30th March, 2013, Malke Ashram: Today all of us have gathered to celebrate the 21st Barsi of Bhagat Jagat Singh Ji. We are celebrating his Barsi to commemorate his life spent in the Grihastha ashrama, fulfilling all his responsibilities and along with that devoting himself to a life of great tapas and practice. For many people of nearby Malke, Saahuke, Panjgrain villages and far-off Jattana, Kakrala, Kila Raipur villages, Bhagat Ji was an inspiring figure, whose presence became a means for many to walk on this path. This being’s coming to Malke was also due to Bhagat Ji. And now this tradition is moving ahead.
Yes, there are some people who leave aside all responsibilities and channel all their energy and time to reach the Divine. Such people are called sannyasis or brahmcharis. But such people are extremely rare. However, there would be many sannyasis who have taken up ochre clothes but their mind is still after the objects of the world. Yes, they may also practice for some time in the day. They are not bound by any responsibilities. The only issue is that whatever they do is out of their own wishful thinking. There are numerous sannyasis of this kind. They have read some scriptures and use that to impart teachings and so on. And if we are to note they also have greater facilities of eating, drinking and sleeping and other comforts of life as compared to a Grihastha. They have no bounds or responsibilities. Yes, they went to the Guru once but then throughout their lives they follow a path of their own wishes and interest. Such a sannyasa will not lead one to the Divine.
Yes, sannyasa can also lead to the Divine. But that sannyasa is the one in which one leaves behind everything; lives in the proximity of the Guru’s command; has neither interest in eating, wearing clothes, driving expensive automobiles, nor in decorating one’s rooms etc. A sannyasins life is a life of tapas. There is no place for bodily comforts here. And every step that one takes is under the command of the guru. Such an aspirant is a great warrior. He can advance really fast.
A similar situation exists in a householder’s life as well. Whether someone is a sannyasin or a householder, the path to the Divine is the same for everyone. There is no difference in the way a renunciate practices or a householder practices. A sannyasin lives under the command of the Guru. It is upon the Guru to give him a responsibility, as per his level. And all the time is spent in tapa, assimilating scriptures, doing japa etc. In a household life there are responsibilities towards parents, children. Money is to be earned. If one does not have a home that too has to be built. And along with this there is sadhana, japa, charity, service that is to be done. Without these latter pillars, a householder’s life is incomplete. If one earns his required amount and fulfills his responsibilities but does not do sadhana, then he will not find the inner path. Fulfilling all responsibilities, doing all works, so much sadhana is to be done that nights should pass in practice. Bhagat Ji used to do this. Finding some time from his duties, he would then spend months in solitude in some kutia on minimal diet. It is the same work that a sannyasi does. It is not that a sannyasin’s sadhana is something different and a householder’s method of practice is something else. It is the same method that is to be followed in both the cases. The difference is just that if in a household life one will do the duties attached, earn wealth out of greed then the mind will not be able to go within, howsoever one may practice.
Similarly if someone who has left everything and comes to live in the ashram, thinks that now he/she has no responsibility and is free to just sit in a room; that one has no responsibility of the kitchen, of langar, of looking after the ashram – he is going on the other extreme. He too is going wrong. “Yes, we will do the work, but we cannot take the responsibility”, someone says. If such a responsibility cannot be taken, then sadhana too will not happen. “But if I had to take responsibilities even here then it was better for me to stay at home”, someone says. Yes, it is good that you left home, because we do our works at home out of attachment. But here (in the ashram) all works should be done with interest, living under the command of the Guru. In this way, whatever sadhana we are doing will also be fruitful.
In Grihastha, there is attachment and out of that we definitely do our work. But there sadhana should also be done. Hopefully, the difference in the two situations is becoming clear. But ordinarily we end up on the extremes. Grihasthas say we have so much work, responsibilities, how can we practice! Those who come to live in the ashram say, why should we take the responsibility of external chores. We will only practice. These are two extremes. But if such responsibilities will not be taken then howsoever one may try, sadhana will also not bear fruit.
