Day by Day with Bhagavan
By A. Devaraja Mudaliar
Second Reprint 1977
When (on 2-11-45) Mr. Roy asked Bhagavan the best way of killing the ego, Bhagavan said, "To ask the mind to kill the mind is like making the thief the policeman. He will go with you and pretend to catch the thief, but nothing will be gained. So you must turn inward and see where the mind rises from and then it will cease to exist.'' In reference to this answer, Mr. Thambi Thorai of Jafna (who has been living in Palakothu for over a year) asked me, whether asking the mind to turn inward and seek its source is not also employing the mind. So, I put this doubt before Bhagavan and Bhagavan said, "Of course we are employing the mind. It is well known and admitted that only with the help of the mind the mind has to be killed. But instead of setting about saying there is a mind, and you find the mind does not exist at all. The mind, turned outwards, results in thoughts and objects. Turned inwards, it becomes itself the Self. Such a mind is sometimes called arupa manas or suddha manas.''
Today, the doorway on the south facing Bhagavan's seat has been closed and a window constructed in its place; and the middle window on the northern wall has been replaced by the doorway removed from the southern wall. Going through this doorway, Bhagavan need not climb any steps.
Mr. Joshi has submitted what Bhagavan calls a question paper, and Bhagavan answers the same.
First about the jnani's doing work, without the mind: "You imagine one cannot do work if the mind is killed. Why do you suppose that it is the mind alone that can make one do work. There may be other causes which can also produce activity. Look at this clock, for instance. It is working without a mind. Again suppose we say the jnani has a mind. His mind is very different from the ordinary man's mind. He is like the man who is hearing a story told with his mind all on some distant object. The mind rid of vasanas, though doing work, is not doing work. On the other hand, if the mind is full of vasanas, it is doing work even if the body is not active or moving.
Question 2: "Is soham the same as 'Who am I?' ''
Answer: "Aham alone is common to them. One is soham. The other is koham. They are different. Why should we go on saying soham? One must find out the real 'I'. In the question 'Who am I?' by 'I' is meant the ego. Trying to trace it and find its source, we see it has no separate existence but merges in the real 'I'.''
Question 3: "I find surrender easier. I want to adopt that path.''
Answer: "By whatever path you go, you will have to lose yourself in the One. Surrender is complete only when you reach the stage 'Thou art all' and 'Thy will be done'.''
"The state is not different from jnana. In soham there is dvaita. In surrender there is advaita. In the reality there is neither dvaita nor advaita, but That which is, is. Surrender appears easy because people imagine that, once they say with their lips, 'I surrender' and put their burdens on their Lord, they can be free and do what they like. But the fact is that you can have no likes or dislikes after your surrender and that your will should become completely non-existent, the Lord's Will taking its place. Such death of the ego is nothing different from jnana. So by whatever path you may go, you must come to jnana or oneness.''
Question 4: "How am I to deal with my passions? Am I to check them or satisfy them? If I follow Bhagavan's method and ask, 'To whom are these passions?' they do not seem to die but grow stronger.
Answer: "That only shows you are not going about my method properly. The right way is to find out the root of all passions, the source whence they proceed, and get rid of that. If you check the passions, the may get suppressed for the moment, but will appear again. If you satisfy them, they will be satisfied only for the moment and will again crave satisfaction. Satisfying desires and thereby trying to root them out is like trying to quench fire by pouring kerosene oil over it. The only way is to find the root of desire and thus remove it.''
Another visitor asked Bhagavan, "If I try to make the 'Who am I?' enquiry, I fall into sleep. What should I do?''
Bhagavan: "Persist in the enquiry throughout your waking hours. That would be quite enough. If you keep on making the enquiry till you fall asleep, the enquiry will go on during sleep also. Take up the enquiry again as soon as you wake up.''
In the night Gajanan (Devarata) said to Bhagavan "When Naina went to Gokarnam he went almost to every house and offered his superb vidya to everyone. But nobody cared for it then. But now, they come across a verse of his and they go into raptures over it, and exclaim 'What poetic gift!' and if they can get a picture of him they worship it as God. This seems to have been the way of the world always. There is a story about Maschendra Nath. It is said he went about saying, "For two pooran polies I shall give you Brahman i.e., jnana. But nobody cared. At last Goraknath came along and when he heard this offer of M., he said he would bring the polies. He went into the city, got up a small fire lit up underneath, and made a chela or disciple sit by his side. The whole town swarmed around and wondered saying, "What great tapasya! Some great Mahatma has come to our place !'' People readily offered to do various services and present many things to the great tapasvi. The disciple explained that his master would only accept a bhiksha in which a thousand persons should all be fed with the best pooran polies. This was readily arranged and Goraknath took two polies and ran up to Maschendra, telling the people, "You feed the thousand persons. I shall go to the Ganges and offer the polies to Ganga.'' G. told M., "Here Sir, I have brought the two polies. Now give me Brahmam!'' M. took the two polies, bit them here and there, threw the pieces to the birds, dogs and the river, and then both M. and G. disappeared. M. had given G. Brahmam.
