Friday, January 1, 2010

Next Pravachan on Sunday Nov 14, 2010

Next talk by Swami Shantananda will be on Sunday Nov 14, 2010 at the Crossroads School. Swamiji will continue with Bhagavad Geeta topics. This will be followed by a Q/A session. Please submit your queries using following template by the Sunday morning. Please click on the form to print.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

November 15, 2009

Q: Gopal Babu, Study Group: Self Unfoldment
In Varaha Avatara, Lord Vishnu takes the form of a boar and rescues the earth submerged under water, hidden by King Hiranyaksha? Since water is part of the earth, how is it possible to submerge the earth under water?
Swami Shantanandaji: The seven continents are being submerged under water and that can be considered as the submersion of earth under water and Bhagawan lifted it from water. If you look at pralaya (प्रलय) theory, the whole solar system disappears under water and the earth is only a small portion.

Q: Balasubramanian: Study Group: Tattva Bodha, Mana Sodhanam
Is “do not grieve” same as “do not regret”? There are major decisions we make based on certain information which may turn out to be different, leading to regrets. How do we come out of it? Specifically, did Arjuna regret his decision to fight, post-war?
A:Swami Shantanandaji: Do not regret – you take a certain decision based on certain data available at that time. As time passes, when we look at it, we may think we could have made better decisions if we had better data that was available. Scientists discover certain things based on certain data available at a given time. Twenty years later, the discovery may be disputed because of better data. Does this mean the scientist has to regret? No. In all his/her sense, what the scientist did was right at that time, even though it may be different today. 
What is necessary is that an objective view is taken while making a decision not an emotional view. Arjuna did not regret his decision. In fact Arjuna asked Sri Krishna to repeat Gita after the war. Sri Krishna said “I cannot tell you now. I was in an inspired mood at the time I spoke and now I cannot repeat it.”

Q. (No Name)
Pujya Swamiji, can you please explain the meaning of the mantra “Na karmana na prajaya na danena thyaganeke amritattvam….?” What is the significance of chanting this while welcoming a Sanyasi?
न कर्मणा न प्रजया धनेन त्यागेनैके अमृतत्वमानशुः ।
परेण नाकं निहितं गुहायां विभ्राजते यद्यतयो विशन्ति ॥

Swami Shantanandaji: When a Swamiji arrives at your home, you are supposed to receive him with a Poorna Kumbha (पूर्ण कुंभ), which is filled with water. Poorna means full. A Sanyasi who has realized the truth is complete. That’s why we receive him with a Poorna Kumbha.
Amrithattvam – Immortality can be attained only through thyaga (त्याग) not through rituals nor through progeny nor through money. Only thyaga will give you the state of realization. Renounce your ego which alone will give you the state of realization. When you chant the mantra you are reminding the Sanyasi the reason what he is standing for. This mantra is from Kaivalya Upanishad and our Swamiji’s commentary is available. Please check it out.

Q. (No Name)
How do I know that there is something unchanging in me?
Swami Shantanandaji: When you are a child, you used the word “I”, when you are middle-aged or old, you still the use word “I”. This “I” does not change. Everything else changes in you - your body, your emotion, your ideology all change. Even your ego changes over time, but consciousness/awareness doesn’t change. That “Aham” (अहम्)  or “I” never changes, stays the same. How do you know that? Look back in your memory, that “aham” is the same continuously present in the waking or dream state. Who is one constantly present while being awake, sleeping or dreaming? It is the paramathma - He never changes.

Q. (No Name)
You mentioned that ego, emotion and friendship are temporary and therefore cannot be real. What about blood relations, e.g., parents, children? Aren’t these permanent and hence real?
Swami Shantanandaji: We are analyzing reality from different degrees. Your mother also became a mother only in this life. Before this jeeva, you had many lives and many parents. So what is permanent? Everything is temporary from the view point of truth. Even this creation is temporary, so where do blood relations stand?

Q. Arvind Ram:
When faced with an unprecedented situation which no one in your family has faced before; How do you know what you’re doing is right or what is your dharma?
Swami Shantanandaji: We will talk about it as we go along in the Gita. We will deal with this topic in Karma Yoga. What exactly is one’s duty is discussed in detail in the Third Chapter of the Gita.

