Naath sakal saadhan main heena
Kinhi kripa jaani jan dina
So kachhu dev na mohi nihora
Jin pan raakheo jan man chora
While Sri Ram lived in Ayodhya and went to Janakpuri, (Seetaji’s parental home) people were drawn to Him because of His looks and character. During Sri Ram’s 14 years of sojourn in the forest, His character of Mercy is brought more to the fore-front. In a lot of cases Sri Ram has Himself gone to the Nisaadhan devotees who loved and pined for Him.
He went to the hermitage of Sharbhang who kept staring at the eyes and face of Sri Ram. Sharbhangji says to the Lord, ” I was going towards Heaven when I heard that You were headed towards my cottage, so I dropped the idea of going towards Paradise. I was always:
Chitvat panth raheo din raati
i.e.. looking at the path through which my Lord will come.
Ab prabhu dekhi juraani chhaati
i.e.. Now that I have looked upon the Lord, the burning in my heart has been replaced by immense peace and I wonder what good deeds I have performed to deserve such great favors! Sharbhangji felt totally nisaadhan.
Atriji also tells the Lord, ” I don’t know what penance I have performed that has resulted in the great honour of You coming to my cottage.” Agasti feels the same way and so does Shabri. Tulsidaasji says:
Nar bibidh karma adharma bahu
Mat sokaprad sab tyaagahu
Bisvaas kari kaha daas Tulsi
Ram pada anuraagahu
Which means: A lot of actions, a lot of opinions give rise to confusion and pain. So surrender your actions and opinions to the Lord. Keep full faith in Him and have love for the Lord’s feet.
There was a great saint in Vrindaavan called Udiya baba. He was very well respected. Once he was asked whether he was a believer of the Advait branch of philosophy (which believes that there is only one God and everyone and everything is but a reflection of “That One”). He answered: “I am a believer of Advait (Not two), I am not a believer in any “branch”. How can I believe in any branch, if the Lord is One and everything is His reflection?” People have believed and propagated that which has proven beneficial to them. Thus a man who has been cured by a certain medication will swear by it and another man will swear by another medication which has cured him for the same problem. The patients may fight about the merits of different medication, but good doctors never do. In the above lines Tulsidasji says: “Drop all actions and opinions because their ultimate aim is to love the Lord.”
Once Swami Vivekanandji was asked, “What is poison?” He answered, “That which exceeds its limit is poison” The intellect has been praised by our scriptures, specially by “The Geeta” and yet Sri Krishna says, “Surrender your intellect to Me! Immerse it in me!”
Sukh aur dukh
Joy and sorrow
Joy and sorrow is relative. The very same thing, person or circumstance that brings joy to one, may bring sorrow to another. If you understand the above theory you may stop hankering for a lot of things. For e.g.. Two people are standing somewhere, and a third person comes by. Between the two people standing, one likes the person that has just come and the other does not. The person that has entered the scene is the same and yet he produces joy in one person by his presence and sorrow in the other one. What I am trying to say is that we should know that the source of joy is within us, and that that joy is solely dependant on us and not on any other person and/or circumstance. You cannot get clothes from a kerosene shop. If you want joy at all times and under every circumstance, then go towards the source of joy. Go towards the Almighty! Tulsidasji says:
Jatiheen adhajanma mahimukta kinha asibaari
Mahamand man sukh chahasi aise prabhuhi bisaari
Which means that man wanders hither and thither in search for happiness and forgets the Lord who is verily the Fountainhead of Joy.
Shabri ka dheeraj
The patience of Shabari
One could call Shabari, a true picture of Nisaadhanta. She did not employ any means to achieve the Lord. Her sole refuge was the Lord, she had full faith in Him, One thing she did and that was to wait and wait! She was so much a picture of humility that she would not call her cottage an “ashram” (a hermitage). She felt, “I have not performed any yajna (sacrifice). No sages recite the mantras in my home nor do I have any live-in disciples. When Sri Ram honours my cottage by His presence, then maybe, my cottage will become an “ashram”. But then, how will I recognize Sri Ram when He comes?”