"It seems to have been the way of the world always. Great men are rarely respected and rated at their true worth in their lives. Even Sankara was bitterly attacked during his life-time as a maya asura. But now he is regarded not only here, but all over the world, as the greatest religious and philosophical thinker the world has produced!'' Bhagavan said, "There is another similarity between Sankara and Maschendra Nath. It is said of Maschendra also that he was enjoying the company of a woman and forgot to return at the end of the period fixed by him, and that thereupon his disciple Goraknath went and sang and reminded him and brought him back, in the same way in which Sankara's disciples are said to have sung Guru stuti and brought back Sankara.'' Gajanan proceeded to relate that Goraknath was greatly revered in Nepal, from the King downward, and the State coin also bore the name of Goraknath. He said, "It seems, when Goraknath was alive, the then King of Nepal visited him. When G. was appraised of the King's arrival, he merely spat on the King. The King, to avert the spittle falling on his crown, drew back a little; the spittle fell on his feet. G. is said to have then told the King, 'You would not let the spittle fall on your head. If it had so fallen, you might have become the head of a big empire. However, as it fell on your feet, you would be the master of a small kingdom'.''
The talk then drifted to miracles done by various saints. G. mentioned one Vasudeva Saraswati and said, "He has gone all over India. Bhagavan know him. He was here too. He did various miracles. One morning he would bathe in the Krishna and at noon he would be found bathing in the Ganges at Benares and at a third place in the evening!'' Then G. proceeded to speak of Samartha Rama Das and his disciples, greatly devoted to him, used to grind the betel leaves and nut in his own mouth first and then offer it to Ramdas. Some co-disciples thought this sacrilegious and went and told Ramdas, 'Please ask him to bring the pestle and mortar with which he daily prepares betel leaves paste for you.' Ramdas thereupon asked those disciples, 'Yes, go and ask him to bring the mortar.' They accordingly went and told that disciple, 'Master wants us to bring from you the mortar in which you prepare betel leaf for him daily!' The disciple said, 'Wait. I shall give it to you presently.' So saying he took a sword, cut off his head and gave it to the other disciples! When the disciples took the head to the Master, the latter told them, 'Do you now see the bhakti of the man whom you misunderstood and maligned? Go and put his head back again in his trunk.' The disciples did as directed and the man came back to life.'' G. continued and said, "The sword 'Bhavani' was presented to Shivaji by Ramdas. Four men are required to handle that sword, handled by Shivaji. It is now preserved by the British Government.
About 10-30 a.m. Mrs. Taleyarkhan came near Bhagavan, stood at his feet and asked, "May I say a few words, Bhagavan?'' and continued, "I have a great friend, Mrs. W. wife of a prominent official in Los Angeles. In 1942, when I was here, I received a letter from her while I was sitting in this hall. It was a heartrending letter in which she detailed how her husband fell in love with another woman, got a divorce decree and married the new woman. She was a most beautiful woman, Bhagavan, and they had already a girl about seventeen years old. She was a great society woman and it was impossible that any event of any social importance would take place without her being there. So she felt the grief immensely and wrote it all. I was moved terribly and keenly felt for her and prayed mentally to Bhagavan for her relief. I wrote back to her, sending her a small photo of Bhagavan, and told her, 'Don't be downcast. Your husband will come back to you. I am now with such and such a great personage. I am sending you a small picture of him. Have it on your table. I shall daily pray to him on your behalf. You too pray to him. You will see that you get relief.' But the friend - what do they know about Bhagavan and such things - was disconsolate. She wrote back, 'What you say is impossible. He won't come back.' I wrote again, 'Nothing is impossible with Bhagavan. So, just go on as I have advised you to do.' And now, Bhagavan, I have her letter by air-mail to-day that her husband has come back to her and she is going to set up a new home again. She writes, 'The impossible has happened. Your "gentleman'' (meaning Bhagavan) has really worked a miracle. Now, I and my husband must come and see him. We want to fly and visit your Master, though the passage costs a lot. Please let me know whether there is a hotel there where we can come and stay'. I have always been praying to Bhagavan for this friend and I am glad Bhagavan has done this for her. I feel so grateful and was moved to tears when reading this letter here now.''
