A UNIVERSAL SADHANA
A Garland of Extracts from
Sri Sathya Sai Baba's Discourses
Dear Fellow Pilgrim!
Namasmarana is a spiritual exercise which is simple, sustaining and universally acceptable. The Name by which each person invokes the one God may be in any language; it may posit any type of relationship with God - Son,Servant, Subject, Companion; it may enshrine any one or more of the infinite attributes and achievements of God. In every case, the Name is the sign and signal, the casket that enshrines the Beauty and the Benevolence of the Almighty, the Glory and the Grace of Providence, the Majesty and Mystery of God. When it is recited or remembered with each breath, it provides divine oxygen to strengthen and sanctify our lives.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the World Teacher, has revealed the significance of Namasmarana as an instrument for individual divinisation and social integration - group singing of the Names of God is encouraged and appreciated by Him since the vibrations reduce pollution in the environment and in the mind.
Dr. Brahmanand Mavinkurve has gathered in this book the utterances of Sri Sathya Sai Baba on the value and validity of the sadhana of Namasmarana. Every devoted and dedicated pilgrim will, I am sure, offer gratitude to him for placing this sturdy staff in the hand in order to lighten the step and brighten the path.
NAMASMARANA IN WORLD RELIGIONS
NAMASMARANA - A UNIVERSAL SADHANA
POWER OF NAMASMARANA
A. Significance of Namasmarana
B. Power of Namasmarana
C. Sweetness of Namasmarana
D. Source of Power in Namasmarana
E. Some Examples of Namasmarana
- RIGHT SADHANA AND RIGHT METHOD
B. Name and Form have to go together
C. Meaning of the Name
D. Faith, Love, Yearning for God
E. Constancy in Namasmarana and Purity of Heart
FRUITION OF NAMASMARANA IN CONCLUSION
NAMASMARANA IN WORLD RELIGIONS
Christianity: "Oh,Give thanks unto the Lord, call
upon His Name, make known His deeds among the people. Sing unto Him, sing
Psalms unto Him, talk ye of all His wondrous works. Glory ye in His Holy
Name. Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord."
Islam: "Praise the Name of the Lord, the Most High
who hath created and completely formed His creatures and who determineth
them to various ends and driveth them to attain the same."
Sikhism: "Sing and Praise His endless attributes.
Singing and listening to His Name and keeping Love for Him in mind will
make sorrows disappear and happiness will take the place, wherever you
Hinduism: "Of Him who is One, Sages speak as manifold
and call Him by many Names. The Suras, Maharshis and Siddhas with joined
hands invoke Him and cry 'All Hail', chanting His Praises with resounding
NAMASMARANA - A UNIVERSAL SADHANA
1. "Hindus, Muslims and Christians may differ in some religious customs but they are all one in the glorification of the Name of God. All of them ask their followers to recite the Name of the One Lord, though the manner in which the Name is recited varies from religion to religion. Each one remembers, respects and recites the name as formed in his own tongue. Each one turns the rosary according to the direction of his own religion. All the same, for everyone there is nothing so fruitful, so universal, so holy among spiritual disciplines as this sadhana of Namasmarana, Japa or Dhyana."
2. "The Muslims pray in the Name of Allah, the Jews pray in the name of Jehovah, the Vaishnavites pray in the Name of Phullabjaksha, the Saivites pray in the Name of Shambhu. The one to whom prayers are offered in this manner is the One God for all mankind, though He is addressed and prayed to by the different groups of people by different names."
3. "Know that all Dharmas have One God, that all hearts are motivated by the same God and that all Names and Forms denote only One Godhead. Develop that 'Ekabhav', that attitude of unity and non-differentiation between Divine Names of all creeds, of all countries and of all Faiths. This is the Message of Love I bring to you, which I want you to understand and follow. Spread that Love, live that Love. If that Love must grow in you and become deep and abiding, you have to do the spiritual practice of reciting Names of God, remembering His Love and His Mercy, His Majesty and His Glory."
4. "You can adopt and practise any of the various and countless Names of God as enumerated by Sages of all lands and all languages. When you awaken to the duties of the day, repeat the Name; when you retire after the duties of the day, recite .It again. Have It as your constant companion and inspiration. You can then never falter or fail. You will grow purer and stronger every moment."
5. "Rama, Krishna, Jesus, Allah, these are names of the Many-faceted One. When you pay attention to one facet, the restare not neglected or negated. When the devotee dives into the flood of Bliss which One Name-Form confers, he is diving into the same ocean of Bliss that the Full is. The waters of this ocean are not separated by lines drawn on them to demarcate "this God's Region" and "that God's Region." Plunge any- where, you are plunging into the self-same Bliss."
6. "Namasmarana, thus done, unites people by making them realize that they are all children of one and the same God and thus paves the way for the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man."
