Beautiful Sparks of the Guru’s Teaching
Shri Anandi Ma gave the following talk at Dhyanyoga Center in Antioch, CA on August 11, 2012 at the retreat held in honor of Dhyanyogi’s Mahasamadhi.
Ram, Ram, Ram, only Ram
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
After Guruji met His final guru and received shaktipat initiation, He made Lord Ram His principal form of worship, of interaction. He also performed many intense practices pertaining to Lord Hanuman — many mantras, the Hanuman Chalisa and so forth. He tried to understand and incorporate deeply the devotion that Hanumanji had for his Lord Ram, completing millions and millions of japa of the Ram mantra, along with intense practice of the Ram Tarak mantra and Ram Raksha Stotram. All His life Guruji did nothing but these mantras and stotrams. With simply the repetition of the name Ram, He would start shedding tears of love and devotion and, just as there are huge tidal waves on the ocean, His heart would swell for the love of Lord Ram.
Along with devotion, He also worked deeply to understand the tattwa, or absolute principle, which Ram represents. The study and repetition of the Ramayana and scriptures like the Yog Vasishtha were His constant textbooks of study, so to say.
With that tremendous will and determination of do or die—as He said, karo yamaro —and with an ocean of patience and faith that was beyond any limits, He held onto those attributes and constantly moved toward the goal. Ultimately, He reached that absolute state, very easily merging and becoming one with with Ram.
As I had the tremendous blessing of being in His presence quite closely, it was a constant experience to see none other than Lord Ram through Him, walking, eating, talking, performing the simple daily tasks of life.
This is the 18th year of Guruji’s mahasamadhi. As disciples, let us all bow down to Him and ask for His blessings so that we may have that same inner intent, the same inner attitude of the heart and mind, the same levels of faith and devotion.
Guruji loved the Ramayana. Whenever He was asked a question, nine times out of ten He would sing a verse from that scripture and then give an answer that correlated to that particular verse. Many times as he read about the incident of Ram’s exile, He would start sobbing like a little baby. He had tremendous inner love for Ram.
The scriptures and also Tulsidasji, the sage and a writer of the Ramayana, state that one intent of Lord Ram’s birth was to teach humanity what we would define as ideal behavior. In whatever role He took on, in terms of a relationship while in the human body, Ram behaved in the most perfect way. He gave us the priceless teaching of how we should interact in all our human relations whether they are relative or friend, king or subject. In all the different roles he had to play in His life, He acted in such a way that, for thousands of years after He left, He sets an example of how one’s lifestyle should be guided.
Tulsidasji himself has not very expressly or openly gone into the tattwa, or essence, of Ram, but there are very beautiful subtle sparks that are hidden throughout that beautiful scripture.
Whenever I read it, I get inspired and motivated to dig deeper, searching for that absolute principle which Ram is. One of the thoughts in that process of contemplation was that of all the thousands of verses—the dohas and the chopais—that Tulsidasji has written, only six are chosen for the process of nyas. Of all the beautiful verses he wrote, why did he select only these six for nyas? They must hold a deeper value and significance.
First, it must be understood that nyas is a very powerful and significant process, a very subtle yet beneficial technique that is used for purification. If you want to meet the Lord, if you want to meet Ram, you have to raise yourself to that level of Ram. He is not going to descend to your level; you have to ascend to his level, and nyas is a step, which can help you achieve that. Through the nyas, which involves touching of certain parts of the body along with recitation of bij mantras, you actually pull in the subtle energies of the Lord through that form. It brings about purification of the body, the mind and the chitta, and can help facilitate the process of merging the soul with the supreme.
The main role of the chopais, the verses, also is to lead the soul from its state of jiva, the individual state, to Shiva, the eternal.
The main role of the chopais, the verses, also is to lead the soul from its state of jiva, the individual state, to Shiva, the eternal. So in that outlook of understanding and vision, these six chopais become very significant. When I looked at the six chopais, firstly I saw that there is one from each of the six chapters, or kandas, of the Ramayana:
- The Balakanda—the first chapter, telling of Rama’s birth and youth,
- The Ayodhyakanda—Rama’s years in the kingdom of Ayodhya
- The Aranyakanda—Rama’s exile
- The Kishkindhakanda—Rama’s time in the forest and His search for Sitaji who has been taken away
- The “beautiful chapter” of the Sundarkanda—the merging again or meeting of Hanuman and Ram
- The Lankakanda—the destruction of the negative forces of the demon, Ravana,
Again, of the thousands of verses from each kanda, why were these particular verses chosen for the process of nyas?