Like Bhagat Ji, there was Lahiri Mahasaya. He also lived a householder’s life. He had children. He fulfilled all his responsibilities. To meet up with the expenses, he even gave tuition in addition to his office work, when it was required. After fulfilling his duties in the day, he would then spend nights awake, practicing, in meditation. He was a great Mahayogi.
Similarly, Bhagat Ji fulfilled all the various responsibilities that were there for him. It was a joint family of 40 odd members. He was never behind in looking after the fields. In conducting marriages, he participated. Once he had gone to a marriage where he was asked to announce that the bridegroom’s family would not take any dowry. Bhagat Ji was happy. But when later he came to know that actually the dowry was taken afterwards, he severed all ties with that family, saying that they had followed the path of falsehood and hence their paths were different. Such was his firmness to stand by truth.
And if while he is working, the thought to meet Kambli Wale at Kila Raipur arose in the mind, he would drop his work then and there and start for the ashram. It was far. He would not wait to hand over the work to someone, reasoning that even after death, works will be taken care of. He would not look for any company or convenience while travelling. If he got a bus fine, else he would go on walking. If he found a co-traveller, fine, else he would travel alone.
So, while living in the household life and while doing one’s duty, he was totally into it. And he spent the nights in meditation. When he wanted to be with Maharaj Ji, then he would not wait. Works would then take care of themselves. But while he was in midst of his duties, he would minutely attend to all of them.
We are repeating this again: whether you are in a household life or in the life of a sannyasi or brahmachari, there is no difference in the way one is to practice and travel on this path. Yes, Bhagat Ji met Maharaj Ji after he was already married. It does not seem feasible that if he had met him before, he would still have entered household life. But the point is that a householder should live like a saint even at home. And for a sannyasi, the entire world should become his home – such should be the way of his life.
We are saying this keeping the brahmcharis and sannyasis of the ashram in mind. An ordinary person – we are not talking about Bhagat Ji now – does his household chores out of attachment. And because he is attached, it is very difficult for him to do sadhana. Yes, going on fulfilling one’s duties even out of attachment, a time will come, if he does satsanga continuously, when he will rise above all attachment.
Similarly, for those who have left their home and work behind and come here, it does not mean that they have no further responsibility. There is an attitude, “We are here to do sadhana and not these works”. One person who is in the household life does not practice because his mind is wayward, not at peace, too disturbed. Another person, living in the ashram, is not doing seva because he is following the whims and fancies of his mind. His sadhana is also as per the desires of his mind. One person is doing his duties at home out of attachment. Gradually, he will also be able to do his duties with love, renouncing the fruits of his actions. If while living in the ashrams, we can fulfill the responsibilities under the commands of the Guru, then we will also be able to progress gradually in sadhana. If someone thinks to directly march ahead with sadhana, reading scriptures, without first fulfilling the responsibilities – that will be a very difficult task.
At home there is a small family. If one could not fulfill one’s duties while living at home, then how will one be able to fulfill his duties in sannyasa. There is an attitude that we have already mentioned, “We have taken sannyasa. We have become brahmcharis. Now we have no responsibility. We will be in solitude and attain Samadhi. We will go to the mountains”. There is a huge attraction of going to the mountains and do tapas. But there is no interest in staying back and serving in the ashram.
