śrī mahāganapate namaḥ
śrī sarasvatyai namaḥ
śrī pādavallabha narasimha sarasvati
śrī guru dattātreyāya namaḥ
Lord Sri Hari blessed each Yuga – Krta, Treta, Dvapara and Kaliyuga – with a different incarnation. Starting with Lord Narasimha Swami in Krta Yuga, Lord Sri Rama in Treta Yuga, Lord Sri Krishna in Dvapara Yuga and starting with Lord Venkataramana Swami in Kaliyuga, the Lord is always blessing us. When we venture to study the Hindu religion a little we wonder about our lineage, our source, the reason for our birth, our pattern of birth and death, our duty on this planet, where we are headed, and where we are all eventually meeting, who the people are around us we seem to be related to – spouse, children as well as relatives, the animals and birds and other living beings, wealth, home, disease, love, birth, death etc. At one level, some people may be bored. The ignorant believe that happiness lies in all of this. Why has God given us this human birth? What is the purpose? Why are we born? Who made us be born? How did we enter the mother’s womb? Why we decide to take birth in a certain household? How did we plan to grow up and then die? How are we getting uplifted? We do not know. We just take birth, go through hunger and thirst, get into problems, get diseases and difficulties and then eventually die. The ones who died have vanished. Can you search for them? Where did they go to? They never sent us a message. They never made a phone call to us after they vanished. Where did our ancestors go? Will we join them? Will they come back to us? What is our language? What is our Dharma, what is human Dharma? It is so chaotic when you sit and think about all this. All this illusion (maya) causes fear in us. There is no fulfillment in life. We hope this life is full of vitality, but sometimes experience the opposite. How then are we supposed to understand and unravel the purpose of life? What is God’s intent?
Even if we intensely pray, worship, perform rituals and believe in God, we do not live more than a hundred years. We cannot not have faith, nor can we have strong unwavering faith. We cannot sit still either. nammarādu ammo ninnu datta datta
nammakuṇṭe dikkulēdu datta datta. It is the same with Lord Venkataramana as it is with Lord Datta. We can also say nammarādu ammo ninnu venkataramana nammakuṇṭe dikkulēdu venkataramana. That is our story. “You give us various feelings, hopes and intentions. You also make us forget. You give us desires anger and other vices. You lead us down the wrong path and fill us with greed. You give us a life of little contentment. The mind is always turbulent”. We are mechanically going through all the motions of life, but there is no peace. Our elders perhaps did the same and left the planet. We are doing the same; our children are doing the same. What is this wheel of life? This massive ocean of illusion is filled with happiness one day and sorrow the next; suspicions one day and fulfilling faith the next day; extreme joy one day immediately followed by sorrow. Satisfaction and dissatisfaction, peace and turbulence, hunger and fulfillment, health and disease – this is life.
There are billions of living beings – insects, ants, birds, animals etc. You see countless fish in the oceans. How many species are there on the land and in water? How many bipeds and quadrupeds? How many that fly, how many microorganisms? Our body has billions of microorganisms. Tiny creatures and microorganisms are everywhere – under the rock, under the tree, in the ocean etc. There are a variety of insects, flies, ants, cockroaches etc. All these creatures eat. Who is feeding them food in a timely manner? Which government is feeding them? Even when they do not eat for months, some are still alive and well. A certain kind of frog does not eat for a full year. The polar bear eats only for 3 months in a year and hibernates for the rest of the time. At that time, it gives birth to children, rears them and then brings them out to eat, after hibernation. See how amazing God’s creation is. We are surprised learning about 2-hooded and 7-hooded snakes. We may have read about them in our scriptures. We laugh dismissively at first, but are surprised when the truth dawns on us. Many things in this creation cause surprise. One mother gave birth to 18 children. An old couple – the husband was 80 years old and the wife was 75 years old gave birth to a child. Science is puzzled. Science cannot explain everything. Scientists just give up on some things saying it is under research. Their great grandfather said the same thing. They will not be able to understand. They will not be able understand the cosmos. What is the cosmos? Where does it end? Has anyone seen the end? We are all living on earth due to gravitation, holding on to land like insects do. If there is no earth, we will fall. Earth is protecting us. We are holding on to earth with our feet. We are also like the birds and insects. The python crawls on the mountain gripping it firmly. We are also holding on to earth with our feet. The mutual attraction is what keeps the earth alive.
What is this earth like? It is three parts water and one part land. That would mean that the land should dissolve in water. If you took some soil, hardened and dried it and then put it in water, it would dissolve in the water after a few days. But the earth continues to float. How surprising! One day the earth may dissolve in water. We call this jala pralaya (water deluge) or Tsunami. The womb of the ocean may suck it in. There is a whole world under water. The earth is going around the sun. That is why we are all alive. If the earth’s movement is even slightly off, it causes a lot of disturbance in Nature – excessive cold, excessive rain, tornadoes, volcanoes, anxiety, battles, insanity etc. Even a simple solar eclipse confuses the birds that fly back to their nests believing the sun has set. They fly a long distance to get back to their nests. After the eclipse ends, it is bright again. The birds were not told it was just an eclipse. They are confused. The birds do not read the news or watch TV. They do not know if they need to feed their young ones again since it seems like a new day. But they have intelligence and they adjust. They understand and realize temporary difficulties. It is humans that do not understand.
