(Sri Swamiji’s speech in Bangalore on August 20 on the occasion of the release of ‘Yuga Purusha’ book penned by Sri Aralumallige Parthasarathy – 158th Vishwa Dharma Vijaya Yatra commences)
śrī mahāganapate namaha
śrī sarasvtyai namaha
śrī pādavallabha narasimha sarasvati
śrī guru dattātreyāya namaha
Aralumallige Parthasarathy said he would do a simple small introduction to Sri Swamiji’s activities. But he narrated the entire history very nicely. It was as if he was speaking of a Purana. We travelled to all the places he mentioned as he narrated his experiences. He took us all around the world and very beautifully explained Sri Swamiji’s mission and activities. This book has come out very well. For someone who is unaware of Sri Swamiji and His mission, this gives a good introduction and will be very handy. One will feel like becoming friends with Swamiji on reading this, one will want the association. This should be translated to other languages.
Many books have been published by Ashrama in Kannada. The publishing of the Kannada Bhakti Mala monthly magazine has been started again from the last month. All devotees here must take a vow to subscribe to Bhakti Mala. The previous membership is not valid any more. I’m saying this in Hanuman Sannidhi – all of you raise your hands and make a promise. It is a very small amount. There is a plan for 5 years, 2 years and life membership. You must encourage and love Kannada. You get simple articles in Kannada in this book from Ashrama. Such messages must be read and imprinted in your mind. Everyone must take this membership. This contains tiny spiritual messages for life. Gift the membership to your friends. During festivals and occasions such as marriages, birthdays, annual ceremonies in your homes, gift these books to the guests. Spread the message, the subscription will increase. All of you here have the onus to do this activity. Many old devotees ask me for some Seva. Now you have work to do. The field is open! There is a lot of vacancy for this seva now – in 100s and 1000s!! Let us see how many members are enrolled from Bangalore. The subscription amount is very nominal, lesser than the amount you would spend on an auto ride! Reach out to all Hanuman devotees visiting the temple.
I was reminded of Bhakti on seeing this book by Sri Parthasarathy. Kannada literature must be encouraged and protected. May Goddess Kannadambike, Durga Parameshwari bless you all.
Yesterday a young devotee asked me a question, “Why should we do idol worship? What is the meaning of it? Why are there so many idols?”
People misunderstand our Sanatana Hindu Dharma and declare it as silly or wrong. Truly speaking, as described in Bhagavatam, we worship Paramatman in stone, water, sky, wind, fire – in the 5 elements. This is our Sanatana Dharma. When we perform any puja, initially, we worship Ganapati. If a Ganapati idol is not available, we create a turmeric lump and with the feeling of worshipping Ganapati, we offer our prayers with complete concentration, to this lump made of Turmeric. Is this Ganapati? What is important is our feeling that Lord Ganapati is present in this form and we offer worship with leaves, chant ashtottara, offer Naivedya and all the Shodasha Updachara (16 types of worship). But there is no Ganapati idol here! It is only a mass of turmeric! Where is idol worship here?
This is to indicate that Lord resides everywhere! We install a Kalasha and invoke the deity we adore into the water that is in the Kalasha. Where is idol worship here?? Aren’t we indicating the principle of omnipresence (Sarvaantaryaamitva) of the Supreme Lord? We go to a river and bathe in a Ghat. There are so many Ghats in the name of Vishnu, Shiva or Mother Goddess. Where is idol worship here? We are offering prayers to Water. Similarly, we perform Homa – and give offerings to Fire saying Swaha. We pray that these offerings reach God considering Agni to be our postman. Where is the idol here? We perform Surya Namaskara to Sun in the morning. There is no idol here. As Earth rotates, the Sun also sets by evening. Again, there is no idol here. We do Pranayama and take measured breaths. Our life in is this breath. Where is idol worship happening here? We are worshipping Vayu here. We close our eyes and sit in prayer visualizing God as seated in our hearts. Where is the idol here?? Purely for the control of our sense organs, we are using idols. That apart, our Sanatana Dharma has only preached the omnipresence of Lord. No other Dharma preaches this principle! Always remember this!! Only our Hindu Sanatana Dharma extolls this principle. We are very fortunate to have been born in this Dharma!! Foreigners who practice a true spiritual life say that it is great even to be born as a dog in our great India. Today, we Indians are desperate to go to America, and people there are wanting to come here – towards light. They have realized the void there. But we are still craving to go to the west. One day we will realize that there is no happiness in money, wealth. We must think of what is permanent. There is so much poverty here. So many people study to become doctors and then go to America. Why can they not serve in our villages and see divinity in this service. You work so hard to become a doctor, spend money here for education but you render your services in some other country. There must be some change here.
