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Satsanga with Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj as told by Swami Venkatesananda


THE WORLD AT HIS FEET

(October 24, 1981)

Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj is seated on the courtyard outside his Kutir (cottage). The inevitable pile of papers and registers lie on his lap keeping uneasy company with the spectacles and pen; when he picks up one the others jealously protest. And, Swamiji will not get himself a table to keep them in order. The Gospel of Minimum which Gurudev Swami Sivananda proclaimed as the Doctrine of A Little, it is also known as the Philosophy of Appropriate Action.

A lady conveys a mild complaint: "E. has written to say that he has not received any letter from you." "He has only been sending me printed papers and in his letters only gives a report of his activities. I read them and keep them. Since there are no questions, there were no answers. When he asked a question it was always and promptly answered."

A book is shown to him. He reads the title. The lady submits: "I thought Ram might like to read this as it is entitled 'Sadhana for Modern Man', and he is a modern man." "Oh, you are impressed by the title! I once received a periodical called 'Truth' and eagerly began to peruse it. It contained mainly all sorts of gossip and bitter criticism of everybody. So is that the only truth in the world? I did not read that journal again. Do not judge a book by the title."

The Ashram workers were coming in, one by one, with papers for perusal, letters for signature, and other problems. "The man who has seen all remains silent. Only the man of little knowledge talks. This idea is found in several languages, expressed in proverbs." A young lady from Australia reminds Swamiji: "You have seen the whole world, Swamiji. Look at us—we are from all over the world, sitting at your feet." A young American adds: "We greatly appreciate your talking, though you have seen all that there is to see."

"Ah," Swamiji is quick with his response, with a hearty laughter, "You have put me in your pocket by saying so. You have flattered me and now you can make me do what you like." Of course, Krishnanandaji is not one who can be pocketed so easily.

Turning to a lady. Swamiji asked her: "How do you pass your time?" "Time passes, Swamiji," she replied; "Rather, it passes very quickly." Swamiji concurred: "Of course, time passes. The peculiar thing is that it passes quickly when you are happy and it does not seem to pass at all when you are not happy. So, you must be happy since you say that time passes quickly."

A young German couple have come. The young man is a medical doctor and his wife is a psychiatrist. They want to "smell the Ashram" (in their own words, which Swamiji loved and repeated several times in his answer to them). "The classes at the Yoga-Vedanta Forest Academy have come to an end; but we have prayer gatherings at night which you might find a sort of pleasant diversion. Of course, in a few days you will notice that everybody celebrates the festival of lights known as Divali. A lot of sound; if people cannot make that noise, they will use fire-crackers to produce more noise. There will be lights, colourful lights, everywhere. There will also be a lot of motion. Sound. colour and motion—the entire universe is composed of these three."

A Swami ushers in a couple from Japan. The wife who is herself a psychiatrist needs psychiatric help. She said. "I have been treating many people who had mental illnesses, with the result that I myself became depressed." "I feel that that is not the only cause; there must be other causes." said Swamiji. "Yea," she replied; "very many causes. I remember many things I did wrong all through my life. And of course there are problems in the family." "The cause of the illness is remembering the cause!" concluded Swamiji and prescribed rubbing Brahmi-Amla oil to the head and the soles of the feet to calm the mind and induce restful sleep without having to take sleeping pills.

11 o'clock. Time for lunch.

—SWAMI VENKATESANANDA

SMASH THE SHADOW?

"How can I live in this Maya and yet avoid getting entrapped in it?" was the question posed by a young American disciple of a Yogi who was on a visit to the Ashram.

"What is your idea of Maya? If you do not know what Maya is, you would not have used that word! You have some idea, some preconceived notion about it, surely," said Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj.

"Maya is illusion," replied the lady.

"In other words, illusion is unreal, nonexistence. And you want to know how you—obviously you consider yourself real—should live in that which is unreal. This is a strange difficulty. That which is real wants to know how to live with something which does not exist. That is the difficulty. Hence, in my talks and writings I never use the word Maya. This word has caused a lot of misunderstanding and trouble; and I do not wish to add to this confusion, and hence I never use that word... You know that you exist and if you enquire into your relationship with that which exists, too, you will have no problem. It would be like friend meeting friend—there is no problem there."

—SWAMI VENKATESANANDA

PERTINENT ANSWER TO AN IMPOSSIBLE QUESTION

A Czech devotee posed three questions:
1. What is sin?
2. What is the origin of sin?
3. Is sin hereditary?

Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj directed these questions on to someone else; and then after some hesitation came up with his own answer.

