The Mother Divine
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(An answer by Kinkar Vitthal Ramanuj Maharaj)

An unknown sadhaka posed the following in one of our exchanges - If there is no guarantee that Ram Naam can provide me with a job then what is the guarantee that it will give me liberation?

How can I have love for that whom I can’t rely upon?

This disturbed me a little.

The allegation that the Hindu scriptures (perhaps those of other faiths too) over-promise and do not deliver has been an old one. Every now and then we hear people saying I prayed hard, nothing happened. In this instance though, the gentleman was averse to adopting the practice of writing Ram Naam without being vouchsafed a guarantee. I had no answer for him and I turned to Kinkar Vitthal Ramanuja Maharaj. “Maharaj, what does one do in such a situation?”

“Maharaj, there are so many people turning away because they don’t get the promise of the booty that they seek from God. This way the enrolments of the spiritual aspirants can only go down.” I rued.

“This number will always be small,” said Maharaj. “The Gita says:

मनुष्याणां सहस्रेषु कश्चिद् यत् अति सिद्धये   ।
यततां अपि सिद्धानां कस्चिन माम वेत्ति तत्त्वतः ।।

Manushyanam sahasreshu Kahachid yatati sidhaye
Yatatam api siddhanam kahachin mam vetti tattvatah

Among thousands of men scarcely one strives for perfection, and of those who strive and succeed, scarcely one knows Me in truth.

So, you see, only few from thousands and thousands qualify. Spirituality is the highest pursuit; how can the highest pursuit be the calling of the mainstream of population? One works over several lifetimes to win this blessing. You have to pay for it.”

“Pay for it?” I asked.

“Yes. You pay for it with virtue. You perform punya karmas life after life and that punya bears fruits in the form of ruchi, the taste for the spiritual things. Whoever has a natural inkling for the God-talk, for kirtan, for solitude, for meditation, such a person has done virtuous deeds in the last life.”

“Obviously, spirituality is not for all then?”

“Spirituality is not everyone’s cup of tea!” said Maharaj laughing, emphasising the natural rhyme. “You will find this in Christianity as well. Many are called but few are chosen’ (Matthew 22:14). This is the same sentiment as Manushyanam sahasreshu of the Gita.

In the case of Jesus, this statement is the conclusion to the Parable of the Wedding Feast. Jesus spoke this parable to show what the kingdom of heaven will be like when the end of the age comes. In the parable, the king sends his servants out to gather the wedding guests to the wedding feast. But those invited refuse to come, some because they were too busy with their own worldly pursuits and some because they were positively hostile toward the king. So, the king commands his servants to go out and invite anyone they find, and many come and fill the wedding hall. But the king sees one man without wedding clothes, and he sends him away. Jesus concludes by saying that many are called/invited to the kingdom, but only those who have been “chosen” and have received Christ will come.

Whether it is kingdom of heaven or Swarga, not everyone will make the grade. I will tell you another story just like this one.

Uddhava was a very dear disciple of Lord Krishna. He could not bear the sight of the unending suffering of humanity around him and approached the Lord and said, “My dear Master, life is nothing but hurt, pain and misery. All around us we see millions suffering and they seem to have lost all happiness. Some of them have even lost all hope to see happiness. Only you, O Master - the all-powerful and pervading one can put an end to this and take them to the kingdom of God – the kingdom of eternal bliss. The Lord only smiled and said “My dear Uddhava what can I do if people are not willing to enter the kingdom of bliss and eternal peace”. Uddhava could not believe his ears. He thought to himself, this is impossible, people cannot refuse an entry to eternal bliss. And I should check this out myself.  With this intention in mind he set out to find an answer to this puzzle.
The first living creature he met was a pig, wallowing in dirt and muck. “Dear Pig….”  Uddhava addressed him, “living in such filth must be surely miserable. Wouldn’t you rather live in the kingdom of Heaven where everything around you is beautiful and very clean, where everything is ever beautiful and sparkling with joy?”

The pig looked at him doubtfully. He asked, “Does one have children in the kingdom of heaven that you seem so impressed with?”

Uddhava said no they don’t have them. But they are happy all the same.

“The pleasures of Swarga are unimaginable. You have the richest gardens and fruits of the best variety, sparking water flowing in the lakes, beautiful many-coloured birds which you can see only in the heavens, celestial nymphs and precious stones paved all around. You can enjoy the best of foods…”
The Pig thought for a while as if to evaluate the offering and asked, “Up there, will I get the delicious fresh faeces that I love to eat?”