This is the verse from the Balakand where we would do the angustabhyam namaha, hridayaya namaha, the first step of the nyas. Here the beauty of Rama’s character is expressed. It represents the beauty of the intellect of the sages.
But the intent of the Lord, His mere purpose of incarnation, is the welfare of humanity. The word cintamani is used here; cintamani ganapataye namaha, the priceless jewel that can fulfill all desires, grant all wishes. It gives everything from material well-being to the ultimate state of liberation. And, in between that, the stages of understanding the dharma—what is right, what is wrong—and the entire lifestyle based upon those principles. That is the main significance of the history of Ram; that aspect of Ram is his story from the name to the mantra, to whatever is associated with Him. It gives anything and everything the person wants in life.
Caritam raghu-nathasya shata-koti-pravistaram ekaikam-aksharam pumsam maha-pataka-nashanam.
In the Ram Raksha Stotram, which Guruji taught, this very first verse starts with the expression that each and every syllable, each and every letter that has anything to do with the mantra or the word or the personality Ram, will destroy all karma just by listening to it, thinking about it, bringing it to memory, or chanting it.
. . . each and every letter that has anything to do with the mantra or the word or the personality Ram, will destroy all karma just by listening to it, thinking about it, bringing it to memory, or chanting it.
Even when you’re yawning, being very lazy or tired, not concentrated, if you spontaneously repeat the name Ram even in such an unaware, unconscious state, karma is destroyed.”
This chopai is from the second section of the Ramayana, the Ayodhyakanda. Rama is in exile and His brother, Bharatji, has set out to find Him and bring Him back home. In the journey through the forest he meets Guha, an honorable person and devotee of Ram. Bharatji sings that when Ram Himself has embraced Guha, this person is so raised, so divine by that mere embrace that not only he but the entire generations of his family have been liberated. And with that same love and affection he embraces Guha as well.
Vasishthaji, Ram’s guru, is looking on here as a witness and introduces Guha to Bharat as a devotee and a friend of Ram. This is when Bharatji confirms the fact that because the guru has addressed it as such, he is indeed a friend of Rama.
The essence here is that in no matter what mental or physical state the name of Ram is repeated, whether it is with hatred, whether it is with anger, or even if you want to curse Him, in whatever state of the heart and the mind, when the name is repeated it is still liberating.
. . . no matter what mental or physical state the name of Ram is repeated, whether it is with hatred, whether it is with anger, or even if you want to curse Him, in whatever state of the heart and the mind, when the name is repeated it is still liberating.
The understanding is that just as Guha was an individual, he represents you and me, and as he did something where the Lord embraced him, so we also should do something, lead such a life, have such an attitude, have such an aspect of devotion towards the Lord that the Lord wants to embrace us.
Naradji says, “Lord, there are many names that you have and the scriptures, the Vedas, state that each one is more beautiful, more powerful and significant that the other. But amongst all those, it is my prayer and request, Lord, that your name, Ram, become the supermost, the most powerful. When there is a huge collection of negative karma, like a huge flock of birds together, let the removal of all of that simply be this name, Ram. Your devotion is like the night of the full moon, and in that dark night, your name is like that bright moon shining. Let all your other names be like small stars far away, residing in the heart of the devotee.”
This is from the Aranyakand, when the sage, Naradji, arrives. He is the cause of the whole problem of Ram’s having to incarnate so he has come to see Him.
The essence here is that amongst all the names of the Lord, each of course has its own depth and significance, but due to Naradji’s request, the name of Ram became the most powerful.
Shiva tells Parvati, “My Lord keeps everyone like puppets.”
