Friday, August 17, 2012

Sacrifice vs Slaughter

Many types of sacrifice are given in the Vedas. Knowing that liberation is possible, after knowing real knowledge one will never fall into delusion, but will see all beings in the Self and in the Lord. We meet people who say that, according to the Vedas, they have to do a specific kind of pooja (ritual prayer). Many kinds of action have been prescribed through the sacred texts of Hinduism, and by performing them you can be liberated. But what is Krishna's definition of liberation? It is when we are able to see Him in all beings, and all beings in Him. Then we are liberated. Therefore, doubts that are born of ignorance should be removed with the sword of this knowledge. Once you have such knowledge you should not have any doubt.

But doubt seems to be our biggest problem. As you sit there, some of you are thinking. “This Bhagavad Gita ... is it really such a great book? This guru sitting here blabbering away … is he telling us the truth?” As long as we have doubt we cannot be liberated because doubt is one of the greatest factors in obstructing, in restricting, our upliftment on this spiritual journey. Arjuna goes further to say, “Oh Lord, tell me about yoga,” and Krishna continues, explaining that after attaining success in yoga, tranquility is the support.

Realisation is difficult work for somebody whose Self is not in control. Which self do we refer to here? The mind self. If your mind self is running havoc – and most of you have such active minds if mind was a factor in the olmpics you'd come first – it can destroy you. Let the mind remain a servant. Never give it promotion to be your master. Once you do that, you're in trouble. You'll always be in trouble. Have control of the mind, says Krishna. He also says that we must not wait for the fruits of our action, “surpassing the fruits of merit, performing sacrifice, austerity ... you will attain supreme peace”. We must do charity and perform sacrifice.

But what is sacrifice? Sacrifice is when you give somebody else something that you see they need more than you do. You have it and need it, but not as much as somebody else does. And I'm not referring to thirteen black chickens and two goats. Don't interpret sacrifice as slaughter. There's a big difference. Sacrifice is a very good word for what it's supposed to and slaughter is a very good word for what it's supposed to do. Don't mix them. Many years ago I heard a well-educated spiritual being say that Krishna propogated sacrifice in the Bhagavad Gita, and that was the reason this person sacrificed. Right now he doesn't have either of his feet – they were amputated – so what did the prayer do for him? He created his own sacrifice. When krishna talks about sacrifice, he's not talking about slaughter.

When I first came to Verulam, a bus owner came to me and said he was doing Kali Pooja and that he sacrifices two goats. He said that when his father started the bus business, as long as he was performing 'sacrifice', there were no accidents. I told him that his father's bus was the only bus on the road at that time, so the chances of him having an accident were so low. Nowadays there are so many vehicles on the road, there are a lot more accidents. Some of you are thinking, “This guru is putting us off...” I'll tell you, my mother did all of that – slaughtering - and she was blind for fifteen years. I'm telling you from my experience. So don't confuse sacrifice with slaughter.

Krishna says that He will accept anything offered with love and devotion, even a leaf, fruit, flower or water, but it must be surrendered to the Lord. That means that when you prepare food, you should take some out and leave it for the Lord. The Hare Krishnas take their food and leave it at the altar before they partake of it. Many of us seated here think that we're Krishna so we take the food instead.

Hari Om.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Krishna Janasthami

According to our visiting Doctor Kusum, on this midnight Krishna was born. I wanted to ask her if she was there. So why are we starting so early when we should be starting at midnight? Krishna has become famous because of the Bhagavad Gita, and nothing else. It is one of the most beautiful scriptures to read. No other scripture comes close to the Bhagavad Gita in the beatitude of explanations about many aspects of life.

The sole purpose for the Gita is to be found Chapter 1 Verse 47. Had it not been for this chapter and verse, the Bhagavad Gita would have concluded with Chapter 1 verse 46. But it exists because Arjuna was suffering due to the fact he had to fight against his teachers, his grandsires, his uncles, his cousins, and his nephews. The verse reads as follows: “Having thus spoken in the midst of the battlefield, throwing down his bow and arrows, Arjuna sank down on the seat of the chariot, his heart overwhelmed by sorrow.”I think this is the most beautiful aspect of the Bhagavad Gita because we do the same thing so often when we are faced with a problem. The first thing we do is drop everything.

