Swami Satyanand's 2011 Guru Purnima Lecture
Swami Satyanard's Guru Purnima Lecture
Life Mission Mebane, North Carolina, USA July 17, 2011
“Lead us from illusion to reality;
Lead us from darkness(ignorance) to light(knowledge);
Lead us from death to immortality”
Today is Guru Purnima Day. It is called the festival of knowledge. According to the scriptures, knowledge leads to salvation, Moksha. But what kind of knowledge? By reading books, by reading scriptures? Information becomes memory, and memory is a vritti of Chitta. So this information is not knowledge. It is bondage. Whatever information we receive through worldly means becomes memory which binds us. It becomes a burden later on and even disturbs our sleep.
Yoga tells us to control our desires, our vrittis. The scriptures say “(Sa Vidhya ya Vimuktaye)”. True knowledge is that which relieves us from bondage. Also, in the scriptures it is stated “True knowledge is yoga-bound, and yoga is connected with Atman. It is called the Asthang Yoga.” Only through Sadhana, can this truly be understood.
Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita:
“Na hi jyanen sadrusham pavitram ih vidhyate Tat svayam yoga-sansidhhah Kalen atmani vindanti!”
This means nothing is holier than (true) knowledge and it can be achieved through yoga and only over a course of time. It emerges from the atma which ultimately leads to Moksha. Thus, yoga is the sole means for salvation. Lord Krishna continues to say, “For the welfare of the mankind, I have told three-fold Yoga, Karma yoga, Jyan yoga and Bhakti yoga. Besides this, there is no other avenue”.
Yoga vidhya is also called the Brama vidhya. The profound secrets of yoga cannot be had without the Guru. Saint Kabir said, “There is an inverted well in the sky wherein there is nectar. Those having the real Guru will sip it, but the Guru-less will go thirsty.” Yoga sadhana continues for years and for births, because samskaras from several births need to be abolished. That is why Lord Krisha says in the Bhagvad Gita, “Bahunam Janmanam ante, Jyanvan mam Prapadhyante ....The seeker finds me after so many births.” The question may arise. Why do I have to do this on-going yoga so long term,? Once I was giving a talk on “Who am I” in Los Angeles and a devotee who was, in fact, a medical doctor, asked:
“I enjoy my life, and I wish for the same in all my birth”. I am not interested in Moksha because life to me is pleasant.”
“Are you sure you will never get pain? You are happy in this birth, but are you sure you will get the same happiness in the next birth?” “You may get happiness for many more births to come, but you will never be able to escape the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. You perhaps do not know what kind of suffering the Jiva undergoes through while in the mother’s womb. This has been described in Garudpuran. The womb is a very limited area. The child cannot stretch its hands and legs. There is filth all around. He tries to move out to a clean a corner out of misery, but the mother feels joyful because she feels the life of the child. What a contrast? The child is in pain. He feels each day as long as a year.” When it becomes unbearable, God makes him know his past lives. Then the child understands the reason for his misery. He urges God to relieve him from the pain with a promise that once freed from this hell, he/she will endeavor hard to attain Him. But after birth, the Jiva forgets God, forgets his promise, and gets involved with the Maya. Moksha means the end of suffering from birth and death, old age and disease. It means freedom from heat and cold, pain and pleasure, fatigue and sleep, hunger and thirst, likes and dislikes, from all the natural laws and law of karma or any kind of limitations. One becomes unlimited. Saint Kabir said, “Muve ko Moksh kya? Where is the question of Moksha for the dead? Those who die cannot get Moksha.”
Lord Krishna said,
"Jara-maran mokshay mamashritya yatanti ye Te brahm tatvidyuh krutsnam-adhyatamam karm ch akhilam !"
i.e. - those who come to me and try to conquer old age and death, are able to know Brahm, Adhyatma, and all deeds.
Human life is for the liberation of the soul. This is not possible in any other species in the entire universe. Even heavenly beings cannot achieve liberation without having human bodies. Brahmaji created 8.4 million species, but he was not happy until he created human beings because only human beings have a chance of attaining liberation through their physical bodies. This is a special favour done for us by Brahma as follows:
- God had made man in his own image. God likes the creation of man because through Sadhana, man can merge with God. The human body has a secret path to achieve liberation which can be unveiled by a Guru, only.