I added, "What is there impossible for Bhagavan?'' and told Bhagavan, "Only last evening Shroff was complaining to me about his having to go to Delhi. He said, 'It is the hopelessness of the situation that pains me most. There does not seem to be any chance of my coming here again. If I was certain that once in six months or even once in a year, I could be visiting here, I would not feel the separation so much. It is the impossibility of it all that worries me'.'' And I told Shroff the same thing that Mrs. T. told her friend:
"There is nothing impossible at all where Bhagavan is concerned. You may get transferred to Madras. You may grow so rich suddenly as to posses a small aeroplane of your own. What is there that cannot happen by His Grace?''
Mrs. Osborne told Bhagavan, "Kitty has written a letter and in it has sent her love to Bhagavan.'' Bhagavan, turning to me, said, "She has become shy now. When she was going she made her father come and tell me her message 'I hope Bhagavan won't forget me'. And I told her, 'You don't forget Bhagavan and Bhagavan won't forget you'.''
12-4-46 - Afternoon
A visitor had given Bhagavan a piece of paper on which he had scribbled in pencil a number of questions. When I went into the hall around 3 p.m. Bhagavan was trying to decipher them and turning round to me said, "Here is a question paper.''
Question 1: How to get rid of credulousness? The visitor's problem was that he starts with some ideal recommended to him, but when others come and recommend other ideals, he feels inclined to believe them and give up his old ideals.
Bhagavan: Yes. Yes. Our whole trouble is that we are credulous. We believe in everything except the reality. We must give up our false beliefs; and that is the only thing we have to do. Then the reality will shine by itself.
Question 2: I start with great keenness towards some ideal. But gradually I get slack. What should I do to prevent it, and what is the reason for this happening?
Bhagavan: Just as there must have been a reason for your keenness at one time, there must be a reason for getting slack also later on.
Question 3: There are a number of spiritual teachers, teaching various paths. Whom should one take for one's Guru?
Bhagavan: Choose that one where you find you get shanti or peace.
Question 4: What is the best way of dealing with desires, with a view to getting rid of them - satisfying them or suppressing them?
Bhagavan: If a desire can be got rid of by satisfying it, there will be no harm in satisfying such a desire. But desires generally are not eradicated by satisfaction. Trying to root them out that way is like pouring spirits to quench fire. At the same time, the proper remedy is not forcible suppression, since such repression is bound to react sooner or later into forceful surging up with undesirable consequences. The proper way to get rid of a desire is to find out "Who gets the desire? What is its source?'' When this is found, the desire is rooted out and it will never again emerge or grow. Small desires such as the desire to eat, drink and sleep and attend to calls of nature, though these may also be classed among desires, you can safely satisfy. They will not implant vasanas in your mind, necessitating further birth. Those activities are just necessary to carry on life and are not likely to develop or leave behind vasanas or tendencies. As a general rule, therefore, there is no harm in satisfying a desire where the satisfaction will not lead to further desires by creating vasanas in the mind.
Question 5: What is the meaning of 'Om'?
Bhagavan: 'Om' is everything. It is another name for Brahmam.
I was looking into the January issue of Vision and came across a story about Kulasekhara Alwar. Having heard during a kalakshepam that Ravana had taken away Sita, Kulasekhara identified himself so much with the situation in the story that he thought it was his duty as a worshipper of Rama at once to hasten to Lanka and release Sita that he ran up and had entered the sea to cross over to Lanka, that then Rama appeared with Sita and Lakshmana showered His grace on him. I remembered another version, that Kulasekhara started on a campaign with his army to succour Rama, that meanwhile the Bhagavatar doing the kalakshepam, sensing the situation, passed on at once to Rama emerging victoriously from the battle, killing all his enemies, etc. Bhagavan also thought the version I had in mind was the correct one and that the matter referred to Rama's battle with Khara and Dushana and not with Ravana for Sita. Bhagavan looked up a history of the Alwars and told us that both incidents are found in Kulasekhara's life. This led me to make the following remark, "Some Maratha Saint also did a similar thing. He leaped up to the roof, I think.'' Thereupon, Dr. S. Rao asked Bhagavan, "I don't know that story. What is that story? Thereupon Bhagavan said, "Ekanath was writing the Ramayana and when he came to the portion in which he was graphically describing that Hanuman jumped across the ocean to Lanka, he so identified himself with his hero Hanuman, that all unconsciously he leaped into the air and landed on the roof of his neighbour. This neighbour had always a poor opinion of Ekanath, taking him for a humbug and religious hypocrite. He heard a thud on his roof and, coming out to see what it was, discovered Ekanath lying down on the roof with the cadjan leaf in one hand and his iron stile in the other, and the cadjan leaf had verses describing how Hanuman leapt across the sea. This incident proved to the neighbour what a genuine bhakta Ekanath was and he became his disciple.''