Friday, December 25, 2009

October 18, 2009

Q: We studied a chapter on Meditation in Self-Unfoldment book where terms of meditation (dhyaanam, ध्यानम्), thoughtlessness (samaadhi, समाधि) were briefly mentioned. Can you please explain the terms dhyaanam, savikalpa samaadhi (सविकल्प समाधि) and nirvikalpa samaadhi (निर्विकल्प समाधि)?

Question came up during class-room discussions. Study Group: Self-Unfoldment, Moderator: Venu/Babu
A: Thoughtlessness is not to be taken literally. Mind is just the flow of thoughts. While practicing meditation, the thoughts are gradually reduced. A stage will come when there will be no more thoughts. First, one reaches Savikalpa Samadhi, where there is still the awareness that one is meditating. One senses the calmness but is conscious of the stage of Samadhi. After more practice, even this notion is no more. Gurudeo used to explain that even the last thought has been 'thoughted' when one reaches the state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi. It is somewhat similar to falling asleep: one is not aware when that happens. Except that in Samadhi, there is complete alertness while in sleep there is ignorance.
Q: In Yaksha Prashna, King Yudhishtira gives the following answers for a couple of questions asked by Yaksha. Can you please elaborate on the answers?
Q1. What is heavier than earth?
A1: Mother.

Q2: What is taller than the sky?
A2: Father.

Gopal Babu, Study Group: Self-Unfoldment

A1: Heavy, by definition is something difficult to lift and carry. Runa (ऋण), the indebtedness is very heavy. One’s indebtedness to one’s mother, for all the sacrifices she has made is indeed so hefty, that it is more difficult to repay it than lifting the earth.
A2: A child always looks up to her father; the ideal that she wishes to match. One’s ideal needs to be so lofty, that one could possibly never reach it. However, the attempts to reach it makes one learn, build a better person. That is why a father is said to be taller than sky.

Q: in the 10th chapter of Geeta, while expounding that He is the best one in any domain, Bhagawaan says he is Dhananjaya among Pandavaas. Why not Yudhisthira, who is Dharma incarnate?
Diwakar, Study Group: Self-Unfoldment

A: One reason is to make Arjuna happy as Bhagawaan is addressing Arjuna and not Yudhisthira. Another reason is that even though Yudhisthira is son of Dharma, he had a weakness. He could not resist a play of dice, gambling (द्युत). This weakness caused him much loss. Loss of wealth, kingdom and even wife. Because of this major weakness he is not sited as the best. Whereas, as a warrior, there were none equal to Arjuna. He was a hero, the finest soldier. Most capable protector of Dharma.

Q: The values offered by Geeta, Hinduism are truly timeless and priceless. In spite of the advanced thinking of the religion and Gurus, why is India and Hinduism so backwards in terms of women’s rights and emancipation of the caste system?

Uma Balasubramanyan, Study Group: Self-Unfoldment

A: I think that women’s rights are most advanced in India. We have had a woman prime minister for twenty years. In our society, a woman is considered a mother and all that is noble and sacred is also considered mother. No society has glorified mother more than Indian. Now, there are certain cases of maltreatment of women, system of dowry etc. These are societal evils and not defects of the religion and culture.

We will talk about the caste system during the fourth chapter of Geeta. In brief, the caste system in theory is not the problem but as practiced it has become malevolent. The tendency to look down on other humans, the conceit that - I am of high caste and you of low - is the source of evil. That is personal, individual human folly and does not have Hindu religious sanction.

Q: In Vasana chapter, could you please elaborate on Action-less Action.
Vidya Vishvanathan, Self Unfoldment (second successful year). Moderator Keshav Murthy).

A: Action presupposes desire because without desire, one does not undertake action. Action means desire. So, action-less means desire-less. When a person performs an action which is action-less, he carries out action motivated by selfless desire. Such desire for the welfare of society is not considered harmful. That is why even jeevanmuktta purushas (जीवन्मुक्त पुरुष) are found to be working vigorously. In Geeta, Bhagwaan tells Arjuna, perform actions mandated by your duty, not for your own sake, but with a view to protecting the masses.

कर्मणैव हि संसिद्धिं आस्थिता जनकादयः
लोकसंग्रहम एवापि संपश्यन कर्तुं अर्हसि ||३:२०||

Friday, September 25, 2009

Power of Prayer. March 2009, Toronto.