- God has given us discriminative intelligence so that we can attain liberation. Man can do new karmas. No other species can do this. They can just enjoy or suffer the fruits of their previous deeds. Even heavenly beings enjoy the fruits of their good deeds, but, once they are squared up, they come back as human beings.
- Kalashakti is energy. It is alive, creative and luminous. The lord has sixteen kalas, the highest of all. Sattvic human beings have eight kalas. Through Sadhana, a human being can achieve up to fifteen kalashaktis. Heavenly beings have eleven kalashaktis.
- From the point of view of space in the universe, we occupy the middle position, Bhulok. There are six higher realms (various heavens) and seven lower realms (patals). The higher realms are Bhuvarlok, Svarlok, Maharlok, Janlok, Taplok and Brahm Lok. The lower realms are Tal, Atal, Sutal, Rasatal, Talatal, Mahatal and Patal. Man can achieve either a higher level or a lower level.
- God gave us an instrument, the human body for liberation.
So we are in the middle. We have been given half of the Kalashakti of God. We have a have choice to go up or down. We have free will to do new karmas and can attain moksha. God is so kind that he even reminds us in our mother’s womb of all of these favours. If we can fulfill the purpose of human life, then we will have moksha. Such an opportunity may not come to us so readily again. As Milarepa, the great Tibetan yogi said:
“Life is short, and the time of death is uncertain so apply yourselves to meditation; avoid doing evil; and acquire merit to the best of your ability, even at the cost of life itself. Our life is a boundary- mark whence one may take an upward or a downward path. Our present time is the most precious time, wherein each of us must decide, in one way or the other, for lasting good or lasting ill”.
It is the Kaliyuga now. The Kaliyuga lasts for 432,000 years. We have passed about five thousand years so far. The world has changed enormously in the last 40 – 50 years. Values are changing. Violence is increasing. Man is losing trust in another man, and also in God. Man is feeling lonely. Love is becoming a rare commodity. Families are breaking down. We do not know where we are going. At the height of the Kaliyug, our life-span will be twenty years. An eight year girl will conceive and become a mother. If we do not try for Moksha now, how many times will we be born and how much will we have to suffer? It is for our benefit to choose the path of liberation through yoga.
God has granted us another favor. If you do Sadhana in the Kaliyug, you receive four times more benefits compared to that done in the Satyug. This means that ten years of Sadhana in the Kaliyug is equal to forty years of Sadhana in the Satyug. Now the question is how to be free? What really bothers us? Why are there physical and mental suffering? We have physical pain because our consciousness is connected with the body. If we withdraw the consciousness from physical body, there will be no physical pain. To do so, we need to cleanse our bodies through the practice of Hatha yoga, preferably in spontaneous meditation.
To conquer mental pain, we need to withdraw consciousness from the subtle body which consists of senses, their objects, the mind and the ego. To do so, we need to practice Laya yoga. As we progress in Laya yoga, detachment from the world comes naturally based on true knowledge. Afflictions of raga- dvesha (attachment - aversion) and egoism fall away. Once the ego melts, true surrender to God comes, which leads to Samadhi. As Patanjali puts it:
“ Samadhi is attained through Ishvar-pranidhanadva”.
During Samadhi, Atman connects with Paramatma. This spiritual process aims at subsiding the mind and ego.
In reality, we go the other way. We nourish the mind and the ego. As we indulge in Bhoga, we go away from Yoga. Bhoga and Yoga are opposites. We need to follow Yams and Niyams. Bhakti says the same thing. Bhakti means to worship, to love, to observe. We follow rituals in Bhakti, but if we do not follow Yams and Niyams, no good results are attained. Not only that, but acting counter to Yams and Niyams are considered greater sins by the scriptures. Lies, violence, greed, stealing, hypocrisy and adultery are great sins and lead us to Hell. For spiritual growth, Naitikta (morality) and Satvikta (serenity) are the basic, fundamental requirements.
Our behavours need to be pure and transparent. Impure and dishonest behavours take us away from the Atma and Paramatma. They create conflict between the Atma and the mind. It results in disharmony between body, mind and soul. We cannot decide right from wrong. Our life falls off the right direction leading us to a tragic end. We all are entitled to Dharma Purusharth, but for the Moksha Purushartha, we need to earn the eligibility through Dharma Purushartha.