After a pause, Bhagavan also related, "God appeared in a dream to Ekanath and asked him to go and repair the tomb of Jnaneswar. When Ekanath went there accordingly, he found a contractor ready to do all the work and take payment at the end. The contractor opened a big account, in which all expenses were entered, with the names of all the workmen and wages paid to them. Everything went on systematically and when, the work of repairs having been completed, the accounts had to be looked into and the contractor paid his dues, the contractor and his big account book totally disappeared. Then alone Ekanath came to know God was his contractor and did the work. Such things have happened.''
25-4-46 - Morning
A visitor asked Bhagavan, "When I try to be without all thoughts, I pass into sleep. What should I do about it?
Bhagavan: Once you go to sleep, you can do nothing in that state. But while you are awake, try to keep away all thoughts. Why think about sleep? Even that is a thought, is it not? If you are able to be without any thought while you are awake, that is enough. When you pass into sleep, that state, in which you were before falling asleep, will continue and again, when you wake up, you will continue from where you left off when you fell into slumber. So long as there are thoughts of activity, so long would there be sleep also. Thought and sleep are counter-parts of one and the same thing.
Bhagavan quoted the Gita and said, "We should not sleep very much or go without it altogether, but sleep only moderately. To prevent too much sleep, we must try to have no thoughts or chalana (movement of the mind), we must eat only satvic food and that only in moderate measure, and not indulge in too much physical activity. The more we control thought, activity and food the more shall we be able to control sleep. But moderation ought to be a rule, as explained in the Gita, for the sadhak on the path. Sleep is the first obstacle, as explained in the books, for all sadhakas. The second obstacle is said to be vikshepa or the sense objects of the world which divert one's attention. The third is said to be kashaya or thoughts in the mind about previous experiences with sense objects. The fourth, ananda, is also called an obstacle, because in that state a feeling of separation from the source of ananda, enabling the enjoyer to say 'I am enjoying ananda' is present. Even this has to be surmounted and the final stage of samadhana or samadhi has to be reached, where one becomes ananda or one with the reality and the duality of enjoyer and enjoyment ceases in the ocean of sat-chit-ananda or the Self.
Bose: When the Upanishads say that all is Brahman, how can we say, like Shankara, that this world is mithya or illusory?
Bhagavan: Shankara also said that this world is Brahman or the Self. What he objected to is one's imagining that the Self is limited by the names and forms that constitute the world. He only said that the world does not exist apart from Brahman. Brahman or the Self is like the screen and the world is like the pictures on it. You can see the pictures only so long as there is a screen. But when the seer himself becomes the screen only the Self remains. Kaivalya Navaneetha has asked and answered six questions about maya. They are instructive.
The first question is: What is maya? And the answer is: It is anirvachaniya or indescribable.
The second question is: To whom does it come? And the answer is: To the mind or ego who feels that he is a separate entity, who thinks: 'I do this' or 'this is mine'.
The third question is: Where does it come from and how did it originate?
And the answer is: Nobody can say.
The fourth question is: How did it arise? And the answer is: Through non-vichara, through failure to ask: Who am I?
The fifth question is: If the Self and Maya both exists does not this invalidate the theory of Advaita? The answer is: It need not, since maya is dependent on the Self as the picture is on the screen. The picture is not real in the sense that the screen is real.
The sixth question is: If the Self and maya are one, could it not be argued that the Self is the nature of maya, that is illusory? And the answer is: No; the Self can be capable of producing illusion without being illusory. A conjuror may create for our entertainment the illusion of people, animals and things, and we see all of them as clearly as we see him; but after the performance he alone remains and all the visions he had created have disappeared. He is not a part of the illusion but is real and solid.
In the afternoon Khanna's wife appealed to Bhagavan in writing: "I am not learned in the Scriptures and I find the method of Self-enquiry too hard for me. I am a woman with seven children and a lot of household cares, and it leaves me little time for meditation. I request Bhagavan to give me some simpler and easier method.''
