Soul Culture Journal - Fall 2008

Contents

GuruDev

Paramahamsa Prajnanananda

Scriptures

Kriya Yoga News

Greetings to all:

In Sept- Oct the Kriya Yoga Institute Fall retreat was held. This wonderful 2 week program lead by Paramahamsa Prajnanananda was on Vedanta in Daily Life: Teachings from Yoga Vasishtha.

Yoga Vasishtha is an ancient scripture in which sage Vasishtha taught the principles of Vedanta to his student Shri Rama when he was in a state of despondency. It is an extremely profound series of discourses providing countless insights of our inner world of consciousness. This scripture, comprising of 32,000 verses, covers all the topics that relate to the spiritual study of a seeker. The teachings are presented in the form of intriguing stories aimed at helping us to understand the concepts of consciousness, creation, dispassion, longing for liberation, existence, dissolution, and ultimately attaining liberation. It illustrates how to attain union of individual consciousness with cosmic consciousness amidst all the trials and tribulations in daily life.

Paramahamsa Prajnananandaji, through his in-depth understanding of Yoga Vasishtha and its application to Kriya Yoga, helped explore how to bring these beautiful and practical spiritual teachings into our daily lives.

Oct was also the month of Vijaya Dashami.

Vijaya Dashami message

Loving and Divine Soul,

My vijaya pranams and greetings to you all.

Today is the Vijaya Dashami, the Day of Victory and Success. Today is the last day of the nine-day worship of the Divine Mother. On this special day I am praying to the Divine Mother to bless all of us with inner strength, peace, and divine prosperity.

The mother is the first symbol of divinity — in the form of love, compassion, knowledge, and strength. The mother is the epitome of sacrifice for the comfort of her child. We are all the children of the Divine Mother. In the Vedic tradition, the Divine Mother Durga is worshipped in the form of Mahalakshmi, Mahakali, and Mahasaraswati.

Mahalakshmi represents success in the form of material accomplishment.

Mahakali symbolizes the strength to eliminate all the vices that make a person weak.

Mahasaraswati is the source of all knowledge that gives joy in the world and spiritual enlightenment.

The three Divine Mothers are essentially one manifested as many; they are present within us in the chakras in the spine. Through sincere prayer and meditation, we can invoke them to create victory in life.

Be strong in body, mind, and spirit.

Meditate and pray sincerely.

Be a child of the Divine Mother and be successful in your life.

With Love,
Prajnanananda

Also in October was the celebration of Deepavali or Dewali.

Dewali message from Guruji:

Loving and Divine Souls,

God bless you all.

Today is the new moon day in October that is celebrated as Deepavali or Dewali, which means the “Festival of Light.” This night is also dedicated to the worship of the Divine Mother for both material and spiritual prosperity.

Why is night considered as significant? Night is dark and a new moon night is even darker. Darkness symbolizes ignorance and as a result it is also possible to commit mistakes. We need light ― let it be the light of the sun or the moon, light of the lamp or the stars, light of knowledge or love, light of the soul or of God ― it is essential for us.

Light is love.
Light is knowledge.
Light is understanding.
Light is beautiful.
Light leads us from misery.
Light shows the path.

It reminds me of the Vedic Prayer:

"O Lord! Lead us from falsehood to truth, from darkness to light, and from death to immortality.”

Let us all have a life of love and devotion and peace and harmony.
Please meditate nicely and experience inner light.

I am praying for you all.

With Love,
Prajnanananda

In November Guruji sent the below beautiful message to commemorate the US Thanksgiving holiday:

Loving and Divine Soul,

My love, prayers, best wishes, and greetings on the occasion of Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving is a beautiful tradition in America. I have heard it has a long tradition dating from the old Biblical literature. However, thanksgiving is a beautiful practice that every individual, irrespective of culture, nation, or religion, should practice.

Ordinarily we give thanks to someone when we have benefited. But the true spirit of thanksgiving is to be grateful to each and all in every situation, good or bad. We should be thankful toward nature, animals, plants, and even to every situation we encounter. We should be thankful to God in every breath. We should be thankful during every moment of life.

Live with love.
Live with thanksgiving.
Live with gratitude.
Live with prayer and meditation.
Prayer and meditation is the best way of thanksgiving to God and masters.

I am praying for you all. I am grateful and thankful for each one of you and for all that you have done for me. I am invariably grateful and thankful to each and all, living and non-living. My life is for all.

With Love,
Prajnanananda

In Nov- Dec the Kriya Yoga, Miami Lecture Series on Uniting the Spiritual Wisdom
of the East and West by Brahmachari Vidyananda sponsored by Kriya Yoga Institute were held.

These lectures covered the synthesis of Eastern and Western religion and philosophy which offer profound pearls of wisdom, as well as a sense of the oneness underlying all of humankind. Stemming from this, a new consciousness has developed and is rapidly expanding; it is a progressive global philosophical movement which deserves the attention of all. Through offering profound spiritual treasures and a thorough understanding of both Eastern and Western spiritual wisdom, we are offering a series of lectures titled "Uniting the Spiritual Wisdom of East and West," with the ultimate goal of providing a universal human understanding of the oneness of all world citizens, as well as an appreciation for the bridging of traditions from the East and West.