"You are not satisfied with the answer. The only way to find the correct answer is to go to the supermarket of answers. Where is it? It is Jesus Christ; it is Krishna. But where is Jesus Christ, where is Krishna? (Everywhere, answered a devotee.)

"The awareness that Christ or Krishna is everywhere instantly puts you in a state of meditation: because there cannot be a movement towards that which is everywhere!

"Whenever the mind is pushed to an extreme there is meditation, the mind becomes still. If you have everything or if you lose everything, your mind becomes still. When you think of the vastness of space, when you feel that you are going further and further in space or falling down farther and farther from the earth—in all such situations you enter into Samadhi or what the Zen people call Satori.

"This is not a direct answer to your question, but it is the way to find the answer to the question—any question for that matter."

—SWAMI VENKATESANANDA

THREE STEPS TO MOKSHA

The climate was good and mild, with a gentle breeze blowing from the holy Ganga. The atmosphere was unusually calm and even the inevitable traffic noise was minimal. Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj was in a very happy mood. We had an unusual treat: he himself began to speak (usually during the morning Darshan period he responds to questions).

Swamiji picked up a piece of paper lying on his lap and began:

"In the beginning there was no awareness of differences in the universe. Then there arose awareness of differences; but without relationship—the tree was different from a mountain, and so on. Then there arose awareness of relationship, but there was no need for adjustment. Lastly, the need for adjustment arose. This is our condition. We are aware of differences and relationships, and the need to adjust our existence and functions, with those of others. This is like the driver on a precipitous hill-road or a crowded highway who is extremely vigilant and tense.

"It does not mean that we have to be always tense. When vigilance becomes natural, you realise that there is no need consciously to make adjustments, though you are aware of differences and the consequent relationships. The second stage is one in which there is a faint awareness of differences, without a notion of relationship. The third and the highest state is one in which even this awareness of differences disappears; this is beyond words."

A young American seeker asked: "Does this process involve much learning, study and so on?"

Swamiji replied: "This process of return to the original state does not involve study or teaching or discussion. It is activated in you by the Guru or God. Your whole being responds to Guru or God in the same way in which iron particles respond to the presence of a magnet nearby. There is organic, vital and total transformation of your entire being. That is meditation. Meditation is instantaneous and simultaneous movement of consciousness in all directions. It is not as though you become one with the Absolute leaving the rest of humanity behind. Just as, when you wake up from a dream, all your dream-creatures reach the same state in which you are, when you attain Self-realisation, the entire universe reaches the same state. It is only the mischievous mind which does not wish to do anything which asks the question: 'What happens to others when I become one with the Absolute?'"

When you are sitting in front of Swamiji this transcendental truth seems to be within your easy grasp!

—SWAMI VENKATESANANDA

"MY DIVALI MESSAGE"

(October 25, 1981)

The morning Darshan-Satsang with Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj commenced with Swamiji affectionately greeting Mr. K. Ratittohul, the Postmaster-General of'Mauritius, and his family, enquiring after their welfare and their plans. This great sage who presides over the modern Ashram and organisation is at the same time rooted in ancient traditions: he has no superstitions, but he has strong belief in auspicious and inauspicious days. Thus, when the PMG mentioned that he would wait a day more so that he could have the Darshan of H.H. Sri Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj who is arriving tomorrow, Swamiji quickly rejoined: "Then you cannot leave tomorrow, but only the day after that." Agreed.

Similar courtesies were extended to very many others assembled in front of him. "Today, the courtyard is filled to capacity and people are even standing outside. Because it is Divali day. So, I wish you all a happy Divali," said Swamiji.

Swamiji turned to an Italian seeker: "What is the purpose for which you have come here?" Through Mother Simonetta the young man replied: "To find myself." "Oh," replied Swamiji and turning to Mother Simonetta said, "Give him a mirror."

In the meantime, a lady from a prosperous family, who has been associated with the Ashram for very many years entered, with her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. She has been a great devotee of Gurudev Swami Sivananda. "Your appearance has undergone tremendous change." began Krislinananda Swamiji. "The last time you came here I could not even recognise you. You had grown so thin. You have seen very many facets of life; you have undergone so many experiences that you do not even have the least desire to return to earth again! Who is the cause of all your unhappiness?" The lady replied, "Prarabdha! Swamiji."

"No, that is not an adequate answer," said Swamiji and went on to analyse unhappiness, its cause and cure. "We are thrown into this stream of life. There are some things which we can change, there are others which we cannot change. If it is possible to change something, well, go ahead and change it. But if you say that you are feeling cold and you would like to bring the sun a bit closer to yourself, you will soon discover that this is not possible for you. Endure it. Why do you complain about things and circumstances which are beyond your capacity to change?

