Soul Culture - Spring 2007

Kriya Yoga News

Greetings to one and all. Hope you are spending 2007 in love, service and meditation and celebrating the centenary of Gurdev in your heart and soul. The centenary celebrations of pujya Gurudev is in full swing with celebrations taking place in India and Europe the first three months of the New Year. Babas centenary celebrations will have a grand finale in Cuttack, India from the 25th-29th May 2007. Several kriyavans from the USA, South America, Europe and Australia are going down to Cuttack to take part in this auspicious occasion. The Mother Center will also be celebrating the Birthday of our Gurudev on the 26-27th of May.

With the arrival of spring the Mother Center has become a hub of activity, with various birds building nests and rearing young ones. It is a great sight to behold as you see Gods creation thriving. The roses are in full bloom and so are the avocado and mango trees. It looks like it is going to be a good avocado and mango season. Come soon and enjoy these delicious fruits from Babas garden.

The Mountain Retreat held during the Easter Weekend under the auspices of Paramahamasa Prajnananandaji was well attended. It was held in a Colorado amidst nature and beauty. The retreat was very inspiring with Prajnananandaji elaborating on the Bible and the significance of Easter. Easter was also celebrated here at the Mother Center with yogacharya Elizebeth Tackenberg. Prajnananandaji sent the following message to the kriyavans on holy Easter.

Easter Message

The Last Prayer of Jesus

Loving and Divine Soul,

I am sending my heartfelt love to you all on this special day in the life of Jesus.

Jesus prayed on the cross: "Father, Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing."

People commit mistakes out of ignorance. If mistakes are found in others there is no need to be worried, as it is the result of ignorance. Let us expand our hearts and forgive. To err is human, and to forgive is divine. Let us always develop this attitude of forgiveness. It will lead us to forget the bad happenings in our lives and to go forward with love. It cleanses the mind and helps us to move closer to God.

Reflect on the beautiful life of Jesus and try to develop this attitude of prayer for others and forgiveness. Meditate more deeply on this special day.

I am praying for you all.


With love,

Prajnanananda

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Invocation To The Guru

gurur madhye sthita visva
visva madhye sthito guru
gurur visva namastubhyam
visvaguru namamyaham
na guroradhikam, na guroradhikam,
tantram mantram puja japam na guroradhikam

In the whole universe the spiritual master is abiding and in the spiritual master the whole creation is abiding. I bow to the macrocosm and the microcosm, to the Guru in the universe and the universe in the Guru. There is nothing greater than the Guru. Even spiritual practices like chanting and worship are not superior to the Guru. I bow to such a Guru.

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Message From the Master

Baked in the fire of yoga and meditation, your mind will be peaceful and focused. The pot made of clay, if not baked if the furnace is raw. If you pour water in the unbaked earthen pot, the pot will break, but if it is baked nicely in the furnace, then you can use it to store water for many years. Similarly in our body there are so many holes, flaws, loopholes, shortcomings, ups and downs and many defects. So we have to first purify the fifty body parts.

By the practice of Kriya Yoga technique you can change your life force into tranquil and peaceful spiritual energy. Feel that you are the power of God. You watch and experience. It is why in every scripture it is written that you have to be born from above through water and spirit. It is said in the Taittiriya Upanishad that if you can lift up your all centers to the soul, then you can remain free and detached. If the soul does not pull breath then you have nothing. You have to remain in a point, in atom. This is formless, no one can touch atom, no one can cut atom, no one can burn atom. Atom means soul, atom means power of God, and atom means God. A point is existence less existence. It is a state where you almost lose existence but you exist.

God is everywhere. In the fire the power of God is there. The fire is God. Water is God. Air is God. That is remaining in your each center. Vacuum is God. Earth is God. So you are to watch, whole day and night. The whole power is already on the top.

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An Excerpt from the Book Kriya Yoga

By Paramahamsa Hariharananda

Chapter III: The Science of Kriya Yoga

Kriya Yoga is a very effective and shortcut technique of Self-realization. This is the best highway to the spiritual kingdom, the grand road for Self-realization. By the practice of Kriya Yoga, a person transcends human consciousness and reaches the divine abode at rocket speed. Living in the world amidst all worldly activity, the practitioner realizes the omnipresent divine existence with the help of divine consciousness and light.

It is not through the study of the scriptures, but through spiritual practice under the direct guidance of a guru that one realizes the Self. Kriya Yoga greatly reduces the time required for emancipation and makes it possible in one birth. It also purifies the blood and keeps the body healthy. Just as light dispels darkness, similarly, by the practice of Kriya Yoga, ignorance disappears and the light of wisdom shines. With the attainment of wisdom, one goes to the next stage (i.e., union with Brahman). At this stage divine blessing flows and the divine play (i.e., lila) is revealed.

The knower of the Self becomes the Self, the knower of Brahman becomes Brahman. By the realization of the Self, all divine qualities are attained and the manifestations of God are known. As piece of wood coming into contact with fire acquires its qualities, likewise, by union with Brahman the aspirant acquires the qualities and power of Brahman, going beyond which he attains supreme bliss. Material powers are nothing compared to this divine realization. Compared to the science of Self-realization, all other sciences are like helpless, ignorant infants.