But there are many people from West who are coming here to learn our culture. There are so many of them studying in Varanasi. You must see how many have come here seeking to learn out great culture. But unfortunately, we desire the culture of the West. This must stop. If you want to earn, spend a few years there and then return. Render your services here. Do not be away from your parents. I am telling a lot of devotees there to teach Hindu Dharma to their children. In the chidren’s adolescent years, which is the turning point in their life, the parents must bring them back to live here. Once the Hindu principles are imprinted in their minds, even if they live elsewhere, they will live be these core principles. Many Andhra devotees are returning each year. A magazine is also being published in Andhra on how many people are migrating back to their homeland each year.
We are very fortunate that we practice seeing God everywhere. We see the Lord in a photo, in an idol, in metals. We pray to all this forms seeing God in them. This shows the fundamental principle of the all-pervading Lord. When we perform Ayudha Puja, we worship all tools and appliances. Before getting into a vehicle or before we ride a cycle, we touch it and fold our hands and pray. Even though mechanical and cursory, we perform some action of worship as we commute to work in this vehicle and return safely at the end of the day in this difficult city. We have the fear of Dharma. Even a non-believer may perform the action hoping for a safe return while getting into a vehicle. There is a fear of Dharma! This kind of a fear of Dharma is non-existent anywhere else other than in Hindu Sanatana Dharma. Others have only one book, one god. But look at us, we worship all body parts also. We say “Paatu” in the Kavachas we chant. We pray for the protection of every part of the body – the eyes, the ears, the nose! When we chant the Keshava Namavali, Keshava, Madhava, Narayana, Govinda, we do it with the feeling of God’s presence in every atom in the body. God is present everywhere. If you are able to use your hands, it is the Shakti – in the form of Narayana. This Shakti makes us function. We have as many idols as parts of the body. The concept of idol worship is meant to bring focus. We go to a certain place and meditate for a while. The mind is still. When the concentration is complete, the Lord breaks through the rock and manifests. He gives us darshan in our dreams. Why did Lord Narasimha have to come out of a pillar? Hiranyakashipu challenged his Prahlada asking him if the Lord was also in the pillar. Just to prove this principle, Lord Narasimha emerged from the pillar, when Hiranyakashipu struck the pillar with this mace. The Lord’s form was neither human nor that of an animal. The Lord is Nirvikalpa - He has no form! I tell anyone who asks me, that the Lord is formless. They are surprised and wonder why we have idols of Karyasiddhi Hanuman! He is formless, you cannot see God. That is why you are seeing the idol only there, as a piece of rock. But we place our focus in that idol that is sculpted. We are forming an image of the formless Lord in that form. This can be done in any place or object. When you are travelling alone in a forest, you don’t see any temples. But you can still pray. When you are lying in a room in sickness, there is no idol. You close your eyes and imagine visiting all temples; you can even imagine that Lord Yama took you along. You can travel to Vaikuntha and back! You can do all this and by then your disease subsides in a few days. You are amazed at the dreams and the visions you imagined. You feel so much better! When you are in difficulty, just close your eyes and do Pranayama for 15 minutes. All your difficulties will melt away. You will feel more courageous. Your future path will be smooth.
