An Abode of Learning and Experiential Wisdom
Poojya Swamiji explains it thus :
“This Ashram is actually a Brahmavidya abode. Right from the beginning I did not have any idea of establishing an institution. If I were having an idea, I would have proceeded in a different manner. To establish an institution means to think constantly about the institution and to recruit or allow people to come and join us with a view to do institutional work. That would have been a little different. It is based primarily on man power, not seeking.
Whoever has got the aptitude to work in an institution and take the institution’s ideals to the people by way of a suitable propaganda, I think it will be different. Whereas I only had one thought in my mind. In the same manner I happened to see my Gurudev and I liked him, I sought deeksha from him. After getting the deeksha for me deeksha and my Guru were everything. I did not think of anything else. It is that deeksha and the sādhana I did very fervently that you can say made me the way I was and I am.
When you are able to think freely, lightly and unaffectedly I think that marks Jeevan Mukti. But people like V apparently are not happy. I am not getting a joy. Then better seek the world and sensory interactions. Now these are all finer points of spirituality presented by our scriptures and also presented by enlightened knowers of truth. Unless we have fondness for the scriptures and the Sadguru, the enlightened knowers, we accept their words, the misunderstanding will never be removed and you will continue to linger in darkness, ignorance, delusion and confusion.
The purpose of austerity is always to purify oneself. What is this purity is the next point that you have to consider. I said that purity should be for the whole being. In the being, the biological aggregate called the body is no doubt a factor – gross, visible and external. This body should undergo purity. Normally the body consists of food – it is annamaya, it is in the nature of food. This is how spiritual seekers normally and naturally undergo a kind of a purification in their food intake. The type of food they take will naturally go on changing. What is this change for? I would like you to understand, the change is always beautiful, progressive and something that everyone likes. Bhagavad Geeta describes saatvik food in this manner.
Austerity where knowledge becomes the goal, knowledge becomes the means, and knowingness becomes the nature! In Bhagavad Geeta, Krishna says, "na hi jñānena sadṛśaṁ pavitramiha vidyate" (Bhagavad Geeta 4.38). In this world, there is nothing so purifying as wisdom. Say the entire Srimad Bhagavatam, the Bhagavad Geeta, Ramayana, Mahabharatam, the Vedas, the Upanishads, so many prakarana-granthas; all of them are what? They are nothing but forms and measures of knowledge. If you start reading them, trying to understand them, my dear souls, please understand that it is the best form of austerity!
The mind should be very qualitative. What does it mean? It is the mind that always employs the body and bodily parts for different types of activities and interactions. So you must have such a healthy, flexible and sensitive mind, that it will be able to employ the body and the bodily parts efficiently, sensitively, in time, in a very effective manner. So you must have a good memory, a good sensibility, sensitiveness, a good response. There should not be any laziness. The readiness and willingness to accept more, in order to function efficiently, should be there.
These recitations had a very very austere sublimating purifying, enriching and elevating effect in my mind. People always wonder that when you recite should we know the meaning? No, not necessarily; if you know the meaning, you have an additional joy. We have to do practice. For example, you go on a pilgrimage walking. In walking, what do you have in the way of understanding. Nothing. It is only a decision that I will walk the pilgrimage. So you start walking. We went on parivrajana. There also we were walking. So in moving the legs, what enlightenment is there. But it is an austerity. If like that, doing pradakshina, offering pranams, all these physical activities have got an effect in you. More so must be the effect when you are able to recite something. In recitation the mind, literacy, words and other things will have to come perfectly. I would like you to understand that this is an austerity.
So far as the intelligence is concerned, employ the intelligence on either God – the source of everything, the sustenance of everything, the dissolution of everything. What is the God or who is that God? This can be a thought! What is this world made up of? It has different substances with various properties, qualities, and the like! And surrounding everything, all planets and heavenly bodies, we have the colorless, odorless, quality-less space. Obviously all the planets and heavenly bodies have come from space. They dissolve into the space. Apparently, the space is nothing and nowhere! If the space is nothing and nowhere, from nothing and nowhere, can all things, a variety of things, ever be? Is it not a contradiction. Is it not a conflict? How do we explain? How are we to understand it? This can be a thought.