Like the truth of the research of physical sciences, the beneficial results of Kriya Yoga can be tried and proven in everyday life. Its results can be directly experienced and verified. Just as a person gets a shock by touching a live electric wire, so also, one can experience within oneself divine light, divine sound, and divine vibration by the practice of Kriya Yoga. Such direct and immediate experience deepens love for God; His existence within and all around is felt. Constant meditation brings about the fulfillment of the mission of human life.

The practice of Kriya Yoga is based upon scientific principles and is dependent upon inhalation and exhalation, resulting in concrete supramental development. The essence of Vedanta teaching can be realized through the practice of Kriya Yoga. The main objective of all the yogas and sadhanas is to make the practitioner introvert and the Kriya Yoga technique helps in the quickening of this process. Through other techniques of yoga sadhana, the rousing of the untapped spiritual energy (kundalini shakti) and the achievement of a balanced yogic mind is not easy. But in Kriya Yoga this becomes possible within a very short period, allowing the sadhaka to maintain a divine state of mind. When the kundalini shakti is awakened, the devotee gains some extraordinary tangible perception -- the vision of divine light, hearing of cosmic sound, and the experience of divine vibration in the whole spine and cerebral region. Through the guide or guru, the aspirant of Kriya Yoga acquires such experience at the initial stage of practice.

The Kriya Yoga technique is highly effective and mathematical in its results. The spinal cord is the vital organ of human physiology. The spinal channel, known as sushumna, plays a vital role in the practice of Kriya Yoga. The spinal cord is the divine passage through which the kundalini shakti moves upwards to reach the divine cave in the fontanel. The divine current, which moves upwards and downwards through the sushumna from the coccygeal center to the fontanel, creates a divine magnetic field inside the whole spine and absorbs all the external and extrovert propensities, replacing them with divine calmness. We have in us two types of forces: centrifugal and centripetal. The centrifugal forces, which draw us always to external objects, are controlled and made introvert and lead to the stage of samadhi (the stage of cosmic consciousness).

However extroverted a person may be, Kriya Yoga will turn his external forces inside and make his path of sadhana very easy and successful. Even in the midst of worldly worries and troubles, one can realize God like Shyamacharan Lahiri, the father of Kriya Yoga in modern times, and experience freedom from all worldly attachment.

There is no other food restriction except that one should not indulge in taking liquor or any intoxicating drug that is harmful to the nervous system and health. There is an effective physical posture practiced in Kriya that has direct control over the digestive system and helps in easy assimilation of food.

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An Excerpt from the Nectar Drops

Paramahamsa Hariharananda

Man is the master of his own destiny.
There is nothing in the world, which is not God.
The Soul in you is beyond death, beyond falsehood, beyond darkness.

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Five States of Mind: Part II

By Paramahamsa Prajnanananda

God has given us eyes to see, ears to hear, mouth to speak, hands to work, brain to work, to think. What are you doing? Somebody wrote to me, Is it not good to practice Kriya Yoga and take some drugs? Gurudeva, my Master used to say that it is like whipping a tired horse. If anybody is taking the drugs or creating any such habit, it is like whipping the tired horse.

I was new in Europe, guiding meditation. And in the meditation class, there was one person, sitting with eyes open. I told once, Close your eyes. Two times, close your eyes. If you tell repeatedly to close the eyes, then everybody would open the eyes to see who is not closing the eyes. So I looked at the person and indicated to him to close the eyes. He closed for a while and then again opened the eyes and staring ahead. In the beginning of my teaching of Kriya Yoga, I was guiding with eyes closed. One day Baba scolded me Why are you closing your eyes? You should see what they are doing. Sometimes I open my eyes and look at each and every student and pray for each and every student. And when you meditate, you can see from the face of each and every person, what they are doing. Eyes are closed but the mind is visible clearly on the face. So, after the meditation class, I called this young student. I asked,

Do you take drugs?

How could you know? Yes, I do take.

It is not good.

After a few weeks, the same student came back and told:

I have stopped taking drugs.

Why?

Do you know that meditation gives more joy than taking drugs.

Sometimes our minds are dull, no interest in doing anything. You can find that in the children. Parents are telling them to do things. They have no interest. It is because of tamasic nature. A little higher from tamasic nature is rajasic nature- the quality of activities. I'll do this. I'll achieve this. I'll complete this. Having these goals and trying to reach the goals. And in this rajasic quality, two things might happen. It might create more restlessness within us. Some ambition; if ambition is not fulfilled, some unhappiness. If we achieve some success, then some excitement. And Rajasic people also love some special food.

