The Mother Divine
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By Kinkar Vitthal Ramanuja
(Excerpts from Shri Vithhal Uvaac)

The burden of a surrendered soul is borne by God. what’s more, God doesn’t hesitate in anointing his forehead with the dust of devotee’s feet.

Krishna once fell sick. Several physicians came and tried their best but nobody could cure Him. Then the Lord suggested His own medicine. “If a devotee of mine kindly gives the dust of his or her feet as medicine to be rubbed on My head, I’ll be cured.”

Now, Narada set out to secure the remedy. He approached all the devotees of Krishna, “Give me the dust of your feet. Krishna is suffering.” But everyone shied away saying: “No, no, no! How can I give the dust of my feet? Krishna is God. I can’t think of such abomination.” But when the gopis (cow-herding girls of Vrindavan) were approached, they said “O Narada! Take it, take it immediately.” People told them, “Don’t do this. It’s an offence that will drive you to hell.” However, the gopis, full of true love, did not think giving the dust of their feet to Krishna would send them to hell. They said, “Never mind, I shall go to hell and stay there for ages; it doesn’t matter, but let Krishna be cured.”

Krishna was cured with the dust of gopi’s feet. It was all his leela, a test of devotion.

Thakur has said, “The mind and the vital air of the bhakta travels to the sushumna channel and enters it. By resorting to the “ma” of Aum (consonant without the inherent vowel) as ma ma ma, one can abide in pranava (Aum), the lovely essence of essences, embodiment of Truth-Consciousness–Bliss compact, on a continuous basis."

Q. ‘Nasti teshu jati-vidya-rupa-kula-dhana-kriyadi-bhedah’ (Narada Bhakti Sutra 9-72)
There are no distinctions among such pure devotees in terms of social class, education, bodily beauty, family status, wealth, occupation, and so on.
What has Sri Sri Thakur said in commenting upon this sutra?

A. There is consideration of adhikara (authorisation) in the Vedic religion, but it’s not there in Bhagavata religion. Whether it’s a Brahmin, low-class person, a woman, a man, an outcast, a foreign barbarian or a beast, everyone has a right over God. When a person intent on worship prays to God with great longing and exclusive devotion, God certainly gives them darshan.

Q. According to Sri Sri Thakur which are the references to bhakti in particular?

A. In the 12th chapter of The Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna has enumerated thirty-six distinctive characteristics of the bhaktas. In the opinion of Sri Sri Thakur, the 2nd chapter of the Bhagavad Gita speaks of Sthithaprajna, 14th speaks of Gunaatita and 12th of the Bhakta –these are different names of the same spiritual state.

Q. When Thakur was in the body, just before having the afternoon meal, he would insist on reciting the shlokas 13th to 19th of the 12th chapter. What in your opinion was the import of this?

A. Yes, that is correct. He would make us recite verses starting with ‘Adveshthaa sarvabhutaanaam maitrah karunaa eva cha, nirmamo nirahankaarah samaduhkha sukhah kshhami to aniketah sthira-matir bhaktimaan me priyo narah.’ He has pointed out in this context that a person of steady intellect and firm devotion is dear to me. He inspired everyone to become a bhakta and endeavoured to inculcate the qualities of a bhakta in us.

Q. In which book do we find a reference to this?

A. Pranava Prem Piyush Bhaashya. Bhakti Yoga.

Q. When does the bhakta attain qualities like advaita etc?

A. At the terminal end of saguna bhakti.

Q. Whether you call him a spiritual aspirant or a bhakta, when does he succeed in gaining equanimity in happiness and sorrow, heat and cold?

A. This happens at the supreme peak of spiritual practice when the bhakta, with the accomplishment of pranava, abides in sushumna.

Q. When we come to the ashram, when we have your darshan, we are delighted. But when we go back, that spiritual high is gone –we’re back to the old state. How do we, redeem ourselves from this?

A. Sthaayi ananda i.e. lasting bliss requires sthaayi anubhava, lasting experience. It’s impossible to gain lasting bliss otherwise.

Q. And what would sthaayi anubhava imply?

A. To gain sthaayi ananda i.e. lasting bliss, sadhaka will have to experience naad and jyoti. One has to resort to abhyasa (practice) and vairagya (centeredness, dispassion). The Lord says in The Bhagavad Gita (6:35) abhyasena tu kaunteya vairagyena cha grihyaten (Mind can be controlled with abhyasa i.e. practice) and vairagya i.e. centeredness, dispassion)

Q. It is said that one must worship serve the Guru with all one’s heart and a concentrated mind. But, you see, mind is restless, how can one control the mind?

A. The way to subdue the mind is through the two-fold expedient of abhyasa and vairagya. Developing a sense of aversion towards worldly objects constitutes vairagya. But by renouncing the vishaya (worldly objects), the object is not gotten rid of. To do that one has to undertake abhyasa (practice). Do you know what that abhyasa, is like? It requires undertaking of vratas (resolves).

Q. Can you please tell us the way to this blessedness? Is it impossible for us to become Ishvara mukhi, turn our minds towards God?

A. Who told you it can’t be done? Of course, it can be done! But you will have to be patient. Thakur has said, “Sadhana does not mean becoming rich overnight. It’s a life-long struggle.” Now, how will you control the mind? The sins we have committed over several lives have created a pleasure-seeking tendency in us. This is the reason even Arjuna says in The Bhagavad Gita: “Chanchalam hi manah krishna pramathi balavad dhridham” 5 (6-34). Ceaselessly chant the Naam. It’s only then both abhyasa and vairagya will come to you on their own. Arjuna has said, his mind is terribly weak. Compared to him, the minds of you and I are quite nothing.
‘The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.’ (Milton: Paradise Lost)

“It’s like that with me, when I see that things are not working, my attachment disappears, and I swing to nishkaam side which is my original state. Haven’t you seen me in Omkareshwar? When I am engaged in meditation, nothing else mattered to me.”

Q. How can one attain anaasakti (dispassion or non-attachment)?

A. To resolve on that which is favourable and to avoid that which is unfavourable. This can give true dispassion. This involves being solely devoted to “Guru Govinda”. It’s a seesaw – worldly object on one end and God on the other. It is only when you develop a deep attraction for God or Guru that true dispassion can be achieved. One must have firm faith in the fact He will deliver us for sure.