The Mother Divine
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By Kinkar Vitthal Ramanuj

Kinkar Vitthal Ramanuj (Right) with his Guru Sri Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath (Left)

Part – III (contd.

Naam: Sitaram exhorts us through his writings, speeches and conversations, to chant the Naam, sing the Naam, do Japa on the Naam etc. Even though it is clear that by ‘Naam’ he means, the Mahamantra of Kali Yuga, namely the Hare Krishna mantra, on many occasions he also talks of Naam as the name of God (who has crores of names). Examples of such names of God would be: Guru, Ma, Ram, Krishna, Hari, Sri Ramakrishnahari, Narayan, Sri Ram Ram Ram, Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram, Sri Radha Govind Naam Ki Jai Jai, Gopal Jai Jai Govind Jai Jai, Bhaj Nitai Gaur Radheshyam and so on. Sitaram also explained ‘God’ and ‘Allah’ as the names of God. In ‘Taapas Habib’, the play written by him especially for Muslim devotees, he has proclaimed the name ‘Allah’ vociferously.

Even so, in accordance with the instruction of his Sri Sri Guru, the shastras, the divine command of Sri Jagannath, as also his own experience, he preached primarily, the Taarak Brahmanaam of 16 names and 32 syllables:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

After Sri Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, it was Sitaram who preached and re-instituted the Naam across the length and breadth of India.This Naam of 16 names may be chanted by not only the Vaishnavite, but also the Shaivite, Shakta, Gaanpatya, and those worshipping Surya. They obtain their own ishta in the form of the Mahamantra.

A Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jain…each one may worship God, Allah, Buddha, Mahavira or any favorite deity, through the Mahamantra. Devotees from the folds of different religions would approach Sitaram for advice; he would impart spiritual instruction, and initiate them into Yoga and the Mahamantra. Thus the Mahamantra taught by him acquired a universal nature.

A misconception about the Mahamantra is that its use is restricted to the bhakta, being unsuitable for the yogi and jnani. Sitaram, both with his study of scriptures and his personal experiences could establish that the Mahamantra is the wish-fulfilling tree of the kingdom of sadhana. The celibates, the householders, those who have retired into the forests, the renunciate sanyasis, the jnanis, the yogis and the bhaktas…all will surely achieve their respective goal through the Mahamantra.

A distinguishing feature of Naam is that the one, who resorts to it with or without conviction, while sitting in one place or doing routine activities, alone or in company, in a pure or impure state, will be granted his heart’s wish, be it material or spiritual. Asked or unasked, fame and wealth will follow the practitioner. The naamjnani attains brahmajnana and the yogi attains the paramatma.

The subject of Naam brings up the question of it being chanted and sung, as also of it being a mantra for meditation. Sitaram had reached the stage of culmination of Naam sadhana. At this time, Ram Dayal Maharaj, a Guru of the venerable Kriya Yoga path remarked with pleased wonderment on Sitaram’s failed attempts to use Kriya Yoga as a method. He observed that Sitaram had already done so much Japa that these methods are superfluous for him! The latter had already completed all the works of sadhana, he noted. A further discussion on this matter will be taken up in a later chapter.

Ramnaam Likhan: In the context of Naam, another much venerated method of sadhana deserves explanation. Together with the chanting and singing of Naam and the Japa on Naam, another method of sadhana had been instituted by Sitaram, namely the writing of Naam, especially Ramnaam. It is a matter of pride that he could get lakhs of devotees to submit to him crores of Ramnaam in writing. Sitaram also established some beautiful Ramnaam temples for the propagation and protection of Ramnaam. Following in his footsteps, his devotees continue, even to this day, to establish Ramnaam temples. It would be no exaggeration to say that relief from disease and sorrow as well as moksha or liberation may be had by resorting to Ramnaam. To substantiate, Sitaram quotes the words of assurance from the shastras:

Sri Ram Rameti ye vadantyapi sarvadaa
Teshaam bhuktischa muktischa bhavishyati na samshayaha

Those who constantly say or write Ramnaam fulfill to the fullest, their material desires and also attain moksha i.e. liberation.

Pranaam: Another method par excellence, for the attaining of the highest goal of knowing the Divine Supreme, is salutation of Pranaam. In the Gita, in the last chapter on Moksha Yoga, Krishna gives his best friend Arjuna a last piece of advice: Ma Namaskuru; I make a solemn promise to you, that, it is in this form that you are mine. Hence lie prostrate and salute - Bhagavad Gita 18/65
Sitaram preached, Naam and Pranaam as the two universally practicable and powerful practices, especially in the age of Kali Yuga in which beings particularly lack strength to resist evil. He advised following these easy practices, even at the cost of social ridicule. “Forget who you are…a Brahmin, a Shudra…salute all beings, a hen, one who does the most menial work, a cow, a donkey…just all beings. Pranaam is the only method by which you may transcend the mind completely. In this manner, when you transcend the mind, you transcend yourself… and you will discover:

I am Hari and all these entities are Janardan! Cause, action and effects are not different from these. While doing Pranaam, keep in mind that you do Japa on Ram Ram Ram…All that you see, hear, all that you get fascinated by or outgrow… just do Ram Naam Japa. Simultaneously, do Pranaam (The Supreme Path: Sri Sri Thakur: Sri Omkarnath Rachnavali 6)

In short, the methods preached pre-eminently by Thakur are just two, Naam and Pranaam. The whole life of Sitaram is an example of the unwavering practice of Pranaam.

Sitaram always did Pranaam; he did Pranaam to one and all (living and non-living entities). Not merely in temples and at the feet of the sadhu-mahatmas did he fall prostrate in salutation; at the sight of the high drain of Kolkata, he saluted it and remarked, “Kolkata owes its existence to your functionalities.” He saluted a large structure housing a jail, saying, “You are a god representing punishment!”

In the peerless book, Sri Sri Gurumahimamrit, authored by him, he states:

Whether a god or a mere blade of grass, you can see none but the Guru in each of these. In every single speech he never failed to quote from the Srimad Bhagavatam:

Sky, wind, fire, water, earth, moon, sun, the ancient gods, beasts, birds, insects, the different directions, trees, rivers and oceans are nothing but the body of Ishwar or God. With such sublime sentiment and understanding, salute all.