Everything About Spiritual Life
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 11: The Secret of Success

This is to summarise the essential features of the knowledge that you have gained for success in your life. Success in every aspect of your life is your aim; you do not wish to be defeated anywhere. Everywhere you are first and foremost. In the last verse of the Bhagavadgita, the way to success is told to us in an epic fashion. Yatra yogeśvaraḥ kṛṣṇo yatra pārtho dhanurdharaḥ, tatra śrīr vijayo bhūtir dhruvā nītir matir mama (18.78): Under these conditions, there is sure to be happiness, prosperity, success in every undertaking, and firm policy. But what are the conditions referred to here? It is where Sri Krishna and Arjuna stand together in a state of union, placed in one chariot. The whole of the Gita is here in one sloka.

What do these words mean to us finally? What is the significance of Sri Krishna and Arjuna having to be together? Is Sri Krishna alone not sufficient? Why should there be Arjuna? Sri Krishna is the master of yoga; he is all in all, and there is no need of Arjuna. But yet, it is mentioned there that the twin forces should act in unison for the purpose of welfare and success in every field of life. The idea is that the Bhagavadgita is not a message for ancient times. It is not someone that spoke to someone else under a given condition. It is the All-Being that spoke to everyone for all time to come. The Bhagavadgita is an eternal message for eternal mankind, because it came from the eternal Source.

What is the secret of success? It is the union of Arjuna and Krishna. Everywhere in our life, we find there are twin forces operating. There is the twin force of the relation between you and the world outside, there is the operation of the twin force of your relation with God, there is the twin force of your relation with humanity outside, and there is the twin force of your relation with your own inner constitutional setup. You have got four kinds of relation, and everywhere you are present. Arjuna is everywhere, and Krishna also is everywhere in this description of the relations that constitute human life. If this twofold manifestation of force is set in tune in a most harmonious manner, without creating any jarring noise between the two, a third element fructifying in your life will arise from this achievement. That third element is success.

Achievement, attainment, success, prosperity – whatever you call this fulfilment of the aim of your life – is all a fourfold action taking place simultaneously, because in the present state of affairs, we seem to be living in a fourfold relation of this kind. There should be no clash of the inner constituents of the factors of life. The factors of life, as I mentioned briefly, are fourfold. Most of us have inner tension. The constituents that make up your personality are not in a state of alignment. There is disturbance in the mind. Though you attribute all disturbances to the wrong actions of other people in the world, this attitude is not entirely justifiable, because trouble arises from yourself first. That is the ‘eye of the hurricane’, as they call it. The centre of the problem is yourself only, and not somebody else.

You are not set in tune with your own self. There are various types of distress harassing us. Do you wake up in the morning with a pleasant mood, a sense of satisfaction, a feeling of completeness? Do you think everything is all right with you? Each one of you should close the eyes for a few minutes and think: “Is everything all right with me, or is something wrong?” Be a judge of your own self. It is easy to judge other people, but you cannot easily judge yourself because in other types of judgment, such as in the social field, the client is different from the judge; but here, you are the client and the judge. This is the difficulty. Or to bring the old analogy once again, the higher Self is the judge, and the lower self is the client. Hence, you yourself are the client and the judge, in two strata of your own being.

Your feeling for the world outside is not always set in harmony with your feeling for the salvation of your spirit. It is not easy for you to bring about a reconciliation between two ideas working in your mind. You want final spiritual attainment, God-realisation as it is called, but you do not wish to be disturbed by the world, which is also there solidly in front of you. That is to say, the transcendent aim of yours, which is the salvation of the soul, does not seem to be properly set in tune with your practical experience of a perception of the world, which is solidly gazing at you. You do not know what to do with this world when your aim is something which seems to be totally different from what you experience in this world. Are you going to reject this world, or are you going to take this world with you when you reach God? You have to do something with it. Are you going to throw it away as redundant, and then independently, individually, reach God? Nor can you bundle up the whole world and take it with you when you reach God. This is something intriguing.

Go to Gurus and put these questions: How am I going to deal with this world of my daily experience, together with my aspirations for God? How am I going to deal with people around me, which are millions in number, populating this whole Earth? What is my duty towards these people around me, if at all there is a duty?

