A Miracle of Grace

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Yajna is the celebration of the first awakening of consciousness, the first breakthrough of consciousness that dawned on man and brought him to the first rung of evolution. When man learnt how to use fire to help, protect, nurture and sustain him, and when he learnt that grains could be cooked and cultivated, this understanding put him on the first rung of evolution. Yajna celebrates that first realization, that first untainted, pure experience. The aim of yajna is to use that potential to further launch the consciousness into the unknown dimensions for further discoveries.

The Sat Chandi Maha Yajna is from the Devi Tantra. The activities and events of this tantric yajna unfold at many levels. Firstly there is the worship, the ritual, which is being performed by the experts, the pandits, who have come from Varanasi. Secondly, there are the kanyas who have been chosen by Sri Swamiji to guide the proceedings of the yajna. Their name is bal sundari. Bal sundari is one of the manifestations of the Cosmic Mother. Sundar means 'beautiful', bal means 'young'. Only virgins are called bal sundari. In tantra, virginity means purity of heart, the heart is without any taint. One is innocent, without the intellect superimposing itself.

When you function from the heart and when you are innocent and pure, that is the state of the Devi, the Cosmic Mother. That is also the state of the spirit, the atma. The divine manifests only in this virgin nature. We have the example of Mother Mary, the Virgin Mary. She was pure, and Christ came into her womb through immaculate conception. That is purity of heart, purity of spirit, purity of nature. The bal sundaris represent that aspect of the Cosmic Mother. They are the manifestation of that cosmic purity. They represent the manifest form of the power which has been invoked here. The kanyas are managing this entire yajna, conducting and guiding all the activities.

There is a reason why Sri Swamiji has not been present during the yajna. He has said that the Cosmic Mother, the cosmic force, has been invoked here, and we are all her offspring, her children. There has to be a connection, a direct contact, between the children and the mother. In that direct contact the guru has no role. Once that power has been given a farewell, then we will be able to have Sri Swamiji's darshan. When the mother goes, the guru comes. When the mother comes, the guru goes. The guru is the vehicle who leads you to your destination. When you reach your destination, you don't keep on sitting in the car; you leave it and get out. When you have to move again, you get in the car.

Giving in the proper way

If you wish to give the kanyas a gift, if you wish to give them chocolate or money, do it in the right manner. Do it through the office, but do not give to them directly. Maintain the sanctity of the yajna and the tradition of this place. It is Sri Swamiji's vision, his sankalpa, which is taking a manifest form. We are all part of that sankalpa and there are regulations, there is a discipline, there are systems for the fulfilment of the sankalpa. You have to be aware of that if you wish to help people. You have always helped them, and because of your help they have become what they are today. You have provided them with clothes, with food, with books, with toys, with chocolate. You have provided them with support, encouragement and help in every possible way, and you will continue to do so, but in the right manner and through the right channel. Because the kanyas represent the highest power of this creation during the yajna, and on the final day you will witness in them the grandeur and the glory of the Cosmic Mother.

Receiving the cosmic grace

On the last day of the yajna, two very important events take place. One is Kanya Pooja, worship of the virgins. The transcendental shakti, the transcendental cosmic energy, has been invoked by the mantras and the manifest form of that cosmic power, of that Cosmic Mother, can be seen in the kanyas.

After the completion of the worship of the kanyas there is the homa, or fire ritual. The homa is another important aspect of the Sat Chandi Maha Yajna. The fire will be lit in the same manner as the first fire was created, without the use of any modern instrument such as matches or lighters. Then the homa will begin. While the acharyas are chanting the mantras and saying 'Swaha' for the culmination of the yajna, you will also chant Swaha along with them. Just as the acharyas are offering oblations to the fire, you will be burning your suffering and pain in that fire with the chanting of Swaha. "My disease - Swaha; my problems - Swaha; my aches and pains - Swaha; my frustration - Swaha. I offer all that." Burn everything and become empty.

Once Krishna was asked, "Why is the flute so dear to you?" Krishna simply replied, "The flute is so dear to me because there is nothing in it. It is empty inside." Can you become empty? The kanyas have become empty and therefore the grace of guru has entered them. Sri Swamiji has entered them. If you can become empty, then the cosmic grace will fill your life.

A miracle of transformation

During the yajna you have witnessed the miracle of guru's grace and God's grace. The miracle is the transformation of the kanyas. What background have they come from and what kind of future do they have? You may not be aware of their past. They are not from the lower middle class or the middle class or the upper middle class or the higher class. They are from the lowest of the low. They have no opportunities to progress, to develop or to learn. Their life revolves around a few activities like cleaning, sweeping, cooking, child rearing and so forth. Their homes are deprived of all the facilities that you take for granted.

Yet Sri Swamiji knows these people have latent shakti in them and he has entered them. That does not mean that they have become his disciples or that he has become their guru, as you may think through your intellect and logic. Just as prana is in the body, the guru also transmits his shakti in the personality, and that is known as shaktipat. Transmission or transfer of shakti is not even felt or recognized by the recipient, yet the miracle of transformation begins to happen. If you put a seed with a hard shell into water, nothing will happen, but the day you plant it in the ground an invisible process begins which becomes the cause for the growth, development and nurturing of the seed into a plant, a shrub or a tree in the course of time. That invisible process which takes over the activities of life is known as shaktipat. It is not something that can be understood through logic.

Innocence not intellect

Logic is the main barrier in our lives. After all, Sri Swamiji has entered all of you who are initiated disciples, who are sannyasins or karma sannyasins or yoga practitioners, but do you feel that? Your feeling is limited to your intellect only. You believe, "I have become a disciple, somebody has become my guru." That belief is generated by the thought and by the act which is again guided by the intellect. The desire that somebody should become your guru, the desire that you should become a disciple, is intellectual. You have thought about it, you have chosen somebody, you have decided to become the disciple of somebody, you have decided to follow somebody. It is a decision which has been taken knowingly. The intellect had decided that for you. If the intellect had decided that you should not be here, you would not be here! That is the main cause of failure in life. We fail because we do not allow that grace to possess our body and mind. As long as there is intellect, innocence cannot manifest. If you make an attempt to manifest that innocence in your life, you will be recognized as a hypocrite, because you are unable to feel the presence of the shakti which guru has infused in you. These kanyas have expressed that. We know - they feel; we use our intellect - they use their heart, their feeling. You can see that they are doing everything here; their presence is everywhere.

This is the miracle you have witnessed, the miracle that the grace of guru can work in a person's life. It is a great inspiration and learning for all of us. It is not something that is happening here for the first time. Christ said in the Bible, "In order to enter the kingdom of heaven you have to be innocent like a child." Everyone has expressed this sentiment, and it has been shown to you today by Sri Swamiji.

Sat Chandi Maha Yajna, Rikhia, November 24-28, 2003