śrī mahāganapate namaḥ
śrī sarasvatyai namaḥ
śrī pādavallabha narasimha sarasvati
śrī guru dattātreyāya namaḥ
I am happy that you performed Anagha Vratam today. Anagha Vratam has been going on in crores of counts in the last two and a half months. We completed 6.67 crore counts of Anagha Vratam so far across 26 countries. It is not just Hindus that are doing it. But it would be unfortunate if Hindus, especially Datta devotees do not perform Anagha Vratam.
You will find fulfillment of tasks and experience great peace at home by performing Anagha Vratam; at the very least, you will gain firm courage to face difficulties and sorrows. Children will fare well in exams, their memory will improve. You will see countless little proofs of the greatness of Anagha Vratam, all over. You should of course not look for proofs when you perform Anagha Vratam. God has given us this birth; we should undertake the stipulated actions in order to attain liberation.
Is it required that we offer Naivedyam to God? One should not give up offering Naivedyam just because God is the one that is feeding the entire world. In reality, Naivedyam may not be needed, but it is your discipline and austerity that as tradition and as stipulated by scriptures, you offer sattvic food to the Lord with the feeling, “O Lord, we are offering to You in reverence whatever has been given by You, without hiding anything from You”. We do not offer Naivedyam because God eats our offerings. We would not have offered anything to the Lord if he actually ate our offerings. We show him the food offerings and we consume them ourselves as “Prasadam”.
We follow God because we cannot see him. If we were able see God, we would have asked him to come back later because we are busy at the moment. We see that happening even now. Swamiji is proof. Many people are unable to come to see Swamiji who is visiting their town, because they are busy at home. They wish Swamiji arrived in the evening rather than in the morning. Or, they cite lack of time for not being able to go see Swamiji. But if Swamiji’s Darshan were not that easy to get, you would have more yearning to see Him. An English proverb says, “Non-availability is more valuable”. Something that cannot be attained has more value. God cannot be attained easily; that is why He so valuable. No amount of singing his glories, austerity, rituals and worship is enough to attain the Lord. We will not see him the way you may expect to see him, with his consort and his retinue. However, we are undertaking so many actions and activities in order to see God. Doing all these actions is itself seeing God. We are not letting go of all these activities just because we cannot see him. One day, in some birth, you will see him.
This is similar to how you kept coming to the Ashram when possible, but today I am here with you. You have seen Bala Swamiji here before; but in your hearts you yearned to see Swamiji. That is akin to eating snacks before having meals just to stave off hunger pangs. Sometimes, you are served juice before a meal to whet your appetite. Because we are unable to wait for God, we sometimes get various divine proofs to pacify us. These are all like the steps we need to climb to get to the view. As you climb the steps to Tirumala, for instance, you see signs and divine names posted along the way. You read those signs, take a break, grab a cool drink and then continue on your journey up the mountain. Sometimes, when you take a break after climbing hundreds of steps, you feel a sense of contentment and relaxation, as if you had darshan of Lord Venkataramana. You feel this relaxation because your body is recovering from exhaustion. Only those who physically climb the steps will know the relaxation; those who drive up the hill in their car will not. You must experience that. You must eat when you are hungry. You must see the Lord when you thirst to see Him. You must have great thirst for Vedanta in order to learn about yourself and to learn atma-tattva (the knowledge about the Self). That is what is permanent. All our worldly expectations such as finding a job and building a home and having children will get fulfilled anyway. You may have wanted children, and now you have children of your own or may have adopted a child. Or if you don’t have children, you may value the freedom now because you can easily go on pilgrimages without much worry. See how well God has arranged things for you. The sorrow of not having children is gone. So, you can get all worldly wishes fulfilled, but it is not possible to have the blissful Darshan of the Lord, or to go to his abode, talk to him and feel the bliss. That is why, we continue to do all the activities – the various prayers, the various Yajnas (fire rituals), different kinds of ablutions, consecrations, Annadana (food donation), Anagha Vratam, pilgrimages to various holy places etc., so we can get to that state. We are doing all this, yet we cannot see our goal. However, we do experience some contentment. If we did see God though, we would have given up all these activities because of the feeling that our goal has been attained. Therefore, the reason that God does not appear in front of you is that He is very compassionate. We keep up all our spiritual activities because he does not appear in front of us. While engaged in this Sadhana, our intellect is slowly ripening. The result of such ripening is the experience of God. Do not lament, “I am 90 years old, I learned Bhagavad Gita, Hanuman Chalisa etc., I still did not see God”. The things that happened in your life are all proofs of God’s presence in your life. There are many proofs. The unfavorable things that happened too are the lessons you needed. So, you should be thankful for that as well.
Did you see the (Telugu) movie “Paramanandayya Shishyulu” (Meaning: Paramanandayya’s disciples)? You are also like those disciples. The disciples do everything topsy-turvy, but the outcome is always positive. Like that, God may be causing you to do topsy-turvy things, but eventually the outcomes will be positive. You must look at everything as a good experience rather than lament that God never favored you. Do not complain that you did not pass God’s tests. You are not as exalted as Prahlada or Meera bai or Lord Hanuman to be receiving God’s tests. You may be doing Anagha Vratam and Hanuman Chalisa every week, but you are barely getting a passing grade. Are you such a great devotee of Lord Hanuman? Did you pray to him every second of the day? You are filled with ignorance; you spend your time sleeping, eating and doing everything else to regale yourself, and only chant Hanuman Chalisa when you feel like it. And as a reward for that, you expect the Lord to be at your command? You expect the Lord to stand at your door with folded hands? You expect the Lord to come serve you? You expect the Lord to do as you say? I am not sure if you are serving the Lord or if the Lord is serving you.