But Krishna, from Verse 48 onwards, has given us a precise method overcoming this kind of sorrow. He starts by saying to Arjuna, “From whence has this weakness come to you at this difficult time? It is not befitting you, who are of noble character. It does not lead to heaven and can only cause you disgrace”. Krishna is reminding Arjuna that he is a warrior and such sorrow is not befitting of such a position. Arjuna responds thus: “Indeed, rather than to slay these noble teachers, it would be preferable for me to be a beggar here on earth. Having slain the teachers with desire for personal gain, I would only enjoy on earth delights tainted by my actions”.

Krishna tells Arjuna to have no attachments to the actions of the gunas - the three attributes that the human form enjoys: tamasic, rajasic or sattvic. What is tamasic? I like to refer to food because all of you understand food. When you have spicy food, meat, chicken, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, those are tamasic. When you have a variety of food on the table, like, brinjal, potato, muffin puri, samoosa, salad, fruit, it is called rajasic. But when you have just enough food just to satisfy you and not just to fill your stomach, that is sattvic.

So Krishna is telling us that we are confused by the three gunas. Once we have learned of the absolute reality, we should avoid creating conflict in the minds of dull-witted individuals. Know that it is better to do one's own dharma than to do the dharma of another. We discussed this in one of the talks during Gita Week. Krishna says that we should not have sorrow. We must be informed that whenever there is a diminishing of dharma and a predominance of unrighteousness, then He will descend for the purpose of establishing righteousness and dharma. He says: “Why are you so afraid? I am the giver of dharma, of righteousness, I come age after age, wherever and whenever there is a decline in religion, and in righteousness, then I descend to bring about correction, to eliminate misgivers and re-establish dharma or righteousness”. Then Arjuna asks Krishna to tell him about action and inaction. And Krishna says, “About action and inaction, even the intelligent are confused in telling the difference,” and he follows that with an explanation of the differences, the knowledge of which will free one from misfortune.

Arjuna asked Krishna how it would feel if he could see the Lord in his true form at that moment. Krisha tells him that it would be like the brilliance of a thousand suns rising at once. We can't even handle one sun, can you imagine a thousand suns? That is the intensity and the potency of Sri Krishna. He has that kind of energy. Krishna concludes by saying that this is only possible for those who follow the virtuous path of immortality, taught by the Lord in the Gita, and with complete faith serve the Lord with an undeviating devotion, transcending the gunas, to reach the Lord who is the fundamental aspect of the immortal and immutable Brahman, of dharma and bliss. We must abandon all virtues and surrender to the Lord alone, then liberation from all evil and grief will be possible, and delusion will vanish by the grace of the Lord.

You came here for seven days so by now I'm sure that you understand the Bhagavad Gita. If you don't then we have the Essence of the Bhagavad Gita in 43 verses, called Nonsense Sense Essence. Before you read it you're loaded with nonsense, after you've read it once you'll get some sense, and when you've read it properly, you'll get the essence of it!

Hari Krishna!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Gita week: Who is a wise man?

Yesterday was pournami, so the quota for coming to the temple is finished for the month – for most of you. As a Hindu, the most important aspect of our lives is based on the Bhagavad Gita. We have just a few of you here tonight, yet when you become Christians the first thing you say is that you did not understand Hinduism, that Christianity is so much simpler. But if you make an effort to come to discourses and talks of this nature then you'll understand Hinduism.

Hinduism is not based on all these Gods, on all the different scriptures: the Vedas, Ramayan or the Bhagavad Gita. Hinduism is just a way of life, but if we take one book and we master that book, then we can call ourselves Hindus because we can talk about a scripture. When you meet a Christian convert, the first thing he'll do is quote from the Bible, all these passages from the Bible, and you'll stand there and listen because you really don't know what to quote from the Bhagavad Gita because you didn't make it 'your' book.

So we have these eight days set aside to reflect on the Bhagavad Gita, and reflect positively on it. It is a DIY manual, the simplest book to understand if you read it to understand it. But if you try and read it like a novel you'll never understand it. The Bhagavad Gita has no stories. It only has answers, solutions to every problem in our lives. Our biggest problem is that we believe it is impossible for us to know God because we cannot feel God, and we cannot see God.