The people around you impinge on your very skin. You cannot say that you have no duty towards them. Your very consciousness of the presence of people outside is a call for your duty in respect of people outside. If you have no duty towards anybody, you need not even feel that they are existing at all. But the people around are so solidly present and concretely presenting themselves before your experience that you cannot reject them, and you have to put up with them in compromise and harmony. I mentioned to you that you have to be in harmony with your own self also.

The last verse of the Bhagavadgita is the solution for all these questions. You have to plant the presence of God at the foundation of your endeavours of any kind – either towards people outside, or towards the world of sensory perception, or in regard to your own individual personality also. How do you attain this? How do you manage to get on with this situation? Do you feel that you are in a position to accommodate the thought that there is such a thing called God, and It is all-in-all? You might have heard this said a hundred times, and you may accept it also – yes, God is all-in-all. But the consequence of this acceptance is not properly noticed. Some results follow from your acceptance that God is all-in-all. That is, everything has to be interpreted in the light of the presence of the All-in-all – your own self, society outside, and also the world of perception. Then success follows. As a matter of fact, if you think about it properly, the thing that you call God is the power which sustains the organism of the whole cosmos; and in comparison, and by way of an analogy, if you are to bring before you the organism of your own individuality, you will realise that all the functions of your body are centralised in the harmonious operation of a principle of life which is within yourself, and also transcending your bodily encasement.

The principle of life is first, and every other activity of the personality comes afterwards. Any activity of yours, or work that you perform, should not contradict the maintenance of the organismic integrality of your being. There is no use doing a lot of work if it is going to affect the integrality of your personality. You cannot break yourself and then become whole with the world outside. You have to be whole first, and then only your relation with the world will be a whole. You should not be a torn personality, with a segment of emotion on one side and a segment of intellect and rationality on the other side.

Great professors, intellectual geniuses lecturing in universities, have family problems. They are wretched in their homes, but great masters and scientists and mathematicians in the universities. They would not like to go home and look at the face of their wife because she is a termagant, abusive, and says all kinds of negative things to the great man who is a professor. He is torn between two sides. Now, which is the reality of this person? Is the home experience the reality, or the professorial side? You cannot say either of them is unreal. The problem is that the man has not been able to bring about a harmony between these two aspects. His emotions have not been trained to the same height as his intellect. He is a puny little nothing as far as his emotions are concerned, but a mighty giant in his professorial knowledge.

Sometimes we are torn personalities, as I mentioned, and here is an example of that splitting of personalities: one thing in your bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, and another thing in public life. This will not work. You have to be the same thing in your house that you are in the ministerial or presidential level you may occupy. You cannot have two things in yourself. Do you want to become two people? You are one person, and therefore, in all your experiences you must be one person. You are as mighty and great in your kitchen as you are in the field of work in this world. You are not a soldier only in the battlefield, and a poor nothing in your kitchen; that should not be. The world is made in such a way that there are no kitchens and bathrooms here. It is one integrated, spread-out arena of mighty operation of cosmic forces. There is no bathroom in this universe. It is as great as a temple and university, etc.

To give an example from the Mahabharata, Sri Krishna is great in all ways. The greatest yogi you can think of is Bhagavan Sri Krishna. Nobody – not a Sannyasin, not a sage, not a saint – can stand before him in the knowledge of yoga. And he is the greatest warrior. You cannot imagine how a great saint can become a warrior. No general can stand before him in the battlefield. And he is a perfect householder, and a perfect Sannyasin. No Sannyasin can equal Bhagavan Sri Krishna. He had palaces, he had retinue, he had everything which is royal, but the renunciation which is associated with a person like Sri Krishna is far, far superior to a Sannyasin’s renunciation. A Sannyasin renounces things which are really existent, as unreal things need not be renounced, but forgets that real things cannot be abandoned: nā ’sato vidyate bhāvo nābhāvo vidyate sataḥ (Gita 2.16). This is no good. Sometimes Sannyasins fail due to a wrong notion of renunciation.

How can you renounce a tree? It is a poor thing, standing there in its own capacity, and you say, “I will renounce a tree,” “I will renounce a mountain.” What are you renouncing? A thing that is not there need not be renounced. That which is really there cannot be destroyed and, therefore, cannot be renounced. Many concepts of sadhu-hood and Sannyasi-hood may have to be properly re-orientated in the light of the Bhagavadgita gospel if you have rightly understood its meaning.