Early Dec was the commemoration of the sixth anniversary of Gurudev's Paramahamsa Hariharananda's Mahasamadhi, from December 3 - 7, 2008. The five-day seminar was be conducted by many yogacharyas in the lineage of Baba Hariharanandaji.

Message from Paramahamsa Prajnanananda for his Guru's Mahasamadhi:

Loving and Divine Soul,

On this special day, I am thinking of my beloved Gurudev deeply and praying for you all. I send my love and prayers to all of you from Gurudev's temple at Hariharananada Gurukulam, Balighai, India.

It has already been six years since Gurudev left his physical body and commenced his cosmic play of love and compassion in his divine form. Time passes very quickly. Human memory is very short, but the divine memory of Gurudev is ever vibrant and radiant in my mind and heart. It gives me strength and inspiration in my life. I am ever grateful to Gurudev, for he transformed my life in every possible way.

Gurudev's life was a life of sincere sacrifice and devoted dedication to God and humankind. His teachings are a valuable treasure for every human being to enjoy. His message is universal and life giving. His exemplary life remains a source of inspiration to many.

On this special day, not only I am thinking of him, but also praying for him to bless and guide us in the path of love and devotion.

He told me many, many times that I have to finish all his unfinished works. I am trying my best to do that. I need your love and strength for this divine mission.

Again, I bow to you all and pray for you all.

With Love,
Prajnanananda

In late Dec the annual Holy Days Seminar from the 24th to 25th of December with Brahmachari Vidyananda, Yogacharya Elizabeth Tackenberg, and Yogacharya John Thomas Lopategui was held at the Mother Center.

Christmas and New Year's message from Guruji:

Loving and Divine Soul,

God bless you.

During the holy days of Christmas and New Year's Day, when the entire world is in festive mood, I send my love and best wishes to you from the core of my heart.

One year has already gone. It is a flow. No one can stop it. We have to accept this change. But along with this external change, we should be ready to change ourselves in love and divinity.

Life is change. One who cannot change is not worthy of living. All change should be for good and betterment. This change should bring inner transformation. As compost is transformed into a beautiful fruit or flower in plants and trees, similarly, we should make our lives divine by moving from darkness to light, from falsehood to truth, from hatred to love, from jealousy to kindness, and from being judgmental to being forgiving.

Time will fly. We should live worthy lives. Then, instead of feeling empty, we will experience completeness, love, and devotion. Remember, without God, life is incomplete. Without love, life is barren. Without selfless service, life is a rocky road. Let us live the life of love and service, giving and forgiving. On this path we expand ourselves; we grow from personhood to Godhood.

Make the best use of time. Do not waste it unnecessarily with trivial worry and emotion, with fear and frustration. Let us live with cheerfulness and a smile. Let us love and care for each other, because by giving we receive plenty.

While celebrating the birth of Jesus, let our hearts be filled with love, compassion, and service. Let the New Year be a year of transformation in love and kindness.

I am praying for you all.
I am sending all my love and best wishes to you to make this New Year a Divine New Year.

With Love,
Prajnanananda

Important Dates to Remember

Tattendorf Ashram Foundation Day – Sept 6

Kriya Yoga Institute Foundation Day – Sept 22

Autumnal Equinox – Sept 22

Mahasamadhi of Lahiri Mahasaya – Sept 26

Birthday of Lahiri Mahasaya- Sept 20

Nine day of worship of Divine Mother – Sept 30- Oct 8

Vijaya Dishami – Oct 9

Birthday of Swami Satyanandaji – Nov 17

Mahasamadhi of Gurudev - Dec 3

Christmas Day – Dec 25

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Invocation To The Guru


Sadangādi vedo mukhe sāstra vidyā
Kavitvādi gadyam supadyam karoti
Manaschenna lagnam guroranghripadme
Tatah kim tatah kim tatah kim tatah kim

“Even if one know the Vedas with all the six limbs by heart, is a great scholar who can compose prose and poetry, it is all of no avail when the mind is not fixed on the lotus feet of the Guru”.

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Message from the Master

Hamsa Sadhana - July 2008 issue

When one gets realization then one feels “I am He” (hamsa). This is the time when the two words ham and sa merge together. The two words which appear to be separate are in reality one word hamsa and this is to be realized through sadhana.

Ham and sa both are God. Your body is not your body; it is the body of God and your psychology is also the power of God. You can judge what is right and what is wrong. Both are conducted by sa – soul. Soul is sa, biological body and psychological body is ham. Ham means “I am”. You are meritorious, you are intelligent and you are educated. Whatever and whoever you are, your whole gross body and astral body is ham, conducted by soul. The soul is sa. If your soul is not there, then your qualification is not your qualification. Your body is not your body. Because sa has left it. The union of sa and ham, are always with you – that you have to perceive, that you have to conceive, and that you have to realize. It is not just to inhale and exhale and chant Ham-Sah, hamsa, so-ham, so-ham, so-ham but you are to experience it.

So you have to feel that any thought is coming any disposition is coming, good or bad is coming from sa, from Soul. Without soul you cannot get any thought. I am He. You have to feel that I am He. You should feel it, every moment. You are not to shout. Any work you are doing you have to watch the work and simultaneously, your breath. But the disposition of work the thought of work is given by Him, accordingly He is working.