This world has such strange activities. How do you understand this world and everything that is happening? Those predicting the future say the earth will soon get drowned in water, some believe it will be a fire deluge, some say there will be a battle that will wipe it out, or a fight between politicians or some other widespread disease. Some do not care, some are afraid and some keep offering criticism. Each seems to have his own mind. We lack discipline. We are not single pointed in our determination. Who knows what each person’s fate is, who knows how each person’s mind will turn, how knows who our real friends are. Who knows where we came from and where we are going?
Therefore, in the little time we have left, we should try very hard to tread the right path. There is no time. The train is leaving. It is like the announcement on the radio. If you snooze, you miss the announcement. You must listen with concentration. When you are served food at a large banquet, if you are not alert when the server is carrying the item you want to eat, you may not get that item later. The server is not going to come to you, from among the 10,000 guests that are eating and shower special attention on you. You must watch out for yourself and your needs. If you are embarrassed or shy, you will have to starve or go home and eat. Ask for whatever you want served instead of worrying about what your neighbor might think about your food habits. You must protect your life. In case the house is on fire, you leave everything behind, including the old people, to save your life. Life is very precious. To protect life and honor, the Lord has given us some ways. He did not just make this creation and leave it to fend for itself. He has arranged all kinds of protection for all beings. Even the design of this body is meant to protect. Think about it yourself. The skin is such a great cover for the body. This creation is so interesting. The stomach, heart, arms, legs, eyes are all so amazing. He did not make us mindlessly. He made us with great calculation and precision. But we are ruining ourselves by hanging on to ignorance and lunging into the dark well of death. God has given each of us strength and intelligence. We drink water as soon as we feel thirst. We involuntarily close our eyes when we sense a foreign particle in the eye. We start running at the sight of a cockroach even if we are barely able to walk. Even a man lying on a stretcher starts running if he sees a car about to run him over. God has given us such wonderful strength to protect our lives. Hunger, thirst, sleep are all meant to protect our lives. The Lord gave us all these first and then gave us life. In addition, to grant us knowledge, he gave us Guru. He gave us all the provisions we need to lead our lives successfully. How we use them is up to us. If we do not know how to, we are losing out. We are impatient and in a hurry. We are anxious that the Guru is not looking at us; we are anxious about missing out. That is why there is a long queue that stretches 4-5 miles if you want to have Darshan of Lord Venkataramana Swami. It is great penance to wait in the line to have Darshan of the Lord. That is not something you get with VIP darshan. Rather, that gives you ego. Waiting in line is great service. It helps you reign in your intellect. Just as the Lord has given us a Guru to get rid of ignorance, he has given us a few methods to walk towards liberation – worship, rituals, Darshan of the Lord, charity, Dharma etc. When we make use of these, we are happily engaged with life. Otherwise, life is boring. You all performed Anagha Vratam. Some of you may develop the interest to do more. You want to prostrate to the Lord. You feel peace. I will continue this discourse tomorrow evening. Swamiji is talking about the process of creation as we are doing Anagha Vratam.
When we have darshan of Uttara Dwara (the northern entrance to the sanctum sanctorum) on Vaikuntha Ekadasi day, it wipes away many sins. Our ancestors attain higher worlds. Second, we gain knowledge, strength and health. As the Lord reclines, great sages await his Darshan at Uttara Dwara on the day of Vaikuntha Ekadasi. Tens of millions of sages wait to see the Lord as their sins are removed and they are blessed with knowledge. Vaikuntha Ekadasi falls on Monday this time. It is okay to take a day off from work and have Darshan of the Lord. Swamiji has established this historic Uttara Tirupati here. You are all having great experiences here. May be you will have more.
Everyone perform Anagha Vratam. Lord Datta is Bramha, Vishnu and Maheshwara. Lord Venkataramana is himself Lord Datta. In his 33rd composition, Saint Annamacharya sings that Lord Datta is Lord Venkataramana. That composition is also carved in stone. The Anagha Vratam is nothing but Venkataramana Swami Vratam. Mother Goddess Anagha Lakshmi is Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Adi Parashakti. When you do this ritual at home, all kinds of evil spirits are driven away. The mind is peaceful, there will be no quarrels. The mind experiences contentment. Many lack contentment. The mind should always be kept busy. Do not give the mind any idle time – it becomes devil’s workshop. Always keep it busy to keep random thoughts at bay. Visit temples, have Swamiji’s Darshan, perform rituals/Vratas, read good books, lend a helping hand at home, feed the hungry, earn some money, go to the shop, go to work and finally go to bed at end of the day. If you sit idly, the mind will attract random thoughts. The mind is a demon, do not give it any room to go astray. The mind is a junction box. See the railway junction – it always has trains running. The mind is a waste basket. Do not give it any rest. Always be doing something useful. Read something good, plan something worthwhile. If you find nothing, chant the divine names, perform Anagha Vratam. When Anagha Swami is at home, kids also benefit with good education and intelligence.