We have a Cockatoo in our Ashram in Miami. Baba loves that bird. This type of bird, they love to eat chilli, like parrots. If you give chillies, you see how this bird is reacting. Holding in one leg and biting and taking very fast breath with tongue out. Again taking and again biting and again putting its tongue out and breathing fast. If you look at it, you would think why? It is rajasic nature. In the Bhagvad-Gita, in the 17th chapter, there is a description of the food of three qualities of people. Which type of food is liked by whom? Those who are of sattvic quality, it is the spiritual quality, they are more peaceful, calm and quite but not that they are lazy. Thats why Gurudeva used to say, Be active and calm together. Be calmly active and actively calm. Some people, in the name of spirituality, they become lazy. Paramahamsa Yoganadaji said, You should bring a harmony between meditation and right action so that your growth will be balanced. Even when Gurudeva was living the life of seclusion, he was coming out and working. No talk but working. Do you know what type of work? Construction of a pathway with bricks. No other person to help. He was bringing sand, cement, water- mixing it himself. It was the summer time, it was hot. And he was constructing the footpath, the road in the ashram himself. Those who have seen him, his body- it was so beautiful. In India such type of complexion is very rare. And he was young and under the sun, sweating. One devotee, coming and seeing this, was holding an umbrella on his head. And chanting Om Namah Shivaya. Om Namah Shivaya. Om Namah Shivaya. And Baba was a little bit uncomfortable and wondering, Why is this person disturbing me?

So spirituality is the state of calmness and with activity. Three qualities are essential for us daily. If these three qualities are in balance, then it is known as Prakruti. If it is in harmony, it is in balance. If there is an imbalance among the three, it is vikruti. What is vikruti? It is perversion. If there is too much of laziness, if there is too much of activity losing calmness, it will bring agitation. So we need to try to bring balance. And this balance can be brought through breath.

Yesterday, I was talking about the breath. If the breath is flowing in the left nostril, it is tamasic. If breath is flowing in the right nostril, it is rajasic. If breath is flowing equally through both the nostrils, it is sattvic. If the breath is flowing in the left nostril, it is through the ida channel. If breath is flowing in the right nostril, it is through the pingala channel. if breath is flowing equally through both the nostrils, it is through the shushumna channel. If the breath is flowing in the left nostril, it brings laziness, lack of interest. If the breath is flowing in the right nostril- it brings activity and restlessness. If breath is equally in both the nostrils it brings calmness. Those who practice Kriya, the Kriya bow, the Mahamudra, it helps us to bring the balance in breath. We need to bring harmony in our daily life.

Now come to the first state of mind, which is known as Mudha, means dull, fool or lazy. In this state, tamasic quality dominates a lot. In this state, sattvic and rajasic qualities are suppressed. In this quality, only the body and animal nature dominates. In Ramayana, there are three brothers, children of the same parents. One is Kumbhakarna, second is Ravana, the third is Vibhishana. Kumbhakarna was a very typical personality. He was strong with lots of strength. Six months, he would sleep. It is symbolic. And after six months, when he gets up, he is so hungry that he only eats. Eating and sleeping. Whole year is spent in sleeping and eating. But lots of strength in the body. Unused. Sleeping and eating. Other brother Ravana, was always ambitious. I'll do this, I'll do that. I'll achieve this, I'll achieve that. Always trying to get something. Third one, Vibhishana was calm and quite. He was peaceful and God-loving. And these three brothers are our children. Even in meditation class, people sleep. In many places, in many meditation classes, you will find somebody snoring from the back or somewhere. And somebody will go and touch. If somebody is snoring, why should I give my mind to the snoring sound and not to the teacher. People come to meditate. Gurudeva used to say, even though there are others in the meditation class, when you close your eyes just think that there is nobody in the hall. Think that only you and your teacher, nobody else is there. But in the meditation class, if somebody comes late and instead of sitting in the back, comes to the front. Do you know, just like people reserve their place in the restaurant, they reserve a place with some blanket or cushion in the meditation hall, to sit in the front. And even if they are late, they come in the front. And they dont think that when I am going in the front, I am disturbing so many people. If I am late, let me sit in the back silently. So, Mudha mind is the dull mind. Adi Shankara said, O Mind, My foolish mind. Sing Govida. Seek Govinda. Seek God.

Bhaja Govindam. Bhaja Govindam. Govindam bhaja Mudhamate.
Samprapte sannihite kale, nahi nahi rakshti Dukrana karane.

Seek Govinda. Sing Govinda. Love Govinda. O fool, when the time of death comes, nobody will help you.

How can you take out dullness, laziness, lack of interest from our mind. In the clothes, if some dirt is sticking and we want to take it out, we should try again and again to clean it. Similarly, we should try to clean the mind and not allow the laziness to overpower us.

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An Excerpt from the Book River of Compassion

Chapter 6
Acharya to Swami
Phanu Bagdi

"Narayan, Hey Narayan !" - chanting the name of God, with tears rolling down his cheeks, Phanu was coming towards Haripada and Brahmachari Rabinarayan,. He was in divine ecstasy to see his dear Rabi, whom he had worshipped several times in his childhood with flowers and tears. He could see the sainthood in the boy. His vision had come true. Now the same child was a divine soul, a realized person, Brahmachari Rabinarayan. When Phanu, untouchable and of low caste, was about to bow down at the holy feet of this great saint, Brahmachariji embraced him with both his arms. Phanu was like a rushing river merging in the ocean, losing its own identity. He expressed his long cherished desire to get initiated from Brahmachariji. Pure and sacred was the heart of Phanu, though born in a low-caste family. The true seeker in him was expecting a divine touch from this realized soul. It was against the custom for an untouchable to be initiated by a brahmin or to chant the sacred pranava, "Om". To test the attitude of his learned father, Brahmachari Rabinarayan looked at his father's face. His father said, "Please initiate him without any hesitation. It is my wish."