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An Excerpt from the Book 'Kriya Yoga'

Paramahamsa Hariharananda

Chapter IV – The Theory of Kriya Yoga pg 79 - 82

THE 25 ELEMENTS OF EVERY HUMAN BODY

Each human body is made of 24 natural elements (prakti) and one Cosmic Element, the soul or purusa. The 24 natural elements are: five organs of perception (jñanendriyas)-eye, ear, nose, tongue and skin; five types of perception from the five sense telephones-sound, sight, smell, taste and touch sensation; five organs of action (karmendriyas)-vãk (talk), pãni (hand), pada (leg), pãyu (rectum) and upastha (genitals); five subtle elements (tattvas)-pthivi (earth), āpas (water), agni (fire), vayu (air) and ākāsa (ether or vacuum) and manas (mind), buddhi (intellect), ahañkāra (ego) and citta (by which we perceive natural phenomena). The aggregation of these 24 gross elements is called prakrti.

Kriyã yoga technique is such a powerful technique that, if a person practises for a short time, he can change his 24 gross elements from the physical (bodily sense) into the divine stage, which is called parāprakrti or parāvasthā (cosmic consciousness). In the yogic scriptures it is called samprajnãta samādhi, which means consciousness about cosmic consciousness.

Along with the 24 gross elements, there is one purusa. Purusa is the power of God. He is the conductor of the life force of every human being. He remains compassionately detached within each human body and is called the invisible body. Without soul, the 24 gross elements of prakrti cannot do anything. There is also marvelous delusion, illusion and error that is given by the purusa to every gross body, which is called kundalini.

In the Guru Gitã it is said:

pindam kundalini saktim
hamsa eti udāritam
rupam bindum eti jneyam
rupati tam niranjanam

The gross body of every human being is called pindam, but that kundalini sakti is remaining in a latent form in the whole body. Until and unless you can withdraw the senses from the coccygeal center to the sacral center, the sacral to the lumbar, the lumbar to the dorsal, the dorsal to the cervical, the cervical to the medulla oblongata and the medulla oblongata to the cortical center, i.e. fontanel, you cannot perceive the indwelling divinity. The sounds of the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet are in the spine between the coccygeal center and the pituitary gland. The first letter ham is remaining in the pituitary gland and the last letter sa is remaining in the coccygeal center. If all of these letters are withdrawn and consciousness is locked in the pituitary, this is the hamsa stage. In the hamsa stage, a person cannot talk. He can only perceive the divinity in the whole body. The gross body is ham and the power of God is Soul or sa. Ham is a dead body; it cannot inhale without sa, the invisible body or Soul. It is said in the Gheranda-samhitã, hamkārena bahir-jāti sakārena viset punah. This means that the exhaled air is ham and the inhaled air is sa. Sa is the Soul. Again, it is said in the Svārodaya scriptures, hankāro nirgame proktah sakārastu pravesane. This means that when the air is exiting through the nose, it is ham; when the air is entering on the inhalation, it is sa, because the Soul is He who can inhale.

Therefore, to reverse this order of hath and sa does not tally with the scriptures.

Rupam bindum eti jneyam means that, if you want to awaken your kundalini sakti, you must fix your attention on a point in the vacuum, a point having no length and breadth. Vinā tal-jahān kamal khilane te hi carahi hamsa keli-kare. Kabir was describing his spiritual achievement and he said, “It is as if my spinal canal is just like a pond where: in the coccygeal center, I am perceiving a four-petal lotus; in my sacral center, a six petal lotus; in my lumbar center, a ten-petal lotus; in my dorsal center, a twelve-petal lotus; in my cervical center, a sixteen-petal lotus; in my pituitary, a two-petal lotus. The latter is called hamsa (swan) and means 'I am He'. Therefore, I am perceiving the hamsa in my whole body.” The thousand-petal lotus remains in the cortical center. There are a thousand propensities inside the brain because of its vastly complex networks of nervous tissue. This is symbolized by the thousand petals.

Inside the gross body, there is the invisible body, purusa. Purusa is doing everything and is similar to the electric current of the body by which the grosss body prakrti (combination of 24 elements) is functioning. The eyes are seeing, ears are hearing, nose is smelling, the mouth is talking, because of these five sense telephones the mind is thinking that “I am the doer. The soul is not the doer.” This is māyā (delusion). When the mouth is speaking or the hand is working or the leg is walking or the rectum is evacuating or the genitals are functioning-these five working organs are not giving us perception that the soul is the only doer. We think that we are the doer. This is the main error of the human being and is the inevitable result of the gross human body.

The five gross elements of every human body are: vacuum, air, fire, water and earth. There are five kinds of vacuums between the pituitary and fontanelle inside the human body:
cidākāsa, daharākāsa, parākāsa, mahākāsa and ātmākāsa

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Gurudev's Teachings

The Place of Worship

In every religion people have their place of worship. The Hindus call it a Mandir, the Buddhists call it the Sthupa, the Christians call it a Church, the Jews call it a Synagogue, the Muslims call it a Mosque and the Sikhs call it a Gurudwara.

The concept of temple is very old. The temple by whichever name it may be called is a place of prayer, study and meditation. It is a holy place where devotees with religious belief come together to spend time in feeling the presence of God through their own way of communion.