Q: We say that one’s future is pre-determined by her actions. We also say that it is determined by the Lord. Please reconcile.

A: Yes. It is correct to say that the future is determined by one’s actions. One performs actions. Actions yield results. The results are given according the Law of Karma. Since there is the Law, there is also the Law-giver. This Law-giver is the Lord. Since the results are coming from the nature according to the Law of Karma, we indirectly say that they are given by the Lord; determined by the Lord. The Lord and the nature are identical. The Lord and the Law-giver are one and the same.

Q: Why is God partial to those who pray to him? A person does all sorts of bad things, sins. He then surrenders to the God, and all his sins are forgiven. God even removes his (प्रारब्ध) Prarabdha Karma. Another person does not commit as many sins; but also does not pray. His sins, even minor ones, are not forgiven. Is that fair?

A: No! It is not fair! But then that is YOUR choice. To choose is the privilege of humans. When you decide to pray, you choose to do the right thing. Suppose it is a cold winter night and there is a nice, warm fire burning in the fireplace. You may decide to go away from the fire, suffer and complain about the cold. Or you may sit by the fire and stay comfortably warm. It is your choice. God is like the ever present fire, ever ready to warm you, bless you. It is your free-will, your choice to seek him. It is not that the non-praying person will retain his sins forever. He will reap the results of his Karma; suffer and enjoy accordingly. However, he may choose to take some action to mitigate the suffering. He might decide to pray.

To pray means to remove ego. You see, Bhagwaan’s grace is always there. It is the ego which is obstructing that grace from reaching us. When we pray, we seek to reduce this ego. To the extent the ego is reduced, Bhagwaans grace reaches us. When a person does not pray, he wishes to retain his ego: the barrier to Bhagwaan’s grace.

Q: How do we find time for spiritual growth in today’s busy life?

A: Plan. Plan your day. A busy person can find time for every thing. Bhagwaan does not ask a lot. Only three minutes of time a day. Remember him when you get up. Remember when you retire to sleep. Remember with sincerity. That is enough!

Q: What is the difference between surrender and giving up?

A: Surrender is deliberate. It is the awareness of the Lords presence and nature. It is a purposeful action undertaken willingly with understanding. Whereas, giving up is in despair, helplessness. There is a frustration, not knowing what to do. One is not happy.

Q: How to bring a child to the right path, when his life is too busy to have time for God?

A: This is a very common quandary for today’s parents. The answer is that you need to set an example. It is not what we tell kids, but what we do. Children do not listen; they follow. If we wish to raise disciplined, value driven kids, we need to be disciplined and value driven ourselves. If we wish kids to abstain from smoking, we need to be non-smokers. If you are a chain smoker, no matter how much you advise your son against it, he will go to his room and practice with a pencil!

“Having no time” is an excuse that does not hold water. One has time to eat, bathe, and sleep. Think of the Lord during the daily activities. If you set the priorities right, you will find time. After all God do not need much.

Q: I think that prayer is for the control of the mind. Does it always have to start with Lord’s praise, say a Strotra or a Bhajan? (स्त्रोत्र, भजन).

A: No. It does not have to be a Stotra or a Bhajan. It is also asked, “Does the prayer need to be in Sanskrit only? What about English? Or Tamil?” No. It needs to be the language of the heart.

To Pray is to be constantly aware of the Lords presence.

Once, a child was travelling with her mother on a boat. There was a mishap, a fire and the boat needed to be evacuated. There was a general panic. But the child slept through the ordeal. Later on she was asked: Was she not scared? How could she be relaxed enough to sleep through? The child simply replied: “Why should I worry? My mother was there to take care of me!” This thought, this confidence that Lord is always with me. He will never forsake me! This is called prayer!

Q: How to keep prayerful attitude all the time and not only at prayer time?

A: You can maintain Prayerful attitude only when you become aware of the Lords presence within. That the Lord is not too far. He is within you as your antaratma (अंतरात्मा). Right there with you. The most nearest to you! In our Shatsrtas it is said, that from this vantage position, the lord observes unblinkingly – aluptdruk (अलुप्तदृक). In Vrindaavan, the gopis used to complain to Bruhmaji (बृह्मदेव), the creator, that he should not created the eyelids and their blinking motion. Because that much time is lost without the sight of Bhagwaan. Then there is the case of another gopi, who was seen meditating with closed eyes by Naradamuni during his travels. He was curious as to the object of her meditation, as she was anyway a constant companion of Bhagwaan. She replied that the meditation was for the purpose of removing Bhagwaan from her mind, because his constant presence has rendered her useless, unable to do anything else. That stage is called prayerful attitude. Continuous remembrance! Never forgetting!