According to Sanatan Sanskriti, every individual has to perform four Purusharths. This is the purpose of life. There are four purposes: Artha, Kam, Dharma and Moksha. Artha, Kam and Dharma are social duties, whereas Moksha is an individual duty or purpose. Social duties are performed through Sadachar (sat+achar), meaning the behavour through which Atma, Ishwar, Brahm, and Truth can be achieved.
Dharma and Sadachar can uplift the individual in the family, in the society and even in the whole world. Dharma and life are inseparable. Dharma resides in the individual. For example, heat is the dharma of fire. Without heat, there is no fire. In a similar manner, Dharma is the humanity of every human being.
Without Dharma, we would be called animals. Our scriptures say:
"Ahar Nidra bhay maithunasch, atad samanya pashubhihi naranam Dharm hi tesham adhiko vishesh, Dharmen hina, pushubhihi samana !"
i.e. diet, sleep, fear and sexual enjoyments are common to man and animals.
Dharm is a special endeavor for human beings. Without Dharm the human is an animal. To follow these four Purusharthas, our culture has established four Stages: Brahmcharyashram; Gruhasthashram; Vanprashthashram, and Sansyasashram. In previous ages, a six year old child was sent to the Guru’s Ashram, in the forest away from society. He worked at serving the Guru and gaining knowledge until the age of twenty-five years. He had no contact with money until then. Next, he would go back home, become married, have children and fulfill all of the social obligations for the next twenty five years. Kam Purushartha was suggested until the first child was born. At the age of fifty one, he would start detaching himself from worldly allurements and begin Dharma Purushartha. For the last phase, he would go away and do Sadhana for Moksha.
Many of you have crossed the fifties, but you are not inclined to Vanprashthashram. You may say that there are no more forests left. My dear fellowman, this Ashram is your forest! You may come here and get Sadhana according to your prakruti. My personal experience tells me that Seva and Sadhana are the two things that can uplift us. Come here for a few days and learn to live a simple and spiritual life of a real Ashramite. You may come up with all kinds of excuses and claim you are too busy to do such a thing. On the other hand, if the doctor recommends that you go to a hospital because of a terminal disease, would you not go? There are no excuses there. I recommend this plan to win the whole birth-cycle challenge.
As you grow older, you need to reduce worldly attachments. Let your children take over your responsibilities, and you become involved with activities leading to self realization. You may even argue further that in this Kaliyug, and, in this materialistic world, it is impossible to live according to the Ashrams. Let me share with you happily and proudly that I have been living according to the Ashrams. I followed celibacy and gained knowledge until I was twenty-four. Then I was married and enjoyed all the worldly attractions until I turned forty. Then I gave up everything and started living the Vanprashthashram stage of life. I lived within society but as a sadhu, a monk. Since the age of 57, I have been a Sanyasi, a sadhak, doing Seva and Sadhana according to my Guru’s command. I am happy. I am content. I know I am not going to obtain Moksha during this life, or even many more to come, but I am on the right path. My Guru has put me on the right track. Before this, I was like a shunting engine. It was a futile exercise. What I learned is that we should start practicing Moksha Purusharth during this life, because we do not know when it is going to end. We should not feel regretful at the time of death that we did not or could not do what we are supposed to.
I need to prepare for my next birth now. Or what would I tell my God when I leave this earth? Self-conquest is better than world-conquest and renunciation of the world is better than the accumulation of all the riches of the world because all worldly pursuits have but the one unavoidable and inevitable end, which is sorrow. Acquisition ends in dispersion; building in destruction; meeting in separation; birth in death. Knowing this, one should, from the very first, renounce acquisition and heaping- up, building, and meeting. Be faithful to the commands of an eminent Guru. Set about realizing the Truth (which has no birth or death). This alone is the best science. Let us decide on this holy day of Guru Purnima that we will walk along the path of welfare and betterment as shown by His Holiness Rajarshi Muni. May the blessings of Lord Lakulish and H. H. Rajarshi Muni be bestowed upon you all.
Jai Bhagwan to you all with love,