Satsang at Rikhia

Swami Satyananda Saraswati, December 1994, (Extract from Bhakti Yoga Sagar, Volume Two)

A few days ago when you spoke about sacrificing the body and emotions, you mentioned surrender of the spirit. Could you speak more about this?

The path of bhakti is the greatest of all paths, especially for those who want to have darshan of God, the vision of reality. But one thing is certain, there is some obstacle standing between God and myself, whether you call it the body, mind or emotions. There is divinity within every being. I know this because I have heard it. This is true. I believe that He is nearer to me than my own prana, nearer than my own breath, nearer than my own thought. If this is the case then why can't I feel Him? Why can't I see Him? In an attempt to answer this question, Kabir Das has said,

Throughout the day and night,
I have this suspicion in my mind.
Although my lover resides in this very township,
I take him to be living in some foreign land.
I could write a letter to my lover,
If he were somewhere abroad.
But when he is inside my body, mind and eyes,
How can I send him a message?
Even while residing in this house, he is invisible,
Nor can he be grasped by my hands.
How to give him a place,
Who is begotten but still unbegotten?

It means that the mind, which is the means of perceiving and cognizing reality, is blindfolded, that there is something affecting this perception or cognition. You have to first find a method to relate to Him. Unless you connect this microphone to the electrical circuit, it will not work. Similarly, if you cannot relate to God in one form or another, you will not have the perception of Him, of reality. Before you find this relationship, you have to know how many relationships a jiva or individual soul can realize or discover with God. It has been said that God is my mother, my father, my relative, my friend, my knowledge, my wealth, my all in all. But are these the only relationships one can have with God? No.

Since coming to Rikhia, I have discovered my relationship with God and that too by the grace of God. Now I know who He is to me and who I am to Him. He is my master and I am His servant. Therefore, whatever I do, I do as an errand for Him. It is His work that I do. If I do japa, it is because He has asked me to do it. If I don't do it, it is because He has asked me not to do it. If I meditate, it is because He wants it, not because it is my wish. Of course, I like to meditate, do japa, do spiritual things, but if I do them just because I want to, then my ego comes in. There comes a point when the servant has to sacrifice his personal choice. Kabir Das has said,

O great souls,
The experience of spontaneous samadhi
Is incomparable and preferable to all else.
There is no end to the remembrance
Of the day when my soul met with the Lord.
I do not close my eyes or ears,
Nor do I torture my body in any way.
With rapture I gaze at His beautiful form.
Whatever I say is His Name.
Whatever I hear is His remembrance.
Whatever I do is His worship.
I see the house in the garden as one.
I erase the duality from my mind.
Wherever I go, that is His journey.
And whatever I do, that is His service.
Wherever I sleep, that is prostration before Him.
I never worship any other God.
My mind is always engaged in remembrance of His name.
At the same time, I abandoned utterance of filthy words.
That remembrance is continuous and never forgotten,
Either standing or sitting.
Kabir says, this is the state of unmani mudra.
There is a pleasure beyond joy and sorrow.
I am always merged in that blissful state.

My personal choice is meditation, to remain in constant practice of japa – 100 million times, 1000 million times, 10,000 million times, 20,000 million times! I wish that God would say to me always, 'Satyananda, meditate.' I want God to direct me to do something which I like. But if He tells me to do what I do not like, and still I do it as per His wishes, it is called 'sacrifice'. Supposing He were to say to me, 'Satyananda, why don't you marry this girl? She will make you a very nice wife. She will serve you and wash your clothes.' Then I would reply, 'My God! Why are you telling me all this? I am seventy-five years old and now you are asking me to marry, which is a heavy responsibility even for a young man of twenty-five!' But this is not the correct attitude. I would have to sacrifice my wishes because He wants it. My personal discomfort, displeasure and difficulties do not count here at all. Again Kabir Das says,

Even if you offer your body and wealth,
It is very difficult to surrender the mind.
How can one rely on such a servant who,
In the opinion of Kabir, is not worth much.

Sacrifice may be painful to you, but it is the fulfilment of your promise. The fulfilment of God's command is called sacrifice. It may pinch the body, the flesh, but it does not matter, because it gives the ultimate pleasure which lies only in fulfilling His order and command. You have to sacrifice step by step, first the body, then the mind, then the emotions and feelings and finally the spirit. Sacrificing the spirit means that even the concept and the desire for moksha, to be near God, even the wish to have the blessings of God, even the desire to have something to do with Him, even that has to be broken down. So I do not want anything, not even You. You are my master and I will always think about You and be with You. But today it doesn't matter if you don't come. Similarly, in Srimad Bhagavata, Vritrasur says to the Lord,

O Lord, I will not accept anything,
Be it Brahmaloka, heaven, or the empire of the world,
Or even the kingdom of the lower world.
I am not ready to accept even the siddhis of Yoga,
Or kaivalya, moksha, liberation itself.
As the wingless, young fledglings still in the nest,
Or hungry calves of cows eagerly await their mothers,
Or as a beloved, separated from her loved one
In a far-off place remains restless to meet him,
Such is my condition, longing again and again
For the vision of your beautiful face, resembling a lotus.
I do not mind bondage to the wheel of birth and death,
Which I cannot avoid due to my karmas.
But I wish to live ever in the company of your devotees,
And have the friendship of those inspired souls alone.
I do not want to form any relation with those who,
By virtue of your maya, are attached to wife, son or house.