Shabri then remembered her Sadguru Matanga’s words. He had told her that Sri Ram had big attractive eyes, broad arms and a garland that came down right to His feet. So she would be able to recognize Him! But now she was impatient to see Him! She would think of Him constantly!
The Upanishads claim that patience is an important requisite for a Spiritual pilgrim. It takes lifetimes to get a glimpse of the Lord.
When Vibhishanji invited Sri Ram to come to his home after the victory over Lanka, Sri Ram said:” I will not go to anyone’s “home” yet.
Shabri dekhi Ram grah aaye
Which means that Shabri saw Sri Ram entering her home.
Tahi de-i gati Ram udaara
Shabri ke ashram pagu dhaara
Note the word “ashram”. Sri Ram enters Shabri’s ashram.
Aiso ko udaar jag maahi
Which means that the Lord is All Merciful. He elevates the status of His disciples by His grace and presence. He calls Shabri’s home, an ashram. When Shabri saw Sri Ram she fell at His feet. A woman has full right over a man’s feet. Some people consider that derogatory. One must remember that a man’s full support rests on his feet, so in fact the feet enjoy a high status among the parts of a human body. Also just like man needs the support of his feet to stand, so a man needs the support of a woman in taking care of his children , home and spiritual activities.
While we are talking of Shabri and her nisaadhanta – it seems evident by the above episode where Sri Ram enters Shabri’s home, that she knows how to perform three things:
- To wash the Lord’s feet.
- To make the Lord sit.
- To offer flowers and fruit.
She claimed that she neither had any knowledge of the Vedas nor of any other Scriptures. She added that were she to even have the knowledge of the above then : “How could I praise or describe the Lord enough!?” The Lord heard the nisaadhan devotee’s prayer however, and came to her. Shabri could not help crying out: “Main adham hoon!” which means: “I am worthless” three times.
In an auction when an auctioneer calls out the price that the article is going for three times, the deal is clinched. Three times is the ultimate. So it is in the Scriptures.
In the Ramayana when an issue is emphasized, it is said 3 times. Shabri calls herself worthless three times, maybe to bring home the point that she knows nothing, that she is nisaadhan. She feels helpless and considers herself a woman belonging to a low caste. The Lord’s nature is such that, whenever man becomes egoistic about his looks, status, etc. He shatters his ego. Sometimes a blow is inflicted upon a devotee so that he does not become conceited in the future. This is in fact the Lord’s grace and is not an indication that the Lord is not merciful. Vishwamitra chose to be born, a learned high caste Brahmin, maybe thinking that that is the way to achieve the Lord. The irony is, that the Lord chose to be born in a Kshatriya (warrior) family, which is considered lower than the Brahmin caste.
Vishwamitra, (a Brahmin), had to go to King Dashratha’s door, (a Kshatriya), to request him to allow Sri Ram to accompany him (Vishwamitra) to the forest to annihilate the rakshasas. A Brahmin possesses knowledge about the Scriptures and knows the greatness of the mantras, hence the Scriptures enjoin the respect of Brahmins even though they may not have great personal and spiritual abilities. If you have faith in the truth of the Scriptures, as imparted to you by the Brahmin, you will benefit by the knowledge, and your very faith will ferry you across the Ocean of Samsara (delusions). Even though Shabri claims that she is worthless, because of her low caste, Sri Ram eats the fruit that she has previously tasted. Then He says:
Kaha Raghupati sunu bhaamini baata
Maanau ek bhagati kar naata
Jaati paanti kul dharma badaai
dhan bal parijan guna chaturaai
Bhagati heen nar sohai kaisa
Binu jal baarid dekhiya jaisa
Sri Ram claims that love and devotion is what matters. Caste, knowledge wealth, strength, cleverness is as unproductive as a cloud without water. A devotee full of love for the Lord does not ask for liberation (Moksha). Liberation runs after a true devotee ready to serve him. Narsee Mehta, a true devotee asked to come to earth again and again, to serve the Lord repeatedly. Though it is believed that there are certain rituals which are meant for men, or women, or a certain caste; in the case of Shabri, it boils down to the fact that one need not belong to any caste or/and creed. All that is required to achieve the Lord is a heart full of faith and love.