Greatest Sannyasin, greatest householder, greatest warrior, and greatest yogi – how will you combine all these things in one person? Really, there are no warriors, no Sannyasins, no householders, nothing of the kind; there is only one Being existing. Can you call God a Sannyasin, or a householder, or a soldier? What kind of thing is God? That concept, let alone the attainment itself, will rejuvenate you to such an extent that you will be the same person in all fields of life. In the railway station, in the bus stand, in the vegetable market, in your temple and your tutorial institute – wherever you are, you are the same person, and you think in the same way in all places. You will speak to the vegetable vendor with the same majesty and goodness that you speak in a parliament, and will not speak down to him. This bifurcation wrongly made between one thing and another thing, one experience and another, is the malady of your life.

You are the same person everywhere; you are the same greatness manifest in yourself – which is possible of attainment only if you are able to see one thing in all things. Arjuna has to see Sri Krishna everywhere. The might of Krishna enters Arjuna; that is, the cosmic force enters into you, and you work like a whirl operating through it. Sometimes, we say we are world citizens; but we are not merely world citizens, we are embodiments of the world itself.

I have already mentioned how this could be achieved by being perpetually in the state of meditation. Meditation does not mean something that you will do afterwards: “Now we are listening to somebody saying something, and afterwards we will go for lunch, and later on we will sit in a corner and meditate.” This kind of foolish thinking must be avoided. Death is nobody’s friend, and no notice will be given to you about the next moment. Even before you sit for meditation, the order may come to you in the dining hall itself.

Again, to repeat, you are the same person everywhere, and whatever you are in the state of meditation, you are in the dining hall also. You will be wondering, “How I can meditate on God when I am eating food?” You are not eating food, really speaking; you are performing a cosmic action there also.

You cannot contain this thought in your mind, as the meaning behind the personality of an Incarnation such as Bhagavan Sri Krishna cannot be understood. He is All-in-all, both the greatest and the very humblest you can think of. In the Rajasuya sacrifice of Yudhishthira, Sri Krishna was the receptionist. Why should he take up this minor work of a receptionist in that mighty conference? Could he not be given some better function? He was receiving people, but not merely receiving with words. He was washing their feet, pouring holy water on the auspicious people, the blessed ones that came, and seating them in a proper place. He was serving food to all people. Was he a suitable person to serve food? Was there nobody else who could do that? And when the feeding was over, he removed all the leaves and cleaned the whole place. Such a mighty person, at whose name the world shudders, took upon himself this work of cleaning up after the feeding was over. He could have said, “You are giving me this kind of work? Do you know who I am? I am a yogi, an Atman, a renunciate, a Sannyasin, a God-man. You want me to sweep?” Would you like to be given this job? Ask any Sannyasin to do this work. He will say, “I am a Mahatma, Mandaleshwar. You want me to do this kind of work? This is why you invited me?”

It is poor, empty souls that require respect from other people. A great being does not expect respect, or even a good word of thanks from anybody. The smaller you are, the more you expect respect from other people. The larger you are, the less you would like to be recognised. Who will recognise you? You are yourself complete in yourself. And if you trust really the presence of God – not merely treat it as a word in the scripture, and not something that you have heard from your Gurus – if you really trust it and plant that feeling in yourself, you will wonder at the miracles taking place in your own life.

Don’t have any kind of despondency in your mind. There might be a doubt: “These are all very big things. I am not meant for it. I am a poor fellow.” You are not a poor fellow. Do not have doubts. There are things called traitors, who deceive you and put you out of gear, and the greatest traitor is doubt. Doubts are our traitors. Do you have a doubt about the capacity of God to protect you, or that this is actually possible? Even if you are a sinner, and have done many wrong things, if your heart has changed and you have become a different person today, who knows? Even a great Sannyasin or yogi of today might have committed many blunders in the previous life, but those blunders do not pursue this person due to the transformation that has taken place in this birth.