Creation as the Temple

Ordinarily the temple is a man made structure of stone and brick but the real temple is the universe itself, which is the temple of God. Upanishad says, having created it, into it indeed, He entered. Thus the universe is the temple where the presence of God is everywhere. There is a beautiful prayer that says,

“0 God, You are in all and all are in you. Your beautiful presence is seen in the endless sky, in brilliant stars, in the shining Sun and Moon, in the cool breeze and the beauty of the flowers and the chirping of the birds. Give me the ability and strength to see you in all and everywhere.”

In the Bible it is said, the earth is his foot stool. One should develop the ability to see the presence of God in nature and should not forget that the entire universe or creation is a holy temple.

The Body as the Temple

The Hindu Scriptures say, “Whatever is present in the universe is also present in the body.” Upanishad (Maitreyi 2:1) avers, “This body is verily the temple of God, in which He is present as the Soul. Those who worship Him with the attitude of “soham” can easily attain freedom and liberation.”

Worshipping in the awareness of soham means to feel, “I am He and I and He are one.” We must maintain this constant union of God in our daily life. This is the real worship. We are to feel the God in others too.

Another meaning of soham is “consciousness of breath — feeling your breath is the breath of God and your life is the life of God.

The Bible also says, “Do you know that you, yourself are God's temple and that God's spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple God will destroy him. For God's temple is sacred and you are the temple.”(I Corinthians, 3: 16-17)

It is also said, for we are the temple of the living God. As God said,”I will live with them and work in them, and I will be their God and they will be my people.” (II Corinthians, 6:16)

House as the Temple

Just as the body is the temple where God resides, your house in which you live is also a temple. Make your house so as to feel the love of God and to worship him with your daily activities.

Let the Temple be for all

Since God is omnipresent let all places of worship of the different religions be open to all. Let all feel that God is everywhere, but at the same time one must stick with and follow his or her own way of life and religious practices. Do not destroy temples means do not hurt others. Let us develop the fellow feeling of compassion and love in our daily lives. Just as there is a special altar in the Temple find a special place in your body temple let it be in the heart or the brain or the top of the head where you can feel the presence of God and consider this as the most holy place.

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An Excerpt from the Book 'River of Compassion'

Paramahamsa Prajnanananda

Chapter-7 The Company You Keep Page 160-163

Jagadguru Swami Niranjana Deva Teertha, the Shankaracharya of Puri

In 1962, after Jagadguru Swami Bharati Krishna Teertha attained mahasamadhi in Mumbai, Swami Nirnajana Deva Teertha was honored as the pontiff of the age-old Shankaracharya Math. Swami Hariharananda always considered this holy monastery as his guru peetha because he was initiated by the Shankaracharya of this peetha and studied scriptures under him. Therefore, he always visited the math and enjoyed a good relationship with the new head. Swami Niranjana Deva Teertha was the disciple of Karapatriji Maharaj, whom Paramahamsa Yoganandaji met during his visit to the Kumbha Mela in 1936. In 1974, when Swami Hariharanandaji was installed as Sadhu Sabhapati, Swami Niranjana Deva Teertha presided over the program. Both of these holy men developed a good friendship and high regard for each other.

Swami Vishva Prananvananda of Chakratirtha, Puri

Swami Vishva Pranavanandaji was a patriot, freedom fighter, nationalist, and highly advanced spiritual person. When he went to Puri, he lived in the Chakrateerth area and spent time with Swami Hariharananda. There is a natural tendency for spiritual people to search for others who are spiritual, to spend time together in good company discussing spiritual matters. On the spiritual path, one cannot always talk about one's own feelings, experiences, and ideas with others. Thus, the two Swamijis developed a close relationship in many ways.

Swami Yoga Jivanananda, the Founder of Mahila Kutira Shilpashrama, Puri

Swami Yoga Jivananandaji was not only a yogi, but also a great philanthropist. In the later part of his life he came to live in Puri. He saw the misery of the women who were widowed or destitute in Puri. The heart of noble people is as soft as butter. Seeing a little pain in others, the heart melts. He thought of founding an ashram for these women and discussed the project with Swamiji, with whom he had already developed a friendly relationship. Thus was created the Mahila Kutira Shilpashrama, an ashram for women, with facilities for cottage industries that provided not only employment for them, but also a good, safe and healthy atmosphere where they could live a dignified life.

Namacharya Baya Baba

Namacharya Baya Baba is a legendary personality amongst saints and mystics of modern Orissa. He was a follower of the path of devotion (bhakti), and the presence of this great, realized siddha purusha flooded the hearts of people not only in Orissa, but all over India. He founded ashrams in different parts of Orissa and in Brindavan, where he initiated continuous chanting of the divine name of the Lord. He remained in silence for a long period and told people to follow the path of spiritual life as taught in the eleventh book of the Bhagavatam. When asked about the secret of his spiritual achievement, he said that the only thing he knew was to follow the instruction of his guruji without any doubt and without expecting any result. He had been doing this, and did not know of any other achievement.

Swami Hariharananda and Baya Baba had a good, loving relationship. Baba Chaitanya Charan Das of the Bhagavata Ashram in Puri, describing the meeting of these two souls at a seven-day program on the Bhagavata at Baya Baba Ashram near Narendra Tank, Puri, said he once found Baya Baba and Swami Hariharanandaji sitting side by side full of love and bliss. One with a darker complexion and the other completely fair, they looked like Jagannath and Balabhdra in human form. Often Swamiji narrated his association with Baya Baba, whose simple teachings he appreciated.

