The Ram Naam concert has ended, the maestro has receded and the doors of the auditorium have swung shut. You reach home in a state of bliss. The raga has touched and evoked parts of you that you scarcely knew existed. The lingering melody rings in your entire being and your awareness vibrates far above the mundane 'in a different dimension' as they say. You are then asked your experience of the concert. Quite willing to share it, you give it a try, many tries before it begins to dawn that you are fighting a losing battle. However detailed, precise or technically perfect the description of music, it can never substitute for the joy of the actual experience. A description is at best a description.
Therefore, I am not attempting to describe the Ram Naam Aradhana, which like sublime music is beyond description. Nor am I launching a commentary on the issues discussed by Paramahamsaji. I am merely recreating his words over many issues which have stuck with me either because they were answers to areas of obscurity for me or because they opened up totally new areas of enquiry and reflection. What I write is neither exhaustive nor a verbatim report. It is what my heart and mind have grasped to the best of their ability.
Here are the snippets in direct speech, first person. There is no other way to communicate the contents of Paramahamsaji's satsang.
The sum and substance of spiritual sadhana is service to your neighbours. There is no other way. Seva, service, alone will change the inner programming of your mind. God is the giver. You are only the instrument for His work. Nothing that you have is for you your body, mind and resources are all for others. When you remove other people's pain and helplessness your own pain will be removed. The mind likes to serve. Look at how you feel when you do the sweeping here every morning. You feel peaceful because your mind is content. How can you sit in an air-conditioned room when there is fire raging in the world around you! If you don't work towards extinguishing that fire, one day it will burn down your room. If you work to bring coolness to the whole world, you won't need an AC. Serve the poor, the lepers, the sick, the dying, and it will change the programming of your mind. It will liberate your mind. That is the only way to reach God. While your neighbour is in pain or sorrow, your sadhana can never be fulfilled. Seva for others works like detergent on your karmas. Your neighbourhood extends as far as your greatest capacity and ability to serve. Right now my neighbourhood is Rikhia. One day it will be the whole world. How nice it will be to simply ring someone up and say, My daughter in London has a boil on her head. Operate on it. Oh to have the whole world as my neighbourhood! I will come back for this. I have already paid the fare many times. I have a return ticket for a direct non-stop flight back.
The mind is a very powerful force. All achievements in life are brought about by the mind. Einstein, Newton, Bach, Michaelangelo did what they did due to the power of their minds. But you have to befriend your mind. The mind is not an enemy but if you suppress it, it will not be your friend. And if it becomes your enemy you are gone. You have to gradually coax your mind with love, not force, and make it your disciple. Become the master of the mind.
Be yourself. You do not need to be good to feel God. You are full of desires, lust, weaknesses, complexes, frustrations, greed, jealousy and animosity. Accept it. If you want to look saintly on the outside or even believe you are a saint, you will be in conflict with your mind. Your mind will be split into two parts. You will suffer from schizophrenia. People who like to be what they are intrinsically not will always be sick. They will suffer from headaches and constant stomach and liver problems. Be yourself. Don't try to become anything. Change happens by itself. I was not a good man. I never tried to become a good man. Everything happened by itself. Every man has an inner capacity. Let it unfold naturally. If you try to pour two litres of water into a one litre container, one litre will spill out onto the ground. Therefore, know what you are and be it properly.
He who is desireless and who lives in self-imposed poverty is very dear to me.
How far will my photograph take you? Only as far as it physically exists. I have the capacity to, and I am willing to, come into your heart in your meditation, clearer than a photograph, and take you through this life and beyond if you can prepare yourself for it.
The meaning of the word prasad is happiness. Therefore, the prasad that we give should give happiness. Prasad should be tasty. No one gives neem for prasad. Here we give useful things to people as prasad of the Ram Naam Aradhana. There can be no pooja without prasad. Since our Ramji is a chakravarti, a universal emperor, the prasad of his aradhana should befit his status. The miserly prasad of batasha, a sweetmeat, does not suit his grandeur. We offer prasad to Sri Rama and then distribute it among the villagers. It is not philanthropy or charity, that is a materialistic idea. There is no 'I' in it. Who am I to give? Who are you to give? Rama gives. I believe this because my God told me. Rama gave me the wisdom.
Love is not a philosophy. It is like mathematics a very specific and accurate relationship.
No one here is a sannyasi. In sannyasa you exist only for tapa and seva. There is no difference between a householder and a sannyasi. A sannyasi wearing geru is simply a member of an institution. That does not change his inner qualities. The inner quality of a man does not change by wearing geru and mala and becoming a sannyasi.
When you undertake stress for your personal work, for your achievements, it can be very damaging. However, stress and anxiety undertaken for others is beneficial for you. You don't get heart attacks or develop high blood pressure worrying about others. If the worry is for yourself you are immediately affected. Stress, worry and anxiety are not at all harmful provided they are not related to your personality.
