the relationship between both.  And then we will be in a position to take advantage of both to reach our ultimate destination.

 

With best wishes,

Swamiji

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Q7:  Why do our feelings of closeness, love for God and Guru vary throughout the day?  At times, they are very strong and for a large part of the day or night, there is no feeling at all.  There are many occasions when a sadhak (spiritual aspirant) has negative thoughts or feelings towards God.  Why does this happen?  How does one stop it? Shree Maharajji always reminds us about the Gopis of Braj.  They always had Shree Krishna in their mind and went about their daily work.  How did they manage that ?

- Lata Shrivastav, UP

 

Answer by Swamiji: Radhey Radhey,

 

For the mind to oscillate due to the three gunas is very natural.  If it remained at the highest consciousness all day, there would be no need for sadhana.  To fight with the mind and the intellect is what sadhana is all about.  Though the mind may wish to relish the world, yet we force it into the spiritual realm with the intellect.  We must reinforce the intellect with the tattvagyan of the Guru, and then use the intellect to control the mind.

 

Initially, this may seem difficult, but with practice it will become easy.  Just as driving a car is difficult initially, but with practice it becomes natural..

 

The problem in this process is that we do not see the mind as different from ourselves.  And so when the mind presents a disturbing thought, we feel, "Oh! I am thinking in this negative manner."  We begin to associate with the poisonous thought, allow it to reside in us, and damage us spiritually.  To the extend that even if the mind presents a thought against God and Guru, we accept the thought as ours.  If at that time we could see the mind as separate from us, we would be able to misidentify ourselves from those negative thoughts.

 

We could then chastise the mind, "You may generate whatever thoughts you wish, but I will have nothing to with any thought that is not conducive to my devotion."

Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj says:

 

man ko mano shatru isaki sunahu jani kachu pyare.

 

"Declare war on your mind.  Do the opposite of what it says, and soon it will stop bothering you."    Adi Shankaracharya had said the same:

 

jagad jitam kena.  mano hi yena.

 

"Who will conquer the world?  He who has conquered his mind."  Tulsidas ji has repeatedly and severely chastised his mind in his bhajans in "Vinay Patrika".  So put on the spiritual armour (tattvagyan) given by your Gurudev, and begin the fight.

 

With best wishes,

Swamiji

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Q8:  What is the difference between swanshas, vibhinanshas, and nitya siddha personalities?

- Ravi Chauhan, New Delhi

 

Answer by Swamiji: Radhey Radhey,

 

Swanshas are expansions of Shree Krishna who are non-different from Him.  They are all governors of Yogmaya, such as Narayan, Ram, Shiv, etc. In other words, They are all God.

 

Vibhinanshas are fragments of the Jiva Shakti of Shree Krishna.  They can never be governors of Yogmaya.  If they turn their backs towards God, they are overpowered by the illusory energy, maya.  However, if they are surrender to God, then they are released from maya forever, and henceforth, they are governed by Yogmaya.

 

Nitya siddhas are those souls who never had their backs towards God.  They have eternally been with Him, serving Him in his Divine Pastimes in His Divine Abode.

 

With best wishes,

Swamiji

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Q9: If every single act is planned by God, and all outcomes happen due to one's Karma, when ill befalls people, like the terrorist attack in Mumbai, will it be correct to say "they deserved it” due to past Karma" and blindfold ourselves from the misery of mankind?

 

Answer by Swamiji: The law of karma is so complex that it involves multiple factors.  God has an account of all our karmas in endless lives.  This is called sanchit karma.  At the time of birth, we are given a portion of it, to enjoy or suffer in this life.  This is called prarabdh karma.  Within this life, we have a freedom to act, and the actions we perform is called kriyamaan karma.  The prarabdh is fixed, while the kriyamaan is within our hands and can be changed.

 

Now, the results we get are dependent on a number of factors, including:

  1. Our prarabdh karma

  2. Our kriyamaan karma

  3. The Will of God

  4. The karma of other people present in that situation

  5. Chance events (or events in which we happen to be present by chance)

Since, only the effort is in our hands and not the results, we are given the famous edict in Bhagavad Geeta:

karmanyevadhikaraste ma phaleshu kadachana.

“You have the right to the efforts, but not to the fruit of your actions.”  The aphorism we are given is:

prayatna mein savdhan, phal mein santusht.

