Swami, these days, imitation has become very common. This is
also responsible for young people to go in search of new fashions.
What are Bhagavan's views on this?
It is not good to imitate. Swami often tells the boys:
IMITATION IS HUMAN WHEREAS CREATION IS DIVINE!
Imitation diminishes one's intrinsic abilities and masks one's
intrinsic nature. An example: Once, a crow tried to walk like a
swan. It kept on trying for a long time but could not succeed. In
the end it got fed up and gave up the imitation. But in the
meanwhile, it had also forgotten how to walk like a crow! This is
the ultimate fate of those who try cheap imitation. Always be your
own true self.
Swami, some people say that there is no happiness in their
lives, and that they can never be happy. Why is that?
The mind is the reason for such a feeling. Happiness can
be attained only if the mind is turned towards God. If the mind is
turned towards the world, then life would become painful.
An example: Take a hand-fan and move it towards you; then the
breeze will come towards you. If, however, you move the fan away
from you, how can you get breeze? In the same way, only if the
mind is diverted towards God, can you get happiness.
Swami, what is it that humans should give up?
People think that giving up means that one must renounce
life. What one must give up is attachment - this is the true
meaning of renunciation. Swami Ramanand Tirth had a wife and son [before
he became a renunciate]. After he became a renunciate, his wife
once came to see him. The Swamiji turned his face and said that he
was a renunciate and that therefore the lady should not come to
see him. Hearing this, the lady replied that she had not come
there to see her husband but a holy sannyasi. Ramanand Tirth was
humbled by the reply and felt regret that he has spoken proudly to
You do not have to give up PROPERTIES. Instead, what is
important is to develop PROPER TIES WITH God!
Swami, why don't we receive God's Grace?
This is a totally wrong notion. God treats everyone alike.
The fault lies with individuals. For example, if it rains and you
want to catch the rainwater, you must place a vessel in the rain
with the mouth of the vessel facing the sky. Only then will the
rainwater collect in the vessel. If on the other hand you place
the vessel upside down, how can you expect rainwater to collect in
the vessel? Your mind is the vessel and God is the sky. Turn the
mind towards God; then the water of Grace can surely be collected.
Swami, what is the difference between Bhakti [devotion] and
Bhakti is a state of dualism. In this state, there are two
entities - God and the devotee. The two are so close that they
cannot ever be torn apart or separated. Bhakti binds the
devotee to God. Surrender, on the other hand, is a state of
monism or Advaitam. Once the devotee says there is only God
and nothing else, he ceases to have an independent existence -
he does not exist as a separate entity. The devotee never ever
considers anything as "his". He moves completely away from the
An example: Water and sugar differ both in form and properties.
This is dualism, or the path of Bhakti. Suppose sugar is added
to water and the water is stirred. The sugar will dissolve and
spread throughout the water. In this condition, there is
neither pure water nor sugar; instead, there is syrup. This is
surrender or Advaitam - the devotee offers everything to God
and keeps nothing for himself, including his mind.
Swami, does Love come after faith or does faith come after
There can be no question that faith must come first. It is
faith that takes one to Love. One loves one's mother or friend
because of the faith one has in those persons. If there is no
faith, can there be love for those people? Therefore, if the
question is "which comes first", then the answer is that faith
Swami, some say that experience is the basis for faith while
others say that faith comes before experience. Which is
It is only when there is faith that one can have
experience. Faith is the basis of everything. An example: If
someone who wants to learn swimming says, 'I will first learn
swimming and then enter water', it would be absolutely
ridiculous! Can you learn swimming on sand or on a road? You
necessarily have to learn it in water. Swimming is like
experience and faith is like water. Know for sure that faith
always comes first.
Swami, detachment seems so difficult! It is not at all easy to
give up one's attachment to one's family, relatives, etc.
Actually, detachment is quite easy. In Swami's view,
holding on is more difficult. See here. I am holding on
tightly to this handkerchief. Now I let go. The kerchief falls.
Which is more difficult? To hold on tightly, or to let go? To
hold tight, I must exert pressure with all the five fingers.
This calls for effort. But to release the hold, it is so much
easier! Hence, attachment is more difficult than detachment!
Swami, why is it that we do not immediately get the rewards of
Sadhana [spiritual practice]?
Your approach to spiritual practice is not correct, and
you must understand some essentials. Let Me give an example.
Children commence their studies in the Kindergarten, then go
through school, pass the 10th Standard, then the 12th
Standard, then enter College, and study for the B.A., B.Com.,
degrees etc. How many years all this takes! And how much
effort is required to earn a University degree! If one must
struggle so hard for a mere worldly degree, then is it correct
to expect instant results and rewards when one is going in
quest of the Infinite and the Eternal? It is wrong to expect
Swami, what is meant by Jnana or Spiritual Wisdom?