Phanu took a bath and came with flowers wearing new clothes that Haripada brought. He was initiated and progressed very quickly in his spiritual practice. Looking at his quick spiritual evolution and the visible signs of peace, bliss and joy, Haripada used to say, "Phanu is not an ordinary soul. In the previous life, because of yogabhrasta, deviation from the path of meditation, may be due to some mistake, he got such situation in this life."

Jayadurga was a devoted lady of the village of Habibpur and was initiated by Brahmachari Rabinarayan. After her initiation she was so engrossed in her Kriya practice that she was not able to look after the basic needs of life. So a small cottage was built very close to the house of Haripada, where she lived and meditated for the rest of her life.

In the Holy Bible, it is said, "A prophet is not honored in his town." But here was an exception. All the family members and hundreds of villagers took initiation from Brahmachari Rabinarayan and tried to transform their lives. Even today, the older people of the village remember his love and compassion.

Father Haripada progressed rapidly in Kriya practice and was initiated into higher Kriya. Towards the last part of his life he was extremely ill and bed-ridden. Hearing the condition of his father, Brahmachari Rabinarayan visited him with a young man from Orissa and stayed for several weeks. He was personally caring for his father day and night. Serving his father with love became his 'saadhana, spiritual practice.

Even while bed-ridden, Haripada was practicing Kriya mentally. One day he requested his son, "Can you please give me fourth Kriya? Now I am to leave the body. But this teaching will help me in my next life." His wish was fulfilled. Such was his belief and conviction.

Slowly the father was recovering. He had firm faith in his youngest son. Being wealthy and prosperous, he wished to build an Ashram for his monk-son on his own property. He gave all his material wealth, especially gold and jewelry to Brahmachariji and entrusted him with distribution among all others after his demise.

Leaving the young man of Orissa to take care of the father, Brahmachari Rabinarayan left for Puri. Haripada was a good astrologer and knew his own future. Once he called his beloved wile Nabin Kali and foretold that the time of his departure was approaching and that she should be mentally prepared for that. In her destiny, there was eight years of widowhood, but she should not be worried as her youngest son, sannyasi Thakur would look after her very well.

One morning in 1956, Brahmachariji was meditating in the temple of Shriyukteshwarji at Karar Ashram. He saw a brilliant light moving all around which remained in front of him for some time and then disappeared. Brahmachariji opened his eyes. He was convinced that this was the omen of his father's death and disclosed it to the ashramites. At 11 a.m. as they were about to eat lunch a messenger from District Police Head Quarters came to the Ashram. He was also a disciple of Brahmachariji. Looking at him Brahmachariji asked, "Do you have any special or urgent message for me?" He said, "You please finish your lunch. I will wait." Brahmachariji asked, "Did you bring the news of my father's demise?" The police officer was surprised.

On the same day he left for his native place. The death of the father was a great shock for the mother Nabin Kali. She lost consciousness for several days. Rabinarayan managed to bring her back to her senses with his love and care.

The Hindu death rituals are extremely elaborate and continue for several days. Haripada being a reputed and renowned person of the community, many respected and scholarly priests and the principal of Sanskrit College came to participate in the death ceremony. Brahmachari Rabinarayan sat there calm and composed, without any sign of sorrow while all others were weeping remembering the lather's love and care. All the priests and Brahmin scholars were impressed with his complete balanced state of mind and some of them wanted to discuss about spirituality with him.

The father's prophecy was correct. Mother Nabin Kali wanted to come to Puri and live with her youngest son "Sannyasi Thakur" (as they lovingly named Brahmachari Rabinarayan) at Puri. He also did not hesitate to have her do that. Brahmachari Rabinarayan wanted to do his duty as a son even though he had renounced family life. He was like Kapila serving his mother Devahuti (described in the Bhaagavatam, Kapila is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu). He took very good care of her in every respect. Every evening he gave a talk on mythology and other scriptures, not only for the benefit of his mother, but also several widows who lived in the vicinity of the Ashram.

Nabin Kali from her childhood was generous and charitable. Many times she would take money from her youngest son, for someone to dig a well to solve a water problem, or to help someone with their daughter's marriage, or a son's Upanayana. At Karar Ashram she started serving poor women and girls. On the eleventh moon in each fortnight (called as Ekadashi Day) she would ask her monk-son to provide food and clothing to them. Her loving son never said 'no' to his own mother in all such works of charity. She was a source of inspiration to many.

She was also interested in inviting monks to the Ashram and feeding them. Once, the head of Bhola Giri Sannyas Ashram, the Mahamandaleshwar, Swami Mahadevananda Giri, was in Puri. Nabin Kali expressed her wish to invite Mahamandaleshwarji to Karar Ashram and serve him. When a reputed monk like Mahamandaleshwarji was to be invited, there were proper arrangements to be made. More than thirty monks came to Karar Ashram on that day. Brahmachariji (at that time Swamiji) washed their feet, and worshipped them with all due honors. Looking at the expertise of Swamiji in ritualistic practice and knowledge of scriptures, Mahamandaleshwarji was highly pleased.

Everybody in the neighborhood of the Ashram loved Nabin Kali as a mother. Once during her stay in the ashram, she fell ill suffering from blood dysentery. The monk-son (Swamiji) did not hesitate to serve her and clean her. He considered his mother an incarnation of the Divine Mother.