Shri Durga Prasanna Paramahamsa

Shri Durga Prasanna Paramahamsa, the disciple of Swami Nigamananda Saraswati, was the spiritually advanced guide of many seekers. This saint often spent time with Swami Hariharananda, and they shared great love and regard for each other. Durga Prasanna had thousands of disciples and started a well-reputed organization, Shri Guru Sangha, with branches in many places where Swamiji was invited to teach devotees practical spirituality.

Several thousand devotees attended one birthday celebration for Shri Durga Prasanna Paramahamsa in his ashram located in a suburb of Kolkata. Concurrently, there was also a program in the ashram of Brahmachari Anilanandaji in Howrah, where Swami Hariharananda was to give a talk. When Durga Prasanna Paramahamsa heard that Swamiji was in Howrah, he sent messengers there requesting Swamiji to bless him with his presence on his birthday by coming to his ashram so that everyone could benefit from Swamiji's discourse. Such was the relationship between these two great souls.

Brahmachari Anilananda

Acharya Matilal Thakur was the first disciple of Priyanath Karar, later known as Swami Shriyukteshwar Giri, and the first Kriya Yoga acharya in Shriyukteshwarji's lineage. He helped Shriyukteshwarji to carry out the work of Kriya and to spread the knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita. Brahmachari Anilananda was a disciple of Acharya Matilal Thakur who stayed mostly in the ashram at Kadam Tala, Howrah. He was a great guru on the path of Kriya Yoga. He and Brahmachari Rabinarayan were very close friends and helped each other in carrying out Kriya work. When Rabinarayan became Swami Hariharananda, he was invited many times to the ashram to talk about spiritual life.

Mahanta Maharaj of Emar Math

Emar Math, a huge old complex of multi-storied buildings, is situated in front of the Lion's Gate of Shrijagannath Temple. This math was involved in organizing religious festivals and the management of the Jagannath Temple. It also managed a beautiful library of spiritual texts and scriptures known as Raghunandan Library, and helped students studying the scriptures and Sanskrit at different schools and colleges.

The head of this math was Mahant Maharaj, and when he heard about Brahmachari Rabinarayan, he was eager to meet this young enlightened one. Brahmachari Rabinarayan went to Emar Math one evening and paid his respects to the head of the math. At that time, Brahmachariji was wearing white clothing and, around his neck, three rosaries of rudraksha, tulsi, and rose seeds. Mahant Maharaj did not know who he was and asked why he was using three different rosaries representing such different deities as Shiva and Vishnu. The young brahmachari replied politely that all are the same to one who has realized the Truth, and bowing, left the place silently. Immediately after his departure, a man asked Mahant Maharaj, “Did you know that this was the young Brahmachari Rabinarayan of Karar Ashram whom you wanted to meet?” Immediately, Mahant Maharaj sent the man to bring Brahmachariji back. He returned without hesitation and they had a rewarding discussion. Mahant Maharaj asked him to stay in Emar Math and to manage his great hermitage. Although Brahmachariji did not accept the proposal, he grew very dose to Mahant Maharaj, who understood his spiritual experiences. Brahmachariji invited him to preside over Karar Ashram's foundation day celebration.

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An Excerpt from the Book 'Path of Love'

Paramahamsa Prajnanananda

CH 9. CULTIVATING LOVE Page 64-72

Love the Lord your God, with all your heart and with all your Soul
and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy VI:5

In the great Hindu epic, the Ramayana, the story of Shabari, whom I previously mentioned, is of great significance. If you remember she was the young tribal girl in the forest who spent her entire life in God- consciousness, waiting for God to come to her doorstep, as foretold by her Guru. When Rama roamed around the forests during his exile, he appeared one day at Shabari's doorstep, and she realized he was the one she had always been waiting for. Rama, rewarding her years of patience, taught her the way to perceive Divine Love. These nine steps in the Path of Love, are called the Navadha Bhakti, and are beautifully narrated by Tulsi Das in the Ramacharita Manasa.

1. Prathama bhagati santana kara sanga

The first step is to keep the company of saints and sages.

Our mind has been polluted by the strong pull towards pleasure, from our numerous past lives. This is the reason why we do not take to the Path of Love very easily. We need illuminated masters to show us the way, people that are intrinsically compassionate, peaceful and full of love, who will help us ignite and nourish the lamp of love within our hearts.

sādhunām darsanam punyam

To be in the presence of a holy person is in itself a blessing. Monks are moving libraries, and torchbearers of love and spirituality. The purifying influence of the company of holy persons, cannot be over-emphasized. One can develop Supreme Divine Love, just by being in the company of a realized master.

Narada, the great celestial sage, recounted his own experience on how his life was transformed by the company of holy men.