Before you even know God you should know yourself. That's called self-realisation. Even that you don't know. If you don't know who you are, how will it be possible for you to know who God is? From desire comes attachment, leading to delusion, leading to loss of memory and then you'll perish. I'm going to take the verse that Suren just mentioned. How is it that you'll perish if you have desire? The Bhagavad Gita clearly states, that one will perish or be lost. You'll have more stress because, from desire comes ego, the end result of desire. And with ego you'll lose all identity of your physical self. And that's the delusion.

Losing identity of your physical self, even the people who love you will stay away from you because they can see there's something happening to you. That is what will cause you to perish. Once you perish, in the sense that you lose all identity of yourself, you do things that ego allows you to do: buy a fast car with your accumulated wealth because you need to show everybody that you've lost identity. And you drive the fast car fast. You buy these cars that are really not meant for our roads – like a Ferrari. They are meant for German roads, not South African roads. In Germany it's legal to drive at 180 kilometres an hour. If you drive like that with ego, you'll meet with a serious accident and perish.

The key is not to have desire. One without desire is a wise man because from desire all this comes. That is what Krishna says. We should not have that desire. Krishna also says, “You should desire me, God”. And if you desire God, you won't have that because the desire for God won't give you attachment, because it's not physical. 99.9% of the time all attachment is physical, even in a relationship. You buy a car, it's an attachment. All that I'm saying is that attachment comes from material desire. But with spiritual desire it doesn't exist. If you take the route of spiritual desire, from spiritual desire comes non-attachment, leading to fearlessness, from which comes the great state of spirituality, because you have spiritual desire, and you can become somebody spiritually, just as you can become somebody materially.

A wise man is that one who does not have material desire. Now don't understand the Bhagavad Gita, Suren or myself wrongly. We are not saying that you shouldn't have wealth. Nowhere does Krishna say you should renounce all your wealth. He says, 'renounce and surrender' your desire. Only after renunciation of desire is surrender possible. You can't bow at the guru's feet and look at his gold toe-ring, and think to yourself, “maybe I should have one too”. That is a desire. But with God you cannot have an attachment. It's a non-attachment relationship. Because He's never going to let you go. Unlike a human relationship where you can detach, with God you can never detach. He'll never let you go but you can be away from him until you have problems - then you'll need him again. If all of you want to become wise people, kill your material desire.
Hare krishna!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Agasthiar Pournami

Hari Om.
The August pournami is normally Agasthiar pournami. If you don't know who Agasthiar is, that's him there in the centre. He's a great saint.

Because it's Agasthiar Pournami, the first part of the prayer will be for those who follow and worship Agasthiar. They will sit and offer to Agasthiar. Today is also raksha bhandan – at least one day in the year sisters remember their brothers. Like mother's day, father's day, and women's day. Today is brother's day.

This is Agasthiar's stick. He used it to train Khanniah Yogi, Swami's guru. One day Kanniah Yogi sent swami into the Nilgiris forest to find this stick. He got an astral instruction from Agasthiar who told him exactly where it was buried. Swami Murugesu and three other devotees went into the forest to find the stick. The forest is full of wild animals, elephants, tigers. When they reached the spot where Khanniah Yogi told them to find the stick, the animals surrounded Swami and the others, in a circle to protect them while they dug for the stick. There was also a begging bowl found with the stick. This piece of wood is a hundred times older than the oldest person here. Therefore you can see I'm taking care of it – not to hit you – but so it doesn't disappear. Today I'm going to bless you with this, according to instruction. If I give you one tight one, like this, it means you misbehaved sometime.

Ashok asked me a question just now. He asked me, “What happened on this Agasthiar pournami that we have such a small crowd?” I have an answer for him: we've had Lakshmi pooja, and everyone came to Lakshmi pooja instead. Also, Saturday is our Maha Yajna. Everyone will come to that instead. They say, “My quota is once a month at the ashram so I don't have to go'.

Patanjali, in the Yoga Sutra gives us practical methods of controlling and modifying the mind. Many of us think it is impossible to attain or experience what cannot be seen or touched. And that's where many of us are wrong. I get very happy and joyous when I get an SMS after a function: “Guru, I've had this fantastic experience; I've had this energy flow through me. I could not control my emotions”. That is an experience with God. So if you have controlled the faculties of the mind, then there's some kind of harmony in your body. And an harmonious body will make it possible for you to attain those states of bliss, peace and eternal joy. This can only be done through sadhana.

