Vedas are the source for all Upanishads. Without Vedas, we would not have anything. Those who have no faith in the Vedas neither understand God nor do they understand themselves. Nor can they clearly understand the secret of birth and death. Those who have faith in the deities of the Vedas will in some birth inevitably fall into the spiritual path. When one says that it would take 300-400 years to accomplish this, it means, it takes 4 or 5 births. We commit more sins in human birth due to our attraction to luxuries and sensory experiences like heat, cold, thirst, hunger, anger, sleep etc. Happiness and sorrow are constantly present in our life. We can learn the secrets of Vedanta in happiness and in sorrow. But we do not. We blame God in difficulties and forget God in happiness. We are too immersed in experiencing comforts and happiness, so we forget God. We do not reflect on the changes in our lives. When we reflect on how our life changed after the Guru entered our lives, how we have improved since then and how we gained knowledge, we will begin to see the path forward. Many do not reflect on life like this.
People forget their difficulties when they are going through good times. They forget their past struggles. Many now elusive millionaires once had only a petty shop and could only afford a bicycle as a means of transportation. That generation has passed on, and the next generations that inherited the profits and luxuries display demonic behavior, blinded by wealth and authority. They have forgotten God and have made their friends, wealth, partying, drinking and bad habits their goal. That is destroying their life. They also eventually die through illnesses or accidents. We are all witness to such occurrences.
The human birth is very rare. We should spend as much time as possible on the spiritual path. Strive to understand Vedanta and the Inner Self. The more comforts we seek, the more difficult it is to get out of them. People believe it is impossible to get out of this spiral of delusion. Contrary to what people think, it is quite easy to get out of this in good time with human effort and faith.
Now, many of you have come from far off places to see Swamiji. It may have taken up to two hours to get here with all the traffic. You are determined to get here because you can have this Darshan of Swamiji in Hyderabad only once a year. You feel like it would be most unfortunate to miss this opportunity. We should understand the value of time and the significance of human birth. Once we understand the secret of human birth, we will realize our mistakes and cannot be at peace with the usual course of our lives. You will question yourself about why you make time to fight, attend weddings and birthday parties, shop, visit acquaintances in hospitals etc. but do not make the time to see Swamiji. Why not pray for those hospitalized acquaintances from here in the presence of Swamiji? The most you can do when you visit them in hospital is stand by them and cry. Is it not better to pray to Swamiji for their speedy recovery? You should learn to budget your life properly. Getting together as a family each month to budget money is not enough. You must also budget life. How long have you been on earth? How much have you accomplished so far? What have you learned? Reading Ramayana and Mahabharata a few times is not enough. What have you learned from them? What lessons are you implementing? How has your mind changed since last year? “How did I get the energy to face greater difficulties this year? Who gave me the energy? I should try to get more of this energy”. This is what budgeting is. “What did I teach my children? What did I share with my friends? I am walking on the path of Dharma. Did I share food or did I steal food?” You must budget life every day. Every day, make a mental note – “How many times did I lie today? Who did I deceive today? Did I deceive my parents? Did I display dishonest food habits?” We should always remember the big mistakes. You should resolve to not repeat the mistakes you made. You should resolve to walk the path of righteousness. Otherwise, the mind does not take heed. We can deceive anyone, but not the Gods of Nature.
Sage Vyasa once gave bananas to eight of his disciples and asked them to go and eat in a place no one can see them. The disciples ate under blankets, inside pots, in dark rooms, inside pipes etc. Purandara Das, one of the disciples, came back without eating saying there was no place God was not there. “The five elements are everywhere. Light, air, space are all witnesses. Above all, the mind is a witness. That is why I could not eat. I could not find a place they were not watching. God is all pervading; he is in me and you. He is in the darkness, as well as under blankets and in pots. That is why I could not eat the banana”. We may be able to deceive anyone including our spouse, parents and even Guru, but we cannot deceive the five elements of Nature that are always with us. That is why Sri Sankara Bhagavadpada recommends that we chant prayers for penitence before going to bed. Repent and ask for forgiveness and vow to never repeat the mistakes. You must tally the accounts of your deeds every day. Do not accrue these liabilities that will grow unbearably big and burdensome. When your liabilities get too big, you will not be able to run your business successfully. Similarly, you will not be able to walk the spiritual path successfully if you do not reflect on your good and bad deeds every day. Every night before you go to bed, make a mental tally. Pray saying,“Forgive me. I will correct myself from here on. I will not repeat the mistake again”. Then, the next morning, when you wake up, look at your hands. All Gods and the Trinity and the three Goddesses are in your hands. “Please protect me. I woke up today. You gave me life. I must be awake all day today. Let me be successful today. Give me the good fortune to worship you today. Please remove all fickleness and sin from my mind. I should not have the urge to cheat anyone”. We should pray in this manner before we wake up in the morning.
My birds wake me up early every morning chanting “Jaya Guru Datta”, “Namaha Shivaya”. Each bird chants a different divine mantra. One of the birds is incessantly chanting “Rama”. We do not have the mindset the birds do. We wake up chanting “coffee”. We wake up with cuss words. Suprabhatam – the morning prayer – should be pleasing. “I am grateful for being alive. God is so compassionate. He has given me life again”. You may never wake up in the morning. There are no guarantees. Of course, that kind of effortless death (in your sleep) is not easy. It is only noble souls have an effortless death.
