Nov 11, Garhi Ajit Singh (Aur-Nawan Shahar). Sri Maharaj Ji was visiting Garhi-Ajit-Singh on the way back from Himalayas to conduct a Satsang here at the same place where Param (Grand) Guru Swami Dev Puri Ji ‘Kambli Wale’ and Swami Dayalu Puri Ji Maharaj used to stay for long duration in old times. It is said that the mango tree, under the shade of which they used to meditate and deliver discourse upon Veda-Shastras (scriptures), used to bear fruits throughout the year even without season. It may surely surprise some people or leave them skeptical but a few devotees who had witnessed this are still alive to verify. However, for devotees this is an absolute reality. Moreover, it is a matter of faith. Spirituality, being a subtle subject beyond sensory perception, begins with faith and depends upon it throughout.
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The discussion at Garhi-Ajit-Singh kutia (hermitage) was about sharddha (faith). One who has full faith in God, Guru and Sadhna (practice) would definitely attain salvation. Therefore, ‘how to develop shraddha?’ becomes an obvious question. By the way, would you believe if you were told that shraddha is an innate nature of us all? Well, to understand it properly we should first see what shraddha is. Shraddha means instantaneous approval and acceptance of what our guru or respected and loved ones tell us. For instance, a mother tells to her little child- this is your father, your brother, your sister and the child believes at once. Similarly, whatever father or other dear ones tell to the child, it would instantly accept as true without seeking any logic or practicality there. This is shraddha, which arises out of understanding that these people love me and care for me. It further expands as the child becomes familiar with more people and loves them. This is indeed good but a problem arises when the people we love or actually attached, guide us wrongly. It may not be on purpose and the possibility is that they are not aware of the reality themselves yet if we make an agreement with their fallacy due to our attachment then it creates problem.
Within the limits of our home – this is your brother or sister – it may be fine. However, if mother tells to her child that there is no harm in falsity for the sake of personal gain and if the child accepts it as true, disaster is bound to happen. If a child falls in wrong company and starts using alcohol or drugs but mother ignores it saying things will change when child grows up, it will cause terrible consequences. The reason is simple – child has shraddha, it trusts parents’ astuteness. When parents tell, this is your house or these are your relatives, there is no harm but when they announce someone to be an enemy, these abhorrent suggestions spoil the young brain and develop hatred in innocent heart. Such shradhha is not only undesirable but also harmful. Observably, the one who guides someone faultily is wrong but the follower is also wrong there. Even in worldly affairs, company of a wicked or attachment with morally wrong people will delude us and impede our evolution as a human being.
The childhood impressions play a very crucial role in our life as they are sort of hardcoded in our personality. This is why scriptures declare mother to be the first guru of a child, then the father and then other teachers. Scriptures have a strict recommendation for a child to follow its parents devotedly but we must also notice what they propose for parents. The scriptures instruct parents to guide their children ethically and save them from immorality. Hence, both the parties involved in Shradha should be principled to make it worthwhile. A greater form of shradhha, which may lead us to the ultimate truth and unite us with almighty God, is our main consideration. However, for now we shall discuss the role of the two parties, parents and the child, involved in worldly shraddha as it will lay foundation for the greater one. The mutual behavior of mother and father with their children should be of such sort that leads them to the ultimate truth and happiness. Parents should impart good qualities to their children to help them grow as a good person and charge them to attain the highest truth. Correspondingly, child should be able to understand and follow what parents may actually convey, and if their command is unjust then child should humbly beg to be excused.
We may find a marvelous example of such shraddha in Ramayana. Most of us are already aware of its whole theme but here we will take just a small instance depicting relationship between king Dashrath and Ram, father and the son. In India, whenever people talk about respect and devotion towards parents, they give example of Ram. If someone obeys parents’ instructions with dedication of Ram then it is nothing less than a spiritual practice of high merit. Nevertheless, one must understand that parent should also be like Dashrath.
We are discussing the occasion when Ram was about to be designated King of Ayodhya. Royal priest Vashist had already made announcements and the ceremony was due next morning. Out of his love for his brothers, Ram was initially unwilling to this picking but sage Vashisht and others convinced him saying that elder brother is always the preferred choice to occupy the throne. Nonetheless, Manthara, queen Kaikeyi’s maid, was cooking an opposite plan in parallel. King Dashrath had once promised Kaikeyi to sanction two of her desires whenever she would ask. Manthara persuaded the queen to use that promise in favor of her son, Bharat. Queen summoned King Dashrath and demanded that he should accredit the throne to Bharat and expel Ram to forests for 14 years. This demand traumatized the king as it brought a conflict of duties before him. On one side, he was duty-bound while on the other side he was pledge-bound. On one side, he had announced Ram’s appointment as King but on the other side, he had already taken a pledge that he will sanction two of Queen Kaikeyi’s desires whatever they may be. All his ancestors and even King himself were renowned for their truthfulness. रघुकुल रीत सदा चली आई, प्राण जाये पर वचन न जाई।। i.e. In this lineage starting from King Raghu, it was a tradition to sacrifice even their lives to save their promises. This extreme devotion towards truth connected them with the ultimate truth.