Q: Please explain the significance Rudram and Chamakam. Why is Lord Shankara depicted as very angry, scary, chief of thieves, and killer of cows? Why Chamakam is considered supreme form of prayer? What is the significance of odd and even numbers mentioned at the end?

A: Rudram has various aspects. One is the Viraat Swaroopa, (विराट स्वरूप) that the entire universe is looked upon as the form of Shiva. Everything in the universe is part of the Lord. For example, a human body carries certain waste products; they are rubbish only when they are outside. While inside, they are part of you. You! The same concept occurs in Geeta, Chapter 10. Bhagwaan says that in dyuta, (द्यूत), gambling, he is deceit. The concept is that everything in the world -as material cause- is the Lord. That is why the list is so long.

Now, Shiva is perceived as angry at places. That is because the devotee while praying is aware of his own bad deeds, transgressions, and is apprehensive. He is requesting to be spared from the Lords displeasure. It is a form of prayer.

In Chamakam, and Namakam which precedes it, there is long list, some 238 bullet points of things the devotee asks of the Lord. It is a very exhaustive list; whatever a human mind can possibly conceive of is included. But it is all asked for the welfare of mankind. Not for some the parochial interest. It is very beautiful prayer.

Q: In times of distress, we pray for others. Is it effective?

A: Praying for others is a selfless act. That is why it most definitely is very effective.

Q: At the end of many a strostra, Falsruti (फलश्रुती), list of the rewards due to chanting, is appended. Are we not supposed to pray without expectations?

A: That is correct. But, human mind is what it is. It always seeks to know the bottom line. So, the Rishis attached this carrot to the prayers. These prayers, particularly the Vishnu Sahasra Naama (विष्णू सहस्त्र नाम) , are so effective that chanting them purifies the mind. The result is that no desire is left. However, the Falsruti acts as incentive to get devotee chanting.

Q: I am a Hindu. Recently, I had a dream of Jesus Christ with light coming out his chest. It felt very real! What does it mean?

A: It is a dream. Typically, when one is exposed to some thoughts or sees some pictures, the subconscious mind projects them in dreams. If you read Ramaayana, you might dream of Shri Ramachandra. Since your dream had Jesus Christ in it, it is a noble dream. May his blessings be with you!

Q: Why does God not reveal himself to every one, whether one prays or not?

A: But he does! He makes himself known to everyone all the time. Once a visitor asked Bhagwaan Ramana Maharshi, to arrange a darshan of God as the Maharshi was known to be in touch with God. Maharshi consented, but warned that the visitor may still not be able to see the Lord. The Maharshi then lifted his hand, wiggled his pinkie and looked quizzically at the visitor. The visitor said that he had observed only the wiggling of finger and nothing else. Maharshi then explained, that the pinkie if cut from the hand will be lifeless, unable to move. This power to move, this life force is the Lord. The Lords grace is always present. It is our inability to recognize it. That is the problem. Like a goldsmith who sees only the pure gold content of your old ornaments, and is not concerned with their outer form, we must train ourselves to see the essential God in this universe and not be dazzled with the outer glitter.

Q: I am Bruhman (बृह्मं). So are my Guru and everybody else. Why should I then respect my guru?

A: That is correct. If you realize that you are the Bruhman, then you do not need to. In Nirvan Shataka it is said that:

Na Punyam Na Paapam Na Soukhyam Na Dukham,
Na Manthro Na Theertham Na Veda Na Yagna,
Aham Bhojanam Naiva Bhojyam Na Bhoktha,
Chidananada Roopa Shivoham, Shivoham

Na Mruthyur Na Sankha Na Me Jathi Bhedha,
Pitha Naiva Me Naiva Matha Na Janma,
Na Bhandhur Na Mithram
Gurur Naiva Sishya
Chidananada Roopa Shivoham, Shivoham

If you reach the state of perfection, there is no distinction between Papa and Punya, the Guru and the Shishya. But that is only after achieving the state of perfection!

