27th March, Maloya, Chandigarh: It was yet another occasion for Holi with Flowers. On the evening prior to this festival of happiness and embracing one and all, Agni Kriya was held at Nada Jagran Kendra. Swami Suryendu Puri Ji also gave an interview to the local media explaining the significance of Holi and especially Holi with Flowers. It is noteworthy that ever since the concept of celebrating Holi with Flowers was first taken up in Chandigarh by the local devotees, the concept has caught on, and this time Holi of skin-damaging colours was replaced by the fragrant and velvety Holi of flowers at many places. However, this was just the external part of the festivity . The meaning of Holi and the way to celebrate Holi was cleared by Swami Buddh Puri Ji in his discourse on the day. Maharaj Ji spoke in a voice full with love and emotion of a saint, pulling up the consciousness of his beloved children from the ruts of selfishness and self-damage to the heights of peace, bliss and the all supreme divinity. Below is an English transcription of the original discourse in Punjabi. The discourse audio will be updated soon.

Holi Discourse

Agni Kriya to burn the Holika of our hearts and manifest the Prahlada within us, at Naad Jagran Kendra on the evening prior to the day of Holi.

On this day of Holi all of you have come to play the Holi of Flowers. Many greetings to all of you. Just a while back, Swami Suryendu Puri Ji talked about two things: one is fear and the other is love. When one has surrendered to the Lord and became His, that is called Holi (ho-li: to be His). When one has turned his face towards the Lord, has spread his arms to meet Him, then love for Him emerges in the heart, simultaneously all fears are left behind.

On the other hand when one has hidden all his impurities under the veil of his ego, then one is fearful lest someone else may come to know about them. Yes, one could have been fearful that he is going away from the Lord; that one must remove this distance from the Lord – but one is not fearful about this. One could be fearful about the fact that his birth is going waste, without the Lord. But our fears are not about this. Our fear is about what we have hidden within be leaked outside and others may come to know of it.

Maharaj Ji arriving on the day of Holi

Fear is opposite of love. Yes, there is one fear which brings about love in the heart; which removes one’s impurities. But there is another fear which goes on limiting us further and further. One gets shrunk with fear and we are helping the fear that ties us to the noose of death. If we want to play Holi then we will have to spread our arms wide, we will have to leave our fears behind and lift our legs from the ground to dance.

We are remembering an old story here. Many must have heard the name of Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa. He used to tell this story. In the olden times the ladies of the house used to spin the wheel to make yarn from cotton. So, one lady was doing just this when another lady visited her house. The visiting lady proposed to help her with the spinning. The lady of the house obliged and left this lady with the spinning wheel and went within to look after other chores. Now, the yarn was of wonderful quality. Seeing this, that lady’s heart grew greedy. She started to hide some of the yarn inside her clothes. The lady of the house also came to know that something amiss was going on. But she didn’t want to call that lady a thief. So she came there and said, “Enough of this work. Let us do keertan now.” She began dancing in joy, chanting the Lord’s Name. Seeing the other lady just sitting at her place, she said, “Well, why do you sit there? Come on, join me”. But how could that lady dance and still keep her theft hidden. If she would dance, the yarn would fall out.

Raam Dhun following the discourse on Holi

Ours is a very similar situation. We are also hiding many things. We are also shrunken with fear. And just because of this we are unable to play Holi; unable to be happy; unable to spread the fragrance all around. We recite the Mrityunjaya Mantra. In that, it is said, “sugandhim pushtivardhanam”. There is fragrance. If that fragrance can subsist our bodies then we will be freed of death and its fear. But we are afraid, afraid of so many little things. The cause of our fears lies in the walls of ‘I’ and ‘You’ that we have built.

One may do great tapas, follow great discipline, but if this wall remains standing, eventually one will have to die, one will not be freed of the fear of death. The festival of Holi is about this. Swamiji had talked about Hiranyakashipu. He had a son named Prahlada. Their paths were totally different. Hiranyakashipu did great tapas, obtained many boons but with these his pride also grew boundlessly, to a extent, that he came to proclaim himself as God. On the other hand there is the little boy Prahlada, who has in his heart the love for the Lord. His heart is devoid of ego. He meets everyone with open arms. He beholds his own Lord everywhere. This is a story of such overwhelming love on one hand and great tapas, but confined by ego, on the other. Hiranyakashipu is afraid that if Prahlada would go on advancing the way he was, then all will follow him. None would accept him. He tried in various ways to remove this obstacle out of his way, eventually resorting to killing Prahlada. But howsoever he tried he remained unsuccessful.