Due to a curse, Narada was born as a fatherless child, and his mother, a humble maidservant in the house of a rich man, worked hard day and night to provide for both of them. She did not have much free time, except late at night. Narada was therefore neglected, he did not know the love of his father, and could not get enough love from his mother. Every child thrives on love and care. Then a miracle happened; he met some monks who came to his village. Narada was immediately drawn to them, and spent most of his time in their company. He watched them praying and meditating, listened avidly to their discussions on the scriptures. Little Narada did not want to leave their company, even if he was hungry, so they provided him with food and shared their meals with him. Narada ended up spending all his time with them, and returning home to his mother only late at night. He felt cherished in their love, and thought of ways to serve them in return, so he started gathering flowers for their worship. The monks were pleased with his service and devotion. After the monsoon rains passed, the wandering monks were ready to travel again. Narada wanted to come along, but the monks refused, aware that Narada was the only son of his mother, and had the sacred duty of taking care of her in her old age. Narada stayed behind, but in his mind he prayed to be free, so he could join the monks. Then, as fate would have it, his mother died of a snakebite while milking a cow in the barn, and Narada became an orphan. He was a little sad to loose his good, hard-working mother but was very grateful to God for freeing him from any worldly bonds. Putting his total trust in God, he set out to find the monks. Once he found them, he spent many years in their company, singing the glory of God and meditating. Narada's mind was so absorbed in love and God-consciousness that he lived immersed in joy all the time. In Hindu mythology, Narada is a shining example of Divine Love, his Aphorisms have been a source of enlightenment for many seekers.

2. Doosari rati mama katha prasanga

The second step is to listen to the stories of those who have experienced Divine Love. The spark of Divine Love can be ignited further by listening to stories of pure Souls who only know absolute love.

Narada, in his Aphorisms on Divine Love, gives the example of the Gopis of Brindavan.

yathā vraja gopikānām

The Gopis were milkmaids from Brindavan, whose lives centered on the Divine Child, Krishna. The sweetness of their love became legendary. They loved him so much that they could not spend a single moment without thinking of him. There are many examples of the Gopis' love for Krishna. One Gopi, while milking a cow, was so absorbed in Krishna, that the sound of the milk falling inside the bucket, sounded like his name to her ears. Another Gopi, while cooking food, was so distracted by her thoughts of Krishna, that she added salt twice. When she realized her mistake, she thought of Krishna once again and quickly served the meal. So Krishna came to her rescue. When the Gopi's father-in-law tasted the food, instead of complaining, he insisted it was more delicious than usual. When a mistake is made, while immersed in God's love, God Himself will find a means to rectify it. Another Gopi was selling milk on the streets of Brindavan, and was so engrossed in the thought of Krishna, that instead of calling out, “Does any one want milk?” she was saying, “Does any one want Krishna?” She was not unconscious but superconscious. When you listen to stories of people who love and live immersed in God-consciousness, it creates an inspiration and ignites the flame of love within you.

3. Guru padapankaja seva tisari bhagati amaan

Apprenticeship in the service of the teacher, without a trace of ego. Service to the Guru is cited by Rama as the third step of devotion.

For a true lover of God, walking the Path of Love, the journey becomes easier if there is a friend on the way. The Upanishads state that only one who knows the way can be a good companion and guide. Only if you have already trodden on the path can you caution, alert and guide your followers. A teacher said to two of his disciples, “There are two ways to reach the hermitage, one is a long way but it is smooth, without many obstructions and the second is a short cut, but the terrain is more difficult. Which way do you want to go?” The disciples did not hesitate to answer, “If you are with us, showing us the way, why should we take the long route, let us take the short cut.” The Guru in this case was Vishvamitra, and his two disciples were Rama and Lakshmana, in the epic story the Ramayana.

The soul center is the seat of the Guru. When Rama comes to the third step and says, “Sit at the feet of the Guru,” he is really instructing us to bring our mind to the soul center. First we need to be established in truth and love, then we can go up or down as needed. The teacher is one who remains above, in the soul center, and does not go below to the emotions of anger, jealousy and greed. A teacher is one who has experienced love and manifests that love through every thought, word and action. A worthy disciple is one who is ready to receive the all-encompassing knowledge from the teacher. Only in this way can we really progress in the Path of Love.

Gora (Chaitanya) bestows the treasure of love,
Nitai (Nityananda) calls all, come, come,
To accept this love, as much as you need,
Look, behold, the river of love flowing eternally,
Take, as you wish, still it is boundless,
This is the tide of Divine Love,
Giving up all your vanity, in the water of love,
Through this love your life will be saturated with peace,
Give up all attachments,
Break the wall of worldly imprisonment,
No one dies in the ocean of love (i.e. attains immortality)
Still dies (ego) and survives (one realizes the truth).

4. Chauthi bhagati mama gunagana karayi kapata taji gaan

To sing the glory of God and become free from hypocrisy is the fourth step.

The fourth step described by Rama is to sing the glory of God. In the Bhagavatam this is also extolled by Prahlada, a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, as a means of attaining Supreme Love.

Narada in his Aphorisms says, 'bhagavad guna sravana kirtanāt', through singing and listening to His glory, you can attain the Lord. Life without devotion and the experience of love can be miserable. When one experiences love within, it manifests everywhere around us. When one goes into deeper states of meditation, many divine qualities develop spontaneously. When singing the glory of God, one can become a good poet or an orator.

Is it necessary to sing the name of God? Does God require our praise? God is all-merciful, singing brings out more love from within us. Singing is a good means of keeping the mind immersed in God-consciousness. It is not a question of having a good voice. Any person who has love within is able to sing.