SIGNIFICANCE AND POWER OF NAMASMARANA
A. Significance of Namasmarana
1. "Nowadays, people laugh at the idea of Nama- smarana and Namasankeertana. 'What is in a name?' they ask. To them, it is just an assortment of words and sounds. My words too are assortments of words and sound, but when they enter your hearts, you feel encouraged, you feel contented, don't you? Words have tremendous power, they can arouse emotions and passions and they can calm them as well. They can direct, infuriate; they can inspire; they bring up reserves of strength and wisdom. Therefore, have faith in the Name and repeat it whenever you get a chance or an opportunity."
2. "There is no cause to feel that only some Divine Names are powerful or that some are more powerful than others. God is "Sahasra Shirsha, Sahasra Pada, Sahasra Aksha", that is, 'thousand-headed, thousand-footed, and thousand-eyed.' Consequently, every one is most likely to like that Divine Name which appeals to him most. So also, one can have any form of God before his mind's eye for Namasmarana or Bhajan. In fact, Sai Bhajan Organisations should not have restrictions about singing Bhajans on any God or Goddess. Repeat each line only twice and no more. Have only two speeds, one slow, one fast. In this way, within one hour's Bhajan, you can have more songs on more Forms, more tunes and more variety."
3. "We have it on the authority of the Shastras that in this Kali Yuga one can attain moksha or liberation from bondage of mortal and miserable existence by singing the Name of the Lord. In fact, Namasmarana is the only solution to life's problems in this age. In the Krita Yuga, it was Dhyana; in the Treta Yuga, it was Yajna; in the Dwapara Yuga, it was Archana or worship. In this Kali Yuga, due to the predominance of Rajasic activity in Man, it is not possible to engage oneself in Dhyana, Yajna and Worship. So Namasmarana is declared the best means to cross the ocean of delusion. Other Sadhanas like Dhyana, Yajna and Worship would be fruitful in this age only when the Divine Name and its Sweetness of Love also merge in them."
"For the bird in mid-ocean flying over the dark, deep waters, the only resting place is the mast of the ship sailing across. So too, the Lord isthe only refuge for Man. However far the bird may fly, it knows where it can rest; that knowledge gives it confidence, lt has the memory of the mast steady in its mind; its form is fixed in its eye. The Name of the Lord is the mast for you; remember it ever."
5. "Another special merit of Namasmarana is this: other Sadhanas like Yoga and Tapas may awaken Siddhis or Occult Powers in the Sadhaka who, blinded by pride on that account, is likely to forsake the Lord and even let go the victory and spiritual strength won by that Sadhana. No such dangers beset, the path of Namasmarana, which develops Prema or Love in the devotee. Through Prema, Shanti is achieved. Once Shanti or Peace of Mind is achieved, all other benefits are attained automatically. This Extraordinary Prema is far superior to the Extraordinary Power of Yoga and Tapas."
B. Power of Namasmarana
1. "Life is a pilgrimage where Man drags his feet along the rough and thorny road. With the Name of God on his lips, he will have no thirst; with the Form of God in his heart, he will feel no exhaustion. The company of the Holy will inspire him to travel, in hope and in faith. The awareness that God is within call, that He is ever near and never long in coming, will lend strength to his limbs and courage to his eyes... Recite the name with Prema and have the Form fixed in the mind's eye. It is a lamp shedding light in the recess of your heart. lt will drive away the inner darknes as well as the outer. PEACE within and LOVE without - that is the sign of the person engrossed in perpetual Namasmarana."
2. "The Name of the Lord is like the effulgence of the rising sun; it dispels the Darkness of Delusion. It is as luminous, as universal and as Divine. Remember the power of that Name which, when repeated by Prahlada, overpowered the hearts of the Asuras who tortured him. The children of the Asuras repeated the Name along with Prahlada and, led by him, they began to sing and dance with joy, arming themselves with the Name to defend their leader. The Name of the Lord that could transform the Asuric character and purify it into a Nectar of Love is, verily, the key to the Heaven of PEACE for all, for the whole world."
3. "What does Namasmarana do for us? It is the 'Taranopaaya,' the easiest means of crossing the Sea of Samsara or Delusion, of Attachment and Bondage. The Name removes the veil of Maya that now hides the Shakti from the Vyakti, the Universal from the individual. When this veil fades out, man discovers the Divine in himself. He beholds the Universe as himself. Man has infinite power and infinite potentiality: for he is a wave, one with the Ocean of Infinity, i.e. Sat Chit Ananda."
4. "When you are depressed by what appears to be loss or calamity, engage yourselves in Namasmarana... That will give you consolation, courage and the true perspective of the event or situation. The Divine Name is so valuable an instrument to win His Grace and to realize His Presence that when it is repeated from the depth of your heart, it will make your residence a Griha or home instead of a Guha or cave. The Lamp of the Divine Name, when it is lit, will illumine the whole household. No wonder that Tulasidas Goswami once declared: 'Do you require the light inside the home as well as outside? Then, place the lamp on the door step.' So too, do you desire to spread the illumination of PEACE inside yourself as well as outside? Then place the Name of the Lord on the tongue which is the doorstep of your personality. This 'lamp' on the tongue will not flicker or fade or be put out by any storm. It will confer SHANTI on you as well as on all who draw near, in fact, the entire world."