Most people die after taking a big toll on the family members. At a ripe old age, they put the spouse and the children through much agony, have them pour money into multiple surgeries, curse them endlessly and only then die. The family members sell their property to treat the old parent’s illness. The family is concerned that neighbors might point fingers at them if they did not spend on their aged and ailing parent. The family left behind eventually becomes homeless paying for treatment. Chikkamma Parvatamma (Pujya Swamiji’s maternal aunt) said she did not want to be admitted to big hospitals, nor did she want tubes in her body. She came back home from the small hospital she was in because she did not want to be hospitalized. She protested her stay in the hospital. She breathed her last 5-6 days after she returned home.
Some devotees wrote in their will that they did not want any tubes in their body. They bequeathed whatever wealth they had to Swamiji. There are some other devotees who spent all their wealth to pay for their cancer treatment and got all surviving family homeless. What is the use? It feels as if it was the surviving members that were suffering. Attending on the ailing patient, they were unable to keep their jobs and were left unemployed. The patient died, and the family became homeless after selling their home and emptying their bank accounts to pay for his treatment.
Think about it. Do we need these artificial support systems? That is why, pray to God “vina dainyena jeevanam, anayaasa maranam” (a life without dependence and an effortless death). No one can escape getting old. All of you young people will remember this when you get old, “Our Guru told us once on the occasion of Ugadi when we were young that we would eventually get old”. See my photo when you get old and remember what I am saying. Everyone has to go through old age. We should not blame god during old age or difficulties. We should strengthen our devotion even more. About twelve devotees left their mortal coil in the last 5-6 days. An aged devotee passed away chanting Swamiji’s name. When I think of that, I feel a thrill in my body. The old woman had nothing else to say except “Appaji” all the time. You must practice that. That is what you must pray for. Do not be under the illusion that life will be the same until you die. Changes are inevitable. See how quickly children are growing up even compared to last year. Watch how much more they will grow up in two more years. See how these people will age in the next ten years. The lady who used to come here and actively sing songs ten years ago is now delayed coming to the Ashram because she is too old to move. All of us will get old.
While you have energy, make good use of it. Do not be lazy now. That is what I am trying to tell you. Old age, just by its nature, will bring laziness even if you do not want it. Why get lazy now? There are some aged people that are still very independent and refuse support for getting up from their seat. Their will power is so strong. It is not as if they are very capable. We offer them support because we are only concerned about incurring medical expenses if they injure themselves.
Face the battles of life as long as you have energy. We should extend our will power as much as possible. Once our consciousness fades, there is not much we can do. I have seen many 90-year-olds even cook for themselves. They do not like others to cook for them. They cook and wash utensils themselves. We cannot stand by quietly and watch, nor can we do anything for them. They probably heard Swamiji’s words (and are sincerely following). Until we have consciousness, we should retain the ability to do our work. So, be careful during your daily activities. Do not be foolhardy. Take care when you are walking on stairs. Be careful at home as well. We may spill water on the floor and slip in the puddle if we are negligent. Pressure cookers and geysers can explode if we are negligent in handling them. There is so much danger around us. In the darkness of the night, we may touch a loose wire. Being negligent around exposed oil lamps can set fire to sarees. Your fine clothing has burn holes from the exposed incense sticks. The synthetic clothes you are all wearing can catch fire even in sun light. You do not wear cotton clothes these days. The clothes you wear are not made from natural fiber. They are all synthetic and do not even cover the body properly. Why bother wearing such clothing?
You show off the Italian marble in your house during housewarming. The Italian marble becomes the marble of broken bones. The marble and the smooth bathroom flooring in the house are very easy to slip on. Why go through so much suffering? I always have flooring that is non-skid. I do not care for decoration; it is more important to be safe. You need to be careful when you have elderly members in the house. These days, young girls are lazier than old people. They do not get up from their seats because they are supposedly studying all the time. They need to be served coffee wherever they are sitting. But it is not as if they are doing very well in school either. I do not know what they are studying.
Why light huge lamps and fill the house with smoke? It increase Asthma and is a fire hazard. If you set the cooker negligently in a hurry so you can go watch TV, the cooker may explode. And if you are in the kitchen, it will explode in your face. What can you eat now? You will only need to be fed fluids in the hospital due to the burns from the explosion. We do all these things with such negligence. Dangers are all around us. We fall on the same set of stairs that we walk on every day. All this happens because of our laziness and negligence. We should be energetic and cautious. The more active we are, the more we make use of our life, the more we will enjoy reminiscing these good times when we get old, “I heard these bhajans that Swamiji sang when I was young, I heard these discourses when I was young”. Your senses do not function well in old age. Someone else will need to take care of you and feed you some food. Or you will end up at Ammavodi with no relatives or children. You do not need anyone. God alone is enough. Contemplate on God.
You work so hard and send all your kids to America with great enthusiasm. Once they leave, you are very sad. It is as if you have given away your children for adoption. You do not know if your children will come back. You miss living with your children. Many NRIs are now returning to India and are happy with their life here. They are happy to see Swamiji frequently. You regret your lonely life when the children and relatives are all in foreign countries and you live alone here. You wonder why you even had children. Understand the secret of life while you are young and have the body in your control. “God has given us some energy, so we were able to come here to see Swamiji. Swamiji has given us his time and has granted us the ability to come here. Due to Swamiji’s grace, we have a vehicle to drive here in”. You must understand this and resolve to come and see Swamiji. You must be careful driving here and driving back home. It is okay if it takes longer to reach your destination. The weather was really hot. Maybe it has cooled a little bit seeing Swamiji here.