Thus, you have to take rebirth. Unless you are reborn, you cannot enter the kingdom of God. This is what Jesus Christ said. To be reborn does not mean taking another birth in a mother’s womb. That is not the meaning. To be reborn is to be reborn into the spirit of the universe. Confidence in yourself is necessary. You must be confident: “I am perfectly all right, and I can understand what is good for me.”

The order of Sri Krishna was the final gospel to Arjuna. Whatever Sri Krishna said was final. If Sri Krishna said, “Don’t do anything,” Arjuna will not do it, even if he felt it was necessary. “Do it,” means Arjuna will do it, though he felt that it is not proper to do so. Place in your mind a picture of this Great Master Bhagavan Sri Krishna, or anyone like that, such as Vasishtha, Vyasa, Suka, or any great saint and sage. The thought of a thing influences you. If you think of garbage, dirt, and rubbish, even the utterance of these words influences your mind. If a holy mantra can bring about a positive effect in you, a dirty word can bring about a contrary effect in your mind. See for yourself. Go on uttering the word ‘mango, mango, mango’, and see what you feel; ‘temple, temple, temple’, what do you feel; ‘police station, police station, police station’, what do you feel; ‘war, war, war’, what do you feel? Do you see what happens to you when you utter these words? Go on shouting to your own self: “Almighty God, Absolute Being, Almighty Absolute!” Do not chant any mantra or anything. In your own language – Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, or English, whatever it is – repeatedly utter these words: “the Absolute, the Supreme Being, the Absolute All-in-all.” Utter these words; do not do anything else. Only the words will do. Your heart will slowly start melting with even the words you utter. Words have such power.

The Word is God, it is said. It is the Logos or the ultimate intelligent principle; that is the Word – the sound principle, the sphota sakti as they call it. That is why every word has such a meaning – the mantra, as it is called. Take the name of a great person, the greatest that you can think of in the history of mankind. Go on chanting that person’s name. You will feel a shake-up of your personality. Whether you are able to properly concentrate the mind or not, shout loudly this great word ‘Absolute Being’, and your sin has been destroyed. Api ced asi pāpebhyaḥ sarvebhyaḥ pāpakṛttamaḥ, sarvaṁ jñānaplavenaiva vṛjinaṁ santariṣyasi (Gita 4.36). You may be the worst of sinners. A sinner is a person who isolates himself from this notion of God, and lives contrary to it. You should not think these words are mere instructions. They are injections given to you with a potency of a high vitamin, which will strengthen you. Not only should you think like this, but you must feel like this; your heart should well up with this acceptance, and you will find the touch of Sri Krishna on Arjuna everywhere. Wherever you are, in any difficulty, somebody is there behind you to push you in the right direction. “At every critical juncture, I manifest Myself,” says the Lord in the Gita: saṁbhavāmi yuge yuge (Gita 4.8). Yuga means the age, such as Krita, Treya, Dvapara, Kali. It may be that. But also yuga means a coming together of two things; we may call it a crisis. At every critical moment, a divine spark manifests itself. The very proximity of your thought to the Being of that Perfection will splash forth an illumination and an enlightenment which will strengthen you at the same time. What you are going to acquire is not knowledge of something, but acquaintance with the Being that you yourself are, in tune with the Being of all things.

Therefore, you should make it possible in your daily life to keep God first, world next, and yourself last, as Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj used to say. In every enterprise of yours, the first thing is not yourself. The first thing is the Supreme Being, and it will charge your enterprise with the world in any manner whatsoever, and place you in a proper context with the world. Wherever Arjuna was, Sri Krishna was behind him. Otherwise, the Pandavas would not have succeeded in the Mahabharata war. It was an All-Being flooding energy into the Pandavas. You do not require many things in this world. You require only one thing – the force that is everywhere. The many soldiers of Duryodhana could not stand before that one person, just as millions of splashed water drops cannot equal one ocean. The ocean is only one, and the water drops are countless. Let them be countless; number does not mean anything here. It is the qualitative comprehensiveness that is more important.

Your greatness lies not in the accumulation of facts that you may have achieved. You have got a lot of baggage of information, but it must enter into you and make you not a professor of knowledge, but a possessor of knowledge. The knowledge has entered into you, and you are the knowledge itself. Knowledge is Being; Being is Knowledge. That strengthens you. This is the reason why the Bhagavadgita’s last verse highlights the necessity of our collaboration with the Universal Principle in all the enterprises of our life.