5. "Namasmarana can well be called a Yoga like Bhakti, Jnana or Karma. lt can be called 'Chittashuddhi-Yoga' or the path of 'Consciousness Cleaning.' Charge every second of time with the Divine Current that emanates from the Name... Practise at all times and under all circumstances, with love and devotion, the remembrance of the Name of the Lord. That Name is the thunderbolt which will pulverize mountains of sin. It is the unfailing cure for the dreaded disease of Moha or delusion. It will lead you to release from the bondage of birth and death and will give you everlasting Bliss. I, therefore, advise you to resolve upon the quest of your Reality through the Sadhana of Namasmarana."
C. Sweetness of Namasmarana
1. "If there is anything sweeter than all things sweet to the senses, more auspicious than holy objects, it is the Name of the Lord, because it is one with and inseparable from the Lord Himself who is Sat-Chit-Ananda Swaroopa. The Lord and His Name are one. In fact, the total sweetness of the Name may not befound in the Form. When the name of the flower 'Rose' is mentioned, its tender petals, its deep colour and its fragrance spring to memory; its thorns and the trouble one takes to pluck the flower are forgotten. Let us take another example. As soon as the name 'Mango' is mentioned, one is reminded of its juicy pulp, its incomparable sweetness and flavour. Instead, if an actual mango is placed in our hands, the doubt first arises in our mind whether it is sweet or sour; then again, one becomes aware of its skin, fibre, particular quality etc. When the name alone is mentioned, these things do not bother us. Only its sweetness comes to mind. Similarly, in the case of the Divine Form, there is the chance of awe mixed with respect and even fear eclipsing our love which sweetens the remembrance of God."
2. "It is only the sweetness in the Divine Name that makes our life worthwhile: it also helps us to attain the Goal of life. It is only by always having the Name on the tongue and in the mind that we conquer the influence of Maya or the delusion of the world. All the dualities of life, namely truth and untruth, right and wrong, are but the steps of the dance that Maya does before us. Therefore, Maya is called a Nartaki, that is a dancer who entices the mind. To escape from being deluded and enticed by her, you must take recourse to the opposite of Nart- taki, i.e. 'Kirtana.' By means of Kirtana, it is possible to win the Grace of Madhava and escape the delusion of Maya."
3. "The sweetness of Namasmarana is best exemplified by Narada, Hanuman, Ambareesha, Prahlada, Surdasa, Thygaraja, Meera, Tukaram, Tulsidas, Kabir, Bhadrachala Ramdas and many others who tasted and drank 'the Nectar of the Name' (Namamrita) and liberated themselves Namasmarana was the boat by which they happily travelled across the sea of Samsara, from the world of matter to the Realm of the Spirit, i.e. Divinity."
D. Source of Power In Namasmarana
1. "How does God's Name acquire the power to drive away all the evil tendencies in the devotee's mind and the wicked passions in his heart? Why, even ordinary words have power. Suppose we are taking delicious food but suddenly, someone mentions a foul word. The word instantly causes a revulsion in our mind and we lose taste for the food; we may even get nausea and vomit. Or, again, suppose people are sitting for a cultural programme and someone suddenly shouts 'Fire! Fire!' just in fun. What will be the reaction? On hearing the word, people will jump up and run helter-skelter. Yet another example. You are very thirsty and some one says, 'I will cut a lemon and prepare sweet sherbet tor you.' Your mouth begins to water. All this shows the reaction in our mental lake through hearing ordinary words and sounds. How much more profound should be the effect on our mind, nature and behavi- our when sacred Names of God are heard or sung with love! That singing raises the mind to higher planes of peace and purity. The Divine Name is packed with infinite potential to purify, sublimate and transform the mind and heart."
2. "God is Shabda-Brahma-Swaroopa. He is endowed with Eight-fold Treasures (Ashtaiswarya Sampanna).* The first Treasure - aspect of God is the Sound Form. This whole uni- verse is born out of sound, i.e. from Nada and is known also as Shabda-Brahma. With Shabda only is the Universe sustained. The transformation it goes through is the power of sound only. That is why 'Su-Shabda' i.e. good and auspicious sound like the glorious names of God produces 'Sumanas' or a purified mind. With the aid of the Divine Name, we can slowly and steadily purify our senses. As we progress in this Namasmarana or Nama - Sankeertana path, the innate Ananda, which is our nature, flows uninhibited and we begin to experience and enjoy continuous, unalloyed Peace and Bliss."
[* These eight treasures are: (i) Shabda, (ii) Charachara, (iii) Jyoti, (iv) Vangmaya, (v) Nityananda, (vi) Paratpara, (vii) Maya, (viii)Sri.]
3. "The Name gains power through its association with God. Here is an example. When a rat enters our house, we bring a cat to kill it or set a trap to catch it. But the rat, when visualised as the Vahana or Vehicle of Lord Ganapathi, becomes worthy of worship. Again, when we see a serpent, all possible efforts are made to kill it. But the serpent round the neck of Ishwara is honoured and worshipped. A small boulder lying in the street is not taken notice of by anyone. But, when it is chiselled into an idol of God, it is installed in a temple and worshipped by all. This is the power of 'Samparka' or contact with the Divine which carries with it unthought of power. That is how Divine Names acquire power to lead man on the spiritual path."
