Rare Quotes from a Rare Master
by Swami Krishnananda


6. Rare Insights

The difference between the natures of Ishvara and Jiva is something like that between the meanings of the words, ‘God’ and ‘Dog’. There is no doubt some relation between the two, and yet what a contrast of characters! In the Jiva the character of Ishvara is completely reversed in a topsy-turvy manner, though the relation between Him and the Jiva is, no doubt, there.

The conclusions of physical science are as much true as the discovery that all the plays of Shakespeare are only combinations of the 26 letters of the English alphabet. This is no doubt a truth which no one can controvert or refute. And yet the heart will revolt against this conclusion since it apprehends in the works of Shakespeare something more than the constituents of the alphabet.

This is true in the case of every other observed phenomenon, also.

Hanuman is a combination of strength and intelligence. He was an Akhanda-Brahmacharin. His life demonstrates that the Ojas-Shakti generated through Brahmacharya heightens both understanding and vitality in a maximum degree.

Hanuman is said to have told Sri Rama: ‘From the point of view of the body, I am Thy servant; from the point of view of the Jiva, I am a part of Thyself; from the point of view of the Atman, I am Thy own self.’ These three standpoints correspond to the three great systems of philosophy propounded by Madhva, Ramanuja and Sankara.

The thought of God is like the centripetal cohesive force in a star or a planet, which drives its constituents to its centre by a pressure of inwardly directed energy, and it strikes a universally attuned equilibrium of the entire personality in relation to creation as a whole, provided the thought is deep enough and is sincerely raised in one’s mind. It produces a thrill beyond words.

The mind and the body get identified with each other, like fire and iron in a red hot iron ball, in such a way that thought cannot be separated from object. There is always a flow of thought with perpetual reference to the body and all human judgment is thus vitiated by the prejudice that the body is the thinking self. All science and even philosophy cannot help playing second fiddle to this erroneous hypothesis, and thus cut the ground from under their own feet.

The Ganges destroys sins; the moon destroys heat; the Kalpavriksha destroys poverty. But the company of the wise ones destroys sin, heat and poverty all at once.

Principles have a meaning when they contribute to the realisation of the end for which the principles are observed. But when a particular mode of the implementation of the principles is going to defeat the very purpose for which they are observed, the principles lose their significance and become obstacles. Dharma is a flexible law, adjustable according to changing circumstances, though it is eternal in the sense that its main aim never changes.

While Maya follows Brahman, the Jiva follows Maya. It seems that while Rama was walking in the forest, Sita was following him and Lakshmana was following her. Maya obstructs the vision of Brahman by the Jiva.

The ‘Advaita’ of Sankara is not so much the assertion of oneness as the negation of duality, as the name of his system suggests. God is not one or two or three, for He is above numerical affirmation. He is not anything that we can think of, but, however, He does not involve any difference; hence He is “Advaita”, non-dual. Such is the cautious name of Sankara’s system of philosophy.

Religion is the reaction of the human mind to its notion of God.

Brahma, Vishnu and Siva are not three gods, but the one God performing three functions. There can, thus, be no superiority or inferiority among them. They are like the three faces of a crystal where one face reflects the others.

When senses trouble you, remember the sages Narayana and Nara. They are the supreme masters over the senses, before whom Indra had to bow his head in shame.

The effect of one’s reading and learning can be seen in one’s behaviour. If the behaviour has not changed, it means the learning acquired is like water poured over a rock, which gets wet only on the surface without allowing the water to seep into it.

Forces which constitute the universe react and interact among one another for effecting a higher integration,—we may call them men and things, and so on in a state of ignorance. These activities of forces are the history of the universe.

When you are in a hurry, you cannot think anything except that God alone is everywhere.

It is impossible to use one’s common sense when one is in the grip of intense desire; for passions have no common sense. They have neither reason nor logic, like the overwhelming force of a mighty river in floods, or like a beast caught at bay. Conquest over the human passions is the same as self-control, for the personality of man is but a bundle of latent and patent forces which seek expression in various ways.

Death is the law of life. It is the law that requires a constant transformation of all composite elements and a reshuffling of all existent forms. Thus, death cannot be avoided. And it can take place at any time, though it has its fixed time.

As milk becomes ‘Payasam’, or water becomes ‘Sharbat’, by contact with sugar, and the like, anger and attachment get transformed into the joy of unblemished love by one’s mind receiving the touch of the Divine Element in life.

It is unwise to say that the world is good or bad, for the world is one of the conditions through which the ‘Gunas’—Sattva, Rajas and Tamas—evolve in the course of time. All things can be found always in different places and hence our narrow judgments confined to a limited perception of truth cannot be correct. How can we say that any part of ‘Prakriti’ is good or bad?