He had a sister named Holi or Holika. She was just like her brother. She too had done great tapas and had obtained the power of agni stambhan (immobilizing the effects of fire). Even if she sat in fire, a subtle barrier arose between her and the fire and she could not be burnt. Such were her tapas. She said to her brother, Hiranyakashipu, “Do not worry. The fire cannot burn me. I will take Prahlada with me and sit in the fire. The fire will not burn me, but Prahlada will be burnt.” Now, there are two competitions going on. On one side is Holika, on the other side is Prahlada. Where is the difference? Prahlada embraces everyone: whether they be fellow humans beings, animals or even fire, water, earth etc. When he was thrown into water, he embraced water too. Now was the turn of fire.

Understand the difference. On one hand there is a barrier between Holika and the fire. On the other hand Prahlada knows the fire to be the form of the Lord Himself. In the former there is a separation.  Holika has created a barrier between herself and fire. Prahlada is embracing his Lord in the form of fire. He is absorbing it totally and becoming one with it. Prahlada is sitting in the lap of Holika. His love is melting also the barrier between the fire and Holika. The fire is being attracted by that great love, and making Prahlada as the medium, it is now also entering Holika. But Holika knows the fire to be just fire, and in this way Holika gets burnt by fire. Prahlada on the other hand, has become fire Himself. From fire, nectar is produced and he is bathing in the showers of that nectar.

Maharaj Ji under a shower of flowers offered by the sangat

This is the teaching of the festival of Holi. Are we to create obstacles amongst ourselves or are we to embrace everyone with open arms? Let us talk about this further. We will understand this by taking examples of a maha-sadhak (practitioner of Maha-Yoga), a sadhak (practitioner of Abhava Yoga) and a ordinary person. There was an ashram whose chair were a God-realized mahatma, totally bathed in the love of the Lord. There were two disciples, totally devoted. They were brilliant practitioners, did great tapas. In the eyes of people too they were both significant. People also wondered who else could be more advanced than these two disciples! This talk reached the ears of the Mahatma as well. The Mahatma were totally unconcerned. But once, in his meditation he decided to see where the two disciples were standing on the path and thereby help them to advance even further.

So the two disciples came forward before the Guru’s divine sight. Looking at one of them, the Guru saw that he had built an impenetrable shield around himself, such that, no disturbing thought could enter and affect his peace. It was a very good state. After him, the Guru’s divine sight turned towards the other disciple. In him he saw a unique thing. He hadn’t created any shield to stop the negative influences of others entering him. But what is the special thing? There was such a flood of love in his heart that the sprays of it were bursting forth through every pore of his body and spreading in all directions. If any negative influence from the environment moved towards him, by the time it reached him, it got so imbued with love that it was rid of its negativity. His was the state of Vishvaatma Bodha. The former is an Abhava Yogi, who envisions to separate himself, isolate himself and eventually free himself. The second is a Mahayogi – who beholds his own Lord everywhere.

In this context we are remembering an incident. Our Gurudeva, Swami Dyalpuri Ji lived and studied in Banaras under Bharati Ji who was a wonderful sadhu and scholar. He was accomplished in Samadhi and beheld the Lord everywhere. He used to live near Gita Ghat. One day, after his bath in the Ganges, he was returning back. In the little street further it was still a little dark and a snake was sitting there, with its hood raised. It is early morning and no one else is there on the street. Now when Bharati Ji saw the snake, he did not wish that the snake should move away, he made no attempt to handle it, control it in anyway etc. but just standing there he got immersed in atma-chintan. And from within him the following shlokas burst out:

Parmatma budhe makhale sakhale sajade tanoushi jada maanashno
jada darshnen jadataa janitaa bhaktanutapa vitataar viktaa

He is telling his mind “O stubborn mind! Behold the Lord everywhere, even in the fallen, even in the inanimate. If you will behold the inanimate, if you will behold the sin in the sinner, then the same will take its root within you too, cloaked by your ego. Then it will become very difficult to be freed from this huge ocean of the world.”

Yes, it is also important to look at this from the second perspective. To behold the divine even in the sinner doesn’t mean to turns one’s eyes away from the sin of the sinner and encourages him in his sinful activity. It is great to love the sinner, but to be attached to him is wrong. We become attached and term it as love. There is a subtlety here. If we will be attached to fools, whether we live close to them or far from them, then the same foolishness will take its roots in us. But if we can do the practice of beholding the Divine even in a fool, then it is Holi.

We have talked about two cases. One is a sadhak who creates a barrier against all negativity. He is not wrong. Other is a maha-sadhak who beholds the Divine everywhere, even in the negative. But there is a third party too. It also creates a barrier, a barrier of ego, but it is also devoid of any tapas. It is devoid of any sadhana. There is no bhakti within. Within is just a huge pile of impurities. Within is just greed and attachment. And above this, we go about hiding all these impurities.