E. Some Examples of Namasmarana
1. "Remember how Sita braved the taunts, insults and tortures of the ogresses in Lanka. What was it that gave her the stamina? It was Rama-Nama and nothing else. The Karma of Rama Nama and Rama Dhyana will remould your mind."
2. "Of Hanuman it is said 'Roma-Romamu-Rama- Namame,' every single hair recited 'Rama.' His tail was a formidable weapon, for it was filled with the might of the Name. He is also called 'Sundara' or 'the Charming One', the Beautiful One'. Why? Because he had Rama installed in his heart and the splendour and beauty of Rama was reflected in his face. This made him charming to behold. He was also a 'sweet companion' because he spoke of only Rama and sang only Rama's glory."
3. "Draupadi, the Queen of the Pandavas, whose story is one long series of humiliations and calamities, was rescued from dishonour and distress time aftertime. Rukmini and Sathyabhama were curious to know the nature of the devotion that could draw such bountiful Grace of the Lord on her in such a continous stream. So Krishna took both of them to Draupadi when she was drying her hair after a bath and asked his queens to comb her hair which had got into tangle. When they did so, they heard from the tip of each hair the sound of Nama-japa 'Krishna! Krishna! Krishna! Krishna!' The Name of the Lord had impregnated each single hair of her head ! That was the extent of her devotion to the Lord."
4. "Thyagaraja started Nama Japa of Sri Rama in his twentieth year. He recited it ninety six crores of times and took 21 years and 15 days for the vow to fructify. As a result, he had the Darshan of Sri Rama. The letters of the Nama had taken shape', he says about this experience."
5. "Meera quaffed the cup of poison with the Name on her tongue, and it turned into nectar. Namasmarana saved Prahlada from the agony of torture: the elephants brought to crush him turned back when they saw the boy! Fire could not singe him! The rocks on which he was thrown from great heights could not bruise him! No poison could affect him..."
NAMA - SANKEERTAN - A RIGHT SADHANA AND RIGHT METHOD
"Nama-Sankeertan is Nama-Smarana or chanting of the Name of the Lord loudly and continuously by a group of devotees coming together to rejoice in glorifying God. It not only liberates those who participate in this congregational singing but it also spreads joy and love all around through the spiritual currents and vibrations it generates. There are four types of Sankeertan:
1. Guna - Sankeertan: Singing the glory of God's Divine attributes, His great powers. His benevolent qualities, etc. Intruth, all these attributes are ascribed by devotees to God, who for them is all qualities and attributes. The satisfaction that the devotee gets from Guna-Sankeertan, therefore, is encouraging as the first step, a great step.
2. Leela-Sankeertan: Singing of God's Divine Sports and glorious deeds. Here too, the joy of the devotee is in singing of the true Leelas of the Lord, the Universe - its Creation (Sristi), Maintenance (Sthiti) and its Dissolution (Laya), all the three going on simultaneously! When the entire Creation is God's Leela, to pick up a few of the deeds and sing them as God's glory is not true knowledge about God. Leela-Sankeer- tan, thus, is not conducive to true and full Spiritual Wisdom, which alone enables the Sadhaka to accept both good and bad as God's Leela only. Singing Leelas of a limited nature, therefore, would not bestow on us abiding peace and bliss.
3. Bhava-Sankeertan: Glorifying God through anyone of the following six types of relationship with Him:
(i) Shanta Bhava: Loving God as a Form of Shanti or Peace (e.g. Bhishma);
(ii) Sakhya Bhava: Loving God as one's Friend (e.g.Arjuna);
(iii) Dasya Bhava: Loving God as one's Master and dedicating oneself to His Service (e.g. Hanuman);
(iv) Vatsalya Bhava: Loving God as one's Child (e.g. Yashoda);
(v) Anuraga Bhava : Loving God as one's Beloved (e.g. Gopis);
(vi) Madhura Bhava i.e. Oneness with the Lord (e.g. Radha).
These Bhavas are based on the attachment to the Form of God. In all of them, there is an element of imagination on the part of the devotee. The imagined relationship is not entirely one with Divinity but very much of the type of human relation only. As a result, there is an element of ignorance in their faith and devotion. Attachment to the Form brings pleasure as well as pain to the devotee. This obstructs freedom from the dualities of life, which constitute ignorance.
The last one, Madhura Bhava seeking oneness with God is not easily attainable. Thus, these Bhavas make the concept of God limited and make it difficult for the Sadhaka to transcend God's Name and Form which are illusory.
4. Nama-Sankeertan: When a group of devotees join together to sing the Name of the Lord, it gives sacredness and happiness to the minds of all people, at all times and at all places. There is nothing that can be greater than this Nama- Sankeertan. Such Sankeertan will liberate not only the individual but the entire community and the whole world. It is This Nama-Sankeertan that Sai has been establishing everywhere. A person devoted to Nama-Sankeertan knows no failure. Taking to this Sadhana seriously, and doing it con- stantly, he overcomes all obstacles. To him, the Divine name is the spring of all Chaitanya, the Primal Energy and Life-giving Nectar. 'Na Ayam Atma bala-heenena labhyah.' Ultimately, the Sadhaka's own strength of resolve, self-application and self-confidence will lead him to his spiritual goal."