A Swami remembered a story I had narrated in Bhagavatam. He asked, ‘When many people sit for lunch, some say Govinda nama, some chant Datta Stava in the beginning, a few other say Jai- kaara.” Is this necessary? Why is this done? We are joyously enjoying the meal that the Lord has blessed us with. Aha, how tasty is the cucumber sambar!! Bisi bele bath was extraordinary! Relishing it with ghee and papad is such a happy experience! Isn’t it making you happy? Don’t you feel happy when eating Payasam or other sweets? You smack your lips and relish it! What is it that you experience? It is happiness or Ananda. At this moment, you must remember Paramatma. On the contrary, you only remember Him only in times of sorrow or distress. You failed in your exams, you remember him and blame him for your situation. You should be happy at times of difficulty also. When you are extremely happy, you must compulsorily remember the Lord and thank him. When you are in sorrow also you remember Him, for He is your only true friend in times of distress. It is very important to think of the Lord more in times of happiness rather than in times of hardship. Because He has blessed you with this kind of joy!
There is a story in Katha Sagar. A tiger was chasing a man who was running for his life. The sun was setting and the man was getting exhausted from running. In the darkness, he did not notice a dilapidated well amidst the bushes, and fell into it. When he fell, his leg was entangled in a creeper and he hung upside down. The hungry tiger continued to wait at the top of the well. In the dim light, he sees a very sharp, pointed stone right beneath him. If he fell, his head would split into two because of this stone. On the other side of a well, there was a poisonous snake hissing away. It was barely a few inches from reaching him. And on the top of the well is the hungry tiger. The creeper his is hanging from is slowly giving away due to his weight. He may have been about 120 kgs in weight. He never observed moderation in diet and had always been a glutton! He never exercised. This happens to some people. And suddenly they start dieting and fall sick and are hospitalized! Usually girls indulge in such things more.
So right from the beginning, eat moderately and exercise. Else, you won’t be able to move around, or sit comfortably! Why did you eat so much right from childhood?? Now if you decrease your food intake, you feel dizzy!! This is punishment. Maintain good heath with exercise and proper diet right from young age. This will enable you to serve Swamiji better and for a long time! Otherwise, you are forever ill! We are so attached to the body. We must overcome this extreme love for the body. You always want to eat on time! Give up this kind of intense attachment to the body.
Returning to the story, this man who had fallen in to the well is now wishing he had listened to his mother when she would admonish him for his unhealthy lifestyle. This creeper would have supported his weight. Amidst all this, a honey comb nearby was broken when he fell into the well. All the bees started swarming around him and stung him. The pain was unbearable! At this time, a few drop of honey dropped on his nose. And he desperately tried to lick it off his nose. Despite the situation he is in, he wished for a few more drops of honey!! He did not think of God for a second! He is only thinking of the honey! In the next 10 minutes, he would probably die! He was thinking that he had never tasted such pure honey in his life! He must take some home for wife! She was always complaining to him that pure honey was not available in the market. He is not realizing that he’s being stung by bees, the creeper he is hanging from is slowly giving away, the snake below is hissing away, the pointed stone is right under his head and the hungry tiger is still growling on top. The sun is setting. In this precarious situation, he is still very happily relishing the taste of two drops of pure honey, unlike the adulterated jaggery syrup. You get pure honey only from those who rear honey bees. Very rarely pure honey is available in this world. At this moment could only think of honey. He forgot all the troubles around him – the tiger, the snake, the pointed stone, the creeper that is breaking off. But he remembered his wife and children.
When we were talking about the delicious lunch and chanting the name of Govinda, it was done because we were very happy due to the joy derived from tasty food! Tasty bisibele bath, sambar, milk payasam from kerala! We chant the name of Govinda for having blessed us with such a sumptuous tasty meal! But this man, despite deriving such great happiness from honey, should have remembered God, but he didn’t!! Why did he not remember God then? I will give this Raksha to the one who gives the right answer. (One devotee mentioned ‘Abhyasa ’ – practice and Sri Swamiji blessed her with the Raksha.) Practice/Abhyasa is very important. He did not practice chanting the names of God earlier. Hence, when we are very happy, we must chant, ‘Narayana, Narayana, Hare Krishna’. If he had chanted the name of God in that situation, the bees would have flown away. The tiger may have gone on its way. He might have held on to the creeper and come out of the well also. But he did not remember God! He thought of his family. That is why I insist that you chant Datta Stava, remember God before partaking a meal. This is our Sanatana Dharma!
Jaya Guru Datta