Once some people while visiting the Ashram came to her and bowed down. She offered them seats. During the conversation they requested her to give them some practical advice. She said with love, "Look. I have given a son to you all to give you advice. Please go to him, listen and practice."

She lived for eight years after the death of her husband. Her life was a life of simplicity, purity and love. She left her body in consciousness in the year 1964, in the village home of Habibpur. Her beloved son, even though a Swami, did not hesitate to participate in the death ceremony of this divine lady, whose life was full of love and service.

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An Excerpt from the Book Path of Love

By Paramahamsa Prajnananada

III: God Is Everywhere

In exclusive devotion he bows to the sky, air, fire, water, earth,
heavenly bodies, living beings, cardinal points, trees and the like,
rivers and the seas and all the created beings as the body of the Lord.
The Bhagavatam XI.il.41
hari reva jagat jagadekohari harito jagato nahi bhinnatanu
iti yasya mati paramatma rati sanaro bhavasagara nistarati
Swami Madhusudan Saraswati

"God alone is the Universe and the Universe is God. There is no difference between the two. One who realizes this in every step of life, alone will be liberated."

Love brings expansion, ego brings contraction. Love brings inner joy, ego brings pain and suffering. Love allows us to experience liberation, ego holds us in bondage and drowns us in the midst of difficulties. Love begins from one's own life and expands to infinity. Love has no limits. The highest form of love is to love God, in all His manifestations.

It is important that we love our family and neighbors, but love has to expand further and include all humanity and the environment we live in. After all, we grow in the environment we have created for ourselves.

LOVE AS AN EXPRESSION OF GRATITUDE

Acknowledging the source is love. If you watch a plant in a windowsill, you will notice that all the leaves face towards the sun. Even a little plant can recognize the source of life. Plants grow in two directions; while the root keeps growing down, the shoot keeps growing up.

God created many types of flowers. Let us look at the lotus. The lotus waits for the start of a new day, and blooms when the sun rises. As the sun goes down, the lotus closes in on itself. It is as though the lotus is saying, 'When you are in the sky, I open my heart to you and when you leave, I fold you within me.' Even a little flower responds to the sun with love. We should love the source of life; the sun, the moon, the air, the water and all the elements that are needed for our growth. In one of the Vedic prayers, it is said,

The wind blows and sings the glory of God. The ocean through its beauty and vastness speaks the glory of God ...

The Taittiriya Upanishad (II.1.1.) teaches us,

From that Brahman, which is the Self, produced space. From space emerged air. From air was born fire. From fire was created water. From water sprang up earth. From earth were born the herbs. From herbs was produced food. From food was born man ...

All the elements are the manifestation of cosmic energy. God is present in the entire universe. The mystery of creation is a reflection of the beauty of God.

Our love should reach and encompass nature as a whole. Just as the sun and its energy are one, God and the elements are one. The Vedas connect the five elements to man. From the earth with its five attributes comes food; food is transformed into seed; which includes human seed or the semen and the ovum, which in turn translates into human birth. Thus, man too, is composed of the self-same five elements which make up the external universe. These five elements also constitute the universe within. The Vedas declare that whatever is seen in the cosmos, can also be seen in the human body. The Jnana Sankalini Tantra declares that the entire universe resides within the human body.

LOVE IN RECOGNITION

Love is appreciation of God and His creation. Love is expressed in every action. In the old Indian tradition there are five types of Yajna. Yajna is usually translated as a fire ceremony, but it also means a religious discipline or sacrifice. These Yajnas are special ways of demonstrating love, respect and recognition to the cosmic forces and all elements that contribute to our growth.

The five Yajnas are:

Deva Yajna Offering love to the divine.
Rishi Yajna Offering love to the saints and sages.
Pitri Yajna Offering love to our ancestors.
Nri Yajna Offering love to humanity.
Bhuta Yajna Offering love to all living beings in the entire creation.

Deva Yajna is offering prayer to the divine, or celestial beings. Showing your gratitude and recognition to them for all the benefits you are constantly receiving. They are all aspects of God, and you can show your appreciation by offering you prayer. In so doing you become a more loving person. The sun, the moon, the wind, the earth and the water are all worshipped as deities. To get up early in the morning and see the rising sun, fills the heart with inexplicable joy and renewed energy. We offer a prayer in acknowledgement. Prayer is a way to express our love, it enriches our heart and purifies our mind.

Rishi Yajna is offering prayer and thanks to all the saints and sages who contemplated on God, in the stillness of their minds, and experienced truth while immersed in deep meditation. They have preserved their sacred knowledge for us, and for this reason we should be indebted to them. Truth is God and God is truth. Truth is eternal. There can be two aspects of truth; scientific truth related to the exterior universe, and great spiritual truths related to the universe within. A calm and tranquil mind is fit to discover truth. Newton discovered the laws of gravity by observing an apple falling from a tree. It was not the first time an apple fell from a tree. But it was Newton's calm mind and keen observation that resulted in his discovery. Until a hundred years ago, flying was not so common. Since the airplane was invented by the Wright brothers, we now travel great distances within a short period of time. We should be grateful to these scientists whose efforts and hard work brought forth progress to mankind. Just as scientists experimented in the outer physical world and made interesting discoveries, our saints and sages experimented with the inner world and discovered great spiritual truths that have been preserved and handed down to us, to increase our emotional and spiritual well-being. When reading the Gita, be inwardly grateful to Krishna and Vyasa. While reading the Bible, be indebted to Jesus and his disciples. Because of them this knowledge is available to us. The best way to show them our deep gratitude is to imbibe that knowledge, and to distribute it to others. This is Rishi Yajna.