B. Name and Form have to go together
1. "To start with, the Name and the Form go together in Nama Sadhana. They are the reverse and obverse of the same coin. Recite the Name and the Named will be before you. Picture the Named and the Name will leap to your lips. The Name should dwell on the sweetness which it connotes. It should ruminate on the beauty of the Form which it remembers, the perfume which it spreads."
2. "Nama i.e. the Name of God and Nami i.e. the Form should have constant and continuous contact in the devotee's mind. Then, just as two branches of a tree by continuous contact and friction are able to produce fire, the continuous contact of the Name and the Named produces the Fire of Jnana."
C. Meaning of the Name
1. "The Name is a vocal image. When the Name is pronounced by the tongue and the Image is adored by the mind, these should not degenerate into mechanical routine. The meaning of the Name and the content of the Form must, at the same time, inspire and illumine the devotee's Consciousness. So, escape the routine: involve yourselves in the attitude of worship, deeply and sincerely. That alone will bring to you the requisite Strength and Courage, Peace and Joy from Him Who is within you. He is the Guru most interested in your spiritual progress. Do not seek the Guru outside you, in temples or in holy places. The God in you is your Eternal Father and Mother, Preceptor and Friend, Who will lead you to the goal."
2. "The devotee derives real and full joy from Nama Sankeertan only when he sings with his full attention on the meaning of the Divine Name. Otherwise, he gets only a picture of the music but not happiness from the depth of his heart. The Divine Name is usually given to the Reality that you yourself are. For example:
(i) "Atma is known as Rama because Rama means that which delights; and nothing confers sucn boundless, inexhaustible joy as the Atma. So, the word Rama means the Atma. The word consists of three components or sounds viz. Ra, Aa and Ma. Ra is the mystic symbol of Agni or the Fire Principle; it burns our sins or evil propensities into ash. Aa is the symbol of Surya or the Sun Principle; it destroys the darkness of Ajnana or ignorance. Ma is the symbol of Chandra or the Moon Principle; it cools theThapam or heat of suffering. So, Rama-Nama Smarana has the power to overcome the three tragedies of life, namely, Papam or Sin, Thapam or suffering and Ajnanam or Ignorance; and to reveal the Divinity of Sathyam, Shivam and Sundaram or Truth, Goodness and Beauty. Repeat the Name of Rama bearing this significance in mind and you will feel its effect soon.
"Rama Nama also connotes the Vedic declaration Tattwam- Asi or That-Thou-Art. Ra signifies Tat (i.e. Brahma), Ma signifies Twam (i.e. Thou, the Jiva or the Individual) and Aa connotes the kinship and identity of the two i.e. of the Jiva and Brahma.
(ii) "Take the name of Krishna. 'Krishna' means that which attracts most i.e. Ananda; it also means that which crushes or destroys. So Krishna symbolises the Divine Power which crushes the devotee's attachment to the physical body and to worldly things and manifests Ananda or Bliss of the Atma within. The devotee's Manas is the GokuI where Krishna manifests Himself. The devotee's heart is the Brindavan where He grows up on the Prema of the Gopis, i.e. pure thoughts and feelings. The Chitta is the Mathura where He rules, after destroying King Kansa or the Ego. And the Nirvikalpa stage is the Dwaraka where He instals Himself as the Reigning Mon- arch.
(iii) "I have now to tell you the meaning of Baba. Baba is B,A,B,A. The first 'B' stands for 'Being'; 'A' stands for 'Awareness'; the third letter 'B' stands for 'Bliss'; the fourth letter 'A' for 'Atma.' Again, the first 'B' 'Being' is Sat: the next letter 'A' 'Awareness' is Chit; the third letter 'B' 'Bliss' is Ananda."
3. "Divine Names also indicate Divine Powers that pro- tect and help the devotee on his Sadhana path. Try to grasp the significance or meaning of the Name you sing, so that you can ruminate on the glory which that Name denotes. When you hear on the phone that your son got a son, you feel immensely happy; but if you do not catch the meaning of the words you hear, how can you derive the intended joy? Likewise, singing the Bhajan with your attention on the meaning of the Name will keep you always in the higher region of Divine Energy where you will be cool and calm. Here are some examples:
(i) "When you sing the Name of Tryambaka, remember the Paramatma who, transcending the three gunas (Thamas, Rajas and Sathya or Dull, Active and Balanced respectively), envelops all the three worlds. He is, therefore, in everyone; He is every one in all."
(ii) 'Gopala' does not mean merely a cowherd. 'Go' also means the senses, beings, souls and individuals. So, Gopala is the Divine Power or God who tends our Indriyas or senses and souls, keeps them away from worldly harm and gives them what is good for their spiritual progress.
(iii) "In the Name 'Madhava', Ma implies Maya or Delusion and Dhava means Master. He who sings this name of God is saved from the delusion or Maya and realizes Truth."