There have been a Mahatman by the name of Kripalvananda. His guru were a siddha. Kripalvananda used to say to him, “Please keep me with you. I wish to be at your feet, and practice a lot so that I may also attain to the divine life.” At this the siddha guru replied, “If you want to live in the mountains, in solitude, then you must also fulfill some conditions.” What are the conditions? The conditions are total victory over hunger, thirst, heat and cold. This does not mean that we will eat when we will get something. It means that there is just no need to eat. In other words this implies that there is no need for building an ashram in the mountains. “If you satisfy these conditions, then come with me.” He says, “No, my state is not such. I get hungry and also feel heat and cold.” “Then”, the guru said, “You should stay here itself, in the ashramas, serve and do sadhana.” Again Kripalvananda Ji asks, “But while living in the ashrams, one has to hear good and bad from so many people. Yes, we will serve. But all this meeting and listening to praise and blame of people also creates so much turmoil in the mind.” The guru replied, “You cannot come to the mountains. Its pre-requisites are clear. So to live in the ashram and not be affected, you should become stithapragya” This means “Tulya ninda stuti mauni santushto yen ken cha” i.e. treat praise and blame with the same eye. And in this way, live in the ashram, doing service.
This is the way also to live in the household. Trying to give up, “I and mine” in the household life, try to fulfill all duties and do sadhana. Maharaj Ji used to tell the householders, “This household life is a garden. You should not become the maalik (ruler) of this but maali (care-taker/servant). If you can be a servant and do your work, service then your heart will get cleansed. The negativities will be cleared.” When you become a ruler, for e.g. “This is my child. He should follow what I tell him” – that becomes just a business. “My child will grow up and serve me” – such talks imply that the Lord has been forgotten. If profit comes one’s way then one swells in pride, in loss one cries. But if you will not worry about profit or loss, taking these to be the fruits of your action, and go on fulfilling the duties as a servant (maali), then the heart will go on becoming clean.
So it should be amply clear that there is no difference, none whatsoever, to live at home or to live in an ashram. Do not think that we have become residents of ashram and so have become something great. Or that we are householders and therefore what can we do, how can we practice! The testing ground is the same in both the cases. Yes, if you have left home then you have an opportunity to follow the straight ascent but only if you understand the nature of the path.
One who cannot bend down at home (a wife or a husband must yield before the other in many situations), how can he/she bend down before the guru. There are many examples. Someone didn’t marry. And during his last time it is seen that devoid of sadhana there is only an ego – that we are special, we didn’t marry, we are sannyasis. But the path of Grihastha is such that one who is beginning is also helped, and one who has travelled great lengths can also become a sannyasi, while living at home. But entering sannyasa is like taking admission in a college. If one can do every small and big action under the command of the Guru; there are no ties, no attachment but the tie of guru’s love; there is no wishful thinking, not even an iota of it, and in this way if he practices, then certainly he can find the Lord in one birth.
Bhagat Ji has done many 40-day retreats. Even while doing all his duties he had a burning desire that someone should walk this path. Whenever he would come to know of aspirants waiting for guidance, he would walk even great distances to reach there and serve. He had just one passion which was to share the wisdom of the master. Today also there are many preachers. We were told about some preachers – they give all specifications about what they would eat, what they would need etc. etc. before they visit any place. On the other hand look at Bhagat Ji. There are no such concerns for self-comfort.
Preachers are always willing to go to any event. Recently, Swami Suryendu Puri Ji attended the Yoga Festival held at Rishikesh. Earlier the big names were apprehensive whether it would be a success and did not agree to come. But 2-3 days into the program when it became clear that it was a success event, and its success story was circulated by the media, then the same people were calling the organizers to organize their talks, lectures, programs etc. Now what is their motivation? Is it for preaching the science yoga; no it is only about preaching their own names. And look at Bhagat Ji on the other hand. Whether someone would listen to them or not they would go on awakening the other. And whatever he would say, he would say strongly, even if someone would not like it. He would never shy away from the truth. Where his head bowed once, then it remained such throughout. This is simplicity – to be same within and without.
Though an organized movement did not stem from him yet whoever joined with him, joined with total heart. They did not turn back. They moved ahead and are going on advancing even now. So from Bhagat Ji’s life, we can inculcate these things: truth, simplicity, not worrying about bodily comforts, service and compassion. Saying this we pay our respects to him that we should go on moving ahead on the path he has shown us.