Bhagavan: No learning or knowledge of Scriptures is necessary to know the Self, as no man requires a mirror to see himself. All knowledge is required only to be given up eventually as not Self. Nor is household work or cares with children necessarily an obstacle. If you can do nothing more, at least continue saying 'I, I' to yourself mentally all the time, as advised in 'Who am I?', whatever work you may be doing and whether you are sitting, standing or walking. 'I' is the name of God. It is the first and greatest of all mantras. Even OM is second to it.
Khanna: The jiva is said to be mind plus illumination. What is it that desires Self-realization and what is it that obstructs our path to Self-realization? It is said that the mind obstructs and the illumination helps.
Bhagavan: Although we describe the jiva as mind plus the reflected light of the Self, in actual practice, in life, you cannot separate the two, just as, in the illustrations we used yesterday, you cannot separate cloth and whiteness in a white cloth or fire and iron in a red-hot rod. The mind can do nothing by itself. It emerges only with the illumination and can do no action, good or bad, except with the illumination. But while the illumination is always there, enabling the mind to act well or ill, the pleasures or pain resulting from such action is not felt by the illumination, just as when you hammer a red-hot rod it is not the fire but the iron that gets the hammering.
Khanna: Is there destiny? And if what is destined to happen will happen is there any use in prayer or effort or should we just remain idle?
Bhagavan: There are only two ways, to conquer destiny or be independent of it. One is to enquire for whom is this destiny and discover that only the ego is bound by destiny and not the Self, and that the ego is non-existent. The other way is to kill the ego by completely surrendering to the Lord, by realizing one's helplessness and saying all the time: 'Not I but Thou, oh Lord!', and giving up all the sense of 'I' and 'mine' and leaving it to the Lord to do what he likes with you. Surrender can never be regarded as complete as long as the devotee wants this or that from the Lord. True surrender is love for God for the sake of love and nothing else, not even for the sake of salvation. In other words, complete effacement of the ego is necessary to conquer destiny, whether you achieve this effacement through Self-enquiry or through bhakti-marga.
Khanna: Are our prayers granted?
Bhagavan: Yes, they are granted. No thought will go in vain. Every thought will produce its effect some time or other. Thought-force will never go in vain.
This morning, after his usual stroll, Bhagavan arrived in the hall about 7-35 and, sitting on the couch, stretched out his legs. But immediately, he drew them back and folded them saying, "I am forgetting'', recounted yesterday's incident, and ended, "My conscience pricks me. I cannot keep my legs stretched out in front of all.'' Still he kept his legs folded. In the afternoon too, he had not forgotten this and was trying to keep to this new resolve of his. But before the evening he relaxed a bit, as all of us entreated him that it should be given up.
This afternoon, Mr. Subba Rao said that some incidents in Bhagavan's life had not at all been recorded in any book so far; for instance, he said, nobody knew that Bhagavan was for some time nude, but he found out by reading Bhagavan's horoscope that he must have been nude for some time. It was then discovered in the Telugu biography the above fact about Bhagavan was mentioned. This led Bhagavan to say, "It is true I was nude for some time in the early days, when I was under the illuppai tree in the temple compound. It was not because I had a vairagya that I should have no clothing of any sort.
The cod-piece I was wearing used to bring on sores where it touched the skin. When the sore became bad, I threw away the cod-piece. That is all. There used to be an old Gurukkal who for the first time arranged for some regular food for me either by supplying some from his house or by sending the abhishekam milk from the temple to me. After I had been nude for about a month, this old Gurukkal told me one day, 'Boy, the Kartikai Deepam is approaching. People from all the 24 districts will be flocking here. Police from all the districts will also be here. They will arrest you and put you into jail if you are nude like this. So you must have a cod-piece.' So saying, he got a new piece of cloth, made four people life me up and tied a cod-piece round me.''
Bhagavan also related today that on the morning of the day after his arrival he had his first meal at Tiruvannamalai. Apparently, he ate nothing at all on the first day. He said, "The next day I was walking up and down in the sixteen-pillared mantapam in front of the temple. Then a Mauni Swami who used to be living in the old days in the Kambathu Ilaiyanar temple came there from the temple. Another Palni Swami, a well-built man with long matted hair who used to do a lot of service, by clearing and cleaning the temple precincts with the help of a band of sannyasis, also came to the sixteen-pillared mantapam from the town. Then the Mauni looking at me, a stranger here, being in a hungry and exhausted condition, made signs to the above Palni Swami that I should be given some food. Thereupon the above Palni Swami went and brought some cold rice in a tin vessel which was all black, with a little salt strewn on top of the rice. That was the first bhiksha which Arunachaleswara gave me!''