"You complain often because you think that you are suffering more than others do. This is a problem. You tend to compare your circumstances with those of others who, you think, are better placed than you are. But, why do you not think of yet others who are not even as well placed as you are? A poor man was walking barefooted and he found this unpleasant. Once he went to a temple with the intention of praying to the Lord to bless him with money to buy a pair of shoes. There he saw a man who had no legs at all. At once he felt. 'I am much better off than that man. I have no shoes, but at least I have legs, whereas he has none.' He thanked God for that blessing and returned without praying for shoes.

"If you think you are unhappy, find a way out of it. It will not do to sit and grieve. Sorrow does not benefit anyone. If your effort is more powerful than the cause of your sorrow, it will go away. If your effort is less powerful, then the sorrow will persist. Do not blame anyone for your sorrow, but put forth greater effort. One hundred per cent effort! That is the secret.

"Even then you may find that it is not always possible to overcome sorrow. There is a lot of injustice in the laws governing our lives—political, social, economic, domestic and all sorts of laws. It is not always possible to struggle with them and overcome them. You cannot deal with the increasing hate, fear, violence and so on that beset our lives. When you realise this as truth, you understand that either you learn to be 'happy even in hell' or to get out of it.

"Much of your sorrow arises from the errors committed in the past. This is what you refer to as your Prarabdha. But you did not do only evil actions in the past. You had done something good also. Those good actions return to you as happiness, even though there is a lot of unhappiness in your life. Forget the past and create a new atmosphere. Then you will learn to pay greater attention to the happiness that you enjoy in this very life which is also subjected to unhappiness.

"You might have been unhappy for a few years—ten or twenty. But what are ten and twenty years in eternity? There are people who have realised the endlessness of time. They are unaffected by the little sorrows that arise momentarily in life. In that vast eternity, sorrow is only a drop in the ocean of life.

"The other side of this limitation is comparison. You become miserable when you compare yourself with others. When you realise who you are, then this sorrow drops away. You realise the beauty and glory of God's grace. But, then, God's grace comes in His own way, not in a way which is easy for you to recognise. When a doctor approaches a patient, he does not use endearing words or treat that patient as a brother or sister and so on. Similarly, God also treats you in His own mysterious ways and leads you out of your sorrow in the most appropriate way. Whatever He does is always the best for you.

"When you respond to God's grace, you realise that unhappiness is a condition of the mind. At that moment you are for ever freed from sorrow. You have done a lot of Japa and meditation; you have gone round the temple thousands of times. All this is not wasted. They have begun to bear their own fruits in due time. Forget the past and forge ahead.

"This is my Divali message for you. May God bless you."

—SWAMI VENKATESANANDA

ON MEDITATION

(October 31, 1981)

A German doctor couple had come in to take leave of Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj. The gentleman had a question: “All day long people come to me with their problems. When I have attended to them I find that I have no energy to devote to my spiritual practices. I find this frustrating. What should I do?”

Swamiji took them step by step along the road to the Absolute:

“Serve the patients for five days of the week. Have a complete holiday for the other two days. Close the clinic for those two days. It is better to go away from the familiar environment for those days. This facilitates your spiritual practice.

“It is not so much the length of time you meditate, but the quality of your meditation that counts. Most of the time, people who wish to meditate are merely struggling to find the switch to meditation. Finding the right switch is the most important thing. You do not find the right switch because the mind has not been properly prepared for it.

“The right switch is found only if you feel that meditation is not only good for you, but that it alone is good. The mind is not yet convinced of this truth. It makes you think that whereas meditation is good, there are other things which are also good. Therefore, there is no application, and the right switch is not found.

“In order to arrive at this conviction, you should realise that all that is good and desirable in the world is gained by the one thing that you get in meditation. It is very difficult to love God and God alone. This is possible only if you do not consider anything as superior or even equal to God, or as other than God. This is a lofty stage. Someone has said that when you love God, you cannot live. You are then totally absorbed in God. You see nothing other than God. Then you have found the right switch. In a moment you can enter into meditation.

“In order to reach this lofty stage, you have to train the mind gradually. But then if you forget this even for a moment, it is lost for ever. It is in order to remind themselves of this ideal that the mystics carry with them some sacred object like a rosary, or a scripture or a picture. You can adopt this practice, too.”

