A Sadhak who is involved in spiritual practice should never exhibit himself in any way till he enjoys total experience (‘poorana anubhava’). In worldly life, too, many a leader seeing what they deem as shortcomings in the society start an organization with rehabilitation (‘seer thiruttam’) in mind. They commence such movements without any self-interest, in all goodwill and with a sense of sacrifice (‘tyãga buddhi’). However, eventually caught in the net of fame, money and post they are found to move away from the set goal. Similar is the case of a sadhak.
A sadhak involved in spiritual practice should, therefore, be careful till he attains his goal. A devotee who lived with Sri Maha Periyava, serving Him, used to say, ‘Even while walking, Maha Periyava used to take every single step very cautiously after much thought.’ Mistakes committed by an individual affect only him. Mistakes committed by the leaders of an organization affect the organization, all those who are connected with it, the movement and the objective of the organization. One should work with this awareness.
While driving on the road, accidents occur on account of two reasons. One is our carelessness. The other is the carelessness of others in spite of our cautious driving. Likewise, while involved in spiritual practice we might move away from our set goal due to our fault; or our association with some (person) might also remove us away from the set goal.
The wicked are not just those who gamble, drink alcohol or those involved in sinful acts. Anyone who is the cause of pulling us away from our objective is also the wicked. The reason is that human birth is rare indeed. Life term is also very short. So, one who wastes our time and troubles us is indeed the wicked.
We should always be very simple. Our mode of worship, sadhanas and related work should be very simple. In spiritual life we will come across different kinds of people:
a. One might be well learned in the Vedas,
b. while another might be a good orator.
c. Yet another might be well versed in the Vedanta Shãstrãs.
d. Some others might be very good at rendering bhajans melodiously.
On seeing such people many Sadhaks might feel, ‘I must learn the Vedas; I must learn Shãstrãs.’ One may yearn at heart, ‘Oh! I am unable to sing so melodiously.’ Some might even begin to take lessons! We should understand one thing well. Mostly the above-mentioned persons will not be sadhaks. It may be their profession.
Bhagavãn will not appear simply because one has knowledge of these; it also does not mean that Bhagavãn will not appear to one who has no knowledge of these. Most of the Jnãnis have no knowledge on these subjects! Moreover, the many books and lectures would vehemently say that their ‘mãrga’ (path) is the only way to Moksha (Liberation). On (reading) listening to their words we would also feel that it is only their ‘mãrga’ that one should follow. We may feel dejected with our ‘mãrga’ or we might move away from our ‘mãrga’. We should move steadily in our own ‘mãrga’.
There is a big danger in all these. As we progress in our sadhana ‘divinity’ (‘deiviigam’) is reflected in our body, gait, voice etc. Therefore, those who come to meet us may feel attracted to us. In the world, just as on the one hand there are people who oppose anything so, too, on the other hand are those who lend support to everything. Such people would gradually begin to praise us. They would say, ‘until now I have not seen anyone as lustrous (‘tejas’) as you are’; ‘you appeared in my dream’; ‘you are only my Guru’; ‘You should give me ‘upadesa’ (initiation)!’ Gradually they would say, ‘You are a Mahatma.’ They might even say, ‘you are an Avatãra Purusha!’ Slowly they will make you a Guru!
Initially it may be a matter of joy. As time passes it would become a difficult task and at the same time a task impossible to shirk. Owing to this, desire for fame, money and other expectations would develop. Someone would invite us to his home and we would accept it. They would receive us with all pomp and show with ‘poorna kumba’.
We may at first feel, ‘why such ceremonial and pompous welcome?’ But, slowly our ‘buddhi’ changes. On going to another place on invitation, if ‘poorna kumbha’ is not offered the mind is deeply disturbed. We begin to expect respect and honour from all.
Today, are there not innumerable ‘Gurus’ in the world? Even if we remain quiet (and aloof) many would come up to us and supply information about them! If they (other Gurus) happen to be inferior to us in some way we would feel indifferent towards them; would ridicule them. On the other hand, if they were superior we would abhor them. Mind would begin to calculate ways to attain the fame that they enjoy. It is easy to overcome even ‘kãma’ (lust), ‘kroda’ (anger) but it is not possible to overcome jealousy. Just as we envy others, so, too others envy us. Has not this situation arisen only because we have gone about projecting ourselves as a ‘Guru’? No such agony is experienced if we always remain a Bhakta (devotee) or a ‘dãsa’ (one who serves). This is because envy arises only between persons in the same profession.
That is, a good musician would be a great fan of a popular cricketer. But, he will not be able to appreciate another good musician outwardly though he may do so within. While the expertise of that musician gives joy to others it would only irritate this fellow. Desire for fame is also dreadful, indeed. Just as jealousy arises amongst people in the same profession so does it arise amongst contemporaries only. For example, when we happen to read about a person who had lived with great fame some hundred years back, we do not entertain any comparison with him though he might have enjoyed such fame in the same profession as we are, today. Therefore, Time is also a reason for jealousy.
There are some who establish Mutts on seeing ‘Peetãdhipatiis’ of traditional Mutts. They label themselves as ‘Jagadgurus’! It is only desire that is the cause of all these and not Jnãna (knowledge). Some ascetics might have enjoyed great honour and respect from the kings and scholars of their times; yet, nothing is known about them today. Whereas, Mahans like Mira, Tukkãram, in spite of suffering humiliation during their lifetime, have won over time. There is none who does not know about them. Their ‘charitra’ (life) and kirtans still exist, having won over time. One does not get tired of listening to them any number of times. Therefore, sadhaks should be very careful. I have spoken on the name and fame that is earned by being a ‘Guru’. This is one side of the coin.
On the other side oppositions and criticisms also rise up. It is very difficult to cross over these. We find that those who had been very intimate and affectionate towards us change into our enemies. Self-pity develops in us and we think, ‘we should give up all these. What a good life we had enjoyed earlier. What a transformation has come over us!’
We would think, ‘we have moved away from our goal. Let us give up all these.’ But, now we are so caught up in this situation that it is akin to have taken hold of a tiger’s tail! (in Tamizh, there is a story depicting one’s trouble in having caught a tiger’s tail). You suffer as you are neither able to maintain the hold nor leave it.
Sri Swamiji travels far and wide discoursing on a wide range of spiritual subjects ranging from our scriptures to the life histories of great Saints.
Sri Swamiji has authored several titles and composed numerous kirtans (devotional hymns) in Tamil and Sanskrit. Those inspired by the teachings of Sri Swamiji are actively involved in propagation of Nama Kirtan all over the world.