 

“Act responsibly, as if the results depend upon your actions.  But when you do get the results, be contented thinking that was probably your karma or the will of God.” 

 

Now the question whether the deaths of the people in the terrorist attack were because of their karmas or not.  It is possible that they were destined to die, and a matter of chance that they died in a terrorist attack.  It is not for human beings to know which of the above five factors was responsible at which time.  There definitely were people present in that situation who got saved miraculously.  There were people who were scheduled to attend meetings that those very hotels, and for very strange reasons they missed their meetings.  And there were others who happened to come there equally accidentally.

 

Let us leave this question to God.  There are many mysteries in creation that will remain mysteries until we become God-realized. 

 

Swamiji

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Q10:  Some questions arose in my mind about surrender when I sang this song which ended with “O mind if you do not surrender to Kishori Ji, whom else would you find so innocent and merciful, who graces surrendered souls and makes them Her own without them doing anything at all.  What determines one's level of surrender ?  What stops one from this complete surrender?  Does one’s past negative sanskaars and vasanas play a part determining the level and speed of surrender?  How can one overcome then our inherent negativities and make progress towards self- surrender faster?

                                                                                                                                 - Kamala, Singaporee

 

Answer by Swamiji: Just as devotion is a broad term that has been defined from varied perspectives and in innumerable ways by Saints, similarly surrender is also a broad term that encompasses many aspects.

 

At the very outset, surrender means to give up our independent desire, and to desire in accordance with the will of the Supreme.  “Thy Will be done”.  A natural corollary of this is to utilize our body, mind

and possessions in the service of the Supreme.

 

We have discussed in other places, the six aspects of surrender:

  1. To desire in accordance with the Will of God.

  2. Not to desire against the Will of God.

  3. To have firm faith that He is protecting me.

  4. To always realize His grace in all things.

  5. To feel that all we have belongs to God and our Spiritual Master.

  6. To give up the ego of having surrendered.

It is not easy to judge our level of surrender, since it is such a broad term.  Only God and our Guru can know how much we have truly advanced.  However, a simple parameter that can give us some idea is to see how much our mind is detached from the world, and how much it is attached to God.  This is the rule of thumb to measure our advancement.

 

When we develop love for God and Guru, this surrender becomes natural and automatic. Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj explains that in the state of complete surrender, the feeling “HE ALONE IS MINE” will always remain in our mind.  So all our thoughts and actions will be in consonance with that feeling.

 

Surrender is not a one-time process.  It is not that we surrender once, and we are done with it for ever.  We have to keep surrendering at every moment.  In this process, there are innumerable obstacles.

 

Our mind is made of maya and it naturally runs towards the world.  We need to beat this mind with the intellect.  We also have sanskars of endless lifetimes that need to be countered.  And then, we have the ignorance or agyan within us, that is the source of all the problems.

The solution was nicely explained to Lord Ram by Sage Vasishta:

 

karta bahir akartantara raghava.

 

“O Ram! Externally try your best. And internally, keep increasing your dependence on the Grace of God.”  We must cleanse our intellect with the spiritual knowledge given by our Guru, and train the mind to think “He alone is mine."  At the same time, we must call out to God and Guru, firmly believing that Their grace alone can help us perfect our surrender.

 

To speed up the process of surrender, keep working on the emotion, “He alone is mine.”  And remember Maharajji’s verse from the "Bhakti Shatak":

 

Sau baatan ki baat ika dharu Muralidhar dhyan,

Badavahu seva vasana, yaha sau gyanana gyan.

 

 “Fix your mind on Muralidhar, and keep increasing the desire for seva.  This is the most powerful weapon for conquering the mind and maya.”

 

With best wishes,

Swamiji

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Q11: How does one cleanse or heal his or her soul?

 

Answer by Swamiji: You are the soul, which is a part of God, and hence by nature you are perpetually Divine.  The problem is that the soul is identifying with the body, mind, and intellect, and so, when the mind feels tormented, the soul experiences the misery.  For example, if someone cuts our head in our dream, even though the dream is not a reality, we experience the misery until we wake up.  Similarly, the Divine soul experiences the miseries of the mind in the materially conditioned state, because it identifies with it.  So, when you say that the soul takes a beating, what you mean is that the mind takes a beating, and the soul experiences the pain vicariously.  
 