—SWAMI VENKATESANANDA

THE ROLE OF GURU IN A SADHAKA'S LIFE

(November 5, 1981)

The swami in charge of the goshala had left and the man looking after the accounts of the Ayurvedic Pharmacy approached Swami Krishnanandaji Maharaj, when Swamiji abruptly took off his glasses and began to speak–words which touched everyone's heart, and shocked and stunned the assembled seekers:

“There comes a time in the life of a sadhaka when suddenly he feels that he is alone in this world, that he has no friends, and that perhaps even God has rejected him. This situation does not arise in the life of a novice; often the novice feels that he can easily realise God. It arises only in an advanced sadhaka. In that state one is utterly tormented and one does not know what to do. He is haunted by terrible doubts. He knows he is miserable, but he does not know why. Only the Guru knows why. That is the difference between the sadhaka and the Guru. Only the Guru can guide the seeker at that stage.”

Swamiji then spoke at length of Lord Jesus, and also hinted that he spoke in parables for the benefit of the masses but reserved the esoteric truth for the select few. “There is a religion for the masses. This religion, which is popular, is satisfying. Most people are satisfied with what is called religion. But there is something which is beyond that religion, which cannot be taught, which cannot be put on paper. In fact, it is not even wise to broadcast it to the masses, for the masses cannot understand it. This can only be directly transmitted by the Guru to the disciple.”

One such enigma is found in the Bhagavad Gita. Swamiji cited this example: “Even though it was Yudhishthira who was the best among the Pandavas, according to popular standards, Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, ‘I am Arjuna among the Pandavas.' Why did He not say, ‘I am Yudhishthira among the Pandavas'? Again, take the case of Lord Buddha. He declared that ‘Everything is' is one extreme, and the doctrine that ‘Nothing is' is another extreme, and that one should avoid both these extremes, for the truth is in the middle. What is that middle path? This question cannot be answered verbally, and if it is answered, it will not be understood intellectually!”

Perhaps when the brain melts and fills the heart, Truth can be realised!

—SWAMI VENKATESANANDA

THE COSMIC SOURCE OF RIGHT ACTION

(January 16, 1982)

A "new" shawl which Swamiji was wearing attracted the attention of one of the devotees sitting in front of him in the courtyard.

"It is almost ten years old," remarked Swamiji. "But this is the first time I am bringing it here. I have used it as a blanket at night. Today the body is not well, I have not had my bath, I have not eaten; I came out straight from bed, and so I am still wearing this."

All this, in spite of his ill-health, because a crisis had arisen in a charitable organisation in the neighbourhood and, though Swamiji is not directly involved in it, he had to play a magisterial role in it. Patiently he listened to the several points of view. He is not one who would act impulsively, even when emotions are strained and one or more of the parties might show annoyance.

"Action dictated by emotion is not right action. It is not only one person's view or opinion or emotion that is to be considered. There are so many factors involved in right action; even as so many things contribute to the movement of a motor-car, not just the fact that the car has wheels. In fact, there is no such thing as an individual action. Every action, every incident is cosmic." Quoting philosopher A.N. Whitehead, Swamiji concluded, "When an incident takes place, the entire cosmos experiences travail."

"My chest is singing," said Swamji half-humorously, referring to the wheezing. In spite of all this, his decisions are perfect, as he is in constant contact with the cosmic being.

—SWAMI VENKATESANANDA

SANCTITY IN PRAYER

(January 23, 1982)

Is Sanskrit the only holy language? Must one use special diction or specific language while praying to God?—were some of the problems that engaged Swami Krishnanandaji's attention this morning.

"All languages have their own spiritual content. Sanskrit, Latin, Hebrew, English, Persian, Tamil and so on. It is only because the people who know one, do not know the others that they feel that one language is spiritual and others are not," said Swamiji and went on:

"However, there is some force in the argument that in prayer one wants to use classical language and not ordinary or prosaic expressions. Of course, you can use the language in which you speak, if you so wish, but then you discover that even there you make a distinction between solemn expressions and ordinary expressions.

"You use solemn expressions in prayer because prayer is something special. You do not treat God as you treat another human being. Your relationship with God is something special. When you use a classic language you enter into this special relationship. This is seen even in your every-day life. Your own brother may be a Judge; when you appear before him in a Court, you do not use language which will be appropriate at home!

"There is another aspect. Saints have used even such familiar expressions. The formal expressions are used when you fear God. But fear of God is considered by a Bhakta or devotee as a lower form of one's relationship to God. The devotee has an intimate relationship with God—as a friend, as a servant, as a parent and even as a lover, though this may sound strange. In such an intimate relationship all sense of distinction and therefore of fear (of judgement, of punishment and so on) disappear. When you are in that state, you can speak to God as you speak to your friend or to your beloved or to your child."

—SWAMI VENKATESANANDA