Uddhava, too shocked by now, said No.

The Pig said, “then I am sorry I am not interested in that kingdom – try someone else.”
Vitthal Maharaj laughed as he narrated the end. I saw the irony of the tale and said, “It’s unfortunate that only a few can make it. Does it not seem slightly unfair?”

“No…everyone gets the opportunity,” said Maharaj. “Sri Ramakrishna used to quote this…

The devotees who enter the temple, cannot go out of it without receiving some consecrated food. Some get it immediately while the others have to wait long before being blessed with it. But nobody is denied the privilege of obtaining it. Similarly, mukti is assured for all. Some get it in this birth. Others have to access it after 2-3 births, while yet others have to wait and go through countless births before becoming competent for emancipation. But all are destined for mukti some time or the other. 

This was encouraging. But the haughtiness of the person averse to Ram Naam writing again appeared in my mind.

“Why do people behave like this? Why this ignorance? Can’t they see that they are harming themselves?”

Maharaj now gave me another example from the inimitable collection of Sri Ramakrishna’s pearls of wisdom. “The camel likes thorny bushes but the more it eats, the more it bleeds from its face. Even so, it continues to eat the same thorny bush and does not leave it. The worldly man suffers so much agony, so much sorrow, yet he reverts to his old self quite soon,” Maharaj stopped to explain.
“This is swabhava, the dog’s tail. A person whose wife dies or proves disloyal, marries again. Another one who has lost his son and suffered so much of sorrow, yet he forgets all this in a few days. The mother of this boy, who was beside herself with grief, ties up her hair again and bedecks herself with jewellery. In the same way though people spend all in the marriage of their daughters, they continue giving birth to more children year after year. They lose all in litigation. Yet they again go to law! They cannot feed the children they have, neither can they educate them, nor can they look after them properly, still they beget more children every year.”

“What drives this?”

“Sri Ramakrishna calls this the way of the bound creatures. He mentions a characteristic of the bound soul.  If you remove him from his worldly surroundings to a spiritual environment, he will pine away.  The worm that grows in filth feels very happy there.  It thrives in filth.  It will die if you put it in a pot of rice.”

“Just like the pig in the story!”


“But Maharaj, isn’t worldly life also a creation of God? That person who wants a job is the same person who should seek inner peace and enlightenment. How is this reconciled?”

“This confusion can exist for the Western man. But for an Indian this is already settled by our ancient rishis. In Hindu scriptures, the meaning of human life (Purusharth) is described in the four-fold pursuance of Kama, Artha, Dharma and Moksha, in that order of importance.

Kama is about seeking pleasure.  Artha is the search for material well-being and success.  Dharma is doing what is right.  Moksha is achieving freedom and divine bliss. While Kama and Artha are more rooted in material world, Dharma and Moksha are rooted in the higher spiritual realm. We have to pursue all the four, it’s just that the first two are done in order to achieve a spiritual result.

Sings the English poet Shelly (‘Adonais’, LII):

The One remains, the many change and pass;

Heaven's light for ever shines, Earth's shadows fly.

The English Romantic poet seems to sniff the Upanishadic truth when he says the One remains while the many change and pass. Nevertheless, in order to understand this truth, a spirit of enquiry is required.

Whole Samsara is rooted in the family life and our scriptures clearly define the direction this must take when it says putraarthe kriyate bhaaryaputra-pinda-prayojanam. According to Vedic literature, one should marry just to have a child, putraPutra means son. The derivative meaning of putra is pun-naamno narakaad yasmaat traayate iti putra. So, the child is the one who will prevent the father from going to the hell (called pun) by several shraadh ceremonies. And without wife, who is a saha-dharmini (a partaker in the spiritual perfection) rather than a kaam-sangini (pleasure consort), the son cannot be had. In all other aspects of life too we see that the scriptures encourage samsara without going against the tenets of dharmadharma-aviruddha as Lord Krishna says in the Gita.

The Isha Upanishad puts an end to the conflict of material life and spiritual life when it advocates that a human being must live for a full hundred years.

Kurvann Eveha Karmaani Jijiviset Shatam Samaah |
Evam Tvayi Naanyatheto’sti Na Karma Lipyate Nare

By doing karma indeed should one wish to live here for a hundred years. For a man such as you (who wants to live thus), there is no other way than this, whereby karma may not cling to you.

Raj Supe (Kinkar Vishwashreyananda)