Date: Jan 7, 1988 Occasion: Address to Dharma Prachar Parishad
Embodiments of Divine Love!
The term Dhaarani is derived from the root Dhr. Dhaarani means that which binds the universe in unison through Dharma, Righteousness. Dharmo Viswasya Jagathah Pratishtaa. It is Dharma which upholds the universe. Dharma Sarvam Pratishtitham. Everything abides in Dharma, Righteousness. The presence of this Dharma cannot be established by sense perception or through inferential deduction. It transcends the canons of logic. Its existence has to be derived from the authority of revealed scriptural testimony (the Vedas).
What is Veda? Vetthyanena iti Vedah. Veda is that which enlightens or expounds fully a subject or matter. For instance, Dhanur Veda expounds the science of archery. Naatya Veda is the treatise on Dance. Sama Veda is the science of spiritual music. Ayur Veda is the science of life and medicine. The prefix figuring before the term Veda indicates the type of science that is dealt with in that particular Veda.
Dharma (Righteousness) and Moksha (liberation) are transcendental- beyond the intellect and sense perceptions. How can the Vedas throw light on Dharma and Moksha, which are beyond the reach of the senses? They can do so only by indicating the yajnas and yagas that constitute the spiritual exercises leading to Dharma and Moksha. Even the Vedas are not competent to provide direct access to Dharma and Moksha. That is why the Vedas have declared: Na Karmanaa, Na Prajayaa dhanena Thyaagenaike Amrutatvamaanasuh. Not by meritorious deeds, progeny or wealth can immortality be attained. It can be experienced only through renunciation. But the Vedas show that through good deeds and practices, one can acquire the competence to realise Dharma and Moksha.
The emperor Manu coined a special term to describe the significance of the Vedas as the scriptures prescribing the spiritual and worldly actions to be performed by men. He gave the name Vidhaana to all the actions to be performed in daily life to direct mankind in the path of truth. At the present day, in the Kali Yuga, the term Vidhaana has been associated with legislative bodies. Vidhaana means that which lays down the law. Because the proper significance of the term has not been understood, mankind has gone astray.
Dharma is a term which is all-embracing. The whole universe is bound by it. What is the need, it may be asked, for propagating Dharma when it encompasses everything. The reason is that, although Dharma is present everywhere, it is covered by ignorance and pride, like fire that is covered by ashes or water by moss. These covering elements have to be removed so that the true nature of Dharma may be revealed to the world. The propagation of Dharma (Dharma Prachar) is needed only for this purpose.
Propagation of Dharma does not mean spreading knowledge about something that is not known. Its basic purpose is to promote the practice of Dharma. Only those who practise Dharma are qualified to propagate it. It is because Dharma and Sathya (Righteousness and Truth) have not been propagated by persons practising them that they have been eclipsed as it were and are not perceivable. It is only when they are practised in daily life that their true nature and value will be realised.
A man is judged by the nature of his actions. If his actions are good, he is described as a good man. If his actions are bad, he is described as a wicked person. One's qualities and actions are interdependent. Actions reveal qualities and qualities determine actions. Hence, every one should strive to reform himself by developing good qualities. Swami Ramakrishnananda [who had spoken earlier] asked what good has been derived by persons who had been listening to spiritual discourses for years and who had been living in the ashram for a long time. Unless an effort is made to put into practice at least a few of the teachings, all these exercises are futile.
Qualities like forbearance (Kshama), sympathy (Daya), truth, love and compassion are not associated with any particular nation, faith or community. They are spiritual qualities and are essential for people anywhere, at all times. Among the qualities a man has to develop if he is to realise his divinity, the foremost is Kshama- forbearance or forgiveness. It is essential for every human being. It is supreme among virtues. Kshama is Truth, Dharma, Sympathy, Non-violence and all else. Kshama comprehends every quality.
How is Kshama to be acquired ? It is acquired by practising four kinds of purity:
Dravya Soucham: Purity of commodities covers all things used by a person, to houses and all the varied things used by a person. Everything that is in daily use should be completely pure.
Maanasika Soucham: Purity of the mind. This calls for the total elimination of attachments and aversions from the mind. Hatred and envy should have no place. One should cultivate the large-heartedness to return good for evil and not to cause pain to anyone in any circumstance. This is the mark of a pure mind. Today people are filled with hatred and envy. They cannot bear to see others happy or prosperous. This is the sign of a polluted mind. Men with evil minds develop demonic traits. To be truly human, one has to have a pure unsullied mind. He has to recognize that the same divinity is present in everyone. He should realize that the pure spirit that dwells in him and the power that animates him are presently equal in every human being. One who is conscious of this unity will have an untrammeled mind.