Q: I come out of Pooja room and see a thief. Do you say that I should see God in him? How is that possible?

A: That is possible but not easily. One has to train to oneself to see the presence of God in the person that is the thief, and then the thief will not be a thief for you. There is a story of a saint. Once while he was getting ready to sit down for his meal, a dog ran away with his roti. Now, half eaten by a dog the bread was of no use to the saint, but he still ran after the dog with a cup of butter in his hand. For he was concerned that the dog might develop a stomach ache if it ate the roti without butter. This is the capacity to see God in everyone.

Q: In my prayer room there are many deities out of which I feel a special connection to one. When I am praying to her, I get concerned that I am ignoring the others. What can I do about it?

A: All deities are the same Lord appearing in different forms. Once you realize this, there will not be any similar confusion.

Q: Is the power of prayer derived from the Mantra itself or the intention of heart?

A: It is the intention of the heart, the bhava (भाव) in mind, that gives the power to the mantra. Chanting mantra without the bhava, will help in purifying the mind and creating the bhava.

Q: Do you take objection to Singing and Dancing? What is wrong if we derive some little joy from such activities?

A: Nothing wrong in them. We have tradition of gopi’s raasleela or Garba dance etc. Even Gurudeo used to encourage people to getup and dance. You are not a sanyasee, and even sanyasees dance. I only suggest that if you sing and dance with bhajans, you will have mind purification in addition to mere exercise.

Q: What is Faith? What is the Lord? He is prayed to impose discipline and self control, asked favors. Seems mystical power rather than philosophical.

A: Faith is belief supported by knowledge. One needs to start somewhere, so we start with belief. But slowly, with gained knowledge, the belief gets reinforced and becomes faith. What is Lord? Lord is your own self. The touch of life in you is the presence of lord in you. It seems from your question that prayer is not for you. Your nature is intellectual. You do not need to pray. You should start to enquire, seek the nature of the truth. Once you discover the nature of truth in you, your own self, then looking at the creation that admiration will come to you. That very admiration and wonder is the prayer.

Q: How to pray for others?

A: After the prayer, please indicate that the prayer is for the benefit of that certain person.

Q: Is it selfish to pray for ones own children?

A: Praying for yourself might be a little selfish. But the children are distinct entities. We should pray for them. It is a selfless act!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

March 8, 2009

Q: Vivek Agarwal, Study Group: What is the significance of number 18 in Hindu tradition?

Swami Shantanandaji: Bhagavad Gita has 18 chapters. Mahabharata War also lasted 18 days. Number 18 stands for victory as per numerology. How does 18 come about? There are five elements or panca bhoothas – Akash, Vayu, Agni, Apa, Prithvi (space, air, fire, water, earth); five organs of perception or jnana indriyas (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin); five organs of action or karma indriyas (hands, legs, organs of speech, genitals, organs of evacuation). These fifteen plus, mind, intellect and ego come to 18. Unless we transcend these 18 (tattvas) we cannot attain liberation (mukti). The truth is beyond these 18. In Sabarimala temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, you have to climb 18 steps to have the Darshan of God.

Q: Subramanian: Study Group: Self Unfoldment

Given the demands of modern life, we all have very little time available for prayers or spirituality. How best can we spend few minutes of the day being aligned with God?

Swami Shantanandaji: In Srimad Bhagavatam, there is the story of Vamana Avataram. Bhagawan appeared before Mahabali as Vamana, a diminutive persona, and requested three steps of land, measured by his own feet. There is a lot of significance to this story. The general understanding is that Bhagawan increased his size, occupied this whole world with first step, the other world with the second step. Since there was no place for the third step, he put it on Mahabali’s head and pushed him below, into Patala. Nowadays, people say that Bhagvan was very unfair to Mahabali. However, here is the significance of the story. We are all living in the modern world. We have no time – as they say, “Marne ko be phursat nahi - we have no time even to die!”. Everyday, Vamana comes to everyone’s doorstep, asking for just three minutes of our time. He says, “Give me just three minutes. I will then become Virata Purusha and influence your whole life. Gain entire life for only three minutes.” Just spend three minutes every day sincerely in the Pooja Room. You don’t have to spend hours chanting all mantras and slokas. Just three minutes of sincere prayer, whether you know mantras or not. If you know Gayatri Mantra or Triyambhakam, chant that. (If you don’t know, ask your child in Bala Vihar, they will teach you!). You will receive peace and strength for the entire day.