What is this austerity? As I mentioned, part of it consists in eliminating or denying some of the practices/thoughts indulgences etc., which you already have, either habitually or inborn traits. Many of the people are given to speaking lies! So to lie is a habit; to hurt another by words and otherwise is also a habit. To find fault with others is another habit. Not to be happy over others’ qualities and virtues is another trouble. Intolerance of various kinds, then any other commonly spoken of trait like jealousy, hatred etc., these are all undesirable. These undesirable traits should be identified and definite effort should be made to eliminate them. How will you eliminate them?
What makes the body function and what employs the bodily limbs? The inner personality consisting of mind and intelligence primarily and an ego. If this is the fact, then all our austerity should be addressed to the mind, to the intelligence and to the ego! If we start applying viveka, a thoughtful introspection over the subject, you will find, all kinds of austerity should have a direct bearing on the mind. It is from the mind that various types of emotional urges proceed. What are they? Primarily raaga, dvesha and bhaya. This is what features throughout Bhagavad Geeta.
“Swamiji, how to ensure that the interactional saadhana is going on with all the activities and interactions?” I think this is something that all of you should take up as a matter of introspection and evaluation. First let us be very clear that every action and interaction is initiated from the mind, proceeds from the mind and while the two- action and interaction are going on they always subsist on the mind. Without the mind no action or interaction can ever be even for a moment. There are instances when in sleep we move our body left and right. But we don’t know that the body moves. So there is no registration as such as far as we know. So can you say you are moving the body? No. ....
You are not able to understand that the objects are produced by the mind in the wakeful state. Because you will say that the objects are there whether I am there or not. The objects are there for whom, either for another person or the whole human society or other beings which has similar senses. If the senses were not there in the perceiving individual, no objects would be there at all. But the wakefulness imposes a delusion by virtue of which you think that the objects are there and that is why I perceive them. This truth is completely invalidated when you have your dream.
In our shastras and in the spirituo-religious and philosophical life that we Indians have, right from the Vedic life, there are 3 important items – yajna, daana and tapas. In these three, we can summarize everything about our religion, religious practices, spirituality, spiritual discipline, and refinement and philosophy, the quest and search for Truth and finally its discovery.
Be very clear, my dear souls, that human activity is primarily at four levels. The grossest level is the activity taking place in our body, with bodily limbs and sensory organs. Some of the senses move, when they act.
Next to it is the oral activity, where we start producing sounds from the mouth, tongue, teeth, gum, throat, nose, etc. If the physical sensory activity has got, say, one effect, number one; then the oral activity, for the same duration, will have hundred fold effect.
The next one, higher, will be mental activity. What is this mental activity? The mind, thinking or remembering, it is invisible no doubt.
Generally our inputs are only from the world through our interactions. They don’t generally contain any philosophy, spirituality, or nobility, whereas, if you think about Sri Rama or Sri Krishna or Arjuna or Yudhishtra or Draupadi or Janaki, all thoughts will be noble. So, make it a habit to fill your mind with noble thoughts. These cannot come to you from the daily, secular, domestic, professional, or societal interactions. So read them. Let there be an ample stock of nobility in you in the form of reading and memory. Make sure that the mind never indulges in unnecessary thinking. So there is a method of avoiding unnecessary thinking and incorporating rite useful thoughts. Try to know about it. And always engage the mind in such noble thinking. This is a must.
In this world, Arjuna, altogether there is only one niṣṭhā - that niṣṭhā has got two facets or phases. Initially it is karmaniṣṭhā, thereupon it is jñānaniṣṭhā. So he uses the word dvividhā niṣṭhā, the same niṣṭhā, but in two stages or two phases. That is the only niṣṭhā so far as spiritual wisdom and pursuit are concerned in this world. Initially, the seeker will have to be associated with some karma or the other. When dispassion, discrimination, etc. become sufficiently settled and strong in him, then he can drop the karmic involvement and take to the jñānaniṣṭhā hundred percent.