Vaak Soucham: Purity of speech. This means one must speak the truth. He must be sweet and pleasant in speech and avoid using harsh words. Excessive talking should be avoided. Purity in speech implies avoidance of falsehood, garrulousness, abusive language, slanderous gossip and speech which causes pain to others. Today there is very little purity of speech. Bad thoughts and bad words are the order of the day. A vile tongue fouls the mind and dehumanizes man.
Sarira Soucham: Purity of the body. The body has to be purified by performing Aachamana with water. [This ritual involves uttering the names of the Lord thrice and drinking three spoonfuls of water from the palm.]
When these four kinds of purity are practised, the quality of Kshama develops to some extent.
Once when the Pandavas were living in exile in the forest, Bhima and Draupadi approached Dharmaja (the eldest of the Pandavas) and asked him what plans he had for dealing with their enemies, the Kauravas. Smilingly, Dharmaja replied to them to pacify their feelings. `We have no enemies. Our own qualities are either our friends or foes. Our actions can be our enemies. We should try to conquer these enemies in the form of bad thoughts and bad deeds. Our bad feelings get themselves reflected in others and make them appear as evil-minded. Realise, Oh Bhima, we have no enemies. The Kauravas whom you regard as our enemies are not so. If we fill our hearts with good feelings, the Kauravas will be our friends and brothers.'
To give another illustration from the Mahabharata: once Vidura went to Dhritarashtra, the father of the Kauravas, and said to him: "Dhritarashtra! You are not only physically blind, but you are lacking the eyes of wisdom. You accepted the five Pandava brothers as the children of Pandu on the authentic testimony of Maharishis [great sages]. Many did not know that they were the children of Pandu. Moreover, the great Bhishma, who had the gift of Divine sight, also testified to this fact. You accepted Pandu's children and kept them with you. But your sons did not favour the affection and consideration bestowed on them. Your evil-minded sons subjected the Pandavas to all kinds of ordeals and hardships. Out of your misplaced love for your sons, you have allowed these wrongs to be perpetrated. If an individual takes poison, he alone dies. If an arrow hits a person, he alone is injured. But when a ruler pursues an unrighteous policy, the entire state is ruined. The people as well as the ruler perish. By succumbing to bad counsel and evil ways, you are leading your kingdom and your dynasty to disaster. This is not proper." Vidura warned the king to recognise the truth. He did not mince words in his accusation of Dhritarashtra. He said: "Those who are born blind or deaf and dumb, those who are insane and those of unsteady mind have no right to rule. When any such person is a ruler, he causes universal ruin. You are a great sinner. And because you have been enthroned, you are destroying the kingdom with your own hands.
"Dharmaja is endowed with the supreme virtue of Kshama (forbearance). You are mistaking his forbearance for cowardice. Forbearance is like a crown on his head. Very soon, the Pandavas' forbearance will bring about your complete ruin." It was this forbearance which brought ultimate victory to the Pandavas and conferred lasting glory and fame on them. This forbearance is based on the four kinds of purity (soucham). Purity has its roots in Righteousness. Truth is born of Righteousness, which in its turn, sustains Truth. Man should adhere to Truth and Righteousness as the bases of life in the world.
Dharma is not a word to be bandied about. Repeating oft-quoted aphorisms like Dhaarayatheethi Dharma (Dharma is that which sustains) and Dharma Rakshathi Rakshithah (Dharma protects its protector) are easy enough. But what is needed is practice of Dharma. Right conduct alone constitutes Dharma. The man who leads a righteous life is bound to find peace.
When you go out into towns and villages for propagating Dharma, you have to tell the people: "Do not cause harm to any one. Do not abuse anybody. Perform your duties with devotion. Make your heart pure."
Realisation of the Divine is the goal. But most of our actions are related to worldly concerns. The only way to sanctify all actions is to do them as acts of worship, as an offering to the Divine. Thereby life itself becomes sacred.
You must shed the feeling of mine and thine. You have to realise the truth that the Divine dwells in every being. Eko vasi Sarvabhoothaantharaatma. You must develop this sense of oneness and share it with others.
The distinction made between householders and sanyasis is not of real significance. The wearing of the ochre robe alone will not make a man a devotee of God. By the mere mouthing of mantras, one's sins will not be washed away. Carrying the Gita and shouting slogans will not make one meritorious. Only the man whose thoughts and deeds are in harmony can be called a Sadhu (a saintly person).