Pitri Yajna is constantly being grateful to the parents who gave us birth and the family which nurtured us as we grew up. Help parents when they become frail, especially in their old age. If parents are not longer alive, think of them and offer a prayer. Be conscious that you are here because of them. In many places there are special rites performed on the anniversary of departed Souls.

Nri Yajna is to help our fellow beings. Among all the living beings, birds are the only species that do not store food. We store vast amounts and therefore waste a lot, because we are permanently worried and uncertain about the future. The news of an impending hurricane sends people to the food stores to stock up food for several weeks, which might be wasted. We should trust in God, and learn to be fearless. When God is with me and I am with God, what is there to fear? Not only should we loose our fear, but help others to be free from fear. There are too many people that do not have enough food to eat. Many who do not have enough clothes in winter. It is not that mother earth does not supply enough, but it is due to hoarding and wasting. Helping human beings in need is Nri Yajna.

Bhuta Yajna. The word bhuta has several meanings. In this context it refers to the five elements or all the living beings in the entire creation. We should extend our help to all beings in God's creation, including plants and animals.

Birds, animals, insects, plants and creepers need our support. Man with selfish motives, hunts for sport and creates havoc in the animal kingdom. Wars and power-struggles have disastrous consequences. Take care of plants and animals and do not destroy them unnecessarily. The Upanishads teach us that every animate and inanimate object is the manifestation of God's love and energy. Through performing Yajnas, and in every action, we must realize the importance of balance, of maintaining harmony and peace with all that surrounds us. When we expand our love to encompass the entire creation of animate and inanimate beings; plants, rivers, mountains and forests, our love grows towards infinity.

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Elements of Spiritual Development: Part X

By Swami Shuddhananda Giri

A beautiful story from the Lives of Saints about two saints. Jnanadeva (People in Western India believe that he was an incarnation of Lord Vitthala, Lord Vishnu). Very highly realized, like God Incarnate. He wrote beautiful commentary on Gita, called Jnaneshwari Gita. Jnaneshwari Gita is very important. This commentary, he wrote on Bhagvad Gita, is one of the best commentary on Gita. He had so much of knowledge and love. The Commentary by Shankaracharya is also considered to be a very good commentary. It is about knowledge, based upon Jnana. But Jnaneshwari Gita is based upon devotion. And at the same time, there is another saint in Maharashtra, in Western India. His name is Namadeva. Namadeva was a great devotee of the Lord, so much of love. Jnaneshwar was God incarnate Himself. So now these two personalities lived for quite a few years in the same time and same place. So Jnanadeva and Namadeva, they both are walking, going to a pilgrimage. They are in the forest. They are walking for a long time, they did not get any water to drink. Both are very thirsty. They both are in great need of water, as for long time, they could not find the water. So when their thirst became extreme, they found one well, small well but very deep. And they could see that there was very little water at the bottom of the well. The well was so steep, that you can not go inside. And they have no rope or bucket to bring the water up. What to do? Now Jnanadeva, being divinity incarnate, had all the siddhis. With anima siddhi (siddhi to make yourself small, like an atom), Jnanadeva, made himself very small like a fly, went inside the well, drank water and came out. Now Jnanadeva is telling Namadeva that you can do as you like, Now I am satisfied. Namadeva was thinking that I have no siddhis like him. I am a normal person, devotee of God, with no special powers, no mystic power. So Namadava was praying to the Lord, O Lord, if I have even a little bit of love towards thee, then let the water come out to the surface. So immediately the little water was coming up and out to the surface of the earth and Namadeva drank it to quench his thirst. Now you see the two persons. This is a true story. This is not a fiction. This is the true story of two great persons. Around 14th-15th century, they lived. So one has all the mystic powers, because he is God incarnate and the other is the greatest devotee of the God. And the greatest devotee of the God has so much of faith in God that he is telling that if I have a little faith, let the water come up. And for the God incarnate, he has to take so much effort that he has to make himself very small like a fly, go inside and drink the water. But for the devotee, the water came up. The devotee has completely surrendered, O, Lord! It is just you. So the Lord will take care. Because what is life. Life is not just this body and mind. Life is more than that. Spiritual practice means nothing to do with your gross body. This will die any moment. Spiritual life is to clean the astral body and spiritual life is to keep the awareness of the goal all the time.

And the astral body- it has a collection of millions of lives, which we have passed plant, animal and human. Because to get the human birth, the soul has to pass through all the species in the creation. In the end, we get the human birth. So in our astral body, all the impressions of previous lives are stored. All the experiences both positive and negative things are stored there. We have so many good qualities. Devilish qualities are also there. Everything is there. By spiritual practice, we make it clean. Now, this cleanness, we can not make it total with just our own efforts. That is impossible. So let it be there. So what is important in spiritual life, what is important in the life of real spiritual persons - one thing is the total faith in God and Gurus. Total faith in God and Gurus- is Number one. Number two- The continuous awareness that I am a child of God, I am a devotee of God that I am a disciple of My Master. This is number two. First is total faith, complete faith. Second is awareness. Third is the sense of helplessness. These three things, we should remember. This helps. Because this we have learnt from the life of great devotees, because this we have learnt from the life of great saints and sages.

