Sayings of a Paramahamsa

Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Satsang during Rama Nama Aradhana, Sri Panchdashnam Paramahamsa Alakh Bara, Rikhia, December 21, 1996

Lalita Sahasra Nama, the thousand names of the Goddess Lalita, was chanted here yesterday and today. The thousand names are chanted as salutations to the Goddess. Worship of the Goddess is part of Tantra shastra. This tradition comprises a diversity of methods that lead one towards God, including Devi worship and yantras of tremendous potency, such as Sri Yantra. When this Akhara was being built, we had Sri Yantra placed in its foundations at nine locations. These yantras were made from a combination of metals, such as silver and gold. In the sadhana shastras, Sri Yantra is considered very significant and is highly glorified.

The Goddess or Devi has hundreds of names and forms. She is known as Sundari, Ambika, Anandi and so on. She is an auspicious power, destroyer of evil, remover of obstacles, gratifier of wishes and desires. She also lies dormant at mooladhara chakra in the form of kundalini shakti. From that point she ascends through all the other chakras: swadhisthana, manipura, anahata, vishuddhi, ajna, and reaches sahasrara. Some of the mantras in Lalita Sahasra Nama describe this process and also refer to the explosion of the granthis, or psychic knots, in sushumna passage.

That shakti, which is universal, exists as energy or power. She does not have her own fixed, visible form. She is manifest in a myriad of forms and vibrations as well as in the formless state. Whatever can be seen in this world: trees, animals, human beings, beasts, birds, earth, soil, stones, rocks, gold, silver, water, air, sun, moon and stars – all these are the manifest forms of shakti. We are all the manifest forms of our Supreme Mother, just as we are the manifest forms of our own biological mother.

That same shakti is also represented in different cultures and traditions. In the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs, she is Astuti Bhavani. During my trips to Japan I saw many ancient temples which showed Vedic and Buddhist influence. In these temples there were a number of images of Devi in different forms. Such temples are still found in traditional Japanese towns and villages.

Concept of dualism

This concept of Devi or Goddess is part of a universal principle, known as Shiva and Shakti, Purusha and Prakriti, yin and yang, ida and pingala, consciousness and energy. Just as electrical wiring must have two poles, positive and negative, in the human body there are also two channels of energy, ida and pingala, and two corresponding nervous systems, sympathetic and parasympathetic. The substance you call mind can also be divided into two parts: one is time and the other is space, so mind is compounded of time and space. You will find this duality everywhere; even in bhakti you have Bhagavan and bhakta, God and devotee. They are complementary to each other; they exist and relate mutually.

In the Shaiva sect this duality is known as Parvati and Parameshvara. When we celebrate weddings the bride sits on the left side of the groom. The left side belongs to the female partner, the right to the male partner. The left side belongs to Parvati, the right side to Shankara. The left side is ida, the right side is pingala, the left side is sympathetic, the right is parasympathetic. The left is minus, the right is plus, the left is space, the right is time. This is the concept of duality which was propounded by the rishis and munis, but as it became difficult for lay people to understand, they used different symbols, deities and myths to explain it.

First they explained theoretically what ida, pingala, time, space, matter and energy are, but ultimately you have to experience this theory within yourself. You have to try a practical experiment for yourself. There are many methods for trying this experiment and many ways of understanding and realizing it within yourself. In the same way, there are many routes by which you can come to Deoghar – from Calcutta, Delhi, Madras, Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim. Different people come by their respective routes, which differ one from another. The route from Benares will not be the same as from Gwalior, Jhansi, Calcutta or Tata Nagar. The route depends upon the starting point, although the destination of Deoghar is common to all.

It is wrong to assert that there is only one way for everybody. We are all are standing at different positions in this world created by God. We have different characters and come from different levels, grades and classes. Some are standing at Rampur, others at Benares, Tata Nagar, Kanpur and Allahabad, so all will have to catch different trains to reach Deoghar. Therefore, there are as many paths as there are persons. All these paths, all these routes are termed as sadhana. There are many different paths of sadhana to suit the needs of each individual.