Prayer also comes under this category. Prayer is an expression of love for God. Prayer should not be to ask for things. Love does not beg. Love demands nothing. How to sing and pray? A mother sings to pacify her child, sometimes the child sings to make the mother happy. God the Mother is constantly singing to us, but are we listening? The uninterrupted divine sound is constantly ringing in our ears, to keep our restless mind tranquil, calm and quiet. During the time of prayer and meditation, listen to the divine sound, and sing back, expressing your love. Sing together, and with an open heart. Say, “Oh God, your love is infinite. Whatever little love I can offer you as a child, I am giving you through my song and prayer.”

Prayer is an expression of love, through our thoughts and words. Whenever the mind is restless, or you feel depressed or unhappy, sing the glory of God. Sing loudly if you can. All negative thoughts can be overpowered through this means, and you will grow in love and devotion.

Man hides his inner nature of jealousy, ego and anger, but displays outward innocence and even apparent love. This is hypocrisy; poison brewing inside while outside only a nectar-like sweetness is apparent. Ordinary people are quickly deceived, but we can never deceive God.

Love purifies life and makes it transparent, like clean water in an unpolluted lake, where the very bottom is visible. Love brings harmony to every aspect of life. When we become content with what we have, we live in joy. True love is like an oasis in the desert of the world.

5. Mantra japa mama dridha vishvasa

Chanting the name of God, with firm belief and faith in Me, is the fifth step as described in the Vedas.

Rama said the fifth type of devotion is through chanting the name of God with unwavering faith. Many religions practice chanting as a spiritual discipline. The Hindus, the Muslims and the Christians all use a rosary, and prescribe chanting as a spiritual practice. Chanting is repeating a chosen name of God, in a mantra or sacred formula.

Chanting is called japa in Sanskrit. Japa can be of three types.

  • Vaikhari japa is repeating the formula verbally, so the sound becomes audible.
  • Upamsujapa is to make hardly any sound, like in a whisper.
  • Manasika japa, is practiced only mentally.

Each step is more powerful than the other. Mental japa needs a maximum of concentration.

Yogis say there is one mantra, which is chanted by all, the mantra known as ajapa gayatri or ajapa japa.

ajapānāma gāyatri prāninām prānavardhanam
nisvāsa svasarupena mantrayam vartate priye

Breath is the ajapa, the unchanted mantra. Any mantra must be chanted in coordination with the breath. Just watching the breath is also chanting.

Chanting should be done with bhava; feeling the presence of God with single-minded devotion.

Saint Kabir, a mystic poet of the 15th Century, explained,

māla to hāth me phire, jiv phire mukh mahi,
manato chārdishe phire ye to sumiran nāhi

When the rosary is moving in the hands, and the tongue is rolling in the mouth, but the mind is roaming in all four corners, this is not japa.

The mind is the instrument we need for spiritual life. Saint Kabir was a weaver by profession, he taught through poetry and lyrics. He had a unique interpretation, he saw the mind and the body as clothes that were given to us when we were born. Since then they had become dirty, through ignorance and negative feelings. It was clearly unfit to be in the presence of God with these dirty clothes.

After many years spent in devotion, Saint Kabir declared to God, “I have finished weaving the cloth (mind) and now I want to color it. What color should I use? I want to color it with Your color, the color of love.”

Chanting with a rosary is good, but watch that your mind does not roam aimlessly, be vigilant about the different type of thoughts you are having, since it is your very thoughts that determine your personality. Thoughts of love, peace, joy, and specially thoughts of God, should predominate over other more mundane thoughts.

yādrsi bhāvanaryasya siddhirbhavati tādrsi

As is your thought so is your accomplishment.

Faith and strong determination are needed in spiritual practice. There was a great spiritual master, Swami Rama Teertha, who lived briefly in America. He was an exceptional genius and a professor of Mathematics, who later on in life, left everything, including his wife, and became a monk. He had been a brilliant student, and on an examination where there was a choice of answering any ten of twenty problems, he would solve all of them, and leave the examiner speechless. He had extraordinary self- confidence. One day, however, while preparing for a test, he had difficulties solving a problem. He sat up most of the night, and finally when he found a solution, he cried out in jubilation. His friends, who were sleeping close by, woke up and asked him how he had managed to solve it. He explained that he had set an alarm to go off in ten minutes and had made a vow that if he could not solve the problem during that time, he would kill himself. His determination was so strong, that God gave him the answer.

Later in life, he went to the Himalayas, and sat for meditation at a particular place and vowed that if he did not get realization he would give up his body by drowning in the Ganges. He was realized. When he came to America, he toured several places and gave many lectures. In his talks he would refer to God sometimes as “He” and sometimes as “She” or even as “It.” One person asked him if his God was a 'Mister' or a 'Miss' and he replied, “My God is neither a 'Mister' or a 'Miss' but is a mystery. When you are chanting the name, feel the presence of God.” He used his well- trained mind and powerful determination to communicate how much the presence of God determined our existence.

6. Chata dama seel birati bahukarama nirata nirantara sajjana dharama

Regulate your lifestyle and follow a specific ideal.

To have discipline and self-control, not to be dispersed in too many activities, and to always follow dharma is the sixth step in the Path of Love.

The Path of Love can be slippery. In the Kathopanishad, the spiritual path is described as kshurasya dhara nisita, a sharp razor's edge. One has to exert a lot of self-control and discipline in order to be successful.

Let us take a close look at our life. God has given us the sense organs, mind and intellect. Love the body as a gift of God. In the body resides the Soul.

The body is composed of the five elements in the five chakras.