If you have to fight with the mind, if you have to fight with the thoughts, you can not succeed. Because your efforts are limited and astral body is so huge. Astral body is like a circle, whose radius is infinite. You cannot bring the complete cleanliness, as there are so many things stored. And once stored, you cannot erase it. It is there already. All the experiences, from lives and lives, everything is stored. Let it be there but I dont use it at all. God has given us the sense of rationality so we have to think to decide. Everything is there. I have a knife with me, not to kill a person, but to cut some vegetables. But knife is there, so if I want, I can kill a person. Human mind has everything. All the divine qualities, as well as all the devilish qualities. So in spiritual life, to get progress, to get the truth, remember these three things. And dont try to fight with the mind. Dont try to make mind clean. Dont try to make the thoughts clean. Let them come because of the past experiences. What I can do, I can keep total faith in God and Gurus- Number one, which brings the real love for them. Number two- continuous awareness of my true nature. Dont say I am the soul. Say, I am a child of God. I am a devotee, the disciple of my Master. Let this awareness be continuous. The third thing- sense of helplessness. O Lord! Bless me.. O Gurudev! Bless me. O Gurudev! Guide me.

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The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 18, Verses 1 & 2)

By Paramahamsa Hariharananda

Moksa Sannyasa Yoga
The Yoga of Liberation Through Renunciation
Introduction

Without devotion, and without faith in the words of the scriptures and the realized master, one cannot make progress in spiritual life. The scriptures cast their light on the spiritual path and the words of the teacher encourage the student to follow it. Through faith and love and the practice of meditation, the mind becomes settled and the intellect pure.

The holy Bhagavad Gita is the book of life; it is useful for leading a successful life in every way. To experience the truth and to realize it in its complete glory, there is no need for arguments or counterarguments. Breath is the necessity for life. Breath is God. Breath is the means to realization and the link to perfection. Perfection is the goal of life. This is the truth about life. The holy Bhagavad Gita is a guidebook for walking the spiritual path, for attaining emancipation, for finding perfection. If there is one single foundation for successful human life, it is breath control. Through breath control, purity and perfection can be reached.

The principal mistakes in life are attachment to the body and lack of control over the mind. To be aware of your mistakes and weaknesses is good. When you know your vulnerability to weakness, you can learn how to be free from imperfections. This body is a beautiful instrument for reaching the highest state of perfection, but to overcome all the limitations of life, you must be free from sloth, idleness, and doubt. By leading a moral life, you wash away the impurities of mind. Through meditation you can attain eternal union with the supreme self. Always remember, "I am not the body, lam the soulbeautiful, pure, and divine."

This chapter, "The Yoga of Liberation through Renunciation," is the summary of the Lord's teachings.

The lotus leaf lives on the water but is not attached to it. In the same way, we must maintain inner detachment while we live in the world. If a person is attached to the body and considers himself to be the body, the life stream cannot flow smoothly; it is obstructed. The body is a beautiful medium; use it in a moderate and healthy way.

The ultimate goal of life is to achieve perfection in thought, word, and deed. Everyone must attempt to achieve this end. Being established in the divine self in every breath, in every moment, is the key.

In this concluding chapter, the Lord discusses the meaning and purpose of life, the obstacles and weaknesses in human life, and finally the life of inner renunciation and perfection.

Verse 1

Translation

Arjuna asked:

I wish to know the truth of sannyasa (renunciation), O Keshinishudana (Krishna), and also of tyaga (relinquishment or abandonment), and the difference between the two.

Metaphorical Interpretation

The Bhagavad Gita is a detailed and elaborate discussion of spiritual life and meditation. In it, Arjuna is extremely happy to learn about practical spirituality from his divine master, Shri Krishna. He is a sincere student: anxious to learn and ready to practice. When the disciple is really ready and fit, he can easily and quickly make spiritual progress and attain realization. In order to achieve more power and understanding, Arjuna questioned the Lord further and further. This verse is Arjuna's last question in this great scripture of the Bhagavad Gita.

Arjuna addresses the Lord by three names: Hrishikesha, Keshinishudana, and Mahabahu. These three names have beautiful spiritual connotations.

Hrishikesha comes from hrishikanam isha. Hrishik is the senses in the body. Isha is the Lord, the controller. So hrishikesh is the controller, the Lord, the master of the senses. The truly divine master is the master of the senses, not the slave of passion and sensation. The soul in the body controls the senses. The soul is Krishna. The soul is the guru, the master. "O Krishna, you are the master and controller of the senses."

Keshinishudana comes from keshi, meaning the delusive power or negative qualities, and nishudana, the complete destroyer. In this sense, Krishna is the divine incarnation who destroys all the negative demonic qualities. In every human being there are extremely negative qualities: delusion, illusion, and error. He who removes all the negative qualities and reaches the truth can lead all to truth, so all people can be free from delusion, illusion, and error.