(iv) "The Name 'Vishnu' means 'that which pervades everywhere, the Omnipresent'. He is glorified as 'Sheshasayee' or reclining on the Cobra with five hoods. These five hoods are symbolic of our five senses which have sinister, poisonous potentialities. When these senses are directed towards Vishnu, that is: Eyes seeking God's footprints in the rose- petals as well as in the stars; Ears hearing God's voice in the songs of birds as also in the peals of thunder; Tongue tasting God's sweetness in all that appeals to it; Nose drawing fragrance in everything that reveals the glory of God; the sense of Touch content to clasp the hand of the forlorn and the distressed as the beloved children of God -then alone can the devotee visualise the full Glory of Vishnu.
(v) 'Siva' means Consciousness which is most Auspicious and Pure i.e. One who has all the Glory associated with Godhead. He is the embodiment of Ananda. Hence, He is also symbolised in the Tandava Dance which He enjoys so much with the Cosmos as His stage. He is also known as 'Shankara' - One who causes, by His Grace, the most Supreme Ananda and bestows it on His devotees. He is Ishwara too, being the Repository of all the resources essential for Happiness and Prosperity. He confers the highest Aiswarya (Wealth), that is Jnana, on those who propitiate Him.
(vi) 'Mahakali', 'Maha-Saraswati' and 'Mahalakshmi' are, likewise, embodiments of Divine Powers in various Manifesta- tions of Thamaguna, Rajoguna and Satvaguna respectively. They help the devotee to overpower and destroy the forces of Vice, Wickedness and Egoism by vanquishing the six 'demons' of evil passions in Him.
(vii) "Know the meaning of Sathya", i.e. Truth, which is the unchanging eternal principle at the base of the ever-changing Universe. The word SAI has three sounds: Sa, Aa and Yee. Sa stands for the Sacred and the Divine; Ayee means the Mother. In different languages, we have for the Mother Ayee Mayee, Thayee and so on. Baba means 'Father'. So, Sathya Sai Baba signifies the Eternal Mother and Father.
"In the same way, we use the letter Sa for the Divine; for the Mother, we use the word Amba; for Father, we use the word Shiva. Thus Sa-Amba-Shiva (Samba-Shiva) and Sai-Baba are exactly the same. There is no difference between the two. It is, therefore, evident that this is the Siva-Shakti-Atma- Swaroopa. So, to this Form with this Name, you will soon see the whole world offering loyal Adoration."
D. Faith, Love and Yearning for God
1. "The first and foremost thing essential in this Sankeer- tana is Vishwas, Faith or Shradha. Without Faith, we cannot achieve anything in life. We have to strengthen our Faith in the attributes of God whose Glory we sing. This Faith is to Nama-Sankeertan what breath is to Man. No breath, no life. No Faith, no relation with God."
2. "From this Faith, Prema or Love will be born, Prema will build a rapport with God and bring in Peace or Santhi. Where Santhi prevails, Truth will reveal itself. Where there is Truth, there is Ananda. Where there is Ananda, God abides."
3. "To realize the Lord you must cultivate Prema. The Name should be installed on the altar of the heart and there its fragrance will sweeten the memory."
4. "With love from the depth of your heart, raise your voice and, without fear, loudly sing the Glory of God. Do not be afraid of others. These 'others' are not going to give you 'liberation', nor even help you when you are in serious trouble. It is only selfishness everywhere. Not minding what others may say or what path others follow, sing His Glory and pray to Him with a heart filled with faith and selfless love. There is no season for Faith. Do not become a slave to others. Follow your heart which you have offered to God. Nama-Sankeertan is not mere singing. The Swaras should come from the depth of your heart. The thought of God should be full and dipped in love. You should project yourselves to reach Him. This is called Tapas. Such Sankeertan will liberate not only the devotee but the entire community. This kind of Sankeertan can be enjoyed by every one, from the humble person to the Paramahansa."
5. "You must have a yearning for God, the yearning of the stone to be a diamond. You must hold the hand of God through Namasmarana and walk by His side. You must hold fast and not give up. Be like the monkey that clings to its mother and is thereby guarded and guided by her superior strength and wisdom. The Lord is won by sincere agony and steady yearning. The yearning will overcome all obstacles and like a swollen river leap over bunds and banks and over- whelm all by its strength. Difficulties are created to increase the "yearning" and to lift the sincere devotee from the rest. By the alchemy of such Smarana, even a rock is turned into softness and moulded into a beautiful image."
6. "The yearning in the heart and the Name on the tongue, these are most essential for Bhajan and Nagarsankeertan. The Gopis sang the Name of God when they churned for butter in the early morning hours. The bangles of their wrists jingled all the time; the whirr of the rods in the pots provided the background tune and the fragrant morning breeze carried the song into every neighbouring ear."
"Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, yearning and hoping for the vision of the Divine Mother, would most eagerly look forward to each morning for some sign of Her Grace. Every night he used to cry in anguish that another precious day had slipped away from his life without his getting even a glimpse of his beloved Mother. He used to feel shattered and broken with frustration and grief because he believed that his precious time and life itself were wasted unless he succeeded in winning the Grace and Vision of God. Such Faith, Love and Yearning while pronouncing the Lord's Name, turning it over the tongue, so to say, is bound to result in Divine Grace."
E. Constancy in Namasmarana and Purity of Heart
1. "This spiritual discipline of Namasmarana has to be practised regularly, every day. It is like sweeping and dusting the floor of our home. A day's neglect means accumulation of more dust. The altar of the heart will be clean if the Sadhana is regular. 'Sarvada, Sarva Kaleshu, Sarvatra Harichintanam.' Always, at all times, at all places, let there be remembrance of the Lord. The time spent in Bhagawanamasmarana alone is time rightly and worthily lived. The Name of the Lord must dance on your tongue forever. That is why Namasmarana and Nagarasankeertan are given a very prominent place in our Sadhana activities."
"Always remembering the Lord, reciting His Name, writing It, uttering It, or meditating on It or turning over the rosary with It or worshipping an idol or image with It - this constant dwelling with the Name of God is itself 'all the Holy Places, all the Sacred Teerthas, all the famous Shrines'."
2. "To constantly allow the Divine Name to dance on the tongue is our duty. When the Name dances on the tongue, the latter will speak only soft and sweet words giving pleasure to others. The tongue guards the human heart. An atom bomb will destroy the body, but the tongue is a weapon that can destroy the heart of man. The good words that we speak strengthen and console while the bad words hurt and destroy. Our hearts and emotions should be guided by a constant, continuous and unceasing process of Namasmarana. The mind should be always tuned up to the thought of God, whatever we may be doing; even when we are engaged and engrossed in worldly life and activities. With the Divine Name as the very breath of our life, we can engage in all life's activities without any fear of degradation or fall. Kabir used to chant the Name of Rama all the time while he was weaving and moving the shuttle from side to side. It is only when the branches of a tree constantly rub against each other that fire will be produced but not when they touch each other once in a while or intermittently. In the same way, Namasmarana will yield its benefit only when it is done all the time, day in and day out, with a concentrated mind and a devout heart. Guard the mind from getting distracted and dissipated in useless talk. Engage it constantly in the remembrance and chanting of the Name. This Bhava i.e. Faith combined with Devotion will soon fructify into Jnana. In truth, Bhagawadname is far sweeter than Jnana!"
3. "Mere utterance or mechanical chanting of the Name will not serve the purpose. It should emanate from a pure heart and with concentrated, one-pointed attention and devotion. Consequently, Namasmarana bears fruit only when the mind is free from the taints of worldly desires. The state of the devotee's heart determines the effect of this Sadhana. The heart of an evil-minded person, like Ravana's, full of sensuous cravings, pollutes and defiles the Name. But when the same Name wells out from a pure-hearted person like Vibhishana, it ushers him to the Lotus Feet of Sri Rama Himself.
"In fact to supplement the effects of this Sadhana, you will have to lead a regulated life, a life conducive to good thoughts, fed on satvic food and satvic pursuits. Without such self- purification, whatever Name is chanted, it would all be an utter waste, bringing no gain. That is why we find that many engage themselves in Namasmarana but few live in the Lord's constant presence and in constant awareness of His Glory which fills the whole Universe. 'Udupi Krishna, 'Brindavan vasi Krishna', 'Ayodhya vasi Rama' they sing but they do not make their own hearts as pure and holy as Udupi, Brindavan or Ayodhya. How then can Krishna or Rama come and manifest Himself in their hearts?"
FRUITION OF NAMASMARANA
1. "Man is a lover of Santhi and Ananda, Peace and Joy, because it is his true nature. All his hopes, efforts and pursuits are aimed at experiencing this true nature of his which is divine. Santhi and Ananda are as much his Dharma as burning is the Dharma of fire, or sweetness is of sugar, or fragrance is of the rose. But then, why is he not able to experience them during all the 24 hours of the day ?The cause is the perversion and aberration of our senses which cause estrangement from our own innate nature of Santhi and Ananda. It is like the burning charcoal covered with ash. Where from has this ash come? From the fire itself and it is like the moss that is born only of the water and yet conceals the very water in which it is born. So too, the clouds created by the heat of the sun hide the sun. Likewise, the aberrations of our senses with their concomitant Raga (likes) and Dwesha (dislikes), the mental vikaras (distortions) which all owe their origin and sustenance to the Atmic Principle, conceal the Atma which is Santhi and Ananda."
"So the objective of all our spiritual Sadhana is to root out the Raga and Dwesha and all other Vikaras from our minds, just like driving off the ash covering the burning coal, pushing aside the moss gathered on the surface of the lake, or driving away the clouds hiding the sun. The most simple and yet most powerful Sadhana to achieve this objective is engaging one's tongue in singing Holy Names, one's mind in thinking about the Divine Powers of the Gods and Goddesses and one's heart in lovingly soliciting their help and Grace for progress in our Sadhana. Clapping of hands will also help because, just as it drives away birds perched on the trees making disturbing noises and polluting the ground with their droppings, so too these clappings add rhythm to our thoughts and feelings and help to keep our own mind properly tuned in harmony with the holy Name of God."