Puja aur Prem
Worship and Love
Shridhar Swami has written that the Gopis were beyond caste. They had so much faith and love that even Naradji had to exclaim! “True love is what the Gopis had.” Love has nothing to do with a high or low position. A man of low caste loves and is loved like a man of a so-called high caste. It is true that there are certain rituals that are supposed to be performed by only a certain caste and/or require a certain methodology. For certain rituals wealth is necessary. Spiritual pilgrims tend to criticize preoccupation with material wealth . However one must concede that without the help of wealth a lot of good work would not be possible. One need however keep in mind that wealth is the means, not the end.
There are rituals where strength is required. People carry the Ramayana and Murtis (Idols) of the Lord on their heads. That requires a certain amount of strength. Ravana picked up the mountain Kailasha (Shivji’s abode) on his head. Ravana required tremendous strength to be able to do that. Ravana used to claim that people knew of Shivji, (who Ravana believed to be his guru and god), because of the fact that he (Ravana) had picked him up along with the mountain. Ravana may have performed a great feat which required tremendous amount of strength but in the process he accumulated a great ego which proves a deterrent for the pilgrims in the spiritual path.
All Powerful Sri Hanuman
Why did Sri Ram send Hanumanji to Lanka? Sri Ram did send Angad later, so why did He not send him earlier instead of Hanumanji?
The mission to go to Lanka was not only to look for Seetaji but also to try and convince Ravana of his foolhardy behavior. Ravana had so far refused to heed to reason. His mother, brother, wife had not been able to influence Ravana to return Seeta. It is believed that Hanumanji is the incarnation of Shivji and the latter is Ravana’s guru, hence the importance of sending Hanumanji to Lanka. Ravana was however so egoistic that he refused to listen to even his guru’s advice.
Also, when Hanumanji crossed the ocean to get to Lanka, he was tempted by the golden mountain to rest on it, but Hanumanji refused to do so until he returned from his mission. Angad and Jamvant, on the other hand, may have succumbed to the temptation of resting on the golden mountain whereas Hanumanji did not.
Mainaak was the son of Himalaya and therefore the brother of Parvati. That made him the brother-in-law of Shivji (Hanumanji’s previous incarnation). When tempted by Mainaak, Hanumanji instead of destroying him, placed a hand on his head and said:
Ram kaaj kinhe binu mohi kahan vishraama
Which means: “How can I rest until I complete the mission entrusted to me by Sri Ram?”
The need for a Guru
Sri Ram sends Hanumanji to Lanka because the latter is the incarnation of Shivji and therefore a great guru. Besides trying to convince Ravana of coming to the right track, he had one more mission to accomplish and that was to take Vibhishan (who was a great devotee of Sri Ram) under his wing.
One cannot achieve the Lord without the intervention of a guru. Vibhishanji owned a tulsi which he tended with care and he had been chanting Sri Ram’s name for years; but until Vibhishan met his guru in the form of Hanumanji, he did not get to do darshan of his Lord Sri Ram. Even Surdasji says that without faith in a sadguru, one cannot achieve the Lord.