Glory of sankirtan

The simplest, easiest and surest sadhana, which involves the least risk and expense, is the path of sankirtan. It is the easiest and yet the hardest to obtain because it is always out of stock. It is manufactured in India, yet never available in ample quantity because it is being exported to America, Europe and other overseas countries. This is the path of sankirtan. I am not talking about bhakti because this is such a profound subject that it cannot be explained in a few words. Bhakti, like the terms technology or medical science, is very difficult to define with a synonym. Bhakti bhava is a vast, deep subject that comprises a number of aspects. So, at the moment I am talking about sankirtan.

Kirtan means chanting the name of God. The name can be selected from a number of names by which God is called. It can be Allah, Rama, Govinda or Guru. Whatever name you choose, go on singing it. Start slowly and go on building up the crescendo. As the rhythm increases you become more and more immersed. In the beginning the mind stays outside, but slowly it starts going within. You can sit for kirtan with your family at home. There is no need to make any special arrangements or to have a harmonium or drum. If you have manjira, cymbals, that is fine.

If you start kirtan in your own home, the most enthusiastic members will be the children. They will forget the TV and video. Children enjoy kirtan so much that they forget about everything else. Old people do not enjoy kirtan the way children do because they have already formed the bad habit of 'total, bottle and hotel'. Adults are already contaminated, but children are still fresh and pure. Their minds are clean slates, not yet conditioned by maya. In our case, however, the mind is completely brainwashed by maya.

Sankirtan is the greatest sadhana of India. Nowhere else in the world is it practised, East or West. This tradition is not found anywhere in Russia, Rumania, Czechoslavakia or Bulgaria. Sankirtan, Hari bhajanam, singing the Lord's name, is a discovery of Indian people. Our rishis and munis discovered this unique path. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told people to sing 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna', as the Lord's name alone can redeem the people of the Kali Yuga, the present age. There is no other path, no other way out, no other panacea in the present era. There is no other path, no other path, no other path.

Whenever a kirtan is happening and you get wind of it, go and join in. Today the tape recorder is also available. Go and tape the kirtan on the spot, bring it home and play it to the children and other family members. You can sing kirtan anywhere, at home, in a social gathering or at any auspicious get together. This is a very good way to inculcate good habits in children. You should start slowly by devoting ten to fifteen minutes daily to kirtan. This new routine will help to make kirtan your second nature.

In Kali Yuga you are free to do all types of sadhana. The saints, sages and mahatmas have told us there are hundreds of paths of sadhana. Lord Krishna mentions eighteen types of yoga in the Bhagavad Gita. The Yoga Vashistha gives yet one more, jnana yoga. The Ramacharitamanas gives bhakti yoga. The Guru Granth Sahib teaches Guru Vani yoga. The Vedas and Puranas offer their own paths. Ultimately, however, it is one and the same.

Purification through name

All traditions have emphasized that by taking the Lord's name, man's mouth becomes purified. When you abuse someone, people say, “Why are you polluting your tongue?” Thus it is said that if you abuse someone, your tongue sins, and by chanting the name of Rama it is cleansed and purified. The ears also become purified by hearing the name of the Lord. Just as gossip and abuse contaminates the ears, listening to God's name cleanses them.

We are also influenced by the atmospheric vibration. When Purushottam Jalota sang here, the whole atmosphere was ringing with the joy of music. When a person steeped in faith and devotion to God sings and reaches the intensity of complete self-oblivion, then even Prakriti, the entire, visible creation, sings with him. If that is so, won't your house be purified? If your wife is in the family way, even her unborn child will sing from the womb when exposed to devotional music of this rare depth. All the gross and subtle aspects of creation are influenced by the vibration of God's name.

God is never seen immaterially;
and the vision of Him in woman
is the most perfect of all.

Muhyi-d-din Ibn Arabi, Sufi Master