Whatever time you spend in the Study Group or Satsang, is what is going to come with you when you depart, not your money, bank balance, wife, or children. What comes with you is the Punya that you have gained – how much time you spent thinking about the Lord. The merit that you have gained in Satsang is what is going to come with you.

In these Study Groups, we start thinking about what’s life, what’s the purpose of life, what’s our goal, how do we get the best of our lives, how to be happy in spite of problems. Everyone is interested in freedom and happiness. What’s the knack with which we can keep the happiness going? Experiences come from different quarters unasked – wife, husband, children, office. Experience by itself doesn’t give happiness or sorrow - it is the interpretation of the experience that gives us sorrow or happiness. Interpretation is the key and it is in our hands. How to handle such experiences is what we learn in our Study Groups. Don’t say you don’t have time, you have to find time for prayer, just three minutes, just as you have time for parties or watching TV.

Q: Gopal Babu, Study Group: Self-Unfoldment

In Sadhana Chatushtayam, Why are 9 qualifications required for attaining Moksha? How do I know that I have these skills and how do I develop them?

Swami Shantanandaji: The Shamadi Shatak Sampatti (Shama etc. six assets) are the six attributes, called sampatti, assets, to be cultivated just like wealth – they have to be acquired with our efforts. The other three, Viveka, Vairagya and Moksha are a result of our enquiry, Vivechanam.

Viveka is discrimination, the ability to know the lasting from the temporary, truth from untruth. Out of enquiry we develop Viveka, out of Viveka comes Vairagya. Unless you understand what is bondage, you won’t yearn for liberation, Moksha.

Shamadi Shatak Sampatti are Shama, Dama, Uparati, Titiksha, Shradhdha and Samadhan.
Control of mind and the senses (shama and dama).
Strict observance of one’s duty (uparati).
Forbearance (titiksha).
Faith (shraddha).
Balance of Mind (samadhana).

These qualities you have to develop. How? With Nirantar Abhyas, constant observation. Swandhyaya, self study. It is advised, Vedo Nityam Adhiyatayam, read scriptures everyday. There is no shortcut.

We all have a little bit of fire in us. That fire has to be kindled into a conflagration. Everyone has Viveka – the ability to discriminate between sat (truth) and asat (untruth). Vairagya is a result of our Viveka. We all have these qualities but they are not fully developed. We only use them for day to day mundane things. To buy say a TV, we do lot of market research, that is viveka. We discard obsolete model of TV we own with little sense of loss, that is vairagya. To develop these qualities for use in higher purpose, we need to read our scriptures on a daily basis.

Q: Gopal Babu, Study Group: Self-Unfoldment

What is the significance of chanting Geeta Chapter 15 slokas before taking food?

Swami Shantanandaji: Teachings of Bhagavad Gita are concluded in Chapter 15. Subsequent chapters, 16th, 17th and 18th are all appendices. In this chapter, Bhagawan says:

gam avisya ca bhutanidharayamy aham ojasapusnami causadhih sarvahsomo bhutva rasatmakah //13//

aham vaisvanaro bhutvapraninam deham asritahpranapana-samayuktahpacamy annam catur-vidham //14//

“As Sun, I myself fertilize the land and bring up vegetables for nourishing mankind. As moonlight, I give food value to the vegetable kingdom. The vegetables come to the kitchen for cooking - fire, water, spices which are used for cooking are all me. All these are found in nature. When food comes to the kitchen, the understanding is that “Lord, you have come to serve me and therefore I offer my thanks.” That’s the reason for prayer before taking food.

February 8, 2009

Q: Prasad Bapatla, Study Group: Raji Edamadaka, Self Unfoldment Class:
Last year hundreds of people died in a stampede at a temple in north India. How do we explain this? Why is God punishing people who came to have his darshan. Similarly, why did innocent people get killed in Bombay attack?