Surdasji sings constantly:
Bharoso dradh in charnan kero
Shri Vallabh nakh chandra chhata binu,sab jag mahi andhero
Saadhan aur naahin ya kali mein, jaaso hot nibeiro
Surdas prabhu dvividh andhero, bina mol ko chero
Which means that without the help of a sadguru , and without utter faith in him, it seems almost impossible to find a way out of this dark intricate world. Today, in Saurashtra, Porbandar and Dwarika, there exists a tribe that always dresses in black. When asked why they seem to be in mourning, they claim that nothing remains to rejoice for since Sri Krishna left them! Such is the need for a Sadguru, that life without Him seems worthless. So take refuge under a great spiritual personality. What else can the nisaadhan do but cry for protection, and who to run to but Sri Ram or Sri Krishna or a Sadguru? Tulsidasji sings:
Naahin aavat aan bharoso
Yeh kali-kaal sakal saadhan taru
Hai shram phalani pharoso
Tulsidasji says in the “Vinay-patrika”, that all means to achieve the Lord present one obstacle or another, so his guru has introduced him to a straight clear highway – that of taking refuge in the Lord’s name. When we chant loudly “Jai Sri Radhe” we generally pick both our hands up in the air. What do you suppose that means? By putting our hands up we are saying, “We have dropped all our weapons, we are defeated. We are like tired children, Mother, pick us up!”. The younger the child, the more the mother has to bend to pick him. So become child-like in the Bhakti-marg, the great path of devotion!
Certain means performed , require skill or cleverness, whether they achieve the Lord or not is another matter. Duryodhana invited Sri Krishna home before the great battle of Mahabharata. Duryodhana himself drove the chariot to pick Sri Krishna to invite Him to a banquet of delicacies. However Sri Krishna declined that invitation to instead have a humble meal at Vidur’s place. When asked as to why he made this choice, Krishna answered that Duryodhana’s behavior was “clever” as he had an ulterior motive behind his conduct. You may perform any means to achieve the Lord, but without devotion those means are as useless as a cloud without water. Tulsidasji writes:
Nar bibidh karma adharma bahumat sokaprad sab tyagahu
Vishvaas kari kaha daas Tulsi Ramapad anuraagahu
Jaati-heen adhajanma mahi mukta kinhi asinaari
Mahaamand man sukh chahasi aise prabhuhi bisaari
Sri Ram tells Shabri, “Do not consider yourself of low birth nor without meritorious qualities. Amongst the 9 modes of devotion, do at least one thing. Listen to the “katha” of the Lord with utmost attention.”
Out of the 9 methods of devotion, we must take to that practice which is closely related to our personality. Otherwise like a disinterested student we might listen to lecture after lecture, and yet fail miserably during our examination. If your interest lies in chanting the Lord’s name, you may do so, and if you prefer to meditate, then also you achieve the same results.
In the Aranya-kaand (a chapter in the Ramayana), Sri Ram explains the path of devotion to Laxmanji; and here again Sri Ram is explaining modes of devotion to Shabri.
Sri Ram saved Jataayu ( the bird who fought Ravana while he carried Seeta away). What great qualities did Jataayu have? Jatayu bird not only pecks at, but eats dead animals. Salvation is generally given to people who perform great penances and sacrifices, but in the above episode, Sri Ram not only grants salvation to Jatayu, but also changes his appearance to look like the Lord Hari Himself.
Geedh deh taji dhari Hari roopa
The Lord made Jataayu look like He Himself. The Scriptures do mention that who-so-ever goes to Heaven obtains the appearance of the Lord; except for a couple of signs that belong exclusively to the Lord. What I am trying to say is that Jataayu who had no means to achieve the Lord, was saved. Why was Jataayu saved?
Komal chitt ati din dayaala
Kaaran binu Raghunaath kripaala
Which means that the Lord who is All Merciful showers His Grace on all for no particular reason. In the world people help you mostly because they have an ulterior motive. But not so the Lord. He showers His grace constantly upon you. This provides great hope for the Nisaadhan devotee, who feels that he does not have any means to achieve the Lord. Maybe he feels that he does not possess any particular qualities. Despite the above one requisite is very important for the above disciple, and that is FAITH.
The Faith of Arjuna
During the war of Mahabharata, Arjuna was well aware of what Bhishma had sworn to do, and yet Arjuna slept peacefully, while Krishna paced up and down. When Krishna woke up Arjuna, and asked him, “How can you sleep so blissfully when you heard what Bhishma said today?”. Arjuna replied, “Why should I worry, when you are concerned about me?”