Who are Sadhus? Not merely those who don the ochre robe. All are sadhus. All beings have sadhutwa (goodness and purity) inherent in them. They have to foster and manifest these qualities and not the external vesture. It is the purity of one's thoughts which reveals his Sadhutva. There is no need to put on the orange robe to become a sadhu. The heart must be pure. Ravana put on the guise of an ascetic to kidnap Sita. His garb only concealed his evil intent. It is the evil qualities that have to be given up. Even if the process is begun in a small way, it will result in great good. The start must be made when one is young.
A mother and son were living in poor circumstances The father died, when the son was born. With great difficulty the mother put the son into school and made him reach the final year. Then he had to pay Rs. 90 as examination fees. The mother was at a loss how to find so much money. She was shedding tears under a tree, when the son importuned her to reveal the cause of her sadness. When she said that the boy would have give up further studies as she did not have the money for paying the examination fees, the son asked, in his childish innocence, whether there was anybody who could help them. He would repay the amount later. The mother said: `God alone is the helper for the helpless. He the source of ail wealth and He is the universal provider.' In his innocence, the boy asked his mother: "Where is that God? By some means or other I shall get the money from Him. " The mother said: "He is in Vaikunta." The boy implicitly believed in his mother's words. He ran to the post office, wrote a letter, bought an envelope, enclosed the letter in it and addressed it to "Sriman Narayana, Vaikunta." He was trying to post the letter in a post box which was fixed a little too high for him. The postmaster watching his plight, came to his help and asked him: "To whom are you sending your letter?". The boy replied, " Sir this is a very urgent letter. I need money by tomorrow to pay my fees. Please see that the letter is dispatched quickly." The postmaster took the letter from the boy and found that it was addressed to Sriman Narayana, Vaikunta. He asked the boy who had given him that address. He related his entire story and what his mother had told him about Sriman Narayana as the refuge of the Poor and forlorn.
The postmaster was moved to tears by the boy's story. He wondered at the innocence and pure heartedness of the boy and told him: "Dear Child ! I shall post the letter. You come here tomorrow morning. The money will be received by then and you can take it." The boy was happy beyond words and conveyed the news to his mother. The next morning he went to the postmaster and asked him whether the money had come. The postmaster went in, brought Rs. 90 and gave it to the boy. He ran with the money to his mother. The mother wondered how he got the money, whether he had stolen it or got it from someone. She asked him how he got the money. He related what all that had happened He swore that the money had been sent by Narayana Himself. The mother then asked him to take her to the postmaster. The postmaster told her: "As soon as I saw your son's letter, God induced me to come to your son's help. The money has come from Him. I am only an instrument in His hands. "
The moral of the story is that if we pray to God with a pure heart, God will make use of someone to respond to our prayer. It is silly to raise such questions as: Where is that God ? How will He help ? By raising such questions only our faith is weakened. That is the reason why Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said: " If you want to pray to God, be like an innocent child." Jesus also said the same thing when he told his disciples : "Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven." He also used to say : " Even if I am like a child for even a brief moment in a day, how pure can I become? " It is such innocence and purity that we have to possess in our hearts. Children must listen to the words of their mothers. Mothers should avoid putting wrong ideas in the children. When there are such exemplary mothers and children, the world will be full of joy and festivities. When Bharat has such mothers and children, it will be an example to the world.
There is no use in preaching to others, if your own thoughts and conduct have not changed. Engage yourselves in sadhanas to cleanse your heart and mind and to fill them with pure thoughts and feelings. The burden of spreading the Dharmic message has been shouldered by Swami Bhoomanand, who has been going round the villages despite his age. Though he is a sanyasi, he has dedicated himself to the propagation of Dharma and is constantly on the move carrying the message to the people. Other sadhus are also cooperating with him in this sacred mission. Swamis Sachidananda, Ramakrishnananda and others are carrying on this work with enthusiasm. They are all pure-hearted. I bless them all and want them to continue this new work they have taken up with redoubled vigour and redeem their lives. Whatever they do should be regarded as service to the Divine. They should consider themselves as Divine instruments. This alone is real service to society. Doing japa and dhyana for attaining individual salvation is one form of selfishness. You must develop largeness of heart and strive to take others with you to the supreme goal of liberation. Giving up the narrow outlook, you should have love for all. It is high time the old attitudes of hatred and envy are given up.
There are here today people from overseas who have traveled thousands of miles to obtain peace and serenity before they return. It is a pity that those who have been here for years have not tried to cultivate these qualities and are immersed in worries and confusion. They are like frogs in a lotus pond which are not aware of the nectarine honey in the lotus in search of which bees gather from long distances. This supineness should go. Those who are here should practise at least a few of the things they learn here so that they may go forward towards their divine destiny.
The great movement for the propagation of Dharma launched by the Dharma Prachar Parishad is bound to succeed. Swami will extend all necessary help and strength to this movement.