When the mind is sufficiently cleansed, the soul will be able to perceive the distinction between itself and the mind, and rise above the dualities of the mind.   Hence, to cleanse or heal the mind is the paramount goal of a spiritual aspirant. 
 
maya, which is God's energy, and it cannot be conquered merely by self-effort.  We can permanently and totally heal the mind only by the Grace of God.
 
Bhakti.  That is the verdict of all the Vedic literature, and the essence of all religion.  Shree Krishna explains in the Bhagavad Geeta that maya has three gunassattva, rajas, and tamas.  These three gunas, or modes, are also present in the mind, and hence the mind oscillates between them.  Whatever atmosphere one gets or wherever one attaches the mind, the corresponding guna becomes dominant.  However, God is beyond these there gunas.  He is Divine, and so if we attach our mind to Him, it too rises beyond the three gunas and becomes Divine. 

Prem bhagati jal binu Raghurai, abhi antar mal kabahuṁ na jāyi

"Until we wash our mind in the water of love of God, its dirt will never go."


The Shreemad Bhagavatam states:
 

Dharmaḥ satya dayo peto...

"We may follow all the rules of proper conduct, we may perform severe austerities, and we may accumulate the most  esoteric knowledge, but with devotion to God, none of these practices will be sufficient in cleansing the mind." 

 
So, do try to sincerely understand and practice the various facets of the Science of bhakti, or devotion to God, and very soon you will experience the mind being elevated and cleansed from endless lifetimes of impurities.  If you have the book "Prem Ras Siddhant - Philosophy of Divine Love" by Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj, please read the chapter on Bhaktiyog, where he has lucidly described the science of sadhana bhakti.  Use that knowledge to attach your mind to God, and experience the Bliss of Divine Love.
 

Swamiji answers selected questions related to Yog, Spirituality and Philosophy every month on our e-Magazine.

 

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Answer by Swamiji: Very often, confusions in philosophy arise not because of haziness in concepts, but because of duality in the meanings of words and expressions. Some of your confusion seems to be for the same reason.  The categorization of the mind as spiritual or material can be done in two ways:

1.      Whatever is connected with God is spiritual and whatever is not connected with Him is material.  So if the mind is engaged in worldly thoughts, the consciousness and the mind are material.  But if the mind is engaged in thinking of God, then the consciousness and the mind are spiritual.

2.      Whatever belongs to the realm of the material energy, maya, is material.  And whatever belongs to the realm of the Divine energy, yogamaya, is spiritual. From this perspective, before God-realization, all of us possess a material mind.  It will become spiritual only at the time of God-realization. 

When God instructs us to surrender the mind to Him, He does not expect us to surrender a spiritual mind.  He knows that we do not possess one.  For example, when a primary school teacher evaluates her students, she does so according to their level, and not according to college standards.  She does not say, "Why did you not write as well as students in college do?" Similarly God too does not say, "You will attain Me only when you surrender a spiritual mind to Me," for He knows that all we possess is a material mind.

This material mind is made from the three modes of material nature, sattva guna, rajo guna, tamo guna, or modes of goodness, passion and ignorance.  Because of the presence of these three gunas, it is considered impure.  However, even such a material mind has the capacity to think of God, and harbour devotional sentiments towards Him.  That is all that God asks us to do in the scriptures:

manmana bhava madbhakto...(Bhagavad Geeta)

Shree Krishna instructs Arjuna to, "Always think of Me."  And when we follow His instruction, God begins adding His Divine energy into our mind.  That is called shuddha sattva or yogamaya.  This Divine energy first destroys the modes of ignorance and passion, and then at the stage of bhav bhakti, it destroys the mode of goodness as well.  Then the mind becomes pure, or spiritual, and the vessel is ready for the ultimate Grace.  In that vessel of the spiritual mind, God bestows Divine love to the soul, and destroys the bondage of maya for the rest of eternity.
 
In this manner, whatever may be the present state of the mind, we must engage it, to the best of our efforts, in devotion to God.  This will gradually transform its nature from material to spiritual. Once it is spiritualized, we will not have to take it towards God; it will be united with Him permanently. I hope that clarifies your doubt.

 

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