Devotion (Bhakti) is not possible without faith. Faith is the first step towards devotion. It does not matter whether your faith is towards your Sadguru or the Lord. Yesterday someone asked me, “How does the grace of the Lord descend?” Tusidasji has given us many keys to open the lock of the Grace of the Lord – One of the keys is to stop being clever in our thoughts, speech and actions. In other words become child-like, simple, and the grace and love of the Lord will be bestowed upon you. Have full faith in you Sadguru and Lord and know in your heart that you have nothing to worry about while He looks after you!
Naath sakal saadhan main heena
Kinhi kripa jaani jan deena
So kachhu dev na mohi nihora
Nij pan raakheo jan man chora
Then why do the Scriptures speak about “offer this” “Do that”? What the scriptures are trying to say is that you may offer the Lord anything you may desire, but know that what-so-ever you offer to Him actually comes from Him. The Ganga emanates from Shivji and we pour Ganga water on the Shiv-Lingam! Like a Nisaadhan-bhakta offer all your Karmas to the Lord. Place them on His feet, and He might just change your life and destiny for the better.
I love it when the Lord says, “Offer me water” All the rivers emanate from Him and he talks of “offering Him water”? Offer Him the tears that flow from your eyes as you think of Him. The Lord says, “If you offer me your tears then I will do the rest for you.”
Krishna told Arjuna at the battlefield of Kurukshetra that if you surrender to Me and let go of notions of right and wrong, then I will destroy all your sins. But one thing is important and that is, that you should have staunch faith! What I am trying to say is that your love and devotion should be like that of Sharbhangji. Cry and think of the Lord. Remember him so much that He becomes obliged to think of us and cry for us!
Krishna would sit on the verandah, look towards Mathura, think of Vrindaavan and cry! What a great sight that must have been! Krishna remembered how He would return in the evenings after grazing the cows; and how the gopis would be waiting impatiently for Him with tears in their eyes. Why, even your eyes fill up with tears as you listen to the katha. A bitter sweet emotion fills up your heart as you listen to the Lord’s escapades. When you sit in your temple and look at your “Ishta” and your eyes fill up for the love of God, know that you are getting closer to Him.
I keep thinking , what else did these simple cow-herds have, except for their tears? It is said that in Kaliyuga (the Iron age), it will be easier to achieve the Lord than to fill up your stomachs. But you will have to find an axiom, an empowering thought given to you by your guru, which will help you along the way. Maybe our Sadguru will put in a good word and make us slip through the Lord’s door. Hold on to the hem of Mahaprabhuji, even if we do not get to the Lord, at least we will have Mahaprabhuji with us. Remember that we get a glimpse of the Lord through great personalities like Mahaprabhuji, Acharya Shankar, Ramanuj, Chaitanya, Meera, Tukaram and Eknaath.
Achieving the Lord is our Birthright
When India was struggling for her Independence Tilakji cried out “Freedom is our birthright!” I proclaim to each spiritual pilgrim, “Achieving the Lord and His Grace is my birthright. I have so many Sadgurus and scriptures to help me. If I am not able to achieve the Lord, then the fault lies with me and with no one else”.
Despite doing everything if you still do not get to Him, then become “nisaadhan”. Cling on to His feet and you will have achieved Him.
Let us sing the Lord’s praise for a while.
Sri Vallabh Vithal Giridhaari
Yamunaji ki balihaari
Nisaadhanta – Preface
Nisaadhanta – First Discourse
Nisaadhanta – Second Discourse
Nisaadhanta – Third Discourse
Nisaadhanta – Fourth Discourse
Nisaadhanta – Fifth Discourse
Nisaadhanta – Sixth Discourse
Nisaadhanta – Seventh Discourse
Nisaadhanta – Eighth Discourse
Nisaadhanta – Ninth Discourse