Sannyasa

Channels of service

There are hundreds of paths to become happy, to attain God, attain peace or awaken psychic powers, but the simplest of all is the path of seva, selfless service. Our guru Swami Sivananda, other saints like Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave, Jesus Christ and Mohammed, all have upheld this path. It is God’s law: whatever wealth you possess belongs to the poor. What comes to you does not really belong to you. It belongs to God. If He gives you something over and above your requirement, then He will take it away in some form or the other. He will give you cancer or tumour, diabetes or TB, or a robbery due to which you will incur enormous expenditure or lose money.

The sannyasins in particular have no right on bhoga or indulgence. In fact, the right on bhoga is not granted even to a householder, but in his case it is a smaller taboo. The householder gets some licence for restrained indulgence. The sannyasin has absolutely no right over indulgence. The day he takes the vow of sannyasa he takes the vow of trusteeship. Sannyasa does not only mean renunciation, it means trusteeship. A sannyasin keeps the trust of the people. People want to do good; however, they do not know how to go about it. A sannyasin is the medium to do the good that people want to do.

You want to do good, but you do not get the opportunity, you do not know the mode. So you do it through Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi or Vinoba Bhave. After all, why did so many people run after Mother Teresa? Were they crazy? They followed her because she was a channel for them to serve God. We are a channel for your good resolve. Mahatma Gandhi became the channel for the desire of independence in the hearts of the Indian people. You feel bad if you see a sick and needy person lying on the road, but you can do nothing. You have to go to office, you have to look after your family, you have to study. So you need a channel for service. Mother Teresa was such a channel and she fulfilled her duty as a channel perfectly. That is why she received so many tributes when she died.

The one who renders seva or service becomes free from all bondages, all demands. No friend or family member can make a demand on you. The only demands you have to grapple with are that of your own mind. Swami Satyananda makes no demand even of his disciples. And if they make demands I kick them out. Why did the betel leaf rot, why did the horse dig its heels and why did the disciple get spoilt? Because they were not nudged and prodded. For all these years I never wore a watch. I see the clock hanging on the wall and know the time. It is not that I do not need a watch. Many people crave a watch, they crave a Swiss watch. Desire lurks in small ways.

Sannyasins are fed by philanthropists so that we can chant the name of God. In Rishikesh there are anna kshetras, free food outlets. They say in Benaras no one ever starves. Why is this system is so widespread? It is with the view that once a sadhu’s basic needs are met, he is totally free to devote his time to singing God’s name. Sadhus and sannyasins have been looked after by our society down the ages. In the olden times the royalty looked after them. This was true even during the Mughal rule. You still find copper plates declaring that so many acres of land was donated to such and such a sadhu. During the Buddhist era, monks got land donations. Jain rulers donated land to Jain monks. This was the tradition followed in both north and south India. All beneficiaries may not have been deserving sages, but because of this facility some could develop into sannyasins.

I always tell the sannyasins that they have a big social obligation to discharge. The duties of the sannyasin are well defined. To spread the name of God and devotion is his first duty, and the second is service – doing good to others. Where to go on pilgrimage, who to worship, which austerities to perform, which mantra to chant, what kind of tilak to apply, what clothes to wear are all a matter of free choice. He is free to follow the dictates of his tradition. These are subordinate duties. The main duty is to propagate devotion and the name of God.

—16 September, 1997

My brother’s son has come to stay with me. I would like him to become like you.

Sannyasa is not given as a gift. Sannyasa blossoms by itself. Parents can get their children married, they can get them educated in a school, but they cannot get them sannyasa, they cannot say that my son will take sannyasa, please give it.

Sannyasa is a feeling that generates from within, just like suicide. In the same way as the desire for suicide is born from within, the feeling of sannyasa awakens very strongly from within. Sannyasa does not wait for anyone.

Right now teach him ABCD, he will not become an idiot by learning ABCD. Swami Vivekananda was educated, Aurobindo was educated, I studied ABCD too. You have to teach these things to children.

What is the effect of geru clothes on life?

Every colour influences the body in a certain way, whether blue, yellow, red, green or geru. Geru as a colour is connected with tyaga, renunciation and vairagya, non-attachment.

Geru comes from the geru stone, with which sannyasins dye their clothes. It is a very old tradition. Many people dye their clothes orange with synthetic dyes; that is not geru. The real geru colour is different. It is also called bhagva. People have tried to find its synthetic combination, but they have not been successful.

The geru stone has traces of atomic radiation just like the Ganges water, but in such small quantities that only the virus and bacteria die, a human being does not die. When the amount of radiation reaches a certain level, it can indeed be dangerous to big life also. However, the amount of radiation in the Ganges water and geru is such that it only kills the small life, therefore it is beneficial for us. This is why geru is held in esteem. I am speaking from the physical point of view. This is its physical property. Its spiritual property is different. One colour may denote anger, another colour may denote peace. One colour may signify depression, another colour may signify purity. Geru is a symbol of tyaga.

All doctors wear green surgical masks. They do not wear black, yellow or purple masks. Every colour influences the sickness-causing bacteria in a certain way. The colour of clothes has a connection with the wearer’s nature, with his emotions. Women like to try all kinds of colours. Men mostly wear black or white. Colour projects the nature of a person. So geru is connected with psychological and emotional science.

—30 April, 2000

Sannyasa life

The most important thing in sannyasa is hard work. Work hard to give the right direction to your energy; otherwise, it goes in the wrong channel.

Once you have entered sannyasa life, you should not think about what you will become. You will become whatever you have to become. If the carrot says it wants to become a turnip, is that possible? It will become what is destined for it due to its prarabdha karma (actions performed in previous lives that are bound to fructify in present life). Every object and every person has a destiny, which it fulfils. Therefore, holding lofty ambitions is pointless.

To work while thinking of lofty ambitions means that you are interfering with your destiny. A person has both positive and negative factors in his destiny, and both are important. After all, what was Ramakrishna Paramahamsa? The son of an ordinary brahmin. There are many boys like Swami Vivekananda, but he had a destiny to fulfil. A person is bound to become whatever is there in his prarabdha; no one can change that. And everything is important. The bitter gourd holds equal importance to a mango, even though both have opposite qualities: one is very bitter and the other very sweet.

Everybody cannot be the captain of the ship; someone has to be part of the crew also. Therefore, try to be the best wherever you are. For a ship, the crew is as important as the captain. If the crew is not there, what will the captain do with the ship? Wherever a person is according to his destiny, he holds his importance there. Destiny is such a thing that it can turn an idiot into a great person and leave a capable person sprawling in dust.

Stop thinking ‘when will our kundalini wake up, when will we have self-realization, when will we receive jnana’. These are all intellectual things. When the time is right, read about them in books and also tell others about them. The truth is that whatever is there in your destiny you will become just that. You will receive just that. Therefore, it is best that you work very hard and when you are completely exhausted, fall asleep in peace. This is sannyasa life.

—26 October, 2000