One has no power to change one's karmas; they have to be undergone. Even the guru cannot change them for you. Every step that you take in life is God's dictate. If you could undertake certain steps karmas could be changed, but He controls even these steps. Therefore, His will reigns supreme. You cannot unilaterally change your karma. He is the puppeteer who controls all your strings. You move when He wishes. You cannot exercise free will over your karma.
Teach your children music and dance. Encourage them to sing and dance in whatever style they prefer. No dance or music in this world is vulgar. Your children will become sensitive, sharp, alert and will develop the ability to feel. Every family must also sit together one day a week and sing the Mahamantra this will improve the quality of the family. Just as interior decorating improves the look of a room, the name of God improves the quality of mind, relationships and atmosphere in the family. Keep good company. Karmas make destiny and karmas are influenced by the company you keep. Satsang is very important.
Most human beings believe in God in one form or another. Is it simply for the love of God? Very rarely. One in a million. Most people remember God for one of four reasons. Firstly, when they are surrounded by crises, misfortunes, very trying times, and they are scared. This kind of a devotee asks God for His grace and receives blessings. The second kind of devotee remembers God when he wants something in life. He gets a boon for the fulfilment of his wishes. The third type of devotee remembers God because he is inquisitive; he wants to know about the soul, creation, rebirth. Such a jigyasu devotee is not common. He generally leaves home, looks for and receives gyana. The fourth type of devotee is the rarest of the rare. He is the premi devotee who remembers God simply for the love of God. He wants the love of God and he receives His love. There have been very few such devotees. The gopis, Hanuman, Mirabai and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are a few examples in history. They are detached from the world. Their bhakti has a humility which comes from a feeling of inadequacy, almost guilt about being such a wretched specimen of mankind. This feeling, as opposed to arrogance, fuels their bhakti. God is the lord of happiness. His name should be taken with laughter and joy, not with a Sunday face. God grants your wishes. If you ask for worldly things you receive them name, fame, riches, son, wife but they bring with them the shadow of unhappiness. If you remember God as a captive of His love, and establish love with Him, there is no sorrow thereafter.
Now at the end of my life I know that God is the doer and the individual soul and the world are His doing. There is no other truth. I was a big fool to think that God is only attainable without form. It is wrong to think that God is only formless. God is also formless. Those who go after the formless God feel themselves to be in darkness. The Ishavasya Upanishad also says this. And what is formlessness? Total formlessness is impossible. The formless also needs a form to express itself. Even if the raw material of God's idol is marble, when you dream of Him at night, the raw material is mind. When you close your eyes and see Him in bhrumadhya, it is your consciousness. When you hear His voice, the raw material is sound. Denouncing form worship is the attempt of those who want to promote Om. But even Om has a form and a sound. It is not formless either!
Form worship is the only one that works. This is what my life has taught me. God can take any form just like gold or mud can take any shape. It is no use saying Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahman). Where is the God in you? Can you see Him, talk to Him? This concept is simply talk useless.
My parents planted the seed of Vishishta advaita in my mind and I kept on walking that path. I was a very big fool. Only now have I come to understand the truth. Love Rama. He only wants love from you. Nothing else. Uncork the bottle before you throw it into the sea of spirituality. Unless you live for others the bottle remains corked. Nothing will go in. The debate between form and formlessness is useless. The same Rama is with form as well as formless. There is one aspect of Rama which is with form the Rama who is the son of Dasaratha. The same Rama also exists without form, as the doer, as the all-pervasive and as the transcendental. You can choose the aspect that you feel will work for you. Of all these, it is my experience that the aspect of Rama with form, as the son of King Dasaratha, is the easiest, cheapest, surest and safest way.
...And so flowed the distilled essence of Paramahamsaji's life experience. Can there be anything more valuable in life than receiving this and from he himself! One completely lost awareness of oneself when his leela began. That was how mesmerizing the show was. He is a star performer a prajaranjak, the entertainer of the kingdom, he called himself, dismissing all that was happening around him as mere entertainment. Maybe it was so for him. For us, however, every drop was life-giving.
His hard-hitting irreverence for falsities and facades has lost none of its sharp edge. If anything, it is sharper than ever before. Very often one saw him wipe his tears during performances, especially where women were the focus. Often lost in a performance, his face mirrored the emotions of the performer, innocent like a child.
On the way back to Munger, I had my usual unilateral conversation with Lord Sri Rama. Thank you, I said. I now know that you perpetually bestow grace on me. In the past it was not always evident. But how can I doubt it now when you have sent me into Paramahamsaji's mantle of love and protection! For me there can be no bigger symbol or evidence of your grace. Through him on the earthly plane, I feel you, my Lord. Thank you.