Every adversity should stimulate more and more strength in us, enough to be able to overcome onslaughts of such types again. Every fall should propel us to a higher aspiration, a longing which should never be dampened, threatened or vanquished at any time.

A well-guarded life of physical isolation from tempting objects of the senses in spiritual life. A pot kept filled with water to the brim for months together can be emptied in a few minutes if a hole is made in it.

The four Ashramas of life are not four different stages with a jump from the preceding to the succeeding. Each following stage is the flowering of the earlier, a maturing, including and transcending of the past conditions, like the higher and higher standards in education superseding the earlier ones.

There are some curious persons who think that they need not worry about God-realisation if only they have what they call Self-realisation. This is another kind of ignorance, for Self-realisation without God-realisation is a misnomer, and the notion of Self-realisation as knowledge of the individual self will raise the question “What next?”, because it is difficult to answer the question as to what would happen to the individual after it knows itself.

An individual has as many organs as are required to fulfil the wishes that are embodied in the Prarabdha Karma of a given life, and these organs are of such quality and capacity as the needs of the individual concerned. Nothing more, and nothing less is given to us in this world.

Just as twenty-five paise are contained in a quarter rupee coin, the twenty-five manifestations of Prakriti are contained in the Purusha, though invisibly and intangibly. Though the variety of the manifestation is manifold, it is all inherent in its cause, like a chair present in wood.

There are two greater wonders: The starry heavens above, and the moral law within. Neither of these can be fathomed to their depths and they will remain a wonder for ever. They are endless in their extent, and no one can study them as ‘external’ objects.

When Maricha cried out: “O Lakshmana, O Sita”, Sita mistook it for Rama’s voice. She could not identify Rama’s voice as different from that of another, though she had lived with Rama for so long. So is the case with the Jiva. It has forgotten its association with the Absolute and cannot distinguish the call of the Spirit from the clamours of the senses. This is called delusion.

Krishna was a person of great enjoyments. Vasishtha was devoted to rituals. Janaka was a king. Jadabharata was looking like an idiot. Suka was renowned for his dispassion. Vyasa was busy in teaching and writing. But all these are regarded as equal in knowledge. Different forms serve different purposes, but their essential being is one.

Great men are not those who run fast and speak much but think deep and live wisely. More than doing it is being something,—a change of outlook and attitude. We are great, not because we are something to the world but because we are something in ourselves, even if the whole world is not to exist at all.

Avidya is the disposition by which one mistakes the non-eternal for the eternal, the impure for the pure, the painful for the pleasant and the not-self for the Self. Avidya is the seed of egoism, craving, hatred and clinging to one’s body, so hard to overcome.

Manu advises: Not with one’s mother, daughter or daughter-in-law even should one share the same bed or seat; for the senses are impetuous and can forcibly drag astray the mind of even the wise.

It is said that when the devotee takes one step towards the Lord, he is greeted by the Lord with a hundred steps. The Bhakti-Sastras state that the love of God for the devotee is more than man’s love for God. The power of the Whole is intenser than the force of the part.

If you want anything, you have only to cry before the Absolute. Things shall be provided to you exactly as you want them, at the proper time.

Dharma is the law which determines the progress in the direction of God-realisation. All acts have to be judged from this angle of vision and Adharma is anything which is irrelevant or in opposition to this principle.

Scientific advancement in the present-day sense of the term is a movement in endless darkness since no march in the direction of sense-objects is going to lead mankind to truth. Modern life is mostly an increase in speed and by this no one has become the better, just as a bullet cannot be said to be more civilised than man merely because it moves faster. After all, this fast motion of modern life is a heading towards unknown miseries from known ones, and who can be complacent in such a state of affairs? All our glory ends in dust and ashes, and we shall be forgotten one day as if we had never been born at all. This is man’s greatness in his boasted pride and imagined importance in a speeding world.

‘God first, world next and self last’, is a maxim which is metaphysically and spiritually a complete method of meditation on creation. God created the world and individuality is a later development. The upward rise is from the individual to the universal and from the universal to the Divine Being in which the personal self and the universe merge into an indescribable Consciousness. Personality is least connected with the Reality, being isolated and externalised.

As there is no such thing as a big shirt or a small shirt, a tall man or a short man, except in comparison with another, there is no such thing as beautiful or ugly, good or bad, etc. except in terms of some other element to which reference is made, such as a circumstance, an object or a mental condition.

Our feelings, prejudices and desires stand out in the world in front of us as our friends and enemies. They are the forces which stir the objects outside either to move towards union with us or to shake us up with violence. It is in this sense that the world is said to be an image of
the mind.

The omniscience of God knows all the details of the universe. It is not merely a general knowledge of the structure of the universe, as some think. He is ‘Sarvajna’ and ‘Sarvavit’, all-knowing, both in the generality and particularity of things, and this knowledge which God has of the universe is perfect, for He is its Self, and it is not His object but a part of His being.