What is sadhana? Spiritual practices. And once we have this sadhana, daily practice, then we will experience these things. You won't get it by coming to the ashram once a month, for one function and think, “Now I am religious, I am spiritual”. You're far from that. Spirituality is a regular, daily practice. The sadhana for spirituality has to be regular. What does that mean? It has to be every day and at a specific time every day. If you can do that you won't have any stress. None at all. But we can't. We believe it is impossible to reach those states that are untouchable, that is, when we cannot feel or see. We think it's difficult but it's not. And that process Patanjali calls 'meditation'.

In astanga yoga meditation is the seventh step on the rung of the spiritual ladder. There are only eight steps and meditation is so close to the final step, yet we have such great problems, such difficulty even practicing meditation. It all comes back to the mind. Our mind sets us up to believe that we don't have to go to the temple or the ashram, that we can attain those states at home. Yes you can. But you have to have a guru when those states appear.

Recently somebody passed on. The guru had taught them certain techniques. They practised the techniques, short-circuited their prana and, after thirty-one days in intensive-care, died. These are the things we are worried about. Gobi Krishna is a perfect example. He walked around insane. It took him fourteen years to come back to normal. Why? Because you need someone to guide you. If you have your guru with you, you won't have a problem. We can do tantra, mantra, japa yoga, and leave this body if you so desire. But you can only do that if you have a guru in your presence who can guide you and stop you at the right time. Therefore it is very important for you to come and absorb this kind of energy. It is regulated. It won't make you mad. It won't take you to states of permanent ecstasy like taking drugs 24/7. You'll reach states of ecstasy that you'll really enjoy. Drugs can also give you states of ecstasy but they are temporary.

Meditation is permanent. You can experience it all the time. And why I'm bringing this up is because many of you, as you sit here, you believe, firstly, that it's impossible to experience God because you can't touch him or see him. Secondly, you say it's too difficult to do sadhana: “I don't have the time”. There's no such thing as, “I don't have the time”. You have the same 24 hours that I have, and many other people have. But they have arranged their 24 hours in such a way that they can do everything in, including their sadhana. But we cannot get up in the morning; we cannot make that extra effort to say, “Well, I have to be at work at 8am. I have to leave at 6am so l'll get up at 4am, do one hour of sadhana and leave at 6am”. You have one hour to get ready. But our problem is that we take too long to get ready. And then we rush because we are late.

I've said this to you before and I'll say it to you again. We do everything to our face, not for ourselves - nobody does things to their face for themselves – none of you can stand up here and tell me that you do that for yourself, put make-up on your face. We walk out of our house so that other people are happy and can tell you, “You're looking good!”. It must be yours, and once its yours it must be good. That extra time that you waste on your face, rather use it to think about God, do some sadhana. It's the most important aspect of this journey, of this life. This is the highest form of being. There's no form higher than this as you sit here. But we fail. We failed as beings because we've got this thing called God only allocated to certain times of the month, once a week, four times a month.

We must have a passion for God. And I think that's what we lack. You must have a union with God. You must be in love with God. Once you're in love with God, nothing in this world will bother you and why do I say you must be in love with God? Because that love for God becomes kolavery – a madness, a total madness. Just as a young man needs a young girl, and after a couple of months of relationship, kolavery begins: the cellphone will be in his hand waiting for a call. This is true. In the same way we should be in love with God. God sends you messages. You don't need your cellphone on. God's messages will guide you in your daily life. 'I love you,' are just words – they are not energy at all. You can pre-set your phone to send 'I love you' messages. But to be in love with God you can't do that, you have to connect. You don't have to pay and there's no top-up.You just sit there and God will take you (the Tamil word kola means 'kill', very means 'madness' ). So go home and enjoy this madness. Fall madly in love with God and kill the ego.

Some of you are thinking, “Guru makes it sound so simple”. Yes, it is simple. You just have to change who you are and be what you should be. You should not be God-fearing, you should be God-loving. So, enjoy this new relationship that you are going to start today with God. Forget all you other relationships. They bring about another kind of madness.