By Kinkar Vitthal Ramanuja

(Excerpts from Shri Vithhal Uvaach)

Ponder on this statement of Arjuna from the Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna says:

Sishyasthe aham shaadhi maam tvaam prapannam (Bhagavad Gita 2-7)

(I am your disciple, guide me, help me.)

You see, he is using the word prapanna – only if you surrender (like a shishya to a Guru), you can get grace and knowledge from God.

Q. How to be a good disciple?

A. If you obey the dictates of your Guru, become earnest in your conduct, practice ahar shuddhi (purification of diet), perform regular Ishta japa, Guru japa etc. and read the scriptures; in other words, if you follow the instructions of your Guru, you will become a good disciple.

Q. As of now, you are acting as a Guru in the official capacity of the successor of Sitaramdas Omkarnath. As you know, one is happy at the good deeds of the disciples and distressed by the misdeeds – how do you reconcile the two?

A. When I hear that people known to me are engaged in japa, dhyana, swadhyaya etc., I feel great satisfaction. There is a spiritual sense of fulfilment. Imagine that you have planted a tree, you are watering it every day, weeding out the insect-laden leaves, looking at it with concern as you walk around, and so on. You’re anxious the whole time. But as soon as it blossoms, as soon as the tree bears fruits, you experience a peculiar delight. In our lives too, I mean in the lives of sadhaks, there is a similar delight.

In spiritual blossoming lies our ultimate delight. But it’s also true, when some people do not heed the precepts of Thakur, or are unable to follow his instructions and resort to misconduct, I feel unhappy. But this unhappiness is transitory. It is then one thinks — this temporary falling from the path is indeed the praarabddha of the sadhaka. One of these days, he is sure to come back to the path of virtue. Sri Sri Thakur will burn him so that he may drop all the dross and emerge pure like gold. Maybe he is a yoga bhrastha, someone who has fallen from the path shown by Thakur but he will surely return back to Grace.

Praapya punya-kritaam lokaan ushitvaa shaashvatih samaah ShuchiNaam shrimataam gehe yoga-bhrashtoh bhijaayate. (Bhagavad Gita 6: 41)

Meaning in context: There’s a thing to ponder here. You will find one type of aspirant who falls from the path after following the remembrance and worship of God in a short while, while others engage in remembrance and worship of God for a significantly longer duration – there’s a different payoff (spiritual prospect) for these two. While the former are born in rich households, the latter are born in the line of the yogis.

Q. When a person takes a saint as his Guru, it is quite understandable. But believing a lifeless idol made from stone to be a God and worshiping it; that appears to be blind faith. What do you say to this?

A. Sanatana shastras declare, “सर्वं खल्विदं ब्रह्म, नेह नानास्ति किंचन Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma, Neha Nanasti Kinchana”. Everything in the world is Brahma. There is nothing else (in this world) other than Brahma. So when one takes a stone idol, say a Shivlinga, as one’s God and offers seva and worship, where is the place for any doubt? From ancient times there is a well acknowledged belief: “On the banks of Narmada River, हर कन्कर में शिव शं कर है, every stone or pebble is Shiva Shankar.