Thus, there are three states. The first two are fit to be revered. But in the third state we are afraid lest anyone may come to know about our shortcomings. And as we go about hiding them, the disease goes on becoming more severe. And the utterly surprising, saddening thing is that we hide these impurities from even those saints who have nothing else but love within them. This is a very dangerous thing.

We may still expose our shortcomings before someone, but we remain utterly conscious that these should not come into the notice of saints or our reputation will get spoiled. Right now, the Guru knows us by our good qualities but if he comes to know that we also have such and such negativeness then how will we go there and show our face to him. This is a very dangerous thought process.  Such thinking will take and throw us miles away from the road to the Lord.

Atleast, we should surrender ourselves, just as we are, before saints. As it was also being said in Kakrala, if one keeps one’s veils intact even before the Guru (Mother), then where else will one find the resting place.

If someone has the bad habit of smoking or drinking, he hides it from the Guru. He thinks, “If the Guru will come to know about it, they will tell me to give it up”. And one is not prepared to give up the habit. “Then if I will fail to uphold the Guru’s wishes, it will be a bigger sin. It is better not to tell them at all to the Guru”. Where will such thinking take us?

That Guru’s commands may not be upheld, so it is better not go to the Guru rather than incur that sin – this is the thought process that goes on. Many people come to be initiated. But they are afraid that if they take initiation and are unable to practice, unable to give up drinking or smoking then that will be extremely bad. Hence they conclude that it is better to not take initiation (in other words, go on drinking and smoking).

Sangat during Holi with Flowers

Such is the state. We are afraid of the God-realized saints too, who have nothing in their hearts except love.  Keep in mind it is not moha, but an ocean of love in their hearts. But we want a Guru who will not stop us from the wrong. Instead we expect that we will do some wrong and he will only comfort us.

Such is the state that some boy will do some wrong and come back home and tell his father about it. If the father is a minister or a big man, he will also comfort his boy saying, “Do not worry. I will take care of you”. There would be very few, rare ministers and wealthy fathers who will tell the wrong of their dear sons as wrong. We were reading the newspaper two odd days before. Tony Blair, who has been a former Prime Minister of England, his son was arrested on some grounds here. The father didn’t even know about the arrest. And when he did come to know, he simply said, “Yes, boys go wrong sometimes. Now whatever is the law, whatever is the punishment, must be given”. These are heights at some places. And here, the son will first call his powerful father on doing any wrong and the father is most often equally supportive in the wrong.

And we have the same expectation from saints too. We do any wrong and then feel we will go to saints and seek forgiveness. Yes, the saints will forgive, but we do not want to give up the wrong habit from our side. We think we will offer some money, say some kind words of forgiveness and ask for benediction, for protection of our boat from the whirlpool. But why did the boat enter the whirlpool in the first place? The act by which we came to be in our miserable situation – that we clearly hide. And just because of this, when we come across a true saint, we become afraid.

We should surrender ourselves, as much as we can, before a saint – doing this alone will start purifying our hearts and bring us peace. If this can be done, it will be Holi. And within nectar will be obtained, knowledge will be obtained. Many must have heard of the name of Ved Prakash Ji. There was a devotee of Maharaj Ji who used to tell Maharaj Ji whatever came to his mind. Ved Prakash Ji once asked him, “Aren’t you afraid of Maharaj Ji? You tell him everything?” This devotee said, “Pandit Ji, what have you said. These saints are so full of love, so full of compassion, that they cannot utter anything which will harm us. Even their name is Dyalu”.

People are afraid that the saints can get angry and can make something wrong to occur to us. Such talks have also come to our notice. There are some who say, “I do so much sadhana. And he didn’t listen to me. He didn’t do my work. See, now as a punishment he has met with an accident.” Someone says, “It was the result of my tapas, that he got cancer”. So listening to such things, we come to believe, either one should totally listen to saints, else stay away from them. There are some people who have spent their entire lives with saints and say, ‘You don’t know? Saints can give bad blessings too. And they are very accomplished saints who can do this.”

Such talks are simply foolish talks. Whatever one gets is a result of his own karma. And we even say that even those who are afraid of tantriks etc. should remember once the Name given by the Guru, the evil influences whatever will not affect but return to its source <applause by the audience>. The Name given by the Guru is all powerful. It is Amrita. It is Ananda.

So, on this festivity of Holi this is our message. We have come to the sanctuary of saints. Then filled with ecstasy, love, spread your arms wide, embracing everyone, move ahead. If there are any fears it is because we have certain impurities within, and the time is passing way. But be fearless because even our mountain like massive sins will be washed away by the Love, Ecstasy, Bliss of the Lord. The Lord has taken my arm in His hands. I should not deliberately commit any wrong and I should not try to hide my impurities under the veil of my ego. Whatsoever I am, wheresoever I am, I surrender myself at the feet of the Lord. Then we would say it is: HOLI HAI!

Langar at the conclusion of play with flowers