Mahabahu means "the mighty armed"full of strength, vigor, and vitality. The marvelous power of God is within every living being, providing strength and vigor. This is mahabahu.

"O Krishna," Arjuna is saying, &qquot;You told me everything, Every human being should try to shun all the negative qualities and avoid the tempting attraction of delusion, illusion, and error. From Your gospels I learned about two things, inner detachment and renunciation, but I am not completely clear about the difference between these two. I want to understand clearly and completely. Please explain it to me."

Although people consider these two words sannyas (renunciation) and tyaga (abandonment) to mean the same thing, there are subtle and metaphorical distinctions between the two. Sannyas (renunciation) and tyaga (abandonment) are always associated in yoga meditation and practical spiritual life.

Essentially, Arjuna is asking two questions:

1. How can I be detached from the material world (maya)?

2. How can I reach the state of sannyas?

Verse 2

Translation

The Lord said:

The sages understand that renunciation is giving up actions motivated by desire, and other intelligent thinkers declare that abandonment is relinquishing the fruits of action.

Metaphorical Interpretation

People have many kinds of ambition and desire. Motivated by all these propensities, they remain engrossed in material activity, which leads them to bondage. When actions motivated by desire are left behind and the seeker remains compassionately detached in the fontanel, this is sannyasarenunciation of action prompted by desire. Those who are somewhat advanced search for their soul without expecting any fruit from their actions; they are tyagi.

Every action has its fruit, but ignorant are those who work to get a result. They do not know what renunciation and relinquishment are. People work in an office to earn money, but they should work for the sake of duty. They should realize that at any moment they may die, and if they do, they will not enjoy the remuneration for their labor. Their money will remain in the office or their heirs will receive the money.

Man is attached to children, relatives, and even his house, but the moment his breath quits, he cannot enjoy anything anymore. Therefore, he should cultivate this feeling: "According to my destiny, I am working. I have a family. For duty's sake, I work. But I will remain compassionately detached, because when I die, the family and the material possessions will not accompany me." When a person works with this understanding, he understands true detachment, and inner detachment will come.

Death may come at any time. A dead man cannot work. The indwelling soul activates man. The body is an instrument. The soul maintains life. The soul is working. Desireless work is called inaction: "God is doing the work. I am only watching Him. I am compassionately detached." This leads to renunciation.

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Yoga Sutra of Patanjali

By Paramahamsa Prajnanananda

Yoga Sutra 43


Word meaning:

Smriti parishuddhan: through purification of memory

Svarupashunya iva: where ones own nature appears to be void, (devoid of its own nature)

Arthamatranirbhasa: shining as real knowledge of the object alone

Nirvitarka- the state of nirvitarka samadhi

Translation:

Through purification of memory, the mind attains (the state of calmness) freedom from its own nature, when the real knowledge of the object shines, it is the state of nirvitarka Samadhi.

Commentary of Shri Lahari Mahasaya:

Nirvitarka Samadhi dawns with purification of memory. In this state, one experiences nothingness, only the reality is perceived.

Metaphorical Interpretation:

In this sutra, there is description of Nirvitarka Sampattih or Samadhi. When one gets advancement in savitarka, slowly one gets ready for nirvitarka state. Nothing is impossible with sincere effort associated with prayerful attitude. Every seeker passes through this stage. Every seeker now has to pass through this path. This is inner path towards self-realisation.

Now look at this sutra.

Seeker! First you need to purify your memory. You have to go through these stages of inner purity and purification:

  • Smriti Parishuddha Purification of memory
  • Svarupa shunya iva Essential Nature appearing as formless vaccum
  • Artha matra nirbhasa Being in the seed state

1. Purify the memory:

Memory is an inner instrument (antah-karana). It is the source of the flow of thoughts. All human experiences in day-to-day life are being stored in this inner storehouse. The periphery of memory increases every day. Negative impression that arises from daily living as well as from the past activities influences daily life.

When a sincere seeker tries to follow a disciplined life at that time, he or she has to filter the thought. Negative and destructive thought, when avoided or not-entertained then they become weak and inactive.

When a sincere seeker practices ishwara-pranidhana (surrender to God), then slowly these eternal memory of mundane experiences gets purified and the real memory of ones true nature is reflected. Then the seeker reaches the next stage.

2. Experience of Formless nature:

With the purification of memory, one dives deep into deeper meditation, at that time no thought (word or shabda) or artha (its corresponding image) appear to distract, rather one experiences calmness, peace and extended love. This is the gradual perception of ones own essential nature.

In this part of the sutra there is use of the word iva- which meas as if or like. It has a deeper connotation. When one is experiencing this state, still it is not the ultimate. It is again an appearance. With more progress in the path, one enters the next stage.

3. Remaining in the seed state:

Thus one is easily remaining in the "atom", the seed or the center-point. But one cannot remain in this state longer. One carries down with the experience of the seed of life and getting ready for the next level of experiences and even beyond, as sage Patanjali is going to narrate in the subsequent sutras.

O Seeker! You have to progress forward. Never allow yourself to be caught into the play of the mind and memory. You have already spent a good deal of your life under their spell. Follow the path, with love and devotion. Your guide in the form of the Divine is eternally present within you. Pray and Try.

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