(Spoken on Swami Sivananda's Aradhana, 1974)
We have just had the occasion to celebrate the Sri Guru Purnima, the Sadhana Week, and the holy Aradhana Punyatithi of Gurudev Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, and have seen how it is necessary to lead a personal life of spiritual aspiration, devotion to Guru, love of God and servicefulness of mankind, all put together in a beautiful blend.
We are fortunate because, in Sri Gurudev's incomparable goodness, he has provided a venue for us all to stay under a roof so that we may not run in the rain and hot sun for bread to a kshetra, like many of the Mahatmas are compelled to do on account of circumstances. Gurudev used to tell us, “Why should you fear? There is kitchari the Vishvanath Mandir. There is a Vishvanath Mandir Mooladhana Fund which has been instituted so that you may get continuous kitchari. Why do you bother? If nothing comes, no donation comes, nobody helps you, this kitchari will sustain you. And you have got the temple where you can sit, pray and do your japa or meditation, and a roof to live under. What else do you want?”
These were some of the simple parental, consoling, solacing words that he used to speak to us, and we have the wonderful, most unforgettable opportunity of staying on the bank of Mother Ganga.
I remember that when I was a small boy, I had heard about the greatness of Ganga and the Himalayas. I used to look at the atlas every day because I could see Ganga. I used to see in the atlas the blue line passing from the top to the bottom, and feel a satisfaction that there is such a thing called Ganga. I was enamoured by the name Badri because of the association of it with Lord Krishna, Nara-Narayana, Vyasa, Vasishtha, etc. These were my childlike aspirations. You cannot call them foolish aspirations. They had a great meaning, and I think they have a meaning even today.
Well, now I need not see the atlas. Somehow or other we are here for years together, breathing the most energising atmosphere of Mother Ganga and the beneficence of the Himalayas, whose subtle influence upon us, only gods can understand. Physically it is difficult to appreciate. There is the gracious hand of God on our heads, as it is on the heads of everybody, which will perhaps indicate that we are proceeding on the path of God-realisation, for which we have all left our homes and come here. But we cannot forget, at the same time, that we all must be having a sort of subtle insecurity and difficulties in our hearts, which emotions can feel but understanding cannot express.
Why should we feel insecure in our hearts, unhappy in different moments, and somehow or other have complaints and grievances against every type of atmosphere around us? It is because the next step above us is not clear to us. We do not know what will happen to us tomorrow, which is not merely a way of saying, but a great fact. We do not know what will happen to us tomorrow, whether it is physically, socially, politically, or even spiritually. In every way it is uncertain, and uncertainty is the greatest unhappiness that can come before oneself. If we are not sure as to what is going to happen to us the next moment, well, what can be a greater unhappiness than that? This is eating into our vitals, and we are not prepared to bring it out into the conscious surface of our minds and make it an object or subject of investigation and analysis, because that is a tremendous sorrow that is in our hearts. Who would like to bring the sorrow up to the conscious mind every day and see it as if it is there like a devil in front of us? So what we do is, we bury our sorrows and outwardly we try our best to appear as social as possible, as if sociableness is all-in-all in our life.
The social attitude is a necessary attitude, but that is only one part of the way in which life manifests itself. It is not the whole of life. That we are all eating together, having tea every day and have some provision for rations, and some security of the police so that somebody may not attack us, as well as so many other conveniences physically, does not mean that everything is all right because this is one aspect in which life manifests itself, which may make us erroneously feel that things are perfectly all right. They are not all right because in spite of all the visible fortress that may be around us, a sudden change and transformation of things can take place for reasons which human understanding is too feeble to appreciate.
Emotions are the greatest powers in man. It is the dynamo that is working in every person. We live only on account of emotions. The intellect is only the conducting wire through which the force of the emotion passes, but the dynamo which generates energy within us is the emotion. The strength in us is the emotion in us. The emotion need not always be bubbling outward, but it can subtly vibrate through every cell of our body. This emotion, again, is a part of the psychological personality, just as our social attitude and social security are only a part of the manner in which life manifests itself. Likewise, the emotion is internally only a part of the way in which our personality manifests itself, the other part being the intellect or the reason in us. But there is something very deep in our personality which is neither accessible to the outward emotions nor to the understanding of the intellect. That is the subconscious, the unconscious, as we call it.
All this is a mess outwardly as well as inwardly when it is not properly coordinated. Much of our suffering is due to a lack of proper coordination between our inner life and our outward life. The outward life sometimes takes the upper hand, and great emphasis is laid upon it for reasons which become obvious at different times. At other times, our personality takes the upper hand and we lay great emphasis on the personal aspects, and we begin to cry and complain that things are not all right because we are suffering personally.
The art of coordinating the personal life with the social life is a very difficult thing. Again I say that a Guru is necessary in all these subtle manoeuvrings of the forces of life. Life is an all-comprehensive manifestation which is outward, which is inward, which is visible, which is invisible, and various other faces of it are there.
So during these few minutes of our sitting here after the celebration of Master's Punyatithi Aradhana, we may do well to bring to our memories the purpose for which Sri Gurudev lived, the way in which he lived, and also the manner in which he expects us to live as his followers, his disciples, his admirers, and his associates in one way or the other.