Swami Shantanandaji: Now, it is not God that is not punishing them, please! People stampede and get killed in a temple because of their indiscipline. When it comes to religion, the discipline is somehow forgotten. You see, in other religions like Islam and Christianity, when people go to their mosques and churches, there will be pin drop silence. Thousands of people offering prayers and they will be very quiet, silent and totally disciplined. When it comes to temples and our festivals, we are the most undisciplined people. We cannot attribute this tragedy to Bhagawaan. It is the consequence of our own behavior. Bhagawaan sitting inside us may be warning us not to behave in such way, He may be telling, “Don’t go, Don’t stampede, Don’t rush!”. .. But we do not listen. In that case, even Bhagawaan is helpless.

Innocent people getting killed in Mumbai – Terrorism is not new in India, it was there in Ravana’s time too. Kansa too used to destroy many innocent people. Because of their cry, Bhagawaan himself came and punished the evil doers. When innocent people die, it is a sacrifice. Karma will never go unpunished. Those killers will also suffer. In the hands of nature, it will never go unpunished.

So why is it happening?. Every thing in this world happens because of thoughts. Whenever people think in a particular direction, things will happen that way. If everybody thinks of peace, peace will reign. And let us say, a large number of concentrated people think of this terrorism, then terrorism will happen. There will be victims. But then unless the thought is corrected, and people think properly, these things can not be avoided.

Q: Subramanian: Self unfoldment class, Harish Bhatt:
In a previous lecture, you mentioned that Sati Devi went to Daksha’s yagna without Lord Shiva. What can we learn from this episode, when we have to make choices in life?

Swami Shantanandaji: Now Bhagawaan gave upadesha, advice to her. But then you can only give advice. You can not insist that the advice you give should be followed. Bhagawaan understood that Sati Devi will die either way, whether she goes or not. Sometimes in your own family, you can only advise children - ”Beta, If I were you, I would not have done this.” And leave them alone. If you go after them and insist they follow you, things may become worse. I think that this is the message that Bhagawaan is giving us.

Q: Balasubramanian, Tatvabodha class: Our culture is result oriented. That is, Results = Success = Wealth = Power.
Results are important at work, at home, at school. How do you balance this results oriented life with our scriptures which teaches to focus on actions, not results?

Swami Shantanandaji: Actually, This advice is also result oriented. If you look at what is said in the scriptures, your focus should be only on action and not on the result. Every result of an action is determined by the quality of performance of your actions. If the quality of performance of your actions is high, definitely you will get high quality results. But, if the quality of performance is mediocre, you can not expect high class results.

Now, in order to perform in the best way, behind every piece of action, your mind presence should be 100%. In order to bring utmost energy behind the piece of action, it is necessary is to check the dissipation of energy.

How do we dissipate our energy? When we focus our attention on the result before performing the action, our enthusiasm and our energies get diverted. To check this diversion or the dissipation of energy, scriptures advise: focus on the action; perform the action well and the result will take care of itself.
That is why our culture was not a poor culture. It produced a wealthy civilization. Our country was very rich. That is why it attracted foreigners, foreign invasions. No body will go and invade a poor country. How many people have invaded us? Looted, plundered and taken our wealth. All other countries became rich because of our country. Now, even then, in spite of all that, we are doing very well. Please understand that our philosophy is not against wealth or Power. It is telling you how to become prosperous.

Q: Raju and Rajan Narayanswami: Can you please explain the concept of Loka in Hinduism. When one gets freedom from rebirth on earth, is he reborn into Devaloka?

Swami Shantanandaji: There are fourteen lokas according to our scriptures. Bhuh, Bhavah, Swah, Mahah, Janah. Tapah, and Satyam; Seven lokas. Seven up and seven down. The seven worlds down below are Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Rasatala, Talatala, Mahatala, and Patala. It will come in Bhagawatam later and I will then explain. Who are the residents of each loka? In Devaloka, Devas, the gods are the residents. And kinnaras, gandharvas, yakshas have a particular place too to live, and Sapta Rishis, Jeevanmukta purushas have a place to live too. Likewise there are residences for all living. Just now we saw Dhruva Loka, that is polar star, there is a particular type of residence there. And DevaLoka is considered beyond Surya, the Sun. The earth is in space in between sun, And beyond sun, is called Deva Loka. When a person dies, if he has done lot of charities, lot of punyakarma, service to the humanities, he will go to heaven. The soul will reach heaven and in heaven he will be given a celestial body, and with that celestial body he will enjoy. The soul is the one that will be taken to Deva loka or Naraka.