Nevertheless, Ram was life to Dashrath. Known as a symbol of chivalry and virtue, Ram was absolutely innocent. He was an embodiment of truth and morality. Not just Dashrath but all the citizens of Ayodhya adored him tremendously and looked forward to his leadership. This unexpected and undue demand created a severe paradoxical situation for Dashrath – promise versus duty, truth versus love, personal religion versus social responsibility. In any case, he was at a loss and hence could not make any decision. He fell into silence, grieved and disheartened. As soon as Ram learnt king’s condition, he rushed to king’s palace just to find him lying on the ground, horrified and disconsolate. Ram made quick inquiries and learnt the whole scenario. Now, we should notice the role of Dashrath – the father and Ram – the son. King Dashrath did not want to exile Ram; there was no issue in nominating Bharat as king but how could he send innocent and virtuous Ram into forests for no reason? However, he could not say so because he was promise-bound; how could he defy his words?
We may argue that this was no big deal; he could have simply refused to send Ram in forest as it was not just. Moreover, Kaikeyi’s demands were completely erroneous and selfish. We could say so because we barely care for our words and give no value to them; we change our opinions quickly and break promises frequently. Our tongue is so slippery that we needlessly utter many things that are inconsistent, fictitious and incongruous. Yet we go on. On the contrary, Dashrath was a man of his word; he could not break his promise. However, he was a conscientious king and a loving father as well. Here, let us have a look at Ram also. In such a state when his ascension to the throne was already announced, celebrations were started and ceremony was due next morning, everyone was happy and supportive; suddenly, he was exiled. Nevertheless, Ram happily accepted the exile saying it was rather an opportunity to do tapas (austerities for spiritual growth) and live in holy company of saints and sages. Besides, he added, it was a rare chance to fulfill the duties towards his father. Such a grave shift in situation did not fluster Ram. We shall make a comparison here with ourselves; these days for an inch of land, brothers quarrel with brothers and son quarrels with his father whereas Ram renounced not just his position as a king but also the kingdom with all its security and comfort. He did this just to honor his father’s command. However, what is the condition of his father, Dashrath? He did not want Ram to go to woods. Hence, he candidly suggested Ram not to abide by his command rather arrest him and put in prison for unseemly orders. Dashrath insisted Ram to disobey him yet he could not order Ram to stay back being promise-bound.
This is not the end of the story. We need to have a deeper understanding of what, why and how of Ram’s obedience and Dashrath’s deliverance. Ram was well aware that his father would not survive if he went to forest. Dashrath also knew that he could not stay alive without Ram. In spite of this condition of them both, Dashrath did not stopped Ram from exile and Ram went to forest just to save his father’s promise. Can we see how sacred this relation between father and son is? Dashrath persisted for the sake of truthfulness and so did Ram. Message is clear – One must not be reluctant to relinquish all the worldly possessions, position and pleasures for the sake of his words, his promise as keeping a promise means being truthful. Truth forms the core of a promise. This truthfulness is shraddha (faith or devotion). Ram demonstrates shraddha in form of obedience towards his father while Dashrath reveals shraddha in form of extreme love for his son. Every sacred relation demands sacrifice.
Story continues but now it is time for us to run a check on ourselves – If we don’t obey our elders then what is the reason? Money or material possessions! If brothers are quarrelling with each other then what is the reason? Money or material possessions! One must understand, where money, material possessions and other petty things are the motive, how could almighty God stay there? However, if someone willingly sacrifices money, material and physical comfort for the sake of obedience or truthfulness then this act awakens the inner potential and give rise to vairagya (dispassion or disinterest in materialism). Such an act is similar to observing austerities that purifies our heart to give way to the manifestation of divinity there.
Although, throughout we had been talking about obeying father’s command but of what sort? Obviously, a command that involves sacrifice of selfishness and suggests common welfare; a command that induces love, devotion, dispassion in lieu of materialism; a command that opens a path to attainment of highest truth or almighty God; and this is possible only by having sharddha and love for each other. Nevertheless, we usually see the opposite in the world – people not only overlook mistakes of elders but also adapt to them. This is not shraddha. Whatever binds us with materialism is not shraddha but attachment. Giving or obeying materialistic instructions is attachment not shraddha. Remember, family is the basis to develop shraddha and hence we should be careful with every relation on both the ends. If we cannot love and help each other in a family to observe truthfulness and grow spiritually then how could we follow true saints or scriptures?