Jnana does not mean bookish knowledge! It has nothing to
do with scholarship. To acquire Jnana, you do not have to master
numerous books. Truly speaking, Jnana is attained when you
investigate all your shortcomings and get rid of them totally.
Spiritual Wisdom is NOT attained by stuffing the brain!
How to give up the feeling of 'I' and 'Mine'?
A small example will make this clear. There is a rich man
living in a mansion. For protection, he maintains a fierce dog. If
you want to enter the mansion, there are only two ways open to you.
One method is for you to become friendly with the dog. This is
the path of Karma Yoga. Or else, the rich man must come to gate
and take you inside; if he does not come, the dog will not let you
inside. This is Bhakti Yoga. These are the only two ways of
getting rid of the feelings of 'I' and 'mine'. Bhakti is the best
way of destroying ego, which is at the root of the feelings of 'I'
Swami,it is said that we are responsible for our actions, and
that we cannot escape its consequences. Under the circumstances,
what benefit can Bhakti [devotion] confer?
After creating everything, God gave man complete freedom
to do as he liked. But God has imposed a condition. You may do
what you want and enjoy what you desire, but you cannot escape the
consequences. You have to face the result. Therefore, you alone
are responsible for what happens to you. The good and the bad that
happen to you were brought about by you alone. You ask: "Why then
should we have Bhakti?" There is an example that will provide the
You have some land. You may grow onions on it or jasmine -
that depends entirely on your wish. But whatever it is, you must
pay land tax to the Government. In the same way, you cannot escape
the consequences of Karma or your actions. Here there is an
important point. Your income tax is dependent on the amount you
earn. But there are also tax exemptions. In the same manner,
devotion, service, Sadhana, Bhajans etc., all fetch you some
rebate from the consequences of your past actions.
Swami, some say God has no Form while others worship God with
Form. Please explain what the difference is.
This is where many make mistakes. How can one even think
of the Formless if there is no Form to start with? So, Form cannot
be summarily dismissed. You have a form, don't you? Therefore, you
must worship God with Form. If a fish were to worship God, it
would think of God as a very big Fish. The same with a buffalo; it
would think of God as a Super Buffalo. In the same manner, man
must think of God in human Form. As a matter of fact, the worship
of the Formless itself originated from the worship of God with
Form. Without, Form, the Formless has no meaning. An example, you
are here conversing in this room with Swami. Here you are dealing
with the actual Form. Later when you go to your room, you recall
this conversation and that mental recall does not involve actual
physical Forms. There are no Forms now. This is the relationship
between the Form and the Formless. Another example: You have milk
and you want to drink it. You need a cup for that. In the same
way, for devotion you need the cup called Form.
Swami, people say God is Omnipresent. Please explain this.
In the Gita Krishna says: "I am the seed from which
everything came". This means that God is the primordial source of
everything. For example, you plant a mango seed in the ground.
This then becomes a small sapling, grows into a big tree, and then
flowers. Then there are fruits and in each of these fruit there is
a seed. The tree represents Creation; the fruits represent beings;
and the seed in the fruits represent God!
Swami, if God is present in all beings, why then are there
The Vedas declare that God is One. There is no
question of there being a second. Your doubt is, if there is
only One who is present everywhere, why then are there so many
differences amongst beings? A small example will explain the
point. The current that flows through various bulbs is the
same, but the light outputs vary so much, don't they? Some are
bright while others are dim. Why? That is because the wattage
of these bulbs is different. God the In-dweller is like the
current. He is the same in all beings. People are like bulbs;
they differ in their Gunas [intrinsic tendencies], and
hence the differences.
Swami, if we are to progress further on the spiritual path,
how much of Spiritual Knowledge must we have?
Not much, really. Many people are always reading books on
Spirituality. They will be either listening to discourses or
be giving discourses themselves. But what is the use of all
this? Such people do not seem to change at all, and
spiritually speaking, remain where they are. They do not put
into practice what they hear or learn. In truth, there is no
need at all to read many books or hear many discourses.
Progress can be achieved by sincerely following just one or
two important teachings. To commit suicide, a small needle is
enough! It is only to kill others that one needs bigger
weapons like knife, sickle or sword!! Those who wish to preach
to others have to read a lot. Those who want to improve
themselves do not have to read much; they only have to
practice the little they read.
is this Maya [illusion, supposed to be created by God]?
There is no such
thing as Maya; it is all one's imagination. To think that you
are the body is Maya. You mistakenly believe that you
are something [body] that you really are not; that is Maya.
Truly speaking, there is no Maya; it is all one's imagination.
Maya is like the shadow of a tree. What casts the
shadow? The branches of the tree and not the rays of the Sun.
If there are no branches, there is also no shadow. The shadow
called Maya arises from the branches called human
desires. If there are no desires, then there is no Maya