About God

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Should we decide for ourselves or leave things up to God?

From time to time, people have been thinking about how to decide things in life. Many depend on God and many go to gurus and accept their decisions. Then there are quite a few who concentrate their minds and take a decision by themselves. There is a fourth group who do not believe that the decision must be from God, guru or their concentrated minds; they just depend on themselves alone. These people have made fantastic progress in history.

Even now, you can divide the whole world into two groups. One group believes in grace and contact with God. They say, ‘The heat is due to God. My son is born on account of God’s grace. I have got a very good job because of God’s grace’. This group of people live entirely by faith. The other group says, ‘Oh, there is rain; it is the work of nature but I can do it myself. My child is part of a natural process, but I can do something about it’. They always depend on themselves, no matter if it is to build a city, a factory or do anything. This group dominates almost the whole world.

In Europe there is one group, and the rest of the world is the other group. Most of the builders of those nations do not believe that God does anything. God is there and we do pranam to Him. It is our duty to remember Him but as far as work is concerned, the building of the world, the education of our children, taking any decision, it is up to the individual. We should keep God out of the picture; he should only be a symbol of bhakti, devotion, whether he is a guru or God. He should not be the support for our insecurities, inabilities, inefficiencies, and our lack of confidence. You do not get on well with life so you go to a shrine, and three-fourths of the world is like that.

Gradually, believers in God should become jnani-bhaktas. In the Bhagavad Gita it is said that there are four types of devotees who worship God (7:16): arta, jignasu, artharthi and jnani. Artha refers to those who are in trouble, who pray to God to get them out of it. Jignasu means those who want to know: What is transmigration? What is in the shastras? What is God? They want to know many philosophies. The third type is artharthi, if they want a job or children, they do some anushthana in a Kali or Devi mandir or at Tirupati Venkatesh. They are also bhaktas. The fourth type is jnani-bhaktas. These four types of devotee trust in God.

The Gita says, “The arta, jignasu and artharthi are all very generous in their devotion to me, but the jnani is my soul. The others pray, give their heart to me, believe in me, but so far as the jnani is concerned, he is my atma.” It is better to be a jnani-bhaktas. Leave God for a higher devotion. As far as worldly problems are concerned, one must sit for meditation, concentrate the mind, become one-pointed, develop the qualities of the mind, take decisions and – act.

We only pray when we want something. Why are we like that?

Everything depends on training. I will give you an example. Suppose you have a son, brother, younger daughter or wife, they will at once come to you about their problems because that is how the family structure is in India. In any European country, if the daughter or son have problems they will not go to their parents because that is not their type of training. They say, ‘If I have problems why should I tell my father? If I am a grown-up at twenty-two or thirty, I can look after myself.’ They have that kind of pride and personality. This is a type of individuality those people have.

People who do not have any type of individuality depend on their elders for some help and the same quality is transferred. If there is some sort of problem, go to a temple and do your worship. You can help yourself because you receive help only from within your own self. God is only the adhara or support, but things come from within you. The voice you hear is your voice; the dreams which you get are your dreams; the ideas which you get are your ideas. He only serves the function of an adhara.

I am not insisting upon it, I am only trying to tell you that God, guru, siddhas or anybody should only be the object of nishkama bhakti, selfless love. You do not love your wife because she cooks; you love her even if she does not cook. Even if she is not able to work, you love her. If she is a quarrelsome lady, you should love her. You do not love her because she is useful to you. You love her because you love her, that is all. Love should not have a condition. Bhakti should not have a condition. Our relationship with God should be nishkama; our relationship with our beloved should be nishkama. Whether he is a divine beloved, God or an ordinary worldly beloved, it should be nishkama.

Bhakti should be based on prem, love, or rati, intense attachment, not on swartha, self-satisfaction, otherwise you will love your people, husband or wife with motives and if they are not able to fulfil those motives you will kick them out. Ramakrishna used to say that prem should be the basis of bhakti and when that happens it turns into parabhakti, and parabhakti and jnana are one. You do not have to preach or practise Vedanta; bhakti becomes Vedanta. Parabhakti and Advaita jnana are the same. One should try to feel oneness with God in any form, whether it is Advaita or in the form of love. It is very difficult for we are not strong enough to feel oneness with the person we love.

6 February 1982, Neyveli House, Lignite Corporation,Tamil Nadu