O Lord, You may send your messenger and servant Hanuman to tell me what to do. I will do it. You need not tell me yourself. The spirit does not belong to me, it belongs to you. There is no question of my desiring a spiritual life; there is no question of my desiring moksha. This is absolute surrender. When you are helpless, when you have nowhere to go, when your body is completely tired and broken, when your mind does not function, then your soul becomes free to unite with Him. The bulb breaks and the energy returns to the power house. In Ramacharitamanas, Jatayu says to Rama,

The Vedas have sung that even the meanest is liberated
If the name of Rama comes out of his mouth at the time of death.
Today that very Rama is present before my eyes.
After that, what is the use of keeping this body?

How can we surrender to God?

In bhakti or devotion to God, the first and foremost step is to find your relationship with God. Simply saying, 'Ram Ram' will not do the trick. When you approach a girl, you must first establish a relationship with her and then you can go to her. You first find out whether she is your mother, sister or wife, and then act accordingly. Similarly, there is a specific relationship with God. Find out what it is. Simply repeating, 'You are my mother, father, friend and companion,' is not much use. Are there no other relationships apart from mother, father, friend and companion? There are many other relationships in the world. One can be a servant of God like Hanumanji. One can be an idiot, a good for nothing, an utterly useless person, a sinner. One can be a mundane person who goes after sensory pleasures, like a pig goes after faeces. All these are also relationships with God. For every person there is one specific relationship with God. In Ramacharitamanas, Tulsidas has said,

Who is more crooked, villainous and sensuous than me?
I am so disloyal, I forget even Him who created this body.

I realized after coming to Rikhia that, I am a servant of God. Before that I used to think, I am a bhakta, a devotee of God. Before that I used to think, I am a jigyasu sadhaka, a seeker. Before that I used to think, I am a moksha sadhaka, a seeker after liberation. Before that I used to think I had many other relationships with God. But everything changed after coming here. I found out how wrong I had been all along. None of these relationships was as good as that of a servant of God; this is really the best relationship.

In devotion to God, there is no need to struggle against the tide. If God tells you to do japa, you do it. If God tells you to do dhyana, you do it. It does not matter whether you want to do that or not. If He tells me to go to the cremation ground, I will. If He tells me to eat muck, I will. This is the relationship of a servant. There is also the relationship of a beloved with God, madhurya bhava, and there is the relationship of childlike affection for God, sneha bhava. There are many such relationships.

Ravana had the relationship of an adversary with God, veera bhava. If you have the guts, you may do that too. Beat the Lord with a stick every day. From early morning throw at Him all the abusive words that exist in your dictionary. Ravana had the guts. You do not have the guts. You are not able to sit down early in the morning and shout, 'Rascal, thief, hooligan', and much more at Him. Veera bhava is beyond your capacity; it is the highest form of bhakti. Ravana attained salvation in merely nine days through it.

Many people sing the praises of the Lord again and again, but even at the end of life, there is nothing at hand. Veera bhava is superior to the devotion which Radha had for Krishna. Radha's bhakti was spontaneous; she did not have to strive for it. Bhakti manifested in all its glory in Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Mirabai and other saints. First you have to find your relationship with God. Once you discover that relationship, your spiritual life will progress by itself. The best path is bhakti, in fact, it is the only path. Therefore, it has been said in Narada Bhakti Sutras,

Bhakti is easier to attain,
Than any other form of spiritual practice.

It has also been said there,

The nature of love is as indescribable.
As taste is for a person who is dumb.

Bhakti means pure, true love. What the world calls love is not true love. Love for your children, your mother, your brother, your wife is not true love; it is attachment, asakti. There may be an element of love there, a minute amount, but it is not true love. There is no true love in this world. Bhakti is true love and it is not associated with the body, mind or soul; it is related with bhavana, feeling. When you hate someone, you think about him day and night. When someone dear to you dies, you remember him all the time. The memory haunts you and you cannot forget it even if you want to. That feeling is bhavana which is the chief ingredient, the basic cause of love. Again it has been said in Narada Bhakti Sutras,

After attaining bhakti of God,
The devotee sees nothing else.
He hears, speaks and thinks only of Him.

The problem is that your feelings are confused, preoccupied with the tangles of the world. Therefore, your bhavana is not free. You have to free your bhavana one way or another. Sometimes something happens in life which frees the bhavana for some time, say five to six months, but bhavana should be constantly free. When a young man and woman fall in love with each other, like Laila and Manju or Romeo and Juliet, their bhavana withdraws from all other avenues and becomes concentrated in the partner. Laila could only see Manju and Manju could only see Laila – nothing else. I am talking here about oneness of bhavana. Hanuman's awareness was constantly focused on Lord Rama. It is just like the way you look after the needs of your family every day. Some part of you is thinking about them even though you do not take their name all the time. A servant has a similar attitude towards his master, a son has a similar attitude towards his parents. Therefore, look for the most intense relationship that you can feel with God, so that your bhavana may merge quickly with Him.

What is an intense relationship? It will not do to say that God is my father-in-law. What relation does one have with a father-in-law? He is not your true father, he is your father by law. Similarly, your mother-in-law is your mother only by law. It will not do to say that God is my father-in-law, mother-in-law, uncle or nephew. Look for that relationship with God in which your feelings will stick firmly to Him. Find out what is most special about your attitude towards Him. My bhavana is that of a servant. Why? Because for twelve years I was a servant of my guru and then for twelve years I was a servant of my disciples. I have become used to being a servant.

We have an old saying that, 'guru is a donkey and disciple is a dog'. For twelve years I was my guru's dog and for another twelve years I was my disciples' donkey. Now I have become used to it, so I decided why not establish the same relationship with God? First, you have to find out what your inner nature is, then what your bhavana is, then what the manifest form of that bhavana is. Some people have affection, some have romantic love, some have gentleness, some have enmity as their predominant bhavana. You have to find your relationship with the Lord according to your inner feeling.