This verse comes from the next chapter, the Kishkindhakand. Ram has just killed the demon, Vali, and Vali’s wife, Tara, is in a very bad state. Tara is naturally so hurt, weeping and crying, upset by the loss of her husband, and Ram is standing there responsible for that death. Ram says, “Your husband is not here in terms of the body but you know that the soul is immortal so why are you so upset, why are you crying?” Then He retracts maya from her understanding so she has that clear vision and understanding of the absolute truth, and all of a sudden, by the grace of the Lord, she has that knowledge and falls at the feet of the Lord and asks for His love and grace.
So this verse shows that on one end the jiva, the individual, is trapped in attachment and attractions of the physical, material world. But if there is a descent of grace from God and guru, then in a split moment that entire situation is reversed, and with the understanding, with the flow of knowledge, the state of the individual changes instantaneously. This is indicating the significance of grace; without grace, that understanding, that vision of the truth of the absolute principle is impossible. In the incident with Tara, in one moment she is absolutely trapped in illusion, and in another moment as soon as Ram reveals the truth, she is completely changed. That is why Tulsidasji has used that word ‘puppet’; that’s how the Lord can control and change situations so easily.
“As soon as the person, the soul comes in front of me, I take complete care. Everything negative is washed away.”
This chopai is from the Sundarkand, and here the Lord is indicating that aspect of surrender. This is from the conversation between Ram and Hanuman. The incident takes place at the time when Ravan has expelled his own brother, Vibhishan, and so Vibhishan has come to surrender to Ram. It was a war situation, war tactics were going on, and naturally when Vibhishan came, there was doubt: Is he a spy, why is he here, what does he come for? Does he have some not so positive motives? Hanumanji goes to Ram with these fears, but Ram says, “No, he has come as he says, he has surrendered, he has taken refuge in me, so I accept him as a devotee and will protect and care for him. Whoever surrenders to me, I will give them those states of knowledge, of yoga, and of devotion, all three paths of realization. That is, whoever surrenders to me, all the three approaches to reach me are opened up. He is free from all fears and he will reach my absolute state.” So this is a very powerful verse indicating an entire science of surrendering, how critical and powerful it is, almost essential on the spiritual path.
. . . whoever surrenders to me, all the three approaches to reach me are opened up. He is free from all fears and he will reach my absolute state.
“Oh, the Lord of the dynasty of the Raghus, with beautiful hands, with your beautiful bow, protect me.You are like a powerful wind, which can easily blow away a huge mass of dark clouds. One of the greatest obstacles in spiritual life is doubt, and you are the fire that can burn away entire forests of doubt. You are the one who is dear to the gods.”
These are the words of Lord Shiva to Ram in this verse from the Lankakand. Here a key aspect is that the individual is asking for protection. Ram holds the bow and arrow. The bow represents the mind; the arrow represents the senses. So, the devotee is asking for protection of mind and senses. These are the steps of pratyahara, dharana, dhyan and samadhi. The absolute principle of Ram is infinite. Just as the depth of ocean can never be known thoroughly, similarly the sky can never be measured completely, it is only estimated. Throughout the centuries many great sages have expressed infinite ways of this Ram tattwa, and of course for many thousands of years the same will continue to unfold. It is my wish, my hope, to spark new and different aspects of that absolute principle of Ram within your hearts so that the darkness of your hearts be removed and your doubts be burnt away, dispelled; and to destroy that big aspect of false attachments.
It is my wish, my hope, to spark new and different aspects of that absolute principle of Ram within your hearts so that the darkness of your hearts be removed and your doubts be burnt away, dispelled;
“Wherever I look, may I see nothing except Ram and Ram alone. In the awake state, in the dream state, wherever my eyes fall, may I have just that single vision. Both inside and outside, in the awake or sleep state, in all aspects of consciousness, may that awareness of Ram be there.”
Guruji of course had mastered being immersed in Ram in all situations. So we need to bring to light within ourselves a tiny flame of that huge aspect. May it be like a pearl that gives tremendous light infinitely and continues to radiate brightness forever, so that whatever you see, wherever you look, you see nothing except Ram. May Ram manifest in your lives. That is my only wish and prayer. May He always be with you.
Sarve bhavantu sukhinah
Sarve santu niramayah
Sarve bhadrani pasyantu
Ma kascid dukhabhag bhavet
Ma kascid dukhabhag bhavet
Om shantih shantih shantih
Shri Ramachandra bhagavan ki jai!