Never think that you can do everything yourself. This egoism and self-assertiveness should leave you. When the Mahabharata was over and Sri Krishna left this world, Arjuna became a poor non-entity. He who could lift the mighty Gandiva-dhanush and thunder before millions of soldiers could not lift a walking stick because the energy of the universe was withdrawn. The extent to which the soul permeates your body, to that extent you are healthy and happy. If the soul is crying inside and only the body is becoming robust by eating and exercise, it will not suffice.

Human effort is to be set in tune with this universal power in such a manner that there ceases to be a difference between the two – as, for instance, with a high voltage electric wire. When you touch a high voltage electric wire, are you touching electricity, or touching wire? In a similar manner, you may look like a human being, like an electric wire on which you can hang a wet cloth for drying, but if that high voltage power of the Universal Being is charged, you do not become merely a wire or a medium for the communication of that force; you yourself stand representative of that power. An Incarnation, an Avatara, is nothing but a human personality charged with the energy of the whole cosmos; and you can also be one such. The Srimad Bhagavata Purana says that endless are the Incarnations. Every one of you can be that, provided this little wire that you are is charged with the high voltage force of the Universal Existence.

Every day you must find time to think like this. Do not waste your time gossiping and chatting with people and going here and there. Until you attain success in this art of living, give first preference to meditation, and give it as much time as possible. When you are seated in meditation, what do you feel? “The world is coming inside; it is liquefying itself; it has entered my blood cells; the particles of my personality are getting energised; the sea of force which is the universe has entered me; I am feeling that I have become hard like steel, strong like a hill, radiant; everything is within me.” The world is very rich in its resources. It is not poor in any manner. If the resources and energies and powers of the world enter you, you become a world individual. Sri Krishna was a world individual; the whole world was inside him. That was the Visvarupa, as we are told.

You are also like that. Don’t think that this is not for you. It is for you. You are not a poor individual. God has not created any poverty-stricken individual in thought. Monetarily, in the sense of possessing the objects of the world, you may look poor in comparison with millionaires, but is thought also an object of poverty? Can you not even think great things? The ideas of your mind move the whole world.

The whole world is only Idea, finally. As Plato said, Idea is the Ultimate Reality. Think, and you can shake the Earth. You do not require bulldozers and machine guns; a thought is enough. Idea is the Ultimate Reality – the Idea, which has concretised itself in the form of these physical elements that you are beholding in front of you.

“The world is my idea.” This is a sentence with which Schopenhauer begins his great wonderful thesis, The World as Will and Idea. You will be shocked; what is Schopenhauer saying? “The world is my idea”; that is the first sentence of the great work. And that is what Plato said, that is what the Upanishads say, that is what the Bhagavadgita says. Ultimate Reality is Idea. Idea means consciousness, Universal Thought, chit, which is All-Being; this is the Ultimate Reality. Bring your mind to the focus of this kind of feeling even when you are walking on the road or speaking to people. Do not cut yourself off from the underground foundation of this thought.

You cannot forget what you are even when you are very busy. You cannot say, “I don’t know what I am, because I am very busy these days.” Whatever be the business, you will not forget what you are. In a similar manner, whatever be the activity that you are engaged in, you cannot forget the vitality of your life which sustains you, which will make you deathless in the end, and blessedness will be your destination also. Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj will guide you. He is present even now. The whole ashram is charged with his immanent presence. Those who come here are blessed. The more you stay here, the better for you. The air is charged with his presence, and it is charged by all the sages and masters who have lived in this area, Muni-ki-Reti, which means ‘the sand trodden by the masters’. Vasishtha, Vyasa, Rama, Laxmana also happened to come here. Who knows how many masters trod this very sand on the bank of the Ganga, on which you are also treading? Blessedness is before you. You have come here, and that is a blessedness. It has become possible for you to come here.

Beautiful is the experience. The moment you cross Brahmananda Ashram, pass the police station and enter this place, you are in a blessed atmosphere. You are secure. Something is vibrating here. Something is speaking in a different language. You feel wonderful, happy, and would like to come again. Why do these ideas arise in your mind? It is because mighty sages have thought these ideas, and they have left them here reverberating through every sand particle of this place. So, be blessed.