"The truth is that life is like a tree where the various mental vikaras or passions like Anger, Greed, Hate, Jealousy are the birds infesting and contaminating our hearts and robbing us of our Peace and Joy. Chant the Divine Names with love and rhythm: 'Rama, Krishna, Govinda, Narayana.' These birds of evil vikaras infecting our minds and plaguing our lives will get a fright and fly away. Hearing even the names of ordinary, material things like 'Fire!', 'Snake!' or 'Lemonade!' causes strong reactions in our minds. How much more strong and subtle would be the effect of uttering or hearing the Name of Sarveshwara, who is the Creator and the Supreme Lord of the Universe?"
"In fact, Bhagawadnama is capable of giving the highest Ananda through its nectarine sweetness than even Jnana or Absorption in the Self. One example of this is Narada, the son of Brahma. Even though Narada had free access to Vaikunta, Kailasa and all the higher Heavenly Abodes of Peace and Bliss, he Was ever busy chanting and singing the Name of Narayana. He preferred to remain immersed in Namasmarana and its sweet ecstasy and considered it superior even to the vision of the Divine Trinity."
2. "Man must seek answers to four fundamental ques- tions: Who am I? Where have I come from? Whither am I going!? and how long will I stay? The four Vedas are devoted to the discovery of answers to these very questions. These answers can be reached through Jnana, Bhakti or Karma; but the Lord's Grace, if drawn through Namasmarana, will reveal them to the aspirant in a trice!"
"Start now with the first step, namely repeating the Name of the Lord, the Universal Indweller. That will lead you on to the further steps. March on until the goal is reached. Keep the outer-faced senses closed to the influences that attract; instead, concentrate on the Name of the Lord, Its Sweetness and Beauty. Develop qualities of Divinity like Universal Love, Absence of Attachment. Then you will be entitled to assert 'Shivo-ham Shivo-ham' or 'I am the Pure Sat-Chit-Ananda Consciousness'. But, with the Lord's Grace, you may not have to assert it at all, because there will be no 'aham' feeling in you then."
"For Namasmarana is the chief among the Sadhanas for removing the taints of 'I' and 'Mine'. When you dwelt on the Names of the Lord, His Majesty, His Grace, His Omnipotence, His All-Pervasiveness etc. these get fixed in your consciousness and your own capacities and capabilities. get eclipsed in the Divine. So, humility develops and a spirit of surrender sprouts in the heart. This takes the devotee nearer to God and prepares him to merge in His Glory. The mind is gradually liberated from all its distracting thoughts, desires and imagery from giving free play to the senses. All accumulated impurities which veil the Ananda within are removed and the latent Divinity manifests Itself. When we attain the Grace of God who is Sat i.e. Sathya Padartha which is ever the same without change; Chit i.e. Sathya Jnana or True and Pure Awareness; this Knowledge Itself has Ananda as it is Poorna or Perfect and Ever full. That is how Namasmarana serves for us as the best means to liberate ourselves from the limitations of ignorance, misery and death. That is why, again, in the Bhagwad Githa, the Lord has declared that He is the 'Nama-Yajna' - the Yajna in which the sacrificial heart of Ajnana or Ignorance is offered in the fire of Nama-Sadhana."
3. "In towns and cities today, where can you find the Pure Shabda Brahma (God as Sound) amidst the usual disturbing noises like the roaring of lorries and buses, outcries of vendors and buyers in the shops and markets, din of the business houses and factories? I, therefore, recommended that devo- tees should assemble at some place early in the morning, then move about in the streets singing bhajans and nama sankeertans in melodious tunes for about half an hour to three- fourths of an hour."
"Let me tell you, this is a great spiritual practice tor the purification of men's minds as well as the atmosphere. Immediately on getting up from the bed, if we hear the Name of the Lord: Govinda, Damodra, Shiva, Shankara, Durga, Laxmi, Panduranga, Vasudeva, all the impurities of the heart will be removed. Unholy and sinful thoughts will not enter the mind. Sacred thoughts of Truth, Righteousness, Peace and Love will remain. The atmosphere polluted by untruth, injus- tice, hatred, greed, strikes, hartals and other emotional disturbances can be made pure and sanctified by daily Nagar- sankeertan only. Rising in the Brahma Muhurtha is also a good physical exercise. It keeps one in good health. Intellect improves and becomes sharp. The heart gets filled with peace and happiness. He who rises from the bed hearing the Name of the Lord in Nagarsankeertan will not entertain any unholy or sinful thoughts in the mind for the rest of the day. It will not prompt him to do any unbecoming deed. His mind would be saturated with Divine thoughts only. His heart will be dedicated lo the company of the virtuous. All the limbs of the body will become sacred, lt would give wholesome nourishment not only to one's self but also to the body, mind and soul of others. It is not only 'Sun-rise' but eternal 'Bliss-rise' for those who sing, as well as to those who hear the sweet Namasankeertan at the dawn of the day."
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