  • Muladhara, or bottom center, is the earth center,
  • svadhisthana, or sexual center, is associated with water,
  • manipura, or food center, with fire,
  • anahata, or heart center, with air and
  • vishuddha, or throat center or intellectual center, with ether.

The body is born and it will die. The body is limited. The Soul is ever pure and free. Energy can never be destroyed. It is the mind we have to watch closely since it is the source of trouble.

Mind is a flow of thoughts,

vritti pravaha manah

In the Path of Love, Rama says that self-control depends on achara or habits, and vichara, our way of thinking. What type of thoughts do we have? What do we think about day and night?

The Jnana Sankalini Tantra says,

manah karoti pāpāni
manah lipyate pātakaih
tad manah vilayam yāti tad vishnu paramam padam

Mind can be very helpful, if we manage to regulate it. We must control the mind and the senses. There are two ways to control them. You can refrain from using the mind and senses as in meditation, or you can use them in loving and serving God, during your daily life.

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The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 18, Verse 8)

Paramahamsa Hariharananda
duḥkham ityeva yat karma
kāyakleśabhayāt tyajet
sa kṛtvā rājasam tyāgam
naiva tyāgaphalam labhet

Translation

He who gives up duty because it is difficult or painful even because of fear or physical discomfort, performs rajasic renunciation (material approach). He does not obtain the result of such renunciation.

Metaphorical Interpretation

God has endowed every person with tamasic, rajasic, and sattvic qualities in different proportions. There are ups and downs in material life. Weal and woe come in turns. But people with negative understanding avoid activities that engender physical discomfort, strain, and trouble. Avoiding such work is not renunciation; it is rajasic.

True renunciation is the cessation of desire. Suppression desire and spiritual posturing are not spirituality. If the internal instruments such as the mind and intellect are not properly purified, the suppressed mind will explode with little experience of enjoyment. Suppression leads to explosions that ultimately bring downfall on the spiritual path.

So, by contrast self-effort, fix your attention in the pituitary and then in the fontanel. Watch the living presence of God with every breath. Develop breath awareness. Breath is your life. Your only real work is to watch your breath and love God. Remain constantly alert during every breath and thank him; then you will proceed on the path of realization. If you are forgetful, it will unnecessarily delay God-realization.

If you do not prepare your food with love and take proper food at the proper time, you will encounter difficulties, and you will not have good health. Food is on of the principal requirements of human life. Prepare food with love and offer it as an oblation in the vaishvanara again- the digestive fire in the navel center. Do not think that you are eating food to satisfy your tongue, but as an offering to God. This attitude will accelerate ;your spiritual progress.

If, as a result of deep meditation, you achieve freedom from wordly desire, material ambition, and craving of the sense organs, you will reach Samadhi. To attain this level and to experience constant liberation, you must labor hard and search for God constantly. This is the way. Otherwise, God-realization and liberation is a dream, too far away to be achieved. Avoid all typed of idleness and lethargy. Be strong, bold and active. Proceed steadily on the path of realization.

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Patanjali Yoga Sutra 48

Paramahamsa Prajnanananda
Ritambharā tatra prajñā

Word meaning:

Ritambharā – containing absolute truth
Tatra – there
Prajñā – wisdom, the highest level of consciousness

Translation:

There (one attains) the state of wisdom bearing supreme truth.

Commentary of Shri Lahiri Mahashaya:

In this state, wisdom brings forth ultimate experience. When the mind and intellect are stable and still, one experiences ultimate reality.

Metaphorical Interpretation:

Tatra means there is such state of adhyatma prasada i.e. the stillness of mind etc., when the life becomes full of spiritual joy. It is a state that bestows spiritual wisdom.

There are two types of knowledge describe in the Vedas, the Upanishadas, para, the supreme and apara, the relative or the worldly ones. Here in worldly life, there is always duality, but in spiritual life, there is perception of unity. In the Upanishad also there is description of satyam and ritam which mean truth but having subtle difference.

Rita is the causal truth (karanatmaka Satya). It is the ultimate state of unity.
Ri – that goes (gacchati)
Ta- that which stays (tishthati)

Rita is the truth that is the experience in deep meditation.

Prajñā – wisdom

Gurudev gave a beautiful explanation of jnana, vijnana and prajnana.

Jnana – means knowledge that we receive through the senses and mind
Vijnana – super consciousness - applied knowledge
Prajnana – wisdom; the ultimate knowledge. Prakrishta jnana or perfect knowledge.

Ritambharā: that contains absolute truth.

When the senses and the inner instruments like mind and memory are in the extreme stillness, in other words in clarity and purity, it gives the seeker the state of perception of oneness. The unity of the seer, seeing and seen, allows the experience of all pervasive consciousness everywhere and all the time. All duality and multiplicity disappears. One's life is filled with peace, bliss and joy. This is the state of experience before the dawn of “Nirbija Samadhi”.

But the seeker does not stop here, as it is not the ultimate end. Still the outlook of the “Ritambhara Prajna” is no doubt a great achievement. Clarity and peace in mind and thought, in memory and senses give the stability in intellect and perception.

O seeker!

You have achieved the grace of the Master and the Divine. You have been progressing steadily on the path with sincere effort.

When you are experiencing that state of bliss due to perception of unity, you are on the door of realization. “Knock with love, it will be opened to you” Meditate and be realized.

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