People talk about “Sadguru Seva” (service to the Sadguru). I do not understand. I am the one serving them. How are they serving me? One of my devotees always keeps saying, “Who are we to serve Swamiji? Swamiji is always watching over us. He is the one serving us. We always tell him our problems directly or indirectly through a photo. He is the one always listening and protecting. We keep calling him even in our dreams. He comes whenever called and protects us. So, who is the one serving?” What does Swamiji need? What service does he need? Does he need you to brush his beard and press his feet? No. Seva is constant contemplation on the Lord, day and night.
You must think about Swamiji every moment of the day. Find reasons to relate everything back to Swamiji. There are many devotees that exemplify this behavior. They go shopping to buy a sari, and want to buy a sari for Swamiji even though they may have no money for it. They buy jewelry for their daughter and want to buy a second set for Swamiji. You must establish that relationship with Swamiji in your heart. You may chant Hanuman Chalisa 1000 times and wish that Swamiji heard you chanting at least the last round. All of a sudden, you’ll get a message from Swamiji or see some update or hear an announcement about Swamiji. That indicates Swamiji is watching.
The mind tends to forget. When you wake up in the middle of the night at a new place, you are momentarily not sure where the light switch is and which way the bathroom is; you may run into wall in the dark. When you spend three nights at a place, you get used to the layout of the place and can still make your way to the bathroom even without a light. Similarly, we should train the mind on the Lord. Always think of Swamiji in your heart. You must have faith that everything is God. That is real devotion. You must not see one thing as God and another as not God. Those two things may not mix, but that does not mean that it is not God. You must remember this well.
The Vedanta I am teaching is different. (Swamiji holds an orange shwetarka Raksha in one hand and a small pouch of Prasadam in another). These two things are different. They cannot mix or become one. They will exist as two separate things. Even if you soak them in water and crush them together, they are still separate. But in God’s view, they are not distinct. They are both God. Examining based purely on logic, they are both distinct from each other. Even though 2+1=3, 2 and 1 have their own entity. 2 cannot become 3, nor can 1 become 2. This is Vedanta. Logic states that 1 and 2 are separate and distinct. When the two come together, they numerically make 3, therefore 2 and 1 have their distinct identity. We can only separate them out numerically. Similarly, when the Lord comes to our mind, our mind and our karma are different. They do not mix. We have to follow our karma. However, there is the path of truth that is inspired within. You have a more exalted state within you. Why does not that exalted state stay in our heart forever? Because the karmic states such as hunger, thirst and sleep, and for the vices – desire, anger, greed, attachment, jealousy and ego – use up that energy that we could have used for the more exalted state. If you instead use this energy for the truth in you, you will become a mahatma (great soul). That is why we run to great souls. Even though things exist as distinct from each other, the mahatmas see everything as one (God). We are unable to do so. We are unable to get to that state where we can see the karma and the truth in us as the same. God is light. See how much light there is around us. We cannot live only in light completely, nor can we live without light. We cannot live in a water tank full of water, nor can we live without water. How strange is this. We can only drink water in smaller quantities that are more appropriate for our size. We pervade the five elements of Nature. We are breathing, but we are not spread out in entire atmosphere. We only exist as small beings. We only use a small fraction of the air for our survival. Air is said to be the Prana that is spread in all directions. So, why is not the Prana in us pervading like that in all directions? Because we exist as individual beings and our principle of truth is different. You are little children, you will not understand this.
The one thing I will tell you however is, always contemplate on the Lord. Have faith in him. You cannot see him, but make yourself eligible to see him. The Lord is visible only to the individual. Each one’s experience is different. Others may not believe your experience. Each one sees and experiences God in his own way. We eat what we like and in the quantities we like. Some like chanting the Hanuman Chalisa often. Okay, chant Hanuman Chalisa. God is everywhere. Sincerely perform your actions, do not be afraid that you will anger one God if you glorify another. God is one. Some love Lord Dattatreya. Some like Lord Shiva. The Lord is in all forms. It is the same way with food. Some like to eat dosa, some like idli, some like puri. Some people do not want to eat curd, whereas some others must have curd. Some love pickles and have to pack some when they go on pilgrimages even, but some cannot stand its smell. Even Mysuru Ashram serves pickles these days. Even after being served the most sumptuous feast, some people want a side of pickle. That is how our life is. Worship the form you like. Some like the Bhagavad Gita. Okay, go ahead and study the Gita. Some like Lord Vishnu, some like Lord Shiva. That is why God merged into one form as Dattatreya and came to us as Guru. We are all gathered here in this Paduka Kshetra today. The Padukas have been here for a long time. You performed Anagha Vratam in this wonderful venue. The children chanted Hanuman Chalisa. Children, you should pay attention to your studies. Get good grades. Chant even more Hanuman Chalisa. Learn the Bhagavad Gita too.