We should be good human beings; we should inculcate a charitable nature. The true purpose of money is in charity. All the money we have is given by God. We are giving him back in another form what he gave us. The flowers we offer at the temple are created by God. We did not create the flowers, nor did we give them the color or the fragrance or the petals. You gloat about offering Tulasi leaves to the Lord every day. How did the tree grow? By God’s grace. You simply offer the leaves at the Lord’s shrine and expect liberation. Did you work hard for it? If you worship with stolen flowers, the owners curse will fall on you. That is why Swamiji has simply asked you to use Akshatas (rice mixed with a tiny pinch of turmeric) for Puja. Do not add much turmeric. The rice should not turn toxic when animals, birds or insects or even we consume them after. If we cannot even perform the ritual that Swamiji has simplified so much, how can we expect God to help us? We would instead be making it easy for God to give us more troubles. To get rid of troubles, we give him what he gave us and perform the ritual with contentment.
Everyone perform Anagha Vratam at home. It takes only seven minutes. It takes us 10 minutes to search for a hairbrush or a book. To select a dress to wear takes 10 minutes as you choose between the various colors and styles. That is the problem with having too much stuff. If you only had two colors, life would be easier. There is so much debate about what to wear. You want to wear something different from what you wore yesterday. Who are you trying to impress? You want to wear everything you own, otherwise, you feel your clothes will get spoiled. You want to have a special weekend attire. All of this takes more time than it takes for you to perform Anagha Vratam. You fret over someone else using your soap and brush. The brush is being used by others and is beginning to look like a broom stick. Instead, you can do Anagha Vratam. The rest of the stuff gives you distress, not peace. Even when it comes food, there is so much debate on what to cook and what to eat each day. You need 10 minutes to decide what dish to cook, you need 5 minutes to choose what to wear and 10 minutes to find the soap.
We go to the donation box in the temple and dig our purses for the smallest denomination. If you give the Lord the large denomination in your purse, he will give you back more. The government did not make small currency denominations for some reason. If you hesitate, the Lord will somehow make you spend the Rs. 500 you did not want to offer in the donation box. Once, there lived a miserly businessman who would set out with a pitcher of water every day to finish his morning business at a place behind a temple. Those were the days when homes did not have attached bathrooms. Every day, an impoverished priest used to come and pray at the temple and lament the extreme conditions he was living in. He had no money and no food. He used to be able to pick grains that fell to the floor during packaging, but with the advent of machines, the packaging was happening without any spillage. The priest prayed fervently, “Today is Sankranti festival. Please make some arrangement for me. I need food at home”. That was a Shiva temple. The Ganapati idol there was huge. Lord Shiva’s idol was small. After the Brahmin left, Lord Shiva and Lord Ganapati began talking. Lord Shiva said, “He is your devotee, why do you not help him somehow? He is suffering a lot” Lord Ganapati said, “Yes, I want to give him one lakh rupees by this evening”. The businessman behind the temple overheard this. He quickly went home, took a shower and went to the impoverished Brahmin’s place. He took basketfuls of groceries and Rs. 50,000 and gave it to the Brahmin and asked him to give him the Rs. 1 lakh that he gets later that day. The Brahmin was surprised, but the businessman insisted and said he heard a voice in the sky saying the Brahmin would get the money. The Brahmin was puzzled that such a miserly businessman was suddenly so generous, but accepted the donation as Lord Ganapati’s blessing. The businessman waited impatiently all day, but no one showed up to give the Brahmin any money. Angrily, he went straight to the temple. He overheard Lord Shiva asking Lord Ganapati about the poor Brahmin. Lord Ganapati said he was in the process of giving the money to the poor man. The businessman went inside and wondered where Lord Ganapati hid the money. He wondered if Ganapati’s large belly hid all the money. The businessman inserted his hand through a hole in the belly and his hand got stuck. The conversation continued. Lord Shiva asked Lord Ganapati when the rest was going to be given. Lord Ganapati said, he already gave Rs. 50k and that he would release the businessman’s hand when the other Rs. 50k was given to the Brahmin. The businessman immediately sent for his men to hand over the money to the Brahmin.
The Lord will take his due no matter what. Lord Venkataramana and I will always do this. On the day of Vaikuntha Ekadasi, everyone come and have darshan. Give the Lord back what belongs to him. Do not weep when you offer in hundi. Give it with joy. Be grateful that he has given you the ability to donate. It is the Lord who has given you life and the ability to offer to your Guru.